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The last few years have begun to reveal the incomprehensible crisis of Ethiopian Jews residing in Addis Ababa and Gondar. The religious leaders and others in authority are imploring people around the world to pay heed to their predicament.

Israel’s Peace Ministries

Romans 11 says, “I say then has God cast   away   His   people?   Certainly not! Even so then, at this present time, there is a remnant and the rest were blinded…I say then, have they stum- bled that they shall fall? Certainly not! But through their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

Sent?




     Numbers 13:1 says this:

“Adonai spoke to Moses saying, ‘Send some mean on your behalf to investigate the land of Canaan, which I am giving to Bnei-Yisrael (Children of Israel).” (TLV)

     This section of Scripture can teach us much as believers in the Messiah of Israel. The spies went into the “Promised Land” and saw many wondrous things. They saw a land that was bountiful and wonderful, however, they also saw giants and walls around the cities.

     Matthew 28:19 says this:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (TLV)

Here we have more people being sent, not just to the Promised Land this time, this time into the entire world.

     If you’ve been a follower of Yeshua for a while and have gone out into the world, then you know. You know that we still encounter giants and walls. People have “giants” in their lives that they need to overcome; “giants” like addictions, pride, selfishness, sins, etc. To top it off, usually, there are “walls” around these people’s lives that have to fall before the giants can be dealt with. None of those giants or walls can be taken care of by us. It’s the Lord’s work to make those walls fall and topple those giants. He uses us, yes, but it is not by our own efforts.

     When we go into the world, just as the Master sends us, it is easy to get overwhelmed and fearful of what we see. As we look around at the world today, there seem to be more giants and walls than ever before. The giants are tall and strong. The walls are high and thick. However, it’s still no match for the King of the Universe.

     I think this is why the Master added to the end of his command to go out into the world, “And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He knew we’d face giants and walls that would scare us, that would make us like the spies who went into Canaan. We would become fearful and decide that we are no match for what we are facing. We would say that we “seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33 NIV)

     However, we know how that story turned out. After many years, they went up into the Land and the walls fell and the giants toppled. It only happened when the Lord went with them. It’s the same for us today. We can’t go out and make disciple in our own timing or in our own strength. The Lord has to go with us. That’s the only way giants and walls fall. We see this in Numbers 14:44 & 45 when the Israelites tried to take the Land anyway after they were told they had to wait.

     In Hebrew, those who are sent are called “Shelachim” or “sent ones.” This is the meaning of the Greek word “Apostles.” As followers of the Master we are also Shelachim. However, we are not all sent to the same places. Some are sent to the world, others are sent to nations, still others are sent to regions and some to cities. Most of us are sent to those around us; our immediate circle of influence. And we must not mistake the importance of that. It is just as valuable and important for us to be obedient to the Lord when we are sent to only those in our everyday circle. Every life is important.

     Giants are still giants and walls are still walls no matter how close to home they are. Your next-door neighbor may be facing a dozen giants everyday. The co-worker that annoys you might have the thickest walls you’ve ever seen. Those giants and walls won’t fall unless we are obedient and go when we’re told to go. So listen and have your shoes laced up and ready. When the Lord tells you its time for you to go, go forth and be a giant slayer; go forth and tear down walls. The Lord is with you always, even to the end of the age.

Music; Secular Versus Sacred


Today I want to deal with a sensitive subject. I know it’s sensitive, because I have so often heard the passion of those who have given themselves to a holy walk with the Lord, and who have strong convictions about their music making and listening habits. I heard it recently from a singer-guitarist who was a fairly new believer, and was playing in a Christian coffee house setting. I heard it from a more seasoned believer, in a passing remark around the table at a restaurant. I’ve heard it various other times.

All of these people have shared their conviction that all secular music was off limits for them. Only music written about and for the Lord was acceptable. Some of them were convinced that what was true for them should also be true for all believers.

I would like to begin my response by stating that I respect the believer who chooses to avoid all music except “sacred” music, as they might term it. I remember once being around an excellent musician who was in a Messianic band, and who had been a professional secular musician before he was a believer. His previous life had included drugs, alcohol, and all that goes with that lifestyle. When a certain light-hearted secular love song from the sixties played somewhere near us, perhaps at a restaurant (specifically, The Beatles “Drive My Car”,) he expressed discomfort. I sensed in my spirit that memories were triggered that created a stumbling-block for him. I feel that this was a perfect example of a principle expressed in Romans 14:14.

“I know and am convinced by the Lord Yeshua that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

I realize that even what some might consider an innocuous song could present a significant problem for them. And I also realize that there are some songs that, by their very nature and focus, might be inappropriate for anyone to listen to or play. These might include songs with graphic sexual references, profanity and the vain use of God’s name, etc. However, I have a problem with a carte blanche application of the second conviction stated earlier—the one that considers anyone who plays or listens to what might be called secular music as unspiritual—or at the very least, the practice as unspiritual. Below are a few reasons for my disagreement with this stand.

First, when one is calling all secular music off-limits, they would have to include all secular music throughout history—whether the themes involved romance, historical subjects, comedy, mythology, or whatever. One would have to include Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” for example. And almost all operas and operettas would have to be included, as well as almost all show music and American standards. Would Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors”, Handel’s “Messiah”, and Schwartz’ “Godspell” be representative of the rare listenable vocal material?

Second, why single out music, and separate it from all other art forms? Almost none of those who hold to the “no exposure to secular music” standard would avoid all films. This represents hypocrisy on two levels. First, even if one would restrict themselves to PG films, they would still expose themselves to secular material, and that material would cover some of the same territory subject-wise that various songs do. The other level relates to the songs on the film soundtracks. Most of these songs are either songs written for the film, like “Flashlight” from recent film “Pitch Perfect 2,” or songs from some composer’s catalogue, such as “I Will Follow Him” in “Sister Act.” If one would be consistent, they would avoid all films. But very few of those who would shut out all secular music would avoid a film like the recent “Wonder Woman,” of even an “art” film like “Woman in Gold.” And what about the viewers’ favorite TV shows? Some binge watch series on Netflix or Amazon Prime for hours at a time. Others watch their preferred shows on cable TV. They are not to be judged. But it is also important for them not to judge others for their music preferences.

Third, restriction of all secular songs would present a dilemma for anyone attending school, whether junior high, high school, or higher education. What if the English class includes a study of the lyrics in Bog Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” or the theater department is casting for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” and the student cast in the role of Ado Annie is tasked with singing the song “I Cain’t Say No?”

At the risk of repeating myself, I will say that I understand the choice to not listen to secular music, and I certainly can appreciate the preference for listening to sacred music that many might have in their daily experience. However, before believers declare all secular music off-limits at all times, I think that some of the above thoughts should be taken into account.
Meet Chaim Urbach—Israeli-born Messianic rabbi of Congregation Yeshuat Tsion in Colorado, husband, father, grandfather, and son of Holocaust- survivor Eliezer Urbach.* Chaim’s story is one of struggle, redemption, and a journey to wholeness and healing through the grace of Messiah Yeshua.
For over 40 years, the ministry of Jews for Jesus has been known for its bold methods of street evangelism. In places like New York City, it’s common to see these evangelists at work, clad in bright T-shirts with the ministry name on front and back, handing out colorful broadsides (gospel tracts), and engaging anyone who wants to talk on the subject of Yeshua.

In May 2008, JFJ applied their long-established methods in Israel, holding an evangelistic campaign in the Gush Dan area near Tel Aviv. Twenty staff members and volunteers were on the streets to share the Gospel with Israelis. The staff was a mixture of Israelis and workers from JFJ offices around the world, while volunteers came from the United States, Singapore, and Finland.

Bread From Heaven

A  long the sandy, flat Mediterranean coast, on land Joshua tells us was once occupied by the ancient Philistines, lies the Israeli port city of Ashdod. The town sits directly between the Tel Aviv metropolis and the Gaza Strip—vacated by Israel in 2005. Over 200,000 Israelis—many of them first- generation immigrants from the former Soviet Union—call Ashdod home. Besides the sunny Mediterranean weather, bustling harbor, and booming construction projects, Ashdod is also home to several hundred members of the Messianic movement. Two Messianic congregations are based here.



 

For updates on Pnina Pie: https://www.facebook.com/PninaPie/

At his usual Sunday morning cabinet meeting this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu donned a kippah to read from the Torah. Two days earlier the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, “acting on a request from the Palestinians, declared Hebron’s Old City to be a heritage site in danger” (https://www.jta.org/2017/07/09/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/netanyahu-reads-ftom-genesis-to-illustrate-jewish-peoples-israels-claim-to-cave-of-patriarchs).

In response to the resolution, Netanyahu read Genesis 23:16–19.

Abraham heard Ephron. So Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver that he had spoken of in the ears of the sons of Heth—400 shekels of silver at the merchant’s rate. Now Ephron’s field that is in Machpelah next to Mamre—the field and the cave that is in it, and all the trees that are in the field in all its surrounding territory—was handed over to Abraham as a purchased possession in the eyes of the sons of Heth, before all those who enter the gate of his city. Afterward, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah next to Mamre (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan. (Tree of Life Version)

Netanyahu’s point is clear enough: Hebron and the cave of Machpelah have been Jewish heritage sites since the days of Abraham, and it’s wrong for UNESCO to focus only on their significance to Palestinians. Israel raised similar objections last year when UNESCO passed a resolution that appeared to deny Israel’s claim on Jerusalem. Despite the UNESCO terminology, Netanyahu declared, “The connection between the Jewish People and Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of purchase and history which may be without parallel in the history of nations” (www.jta.org).

The story of Abraham’s purchase of the cave of Machpelah has an additional implication, just as relevant as this one. Years before the purchase, “After Lot separated himself from him, Adonai had said to Abram, ‘lift up your eyes, now, and look from the place where you are, to the north, south, east and west. For all the land that you are looking at, I will give to you and to your seed forever’” (Gen. 13:14–15). This promise was repeated several times and Abraham could have argued that Ephron’s field actually belonged to him and his descendants and demanded a place to bury Sarah. Or he could have gathered his followers, as he’d done years before when he successfully rescued Lot (Gen. 14:14ff.), and mounted a military campaign to take possession of the cave. Instead, Abraham approached the owner with humility (“I am a stranger and an alien residing among you;” 23:3), and negotiated a deal that most commentators think was pretty sweet for Ephron.

This purchase reveals that regarding the land there is both Promise, which is from above, immutable, and firm; and Possession, which involves human effort, and its attendant successes and failures. Centuries later, when the Torah is given at Mount Sinai, it will add conditions, not to the Promise, but to Possession of the Land. Later, in Deuteronomy, when Moses addresses the generation about to take possession of the Land, he emphasizes that it’s not Israel’s military might or numerous population that will gain the victory, but God’s gift (e.g. Dt. 7:7–8). To continue to merit that gift—to maintain possession—the Israelites must walk in accord with his Torah.

Keep, therefore, all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today, so that you may have the strength to enter and take possession of the land that you are about to cross into and possess, and that you may long endure upon the soil that the Lord swore to your fathers to assign to them and to their heirs, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Dt. 11:8–9, NJPS)

As a Messianic Zionist, my hope doesn’t rest on military and political power for Israel’s future, although we must pay attention to these, but ultimately on God’s purposes and on teshuvah—a return to God and his ways—among my people.

This distinction between Promise and Possession is vital to our discussion of Israel today. The promise to Abraham establishes that the Jewish return to the land of Israel in the past 150 years fulfils a biblical mandate. The specific form of return embodied in the state of Israel, however, is a matter of possession, a pragmatic, human response to the promised return.

Current Palestinian leadership may be a tougher negotiating partner than Ephron—or perhaps no partner at all, as some claim—but it would not violate God’s promise for Israel to accept a less-than-complete possession of the land for the sake of peace. Abraham had a clearer right to the Land than anyone, and he acknowledged that possessing the Land might be a long and arduous process when he handed Ephron 400 shekels for the cave of Machpelah.
The history of Israel is a story of miracles, of God’s faithful provision, time and time again. The story of The Joseph Project is no less wondrous. What else could bring together Jewish and Gentile believers from around the world, and Israelis of all stripes, from the Orthodox to the secular? What shared destiny could make them truly echad? Born out of obedience to a prophetic vision in 1996, this mighty work has grown from a small   seed to the largest humanitarian aid organization in Israel, providing a whopping $85 million in aid to our brethren so far. “This is just the beginning,” according to Joel Chernoff, Chairman of the Joseph Project, and General Secretary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA).

What Is Messianic Music?

Newcomers to the Messianic Jewish movement often ask, “What is Messianic music?” The answer can be challenging—even for those who create it. Identify- ing this genre requires examining its origins. Most agree that the early 1970s were a formative pe- riod for Messianic music. Within a short space of time, three pi- oneer groups arose which gave shape to the sound: Lamb, the Liberated Wailing Wall, and Kol Simcha. A fourth group, Israel’s Hope, appeared a decade later, in the 1980s.
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MT logo 01 revThe Messianic Times has become the leading international Messianic Jewish newspaper since its inception in 1990. Started as a quarterly publication, it is now published six times per year by Times of The Messiah Ministries. It includes news from the worldwide Messianic community, Israeli current events and analysis, opinion pieces, book and music and film reviews, informative articles and a directory of Messianic Jewish congregations.