Friday, July 30, 2010

Israel, is to Blame!!!

I’m reading a history of the 1967 Six day war, during which Israel regained control of Jerusalem. I’m only a short way into the book but I’ve learned enough to see how little things have changed over the last 43 years regarding anti-Israel propaganda.

The media today (and also many in the "church") have clearly taken a leaf out of the Soviet book:

…the hypocrisy of the rulers of the USSR, who permit themselves to mock at human intelligence when they put the blame on Israel. Every child in the street knows that the [1967] crisis is due to Nasser [President of Egypt] and he himself admits it. Yet [the soviet representative] at the UN, and his masters in the Kremlin, denounce the “aggression” of Israel. Nasser mobilises military forces and sends them to Sinai. Nasser entrusts the frontier to Shukeiry’s gangs . Nasser closes the Straits of Tiran. And Moscow yells that Israel is to blame…

From Mission Survival ed. R Bondy, O Zmora & R Bashan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It’s MY blog and I’ll rant if I want to!

What happens when a respected “Rabbi” takes offense at having his disobedience indirectly mentioned in the comment section of his blog?

Of course, as expected, he deletes the offending comment. Then he sends a personal email strongly conveying his displeasure.

Now what rudeness of mine sparked this response?

The gentile born “rabbi”, in justifying his choice to convert to Judaism (AFTER professing faith in Messiah) pointed to the legitimacy of conversion for those with a “healthy sense of identity and a persistent desire to belong to the people of Israel”.

I’m not sure when “healthy sense of identity” and persistent desire” were valid reasons to contravene clearly stated prohibitions written by the apostle Paul*. Can those reasons be used to excuse all of our disobedience? Is persistent desire a legitimate reason for giving in to any temptation?

What exactly caused the offense?
I made a blunt comparison.

I mentioned a person I know who was born male. However this person has a sense of identity with and a persistent desire to be female. As a result he has been living as a woman and intends to “convert” through a “sex-change” operation.
Does this person’s “sense of identity” (which he would consider healthy) and his “persistent desire” legitimize HIS conversion?


* From the apostle Paul:

Gal 5:2
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.


1 Cor 7:18
Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised

Friday, July 23, 2010

One New Man and the Gospel of a Jewish Messiah.

Paul writes of Jew and gentile believers in Messiah now being “one new man” – but the unity expressed in that description is not always being demonstrated.

As a gentile believer in a Jewish Messiah I need to consider my relationship with the Jewish people, especially those who have also recognised their Messiah. I need to consider the GENTILE side of the relationship and how I as a gentile believer can see the unity of “one new man” becoming a present day reality with true unity in Messiah between Jewish and gentile believer.

In the first years of the early church Paul went to great lengths for it to be seen that God accepted gentile believers AS gentiles and that we did not need to become Jews to be in relationship with Him.

However, when gentiles became the dominant authority within the church the same attitude was not taken with Jews who came to faith in Messiah. The church went to great lengths to disenfranchise Jewish believers, replacing the feasts of the Lord with alternative feast days adopted from pagan traditions; demanding they worship on Sunday instead of the Sabbath; and requiring change to their diet.

All of this went a long way to destroying any hope of a genuine “one new man” for more than 1700 years.

During that period it was more like a one-sided man, with very little Jewish representation. Such a “relationship” is like a “marriage” where there is only one “partner”. A husband by himself or a wife by herself is not a true marriage in which TWO become one and yet maintain individual identity and gender.

Gentile believers need to appreciate the truth of a comment I recently saw on a Christian forum:

“Personally I don't believe that God wants Jews to convert to ‘Christianity’ at all; He merely wants them to recognise Yeshua as their Messiah and accept him as their King”

We tend to remain (wilfully) ignorant of the fact that gentiles have been grafted into a JEWISH olive tree and not vice versa. It is THEIR Messiah and THEIR new covenant into which we gentiles have been admitted. And yet gentiles over the ages have done our best to take ownership of that tree and to make the natural, cultivated branches become more like the wild branches.

Jewish people, need to be presented with the Jewish Messiah and HIS gospel and not a gentilised religion which has given the impression of a Jew hating Jesus.

Jews do not need to celebrate Easter instead of Passover. They do not need to abandon the Sabbath and replace it with “Sunday worship”. They don’t need to abandon their diet and start eating pork and shellfish. They don’t need to bow to any gentile religious tradition.

They need to meet their King and bow down to Him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Romans 9-11

In a previous post I gave links to sermons about Romans 9-11 by David Pawson. Here is another about the same chapters by Peter Tsukahira.

In the sermon he points out that this generation is the first since Paul’s time that is in a position to understand the situation Paul was addressing in his letter to believers in Rome. We live in a generation that can easily view these chapters literally.

Unfortunately, most Christians today miss the point because of their adherence to historical traditions and theologies. Those traditions were established in a time when the logical approach was to allegorise Paul’s references to Israel because to the natural eye Israel had ceased to exist. Replacement Theology was the result of that allegorical approach.

Romans 9-11

Personally I thought he was heading off track about halfway through by talking about revival around the world, but that was only a brief interruption. Others may not find that section to be a problem.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Observations of an Outsider

I recognise and confess to the fact that the following is based on personal observations of a very small cross section of blogs that I've found. If anyone thinks I've drawn wrong conclusions, I would welcome being pointed in the right direction.

As an outsider I see little difference between what seems to be happening in the Messianic fellowships and what is going on in the “churches”. Considering how recently the current Messianic movement started, they didn’t waste time finding reasons for disagreement. Ironically, in its attempt to provide a Jewish context for expressing faith in their messiah, most of the controversy I’ve noticed in the Messianic blogs I’ve found has been about how Messianic Jews should relate to gentile believers. Some believe there is no room for gentiles in their congregations, that non-Jewish believers should restrict themselves to attending churches and leave Jewish believers to have congregations of their own. Others see there is room for both as long as the context of the fellowship remains authentically Jewish in its expression.

A contributing factor to the problem is the increasing number of gentiles seeking fellowship within a Jewish context. Some Messianic fellowships are reportedly predominantly gentile in membership. I have even read reports that seem to suggest a prominent (gentile born) Messianic teacher has undergone (or at least seriously considered undergoing) conversion to Judaism (with all that entails), to practice his faith as a recognised Messianic Jewish “rabbi”.

Another feature muddying the Messianic waters is a belief being promoted by some non-Jews that they are descendants of the allegedly lost tribes of Israel. This modern day manifestation previously associated with British Israelism and also adopted by Mormons and the late Herbert W Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, has pushed its way into the Messianic movement. Of course, there is no genealogical evidence to indicate the validity of this belief. It is all attributed to “spiritual revelation”. Some Jewish believers see the intrusion of these Israelite wannabes as another example of replacement theology in action.*

The questioning of whether gentile and Jewish believers should fit together in fellowship has its foundations in carnality. There should be no separation. We are one in Him. However, due to the actions of the gentile church for at least 1700 years, a division has been created. The theological error and bigotry of a dominant, apostate, gentile church has helped to further harden Jews against the gospel of THEIR Messiah.

In the present day, when Jews are coming to faith in Messiah in increasing numbers, they are still kept at a distance by the majority of the church through the lie of replacement theology or through an apathetic ignorance regarding God’s purposes for the Jewish people. Centuries of hostility and forced assimilation are difficult to overlook, especially when present day theologies show no real evidence of repentance.
Jewish believers are therefore understandably suspicious in their relationships with gentile believers. I’m sure they want to avoid a repetition of history.

Where does the answer lie?
Scripture reveals that salvation came to the gentile to make Israel jealous.
How would that happen?
Clearly not through hostility and bigotry towards the Jewish people.

But then again, is it likely to happen through gentiles envying the Jew and trying to blend into a Jewish cultural expression?

For gentile believers to succeed in making Israel jealous, their relationship to both Israel and more importantly the God of Israel needs to stand up to God’s expectations instead of being driven by faulty theology and/or misguided sentiment.

* It was a belief that I had not personally come across before (though I was aware of it. However in the past month I have seen it increasing promoted in a variety of places.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Messianic Disunity

In my reading about Jewish expressions of faith in Messiah I’ve had a look at several blogs. Through those blogs I think I have gained a wider perspective than is possible through reading published books.
Blogs give access to a more ground level reality. Books have to fulfil certain market-driven requirements which include not biting the hand that feeds them.
Bloggers are not subject to such restraints, and while that open ground also gives voice to all kinds of weird and not so wonderful ideas, occasionally it is possible to stumble across something worthwhile and enlightening.

The following article may be of interest to others. It is written by a gentile believer desiring and attempting a more Hebraic approach to his faith. I think his experience highlights the problems that unfortunately maintain the divisions between Jewish and Gentile believers.

One thing that isn’t addressed in the article is the question of whether ANY of the examined worship styles and fellowship groups is “legitimate” in God’s eyes. Do any of them fulfil the genuine fellowship characteristics of a healthy and united body of believers? Or is it all about favoured form and ritual?

While the article addresses the current situation, scripture describes something totally different. Unity in Messiah still seems a long way off – but perhaps the disunity is nothing that an experience of severe, shared persecution won’t fix.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Messianic Meditations: some personal thoughts

I have wanted to write more about the topic I looked at in my two previous (Messianic) articles. There is so much more to cover.

But my reading continues as I try to understand more about the relationship between the church, Jewish (Messianic) believers, and non-Messianic Jews.

I have also sought comment from a Jewish friend and brother who was involved with Messianic Judaism in its early days and in his words he saw “the good, the bad and the ugly” sides of the movement and has not been involved with them for many years, though he maintains His relationship with Jesus.

One of his observations was to compare the Messianic Judaism movement with the emergent church, saying “much of the Messianic Jewish Movement has also bought into the philosophy of maybe if they like us, they'll like our Jesus, too.”

Do the Messianic groups lean too far towards Judaism in their attempt to make the gospel relevant to other Jews? Through a week of looking over Messianic blogs and web pages I could easily conclude that some do.

There is perhaps no less variation of style and belief between the Messianic fellowships than there is among traditional Christian churches. There are a range of expressions from the ritual and liturgy of the “High church”, through to the informality associated with charismatics and house churches.

There is also a broad range of doctrines held, from strict views of “torah keeping” in which gentiles are expected to adhere to “torah” – (Paul’s Galatian letter comes to mind when I come across these) to others who recognise clear differences between requirements for Jewish believers and gentile believers.

Thinking over what I have discovered, from the very brief exposure I’ve had, I see a danger of a maintained division. The gentile church throughout history has treated Jews and even Jewish believers atrociously. Because of that, it would be easy for Messianic fellowships to maintain a distance and go their own way with no interaction with their gentile brothers and sisters. I suspect many are taking that route.

Another danger would be for both Jewish and Gentile believers to try to bring about the fulfilment of prophecy through their own efforts. I have seen several statements about the salvation of the Jews leading to revival among the gentiles. I have read accounts of a supposed increase in conversions throughout the world since the beginning of the growth in the Messianic movement. One figure stated that approximately 1/5 of the world’s population now confessed Christ as saviour. I would strongly doubt the accuracy of that statistic. Only the broadest and loosest definition of “Christian” would encompass such a number of people today*.

While the increasing numbers of Jews finding salvation through recognition of their Messiah is a reason for celebration. We need to hold to what scripture says to determine the truth of the situation. Does scripture reveal that more Jews will come to Messiah as a result of Jewish believers holding more closely to their Jewish traditions and heritage? Is that what has been foretold by the prophets? Will Jews come into relationship with Jesus apart from gentile believers? While that seems to be a logical possibility and while that seems to be the expectation of many Messianic Jews, that is not what is revealed in scripture.

Paul clearly reveals that “salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous”. The journeys of gentile and Jewish believers are therefore not intended to be separate. What divisions there are between Messianic and gentile believers cannot and will not continue as long as both sets of branches (the natural and the wild) are maintained by the same root. Continued division can only result in the cutting off of the offending branches.


* This claim is an attempt to show the fulfilment of Paul’s statement regarding the Jews, that “if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring”. The assumption is that their “fullness” has now begun and that the “greater riches” means world revival