Invitation to Join Shavuot Celebration Online
We are looking forward to the next major biblical holiday – Shavuot (Pentecost). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 was the first installment of God’s promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17). We gather every year at Shavuot to worship and pray through the night believing for the complete fulfillment of this Shavuot prophecy.
We invite you to join us this year in person or through our live web-stream. The event begins June 11, 2016 at 10pm (Israel time) and continues for 8 hours.
Click on the video above to watch an interview with Asher Intrater about the vision of Shavuot.
For the live web-stream, please go to reviveisrael.org at the time of the event.
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The two men on the way to the village of Emmaus had heard about the empty tomb earlier that morning. They heard the report of Simon Peter and John, who found the tomb empty. They also heard that some of the women claimed to have seen angels, but they did not know what to make of it all. They argued over the details, trying to piece the incongruous events together.
They were only a short distance from Jerusalem when the Master overtook them on the road. “He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country” (Mark 16:12). They mistook Him for another pilgrim leaving Jerusalem after the festival to return home. The resurrected body of the Messiah is human flesh and bone, but He may appear in any guise; the glory of the heavenly body is of a different nature than the glory of the earthly body. The risen Messiah moved among men and at times unrecognized by His own disciples. Mary Magdalene mistook Him for a gardener. The disciples fishing on the lake mistook Him as a stranger on the shore, and even as they ate with Him, they did not dare ask Him who He was. They intuitively knew it was the Master, but they did not recognize Him visually.
Some teachers suggest that the two on the way to Emmaus did not recognize Yeshua because they were stubborn and unbelieving. Some commentaries suggest that the devil blinded them to the Master’s identity. On the contrary, Luke says, “Their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16). From a Jewish reading of the text, this means, “God prevented their eyes from recognizing Him.”
The two on the road to Emmaus, walking with the unrecognized Messiah, illustrate our Master’s unresolved relationship with most Jewish people since the resurrection. In accordance with some unsearchable wisdom, God has closed the eyes of His people in this regard and prevented most of the Master’s brothers and sisters in the flesh from recognizing Him.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize the one who walked along with them. Yeshua walked along with them all the same. Israel’s failure to recognize or acknowledge the Messiah does not diminish His right to the title or authority over His people, nor does it exclude His presence from their midst. The story illustrates how the risen Messiah can conduct Himself incognito among His people.
This article originally appeared on First Fruits Of Zion, reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.
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Who is a true Jew according to Apostle Paul?
In his letter to the Romans Apostle Paul spoke of true Jews and Jews who are not really Jews. Take these things into consideration as you ponder what that means. Imagine yourself a follower of the Jewish Messiah in Rome. Can you see yourself and others like you being under tremendous pressure from your family and other governmental/patriotic forces that would naturally push you to disassociate from the Jews? I think the answer must be given in the affirmative – but that is not all!
Not only were the Gentiles who followed Christ in Rome pressured to disassociate from the “Jewish community”, but the mainstream Jewish community also, were not happy with their allegiance to Jesus. And there was a very important political and social reason for that – the Roman Godfearers served as a buffer zone between Jews and Romans for decades. They were the most powerful advocates for religious freedom of the Jews within the Roman Empire – they were indeed the buffer zone the Jews badly needed. But now things were changing rapidly. Roman citizens were now joining this new Jewish movement of Jesus by the thousands, and that threatened to change the status quo in Roman-Jewish relationships, putting into grave danger the otherwise comfortable political climate achieved between Jewish leadership and the Roman authorities. An Empire-wide movement of non-Jews following Jewish Jesus was politically unacceptable to both the Roman government and the Jewish leadership that lived under its firm, but more or less benevolent, reign. Both opponents hated it for the same reason – it was bound to change the status quo.
As you continue to place yourself, through the medium of God-given human imagination, into the shoes of the first century Roman followers of Jesus, you can now see that both Jewish and Roman opposition would pose some real challenges to your faith and practice. The affinity for Israel and the Jews in Rome, unlike in Galatia, simply did not make sense. “It was wildly counter-intuitive and fully unproductive”, thought the Roman Christ-followers. Apostle Paul, however, sought to advocate for his people according to the flesh (Israel/Jews) and convince the Roman Christ-followers that, in spite of governmental opposition to the Jews in general, and in spite of Jewish leadership that was able to influence the majority of other Jews in opposition to the Messiahship of Jesus, their participation in this spiritual “Jewish coalition” was very well justified and needed.
Not every Jew is a true Jew
I have chosen to deal here with two key texts from the letter of Romans that will help us to see the simple arguments Apostle Paul directed to dissuade the Roman Christ-followers from ways that would sabotage the cosmic plan of God for redemption of both Jews and the Nations through their unity in Messiah.
In Romans 1-2, Paul goes through a series of arguments where he talks about both the Jews and the Nations being in the same predicament with the effects of sin in their one broken world. In Romans 2 he confronts the believers in Rome who act in judgmental ways against their Jewish (weaker) brethren who have not come to believe in the Jewish Christ, as they themselves rightfully did (2:1-4). He spares no words or emotion to show how the wrong behavior of some anti-Jewish followers of Christ in Rome, will surely be visited by the judgment of God. God’s justice, like everything else, applies to both Jews and Greeks alike. Here is how Paul put it in Romans 2:5-11:
Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, for there is no partiality with God.
Paul continues his Pharisaic Shema-centered argument about God being the God of both Israel and the Nations, who not only visits wrath and judgement upon the wickedness of the covenant-breaking Jews (as the Romans seem to think), but will surely do the same upon those of the Nations as well. We read Paul’s points in 2:12-16:
For all who have sinned without the Torah will also perish without the Torah, and all who have sinned under the Torah will be judged by the Torah; for not the hearers of the Torah are just before God, but the doers of the Torah will be justified. For when Nations who do not have the Torah do instinctively the things of the Torah, these, not having the Torah, are a Torah to themselves, in that they show the work of the Torah written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
Apostle Paul, using his powerful rhetorical arguments, is seeking to convince the Romans of this simple fact – not everyone who claims to be a Jew is truly so before God. He will repeat the same argument later in Romans 9, where he will argue that not all descendants of Israel constitute the true Israel. His argument is not how most Christians today understand it – i.e. “The real Jews today are the Christians”, and “Jews are no longer truly Jews”. Paul argues quite the opposite. He argues for the enduring validity of Jewish identity, because he sees (much like the prophets did) that Israel has always consisted of “the faithful remnant” and “the rest”. Not all those who claimed to be Jews (born as such) were really Jews, neither were all who claimed to be Israel are truly such.
He exhorts the Romans believers who embraced Jewish belief in Christ to think this matter through with him. “Think about it”, says the great Apostle in Romans 2:17-25:
But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Torah and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Torah, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Torah the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Torah, through your breaking the Torah, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Nations because of you,” just as it is written.
His point here is that Jews who disobey the Torah should not be viewed by Roman Christ-followers as realJews. The argument is simple – don’t take the “bad apples” and build your anti-Jewish theology on them. Look at other kinds of Jews as well, especially the Christ-following and Torah-obedient Jews around you. They are much more deserving to be called true Jews.
Apostle Paul will continue to argue that, if a Jew does not walk orderly according to the Torah, he is no different than someone who is uncircumcised. Although ages separate Apostle Paul and Mark Twain, and the two did not even write on the same topics, a great quote by the famous American writer comes to mind. He said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man that can’t read them”. That is, in essence, Paul’s point here as well. A Jew who does not live according to the spirit and letter of the Torah (rejects the essence of his identity) is simply not a Jew at all, and certainly should not be considered as such by the Roman Christ-followers. Romans who argue against the Jews because those they have in mind, do evil, don’t believe in their own Christ, and persecute Gentiles who do through the machinery of the Roman Government should not put them together with Jews who behave honorably.
…indeed (his) circumcision is of value if you practice the Torah; but if you are a transgressor of the Torah, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Torah, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Torah, will he not judge you who though having the letter and circumcision are a transgressor of the Torah? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Rom. 2:25-29)
The upshot of this quote (Rom. 2:25-29) is quite simple: A true Jew according to Apostle Paul is one who has both the circumcision of the flesh and the circumcision of the heart, commanded in Deut 10:16. Not of the flesh only and conversely not of the heart only! Both are needed simultaneously. The members of the Nations, if obedient to all the Torah requirements designed for non-Israelites, are considered just as righteous as Jews obedient to their covenant before God.
Why is it important not to claim that, in Christ, “Gentiles become spiritual Jews”? Simply because this is not true and this is not what happens. The Gentiles in Christ whose hearts are circumcised become “spiritual non-Jews” who worship Israel’s God alongside with the Jews as the Nations! This is a high calling indeed. There is none that can be higher, actually. Paul is very serious about the Nations and Israel worshiping God together, but not changing identity of the Nations and turning them into Israel. The Shema is at stake. The Torah must be proven right, God is not the God of the Jews only, but the God of the entire world.
This article originally appeared on Jewish Studies Blog by Dr. Eli, April 26, 2016, and reposted with permission.
One of Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's greatest passions is building of bridges of trust, respect and understanding between Christians and Jews, overcoming centuries of difficult, but almost always joined history. He strongly believes that both Hebrew Bible and the New Testament scriptures have much to teach both communities. Outside of his expertise in the ancient languages (Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Syriac and Old Church Slovanic), he has a command of three other modern languages (English, Russian and Hebrew).
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Remembering Shai Kushnir: A Messianic Fallen IDF Soldier
I will never forget the sight or the feel of seeing thousands of people solemnly making their way through the neighborhoods to the military cemetery in Kiryat Ata, a city just north of Haifa. As a former IDF soldier I had been to several military ceremonies, but this one was unique. This one touched much closer to home. It was a funeral for Shai Kushnir, who grew up in my Messianic congregation in the Haifa area, Tents of Mercy. He was killed by a mortar shell on the Gaza border on July 31, 2014.
I cannot say I knew Shai well, but I do remember the interactions we had, like working out together in the gym. Everybody enjoyed being around Shai. Eitan Shishkoff, our congregational leader, wrote of him, “As a teen, his constant smile and fun-loving, easy going nature belied his intense desire to serve in a combat unit.”
Many have pointed out, and it’s worth mentioning again, that Shai did not have to serve in a combat unit. Even though Israel has a mandatory military service, there is a law that an only son must have his parents’ written permission to serve in combat. It seems odd when I think about it, like getting your parents’ permission to go on a school trip. Yet this indicates the value Israel places not only on its soldiers, but the soldiers’ family.
Shai chose to be a combat soldier because he believed he was playing a vital role in the protection of our country and people. Yeshua said, “No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). This was Shai.
How should we remember and honor Shai? How do we value not just his sacrifice, but also his life? Eitan Shishkoff wrote:
For me, standing near his grave, surrounded by sober, resolute, tender yet sinewy infantrymen, that value is framed by the divine mandate to make our home here, in Eretz Yisrael. From the cemetery I can see Mount Carmel, one of our country’s biblical and geophysical landmarks. I’m reminded of God’s declaration to Abraham: “I will establish my covenant between me and you … for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also, I give to you and your descendants after you the land … all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7, 8)
Tonight at 8pm there is an one-minute siren marking the beginning of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day). It is a remarkable feeling as everyone across the country stops what they are doing, whether it’s work, watching television, or even driving on the highway, to stand silently, honoring our fallen soldiers. Tomorrow at 11am there will be a two-minute siren, marking the opening of the official memorial ceremonies. As of today, May 10, 2016, the number stands at 23,447. I knew Shai and his story. There is a story to every single soldier.
Let us remember them and give thanks to God, the Guardian of Israel, for the lives of these young men and women. Because of them, we are able to live in the Land of Israel as promised to us by God.
Yonatan is the Managing Editor of Kehila News Israel. He holds a BA in History and Russian Studies, and an MA in Jewish Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. He made aliyah in 2007. He and his wife live with their two young daughters in Haifa, and are members of Tents of Mercy Messianic Congregation.
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Ron Cantor’s Podcast is back!
After a more than a year break, Ron is back with a new podcast. Joined most weeks, by his friend, Yosie Levine, they will discuss world news as it relates to Israel and the Jewish people. In addition, they will focus on themes of revival and teaching from a Messianic perspective.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.