Almost 2,000 years ago,
there was an apostolic congregation/church/community in Jerusalem. This
was the first congregation ever. All other churches or congregations
ultimately came from this first one. This Apostolic community is
described in the book of Acts, particularly chapter 2. This congregation
is the master pattern for all faith communities, and forms the basis of
the vision for our congregation [Ahavat Yeshua] in Jerusalem as well.
That first congregation was the "starting line" for the gospel. The
faith community in Jerusalem today represents the "finish line." We have
returned to Jerusalem to "finish the race" that our forefathers started.
The gospel went out from "Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of
the earth" (Acts 1:8). Today it is returning from the ends of the earth
to Samaria to Judea to Jerusalem.
The Acts 2 congregation felt they had received the mandate to establish
the kingdom of God on earth. That great "commission" was passed on from
Yeshua to His disciples and afterwards to the whole community. That
community was dedicated, totally consumed, with the desire to complete
that mission. That burning passion in their souls was ignited into flames
by the fire of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:2-4). The Acts 2 community
was consecrated to the Acts 1 commission.
The original core-group of that first congregation was only 120 people
(Acts 1:15). This number is surprisingly small. There were hundreds of
thousands of people who were impacted by Yeshua's ministry and
"believed" in Him. Yet from those myriads there was only a small remnant
that gathered together into active cooperation to fulfill His words.
The early disciples were not only dedicated to Yeshua's vision; they
also experienced together a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
They had a shared experience to accompany their shared vision. That
shared, supernatural, spiritual experience gave birth to their community
and their commission. The establishment of the church and the launching
of the gospel only came after this experience. There was no church or
gospel without it.
They understood their experience to be similar to the anointing that fell
upon the prophets of Israel (Acts 2:16-18). They saw speaking in tongues as
an extension of the ecstatic expression of the Old Covenant prophets
(Numbers 11:29, I Samuel 10:5-6), and the preaching of the gospel as a
continuation of their prophetic messages (Isaiah 61:1-2; Revelation 19:10).
They lived that experience by daily prayer, praise, prophecy, preaching,
teaching, and speaking in tongues (Acts 1:14, 2:40-47; 4:31)
Their shared vision and shared experience caused the early disciples to
make an extraordinary commitment one to another in partnership and love.
Their congregation involved deep covenantal relationships of loyalty and
- Fellowship - They ate constantly in one another's homes
- Generosity - They sold homes in order to give (Acts 2:45; 4:34)
- Holiness - Sinners dropped dead in their meetings (Acts 5:5, 10)
- Miracles - The fear of God led to great healings (Acts 2:43;
- Unity - They lived in one heart and soul (Acts 1:14; 2:1, 44,
46; 4:32, 34)
The early congregation was based on three foundations: kingdom vision,
spiritual power, covenantal relationships. The disciples were dedicated to
all three elements.
The inner core of that congregation were Israeli Jews, who spoke Hebrew
(Acts 6:1; 22:2), lived within their larger community (Acts 2:47), followed
religious tradition (Acts 10:14; 15:10; 21:20), kept the feasts (Acts 2:1)
and even participated in Temple prayers and rituals (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 24:17;
However, when that core group began to preach, there soon gathered around
them people from different nations, with different languages and different
customs. "There were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every
nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came
together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own
language group" (Acts 2:5-6).
So the early congregation soon developed into two circles: an inner circle
of Hebrew-speaking Israelis and a wider circle of internationals from other
language groups, primarily Greek. This caused tension in issues such as
decision making, delegation, budgeting, fundraising, mission priorities,
etc. "Now in those days, when the number of disciples was multiplying,
the Greek-speaking Jews began to complain against the Hebrew-speaking ones,
that their widows were neglected..." (Acts 6:1)
That friction was often uncomfortable, if not traumatic. Yet it was a
necessary component because of the dual mandate to both restore the kingdom
to Israel (Acts 1:6) and to preach the gospel to the nations (Acts 1:8). We
find that same tension in our congregations today.
Finally, there was an issue of leadership. Imagine the problem: one
congregation with 12 apostles - and who were Jewish at that! The
congregation in Jerusalem had two purposes: 1) to be a local congregation
in every respect; 2) to carry the strategic planning and execution of the
great kingdom commission. This developed into a two-tiered leadership.
One council was made up of "elders" who were primarily responsible for the
local community; and another council of "apostles" who were primarily
responsible for the wider commission. "The apostles and elders..." (Acts
15:2, 4). Sometimes the two groups would come together to discuss
overlapping issues. "The apostles and elders came together to consider
this matter" (Acts 15:6).
Please pray for wisdom for our congregation and other Jerusalem
congregations as we seek God's right order for restoration and
By Asher Intrater and Eddie Santoro
Last year, the Israeli
Nature Protection Society opened the baptismal site and nature
preserve by the name of Khaser al Yehud, on the Jordan River across
from Jericho. The Arabic name means "the castle of the Jews." This is
thought to be the location of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan
at the time of Joshua, the spot where Elijah rose to heaven before
Elisha's eyes, and the approximate location of the immersion of
Yeshua (Jesus) by John the Baptist.
The significance of these historic events is connected. As Yeshua
fasted 40 days in the wilderness to "complete" the meaning of the 40
years of the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness with Moses, so
was He immersed in the same place in the Jordan to "complete" the
meaning of the crossing of the river by the Jews with Joshua (Matthew
3:15). The covenantal and spiritual unity of the life of Yeshua and
the history of the people of Israel is profound (Matthew 2:15).
Recently some members of Ahavat Yeshua traveled to Khaser al Yehud.
There in the hot desert sun, we had the joy of immersing three new
believers into the death and resurrection of Yeshua. In addition,
several others rededicated their lives through immersion.
Each one had his own personal story, but the outstanding truth in
each of their lives is that God's love is greater than the power
of the enemy. As the last couple came up from the water, and as we
stood there marveling and rejoicing in God's grace, suddenly a
single white dove flew overhead and circled around us (Matthew 3:16).
Asher, Avihai and Joel had a great trip in the US in May! If you were
unable to join us in person in Maryland or at IHOP-KC, please don't
miss out on the teachings! Check the Revive Israel website
for information on how to order these and other new messages or contact
our US office at: 301.695.5544