There is a question hanging in the steamy summer air of Israel. It is a question from God Himself and, as a nation; we are going to have to deal with it. The question is, "Who is He? Who is this man, Yeshua?"
This year, the question has come to the attention of the Israeli public with unprecedented frequency. Here are some examples:
MESSIANIC TEEN VICTIM OF BOMB ATTACK
Ami Ortiz, 15, was nearly murdered when a bomb disguised as a Purim holiday package was set outside the doorstep of his home. His parents, David and Leah, leaders of a Messianic congregation in Ariel were not at home. Ami decided to open the package and as he did so it blew up in his face. The blast should have taken his life. His neck was cut open from one side to the other. The shrapnel that shredded his limbs and lodged in his eyes should have removed his limbs and stolen his sight. He walks and sees today only because of the intervention of God. The well-disguised bomb was a lethal weapon of terror designed to destroy the family.
A lawyer representing the family said that he was very concerned that no suspect had been arrested. The Ortiz family is asking themselves how can there be no arrests in light of the very clear evidence found by the police. A May TV documentary highlighted the lack of police investigation and apparent cover-up. Law enforcement officials have ruled out a Palestinian terrorist attack and confirm that the hate crime came from fellow Jews, almost certainly religious zealots. Meanwhile, through national media, the attention of Israeli society is being drawn to the question: Why this attempt to murder an innocent young man; who are the people that are the target of such persecution and what do they believe?
AKKO LEADER SLANDERED
The second incident involves our daughter congregation in Akko. We have had superb relationships with the city government as a result of humanitarian aid. This April a letter was distributed to all of the synagogues in Akko. It contained lies about Guy Cohen, the young leader of Akko's Messianic congregation, warning the town to stay away from him. Guy explained: "I was accused of converting Jews into Christians and of building a facility that would lead youth to doom. Over the past month, religious Jews have many times stood outside our new facility and cursed us, even attempting to enter the building by force ... My heart goes out to them since I was once one of them, zealous for God and with a strong love for this land." I love Guy's heart. This must be our attitude too.
MESSIANIC BIBLE CONTESTANT CONTESTED
During Israel's Independence Day celebration there is an annual international Bible quiz. Bat El Levy is an exceptionally knowledgeable 17-year-old who happens to believe in Jesus. Yad L'Achim, an Israeli "anti-missionary" group, saw her participation in the Bible contest as a threat to Judaism. Pressure was put on the Education Ministry to disqualify Bat El from the quiz, saying she should not be considered Jewish since she believes Jesus is the Messiah. The Education Ministry rejected Yad L'Achim's demand.
Her attorney Calev Meyers, said "If the participation of a young Messianic Jewish woman is enough to shake up those rabbis' world, it shows the weakness of that world ... It is time that they stopped having a monopoly over determining who is a Jew."
BOOK BURNING IN ISRAEL!
A rabbi, who also happens to be the vice mayor of Or Yehuda, initiated a public burning of Hebrew New Testaments and other Messianic literature. As Joseph Shulam, Messianic leader and scholar stated in a radio interview, "The New Testament is the most important Jewish book that has influenced the whole world more than any other Jewish book. Great men in Israel are reading and have read the New Testament. David Ben-Gurion learned Greek specifically so he could read the New Testament in the original." In response to the book burning, many prominent editorialists condemned the act, comparing it to Christian burnings of Jewish literature over the ages. One writer said "I recommend to every Israeli, secular or religious, to read the New Covenant ... He is promised a genuine Jewish experience."
CHANGE IN THE WIND
Beloved, there is change in the wind. To say that Yeshua is a stranger in His own land would be an understatement. To say that His Jewish followers in Israel in the year 2008, nearly 2000 years after His life, death and resurrection are misunderstood, regarded as irrelevant and worse in the perception of the average Israeli is also an understatement.
There is an astonishing task before us - to make Him known. But we know this task is now at the top of God's agenda. Who is He? That is the question that is before all Israel. Yeshua's fellow Jews asked "Who are you?" We want every person of this nation to be asking that same question. But as they ask that question we don't want to give an answer that amounts to a foreign message and a foreign way of life. What steps can we take to respond to the central question: "Who is He?"
1. SAY IT LOUD AND CLEAR: "THIS IS NOT A FOREIGN MESSAGE & WE ARE NOT MISSIONARIES
The accusation in Akko that Guy Cohen has converted to Christianity and that he is converting other Jews to Christianity is 100% wrong! That is not what we are about, even though both the Jewish community and most of the world Christian community understand it that way. The New Covenant is first and foremost a Jewish document.
We must establish ourselves in this nation not as foreign missionaries but as Israelis - like the first believers! The question is not only "Who is He?" but "Who are we?" The nation around us does not know who we are. Our daily life style needs to reflect the biblical Jewish foundation God gave to Israel. Just like the 1st century disciples, we are called to worship in the language and flavor of our people. We are also called to enter Israel's national institutions, like the army.
2. PARTICIPATE IN ISRAELI SOCIETY
A prime example is a young man who is an officer in the IDF and the son of a Messianic Jewish leader. He is serving on one of our borders, in a strategic position, with tremendous influence over his men. There are young people entering into the universities. One young man in our congregation is now studying music composition and production at Haifa University. There is a financial company/real estate brokerage in Tel Aviv that is owned and run by Messianic Jews. Our young people are entering the corridors of society. This generation has to understand itself as Jewish Israelis.
3. PRESENT EVIDENCE IN SCRIPTURE, TRADITION & JEWISH WRITINGS
The prophet Hosea encourages us that "the children of Israel shall return (from exile) and seek the Lord their God and David their king ... in the latter days. (Hosea 3:5) This verse is about the Messiah. It is a prophecy about our days. We are back in the land and Israel is beginning to seek God and ask questions about Messiah.
Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all speak of the Davidic Messiah coming to Israel after Israel returns to the land: "David My servant shall be king over them and they shall have one shepherd ... David shall be their prince forever and I will make a covenant of peace with them and it will be an everlasting covenant." (Ezekiel 37:24-26) Biblical evidence is abundant for a suffering Messiah who will bring the knowledge of Israel's God to the nations. It's time to be easily conversant with these passages in Hebrew, in context.
Pinchas Lapide, a scholar and Israeli ambassador, wrote a book about the resurrection of Yeshua - The Resurrection of Jesus, a Jewish Perspective. He insists on the complete Jewishness of Christianity in its earliest form. He emphasizes that the witnesses to Yeshua's resurrection were all Jews and calls it a Jewish faith experience. "As a faithful Jew I cannot explain (away) the historical development that despite many errors and much confusion has carried the central message of Israel from Jerusalem to the nations of the world. The experience of the resurrection ... to carry the God of Israel to the ... world must belong to God's plan for salvation." An unbiased Jewish scholar wrote that. Such sources buttress our testimony. We have the goods.
Our "field manual" is the Book of Acts. The apostles were crystal clear in their description and proclamation of Yeshua as Messiah and His relevance in Israel. "Men of Israel, hear these words, Yeshua of Nazareth ... (was) attested ... by miracles, wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst." (Acts 2:14, 22) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know surely that God has made this Yeshua whom you crucified both Lord and Messiah." (Acts 2:36) The nation had asked, "Who is this Man?" The apostles made Him known. So must we.
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Daniel Juster: Israel and Senator Barack Obama|
|Marty Shoub: Strangers No More|
|Asher Intrater: Are We A Kingdom Divided Against Itself?|
|Asher & Amiel Intrater: Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem|