Eitan Shiskoff

Executive Director
Tents of Mercy Network
 
 
"I discovered my Jewish heritage while reading the New Testament account of the Last Supper. Before concluding that I got my wires crossed, think about the original setting of that meal. It was, in fact, the Passover Seder, the annual meal Israel was commanded by God to observe throughout their generations."






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"The bond between King Solomon and King Hiram is a wonderful example of covenant friendship between Jewish and Gentile lovers of David (the foremost type of Messiah)."
 
 

Though Passover passed by several months ago, we can always ask questions. The classic Passover Seder formula serves our purposes well. When the “four questions" are chanted by the youngest child at the table (the Sephardic tradition is for all assembled to ask the questions as a chorus), it opens the door to the wonder-filled story of our exodus from slavery. All the celebrants are exhorted to view these events “as if we ourselves were present on the night that we fled from Egypt." May the following four questions similarly lead to your personal entry into the redemption story God is currently weaving.

I. WHAT IS A MESSIANIC JEW?

I discovered my Jewish heritage while reading the New Testament account of the Last Supper. Before concluding that I got my wires crossed, think about the original setting of that meal. It was, in fact, the Passover Seder, the annual meal Israel was commanded by God to observe throughout their generations. For the first time I saw the "Old" and "New" Testaments as one interwoven book. I understood that living as a Jew, I would be following in the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles. They were thoroughly embedded in Israel. Yeshua, whom I had only known as Jesus, without much connection to His destiny as the King of Israel, had brought me back to a part of my family history from which I'd been cut off by assimilation.

Why is this even of value? Aren't we all one in Messiah? Yes, we are all joyfully one in Messiah. At the same time, God's eternal covenant with Israel is not to be set aside with the advent of her Redeemer. In Jeremiah 31:3 the Lord says "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love." We would expect Him to call His own nation into relationship with Himself as evidence of this love. When Yeshua says that He came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel there is no time limit. He indicates no endpoint to that assignment. On the contrary, He says "You will not see me again until you [Jews in Israel] say 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord'" (Matthew 23:39). He declares, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah [a far better translation from the original Hebrew context than the term "law"] or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17).

A Messianic Jew is a modern day disciple of Yeshua who is born Jewish (of either parent according to most Messianic Jewish leaders, though some hold with the rabbinic ruling of matrilineal descent, meaning if only one's father is Jewish he/she is not Jewish. This, of course would rule out Joseph's children, Moses' children, and Ruth's children). The Messianic Jew receives Yeshua as Messiah, Redeemer, Savior and King, the Son of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and inheritor of the everlasting throne of His ancestor King David. He also views the way of life given in Torah as the expression of God's continued covenant with the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

II. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF REGATHERED ISRAEL?

When my wife and I first arrived in Israel as immigrants, nearly 20 years ago, there was no way we could have known the adventure we were in for. Considering our own flaws and foibles, there is no doubt that the hand of God is responsible for any success we have had in ministry since we arrived in Israel.

Our own aliyah represents a small part of our people's physical return to the land of Israel from long centuries of exile. This re-gathering proves that God did not break Covenant with Israel and that the Church can never replace God's ancient covenant people. "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince [our own government], without ephod or teraphim [a functioning priesthood]. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days" (Hos. 3:4-5). The faithfulness of the God of Israel is displayed for all history. That He regathered of the Israelites who were scattered during the conquests of the Assyrians (720 BCE), the Babylonians (586 BCE) and the Romans (70 CE) proves it. In Deuteronomy 30:1-6 we learn that Israel will turn back to God while still in exile and then He will bring us back. We personally experienced this turning to the Lord - then He led us back.

The same promise is found in reverse order in Ezekiel 36:24-27. In this passage, God describes a turning back to the Lord with tender hearts after we have been restored to our land. This promise has been widely fulfilled in the thousands of new immigrants who have met Yeshua after arriving in Israel over the past 20+ years. Both promises are true. Both highlight a regathered Israel that precedes the return of Yeshua as King. He affirmed to the disciples that He would restore the kingdom of Israel, (Acts 1:6,7). He is Son, Savior and Lord, but He will return as King of Israel (Ezek. 37:24,25, 2 Sam 7).

III. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE GENTILES?

I see Ezek. 37:9,10 as a body-wide calling: "Prophesy to the breath...and say...Thus says the Lord God: 'Come from the four winds, O breath and breathe on these slain that they may live.'" To prophesy to the bones is a forerunner's role. The prophetic intercessors (Jewish and Gentile) within the body of Messiah are to carry out the ministry of Ezekiel in this regard. Other ancient prophets foresaw the role of the Gentiles at the end of the age. Isaiah envisioned all nations flowing to the mountain of the Lord's house in the latter days (Isaiah 2:2-3). In Zechariah 2:10-11 the Lord declared "I am coming and I will dwell in your midst...Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become my people."

The bond between King Solomon and King Hiram is a wonderful example of covenant friendship between Jewish and Gentile lovers of David (the foremost type of Messiah). Their friendship led to the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. What a splendid foreshadowing of today's Gentile lovers of Yeshua who are drawn by the Spirit to take part in Israel's restoration!

Finally there is the remarkable and practical list in Isaiah's 60th chapter. He begins with the announcement that the Gentiles will be drawn to the light that will dawn upon Israel at age's end. Isaiah was looking into our day when he saw: Intercessory Prayer (60:10), Financing (60:5,9), Reversal of anti-Semitism (60:14), Assisting in the Physical Return (60:8,9) and Coaching/Equipping (60:16).

IV. "WHAT'S MY PART, LORD?"

The fourth question is for each of us to ask the Lord, trusting Him to direct us and use our lives in the redemption of Israel. In a sense, without this fourth question, the rest are academic. Your life, the content of your days, makes a significant difference. So, the real question is “What's my part? Where do you want me, Lord?"

By Eitan Shishkoff
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Comments:
10:20 05Jun12 Doreen Blanchard -
Thank you for your labor of love to write this thought provoking article. I am a Messianic Jew who is just now connecting with my roots. FollowingArticle(10:27 05Jun12 Susan St Clair, An awesome article, Eitan. This being the 2nd article that I read after Dan's I am sensing a holy, reverencial fear of the Lord in both articles.)

12:54 05Jun12 Annie Harrison -
I'm intensely interested in all things Messianic/Jewish and receive many emails from various sources in regards to Israel. I so appreciated this article and thought it a wonderful source showing the Jewish/Gentile connection. My eyes are forever focused on Israel ... praying also for that great Messianic Harvest and the Gentile harvest that will follow.

  -- Eitan Shishkoff replies: It is touching to know that you are so hungry for all that pertains to the Messianic Jewish awakening. Having discovered our Jewish heritage as believers in Yeshua, back in the mid-70s

13:18 05Jun12 Frank Onofrio -
Excellent points! We are living in the Last Days & I expect more Jews to become Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua as the true Messiah. Gentile anti-Semitism is diminishing (at least within the Church), but I'm afraid it might be increasing again outside of the Church. Gentile believers are missing out on a whole bunch of Biblical insights by not being acquainted with the ancient Jewish Feasts, calendar & traditions. And yes, "... God did not break Covenant with Israel and ... the Church can never replace God's ancient covenant people." (If God would break His Covenant with Israel, why not break also His salvation promises to Gentile believers in Yeshua one day?)

19:44 05Jun12 Wayne Talbot -
With your permission, I will quote you in a book I am writing, because though a Gentile, I too worked backward from the Last Supper to understand why they gathered on that night, and then came to understand also that the event termed "Pentecost" by Christians was in fact Shavuot of the Jews. As a Messianic Gentile, ok Christian, I am now seeking to regain my spiritual Jewish heritage disinherited by Rome's Replacement Theology. I have come to realise that the redemption from Egypt was the beginning of my redemption from sin, and the covenant at Sinai was my covenant also, accepting all the Hashem said in regard to how I should live. Though having no intention to convert to Judaism, I nevertheless now observe the original Sabbath, and am quietly working on the dietary laws (my wife is yet to share my faith). I look forward to the day when both Christians and Jews recognise that they must reconcile in the Messiah Yeshua. Shalom, and thank you for your ministry.

  -- Eitan Shishkoff replies: First, it is commendable that you have tuned in to what the Spirit is renewing, i.e. a Jewish-rooted understanding of the New Covenant of Yeshua the Messiah. In this renewal, it is also possible to become so enthused about the restoration of truth that we can over-apply what we are discovering.

I can agree heartily with pretty much all that you say, but this one statement troubles me: "the covenant at Sinai was my covenant also..." In reviewing the Scriptures, it is strongly stated that HaShem met with Israel at Mt. Sinai and that His covenant was with the 12 tribes of Jacob. Applying all of the aspects of Torah to all believers in Yeshua, both Jew and Gentile, is what the apostles spoke to in Acts 15 and 21. Their decision was clear. "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled and from sexual immorality. (Acts 21:25)"

May God guide you in this wondrous journey of faith into which He has brought us.

23:27 05Jun12 Leon -
Wondrous Truth, thank you for making it available.

01:08 06Jun12 Austen Ater -
Thank you for prompting the question of what is our part and what the Father has for us. Tonight I prayed that and will continue to action. His will be done.

06:25 06Jun12 Philip Latham -
Absolutely first class! I'm circulating to friends who have a heart for Jews to come to know Yeshua.

17:13 08Jun12 R. -
I enjoyed that article. I am grafted in and understand that but I know several who are also grafted in but want to so badly to be Jewish that they have become what I would say extreme and almost anti-Gentle belivers. Do you see any of that and what is the best response?

  -- Eitan Shishkoff replies: Yes, I certainly do see this and it is occurring everywhere that precious believers are awakening to the Jewish roots of the New Covenant. For the most part, this awakening is a marvelous development that goes against the dark tide of Church history regarding the Jewish people and Jewishness of the Gospel and the apostles themselves.

However, as you have noted, the problem does arise when folks are looking for a stronger identity. They have been born Gentiles (God's choice) but feel that living a Jewish life would be more meaningful and even more biblical. I cannot accept this on several grounds.

  1. Creation. If the Creator wanted me a woman, he could have easily ordered that. But He didn't. It was HIS choice. He gave me a Jewish mother, intending that I would discover my Jewishness after finding Yeshua. By this inheritance I am considered Jewish by both the mainstream Jewish community and the Messianic Jewish one.
  2. Scripture. In Acts 15 and Acts 21 and all other addresses where we find commentary in the New Covenant, the concept of a Gentile not being required (may I add, expected) to follow Torah is rejected. A Gentile is not expected or required to keep Torah and any ruling to the contrary is confusing and leads to the type of negative judgment you mention. "Why did my pastor never tell me? Why were we taught this way?" Now, I agree, that much of the teaching over the centuries has been destructive to the Jewish people and badly skewed. This does not make me "anti-Christians" or "anti-organized Church." I am also aware (and writing a book on the subject) that the Gentiles have preserved much that is good and have brought Jesus into our age as the Savior, Lord and Messiah.
Your final question is "what is the best response?" I think the best response is "Yes, it's phenomenal that God is restoring the nation of Israel and that there is a resurrection of Jesus' Jewish disciples. We should celebrate, just as the Father in the Prodigal Son story tells the brother that stays at home. "It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)" When you compare this verse with the Ezekiel 37 picture of Israel as lying in a massive valley of bones, very dead, only to be revived by God Himself --- I see these pictures matching up. You can respond by saying "Each of us has our part to play in this drama. You are special for who you are, not for "putting on" an identity for which you were not called. We have vital things to do and ways to accentuate the work of God among the Jewish people. We are one with our Messianic Jewish brothers. Let's show it and serve God's purposes in our generation.

12:14 14Jun12 Jay Axtell -
I thought this was a helpful orientation for all who love Israel and Yeshua, both Jew and Gentile.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: Retiring the Religious Spirit
Avishalom Tekle: Counting the Omer in Brazil
Asher Intrater: Rabbi "J"