New Beginnings
by Leon Mazin, Shavei Tzion Messianic Center, Tents of Mercy Network

In 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) describes the true meaning of love. In thirteen short verses, he sets a whole new standard for real love. This "love letter" was sent to the church in Corinth, which consisted of Jewish believers in Yeshua from Corinth, Ephesus and the surrounding regions, as well as Gentiles who were drawn to faith through God's signs and wonders.

Love

Rav Shaul's perspective on true love is a far cry from what Hollywood movies portray. The emotion he describes is sacrificial, for the benefit of one's fellow man. The kind of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 does not come naturally to man's carnal nature. At the same time that we tend to complain about our own circumstances, we have a tendency to overlook the misfortune of others. If we see someone else suffering, we may even console ourselves and think, "I'm not doing so badly after all", rather than help the brother in his distress. These attitudes are not of God; they are based on a humanistic viewpoint.

The Apostle Shaul's words strongly contradict our carnal understanding of love. He wants us to experience a love that does not seek its own benefit, but rather sacrifices for the sake of others. Humanly speaking we cannot attain such love. Yet with God's help, it is possible to show love and mercy to others. In God's eyes, the power of such love surpasses the power of miracles, charisma and supernatural wonders.

Hope

Early settlers in Petach Tikvah
"Doorway of Hope"
How can we understand the full meaning of hope? Seeking the deeper meaning of the word "hope" strangely led me to study the history of one of Israel's towns - not Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, but Petach Tikvah ("Doorway of Hope").

Petach Tikvah was established in 1878 by a handful of religious Zionists from Europe. Life on the small moshav (cooperative agricultural community) was extremely challenging - the residents were afflicted by sickness and surrounded by hostile enemies under the rule of the Muslim Ottoman Empire. In spite of hardships, they gave their newly established village a symbolic name which spoke of their hope for a brighter future. The community established an agricultural school, created industrial institutions, and helped pave the way for the Israeli Defense Force.

With God's help, the humble beginnings of Petach Tikvah greatly influenced and inspired future Israeli cities. Though many of them didn't have a strong faith in God, they hoped for a better future, oriented themselves towards that goal, and God Himself blessed their efforts. "Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment" (Isaiah 66:8a)?

We, as Messianic Jews in modern Israel, are often viewed as pioneers as well. The foundations we are building are spiritual. The small things we are constructing will be needed when "all Israel shall be saved". The foundations the pioneers of Petach Tikvah built some 130 years ago still stand today as a firm infrastructure in modern Israel. The foundations that we as Messianic believers are building are spiritual, educational and social. Our efforts may seem meager, but we have hope that one day our service will grow into its full capacity, and as believers in Yeshua we will shout, "Baruch Haba B'shem Adonai" (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord).

Faith

I don't believe faith amounts to standing in front of a mirror and repeating to one's self, "I am strong, I am strong..." or saying to someone, "Be healed, be healed..." This can be the case if God instructs a person to do so, but in most cases faith is receiving our daily encouragement from the Word of God and working towards things that we have been hoping for, regardless of opposition (Hebrews 11:1).

Our faith is based on the Tanach (Old Testament) and the Brit Hadasha (New Testament), which encourages our Messianic community to share the Good News of Yeshua with our fellow Jews. It inspires us to reveal the true face of Yeshua to His people, even in times of opposition. We seek to reach the "Jew first", as did the early apostles, through His love, hope and faith.

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