Happy 10th Birthday Ahavat Yeshua
by Eddie Santoro, , Revive Israel

We just recently celebrated 10 years as a congregation! The meeting hall was filled with people, the presence of God, and loving fellowship - all a testimony of the mighty work that He has done over the past decade.

By God's grace (and lots of hard work), these years have brought forth significant fruit. There have been challenges and a few defeats, but overall we have experienced great success. As we look back, we are filled with a deep sense of peace and contentment.

At the first meeting in 2006, there were about fifteen people. Asher Intrater and I were the two senior leaders. We had worked together in Tel Aviv for 6 years and we knew very well that it would not be easy to raise up a congregation in Jerusalem, according to our vision. The first congregation in Jerusalem described in Acts 2 would be our model, with the name "Ahavat Yeshua" (Love of Jesus) reflecting our vision to be a congregation filled with His love and power. Today the small group of 15 has grown to about 120.

Originally, the congregation was comprised of mostly young and single people. We saw great potential in each one and spent years meeting with them, breaking bread together, and walking them through difficulties and victories. We danced at their weddings and rejoiced as their young families grew. Many have now grown into mature members, and we are deeply committed to passing the leadership into their hands. Today they have much of the responsibility for leading and managing the congregation. Asher, Dan, and I have become the coaches, and the desire in their hearts to serve is bearing fruit. For this we are grateful and in this we give glory to God who is building His house in Jerusalem in our day!

This article was previously published on 21Jun16 here as part of a Zion's Glory newsletter

Happy 10th Birthday Ahavat Yeshua
by Ariel Blumenthal, , Revive Israel

According to the Bible, "Israel" can mean:

A) the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the Jewish people

B) the Jewish nation in its Land, and

C) the Remnant of believers in Yeshua - Jew & Gentile together.

The Olive Tree metaphor of Romans 11 demands that Christians see themselves as "grafted in" (covenantally connected) to Israel in a way that reflects the fullness of all 3 dimensions of Biblical Israel. This is God's formula for bringing about the "fullness of the Gentiles/nations," "all Israel being saved," and the 2nd Coming of Yeshua (Romans 11:25-26).

Before we study what this full "grafting in" might look like in our day, I want to look at how Christians have been connecting to Israel in ways that are good, but stop short of the fullness that we are seeking.

Connecting with Israel or the Jewish people OUTSIDE of Gospel faith

A+B, without C. Over the last several generations, many Christians have discerned in Israel the fulfillment of the many Biblical prophecies concerning the ingathering of the Jewish people and the restoration of our nation. After centuries of mistreatment of the Jews, Christians have accepted the Biblical mandate to lovingly "provoke" unbelieving Israel "to jealousy" (Romans 11:12). Many lead tours to the Land, visit the IDF, meet with politicians, rabbis, etc.; others have donated finances or planted trees to help the nation; and many take a strong pro-Israel political stance. These are all good, but can totally miss "C" - the Israel that is the Israel of faith - the spiritual remnant of Israeli elievers in Yeshua.

Romans 9:6 and 11:17-18 tell us that not all of Israel is fully Israel. If one's primary mode of connecting, of grafting into the Olive Tree, is through the unsaved Jewish majority, then one is essentially grafting to branches which are (at least at this stage) cut off from the tree! That's not a good formula for "partaking with them of the rich root of the olive tree!!" It's impossible to take blessing and nourishment from the root if you are grafting into branches that aren't even connected to the tree! This error was quite forgivable a generation ago, when the believing remnant in Israel was so tiny as to be practically invisible, but today the Jewish nation is experiencing a spiritual restoration and a growing, maturing remnant of the faithful in Yeshua. It's time for the fullness of the Olive Tree grafting relationship!

Jewish/Hebrew "Roots" Torah Teaching

Today, there is much popular teaching about the "Jewish roots" of the faith. Learning about the Hebraic background of the Scriptures, Jewish culture, the Feasts, etc. can be beneficial - as long as it does not come with a promise to find through their observance, spiritual benefits that we already have in Messiah. But connecting with the laws and culture of a people is different from actually connecting with them in a relational way. Think of it like this: eating out regularly at a sushi restaurant may help you to appreciate Japanese food, but it may not help you actually connect with the reality that is Japan. Of course, an appreciation of the national cuisine, or studying the language and history of Japan, can help foster deeper relationship with Japanese people - but it shouldn't be mistaken for the relationship itself!

The Olive Tree of Romans 11 is a "people tree," not a "Torah teaching/doctrine" tree. According to Paul, the root of the tree (God's covenant people) is to be identified more with the Abrahamic covenant of faith and promise, than with the later Torah-based religious practices that came to define the boundaries of Jewish identity (Galatians 4-5; Romans 10:4). In context, Paul's whole point is about the right relationship with other peoples in the tree - not with observing Sabbaths or Feasts.

This "tree" of the people of God is also like a rainbow, demonstrating an incredible variety of the unique cultures and identities of the nations, whom John could visibly recognize in his vision. (Revelation 7:9) This mistaken way of "connecting" or "grafting" with Israel through Jewish roots teaching, can actually be a great deception: one may find himself with a supposedly "Jewish", or "Biblical" way of living and practicing his faith, but without any of the Biblical connections with Israel - neither A, B nor C! In the end, according to our experience, this can lead to a very unhealthy focus on the details of one's own religious practice, and a distracted obsession with Jewish or Israelite "blood" (Revelation 3:9).

This article was previously published on 30Jun16 here on the Revive Israel website and on 04Jul16 here on Kehila News Israel

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