This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

The baffling tale of Balaam and his donkey

One For Israel Staff 

Apr 19, 2017

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If you find this story bewildering, you are not alone. So many confusing aspects bombard my brain as I plough through the curious incident of Balaam and his unusual mule. Let’s not even start with the talking animals – I have so many questions before we even get to that! Why is a diviner talking to and hearing from God? I thought they were de facto in cohoots with the other side? Why does God appear to change his mind about whether or not it’s ok for Balaam to go? Four times? Why does this man who seems intent on obeying God get portrayed as a baddie even through to the New Testament (2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11)?

There are amazing parts to the story too – Balaam ends up giving some seriously powerful prophecy. Numbers 22-25 are packed full of amazing Torah treats just waiting to be unwrapped.

The story of Balaam

The people of Israel are trudging their way from Egypt and are getting close to the Promised Land. They very politely request passage through sovereign territory from the Edomites and then the Amorites, but in both cases, they are refused, and then attacked. However, the people of Israel defend themselves and win, and then capture the territory. With Edom and the Amorite territory unintentionally under their belt, Israel presses onwards. The King of Moab, Balak son of Zippor sees them coming his way and panics. He thinks he knows what might work… there’s a magic man called Balaam who is in touch with the gods… perhaps he could come and put a curse on the Israelites? Balak sends his top people with a fabulous cash incentive to see if Balaam was up for the cursing challenge. And here is where it gets confusing.

Balaam is a well known diviner, and sorcery is forbidden by God. Yet he seems to be confident that he hears from God, and concerned to do what God says. God tells Balaam not to go, because the people of Israel are to be blessed, not cursed. So Balaam obeys – he refuses to go and assures Barak’s men that it’s not a matter of money.

But maybe it is.

Because Balak sends back higher ranking men with a more tempting offer, and it seems to have done the trick, because Balaam goes back to check with God – are you sure I can’t go? Then God, strangely, it would appear, relents. He gives Balaam permission to go, but only to say what he tells him to say. So Balaam sets off, with permission. But then he is stopped in his tracks, by the Angel of the Lord no less, and his donkey refuses to budge and explains why. With words. The whole incident is highly irregular, which really should be a heads up for all concerned.

Balaam says, “I won’t go then, if you don’t want me to”, but yet again, rather bizarrely and seemingly contrarily, God gives him permission to proceed. What is that? Does God mind him going or not?

Balaam continues to meet Balak and is unable to utter a negative word over Israel, and instead blesses them three times over, with some amazing prophetic words to boot.

Head scratching stuff

A key verse to help us unlock the whole saga is Numbers 23:19.

“God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind!
Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it?”

On the one hand, it seems that God has changed his mind (several times over) but on the other hand, when we look at what God says in the first place, he has been utterly consistent.

God’s words to Balaam right at the start were these:

“Do not go with them! Do not curse them, for they are blessed!” (Num 22:12)

God initial statement is this: The people of Israel are not to be cursed, but to be blessed. God is intent on protecting Israel from curses and invocation of evil, and making sure that they are blessed. That is his statement, and he DOES NOT BUDGE. Not once do we see him wobble or fail in this regard. He protects Israel from curses and evil pronouncements, and he maintains their blessing and covering the entire time. He said it, he promised it, and he made sure that it was done according to his word, consistently.

YET. Yet… there is the issue of free will. And this is why we have the back and forth tussle with Balaam. God has made his heart, his intentions and his will known to Balaam, but he still gives Balaam permission and freedom to act in opposition to his will.

So far, so good. But then what’s with the donkey getting held up by the Angel? Was it ok for Balaam to go, or wasn’t it? What about Balaam’s concession and offer to return?

I think here God is showing not only Balaam but also the reader (you and me) what he really wants in this situation, and what he really thinks. He is not keen. Balaam gets the message, and does offer to go back, but he doesn’t really want to. And this is the thing.

What we want, our desires, are extremely important to God

God will not crush our freedom, and he will accommodate our choices. God has his own desires, loves, passions and purposes, and he will share them with us and invite us to join him. But he will not force us. He gives us permission to go our own way and do our own thing, but make no mistake, God’s ultimate thoughts, plans and purposes will not be thwarted.

Balaam’s desire to go and get the riches were accommodated, but ultimately the people of Israel were blessed, not cursed, just as God said in the first place. God creates room for our choices, but he will not allow us to usurp his overarching purposes. Even the Ishmael / Isaac story shows us that God does exactly what he intended to do in the first place anyway. He is not derailed. He ploughs on with plan A.

Balaam gives the appearance of obedience and submission, but his actions show that he does not really care about the revealed heart of God. God has told him what he thinks and how he feels, but Balaam does not share God’s concern for the people of Israel. He is more interested in the cash. He pays lip-service to God’s will, but he does not want to turn back at all. He is not interested in the fate of Israel.

This story shows us the extraordinary interplay that is constantly at work in the universe between God’s sovereignty and our free will.

If Balaam had correctly perceived what God was saying in the first place (I love Israel, and I want to protect them and bring only good to them) then Balaam wouldn’t even have had to check a second time if it was ok to go and curse them. The minutiae of the “go/don’t go” debate is laughable when we listen to God’s initial pronouncement. Balaam was looking for God’s permission, but God wants us to agree with and to join him in his will, not begrudging obedience.

We might stress about decisions and discovering God’s will in certain situations, but often God has laid out his heart and his purposes already. Have we really paid attention to what he’s already said?

Despite all of God’s protection of Israel from supernatural evil, Balaam showed the King of Moab how he could trick the people of Israel into idolatry, and that was their downfall, because God would not override Israel’s free will either. Still, some amazing pronouncements were made from the mouth of Balaam, and this miracle of reversed curses was logged in Israel’s history as a wonder and sign of God’s great blessing (Joshua 13, 24, Nehemiah 13).

God’s purposes for Israel prevail

God was intent on preserving Israel not only because he loved them (although he does, very much) but also because it was through Israel that he would come into the world as the Messiah, and accomplish salvation for all – both Jews and Gentiles. Balaam unwittingly utters these Messianic prophecies:

“He crouches like a lion or a lioness— who would rouse him?
He who blesses you will be blessed, and he who curses you will be cursed.” (Num 24:9)

“I see him, yet not at this moment. I behold him, yet not in this location.
For a star will come from Jacob, a scepter will arise from Israel…” (Num 24:17)

The Messiah to come was the seed among the people of Israel, so fiercely guarded by God. The parallels with Jacob’s own blessings to Judah are unmistakeable. We often refer to this story to say that God can use anyone to speak his word – even a donkey! But we see that he also used the crooked diviner, Balaam, which is just as great a miracle, and also the famously stiff-necked people of Israel.

God will accomplish his purposes for Israel and the world, and he will not force anyone against their will. Rather he shares his heart with us and invites us to join him as he works in the world. God’s promises to Abraham continued on, and cursing or blessing Israel will come back on the deliverer. God has chosen to work through Israel, and is not one who uses people and then discards them – his love and concern for Israel continue today, as do his purposes.

Freedom is expensive

Balaam’s charade of obedience was disingenuous. His heart was miles away from God’s. If we know God’s will we should not try to wriggle around it, because he will allow us the freedom and permission to go our own way, but it will not be good. This brings sorrow not only to us, but also to God.

Freedom costs, as any veteran can tell you. Our freedom to choose costs God dearly. It cost him the life of his one and only Son, our Messiah Yeshua. But without freedom, there can be no love. God in his love will not override our freedom, and will accommodate our bad choices. It is a price he is willing to pay. But he longs for us to freely come into agreement with his will and for our hearts to grow to match his heart.

These two statements are true: What we want is really important to God and significant in the universe, but ultimately, God’s will prevails.

I love this verse from the Psalms, whenever I’m in a dilemma:

“Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name.” (Ps 86:11)

This article originally appeared on One for Israel and is reposted with permission.

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One For Israel Staff

One For Israel Staff

http://oneforisrael.org

ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.

 

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Israel continues to treat wounded Syrians

Karen Faulkner 

Apr 15, 2017

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Israeli president Reuven Rivlin visits Syrians wounded in the civial war in Syria and being treated at a hospital in the Northern Israeli city of Nahariya. April 09, 2017. (Photo: JINIPIX)

Although Israel and Syria have regarded each other as enemies since 1948, seven more severely wounded Syrians were admitted to Israeli hospitals last week.

Since 2013 Israel has treated a reported 3,000 Syrian civilians injured in the civil war that continues to rage next door to the Jewish state. The Times of Israel reported that on Thursday night last week, an IDF medical corps unit met a further two children, four women and one man waiting at the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights. Two of the patients were in such bad condition that a helicopter was called for to rush them to hospital, while the remainder of the group of seven were hurried into armored ambulances and driven into northern Israel for intensive care.

Syria was one of the armies Israel faced during its 1948 War of Independence. Syria has never recognized Israel as a state, the two nations have never had diplomatic relations and Israel generally prohibits its citizens from traveling there.

Nevertheless, as the civil war has raged on just a short distance from Israel’s border with Syria, Israeli soldiers on patrol of the area have come across wounded civilians and have felt compelled to help. Since 2013, it has become an almost nightly occurrence for Syrian wounded to come to certain spots on the border with Israel to be taken to receive treatment.

Captain Aviad Camis, deputy chief medical officers of the Golan brigade, told reporters in January that the army is doing everything it can to save the lives of the Syrians brave enough to seek help from Israel.

“Some of the stories stir your emotions. When children come, as a father, it touches me personally,” Camis said.

Another IDF spokesman, Lt.Col. Peter Lerner, said the IDF’s guiding principle is “sanctity of human life.”

“The humanitarian efforts are focused in providing medical aid to the Syrians in need,” he said. “When our forces see men, women and children in need, they see it as their moral obligation and professional responsibility to lend a helping hand.”

The Ziv hospital in the northern Israeli city of Safed has taken in hundreds of Syrian patients since 2013.

“Everyone has the absolute similar color of blood. It’s bleeding people, suffering people, and if I can help, I must help,” the hospital’s chief orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Alexander Lerner, has told reporters.

In light of Syrian President Basher Assad’s recent resort to the use of chemical weapons against his own people, an attack highlighted in KNI and in light of President Trump’s air strike on a Syrian airbase in response, Israel is preparing to receive even more wounded Syrians.

It is extraordinary that these wounded come to Israel for care after having been taught their whole lives that Israel is their enemy. Remarkably, the tragic circumstances under which the Syrians have come has resulted in dramatic changes to their perceptions of Israel and the Jews.

“In the past we used to know Israel as our enemy. That’s what the [Assad] regime used to tell us. When we came to Israel we changed our minds, there is no enmity between us,” said one young Syrian man being treated at Ziv. “In the end we discovered that our regime is the enemy of us all.”

Related articles:
Israel to take in 100 Syrian orphans
The Joseph Project donates medical aid to Syrians
Raised to hate Israel, Syrian refugee’s website thanks Israel

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Karen Faulkner recently completed a Master's degree in Human Rights and Transitional Justice at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She made Aliyah in 2006 and lives in Jerusalem.

 

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Today, I met with Egyptian President el-Sisi in Washington

It was a fascinating discussion. Here’s a brief update.

Joel C. Rosenberg 

Apr 6, 2017

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President Trump meets with Egyptian President al-Sisi (Photo: screenshot)

Today, I had the honor of participating in a two-hour meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

His Excellency addressed a group of Middle East experts at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Georgetown district of Washington, D.C. He made some introductory remarks and then took our questions for the next 90 minutes. Afterwards, rather than bolt to another meeting, he graciously spent another twenty minutes or so greeting each participating and chatting with us individually.

The conversation itself was held under what are known as “Chatham House Rules,” so I’m not permitted to quote what was said. But in the coming days, I’ll share my observations of President el-Sisi, his meeting with us, and his meetings with President Trump and senior administration officials and Congressional leaders.

For now let me just say that I was very encouraged by what I saw and heard.

First, as a novelist and a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, I found myself deeply humbled to be included in such a meeting. Indeed, as I quipped to one of my colleagues at the meeting, it’s quite something to meet the leader of Egypt on the eve of Passover and enjoy the experience. But I certainly did.

Second, as an Evangelical, I found it very helpful to hear directly from a world leader whose country has played — and will continue to play — such an enormously important role in Biblical and prophetic history. The Bible is clear, especially in passages like Isaiah 19, that God had a deep and abiding love for the people of Egypt, and a great plan for their future. Please join me in keeping President el-Sisi and his family and advisors — and the nation of Egypt — in your prayers at this critical time.

President Trump holds a joint press conference with King Abdullah at the White House, April 5, 2017 (Photo: screenshot)President Trump holds a joint press conference with King Abdullah at the White House, April 5, 2017 (Photo: screenshot)

Likewise, please keep Jordan’s King Abdullah, Queen Rania, their four children and the people of Jordan in your prayers. His Majesty has been in town for the past several days and today held extensive meetings with President Trump. I watched their full Rose Garden press conference on line and found myself deeply encouraged by the obvious strengthening of U.S.-Jordanian relations.

It has, of course, been a dramatic week in the Middle East with one of the worst chemical weapons attacks in Syrian history. At least 69 people — and possibly 100 or more — are dead, including many children, and hundreds more were wounded by the unconscionable use of sarin gas by the Assad regime.

It is clear that the Assad regime will employ all manner of wickedness to stay in power. It is also clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the ayatollahs of Iran fully support and enable such evil as they try desperately to keep their ally Assad in power.

The Trump administration needs to formulate its policy quickly and take bold and decisive action to make sure no world leader thinks he can use weapons of mass destruction and America will do nothing.

President Trump has, of course, repeatedly made the case that he will fight and defeat radical Islamic terrorism. To his credit, he is working hard to revitalize badly strained U.S. alliances in the Middle East, even while committing more troops and resources into the field. Progress is being made, especially in Iraq, but much more must be done.

  • On Monday, President Trump welcomed President el-Sisi to the White House for the first time, and held extensive discussions focused on rebuilding U.S.-Egyptian relations. (see video from the Oval Office — see transcript here)

  • Today, as I mentioned, Mr. Trump welcomed King Abdullah, our most faithful Sunni Arab ally. The two men held several hours of strategic meetings, and conducted a Rose Garden press conference (see video here — see transcript here).

  • President Trump warmly thanked both leaders for their alliance with the U.S. He thanked them for their active and bold leadership in fighting ISIS and other terrorist groups, and for their determination to help the Israelis and Palestinians try to find peace.

  • I’ll provide more analysis on all these developments and trends in the days ahead.

This article originally appeared on Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog, April 6, 2017, and reposted with permission.

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Joel C. Rosenberg

http://www.joelrosenberg.com

Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of 10 novels and five non-fiction books, with more than 3 million copies sold. He is also the Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com), a non-profit educational and charitable organization he and his wife launched in 2006 to mobilize Christians to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.” He and his wife have four sons. They made Aliyah in 2014 and now live in Israel and the United States.

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This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

The tomb of Jesus: Gravediggers’ disappointment

One For Israel Staff 

Apr 16, 2017

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The Garden Tomb outside the city walls of the Old City in Jerusalem (Photo: Flash90)

Headlines and pictures with an ancient bone box, carved with the name of Yeshua appeared lately, in the wake of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s decision to let reporters have a sneak peak into their warehouse of ancient treasures. Could it be that they had found the bone box (ossuary) of Yeshua of Nazareth? Back in times gone by, the ancients would lay bodies in a tomb, and later collect the remaining bones into a box as long as the femur called an ossuary.

However, this Yeshua ossuary headline is not really connected to our saviour and friend, Yeshua the Messiah, as you might expect. The celebrated box that whipped up so much excitement was discovered to have come from a completely different century, and it was established that no link could be made with the world famous carpenter who split time in two. Many such ossuaries have been discovered, and there are some 30 with the name of Yeshua carved upon them. It was a very common name at that time.

“Today we can reconstruct very accurately many, many aspects of the daily life of the time of Christ,” archaeologist Gideon Avni of the Israel Antiquities Authority affirms, but he added that they had nothing connected to the person himself [1].

If only Yeshua’s bones could be found, all those wild theories about him rising from the dead could be finished! But we are supremely confident that those who are looking for his remains are never going to find them.

Unmoved By Stone

There has also been considerable excitement about the completion of $3.5 million renovation work in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where it is thought that Yeshua was crucified and buried. The nine month renovation was the first carried out since 1810, and dug further down than anyone had gone since the third century. On 22nd March, there was the inauguration ceremony, to which thousands of clergy and pilgrims, Christian, Muslim and others, all attended. Both of these developments have caused great interest in different ways, but neither comes any closer to finding any trace of Yeshua himself.

He’s not there! We can assure you! He is sitting at the right hand of the Father.

However, controversy still runs riot over the exact place of his (temporary) burial place. The two main contenders are the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb, both of which have had some very good reasons to think that it could have been there, but they are two very different sites, as anyone who has visited them can tell you.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is about as unholy as can be, with several Christian groups (Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian and others) scrambling for ownership of various parts of the building, so at loggerheads with one another that the only person they can all trust with a key to the place is a Muslim man called Adeeb Joudeh. Adeeb’s faithful family has been entrusted with the key for generations in the complete absence of accord between the denominations over the years.

Not-So-Holy Sepulchre

One of the last things Yeshua asked from his Father was that his followers would be one, so that the world could see that God has sent him. This church makes a complete mockery of the idea of unity between believers, and is the exact opposite of the witness to the Messiahship of Yeshua that he prayed for. It has even been known for violence to break out between the religious groups, if you can fathom it.

A jarring symbol of this discord is a ladder from renovation works in the eighteenth century which was left on a window ledge (which belonged to the Greek Orthodox) but rested against an Armenian owned window. Since there is no communication between the warring factions, that ladder could not be moved! It has been there as a stain on the name of Yeshua for centuries, and is in every photograph of the church available. Can you imagine what the Jewish and Muslim people of Jerusalem must think about Jesus and his followers from this spectacle?

It is certainly possible that Yeshua did indeed die in where the church of the Holy Sepulchre stands today, and that his body was laid there. The church is inside today’s city walls, but those walls were not there in the time of Yeshua. It could be the right spot. Church tradition going as far back as we know believes it to be there, and it would not be uncharacteristic for Satan to do his worst at that location if it really was the place of his resounding defeat.

Mistaken for a Gardener

The site of the Garden Tomb is the polar opposite – the peaceful, beautiful, and humble environment points to the person of Yeshua and what he accomplished at calvary more than all the candles and incense dispensed by pompous-looking priests elsewhere. The gospels tell us that the tomb was in a garden, and that Mary mistook Yeshua for the gardener! It all takes us back to the first mention of a garden in the Bible: The Garden of Eden. This is no accident.

The ancient Jewish tomb was discovered in 1867, right next to a rock formation that had already been identified as looking an awful lot like a skull. The place was outside the city walls by a thoroughfare, to the north of the city. An ancient winepress and huge water cistern found close by indicated that the area had once been a rich man’s garden, and the tomb itself was much as the Bible described – cut out of rock with a weeping chamber, a burial chamber, and sealed with a rolling stone.

But recently it has been confirmed that the tomb where it is thought Yeshua’s body may have been placed was carved around 500 years before the time of Yeshua, meaning that it would in no sense be considered a “newly hewn” tomb, carved out for Joseph of Arimathea as the New Testament describes (Matt 27:60). Still, as the staff at the Garden Tomb always emphasise, in a way it doesn’t really matter if it was the exact spot or not – the point is that he is not there: He is risen!

He is risen indeed.

This article originally appeared One for Israel and is reposted with permission.

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One For Israel Staff

One For Israel Staff

http://oneforisrael.org

ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.

 

All are welcome to post comments below. Please view our Comments Policy. If are you interest

 

ed in writing for KNI, you may submit articles to admin@kehilanews.com or Apply to be a Writer.

 

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The mystery of the golden calf

Eric Tokajer 

Apr 1, 2017

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Illustration from a Bible card published 1901 by the Providence Lithograph Company (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Two weeks ago the section of the Torah that was read in synagogues around the world included the making of and worshipping of the golden calf.

They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. – Exodus 32:8

While we all know that this event was a low point in the history of Israel, what many don’t know is that this same text also includes one of the most amazing demonstrations of G-D’s grace shown in the Bible. The focus is so often placed on the making and worship of the golden calf, the breaking of the tablets, and Aaron’s famous line,

“…So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” – Exodus 32:24

While these events are very important, in reality, they each only lay the groundwork for a wonderful foundational principle that is established within this portion of Torah. To lay the groundwork for the principle, we must look at the context. First, the people of Israel have been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, they have travelled through the wilderness and are surrounding Mount Sinai and have been waiting for Moses to return from meeting with G-D on the Mountain. In Exodus Chapter 20,G-D began to speak the Commandments from the Mountain to all of Israel, but after speaking only a few (what became known as the Ten Commandments), because of great fear, the people asked G-D to stop speaking to everyone and tell Moses the Commandments and let Moses tell them to the people.

Then, Moses climbs up the Mountain and receives the Commandments from G-D and the people are waiting for Moses’ return. When Moses does not return quickly enough, the people ask Aaron to make a god to replace Moses. Hence, the Golden Calf is made. G-D then tells Moses to return to the people because of this great sin of idolatry. Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel, G-D relents as a result, and Moses journeys down the Mountain. Upon hearing the noise of the people and seeing their actions, in anger, Moses breaks the Tablets of Covenant.

Yet, with all of this action and excitement, the main part of the story within the portion has not yet taken place. It doesn’t happen until two chapters later when Moses meets with G-D again and writes the new set of Tablets. This new set of Tablets is different from the first and one of the differences is vitally important for those of us who believe in Yeshua and the New Covenant.

When writing the commandment concerning having and worshipping no other gods on the replacement set of Tablets, the wording is as follows:

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. 17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. – Exodus 34:14

 Notice verse 17 states, “make thee no molten gods.” In chapter 20, there is no mention specifically of molten, yet here it is very specifically added. Why? Because a principle is being established. For most it remains a mystery overshadowed by what they consider the major events of the text. This principle is so powerful that, once learned, it is life changing.

Why add the clarification of “molten” to the commandment, “Have no other gods before me?” There are two reasons and both are significant, especially for believers in Yeshua.

The first reason is that this verse is added as if the event of the Golden Calf had never happened. In other words, the text does not read, “Thou shalt make thee no molten gods AGAIN.” Simply by adding this line, G-D is demonstrating His absolute forgiveness of Israel for their sin. In one sentence, G-D let the people know that as far as He was concerned the Golden Calf incident never took place. This is the same way He treats our sins: once repented of, they no longer exist.

The second reason is that the new tablets are the perfect example of the New Covenant. Although we have sinned and committed idolatry against G-D, He has made a new covenant as proclaimed in Jeremiah 31:32,

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.

The second set of Tablets and the wording upon them is one of the most powerful examples of the forgiveness of G-D in Torah and its relationship to the New Covenant. Take time to read Exodus chapter 34 and compare the words on the Tablets to the words of Exodus chapter 20, while also considering the words of Jeremiah 31:32 and Hebrews 8.

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Eric Tokajer

Eric Tokajer

http://www.messianictimes.com/

Rabbi Eric Tokajer is the Publisher of The Messianic Times, an international Messianic Jewish newspaper, which includes news from the worldwide Messianic community, Israeli current events and analysis, opinion pieces, book and music and film reviews, informative articles and a directory of Messianic Jewish congregations

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This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

Yeshua as a new Moses for a new exodus

According to Matthew, Yeshua fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy “Out of Egypt I called my Son.” But how can this apply to Yeshua?

Zeev Rabinowitz 

Apr 2, 2017

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The great pyramids at Giza, Cairo, Egypt.

Themes of Israel’s redemption permeate the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 2:13-15, the gospel writer presents Yeshua as a new Moses who leads the nation in a new exodus from Egypt.

After the Magi have departed, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream for a second time. He commands Joseph to take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. He then instructs Joseph to remain there until he tells him otherwise, “for Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him” (v. 13). Joseph complies immediately with the angel’s instructions. He takes the child and his mother during the night and flees to Egypt (v. 14). Matthew reports that Joseph and his family remained in Egypt until the death of Herod (v. 15a)

Matthew then attaches to the narrative what scholars refer to as a “fulfillment citation,” consisting of a formulaic statement (“In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled”) and a quotation drawn from Hosea 11:1: “Out of Egypt I called my Son” (v.15b). Matthew’s application of this text to the life of Yeshua has generated enormous controversy, to put it mildly.

In its original context, Hosea 11:1 clearly alludes to the nation of Israel and its exodus from Egypt. The verse is not a messianic prophecy but a statement about God’s “son” whom he delivered from slavery and bondage in Egypt. The verse begins with the words, “When Israel was a youth, I loved him.” How then should we interpret Matthew’s statement that Yeshua’s return from Egypt has “fulfilled” what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet? Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 is an example of typological or analogical correspondence. Matthew recognized a correspondence between events in the history of Israel and the life of Yeshua. Yeshua “fulfills” Hosea 11:1 in that events in the life of Yeshua recapitulate the Exodus event.

On a narrative level, Matthew finds a geographical connection between Israel and Yeshua. In the Exodus account, God protects Israel by sending the nation to Egypt and then bringing it out again. Similarly, in the gospel account, the LORD protects Yeshua by sending him to Egypt and bringing him out again.

On a theological level, the connection goes even deeper. Hosea 11:1 evokes the fulfillment citation’s larger context of exile and restoration. Hosea 11:10-11 describes an eschatological “exodus” in which the LORD will roar like a lion and the Jewish people will come from east and west back to the land of Israel.

Many scholars conclude that the identification of Yeshua with Israel’s history and mission means that Yeshua is a “new” Israel who replaces “old” Israel. This interpretation of the evidence, however, is incorrect. From Matthew’s perspective, Yeshua does not replace Israel but rather becomes the embodiment of Israel. Matthew, like the Qumran community, believed that Messiah would rescue the faithful remnant from judgment and bring about the nation’s eschatological restoration. It is in this sense that Yeshua is a new Moses who has come to lead the nation in a new exodus.

But there is a problem: It seems that Matthew 2:15 equates Yeshua with Israel and not Moses. How then can we argue that Matthew presents Yeshua as a new Moses based upon this text? First, as we have already suggested, Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 evokes the citation’s larger context, which is based upon the exodus from Egypt. As Dale Allison observes, Moses is the hero of that story and it is inevitable that Matthew’s reader would have recognized parallels between the life of Moses and the life of Yeshua. [1]

A second observation confirms (as scholars like Donald Hagner and Craig Keener point out) that Matthew implies a parallel between Moses and Yeshua. God appeared to Amram (the father of Moses) in a dream and encouraged him not to despair. A careful examination of the Greek text of Matthew 2 reveals that it shares a number of clear verbal parallels with the story of Moses in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. First, the language of Matthew 2:13 (“to seek to kill the child”) resembles the language of Exodus 2:15 (“he was seeking to kill Moses”). Second, the verb translated as “he fled” in Matthew 2:14 is identical to the verb used in Exodus 2:15 to describe Moses’ escape from Pharaoh. [2]

Matthew’s narrative also contains similarities with extra-biblical traditions about the story of Moses. The Jewish historian Josephus informs us that a “scribe” predicted the birth of a child who would deliver Israel from Egypt in the future. As a result, Pharaoh ordered the death of all Hebrew male infants. Amram was afraid because his wife was pregnant and he did not know what to do about the situation. God appeared to Amram in a dream and encouraged him not to despair. God would protect his family from the Egyptians. His son would grow up and deliver the Hebrew nation from the slavery of Egypt. His memory would be famous among Hebrews as well as among foreigners.[3] Because of what God had revealed to him about his son’s future greatness, Amram and his wife therefore took action to preserve the life of the child. [4]

On the narrative level, these features (the verbal similarities between Matthew 2:14-15 and Exodus 2:14 and the extra-biblical traditions about Moses) create a subtle but clear parallel between the life of Moses and the life of Yeshua. Just as Moses escaped persecution from Pharaoh, so Yeshua escaped persecution from Herod. On the theological level, this parallel implies Yeshua to be a new Moses who leads Israel in a new exodus.

By evoking the larger context of Hosea 11:1 and by creating parallels between the life of Yeshua and story of Moses, Matthew presents Yeshua as a new Moses who leads the nation in a new exodus from Egypt. The exodus event became a paradigm by which the prophets of Israel described Israel’s eschatological restoration. In the first exodus, God delivered Israel from the slavery and bondage of Egypt. In the second exodus, God will gather his people from among the nations and bring them back to the land of covenant promise (Isaiah 35, 40:1-5, 49:5).

Footnotes:
  1. Dale C. Allison, Jr., The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1993), 141.

 

 

  1. See Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, WBC, vol. 33a (Dallas, TX: Word, 1993), 34; see also Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999). 107-08.

  2. Josephus, Antiquities, 2.205-16.

  3. Josephus, Antiquities, 2.217-221.

This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion, March 20, 2017, and reposted with permission.

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Zeev Rabinowitz

Dr. Rabinowitz is the “Scholar in Residence” at First Fruits of Zion. Much of his work involves program development for the Bram Center for Messianic Jewish Learning. Dr. Rabinowitz and his wife live in Rishon LeZion, Israel.

 

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This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

If, when and why to expect massive aliyah to Israel

Joni Koski 

Mar 30, 2017

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The arrival of more than 200 French Jews who made aliyah, at Ben Gurion International Airport on July 20, 2016. (Photo: Flash 90)

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog recently called on Israel’s prime minister to prepare Israel for large-scale aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) from the United States due to increased anti-Semitic incidents there.

Herzog has since backtracked somewhat on his statement, adding that the U.S. government can be trusted to deal with such incidents. But his statement raised the question as to whether Israel is prepared for accelerated emigration from the U.S., home to over 7 million Jews, according to some statistics.

France with the third largest Jewish population in the world (more than half a million), has already experienced the unexpected: 2015 saw a largely unanticipated wave of immigration to Israel from the French republic, with 7,835 olim (immigrants) arriving on Israel’s shores after a spike in anti-Semitic incidents. Numbers, however, dropped by around 40 percent in 2016 after the French government substantially increased security for its Jewish community and terrorism within Israel increased. Nevertheless, two separate polls have shown that 200,000 French Jews are actively considering aliyah.

Prior to 2015, expectations of large-scale aliyah from affluent Western nations — home to the majority of the diaspora — were low. A significant number of French Jews moved to the United Kingdom, home to over 300,000 Jews. Prime Minister Theresa May expressed shock at recent incidences of “disgusting” anti-Semitism, saying that she never expected to see the day when Jews would be afraid to live there and accusing the British opposition Labor Party of “turning a blind eye.”

Herzog’s initial warning about American aliyah was met with harsh criticism from Jonathan Sarna, an American Jewish history professor at Brandeis University who accused him of not really understanding the U.S. Jewish situation. He argued that, unlike France, the U.S. is not experiencing physical attacks amid the dramatic rise in attacks, according to the Anti-Defamation League 2016 analysis.

The Kantor Center’s more global 2016 report found that, “On the one hand, recent developments brought down the number of violent anti-Semitic cases perpetrated against Jews and Jewish sites, and on the other the nature of the violent cases have become more cruel, and the growing variety of verbal and visual anti-Semitic expressions, mainly on social media, became more brutal and insulting.”

According to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA) 2016 report “The trend of escalation of violent anti-Semitism activity has continued.” Clearly a rising trend in non-violent attacks on Jews can escalate into physical attacks.

Of course, anti-Semitism is not the only actual or potential cause of aliyah. Other reasons include Zionism, economic troubles or a perceived societal decay in one’s country of origin. Wars and financial market factors that have global implications could also be a catalyst for or against immigration.

While many Jews in the West have enjoyed relatively stable socio-economic situations, expanding economies and democracies, a number of recent events have begun to shake things up. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its ensuing wars, the stock market crashes of 2008 and 2015, the Arab Spring, Brexit in England and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, stability appears to be the exception, a factor that might cause Jewish residents to seek shelter in Israel.

Not only is the cause of aliyah important, but also the rate. In the case of French Jews leaving Algeria due to violence in 1962, 100,000 moved to France in a period of just a few weeks, along with 900,000 non-Jews, many leaving their possessions behind. Mass immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union has been more gradual, bringing well over 1 million Jews to Israel over almost 30 years.

So what should we be expecting? Whether the process is gradual or sudden, scripture is clear as to what is surely coming: Aliyah will take place, in due course, from all nations where Jews have found temporary residence.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth –
 everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43: 5-7

Secondly, we can expect the retune of all Jews to Israel, according to scripture. It may be hard to imagine, but can be visualized by faith:

“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;
    I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a sheepfold,
    like a flock in its pasture;
    the place will throng with people.”
Micah 2:12

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Joni Koski

Joni has worked in education and management and has been a writer for Kehila News Israel since 2016. He holds an MBA, as well as teaching qualifications. He lives in the north of Israel with his family.

 

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Why every Christian should care about and pray for Israel

David Silver 

Mar 25, 2017

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Blessed be YHVH God of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 2:4

As most of you know one of the main focuses of our ministry is to teach the Church about Israel in the hope of raising the level of prayer and intercession for Israel and the Jewish people. I believe that this is not just for the Christians who already have a burden for Israel, but I believe that it is the LORD’s desire is for every Christian to have His heart for His land and His people. The Bible tells us that Israel is the centre of GOD’s eye (Zechariah 2:8) and the head of the nations (Jeremiah 31:7), and that the Jewish people are His first-born (Exodus 4:22). YHVH tells us that He is zealous for Zion with great zeal. (Zechariah 8:2) As I have written before YHVH is the ultimate Zionist, and that same zeal for Zion should be replicated in every person who truly has the Holy Spirit dwelling within. We should all place Israel where GOD places Israel – NUMBER 1. That does not mean we need to ignore everything else He has called us to do, but we should all give Israel that place of priority.

As I travel around the nations, I often get asked “What has Israel got to do with the Church?” and my immediate answer is “ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING”. Just in case there is anyone reading this who may not fully understand that answer, I will lay out my reasons:

1. The God of the Bible is the GOD of Israel (of course He is also the GOD of the Universe and everything in it).
2. Yeshua is the King of Israel and the Jewish people (of course He is also the King of all people).
3. When Yeshua returns to Earth, He is coming to rule and reign from Jerusalem (He will rule over all of the nations).
4. Yeshua will not come back until all of the words of the Jewish prophets are fulfilled (Acts 3:21), and Israel and the Jewish people are ready to invite and receive Him (Matthew 23:39 – Revelation 1:7).

If every Christian truly understood, believed and acted upon these 4 points, they way the Church behaves towards Israel and the Jewish people would be very different, and the day of the Lord’s second coming would be much closer than it is (2 Peter 3:12), but its not too late to do so.

There is much more I can write here, but I have already written it many times before and I am busy preparing to go to Germany later in the week. One of the guest speakers at our prayer summit last week gave an amazing message which confirms all that I have written above and in the past. I recommend everyone who understands English listens to the message by Stan Goodenough. The other 2 messages by Eitan Shishkoff and our son Stefan are also excellent and worth listening to. Click here to go to the messages on our website.

Oh – there are 2 other reasons why we should make Israel our priority – Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless Israel. Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerualem… may they prosper, who love you… If you want to prosper and see the fullness of the LORD’s blessings on you, your family, your ministry and your congregation, bless Israel and the Jewish people in prayer and solidarity.

This article originally appeared on Out of Zion Ministries, March 24, 2017, and reposted with permission.

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David Silver

http://www.out-of-zion.com/

David together with his wife, Josie, founded Out of Zion Ministries, whose mission is to fulfill God’s call on Israel as His ‘Chosen Nation’ to be a light to the Nations as well as to encourage the Church to fulfill God’s call to the Gentiles to assist in the spiritual ingathering of the Jewish people.

 

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are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

Pray for London and learn how to overcome ISIS

One For Israel Staff 

Mar 24, and 29 Mar 2017

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There are some twisted people who are so committed to their religion that they will kill for it. But we are led by a matchless Messiah who never harmed a soul, never encouraged violence, and was even willing to die for his enemies – the very opposite. As we follow Yeshua, are we willing to follow in his footsteps of self-sacrificial love? Martyrs for Yeshua don’t kill, but offer life, even to their murderers.

Resistance, Yeshua style

Yeshua knew where he had come from and where he was going, and was willing to stoop, to serve, and to even lay down his life. He knew perfectly well that he would be sitting beside his Father in heaven in a short while. John explains this in chapter 13, which describes the Last Supper, to assure us that though Yeshua suffered greatly, he knew great glory awaited him. But can’t we also say the same thing?

This incredible truth should liberate us to be utterly fearless in our willingness to love our enemies even at our own cost. As Jim Elliot bravely and correctly said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We are destined for a glorious eternity with our loving Father God. Our enemies, on the other hand, are perishing, and we are commanded to love them and to pray for them.

And we should not underestimate the power of prayer.

As we pray for those affected by the attack in London, we know that God is a God of comfort, and a healer. He can reach the bereaved, the injured and the frightened in their innermost being as we pray. The UK needs God more than they know, and let’s pray that people turn to him and to his everlasting arms at this time.

And it is no small, weak or feeble thing to come before God’s throne and intercede for our enemies. It is right in line with God’s will and God is more powerful to act and to save than we could ever imagine. We simply have no idea how many God will save in direct response to our prayers.

Here is what Romans 12:9-21 lays out as the way we are to conduct ourselves. Remember, these instructions were given to the first generation of disciples who were regularly beaten, imprisoned and murdered for their faith.

Why don’t you mentally run through this list, and check up on your status as part of the “Resistance”:

The Biblical method of Overcoming Evil

  1. Let love be genuine. 

  2. Abhor what is evil

  3. hold fast to what is good.

  4. Love one another with brotherly affection. 

  5. Outdo one another in showing honor.

  6. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

  7. Rejoice in hope

  8. be patient in tribulation

  9. be constant in prayer.

  10. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

  11. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

  12. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

  13. Live in harmony with one another. 

  14. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. 

  15. Never be wise in your own sight.

  16. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

  17. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 

  18. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

  19. To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

  20. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This article originally appeared on One for Israel and is posted with permission.

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One For Israel Staff

One For Israel Staff

http://oneforisrael.org

ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua

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Mar 24, 2017 Archaeological clues shed life on Yeshua’s life

Kehila News Israel Staff 

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Ossuaries with Hebrew inscriptions of the name "Yeshua", stored in

IOOrael Antiquities Authority storeroom, in Beit Shemesh (Photo: screenshot Youtube)

With over 300 digs taking place within its borders each year, Israel is one of the most archaeologically excavated countries in the world with approximately 40,000 artifacts unearthed annually including the finds of 50 foreign expeditions on Israeli soil.

About one third of all the antiquities found lend credence to the presence of Christians in the region spanning 2,000 years, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). With Easter coming up, the IAA has opened its warehouse of treasure troves in Beit Shemesh for reporters to view artifacts that date as far back as the time of Yeshua.

Even though historians do not have any direct archaeological evidence of Yeshua the Messiah and his life on earth, they have a plethora of antiquities, discovered in recent decades, that shed light on his life and crucifixion.

The head of the IAA archaeological division, Gideon Avni, said their knowledge of this period has expanded over the past 20 years and now they can precisely depict how the country looked.

Today we can reconstruct very accurately many, many aspects of the daily life of the time of Christ,” he said. “Historians now know how long it took to travel between cities and villages where Jesus preached, and what those places looked like at the time.”

The IAA calls its warehouse of ancient treasures the “Ali Baba cave.” It is a well lit, 54,000-square-feet area filled with ancient potsherds, jugs, lamps and other fascinating finds. For this particular display, the officials have set up a white table with fascinating finds dating back to the time of Yeshua the Messiah as well as others bearing the same name.

One burial box has the name “Yeshua” inscribed on it and archaeologists say that they have found about 30 other ancient burial boxes inscribed with that same name. Yeshua was a common name in Judea and Samaria two millennia ago. Nevertheless, believers in his Resurrection and Ascension would not be looking for his burial box.

There is a massive stone block bearing what appears to be a carved depiction of the Second Temple. It was discovered in 2009 at the site of an ancient synagogue on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. The experts have proposed that Yeshua may have preached at that synagogue.

Ritual purity in all ways of life for Jews was strictly enforced at the time of the Second Temple. Well-preserved cups and dishes found in Jerusalem give testament to the culinary manifestation of that fact. Also found in Jerusalem were burial boxes and ossuaries: one limestone box linked to a descendant of Caiaphas the Yeshua-hating Sadducee High Priest from the year 27 to 36.

On display is a replica of a heel bone dating to the 1st century. It is pierced with an iron nail and has wooden fragments on each end. Discovered in a Jewish burial box, it is the only evidence to date of a Jewish custom burial following a Roman crucifixion. The original is in the Israel Museum and experts have been able to piece++ together the brutal crucifixion. This victim’s feet were nailed to the sides of his cross and might be a more accurate reflection of what Yeshua went through, according to Avni. Traditional Christian art may not be based on fact.

You have to remember that Christ was one among more than a million people living during this time in the Holy Land and there is no reason to believe Jesus did not exist just because archaeologists haven’t found physical evidence of him,” Avni said.

A highly respected Israeli scholar of Christianity and an expert in her field, Yisca Harani, said that the lack of physical evidence of Jesus is a “trivial mystery.”

Why do we expect in antiquity that there would be some evidence of his existence? It’s the reality of human life,” she noted. “It’s either rulers or military men who had their memory inscribed in stone and artifacts.”

What remained of Yeshua,” she emphasized, “are his words.”

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Kehila News Israel Staff

The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.