Concerning Messianic Jews in Israel
Jewish followers of Jesus in a community on Mount Zion celebrated their silver anniversary this week behind the closed doors of a 200-year-old chapel nestled within Jerusalem’s Old City walls. Some 300 worshippers gathered in prayer, scripture and song to retell the story of Israel’s restoration to her city and to her Messiah King....
Messianic Jews, Christian Arabs gather for prayer amid regional tensions - Israel Today | Israel News
Recent tensions in Israel and the Middle East found local believers gathering for a national day of fasting and prayer last Shabbat.
Messianic Jews and Arab Christian came together in the Lavi Forest in Western Galilee to cry out to God for nearly five hours. Hot topics for prayer were Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the continuing bombardment of Israel’s southern cities and the upcoming elections in Israel and the US.
Organized by pastors in the Galilee, the event brought together Arab and Jewish believers from Dan in the North to Beersheva in the South.
In the shade of the dense eucalyptus forest
1. Trumpets are sounded at a coronation and God is hailed as King on this day. Let us acknowledge him and his ways in our lives, our families and nation.
2. The shofar heralds the beginning of the season of renewal. This is the time for reflection and re-commitment to God, family and all that is right and good.
3. The Torah was given on Sinai accompanied by blasts of the shofar. Let us be bold to follow God's commandments even when it is not popular or comfortable.
4. The prophets compare their message to the sound of the shofar. Let us not grow weary in well doing. Let us not lose hope but reopen our hearts to the possibilities of a better world.
5. Conquering armies gathered under the sound of the shofar blast. May we be willing to take a bold stand against the injustice, lies and corruption in society. Let us fight for the rights of the poor and oppressed.
6. The ram was substituted for Isaac. Let us offer up ourselves to love even as he who sacrificed himself for us an offering to cleanse and renew our spirits.
7. The prophet asks, "Shall the shofar be blown in a city and the people not tremble?" (Amos 3:6) Let us walk in humility before God our king and before man.
8. The prophet Zephanaiah speaks of "the great day of the Lord" as a "day of the shofar and alarm," (Zeph. 1:14,16) As we contemplate the judgments of God let us lift up our voices and let truth and mercy be heard once again in the gates.
9. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the great shofar which will herald the Messianic age. (Isa. 27:13) Let us be patient and wait. Do not fret, our times are in God's hands.
10. The shofar will be sounded at the resurrection. Maimonides writes: "Although it is a divine decree that we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, a hint of the following idea is contained in the command. It is as if to say: "Awake from your slumber, you who have fallen asleep in life, and reflect on your deeds. Remember your creator. Be not of those who miss reality in the pursuit of shadows, and waste their lives in seeking after vain things which neither profit nor save. Look well to your souls and improve your character. Forsake each of you his evil ways and thoughts."
The citizens of Israel woke up this week to a special early morning announcement by the Israeli Army on news broadcasts all across the country: The Ministry of Defense has ordered that all soldiers staying in Jerusalem on the Sabbath are not allowed to have any contact with members of the sect of Jews who preach the Messianic faith.
Is faith in Jesus such a threat to our national security that one of the most effective military organizations in the world feels the need to “protect” their soldiers from “the sect of Jews” who believe in Jesus?
It all started when a small group of Messianic Jews visited a Jerusalem IDF hostel for lone soldiers on the Sabbath. The army provides the hostel for soldiers who have no family in Israel. On the weekends, when they are off base, they can stay at “Beit Hachayal” or Soldiers’ Home. Messianics were visiting soldiers on the Sabbath and talking about their New Testament faith.
Many soldiers enjoyed these visits and some began reading the New Testament and other Messianic literature regularly. Soldiers were invited to visit with Messianics in their homes where they were introduced to Messianic faith during Shabbat meals and Bible teachings.
The Jewish believers had built up many friendships with management and staff of the hostel who appreciated the positive impact the visits had on the lone soldiers. One of the soldiers even came to faith in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). No one at the hostel, or in the IDF, were bothered one bit by this, not until an “anti-missionary” organization stirred up trouble.
The so-called “anti-missionaries” became aware that a soldier had come to faith in Yeshua most likely from reading one of the many Messianic or Christian newsletters and websites they follow. So they reported to the Ministry of Defense and IDF authorities that, “the cult of Jews who preach Christianity are running missionary activities at Beit Hachayal.”
Without investigating the facts on the ground, the Ministry of Defense and IDF immediately put out the public warning against association with the Messianics.
Messianic Jews also received a letter from the Ministry of Defense forbidding them from entering “Beit Hachayal without explicit permission including a description of intended activities.”
Years ago Messianic Jews were considered a security risk by the IDF. Many were not allowed to serve in elite or sensitive units. Today, however, Messianics are highly regarded by military authorities and even sought out to serve as commanders and officers in every branch of the Israeli military including Intelligence requiring the highest level of securitychecks.
One Messianic Jewish Sabra (Israeli born), a sergeant in the Israeli Air Force, asked his commander if he could include the New Testament together with the Hebrew Bible in his pledge of allegiance to the State of Israel. “Yes you may,” returned the officer. And so he joined the growing numbers of hundreds of openly Messianic Jewish soldiers proudly serving in the IDF.
So why is the Ministry of Defense now publically opposing Messianic activity in Jerusalem with newspaper articles, blogs and radio broadcasts? According to one combat soldier, who is not Messianic, it is Israeli politics. “The government passed a law recently to recruit religious Jews, but most refuse to serve,” he explains. “The army is trying to appease the Orthodox community in Jerusalem by making this absurd announcement against Messianic faith. We are all here to serve our country and the army should not be involved in telling people what religion to believe,” he said.
Glad tidings of Israel's hi-tech boom and miraculous economic advancements have not meant good will for all men. In the promised land of milk and honey, one in four Israelis still live in poverty according to last week’s report by the National Social Security Institute.
With more than 400,000 families falling below the poverty line, Israel has the second-highest poverty rate in the developed world, behind only Mexico, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.
The Israeli government defines poverty as a family or individual who has an annual income of less than $9,500. Incredibly, one in every five Israeli families somehow manage to live on a mere $791 a month. By comparison, an American family of four is considered poor when their annual income is below $23,283.
It was these kind of economic hardships that drove hundreds of thousands of Israelis to the streets in protest two years ago. The severe socio-economic inequalities in Israel became a key factor in last year’s election, but sadly little has been done to relieve the extreme poverty of so many families struggling to make ends meet. More strikes and protests are now brewing and will surely be putting even more heat on Netanyahu’s fragile government.
Since the government is either unable or unwilling to help, new nonprofit organizations have spouted up initiating programs to support poor families. Many are run by the Haredim (Orthodox Jewish) and some Christian organizations as well are increasing support for the poor in Zion. But much more needs to be done.
Poor families have been hardest hit by the recent storms and ongoing frigid temperatures of Israel’s coldest winter in living history. What a great opportunity for believers around the world to share a little warmth and love with a needy family in Israel for the Holiday Season.
Would you be able to help a needy family? Here at Beit Immanuel we are caring for a number of families that need your help. Please go to our secure online website and share the love by clicking here.