Abba Lazarus' Blog

Abba Lazarus' Blog (81)

Concerning Messianic Jews in Israel

 
The Jewish National Fund reports record number of trees planted in Israel this year on Tu Bishvat - the Jewish "New Year of the Trees."
The JNF said that over 600,000 trees were planted over the holiday weekend with over one million plantings expected by the end of the week-long event.


Celebrating Jesus and Israel’s restoration on Mount Zion

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

Thursday, 14 February 2013 21:15

Purim, Obama and the Jews

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On Purim, Obama and the Jews


Purim 2013
David Lazarus - Editorial

Once again another inexplicable, perhaps even divine spin of events bring President Obama to Israel around Purim. Some see this is an opportunity for Obama to press the newly elected Knesset for a renewed peace initiative. Others, a politicized Obama trying to get himself into the spotlight for some lame foreign policy legacy.


Whatever the reason, the timing of this sudden and rushed decision of the American leadership to visit Israel cannot be ignored. Who can forget their meeting on Purim one year ago when Prime Minister Netanyahu put a magnificent, hand-written manuscript of the Scroll of Esther into the hands of President Obama. With Mordechai like clarity, Netanyahu declared to Obama, “Mr. President, we must stop Iran, before they destroy us!”

For the Jewish Prime Minister, it  is a no-brainer, Israel is facing a modern-day Haman.  In his speech to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, Netanyahu described Haman as "a Persian anti-Semite who tried to annihilate the Jewish people." Netanyahu explained that “In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. Inthis generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.”

This time even more than ever Netanyahu’s message must remain clear, and not only to Obama. Purim must be a reminder to all of us, women and men, that we must take action to save ourselves. It is not enough to just allow events to take their course. We must not wait passively for some divine intervention.

That is the message in Esther’s Scroll. Purim is the assurance that the divine hand of intervention will turn the tables on Israel’s enemies, when someone is willing to stand up for what is right. The hero of Purim is not fate nor consequence. It is the young girl, who with a good sense of woman’s intuition, and  gentle feminine persuasion convinces a King listen to her plea. It is about the “coincidences that happen” when a faithful uncle risks everything to stand up for what he believes and does not hesitate to warn his people of impending danger.

While Purim is a constant reminder that Jews have enemies dedicated to our destruction, we learn from the Scroll of Esther that we also can, and should, do something about it. When the chips are down, and it seems like the cards are stacked against us, it is not time to sit around and brood. It is time to remember Purim, a celebration to shake us out of our apathy.  It is a call to do something, something we can do, something we should do. Something that could turn the tables on an enemy, foil a foe by his own foolishness, or hang a Haman on his own hemp.

While Netanyahu is said to be considering military action against Iran, Israeli Author Yossi Klein Halevi believes that Netanyahu’s reading of the Purim story is understandable. “Tradition emphasizes that the Book of Esther is the only sacred text in the Hebrew Bible without God’s name in it, and that’s understood as an indication that this is a story that requires human initiative, that saving oneself requires human initiative, and that God’s help is implicit” he said. In that sense, Netanyahu is reading the Purim story correctly when he calls for active Israeli self-defense against our existential threats.

This year as we approach Purim with a nuclear Iran ticking, killer chemicals lingering over the Syrian border, Hezbollah missiles stockpiled in Lebanon, Al Qaida wannabes tunneling under Gaza’s sand hills and civil wars raging on our doorsteps, the stakes have been raised. Long ago the die was cast in the Middle East and we have long since crossed the Rubicon of diplomatic solutions for Israel’s security. Israel cannot and will not risk her survival to rhetoric and wishful thinking. The only question remaining is whether or not President Obama and the United States of America will cast their lot in time to make a difference.


Perhaps this Purim Netanyahu should highlight with a yellow marker for President Obama the passage in Esther that reads, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place… And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 
 
 

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.

 
Apple is often first in breaking new ground with the latest hi-tech gadgets. Now the company has introduced yet another brand new notion: Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall is in Palestine.
The company that brought us the innovative Iphone now offers the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while the rest of the world, with the Americans, still try to broker a shaky final status.
Don’t believe it? Just come visit the Kotel (Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem. Pull out your Iphone 5, and take a few pictures of the Wall. Before you can say Siri, wonder of wonders, a description of the most famous site in all of Judaism will automatically pop up on your high definition screen showing you the location of the Wailing Wall: The West Bank, East Jerusalem.
That’s right folks, with just one swipe of your screen, the all mighty Apple has divided the united city of Jerusalem putting the holiest place in the world for all Jewish people in the Palestinian Territories.
For those Iphone fans who think that this is just another Apple map’s bug, be informed. In earlier versions of their trendy device, the Apple weather app gave separate forecasts for West and East Jerusalem, even though Israel united the city 46 years ago after the Six-Day War in 1967! Only after extensive and ongoing pressure by Israel’s Ambassador to the US did the digital giant change the app’s map status to identify Jerusalem as one united city.
“It is a shame that a commercial enterprise feels that it needs to be more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves,” said Vice Foreign Minister Zeev Alkin. “But what matters is the reality on the ground, not in the virtual world.”
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz, the overseer of the Wailing Wall had this to say in response. “We don’t need anyone’s endorsement or stamp of approval. The Wailing Wall is a part of who we are.”
If the company is getting involved in politics to help sell their Apples to young left-wing liberals, beware. A long time ago in a garden, a young innocent couple took that appealing apple, only to be deceived, when all hell broke loose.
Friday, 13 December 2013 03:28

Still Poor in the Promised Land

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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.

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