Thursday, December 5, 2013

Being a 'Messianic Jew' vs. a 'Hebrew Christian'

Through the years I have been asked repeatedly by both Jew and non-Jew about the difference between 'Messianic Jew' and 'Hebrew Christian'.   They not only want to know the definition of each term, but why it should matter.   Many Jewish believers have come to be convinced that just knowing Yeshua as Savior is enough.   Many times they have come from a religiously observant childhood and are trying to escape what they saw as 'dead religiosity'.   So, they go to church with their Gentile counterparts and, save, perhaps, for the surname, you would not know them to be Jewish in any way.  Many of them have totally and completely abandoned their Jewish heritage and traditions.   They are 'Hebrew Christians'.  They are Jewish by bloodline, but are totally devoid of anything 'Jewish' in their lifestyle and practice.   Instead, they have totally embraced the church and all of the 'Christian' celebrations and holidays.   I completely understand.   During a seven-year period of time in my life (between 1982 and 1989) I did nothing for God and didn't want to have anything to do with the people of God, because I was trying to do the same thing.   It is a fact that religiosity is dead and not worth any investment of time - it is a time waster.

BUT ... there is a big problem with this!  My Jewish brethren, listen up!  We are not living within the purposes and will of HaShem for us if we are Jewish and living a totally 'Christian' lifestyle.  According to the very Word of HaShem, we, the Jews, are not to be like everyone else in the world.  We are to be different, and enough so, so as to be recognizably different.  When an individual looks at us and our life, they should be able to know that we are Jewish.  Why?   Because we are to be a witness that HaShem has kept His promises to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov!   All of the promises that HaShem has made are crucial.  We must all be about partnering with Him, in this earth, to bring forth His Kingdom here.  In order to do that, we have to play by His rules, not ours. And, His rules are very specific.   If we want success, and don't want to find ourselves fighting His will, we have to do it His way.

When we integrate into society (especially Gentile Christianity) and look like everyone else, we do HaShem and His calling on us a disservice.   Our being a peculiar people and being sanctified as His royal priesthood and holy nation, shouts to the world that our God is able to keep His promises.  If our people integrate and disappear into the landscape of society, then we give the rest of the unbelieving world the ability to mock our God and say He is not the powerful God He says He is.   In fact, if we read the Nevi'im (the Prophets), we find out that our being scattered throughout the world brings a reproach on HaShem's reputation.   That is why I encourage and financially support aliyah.  We have even set up a fund to help North American Jews make aliyah.   One of these days, I too will make my way back to Eretz Yisra'el, but first I must finish my assignment here in helping others to get back.

The Nevi'im tell us that once all of the Jewish people are gathered back in The Land, HaShem will sprinkle clean water on all of us and remove our iniquities from us, as a nation.   Then, as it says in Romans, "all Israel will be saved."   I would encourage all Jews who are in the church to lay aside their fears and take up the calling that HaShem has placed on us as a Jewish people.  Live and worship as a Jew who believes in Yeshua as his Jewish Messiah, rather than as a Christian that just so happens to be a Jew.  When we come to faith in Messiah Yeshua, it should actually make us more 'Jewish', not less. Yeshua was the Jewish Messiah, after all!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'The Tabernacle of David'


There has been an upsurge in recent years of the establishment of 24/7 prayer and praise houses around the nation and the world. Although I am in wholehearted agreement with the benfits of such locations and their activities, there has been some controversy over to how they are being referred. This movement is being referred to as the restoration of the 'Tabernacle of David' and is being promoted as the fulfillment of the prophetic Scripture in Amos 9:11. But, is this really the case? My friend Avner Boskey wrote a paper on this, back in 2001, which I would like to share with you. It's long, but enjoy and learn!

Rabbi Michael

A Messianic Perspective on the Restoration of David’s Tabernacle
© Avner Boskey 2001

A teaching called ‘The Restoration of David’s Tabernacle’ (RDT) is becoming popular among some charismatic streams of the body of Messiah. This teaching focuses on continual (or ‘24/7’) intercessory prayer and prophetic worship in the spirit of King David. God is using this movement to restore ancient weapons of prayer and renewed gifts of prophetic worship to the body worldwide. The Lord Himself is raising up a standard of prayer and praise in response to an encroaching wave of darkness and evil.

Some Messianic Jewish believers, however, are troubled by this new movement’s use of the term ‘David’s Tabernacle’. Whereas the Bible uses the term ‘David’s Tabernacle’ and its restoration in a specific Jewish context, some in the RDT movement (RDTM) tend to ignore this context. The result is that some scriptures are being handled incorrectly, and some incorrect foundations are being laid. Though this prayer movement is good and is of God, its misuse of the term ‘the restoration of David’s Tabernacle’ is causing stumbling blocks for the Messianic Jewish community. It is also obscuring a central biblical truth for the whole body of Messiah – the governmental restoration of David’s international rule as part of Jewish restoration. In addition, it is using Scriptures in a way commonly associated with Replacement theology.

So this paper is a suggested corrective to the RDTM. It is also an appeal to wider charismatic streams in the body of Messiah to investigate the biblical and contextual use of the term ‘David’s Tabernacle” in Amos and Acts – a hope umbilically connected to the Jewish people’s full physical and spiritual restoration. For how can a Davidic King be restored to the earth without Him reigning over His original Jewish subjects?

I express my appreciation for the many intercessors (prophetic and otherwise) who are laboring with a whole heart for the restoration of prophetic worship and God-breathed intercession in the body of Messiah – in the RDTM and apart from it. Your work is deeply needed and much appreciated. My hope is that leaders in the RDTM will be able to bring biblical correction regarding the misuse of the term ‘the restoration of David’s tabernacle’. The result would bring greater blessing and clarity to the whole body of Messiah. It would also bring the heart of your movement closer in line with the priority of God’s heart – the restoration of “the apple of His eye”, Jacob’s children (see Psa.148:14; Zech.2:8: cf., Deut.32:8-11; Rom.1:16; 2:5-11; 3:1-2; 11:11-15).

I. What’s In A Name?
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. Though modern translations are highly accurate, sometimes mistranslations and misunderstandings do occur. Occasionally some Bible students draw unusual conclusions and are certain that God backs up their findings, even when the meaning of the original language leads in a different direction. Many such problems can be resolved by consulting the original Hebrew language. The term ‘tabernacle of David’ is such an example, and this is one controversy that can probably be resolved fairly quickly, and with more light than heat.

There are various words in Hebrew for a religious shrine. Ohel mo’ed is one term, meaning a tent of meeting. Ohel ha’edut means a tent of testimony. Mishkan is another, meaning a dwelling place, where God dwells. Heichal is another word, signifying palace or temple. Mikdash is a word which means holy place or sanctuary. Dvir is a holy innermost room, and kodesh hakodashim means the holiest area, the holy of the holies. Interestingly, none of these words is used by Amos (9:11) when he prophesies about the ‘tabernacle of David’.

Let’s take a look at the word used in Amos 9:11. The Hebrew text reads: “Bayom hahu akim et sukkat David hanofelet, v’gadarti et pirtzeihen. Vaharisotav akim uv’nitiha k’yemei olam”. The literal translation is as follows: “In that day I will raise up the sukka (feminine) of David, the fallen one (feminine, referring to sukka). I will fence over its broken-through areas. Its destroyed areas I will raise up and I will rebuild her, as in ancient days.”

Amos prophesies under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and uses the word sukka. This Hebrew word is mistakenly translated as ‘tabernacle’ in the King James: “In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David which is fallen”. The New American translates the word as ‘booth’, while the New International Version uses the word ‘tent’. What does the Hebrew word really mean?

The Hebrew word sukka (plural, sukkot) comes from the root s-kh-kh (samech, khaf, khaf) or ‘sachach’. The verb means to weave things together, specifically vegetable matter (like boughs, fronds, willow or palm branches, etc.). It is a rough word, used to describe rude cattle pens in the field as in Gen.33:17: “Jacob, however, went to Sukkot, where he built a place for himself and made shelters (sukkot) for his livestock. Therefore he called the name of the place ‘Sukkot’”.

The prophet Jonah built himself a sukka as he waited for Nineveh to be zapped by God’s wrath. “Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter (sukka), sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city” (Jonah 4:5). During the revival under Nehemiah and Ezra, the Jewish people returning from Babylon to Judah heard the scriptures commanding them to dwell in makeshift shanties: “‘Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make sukkot, as it is written’. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves sukkot on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim” (Neh.8:15-16).

Every Jewish child in Bible days knew what a sukka was, just as every Israeli child can immediately recognize a sukka today. It is a ramshackle shanty, a temporary shack covered with thatch, thrown together for a few days during the Feast of Booths (Hag HaSukkot in Hebrew). It is altogether lacking the mystique, the romance, the incense, the sound of Middle Eastern bells tolling in the background – that the word ‘tabernacle’ tends to conjure up for some Western ears, and especially for those in the RDTM. So why did Amos use this unrefined word sukka?

Before this question can be answered, we need to first lay some historical foundation about God’s royal promises to David, and how that dynasty later fell upon hard times.

II. I have sworn to David My servant
When God established His covenant with King David (2 Sam.7; 1Chron.17; Psa.89), He promised him many things. Some of these promises have been fulfilled, and some of these promises will be fulfilled in the near future. Though many Christians like to focus exclusively on Messiah Jesus as the only important point of the Davidic covenant, YHVH writes specific Jewish national promises into the clauses of the Davidic covenant. Some of these blessings for the Jewish nation include everlasting peace for the Jewish people, the destruction of all of Israel’s enemies, and the exclusive and eternal possession of the entire land of Israel by the people of Israel (see 2 Sam. 7:10; 1Chron.17:9-10).

The interesting point here is this: God has strategically promised future physical blessings for the nation of Israel in the Davidic covenant. The restoration of the physical Jewish people is part of the irrevocable gifts and calling listed in Rom. 9:1-5 and 11:28-29. Therefore we Bible believers should be eagerly expecting full national Jewish restoration, especially as some streams in the Body of Messiah get interested in Davidic restoration.

The God of Israel promised three blessings to David personally – a royal house or dynasty of his own (the House of David, Israel’s ongoing Jewish royal family; see 2 Sam.7:11-13), the international reign of David’s descendants (Psa.89:20-27), and the eternal reign of David’s descendants (see 2 Sam. 7:13,16, 19,25-26; Jer.33:17; Psa.89:4,29,34-37).

Some believers have never considered these aspects of the Davidic covenant. They have been content to simply remember that Jesus is David’s Greater Son. Many Gentile believers have not had much love for or interest in the Jewish people. When these Christians have stumbled over those aspects of the Davidic covenant which concern the Jews, many have been only too happy to look the other way. One of the reasons that God is raising the subject of the Davidic covenant at such a time as this, is to get His Church to wrestle with His heart and their own hearts concerning the Jewish implications and ramifications of Davidic restoration.

III. United we stand, divided we fall
The glory of David’s reign was a high point in Israel’s history. Different psalmists describe the dazzling splendor of the royal palaces in Davidic Jerusalem. These are described in Psalms 48:3,12-13; 122:3,7 and 1 Kings 7:1-12. In King Solomon’s day Jerusalem was world renowned for its riches and wealth (see 1 Kings 4:20-34;10:14-29). The Queen of Sheba (present day Aden/Yemen/Hadrama’ut) traveled across deserts and mountains to see the glory of the House of David. When Amos 9:11 says that the splendor of David’s House will be restored to what it was “in ancient days”, it is worth it to take a few minutes and read the above descriptions, savoring the beauty and sweetness of the restoration that is to come.

Yet the glory of David’s reign was also marred by personal sin. David’s worship and prayer brought forth many psalms and much impassioned worship, but his lust brought forth murder, breaking down the hedges of protection for his own family. Though YHVH forgave David’s sins (Psa.32:1-2), David’s own children engaged in similar sins, whether it was sexual sin (the rape of Tamar) or the shedding of blood (Amnon’s assassination). Even David’s beloved son Absalom rebelled against his own father, spreading rebellion and bloodshed throughout the land.

David’s chosen son Solomon (whose Hebrew name Sh’lomo means ‘in him is peace’; 1Chron.22:9) continued his father’s rule in great splendor, but gradually turned away from intimacy with God, building a harem of over one thousand sexual partners and constructing pagan shrines to demons (1Ki.11:1-7). As a result YHVH became angry with Solomon, and promised to tear most of the kingdom away from Judah. The Lord prophesied that one day ten of the twelve tribes would rebel against Solomon’s descendants, though two tribes would remain loyal (see 1Ki. 11:9-13; 11:26-40). The splendid House of David would soon be struck by rebellion, desertion and limited destruction.
This prophetic word came to pass when Solomon’s son Rehoboam ascended to the throne. His arrogant blustering alienated the heart of the Jewish people. Jeroboam son of Nebat led the ten tribes of Israel in revolt against the Davidic dynasty with the following declaration: “’What share do we have in David, and what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’ . . . So Israel has been in rebellion against the House of David to this day” (1Ki.12:16,19).

It is essential to note that, when Messiah Yeshua was rejected by the leaders of Israel, these leaders were following in the footsteps of their ancestors. Jewish people who had rebelled against David’s dynasty in 1 Kings 12 had given birth to subsequent generations – who were now rebelling against Messiah Son of David in the flesh! One of the keys to the true restoration of the tabernacle/sukka of David, is for the Church to intercede for Israel – that the Jewish leadership and nation will repent for the sins of previous generations, and turn away from their rebellion against the House of David and Yeshua the Messiah of Israel. The following scriptures can be of help in guiding intercession for this burden: Zech.12:7-13:1; Hos.3:4-5; Ezek.20: 32-44; Matt.23:37-39.

Cracks had appeared in the Davidic skyscraper, and the mighty dynasty of David was now crumbling. The House of David now ruled over only one-sixth of the Jewish people. The psalmist Ethan would write, “You have rejected, You have spurned, You have been very angry with Your anointed one, You ... have defiled his crown in the dust. You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins . . . You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground . . . How long, O Lord? . . . Where is Your former great love which in Your faithfulness You swore to David?” (Psa.89:38-40,44,46,49).

God judged Israel’s rebellion against David by exiling them to Assyria, and Judah’s apostasy would be judged by exile to Babylon. Even the House of David would be scattered among the nations. The splendid House of David was about to come crashing down.

IV. Sukka - a biblical sign of destruction
We now come back to the question at the end of section two: why did Amos choose the rough word sukka to describe the condition of David’s House? We turn to Isaiah the prophet to gain depth and insight on this point.

Isaiah prophesied in Isa.1:7-8 that the Jewish people would suffer body blows of invasion and destruction. During the coming Babylonian invasion Jerusalem would be sacked and the Temple of Solomon would be razed to its foundations. Isaiah depicted this destruction in agonizing words: “Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire. Your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. The Daughter of Zion is left like a sukka in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege."

Isaiah is saying this: the Jewish people were about to suffer the destruction of their capital city, their Temple and their Davidic king, and they would be left homeless and hopeless. Instead of living in palaces and fancy houses, their condition would be more like that of a poor farmer, who lives in a sukka during the days of the grape harvest so that no one will steal his hard-earned crops at night. The nobility of Jerusalem would be transformed into peasants in field shacks – that was Isaiah’s prophecy over his beloved Jewish people.

This explanation allows the reader to sense the horror that a native Hebrew speaker would have associated with the way Isaiah used the word sukka. It was not a romantic or restorationist word. It was a promise of destruction and humiliation. That is the meaning of this Hebrew term in context. That is also the background to Amos’ use of the term in Amos 9:11, as we shall see.

V. The Stump of Hope
Isaiah continues to prophesy about the destruction facing the Jewish people in 5:1-5, comparing Israel to a connoisseur’s vineyard about to be laid waste. In Isaiah 6:11-13 the Lord prophesies two things – destruction over the land of Judah and exile for the people themselves. Ruined fields, deserted houses, uninhabited cities – this is what the Jewish people had to look forward to. But then all of a sudden Isaiah offers a gleam of hope. “But like the terebinth tree and the oak which, after being cut down leave stumps, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land” (verse 13). Somehow this holy seed will bring light to the exiles’ eyes, joy to their hearts, and restoration from destruction.

In chapter 11 Isaiah returns to the vision of the stump and the seed. He prophesies that the stump is the Dynasty of David and the seed is the Messianic King who will rule from Judah over all the nations of the planet. “And a shoot will come out of the stump of Jesse (ed., David’s father) and a branch will bring forth fruit from those roots ...” (Isa.11:1). Isaiah now lets us in on God’s end-game strategy in these chapters. Though the Jewish people have been ravaged and the Davidic dynasty has been decimated, God will one day bring double restoration. He will return the Jewish people to their promised land (n.b., not just once, but twice – see Isa.11:11 and Jer.31:10) and He will restore the reign of David’s dynasty over the Jewish people and the whole world (see also Luke 1:32-33).

Indeed, at the end of days the Jewish people will repent en masse of their rebellion against the House of David: “Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek YHVH their God and David their king, and they will come trembling to YHVH and to His goodness in the last days” (Hos.3:5).
The emphasis in the Isaiah 11 prophecy is on future restoration – the restoration of God’s sovereign government over all the nations through David’s dynasty. When Amos 9:11 says that God would restore the sukka of David to the glory that it once had “in ancient days”, we need to consider two things – what that ancient glory looked like, and how the prophets describe the restoration of that future glory.

Here are six prophetic passages (of many in the Bible) which help to flesh out this vision. In all of them the emphasis is on the restoration of governmental authority to David’s Messianic seed and to David’s capital city Jerusalem.

Isa. 2:1-4 explains: “This is what Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: ‘In the last days, the Mountain of YHVH’s House will be established as head among the mountains. It will be raised above the hills and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the Mountain of YHVH, to the House of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths. The teaching will go out from Zion, and the word of YHVH from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples”.

Another passage is Zech.8:20-23: “This is what YHVH of armies says, ‘Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will come and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, “Let us go at once to entreat YHVH and seek YHVH of armies. I myself am going.” And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek YHVH of armies and to entreat Him. . . In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the edge of his robe and say, “Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you”.

A third passage is Jer.23:5-8: “The days are coming, declares YHVH, when I will raise up to David a Righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He shall be called – ‘YHVH our Righteousness’. So the, the days are coming, declares YHVH, when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as YHVH lives, who brought the sons of Israel up out of Egypt’, but they will say, ‘As surely as YHVH lives, who brought the sons of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where He had banished them’. Then they will live in their own land”.

A fourth passage is Zech.14:16: “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King YHVH of armies and to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot”.
All of the above passages describe the same picture from different angles – David’s restored dynasty reigning in Jerusalem over the whole earth, as the spiritual, judicial and legislative center of the planet. These descriptions are definitely governmental descriptions.

According to Isa. 11:3-5 Jesse’s Davidic Son will judge the nations on God’s holy mountain in Jerusalem with justice, righteousness and faithfulness. This is the government of God in action.
Isa. 9:6-7 also describes this same Messianic figure in governmental terms: “For to us a Child has been born, a Son has been given to us, and the government shall be on His shoulder (ed. a reference to the key, a symbol of one’s governmental office, which actually was carried over one’s shoulder in public Jewish processions) . . . Of the increase of His government there will be no end, and also of His peace. He will sit on the throne of David and reign over his kingdom, establishing it and strengthening it through justice and righteousness from this point until eternity. The fierce zeal of YHVH of the armies will accomplish this!”

The stump of David may have been ravaged, burned with fire and nearly destroyed. But the Lord of the heavenly armies, the God of Israel, promises to revive David’s dynasty and again establish his rule and that of his descendants over the nations from Jerusalem. There are various passages which indicate that not only David himself (resurrected from the dead) but also his physical descendants will rule and reign in Jerusalem alongside and subordinate to the Messiah Yeshua. See the following passages which describe a prophetic future for a resurrected David and for his physical descendants: Jer. 30:9; 33:17, 21-22, 26; Ezek. 34:23-24; Zech.12:7-13:1.

It is God’s divine desire to restore physical Jerusalem and to re-establish the physical rule of David over the entire world. The Bible clearly describes this burning passion as the fierce zeal of the Warrior Lord (Isa.9:7). YHVH is serious about the restoration of David’s governmental rule over the planet. It is top priority for Him.

VI. Isn’t ‘911’ an emergency call?
We now turn to consider the context and meaning of Amos 9:11, the only biblical passage where the term ‘the restoration of David’s tabernacle’ is used.

Amos 9 and Isaiah 1-11 focus on the same theme, though Amos wrote probably a century before Isaiah penned his own scroll. The first ten verses of Amos chapter nine describe the judgment YHVH will bring upon the Jewish people. In the middle of the eighth verse Amos begins to prophesy about mercy coming to Israel at the end of days, after judgment. It is true that the Lord may wipe out certain nations for their sins, totally destroying them for rebellion against God. But He will not annihilate the Jewish people. They have a different and enduring destiny in spite of their sins (verse 8b-9).

After the day of Israel’s physical judgment, Amos prophesies that the day of Israel’s physical restoration will also come about. God will restore the ravages of destruction and exile, restoring the Jewish people to the ‘West Bank’, to the Golan and to Jerusalem (see Jer.50:4-5,17-20). There they will rebuild the ruins, replant the vineyards and be planted themselves, eternally and in their own land, by the hand of their own God (verses 13-15).

With that context in place (verses 1-10, 13-15) we now turn to Amos 9:11-12. Here the God of Israel promises that He will not only restore the people of Israel to the land of Israel. He will also restore Israeli government to the people of Israel – the governmental dynasty of the king of Israel, King David, over the Jewish nation. And that king will rule over not only the Jewish people, but also over Israel’s enemies the Edomites (these are Arabs descended from Esau; see Gen.25:30; 27:38-40; Psalm 137:7-9; Obadiah 1-21) and over all the nations of the world. “’In that day I will raise up the fallen sukka of David. I will fence over its broken-through areas. Its destroyed areas I will raise up and I will rebuild her, as in ancient days – so that they will rule over the remnant of Edom and over all the nations that My name will be called over them,’ declares YHVH who is doing this”.

Once again it is unmistakable that the context here is governmental – the Davidic king will rule over all the nations from Jerusalem in Judah. The vision here is the same one as described in Psalm 89:22-27 – a Jewish king descended from David ruling over the entire planet. It is interesting to note that the same Hebrew root words Amos 9:11 uses to describe Davidic restoration – ‘fencing over the broken-through areas’ (‘gadarti et pirtzeihen’) – are repeated in Ethan’s psalm lamenting the shattering of Davidic governmental rule in Jerusalem (‘paratzta khol gderotav’, Psa.89:40).

Amos had seen with his own eyes the splendor of the royal palaces in Davidic Jerusalem. Yet God was telling him that this Solomonic splendor would one day be atomized, and the descendants of David would find their shelter in sukkot - field huts - instead of in palaces. Only after this humbling of David’s line and of David’s Jewish people would the restoration come. “In that day (ed. after the judgment on the Jewish people) I will raise up the fallen sukka of David. I will fence over its broken-through areas. Its destroyed areas I will raise up and I will rebuild her, as in ancient days.”

Amos 9:11 is prophesying the restoration of governmental authority, the international sweep of that authority, and the Jewish and Davidic matrix of that authority. Amos 9:11 is not prophesying about 24-hour intercessory prayer meetings and inspired worship. Though inspired worship will flourish under Davidic rule, that is not what Amos’ prophecy is addressing.

All kinds of blessings will come about when Davidic rule is restored in Jerusalem. When the full restoration of David’s governmental rule comes to pass, some of the future benefits described in Scripture include world peace (Isa.2:4), universal justice (Isa.9:7), the limiting of the effects of the Fall (Isa.11:6-9), the physical presence of YHVH in Jerusalem (Jer.31:6; Ezek.48:35; Isa.33:21-22), a Temple on Mount Moriah which will also be a House of Prayer for all nations with a Jewish flavor (Isa.56:7), the Negev deserts blossoming like the rose with perennial water sources (Isa.35:1-10), and wonderful blessings of rain for Israel and the world (Joel 2:18-27; Zech.14:17). The full restoration of David’s covenant will bring overflowing physical blessings for Israel and the world (see Isa.27:6; 55:3,12-13).

VII. Doesn’t prophecy concerning the Jews really refer to the Church?
This is a question often asked by many Gentile believers. There is also a theological claim standing behind that question that some may not realize, so let’s follow that question back to its hidden claim.

Part one of the above argument would say that Yeshua (Jesus’ original Hebrew name) is David’s Greater Son (see Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:41-45) who was to reign over the Jewish people and the whole world. This first statement is biblical and true.

Part two would say that when the majority of the Jewish leaders rejected Messiah, Yeshua then rejected His original promises to the Jewish people (this is false; see Rom.11:1-2). When He inaugurated the New Covenant, He forever changed the meaning of all the biblical promises of the Messianic Kingdom (this is also untrue; see Rom.11:29). Before the cross, one would have understood those promises as they were stated – a kingdom is coming on this earth, centered in Jerusalem and revolving around the Jewish people. After the cross, they would now mean something else (this is also incorrect; see Luke 22:29-30).

Part three would say that all promises of physical Jewish restoration (including restoration of Davidic rule in Jerusalem over all the world) now must be re-interpreted. Instead of referring to Jesus reigning over all the world through the Jewish people, they should be understood to mean that Jesus will reign over all Christian believers. No Jewish context, no Jewish restoration, no Davidic dynasty. This above theology can be described as an attempt by some to prophetically ‘castrate’ David and his seed.
According to this new view, all the promises are suddenly ‘re-interpreted’ (if your perspective happens to be that of some Gentiles) or stolen (if your perspective happens to be Jewish). Now they are supposed to refer to the primarily Gentile church. This position is known as Replacement theology (‘God has replaced Jews with the Gentiles’) or Supercession theology (‘the Gentiles have superceded the Jews’).

This theology is actually theological robbery masquerading as spirituality. It is the very thing the Apostle Paul warned Gentile believers about in Romans 11: 18, 20 and 25: don’t be arrogant towards the Jewish people, don’t be conceited towards them, and don’t be ignorant about their calling. The calling and the gifts given to the Jewish people by the Messiah of Israel are irrevocable (Rom.11:29) – and that includes the physical restoration of David’s dynasty. God will fulfill His good word to Israel, especially when some Gentiles say that YHVH has abandoned the original people to whom He promised the Messianic kingdom (Jer.30:17; 31:20).

So the truth is, God does not prefer Gentiles over Jews (as Justin Martyr once said), and He hasn’t rejected His Jewish people or fudged on the promises He made to them (Rom.11:1-2). The promise of Jewish physical restoration to the entire land of Israel (Jer.31;5-6; 50:19), the spiritual salvation of the entire Jewish nation (Jer.31:31-34; 50:20), and governmental restoration of the Davidic dynasty (Amos 9:11-12; Isa.2:1-5; Jer.33:19-26) – all will come to pass for Israel, because the zeal of YHVH of armies will perform this.

VIII. Amos 9:11 in the New Testament
In Acts 15:13-18 James the Apostle referred to Amos 9:11, declaring that Gentiles should be fully accepted into the (then) predominantly Jewish body of Messiah – without converting to Judaism. His main argument was threefold: God has recently demonstrated an interest in Gentile salvation; this accords with the Hebrew prophets’ vision of the future; therefore we should make the process as uncomplicated as possible!

James’ quotation of Amos 9:11 most probably comes from a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint (LXX). It reads the Hebrew text in a slightly different way than is usual. But this different reading does not change the meaning of the concept ‘David’s tabernacle’ at all. It concerns another word ‘Edomites’, and the question there is, should that word be read as ‘Edomites’ or as ‘the rest of mankind’. This is an interesting discussion for another time, but this is not the focus here.
James’ point was simply this: the apostles knew that toward the End of Days, God would re-establish David’s Messianic kingdom over the entire world. They thought that this would be done immediately after the resurrection of Yeshua (see Acts 1:6-7), but Yeshua told them that those exact dates had not yet been revealed to any man. So as the Messianic Jews waited for the full restoration of David’s throne, James says that they should not be surprised that Gentiles would begin to seek the God of Israel and His Messiah. And why is this? Here James calls on the prophetic witness of Amos. Amos prophesied that, at the end of time, a spiritual awakening among the Gentiles would be connected in some fashion to the restoration of David’s dynasty.

It is important to remember that the fullness of David’s throne has not been restored, even in our day (see Acts 26:6-7; 2 Tim.2:9: Heb.2:8; Matt.19:28/Psa.122:5; Rom. 11:12). The Bible also teaches that the fullness of Gentile revival has not yet happened (see Rev. 7:9-14 and Rom.11:25). Just as most believers look forward to the fullness of the harvest of the nations (and the Jewish harvest too!), so it is just as biblical to look forward to the fullness of the restoration of the Davidic dynastic reign.
To sum up: James is saying that Amos 9:11 prepares us for the fact that Gentiles would come to faith about the time when the Messianic Son of David would appear. James is saying that a new age has been inaugurated after the cross, a period when many Gentiles would find a personal relationship with the God of Israel through Yeshua the Messiah. James would have been astounded and angry to hear that, a few centuries after his death, some Gentiles would come along with a new and strange teaching – a denial that full Davidic and Jewish restoration will take place. James would said to them, “Can’t you see it, friends? The fact that Amos’ words about Gentile salvation began to come true in my day, means that one day in the future Amos’ words describing the restoration of David’s governmental rule will also come true!”

Over the centuries many Jews and even more Gentiles have believed in Yeshua, but the fullness of David’s kingdom has not yet blossomed. But soon vast numbers of Gentiles will come to faith, Israel as a nation will be saved through fire, and Yeshua will return to set up David’s throne in Jerusalem.

IX. Honor the Jewish people – don’t steal their promises!
What’s the result when the RDTM teaches that the prophetic restoration of David’s tabernacle is fulfilled in the Church’s worship and intercession? The result is that many Gentiles have their prophetic discernment blunted. They begin to believe that prophetic promises to the Jewish people are no longer valid, and that the fullness of God’s heart is for the predominantly Gentile Church alone. Paul calls this boasting against the branches. It is stealing – pilfering the promises made to the Jewish people. It is also very bad manners.

Another part of the problem here is that the Scriptures mandate a curse on those who curse the Jewish people (Gen.12:3) – a further aspect of what some would call the ‘Israel mandate’. To rob the Jewish people of their prophetic future, to confuse the Church regarding Yeshua’s present and future Davidic rank, and to be silent about the Church’s priority need to intercede for Israel’s restoration – these acts and attitudes can bring about a spiritual curse upon sectors of the Church of Messiah Jesus.

God intends for His body to be edified and encouraged through prophetic worship. He wants to accomplish His heart purposes on the earth in cooperation with intercessory prayers. He also wants His Gentile children to honor and give priority to Israel, YHVH’s first-born among the nations (see Exod.4:22-23; Deut.21:15-17; Rom.1:16; 2:5-11; 3:1-2; 9:1-5). This means that the RDTM should stop defining the restoration of David’s tabernacle primarily in terms of its own praise and prayer activities. The real Davidic restoration belongs to King Yeshua alone and it will be powerfully fulfilled in Jerusalem when He ascends His throne to exercise governmental rule over His own Jewish people and the entire world.

As Messianic Jewish believers, we plead with Gentile believers: after you use our ‘toys’ (the Messianic promises given to the Jewish people, some of which you share in), please don’t steal them! Put them back neatly on the shelf, for the love of God and of Israel! Our people need those promises – for our very survival, our salvation and our own national revival. And we need you to pray for us – for our protection, our salvation and the fulfilling of our calling to bring revival to the nations (see Rom.11:15)!
And please pray with us for the very Jewish House Of Prayer that God promises to establish in the heart of Jerusalem (Isa.56:3-8). We bless God for how revelation about worship and intercession is going forth from many places. Remember with us that one day God’s own teaching will go forth from Zion, and the pure extract of the Lord’s word will shine forth from Jerusalem (see Micah 4:1-5). Even now, begin to live in the presence of the future!

X. A Heart Like David’s
The heart of the RDTM is good. Most of its adherents love the Lord in good faith, and minister to Him in openhearted worship and sensitive intercession. We can all draw strength from this movement’s positive aspects.

The RDTM focuses on David’s heart for worship, drawing on the Hebrew Scriptures’ description of David as a man after God’s own heart. The life and heart of David is a wonderful model to follow. As long as the movement focuses on David as a model, describes their activities by saying ‘we want to worship like David did’ and ‘in the spirit of David’, they are on safe ground. Their teaching and equipping will benefit millions. It is worth remembering here that the original prophetic word given to Mike Bickle of IHOP carefully made that distinction: “In 1983, the Lord prophesied that He would release a 24-hour a day, citywide ministry to the Lord in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David” (ed. emphases mine). The Holy Spirit referred to worship and intercession as “a restoration in the spirit of David’s tabernacle” – and not that worship and intercession is the restoration of David’s tabernacle!

If the leadership of the RDTM continues to teach that it is prophetically restoring David’s tabernacle a la Amos 9:11 by training believers in prophetic worship and intercession, then the spiritual vitality of this lovely stream is in danger, and is running at cross purposes with the Son of David Himself on this one biblical issue. Any prophetic teaching which aspires to biblical legitimacy must interpret the Bible the way the Bible interprets itself.

Let us press on to encourage each other in Messiah Son of David, to imitate King David’s heart of worship for the Father of Lights, and to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice as we wait on Him for intercessory direction. And let us really try to call things by their biblical names, and not be stumbling blocks to the Jewish people, or subvert the clear intercessory calling upon the Church to labor for Zion’s sake – for the restoration of the sukka of David.

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the House of David His servant (as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old) salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant (the oath which He swore to Abraham our father); to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days” (Luke 1:68-79).

Postscript – David versus Moses?
This last section is a postscript. This is only for those who are aware of RDT theology and who would be willing to reconsider one of the RDTM teachings – the one that says that David’s worship experiences before the Ark of the Covenant were God’s ideal, but that the ongoing Mosaic worship at the Tent of Meeting was legalistic or second best.

Is the contrast that the RDTM is making between ‘legalistic Mosaic’ and ‘anointed Davidic’ worship a true contrast, and can it be biblically sustained? Let’s refresh our memory by consulting the relevant passages.

During the days of Samuel, Eli’s disobedient sons Hophni and Phinehas removed the Ark of the Covenant from the Tent of Meeting in Shiloh and brought it down to the battlefield (Josh.18:1; 1 Sam.1:9; 2:22; 4:4-5). This was done to increase the chances of victory in battle, even though YHVH had prophesied that Eli’s disobedience in not disciplining his sons would lead to a great national tragedy (1Sam.2:27-36; 3:11-18).

In the Battle of Ebenezer the Ark of the Covenant was seized by the Philistines and taken to their five cities. Shiloh was also attacked by the Philistines, who burned it to the ground (Jer.7:12-14). The Tent of Meeting (minus the Ark) was eventually moved to Gibeon, and Philistines finally returned the Ark of the Covenant to the Jewish people, where it sojourned in a small border town, Kiryat Ye’arim, for many years (1 Sam.6:21-7:1).

Samuel was a young boy on the day the Ark was taken out of the Tent of Meeting. He lived out the rest of his days without getting to see the Ark returned to its original and God-commanded resting place – the Tent of Meeting (Exod.25:8-16; 26:30-34; 30:6; 1 Sam.25:1).

After Samuel died, David became king over Judah and then, seven years later, over all Israel. After he conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital city, King David attempted to move the Ark of the Covenant from Baalah Judah (also known as Kiryat Ye’arim) to the Jerusalem area (2 Sam.6:1-9; 1 Chron. 13:1-14).

Evidently David and his advisors did not know the scriptural instructions very well, because they tried to transport the Ark in a different way than how God had commanded Moses – by ox cart and not by pole-bearing Levites (Exod.25:12-15; 37:3-5; Deut.10:8). That attempt ended with the untimely death of Uzzah. Later on David was probably informed of the relevant Torah verses, because in 1 Chron.15:2,13,15 he publicly insisted that the biblical pattern for carrying the Ark now needed to be followed as it was returned to Jerusalem.

King David made a decision at that time not to return the Ark to its biblically mandated place, which should have been within the Tent of Meeting (now stationed in Gibeon; 1 Chron.21:29). Instead, he brought the Ark to a temporary place in the City of David, where he had pitched a tent for the occasion (1 Chron.15:1). He appointed some priests and Levites to minister before the Ark in petition, thanksgiving, and musical praise (1 Chron.16:4-6).

At the same time he faithfully supported the Gibeon Tent of Meeting in accordance with God’s command to Moses (1 Chron.16:39-42). Throughout David’s life and at the time of his death, the high place in Gibeon was considered the center point of Jewish worship (1 Ki. 3:4).
Does the Bible give any clue as to why David didn’t restore the Ark to its biblically ordained place at the Tent of Meeting? Are there provisions in the Law of Moses for doing that? Were his actions based on divine revelation?

On all of these questions, the answer is negative. It seems that David based his decision not to bring the Ark to Gibeon on two factors. One, having a heart after God, he wanted to be as close as possible to God (see Psalms 42, 63, 84). As king, he knew that his wish would be his servants’ command! The second factor is that David may have already had in his heart the desire to build a magnificent Temple for YHVH. Perhaps he also assumed that YHVH and all Israel would not mind him departing from biblical norms while the transitional planning and construction of that Temple took place.
Let’s draw some applications at this point.

While David could dance before the Lord and worship Him in the privacy of his own personal ‘Ark chapel’, no other Jew could do the same. David’s personal worship-chapel was a definite exception to the Torah’s God-given order. Its doors were open to one man (David alone) and not to the whole Jewish people. David’s model of worship was not a transferable model for all Israel. It was the exception, not the rule.

David’s chapel arrangement lasted for perhaps 30 years, until Solomon completed the construction of the Temple. Solomon then consolidated both the Tent of Meeting at Gibeon and the Ark in the City of David into one magnificent shrine built on the threshing floor of Araunah on Mount Moriah (2 Sam.24:16-24; 1 Ki.8:1-9). God’s pleasure at the reuniting of Ark and Tent of Meeting was manifest for all to see, in that the Glory Cloud filled the Temple (1 Ki.8:10).

The Bible does not draw much attention to the fact that the Ark was missing from the Tent of Meeting (its biblically mandated spot) during David’s reign. It was, after all, a time of intense transition and political ferment. Even prior to David’s reign, Samuel the prophet had lived more than 30 years without seeing the Ark returned to its biblically mandated place. As described in the preceding period of the Judges, many people were still doing what seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

While David was alive, he did not think of his own personal chapel as superior to the Mosaic Tent of Meeting. He knew that his tent was only a temporary phenomenon. King David yearned to build a Temple for YHVH (2 Sam.7:1-3) according to Moses’ instructions (Exod.25:8;Heb.8:5), just as Moses had prophesied would happen (Deut.12:4-7). It is not biblically correct to assert, as some do in the RDTM, that “the pattern of King Solomon’s temple ... flowed directly from the pattern of King David’s Tabernacle” or that “Solomon erected an actual temple building in the pattern of his father David’s tabernacle”. These assertions are not found in the Bible. The Bible actually says the opposite.

Both David and Solomon followed Moses’ instructions to the letter in constructing the Temple; they had learned their lesson back with Uzza on what happens when one ignores Moses. The architectural model followed in the construction of Solomon’s Temple was based not on King David’s worship chapel (no such information is given in the Bible) but on Moses’ instructions in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

David was overjoyed when the Lord revealed to him the exact spot for the Temple’s construction (1 Chron.21:28-22:1). He was not heartbroken that his own worship center would now be eclipsed by the establishment of a national Mosaic worship center. He began to make extensive preparations for the building project. He informed Solomon that he, King David, had once received a prophetic word, informing him that Solomon would be the son who would bring David’s dream to completion (1 Chron.22:1-19). Prophecy was being fulfilled before King David’s very eyes, as David’s personal worship chapel was being shut down and the Mosaic Temple was being readied.

Here are two suggestions for the RDTM to consider, based on the above.

A. Try not to make the exception into the rule.
We should all aspire to have the maturity of heart and spirit which moves us to delight in following God’s rules – while simultaneously appreciating the added insights that are contributed by the rare ‘exceptions to the rule’.

The insights we can glean from David’s heart of worship and devotion do not stand in opposition to the wonderful worship models exhibited in the Mosaic Tent of Meeting. “Davidic principles” are not “more spiritual”, “more anointed” or more “cutting edge prophetic” than “Mosaic principles”. They are complementary. Why not teach them as complementary? Don’t create tensions between Moses and David when no such tensions exist.

B. Be careful of subtle anti-Semitism, anti-nomianism and spiritual elitism
An intensely focused zealously positive view of “David’s Tent” can lead to tunnel vision, especially when it carries along with it a slightly negative view of “Moses’ Tent”. Extra-biblical elitism and spiritual pride (“our worship is better because it’s of David, not of Moses!”) could very easily enter into the equation. History also shows us that when Moses is belittled, the belittling of Moses’ people is often not far behind. In other words, church history demonstrates that Christian anti-Mosaism often leads to Christian anti-Semitism.

Another point: anti-nomianism (an attitude of heart which stresses both opposition to God’s rules and independence from following biblical requirements) can creep into the equation here. If (as it is argued) David was super-blessed only because he was worshipping outside of the Mosaic institution, perhaps (the hidden message seems to be) we should remove ourselves from our usual church framework in order to receive “worship super-blessings”. This could lead to severe fallout in congregational settings.

Why propose a false dichotomy which forces one to choose between the Holy Spirit and the commandments He imparts, between David’s freedom of worship and Moses’ divinely planned Tent of Meeting? This competition is not part of the Bible perspective. The Spirit and the Word are not in competition. It is not biblically accurate to offer a choice between “freedom of worship in David’s tent” or “lifeless worship in Moses’ tent”! We all can benefit by applying the principles of worship demonstrated in both tents. An unbalanced focus on one tent over another tent can lead to a theology which is simply too “in-tents”!

Those whose calling it is to recover spiritual truths for the body of Messiah are often tempted by spiritual elitism. When God graciously grants extraordinary manifestations of worship and the prophetic, those who receive these gracelets can be tempted to see themselves as similarly extraordinary. The desire to be thought of as extraordinary is always seductively attractive. But it is truer, healthier and more biblical for all of us to think of ourselves as plain and normal (Rom.12:3, 16). At the end of the day, wasn’t King David’s heart just that – the heart of an honest and normal person worshipping an amazing and extraordinary God?

© Avner Boskey October 2001

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We receive an awesome newsletter on a quarterly basis, called Messianic Jewish Issues, produced by Kevin Geoffrey, founder of Perfect Word Ministries. Kevin was formally with First Fruits Of Zion, but left to start Perfect Word.

In his most recent newsletter Kevin dealt with a topic that is crucial to Messianic Jews - that of feast-keeping. There has been, through the years since the modern-day expression of Messianic Judaism was birthed, great confusion about how to 'keep' the feasts of the Lord. There has also been great judgment in the Body as various ones have compared what they are doing to observe the feasts as opposed to what others are doing. Some have felt they were superior, while others felt inferior. The Scripture tells us that we should not be engaging in such comparisons with one another. After all, none of us hold the standard to which others should attain. Only HaShem holds such a standard.

Kevin has graciously given me permission to share this article with you. It's part of his question and answer section. I felt his handling of the issue was so important that it needed to be shared with the wider community, not just those who might be subscribers to his newsletter. This article is reprinted from Messianic Jewish Issues, Spring 2012, ©2012 by Kevin Geoffrey. Published by Perfect Word Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The text of the article follows:

"Q: I'm really struggling with the feasts. I love Shabbat and studying the Torah, but for some reason I ... don't feel a drawing to keep the feasts, other than to study them at their time and season. I've prayed about this because I don't want to be disobedient to the Word ... Thanks, Kevin.

A: Perhaps it will help to look at this issue from a different perspective. When ADONAI instituted the annual calendar for Israel's feasts and appointed times, He based it on the Land's natural agricultural and seasonal schedule. Passover, for example, is in the Spring, at the beginning of the harvest season; Shavuot is at the end of the spring harvest going into summer; Sukkot wraps up all the harvesting in the Fall.

Now imagine that you are trying to keep these feasts according to this seasonal schedule in, say, Australia. If you don't at first notice that you're not in Jerusalem, and that there is no functioning Temple in Sydney, you'll surely notice that the weather is a little bit off - in fact, exactly the opposite from the Land of Israel (because Australia is in the southern hemisphere). This means that, from an Australian point of view, Passover is in the Fall, Shavuot is near winter, and Sukkot is in the Spring. It's backwards!

How about this example: Sukkot generally falls in early October. The sons of Israel are commanded to live in Sukkot (temporary shelters) for seven days. The temperature at that time of year in the Land is in the 70's and 80's-beautiful weather! Now let's swing around to the other side of the planet, and just a few latitudinal degrees north to Anchorage, Alaska. You've built your sukkah, and you're settling down inside the flimsy structure when you realize there's a bit of a draft ... it's about 40 degrees (during the day)! Not exactly an authentic Sukkot celebration, is it?

Here's what we need to understand: we can't divorce feast-keeping from the Land and the Jewish people. It's one thing for believers in Yeshua to remember these days, even to memorialize them in ways that honor and conform somewhat to the instructions of Scripture. But we must not imagine - nor attempt to convince others - that by doing so, we are literally obeying God's Word. Nothing in Scripture ever indicates that Australians are to harvest wheat in June, or that Alaskans are to rejoice for seven days in igloos!

The Torah stands forever, yet there are no Scriptural prescriptions for the people of Israel - much less believers in Yeshua from among the nations - to keep the Torah outside its divinely-given context as the constitution for a united, distinct nation in the Land. While Torah's teachings are profitable for all, feast keeping was not designed for the individual, but for the people of Israel as a whole community."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ralph Messer & Bishop Eddie Long

In the last couple days a video has surfaced that shows Ralph Messer, who claims to be a Messianic Rabbi and claims to represent the People of Israel, desecrating a Torah Scroll by misuse of it to make some proclamations about Bishop Eddie Long, of New Birth Missionary Baptist, in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Bishop Long has recently been embroiled in a disgraceful situation where five young men brought a suit against him for sexual abuse. What Ralph Messer does throughout the video is dispicable and we strongly renounce his actions and his claims. The video can be found at Be sure to read the comments below the video, after viewing the video.

In service to our JEWISH Messiah,
Rabbi Michael Wallace

The following are some unofficial responses from others of my colleagues:

The Messer Mess: Repudiating a Disgraceful Act
Posted on February 3, 2012 by Rabbi Stuart Dauermann

A YouTube video is making the rounds showing a man name Ralph Messer desecrating a Torah scroll at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The Torah is the holiest object of the Jewish people. There are strict limits and guidelines as to how it may be used. People have shed their blood to honor these guidelines and limits. Ralph Messer cannot be bothered with any of this: he has the scroll wrapped around disgraced Pastor Eddie Long, while he blesses him in the name of God. The Torah is never used in this manner–it is not an implement to be used to make one’s point or to serve as a handy metaphor.

Sadly, some in the media are mistakenly associating Mr. Messer an his conduct with Messianic Judaism.

Fortunately, a diligent reporter for the Associated Press spoke to Rabbi David Shiff of Congregation Beth Hallel, a Messianic Jewish synagogue in nearby Roswell, Georgia, who said.

“Ralph Messer in no way represents Messianic Judaism,” Shiff said. “He is not affiliated with any legitimate branch of Messianic Judaism. His actions in no way reflect the position of Messianic Judaism. I found the presentation to be repulsive and inappropriate.”
(See the AP article at

Messer is a self-authenticating lone wolf, non-Jew who calls himself a rabbi. His conduct confirms the worst stereotypes promulgated by those who fear, or in some cases, despise Messianic Judaism.

Such people need to know that we who are leaders and congregants in the Messianic Jewish Movement despise what Ralph Messer has done.

We in the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations want to make this very clear. Ralph Messer neither speaks for us, nor does he speak as one of us.

Some things cry out to be repudiated. This is one of them.

A Shonda!
Posted on February 3, 2012, by Rabbi Michael Schiffman

This week, a photo, and later a YouTube video was circulated about an impostor, posing as a Messianic Jewish rabbi, desecrated a Torah Scroll by wrapping it around a Christian pastor and blessing him, by making strange and outlandish claims. My feelings of revulsion have been shared by Messianic leaders around the globe, as comments and bloggers have been decrying this action for several reasons.

First of all, this man, Ralph Messer, is no Messianic Jew, and no rabbi. No Messianic Jewish organization endorses or accepts this man. Second, he isn’t even a Jew. He was raised as a Catholic and a former altar boy. He is part of a group called “Ephraimites,” made up of non-Jews who take on a Jewish affectation, and claim to be the Lost Tribes of Israel, and also claim to be Messianic, but have no heart or interest in genuine Jewish concerns. They are the Dungeons and Dragons of the religious world. They create a character, and assume it, in a fantasy Jewish existence. While its offensive to us in that they are engaged in the ultimate identity theft, on another level, what they are doing is as repulsive to us who are really Jewish, as a minstrel show would be offensive to African-Americans. Messianic Jews have it hard enough being who we are. We don’t need it made worse by people who are not us, masquerading as us, doing things we consider unholy, sinful and blasphemous!

The sight of this man taking a Torah scroll and abusing it was beyond painful for us to see. The reason this is such a disgrace is that a Torah Scroll is one of three things in Judaism considered holy in and of themselves. The other two are Tefillin, and Mezuzah parchments, because they are the very words of Torah, written on parchment prepared for the purpose of holy writing, with special ink, made with the purpose of holy writing, by a sofer, a man dedicated to writing holy writings. Within normative Judaism, these items are holy, in and of themselves, not by their use. To misuse a Torah Scroll in this way, is for us what taking Communion wafers, and using them as croutons in soup would be for a Catholic. I would hope our Christian friends would stand with us in condemning this act.

The sight of a sacred Jewish object being used in a way so far removed from its normal usage, and as no more than a prop for this bizarre ceremony was sickening. It was reminiscent of an account in the book of Judges in the Jewish bible, where the Ark of the Covenant was taken into battle against the Philistines. It was not how it should have been used. Israel lost the battle, and the Ark was taken captive by the Philistines, who put the Ark in the temple of their god Dagon. The Philistines noticed a problem when their Idol kept falling down before the Ark, and they suddenly had an epidemic of hemorrhoids and an infestation of rats. They sent the Ark back to Israel, where it was received and properly treated.

I’m not saying this misuse of this sacred object will bring a curse on Mr. Messer, the pastor or his church, but one never knows. Rabboni Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe doesn’t look too kindly on the intentional misuse of his Holy Things. I personally do know of people who have taken vows while holding a Torah scroll, did not fulfill the vow, and someone wound up dying. I’m not saying a Torah Scroll is lethal, but misusing a Holy thing can be bad for your health! Yes, to me, a Torah Scroll is holy, and one doesn’t fool around with what’s holy.

I add my voice to the many others protesting this despicable act and ask others to join us. I hope that people will understand this man and this horrible action has nothing to do with Messianic Judaism.

I suddenly feel like watching Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Away In A Sukkah

The following article was compiled by us from various sources. We believe that Yeshua was born during Sukkot, in a Sukkah. However, we understand that some of our fellow Messianic brethren have various, alternate interpretations and times for Yeshua's birth, including an explanation for His birth occuring on December 25th. While we do not ascribe to these other interpretations, we allow for others to have their opinions and this post is not meant to be an argument against anyone else's interpretation. This is merely what we believe to be 'proofs' for why we believe He was born at Sukkot. These calculations are 'best guesses'. The fact that there are differing opinions as to when He was actually born tells us that there is no current, definitive proof for when He was born. These various interpretations are speculative. We do not believe that this issue is of such import as to feel it necessary to 'argue' with anyone over the time of Yeshua's birth.

The Birth of Yeshua the Messiah

The New Testament itself is the source for the calculation of the birth date of the Messiah. The birth of Yeshua was during the week of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). Also, it is significant to note that in some Jewish traditions, a son’s birthday is calculated as being after the day of his circumcision … which would have been on Shemini Atzeret (means “The Eighth Day”). In Israel, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) are on the same day whereas here un America they are separate days.

Yeshua is THE LIVING TORAH! Yeshua’s birth and circumcision coincides with the one feast and the one week of the Hebrew year which commemorates the Sh'kinah (Glory of God) "tabernacling among men" AND the Torah itself "coming to life."

Also interesting; this birth date would establish a Chanukah "miraculous conception" of the Messiah. And, this would more literally "fulfill" the inspired and revelatory purposes of both of these celebrations: Simchat Torah commemorates the coming of the Torah. And, as the Gospel of John tells us, "the Word became flesh." Chanukah is the commemoration of a miraculous eight-day supply of oil for the light in the Temple menorah, when the supply should only have been sufficient for one day. What better day for the Radiant Glory of HaShem to bring the "Light of the World" into the womb of a young Jewish virgin?

Let’s look at the time span of about nine months from the first day of Chanukah to the first day of Sukkot and the last day of Sukkot, 285 to 293 days, respectively. This is within the normal human gestation period or the period from conception to delivery. The first day of Sukkot is a viable option for the birth of Yeshua. The circumcision would have occurred on Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah and life is counted as beginning when a male child survives to the day of circumcision eight days after his birth, at which time he formally receives his name.

First, we must establish the date that Myriam conceived by marking the birth of Yochanan HaMatbil (John the Baptist/Immerser), who preceded Yeshua in birth by six Hebrew months. In order to determine this date we must first determine the date of Z'kharyah's (Zechariah's) angelic visitation. This is provided through the cycle of duties of the priests in the Temple and through knowing the "course" of service under which Z'kharyah, the father of Yochanan HaMatbil, served.

The Bible tells us clearly that Elisheva (Elizabeth, the mother of Yochanan HaMatbil) conceived immediately after Z'kharyah returned home from his priestly service. Luke 1:5 also states that Z'kharyah was a priest of the "course of Aviyah (Abijah)." 1 Chronicles 24 divides the priestly families into 24 groups or "courses." 1 Chronicles 24:10 designates the "eighth course" as that of Aviyah. Each course had Temple duty two weeks out of the 50-week and four-day Hebrew year; one week in the first half of the year, another week in the last half. But since there are only 24 courses, this leaves two weeks and four days unaccounted for. These 18 days correspond to the 8-day Hebrew feasts of Passover, and Sukkot (Tabernacles), and the 2-day festival of Shavuot (Pentecost) when ALL of the priests would be assigned duty in the Temple to handle the abundance of sacrifices and other priestly duties necessitated by these mandatory pilgrimages by all of the men of Israel. We can determine that Z'kharyah was in the first course because of the recorded facts concerning Herod’s death and the time that Yeshua was dedicated at the Be'it HaMikdash (Temple - see later paragraphs for details).

Z'kharyah’s first course of duty therefore fell from 27 Iyar to the eve of Shavuot (Pentecost) on the fifth day of the month of Sivan. During the two-day festival of Shavuot, Z'kharyah would have been obligated to remain and serve with all of the priests in Jerusalem even though he was unable to speak during this time. "So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Z'kharyah saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Z'kharyah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisheva will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Yochanan." (Luke 1:8-13)

Z'kharyah would have returned home to his wife on 8 Sivan. So 8 Sivan becomes the earliest possible date for the conception of Yochanan by Elisheva. Assuming the long-held belief that the menstrual cycle usually coincided with the phases of the moon, with most women having their most fertile period during the first week of the new moon, (which also marks the beginning of Hebrew months), she could have conceived that very day. Luke 1 indicates that the conception occurred "soon after" Z'kharyah returned from his priestly duties. Knowing the desire of a childless man for a son, most probably very soon after. "And so it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days (of his Temple service) his wife Elisheva conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, "Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people." Now in the sixth month the angel Gavri'el (Gabriel)was sent by God to a city of the Gallil (Galilee) named Natzeret (Nazareth), to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Yosef (Joseph), of the house of David." The virgin's name was Myriam (Mary). (Luke 1:23-27)

Assuming that Elisheva conceived on 8 Sivan, she would have hidden herself the five months of Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, and Tishrei and the first week of Cheshvan. So the angel, Gavri'el would have been sent to Myriam in the sixth month of Elisheva’s pregnancy or during the latter part of Cheshvan or early part of the month of Kislev. From two accounts, we know the conception took place after the appearance of the angel, "And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Yeshua, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." (Luke 2:21) "And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Myriam, for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Yeshua. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. "And he will reign over the house of Ya'akov (Jacob) forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Then Myriam said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you;; therefore, also, that holy one who is to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:28-35)

The most appropriate time and the most appropriate celebration for an unusual conception by Myriam would have been the first day of Chanukah, which commemorates a "miracle" of light and which is probably the day that Myriam was herself overshadowed by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and conceived. The evening of the 24th of Kislev marks the beginning of Chanukah, which celebrates the occasion of the rededication of the Temple when oil for the menorah expected to last only one day actually lasted eight days. Chanukah, also called the Feast of Dedication, would have occurred from the 164th to the 172nd days of Elisheva’s pregnancy or just as she was about to enter her third trimester. "Now indeed, Elisheva your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. "For with God nothing will be impossible. (Luke 1:36-37) Until God could send an angel to speak to Yosef about Myriam’s unusual conception, Myriam went to live with Elisheva and her husband Z'kharyah, to assist her cousin with the demands of her pregnancy. Upon Myriam's greeting to Elisheva, Elisheva responds, calling her "the mother of my LORD". This demonstrates that Myriam was already pregnant with Yeshua. Thus, Yeshua was conceived at Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, for He is the Light of the World. She remained with Elisheva for three months. Again, assuming a conception on 8 Sivan, Elisheva would have been, during the week of Passover, at full-term, especially for a child born from the womb of a mother of advanced years. "And Myriam remained with her about three months, and returned to her house. Now Elisheva's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son." (Luke 1:56-57)

Remember that Yeshua himself identified Yochanan as having the mantle of Eliyahu (Elijah). Interestingly, the Jewish people to this day, set a place for Eliyahu during the Passover Seder meal. Passover would therefore be the most appropriate week for the birth of Eliyahu and of Yochanan HaMatbil. Making the 8th day of Passover the day that actually coincided with Yochanan’s circumcision . Exactly six months later, from Nisan 15 to Tishrei 15, the first day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) follows the Passover. If Myriam conceived on Kislev 24, the first day of Chanukah, Yeshua would have been full-term (in a younger woman) on the 15th to 22nd of Tishrei. Again, since life is reckoned to begin after a male child is circumcised and the child is customarily not given a name unless it survives to be circumcised, either date qualifies as a "birthday" for Yeshua. The 22nd of Tishrei (8th day of the Feast), is Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (in Israel), which literally means "the rejoicing of the Torah." On this day, the rabbis in the synagogues take the Torah scrolls out of their sacred places and dance with them around the synagogue and even in the surrounding streets as though the Torah had come to life. "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

During the Feast of Tabernacles, every male Israelite is required to come to Jerusalem and abide in tents or primitive lean-tos called sukkot. The Hebrew word sukkot describes "stables" or lodging places for animals as reflected in Genesis 33:17. "And Ya'akov journeyed to Sukkoth, built himself a house, and made Sukkoth (booths) for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Sukkoth." (Genesis 33:17). Dwelling in these booths seven days and nights out of every year, which were no better than shelters constructed for animals, served to remind the Hebrew people that these were their ancestor’s normal shelters for the 40 years their ancestors lived in the wilderness. Could this animal shelter be the traditional place known by the Greek term "manger" in which the Child was laid? Having "no room in the inn" on the Feast of Tabernacles these holy pilgrims to Jerusalem could have found a place in one of these Sukkot. According to scripture, they could not return to their homes immediately because they must register for the census imposed by Herod. This massive annual visitation to Jerusalem during Sukkot was the most logical time for Herod to impose his census and tax. It is important to note that the Chanukah season (December 25th timeframe) does not make such a demand for the sons of Israel to journey to Jerusalem, and would have been a very impractical time to collect a tax and to count the population.

Matthew 2:7-8, 16 states that Herod inquired "diligently" of the wise men (magi). These magi are believed to be Parthian mystics who lived east and north of the Euphrates at the end of the Persian Empire. Parthia was a kingdom whose power rivaled Rome in the First Century. The royal class (from which Parthian kings were chosen by a combined vote of the magi and the royal class) were known as "Kings of Kings." Apparently this custom carried over from earlier Persian rule. For instance, both Artaxerxes and Nebuchadnezzar, are referred to in Scripture by this title. (Ezra 7:12, Ezekiel 26:7 and Daniel 2:37). The magi also believed that the blessing of Ya'akov to Y'hudah (Judah), that "the scepter (of rule) should not depart from Y'hudah" (Genesis 49:10), meant that even the nations (other people groups) should be ruled by kings of Israel. This belief coupled by the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem convinced them that a true "King of Kings" selected by the hand of God, was to be found among the House of David within Judea. As a "king of the Jews" Yeshua was an early candidate for kingship in the Parthian empire, which had always remained friendly to Y'hudah, and which many scholars - including the first century historian, Josephus – wrote, comprised the vast hordes of the assimilated northern kingdom who had escaped Assyrian exile. At any rate, Herod had inquired of these knowledgeable magi and must surely have known when Yeshua was born although they did not return to him as he had commanded. "Now when they (the magi) had seen him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this child." (Luke 2:17)

This would make it dangerous for Yosef and Myriam to bring Yeshua to the Be't HaMikdash for his formal dedication, 40 days after his birth, unless Herod had died. Indeed, an angel warned Yosef and Myriam to flee to Egypt until that time. The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived during the First Century, documents in detail the death of King Herod. Josephus relates that Herod became very ill immediately following an act of impiety against the priesthood, at which time an eclipse of the moon occurred. This eclipse, the only one mentioned by Josephus, happened March 13, 4 BC. Herod’s death occurred "about September" meaning he would have been ill for several months before dying in the fall, according to Josephus’ record. The seven days of Sukkot fall in mid-September to October, according to the Julian calendar. This means that Herod, who first grew sick in the spring of 4 BC, died after the Feast of Tabernacles and shortly after Yosef and Myriam had fled with the infant, Yeshua. But they returned, after Herod’s death, in time for his dedication in the Be'it HaMikdash, when Yeshua was 40 days old, around Kislev 12 or the day we now call Thanksgiving Day. An interesting aside is that many believe our observance of Thanksgiving is due to the Pilgrim’s keeping the Torah’s tradition of this Feast of Tabernacles.

During this presentation of the infant Yeshua in the Be'it HaMikdash, the prophecies of Shim'on (Simeon) and Hannah were delivered to Yosef and Myriam. Those prophecies from Yesha'yahu (Isaiah), coincide with the readings of the prophets read in the synagogue only one time a year ... the week of Kislev 12.

Then, there is the prophecy of Shim'on as he beheld the infant Yeshua in the Be'it HaMikdash, when he was 40 days old. "And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Yeshua, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Shim'on, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel." (Luke 2:21-25a)

These words by Shim'on paraphrase the two-pronged mission of Messiah recorded in Isaiah 49:5-6: "And now the Lord says, Who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Ya'akov back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength), Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Ya'akov, and to restore the household of Israel; I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

As Yeshua may have hinted, the first mission of "restoring the preserved of Israel" would be last, and the last mission "becoming a light of salvation to the Gentiles" would be first.


Each year at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Yeshua the Messiah. After the New Year, we struggle to remember to add a year as we date our checks, which should remind us that the entire Western World reckons its calendar from the birth of the One who changed the world more than any other before or since. Yet, it is disturbing to discover that much of what we have been taught about the Christmas season seems to be more tradition than truth.

Most serious Bible students realize that Yeshua was not born on December 25th. The shepherds had their flocks in open fields, implying a date prior to October. Furthermore, no competent Roman administrator would require registration, involving travel during the season when Judea was generally impassable.

If Yeshua wasn't born on December 25, just when was he born? Although the Bible doesn't explicitly identify the birthday of our Lord, many scholars have developed diverse opinions as to the likely birthday of Yeshua.

The early Christian church did not celebrate Yeshua's birth, and therefore the exact date was not preserved in festivals. The first recorded mention of December 25th is in the Calendar of Philocalus (AD 354), which assumed Yeshua's birth to be Friday, December 25th, AD 1. This was subsequent to Constantine's Edict of Toleration in AD 313, which officially ended the government-sanctioned persecution of the Christians. The date of December 25th, which was officially proclaimed by the church fathers in AD 440, was actually a vestige of the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, observed near the winter solstice, which itself was among the many pagan traditions inherited from the earlier Babylonian priesthood.

The year of Yeshua’s birth is broadly accepted as 4 BC, primarily from erroneous conclusions derived from Josephus’ recording of an eclipse, assumed to be on March 13, 4 BC, “shortly before Herod died.” There are a number of problems with this in addition to the fact that it was more likely the eclipse occurred on December 29, 1 B.C. Considerable time elapsed between Yeshua’s birth and Herod’s death since the family fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s edict and they didn’t return until after Herod’s death. Furthermore, Herod died on January 14, 1 BC Tertullian (born about 160 AD) stated that Augustus began to rule 41 years before the birth of Yeshua and died 15 years after that event. Augustus died on August 19, 14 AD, placing Yeshua’s birth at 2 BC. Tertullian also notes that Yeshua was born 28 years after the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC, which is consistent with a date of 2 BC. Irenaeus, born about a century after Yeshua, also notes that the Lord was born in the 41st year of the reign of Augustus. Since Augustus began his reign in the autumn of 43 BC, this also appears to substantiate the birth in 2 BC. Eusebius (264-340 AD), the “Father of Church History,” ascribes it to the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and the 28th from the subjection of Egypt on the death of Anthony and Cleopatra. The 42nd year of Augustus ran from the autumn of 2 BC to the autumn of 1 BC. The subjugation of Egypt into the Roman Empire occurred in the autumn of 30 BC. The 28th year extended from the autumn of 3 BC to the autumn of 2 BC. The only date that would meet both of these constraints would be the autumn of 2 BC.

Abba's blessings to all,
Rabbi Michael

Friday, January 6, 2012

'One Law' Doctrine

From time to time I receive questions from people about various beliefs. Over the years, what I have done is write 'position papers' on various of these issues. I am going to start posting these position papers on the blog, because they cover topics that are commonly discussed and wondered about. The one I am beginning with addresses what has been called the 'One Law Movement' or 'Doctrine', which says that non-Jews are are equally responsible to keep all of the Torah as the Jews are. I begin, below, with a specific question that was posed to me.

Q: Being that there are some scriptures that refer to "one law" or the "same law" for the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you, where do you stand on Gentile believers following Torah?

A: The reason that this issue, like so many issues in Messianic Judaism, is so controversial is because there is so much confusion regarding it. What most people end up doing is completely disregarding the historical, cultural and geographical context of what is said in the Scripture. They mistakenly believe that every word of the Scripture is totally applicable, as is, in every place, for every person, for all time. But, any serious study of the Scriptures shows this is not the case. A case in point are the prophetic Scriptures that have already been fulfilled. Do we continue to regard them with the same impetus after they have had their fulfillment?

There are those Scriptures which are clearly universal for all mankind (such are the Ten Words or Commandments), while there are others that were specific to certain groups of people. Being able to differentiate between the two categories is not always easy. Sometimes it's plain, sometimes cloudy.

There are a series of questions that must be asked in order to determine application of Torah commands. They are as follows:

Is this command universal or specific?
Is this command specifically related to a particular time in history?
Does this command have to do with living in Eretz Yisra'el?
Does this command relate to Temple worship?
Does this command have to do with the Hebrew priesthood?

As you consider the commands of Torah, if they specifically have to do with living in the Land, remaining "clean" for Temple worship or instructions given to the priesthood, they cannot be done, because we do not live in the Land, there is no Temple and their is no priesthood. In fact, to attempt to do them would be a sin, because they would be in violation of the specific commands of HaShem. Obviously, if a command was for a period of time in the past, it too is out. When we eliminate the commands that fall into these categories, we rapidly whittle the list from 613, down to somewhere between 160 and 170 commands which are currently doable. What's amazing is that most Christians are already keeping many of these commands without even knowing it. The other aspect of this is to take what the Torah says in the context of all of the Scriptures. Does a particular view/teaching, given by people, 'jive' with the rest of the Bible?

In the Torah, most of the commands are clearly given specifically to the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. The Gentiles have no responsibility to keep them. The only exceptions are the laws that are universal. Let me illustrate by recounting some things in the Torah. The Cohen Gadol was given specific instructions as to what he was supposed to do. To not do them, or not do them properly, could cost him his life. However, if a Levi attempted to carry out the commands given to the Cohen Gadol, he would surely die. The Levi had no obligation to observe the commands given to the Cohen Gadol. Likewise, any common Hebrew that attempted to serve in the Temple would have been subject to death. The commoner had no obligation to observe the commands given to the Levi'im or the Cohen Gadol. Thus, various commands are given to specific persons or people groups. Never is there a command addressed to Gentiles specifically, save for the references to which the question refers. Gentiles have always had a choice, and still do, as to how much of the Torah they will observe.

During the First Century, prior to Yeshua, there were three categories of people in synagogues:


The Hebrews, obviously, were born into Judaism. The Proselytes were non-Jews who had gone through a full conversion process and had become 'Hebrew'. The God-fearers, on the other hand, believed in the One, True God (YHWH) as the only God, but did not feel it necessary to take on the covenant responsibilities associated with becoming a convert. The same is true today. There are those who are called by God to be 'joined' to Israel, who completely change their lifestyle and live just as the Jews do. There are others who know they are to be associated with Israel, but do not want to take on all the 'Jewish' stuff. The Hebrew word translated "sojourn" does not simply mean to live in the same area, but refers to a deep connection in relationship between the Hebrew and the Gentile (such as a Gentile slave or a Gentile who has chosen to convert).
The specific references, to which the question alludes, are specific to a time in history (Israel in the Land, with a Temple and a priesthood), to a geographical location (Eretz Yisra'el) and to a set of conditions that no longer exist. So, to expect that all Gentile believers today are supposed to equally keep the Torah commands given specifically to the Hebrews, is not an accurate understanding. Now, if a Gentile is convicted and convinced that they are to keep them, as the Scriptures say, "...let each man be convinced in his own heart." But, there is no place in the Scripture that states that Gentiles are to keep all of the commands given to the Hebrews. In fact, in Acts, there are only four requirements given for Gentile believers to have fellowship with the Jewish believers. It then goes on to say that they will be taught the Torah in the synagogues, on Shabbat. The idea is that as they sit in the synagogue, they will learn what each one needs to follow HaShem in the manner pleasing to Him. Even then, that too was under a certain set of parameters as specified by a specific time in history, certain cultural conditions and a particular geographic location.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Compromise Equals Defeat

Recently I gave the following message, but thought it would also be good to publish it in blog form:

In my messages I have talked numerous times about the despair in the Body of Messiah over the lack of power. But, from where do we derive spiritual power? We derive it from coming into alignment with the will of God. So, then, what removes that power? Compromise with the enemy.

The enemy uses a basic strategy, at all times. If we can recognize this strategy then we can avoid compromise and thus avoid defeat. The model is found in Sh'mot (Exodus) 5:1ff.

Moshe (Moses) had already come to the people of Israel, at the behest of God, and declared to them God's intentions for them - to completely set them free from bondage (Chapter 4:29-31). So, the process for freedom was initiated with this declaration, which the enemy (Pharaoh) didn't like. Because Pharaoh was under the control of the true enemy (hasatan), he was very much like a puppet on strings. He did exactly what hasatan does. What are hasatan's tactics?

(1) Chapter 5 - Discouragement

What happened when Moshe and Aharon (Aaron) waltzed into Pharaoh's court and demanded that Pharaoh let the people of Israel go? Did he say, "Certainly," and immediately let them go? No way! The enemy thinks he OWNS us. He's not going to just give away what he owns. There's a price to be paid. Instead, Pharaoh did just the opposite. Things didn't get better, they got worse. When you are about to enter into freedom in an area of your life, guess what's going to happen? Hasatan will pile more burdens on you to make you believe God's word is false, that no freedom is going to come, just more bondage. When the consequences of Moshe's encounter with Pharaoh trickled down to the people of Israel, they got very angry with Moshe and told him that he had put a sword in the hands of the Egyptians to kill them. Of course, according to God's word, this was not true, but the people didn't yet believe God's word. If you stand your ground, which Moshe did, hasatan moves on to tactic number two.

(2) Chapter 7:3 - 8:7 - Disorientation

In this passage we have Moshe and Aharon re-appearing before Pharaoh. This time they have come armed with a little demonstration of the power of God. So, they throw the rod down and it turned into a serpent (in Hebrew the word could also be translated crocodile). But, guess what? hasatan did the same thing! Uh oh! What now? The enemy will mimic what God does because the message he is trying to send is, "See, what your God does is nothing special. I can do exactly the same thing. I'm just as capable as He is." If we keep reading, we see that the magicians continued to duplicate what Moshe and Aharon did - for the first three plagues. Once they got to the lice, and every other plague after that, the magicians could not keep up. So, what was the purpose behind this tactic? It was to try to convince Moshe that the declarations and their outcomes, of both God and hasatan, were equally valid. In 8:25, Pharaoh tells Moshe they can sacrifice as long as they stay in Egypt. But, is that what God said was supposed to happen? Of course not! Moshe stood his ground yet again. So, Pharaoh, moves to tactic three.

(3) Chapter 8:28 - Loss of Vision

In this verse Pharaoh says, "I'll let you go, but don't go far. I need to be able to keep tabs on you." But, what was the vision of God, which He spoke to Moshe in the bush that burned without being consumed? TOTAL FREEDOM! There were no tabs to be kept on the people of Israel. So, was what Pharaoh was offering freedom? NO! hasatan says, "I'll let you have what you want, if you'll do it my way and don't stray too far away." If we continue to say no to him, he moves to tactic four.

(4) Chapter 10:24 - Compromise

"Okay, okay! It looks like I'm not going to win this one, am I? So, here's what we'll do, go ahead, take all the people, go out into the desert and do your sacrificing, but leave something of value behind. That way, I'll know you'll be back." hasatan understood the principle of the Bible that says, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The livestock were Israel's livelihood. If they left them in Egypt, Pharaoh knew they'd have to come back for them before leaving. But, how did Moshe respond? 10:26a, "Our livestock will also go with us - not a hoof will be left behind ..." Moshe said, "I'm not here to compromise with you Pharaoh. God has already declared and laid out how all of this is going down and that's the way it's going to be, with NO changes."

When you are approaching freedom in some area, hasatan will always use these same four tactics, in this same order. As we know from the story, even though Moshe won out over these four tactics, Pharaoh still didn't give up. Later, Pharaoh came after the people of Israel to retrieve them and take them back to Egypt, to re-enslave them. It wasn't until the waters of Yam Suf (the Reed Sea) closed down on Pharaoh and his army that Israel was finally, totally free of Egypt, Pharaoh and bondage.

What most people do not realize is that Israel could NOT be freed by Pharaoh. God could not let that happen, because then Egypt would have taken credit for setting the people of Israel free. It had to be as it was so that God could get the credit for freeing them. So it is with hasatan. We are not ever set free by permission of hasatan, nor by our own self-determination. hasatan will never be able to let us go. He can never have the credit for setting us free. We MUST be redeemed by God through His Son, Yeshua. God sets us free for His purposes and so that He will receive all of the glory.