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On the eve of Yom Kippur each year, all over Israel stores will close, all traffic will cease and Israelis will eat a final meal around 5:00 p.m., commencing the Day of Atonement fast.

Even though Yom Kippur deals only with sins of ignorance, as a young boy, I was taught that we fasted on Yom Kippur in order to receive forgiveness for all  sins we committed that year.

Somehow, 25 hours without food would cause God to forgive us.

However, after becoming a believer in Yeshua, I wanted to know exactly what the Bible said about fasting on the Day of Atonement.

The entire chapter of Leviticus 16 is devoted to this day, and in verse 29, indeed it says that ‘on the tenth day of the seventh month you must fast and not do any work.’ Actually the Hebrew word used is not to fast – l’tsum, but l’anot, which means to deny or afflict one’s soul. Fasting is indeed one way to afflict your soul.

Now, there are a couple things I noticed here. First, while we didn’t work on Yom Kippur, no one ever told me when I was growing up that the act of not working on Yom Kippur would take away my sin… and yet, it is given just as much significance in this passage as fasting.

And, more importantly, I noticed that fasting or afflicting your soul is only mentioned twice in the 34 verses of this chapter, while another subject – which is the focus of the chapter – is almost completely ignored in modern Judaism. That subject is the sacrifices of Yom Kippur – specifically the scapegoat.

Leviticus 16:21-22 says, “[the high priest] is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.”

But as young Jewish boy no one ever told me about this goat, only fasting. Why? Because after the destruction of the Temple, which took place in 70CE, forty years after Yeshua’s resurrection, sacrifices ceased—no Temple, no sacrifices—and the emphasis of Yom Kippur was taken off the scapegoat and put on fasting.

You might even say fasting became the scapegoat for the scapegoat!

The truth is that fasting cannot take away sin. The Bible is clear that only blood can make atonement:

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Lev. 17:11)

So why then does God command us to fast on Yom Kippur? Because fasting was the posture of humility in which we confessed our sins, sought mercy and presented the sacrifice.

Here’s an example. I was arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana in 1982. It was very stupid and before I had come to faith. I had to go to court, stand before a judge and explain myself. How do you think I was dressed? Do you think I walked in with ripped jeans, a dirty Led Zeppelin t-shirt and cigarette behind my ear? If I did just that, what would I be communicating to the judge?

‘I don’t respect you, I am not sorry and I don’t respect this court.’ In other words, ‘I am not taking my crime seriously.’

But I didn’t do that. I bought a suit, shaved, made sure my hair was nice and every time I was asked a question, I answered with the ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir.’ I was respectful, and as a result the judge had mercy.

Now, my suit and tie didn’t earn me mercy. My appearance merely said to the judge, ‘I am humbling myself before this court. I understand what I did was wrong.’

In the same way, fasting was saying to God, ‘we understand our position, we have sinned, we honor and respect You. Please receive the sacrifice.’

It was the blood of the animal that brought atonement! Fasting was merely the posture of humility in which the sacrifice was presented. And the Temple was destroyed only one generation after the sacrificial death of Yeshua, signifying that Yeshua’s sacrifice was the once and for all sacrifice.

But when this priest [Yeshua] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God… For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Heb. 10:12, 14)

I still fast on Yom Kippur for several reasons.

1. It was an everlasting ordinance.
2. I take the time to intercede for my people to know their Messiah.
3. I am part of the people of Israel, and it is important for me to identify with my brothers and sisters after the flesh.
4. I fast as a reminder and expression of gratefulness to God for the sacrifice of His Son.

Join with us this year in fasting for revival in Israel!

Protected: Messianic Jews: The Most Hated People on Earth

Ron Cantor —  September 3, 2012 — Enter your password to view comments.

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If it isn’t enough that the Islamic world is seeking to destroy Israel, we now have a new movement of evangelicals who deny Israel’s right to her land and actually have gone so far as to claim that Jesus is a Palestinian!  What’s more, they say that the promises of God to Israel are invalid or already fulfilled.  One of their leaders, who was recently in Israel to promote his anti-Israel stance, is British theologian Colin Chapman.  In his book Whose Promised Land? he questions whether God really intended for natural Israel to be restored:

[The New Covenant writers] ceased to look forward to a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies of a return to the land and a restored Jewish State.  The one and only fulfillment of all the promises and prophecies was already there before their eyes in the person of Jesus.[1]

In Chapman’s eyes, we must now ignore much of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah.  Of course his premise is deeply flawed.  If Yeshua already has fulfilled all the prophecies and all the promises, that would include the prophecies of Him returning as a King (Zechariah 14:3-4)—sorry, no Second Coming.  This is nothing more than an attempt to twist Scripture to agree with one’s presuppositions.

A Cut and Paste Theology

Many in this movement don’t merely reapply passages in the Old Covenant to the Church, but they reject them altogether!  Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Christian theologian, wrote:

When confronted with a difficult passage in the Bible, one needs to ask such simple questions as: Does the way I am hearing this fit with the way I have come to know God in Christ?  Does this fit the picture I have of God that Jesus has revealed to me? … If it does, then that passage is valid and authoritative; if not, then I cannot accept its validity or authority.[2]

As one my professors used to say, “You don’t make the Word fit your theology, but you make your theology fit the Word.”  However, according to Ateek, anything that I am uncomfortable with, that doesn’t line up with my image of God, is not valid.  In essence…I am God!  Sadly this is idolatry—creating God in my image.  What if I feel like adultery and murder are really okay—can I just delete the Ten Commandments?  And how about the doctrine of Hell?  If it disturbs me, can I invalidate it?

Radical Identity Theft

Some of these theologians have gone so far as to further confuse the identity of the Jewish Messiah—by actually turning Him into a Palestinian!  The same Naim Ateek wrote that Yeshua was “also a Palestinian living under an occupation.”[3]  Alasdair Black, a Scottish clergyman, shared before the Scottish Parliament:

“And this is the hope of Christmas, that the birth of another Palestinian Child, who was born a refugee, that military oppression brought…”

Alasdair, No one referred to this region as Palestine when Yeshua was alive! It was called Judea and Jews lived here. Only in the 20th Century nearly 2,000 years after Yeshua walked the shores of the Galilee, did Arabs who migrated to the area once known as Israel, begin to refer to themselves as Palestinians. How on earth could Yeshua have been a Palestinian? (For more on the History of Palestine, read my blog, 15 Facts about Palestine)

Yassar Arafat was famous for saying that “Jesus was the first Palestinian Shahid (Martyr or Suicide Bomber in this context).”  But Arafat was a terrorist and a pathological liar. I expected as much from him. Yet, now Christians are claiming Jesus was Palestinian.

Zionism is Evil

These ‘theologians’ see Zionism as an evil, apartheid, imperialistic movement. They seek to tap into the current social justice movement and accuse Israel as being a repeat offender. While many Christians envision the fulfillment of the hope of the Hebrew prophets when they hear the term Zionism, these people envision oppression and occupation.

One of the most outspoken leaders of this anti-Israel, anti-Zionist movement is Dr.

Dr. Sizer with Yassar Arafat

Stephen Sizer. I have had several communications with Dr. Sizer and sadly he has ceased to correspond with me.  As I promised him, I will keep those correspondences private. My first impression of him in our communications was that he was a sincere man who loves the Lord.  However, his statements and actions concerning Israel over the years are troubling. In the picture, he poses with notorious murderer and terrorist Yassar Arafat—a man who died with nearly one billion dollars in Palestinian aid money in his personal account. While Sizer may claim he was reaching out to the former leader of the PLO, posing for photos with a man with blood on his hands and smiling like you are friends is shocking. I don’t think he would have a photo opt with Benjamin Netanyahu!

Furthermore, he falsely presents himself as a friend of the Messianic Movement in Israel when nothing could be further from the truth! This is when I began to wonder if our dialogue was not merely a pretense for him to misrepresent himself to evangelicals as a friend of Israel or the Messianic Movement. I asked him to cease to use such language and he has not responded since.

In 2007 Dr. Sizer, who is the senior pastor of Christ Church in Surrey, UK, went to Iran and he reportedly said, “The Zionists have distorted remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Holocaust.”[4]  In Iran he has promoted his books, which denounce Biblical Zionism.  What’s so ironic about Sizer is that he claims to be a fighter for social justice, yet he defends one of the cruelest leaders on earth, Ahmadinejad—an irrational psychopath!  Israel has zero political prisoners, while the Iranian secret police can arrest and torture you for the most minor of offenses—and those are the people he is defending!

Despite these massive injustices in Iran, he met with Islamic scholars in 2007 and met with the daughter of the notorious Ayatollah Khomeini, who killed as many as 30,000 Iranians.  She translated his book into Farsi, the Persian language.   It is very hard for me to conceive of an evangelical going to an Islamic Theocracy, which has one of the worst human rights records of all the nations of the world, in order to promote a book which trashes the only working democracy in the Middle East.  Does Dr. Sizer really think that Israel is more evil than terrorists or the Ayatollahs of Iran?

Dr. Sizer He has gone on record intimating:

If Israel does not repent, the Jews will be scattered once again.[5]

He has also said that every single US Congressman is controlled by Israel.  The only reason the US Congress stands with Israel is because of Jewish money.  If any congressman doesn’t vote pro-Israel, the Israel lobby will put their money behind someone else and the candidate in question will lose.[6]

I believe that Sizer genuinely believes this and simply doesn’t understand how such reckless statements result in uneducated anti-Semitism around the world, i.e. the theories which state “The Jews control Hollywood, Congress, the press, the banks”…(With Jews supposedly wielding so much power, how is it that so many people still hate us?)

Sizer was quoted in October 2011:

There are certainly churches in Israel/Palestine that side with the occupation, that side with Zionism.  One of my burdens is to challenge them theologically and show that they’ve repudiated Jesus, they’ve repudiated the Bible, and they are an abomination.[7]

After much pressure, Sizer finally recanted these words—but who says such things in the first place? And at the same time, he was claiming to desire dialogue and friendship with Messianic Jewish leaders.  It truly pains me to point out his error publicly, as I have enjoyed our correspondence, but the things he has said and written must be challenged.

In February of 2012 Sizer gave a paper before a largely Muslim crowd at the International Conference on Jerusalem.  Sizer argued from the Bible that: “Jerusalem was always intended to be an inclusive city of peace for all who acknowledge the One true God.”  I can only assume that this evangelical pastor includes Muslims in definition, as the conference was sponsored by the Arab League!  Earlier in the paper he says, “Jerusalem is the crucible of three world faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”[8] (Read my rebuttal to Dr. Sizer’s paper here)

Sizer and those who stand with him need our prayers, that their eyes would be opened to the truth of Scripture regarding Israel.  I don’t want to label them as evil—they are brothers.  But they are treading on thin ice according to Romans 11:22. Speaking of the Gentile believers treatment of Israel, Paul said:

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness (to the Jewish people). Otherwise, you also will be cut off. (Rom. 11:22)

They see the creation of Israel not as a miracle and fulfillment of prophecy, but as a tragedy.  They speak little against Islam and terrorism, while they write books and hold conferences to condemn one tiny country in the Middle East—a country whose population is outnumbered fifty to one, Middle Eastern Arabs to Jewish Israelis, and that doesn’t take into account Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan.  How ironic that while China imprisons, tortures and kills believers, they protest against the one country of whom God said:

Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)

And…

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 30:3)

And…

I myself will search for my sheep [Israel] and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.  I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.  I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.  I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. (Ezekiel 34:11-13, emphasis mine)

Christian Palestinianism, or Fulfillment Theology, as they call it, is nothing more than old Replacement Theology repackaged, and as believers we must stand against it.  This is one of the ways we help Israel—we point out anti-Semitic nonsense, dressed up as theology.

It is no secret that it is far safer for Palestinian Christians to rail against Israel than it is to speak against the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.  Israel has freedom of speech.  Arabs are not detained in the Jewish state for speaking against the government.  Not so with the Palestinian Authoruty.  In March 2012 Palestinian journalist, “Yousef al-Shayeb, was detained for questioning for forty-eight hours” by the Palestinian Authority for writing “an article about corruption in the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France.”[9]  Do Palestinian Christians really think they would be better off with a Palestinian state—a state that almost certainly would be eventually governed by Hamas?

Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden.  In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors.  Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash.  This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.[10]

They are intimidated by the PA and Hamas, so rather than be honest with themselves about whom their true enemy is, they blame Israel.  They assume this will win them favor with the extremists.  Meanwhile, they are largely silent about those who send women, children and the mentally challenged with suicide belts around them in order to kill Jews.  Nary a word is spoken concerning the fact that it is routine for suspected Arab collaborators with Israel to be killed and often beheaded publically by a lynch mob.

I understand their fear—we have all witnessed how easy it is for Muslim fundamentalists to get worked up into a murderous frenzy over what they perceive to be offensive—whether drawing a cartoon of Mohamed or even burning of a Koran (something that is not only disrespectful, but simply stupid and non-productive).  Let’s not forget, these are people who murder their own daughters for youthful indiscretions in honor killings.

And yet despite it all, there are courageous Palestinian Christians who speak the truth.  Pastor Dr. Naim Khoury, “is one of very few Palestinian Christians who openly supports Israel as a Jewish State.  They have encountered tremendous opposition and pressure because of this stance, which is based on deep biblical conviction–beatings, bombings, and harassment.”[11]

However, in March 2012, just a few months ago, the Palestinian Authority told Dr. Khoury that they would no longer recognize The First Baptist Church of Bethlehem. Ironically this announcement came just after Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad addressed the controversial evangelical/anti-Zionism conference Christ at the Checkpoint.[12]  That means according to assistant pastor Steven Khoury, “They will not recognize any legal paperwork from our church.  That includes birth certificates, wedding certificates and death certificates.  Children are not even considered to be legitimate if they don’t have recognized paperwork.”

In recent years, Muslims in the West Bank have put more pressure on Christian Arabs to convert:

There is a sense among some Christians in Bethlehem that anti-Christian animus has increased in the city over the past few years. “People are always telling them, ‘Convert to Islam, convert to Islam; it’s the true and right religion,’” Steven [Khoury] said.[13]

Despite the persecution they continue to preach the Gospel and bless Israel.

No—the key to Palestinian blessing it not to curse Israel and bless evildoers, but rather to look to Scripture.  Many of these liberal theologians think that by speaking publically against Israel, they will be able to win Muslims.  But this is not New Covenant evangelism.  It is a dishonest witness and bears no fruit.  Rather, bold evangelists like ex-Muslim Pastor Umar Mulinde from Uganda have had great success in winning Muslims to faith, but not without a cost.  Mulinde’s face was disfigured and his right eye blinded, when Muslim terrorists recently threw acid in his face.  Can you guess which country is giving him free medical treatment? Right—Israel.[14]  In addition, the success of the Church in Africa with winning Muslims to Yeshua has not come through compromise, but through preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders.

As a Jewish believer, I bless my Palestinian brothers in the Messiah.  And despite the fact that we, too, face persecution here in Israel for being Messianic, I don’t think it can be compared to having to deal with Islamic extremists.  I don’t claim that their burden is an easy one to carry.  However, I don’t believe the answer is to side with terrorists, twist Scripture and create new theology, but to stand up for truth—even as our dear brother Pastor Khoury is doing.  In this you will find grace and blessing.

 

 


[1] Whose Promised Land?, Colin Chapman, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2002

[2] Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Liberation Theology, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 1989

[3] A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2008

[4] IRNA Website, October 22nd, 2007

[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpjLRq_dsDc

[6] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUBgx_U8cRk

[7] http://roshpinaproject.com/2011/10/14/british-vicar-calls-israeli-messianic-jews-an-abomination/

[8] Jerusalem: The City of God in Biblical Tradition, Stephen Sizer, PhD., February 24th, 2012 (To read my rebuttal to Dr. Sizers paper, please go to: www.bit.ly/cantor_rebuttal.)

[9] PA Detains Journalist Critical of Mission to France, Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, March 26th, 2012

[10] Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians, Michael Oren, The Wall Street Journal, March 9th, 2012

[11] Another Palestinian Persepctive, Russ Resnick, March 11, 2012

[12] This is how the Prime Minister was introduced: “Palestinian Christians have always enjoyed the support of the Palestinian leaders.  We worship with freedom and exercise our rights like all Palestinians.  To emphasize this, we are deeply honored to have the support of prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Dr Salam Fayyad…Above all, Dr Fayyad is a man of vision, and his vision is one of prosperity and peace for the Palestinian people.  And it is only fitting that his name in Arabic literally means ‘among them peace’.  It is my privilege and honor to invite to us here, to the stage to speak to us, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Dr Salam Fayyad.”  And within days of this glowing introduction, Pastor Khoury is informed that his church is no longer recognized!

[13] Palestine: Church Disapproved by PA, persecution.com, March 16th, 2012

[14] To read Umar Mulinde’s amazing story got to: www.bit.ly/umar_mulinde

 

Podcast Test

Ron Cantor —  August 23, 2012 —  Comments

Show notes:

Don Finto’s book You’re People Shall Be My People can be bought here.

Raleigh Washington’s ministry to Israel is not within Promise Keepers and called http://www.hatikvaproject.org

Yechiel Eckstien leads the Fellowship of Christian and Jews, and many believers assume that he is a Messianic Jew, because he raises funds mainly from believers. However he is an orthodox Jewish rabbi—not a Messiah Jew.

Show Outline

1. There are Ruth(s), those that God calls to fully connect to the Messianic movement. Don Finto is a good example of this. Also Raliegh Washington of Promise keepers.

2. There are Cyrus(s), the rest of the Body who, while not joining the Messianic movement, bless Israel, pray for Israel and honor the Jewish people. John Hagee, Robert Stearns, Robert Morris would be good examples of this.

(I am aware that Hagee published a book in which it appeared he was saying that Jews do not need Yeshua for Salvation. I do believe he recanted [If anyone has info on that, use the comments sections, thanks] I could not disagree more with such a theology, but in terms of favoring and blessing the nation of Israel, he has been in the forefront.)

3. In all cases, Gentiles should be proud (in a godly way) and take delight in their own heritage. Gentiles who think less of themselves because they are not Jewish are missing God’s heart for the nations. He called Israel first and foremost to be a light to the nations—a priestly nation to intercede for the other nations.

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,  you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Ex 19:5-6)

It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. (Is 49:6)

4. I am not big fan of Gentiles abusing Jewish symbols in the church. Most of the time it is innocent, but still, it causes confusion. For instance, when I see a women in a church with a Tallit I get concerned. In Judaism only men who have been bar mitzvah’d can wear a tallit. We have to be careful that in our desire to honor Israel that we don’t do the opposite.

5. Lastly, every born again believer has a debt of love to the Jewish people, whether a Cyrus or a Ruth. Without the Jews, you have no OT, no NT, no Messiah, No salvation. It was the Jews who prayed in the first coming of Messiah. There were hundreds like Simeon and Anna who over the centuries interceded. It was the Jews that brought revival to Jerusalem and then preached to the gentiles. Now God is seeking use the Church as a vehicle of intercession for Israel. So in return, seeing as the older brother, Israel, is by and large, lost, the Church should:

a. Pray for revival and protection for Israel.

b. Give to ministries reaching Jewish people and providing humanitarian aid

c. Reach out in love to Jewish friends and neighbors in a practical way.

d. Speak out against anti-Israel and anti Semitic lies

 

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Ron Cantor —  August 22, 2012 —  Comments
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