Archives For Isaiah 2

100 things I love about Israel #002

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear then-Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat speak. He talked about the many reasons that Israel is a thriving nation and he talked about how safe it is here. I know for most people around the world with a TV set, they think that we are a nation of Middle Eastern cowboys, shooting terrorists in the streets. 

But the truth is, Israel is safer than every major US city—by a large margin. According to CBS News, St. Louis had a murder rate of 64.9 per 100,000, whereas that rate here in Jerusalem is less than 2 per 100,000. Israel is safe!

Running to the Terrorist

One of the reasons that we have such a low murder rate is because Israelis are trained to run towards the threat, not away from it. I was reminded of this when reading a news story this morning of a mass shooting in the U.S. Everyone was praising—and rightly so—a man who rushed the shooter. 

“Many people are alive because this guy rushed the shooter. I am alive because one guy in a yoga class in his bare feet ran at a shooter. He didn’t run away.” —Foxnews

 But for the average Israeli, this is not heroic. This is normal. Listen to Mayor Barkat. 

“When it comes to terrorism we have a philosophy of engagement. This is the opposite of what I often hear is the approach in Europe. We believe that by engaging (even if you are putting yourself at risk) you are helping to save lives. On average it takes about 60 seconds to neutralize a terror attack in Jerusalem, and the death and injury caused by attacks are, on average, lower in Jerusalem than anywhere else in the world.” —Nir Barkat, former Jerusalem Mayor

Mayor Puts his Money Where his Mouth is

And he should know! In 2015, the former IDF paratrooper who holds the rank of major, tackled a terrorist after he had just stabbed a religious man in Jerusalem. The man was wildly swinging a knife, when Mayor Barkat left his security detail and pursued the would-be killer. When one of the bodyguards pulled out a gun, the attacker dropped his knife and the mayor dropped him. 

Moments later, after the Palestinian knifeman was subdued, Mayor Barkat was seen comforting the man who had been lightly stabbed in his abdomen. 

This is second nature for Israelis. In every other country, civilians are told to run from terrorists and wait for the police. But in Israel, where most of our citizens have been through the army, we are taught to stop the terrorist as soon as possible—at all costs. This concept has saved countless lives over the years. Yes, in some cases, the Israeli protector is wounded or killed, but in an overwhelming majority of cases, it is the terrorist who is quickly neutralized. To repeat Mayor Barkat, in Jerusalem the average terror attack only lasts 60 seconds… and that is only because of our policy of engagement. 

From the Bath to the Bullets

In 2008, Captain David Shapira was bathing his children when he heard gunshots. He didn’t think twice before grabbing his pistol and heading for the Yeshiva (school of religious students) from where the shots were coming. Because he had graduated from that very Yeshiva, he knew the layout.

When he arrived, two police officers tried to keep him from entering, because they did not know from where the terrorist was firing. Shapira entered anyway. He quickly identified the source of the shooting and opened fire, killing the terrorist and saving lives. 

Jerusalem Bulldozer Attack

In the same year, an East Jerusalem Arab construction worker turned his bulldozer into a weapon of terror. He went on rampage, turning over a bus and ramming several cars. He was shouting “Allah hu Akbar” – God is Great – as he wreaked havoc in Jerusalem. 

When the bulldozer stopped for the first time, three Israelis jumped on board.One was an armed civilian, Oron Ben Shimon, and began to struggle with the attacker, trying to get his foot off of the accelerator. He shouted to one of the others, 20-year-old Moshe Plesser, a new IDF recruit, to shoot the terrorist. He grabbed Oron’s gun and neutralized the terrorist, saving God knows how many lives. The entire episode lasted just a few minutes, but without the Israeli civilian effort, it could have gone on much longer and many more could have died. 

Those are just three examples of the Israeli mentality when it comes to stopping terrorists. It goes against human nature and every instinct to survive. But it is drilled into the Israeli psyche. So for many, it is second nature. 

I love living in a country where I know my fellow Israeli has my back. 

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One of the responses I received, from my warning concerning the new Sanhedrin and the building of the third temple, was that we have to obey the rabbis as they have God-given authority over the Jewish people. This is not the first time I have heard this. It is based on Matthew 23. Yeshua tells the people:

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matt. 23:2-3)

Moses’ Seat

The idea is that, even in unbelief, they “sit in Moses’ seat” and therefore should be obeyed. The term “Moses’ seat” seems to indicate the place of authority that Moses held in the community. As you will recall, Moses was judge over the people. He would “sit” (hence, Moses’ seat) all day and judge disputes:

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. (Ex. 18:13)

The word (kathizó) that refers to these Jewish leaders “seating themselves in Moses’s seat” in Matthew 23:2 is also used 1 Corinthians 6:4 and means “appointing judges.” In many cases, the idea of sitting on a seat or throne was allegorical to having authority (1 Kings 1:35462 Kings 15:12Psalms 132:12).

The job became too much for Moses and he, in response to the advice from his father-in-law Jethro, appointed other men to assist. This group in Yeshua’s day was known as the Sanhedrin. The very word, Sanhedrin, means “sitting together,” as in a judging council. In every synagogue, there was a seat called “Moses’ seat” where one of these authoritative teachers would function.  

So, yes, Yeshua recognized their authority to sit in judgment. Of course, he also called them out during the rest of the chapter, using the harshest rhetoric in all the gospels. It was time for a change!

Changing of the Guard

It appears, however, the New Testament lays out a new system of authority. He takes it from the Sanhedrin and gives it to His apostles. It is no wonder that the first few chapters of Acts reveal a power struggle between the Pharisees and the Jewish apostles. To be clear, the apostles were merely fulfilling the words of Yeshua in preaching His kingdom. The Sanhedrin responded with violence against them. There was a war in the spirit

There are at least four places where Yeshua affirms this authority transfer. 

Binding and Losing

In Matthew 16, He gives His disciples the keys of the kingdom and begins to reveal what Paul calls the mystery of the ecclesia, the One New Man. 

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my ecclesia, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:18-19)

He speaks of this new thing he will build—the congregation of Yeshua followers—starting with Peter and his disciples. Unbeknownst to them, it will expand to include the nations. 

Many have attributed “binding and loosing” to casting out demons, when in fact, He was referring to the authority of the upper and lower houses of the Sanhedrin. These were legal terms referring to interpreting Jewish law. Yeshua uses the word “keys”—which clearly symbolizes authority. 

We see this authority first exercised in a ‘binding way’ in Acts 1, when they add Matthias to their number. Then again, many years later in Acts 15, when the apostles decide that Gentiles can enter the Kingdom without becoming Jewish. 

When Yeshua spoke of binding and loosing, He wasn’t talking about spiritual warfare. The people to whom He spoke understood that He was talking about what was consistent with Torah and what wasn’t. This matter of binding and loosing wasn’t unique to Yeshua. It was entirely familiar to them all because it was how the rabbis would sanction something or ban it according to the teachings in Torah. —Lonnie Lane

Only Two are Needed

Then, in Matthew 18, he mentions it again and adds something:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt. 18:18-20)

Under Jewish law, you needed ten men of Bar Mitzvah age to have a religious meeting. This is called a minyan. I can remember during my years of religious training, that the men would often recruit a couple of us for the afternoon prayers because they did not have the required ten men. We were thrilled to get out of class! 

But here Yeshua says, “No, if just a couple of you gather in my name, I am there.”

Taken and Given

In Matthew 21, Yeshua explained how the Sanhedrin had abused their authority and rejected the prophets. Their final act would be to reject the Son. 

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matt. 21:43)

This passage has been wrongly used to promote replacement theology. But he never says he was taking the authority away from Israel, but merely the religious leaders. Hence, the passage continues with this: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” (v. 45) It doesn’t say they knew he was talking about all Israel or the Jewish people, but merely, “the chief priests and the Pharisees.”

Next, in Matthew 28, he tells the soon-to-be Jewish apostles:

All authorityin heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

Yeshua says He has all authority. That means he can take it from whom he wants and give it to whomever He wants. He takes it from the Sanhedrin and gives it to the disciples. Part of that authority was to teach and interpret Scripture. Even as the Catholic church for centuries told everyday believers that they had no business reading the Bible on their own (you need an approved priest to tell you what it means), the Jewish people were (and are) overly reliant on the rabbis to tell them what the Scriptures say. If I had a nickel for every time a Jewish person said to me, “If Jesus were the Messiah, my rabbi would believe,” I would…well, I would have a lot of nickels!

Take some time to read Ephesians 3. Paul reveals the mystery “which was not made known to people in other generations” (v. 5)that God was doing something new, creating One New Man made up of Jews and Gentiles, that would shake the world. A new authority structure would be needed. 

And this is why Yeshua spent three and a half years training the disciples. These Jewish men did more in a few years than the rabbis had done since Moses! Even their enemies recognized this. 

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!” (Acts 17:6)

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We recorded a 4-part video series from the Book of John. This is must-see TV for anyone in leadership. Part one focuses on Yeshua’s greatest Challenge. Then, His greatest Cconcern, greatest Joy, and lastly, His greatest Fear. We will add an episode each week.

Yeshua’s Greatest Challenge Part 1

I have just finished a 4-part series on the final days of Yeshua's life:Yeshua's Greatest Challenge is the first one.

Posted by Ron Cantor on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Yeshua’s Greatest Concern Part 2

Here is part 2 in our series on Yeshua's final days:YESHUA'S GREATEST CONCERN!Yeshua was overcome with concern for His disciples, knowing that they would be confused by His death. In John 14-16 he seeks to prepare them. I find his words absolutely fascinating!

Posted by Ron Cantor on Thursday, November 1, 2018

Yeshua’s Greatest Joy Part 3

What was Yeshua's Greatest Joy? Check out Part 3 in Yeshua's Final Days.

Posted by Ron Cantor on Friday, November 9, 2018

Yeshua’s Greatest Fear Part 4

Yeshua's Greatest Fear!

We don't often think of Yeshua being afraid, but in part 4 of our series on Yeshua's final days, he expresses his greatest fear!

Posted by Ron Cantor on Friday, November 16, 2018
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Israeli youngsters made an impressive showing at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics games earning gold, silver and bronze medals in individual and paired competitions this month.

Swimmer Anastasya Gorbenko led off Team Israel’s winnings on the first day of competition earning a gold medal in the women’s 200-meter individual medley and setting a new Israeli record of 2:12.88. The next day Denis Loktev won the bronze medal in the 200-meter freestyle.

Israeli Gold medalist Anastasia Gorbenko

The Israeli swimmers appeared on the official webpage of the games after their victories.

“Last night I saw Anastasia win a gold medal,” Loktev said in official Olympic coverage. “I’m very proud because it’s a small country. We have very good youth.”

Yonatan Fridman and Noa Kazdo Yakar won the silver medal in acrobatic gymnastics in the mixed pair category. 
Israel’s delegation of 19 athletes competed in gymnastics, athletics, acrobatic gym, athletic gym, rhythmic gym, judo, taekwondo, swimming, triathlon and sailing.

מדליית כסף לצמד האקרובטיקה של ישראל באולימפיאדת הנוער

תרגיל כזה לא רואים כל יום! צפו בצמד האקרובטיקה של ישראל זוכה במדליית הכסף באולימפיאדת הנוער

Posted by Oren Aharoni – olympic sports & photographer on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Do you believe that? Do you believe that God has favored you?

When I first came to Israel and started studying Hebrew, I learned a phrase that I absolutely love. It is all throughout the Bible—53 times to be exact: “If I have found favor in your eyes.” It was an expression used when you asked someone for something. 

Abraham used it when he asked his three visitors to stay: “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.” (Gen. 18:3) When Samuel’s mother, Hannah, was seeking the Lord, she said to Eli: “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” (1 Sam. 1:18) When David ran from Absalom, he said to Zadok the priest, “If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again.” (2 Sam. 15:25)

Favor comes from the face

Favor, in ancient Israel, was always expressed through the face. The most famous blessing in the Bible is the Aaronic Benediction

The Lord bless you
and keep you; the Lord make his faceshine on you
and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

Twice, in these verses, we see the word face: That His face would shine on you and that He would turn His face towards you. If God turns towards you, that is favor—that is blessing. The word turnand the word face actually have the same Hebrew root, PaNaH, because to turn to someone is to face someone.

Psalm 67, one of my favorite passages, highlights this. It speaks of God’s salvation reaching the whole world through Israel. How? Through God’s face!

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his faceshine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth,  your salvation among all nations. (Ps. 67:1-2)

  1. The word for gracious actually means to grant favor. 
  2. The psalmist borrows from the Aaronic Benediction and asks that God’s facewould shine on Israel.
  3. When God’s face shines on you, He grants you favor. Those that don’t believe can see it. This is how God draws people to Himself.

Testimony “I’ve never seen people who love God like this”

Earlier this week, my dear friend, Paul Wilbur, did a worship concert. The place was full. I had brought a friend who is not a believer. He is an Israeli—he is what we call “traditional.” That means he respects Judaism, goes to synagogue, but is not a super religious person. As he watched people from all over the world worship God through Yeshua, he was stunned. He saw the joy and light in their faces. He saw God’s favor upon them.

He turned to Elana and said, “I have never seen anything like this. I’ve never see people who love God like this.” All he knew was the synagogue and rote repetition. I was once with him, in his synagogue, on a holiday. The rabbi, bless his heart, was selling blessings to the highest bidder to raise funds for the congregation. I have nothing but respect for religious Jews, but I almost started laughing. And then, I was crying. What they so earnestly seek, they could have instantly by truly seeking God. 

But this is what my friend knew as ‘religion’—until last Tuesday. Now he is reading material about Yeshua. Please pray for “A.”

You have found favor in God’s eyes

Here is the good news! As a believer, the instant that you put your faith in Yeshua, God turned His face towards you. You found favor in His eyes. You need to believe that! You need to shout it and declare it: “I am the favored of the Lord!” 

The word favor in Hebrew is hen. The h is a hard, guttural h, where you might spit a little. It comes from the word to pardon: l’hon. When you honen someone, you grant favor to a prisoner and cancel his punishment. We have received favor from Yeshua and he has canceled our punishment. He paid the price and suffered in our place.

Now, when you are pardoned, there is no place for pride. You don’t say, “Wow, look at me. I am really special. I was pardoned.” No! You are a criminal—a sinner deserving of judgment. It was the mercy of the king that secured your pardon—not your specialness. 

Our attitude should be like Queen Esther before the king. He could have killed her, but chose to have mercy. He turned his face to her and granted her favor. But look at how she approached him. She fasted and prayed for three days. She humbled herself, recognizing what the consequences could be. Fasting is not a work or a formula—it simply says to God, I am humbling myself before you. I need you. I can’t do this without you. And this humility releases the favor of God on your life!

The king here is a type or a picture of God. Our fate is in His hands and, yet, He is prone to mercy and favor. There is no fear in His presence. Thanks to Yeshua, “we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Eph. 3:12)

Rejoice today, for you have found favor in His eyes. 

Next week, we will look at several Bible characters and how they received favor. You can unlock the favor of God on your life. 

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