Last week I wrote an open letter to Lauren Daigle. So far it has been read more than 100,000 times! The fellow who interviewed her, Dominick Nati emailed me with a press release defending the way he interviewed her. Here is my response. Warning, I am not as nice to him as I was to Lauren.Continue Reading...
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.
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)
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 1:35, 46; 2 Kings 15:12; Psalms 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.