Archives For Jewish Roots

You must forgive me for the title of this blog, but I am just keeping it real! I mean, when your Israeli taxi driver has a revelation and exclaims biblical truth with joy that he has never known, it doesn’t always come out the way you might expect. Let me back up. I was with some friends from the U.S. Our Taxi driver, Dudu, was full of information, teaching us the history of Tel Aviv.

We began to share with our Dudu about Yeshua. Just before we arrived at our destination, I asked him if he had pain in his body. He told me that his back was giving him trouble and that he had knee pain from an operation. We laid hands on him and prayed for him. He said his knee felt better and we prayed again, but this time I asked God to allow him to experience His presence.

I asked him again about his knee and he said again, that it felt better. But then, it was clear in his countenance that God had touched his spirit. I asked him what he felt inside. He took a deep breath and it was evident by the smile on his face that something had happened. He said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, …”

I LOVE TO SEE GOD TOUCH ISRAELIS WITH HIS PRESENCE!

By his own confession, the Lord touched his knee—at least to some degree. I only use prayer for healing of the body to get to the soul. What good is a healed knee, if your soul perishes? For this reason, I try to always pray for people to experience the joy of the Lord—the presence of God. They immediately recognize that this is not mere human emotion.

In July, I was in a Starbucks drive-through and I asked God to give me a word for the girl who would soon take my money. Nothing came! Then I said, “Then give me something to say to her!” As I approached, I asked, “Have you ever wondered how much God loves you?” She said, “Actually, yes.” Then I asked, “Have you ever felt the presence of God?” She said, “No, I have not.”

“Give me your hand.” She did and I prayed for about 30 seconds. When I let go, it was clear God had touched her. She looked me and said, “You made my day!” I said, “I don’t want to make your day, but your life! Go home and read the book of John, and learn about Jesus.” Friends, you can do that too! God is with you!

An Unepected Reaction!

Back to Dudu. So…after we stopped the camera, he was still smiling for ear to ear when he exclaimed as if he was having a revelation: Yeshua was Jewish, Yeshua was a “blanking” Jew! The word shocked us, but we were not so religious, that we could not see that Zacchaeus was right before us. I am sure the Lord encountered more startling things as He reached out to sinners and tax collectors. We all laughed together as Dudu took off. But not before I got his phone number. I have been in touch with him on SMS and hope to send him some materials.

Another Encounter

On the way home, we had another amazing encounter. Rachamim (which means mercies) didn’t come across to me as someone open to the gospel. He was in his mid-twenties and was sporting that cool kind of quiet. It had come up that we were Messianic Jews. As we approached Tel Aviv, I asked him, “Are you curious how I came to believe in Yeshua?” Israelis are ALWAYS curious.

He said, “As a matter of fact, yes.” I shared with him my story. When I got to the part where I was explaining the gospel—that Yeshua was a sacrifice for our sin—he surprisingly seemed to understand. I told him that Jewish people think that their sins can be forgiven through fasting on Yom Kippur, but that is only because there is no Temple. When the Temple stood, a goat was sacrificed for the sins of Israel by the high priest. Fasting was merely the humble disposition the nation took, in hopes that God would forgive them.

However, after the Temple was destroyed, a new Judaism was created by Yochanan Ben Zakkai that replaced the substitutionary sacrifice with human works. Instead of falling on his face and repenting at the Temple’s demise, Ben Zakkai created a new, bloodless Judaism (see more www.roncan.net/histmess). I explained that only the shedding of blood could take away sin.

“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)

“That makes sense,” he said. I was kind of shocked that such a young man could embrace a deep theological concept. “I want to learn more about this.” We prayed for him to experience God’s presence and he did! I grabbed about a copy of my book, “Identity Theft” in Hebrew, and gave it to him. He was eager to read it.

Friends, this is my passion—not only to share the gospel with Israelis but to see Israeli believers equipped to share the gospel with healing power. We are seeing it more and more. Pray for these two men that God would continue to work on them and that, when I contact them, they will want to learn and hear more, even visit the congregation.

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There was a story about a man who had inherited a substantial amount of money. The problem was that he did not know it, and when he was finally found and told, he would not believe it.

Rosh Hashana begins tonight. We prepare to share the traditional blessing with one another: May your name be inscribed for a good year. We share these words between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur because of the belief that our destinies will be set on Rosh Hashana, based on the prior year’s actions. We are taught that during the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we can change that destiny, through good works, repentance, giving and prayer.  

Of course this idea is found nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. Nowhere in Torah is such a thought suggested. It is mere tradition. However, we can be sure that our names are written in God’s Book of Life forever, without the fear of it ever being removed. The only question is will you be like the inheritor who refused to believe a great inheritance was his for the taking or will you open your heart to the possibility that God has something great for you? That all your sins can be forgiven? Continue Reading…

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Part 1

Continuing with our series on Israel and the nations, I want to move to our second statement.

Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish. He continues to be a member of his or her nation, but has complete access to all the heavenly benefits found in Yeshua.

What is the ecclesia?

I have heard many believers say that now that they believe in Yeshua, they are Jewish. However, I do not think that this is what Scripture teaches. This is the beautiful mystery of the New Testament Ecclesia (often translated church). I don’t like to use the word church for two reasons:

  1. The English translation of the Greek Ecclesia is not church, but assembly. It is simply a mistranslation. (see video on the subject here)
  2. In our modern culture, the word church tends to speak of something completely non-Jewish (with steeples, etc.), while the one new man (Eph. 2:15) is made up of both Jews and the nations.

It is important to note that when Paul uses the term ecclesia, it is not an ecclesia, but the ecclesia. Ecclesia was a common word in his culture, but he ‘branded’ it for something specific. For example, in Richmond where I grew up, we have the Coliseum. In Rome, there was the ancient Colosseum. However, the word coliseum simply means “a large theatre or stadium,” from the word ‘colossal.’ Both in Rome and in Richmond, they took a common noun and made it a proper noun. If I have tickets to a concert in Richmond, I say, “I am going to the Coliseum,” not “I am going to a coliseum.”

One New Man

So Paul is saying there is a new thing, called The Assembly or Gathering. And this Gathering is different in so many ways. It is unique in that it is NEW and it is a UNITED assembly of Jews and Gentiles.

In Ephesians 3, Paul uses the word mystery four times to describe God’s marvelous plan for the nations. He says that this revelation, that has now been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets, was a secret in times past.

“The mystery is that, through the Gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yeshua.  Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Messiah, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”  (Eph. 3:6, 8-9)

First, we see that non-Jewish believers become heirs with Israel, not in place of Israel. Second, despite our unique callings, we are one body. Third, Gentiles share in the promise in Messiah—there is equal access to “the boundless riches of Messiah.”

What was the mystery?

He created…

“in Himself one new man from the two [Jews and Gentile], thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:15-18)

So God has created a new thing—the Assembly—comprised of Jews and Gentiles. In the Assembly, both groups are reconciled to God and both have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit. There is no hierarchy. Yes, there is leadership (Eph. 4:11ff), but there is no inherent status based on ethnicity or gender or race. All have equal standing in the Assembly, but not the same calling.

Is there Jewish calling?

As stated before, men are still men and women are still women. No one argues that. But when it comes to Jews and Gentiles, it gets a little stickier. For those believers of Jewish background that maintain there is a calling connected to that, it could be an offense to those who feel that we are saying that Jewish status is better status (which we are not saying!). Still, Paul maintains that the unique calling on Israel remains. Romans 11:29 he says this calling it “irrevocable.” In Acts 13:47 he sees the calling on Jewish believers to be connected to Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, to “be a light for the nations.”

What is a Gentile?

The question is, are Jews still Jews and Gentiles still ethnically Gentile in the New Covenant? Before I answer that, it is important to note that the word Gentile (in Hebraic thought) can have two meanings. The positive meaning is simply a member of the nations. The negative meaning is heathen or pagan—someone outside of God’s covenant. In the context of Ephesians, Paul uses both meanings.

So, the same Paul can say both, “You who were formally called Gentiles,” when referring to the negative usage. And “I am writing to you Gentiles,” (Rom. 11:13) when using it in a positive way.

He makes an amazing statement regarding access to the Gentiles in chapter three:

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yeshua.”

If Paul’s intent was that the Gentiles who come to Yeshua are now Jewish, then that would not be a mystery. At the time, there were a myriad of Gentiles throughout the Roman world that attended synagogue and many went through a formal conversion to Judaism. The mystery of the New Covenant, about which Paul is so excited, is that in Yeshua, there is no need for conversion to Judaism, but merely conversion from death to life.

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Col. 1:13)

Is there anywhere in the New Testament where Paul specifically refers to a Gentile believer as a Jew? No. And yet, before going into the Temple, he circumcises Timothy (who was Jewish through his mother, but not raised as a Jew). He doesn’t circumcise Titus. Why? Because he is not ethnically Jewish.

One in Messiah

Clearly, the Jews are still Jews as shown in part one of this series. The mystery is that in Yeshua, Jews are still Jews and Gentiles are still Gentiles (or Greeks are still Greeks, and Brazilians are still Brazilians, etc.). And yet, our oneness in Messiah is so awesome, that we can say when it comes to access to God, there are no Jews or Gentiles, male or female, slave or free…we are one in Messiah.

Paul was not ethnically Roman, but he did enjoy all the benefits of being a Roman citizen. That is the mystery of the Gospel of which Paul speaks in Ephesians three, that believers from other nations become “co-heirs” and “members of God’s household” without becoming ethnic Jews. Believers from the nations enjoy all the benefits of citizenship in God’s household, just as if they were ethnically Jewish, though they are not. That is good news! And the truth is, being a new creation is far higher than being ethnically Jewish.

That is Paul’s meaning in Romans 2:28-29, when he says:

“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

This is hyperbolic speech. Like when Yeshua said to hate your family or cut off your hand. It wasn’t literal, but because it is the word of God, we struggle with hyperbole. Paul isn’t saying that ethnic Jews are not Jews. He is saying the one who truly pleases God is the one born again—with the circumcision of the heart.

Value in Circumcision

How do we know this? Because, in the very next verse, Paul asks, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way!” Circumcision through the Abrahamic covenant ties the Jewish people to the land of Israel. Non-Jews were not part of the physical Abrahamic covenant, but can be part of the greater Abrahamic covenant through Yeshua. But the New Testament does not cancel the physical Abrahamic covenant—which never promised eternal life. The land of Israel and many blessings? Yes. But eternal life is only through Yeshua.

This is why Paul was going nuts when Gentiles were being taught that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved. He is shouting in Galatians that there is no greater benefit than salvation and salvation is free. There is no higher status than “born-again”.

Lastly, if all Gentiles are suddenly Jews when they get born-again, who are the members of the great multitude in heaven?

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Rev. 7:9)

The great Assembly of God, the One-New-Man, the Household of God, that great Olive Tree, is made up of regenerated Jews and regenerated members of the nations.

 

 

Part 1

When I turned the page (actually, I clicked to go to the next chapter), I found something interesting in chapter 36. There are these two guys, Bezalel and Oholiab, and they are super gifted in craftsmanship and engraving. It says that the Spirit of God had anointed them for this task.

That is not the big deal. The big deal is that Moses takes all the money—all the gold and silver—and he gives to these guys and their team. They are tasked with building a tabernacle.

‘Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary.’ (Ex. 36:2-3)

Several years ago, I met a pastor who pledged to support our congregation. I never saw a penny. However, he communicated to me as if we were buds. Now I am friends with many people who don’t support us financially, but it was weird—it was as if he thought he was supporting us. Money is a touchy subject, so I just continued in relationship with him and never said anything.

After more than a year, I received a message from this pastor. He was so apologetic. Apparently, someone was stealing money. He thought they were supporting us, while a staff member was siphoning off cash. Since then, he has been one of our biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

My point is that in the midst of this great move of God, these men, Bezalel and Oholiab, were completely trusted with the funds. How do we know that they weren’t stealing from the kitty? Maybe good ole Oholiab stuck a few gold coins in his tunic every day. We know he didn’t nor did the other because of what we read next.

‘And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.’

According to Exodus 38:24, they gave about one metric ton of gold. That alone—forget the silver, bronze and other elements—would be worth $40,000,000 today!

Now, that is biblical giving and accountability.

  1. The people gave with such zeal and joyfulness that Moses had to give an order for them to stop giving.
  2. And the men receiving the funds were so honest in the fear of the Lord, that instead of giving into the temptation to let the people keep giving, they told Moses about the problem of “over-giving.”

The New Testament equivalent of this can be seen in the book of Acts. In the Hebrew scriptures, God uses elements from the earth to build His Tabernacle and then His Temple. Both times the glory of God comes:

‘Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:34-35)

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.’ (1 Kings 8:10-11)

This, too, came after supernatural giving:

‘King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.’ (1 Kings 8:5)

Wow! What I would give to be able to have experienced that. But we see the same thing in the New Covenant. This time God doesn’t need gold and silver, but he builds His house with people. In Acts 2, we see the Holy Spirit fall on the 120 in a similar fashion in Jerusalem, causing a revival that would shake the Roman Empire!

And one of the first hallmarks of this revival is… sacrificial giving.

‘They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…’ (Acts 2:45-46)

‘There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.’ (Acts 4:34-35)

The first thing that jumps out at me is similar to what we see in the time of Moses. There was no IRS. No one was checking up on them to make sure the money was spent right. In fact, when two of them in the chapter five lied about how much money they received for a property they sold, they died! The fear of the Lord in the midst of revival caused the people to live in integrity when it came to funds.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in accountability. We are a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and have received their highest rating. Accountability has saved many from giving into temptation. What I am saying is that in the absence of the ECFA, the people were honest.

We can’t get away from it. Revival and supernatural, generous giving go hand in hand. We see it when the tabernacle is dedicated, when the temple is dedicated and when the New Covenant community is birthed and commissioned.

This week Christianity Today published an article by two rabbis claiming the Last Supper was no Passover Seder. Here are the facts!

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