From Ron: This post from Marty Blume really portrays the tragic results of the great “Identity Theft”, where a Jewish man who comes to faith assumes that he no longer has any connection to Judaism. You will be blessed at the outcome. You can contact Marty @ firstname.lastname@example.org
In what seems now to be a very long time ago, there was a Jewish boy living in Brooklyn who was approaching his thirteenth birthday. As was the tradition, he was sent by his mother to attend Hebrew school, going three times per week to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah so he could become a man, a “citizen” of Israel. He managed to memorize those portions of the Torah he was really supposed to be able to read, not knowing what any of it meant, so everyone in attendance that day would believe he was actually reading those Hebrew words.
He will be back!
Following his “reading”, the Rabbi gave a sermon, closing in dramatic fashion by stating that, unlike others who had completed this same ceremony, this boy/man would not depart from the teachings of this temple. His last words were, “HE WILL BE BACK”.
Well, I never went back. And to this day, I can still hear those words resounding in my head, “HE WILL BE BACK”. I remember thinking, “What is he saying? Is he crazy?” It had to be wishful thinking on his part, right?
Over the following years there were many times I wished I was not a Jew. We lived very close to a neighborhood comprised solely of very religious Jews. They stood out because of their attire (the men wore black suits and hats all year round, and had long, unkempt, beards), and their arrogant attitudes, never thinking they were wrong about anything. They never came out of their neighborhood, except to travel to their businesses, and clearly seemed to think they were superior to everyone else. And I became increasingly ashamed of the fact that I somehow came from the same bloodline as theirs. I tried my best for many years to hide the fact, or at least not admit that I was Jewish.
Fast forward now to December, 1986: Thanks to a lovely Christian family that had such adorable children, I wound up accepting their invitation to hear their children sing at their church, and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But I almost didn’t go because they told me that people at the church were excited because a Jewish person was coming to visit. When I heard that my immediate response was, “Well, then, I guess we can forget it!”
Very soon after that I purchased my first Bible. I remember opening it and seeing it contained two distinct parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. And I remember telling my pastor at my first Bible study that I would start my Bible reading with the New Testament. No, I would not, could not, open the Old Testament. It was the Jewish part!
It took about two years before I would start reading the Old Testament. And then it was only because I had to in order to fully understand a particular teaching I was receiving. But I was finally in the OT and felt like I had undergone a major breakthrough.
despising my birthright
In the years immediately following my salvation I still avoided “being Jewish” as much as I could. But I began to feel a tugging inside to understand certain, and at times very uncomfortable, feelings I was experiencing. Now I was living in the deep south of the U.S., in a place that was unlike anything I ever knew before.
Having been saved (taken out of Egypt), I was now wandering in my “desert” experience. And many times during that experience I cried out to God to send me back where I had been much, much more comfortable. But during this “desert” experience the Lord began tending to these feelings. He gave me a strong Jewish Believer who (yes) had a strong and sometimes arrogant personality, to give me a strong lunchtime lesson on the benefits of being Jewish and knowing Jesus.
He gave me a Messianic Bible study to attend where the Scriptures were taught in a way that was so unbelievably clear to me, like nothing I had heard before or since. He gave me a Messianic teacher at a worship conference who opened my mind to the absolute relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He gave me another strong Jewish Believer who urged me to “embrace” this southern/desert experience.
Through my job there He gave me a Messianic Jewish worship leader who tenderly guided me through my struggles with the first answers to my questions about the difficult stirrings deep in my soul. And He gave me a very special friend, a non-Jewish believer, with a huge heart for the Jews, who wrapped his arms around me for three and one-half years and loved me for who I was and carried me through the most difficult of those desert times. All that, in a place you would never, ever think of people like that being found. And I made it out of that desert, still not ready to fully embrace what I was, but more sensitive to a need that was growing inside of me.
But still, in the ensuing years, I struggled. I felt trapped in some sort of web I could not escape. I cried out to the Lord, but there seemed to be no relief on the way. I fell into a deep depression. One pastor told me that being a Christian and being Jewish was my “double-whammy”. I was told by someone else that because I was a Levite I was supposed to be given special treatment by the church, and it was not happening. Yet I did not give up on the Lord and, thankfully, He did not give up on me. But I still could not shake off the “uncomfortable” parts of my being Jewish.
my Year of Jubilee
The date of my Bar Mitzvah was Saturday, March 31, 1962. Exactly 50 years and one day later, on April 1, 2012, Palm Sunday, I left my church service feeling a “rumbling” deep inside of me. I was familiar with the feeling. Our next church meeting during this Holy Week was our regular Thursday night intercessory prayer meeting. At the end of the meeting our pastor led us in the most lovely time of communion honoring the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples. During this communion it seemed that the pastor kept staring at me. I was very touched by this time of fellowship, and it added to the growing feeling I was experiencing.
The next day was Good Friday. We had the most wonderful service that night. The message was broken down into three parts, each one given by a different person, the third person being the pastor. The first speaker was great, but what really got my attention was quite strange. He lives in Brooklyn, and made mention of that within the context of his part of the message. I didn’t know why, so I didn’t give it much thought.
The next speaker gave a very insightful message centering on how the hyssop used to offer vinegar to Jesus while He was on the cross brought to Jesus’ remembrance how hyssop had been used to paint the blood over the doorposts of the Israelites during the first Passover.
Finally, the pastor gave his part of the message. It was great, as always, but one part “jumped” out from what he said and landed right on me. He spoke about how the young Jewish children went to Hebrew school for their teachings on Jewish history and to learn the Scriptures. When he said that something inside me seemed to explode. I turned to my wife with almost a distressful expression and said “He’s talking about me!”
I quickly realized that the message was coming to me in a way only I could hear it, on my terms (like by someone from Brooklyn who understood things like I do.) And, as Jesus was reminded of the hyssop, I too was reminded by my pastor of those words spoken by my Rabbi.
I couldn’t sit still, and I wanted to run away. I felt like I was going to panic. I did my best to wait until the end of the service so I wouldn’t do anything disruptive. As the pastor was about to finish I said to my wife, “You can take your time, and talk to whoever you want for as long as you want. I have to get out of here now. I’ll wait for you in the car.” I went to my car and started making notes as quickly as I could so I would not forget anything when I finally was able to write about this experience.
I’ll be back!
You see, after all the years of struggling with what or who I was, I knew that the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I now knew, and finally accepted, that I was a “completed Jew”. I knew that 50 years after hearing, “HE WILL BE BACK”, it was now the beginning of my year of Jubilee. So much had been taken from me, stolen from me, over all those previous years, even the realization of my “completeness” in God once I received the knowledge of His Son. But this is the year of getting it all back. This is the year it is all to be completed.
(Photo by FourTwentyTwo)