Special Announcements:  This Friday, July 17th, is our monthly congregational Erev Shabbat celebration.  We will gather to light the candles at 6:00pm and have dinner together.  I understand the Rabbi is baking lasagne along with a gluten free/dairy free option.  He said to me (because I am him) it is going to be really good.  There is nothing like Italian food made by a Jewish man.  Following dinner we will meet in the sanctuary for a Kabbalat Shabbat (welcome the Shabbat) service.  There is special liturgy only prayed during this service each week.  Ask anyone who has attended one of these services in the past and they will tell you it’s fun.

Then on Saturday, July 18th, at our usual Shabbat morning service, Richard and Carolyn Hyde will be ministering with us in person.  They have come on some of the first flights from Israel to be with us.  Carolyn will be leading worship throughout the service.  We have loved them both here and in Israel for almost 30 years.  Come and be blessed to hear what God is doing through their ministry.  

Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, July 17, 2020

(Early) Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,

So yesterday I promised you a discussion of the “flip side” question, “Do non-Jews have to become Jewish?”  You might think that question was dealt with fully in Acts 15.  These were not little “a” apostles, but capital “A” Apostles.  Who attended the meeting?  Paul (Rav Shaul), Barnabas (Judah), Peter (Simon), Silas and Jacob(James) were there.  

The gathering reached a consensus that was confirmed by the Holy Spirit.  Acts 15:28a It seemed good to the Ruach ha-Kodesh and to us…. This determination was then written down.  It was addressed to the “Gentile brothers” …of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, and carried by hand and delivered to them by Paul, Barnabus, and Silas.  It said exactly this… Acts 15:28b not to place on you any greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. By keeping away from these things, you will do well. Shalom!”

I’m sure the Apostles intended to settle the issue once and for all.  But here we are, 2,000 years later, discussing it again today.  And why?  Because we are not sure which issue they intended to settle.  Is the “greater burden not placed” intended to limit all future Gentile observance to these 4 “essentials,” or is this merely a minimum expectation for Gentiles being introduced at an entry level to the family of God?

That last question might explain this… Acts 15:21 For Moses from ancient generations has had in every city those who proclaim him, since he is read in all the synagogues every Shabbat.  Could this mean that Gentiles don’t have to learn everything before they begin to obey Yeshua in their new life of faith?  I propose it does.  It means new Gentile followers of “the way” will learn over time because… “Moses… is read in all the synagogues every Shabbat.”

BTW, did you think I would settle the issue today in one little RR?  Oh contraire mon frere.  This subject will both delight and frustrate us for years to come.  

But I don’t want to close there.  I want to say that too much is made of Jewish and Gentile distinctives.  Yeshua died for one body.  There is one way for everyone (Jewish and non-Jewish) to be saved.  There is one righteous standard for all of God’s people.  When both Jewish and non-Jewish people are brought near to God, we are all called to stop sinning.  Is it even possible that what is sin for Jews is not sin for Gentiles and vice-versa?  Is it possible that “all our fathers” doesn’t mean “all our fathers?”

1 Corinthians 10:1  For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. 2 They all were immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 And all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink.

What does it mean to be “immersed into Moses?”  Does it mean anything?  Ah, so many question and so little time.  Then again, until the Lord returns, there is always tomorrow.  And after He returns, what’s the difference?

Week 29
Memory Verse: Nehemiah 6:9 For they were all trying to intimidate us, thinking, “Their hands will become weak from the work and it will not be done.” So now, strengthen my hands!

141   7/13     Monday:        Nehemiah 7-8

142   7/14     Tuesday:       Nehemiah 9
143   7/15     Wednesday:  Nehemiah 10

144   7/16     Thursday:      Nehemiah 11 

* 145 7/27     Friday:       Nehemiah 12

Question of the day:  Hey Rabbi, you’re a bottom line guy.  So, what’s the bottom line for Nehemiah 12?

Answer:  There was a great celebration… Nehemiah 12:43b The joy in Jerusalem could be heard from far off.  But what were the people (Israelites, Levites, and Kohanim, men, women and children) celebrating?  They were celebrating the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem.  

The wall of Jerusalem is not just any wall.  It’s the wall around the city of God’s presence, the city that houses God’s house.  Why do we have walls on our houses?  I was once told it is to keep the weather out.  (The roof is just a horizontal wall.)  But, it’s much more than that.  Yes, a wall keeps the weather out, but it also keeps everything and everyone else out.  It keeps unwanted people out and it keeps unwanted critters and bugs out, at least that is the intent.  

The wall of the city marks the outer boundary.  This boundary reveals the edge of authority.  The city authority has authority within the walls of the city and has no authority outside the wall.  The same is true of the wall of your heart.  The heart of a believer in Yeshua is part of His kingdom, but marks a boundary.  Within its walls, Yeshua is King and His authority reigns.  

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Ruach ha-Kodesh who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 

When we become believers, we are dedicating the wall of our heart to God.   This is a great occasion to celebrate, and all of heaven joins in the celebration.  Luke 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

What follows this verse is the parable of the two sons.  There was a party when the rebellious son returns.  Luke 15:22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let’s celebrate with a feast! 24 For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life—he was lost and is found!’ Then they began to celebrate.

In Nehemiah 12 there is a great celebration when the city is dedicated to God after the wall was repaired.  In our lives, Yeshua mends our broken down hearts and the wall around our hearts is repaired.  The work is complete, and this also is an occasion for great celebration, both on earth and in heaven.