Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, July 3, 2020

(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

Announcement:  This Saturday morning we will be celebrating Avi Henschen’s Bat Mitzvah.  This is a celebration of her coming of age spiritually.  She will leave her status as a child behind and take her place among the faithful in Zion, and even better, her place among the faithful followers of Yeshua.  All are invited to join Avi and her family in this milestone celebration of spiritual maturity.  Light refreshments will follow the service.

Today we continue our analysis of the 7 affirmations of TJCII.  But first, a word about affirmations.  The real affirmations are the Bible.  We believe the Bible and hold the whole Bible up as truth.  These affirmations of TJCII are written to focus the purpose of TJCII and correct previous errors.  With every “affirmation” we should ask the question, why is this here?  With that in mind, here is the third affirmation.

3. We affirm the formation of Messianic Jewish congregations as a significant and effective way to express Jewish collective identity (in Yeshua) and as a means of witnessing to Yeshua before the Jewish community. We also affirm Jewish individuals and groups that are part of churches and encourage them in their commitment to Jewish life and identity.

A few years ago I was asked about my faith by someone who really wanted to know.  As part of my explanation, I said I’m the Rabbi of Shomair Yisrael Messianic Synagogue where Jewish and non-Jewish people worship together.  We believe both the Old Testament and the New Testament and that Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel.

The response surprised me.  “So you’re Jewish and believe in Jesus?  Is that something new?”  After my double-take, I said, “Actually, it goes all the way back to the time when Jesus walked the earth.”  There have always been Jewish followers of Yeshua.  Church history on this isn’t pretty.  (Hence the need for this affirmation.)

The New Testament is full of the story of inclusion.  Peter’s vision led to the inclusion of the first non-Jewish followers of Yeshua.  Acts 15 clarified that everyone who follows Yeshua is not required to become Jewish.  But for the last 1,900 years the reality was that everyone who followed Yeshua had to cease all Jewish practice.

The inquisition was organized around the idea that Jews who professed a “conversion” had to stop all Jewish practice.  Bringing any Jewish observance (such as Shabbat or Kashrut) into the church was strictly forbidden.  In fact, the inquisitor would make sure the Jewish “converts” ate ham and worked on the Sabbath as a sign they were true followers of Jesus.  The penalty for such “transgression” was death.  Of course repentance was offered first, but that did not commute the sentence of death, just “change” the destination of the victim.

100 years ago there was the Hebrew Christian Alliance.  Jewish followers of Yeshua were called “Hebrew Christians.”  Then, in the late 1960’s a change was made to the from the Hebrew Christian Alliance to the Messianic Jewish Alliance and Jewish followers of Yeshua became “Messianic Jewish.”  This was during the Jesus Movement, when large numbers of Jewish members of the counter-culture were coming to faith.  Messianic synagogues began to be formed in order to adequately disciple these new Jewish followers of Yeshua.

Rabbi Trail:  in late 1982 when I walked forward during a church altar call to receive Yeshua, and said the “sinner’s prayer.”  Immediately after that, Mark Diamond, (who invited me to my first Messianic service) took me aside to pray an additional prayer.  He prayed that I would use my new faith to embrace the faith of Yeshua and embrace my Jewishness in a new way consistent with what I would soon learn in the New Testament.  And that’s exactly what happened.  End RT.

The Hebrew word for “remnant” (“Sa-rid”) can also be translated “survivor.”  The Jewish remnant must be recognizably Jewish when Yeshua returns.  Messianic synagogues are the best way for this to happen.  

The last part of this 3rd affirmation is to affirm Messianic groups within churches.  It is important to recognize and affirm these individuals and groups as well.  One last thought… Yeshua tore down the middle wall of separation… Ephesians 2:14 For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility…. to bring peace.  Hebrews 12:14 Pursue shalom with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Week 27
Memory Verse: Zephaniah 3:17 Adonai your God is in your midst— a mighty Savior! He will delight over you with joy. He will quiet you with His love. He will dance for joy over you with singing.’

131   7/2   Monday:    Zechariah 1:1-6; 2; 12

132   7/3   Tuesday:     Ezra 7-8
133   7/4   Wednesday    Ezra 9-10

134   7/5   Thursday:    Esther 1-2
* 135 7/6   Friday:    Esther 3-4

Question of the day:  Do you want the bad news, or the good news?

Answer:  The bad news is in chapter 3.  The King has signed Haman’s order to kill all the Jews.  In chapter 4, we begin to see Haman’s plot unraveling.  Turns out the Queen (Esther) is Jewish.  We have a secret advocate high up in the administration.  I think the result is going to be something good.

The Book of Esther never mentions the name of God, but it comes close in these two verses from chapter 4.  Esther 4:13 Mordecai told them to reply to Esther with this answer, “Do not think in your soul that you will escape in the king’s household more than all the Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?”

Maybe that’s a question for us all.  Who knows… if you have attained royal status (we are all children of the King of kings) for such a time as this?  Please pray with me… Oh Lord, during these times of perplexity and difficulty please grant us courage and opportunity to minister with power in the name of Yeshua.  Let us be the light of the world and sweet fragrance of Yeshua to a dark and sick (sickness stinks) dying world.  In Yeshua’s name we pray.  Amen.