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  • Derech Yeshua

    Derech Yeshua: The Way of Salvation

    Derech Yeshua: The Way of Salvation, by Daniel Nessim

  • Siddur Sar Shalom

    Siddur Sar Shalom, edited by Daniel Nessim

    Siddur Sar Shalom, edited by Daniel Nessim

  • Introducing Your Jewish Friend to Yeshua

    Introducing Your Jewish Friend to Yeshua, by Nessim and Surey

    Introducing Your Jewish Friend to Yeshua, by Nessim and Surey

Titus, the Temple, and the Fire of Judgement


Titus and his armies destroy Jerusalem in 70 C.E.

Titus and his armies destroy Jerusalem in 70 C.E.

Was it judgement? In 70 C.E. the then general Titus captured Jerusalem. Although Josephus (possibly disingenuously) disclaimed Titus’ responsibility, the Temple was destroyed and burned to the ground. In witnessing the event Josephus recalled:

the roar of the flames streaming far and wide mingled with the groans of the falling victims; and, owing to the height of the hill and the mass of the burning pile, one would have thought that the whole city was ablaze. And then the din–nothing more deafening or appalling could be conceived than that. There were the war-cries of the Roman legions sweeping onward in mass, the howls of the rebels encircled by fire and sword, the rush of the people who, cut off above, fled panic-stricken- (Jewish War 6.272-3)

Titus was the general in who took the city and was responsible for these events. His father, who had been charged with putting down the revolt had gone to Rome, having been elected as Emperor. Nine years later, Titus would take his father’s place. It would be 79 C.E. when Titus became Emperor himself. In exquisite irony, it would be that very same year that Vesuvius would erupt, engulfing Pompeii in burning ash, extinguishing the vast portion of the population of that great yet decadent city. Titus, while visiting Pompeii to assess the damage would get yet further bad news. Back in Rome, the great fire of 80 C.E. had broken out. While less destructive than that of Nero’s day, this fire would result in an equal loss of life and the destruction of many great structures – notably on Capitoline Hill, the Temple of Jupiter, the Pantheon, and the theatre of Pompeii.

The destruction of Pompeii as Mt Vesuvius erupts in 79 C.E.

The destruction of Pompeii as Mt Vesuvius erupts in 79 C.E.

Could it not have been noted in that day, what the comforter Eliphaz said: As I have observed, those who plough evil and those who sow trouble reap it (Job 4:8).

Maybe Hashem was saying something.

Our daily prayer is May it be your will, Hashem our God and the God of our forefathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt, speedily in our days. Grant us our share in Your torah, and may we serve You there with reverence as in days of old and in former years. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Hashem, as in days of old and in former years.

Amen.

Neo Nazis in London?


On Passover, Jewish people read in the Haggadah (Passover Story Guide) that  ‘In every generation they rise up against us.’

This week has already seen a lone gunman in Kansas kill three people at Jewish community centres in Kansas City. It has driven home the truth of the Haggadah‘s saying. On top of that, the infamous Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket the funerals of the victims.

Never mind that the gunman, reportedly an ex member of the Ku Klux Klan and shouting ‘Heil Hitler’ failed in his attempt at killing Jews, killing non-Jews instead. Jews again have one of those all-too-frequent reminders that no matter where we are in the world, no matter how enlightened the country, province or city, there are always those who ‘rise up against us’.

This month, just two blocks from my home in London, a store historically linked to Neo-Nazis opened in the heart of London’s Jewish world.

Thor Steinar North FinchleySteps away from the office of the Chief Rabbi, close to a Jewish school, synagogues and – my family, a shop by the Thor Steinar Nordic Company has opened up.  The Independent has summed it up: ‘A German clothing brand favoured by neo-Nazis in Europe, whose goods were banned because of their similarity to logos worn by SS officers, has opened a high-street store in the heart of London’s Jewish community.’
When I went by, a man wearing a WW2 Nazi-style helmet with skull and crossbones on the back was handling the merchandise inside. Very nice. Wearing a kippah, I wasn’t about to go in and enquire further.

This is the company that in 2012 opened a store called ‘Brevik‘ – right after the coward Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 unarmed, mostly young, people in a rampage against Islam, Zionism, Feminism and more.

The Independent reports that ‘Users on the white power website Stormfront claimed “London gets its first white nationalist clothing shop”. This can be seen here: Capture

However, Stormfront has removed the offending posts at this time.

I’m aghast and don’t know what to write more. As the executive director of Chosen People Ministries (UK) what can I ask? I would like to see Christian street preachers take this as their favourite spot for street preaching. I would like to see Christians standing up for the Jewish community. But none of that will really and truly make any difference.

The shop owner, maybe unaware of his brand’s dodgy history (he is now!) said he is appalled and is not ‘Nazi’ nor a racist. Still, there is the very real concern, as evidenced by the Stormfront post, that this shop will become a magnet for those very undesirable elements.

Those who frequent the shop need to be prayed for, as my Yeshua, my Rabbi, instructed (Matthew 5:44). Hate cannot be met with hate, but we are reminded to speak up, love our enemies, and be a light to the world come what may. And please, pray for the safety of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, where every Jewish institution of any significance has to have serious security provisions in place because of the constant threat we are under……..

Introduction to Messianic Judaism


Thank you Drs. Rudolph and Willitts!
Willitts and Rudolph have done a great Mitzvah for Messianic Judaism, providing a resource that supersedes a few ‘introductions’ of a previous era and reflecting the tremendous growth in theological capability in our movement of Jewish people to our Jewish Messiah. I see great value in I2MJ on a number of counts:

  1. While not perfect, and as was mentioned by Seth in the Rosh Pina Project, a ‘mixed bag’ it reflects the growing credibility and theological acumen of the Messianic movement (MJM).
  2. The ‘mixed bag’ further reflects where we are as a movement. We have yet to see many monographs demonstrating first-rate scholarship from our midst. However, we have a lot more than we did and we know more is on the way, giving the MJM a voice into the Jewish and Christian worlds.
  3. Published by a mainstream Christian publisher, it gives astute Christians a contemporary resource by which to understand the movement. Someday – Messianic authors will be found in the mainstream, and even Jewish press. Today, this is a step forward.
  4. Some of the published material is original research, adding to our body of knowledge of the MJM. Rudolph’s historical piece comes to mind.
  5. Because of the publisher and the reputation of some of the contributors, this book will be found in every theological training institution of any credibility. This will mean that students, pastors and scholars will use this as a key text to understand the MJM and so we should be glad that we have a word that is so much more advanced than anything we have had until now.
  6. A couple links that show how Messianic Jews are maturing theologically in the English speaking world: The Messianic Jewish Theological Symposium – http://www.messianicsymposium.eu (next in London, February 2014) and the Borough Park Symposium – http://www.boroughparksymposium.com.

A work like I2MJ is… a lot of WORK. And there is no money in it. My thanks go to Rudolph, Willitts, and all the contributors, each sterling in their own right.

The Miracles of Jesus and the Miracles of the Early Hebrew Prophets


Here’s an interesting new book, just brought to my attention by a friend in Geneva. I thought you might like to know. Its only $16.95.

http://www.ktav.com/product_info.php?products_id=2587untitled

Rabbi Herbert M. Baumgard D.H.L., D.D.
Millions of people have long admired the miracles attributed to Jesus in the New Testament. In his study of comparative religions the author was stuck by the similarity of many of these miracles to those performed by the Hebrew Prophets hundreds of years before Jesus. Accordingly the author compiled a study comparing these miracles which are discussed in this book.

This study, among other things, reveals the intimate relationships of Jesus to the Jewish community.
This close relationship has been discussed by other authors who studied the teachings of Jesus.
Reading this book, the Christian reader will discover many things about his religion, while the Jewish reader will develop a greater sympathy with Jesus.

It is the authors’ hope that the Christian and Jew will be brought closer together by this book.

Rabbi Dr. Herbert M. Baumgard served for 35 years as the founding Rabbi of Temple Beth Am, Pinecrest, Florida.

http://www.ktav.com/product_info.php?products_id=2587

דרך ישוע / Derech Yeshua: The Way of Salvation


Publication Announcement

Derech Yeshua picIs Yeshua the hoped for Messiah? Is he Salvation as his name implies? What makes Yeshua different from all the other would-be Messiahs scattered about Jewish history?

As a Jew who believes that Yeshua was and is King Messiah, a number of years ago, I attempted to teach a course on the Good News about Yeshua, and predictably found a tremendous lack of appropriate material, so I began to write up my own explanation of the דרך ישוע: the Way of SalvationDerech Yeshua being an obvious play on words, I yet felt it to be a convenient title, and so have stuck with it. Since that time on the University of Washington campus other contributions have been made. Thankfully. Since then Sam Nadler, Derek Leman and others have produced great literature, but I still needed something I felt that I could comfortably put in the hands of Jewish person who I was talking to. I wanted something that would answer at least some of their questions about my faith that Yeshua is Messiah. At the end of a long, slow process, with the help of an excellent proofreader (thank you Meirav!) and a talented Messianic Israeli graphic artist (thank you, Steve at www.giantjellyfish.com!) and Lois Gable (thank you, too!) who did a great cover, not to mention generous donations that helped to cover our many costs, Derech Yeshua is now in print.

One of the issues that needs to be addressed, and I hope that I have at least partially done so, is that Jews who are considering the claims of Jesus are also implicitly required to accept a whole truck load of other baggage. This ‘baggage’ is a load of cultural and communal expectations. In many cases this culminates in a rejection of the Jewish people in favour of the church. Derech Yeshua says that yes, you can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. It is my heartfelt desire that this might be at least one spark that will help to ignite an acceptance, turning to, and recognition of Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel from within the Jewish world.

If you are in the UK, you can order the book from this link. Derech Yeshua is 128 in paperback.

Every chapter concludes with discussion questions, making this book suitable for small study groups.

Lastly, if you are a Jewish person who wants to know more about Yeshua – or if you have a Jewish friend who is enquiring and wants to know more about Yeshua – please just email my office at info@chosenpeople.org.uk or call +44 208-455-7911 and we will send you a copy for free!

Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah


In the interests of the Messianic Jewish Movement, I am posting this recently published statement on Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah, that I believe is of critical importance and reflects the growing self-awareness and maturing identity of the worldwide community of Jewish believers in Yeshua. In light of the theological and geographical diversity of the participants, one should doubly take note.

Helsinki Consultation on Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah
2012 Berlin Statement on Torah
(July 3, 2012)

The third Helsinki Consultation on Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah met in Berlin, Germany June 29 – July 3, 2012. Building on statements formulated in the meetings of the previous two years, Jewish scholars from France, Germany, Israel, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, belonging to Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Messianic traditions, deepened their relationships and advanced in their discussion of crucial issues concerning Jewish life in the Body of Christ.

The theme of this year’s consultation was “Jewish Believers in Yeshua and the Torah.” Papers presented at the conference underlined the paradoxical richness and depth of Torah, and the way its fulfillment in Yeshua reinforces rather than undermines its enduring relevance. Following the conference, members of the consultation met together and developed the following common statement:

We, the members of the Helsinki Consultation, bear living witness to the recent emergence of Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus) who affirm their Jewish identity and acknowledge its theological significance. We are increasingly recognizing the intrinsic connection between this identity and Torah, the dynamic reality that has shaped the life of the Jewish people throughout its historical journey. We are also increasingly challenged to understand the continuing significance of the Torah encountered in the light of the gospel within the life of the Body of the Messiah.

The complex nature of Jewish existence reflects the multifaceted and paradoxical character of the Torah. Torah is both the historical revelation of God to Israel, and Israel’s window to the eternity of God; once-for-all transmitted truth, and ever new process of discovery; the fashioner of human institutions, and the secret of the cosmic order; the absoluteness of the Divine Word, and the relativity of its human interpretation; the vulnerable letter of the written text, and its invulnerable spirit; defining mark of Israel’s singular path and destiny, and wisdom for all nations of the earth.

From an early period, many Christians have not fully grasped the Torah’s paradoxical unity. They have limited its relevance to what they deemed “moral precepts” whilst rejecting the so-called “civil” and “ceremonial” practices that are foundational to Jewish life. They have frequently viewed Torah through the dualistic lens of grace and law, contrasting faith and works, and thus overlooking the Torah’s enduring value.

Recent scholarship has shed new light on the Jewish context of Yeshua and the early Yeshua-movement which challenges traditional Christian understanding of the Torah and brings renewed appreciation for its positive significance. Many now recognize that Yeshua, Sha’ul (Paul), and the other early Jewish followers of Yeshua were Torah observant. This historical reality carries significant theological implications.

We as Jewish believers in Yeshua acknowledge the special bond that unites us with Israel’s Torah. This bond with Israel’s Torah witnesses in the Church to the irrevocability of God’s gifts and call to Israel (Rom 11:29). For Yeshua said, “Think not that I have come to destroy the Torah, or the prophets: I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Mt 5:17). We believe in the continuing validity of the Torah even as it is fulfilled in Christ. Moreover, we see Christ as the incarnate Torah, the eternal wisdom of the Father in human flesh. He alone lived out the Torah in perfect form, and he calls his disciples to walk in his ways.

As Jewish believers in Yeshua we are in the process of working out the meaning and concrete implications of this bond that we collectively experience. We find ourselves in a variety of different ecclesial and Jewish communal contexts, and we hold different understandings and definitions of Torah observance. Some of us consider the observance of mitzvot such as Shabbat, Jewish holidays, and the dietary laws as an essential component of fidelity to Torah. Yet we all understand that our attempt to live in radical discipleship to Yeshua (in conformity to teaching such as that found in the Sermon on the Mount) is the foundational principle of Torah observance. Furthermore, we all understand our faithfulness to Israel’s Torah as a commitment to promote an awareness of the Jewish roots of the Church.

In the midst of our different approaches we have experienced through our deliberations and fellowship the dynamic and unifying power of Christ as Torah. Continuing to reflect on the Torah’s role in our lives, we desire to grow together as Jews and as disciples of Yeshua. We hope these insights will resonate with other Jewish believers in Yeshua, and we invite them to join us on our journey.

Consultation Members:

Boris Balter (Russia)
Jacques Doukhan (USA)
Richard Harvey (Great Britain)
Mark Kinzer (USA)
Fr. Antoine Levy (Finland)
Lisa Loden (Israel)
Fr. David Neuhaus (Israel)
Svetlana Panich (Russia)
Vladimir Pikman (Germany)
Jennifer Rosner (USA)
Dominic Rubin (Russia)

Roland Allen a century on…


In my youth (a long time ago!), my father recommended an already old work to me: Missionary Methods: St Paul’s or Ours by Roland Allen (London, 1912).

As an employee of, and in some capacities a leader within, Chosen People Ministries it would be duplicitous of me to claim that I am not a missionary. Nevertheless, I do not use the term as I do not believe it is appropriate without severe qualification. Fortunately, I have the example of my father who worked with Christian Witness to Israel from the mid-sixties to 1986. He too dislikes and has persistently eschewed the term missionary. The term I prefer and would use is that used by the orthodox community – Shliach (emissary). This is an acceptable translation of apostolos and links us to Rav Shaul and the twelve.

Shaul the Shliach believed that Messiah was able and willing to keep that which he had committed to Him. Is the present day missions movement willing to do that with the Messianic community? Are we ready to let the Spirit guide and lead the Messianic community? As with Shaul, this does not mean to plant communities and just walk away. Shaul planted communities which rapidly became self supporting and self-governing… ah, there’s the ‘rub’ in my opinion. Shaul’s methods do mean to plant, water and nurture Messianic communities that because of their place within the world and church are under pressure at a hundred different levels (no, you don’t want me to enumerate them!).

It is my passion that the missions community should stop making the Jewish Messianic movement towards Messiah Yeshua less than an addendum to its strategy. Rather than an embarrassment to the ‘Jewish Mission’ the Messianic community should be its crown jewel, encouraged and helped but in no way controlled or kept in financial servitude (Messianic Jews are in danger of becoming the ‘rice Christians’ of the Western world). This even involves quietly letting us ‘get on with it’ and not overwhelming our congregations with a preponderance of non-Jewish attendees.

On our part as Messianic Jews, we need to come up with a ‘business model’ that will allow us to employ and send our own shlichim around the Jewish world, men and woment beholden not to church purse strings but to the Spirit of the Almighty.

As a ‘reluctant missionary’ I am extremely grateful for those Christians who support me in reaching my own Jewish people. I thank the Lord for those who, with great vision, commit their Canadian dollars, US dollars and Pounds Sterling to the cause of helping Jews come face to face with the Jew from Nazareth.

Your thoughts and feedback are valuable to me. Please feel free to comment.

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