Yeshua-faith made possible through Chanukah

Without the events of Chanukah, the Jewish people would have assimilated into the Greek-speaking culture.

If the Jewish people assimilated, Jews and Judaism would disappear.

If the Jewish people disappeared, there would be no Jewish Messiah born some 160 years later.

If there was no Messiah, there would be no Jewish disciples, no gospels, no Jewish emissaries to the nations – the writings that comprise the New Testament.

No New Testament, we would still be sacrificing to wooden idols, practicing temple prostitution with fertility goddesses, or moved onto other false gods or no-god, to our own destruction.

Chanukah made possible not only the preservation of the Jewish people, but also made possible the coming of the Jewish Messiah, laying the foundation of Judeo-Christian values that remain with us to this day.

Messiah’s final words on earth were to go into all nations to be witnesses of him. That resulted in Christianity, the Messianic Jewish movement, the Hebrew Roots movement, and all variations on believing in the Jewish Messiah and coming to know the God of Israel. Christians have much to be grateful to the Jewish people for.

Really remarkable to consider the work God’s done in the last 2000 years, is it not?

Happy Chanukah, fine Kineti readers.

Hearing again the sound of joy

Again there shall be heard / Od yishama
In the cities of Judah / be'arei Yehuda
And in the streets of Jerusalem / uvechutzot Yerushalayim
The voice of joy / kol simcha
The voice of gladness / kol sason
The voice of the bridegroom / kol chatan
And the voice of the bride! / v'kol kala!

Jeremiah 33:10

Just learned this classic oldie on the guitar (chords here), as performed by classic 1970s Messianic Jewish music group Kol Simcha. (Quite a fitting song for them!)

This song is based on a the prophecy from Jeremiah, part of the famous “new covenant” prophecy of Jeremiah 33:

Here is what Adonai says: “You say that this place is a wasteland, with neither people nor animals in the cities of Y’hudah, and that the streets of Yerushalayim are desolate, without people or animals — no inhabitants.

Yet there will again be heard here the sounds of joy and gladness and the voices of bridegroom and bride, the voices of those who sing, ‘Give thanks to Adonai-Tzva’ot, for Adonai is good, for his grace continues forever,’ as they bring offerings of thanksgiving into the house of Adonai.

For I will cause those captured from the land to return, as before,” says Adonai.

-Jeremiah 33

Notice the before-and-after condition:

Israel a wasteland, but then Divine reversal: sounds of joy, gladness, bride and bridegroom.

Desolate and empty, but then a mass return to the land.

Thinking on this for a moment, isn’t it true that this actually come about in the modern age? I think it has. Consider this:

Barren: Not 100 years ago, Israel was a wasteland. Mark Twain visited Israel in the late 19th century and described it aptly,

….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

Twain’s play-by-play: Barren, desolate, not a human in sight.

Jeremiah’s prophecy: Wasteland, desolate, no people or animals.

Then, in 1948, after a several decades of God stirring men’s hearts towards a love for the land of Israel -- Zionism -- and just 3 years after the horrific events of the Holocaust forced those in exile to rethink their status among the nations, after the Holocaust which conditioned the hearts of leaders around the globe to sympathize with a Jewish return to Israel, then, a mass return to the land. Israel becomes a state.

I think that’s from God.

And I think it’s a fulfillment (or perhaps, a partial fulfillment) of that ancient prophecy that the land of Israel would be divinely transformed from barren wasteland to a land filled with kol simcha. Smile

Blessing Israel in word and action

Folks in the Messianic and Hebrew Roots Christian world really do love Israel.

Last week, some friends from my congregation approached me and asked for help in starting a non-profit organization, Bless Israel. The idea is, get lots of people together and raise money to bless the Jewish people and the land of Israel in tangible, material ways.

This week I filed with the federal and state governments the non-profit 501c3 organization, Bless Israel. Got an EIN, got a bank account, started work on a website. (Slightly surprised the name Bless Israel is not already taken, but hey, we’re honored.)

BlessIsrael

This weekend, we pulled in Hebrew Roots teacher Brad Scott to bring some people together to the Bless Israel event. People came from all over Minnesota, packed our little congregation to standing room only.

We sang some songs of Zion:

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Myself and a few others singing “Am Yisrael Chai!”

We prayed for Israel.

We studied the Scriptures together.

We spoke of the miracle that is Israel. Recounted God’s hand in preserving the Jewish people until now.

We read Psalm 122, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may all who love her prosper.”

Psalm 137, “If I forget Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth and my right hand lose its skill.”

Isaiah 49, “I, the Lord, have engraved Israel on the palms of My hands – she will never be forgotten.”

Jeremiah 31, “When will I forget Israel? Only when the sun goes out, and the moon and stars cease to be.”

Something very right about that, people who follow Jesus as Messiah praying for Israel and helping Jews in tangible ways.

After all this, the people – Messianic folks, Hebrew Roots folks, Christians – donated money (several hundred dollars last night alone!) to Bless Israel, 100% of which I will personally funnel to our first Israeli charity recipient: Shilo Israel Children’s Fund (SICF).

SICF is a wonderful Israeli charity. They help Jewish families who have been victims of Palestinian terrorism.

The head of that fund, David Rubin, former mayor of Shilo, Israel, visited our congregation a few weeks back, and we felt God pulling on us to help them.

More and more, people are turning against Israel; you see it here in the US particularly among the political left. Universities are increasingly anti-Israel and even boycotting Israeli products and businesses. Media outlets like CNN and the New York Times are increasingly turning against Israel and trying to find ways to validate opposition to Israel while veiling the underlying anti-Semitism, encouraging their vast American audiences to do the same.

Think of Bless Israel as a righteous countermeasure. Disciples of Jesus helping Jews in Israel. It ain’t no heavyweight CNN or NYT, but it’s something and it’s grassroots. And I am glad to be a part of it!

Thanks to all my Minnesota Messianic and Hebrew Roots friends who prayed, gave, and joined in agreement in blessing Israel. And thanks to my friends, Jerry and Gloria Whittlef, who lead the charge and started this Bless Israel event and invited me to help start this organization.

Something very right is happening among Messiah’s people in Minnesota. Smile