The Plumb Line, by Jennifer LeClaire

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Page 247 of 286

To the Jew First

Jesus made it clear while He ministered near the Galilee and in Jerusalem that He came to minister first to the house of Israel. This was His first charge by the Father. He carried the message of the kingdom of God to the Jew first. We have the same commission Jesus had, but many of us have forgotten to go to the Jew with the liberating message of the gospel. Paul in this passage reminds us of our commission to the Jew first (v. 16).

Over the years I have seen many Jewish people completed in their faith when they have heard the good news of the kingdom. It seems that Jewish people who come to know Jesus as their Messiah are more zealous than the Gentiles who have known Jesus for years.

When we were in Russia at a festival designed to reach out with the message of the gospel to Jewish people, I heard the testimonies of many completed Jews. They all searched for a relationship with God deeper than they had in their Judaism. In Judaism they knew God as the King of the universe, but now through their belief in Yeshua, they received the spirit of adoption whereby they now could call God "Abba," which means "daddy" in Hebrew.

Jesus came to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God, which is something everyone who exists on earth desires. The gospel of the kingdom of God is simply the good news that on earth if we accept the King of this kingdom by faith, we can enter into His domain or dominion of peace, joy and right standing with God the Father. I have not met anyone who did not desire to have peace of mind and heart, joy and a feeling of rightness about themselves.

I believe that preaching the kingdom of God is the way to reach the Jewish people today. We need to ask them if they want continual peace and joy in their lives, and the response will always be yes. Then we need to share with them that we know about a kingdom they can live in here on earth where they will always experience peace and joy no matter what circumstances they are encountering. This should peak their curiosity, and then we can share about not only the King of the universe, but also the King of this kingdom.

Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it" (Luke 16:16).

Some Jewish people are familiar with the Law and the prophets, but now they need to know about the kingdom of God so they can press into it. Are you willing to reach out to God's chosen people with this message?

Lord, forgive me for keeping this good news to myself. I need to share it with Jewish people and with all those You place in my path. Open doors for me to share with Your chosen people. Amen.

Read: 1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17; Romans 1:1-17; Psalm 9:13-20; Proverbs 19:4-5

Linda Sommer is the author of Around the Word in 365 Days, from which this article was excerpted. read more

Will God Judge the Nations?

God makes it clear in His Word that He will bring into judgment any nation, America included, that forces the division of the land of Israel, including the division of Jerusalem.

Joel 3:2 says: "I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, they have also divided up My land."

The Washington Post recently published an editorial titled "Israel's New Government." The commentary emphasized what the Israeli's must give up if they want the continued support of the U.S.

What was lacking in the article was what Israel's neighbors must do to have the backing of Israel and the U.S. for a two-state solution. Pressure should not be put on Israel alone, as the editorial attempted to do.

For a two-state solution to become a reality, Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. They must also renounce terrorism and understand that they cannot use terrorism as a negotiating tool to achieve their statehood.

The Palestinians must also agree to abide by all previous agreements signed by their leadership.

Peace will not come in the Middle East by pressuring Israel to make unilateral concessions in return for worthless promises on worthless pieces of paper.

Now is the time for people to stand up and speak up for the peace of Jerusalem.

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Israeli Supreme Court Declares Messianic Bakery Kosher

Following a lengthy legal battle, Israel's Supreme Court on June 29 ordered the Chief Orthodox Rabbinate to grant kashrut certification to an Ashdod bakery owned by a Messianic Jew, a decision likely to spark further confrontation between the nation's highest legal arbiter and the ultra-Orthodox community.

In its verdict, the court ruled that the 51-year-old Yemenite baker's belief that Jesus was the Messiah did not make her baked goods unkosher.

Furthermore, the court found that the Chief Rabbinate Council had exceeded the authority granted them by the Kashrut Law when they demanded that the bakery meet special conditions such as promising not to engage in missionary activity and turning the keys to the bakery over to a kashrut supervisor, conditions demanded solely because the owner is a Messianic Jew.

The owner, Pnina Conforty, who became a believer while working in Ohio for an evangelical Christian family, enjoyed impressive business success after returning to Israel and opening the bakery in 2002. Conforty, however, quickly saw a sharp decline in sales after her faith was publicized in an article in a Messianic Jewish magazine.

She suffered from demonstrations outside her bakery and posters with her picture distributed throughout the city warning that she was a missionary.

"Finally I won. This is my baby," said Conforty after giving credit to the Ohio family that led her to Christ. "God arranged it that I arrived at a place where there were Christians who love Israel more than most Jews do. Their love and faith were so different from the religion I learned at home that was based on fear. I was never taught to serve God out of love until then."

Source: International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, icej.org read more

Sharing the Messiah with Your Jewish Neighbor

In my book, You Bring the Bagels; I'll Bring the Gospel: Sharing the Messiah with Your Jewish Neighbor, I used a standard communication model to organize all the material into four sections: You, The Gentile Christian; Your Message, the "Jewish" Gospel; Your Audience (Your Jewish neighbor) and The Feedback: Barriers to Belief.

In the first section, I made the point that to effectively communicate a message, the messenger must have credibility, and that one of the key aspects of credibility is "identification." In order to reach his own people, Paul explained, "With the Jews I put myself in the position of the Jews in order to win Jews" (I Cor 9:20).

He identified with his people, not in a false way, but in a sincere way. Clearly, when he was in Rome, he did (some) of what the Romans do, getting into philosophical dialogue. But with his own people, since he felt at home, he emphasized his Jewishness.

In order to share with your Jewish neighbor, you too need to identify with the person to have credibility. That will make you a more effective communicator. As one gentile member of my congregation here in Maryland said to me recently: "We need to make Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation a place where Jewish people feel comfortable." He got it right. Messianic congregations need to create "Jewish space" for visitors, space with which they can identify.

Christians, too, need to identify with Jewish people, especially since the One they follow is a Jew and came "only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Even Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, told the Roman believers "to provoke the Jewish people (the natural branches) to jealousy for their own Messiah (Romans 11:11).

This is the Gentile Great Commission and it's not being fulfilled very well. Christians need to identify with Jewish people to have more credibility, thus winning them to Messiah. But how can Christians do this?

One way is by participating in Jewish community activities. When there are movies on Jewish themes or talks by Israeli speakers, attend and let your Jewish neighbor know you are sincerely interested in them and the Jewish people.

You might even suggest that you and your Jewish neighbor go together and discuss what you heard. Discussion (even arguing) is a very Jewish thing to do. You will be identifying and also learning about matters near to the heart of God. However, from my experience, there are several problems non-Jews have with identification, which affects their credibility, and their witness.


The first is that, in their zeal to identify, some Christians misuse Jewish symbols. For example, instead of following the centuries old custom of lighting two Sabbath candles on Friday night, they light three, to affirm their Trinitarian theology, while expecting to identify by lighting these candles. Christians are free to create any sort of image to help their faith, but when they invite a Jewish person to dinner, and light three Shabbat candles, that is misusing a Jewish symbol and is offensive.

Over-identification

The second, over-identifying with Jewish people, i.e. being more "Jewish" than most Jews, can backfire. Well-meaning Christians may learn how to speak Hebrew fluently, but since most American Jews don't, it can make them feel inadequate, at least initially. Unless a person knows you, and trusts your sincerity, it might breed suspicion. Of course, discernment is called for.

A gentile believer in my congregation has been wearing a kippah (a yarmulke or skull cap) ever since I've known him. I asked him if he might be over-identifying, risking offending Jewish people. His response was that he wore a kippah for the same reasons Jews do: to show reverence to God. I've never asked him about it again. He was not over-identifying. He was sincerely identifying.

Refusing to Adjust


A third challenge in the identification issue is refusing to adjust. The congregant who said we should make our congregation a place where Jewish people would feel comfortable was surprised when I pointed out that at our oneg (lunch after morning services), someone brought delicious corned beef, but no rye bread.

Whoever brought the corned beef (very Jewish) didn't know that you just "couldn't" eat a corned beef sandwich on any bread other than rye bread—along with good mustard (not mayonnaise). He didn't know that, but because he wants to identify with my people, he was willing to adjust. He'll enjoy his next corned beef sandwich, like the Jewish people who come to services. This is unlike someone who used to be in my congregation and just refused to adjust.

Several years ago, when I was explaining identification to my congregation, I mentioned the Miracle Whip/Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise controversy. For the most part, Jews do not use Miracle Whip, rather preferring Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise. It's not that Miracle Whip isn't tasty, it's just not one of those foods that Jews eat, and I'm not sure why. One woman got so incensed, that she left the congregation, never to return. I guess she just liked her Miracle Whip so much she refused to adjust, although she undoubtedly had other issues, too.



So, in terms of reaching out to Jewish people, Christians need to think about credibility, specifically identification, not misusing Jewish symbols, not over-identifying, and being willing to adjust. Knowing the heart of Paul, an observant rabbi, toward his people, identifying with his people will enable you to be the most effective messenger you can, and truly "provoke the Jews to jealousy" for the faith you have. You just need to step into Jewish space, which, by the way, is a wonderful place to be.

Rabbi Baruch Rubin is president of Messianic Jewish Communications (www.messianicjewish.net) and Rabbi of Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation www.godwithus.org both of Clarksville, Maryland.

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Lessons From the Red Sea

One of the most fascinating demonstrations of God's unmatched power is the biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea. Today this vast body of water is home to all types of living creatures and coral reefs, and is a hot spot for divers and marine scientists. But do you know why some archaeologists call it the Reed Sea?

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Christians to Show Support for Israel at D.C. Summit

Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is headed back to the nation's capital for its fourth annual Washington Summit July 20-22. Some 31 leaders from across the country will address issues critical to the Holy Land and give updates on recent developments in Israel, the Middle East and Washington, D.C.

CUFI founder John Hagee and Dennis Prager will host a Night to Honor Israel service during the event, and attendees will meet with members of Congress to discuss their support for the embattled country.

With Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making constant threats to "wipe Israel off the map," organizers say Christians must unite together.

"There is no time to waste. The enemies of Israel are the enemies of America. They are the enemies of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These enemies have drawn the battle line. If a line has to be drawn, then draw that line around both Christians and Jews."

To register for the Washington Summit or to get information about the event, click here.

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Revealing Yeshua to the World

The first time Yeshua (Jesus) came to earth, He gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin. When He returns, He will come at the head of a mighty army, the conquering King who will fight against and destroy evil.

Our Lord fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies. He also fulfilled prophecies like this one, from the Babylonian Talmud. According to the story, a Rabbi met the Prophet Elijah, and asked him, "When will the Messiah come?"


"Go and ask him yourself," Elijah replied. "Where is he sitting?" the Rabbi asked.
"At the entrance [or the gates of the city]," came the reply. "And by what sign may I recognize him?" "He is sitting among the poor lepers."


Like most of the prophecies I list at the end of this article, this one pictures the Messiah as the suffering servant who is rejected and mistreated for the sake of His people.


There are so many other ways Yeshua fits this description. He could have been born in a palace. Instead, he came into the world in a barn, surrounded by smelly animals. He could have been surrounded by servants who were there to respond to every whim. Instead, He said, "Foxes have holes and the birds of air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head" (Luke 9:58).


He could have called down thousands of angels to fight for Him when He was arrested, but chose instead to humbly submit Himself to those who wanted to take His life (Matthew 26:50-54). Author Josh McDowell calculated the odds of Jesus fulfilling only eight of the Messianic prophecies as 1 out of 1017 (a one followed by 17 zeros).

To put this into perspective, it's like covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep, marking one of them and having a blind-folded person pick the marked one, at random, the very first time he tries. One mathematician figured out that the odds of one man fulfilling 60 of these prophecies would be one out of ten to the 895th power.


When I first came to saving faith in Yeshua (Jesus), I was amazed to see how His life reflected the history of Israel. More accurately, I was amazed to see how the history of Israel reflected the life of Messiah. I learned that looking at the history of Israel is like looking into a reflection of Yeshua Himself. I see His life mirrored in the seven Festivals of the Hebrew calendar-these are holy days to the Israelites.

Paul tells us in Colossians 2:16-17 that each of these special days were appointed by God to reveal the Messiah to the world as part of God's great plan for His creation: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.


It amazes me to think that every year, millions of Jews all over the world celebrate these holy days that point so clearly to Yeshua (Jesus), and yet they don't understand the real significance of what they're doing. For some, the light is coming on, as my brethren are exposed to the truths found in their own Torah and their hearts and lives are flooded with joy! For this, I am so grateful.


Here are prophecies that were fulfilled the first time He came to earth.

Yeshua:
· Was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
· Was born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
· Was called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1).
· Was rejected by His own (Isaiah 53:3).
· Is the stone the builders rejected, which then became the capstone (Psalm 118:22-23).
· Is the gentle King who entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
· Was betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).
· Was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13).
· Was accused by a false witness (Psalm 35:11).
· Healed the blind, deaf, lame and dumb (Isaiah 35:5-6).
· Bore our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4).
· Was spat upon, smitten and scourged (Isaiah 50:6; 53:5).
· Was hated without a cause (Psalm 35:19).
· Was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5; Zecharaiah 12:10; Psalm 22:16).
· Suffered for the sins of many (Isaiah 53:10-12).
· Died among criminals (Isaiah 53:12).
· Was thirsty during His execution (Psalm 69:21).
· Had His garments divided among those who cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18).
· Cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1)
· Was buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9).
· Was resurrected from the dead (Psalm 16:11-10; 49:15).

 

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Waking Up to Iran


In recent weeks, the world seems to have finally awakened to the true nature of Iran's Islamic regime. First, Iran's leaders appear to have stolen a presidential election on behalf of their preferred candidate, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Then they brutally cracked down on those who protested the theft.

Rather than admit that the protests are an expression of Iranian dissent, these leaders have made the absurd claim that foreign agitators, primarily British, are responsible.



Finally, a young woman named Neda Agha-Soltan was shot and killed while observing the protests last week. As beautiful Neda died—her terrible final moments captured on video—the world's illusions about Iran seemed to die with her.



It is good that the world finally recognizes the true nature of Iran's regime. But it is simply inexplicable—and inexcusable—that it took so long for the world to wake up. While Neda's death is indeed tragic, she is hardly the Islamic Republic's first victim.

The hands of Iran mullah's drip with blood. The fact that much of this blood is Jewish and American should not make it any less meaningful, or any less shocking.

As we all know, Iran funds, trains and arms the two terrorist groups most committed to Israel's destruction, Hezbollah and Hamas. Iranian support enabled Hezbollah to attack Israel in July 2006 and force over 350,000 Israelis to flee their homes as Iranian-supplied missiles rained down on Israel's northern cities (and killed over 40 Israelis).

The Iranians have since rearmed Hezbollah with missiles that can reach almost all of Israel's major population centers. Iran has also been Hamas' main external source of support and has enabled and encouraged Hamas attacks on Israel. Iran is now making every effort to supply Hamas with long range missiles that can reach Tel Aviv.



Of course, Iran has hardly limited its violence to citizens of the Jewish state.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah is widely believed to have been responsible for the 1983 bombing of our marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 299 American soldiers. On May 30, 2003, Judge Royce Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, found Iran legally responsible for providing Hezbollah with financial and logistical support that helped them carry out this attack.

Likewise, Iran's Hezbollah proxies have been linked to the 1996 attacks on the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. soldiers. More recently, our government has linked Iran to the Iraqi insurgents who have killed U.S. troops in Iraq.



In July 1994, the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was bombed, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. Most of the victims were Argentinean Jews. On October 25, 2006, Argentine prosecutors formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and Hezbollah of carrying it out. It is for these reasons and many others that the U.S. State Department has repeatedly labeled Iran the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.



Those who have suffered most under Iran's regime, of course, are the Iranian people themselves. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's, thousands of Iranian boys and teenagers lost their lives after they were forced to run into Iraqi minefields and machine gun fire in repeated "human waves" until a path was cleared for tanks to advance.

Thousands of Iranians have been arrested, beaten and even executed for their political views. Members of Iran's Jewish community have been falsely accused of spying for Israel, Iran's Bahai community faces terrible persecution, and Iranian teenagers have been hung for being homosexuals.



Despite this long record of terror and bloodshed, much of the world and even our own administration continue to view Iran as a legitimate regime, one that can be reasoned with. For some reason, it took an Iranian clamp down on its own people to penetrate the world's complacency about Iran in a way that this prior record could not. Better late than never.



But this reality raises a concern. Will the world's recognition of the Islamic regime's true nature be as short lived as it has been belated? When the shock of Neda's death fades, will the world remember her and the thousands of other victims of this regime whose violent deaths were never caught on tape?

When Ahmadinejad claims that he wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes, will the world remember his lies about this election and about the protests that followed? We hope the world will remember. But we must do everything in our power to remind all who will listen of these facts lest they forget.

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Did Obama Edit History?

Even four weeks later, President Barak Obama's Cairo speech is still reverberating in Washington, D.C. To his credit, the president used the speech to shatter an ugly myth when he confronted Holocaust denial.

But unfortunately, President Obama's speech actually reinforced other dangerous myths about Israel's history and the true obstacles to peace in the Middle East.

Last Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stepped up to set the record straight. And last week, two Democratic senators—Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey—added their voices to the chorus of correction. Taking on a popular president from your own party is never easy. It is therefore of great significance that these two Democrats felt the need to clarify that when it comes to the specifics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the president does not speak for the party. read more

Meeting God at the Winepress

In biblical times, a winepress represented joy, singing and rejoicing. Farmers would harvest their grapes, place them in a pit hewed from a rock called a winepress, and crush the fruit to get the juice. They would use the grape juice to make wine and serve it at weddings, dinner and other gatherings. But according to Isaiah, the winepress is also symbolic of God’s wrath. To learn more about the ancient winepress, click below to watch the video. read more

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