Israel Shines as 2019 Gets Underway

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Christmas marks the birth of the Light of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ! As Christmas disappears in our rear view mirror, let’s turn our gaze to another bright light.

Rejoice! Arise and shine, Israel, for the glory of the glory of the Lord is rising and the light shines through you! The Light of the World is shining through Israel right now! Here are some examples from 2018:

  • Tourism is booming! Over 4 million tourists visited Israel in 2018. Enormous year-after-year increases have occurred since 2006 when only 1.8 million visited. Last year, over a million of those tourists were Americans, squashing rumors that it is dangerous to go there! (It is not!)
  • Israel’s population grew 2% in 2018 to almost 9 million. (74% Jewish, 20% Arab) Not only are Jews returning to their homeland from all corners of the world, but they are also living longer. Life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the world (84 for women, 80 for men).
  • Israel’s light continues to shine all around the world. Israeli technology was used to rescue young soccer players from a cave in Thailand, and to deal with the drone problem at Gatwick Airport (in the UK) during the busy Christmas season. “Operation Good Neighbor” provided free medical care to Syrians fleeing civil war atrocities. Innovations in conservation, medicine, agriculture and technology were shared with the world, making life a little better for people everywhere.
  • Positive attitudes toward Jesus by some Israeli media. Interestingly, a stunning number of articles and other media sources in Israel are beginning to reflect very favorably on Jesus and His life. In fact, an entire documentary entitled, “Christianity in Israel,” was released, calling for greater appreciation of the Christian community in Israel. Significant shifts in attitude toward Jesus seem to indicate the centuries-old rift between Christians and Jews has taken a positive turn!
  • A growing number of Messianic believers. Very conservatively, there are now at least 30,000 Messianic believers in Israel. (There were less than 30 in 1948 when Israel was reborn.) The true number is likely much greater than that, as many are young people, unable to identify publicly for fear of being disassociated by their families. Additionally, evangelistic videos produced by One for Israel have been viewed 90 million times! 25 million of those views are in Hebrew versions…almost 3X the population of Israel, the only nation where Hebrew is spoken regularly.

Indeed, the Light of the World is shining upon His chosen land and His chosen people! The Light has come and the glory of the Lord is rising. One day, when the partial hardening is lifted from the Jewish people, all Israel will see the Light and will be saved! (Romans 11:25-26)

That hardening seems to be lifting (if only slightly), which begs the question: How soon will the fullness of the Gentiles come? (Read Romans 11!) Yet again, we see evidence that time is short!

Some day the very last Gentile to acknowledge Jesus as Lord will bow the knee to do so. At that moment, the time of the Gentiles will end as Jesus comes to take us to live with Him forever. That day is coming soon. If you have not invited Jesus to be the Light in you world, it is time to do so. We are all sinners, we cannot save ourselves, yet Jesus (through His death, burial and resurrection) paid a debt for our sins that we could not pay. He wants to be your Lord and Savior…the Light of your life. All you have to do is ask!

Click here to learn how to know Jesus personally and spend eternity with Him. Blessings, dear friend!

PS: Jews and Gentiles are saved the exact same way…by putting their faith in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus)!

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

~Isaiah 60:1

Jesus the Jew, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Great I AM

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As we say goodbye to November and head into December, our thoughts turn toward the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah (Festival of Lights), which starts Sunday night at sundown, and the Christian celebration of Christmas.

Let’s start with Jesus, as He is truly the center of all celebration.  But, beware Christians: Jesus doesn’t belong solely to us.  He is not a “Christian character,” but is the character who joins Jews and Gentiles together.  In fact, Jesus was Jewish! 

Our Christmas story bears that out.  For example: Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea and wise men from the East asked King Herod, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”  (Matthew 2:2)  We also know Jesus was circumcised as all Jewish boys were, His boyhood home was Nazareth, His family journeyed to Jerusalem for the feasts, and He observed Jewish traditions.

In fact, even Jewish philosopher-theologian-historian of religion, Rabbi Leo Buck, rejected Christianity, but had this to say about Jesus:

Most portrayers of the life of Jesus neglect to point out that Jesus is in every characteristic a genuinely Jewish character, that a man like him could have grown only in the soil of Judaism, only there and nowhere else. Jesus is a genuine Jewish personality, all his struggles and works, his bearing and feeling, his speech and silence, bear the stamp of a Jewish style, the mark of Jewish idealism, of the best that was and is in Judaism, but which then existed only in Judaism. He was a Jew among Jews; from no other people could a man like him have come forth, and in no other people could a man like him work; in no other people could he have found the apostles who believed in him.  (Jews for Jesus)

So, no doubt, Jesus was Jewish.  But was He Messiah?  Some believe Jesus was crucified because the Jews rejected Him as Messiah. But is that true?

Let’s see what Jesus said about Himself.  Here is a conversation, recorded in Matthew 16:13-17 (NLT):

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,”they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.”

Not only did Jesus accept the title “Messiah, the Son of the living God” He also attributed that revelation to His Father in heaven.  Later, when He encountered a Samaritan woman at Sychar, He also declared Himself to be the Messiah (John 4:25-26).  Most telling, though, is the genealogy of Jesus, detailed in Matthew 1, where verse 16 identifies Jesus as the Messiah. 

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not crucified because He claimed to be Messiah.  That was not a problem for the Jewish people, as they were actually seeking a messiah.  He was crucified because He dared to utter a very simple phrase: “I AM.”  In a conversation with Jewish followers, Abraham was rightly venerated as the father of their faith.  What ensued was this:

“Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?”… Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
~John 8:53, 56-58

“I AM”…Jesus proclaimed His deity, making Himself equal with God.  Throughout Jewish history they were warned to have no other gods before the God of the universe.  The idea of a triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is blasphemous to Jewish ears, thus Jesus’ “I AM” proclamation was blasphemous.  So disturbed were they, that verse 59 tells us they picked up stones to throw at Him.

Claiming to be God set everything in motion for the crucifixion of the Great I AM.

Interestingly, in the last days, another will come on the scene, claiming to be messiah.  He will woo the Jewish people who are anxiously seeking their messiah, and they will embrace him.  He will allow the Jews to rebuild their temple on Temple Mount and will bring about a false peace.  But in the midst of it all, that one will be found to be the Antichrist when he also declares deity and demands to be worshiped in the Temple.  The Jewish people did not accept Jesus as equal to God, and will not accept any other as equal to God until their eyes are open and they acknowledge Jesus the Messiah, who comes in the Name of (and equal to) the Lord!  Then, they will acknowledge Jesus as One with God.

That is the One whose birth we celebrate each Christmas season!  Rejoice!  For the Great I AM is Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6)

PS: Stay tuned because Hanukkah starts tomorrow, and we’ll spend some time examining the Jewish festival of lights!

Time to Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles!

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Shalom friends!

Tomorrow night at sundown marks the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles, the seventh (and final) annual feast of Israel.  What an incredible celebration it is!  (Be sure to read to the end for a special invitation to celebrate!)

Yesterday, we reviewed the fall feasts, beginning with the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).  Now we come to the culmination of the feasts!  Jesus will fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles, just as He has already fulfilled the spring feasts (Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost).  In fact, fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles will also fulfill the Davidic Covenant, and we know that time period as the Millennial Kingdom!

It is this time period that the prophet Zechariah writes about in the passage above.  Notice that ALL nations are invited to the Feast of Tabernacles to worship the King of Kings!  This is the only Jewish feast that isn’t totally, 100% Jewish.  Why?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
~Galatians 3:28

Related imageOne in Christ Jesus!  No Jews, no Greeks (no Gentiles)…just one in Him!  No need for “Jewish feasts” any longer because Jewish feasts are simply shadows of what is to come.  Jesus is the substance!  (See Colossians 2:17.  The context is a bit different here, but the principle is the same: God uses certain things to teach about Himself.  Those things, however, are not the “real deal,” they simply point to the “real deal” – Jesus!)

Thus, we are all invited to the Feast of Tabernacles, where the greatest worship the world has ever seen will take place!  It comes after the Feast of Trumpets (to be fulfilled when a trumpet sounds and Jesus’ foot touches down on the Mount of Olives) and Yom Kippur (to be fulfilled when the eyes of our precious Jewish friends are opened, they repent and finally see their Messiah).

For those who follow this blog, we just finished a study called Why Israel Matters.  In it, one of the foundational principles is that all nations will be blessed through Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:3), and we know that blessing to be salvation.  Put the puzzle pieces together and you come to this:

  • God set apart a special group of people (Abraham and his descendants) for a very unique purpose: to be vehicles of world redemption.
  • They became that, but missed the day of His visitation (Luke 19:41-44).  ie – they did not recognize Him as the Messiah.
  • That opened the door for Gentiles to be grafted into the olive tree.  (The olive tree represents spiritual Israel.  Thus, Gentiles were offered a means of salvation through the Jewish Messiah!)
  • God implemented the 7 major feasts as a calendar of His plan for His people (the Jews), which includes drawing them back to Himself…in salvation.  Four of the seven are already fulfilled, the final 3 will happen in very quick succession!
  • Once the trumpet sounds and Jesus physically appears, the Jews will repent and turn to Him, THEN Jesus says He will “tabernacle” among His chosen ones…both Jews and Gentiles, and there will no longer be a distinction!

Wow!  Incredible, isn’t it!?!  I can hardly wait for that day!

But…we can practice while still on earth!  It is a faint glimpse, but a glimpse nonetheless, when the Feast of Tabernacles kicks off in Israel tomorrow evening.

Did you know the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosts a huge Feast of Tabernacles celebration each year, and that people come from all over the world to worship the King of Kings right there in the Holy City!?!  Yes, its a preview!

Most of us cannot physically go to Jerusalem to participate, but thanks to modern technology, the ICEJ sends the Feast of Tabernacles celebration right to our computer screens!  They will live stream (and record) events during the Feast of Tabernacles, and they invite us all to join!  You will find a calendar of events here, so join in by clicking the “Media/Live Stream” button on the top right!

Take advantage!  Join the celebration, and rejoice with believers around the world in worship of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Enjoy!

The Jews’ Blindness…for Our Salvation

Hi friends!  If you spent the past few weeks studying with us, you recall our emphasis on Romans 11, where we are told it is because of the Jews’ blindness that we (Gentiles) are offered salvation.

Here is confirmation…check out Amir Tsarfati’s latest “Bible Bite:”

 

Amen?  Amen!!!