August 2017 Outreach Israel News


Update

August 2017

Typically each year, the 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar arrives in late July or August, with an annual reminder that the enemies of Israel continue to harass and spew hatred toward the Jewish people. This year is no different, as deadly disputes with Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem remind Believers around the world to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). According to Rabbinic tradition, on this day shortly after deliverance from bondage in Egypt, the ten spies who returned from surveying Canaan conveyed a bad report because they feared the inhabitants. This lack of faith had serious immediate consequences that included the death of every man over twenty years of age (other than Joshua and Caleb), during the forty-year delay wandering in the desert, before entrance to the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.’ So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’ Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!’” (Numbers 13:31-14:2).

Still, the long term ramifications of troubles on this day, including most significantly the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E. and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E., have been recorded. Hence, the Jewish people have observed a day of fasting on Tish B’Av throughout the centuries, and thankfully, the recent turmoil is subsiding as of this writing.

The Ninth of Av essentially begins the countdown to the month of Elul that with the first ten days of Tishri constitutes the forty-day “Season of Teshuvah” (Return or Repentance) prior to Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Interestingly this year, the 29th of Av occurs on August 21, and in the continental United States, there will be a total solar eclipse that traverses the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Some prophecy teachers are hyping people with some wild end-time prognostications about what this means from a Biblical perspective. Do not fear! This scientifically predictable event is simply a celestial occurrence that astronomers can accurately calculate from the consistency of God’s created order, repeating patterns year after year and even century after century: Who commands the sun not to shine, and sets a seal upon the stars” (Job 9:7).

Instead, Believers should marvel at the majesty of the Creator God, and perhaps use this unique solar eclipse as an opportunity to share the good news with those stirred up by the hyperbolic conjectures!

In addition, we are praising the Lord for all of the Internet traffic being generated on the Messianic Apologetics website and mobile app! The increase in website hits this past month has required www.messianicapologetics.net to recently be upgraded to handle the higher volume. As we have experienced in the past, what initially seems to be an obstacle, is really turning into an opportunity! One of our long term goals has been to see that there be an associated video or audio podcast associated with every written post on Messianic Apologetics. We are using our recent server transfer as a prompt from the Lord to see that this comes about. Please continue to pray that the upgrades will enhance the outreach of our ministry efforts!

Finally, Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics want to be sure that we are a voice of reason and stability, providing fair resolution and consensus, as pressures continue to mount against people of faith from the world, as anti-Semitism and growing anti-Israel sentiments are on the rise. We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years. We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us. We especially need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net.

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Blessings,

Mark Huey


A Spiritual Scavenger Hunt

by J.K. McKee
editor@messianicapologetics.net

 

Every single one of us, as a redeemed man or woman of faith, has been on some kind of life journey that has led us to the salvation of Yeshua the Messiah, and hopefully into a place of contributing to the purposes of the Kingdom of God. One of the questions that I frequently ask myself, as a person who has been involved in the Messianic movement since 1995, very much is: How did I get here? A follow up question to this is: What does God actually want me to do here?

I truly came to dynamic saving faith on August 8, 1995. While this concerned dealing with some demonic issues from my family’s past, as well as some issues involving the death of my father in 1992[1]—within several months of repenting of my sins and being born again I was in the Messianic movement. My mother Margaret, and her new husband Mark Huey, had gone on a Zola Levitt tour to Israel in December of 1994, where they had the impression that when returning to the United States, they needed to be focusing on the Biblical feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23). And, by the Fall high holidays of 1995, we were attending a Messianic Jewish congregation, and getting acclimated to things like the weekly Shabbat, a kosher-style of diet, and various mainline Jewish traditions and customs.

One of the things that was very appealing for Mark and Margaret Huey, entering into the Messianic movement, was the fact that my mother was an Arminian, and my new stepfather was a Calvinist. While we all came from a broadly evangelical Protestant background, this new blended family knew that it was going to have to chart a new spiritual course. Throughout the second half of 1995 and into 1996, we tried attending Shabbat services on Saturday, while also going to Sunday Church. By the Spring of 1996, we had fully crossed over to the Messianic Jewish congregation. Not only was our faith in the Messiah being enriched and enlivened at new levels—with there being significant “hands on” spiritual activities to be considering—the Jewish community is one which indeed likes to talk about significant issues. Fellowship times either before or after the service, or getting to know new friends at their homes, was a substantial blessing. We were a family that liked to talk about the Bible, things of the Lord, and current events.

Our full transition into the Messianic movement was also enjoined in the Spring of 1996 by our family encountering a number of—at the time—compelling voices, “quasi-Messianic” we would say now, who were making significant predictions about the end-times, the return of Yeshua, and the Middle East peace process. In the Summer of 1996, my parents made a point to attend both the MJAA Messiah conference in Grantham, PA and the UMJC conference in Sturbridge, MA, mainly with the purpose of getting acclimated to this movement we were getting involved with. But when they returned home to Dallas, they got plugged in more and more to the prophecy teachings and predictions. Certainly for a new family, with three who had lost their father several years earlier, the thought that Yeshua was soon going to return, was something that grabbed our attention. In fact, it grabbed our attention for a number of years!

At the beginning of 1997, our family moved out of Dallas to a small farm   north of the city. Over the course of 1997, while we continued to maintain our connections to the local Messianic Jewish congregation, my stepfather helped host a series of prophecy conferences. In March of 1997, I launched my first website, where I posted a number of opinion articles on both end-time prophecy and Messianic themes. On August 15, 1997, I started the website Tribulation News Network or TNN Online. And, in forecasting the future with the close of the Millennium and Y2k impending, my stepfather actually got involved with a shortwave radio operation based out of Central Honduras. In the Spring of 1998, and with some end-time concerns being present, my family sold its major assets and sent two containers with all of our possessions to the island of Roatán in the Bay Islands of Honduras.

It was my stepfather’s plan in 1998 to go back and forth between Roatán and the mainland, doing work for the shortwave radio venture and some real estate consulting in the Bay Islands. We would then see what the global-prophetic situation in the world would be. None of this came to pass. For eight months (April-December) we rented a number of picturesque homes on Roatán, with our two containers still on the dock waiting to be opened. Due to the intervention of Hurricane Mitch in October-November 1998, one of the deadliest storms on record, we knew it was time to return to the United States. An opportunity opened for my stepfather to do some consulting work for a ministry in Oklahoma. We are thankful that we did not lose anything due to Hurricane Mitch!

I am most especially thankful that even though my high school career was not what others would have wanted it to be, that I did finish my senior year through a homeschooling correspondence program, and that in the Fall of 1999 I was able to enroll at the University of Oklahoma. As we returned to the United States in 1999, any end-time preoccupation, fear, or paranoia did get removed from us, and we instead returned to witnessing what God was doing through an increasingly expanding and diversifying Messianic movement. As I was finishing up the first year of my college studies in 2000, my parents accepted an offer to consult with another ministry out of Central Florida. This venture ended in 2002, but by this time we had become a part of an independent Messianic assembly in the Greater Orlando area.

Throughout my college studies at the University of Oklahoma, my TNN Online website, Theology News Network, was something which definitely kept my attention, and it also kept me away from associating with the wrong crowd. I was working on my bachelor’s degree in political science, and as a result took classes not only in political philosophy and theory, but also in histories ancient and modern relevant to Biblical Studies, and was able to take some modern Hebrew and classical Greek. Being on my own for these years, with my website as a hobby, did get me to focus on what being part of the Messianic movement meant to me. I was not really a part of a Messianic congregation or fellowship, and so I instead would spend Shabbat often in Bible study or in writing for my website. I did try to be a part of various on campus ministry groups, which had some success for a season, but eventually did not work out too well by the time I graduated. While there were sincere evangelical Christian people at OU, it was obvious that the Messianic movement, its focus on Israel, and reconnecting with the Tanach or Old Testament, were just too foreign. And, I do have to admit that I was not always too kind or graceful in response to criticism I would receive. It was good that this happened while I was in college, and not when I entered into full time ministry.

In the Fall of 2002, my parents launched Outreach Israel Ministries, which at the time had a very broad vision of incorporating many different possible ventures. When I graduated from college in 2003, I returned to Central Florida, TNN Online became a division of OIM, and our ministry began releasing its first series of educational resources. For the most part, these books, bearing titles like Hebraic Roots: An Introductory Study and Introduction to Things Messianic, were written with the intention of helping aid many non-Jewish Believers, like our family, in getting acclimated to the Messianic movement.

To be sure, as we got started in the first full two years of ministry, in 2003-2005, we had a lot to learn. Mark Huey and I did some speaking trips throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom. In 2005, I started attending the Orlando campus of Asbury Theological Seminary, where I would work on my M.A. in Biblical Studies. As a result of our major travels in 2004, where we encountered all sorts of people identifying with the label “Messianic”—Jewish Believers, non-Jewish Believers, people part of Messianic Judaism, people part of break-off sects and new sects bearing provocative labels[2]we realized that we had a huge amount of work ahead of us, and that even some of our own attitudes and viewpoints needed to change. As a result of the first few semesters of attending Asbury Seminary, where I was able to reconnect with much of my Wesleyan upbringing, I was having, for the first time, to deal with the Holy Scriptures and the world of the Bible in a much more complex and detailed way. In learning new skills involving Biblical exegesis, Hebrew and Greek, and accessing technical commentaries and resources—I found myself being much better equipped to defend many of my convictions as a part of the Messianic movement. I also realized in 2005-2006, that a number of the things that our family picked up in our early days entering into the Messianic movement, were in serious need of reevaluation, even dismissal, being rather simple and downright unsupportable.

My seminary experience from 2005-2008 is something which I have not commented about too frequently among Messianic people, precisely because I know that on the whole many Messianic people are skeptical, if not hostile, to religious studies education. I did not attend seminary to “convert” people to my Messianic beliefs. I attended seminary to acquire skills, and be able to join into a larger conversation of Biblical Studies. And this is something that I was able to do. When I graduated in Spring of 2009, I was blessed to receive the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek. But immediately following seminary, our ministry would have to start absorbing all of the new knowledge and resources that I had access to, and things certainly started to change.

One of the biggest things that shifted for us in 2009 was seeing that our ministry books be transferred out of spiral combs and into printed paperback books. It was at this time that I was able to totally dedicate all of my time to ministry work, and as titles were prepared for paperback release, updates reflecting my seminary training and degree would be steadily reflected. Yet as we all know, God has a unique way of being able to “jump start” things…

As the 2000s came to a close, and in particular as my youngest sister Maggie started finishing high school, our family knew that our time in Central Florida would be concluding. In the Summer of 2009, my mother, Maggie and I went on a college scouting trip out to the University of Oklahoma. I had not been back since my graduation. When the three of us walked into the Armory at OU, where the Naval ROTC unit was based, we all received the distinct impression that Maggie was going to OU. Of course, this did not affect me directly; I would be returning to Central Florida and be continuing my work of editing our books for paperback release, and working on new Bible studies. In the late Spring of 2010 we again went on a roadtrip out to OU, as Maggie had been accepted and was getting ready to start college in the Fall. My work was continuing.

Our family had originally believed that were we to move out of the Orlando area, that we would move northward to Jacksonville, where we have extended family. In late August 2010, my mother and I went to Jacksonville to help move my grandmother from her assisted living unit into a new memory care unit. While we were there, my stepfather Mark was on a trip visiting friends and other family members. I remember distinctly walking out of the Allegro in Orange Park, and telling my mother that I would seriously consider moving back to Dallas rather than move to Jacksonville. This was quite a change, because neither one of us ever wanted to live in Dallas again. Yet, with my sister Maggie now at the University of Oklahoma, and knowing that there was a vibrant and significant Messianic community in the DFW Metroplex, we definitely started feeling the pull West.

We announced our intention to relocate to North Texas in the Fall of 2010, but we had no idea that it was going to take us over two years to do it. For my part, I knew that I had to gear up, seeing that all of our books were prepared for paperback release—and that if the Lord wanted us to go through any major theological changes, namely in the form of refining and expanding our teachings on various issues, now would be the time to do it. While 2011-2012 were hardly easy years for me, 2011 was a significant year for some theological transitions. 2012 was spent formatting all of our ministry books for both paperback and eBook release. At the end of 2012, my parent’s house in Kissimmee, FL finally sold, and by December we were all living in North Dallas once again—in the same exact zip code where we had originally moved in 1994, no less!

The Spring of 2013 was widely spent getting reacclimated to the DFW area, after being gone for fourteen years. What was most important to us was getting reconnected with the Messianic friends we knew from our early days in Messianic Judaism, back in 1995-1998. By the late Summer of 2013, we quickly got plugged into Eitz Chaim Messianic Jewish Congregation, as we had been good friends with the main leaders, David and Elizabeth Schiller, in the late 1990s. Because EC is an assembly which encourages participation from members, by the Winter of 2014 we had all taken the New Members class, our family began helping out with the different festivals (in particular the congregational Passover seder), and by the Fall of 2014 Mark Huey had been asked to become a shammash (deacon), by the Fall of 2015 being further elevated as an elder. I had given several teachings on Shabbat, and had renewed my own friendship with David that I had back in 1996-1997 when I was in my teens.

2014-2015 were important years not just in terms of transitioning to a new life back in North Texas, to take on new theological and spiritual challenges, and to consolidate ourselves—they were also very important as we began to discern what our own long term purpose would become as a family ministry. While we all agree that moving back to Dallas was the best decision we ever made, because we are human, no place on Earth is entirely perfect. Things in the United States shifted immeasurably with the legalization of homosexual marriage in the Summer of 2015. When this happened, I actually felt in a similar manner to how I did in 1996-1997, when we were encapsulated with end-time prophecy. If anything, American society crossed a Romans ch. 1 “red line,” and we were all shown a “road sign” that End Game is approaching. I myself have had the distinct supernatural impression that with as many things that I have researched and written on, that I would have to be targeted with my life, and would not be able to have all of the same opportunities that those who preceded me had. In June of 2015, the tnnonline.net domain was actually stolen from me during the few hours that the domain was needing to be re-registered, and so I made the necessary upgrade from TNN Online to Messianic Apologetics. This was a vital change for the future!

Mark and Margaret Huey like to frequently describe the journey our family has been on as a “spiritual scavenger hunt.” We went from one place and experience…to another place and experience…and so on… The journey of human life is always something that is ongoing. We learn new things every day through our experiences and interactions, with both the Lord and other human beings, as to how to be more effective in His service. But as far as the bulk of experiences that our family has had—in moving from place to place, in being called into Messianic education, and in interacting with broad and diverse sectors of this emerging faith community—on the whole our “spiritual scavenger hunt” is over. Much of what we are involved with today concerns our effectiveness as Messianic people, fine-tuning our strengths and abilities, and with new stages of development which are likely to equally excite and frighten us all.

Our family was first called into Messianic ministry to help others from evangelical backgrounds, adequately transition into a Messianic lifestyle—extending grace and mercy to others who were not similarly called (at present), and making sure that this was a genuine work of the Holy Spirit in their lives (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). Our ministry experiences to the present day included things that we could both anticipate and not anticipate. Like everyone, we have had our good days and our bad days, we have had to firmly stand up for the truth of God’s Word, and we have had to admit where we have made mistakes and correct them.

Salvation history is on a decisive trajectory: “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26ff). This is something that involves not only a massive salvation of Jewish people, but will culminate in the return of Israel’s Messiah—and with it the completion of not only many prophecies regarding the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom, but will involve Yeshua Himself reigning over this planet. Today in the Messianic community, we see Jewish people coming in substantial numbers to Messiah faith. We also see non-Jewish Believers embracing their Hebraic and Jewish Roots in substantial numbers. Together, we should not only be united as “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15, NRSV), purged of old hostilities and mistrust of the other—but we should be employing the virtues and strengths of our shared Judeo-Protestant heritage for what is to be anticipated in the future.

If there is anything that I have learned on the spiritual scavenger hunt, it is that suspicion, division, and rivalry begin when we fail to communicate with one another, and when we do not even bother to consider the vantage point or perspective of someone else. A figure like Paul knew better than this, when going out to reach the diverse groups of people in the First Century Mediterranean (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). My many writings and studies to date bear significant attention to detail. For some, this is just information overkill. For others, it is a documented record of wanting to not only hear multiple witnesses in a case (Deuteronomy 19:15), it demonstrates a deep seated commitment on my part to be fair, and even what it means to “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, NRSV).

Your journey into the Messianic movement is not the same as my family’s journey. Your journey may have been less, or even more, difficult. Like all people in this unique and special move of the Holy Spirit, there are things we have had to give up. I personally take a great deal of comfort from Yeshua’s word, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My name’s sake, will receive a hundred times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29, TLV). Yet, each one of us needs to maintain a sense of purpose, a steadfast will, and a consistent resolution to accomplish the Messianic mission—and to arrive at the culmination of history. May we stay true to the call!


NOTES

[1] Some of my experience in coming to salvation is covered in my articles “The Assurance of Our Salvation” and “Why Hell Must Be Eternal.”

[2] These provocative labels included, but were not limited to, the Two-House and One Law/One Torah sub-movements.

July 2017 Outreach Israel News

 


Update

July 2017

During the first week of July, Margaret, John, and I traveled to Grantham, Pennsylvania to attend and work at the Messiah 2017 annual conference. In our capacity representing Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics, this was our second consecutive year to exhibit our books and publications. This year, John was a featured conference speaker, and delivered a message entitled, “Salvation on the Line: Encountering Yeshua’s Divinity, Messiahship, and Bible Difficulties.” It was a great blessing for us to directly interact with many of today’s Messianic Jewish leaders and teachers, as our family and ministry emerge into a new venue. We definitely feel the pull of the trajectory of history that Paul speaks of in Romans 11, as we witness the Messianic Jewish revival and anticipate the completion of all Israel being saved:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM [Isaiah 59:20-21], WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS [Isaiah 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34]’” (Romans 11:25-27).

Thankfully years ago, in what our family has labeled our “spiritual scavenger hunt,” the Holy Spirit revealed this supernatural mystery to us through passages in the Scriptures, which include: Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 43; and Acts 3:19-21. As a result, we have dedicated our lives to reach, teach, encourage, and disciple other seekers of the Most High with our written and spoken teachings. This past year, in particular, I have been used to put together a mutually beneficial relationship between the MJAA’s Joseph Project and the Baylor, Scott, White, Health group of Dallas, to ship medical equipment and supplies to Israel. Among the many things which I am involved with, the MJAA has asked me to share with others the financial needs of the Joseph Project and some of its other ministries, notably including the Alliance for Israel Advocacy. With these new projects, I have been witnessing the hand of the Almighty using the MJAA to lead the greater Messianic Jewish community in its outreach to Israeli Jews with the good news of Yeshua!

While it is a great blessing to witness my responsibilities take on new dimensions, as I am able to network and interact with people across the Messianic Jewish and Christian spectrums—the reality that many people within the Messianic community are significantly under-educated and under-informed in critical matters of spirituality, continues to hit us very hard. During the week of the Messiah Conference, the bulk of our time was spent in the marketplace, exhibiting our books and answering various questions that people had. There were people we encountered who had been following us for years, who we had never met. There were people we encountered who had never heard of our ministry before, and were eager to take a look at our resources. There were people we encountered who were not too interested in our perspectives, and were instead wanting to teach us about the “new truths” that God had “shown them.” And, there were those who picked up a business card or catalog, who we will likely hear from in the near future.

Most of our time interacting with people in the Messianic movement is either conducted online, via direct inquiries made to our ministry, or in some of our direct interactions with people at our local congregation. In a wider venue like the Messiah Conference—the largest and oldest Messianic conference in the world—some of us were shocked to see how under-developed various Messianic people were on basic matters of theology. Our table featured over thirty titles, ranging from studies on the Torah, the Biblical feasts, various commentaries, and our new series covering the nature of Yeshua. Yet, we had various people—who had been in the Messianic movement for years, and who were even teachers at their local congregations—ask us questions about Bible versions, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, theological resources, Bible software, and other tools which can help them in their various capacities. For the most part, these people have been receiving teachings in their assemblies which have focused more on spiritual intimacy and reflection than on studying the Scriptures. While we all need to have a vibrant and dynamic heart relationship with the Holy One of Israel, the need for us to have transformed minds in this hour cannot be overstated!

Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics are entering into a new season of ministry, where we are going to do our best to humanly employ the resources and contacts that God has given us. We want to be sure that we are a voice of reason and stability, providing fair resolution and consensus, as pressures continue to mount against people of faith from the world, and anti-Semitism and growing anti-Israel sentiments are on the rise. As many of you know, our ministry features new teachings and posts every day—especially with the launch of our free app for iPhone and Android this past Spring. The many new projects we have embarked upon, include the Salvation on the Line series, and we will also be steadily releasing a number of encyclopedic resources combining our Holiday Helper books into a single volume, and some other multi-volume works consolidated (announcements forthcoming). We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years. We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us, and especially need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net.

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Blessings,
Mark Huey


Matthew 11:13

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION

Pastor: Matthew 11:13: The Law of Moses was only in effect until John the Baptist.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”

It is very easy to envision Christian layreaders, or even various pastors, quote the Messiah’s word of Matthew 11:13, in an effort to dismiss the continued relevancy of the Torah in the post-resurrection era. Yeshua first lauds John the Immerser, by stating, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” (Matthew 11:11a). Describing him as “born of woman” is likely taken from various Tanach sentiments (Job 14:1; 15:14), representative of the normal human order. John the Immerser is pristine among mortals. However, it is also noted, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11b). It is not difficult to recognize how there is a contrast between John the Immerser and Yeshua the Messiah.

John the Immerser/Baptist is a transitionary figure from what has come in the past, and what Yeshua the Messiah will inaugurate via His ministry activities—something he will not be around to experience (cf. Matthew 14:10ff). Yeshua observed, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The statement about the Kingdom of Heaven either experiencing violence, or being entered into violently, is representative of how when God’s Kingdom begins to manifest itself on the platform of history—controversy and violence will erupt.[1]

The arrival of John the Immerser onto the scene in the First Century C.E., immediately before the ministry of Yeshua of Nazareth, was indeed a sign that a significant shift was going to take place. John the Immerser represented the culmination, but also the closing, of a previous chapter in God’s plan of salvation history. Take important note of what Matthew 11:13 says: pantes gar hoi prophētai kai ho nomos heōs Iōannou eprophēteusan, “for~all the prophets and the law until John prophesied” (Brown and Comfort).[2] Textually, the issue from Matthew 11:13 involves how one approaches prophēteuō, “to foretell someth. that lies in the future, foretell, prophesy” (BDAG).[3] When it is properly recognized how anticipated prophetic fulfillment from the Torah and the Prophets until John the Immerser (heōs Iōannou) is what is being spoken of by Yeshua, then it can be properly evaluated whether or not an abrogation of Moses’ Teaching is even something possibly in view. As will be seen there are various Christian commentators who do not see an abolishment of the relevance of the Tanach or Old Testament, at all being what is described.

It is witnessed that there are examiners, some of whom do not at all believe in the continued validity of God’s Torah, who recognize that the issue in Matthew 11:13 is a transition into a new period of salvation history, brought about by the work of the Messiah:

  • D.A. Carson: “The Baptist belongs to the last stage of the divine economy before the inauguration of the kingdom (as in Luke 16:16)….here the point is to set out the redemptive-historical turning point that has brought about the transformation of perspectives explained in vv. 11-12…[T]he primary function of the OT in Matthew’s Gospel [is]: it points to Jesus and the kingdom…The Prophets and the Law prophesied until then and, implicitly, prophesied of this new era.”[4]
  • Donald A. Hagner: “The totality of God’s previous revealing activity…and the expectation for the future built up in the writings of the OT culminate in John…For Matthew, the law and the prophets bear a united witness to Jesus…This statement…cannot be understood to mean that John himself was the goal of the OT, since he has been identified already as the forerunner of someone else (v 9), but that John serves as a transition to the new (contrast Luke 16:16) and as such is here included with the new…The point is that a key turning point has been reached, marking off the old from the new.”[5]
  • R.T. France: “It was not only the prophets who pointed forward to what as to come; the law, too, had this function, preparing the way for a fuller revelation of the will of God which was to come in the time of fulfillment, and which Matthew now finds present in the ministry of Jesus…With the coming of John, the last and greatest of the prophets, that forward-pointing role is complete.”[6]

It would be entirely fair to take the statement of Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Torah prophesied until the time of John” (TLV), as representing how the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures isolated and on their own are incomplete. The vantage point of Yeshua, in making this statement, is highlighting the predictive prophecy component of the Tanach, and how such a purpose was to culminate with the arrival of John the Immerser. As the New Jerusalem Bible puts Matthew 11:13, “Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading.” Following John the Immerser, would be Yeshua the Messiah, and the new realities that His work would inaugurate. Leon Morris properly stresses that the central focus of God’s revelation and activity, is not supposed to be the Torah and the Prophets, but rather the Messiah. This hardly means that the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures are to be cast aside, but they are secondary to the Living Yeshua they prophesied about and foretold:

“This means that the whole of the Old Testament revelation is viewed as preliminary to the coming of Jesus. It is interesting that the Law is said to prophesy as well as the prophets; both had their origin in God and both conveyed the word of God to people. Both indeed conveyed the authentic word of God, but Jesus is saying that both were of limited duration. They both did their work until the coming of John, the herald of the incarnate Son of God in whom came the definitive revelation. Until has the force of ‘up to John but not beyond him.’ This does not mean that now that John has come the law and the prophets may be discarded. The whole Christian revelation insists on the continuing significance of both law and prophets. But until the ministry of John the law and the prophets were the sum of the divine revelation; nothing could be set alongside them. Jesus is saying that with his coming a new age has dawned. The law and the prophets are no longer the revelation that is the key to everything else. The revelation made in Christ is the key to the revelation in the law and the prophets.”[7]

The NEB offers a useful paraphrase of Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Law foretold things to come until John appeared.” Until John the Immerser arrived on the scene, who would be a herald of the Messiah, the main purpose of the Tanach Scriptures was to prophesy of His arrival. Yeshua notes that John came in the spirit of Elijah (Matthew 11:14; cf. Malachi 3:1; 4:5). With Yeshua the Messiah having arrived on the scene, far from the Torah and the Prophets being dismissed as irrelevant, or dusty Bible history, the Tanach Scriptures become subsumed into the mission of the Messiah. As Michael J. Wilkins states, “John is the culmination of a long history of prophecy that looked forward to the arrival of the messianic kingdom. That prophetic hope has been realized in John’s preparation for Jesus’ inauguration of the kingdom of heaven.”[8] The parallel word of Peter in Acts 3:24 is, “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.” And indeed, not only is the Messianic Kingdom one where the Torah will go forth from Zion to be taught to the nations (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3),[9] it is also one where all of Planet Earth will be keeping the Sabbath (Isaiah 66:23).[10] This is hardly a dismissal of the Torah’s validity!

Yeshua’s remark of Matthew 11:13 is not disparaging of the Torah and the Prophets, the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures. Yeshua’s statement cannot be used to dismiss the ongoing relevancy of the Torah and Prophets as a means of guiding His followers in ways of holiness and piety. Yeshua’s statement can be used to emphasize how the Torah and Prophets by themselves are incomplete without Him and being a part of His Kingdom. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John[11]; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached” (Luke 16:16).


NOTES

[1] Consult the further discussion in the FAQ entry on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Violent Seize Kingdom of God.”

[2] Robert K. Brown and Philip W. Comfort, trans., The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1990), 39.

[3] BDAG, 890.

[4] D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. et. al., Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:268.

[5] Donald A. Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13, Vol 33a (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993), pp 307-308.

[6] R.T. France, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 431.

[7] Leon Morris, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 283.

[8] Michael J. Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 417.

[9] Consult the author’s exegesis paper on Micah 4:1-4 and Isaiah 2:2-4, “The Torah Will Go Forth From Zion,” appearing in the Messianic Torah Helper.

[10] Consult the entry for Isaiah 66:23 in the Messianic Sabbath Helper.

[11] Grk. ho nomos kai ho prophētai mechri Iōannou; “the law and the prophets [were proclaimed] until John” (Brown and Comfort, 276).

The RSV has rendered this rather neutrally as, “The law and the prophets were until John.” This was inappropriately followed by the NRSV with, “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came.”


John 13:34

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION

Pastor: John 13:34: Jesus Christ gave us a new law of love to replace the laws of the Old Testament.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Many people can be caught completely off guard, or not quite know how to react, when various Christian teachers or pastors communicate that the Messiah came to give a new law, a law that is only of “love.” The challenge is not with the Messiah’s emphasis on the imperative of love; the challenge is that for anyone who reads the Bible, the commands to love God and neighbor were given in the Torah or Law of Moses, before Yeshua spoke this to His Disciples at the Last Supper:

“You shall love HASHEM, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources” (Deuteronomy 6:5, ATS).

“You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself—I am HASHEM” (Leviticus 19:18, ATS).

So what is intended by Yeshua saying, “a new commandment” (Entolēn kainēn)? Yeshua’s statement of John 13:34 was not adding a 614th commandment to the traditional Jewish 613 Torah commandments.

There are a variety of ways that John 13:34 has been taken by commentators of the Gospel of John, which do properly recognize and acknowledge how the Torah originally directed God’s people to love neighbor. The further statement of 1 John 2:7 notably implies, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” Yeshua’s word of John 13:34 of a “new commandment,” has frequently been taken to (1) involve either the quality of love that He directed His followers to have, one of self-sacrifice as He was preparing to be sacrificed, or (2) that the “new commandment” of love takes on new dimensions with His establishment of the prophesied New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). The chart below has catalogued a number of significant opinions:

JOHN 13:34

A NEW QUALITY OF LOVE “NEW COMMANDMENT” TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH “NEW COVENANT”
“The commandment of love was not entirely new: all the law and the prophets were summed up in the twin commandments…{quoting Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18}…but by his teaching and still more by his example…Jesus imparted a new depth of meaning to it.”[1]
F.F. Bruce
“This commandment is new, not because it is intrinsically different from the law of love of the Old Testament. Nor is it new because of Jesus’ redefining of ‘neighbour’ (Lk. 10:29-37), though that is certainly significant. The ‘newness’ lies rather in its being the law of the ‘new covenant’ which Jesus is to establish through his death, and which he has so recently proclaimed during the supper they have shared {referencing: Luke 22:20; Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 34:25}. The new covenant brings with it the new life in the Holy Spirit which will as never before enable the fulfilling of the law. It is ‘new’ also in the sheer depth and demand of the summons to love which Jesus issues.”[2]
Bruce Milne
“The new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. The standard of comparison is Jesus’ love (cf. v. 1), just exemplified in the footwashing (cf. vv. 12-17); but since the footwashing points to his death (vv. 6-10), these same disciples but a few days later would begin to appreciate a standard of love they would explore throughout their pilgrimage. The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Saviour; the more we appreciate the love of the Saviour, the higher his standard appears; the higher his standard appears, the more we recognize in our selfishness, our innate self-centredness, the depth of our own sin.”[3]
D.A. Carson
“Its ‘newness’ would appear to consist in its being the Law of the new order, brought about by the redemption of God in and through Christ….The expression ‘new order’ is deliberately ambiguous. We have in mind the era of the new covenant, established through the sacrificial self-giving of Christ and his resurrection to rule. The establishment of the new covenant is integral to the traditions of the Last Supper (cf. Mark 14:24 par.)…The commands of the law were issued to Israel as their part in God’s covenant with them, involving their response to his taking them to be his people whom he had ‘redeemed’ from the slavery of Egypt (cf. esp. Exod 19:3-6). So the ‘new command’ may be viewed as the obligation of the people of the new covenant in response to the redemptive act of God and his gracious election which made them his new people.”[4]
George R. Beasley-Murray
“In the OT the Israelites were commanded to love their neighbor as they loved themselves (Lv. 19:18), but Jesus said to his disciples, As I have loved you, so you must love one another. This raised the ante considerably. The measure of love for their neighbour was no longer their love for themselves, but Jesus’ love for them. The Fourth Gospel speaks of Jesus’ love for the disciples in three places (1; 15:9, 13), a love that led him to lay down his life for them. Now he said they should love one another in the same way (cf. 1 Jn. 3:16). Jesus’ love command was ‘new’ because it demanded a new kind of love, a love like his own.”[5]
Colin G. Kruse
“Love itself was hardly a new commandment (Lev 19:18), as the Johannine tradition itself recognized (1 John 2:7; 2 John 1:5)…Still, loving one’s neighbor as oneself was such a radical demand that biblical tradition might depict its actual occurrence only in the most intimate relationships (1 Sam 18:1, 3; 20:17). In fact, Jesus’ commands to love God and one another in the Farewell Discourse (13:34-35; 14:15-16, 21) echo the language of the essential substance of the law of Moses, as in Mark 12:29-34….What is new here is the standard for this love: ‘as I have loved you’ (13:34; cf. 1 John 2:8). By laying down his life for others, Jesus loved the disciples more than his own life (11:5; 13:1).”[6]
Craig S. Keener
“Jesus’ ‘new command’ to his followers to love each other as he has loved them constitutes the third major topic. This will be the mark of his disciples (cf. Matt. 5:43-48; Rom. 8:37; Rev. 1:5). The command to love one’s neighbor was not new. Love within the community was also highly regarded at Qumran (e.g., 1QS 1:10; cf. Josephus, J.W. 2.8.2§119), and neighbor love was emphasized by the first-century rabbi Hillel. What was new was Jesus’ command for his disciples to love one another as he has loved them—laying down their lives. This rule of self-sacrificial, self-giving, selfless love, a unique quality of love inspired by Jesus’ own love for the disciples, will serve as the foundational ethic for the new messianic community.”[7]
Andreas J. Köstenberger

Today’s Messianic people will be more inclined than not, to consider Yeshua’s word about a “new commandment” in John 13:34, to be connected to the New Covenant promises of the Torah being supernaturally transcribed onto the human heart via God’s Spirit—something which involves more than just the love command. Still, it is textually appropriate to recognize the “new commandment” as being an expansion of the Torah commandment to love neighbor, per the direction, “that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (hina agapate allēlous, kathōs ēgapēsa humas). This would not be an annulment of the Torah’s instruction by any means—but that Yeshua’s love requirement requires His own to emulate Him, particularly in matters of service and self-sacrifice for fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.


NOTES

[1] Bruce, John, 294.

[2] Milne, 206.

[3] Carson, John, 484.

[4] Beasley-Murray, John, 247.

[5] Colin G. Kruse, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 293.

[6] Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 924.

[7] Andreas J. Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), pp 423-424.


FAQ

Why do you consult the Septuagint frequently?

The Septuagint (LXX) is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, dating at least two centuries before the First Coming of Yeshua. It was originally compiled for the Jewish community in Alexandria, and quickly became the authorized Scriptures of Diaspora Judaism. The Septuagint largely represents a Pharisaic style of theology, halachah, and messianic expectation, and clarifies many things in the Tanach where the Hebrew may be imprecise or vague. As should be expected, there are some distinct theological interjections into the text, as it is not a “word-for-word” translation of the Hebrew. The LXX would read more like today’s New International Version, when compared to the more literal New American Standard. The LXX gives us an excellent “bridge” of vocabulary words between the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, enables us to see how Jews translated the Tanach Hebrew into Greek, and allows us to see how they used the Greek language.

In the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), there has been misunderstanding among some Christians when it comes to words that are often only examined in the context of the Greek New Testament, and perhaps even classical Greek philosophy. The Septuagint, as it is known today, was well-circulated throughout the Mediterranean, and was the canonical Scripture of the Greek-Speaking Jewish synagogues of the Diaspora. The majority of quotations or allusions in the New Testament from the Old Testament come from the Septuagint. The author of Hebrews, for example, makes all of his unique arguments about Yeshua from the distinct renderings we see in the LXX. Keeping this in mind, we gain valuable insight in understanding the Greek vocabulary that is used in the New Testament, as the same would have been used in the Septuagint. Seeing these Greek words in the Septuagint, we can often see Hebraic concepts behind them via the Tanach, thus gaining a fuller theological picture of what a Biblical author may be trying to communicate.

The Apostles’ usage of the Septuagint in the Gospels and Epistles is a strong indication that they gave it a great deal of authority—otherwise they would not have used it. Unfortunately, much of today’s emerging Messianic movement does not consider the historical importance of the Septuagint, and the LXX gets frequently put aside in our exegesis. This will have to change in the coming years if we intend to have a better and more complete picture of the First Century world in which the Apostles lived. While our exegesis of the Tanach should come first from the Hebrew text, we should certainly give the Greek Septuagint strong consideration as it is its oldest textual witness, and was validated by the Apostles.

For a further examination on the importance of the Septuagint, consult the book The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research by R. Timothy McLay (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

 

I understand that the Greek Septuagint is a valuable resource for understanding Second Temple Judaism and for reading the Apostolic Scriptures, and that there are some differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Tanach. Are there any English translations of the Septuagint which can help me in my studies?

Many people are unfamiliar with the Septuagint (LXX) because of a limitation of either being untrained in the Greek language, or not possessing enough Greek competence to be able to read directly from the Septuagint, be that in either printed or electronic form. Fortunately, there are various English translations of the Septuagint available for the layperson, each of which can be used as a “crutch” of sorts, when comparing similarities and differences with the Hebrew MT, or for quoting to larger audiences. While each of them has a different order for the books of the Tanach or OT, the following English versions of the Septuagint also notably include the books of the Apocrypha, an additional incentive to make use of these resources.

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English by Sir L.C.L. Brenton (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), is a bit dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century, but does include a side-by-side English translation with the Greek Septuagint source text. This translation of the Septuagint is notably rendered in Elizabethan period English. Because it is in the public domain, the LXE and LXA versions are also widely available in electronic format with many Bible software programs. The Apostle’s Bible by Paul W. Esposito (2004), is an updated, modern English version of Brenton.

A New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) is an academic edition of the Septuagint, which includes introductions to each text and a selection of footnotes. Many of the proper names are transliterated from the Greek into English (i.e., Dauid, Iesous). What is most important about the NETS is that this is a modern English version produced for those engaged in research and teaching. Anyone who wants to seriously engage with the Septuagint will need the NETS.

The Orthodox Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008) is an eclectic resource, produced for Eastern Orthodox Christians in the English-speaking world. Its edition of the Old Testament is widely a modern English update of Brenton’s Septuagint translation, widely informed from Eastern Orthodox theology. The introductions and annotations are intended for Eastern Orthodox Christians; it is a useful tertiary resource to use in accessing the Septuagint.

June 2017 Outreach Israel News


Update

June 2017

For any one of us in full-time Messianic ministry, one of the worst experiences we have ever had is having to witness someone commit a severe act of apostasy. In the opening months of Outreach Israel Ministries in the Spring of 2003, I actually interacted with a number of people who were forthrightly convinced that Yeshua the Messiah was not God, and then later came to believe that He was not the Messiah. A few of them later ended up questioning the reliability of the Tanach Scriptures (OT). Because our ministry was so new at the time, we had to prioritize our various research projects—and so we simply opened a file, calling it “Salvation on the Line.”

In the course of my experience from 2003-2015, I was able to write things here and there about the nature of Yeshua and His Messiahship. This notably includes our mini-book Confronting Yeshua’s Divinity and Messiahship and various passages in our for the Practical Messianic commentary series. Starting in 2016, progress began on what I originally believed would be a one-volume book on the nature of Yeshua, but now has actually opened up a whole new chapter of our ministry service. Salvation on the Line: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity will be released in two volumes (largely due to page count issues), with Volume I now available, focusing attention on passages from the Gospels and Acts. As I have been steadily working through many passages which inform us about the nature of Yeshua, one might think it is “overkill” to have to ask the question “Is this person/figure/being/entity a supernatural yet created being, or genuinely God?” However, as I have looked back on my time spent in Messianic ministry since 2003, our broad faith community has been literally “scraping by” in matters of its Christology (the study of the Messiah). A huge reference source on Yeshua’s Divinity is long overdue! And, this will lead to further discussions on Yeshua’s Messiahship and the reliability of the Bible.

Our family is fully dedicated to the work of the Lord, and in not only providing answers to the questions that today’s Messianic people are urgently asking—but in providing stability for the long term effectiveness of the Messianic movement. It would not be possible for us to do the many things that we do without your consistent, monthly financial support. We have a great deal of spiritual pressure on us every day, and we do not need financial pressure as well. The biggest thing that our ministry actually needs from you, other than your prayers, is for you to sign up for a monthly offering via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net/support, which can be easily done in regular $25, $50, or $100 increments. Enclosed with this newsletter is also an insert and donation envelope, including an update on ongoing projects associated with our ministry.

To stay up to date on the latest posts and teachings, be sure to download the free Messianic Apologetics app for iPhone via the iTunes Store, and Android via the Google Play store. Exclusive push notifications are sent out daily, which do not appear on our two ministry websites.

J.K. McKee, editor Messianic Apologetics


Exodus 3:1-16

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
Salvation on the Line: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity

“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ And He said, ‘Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.’ Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” Now they may say to me, “What is His name?” What shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’ God, furthermore, said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, ‘I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.’”

The theophany of the burning bush, God’s revelation to Moses, the presentation of the Divine Name YHWH/YHVH, and most especially God’s self-designation as the “I AM,” all present something extremely important for later evaluations of the identity of Yeshua the Messiah. Moses, who would be comissioned as the leader of Israel, is witnessed pasturing the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro (Exodus 3:1), and experiences a significant supernatural encounter. It is recorded, v’yeira malakh YHWH eilayv b’labat-eish m’tokh ha’seneh, “And YHWH’s messenger was seen by him in the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2a, Fox). Noticing the marvel of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2b-3), the figure of the malakh YHWH, “the messenger/angel of the LORD,” is stated to have been the entity present. John I. Durham fairly informs us, “As often in the OT (Gen 18, Judg 6), there is in this passage a fluid interchange between symbol, representative, and God himself.”[1]

While the narrative could continue, stating that the malakh YHWH or “messenger/angel of the LORD” spoke to Moses from the burning bush, it is instead recorded that God proper is the One who spoke to Moses: v’yar YHWH ki sar lir’ot v’yiqra eilayv Elohim m’tokh ha’seneh v’yomer, Moshe Moshe, “When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, he said: Moshe! Moshe!” (Exodus 3:4, Fox). God proper tells Moses to remove his sandals, as he is standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). And with the malakh YHWH or “messenger/angel of the LORD” originally having been noted to be the entity present (Exodus 3:2), this being procedes to speak in the first person, anokhi Elohei avikha, Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzchak, v’Elohei Ya’akov, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6a). It is then asserted of Moses, ki yarei m’habit el-ha’Elohim, “for he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:6b, NJPS). God proper is recorded as being the figure which speaks to him of the present condition of the Israelites: v’yomer YHWH ra’oh ra’iti et-‘ani ami asher b’Mitzrayim, “Now YHWH said: I have seen, yes, seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt” (Exodus 3:7a, Fox). Discussion about the slavery of Israel in Egypt, God’s intention to deliver the people, and God’s assignments for Moses, continues with dialogue in the first person (Exodus 3:7b-12; cf. Acts 7:30-31).

In recognition of the mission that he is to perform for the God of his ancestors, Moses inquires about what name is to designate this God, as he will surely be asked about it from his fellow Israelites (Exodus 3:13). As it is recorded in the Hebrew text, v’yomer Elohim el-Moshe ehyeh asher ehyeh, a standard English translation being, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exodus 3:14a). It is further stated, v’yomer koh tomar l’vnei Yisrael ehyeh shelachni alei’khem, “and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14b). There has certainly been some important discussion surrounding the meaning of ehyeh asher ehyeh. Varied English translations of ehyeh asher ehyeh in Exodus 3:14,[2] beyond the relatively standard “I AM WHO I AM,” do need to be noted:

  • “I Shall Be As I Shall Be” (ATS).
  • “I-will-be-what-I-will-be” (Moffat).
  • “I will be that which I will be” (Keter Crown Bible)
  • “I am the One Who Always Is” (WBC).[3]
  • ’Ehyeh-‘Asher-‘Ehyeh, I-Will-Be-Who-I-Will-Be” (Alter).
  • “EHEYE ASHER EHEYE (I will ever be what I now am)” (Jerusalem Bible-Koren).
  • “EHYEH ASHER EHYEH/I will be-there howsoever I will be-there” (Fox).

It is widely agreed among Hebraists that the revelation of the Divine Name YHWH/YHVH further, is connected to ehyeh asher ehyeh: “Thus you shall say to the Children of Israel: YHWH, the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzhak, and the God of Yaakov, sends me to you” (Exodus 3:15, Fox). In his specialty translation of the Torah, Alter draws the conclusion,

“‘I-Will-Be-Who-I-Will-Be’ is the most plausible construction of the Hebrew, though the middle word, ‘asher, could easily mean ‘what’ rather than ‘who,’ and the common rendering of ‘I-Am-That-I-Am’ cannot be excluded…Since the tense system of biblical Hebrew by no means corresponds to that of modern English, it is also perfectly possible to construct this as ‘I am He Who Endures.’ The strong consensus of biblical scholarship is that the original pronunciation of the name YHWH that God goes on to use in verse 15 was ‘Yahweh.’”[4]

Durham’s observations on Exodus 3:14 also need to be noted:

“[ehyeh asher ehyeh] ‘I AM that I AM,’ replies God. The verbs are first person common qal imperfects of the verb [chayah] ‘to be,’ connoting continuing, unfinished action: ‘I am being that I am being,’ or ‘I am the Is-ing One,’ that is ‘the One Who Always Is.’ Not conceptual being, being in the abstract, but active being, is the intent of this reply. It is a reply that suggests that it is inappropriate to refer to God as ‘was’ or as ‘will be,’ for the reality of this active existence can be suggested only by the present: ‘is’ or ‘is-ing,’ ‘Always Is,’ or ‘Am.’”[5]

The Greek Septuagint took the Hebrew ehyeh asher ehyeh, “I AM WHO I AM,” and translated it as egō eimi ho ōn, which Brenton’s English translation renders as “THE BEING,” and the 2007 NETS has as “I am The One Who Is.” The “I am” or egō eimi formula is important for later statements made by Yeshua the Messiah appearing in the Gospels, detailing self-identification (i.e., Mark 14:62; John 8:58; 18:5-6), which many conclude are direct indicators of the Messiah identifying Himself as the YHWH God of the burning bush theophany (discussed further).


NOTES

[1] John I. Durham, Word Biblical Commentary: Exodus, Vol 3 (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987), pp 30-31.

[2] The NJPS notably just leaves it as “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.”

[3] Durham, 35.

[4] Alter, Five Books of Moses, 321.

[5] Durham, 39.


Isaiah 45:18-25

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
Salvation on the Line: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity

“For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), ‘I am the LORD, and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek Me in a waste place”; I, the LORD speak righteousness, declaring things that are upright. Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; they have no knowledge, who carry about their wooden idol and pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’ Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. In the LORD all the offspring of Israel will be justified and will glory.”

Today’s Bible readers, from the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, can be at somewhat of a disadvantage, in that we all believe that the One God of Israel is a universal deity to which all of humankind should turn to for salvation and to worship. The scene of Isaiah 45:1-25, where the Lord used the Persian Cyrus to deliver His people, could have certainly struck a chord with many God-faithful Jews who originally heard it, as it would have forced many to recognize that the pagans at large were to turn to acknowledge, worship, and serve the same God as them. This is a God who was superior to any carved idols, which would be absolutely powerless to answer the true needs of a human being. The God of Israel decreed that as His people would see their Kingdom restored, that the nations at large would come to recognize Him and cast aside their idols. As Isaiah 45:13-15 exclaims,

“‘I have aroused him {Cyrus} in righteousness and I will make all his ways smooth; he will build My city and will let My exiles go free, without any payment or reward,’ says the LORD of hosts. Thus says the LORD, ‘The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush and the Sabeans, men of stature, will come over to you and will be yours; they will walk behind you, they will come over in chains and will bow down to you; they will make supplication to you: “Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, no other God [akh bakh El, v’ein ‘od efes elohim].”’ Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior [Elohei Yisrael moshi’a]!”

Benjamin D. Sommer’s conclusions on Isaiah 45:1-25, in The Jewish Study Bible, are quite accurate:

“This speech focuses on the Persian king Cyrus as the tool through whom God brings salvation not only to Israel but to the whole world. After Cyrus allows the exiles to return to Jerusalem, peoples the world over will recognize the LORD’s faithfulness to the covenant made with Israel, and consequently they will join Israel in worshipping the one true God.”[1]

We should not have problems with recognizing that without the return of the Southern Kingdom exiles from Babylon, the reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the subsequent emergence of Second Temple Judaism—that the mechanisms for a widespread exposure to the God of Israel to the nations at large would not have been in place. We commonly credit the spread of the good news of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth being Israel’s Messiah, as being the cause of a broad, worldwide spread of monotheism (cf. John 17:3). This is something based in the return of the exiles, and in how participating in the rebuilding of Israel’s Kingdom, the nations will turn away from their worthless idols.

The word of the God of Israel to the pagans, of the nations at large, is one of welcome invitation: “Gather yourselves, come and approach together, O survivors of the nations, who do not know, who carry about the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god who cannot save” (Isaiah 45:20, ATS). And, He is absolutely forthright about His identity as the Only True God: “Proclaim and approach; even let [your leaders] take counsel together: Who let this be heard for aforetimes, or related it from of old? Is it not I, HASHEM? There is no other god besides Me [v’ein-od elohim m’bal’adai]; there is no righteous god besides Me and no savior other than Me” (Isaiah 45:21, ATS). The admonition of the God of Israel, to kol-afsei-eretz or “all the ends of the earth,” is that all might turn to Him to be saved, that every knee would bow to Him, and every tongue would swear allegiance to Him:

“Turn to Me and be saved, all ends of the earth, for I am God and there is no other. I swear by Myself, righteousness has gone forth from My mouth, a word that will not be rescinded: that to Me shall every knee kneel and every tongue swear” (Isaiah 45:22-23, ATS).

Some universal recognition, of the God of Israel, still has not taken place in human history—whether by the free will choice of people, or by some forced acknowledgment. Jews and Christians alike believe that in the future Messianic Age—even with the latter believing Yeshua of Nazareth to be the Messiah—that there is a greater, worldwide recognition of the God of Israel as the Creator. The oracle of Isaiah 45:18-25 represents the LORD God (YHWH) as One who is inviting and welcoming of all of His human creations turning to Him for salvation and deliverance. As Oswalt properly concludes in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, “God intends that the whole earth acknowledge him as God and come to him to be saved. No one will be exempt (v. 23; cf. Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10-11). There is no other savior (v. 24; cf. Acts 4:12).”[2]

The statements of Isaiah 45:23 are quoted later, in the Carmen Christi hymn of Philippians 2:5-11, particularly in regard to the future, universal recognition of Yeshua the Messiah:

“[S]o that at the name of Yeshua EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The reference to the oracle of Isaiah 45:18-25 in Philippians 2:5-11, certainly suggests that Yeshua the Messiah is involved in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Yeshua is also to certainly be the means by which there will be a universal recognition of the Lord God of Israel, whether by volition or by coercion, in the eschaton. (This is not a promise of universal salvation.) Yet, what is intended by every tongue confessing hoti Kurios Iēsous Christos, eis doxan Theou patros, “that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord—to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11, TLV)?

The key statement of Isaiah 45:23, ki-li tik’ra kol-berekh, “To Me every knee shall bend” (Isaiah 45:23, NJPS)—rendered by the Greek Septuagint as hoti emoi kampsei pan gonu, “because to me every knee shall bow” (NETS)—is adapted by Philippians 2:10 to become, en tō onomati Iēsou pan gonu kampsē. The personal pronoun “Me” of Isaiah 45:23—which is very clearly the Lord or YHWH (Isaiah 45:21)—is substituted with Yeshua or Jesus in Philippians 2:10. And, when this Yeshua is to be recognized as “Lord” by all of Creation, the only Kurios or Lord present within the oracle of Isaiah 45:18-25, is the One who declares ani YHWH (Isaiah 45:21), as the title Kurios frequently rendered the Divine Name YHWH/YHVH in the LXX. Yeshua the Messiah, is without question, integrated into the Divine Identity in the application of Isaiah 45:18-25 in Philippians 2:5-11. One would not expect any supernatural yet created being, to be declared as the Kurios, the LORD or YHWH, to which all people must turn toward for their salvation. Yet, Yeshua the Messiah is identified in Philippians 2:5-11 to be the LORD or YHWH of Isaiah 45:18-25 (discussed further).


NOTES

[1] Benjamin D. Sommer, “Isaiah,” in Jewish Study Bible, 875.

[2] John N. Oswalt, “Isaiah,” in D.A. Carson, gen. ed., NIV Zondervan Study Bible, 2011 NIV (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 1411.


Daniel 7:9-14

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
Salvation on the Line: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity

“I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened. Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”

Far too frequently, many Christian Bible readers—and even a number of people within our Messianic faith community—come to the conclusion that when Yeshua the Messiah refers to Himself as the “Son of Man,” that Yeshua is referring to Himself as a human. While it is to be observed that there are places in the Hebrew Scriptures where the terminology “son of man” (ben-adam; Psalm 8:5) can be used as an essential synonym of “human being,” the title “Son of Man,” employed by the Messiah, has a significant background in Daniel 7:9-14. Not only is a proper recognition of the Daniel 7:9-14 background of the title Son of Man critical for evaluating the nature of the Messiah, but is also imperative for understanding certain reactions witnessed when He invokes this title (i.e., Mark 14:53-65; Matthew 26:57-68; Luke 22:63-71). The Son of Man is a figure which appears in Heaven before God proper, and has a status and level of power which only God proper can seemingly possess.

The theophany of Daniel 7:9-14 is surrounded by the Prophet Daniel’s vision of the four beasts (Daniel 7:1-8, 9-28). While these four beasts have been historically interpreted as representing the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome—although with some disputes here and there—no Bible reader disputes how the four beasts are indicative of an anti-God and anti-people-of-God world system. Any survey of the theophany of Daniel 7:9-14 definitely provides the people of God—which for the Prophet Daniel’s initial audience in the Sixth Century B.C.E. would involve his fellow Southern Kingdom exiles taken into Babylonian captivity—a word of hope and comfort. God as the Ancient of Days (Ara. ‘Atiq Yomin), seated upon His throne in Heaven, sitting in judgment over the beasts (Daniel 7:9-12)—a surety of their ultimate defeat and God’s ultimate triumph—is paralleled by the description seen by the Prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1:26-28:

“Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.”

Within the theophany of Daniel 7:9-14, it is not only witnessed that the Ancient of Days oversees the judgment and ultimate defeat of the different beasts. It is also witnessed that a figure designated as the bar enash or “Son of Man,” is brought before the Ancient of Days, and given supreme power and an everlasting Kingdom:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, RSV).

Yeshua the Messiah referring to Himself constantly throughout the Gospels as the “Son of Man,” given the Danielic presentation of the bar enash before the throne of the Ancient of Days, would be quite severe. Yeshua the Messiah was not just claiming some sort of special status or relationship or association with the Ancient of Days; Yeshua the Messiah was claiming a status of supreme authority over all humanity and all human kingdoms. Yeshua the Messiah would claim to be one coming on the clouds of Heaven (Mark 14:62; Matthew 26:64), a status that God proper often demonstrates, when He comes in power to vindicate His own (Psalm 97:2; 104:3; Isaiah 19:1).

It would be enough to recognize the supreme power of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of Man, present in how most English Bibles render Daniel 7:14a: “He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him” (HCSB). There are good reasons, however, to translate the verb yif’lechun as “worshiped” (NIV) and not simply “serve(d).” (The Kohlenberger interlinear has “they-worshiped.”)[1] It is witnessed lexically how the Aramaic verb pelach, commonly thought to mean “serve; pay reverence to” (A Reader’s Hebrew Bible),[2] can indeed mean “to labour; hence to serve…specially, to worship God” (Gesenius),[3] “to serve, to revere, to worship” (AMG),[4]to serve (man or deity); to worship” (Jastrow).[5] Questions can legitimately be raised—in light of the status that this Son of Man is given, in order to enact vindication for the righteous—as to whether or not a supernatural yet created agent of God proper would have the exclusive veneration of all human kingdoms, and hence all Creation. Questions are significantly raised, if the Aramaic pelach in Daniel 7:14 is to be taken as “worship,” and not just “serve.”

Both Christian and Jewish examiners have certainly had to deliberate over the identity and nature of the bar enash or “Son of Man” seen in Daniel 7. In his useful resource, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, Wright weighs a number of different factors which can no doubt be in the mind of different Bible readers who encounter the terminology “Son of Man.” Is this a human figure or a supernatural figure? As Wright properly notes, it is ultimately the Divine aura surrounding the title “Son of Man” from Daniel 7, which was the significant factor in Yeshua being condemned of blasphemy against the God of Israel by the Jewish religious leaders, and not just His general claim to being the Messiah:

“In Daniel 7, Daniel sees the kingdoms of this earth, portrayed as ravaging beasts from the sea, given the freedom to oppress and harass the people of God. The people of God, described as ‘the saints of the Most High’, are attacked and devoured almost to the point of extinction. But then the visionary scene changes dramatically in verse 9. Instead of a picture of human history at ground level, we are transported into the presence of God (‘the Ancient of Days’) seated on his throne. There, through the presence of a human figure described as ‘one like a son of man’, the tables are turned. This son of man comes into the presence of the Ancient of Days, the beasts are stripped of authority and destroyed, and dominion, kingdom and authority are given to the son of man and the saints for ever.

“The ‘son of man’ figure in Daniel 7 has a curiously double point of reference. On the one hand, he appears to represent the saints – that is, the human people of God in history. The parallellism between verse 14 (where authority and kingdom are given to the son of man) and verse 18 (where the kingdom is given to the saints) shows this. The son of man, in the vision, represents or symbolizes the saints. It has been suggested that he may be an angelic figure, since in Daniel, nations can be represented in the spiritual domain by angels (e.g. 10:13, 20f.). Or perhaps he is simply a kind of corporate, representative human figure, embodying, in the vision, the people of God as a whole. From this point of view, the figure fitted in very well with Jesus’s identification of himself with Israel. As the Son of Man he represented them. He shared their experience. His destiny was theirs and vice versa.

“But on the other hand the son of man in Daniel 7 is closely associated with God himself. Daniel sees him ‘coming with the clouds of heaven’ (v. 13). That was very much part of the ‘ambience’ of deity in the Old Testament. Furthermore, he is given authority, glory, power and worship and his kingdom is eternal (v. 14)—all rather more than the normal lot of any son of Adam. In fact, there are Greek versions of the text which translate Daniel 7:13 in such a way as to identify the son of man with the Ancient of Days. And this tradition finds a strong echo in Revelation, where the description of Jesus in glory is a combination of the reference to the son of man and a virtual direct quotation of the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9f. (Rev. 1:7, 12-16). The two descriptions are conflated into one picture.

“So there was an air of divinity about the son of man figure also. Indeed, it may have been this aspect of the Danielic figure which clinched the verdict against Jesus on the grounds of blasphemy at his trial. When asked whether he was the Messiah, Jesus did not deny it, but went on to claim that his accusers would see the Son of Man in divine glory ‘coming on the clouds of heaven’—i.e. in the presence of God (Matt. 26:63f.). The shift from Messiah to Son of Man must be deliberate and the description is clearly Danielic.”[6]

One of the more provocative approaches to the figure of the “Son of Man” in Daniel 7 is seen in the 2012 book, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, by the broadly liberal Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin. Boyarin, who is no Believer in Yeshua of Nazareth, and who dates the Book of Daniel to the Maccabean crisis of the Second Century B.C.E., is ultimately forced from the text of Daniel, to recognize how it serves not just as a legitimate Jewish background to Him being regarded as Divine by His followers, but also as source material for a plural Godhead at least composed of the Father and the Son:

“In this remarkable text, we find the prophet Daniel having a vision in which there are two divine figures, one who is depicted as an old man, an Ancient of Days, sitting on the throne. We have been told, however, that there is more than one throne there, and sure enough a second divine figure, in form ‘like a human being,’ is brought on the clouds of heaven and invested by the Ancient of Days in a ceremony very much like the passing of the torch from elder king to younger in ancient Near Eastern royal ceremonial and the passing of the torch from older gods to younger ones in their myths: ‘I saw in the vision of the night, and behold with the clouds of the Heaven there come one like a Son of Man and came to the Ancient of Days and stood before him and brought him close, and to him was given rulership and glory and the kingdom and all nations, peoples, and languages will worship him. His rulership is eternal which will not pass, and his kingship will not be destroyed.’

“…What this text projects is a second divine figure to whom will be given eternal dominion of the entire world, of a restored entire world in which this eternal king’s guidance and rule will be in accord, completely and finally, with the will of the Ancient of Days as well. Although this Redeemer figure is not called the Messiah—this name for him will have to wait for later reflections on this Danielic vision, as we shall see below—it brings us close to at least some of the crucial characteristics of the figure named later the Messiah or the Christ.

“What are these characteristics?

“He is divine.

“He is in human form.

“He may very well be portrayed as a younger-appearing divinity than the Ancient of Days.

“He will be enthroned on high.

“He is given power and dominion, even sovereignty on earth.

“All of these are characteristic of Jesus the Christ as he will appear in the Gospels…Moreover, they have been further developed within Jewish traditions between the Book of Daniel and the Gospels. At a certain point these traditions became merged in Jewish minds with the expectation of a return of a Davidic king, and the idea of a divine-human Messiah was born. This figure was then named ‘Son of Man,’ alluding to his origins in the divine figure named ‘one like a Son of Man/a human being’ in Daniel. In other words, a simile, a God who looks like a human being (literally Son of Man) has become the name for that God, who is now called ‘Son of Man,’ a reference to his human-appearing divinity…

“….

“There are many variations and traditions about this figure in the Gospels themselves and in other early Jewish texts. Some Jews had been expecting this Redeemer to be a human exalted to the state of divinity, while others were expecting a divinity to come down to earth and take on human form; some believers in Jesus believed the Christ had been born as an ordinary human and then exalted to divine status, while others believed him to have been a divinity who came down to earth. Either way, we end up with a doubled godhead and a human-divine combination as the expected Redeemer…”[7]

Recognizing the veneration due to the Daniel 7:9-14 Son of Man is vital, for Bible readers who wish to properly recognize the significance of how Yeshua the Messiah calls Himself the Son of Man in the Gospel narratives. When it is recognized that the Son of Man is the figure brought before the Ancient of Days and given not only an eternal Kingdom—but is to be demonstrated the veneration, service, and worship one would assume would be exclusive to such an Ancient of Days—we have a figure who is indeed Divine. Most unfortunately, not enough Bible readers are too consciously aware of the Tanach background of Yeshua the Messiah being the “Son of Man.”


NOTES

[1] Kohlenberger, 4:464.

[2] A. Phillip Brown II and Bryan W. Smith, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 1473.

[3] H.F.W. Gesenius: Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, trans. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 675.

[4] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, eds., Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 901.

[5] Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature (New York: Judaica Treasury, 2004), 1178.

[6] Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1992), pp 151-152.

[7] Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (New York: The New Press, 2012), pp 31-34.

May 2017 Outreach Israel News


OIM Update

May 2017

This month, as the Omer Count heads towards Shavuot at the end of the month, the State of Israel will be celebrating its Memorial Day (Yom HaZikuran on May 1st), Independence Day (Yom HaMatza’ut on May 2nd), and Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim on May 24th). These are special occasions when Israelis commemorate the 69th anniversary of the reconstitution of the State of Israel in 1948, and the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Jordanians during the Six Day War of 1967. As followers of Yeshua the Messiah, who consider circumstances that affect Israel and the city of Jerusalem to be of profound prophetic importance, I want to encourage everyone to pray for the peace of Jerusalem during this season of significant stirring among the peoples of the Earth:

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, ‘May peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good” (Psalm 122:6-9).

In addition to these Israeli commemorations, Donald Trump, the newest President of the United States, will be embarking on his first international excursion to visit the Middle East and Europe. Providentially, his first stop will be in Saudi Arabia, followed by a day-and-a-half in Israel, including Jerusalem, to meet with Israel’s prime minister and president, as well as the leader of the Palestinian Authority. As it just so happens, these encounters will occur a day before the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem Day. The Holy One of Israel is not a God of coincidence, but instead, uniquely residing in the Heavenly realm, allows events to transpire on Earth that can and should be a “sign” to those viewing things through spiritual eyes. Hence, despite the anticipated discomfort that will be expressed by those opposed to the Almighty One, perhaps we all need to be reminded of what the Psalmist says about the other nations of the world:

“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ ‘I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.”’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:1-12).

I am not one to speculate on “jubilee” years (fiftieth years: Leviticus 25:10), because quite frankly, it is difficult to know God’s timing on any number of things. But it is a historical fact that in December 1917, General Allenby entered into the city of Jerusalem, as the besieged Turks of the Ottoman Empire were retreating toward the end of World War I. Fifty years later in 1967, the Jordanians were defeated by the Israeli Defense Forces and retreated back to Jordan, east of the Jordan River. Needless to say, I believe the Lord wants His people to be aware of what is physically and spiritually taking place, and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for safety for those traveling to Israel. In addition, the American President needs incredible wisdom from above regarding his “campaign promise” to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Please pray that godly counsel will be forthcoming, and that it will line up with God’s perfect will for Israel and Jerusalem at this point in time!

This month’s lead article is entitled, “God’s Just Restitution,” and deals with the Holy One restoring the wealth of the nations to the Land of Promise. In addition, we want to encourage everyone to download the new Messianic Apologetics app for their iPhone or Android. It is available for free in both the iTunes store and on Google Play! Due to our growing associations with Messianic Jewish Believers and leaders over the past few years, we will be focusing more efforts on how we can make a substantial contribution to Jewish outreach and evangelism, particularly in as it involves the nature of Yeshua, His Messiahship, and Bible difficulties. This is very exciting!

Please continue to support our efforts with your financial contributions! Without your offerings and gifts, it would be difficult to dedicate the time and energy to produce our many educational resources. Thank you in advance for your partnership with our ministry endeavors!

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Shalom and blessings,

Mark Huey


God’s Just Restitution

by Mark Huey

In recent weeks—initially prompted by the term “restitution” in a casual conversation about returning the wealth of the nations to the people and Land of Israel—the concept of God’s absolutely “just restitution” began to reverberate in my mind. After all, there have been a few verses found in the Book of Acts which have been a significant part of motivating many of my ministerial efforts over the past twenty years. Here, in the Apostle Peter’s post-resurrection declaration to those gathered at Solomon’s portico near the Temple Mount, after a man lame from birth is healed, Peter made the following statements, as they appear in the New American Standard Bible:

“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:18-21).

The Greek term apokatastasis, rendered as “restoration” in the NASU, appears as “restitution” in the old King James Version:

“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21 KJV).

While this difference of translation might not seem especially noteworthy to most casual observers of the Holy Writ, it made a huge difference in my thinking. For years, when I considered the “restoration” of all things, I primarily thought about “restoration” in terms of making things right according to God’s original plan for the created order. Grand actions like returning the Earth to its Garden of Eden state, or more simply restoring an antique or refurbishing an old home or structure, or remaking things right according to the Creator’s design—permeated my thoughts. However, this rather limited understanding never once conceptualized the inevitability or possibility of God’s fiscal “restitution” of all things to God’s chosen people. But now in the context of discussing what has transpired in the State of Israel since its reconstitution in 1948, and the ongoing renaissance of the land, economy, and people, I started to consider the pecuniary meaning of the Scripture. In other words, when I saw apokatastasis translated as restitution instead of restoration, my mind quickly flashed on scriptures about the “wealth” of the sinner, and the “wealth” of the nations, unlike never before:

“And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).

“Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, and in My favor I have had compassion on you. Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined” (Isaiah 60:10-12).

“Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast” (Isaiah 61:4-6).

“‘As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!’ For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:5-7).

In addition, one comment in the conversation referenced above about the pattern of “restitution” found in the Apostolic Scriptures, created another stir in my thoughts. This was a reminder about how the Apostle Paul brought back alms and gifts from the nations to the poor in Jerusalem:

“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).

“Now after several years I [Paul] came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings” (Acts 24:17).

All of a sudden, I was reflecting upon some recent studies and teachings about how the Jews had plundered the Persians found in the Book of Esther, or how the Israelites had plundered the Egyptians before departing in Exodus:

“In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil, on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar)” (Esther 8:11-12).

“I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:21-22).

I began to wonder if there were some kind of pattern emerging. I thought about the Babylonian captivity and how after the prophesied seventy year banishment, King Cyrus actually financed the return of the Jews to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple:

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying: ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem. Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.”’ Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. All those about them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with cattle and with valuables, aside from all that was given as a freewill offering. Also King Cyrus brought out the articles of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and put in the house of his gods; and Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and he counted them out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. Now this was their number: 30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, 29 duplicates; 30 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of a second kind and 1,000 other articles.  All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:1-11).

This new and expanded perspective—which included both physical restoration and wealth restitution—opened up an entirely different layer of thinking about what has been happening in the past few centuries, as the specific prophecies about giving the Land of Promise to the descendants of Abraham are taking place right before our eyes:

“And He said to him, ‘I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it’” (Genesis 15:7).

But in addition to God’s absolute promises to Abraham about the ultimate destiny of the land he was given, there are additional promises found in these profound verses when Abram is called out of the relative comfort of Ur of the Chaldeans.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Here, in promises spoken to Abram which are quoted often when seeking support of all types from the nations of the world, the nation birthed out of Abram’s loins is logically considered to be Israel. In particular, the concept of God blessing those who bless Abram and his offspring (nation), and/or on the other hand, curse those who curse Israel, has been clearly evident down through the millennia. The Holy Scriptures and world history are replete with vivid examples of peoples or societies being blessed for helping Israel or the Jewish people, or cursed for cursing the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

However, the very simplistic axiom used to generate support for Israel does not always take into account other Scriptures, that refer to God using others to reprimand or punish His people when they are disobedient to His Word:

“So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you. The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young” (Deuteronomy 28:45-50).

In these revealing statements made by Moses toward the end of the forty year desert sojourn, the Israelites are warned that disobedience to the Holy One would have its consequences. As ancient history has shown, God has used groups like the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, to chastise Israel. Hence, an omniscient, Creator God is not constrained by one simple statement, found in Genesis 12:3, but is infinitely more complex as He deals with human interactions down through the ages.

Consequently, I was humbly led to consider how God’s “just restitution” works in light of my finite understanding of His magnificent ways! After all, the Ancient of Days is actually keeping an account of all that occurs in the Creation. Nothing happens without it being recorded in the annals of God’s memory. Therefore, since He is the only just and righteous Judge who sits on the Throne, the children of God are forever grateful that mercy, grace, and lovingkindness are additional godly attributes which lead to salvation through belief in the atonement provided by Yeshua’s sacrifice.

When one considers the great themes of the Holy Scriptures, many ardent students of the Word concede that love or lovingkindness is by far the most prominent message God communicates to humanity in His Word. After all, if you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, Scripture in many regards is a lengthy love letter from Creation to the Eternal State. However, among the other subjects, which usher forth from the various authors chosen to reveal the heart of the Almighty One, are the often-coupled attributes of justice and righteousness. In fact, when one does a word search for justice and righteousness, one discovers that nearly one hundred times in the Hebrew text God links these two characteristics of a “just” and “righteous” Creator God. Note that father Abraham was actually chosen to be the precursor of the chosen nation, because of his willingness to command and teach his household this critical way of the Lord:

“For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him” (Genesis 18:19).

This responsibility of Abraham, resulting in the earlier words spoken to him referencing blessings or curses that had been spoken about him in Genesis 12:2-3, is found in this passage after God has altered his name from a father of nation, to a multitude of nations:

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.’ Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’ God said further to Abraham, ‘Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations’” (Genesis 17:1-9).

In this passage, God reaffirms His promises of all the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants, which eventually form the nation of Israel. Thus, the compliance with justice and righteousness become a pillar of the nation called out to be a light unto all the other nations. Just note the coupling of justice and righteousness references found in the Proverbs and Psalms, which are some of the foundational building blocks used to teach the children of Israel the ways of the Lord, and describe the reward for being just and righteous:

“My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you” (Proverbs 2:1-11).

“To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You” (Psalm 89:14).

“How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!” (Psalm 106:3).

“For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever” (Psalm 37:28-29).

Justice and righteousness are godly attributes which define what the Prophet Isaiah references throughout his declarations. Here are a few Scriptures which reflect the ultimate restoration of all things, including the arrival of the Messiah, as a child and a Servant:

“Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, declares, ‘Ah, I will be relieved of My adversaries and avenge Myself on My foes. I will also turn My hand against you, and will smelt away your dross as with lye and will remove all your alloy. Then I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning; after that you will be called the city of righteousness, a faithful city.’ Zion will be redeemed with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:24-27).

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.’ Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it, ‘I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. ‘I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images’” (Isaiah 42:1-8).

Nevertheless, with justice and righteousness as fundamental aspects of the chosen people, one must remember that God alone is the ultimate righteous judge and arbiter of humanity, as referenced in these Scriptures from multiple sources:

“For He pays a man according to his work, and makes him find it according to his way” (Job 34:10-11).

“And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord, for You recompense a man according to his work” (Psalm 62:12).

“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jeremiah 32:17-19).

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways” (Ezekiel 33:20).

“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS [Psalm 28:4; 62:12; Proverbs 24:12] (Matthew 16:27).

“who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS [Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12]” (Romans 2:6).

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

The Holy One of Israel is keeping an account of not only everything that occurs in the Creation, but also everything that a person does. This allows Him and Him alone to be the righteous Judge of humanity.

So with God’s justice and righteousness being recognized with His ultimate restitution of all things factored into the equation, my reasoned conclusion was that God was in the process of returning the wealth of the nations to the Land of Promise. In a very unique sort of way, God was following the pattern found in the Holy Scriptures to use those who believed in Him, to be somewhat like agents of the restitution process. In examples from the history of Israel, God would choose certain Israelites or Jews to be the bearer of valuable objects (gold, silver, precious stones, etc.) to return those resources to the Promised Land. Prior to the coming of Yeshua, God first restored the Jews back to the Land of Israel. But because they were unable to adhere to God’s commandments, they were eventually scattered to the nations, before returning, just as foretold in the Torah by Moses:

“So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. The LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. The LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers” (Deuteronomy 30:1-9).

After Yeshua’s resurrection, God began to use followers of the Messiah like the Apostle Paul, to begin to bring the wealth of the nations back, as evidenced by some of the offerings which were taken to help the poor in Jerusalem. However, this pattern had a rather lengthy hiatus for nearly nineteen hundred years until the late 1800s when God began moving on Zionistic Jews, encouraged by non-Jewish Believers in the Messiah, to begin returning to the Holy Land. In 1947, the gruesome world affairs of the Twentieth Century fostered an atmosphere for the world to narrowly agree that the Jewish people deserved some land in what had become known as Palestine. But make no mistake about it: the preservation of the Holy Scriptures and the increasing effectiveness of the gospel to the nations at large, allowed the Holy Spirit to convince people in positions of political influence to protect the nascent State of Israel after it was finally birthed in 1948.

Today, approaching the seventieth year since the reconstitution of Israel, the increase in wealth is palpable. From all corners of the globe, believing individuals—and even many countries themselves—are sending financial support to help those with physical needs, who are being gathered back to the Promised Land. The prophecies found throughout the Holy Scriptures are being fulfilled right before the knowing eyes of those sensitive to the teaching and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Of course, the ultimate restoration of all things will not occur until the return of the Messiah after the horrific events revealed in the Book of Revelation. But for those who believe that Jacob’s distress (Jeremiah 30:7) is synonymous to the time of Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14) found at the End of the Age, there is every sound reason to prepare to endure. Personally, I believe that there has emerged a group of saints who are forerunners of the end-time Believers who will have a testimony of Yeshua and obey His commandments (Revelation 12:17; 14:12). The relatively young Messianic Jewish community of faith has the hallmarks of this prophesied group of followers of the Messiah.

To conclude, one must always admit that we see through a glass darkly or a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12) depending on the translation referenced, when trying to understand what we think we are seeing or perceiving. Hence, when a simple word like apokatastasis translated differently sparks thoughts unexplored, you wonder if you are simply heading down a rabbit trail or whether there is some truth to where you have traveled. In this case, the study of God’s “just restitution” has been a tremendous reminder that the Holy One of Israel ultimately executes perfect justice coupled with absolute righteousness. I am thankful for the prompting to reflect on the Word of God, and pray that in so doing, I will be more conformed to the image of Yeshua. I hope that I might better reflect these words from Jeremiah, and become a delight to the Holy One of Israel:

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

April 2017 Outreach Israel News


OIM Update

April 2017

Late last month the senior director of partner relations for the Joseph Project and I were on a trip to East Texas to meet some people, who have been faithful supporters of that humanitarian aid effort in Israel. When we got back to Dallas, Margaret and John had dinner with us, where they had an opportunity to get better acquainted with our new friend. During our conversation about how the Lord is using the donations of people to minister to the needy in Israel, I was taken aback by the term “restitution” used by John, to describe what he has noted for years in his study of the Holy Scriptures. Since he had recently completed his commentary on 2 Corinthians, the subject of taking offerings from the First Century assemblies of the Mediterranean Diaspora to minister to the saints in Jerusalem, was something he had recently written about. He had noted parallels between the Apostle Paul taking monetary gifts from the Greek and Roman Believers to Jerusalem to bring physical relief to needy Jewish Believers, and how that was a nascent prophetic fulfillment of the wealth of the nations streaming to Zion in the Last Days.

Needless to say, I had never considered the concept of “financial restitution” when reflecting on the prophesied restoration of all things noted in Acts 3:19-21. But I was aware of verses like the following that dealt with the wealth of people and nations:

“And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).

“Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, and in My favor I have had compassion on you. Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined” (Isaiah 60:10-12).

In addition, when we were discussing the fulfillment of the many prophecies regarding the restoration of Israel and how the past seventy years have seen incredible progress in the Land of Israel, the mention of the concept of “restitution” made me think about God’s perfect justice with the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As a congregation, we had just been through the commemoration of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people, as found in the Book of Esther. I recalled the edict of King Ahasuerus that not only protected the Jews, but allowed them to be enriched by the wealth of Persia:

“In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil, on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar)” (Esther 8:11-12).

Contemporaneously, we had just studied through the Book of Exodus with the Passover seder rapidly approaching. As a result, I had a memory flash about what happened to the Israelites when they were preparing to leave Egypt. These verses came to mind, as the distinctive term “restitution” of wealth from the plunder of the Egyptians could conceptually be a repayment for years of bondage in Egypt:

“I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:21-22).

Next month, I will be writing an article that addresses God’s Justice and Restitution. This month we have featured an excerpt from the forthcoming book Salvation on the Line: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity—Gospels and Acts. It addresses the scene of Yeshua walking on water in Mark 6:45-52 and Matthew 14:22-33, which has key Tanach background in the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus—in addition to Yeshua speaking forth “I am” and being worshipped.

We want to encourage everyone to download the new Messianic Apologetics app for their iPhone or Android. It is available for free in both the iTunes store and on Google Play!

Because of our growing associations with Messianic Jewish Believers and leaders over the past few years, we will be focusing more efforts on how we can make a substantial contribution to Jewish outreach and evangelism, particularly in the apologetics of the nature of Yeshua, His Messiahship, and Bible difficulties. This is very exciting! Please continue to support our efforts with your financial contributions! Without your offerings and gifts, it would be difficult to dedicate the time and energy to produce our many educational resources.

Thank you in advance for your partnership with our ministry endeavors!

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Shalom and blessings,

Mark Huey


Yeshua Calms the Wind and the Sea, and is Worshipped

by J.K. McKee
editor@messianicapologetics.net

This entry has been reproduced from the forthcoming book
Salvation on the Line: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity

“Immediately Yeshua made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, ‘Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.’ Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:45-52).

“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Yeshua spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Yeshua. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” (Matthew 14:22-33).

The scene of Yeshua walking on water, for advocates of either a high Christology of Yeshua being God, or a low Christology of Yeshua being a created agent of God, obviously indicate that Yeshua possesses significant supernatural power. When the Disciples had gone off on a boat journey across the Sea of Galilee, their Teacher had gone off to pray. The boat was being tossed to and fro, and as the Messiah walked on the water to His Disciples, they thought that they were seeing a ghost or phantasma (Mark 6:49; Matthew 14:26). Yeshua assured them that it is, in fact, Him (Mark 6:50; Matthew 14:27). Peter beckoned to Yeshua, actually getting out of the boat to meet Him, but then started sinking due to his doubt (Matthew 14:28-30). The wind stopped when Yeshua got into the boat, and the water was calmed (Mark 6:51; Matthew 14:32). While having hard hearts (Mark 6:52), not fully recognizing or processing everything, their reaction was one of veneration toward their Master (Matthew 14:33).

Yeshua walking on water is important for Christological evaluation because (1) of the obvious miracle witnessed in Yeshua walking on water, (2) of Yeshua’s identification of Himself to the Disciples in the boat, and (3) the Disciples’ response in venerating Yeshua.

That God has supreme power, over the sea and the waves, is testified by Psalm 77:16-20:

“The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You, they were in anguish; the deeps also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth a sound; Your arrows flashed here and there. The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known. You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

It may indeed be that the sentiment of the Psalmist, “Your way was through the sea, Your path, through the mighty waters; Your tracks could not be seen” (Psalm 77:20, NJPS), could be applied to the ability of Yeshua to walk on the water. Peter, notably, was unable to walk on the water himself, without asking the Messiah to command him to come meet Him (Matthew 14:28). Isaiah 51:9 attests, “Was it not You who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over?” Yeshua, concurrent with this, walked on the water and had the ability to stop the waters.

More theological attention is notably given to the self-identification statements of the Messiah in Mark 6:50 and Matthew 14:27, which a version like the NASU has as, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Significant discussions abound, as the source text has egō eimi, more literally “I am,” and whether or not Yeshua’s self-identification of “I am” is to be associated with the self-identification of the LORD or YHWH in the Tanach, in some key places where the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew has notably employed egō eimi or “I am”:

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14).

“‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me. It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, and there was no strange god among you; so you are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘And I am God. Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?’” (Isaiah 43:10-13).

In the theophany of the burning bush, the Hebrew ehyeh asher ehyeh, in Exodus 3:14, was translated by the Septuagint as egō eimi ho ōn. In the oracle of Isaiah 43:10-13, where the God of Israel declares Himself to be the One True God and Savior, the Hebrew clause ki-ani hu, “that I am He,” was translated by the Septuagint as hoti egō eimi. It should hardly be surprising that when the source text of the Mark 6:50 and Matthew 14:27, incorporate egō eimi into Yeshua’s dialogue, examiners recognize that there might be a connection with Tanach or Old Testament passages such as Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 43:10-13—and the self-identification of the LORD or YHWH. And, Yeshua speaking “I am” in Mark 6:50 and Matthew 14:27 is hardly isolated; Yeshua speaking “I am” is associated with His walking on water and calming the waves.

Commentators on both the Gospels of Mark[1] and Matthew have tended to positively weigh some kind of a connection between egō eimi and statements of self-identification appearing in the Tanach or Old Testament. Yet, not all English readers tend to detect egō eimi as being “I am.”

There is a variance of perspectives witnessed among English versions of Mark 6:50: thareite, egō eimi mē phobeisthe, with some having “I am,” and others having “it is I”:

  • “Take heart, it is I; have no fear” (RSV).
  • “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (NIV).
  • “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (HCSB).
  • “Take heart! I AM! Stop being alarmed and afraid [Exod. 3:14.]” (The Amplified Bible).
  • “Have courage. I AM! Do not fear” (LITV).
  • “Take courage! I am. Do not be afraid” (TLV).

The variance of approaches for thareite, egō eimi mē phobeisthe is even witnessed in various interlinear resources, as Mounce and Mounce has, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid!”,[2] but with Brown and Comfort having, “Have courage, I am; do not be afraid.”[3] A selection of commentators on the Gospel of Mark, in evaluating the usage of egō eimi in Mark 6:50, have associated it with either the burning bush theophany of Exodus 3:14 or various other statements of the Lord’s or YHWH’s self-identification in the Tanach:

  • E.B. Cranfield: “[egō eimi]: the ordinary Greek for ‘it is I’. It is conceivable that Mark intends his readers to be reminded of the O.T. use of the expression in Exod. iii. 14; Isa. xli. 4, xliii. 10, liii. 6.”[4]
  • Alan Cole: “[I]n answering with the words It is I, Jesus may have been deliberately using the name of God (Ex. 3:14). This would have only increased the awe of the disciples, although it could also have given them a clue as to the true nature of Jesus, if their hearts had not been hardened (verse 50).”[5]
  • Larry W. Hurtado: “It is I: The Greek phrase used here can function simply as a self-identification. But it is used in the OT (e.g., Isa 43:25; 48:12; 51:12;) with special force as a formula for self-description by God, resembling the phrasing in Exod. 3:14 where God first reveals himself to Moses. Note especially how the whole passage in Isa. 51:9-16 is a most interesting background for the sea miracle account here. In Mark the phrase reappears on the lips of Jesus in the trial scene (14:62), and there, also, is probably intended as an allusion to these OT passages.”[6]
  • William L. Lane: “For Mark the event is a theophany, a manifestation of the transcendent Lord who will ‘pass by’ as God did at Sinai before Moses (Ex. 33:19, 22) or on Horeb before Elijah (I Kings 19:11)….The emphatic ‘I’ in verse 50 is ambiguous. It can be understood as a normal statement of identity (‘it is I, Jesus’), but it can also possess deeper significance as the recognized formula of self-revelation which rests ultimately on the ‘I am that I am’ of Ex. 3:14. Not only the immediate context of the walking upon the water but the words with which the emphatic ‘I’ is framed favor the theophanic interpretation. The admonitions to ‘take heart’ and to ‘have no fear’ which introduce and conclude the ‘I am he’ are an integral part of the divine formula of self-revelation (e.g. Ps. 115:9ff.; 118:5f.; Isa. 41:4ff., 13ff.; 43:1ff.; 51:9ff.).”[7]

There is a similar variance of perspectives witnessed among English versions of Matthew 14:27: thareite, egō eimi mē phobeisthe, with some having “I am,” and others having “it is I”:

  • “Take heart, it is I; have no fear” (RSV).
  • “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (NIV).
  • “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (HCSB).
  • “Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid! [Exod. 3:14.]” (The Amplified Bible).
  • “Be comforted! I AM! Do not fear” (LITV).
  • “Take courage! I am. Don’t be afraid” (TLV).

The variance of approaches for thareite, egō eimi mē phobeisthe is also witnessed in various interlinear resources, as Mounce and Mounce has, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid.”,[8] and with Brown and Comfort having, “Have courage, I am [here]. Do not be afraid.”[9] A selection of commentators on the Gospel of Matthew, in evaluating the usage of egō eimi in Matthew 14:27, just as with Mark 6:50, have associated it with either the burning bush theophany of Exodus 3:14 or various other statements of the Lord’s or YHWH’s self-identification in the Tanach:

  • Donald A. Hagner: “[egō eimi], ‘It is I,’ probably had a deeper meaning to Matthew and his readers than the simple self-identification of Jesus that it is to the disciples. In a theophany-like context such as this, the words allude to the definition of the name Yahweh ([egō eimi]=I AM) given in the LXX of Exod 3:14 (cf. Matt 22:32; John 8:58; Mark 14:62) and Isa 43:10; 51:12. God is present uniquely in Jesus.”[10]
  • Leon Morris: “In all three Gospels Jesus identifies himself with the words ‘it is I,’ employing the emphatic pronoun commonly used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament where God is the speaker. The expression is sometimes used in the Old Testament where God is revealing himself, such as ‘I am who I am’ (Exod. 3:14). Its use on the lips of Jesus at this point might perhaps be said to be natural under the circumstances. The disciples were scared and in need of reassurance; it was important that they should know right away that the one they were seeing was no ghost, so Jesus identifies himself. But the expression has overtones of deity, and who but God could walk on the stormy waters?”[11]
  • Michael J. Wilkins: “The disciples may be thinking that some evil spirit is attempting to deceive them. Jesus gives them immediate assurance that he is no deceptive evil spirit but truly their Master: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ The expression ‘It is I’ (lit. ‘I am’) may allude to the voice of Yahweh from the burning bush (Ex. 3:14) and the voice of assurance to Israel of the Lord’s identity and presence as their Savior (Isa. 43:10-13). Throughout this section Jesus continues to reveal his true nature to the disciples, and this powerful statement accords with his miraculous calming of the storm.”[12]

While He was walking on the water, and as He spoke forth “I am,” it is doubtful that the fearful Disciples understood everything that was going on. Only in retrospect of the encounter of Yeshua walking on water, and calming the waves, would they have been able to fully process what they experienced. In his commentary on Matthew, Nolland actually takes the approach that it is sufficient for egō eimi, for the identification of Yeshua to His Disciples, to serve as “It is I.” However, Nolland also concludes that egō eimi does likely involve some Tanach or Old Testament identification of God, given how the Disciples thought that they were witnessing a ghost:

“While an echo of the divine self-naming of the OT is possible, in the context of the emphatic [egō] (‘I’) in [egō eimi] (lit. ‘I am’) is sufficiently accounted for by the need for Jesus to identify himself as himself, over against the possibility that the disciples are encountering a parodying spirit (but perhaps [egō eimi] takes both roles simultaneously).”[13]

In their book Putting Jesus in His Place, Bowman and Komoszewski assert that there are explicit connections intended between the scene of the Messiah walking on water, and the Lord God operating in the parting of the Red Sea for the Ancient Israelites in the Book of Exodus:

“As various scholars, both conservative and liberal, have observed, the Gospel accounts of Jesus walking on the sea allude rather clearly to the account in Exodus 14-15 of the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea. The Israelites walked in ‘the midst of the sea’ (Exod. 14:16, 22, 27, 29 NASB) and crossed to the other side (Exod. 15:16). Likewise, the disciples’ boat was ‘in the middle of the sea’ (Mark 6:47 NASB) and they also ‘crossed over’ the sea (Mark 6:53). A strong wind from the east blew across the Red Sea and, close to daybreak, the Egyptians found it increasingly difficult to drive their chariots as they attempted to follow the Israelites (Exod. 14:21, 24-25). Likewise, an adverse wind blew across the Sea of Galilee and, based on the geography, it also would have been blowing from the east; this wind also blew close to daybreak and made it difficult for the disciples to row their boat (Mark 6:48). According to Mark, the disciples had the same problem as the Egyptians: their hearts were hardened (Exod. 14:4, 8, 17; Mark 6:52).

“…Jesus appears…to fulfill the role of a greater Moses and of Yahweh. Jesus’ response to his disciples’ fear encompasses both roles. Moses had told the Israelites ‘Take heart!’ (tharseite, Exod. 14:13 LXX) and Jesus told the disciples the same thing: ‘Take heart!’ (tharseite, Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50). But then Jesus added, ‘It is I [egō eimi]; do not be afraid!’ (Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20). This statement echoes statements by the Lord God in Isaiah, where he speaks of a kind of ‘new Exodus’ when the Jews would be restored to their land…{quoting Isaiah 43:1-2, 5, 10, 15-16}…”[14]

Bowman and Komoszewski further associate the activity of the Lord God in the Tanach, with Yeshua the Messiah walking on the water, noting the response of worship to the Son of God, on behalf of the Disciples:

“The most striking aspect of the account, is, of course, Jesus’ actually walking on the sea. In the historical Exodus miracle, the Israelites crossed through the sea but on dry land. In later poetic reflection on this defining moment in Israel’s history, biblical authors pictured God walking on the sea…{quoting Psalm 77:16-20}…

“By walking out to the disciples’ boat on the sea, Jesus demonstrated a mastery over the forces of nature unparalleled among human beings. Moses was merely the human agent through whom the Lord led the Israelites across the dry bed of the Red Sea. Jesus walked across the raging waters of the Sea of Galilee and spoke divine words of assurance and sovereign control to his disciples. No wonder, according to Matthew, the disciples responded by worshiping Jesus and affirming that he was God’s Son (Matt. 14:33).”[15]

In the scene of Yeshua walking on the water, theologians, examiners, and readers who conclude that Yeshua is God, do not make this conclusion only on the basis of the Messiah walking on water as the Lord God is portrayed as being superior to the elements, or the Messiah just speaking “I am.” The response of the Disciples to what took place, is recorded in Matthew 14:33: hoi de en tō ploiō prosekunēsan autō, “And those in the boat worshiped Him” (TLV). While Matthew 14:33 includes a definite employment of the verb proskuneō or “worship,” various versions which are employed in either Messianic Judaism and/or the Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement, indicate that their translators or publishers, are unsure about the kind of veneration issued by the Disciples to Yeshua:

  • “The men in the boat fell down before him” (CJB/CJSB).
  • “And those in the boat paid homage to Him” (Power New Testament).
  • “And those in the boat came and did bow to Him” (ISR Scriptures-2009).
  • “Those who were in the boat came and bowed down before him” (The Messianic Writings).

While it is lexically acceptable to render proskuneō in Matthew 14:33 as “bow down,” is it theologically acceptable? The honor displayed by the Disciples to Yeshua—in spite of them not fully processing all of the events—is religious veneration. Nolland broadly states, “There are those who discover, in their experience of being rescued by Jesus, that in Jesus they encounter God, worship God, and Jesus as the Son of God.”[16] Morris is more assertive, concluding, “The experiences of seeing Jesus walk on the water and then of seeing him call Peter to walk there and of delivering that disciple when his faith failed made a profound impression; as a result they worshipped Jesus…It betokens the worship that should be offered to deity and thus shows us the effect the incident had had on those who saw it all.”[17]

As obvious as it might be, upon Yeshua getting into the boat and the waves being calmed, the Disciples could have all simply quieted themselves and wondered. Or they could have actually been said to have remembered their Israelite ancestors crossing the Red Sea. Instead, they worshipped Yeshua. And how serious is this? If Yeshua is not God, the One who identifies Himself as the “I am,” then to worship Yeshua would be to commit idolatry against the God of Israel. Wellum properly notes how “when Jesus was on earth, he received the praise and worship given to him without ever rebuking the persons who acted in this way (Matt. 14:33; 21:15-16; 28:9, 17; John 20:28; cf. 5:22-23).”[18] Yeshua did not refuse the Disciples’ worship of Him. In his book Jesus and the God of Israel, Richard Bauckham concurs,

“Matthew’s consistent use of the word proskunein, and his emphasis on the point, show that he intends a kind of reverence which, paid to any other human being, he would have regarded as idolatrous. This is reinforced by the fact that his unparalleled uses tend to be in epiphanic contexts (Matt. 2:2, 8, 11; 14:33; 28:9, 17). Combined with his emphasis on the presence of the exalted Christ among his people (18:20; 28:20), Matthew’s use must reflect the practice of the worship of Jesus in the [First Century] church.”[19]

The scene of Yeshua walking on the water, Yeshua declaring Himself to be “I am,” and Yeshua subsequently being worshipped by His Disciples—are together all strong signs of His Divinity. Many people throughout religious history who have concluded that Yeshua the Messiah is God, integrated into the Divine Identity, have not just made this conclusion on the basis of blind religious dogma. If Yeshua were just a created supernatural agent, we would not expect Him to just say “I am” as God at the burning bush, or permit Himself to be worshipped.


NOTES

[1] France, Mark, 273 fn#71 is one who notably takes a negative view of any association of egō eimi in Mark 6:50 with various Tanach statements of the LORD’s or YHWH’s self-identification.

[2] Mounce and Mounce, 156.

[3] Brown and Comfort, 144.

[4] Cranfield, Mark, 227.

[5] Cole, Mark, 180.

[6] Larry W. Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary: Mark (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1989), 106.

[7] Lane, Mark, 237.

[8] Mounce and Mounce, 58.

[9] Brown and Comfort, 56.

[10] Donald A. Hagner. Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 14-28, Vol 33b (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 423.

[11] Morris, Matthew, 382.

[12] Michael J. Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 516.

[13] Nolland, Matthew, 601.

[14] Bowman and Komoszewski, pp 204-205.

[15] Ibid., pp 205-206.

[16] Nolland, Matthew, 603.

[17] Morris, Matthew, 384.

[18] Wellum, “The Deity of Christ in the Apostolic Witness,” in The Deity of Christ, 142.

[19] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 131.

March 2017 Outreach Israel News


OIM Update

March 2017

There is something about this time of the year that reminds me of the “seasons of life” which continue in clockwork like fashion, to spring forth life and renewed vigor to pursue the Holy One of Israel. Perhaps it was a recent birthday, coupled with attending a Messianic Jewish conference and a congregational leadership retreat, in consecutive weekends, which all combined to make me reconsider these memorable statements from the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Without getting too philosophical or overly dramatic, there is definitely a personal benefit from taking some “time of reflection,” to simply meditate upon God’s Word, as the Holy Spirit brings it to mind. In this case, I have been reminded of the timely cycles or events of life that occur for every soul on the planet we call home.

Thankfully, for those inclined to follow the Torah reading patterns established by the Jewish Sages, to inculcate every generation with the wisdom found in the instruction given to Moses, there are annual reminders of the Almighty’s faithfulness to His people. Consequently this month, we conclude the Book of Exodus, reconsidering the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt, and when they receive the nascent instructions on how to establish the holy nation of priests:

“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel” (Exodus 19:5-6).

In addition this month, our methodical study of the miraculous Exodus events is interspersed with another deliverance story, when the Book of Esther is considered and Purim or the Feast of Lots is celebrated. Once again, the Creator God demonstrated His sovereign will for the children of Israel, as they avoided potential annihilation from the ancient Persian Empire. So, it is extremely important for modern-day followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to reflect upon the “times and seasons” of life found in the Holy Scriptures, being continually cognizant of the ancient and modern realities of Israel’s (and God’s) persistent foes. After all, the obstinate Enemy of our souls has always used people like the Amalekites to destroy those who have been called to bring the light of truth. In fact, it is clearly stated that after Moses declared the Holy One as a banner over Israel, the harassment from the Amalekites will continue forever:

“Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; and he said, ‘The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation’” (Exodus 17:15-16).

Therefore, let us all be persistent in our intercessory prayers, as we reflect upon historical occurrences, and present realities! 2017 is a year of significant anniversaries for the State of Israel and the liberation of Jerusalem, which will keep Israel in the media focus throughout the year. It is our fervent prayer that despite the attempts of nefarious interests to do harm to Israel, we will all redouble our prayers for protection for those in positions to lend help and security. We know from past experience that as the Lord continues to bring His people together in harmony, the Evil One continues to prowl about as a lion seeking to devour any susceptible to his wiles.

This month’s lead article by J.K. McKee has been entitled, “Purim, Haman, and Anti-Semitism.” As he continues to expand the Messianic Apologetics division of Outreach Israel, there is also a change in our service narrative that will begin to come into focus. In the past, our ministry has tended to almost exclusively be focused on helping non-Jewish families and individuals, like ours, get acclimated to the Messianic movement and experience, as they embrace their faith heritage in Israel’s Scriptures. Because of our growing associations with Messianic Jewish Believers and leaders over the past few years, we will be focusing more efforts on how we can make a substantial contribution to Jewish outreach and evangelism, particularly in the apologetics of Yeshua’s Messiahship and Bible difficulties. This is very exciting! Please continue to support our efforts with your financial contributions! Without your offerings and gifts, it would be difficult to dedicate the time and energy to produce our many educational resources.

Thank you in advance for your partnership with our ministry endeavors!

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Shalom and blessings,

Mark Huey


Purim, Haman, and Anti-Semitism

by J.K. McKee
editor@messianicapologetics.net

This month the worldwide Jewish community will be commemorating the Festival of Lots or Purim. As many of us know, Purim is a time when the account of the Book of Esther is read, there is typically some kind of congregational play where young people dress up as Biblical characters, and there is a great deal of food. Purim is a calendrical reminder that one month later, we will be remembering the Passover. There are many important themes of Purim, as witnessed in the Book of Esther, which force us as God’s people to not only consider the ancient Jewish exile from the Promised Land, but also how anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism is a blight that humanity has been suffering from for well over two millennia.

I have already written many things about Purim and the Book of Esther, which are included in our ministry’s Messianic Spring Holiday Helper publication, as well as in A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic. As someone who has been involved in Biblical Studies, my approach to reading the Book of Esther is not guided by me trying to look for esoteric or hidden meanings behind the characters of Queen Esther, King Ahasuerus (Xerxes), Mordecai, or Haman. While there are points of irony within the account of Esther, and one can surely see the sovereign direction of the God of Israel behind the events—my interest is understandably more focused on the historicity of the events, and how we learn from them moving forward in time. There certainly was an Ancient Persian Empire that controlled what we today call the Middle East, and into parts of both India and the Eastern Mediterranean. There certainly was a large displaced population of Jews, living in exile away from their home in the Land of Israel.

At the end of 2003, I can recall some of the unexpected reactions that many people in the Messianic community had, when The Jewish Study Bible by Oxford University Press was released. Even today, the engagement level that many Messianic people have tends to begin and end with the resources produced by Orthodox Jewish publishers such as ArtScroll—which definitely sits at the (far) Right end of the spectrum. When The Jewish Study Bible was released, it was acclaimed to be a compendium of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jewish scholarship; what it ended up being was a Jewish edition of another Oxford Annotated Bible, meaning that it was very liberal. Its introduction for the Book of Esther approached Esther as though the story were ahistorical at best, but in all likelihood an ancient novella akin to modern day soap operas, broadly fiction, with its inclusion in the Hebrew canon of the Tanach to be somewhat spurious. I certainly believe that the Book of Esther contains reliable history, and should not be removed from the Biblical canon—but historical issues in the Book of Esther are actually some of the least of our challenges when approaching the Tanach.

I seriously wonder if some of the conclusions drawn by those who treat the Book of Esther as being ahistorical, are affected by how Purim can often be commemorated today in various settings. None of us should have any real problems with having a good time, and even putting on a dramatic presentation, in costume, of various Biblical stories. Dramatic presentations will necessarily invite embellishing a few things here or there. Ultimately though, the account of Esther chosen to be the wife of King Ahasuerus, Mordecai’s position in the Persian court, Haman’s manipulations—and God working behind the scenes through people strategically positioned—is something very serious and sober. There is no denying the fact that the account of the Book of Esther, forces each of us to consider the dastardly effects of anti-Semitism throughout world history. There has been a concentrated effort by the enemy to see that the Jewish people are eradicated—mainly because without the Jews, you have no people who can bear forth to God’s faithfulness of a Messiah to come.

When I was living in Central Florida from 2001-2012, my local Messianic congregation did have a customary Purim play, where the younger people, and a few of the adults, dressed up as characters from the Book of Esther. Periodically, however, the traditional play would be supplemented with another presentation: Hamans throughout history. In the traditional Purim play, the figure of the evil Haman is typically booed. Haman dresses up in all black, with some kind of an elaborate headpiece, and he is played by someone who has to give him sinister characteristics. And yes, for the record, I have played Haman on multiple occasions. Even though at the end of the record of Esther, Haman is put to death using the same mechanisms with which he sought to exterminate the Jews—anyone who reads history, is quite consciously aware of how anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism did not die with Haman. What many would rightly classify as “the spirit of Haman,” a chief demonic principality which seeks for the annihilation of the Jewish people, has been passed down among many willing vessels to our present day.

So, assuming that in attending a Shabbat service during the week of Purim, and witnessing the younger people and a few adults seemingly make fun of themselves as they go through the story of Esther—is the story of Esther to just be something where we have a good laugh, and then eat 250-calorie Hamentashen cookies afterwards? I am hardly someone who is against having a good time, but as I recall from the Hamans throughout history presentation, the customary Purim play only gives one-half of the story. How do we move forward with it?

When we contemplate the figure of Haman in the Persian court, we see the ultimate opportunist. Haman uses his subordinates to help elevate himself, and he manipulates the Persian king to acquire more and more power. One wonders if Haman ever saw himself deposing King Ahasuerus to become king himself, but what was more likely is that Haman was positioning himself to be the major power behind the throne, with Ahasuerus a puppet to do his bidding. Haman is stated to be a descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1), who was spared by King Saul (1 Kings 15:8), which can provide for some interesting speculation. But, Haman is ultimately someone intimately involved in the high political affairs of the Persian Empire. And, Haman is someone who found the Jew Mordecai to be a significant threat to him (Esther 3:2). Rather than simply seeking revenge on Mordecai for not showing him the respect he believed he was due, Haman seeks to eliminate all of the Jews in the Persian Empire (Esther 3:6).

The customary Purim play usually ends with two young people dressed as Persian soldiers, marching out a much larger adult, who will be hanged on his own gallows. When I played Haman years ago, I was marched out to the back of the congregation—where I then joined six others, as the second presentation was getting ready. Our congregational leader made a few observations about the fun and humor everyone was able to participate in, but that there was more to be heard. That the spirit of Haman lives on, in not just many people—but specific people in positions of great power in history—has to be recognized. And so, he invited the “Hamans throughout history” to come up and be introduced, with their various profiles as evidence of the great scourge of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.

While “Hamans throughout history” was supposed to be a very serious and probing presentation, it too embellished things. As I was obviously the first to walk out in front of the congregation, I recall back in 2004 how The Imperial March from Star Wars was specifically chosen to be played. Everyone had just “met” the Persian Haman in the preceding Purim play, but there was a recounting of who Haman was, his hatred for Mordecai and the Jewish people, and how he met his fate. And then, six others in costume were announced, one by one, to come up to the congregation and be introduced.

The next person who was announced to the congregation was a Greek, but more specifically someone who represented the Seleucids who invaded the Land of Israel, and sacrificed pigs at the Temple in Jerusalem. Because Chanukah had taken place only months before, the account of the Maccabean resistance was fresh on everyone’s minds. The Seleucid Greeks wanted the Jewish people to give up on the Torah, circumcision, the Sabbath, kosher dietary laws, and be assimilated into Greek culture and religion. Those who did not comply were put to death. While not the blanket extermination intended by the Persian Haman, the insidious nature of Antiochus Epiphanes, and in wanting to see the Jewish people annihilated by assimilation into the wider Hellenistic milieu, was well taken. Even today, the biggest threat to the survival of the Jewish people is not necessarily Middle Eastern terrorism, but instead is in Jews wanting to give up on their heritage, and completely assimilate into wider Gentile society.

The third person announced was a Roman, but someone who specifically was in costume as a Roman emperor. While Judea was a province of the Roman Empire, and Judaism was a legal and protected religion exempt from Caesar worship, on the whole the Jewish population within the Roman Empire tended to be a tolerated minority at best, but frequently discriminated against. The temptation to assimilate into paganism was always present, which led to Jewish zealots and others wanting to see the national integrity of the Jewish people preserved, by political independence. As readers of the Apostolic Scriptures are innately aware, as the good news of Yeshua was spreading out in the First Century, the tensions which led to the Jewish revolt and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. to Rome, were also building. The relationship between not only the Jewish people and the Romans—but the Believers in Israel’s Messiah—substantially deteriorated in the centuries following.

The fourth person introduced to the congregation was a Roman Catholic inquisitor. The common Jewish hostility to Roman Catholicism is very palpable. In the case of the Spanish Inquisition, its major purpose was to identify and convert those it considered to be heretics, so that the Kingdom of Spain could be a fully Catholic society. In the Sixteenth Century, this mainly included those of the nascent Protestant movement, which rejected Rome and papal authority—and the longstanding Jewish population, which had once flourished and thrived in Spain. The figure of the inquisitor invokes not only forced conversions of Jews to Roman Catholicism, but also the forced renunciation of various converts’ Jewish heritage via the compulsion to eat pork. But most especially, the figure of the inquisitor represents how there were Jewish people tortured to death by those claiming to represent the Messiah of Israel.

The fifth person introduced before the congregation was dressed up as Adolf Hitler. While the anti-Semitism of the Greek, the Roman, and the Inquisitor was less specific, the anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany was self-explanatory. A number of the factors leading to the rise of Hitler, including the anti-Semitism of German Reformer Martin Luther, and how the German Jews deeply integrated into German society were utterly betrayed by their Christian neighbors, were explained. More than anything else, the systematic extermination of the Jews of Europe, enacted by the most advanced society on Earth at the time—in terms of its science, technology, and philosophy—was graphically portrayed on the screen. The Holocaust and 6 million Jewish dead, to be sure, was the great tragedy of the Twentieth Century. But the Holocaust was perpetrated not just by some sadistic fascist state; it was perpetrated by those with all of the advancements and education of the age, and absolutely no ethics or humanity. And to be sure, the Holocaust was committed by many people claiming to be followers of Israel’s Messiah.

The sixth person introduced before the congregation was a Muslim terrorist. Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, modern Israel has not at all had an easy relationship with the surrounding Muslim countries. When I first started being involved with Hamans throughout history in 2004-2005, someone dressed up as Yassir Arafat came up, with a brief discussion and slides presented on the PLO and Intifada. After 2005, someone dressed up as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president of Iran (2005-2013), came up—carrying a briefcase labeled as “Bomb,” with a radiation symbol on it no less! In this case, the point made was not only that the State of Israel had Muslim neighbors wishing its destruction, but at least one in Iran actively out to build a nuclear weapon. And to further intensify the point, President Ahmadinejad is technically a Persian. But, not only is Islamic terrorism and anti-Zionism a threat to Israel and the Jewish people, it is a threat to the Western world.

At this point in the Hamans throughout history, it can be legitimately interjected as to who else in past human affairs could have been brought before the audience. Seeing how my congregational leader, David Pavlik, had a huge walrus moustache, I actually thought about him dressing up as either Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein! You could probably have had a white supremacist or KKK member, or going back even before Haman, have had various Egyptians who oppressed Ancient Israel. But, being pressed for time, only one more person filled with “the spirit of Haman” could come before the audience: “He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).

Not too unlike the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the seventh figure is presented before the congregation. The music is changed to be far more eerie and bone chilling. The final Haman is dressed in all-black suit, and wears a hockey mask, obscuring his face. The specific identity of this final person is unknown, but he has been foretold in the Holy Scriptures. The final figure who is brought before the congregation, is none other than he “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The final Haman, the ultimate enemy of the Jewish people and the God of Israel, will be the antimessiah or antichrist. The challenge is put before the Messianic congregation to not just be able to identify and resist this person when he comes on the scene—but to now do everything humanly possible to increase one’s loyalty to the God of Israel, and support the Jewish people. For, as the antimessiah comes on the scene, so will there be a massive influx of Jewish people to the community of faith (cf. Romans 11:25-26ff)!

After moving back to North Texas in 2012, I do not know if the Hamans throughout history presentation is still conducted in my previous Messianic assembly. My current congregation, like many other Messianic Jewish congregations, to be sure, holds a Purim play for our Shabbat morning service. The sure advantage, of at least sitting down and recognizing that there has been a demonic principality operative throughout many centuries since the deliverance of the Jewish people during the time of Esther and Mordecai—opposing the God of Israel, His ways, and seeking the eradication of Jews—should cause us to consider our role as Messianic people for the future. The story of Esther does not end with the hanging of Haman. It might be said that the story of Esther will only end when “the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).

Anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism have been around for a very, very long time. Anti-Semitism was around centuries before the arrival of Yeshua the Messiah. All of us need to be aware of the blatant forces of anti-Semitism, found in the Hitlers, Arafats, and Ahmadinejads of the world. All of us need to stand in support of our local Jewish communities, and find ourselves as eager Zionists in friendship with the State of Israel. But what about the more subtle forms of anti-Semitism that can be encountered? While we know that many evangelical Christians today have a grossly under-whelming knowledge and appreciation for their Jewish Roots in the Synagogue—are you aware that many who consider themselves to be “Hebrew Roots” Believers do not have that much more knowledge or appreciation of Judaism?

One of the more obvious things that we have to encourage people to do, is read the Scriptures more intelligibly. Consider these two different versions of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, from two widely accessible Christian Bible versions:

“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men” (NASU).

“For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, since you have also suffered the same things from people of your own country, just as they did from the Jews who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us; they displease God and are hostile to everyone” (HCSB).

The big difference here, in English reading, is whether or not a non-restrictive comma should be placed between vs. 14 and 15: “the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus” or “the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus.” Anyone who reads the Gospels in context, knows that it was only certain Jews, in the religious and political leadership, who were responsible for the death of Yeshua. Likewise, Paul himself further says in 1 Corinthians 2:8, “the rulers of this age…crucified the Lord of glory,” as the Romans also bore specific responsibility for executing the Messiah. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, Paul is associating the Jewish religious leaders who were responsible for Yeshua’s death, with the Jewish religious leaders in Thessalonica, who saw him and his party ejected from the city (Acts 17:1-15). A smart reader can recognize this sort of detail, as there were thousands of Jews living in the Land of Israel, and certainly in the greater Diaspora, who had never  even heard of Yeshua of Nazareth and cannot be held at specific fault for seeing Him unjustly condemned to death. But an ignorant person from the Middle Ages would have used 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 as a means to hunt down and persecute European Jews, blaming all Jews everywhere and at all times for the unjust trial and execution of Yeshua. Do not be surprised if the latter approach experiences some revival in the days ahead.

This month, an even more perditious form of anti-Semitism will manifest itself across many sectors of the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement, largely composed of non-Jews—who while having embraced their faith heritage in the Tanach Scriptures, tend to be very suspicious, and at times hostile, to the Jewish Synagogue. To be fair, a number of the Hebrew Roots associations you will encounter embrace the Festival of Purim, and do their best to stand against anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. They rightly believe that there are many lessons to be learned from the Book of Esther, they value the traditions and customs of Purim, and they are supportive of Zionism and the State of Israel. But many other people in the Hebrew Roots movement do not support Purim. In fact, they believe that Mordecai’s establishment of Purim as a holiday to be commemorated by the Jewish people, who were saved from extermination (Esther 9:20-22), is to be construed as “adding” to God’s Instruction in the Torah, and that Purim is to be rejected. I have even seen a few claim, just like many liberal theologians, that the Book of Esther is ahistorical and should not be canon.

If I want to see anything change this year, I want to see our appreciation for the themes of Purim deepen and increase. I do not want it to begin and end with a child’s play; I want to see more congregations having presentations on Hamans throughout history. I want the themes of God’s deliverance behind the scenes through good people, and the vigilance we all must maintain against anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism, be carried throughout the year.

February 2017 Outreach Israel News


OIM Update

February 2017

As noted in last month’s update, the change in direction of the government of the United States was a Godsend of magnanimous proportions! In many regards it could have been, according to a variety of righteous servants of the Most High, a direct result of God’s children crying out for mercy, and then protection, for the inauguration of the new executive administration. Whatever it was, for those old enough to bear witness to the persistent political pendulum swings of the American culture, there is one undeniable conclusion: the population of this 240-year old democratic republic is substantially divided about how to proceed into the future. To observe the internecine battles played out daily on various media outlets can be extremely disconcerting. There almost appears to be a self-destructive nature at work to tear apart people with different worldviews. We must persist in our prayers!

From a Biblical viewpoint, one knows that without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit impacting a person’s thinking and understanding, diametrically opposed perspectives are expected. How, one might ask, is it possible for a person without faith under the domineering influence of the world, the flesh, and the Evil One (Ephesians 6:12; 1 John 2:16), going to comprehend spiritually appraised data in lieu of the onslaught of contradictory information? The Apostle Paul summarized the dilemma two millennia ago when writing to the Corinthians:

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM [Isaiah 40:13]? But we have the mind of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

As I contemplated these realities, some words shared by Yeshua came to mind:

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:24-25; also Matthew 12:25; Luke 11:17).

Here in precise terms Yeshua stated that when a kingdom or a house is divided, it will not be able to stand. This universal truth applies to countries that the Almighty has always used for His sovereign purposes. Hence, the United States of America, founded on Judeo-Christian principles—and currently the foremost protector of the State of Israel—cannot avoid the severe negative consequences of division indefinitely. This is especially true in light of geopolitical circumstances which have the potential to erupt with nominal warning. Once again, we urge the faithful to pray for those in authority, as was declared recently from the inaugural podium, when this Scripture was read without any hesitation:

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

With those Scriptures as a backdrop, rather than dwell on the depressing and surly aspects of division and vile detestation for others, instead I want to share a personal testimony which has taken place over the past year. This month’s lead article entitled, “One New Man Testimony: United We Stand,” describes how the Holy One of Israel is meeting the needs of people through willing vessels who are simply making themselves available to serve Him. Hopefully, everyone who reads this account will be as blessed, just as the author was, who simply followed the Spirit’s lead to help those in need.

Finally, our year has gotten off to a fast start and we are anticipating an acceleration of references to Israel as significant anniversaries occur later in the year! We know from past experience that as the Lord continues to bring His people together in harmony, the Enemy of our souls continues to prowl about as a lion seeking to devour any susceptible to his wiles. Hence, J.K. McKee continues to expand the Messianic Apologetics division of Outreach Israel in order to help people within the emerging Messianic community of faith refine their understanding. Please continue to support our efforts with your financial contributions. Without your offerings and gifts, it would be difficult to dedicate the time and energy to produce our many educational resources. Thank you in advance for your partnership with our endeavors!

With that in mind, may: “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Shalom and blessings,

Mark Huey


One New Man Testimony: United We Stand

by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”
Psalm 133:1

Who would have thought that Psalm 133:1 would be quoted in the inaugural address by the newly elected President of the United States of America? In a prophetic sort of way, it is our prayer that his—and our—desire for unity between people of relatively common faith, will be a hallmark of the new administration and the citizens of our divided nation over the next four to eight years. However, as people of faith witness over and again, the attainment of blessed unity, or even respectful coexistence, is under constant attack from nefarious spiritual forces that derive satisfaction from division, destruction, and the ultimate divider, death.

Lamentably, the acrimonious debate devolving to vile actions is never pleasant to observe. In fact, the constant reminder of negative disinformation can be discouraging and downright depressing! Hence, instead of writing and focusing on the ugly things people say and do to one another, I would like to, instead, share a positive personal testimony about how people from distinctly different Jewish and Christian backgrounds have come together to help others in desperate need. After all, everyone who fervently seeks to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and walk in His ways, is exhorted to perform good works to and for their fellow human beings. Providentially, in a unique display of unity under the broad umbrella of the Holy Scriptures, there are Jewish Israelis, American Baptists, and Messianic Jews collaborating to minister to Syrian Christians fleeing from atrocious acts of carnage at this very hour. From my limited perspective as I watched the events unfold, it surely could have been God’s mercy answering the prayers of His people for those in significant need of medical attention.

In this particular case, although it continues to be a work in progress as of this writing, we find a prime modern-day example of a “one new man” collaboration of Jewish and non-Jewish people working together to help those in physical need. The spiritual ramifications of the relationships established remains to be seen, as hearts are softened on all sides of the Judeo-Christian spectrum. After all, over the last several decades since the reconstitution of the State of Israel in the Promised Land, the Holy One has been patiently and methodically removing the enmity and breaking down many of the historical barriers that have been built between the Jewish people and non-Jewish followers of Israel’s Messiah over the last two millennia. The Apostle Paul wrote some dynamic words to ancient Believers in the First Century, specifically on how Yeshua’s work has torn down the barrier wall of enmity, and how Jewish Believers and non-Jewish Believers in Israel’s Messiah were to be unified into a “one new man” or “one new humanity” in Him:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we would walk in them. Therefore remember, that once you, the nations in the flesh—who are called ‘Foreskin’ by the ones called ‘Circumcision,’ which is in the flesh, made by hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who were once far off, have been brought near in the blood of Messiah. For He is our peace, who made both groups one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, the religious Law of commandments in dogmas, that He might create in Himself the two into one new humanity, so making peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the enmity by it” (Ephesians 2:10-16, PME).

With this Scriptural reminder of not only how all Believers in Israel’s Messiah are a part of the Commonwealth of Israel—but most especially how they are to experience great unity in His Body—the following is my testimony of what the Holy Spirit is doing to bring His people into unity to accomplish His purposes.

The resulting good works ministering to God’s children in Syria began in an unusual way, with a chance encounter at the Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas. In late November 2015, I was attending to the needs of my father, who was receiving an MRI for his trigeminal neuralgia disorder at the hospital lab. My brother and I were in the corridor speaking with the neurologist, when down the hall on an electric cart came a middle aged man who recognized and then greeted my brother. Apparently, these two SMU graduates had reserved season ticket seats next to each other at the basketball arena. Other than the time they sat together during games, they had no other real relationship. To be polite, my brother introduced me to Bruce, and I noticed he had a nametag on that indicated he worked for the Baylor Hospital system. So I asked him what he did, and he said that he helped raise money for the Baylor, Scott & White Health Group, and then also worked on distributing used medical equipment to needy people around the world, spending much of his time at his office in a warehouse just a block away.

As it happened, I had just seen a presentation about the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America’s, or MJAA’s, Joseph Project, a few weeks earlier. So, when Bruce mentioned medical equipment and giving it away, I simply asked him if they would consider giving some to needy people in Israel. Without hesitation, Bruce simply replied, “We give it to any needy people. All you have to do is pick it up and pay for the shipping overseas!” With that I said, “OK. When can I come by the warehouse and see what you have? Maybe some of this can minister to folks in Israel?” And from that providential point forward, a relationship was initiated that resulted in the shipment of a container of medical equipment and supplies in July 2016. In fact, I was able to solicit the medical expertise of one of our congregation members, an oncologist who had just recently retired from working at the Baylor Hospital. She was able to point out valuable medical equipment and supplies which would be appropriate to send, and was even going to be in Israel when the container was going to arrive. But the testimony does not end here…

The MJAA Joseph Project was already responsible for distributing over $100 million in humanitarian aid to Israeli Jews, Arabs, and even Palestinians (widows, orphans, homeless, elderly, disabled, and Holocaust survivors) over the past two decades. They were delighted to receive the generous gift of medical equipment and supplies from the Christian Baptists and their Faith in Action Initiative (FIAI), the non-profit organization of Baylor, Scott, & White Health Group. The FIAI is the entity that runs the warehouse and prepared the pallets of supplies and equipment for shipment. So in a unique sort of way, there was a collaborative “one new man” effort of Messianic Jews and Christians working together with the sole goal and desire to minister to people in Israel with this medical equipment and supplies. But there is more evidence of God’s handiwork.

After the container landed at the dock in Israel, because there were some used electric powered incubators, monitors, and sophisticated baby warmers, the Israeli Health Ministry would not let it into use because of government regulations about restrictions on “used” electrical medical equipment. This “red tape” hang up precipitated a series of meetings with not only some of the Orthodox Jewish Israeli Health Ministry bureaucrats, but also the Israeli Minister of Health, who is also Orthodox. Thankfully, the Joseph Project director, who coordinated the shipment, and our retired oncologist friend, were able to attend the meetings with the Health Minister this September 2016 in Israel. Their conversations went extremely well. The result was the Israeli Health Ministry actually changing some governmental policies to allow used medical equipment to come into Israel, and actually be given to smaller towns, villages, and settlements where they do not necessarily have the monetary resources to purchase new equipment. That breakthrough was quite a blessing, because what is happening in Israel through the efforts of the Joseph Project is spiritually significant! Orthodox and secular Jews are witnessing the tangible actions of Messianic Jews literally giving all sorts clothes, shoes, furniture, appliances, diapers, baby formula, and other things to needy people—without expecting anything in return. The unconditional love of the Messianic Jewish community, to those in need, is softening the hearts of many Jews, who have historically been antagonistic toward Yeshua the Messiah, and very distrusting and suspicious of the Messianic Jewish community. Clearly, God has been using the Joseph Project for His eternal purposes beyond just physical relief!

However, even though at the time all the parties to the breakthrough were elated, there was still a problem getting the new regulations written and approved through the Israeli Health Ministry. (Does this sound familiar to those working through other governmental entities?) But God had another plan. Instead, while the container remained on the dock and the stowage fees began to mount daily, word got out through the community of Messianics and an Israeli lobbyist, with many contacts with the Knesset and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), that the container was being held up at the dock. Then somehow through a series of relationships, the person who started Israeli Flying Aid (IFA), a first responder to natural disasters, found out about the container of medical equipment. Through her contacts with the IDF, she was able to get the container released from the dock, and get the mounting stowage fees waived. She was then allowed to have the medical equipment and supplies sent clandestinely across the Israeli and Syrian border to help the Syrian “internally displaced people” (IDP) or refugees unable to leave the country. It is our understanding that many of these IDPs are Christian Syrians fleeing from the violence and carnage taking place in cities like Aleppo. Since the refugee camps established in Jordan are completely full and unwilling to take any more people, the Syrian IDPs are actually being collected down near the Golan Heights. How amazing is it that the IFA, performing some “good works” for their neighbors, have been instrumental in making all of this happen by the end of 2016? But if you can believe it, positive things continue to materialize.

In January 2017, after the people at the Joseph Project had developed this strong relationship with the secular Jewish Israelis and American Jews supporting the efforts of the Israeli Flying Aid missions, and the ongoing association with the Faith in Action Initiatives, a request for more aid was made to help those in Syria. Without any hesitation, the request for a container of medical equipment to be shipped in January was granted. In fact, during a long distance phone call showing the equipment available via Facetime technology, a request for a second container was suggested. Providentially on that very day, 87 pallets of shoes and orthopedic braces and boots had just arrived. Those at the FIAI warehouse were more than delighted to send a second container, because their own warehouse was too overloaded, with more medical equipment and supplies than it could handle. So not only did the MJAA Joseph Project send two containers which will make the trip to minister to the Christian Syrian IDPs, but a third container with 18 pallets of shoes will go directly to the Joseph Project warehouse in Israel this month. These will be distributed on a first come first served basis to needy Israelis of all backgrounds.

Quite frankly, I am marveling over how the Lord has orchestrated this rapid shipment of medical equipment and supplies to His needy people in Syria, and also in Israel. But what is also exciting to witness is how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is knitting together the hearts of Israeli Jews, Messianic Jews, and Christians, in order to minister to Syrian Christians, as well as Israelis who are both Jewish and Arab. God does not discriminate when it comes to answering the prayers of His people, and ministering to those in need.

As I contemplated and wrote this testimony, a variety of Scriptures came to mind. One in particular is found in the Sermon on the Mount, when Yeshua contrasts the command to love neighbor with the common human fault of hating one’s enemy:

“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR [Leviticus 19:18] and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:42-48).

In addition, the Holy Scriptures are replete with commandments and examples of what is required to love God and your neighbor as yourself, as best summarized by the Messiah Yeshua, when questioned by a scribe as to what was the foremost commandment:

“One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Yeshua answered, ‘The foremost is, “HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORED YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH” [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]. The second is this, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF” [Leviticus 19:18]. There is no other commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to Him, ‘Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is one, and there is no one else besides Him [Deuteronomy 6:4]; AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF [Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18], is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:28-33).

Notice at the end of this passage that evidence of loving God and neighbor is much more beneficial than “all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Is not ministering to the needs of neighbor—and perceived enemy—much more pleasing to our Creator than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices we can do? Now is that not something to think about as we move forward in 2017?! Perhaps we all should consider how we can live together in unity rather than in division. After all, we know how good and pleasant it can and will be if we can work toward that end!

So in this era of great division in our country, may our prayers be for those who persecute us—which quite frankly is a difficult thing to do. Nevertheless, we need to learn to love our neighbors and the immigrants which come to live among us, as was commanded of the Ancient Israelites in the Torah of Moses:

“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

The Lord God is testing all of us in this hour of rapid change, as the illegal immigrant population grows, not only in the United States, but in modern countries around the globe. And it is critical that we all understand that this axiom continues to ring true: “United we stand, divided we fall!”

I thank God that He is bringing together the “one new man” at His pleasure and according to His will. It is my prayer that this is one testimony which reflects His work among those who call upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and encourages one and all to continue to advance His Kingdom, until the Messianic restoration of all things…

January 2017 Outreach Israel News


OIM Update

January 2017

The arrival of the New Year brings with it cautious anticipation and optimistic expectations, tempered by the Biblical reality that The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). In other words, despite the relative joy which many American followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are experiencing due to a dramatic providential change in governmental leadership—as the political pendulum appears to have shifted from liberal to conservative—we are all still at the mercy of God’s sovereign will for His created order. Lest people from all nations of the world forget, Psalm 2 succinctly summarizes how the Holy One of Israel views the often inane machinations of humanity. Here in unequivocal terms, regardless of recent resolutions declared by the United Nations Security Council that impact the State of Israel and Zion as the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8), everyone on the planet is ultimately accountable to the words of Messiah Yeshua (Deuteronomy 18:15; Hebrews 12:25), the recognized Son of God:

“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:1-12).

Thankfully by God’s merciful grace, many in the world today have freely received the offer of salvation by faith in the accomplished sacrificial work of the Messiah, and in so doing, not only worship Him, but are blessed to take refuge in Him. It is our fervent prayer that the timely respite from tumbling into the abyss of ungodly liberalism and secular humanism, will be used by the Holy Spirit to bring countless others around the globe to a salvific knowledge of Yeshua’s unconditional love for them.

As a result, in what we might term a “line extension” in time, prior to the eventual return of Yeshua the Messiah to rule and reign from Jerusalem—work to advance God’s Kingdom on Earth continues, with the spiritual impediments that the Holy One has sovereignly allowed. In light of the oracles of God which have been entrusted to and preserved by the Jewish people down through the millennia (Romans 3:2), humanity today has at the very least a vague roadmap for how the Almighty plans to exercise His will among the nations. With that in mind, this month’s lead article entitled, “2017: A Pivotal Year Ahead,” is an attempt to recognize that the Eternal One is a God of peace and not confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), who at times allows His followers to obliquely through a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12), see His hands upon the levers of historical events. Personally, I believe this peek is for a “time such as this,” so that the encouragement received from prayers answered will elicit even greater prayers, and hopefully concrete actions in the days, weeks, months, and years to come before the Messiah’s ultimate return.

There is a huge volume of work to be undertaken, in order to complete God’s commission to every Believer to share the good news, and make disciples of those from every tongue, tribe, and nation. We must each individually ask the Creator God: What did You create me for? How do You want me to accomplish Your purposes on Earth during my lifetime?

For us at Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics, the answer has been consistent. Dedicate your lives to serving Me, by helping Messianic people understand My ways and how I am restoring all things as promised (Acts 3:19-21). Since 2002, our family has been intimately involved, in full time ministry, with the emerging and still-developing Messianic community of faith, as the Holy One has been working diligently to bring all of His people, Jewish and non-Jewish Believers, together as “one new man” or “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15). In particular, John McKee has been given significant intellect, spiritual maturity, and an incredible work ethic to produce articles, FAQ entries, books, commentaries, and audio and video podcasts for today’s Messianic people. I would encourage everyone to financially partnering with our efforts, as we certainly believe that the teachings we offer, will help today’s Messianic movement mature more rapidly.

With that in mind, may: “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Have a personally peaceful and spiritually fruitful 2017!

Mark Huey


2017: A Pivotal Year Ahead

by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

For the ardent student of the Bible, with an insatiable appetite to understand world history, and how humanity has traveled down through the annals of time, recent political events in the United States, coupled with geopolitical events around the globe, recognizably reflect God’s sovereign hand upon the affairs of mankind. Certainly many astute observers, who are Believers in the Holy One of Israel—with the distinct benefit of the Holy Spirit or the Comforter/Teacher/Helper resident in the heart—can filter through the overwhelming input of true and false information, in order to discern what the Father is revealing to His children:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).

During this time period through supplication and appeals to the Almighty One for His mercy, many in the faith community which calls upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the beneficence of the accomplished work of Yeshua the Messiah, were led to read and contemplate an overabundance of opinions easily obtainable by access to the Internet. Prophecy teachers expounded eloquent theories, and predictive “words” were given by various people who generally claimed that they were “hearing from God” or “had a vision” about certain things which were on the horizon. Certainly, I would have to admit that I was especially excited to read how various voices were discerning a Cyrus-anointing (Isaiah 45) upon one of the U.S. presidential candidates, and I even began to pray and encourage others to ask for a Jehu-anointing on that same candidate (2 Kings 9-10). Thankfully, there are indications that these unique attributes appear to be evident to the next leader of the free world, even before the designated power to execute justice has been bestowed. Hence, the Biblical admonition to pray for those in authority (Romans 13), or soon to be, needs to continue by the faithful:

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Nevertheless, from a Biblical perspective, the chosen of God down through the ages have always had challenges presented to them by nefarious forces seen and unseen. In fact, when one analyzes the recorded history of Israel in the Bible, there are distinct patterns recognizable by anniversaries which appear to affirm that the Lord is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

One obvious reoccurrence has been the events that have taken place on the Ninth of Av, which most notably include the destruction of the First and Second Temples on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But according to Jewish history, the Ninth of Av, and the horrific things associated with it, actually began centuries earlier (1313 B.C.E.), when the twelve spies returned from Canaan on the Eighth of Av. On the Ninth of Av, the ten faithless spies gave a bad report which discouraged the Israelites fleeing from Egypt, resulting in forty years of wandering in the desert. This was followed by the destruction of the First Temple (423 B.C.E.) and the Second Temple (69 C.E.). Additionally, the Battle of Betar, the final butchering of Jews from the rebellion of Bar Kochba in 133 C.E., was also on this day. Much later, the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 and Spain in 1492 both occurred on the Ninth of Av. And finally, the day that Germany declared war on Russia to begin World War I was on the Ninth of Av, 1914. Surely, the patterns realized on the Ninth of Av have made this a day to live in infamy down through the centuries in Jewish history. With this notable example, God has used some providential patterns on the annual calendar to remind people that He is in charge of what actually occurs or what He allows among the created order.

However, in addition to actual days on the Hebrew calendar, the Eternal God of Creation has also set in motion other time markers which occur less frequently, that we may be reminded of how He is a God of order who uses time as a means to establish patterns of behavior. Obviously, the seven-day week is a pattern set in motion. When one researches the history of the seven-day week, there is attribution sought by various ancient cultures in antiquity. Yet, for those who believe in the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is clear that the seven-day week reflects back upon the account of Creation found in Genesis chs. 1-2. Failed attempts by post-revolution France in the late 1700s and the Soviet Union in the 1930s, to alter the seven-day calendar, did not prevail—and for the most part, both Western Civilization and the commercial world in general, have embraced and utilize the seven-day work week. There is variance among cultures as to what day is considered the first day of the week, but for the most part, in order to maintain proper order and transactional accountability, the seven-day week has become almost universally accepted in the Twenty-First Century.

Of course, a natural extension of the seven-day week found in the Holy Scriptures are patterns adopted for seven days, and even seven years. Recall the seven years of plenty versus the seven years of famine found in Genesis 41, when Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. These critical events ultimately leading to the preservation of the children of Israel, foreshadowed the eventual codification of the Sabbatical year and the year of jubilee as recorded in Leviticus 25:

“The LORD then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat. You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field. On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property”’” (Leviticus 25:1-13).

In Ancient Israel there was a pattern established for the seven-year Sabbatical rest, a special time of release after seven sevens (forty nine) and then the year of jubilee on the fiftieth year. Today there is much contentious debate about what exactly are “years of jubilee.” At this point in world history, Jewish and Christian theologians and scholars are not in agreement on the timing of the years, or even whether it is applicable for our modern setting. Nevertheless, yearly patterns do occur—and regardless of whether the Jewish year 5777 which began last Fall is a “jubilee year”—2017 (and 2018) will have some very significant anniversaries, falling into fifty, seventy, and one hundred year patterns.

Personally, because modern man has become accustomed to following the news cycles promoted by the increasingly ubiquitous Internet and social media feeds, I expect considerable opinionated outlets to make the world aware of events which directly affect Israel. After all, Zion has always been the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8), and followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob know that the nations of the world will constantly be at odds with God’s chosen people and the plans He has for Israel. So let us examine some of the anniversaries which will be referenced in books, articles, governmental speeches, news media interviews, movies, and television in the coming months—which will keep Israel in the forefront of people’s minds. After all, the God of Creation has made certain absolute promises regarding the restoration of Israel to the Promised Land, that He must eventually fulfill.

Consider, for example, the recent U.N. Resolution 2334 of 23 December, 2016, where in a speech from the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry referenced the upcoming 120 year anniversary of the August 1897 First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. There, after the Congress adjourned, Theodore Herzl (the recognized father of modern Israel) on September 3, 1897, prophetically wrote in his diary:

“In Basel I founded the Jewish State…If I said this aloud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in fifty, everyone will agree.”

Providentially, the nascent United Nations passed U.N. Resolution 181 on 29 November 1947 (almost fifty years to the day), which declared a partition of the region under the post-World War I British Mandate. The area which was known as “Palestine,” actually became the territory for the formation of the modern State of Israel.

However, it was Secretary Kerry’s reference to 120 years in his speech which caught my attention, primarily because of a verse spoken by God recorded after the Flood of Noah’s time:

“Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years’” (Genesis 6:3).

As I pondered all of the striving which has taken place over the past 120 years (since 1897) regarding the Promised Land and the restoration of the Jewish people to their ancestral home, some historical patterns came to mind which were monumental anniversaries in fifty, seventy, and one hundred (2 times 50) year increments.

In the year 1917, there were two circumstances which were incredibly instrumental in allowing the Jewish people to return to the Promised Land in increasing numbers. The first was a letter written on 2 November, 1917 by Lord Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. In a document that became known as the “Balfour Declaration,” it was forthrightly stated.

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

In November 2017, people in Israel, the worldwide Jewish community, and friends of Israel all over the world—most especially Messiah followers who understand God’s promises to restore Israel to its historical land—will be recognizing the one-hundreth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and what it meant to the changing tides of history.

The second major event of 1917, for the restoration of Israel, occurred in December 1917, when General Edmund Allenby of the British Expeditionary Forces captured Jerusalem from the failing Ottoman Empire. For the first time in four hundred years, the ancient revered city of Jerusalem was no longer under the control of Arab, Muslim, or Turkish forces. Jews were allowed to return and live relatively peaceably in their ancient capital city. By 1922, the formal British Mandate was established by the League of Nations as a protectorate to maintain order in the region. The British Mandate of Palestine was the administrative authority of the region from 1920-1948, but this period of time between the World Wars also obviously witnessed European powers vying for political and military dominance. With the end of World War I in 1918, the demise of the Ottoman Empire, the defeat of the German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the communist revolution in Russia, the British and the French were in the best position to maintain order in the Middle East.

However, it was not until after World War II and the Holocaust with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis powers, when on 29 November 1947, the United Nations agreed to U.N. Resolution 181 which formally declared a Jewish state and Arab state, with Jerusalem declared a corpus separatum or international city. The seventieth anniversary of this resolution will be taking place in the Fall of 2017, along with the one-hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Needless to say, the news cycles will be filled with stories about these critical events which have impacted the history of the modern Middle East. This is especially true as the enemies of Israel continue to try to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to exist. The proposed two-state solution, which is most contrary to the Bible, has been promoted with a vicious attempt in recent years via the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions or BDS Movement against Israel—something not only proposed by various countries against Israel, but is seeing increasing support in various sectors of evangelical Christianity.

But 2017 will also see another anniversary which compliments the defeat of the Turks and capture of Jerusalem by the British in 1917. 2017 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Jordanians following the Six Day War, on June 7, 1967. (Do you see a pattern? 1917-50 years to 1967-50 years to 2017. Are these potential jubilees? Or are they simply coincidences?) On that day, the Israeli Defense Forces overwhelmed the efforts of the armies of Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon to defeat and destroy Israel. Instead, the God of Israel prevailed in miraculous ways, and the outmanned Israeli army had an incredible victory which sent their enemies back from the Golan Heights, across the Jordan River, the Gaza Strip, and even beyond the Suez Canal. The captured territories from this war established boundaries that were defensible. So, when the fiftieth anniversary of this implausible Israeli victory is recognized and celebrated, it will doubtlessly spark recriminations coming from the world at large, from those who want Israel to give back all of these lands. This, in fact, is what the recent U.N. Resolution 2334 has set in place for the coming year. Thankfully, we will have a new administration in government of the United States which has a completely different approach on how America should be handling its relationship with the State of Israel.

Please be mindful that these anniversaries, and all of the potential controversies that the nations and peoples of the world will generate to come against Israel—are merely a prelude to what will be taking place in May 2018 as the State of Israel celebrates its seventieth anniversary. Providentially, the one-hundreth anniversary of the conclusion of World War I will be remembered on November 11, 2018. Significant world events will be remembered simultaneously, with overlapping discussions in academia, among the intelligentsia, the media, in religious circles, and virtually everywhere with the omnipresent access of information to the mass of humanity.

I believe this will be an excellent time to be knowledgeable about these anniversaries and how they will impact Israel and the believing community at large, because I believe they reveal some aspect of the mysteries of God (Deuteronomy 29:29). Conversations will be plentiful by many who are searching for answers about what will be characterized as “controversial topics” which are harmful to global peace and security. As followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Yeshua the Messiah—there will be ample opportunity to share the hope that is within us. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

“Of this [assembly] I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Messiah. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:25-29).

It is my prayer that 2017 will be a very special year for each of us, as we enter into this season when the subject of God and Israel will be on many hearts. I urge you to be equipped, because I believe the parable of the fig tree or Israel’s restoration, applies to us, given the series of anniversaries getting ready to take place. If that is so, then Yeshua’s warnings to His generation are apropos for us today:

“‘But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ Then He told them a parable: ‘Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man’” (Luke 21:28-36).

2017 will be a pivotal year for those with hearts prepared to share the hope that is within them. May we all be so ready, as we ask the Holy One to use each of us to advance His Kingdom on Earth, until the Messianic restoration of all things…

December 2016 OIM News


OIM Update

December 2016

Now that the American electoral season has come to a conclusion, many (but not all) in the evangelical and Messianic community of faith have experienced a collective sigh of relief. Personally, as I indicated in last month’s article, our prayerful pleas and heartfelt supplications have shifted from seeking mercy for our national direction, to protecting those who have been elected to lead our nation. There is substantial encouragement from statements made by parties involved with the incoming administration, that the U.S. Executive Branch will have a strong relationship with the leadership of the State of Israel. This probability in and of itself brings great joy to our hearts, because we know from Biblical and historical evidence, that the Almighty favors individuals and nations which bless Abram/Abraham and his chosen descendants:

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed’” (Genesis 12:1-3).

I have personally talked to people who have heard directly from reliable sources, and read some articles, indicating that the incoming President-elect is very favorable to relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While this potential move would validate the Jewish State and its right to exist in the Promised Land, it would in and of itself be extremely controversial among the powers which continually war against the children of Israel (Psalm 83). But thankfully, controversy is not something the new administration is unaccustomed to, but rather extremely adept at handling. As followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who believe in the accomplished work of the Messiah Yeshua at Golgotha (Calvary), we need to redouble our prayers, with occasional Hallelujah pauses, as we literally witness prophecy unfold right before our eyes!

This month of December 2016 arrives at a very unique season for the growth and development of the Messianic community of faith. As anyone involved with Messianic things is astutely aware, December brings challenges to people, as they involve the holiday of Christmas on December 25, and the commemoration of the Feast of Dedication or Chanukah. Our ministry does have a book available, entitled the Messianic Winter Holiday Helper, which has been compiled to provide teaching, as well as sound advice, on how to handle some of the inevitable conversations which will arise during this time of year. We encourage you to get a copy for your personal use, or to give as a gift to help others.

Since relocating back to North Texas four years ago, we have seen our family and our ministry steadily welcomed not just into a local Messianic Jewish congregation, but this past November, John was a featured speaker as the MJAA Heartland regional conference. While we are entirely supportive and promoting of an inclusive and welcoming Messianic community, as Jew and non-Jew are brought together as “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15), there has been a noticeable gap building between Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics—and the mainly non-Jewish Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement. While we will interact with all sorts of individual people, who label themselves by many different things, there have been developments in the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement in the past few years which we are very disturbed by.

The Lord is definitely doing something very important in this hour, as non-Jewish Believers are embracing their faith heritage in Israel’s Scriptures in a very profound and significant way. Our own family’s involvement in the Messianic movement since 1995 is a testimony to this. As it is very clearly foretold in Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4, the nations will come to Zion in the Last Days to be taught God’s Torah. And, per the thrust of the Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 New Covenant, this is to be a work of the Holy Spirit for all of His people. But, the welcomed participation of the nations within the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13) or Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), is hardly supposed to take place to the exclusion of the salvation of the Jewish people. We are finding that more and more people in the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement, are not too concerned with the issues of Jewish outreach, Jewish evangelism, and Israel solidarity. They are keen to embrace their Hebrew Roots in the Torah and Tanach, but not too interested in embracing their Jewish Roots in the Second Temple religion of Yeshua and His Apostles.

This month’s lead article, by J.K. McKee, notes how many non-Jewish Believers who have entered into the “broad Messianic movement,” are not going to be remembering the Feast of Dedication or Chanukah this month. These are people who have largely left the confines of their previous Christian church, and they even regard themselves as being grafted-in to Israel’s olive tree via their faith in Israel’s Messiah (Romans 11:16-17), but they have a very difficult time with understanding Judaism and the Jewish people. They may understand the Apostles’ question of Acts 1:6, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”, but only in part. While recognizing that there is more going on in the Messianic movement than just declaring the good news of Yeshua to Jewish people who need salvation, the article “A Restoration of Israel—Without the Jews?” is critical of some of the things presently being witnessed in the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement. With many non-Jews claiming to have embraced their faith heritage in Israel’s Kingdom, it is amazing to see how many of them are not too concerned with issues of Jewish outreach. Dismissing Chanukah as a vain human tradition, among many possible examples, is not going to aid the first and primary mission of the Messianic movement: to see the Messiah’s Jewish brethren come to redemption.

Finally, it is the time when many of you are considering where to invest in God’s work through others with a variety of year-end giving opportunities. Consider the specific work and calling of Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics. Our family is uniquely positioned to not only address the theological and spiritual issues which face many of today’s Messianic people, but we are also working for resolution to some of the things which have divided or confused too many of us for too long. We are making able usage of all of the tools at our disposal, as we anticipate the Messianic restoration of all things!

“May the LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Thank you in advance for your partnership with us and your generous support of our endeavors!

Chag Samaech!

Mark Huey


A Restoration of Israel–Without the Jews?

by J.K. McKee
editor@messianicapologetics.net

This month of December 2016, the Jewish and Messianic Jewish communities will be commemorating Chanukah or the Festival of Dedication. Chanukah is a very warm time for Jewish and Messianic Jewish families, mainly as they reflect back on different family memories, special times of fellowship, gift giving, and of course eating many specialty foods. In many Messianic congregations the world over, there will be dedicated times of reading from the Books of Maccabees, focusing on the ancient history of the Seleucid invasion of the Land of Israel, the resistance that opposed Hellenism and upheld God’s Torah, and which assured not just a Jewish victory over evil but the very survival of the Jewish people. For those of us in Biblical Studies, the Maccabean crisis of the Second Century B.C.E. significantly impacted the Second Temple Jewish world of Yeshua of Nazareth, and in particular the attitudes of many within the Jewish community to their Greek and Roman neighbors. Many of the conflicts in the First Century ekklēsia that took place, as Greeks and Romans began receiving the Messiah of Israel into their lives—and whether these people had to be circumcised as Jewish proselytes in order to truly be reckoned as God’s own—can trace their way back to the effects of what we review during the season of Chanukah.

Ten to eleven years ago (2005-2006), in my family’s Messianic quest, we fully embraced the remembrance of Chanukah. Up until this point, we had moved beyond Christmas on December 25, but were unsure of the Festival of Dedication. We certainly had no problem with joining in to various congregational activities which took place on Shabbat, in order to remember Chanukah, which mainly included various readings from 1&2 Maccabees and lighting the chanukiah. The significance of the Maccabean crisis really began to come into focus for us, as I started writing Messianic commentaries on various books of the New Testament, and found myself referencing not just the Maccabean revolt—but its psychological impact on later Jewish generations. Without the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Greeks, there would be no Jewish people into which the Messiah of Israel would be born. Chanukah should be remembered by today’s Messianic community, no different than how Americans celebrate the Fourth of July.

Today, if you are a part of a Messianic Jewish congregation, some significant remembrance of Chanukah is going to take place, likely including various teachings which compare the Maccabees’ cleansing of the Temple to how we as Yeshua’s followers need to be cleansed by Him. If you are part of some informal Messianic home group or Torah study, you may also have some kind of Chanukah remembrance. But, if you are part of the widely independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement—something mainly, if not exclusively, composed of non-Jews—then you will see variances in approach to Chanukah. Many people who identify as being a part of the Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement, think that the Festival of Dedication is something spiritually edifying and worthwhile for God’s people to remember (cf. Philippians 4:8). Many others, however, would consider Chanukah to be a hollow Jewish custom that the Messiah’s followers should not be observing, and they think that when the Festival of Dedication is mentioned in John 10:22-23 that Yeshua was not commemorating it along with the rest of the Jewish community, but stood off to the side in disapproval.

As a Messianic Bible teacher, and not only as someone who has been a part of this movement since 1995—but who actively uses social media—I interact with people all across the spectrum, who identify with any number of different labels. While I am not always successful, I do try my best to be a consensus builder, being a firm believer that what the Messiah of Israel has accomplished for us, in being sacrificed for our sins, is the most important thing. If you are going to divide with someone, make sure that it is over something directly related to the Messiah’s work. In my over twenty-one years of being involved in Messianic things, I have certainly witnessed my share of controversies, and I am astutely aware of the competing spiritual forces which can manifest across our faith community.

What we call “the Messianic movement” today is something that has its origins deeply rooted within Protestant evangelistic outreaches to the Jewish community, first in Europe and Britain, and later in North America, starting in the early Nineteenth Century. The Hebrew Christian movement, of the late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, was an association of Jewish Believers in Jesus, usually as a sub-sector of Protestantism, where various aspects of Torah could be observed as a part of Jewish culture, in parallel to conventional Protestant observances. The Messianic Jewish movement, which really entered onto the scene in the 1960s and 1970s, emphasized Jewish outreach and evangelism via congregations established on a synagogue model, and where various aspects of Torah—such as keeping Shabbat, the appointed times, or a kosher diet—were no longer just aspects of Jewish culture to be remembered, but were aspects of Jewish obedience to God via the expectations of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). The primary mission of the Messianic movement has always had a basis in Jewish outreach, Jewish evangelism, and Israel solidarity. And this is the way it should be, as is declared so affluently in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the Good News, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who trusts—to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (TLV).

Within the 1980s and 1990s, as the Messianic Jewish outreach widened, and new Messianic Jewish congregations and synagogues began being established—it is safe to say that something did take place, which was widely not anticipated by some of the early Messianic Jewish leaders. During this time, many evangelical Christians were being directed by the Lord to Messianic congregations, for a variety of reasons. The primary reason that non-Jewish Believers are drawn to Messianic congregations, is to remember the significance of Yeshua the Messiah in the appointed times. My own family was among those steadily drawn into their Jewish Roots throughout the 1908s, via studying “Jesus in the feasts.” Concurrent with this, many non-Jewish Believers drawn into Messianic congregations get quickly acclimated to the weekly study of the Torah portion, and in reconnecting with the Tanach or Old Testament in a very tangible way not witnessed in contemporary evangelicalism.

Today in 2016, if you asked many individual Messianic people, they would have to agree that there is a dual mission being achieved within the Messianic movement. First and foremost, the Messianic movement is here to see Jewish people come to saving faith in Israel’s Messiah, in fulfillment of prophecy (cf. Romans 11:12, 26-27), and plugged-in to assemblies where Jewish Believers can remain in fidelity to their Jewish heritage—not finding themselves assimilated away into a Gentile Christianity, which might see that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren have no comprehension or knowledge of their Jewish ancestry. Secondly, the Messianic movement has witnessed many non-Jewish Believers take a tangible hold of their Hebraic Roots in the Tanach and Jewish Roots in Second Temple Judaism and the Synagogue, in fulfillment of the nations coming to Zion in the end-times to be taught God’s Torah (Micah 4:1-3; Isaiah 2:2-4), recognizing that God is with His Jewish people (Zechariah 8:23).

All of us, as God’s children, should be willing and eager to learn from each other—particularly as there are many godly and edifying virtues from both Judaism and Protestantism, which can definitely be employed as we contemplate the final stages of history before the return of the Messiah. While Jewish and non-Jewish Believers are not exactly the same, and there are natural differences among God’s people—namely that only Jewish Believers can expect to be given a tribal inheritance in the Promised Land, and that the Torah and Tanach composes not just their spiritual but also ethnic and cultural heritage—we have far more in common than not. If we focus on what we have in common, first, then our differences can be used to enrich and aid us in encountering the challenges of life—not encourage suspicion, division, and rivalry.

This December is a season when I get to join with my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters in Messiah Yeshua, and I get to celebrate with them in the triumph of their ancestors over the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes. I consider my commemoration of Chanukah to be no different than when we remember the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, or the retaking of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967. Chanukah is a celebration of victory. And, in no uncertain terms, do I hide the fact that I think that everyone in the Messianic movement—if they are genuinely committed to the original mission of Jewish outreach, evangelism, and Israel solidarity—should remember the eight days of the Festival of Dedication as well. The Maccabees’ resistance against pagan assimilation, as important as it was for past Jewish history, has much to teach each of us about the future end-times. For, just as Antiochus Epiphanes had demanded that people worship his image, so the coming antimessiah/antichrist will demand that people worship him, and reject the God of Israel and His ways (cf. Revelation 13:4-7).

Four years ago (2012), our family returned to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, where we got our original start in the Messianic movement back in 1995-1996. We not only reconnected with our old Messianic Jewish friends, and made some new Messianic Jewish friends, becoming part of a vibrant Messianic Jewish congregation—but we have even been welcomed into positions of leadership and teaching. The biggest “controversy” I have witnessed regarding Chanukah is over who is going to set up, and take down, the decorations in the sanctuary. While improvements can always be made regarding what lessons there are to learn from the Maccabean revolt, I am thankful to report that there are no controversies whatsoever about whether or not we even need to learn from the Maccabean revolt.

Things get much more interesting, however, in my ministry service through Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics—because most of what we do actively involves online social media. In open forums, you encounter people from all sorts of religious persuasions, in particular as it involves the many, who in some form or another, associate themselves with the label “Messianic.” To be sure, the significant number of people with whom I interact are Jewish and non-Jewish Believers, who want unity and stability within the Messianic movement, and who want us all to get along, learning from one another. At the same time, when one moves into the more independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots persuasions, things can get very, very interesting. While I think many of us can understand—especially after the election cycle of 2016—much of the frustration that people have with “the establishment,” some people are so anti-establishment that they are of the mindset that neither Christianity nor Judaism have ever made any significant, positive contribution, of any kind, to human civilization.

The kind of person who has become particularly odious to me, over the past few years, is the non-Jewish “Believer” who claims to be a part of the polity of Israel, but wants little or nothing to do with the Jewish people or with mainline Jewish traditions and customs. Almost all of the non-Jewish Believers I interact with are of the conviction that, along with their fellow Jewish Believers, they are a part of the polity of Israel. They believe that they are a part of what Ephesians 2:11-13 calls the “Commonwealth of Israel,” the Galatians 6:16 “Israel of God,” the Romans 11:16-17 phenomenon of being wild olive branches “grafted-in” to Israel’s olive tree (cf. Jeremiah 11:16-17; Hosea 14:1-7), participants in Israel’s Kingdom restoration along with their fellow Jewish Believers, witnessing David’s Tabernacle being restored (Acts 15:15-18; Amos 9:11-12)—a part of an enlarged Kingdom realm of Israel, with a restored Twelve Tribes at its center, and its dominion welcoming in the righteous from the nations. Many of these people know the horrors resultant of Christian anti-Semitism and replacement theology, and so if they are claiming to be “fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise” (Ephesians 3:6), this better be joined with the thrust of Romans 12:10 in mind: “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (NRSV).

Certainly, if someone like me has a Biblical responsibility to outdo my fellow brothers and sisters in showing honor to them, then what it means is that I have to show an appropriate amount of respect to the spiritual and theological heritage that I have in the Jewish Synagogue. That is, if I really do regard myself as a part of the Commonwealth of Israel. There are things that I have to legitimately learn and appreciate from the Jewish experience with God. My writings to date bear witness to the fact that I have been spiritually and intellectually enriched by not just many of the Jewish writings of the Second Temple period and immediately thereafter, but I have learned immense things from the Jewish struggle the past two centuries, particularly as they involve the rise of Zionism, the Holocaust, and the creation of the State of Israel. I am learning new things all the time from the Jewish experience in history, that everybody needs to especially learn and integrate into their psyche, as we get closer and closer to the Messiah’s return.

As it involves living out a lifestyle of Torah obedience unto God, my writings to date also bear adequate witness that I am very philo-traditional when it comes to mainline Jewish traditions and customs. While I am hardly what one would consider to be “Orthodox,” I do not haphazardly dismiss some of the major traditions and customs practiced in Conservative and Reform Jewish settings. I do not eschew, for example, men wearing a yarmulke or kippah in worship services. I do not have any problem with the Hebrew liturgy at my Messianic congregation’s Shabbat service. I adhere to the longstanding convention since Second Temple times of not speaking the Divine Name YHWH/YHVH in public arenas. Whenever I encounter a Jewish tradition or custom that I do not understand, I expel some effort of investigating it first, before commenting on it, much less dismissing it. For certain, I will encounter Jewish perspectives or practices that I consider non-Biblical and in error—just as I have encountered Protestant perspectives or practices that are non-Biblical and in error. At the same time, the wide majority of Jewish perspectives and conventions I find to be genuinely edifying. Certainly for this December, remembering Chanukah or the Festival of Dedication would be an edifying Jewish practice.

Unfortunately, not everyone with whom I interact throughout the week, shares my commitment to fairness and equity. While I do believe, as someone from an evangelical Protestant background, that there are edifying virtues and perspectives from which today’s Messianic movement can benefit that originate from my Reformed and Wesleyan heritage—the fact is that as a non-Jewish Believer in Israel’s Messiah, I have cast my lot with the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom. I do not just look to the return of the Messiah and His eventual reign from Jerusalem, but I pay attention to what is happening in modern Israel, and I oppose anti-Semitism when I encounter it. I cannot be arrogant or haughty in regard to the widespread Jewish dismissal of Yeshua, but I have to instead act as a vessel of grace and mercy, and be facilitating a widespread Jewish acceptance of Yeshua (Romans 11:30-31). I have to be very conscientious of the Apostle Paul’s warning, “for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either” (Romans 11:21).

What do you do with a non-Jewish Believer, who legitimately partakes of his or her spiritual heritage in the Scriptures of Israel, considering himself or herself a part of Israel’s Commonwealth or polity, and is looking for the return of the Messiah to Jerusalem—but then wants little or nothing to do with mainline Jewish traditions or customs? Perhaps more education in Second Temple Judaism and Jewish history would be in order. But what about those non-Jewish people who want to claim that they are a part of the community of Israel via their faith in Israel’s Messiah—but then take no interest in the original Messianic mission of Jewish outreach, evangelism, and Israel solidarity? Be aware that these people have made commitments to a live a life of Torah obedience, in emulation of Yeshua and His early followers. They keep Shabbat, the appointed times, and eat a kosher style of diet, among other things. They may even read the weekly Torah portions. No one is saying that being a part of the Messianic movement is only a one-way street for them, as though they are only here to provide various forms of support for Jewish ministry; such people should have their spiritual needs met and questions answered, just as Jewish Believers have their own spiritual needs and unique questions. Yet, while it is to be properly acknowledged and recognized that God has sovereignly drawn many non-Jewish Believers into the Messianic movement, we have a serious problem on our hands if a number of them want little or nothing to do with their fellow Messianic Jewish Believers.

While the Messianic movement is broad and diverse, and there are certainly instances of various Messianic Jewish congregations being unwelcome toward non-Jewish Believers—today in 2016 many Messianic Jewish congregations welcome non-Jewish Believers, provided they are respectful and understanding of various Jewish sensibilities. I have Messianic Jewish friends who have no problem with my family living a life of Torah obedience in emulation of Yeshua the Messiah. Part of it, they understand, is being involved with the Messianic community. Another part of it, they understand, involves the prophecies of the nations coming to Zion to be taught God’s Instruction (Micah 4:1-3; Isaiah 2:2-4). They just want to make sure that we are doing this as a part of the Messianic Jewish experience, and not off on our own. How are we helping see the Romans 11:25-26 trajectory of salvation history come to pass—“until the fullness of the nations has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved” (PME)? Certainly, if such a mission is to be achieved, it will involve expelling the proper efforts to understand Judaism, accept Messianic Jewish Believers as one’s fellow brothers and sisters, and help declare the Messiah to Jewish people who do not know Him!

How much concern does the widely non-Jewish, Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement really have for the Messianic Jewish movement which preceded it? While I do not want to be found broad-brushing any group of religious people, in the past several years—especially since our family relocated back to North Texas—legitimate concerns as they involve the original mission of the Messianic movement are not too important for Hebrew Roots aficionados. Recently this past Summer, a video documentary called The Way started circulating around social media, and by this time at the end of 2016, it has probably had hundreds of thousands of views. I have seen The Way several times, as its producers visited a number of Hebrew Roots related conferences, independent home fellowships, and interviewed a wide number of popular teachers, as well as individual people. As I have watched The Way: A Documentary, I have tried to practice a method I learned a long time ago as a political science undergraduate: separate data from noise.

There are many non-Jewish Believers whom the Lord is sincerely stirring to look into parts of the Bible which have remained closed to them. Many are partaking of the Sabbath and appointed times. Many are studying the Torah. Many have a genuine desire to want to live like their Savior, and they are willing to make the sacrifice to do it—which at times can include being spurned by their family, ostracized from their friends, and accused of being cultic from their former pastors and Sunday school teachers. Many non-Jewish Believers, who have been directed by the Holy Spirit to be Torah pursuant in their obedience to our Heavenly Father, have experienced some of the same rejection as Jewish Believers who have been ostracized from their families, considered crazy, and maybe even regarded as dead, for placing their trust in Yeshua of Nazareth. I am blessed to say that in my own family’s experience of being a part of Messianic things, we have come together with our Jewish brothers and sisters in Yeshua, and in getting to know one another—and join in common cause—we have been able to have a reciprocal recognition of the sacrifices we have made to walk this path.

Among the many individuals and couples interviewed in The Way: A Documentary, the common thread was that the Lord was moving on people to dig into the Bible like never before. Many of them were indeed cut off from their faith origins in the Old Testament. Many of them had a sincere desire to want to live like Yeshua. Even though many of these people were rough around the edges, particularly in the newness of their experiences, you could tell that these people were ready and willing—not unlike some of the people who in the early days of the Protestant Reformation, first encountered a Bible. One can tell from The Way: A Documentary, that the numbers of non-Jewish Believers awakening to their faith heritage in Israel’s Scriptures, cannot be ignored or dismissed.

But the producers of The Way: A Documentary made one, very critical mistake. They may have traveled across the United States, to Canada, to Costa Rica, and to the United Kingdom. (I was not expecting them to travel to Israel.) They interviewed many Hebrew Roots teachers, and individuals, couples, and families. They may have attended various Hebrew Roots conferences. But not only did the producers of The Way: A Documentary not bother to attend a single Shabbat service at a local Messianic Jewish congregation, and interview the rabbi—they did not even mention the existence of the Messianic Jewish movement. Even though no religious movement is without its challenges and growing pains and errors at times: there would be no move of non-Jewish Believers embracing their faith heritage in Israel, without first a modern Messianic Jewish movement with origins going back to at least the same time as the emergence of Zionism.

What does some of this say? Was this just an oversight of the producers of The Way: A Documentary? Or, is it reflective of the fact that many non-Jewish Believers who have embraced their Hebrew Roots in the Tanach Scriptures, are not too interested in embracing their Jewish Roots in the Second Temple religion of Yeshua the Messiah and His Jewish Apostles? Even more so, are there non-Jewish Believers—believing themselves to be a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, grafted into the olive tree by faith in Israel’s Messiah—who think that Judaism and the Jewish experience have nothing to teach them about their relationship with the God of Israel, or even just the human experience of encountering and overcoming trials on Earth?

That there is more going on in the Messianic movement than just Jewish evangelism is clear enough. But, to forget and/or dismiss the original vision of Messianic Jewish outreach to Jewish people who need Yeshua the Messiah is a grave sin. The agony of Paul over the salvation of his countrymen needs to be heard: “I could wish myself actually under God’s curse and separated from the Messiah, if it would help my brothers, my own flesh and blood” (Romans 9:3, CJB).

It might take a little more work, but one can be a part of a Messianic movement with a dual mission of Jewish outreach and evangelism and in equipping the non-Jewish Believers God has sovereignly drawn in to be a part of the restoration He is performing. Yet as obvious as it may be to some: you cannot have an authentic restoration of Israel’s Kingdom without the Jews. I am afraid that many presently run the severe risk of being cut off (Romans 11:21).