Jesus, the Passover Lamb

We are approaching the Passover
/Easter season, and I pray this will be a spiritually enriching time for you and your family. Hundreds of Jewish people—
both believers in Jesus and seekers—will be attending Chosen People Ministries’ Passover events around the globe. Please remember to pray for these outreaches, as many Jewish people will be introduced to the Lamb of God for the first time in a very “Jewish way!”

Your Mission to the Jewish 
People has produced two new books, which are now available. Both books cover similar material, but the longer book, Messiah in the Passover, goes into greater depth regarding Passover in the Bible, Jewish history, and even Church history. The Gospel in the Passover focuses on the way in which Jesus fulfills the festival.

Passover and the Gospel of John
My chapter in Messiah in the Passover focuses on the Gospel of John, and so, based on that wonderful Gospel, I will try to answer this question: “Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?” The following is a small portion of the chapter.
The Gospel of John is critical to understanding the Jewish story of Jesus. Many scholars argue that the Gospel of John was primarily written to Gentiles, perhaps because of its A.D. 90 date of authorship as well as for a variety of textual reasons. However, the Gospel of John really should be viewed through a Jewish lens. John himself was Jewish and one of the earliest disciples of Jesus. Traditionally, and without argument, he is thought to be the author of the Gospel that bears his name, the Epistles (First, Second and Third John), and the Book of Revelation. According to early Church tradition, John lived longer than any of the other apostles and died as an exile in the late first century on the island of Patmos.

John’s first-hand experience with Jesus gives him great insight into the details of Jesus’ life. He traveled with the Messiah, heard His sermons, and was perhaps the one who was described as “beloved.” He was present at the foot of the cross, unlike his peers, and was given the task of caring for Miriam (Mary), the mother of Yeshua (John 19:26-27).

He was present with Jesus at every Jewish festival the Savior celebrated. Perhaps this is why we learn some unique aspects of the last Passover supper of Jesus through John—especially from the teaching of the Savior during that meal, generally referred to as the Upper Room Discourse.

John mentions Passover quite often in his Gospel. In his very first mention of Jesus, John refers to Him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We may assume that his hearers would have understood this comment in light of the Passover.

John describes three different Passovers observed by Jesus: John 2:13, 6:4, and the final Passover, the focus of this chapter, found in John 11:55, 12:1, and 13:1, with additional references in John 18:28 and 19:14. It should also be noted that Luke tells us that John was asked by Jesus to make preparations for this final Passover meal (Luke 22: 8-13).

The Foot Washing
We understand that the Seder observed by Jesus and His disciples would have been more primitive and not as well developed as what was described 200 years later in the Mishnaic tractate, Pesachim,1 or found in the modern Haggadah, the guide to our modern Passover Seder. However, some of the traditions recorded by John run parallel to our modern day Passover Seder and cause us to think that, in fact, Jesus observed a similar Passover to what we know today and what I was raised celebrating each year! As most of us know, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet during the Last Supper.

The washing of hands during the Passover Seder is foundational to foot washing. The modern Haggadah calls upon participants to wash their hands twice for the sake of establishing ritual purity. The first ritual hand washing is called, in Hebrew, Urchatz.2 In this instance, water is poured from a cup, once over each hand and recited without a blessing in preparation for taking the greens, either parsley or lettuce, which is part of the traditional Seder meal.

The second hand washing is called Rachtzah3 and it is done a little later in the Passover service just prior to eating the matzah (unleavened bread). This time, a blessing is said when pouring the water over the hands: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His laws and commanded us to wash our hands.”

These washing traditions harken back to those linked to ritual purity found in the Torah and in particular to various commandments associated with the priesthood and Temple offerings, especially the preparation of the priests for their duties.4 Again, our modern Passover Seder rituals developed over centuries and cannot be simply “read into” the Passover Seder of Jesus. In this instance, however, it appears that the washing of the disciples’ feet should be associated with the liturgy of the Last Supper (or Last Seder) rather than the common washing of feet when entering a house as a guest.

The strongest indication is that the disciples are already sitting at the table and engaged with dinner when the foot washing begins. 5 Jesus decided to use His washing the disciples’ feet rather than their hands to teach the disciples some early lessons about true humility, suggesting that true spirituality is not simply a matter of performing rituals correctly but a matter of the heart. The lessons in humility demonstrated and then taught through changing the hand washing into a foot washing is dramatic and powerful.

So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

There are many rabbinic teachings found in the Mishnah and Talmud that emphasize the importance of humility.6 We find similar thoughts about humility in the words of Jesus Himself spoken during the Sermon on the Mount, especially as gleaned from the first three beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-5).

Reclining at the Table
Once again, we have good evidence that this meal is a Seder as Dr. Don Carson, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, suggests that the “reclining” posture of the disciples during the meal is another hint that the meal was a Passover Seder: “In short, the posture of Jesus and his men is a small indicator that they were, in fact, eating the Passover meal.” 7

The reclining posture of the disciples and Jesus indicates that the meal was a “special meal” and in this instance, because of the other elements mentioned and the date it took place, it may be seen as a Passover Seder.

The Sop and the Betrayal
Another key to understanding this meal as the Last Seder of Jesus comes when Jesus indicates to His disciples that Judas is going to betray Him. In response to Peter’s asking who the perpetrator will be, Jesus responds, ‘“That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot” (John 13:26).

The dipping of the “morsel” likely refers to one of the various “dippings” that are part of the Seder. It could refer to the dipping of the greens (parsley or lettuce), the bitter herbs, or the charoset (the sweet mixture of apples, nuts, and honey used to symbolize the sweetness of redemption in the midst of the bitterness of slavery represented by the other dippings). We might not know which dipping Jesus is referring to exactly, but clearly this is an unusual action for a regular meal, but not for a Passover Seder.

There are many other reasons why we believe that the dinner recorded by John was an early version of a Passover Seder, but perhaps the above will suffice for now and give you a hunger to learn more about the Passover and the ways Jesus, the Lamb of God, fulfills the Feast.

Enjoy the rest of the newsletter and remember to pray for our staff serving in 17 countries around the globe as they present the Messiah through the Passover in churches, homes, and Messianic congregations and speaking one-on-one with Jewish people who need to know the Lord.

Thanks for your prayers for our ministry. Happy Passover and may the power of His resurrection give you strength to serve Him faithfully!

Your brother,

Mitch


1 The tractate of the Mishnah about Passover
2 Literally, washing or cleansing
3 Literally, To wash or bath
4 Leviticus 8:6, Leviticus 16:24-25
5 Craig S Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003), 906.
6 Ibid. 906–907.
7 Carson, D. A.. The Gospel According to John. (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), p. 473.

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Reaching the Most Unreached Within the Jewish Community

Dear friend,

Shalom in His grace. Thank you for your prayers and faithful support of Chosen People Ministries. Your generosity is deeply appreciated!

One of the passages of Scripture that I find to be moving and encouraging is found in Romans 10, where the Apostle Paul speaks of Jewish people who were faithful to God and to the law. Of course, Paul’s argument is that even though a person might try to keep God’s law, it is simply impossible to do so! He writes,

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1-3)

The Jewish apostle to the Gentiles is explaining to his readers that, no matter how righteous or holy one looks on the outside, God looks at the heart, and, as Scripture teaches over and over again, the hearts and souls of men and women are tainted by sin and thereby unable to please God with human effort alone (Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 17:9). This is the glory of the Gospel: that God sent His only Son, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus the Messiah died for us (Romans 5:8).

REACHING THE MOST UNREACHED WITHIN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

My heart especially goes out to a particular group of Jewish people who live in Brooklyn, the greater New York/New Jersey area, Jerusalem, and in many major Jewish population centers around the world. This group of people is commonly known as ultra-Orthodox and include those we usually refer to as “old-style Orthodox,” dressed in long black coats, with beards, long side curls, and women all wearing long skirts.

There is another name for this group of Jewish people. In Hebrew, they are called “Haredim.” In English, this means the trembling ones, as they are said to live lives trembling before God. The Hebrew word is drawn from Isaiah 66:2, where the prophet writes, “…to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

NUMBERS AND NEIGHBORHOODS

There are approximately 15 million Jewish people in the world today, and about 2 million of them may be classified as Haredim. This group of Jewish people resists contact with the outside world, dresses distinctively as mentioned above, maintains a strong community that is founded upon the very traditional Orthodox version of the Jewish faith, and has lots of children! The children do not go to regular schools but rather attend what is known as a Yeshiva, a Jewish parochial school. There are schools for boys and schools for girls, for younger and older children. Many current Haredim do not attend college. Instead, the men continue to study the Bible and Jewish literature through their mid-20s and then continue to seriously study even while working at their jobs.

As Paul wrote, they have a zeal for God, and this group of Jewish people clearly does have a zeal for God that is impressive. They are awaiting the coming of the Messiah who they believe will fulfill the prophecies found in the Old Testament, but they do not believe that the Messiah will be God, as Jewish people traditionally do not believe God is triune. Of course, Messianic Jews do believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and that God is three persons—co-eternal, co-essential, co-equal—but in truth, this is viewed as idolatry by the Haredim and by most traditional Jewish people. They believe the coming Messiah will bring the Jewish people back to God, restore the Temple, and fulfill all of the promises of Moses and the prophets in establishing His kingdom in the Holy Land with Jerusalem as the capital.

How is it possible for our hearts not to long for the salvation of the Haredim? They are my neighbors in Brooklyn and I pray for their salvation. There are very few Haredim who profess faith in Jesus, as those who do are usually treated as outcasts by their community and families. It is so difficult for a Jewish person from one of these communities to follow the Lord and to stand for Him in the midst of their community.

A TRAINING CONFERENCE DESIGNED TO REACH HAREDIM

We just finished a week long conference at our Feinberg Messianic Center located in the heart of one of the Orthodox Jewish areas of Brooklyn. This was the first conference on how to reach the Haredim that we know of since the Holocaust. I gave a lecture on what missions to the Jewish people have done in the past to reach these folks. My wife, Zhava, taught on the history of the ways in which the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement came into being and how so many of them ended up in Brooklyn!

We had sessions on what is currently being done to reach Haredim with the Gospel and had many discussions on the development of strategies and new tools for evangelism. We also walked the Hasidic areas of Brooklyn and had a time of prayer that was very meaningful. It was a great time and I believe that in the future we will do a lot more to reach the Haredim.

I was raised “Modern Orthodox.” so of course I went to synagogue and learned Hebrew and how to understand the Scriptures, etc. However, my family was very different from those who live the “Haredi” lifestyle. There is an excellent movie out now entitled, One of Us (you can look it up on YouTube), which describes the lives of those who have left the Haredi community. It will help you to understand and pray for this group of people as it tells the story of those who have left the community in order to live a more “normal” American way of life.

REACHING THE ULTRA-ORTHODOX

Again, I wish I could tell you that there were many Haredim who have come to know the Lord, but really, there are just a few. When they come to faith they often lose their families and jobs and are rejected by the community. Of course, the Haredi community does not understand the Gospel. They do not realize that Jesus and His first disciples were all Jewish. They think Jesus founded a new religion called “Christianity” that has persecuted the Jewish people throughout the centuries. They feel threatened by the “Christianity” they have heard about and know very little about the true Gospel and the real Messiah—Jesus!

Most Haredim have never heard the Gospel. I would be surprised to find out if any Haredim actually know Gentile Christians, as they remain in their community for life, work, education, and even for shopping, since they must have the highest level of kosher foods available.

OUR PLAN AND YOUR PARTNERSHIP

We are planning to do more outreach among the Haredim in 2018! We will be utilizing social media and more public types of advertising — in Yiddish— which is the language that most of them speak. I cannot describe in detail what we are planning because I know that many within the Jewish community read our letters. So, please pray that what we are planning in 2018 will be fruitful and well received.

I can tell you that the strategy will be focused in the New York area and that many who are part of our Brooklyn staff will be involved in implementing the strategy and follow-up with those showing interest in the Gospel.

Your prayers for ministries in Brooklyn, where there are almost 1 million Jewish people, are deeply appreciated. Perhaps as much as a third of these Jewish people would be classified as Haredim. God is blessing Chosen People Ministries on every front —in New York City, Israel, and in the 15 other countries where we minister to the Jewish community. We could not do this without you!

Your brother in the Messiah,

 

 

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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Remembering Billy Graham

Yesterday marked the passing of a great man of God: the evangelist Billy Graham. Though he did far more than preach the Gospel to millions and lead millions to the Lord, as founder of Christianity Today, leading his own organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and helped begin significant Christian groups like the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and the Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelism, he will still be known as an evangelist. Clearly Billy Graham viewed evangelism as his highest priority.

He was also a good father and husband, and kept a team together for five decades. He trained some of the most capable leaders of our day, including his son, Franklin, who now leads the BGEA and Samaritans Purse.

My view of Billy Graham changed drastically after I became a believer in Jesus. I was raised a Jewish New Yorker, and Billy Graham was not someone I paid attention to or who had any impact on my life. Once in awhile, I would watch one of his sermons on WOR channel 9 in New York. I changed channels quickly, as every Jewish person knew that we should not watch or listen to Christian evangelists like Billy Graham. I found him easy to listen to, although I admit I did not quite know what to do with him. He evidently had integrity, but he seemed so “puritanical” to me and he was just very Gentile and the epitome of what I was not. On the other hand, he did speak with passion and fervency that I appreciated, even as a young Jewish teenager living in New York City.

After I became a believer in Jesus I understood that every other believer in Jesus was my brother or sister, including Billy Graham. I learned a lot about the Bible and how to share the Gospel from him. When I was a brand new believer I even volunteered to counsel for one of his other evangelists at some rallies in the San Francisco Bay area where I was living at the time. I was really helped by learning how to share the Good News using my five fingers (anyone remember the hand illustration?) and appreciated the way he stood for the Lord in the public square.

Billy Graham produced two films, which were of particular significance to me as a Messianic Jew. The first was His Land, which showed how modern Israel was the fulfillment of prophecy. I loved it and took all my friends to see it! Billy Graham connected me to my own homeland and I was better able to understand what God did in Israel through the lens of Scripture for the first time. I could tell at that point that Mr. Graham was a friend of the Jewish people and of the nation of Israel, which he proved over and over again through his long 99 years of life.

The second film was the story of Corey Ten Boom – The Hiding Place. This movie again gave a clear Gospel message that was a powerful tool for Jewish evangelism. I saw the movie in Beverly Hills in a theater packed with Jewish people and you could hear a pin drop through the movie as we watched a Gentile woman suffer for her faith and love for the Jewish people. I understood that Billy Graham had a deep love for the Jewish people and for the nation of Israel.

Later on as I continued in my ministry, especially in the greater New York area, I had the privilege of being part of a number of committees for the Billy Graham rally held in Central Park on September 25th, 1991. One of my mentors was the chairman of the campaign committee and brought me into many different areas of the internal organization of the event. We formed a group that worked with Cliff Barrows and Dan Southern, who ran the campaign locally, to organize the follow up of the Jewish contacts. We also wrote papers and met and prayed together in order to help the Graham organization better understand the Jewish nuances of New York City. I was humbled because the Graham team really listened to us and changed their usual Crusade model for something that would be friendlier to the variety of ethnic groups in New York City – including the Jewish people.
They did not use the word crusade, which is a sensitive term for Jewish people. They had Marty Goetz sing some Messianic songs on the platform and Kathy Lee Epstein Gifford share her testimony as a Messianic Jew. The entire experience was wonderful. I was proud to be part of it and with great joy we were able to follow up on dozens of Jewish people who had committed their lives to the Lord at the Central Park rally.

The icing on the cake for me personally was when Billy Graham decide to do his last series of rallies in New York City in the Borough of Queens, where I grew up. I was asked to pray on the Sabbath, Friday night, June 24th, 2005, at the rally in Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair. It just so happens that I was raised a couple of miles from this venue and I was able to stand up that night and pray for the Jewish people of the greater New York area. I sat behind Billy – he sat in a chair because he was already too weak to stand and preach. The message was only 15-20 minutes long and his gentleness, directness, and love for the crowd was apparent and actually overwhelming – you could just sense it. I sat stunned by the pristine simplicity of the message preached by this man of God. I even had the joy of praying with a Jewish man that night to receive the Lord.

Billy Graham, though he did not really know me outside of the night I prayed for the service, was a big influence in my life. I had a deep affection for this man. I am sure that I am just one of millions of lives that he touched so deeply. I thank God for Billy Graham and want to go record as one of the many Jewish people who admired and respected him for his godly example, Gospel conviction, love for Israel and the Jewish people, and desire to bring Jewish people to a saving knowledge of Jesus the Messiah. He will be missed by all of us until the reunion!

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Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Dear friend,

Shalom and Happy New Year from Chosen People Ministries! We are praying that 2018 will be an amazing year of hope and promise! We are excited about reaching Jewish people with the Gospel in new ways in the new year!

We have developed some powerful new ministries in the United States and abroad—especially in Israel! We now have more than twenty workers in Israel and three centers (Jerusalem, greater Tel Aviv, and the Galilee). We are continuing with our children’s camping programs, a ministry among Holocaust survivors, outreach through our Isaiah 53 Hebrew-language campaign, and much more! Our center in Ramat Gan (a suburb of Tel Aviv) opened in 2017, and it is already a bustling hub of ministry activities designed to meet the spiritual needs of young professional Israelis and their families.

Also, I am proud to report that our work in the “other Holy Land,” Brooklyn, continues to grow. The five boroughs of New York City are home to more than two million Jewish people and have the highest concentration of Jewish people in the world outside of Israel. Five years ago, we did not have a presence in Brooklyn, but by God’s grace—and the support of our generous Chosen People Ministries extended family—we are now ministering in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn! Here is an encouraging comment from Robert W., our Brooklyn branch director:

Recently we met with Sarah,* a former Hasidic woman living in Brooklyn. She has walked by our Feinberg Messianic Center building countless times, often enraged by our presence, but, through friendship, the Lord began to soften her heart. We met with her, prayed with her, and rejoice to share that Sarah has prayed to receive Jesus as her Messiah!

Thank you for your faithfulness which makes the labor of the Gospel possible! We hope to see the seeds sown in 2017 bear fruit in the New Year.

A New Survey

In December, the United States again formally acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiated the process of moving the U.S. Embassy to the biblical and historic capital of the Holy Land. Israel’s neighbors and their supporters around the globe disagree with this pronouncement.  The violence within Israel has been limited, but unfortunately, an innocent Israeli young man lost his life in a knife attack. We need to keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)!

This past summer, Chosen People Ministries, along with Joel C. Rosenberg, helped design and support a survey conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources called “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel.” The results were released in early December at a press conference held in Washington, D.C. The survey results were discussed by The Jerusalem Post, Jewish News Service, The Forward, The Times of Israel, CBN.com, Christianity Today, Religion News Service, and forty-plus news outlets.

We were happy to see that 69 percent of the respondents are positive towards Israel, though that number seems to be going down among younger Christians. When asked about the modern rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and the re-gathering of millions of Jewish people to Israel, 80 percent of respondents said these events were fulfillments of Bible prophecy that show we are getting closer to the return of Jesus Christ, and 20 percent said these were simply interesting geopolitical events.

Sixty-six percent of evangelicals believe that Israel’s existence, security, and prosperity are things they should support. On the other hand, 23 percent of Bible-believing Christians said that the Palestinians should be allowed to create their own sovereign state, while 31 percent disagreed, and 46 percent were not sure! That is a massive amount of uncertainty for such a crucial question.

This uncertainty should be a signal to those who love the Lord to think through what the Bible says about the city of Jerusalem because knowing what the Bible says about Israel is so important at this moment. Israel needs the support of born-again Christians. My chief concern at the moment is for the future because younger Christians are undecided about their views on the modern State of Israel.

Your Mission to the Jewish People hopes to continue influencing the Church with great resources and communications intended to form a deeper love for Israel and the Jewish people among Christians.

What Makes Jerusalem So Special?

Do most Christians believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel? Most of us do not think of these questions in our daily lives, but, in the coming months, I believe it will become more relevant for us as the process of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem begins.

We should love and support Jerusalem and the State of Israel. Why? Because God promised the land of Israel to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3). Again in Genesis 17:7-8, the Lord confirmed His promises to Abraham and his seed:

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.

His promise would include Jerusalem, of course, which King David declared as the capital of Israel when he moved his throne to the city and brought the Ark of the Covenant back to the holy city! Chuck Swindoll, in his wonderful book about the life of King David, writes,

With his headquarters in Jerusalem, David finally had the limitless reign he had been promised as God’s anointed leader. He had great power and great blessing from God. (2 Samuel 5:6-12)

We also know that the greater son of David, Jesus the Messiah, will rule on the Davidic throne in Jerusalem when He returns and fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7. In that day, the Messiah will reign as King in fulfillment of the promises God made to King David through Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

We Should Love Jerusalem Because Jesus Loves Jerusalem

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He loved the city where the Temple of God stood (Luke 19:41)! He also showed compassion for Jerusalem, predicting that the Temple would be destroyed because His chosen people were rejecting Him and the Jewish people would suffer at the hands of the Romans (Matthew 23:37-39).

Jesus’ words unfolded exactly as He said they would. Two generations after His death, the Romans tore apart the Temple stone by stone, destroying the city and exiling the nation for two millennia (Luke 21:21-24). The next two thousand years were a grim time for Jewish people, as they were dispersed from their land and subject to the hatred and cruelty of Gentile host nations.

Today, many Jewish people pray for the Messiah to come and restore His throne in Jerusalem, ending the two thousand year exile and bringing about a reign of peace. Yet, most Jewish people do not yet realize that this very Messiah they pray for is Jesus! When the Jewish people as a whole (or at the time of His return) say, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” Jesus will return (Matthew 23:39, Romans 11:25 ff.). What an exciting promise!

The events of the twentieth century, the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948, and the regathering of (most of) the Jewish exiles from the four corners of the earth show us that this time is close at hand.

As 2018 unfolds, help us put Jerusalem and the promises the Lord made to the Jewish people at the forefront of our attention. Together we will look forward to the amazing things God will do this year through Your Mission to the Jewish People!

I am especially excited about our work in Israel, but also about our work in many countries where young Israelis travel after their army service. We are now reaching Israelis in New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, and New York City!

And remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6).

This peace can only come through the Prince of Peace, Jesus, who longs to live in the hearts of all who call upon His name!

In Him,

 

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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Our Message is Simple: Jesus is the Jewish Messiah – For All

Dear friend,

Shalom and Happy New Year! Thank you for your prayers and support for Chosen People Ministries throughout 2017! This year begins our 124th year of ministry. We are excited about what God has done this past year, and we are anticipating what He will do in 2018. 

Throughout the last year, millions have watched the evangelistic videos we produced in partnership with brothers and sisters in Israel. Our online campaigns have introduced us to thousands of Jewish people who want to know more about the Lord. We have had wonderful conferences, our Messianic congregations around the globe have been growing, and I recently attended the wedding of a young Israeli believer we led to the Lord in Brooklyn. 

We have touched the lives of more Jewish people for Jesus than ever before in our 123 years of ministry! And we could not have done this without your partnership—so thank you on behalf of our staff family.

Yet still…most Jewish people do not believe in Jesus! Chosen People Ministries exists to be God’s instrument in changing this.

Have you ever wondered why Jewish people tend to reject Jesus as the Messiah?

There are many reasons, but let me share with you what I believe is the main reason Jewish people do not generally believe in Jesus.

Jewish people reject Jesus today because they believe that if they accept Jesus, they will no longer be Jewish. 

Underlying this objection is the question of whether being Jewish means following a religion or belonging to an ethnic group. The answer to this is yes! Jewish people intertwine religion and ethnic identity and the two are really impossible to separate. 

As a Jewish person, I was raised to believe that my ancestors would rather die than renounce being Jewish; unfortunately, becoming a “Christian” was seen by most Jewish people as meaning you were “no longer Jewish.” I was raised with stories of Jewish martyrs who refused to become Christians to save themselves during the time of the Crusades or other periods of persecution, such as in eastern Europe. These were powerful stories about Jewish people who chose death over conversion.

You see…NOT believing in Jesus was—and continues to be—viewed as an act of Jewish loyalty!

But the number of Jews who believe in Jesus is growing significantly and appears to be far larger than we thought during the past decade, according to recent surveys we have done of Jewish communities in the United States and Israel.

Yet, this objection of losing your Jewish identity is still number one! Jewish people also do not believe that God can become a man or that God is three in one. However, most Jewish people are not driven by their theological beliefs.

Telling My Grandparents

I remember when I told my grandparents I had become a believer in Jesus. They could not understand why. They genuinely believed that I was a spiritual traitor to my people and never talked to me again. That hurt! But, I understood why—because they left Eastern Europe to escape from the persecution they experienced by alleged Christians. 

My parents’ generation felt this same way and so do most of my peers. Add in the Holocaust, which Jewish people generally believe was caused by Christians, and you can see why your Jewish friends do not want to talk about Jesus.

Is the above true? Do you need to leave your Jewishness at the door when you believe in Jesus? The answer is NO! The Bible in many ways teaches the opposite, since when a Jewish person believes in Jesus they, in fact, become the Jewish person God has always wanted them to be! 

After all, Jesus is the Jewish Messiah for all! 

I am Jewish and so is my wife. We raised our children to be Jewish, to celebrate all of the Jewish holidays, to love Israel, and to identify with the Jewish community. Creating the Jewish people was God’s idea…just ask Abraham when you see him (Genesis 12:1-3)!

Change is in the Air

But, let me tell you the good news. Most of the Jewish people I talk to about the Lord often seem to know a Jewish person who is a believer in Jesus. The presence of Messianic Jews, like myself, and the fellowships and congregations Chosen People Ministries and others have started around the globe have changed the landscape of Jewish evangelism. 

I believe we are in a new season of Jewish openness to Jesus as we move toward the day, described by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:25-26, when “all Israel (who are alive at the time) will be saved.” 

The Testimony of Christians Who Love and Support Israel

I am also grateful for Christians who love and support Israel. According to a recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research, which we helped sponsor, the number of Christians who support Israel is more than 70 percent and even higher for those ages 45 and up! This is very encouraging news, but I am also concerned because the same study revealed that this support is declining among the younger generation of Christians. We are doing a lot to educate younger Christians about the Jewishness of Jesus, their Abrahamic heritage, and the ways in which Scripture continues to include the Jewish people in God’s plan for the ages.

Plans for 2018

We are preparing twenty-plus additional video testimonies of Jewish believers in Jesus that we filmed in the fall. This will give us almost one hundred beautiful testimonies of Jewish people who have found the Lord. We have also partnered with other ministries to develop an online video discipleship course based on the Sermon on the Mount for new Jewish believers and seekers. We continue to see incredible interest in Israel, especially among younger Jewish seekers, and we have sent more than 2,000 Isaiah 53 Explained books in Hebrew to Israeli seekers within Israel this past year. We hope to double that number in 2018 as we invest more money in Facebook ads in Hebrew, English, and five other languages!

Will you please pray with us for these efforts to reach Jewish people with the Good News of Jesus? The Gospel goes out online through social media, and from person to person through our staff evangelists and congregations. We are especially excited about the opportunity to expand our ministries in Tel Aviv, the most populous city in Israel, and to take on a few younger Israeli missionaries to develop these ministries.

 

Blessings in 2018!
Your brother,

 

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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The Christmas Story begins in the Book of Genesis

Dear friend,

Shalom and a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you! 

We celebrate two great festivals of deliverance and joy during December. One of the holidays is observed by Christians and the other by Jewish people. There is some crossover today as, once in awhile, I find a Christmas tree capped with a Jewish star or see a Jewish person with a Hanukkah bush in their home! 

Sometimes this is done to ease the tension of a mixed marriage by bringing the holidays together for the sake of the children. Rarely is there recognition that, at its root, Christmas is a Jewish holiday and Hanukkah finds its ultimate fulfillment in Yeshua, the Messiah, and Light of the world.

Believe me, it is not easy to persuade the most ardent adherents that the above is true, but when recognized, it brings a greater delight and joy to each of the holidays. Let me explain by reminding us of the story of both holidays, beginning with Christmas.

The Christmas Story Begins in the Book of Genesis

Where does the Christmas story begin? Most people would answer correctly—in the Bible. However, they would begin the story with the wrong Testament by jumping right in with the birth of the Messiah! The story, in fact, begins much earlier. The story of Christmas begins in the Old Testament as far back as the book of Genesis. The first promise of a redeemer is found in Genesis 3:15:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Moses tells us that God would one day deliver mankind from sin and death, from disobedience, and from all the evil and human hardship that came about as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. This deliverance would come through the seed of the woman who, in the process of destroying the serpent, would bruise his heel—not with a mortal wound but painful nonetheless. 

The wounding of this son of Eve points to Jesus who bore our sin. He was born of a woman, innocent, perfect, and without sin. His death may be viewed like the bruising of the heel, painful but not fatal since He rose from the dead. In Yeshua’s rising from the dead, He proved that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had accepted His sacrifice for sin. Later on, in Isaiah 53, we read these words,

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.”

We are all sinful and we all need a Savior. We are unable to save ourselves because we have inherited the disobedient nature of our “parents,” Adam and Eve. All praise be to God who sent His Son to die as the solution for our sins—for both forgiveness and transformation!

This glorious story of redemption begins with the first sin because God’s grace has been available from the very start to all those who would receive it! The drama of redemption unfolds throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

In Genesis 12, we discover that God calls an elderly couple, Abraham and Sarah, to be His bridge of grace to a broken and sinful world. Their descendants, the Jewish people, were chosen for the sake of those who were not part of their own community and who ultimately would be used by God to bless the world: “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).

Eventually, these blessings to the world would come through one descendant of Abraham, the Messiah Jesus, and through Him, the world would receive the blessings of redemption.

But, how would the one promised in Genesis 3:15 be recognized? The Scriptures begin filling in His qualifications. The first one is that He would come from one particular tribe of Israel. He would be from the tribe of Judah, the fourth-born son of Jacob. As Moses describes, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10).

Even the rabbis of old recognized that the name Shiloh was a reference to the Messiah and Redeemer promised to Israel and the nations. These promises shaped the expectations of the Jewish people so that when the Messiah came He would be recognized by His people.

The qualifications for the Messiah continue as the Bible tells us that He would also be a Son of David. This was promised through the prophecy of Nathan to King David:

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-1316).

David thought he would build a house for God—the Temple—but instead, God created a house for the king assuring him that one of his descendants would sit on his throne forever. 

The Savior would be a Jewish man, a true prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15) who dies for the sins of both Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22) and rises from the grave as the all-powerful Son of God “…who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).

Christmas is the drama of redemption fulfilled through the Jewish Messiah, and the story does not begin in the New Testament but is rooted and grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures. This is why I believe Christmas is a Jewish holiday! 

Salvation is of the Jews

Jesus made a profound comment in the Gospel of John when speaking to the well-known Samaritan woman: You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).

What did He mean? The answer is simple. Jesus let the Samaritan woman know that salvation has its origins in God’s promises to the Jewish people, but the blessings that come through the Jewish Messiah would extend to all who want to have a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This salvation has “Jewish origins” but is available to all who believe!

In a similar way, Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks and their wicked king, Antiochus Epiphanes, also points to this same Savior. Did you know that the observance of Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible?  In John 10, the Apostle writes,

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. (John 10:22-25)

The Messiah took this occasion to reveal Himself to His people and, in so doing, He was telling the Jewish hearers that there is a salvation coming that is far greater than the one won by the Maccabees on that first Hanukkah. In fact, the lights lit for this holiday are designed by our tradition to remind us of the miracle that kept aflame the eternal light in the Temple. There was only enough oil to last for a day, but it lasted for eight days. The story may or may not be true, but when a Jewish person sees the glow of the Hanukkah candles, they are reminded of His power to deliver His chosen people from destruction! 

As a Jewish follower of Jesus, when I see the beautifully lit Hanukkah menorah, I am reminded of the One who claimed to be the Light of the world (John 8:12) and through whom we all have redemption from sin and the hope of everlasting life.

I hope you will enjoy the brief Bible studies on various Messianic prophecies and that they will encourage your heart. I also pray that you might share some of these prophecies with your Jewish friends who look forward to the great deliverance to come but who do not yet know that the Messiah, predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures, has come and His name is Yeshua—the Savior of the world.

Have a great holiday season and remember to pray for Your Mission to the Jewish People as we reach His chosen people in dozens of cities across the Americas and in seventeen other countries around the globe! 

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah,

Yours in the Messiah,

 

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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What can we do while we wait for Jesus to return?

Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom! I just returned from a quick trip to Israel to plan some of our ministry events in honor of the seventieth anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel. Can you believe it? What a difference a few years makes.

I wish I had been alive in 1948 to see the formation of the modern State of Israel. Really, I am jealous of everyone who was there at that time and who believed that one day God would indeed bring the Jewish people back to the land of Israel. The horrors of the Holocaust were still just being uncovered at the end of World War II in 1945. I still meet soldiers who entered the concentration camps and made these gruesome discoveries. Most of these elderly heroes can barely keep from weeping whenever they talk about these horrific events.

For those Christians who watched the early films or heard the reports of what the Nazis had done in slaughtering six million Jewish people, the biblical promise of Israel’s restoration seemed more improbable than at any other time.

But, out of the ashes of the Holocaust God raised up the modern State of Israel, and who could read their Bibles and not see this as one of the great miracles of our modern day?

I believe the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and the birth of the State of Israel is just a first and magnificent step in God fulfilling His covenants and promises to the Jewish people (Genesis 12:1-3, 2 Samuel 7:14ff., Jeremiah 31:31-35).

The presence of the modern State of Israel energizes our faith and helps us believe that God will one day keep all His promises to Israel and the nations!

Many Christians travel to Israel and are sometimes disappointed because Israel today is quite secular. Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of religious Jewish people living in Israel today and a growing Messianic Jewish movement of perhaps 25,000-30,000 followers of Jesus.

We are thrilled to see the way God is moving in Israel and drawing Israelis to His Son—but the number of Jesus-followers in Israel today still only constitutes fewer than 1 percent of the population. This is why we are so grateful for our staff around the world who have dedicated their lives to reaching Jewish people everywhere with the life-changing message of the Gospel!

 

ISRAEL IS NOT THE ISRAEL GOD DESTINED HER TO BE!

This is exactly what the Scriptures teach us about the last days. In Ezekiel 36, the prophet speaks of a future return of the Jewish people to the Land after having been scattered among the nations. He says that God Himself would initiate the return and that the Jewish people would return to the land of Israel in unbelief.

The prophet writes,

Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.’ ” (Ezekiel 36:22-25)

I am often asked whether or not I believe the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy and my answer is a resounding yes. Thoughtful Bible students usually respond and ask, “How can Israel today be the fulfillment of prophecy when the Messiah has not returned and the Jewish people living in Israel are generally not following the Torah and not believing in Jesus as Messiah?”

My quick response to this very good question is to say that this is exactly what God promised through the prophet and, unlike any other previous generation, we are seeing God’s word come to a very specific fulfillment.

What’s next? According to Ezekiel, the next two items on God’s timetable will be the spiritual restoration of the nation of Israel and then the physical restoration of Israel.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:25-28)

I envision these next events taking place at a future date—at the second coming of Jesus! We can be certain that as sure as God brought Israel back to the land, God will also pour out His Spirit upon the Jewish people. He will turn them to Himself through His Son as He returns to establish His kingdom. Jerusalem will be His capital and Jesus will reign as sovereign over both His Jewish and non-Jewish followers, and in that day His promises to the Jewish people and the nation’s will be fulfilled.

I believe that this is what the Apostle Paul predicted when he wrote to the Roman believers, “Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” (Romans 11:12).

And again, “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15).

Knowing the future He has planned for Israel and the nations—what should we do about it today?

The Apostle Paul also tells us in Romans 10,“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

Would you join Your Mission to the Jewish People in preparing the nation of Israel for the second coming of the Messiah? We can partner with God by sharing the Gospel with the Jewish people in Israel, North America, and across the globe! This is our mandate today.

As Paul writes,“I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous” (Romans 11:11).

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Yours in the Messiah,

 

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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