Understanding the Hebrew Scriptures

Shalom!

For decades we have dedicated the October edition of our newsletter to addressing both those who already believe in Jesus and those who are seeking the Lord. If you are one of those curious and brave individuals who is pursuing a relationship with the living God, let me especially thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter. This month, we are focusing on the Hebrew Scriptures, or as it is known to many, the Old Testament. Of course, if you are Jewish and do not accept the New Testament as holy Scripture, then there really is no such thing as an Old Testament! The Hebrew Scriptures is simply known as the Jewish Bible, with the first five books being referred to as the Torah.

We will discuss the impact and importance of the Hebrew Scriptures in Western society and in the hearts of those who believe these words were spoken by God Himself at Mount Sinai and through the mouths of prophets.

The Hebrew Scriptures impact every area of life: from issues of the heart, to practical wisdom, amazing prophetic predictions of the age to come, and of course our moral code and behavior. The older testament—if you can appreciate this new terminology—has been extremely influential in our lives, personally and corporately, even when we did not realize it! In fact, as the article will suggest, the Hebrew Scriptures have helped shape our culture and society more than the Constitution and Bill of Rights combined. Additionally, a good argument can be made to demonstrate that these documents that were so foundational in the formation of our country were based upon the words of the Hebrew Scriptures.

It would be virtually impossible for me, as a Messianic Jew, to believe in Jesus if I did not believe that the Hebrew Scriptures referred to Jesus in the promises and prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. This rationale for faith in Yeshua (His Hebrew name) is critical for a Jewish follower of the Messiah and also for those who are not Jewish. When more than a thousand years of biblical prophecy are so remarkably fulfilled in this one person, it gives us tremendous confidence in Him and also in the Old Testament where He is described. So much of what we understand about salvation, the nature of God, and His plan for each of us is firmly rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. As King Solomon wrote so beautifully,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6)

Admittedly, at times, the Hebrew Bible is not the easiest to understand, especially in light of today’s cultural trends and ideas about morality. Frankly, the Hebrew Bible might seem out of sync with our modern world upon a first, surface-level glance. But, consider that the voice of the Hebrew Scriptures, though contrary to many of our current cultural values, might very well be a voice worth listening to. It has led so many of us to a fulfilling and meaningful life. The Psalmist David wrote about those who read, meditate, and obey what is written in the Hebrew Scriptures:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1–2)

I hope that you will enjoy the rest of the newsletter. My prayer is that it will motivate you to study the Hebrew Scriptures, to learn more about God’s plan for you, and that the very specific predictions about the coming of the Messiah will become personally meaningful to you. There is so much in these 39 books of the Old Testament to understand, and I hope you will take the time to read through the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures to try and better understand one of the world’s great works of literature. You might not take my position in believing that the Old Testament is the inspired Word of God, but I think, if you have an open heart, you will find so many of the statements in these ancient pages to be comforting, relevant, and life-changing.

Enjoy the journey, and, if you are seeking the Lord, may I encourage you to take a look at followmessiah.com, which is a 16-part video study of the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, which will help guide you towards a deeply personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

A belated Happy Jewish High Holidays!

Mitch

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It is often lonely being a Messianic Jew

Shalom,

I recently was reminded of the importance of what we do when I attended the funeral of one of my closest relatives. It was really painful.

It is often lonely being a Messianic Jew. Most of the people I love are not yet believers. It is so difficult to watch my parents’ generation pass away, as most of my loved ones do not believe in Jesus.

So, please pray for them…and for me! It hurts.

There is constant pressure on our staff to be more “accepting” of other faiths, especially Judaism, the faith in which I was raised. Yet, I know from Scripture and personal experience that Jesus is the Messiah and is the only way to be saved and to have a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am pleased to serve with our 125-year-old mission to the Jewish people because we have not lost the fire as we share the gospel day in and day out with both Jews and Gentiles.

My wife, also a Jewish believer, was led to the Lord with the help of Chosen People Ministries. We even met at a Chosen People event! I was discipled years ago by a Chosen People Ministries staff member, and the Mission paid my way through Bible college! As a couple, we are grateful to the Lord for this ministry. In fact, our service to the Lord through Your Mission to the Jewish People is simply passing along the blessings that were bestowed upon us.

Chosen People Ministries is growing and continues to make the gospel known TODAY among the Jewish people in nineteen countries around the globe and in more than two dozen cities throughout North America.

  • We are working with students through our new House of Living Waters initiative on the New York University campus, which has the largest concentration of Jewish students in our country.
  • Our Israel team is serving throughout the Holy Land—in Tel Aviv, the Galilee, and in Jerusalem. We are sharing the gospel among young adults, Holocaust survivors, and conducting children’s camps six times a year, which serve hundreds of children.
  • I just returned from a training conference we funded and sponsored for Russian Messianic Jewish pastors, which was held in Kraków, Poland and attended by 150 servants of God from the former Soviet Union, North America, and more than forty were from Israel!
  • This summer, we had more than 125 staff and volunteers sharing the gospel in the greater New York area. The teams had more than 2,500 witnessing conversations in just two weeks!
  • We also had hundreds of Jewish seekers join us for a debate between Dr. Michael Brown and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in August. Perhaps one day many Jewish people who were impacted this summer will look back, as I now do, with gratitude to the Lord for using Chosen People Ministries to introduce them to the Messiah!
  • Our ministry through the internet has touched the lives of thousands this year. In fact, we have connected with almost 100,000 people, including thousands of Jewish seekers through our online Isaiah 53 Campaign and our I Found Shalom video testimonies of Messianic Jews, which now numbers more than 100!

Whew! I can barely keep up. God is doing so much through our dedicated and visionary staff! And you make it possible through your support and prayers.

We hoped to reach 125,000 people this year and to get their contact information for follow-up, and we are rapidly approaching this goal! We expect to reach our objective before the end of the year. Most of these contacts come from our online campaigns, though hundreds were generated from Jewish people we met on the streets of New York City during our summer outreach.

We spent the last nine months reflecting on our wonderful ministry heritage, celebrating our 125th year of work among the Jewish people.

Thank you for your prayers and support. We would have never made it to 125 years without you and previous generations of Jesus-lovers who had a big heart for Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people. Ultimately, that is what this is all about—seeing Jewish people come to a saving faith in the Messiah.

Your brother in Yeshua,
Mitch

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Israel, the Apple of God’s Eye

by Charles L. Feinberg
Written in 1964 and published in the book, Israel, in 1980

That Which Is So Precious

A man guards the apple of his eye because it is dear to him. It is considered by every man as one of his most precious possessions. The psalmist prayed to the Lord: “Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Thy wings” (Psalm 17:8). No one is interested in bargaining away the apple of his eye, nor in exchanging it for some trifling object. God considers the Jew as His precious possession. God has set His love on Israel and they are very precious to Him. Moses told them in the wilderness: “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8). Second, the apple of the eye indicates that which is so easily injured.

That Which Is So Easily Injured

It is not necessary to thrust a knife into the eye to cause excruciating agony and injure it. A splinter, an eyelash, a speck of dust, or a touch will bring real pain. We need to be exceedingly careful how we conduct ourselves toward the Jew. He may appear without protector, but any injury hurts the heart of God, as He has repeatedly stated in the Word of God.

Third, the apple of the eye is that which is impossible to repair.

That Which Is Impossible to Repair

Parts of the human body can be injured and mutilated, and yet some type of replacement can be made. Hands, feet, and bones in the body have been replaced by skillful surgeons, or so treated that they are still useful. But the pupil of the eye cannot be repaired once it is severely injured. Some injuries to Israel, God’s people, cannot be repaired. How can the slaughter of six million Jews in Europe ever be repaired? How can this multiplied injury be righted? Impossible! And to think that everyone who touched them—let alone cremated them—was touching the apple of God’s eye!

Fourth, the apple of the eye is that which allows the light to penetrate.

That Which Allows the Light to Penetrate

The pupil of the eye is the entrance through which the light rays from without penetrate to the retina so that we may see the objects before us. Israel is God’s entrance way for the light of His Word and His salvation to enter the world. One day Jesus the Messiah said to a Samaritan woman: “You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). These words of the Messiah and Savior were in perfect accord with the declaration in Isaiah (43:10-12): “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, in order 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.’” This was the intention of God for Israel and still is.

Fifth, the apple of the eye is that which is so carefully protected.

That Which Is So Carefully Protected

Remarkable and abundant provision is made for the protection of the pupil of the eye, of which many people are unaware. The protection consists of: (1) the strong frontal bones (to guard against a blow); (2) the brow and eyelash (to protect against dust); (3) the lid (to guard against painful glare); and (4) the tear glands (to provide continuous cleansing). With Israel is the omnipotent power of God committed to protect them. The psalmist clearly recounts the protecting hand of God over His people:

He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as the portion of your inheritance,” when they were only a few men in number, very few, and strangers in it. And they wandered about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. He permitted no man to oppress them, and He reproved kings for their sakes: “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” Psalm 105:8–15

Remember, God’s hand of protection is upon Israel as a nation, and He will not suffer them to cease as a people.

That Which Causes Intense Pain When Injured

When a man’s pupil has been injured, he feels intense pain. And this pain can be so great that he becomes sick. To injure Israel is to cause God intense pain. He says: “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). When Israel is mistreated, God reckons that His very name, His own excellence, is blasphemed (Isaiah 52:5).

We never dare to forget that he who touches Israel for ill will not go unpunished. Nations as well as individuals have proved the truth of this passage of Scripture. On the other hand, we must also remember that he who touches Israel for good, will not go unrewarded (Matthew 25:40). You, too, have something you must keep in mind. You must be willing to open your eyes to see the glory and the beauty of the Messiah or you will never be able to behold the glorious sight!

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Shana Tova!

Shalom in His peace! We are still following up on the hundreds of contacts we received through our Shalom New York outreach this summer, during which more than 125 staff and volunteers shared the gospel in New York City. What a wonderful start to the fall season of new beginnings.

In fact, the Jewish community worldwide is getting ready to celebrate the Jewish New Year, known in Hebrew as Rosh Hashanah (literally, the “head of the year”). Our staff around the globe will have “High Holiday” services, where we will celebrate the holidays and, through the worship and messages, point to the One in whom we have new and everlasting life. Please pray especially for the many Jewish seekers who will be coming to our services, as there will be hundreds!

Thank you again for caring and praying!

We also continue to celebrate our 125th year of ministry among the Jewish people by looking back on our rich history to encourage us for the bright future God has prepared for Israel and the Jewish people (Romans 11:25ff). We continue to be inspired by the lasting legacy of Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg who came to faith through Chosen People Ministries—then known as the American Board of Missions to the Jews—in the early part of the 20th century. Dr. Feinberg went on to become the first dean of Talbot Theological Seminary and one of the finest Bible scholars of the modern era. In honor of Dr. Feinberg and our 125th anniversary, we are happy to reprint one of Dr. Feinberg’s articles on Israel.

One of our staff was reading through our archives and found this article from 1964. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share it with you!

Please continue to pray for Israel and the Jewish people, the apple of God’s eye, especially during this holiday season. Happy New Year!

Your brother in Messiah,
Mitch Glaser

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Equipping Russian Jewish Believers to Share the Gospel

Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom in His peace. I hope you had a restful and fruitful summer and that you are ready for the flurry of activities beginning this month—kids back in school, college students back on campus, and local churches beginning their sermon series, Sunday school, and small group programs. Busy!

Thank you for taking the time to read this note and to pray for Your Mission to the Jewish People. We have an exciting upcoming ministry opportunity among a very significant Jewish community that I want to tell you about!

Training Russian Messianic Leaders

By the time you receive this letter, I will be in Kraków, Poland, which was once a great center of Jewish life and is about a 45-minute drive from Auschwitz. I am in this very beautiful city for a week to participate in a training conference attended by 150 Russian Messianic leaders. The group includes pastors of Russian Messianic Jewish congregations from all over the globe: Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Germany, and more.

It is sad that the Jewish community calls Poland the world’s largest Jewish cemetery, as about 3 million Jewish people died there at the hands of the Nazis. There were 11 million Jewish people living in Russia and Poland prior to the Holocaust, and almost half of them were murdered. It is hard to say how many were left and found themselves stranded behind the atheist Iron Curtain. Millions.

After the crumbling of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, many of the Jewish people living in these countries left for Western Europe, the United States, and Israel. Surprisingly, almost like a modern-day reenactment of Acts 2, the Spirit began moving in the lives of Russian Jews around the globe.

We have experienced an out pouring of the Holy Spirit upon Russian-speaking Jews, and tens of thousands have come to faith in Jesus the Messiah. Hundreds of Messianic congregations have been planted all over the world. Chosen People Ministries has more than forty Russian-speaking missionaries around the globe serving in those countries with large concentrations of Russian Jewish people. This movement continues, and some wonderful leaders have emerged to lead this great work of God. For example, the directors of our works in Germany and Israel are both Russian Jewish brothers. We have congregations in Moscow, Russia, and many throughout Ukraine, and it is a joy for me and for Chosen People Ministries to be a part of it.

A similar movement took place in Brooklyn. We have more than 200,000 Russian-speaking Jewish people living in the greater New York area, with the highest concentration in Brooklyn. I personally know of hundreds of Russian Jews who have come to the Lord in New York City over the last 30 years.

This global outpouring of the Spirit upon Russian Jews has not stopped! We continue in our outreach to this very special and large group of Jewish people through evangelism, discipleship, congregation planting, mentoring young leaders, and social ministries, including working with families affected by addiction and crime. In Israel, we have an amazing ministry among elderly Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors, very few of whom will be left after the next five years, making this ministry extremely urgent!

We will continue these ministries among Russian Jewish people for as long as we possibly can in the countries of the former Soviet Union, North America, and in Israel, where more than 1.6 million Russian-speaking Jews have settled since the early 1990s.

I believe this training effort in Kraków is important. In fact, we MUST train these leaders who will in turn provide leadership for thousands of Messianic Jews! 

We offer training on biblical and practical subjects, taught by those with many years of ministry experience. This is exactly what they and their congregations need right now. 

Here is just one testimony from a Russian Jewish leader who attended one of these conferences:

It is great to be a part of such a conference, as you can hear a lot of lectures, discussions, and sharing from our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in different parts of the world, learn about different situations, and pray for each other. However, the biggest blessing for me was not only to see again my old friends and co-workers for the Messiah, Jesus, but it was exciting to meet new leaders: the number of them is growing every conference. Praise the Lord for His work, it is so visible in events like this. — Klaudia

The Jewish Holidays: Your Prayers Will be Appreciated!

The Jewish community will celebrate the High Holidays in just a few short weeks. The Jewish New Year—called Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew—will begin on the evening of September 29, 2019. Ten days later we will observe the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and conclude the season with the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, which begins the evening of October 13, 2019. All of these festivals are found in Leviticus 23.

The Chosen People Ministries staff will share the gospel with many Jewish seekers who will attend our Messianic High Holiday services. Our services will point attendees to Jesus, who beautifully fulfills the holidays, which I believe are a roadmap to redemption. This coming High Holiday season, I will be celebrating my 49th year as a Jewish believer in Jesus. The Lord used these Jewish holidays, which I observed my entire life, to help me recognize that Jesus is Jewish, celebrated the Jewish holidays, and is my Messiah!

Please pray for the many Jewish non-believers who will be coming to our services. Thank you again for caring and praying!

A Fruitful Shalom New York Outreach

Meanwhile, Your Mission to the Jewish People is rejoicing over the success of our recent outreach, Shalom New York. More than 125 staff and volunteers came from all over the globe to impact thousands of lives. In fact, things are just settling down, and our follow-up teams have remained in the greater New York area to administer what I call “spiritual triage,” making sure that we are caring for those who are genuinely interested in the gospel. Please pray these contacts will be willing to meet with us individually or attend our Bible studies.

Additionally, we have rolled out our new video-based discipleship series for new Jewish believers and seekers, called “Follow Messiah.” This new follow-up tool is already working well, and we actually assign a mentor to each Jewish person who enters into the Bible study series, which is based on the Sermon on the Mount. This is the first online Bible study and discipleship series tailored specifically to new Jewish believers and seekers.

We cannot continue this work without your faithful prayers that allow us to minister and help so many, including Russian Jewish leaders in Israel and around the globe. Thank you so much for your love and concern for God’s chosen people.

Like you, I am looking forward to all that is in store in the exciting days ahead.

Your brother in Messiah,

Mitch

P.S. I hope that you might consider coming to our gala on November 15, 2019 in Brooklyn to celebrate our 125th anniversary as a ministry. If you would like more information about this event, please visit chosenpeople.com/anniversarygala.

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Ministry Update: Shalom New York & Oppose Antisemitism

Shalom from New York City, the home of more than two million Jewish people. Throughout July and August, we have enjoyed the privilege of sharing the gospel intensively with Jewish people throughout the metropolitan area. Our team of more than 125 staff and volunteers have spoken to hundreds of Jewish people about the gospel. I wish you could have been here!

Good News from the Streets of New York City

We are in the midst of following up with the many Jewish people who indicated they are interested in hearing more about Jesus.

We also had two major events that drew many Jewish seekers. We sponsored a well-attended dialogue between scholars about the value of the Old Testament Scriptures. We also held a debate between Messianic apologist Dr. Michael Brown, and Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. The title of the debate was, “Is the New Testament Antisemitic?” This is a hot issue in the Jewish community today as antisemitism is on the rise. The purpose of this debate was to show that the New Testament and Jesus Himself are Jewish.

Showing Jewish People the Love of the Messiah

So, how do we respond to common historical and theological objections Jewish people have from considering Jesus? This is done one heart at a time. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans of the critical role believers, especially those who are not Jewish, play in the salvation of individual Jewish people. The Apostle 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).

This passage may encourage Gentile believers to share the love of Jesus with their Jewish friends from a heart of gratitude for what God has done through the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

During our recent outreach campaign in New York City, we had dozens of Gentile believers on the streets of New York City speaking to Jewish people about the Lord. They also brought food to the poor and elderly and cleaned homes for those who cannot keep up because of age or illness. Showing love in practical ways gave power and authenticity to our proclamation!

Hundreds of us also marched over the Brooklyn Bridge in an effort to call upon the public and Christians to oppose antisemitism!

Oppose Antisemitism

Christian opposition to antisemitism is a powerful witness to our Jewish family and friends. This reshapes the gospel playing field by showing from the start that real Christians love the Jewish people and condemn antisemitism.

Would you stand with us against antisemitism? Believe me, our actions as the Body of Messiah will make a difference in how the Jewish people feel about the Messiah Jesus.

Think Globally, Act Locally!

You can help put a stop to antisemitism in your community! Let me suggest a few ways to do this:

  • Educate your church on the evils of antisemitism—we have great materials on our online store.
  • Encourage your pastor to preach about this issue from the pulpit.
  • Pray for the Jewish people in your community.
  • Attend Jewish community events in order to build bridges with the Jewish people.
  • Say something if and when antisemitism arises in your community.
  • Make sure the Holocaust is taught in your local school systems and especially at Christian schools and homeschooling associations.
  • Encourage your church or Messianic congregation to teach about the history and current expressions of antisemitism from a biblical perspective.

It is critical that we make our Christian community aware of the problem and that you positively engage the Jewish community where you live so that you can build loving and respectful relationships with the Jewish people.

Our love will be used by God to create a bridge for the good news.

Partners in the Gospel

Thank you for taking the time to hear my heart for my people! I hope you will pray for the Jewish people and for Your Mission to the Jewish People as we share the good news in nineteen countries across the globe.

I pray the Jewish people in your community will take notice of your efforts to stand with them and to finally see that true Christians love the Jewish people!

Thanks for caring!

Mitch Glaser

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Holocaust survivors experience “heaven on earth”!

Zhava and I recently returned home after being in Israel for most of June. I am amazed by the wide range of people we are reaching for Jesus in the Holy Land. Our dedicated staff of about 25 workers, most of whom are Israelis, focus on reaching students and young adults. But they also conduct children’s camps and minister to very elderly Holocaust survivors.

It reminds me of the words of the prophet Joel who told us of the marvelous things the Lord would do for Israel and the world: “…I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28).

God promised through His prophet that His Spirit would touch the lives of people of all ages! Here is an update from one of our staff in Israel, Maxim Katz, who is leading many of these important ministries:

We just returned from Poland, where we spent ten days together with a group of twenty-three Holocaust survivors. This year marks the tenth year we have been bringing these groups to Poland. Many have not been back to Poland since the days of the Holocaust! You can only imagine the personal pain these mostly non-believers face on these trips. The Polish Christians who serve as volunteers are committed to giving the survivors an experience of God’s love by providing food, company, activities, and of course, some Bible studies. What an incredible testimony for the Lord! 

Even though it takes a physical toll on us, we persist because the need is urgent. The survivors are passing away at a rate of about 15,000 per year, which will only grow, and we think we have no more than five years for this ministry! 

During our worship and Bible study times, there was not one dry eye in the room! It is not insignificant to be shown love simply because you are Jewish, especially since they were once hated for the very same thing. This little group from Israel was provoked to jealousy, just as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:11.

One lady even shared, “I did not expect to experience heaven on earth.”

Maxim and the Israeli staff are doing an incredible job of sharing the love of Messiah with so many who have lived lives of such profound loss. But as I mentioned earlier, they are not the only ones served.

In addition to our ministry to Holocaust survivors, we also minister to children, young adults, and families—both in Israel and abroad as they travel. We could not reach Israelis of all ages for the Messiah Jesus without your prayers and generous support.

Your love and faithfulness mean so much to us!

Yours in Messiah,
Mitch Glaser

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