What is Next for Israel?

Dear friend of God’s chosen people,

It is my joy to introduce you to Dr. Michael Rydelnik, the director of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the radio host for Open Line on Moody Radio, which airs every Saturday at 9:00 am. Chosen People Ministries has enjoyed the service of dozens of Moody Jewish Studies graduates working on our staff in the United States, Israel, and worldwide!

Michael is a dear friend of mine who came to know the Lord through Chosen People Ministries. His wife, Eva, has served on the Chosen People Ministries staff for multiple decades.

I asked Michael if we could share his article, which focuses on why Israel is evidence of the reality of God and the truth of the Scriptures! Scripture often calls Israel a “witness” or a “light to the nations.” These names capture Israel’s fundamental calling to bring blessings to the world. This call is clearly depicted in Genesis 12:1–3 when God told Abraham that it would be through Israel that all the world’s nations would be blessed. Jesus relayed something similar to the woman at the well when He said, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).

Today, Israel is blessing others as the “vaccine nation,” leading the world in the percentage of citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 and providing invaluable information about the vaccine. Israel is often a shining example in some unexpected ways!

I know Dr. Rydelnik’s teaching will spiritually enrich you! And as always, thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support for YOUR Mission to the Jewish People.

Your brother in Messiah,

Mitch

Is the Modern State of Israel the Fulfillment of Prophecy?

by Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Even if we concede for the moment that the Jewish people’s continuing presence is evidence for the reliability of the Bible, we are well within our rights to raise other concerns. What, for example, is the connection between the Jewish people and the highly contested real estate in the Middle East that makes up modern-day Israel? For some, the relationship between God’s covenant promise to preserve the Jewish people and the equally emphasized “Promised Land” is highly problematic. Today even some committed Jews and Christians may wonder what relationship the present day State of Israel has with the land it sits on. In 1948, varying numbers of Orthodox Jews were horrified that anyone could even consider a Jewish state based upon modern notions of nationality in place of a kingdom under the Messiah’s reign. This sentiment persists today.

Yet, politics aside, it cannot be denied that not only have the children of Israel endured despite the harsh treatment they have received, but against all odds, after 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people have once again returned to the Land of Israel as the biblical prophets promised they would. The Hebrew prophets foretold a day when God would draw His people back to Israel. Although centuries of dispersion caused this aspiration to retreat into the far background of Jewish life, it never fully disappeared. If nothing else, the hope that is voiced every year during Passover—“Next year in Jerusalem!”— serves as an annual reminder of the Jewish people’s lost heritage.

So unlikely did a realistic restoration of the Jews to their Land seem that throughout church history, Christians, for the most part, could not conceive of a literal fulfillment of this promise. Therefore, many believers in Jesus interpreted these prophecies figuratively or historically—if they thought of them at all. However, some believers in the nineteenth century did indeed take the promise of a return literally and began to anticipate a Jewish return to the Land of Israel. Thus, you could say that what has become known as Christian or biblical Zionism was birthed at the same time or even earlier than rising Jewish aspirations for modern statehood promoted by Theodore Herzl.

Statehood and the Promise of the Bible

Is the existence of the modern State of Israel a further validation of Scripture’s reliability along the same lines as that of the Jewish people’s continuing presence in the world? Consider the following conditions set out in the scriptural record.

First of all, a national spiritual regeneration by turning to Jesus is not a biblical prerequisite for a major movement of Jewish people returning to and possessing the Land of Israel. In fact, the prophet Zechariah indicated the Jewish people would turn to God, through the Messiah, only after returning to Israel (Zech.12:10; 13:1). Likewise, the prophet Ezekiel stated God’s promise, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land” (Ezek. 36:24). The passage continues, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean…. 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” (Ezek. 36:25–26). Note that the spiritual regeneration of Israel follows the restoration of the Jewish people to the Land. Thus regathered, Israel will, as a nation, turn in faith toward the promised Messiah.

Second, the Bible predicts Israel would return to the Land in stages. Ezekiel 37 contains the stark and unforgettable vision of a valley of dry bones. The bones come to life in stages: first sinews on the bones, then flesh, then skin, and finally, the breath of life (Ezek. 37:6–10). Then God tells Ezekiel, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ezek. 37:11). This vivid depiction of the Jewish people’s restoration to their Promised Land is well in keeping with what is actually occurring. The regathering does not occur instantaneously; rather, it is a process culminating when the nation as a whole receives the Messiah according to Jewish expectation.

The dry bones represent Israel in exile, without hope. The process of the bones coming together with sinew, flesh, and skin refers to the successive waves of returning Jews before Israel’s rebirth. This is, in fact, how the Jewish people have returned to the Land. There were five separate aliyot (immigration waves) from 1881 to 1939, returning Jewish people from Europe to the Promised Land. After Israel’s birth in 1948, an estimated one million European Jewish survivors of the Holocaust came to Israel, followed by a majority of the 800,000 Jewish people driven from their homes in Arab countries. More recently, 1.5 million Jewish people fled the Former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel. These immigration waves show how the Jewish people have returned in stages. The body without breath represents unbelieving Israel, restored but not yet regenerated. Finally, according to this passage, God breathes life into these bodies, representing the day when all Israel turns to the Messiah.

Third, the Bible predicts Israel would return to her Land through persecution. The Hebrew Scripture says of Israel, “For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers” (Jer. 16:15). God will use “fishermen” and “hunters” to pursue His people back to Israel (Jer. 16:16). This metaphor for persecution has been literally fulfilled in Israel’s rebirth. Since the birth of modern Zionism, the primary motivation for return to the Land of Israel has been anti-Jewish persecution. In the last hundred years, Czarist pogroms, Polish economic discrimination, Nazi genocide, Arab hatred, Soviet repression, and more recently, an alarming rise in European and North American antisemitism have driven Jewish people back to their homeland.

Fourth, the Bible predicts that, after a period of exile, the children of Israel would return to reestablish national identity, thus setting the stage for the arrival of the Messiah and the consummation of history as we know it. At that time, the Messiah will deliver Israel from her enemies (Zech. 14:3).

Ask yourself, do the facts of history—particularly the emergence of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East—line up sufficiently with the predictions of the Hebrew Bible to form a credible connection? Since Israel has returned in unbelief, in stages, through persecution, the establishment of the modern State of Israel likely fulfills the predictions of the ancient Hebrew prophets and sets the stage for events yet to come.

The return to Zion is powerful evidence of the truth of Scripture. It is beyond remarkable that God would restore a dispersed and persecuted people to their Land after two thousand years of exile. Given the relationship between these events and the predictions of the Bible, would you say it is more or less likely that this has truly come about by the hand of God?

And if the above is true—what impact should this have on our lives? Certainly, we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)! Also, if the return of Jesus is linked to the Jewish people turning to Him, then how should we view Jewish evangelism today? This question is answered by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:11–29! As God’s people, we must do all we can to reach Jewish people with the message of the gospel!

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Renewing Our Hope in Jewish Evangelism

Dear friend in the Messiah,

Shalom in His grace!

Your Mission to the Jewish People recently enjoyed a fruitful Passover season. The last few weeks have been filled with opportunities to share the message about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Thousands attended our Messiah in the Passover digital event on March 30.

We have also been in the midst of a Messiah in the Passover online campaign and have met tens of thousands of people interested in Jewish evangelism. Hundreds upon hundreds of Jewish people requested our free booklet, Passover: A Time for Redemption.

We have also created an online series of small-group evangelistic Bible studies, which are going well. By God’s grace, we have seen Jewish people come to faith through these studies.

We could not do any of this without your faithful prayers and generous support. On behalf of our staff family across North America and in nineteen countries worldwide—THANK YOU!

You are such an important part of our mission to bring Jewish people to Jesus.

WHY PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE?

I know that some of you are new to Chosen People Ministries. It is important to me to make sure you understand why we share the gospel with Jewish people day in and day out.

The Apostle Paul recounted his struggle to understand why his fellow Jewish people did not embrace Jesus as their Messiah. For example, in Romans 9, we learn of Paul’s burden for the Jewish people:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen. (Romans 9:1–5)

Paul said that he was, in essence, willing to go to hell so that Jewish people might go to heaven. He had an immense burden for his own people. In Romans 10:1, we learn about Paul’s desire to pray for the Jewish people. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”

In chapter eleven, Paul concluded that God had not rejected the Jewish people. There is hope for their salvation in the present age and in the age to come. Paul declared in Romans 11:1 that he himself was a Jew. Paul was living evidence of a faithful remnant!

Paul reminded his readers that God did not reject Israel and that there is a remnant of Jewish people who believe and will believe in Jesus. God preserves a remnant in every generation. This remnant doctrine is fundamental in Scripture and is mentioned from Genesis through Revelation.

The idea of a remnant reaches back to the Hebrew Scriptures. Noah is a biblical type of remnant when God preserved him and his family from the flood. Also, in the negotiations between God and Abraham, we learn that God was willing to preserve a city, Sodom, for the sake of the remnant.

When Elijah thought he was the last man to stand up for righteousness, God showed Elijah that he was not alone because God had preserved a remnant, 7,000 men who had not bowed the knee to Ba’al.

This remnant theology is still true today! I, too, am a Jewish believer in Jesus, and there is a remnant of Jews today who are accepting the gift of salvation through our various ministries.

Jewish believers in Jesus are the modern-day remnant.

Here are five key ideas drawn from Romans chapters nine through eleven:

1. God will be faithful to the Jewish people who have been given the gifts of the law, the covenants, the promises, and from whom came the Messiah (Romans 9:1–5).

2. There is no way of salvation outside of accepting Jesus the Messiah for either Jew or Gentile (Romans 10:1–4).

3. God will save a remnant of Jewish people in every age who will be faithful to His Word. Jewish followers of God and His Messiah will always be in the minority until the very end of the age (Romans 11:1–5).

4. The turning of the Jewish people to Jesus will be a sign of His imminent return (Romans 11:25).

5. Israel’s future is bright as God will keep His promises to Abraham and save His people, establish His kingdom in the land of promise, and reveal the Messiah to Israel (Romans 11:28–29).

The Apostle Paul looked toward a future remnant and added, “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, when I take away their sins’” (Romans 11:25–27).

Sharing Messiah with Jewish people ought to be an evangelistic priority today, just as it was for Paul, not a second thought.

Jewish evangelism must never become the great omission of the Great Commission.

WHAT DID PAUL MEAN WHEN HE SAID: “MAKE JEWISH PEOPLE JEALOUS?”

Paul calls upon the Church to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy:

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)

Believers, and especially Gentile followers of Jesus, are called by God to bring the good news of the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people.

Paul affirmed that, through Israel’s national rejection of her Messiah, salvation had come to the Gentiles to make Jewish people jealous. This is true today as God wants to use the faithful witness of everyday Gentile believers to lead Jewish people to faith in Jesus the Messiah.

So, dear friend in the Messiah, how can a Gentile believer make a Jewish person jealous? There are several ways to do this, but I believe that the most powerful testimony a believer can have to a Jewish person is by demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.

When Gentile believers display a combination of the fruit of the Spirit and an understanding of God’s covenant love for Israel, Jewish people will be more likely to become jealous of the relationship Gentile believers have with God through Jesus the Messiah.

PUTTING ROMANS 1:16 INTO PRACTICE

For many Christians, the keystone verse about Jewish evangelism is Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” It is the clarion call for Jewish evangelism. This passage is clear!

As followers of the Jewish Messiah, we should intentionally seek out Jewish people to befriend and reach for Jesus. This is for the benefit of our Jewish family and friends and because we want to participate in God’s plan for the ages.

After all, the Bible teaches that when Jewish people turn to Jesus, then Jesus will return (Matthew 23:37–39, Zechariah 12:10)!

Chosen People Ministries—Your Mission to the Jewish People—can help you reach the Jewish people:

1. We can visit your church and speak on topics related to Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. Please tell your pastor about us.

2. We can provide books, tracts, and online materials to help train and inspire you to reach Jewish people for Jesus and for you to pass along to your Jewish friends and coworkers.

3. We can meet your Jewish friends through Zoom, in person, and by email, if you wish.

4. You can pray for us as we share the gospel in Israel, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other cities across our great country.

May the Lord fill you with joy and the hope of His coming when we will hear the blowing of the trumpet and cry of the Jewish remnant, “Blessed is He who comes in the name the Lord” (Matthew 23:37–39).

Your brother in the Messiah,

Mitch

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Seeing God in the Darkness of Plagues

Shalom and greetings in the Messiah.

I pray this newsletter finds you hopeful in the Lord. Although the coronavirus still plagues us, we patiently await God’s help and healing.

In the darkness, the Light of the World continues to shine brightly. As David wrote in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” I cannot imagine a more comforting word in the entire Bible for these days.

I hope you have sensed the Lord’s presence with you even amid profound difficulties and loss. I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount in my quiet time, and the second beatitude has impacted me significantly, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). If you are mourning, may the Lord comfort you.

Passover Is Around the Corner

We will be observing Passover at the end of this month. Since plagues will be on the minds of Jewish people and Christians who study the Hebrew Scriptures, I thought I would share some thoughts about the ten plagues.

There are many sparkling gems of truth to be found in studying the plagues. Even the Hebrew terms for the various plagues are meaningful. Although the actual Hebrew word for “plague” is only found once in the book of Exodus, the variety of terms used helps us understand their nature.

A Brief Summary of the Terms for Plagues and their Meaning

The plagues narrative begins in Exodus 7:1–5. There are five different references to the coming plagues in this passage.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”

The Bible refers to the miraculous and revelatory nature of the plagues along with their punitive purposes. Through the plagues, God revealed both His power and character to the Egyptians and the Hebrews.

Some of the terms, such as “signs” and “wonders,” are almost always associated in the Hebrew Bible with the release of God’s power designed to turn unbelievers toward Him in repentance and faith. Similarly, God used the plagues to reveal His holiness, justice, and love, especially toward His chosen people. Have you ever thought of the plagues themselves as evangelistic in nature?

Ezekiel 36, a prophecy we see partially fulfilled today as the Jewish people are back in the Land in unbelief, parallels Exodus 7:5. Moses predicts a future day of deliverance and restoration for Israel and the Jewish people: “‘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 36:23–24).

Both passages make it clear that one of God’s purposes in bringing the Jewish people out of captivity to the Promised Land was to be a miraculous sign of God’s faithfulness. The regathering of the Jewish people to the Holy Land is an obvious miracle that should help the Gentile nations see what God has done and turn in faith to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Ten Big Ones!

The recitation of the ten plagues is an integral part of the Passover Seder and one of the most memorable moments of the meal. As a child, I always looked forward to reciting the plagues. Traditionally, Jewish people dip their pinky finger into a glass of sweet red wine and place a drop of it onto their plates as they shout the name of each of the ten plagues.

The recalling of the plagues is a way to remember the story of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. One traditional reason for why we drop the wine on our plates is that the drops represent the reduction of our joy, symbolized by the sweet wine—one drop for each plague that fell upon the Egyptians. Therefore, we do not rejoice in the judgment of the Egyptians, as Jewish tradition teaches mercy, but rather we should reduce our joy because of their suffering.

This unique part of the Seder reminds the Jewish people that God brought plagues upon others in mysterious harmony with His will. He used plagues to move both the Egyptians and Jewish people to action. Biblical plagues are purposeful, and, while causing terrible suffering, they are used by God for His divine purposes.

There are many biblical examples of plagues besides the ten in Exodus. God heaped affliction upon Job, the prophets, and many others. Sometimes, God caused the plagues, and other times He allowed them to happen for His divine purposes. For example, Naaman and Miriam (Moses’ sister) were both plagued with leprosy for God’s holy purposes and His glory.

Plagues, however, are not always punitive. “Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:3). Like the healing of the blind man in John chapter nine, plagues and disease afford God opportunities to reveal His glory, goodness, and redemptive power.

COVID-19 and the Ten Plagues

Now, let us explore some ways we might better understand the role of the current COVID-19 pandemic in the plan of God. I am not suggesting that this virus was imposed directly by God as were the plagues in Exodus. Pharaoh hardened his heart, and God brought the ten plagues upon the Egyptians because of their leader’s misconduct. However, there is no reason to believe that the spread of the coronavirus is a divine punishment. The Bible never mentions the coronavirus, the Black Plague, or the Spanish Flu. Therefore, I believe the adage, “Where the Bible is silent, so am I.”

On the other hand, we cannot deny that God used plagues in biblical history as judgments and promises to do so in the future. Most believers would agree that plagues are signs of Jesus’ Second Coming. Luke wrote, “Then [Jesus] continued by saying to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven’” (Luke 21:10–11).

COVID-19 awakens us to the real possibility that plagues, along with other signs, will be part of a future season of endtime judgment before Jesus’ return. Plagues upon humanity are also part of the traditional Jewish view of the end times. This shared belief has caused some openness to Jesus on the part of ultra-religious Jewish people around the globe.

We can only hope and pray that our broken and sinful world might look beyond the suffering of today to see and believe that God longs to redeem us from the plagues of life. He is gracious and keeps His promises but is also serious about the judgment to come. While we need to proclaim the good news, we should not forget that there is also bad news for those who do not turn to the Messiah. Many Jewish people recognize this reality today, and we have, by His grace, seen quite a few Jewish people turn to Jesus during the pandemic.

Hopefully, we will look back one day and see more clearly the greater good our heavenly Father accomplished through this epidemiological trial. We pray that blessings will come for everyone throughout this time of pain and suffering (Romans 8:28) and that we will remember lessons learned in darkness when we return to the light.

I pray that the Lord will use this experience to shape our character, reorder our priorities, and draw us closer to Him.

Thank you for your love and prayers. I know you will enjoy reading about all the good the Lord has done in our midst during this difficult time. His miracles shine even brighter in dark times!

Blessings and Happy Passover,
Mitch

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Ministry to the Next Generation

Dear Friends,

Shalom in His wonderful grace. I hope this note finds you healthy, safe, and filled with His joy! Your Mission to the Jewish People is doing well, and God is blessing our ministries among God’s chosen people worldwide. We are so grateful for your partnership!

I am greatly encouraged by the gifted and dedicated next-generation leaders God has given to Chosen People Ministries. We have done all we can to intentionally recruit, disciple, and train a younger generation of missionaries to the Jewish people.

These efforts offer a full range of ministries to children and younger adults. Chosen People Ministries has a long legacy of reaching the next generation. Our founder, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, was a diligent evangelist and teacher, and a caring father to his children. His love of youth prompted him to begin summer camps for boys and girls in upstate New York and Connecticut.

As a young man, I was blessed by Chosen People Ministries when I came to the Lord at nineteen. God used the Mission to disciple me as a young believer from a very Jewish home. They even paid my way through Bible college. Missionaries from Chosen People Ministries also discipled a Jewish, believing teenage girl who later became my wife! We are both forever grateful for the missionaries and programs that enabled us to grow in our faith and give the rest of our lives to serving Him among our people!

We want to pass these opportunities along to future generations.

Today, our mission reaches children, teenagers, and young adults worldwide in many ways!

YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY—A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

MUCHAN (MOO-KHAN)

Chosen People Ministries’ most extensive young adult outreach is called Muchan, which in Hebrew means “ready.” Muchan is an international conference for Messianic Jewish and Gentile believers ages eighteen to thirty-five. Muchan lasts five days, and past locations have included Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Prague, and Rome. Barring a pandemic, we hold these conferences every other year. About one hundred fifty young adults attend. Last time, we had about forty young adults from Israel and many others who could not easily afford this opportunity. We underwrite quite a bit of the expenses, but it is worth it!

LIVING WATERS

The Living Waters program is a retreat for Israeli young adults that has been going strong for fifteen years and counting. The retreat, which usually has fifteen to twenty congregations represented, includes Bible teaching and plenty of fellowship and worship. We also offer instruction on evangelism and apologetics, biblical financial management, and pastoral counseling. We put a hold on bringing Living Waters USA into fruition in 2020, but we hope to schedule the summer event in 2022 and are already planning for our next Living Waters when Israel is out from under its serious lockdowns. Once again, we provide funding for this disciple-making event.

THE ZULA LODGE

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Israelis find out about this program by word of mouth and various websites, especially Facebook. Most of the Israelis we host at this facility come after their army service (22–24 years old). Last season, Zula Lodge logged more than 5,000 bed nights for Israelis, and every one of them heard the gospel.

Israeli believers also volunteer at the Zula Lodge. We choose a number of young Israelis who have completed their time in the Israel Defense Forces and are mature in their faith. They live in New Zealand for three months to serve at the Zula Lodge and have the opportunity to minister to traveling Israelis and learn the basics of backpacker ministry.

We have the joy of also sending short-term mission teams from Israel to spend time at Zula Lodge where they spend their days serving and talking to fellow younger Israelis about the Lord!

THE CHARLES L. FEINBERG CENTER FOR MESSIANIC JEWISH STUDIES

This graduate program offers an accredited Master of Divinity degree in Messianic Jewish Studies. We designed the curriculum to train those called to fulltime Jewish ministry. This dynamic program is a joint venture between Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and Chosen People Ministries.

The degree focuses on the biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek), exegesis of the Scriptures, and courses to help students better understand Jewish people. Students address essential matters of theology and Jewish practice through intensive study of the Torah (Jewish law), culture, and practical methods of reaching Jewish people with the gospel. The program is based in Brooklyn, and students are directly involved with Jewish evangelism throughout their educational program. We believe in learning by doing!

We now have thirty graduates serving the Lord among the Jewish people! The Feinberg Center is one of our most effective and fruitful investments in the future of Jewish evangelism.

Currently, we have students from five nations around the world studying to be missionaries to the Jewish people back in their home countries. We underwrite much of this program, including housing for young families in Brooklyn. Your help for the Feinberg program is critical.

UNIVERSITY AND STUDENT PROGRAMS

HOUSE OF LIVING WATERS

The first House of Living Waters began in 2019 in the East Village near New York University (NYU), which has the largest number of Jewish students in the United States. Four young men moved into a rented apartment to build a Messianic Jewish presence on campus by hosting book tables, weekly Bible studies, and Sabbath dinners.

Unfortunately, the program ended early in May 2020 due to COVID-19. Despite its short duration, the House of Living Waters has already proven to be fruitful.

We are eager to relaunch and even expand it as an ongoing ministry! Many Jewish students have heard the gospel through these young people, and we look forward to starting again this fall. Thank God, a foundation with a great vision for this work has helped considerably with the funding. However, we still need your help to cover the additional expenses.

OUTREACH ISRAEL & EXPERIENCE ISRAEL (SHORT-TERM MISSIONS)

Outreach Israel is a three-week service-based program in the Holy Land led by our staff in Israel. A dozen young college students usually participate, primarily from the United States.

Experience Israel is for young adults who are typically post-college up to age thirty-five. The participants share the gospel with younger Israelis through beach ministry, camping programs, and more.

COLLEGE INTERNSHIPS

Summer internships are available in various ministry areas, including evangelism, digital media, videography or photography, and finance. Our interns typically come to us with a specific area of Jewish interest, but we also offer a wide range of field experience for those who are unsure or want it all!

CHILDREN’S CAMPS

CAMP KESHER

Kesher is the Hebrew word for “connection,” which is what Camp Kesher is all about. Connecting youth to Jesus, each other, and the larger Messianic Jewish community is our utmost priority. We currently host Camp Kesher on the East and West Coasts, as well as a winter camp in Maryland called “Kesher Ice.” Many camp counselors are Jewish Studies students at our Feinberg Center or Moody Bible Institute and are often members of Chosen People Ministries congregations. We canceled last year’s camps because of COVID-19, but we did have some great online programs for young people. We are already planning to try and restart in-person camping as we are able this summer, and we (and the kids) are excited!

CHILDREN’S CAMP ISRAEL/KESHER ISRAEL

We had more than six hundred children attend our Israeli summer camps in 2019. Many of these children come from Russian Jewish Israeli families and are not yet believers. Alexi’s (not his real name) story illustrates the organic flow within our various youth programs. He was ten years old when he began attending Kesher Israel. As a teenager, he became a helper and then a counselor. He went on to help lead our camps, and then in 2019, he came to New York City to be part of the House of Living Waters program. He is currently attending Moody Bible Institute for Jewish Studies and is on part-time staff with Chosen People Ministries. Alexi plans to become a full-time staff member in Israel. He is a beautiful example of how we strengthen the future of Jewish ministry by investing in the future of children and teens for the Lord. 

We ask Israeli parents to help pay for their kids’ camping programs, but many are from poor homes, especially some of the Russian immigrants. Your help for our Israeli camping ministries is deeply appreciated!

THE NEXT GENERATION AND YOU

As always, your prayers are essential to sustaining and prospering our outreach to the next generation!

Thank you for your faithful concern and care for the children, teenagers, and young adults who are the future men and women at the forefront of Jewish evangelism in the twenty-first century.

Yours in Messiah,
Mitch

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Warning: Global Antisemitism Is Growing!

Dear friend,

Shalom in His grace. There is another unseen virus wreaking destruction upon God’s chosen people today that demands our attention. That virus is antisemitism.

This newsletter will look at the unfortunate growth and virulence of modern antisemitism in North and South America. We will also look at contemporary European antisemitism, including the United Kingdom.

We witnessed synagogue members in Pittsburgh murdered in 2018 simply because they were Jewish. Anti-Jewish slogans and graffiti regularly mark our college campuses today, fueled by hatred of the Jewish people and often further inflamed by posts on social media.

Antisemitism all too often expresses itself through political opposition to the State of Israel. It leads to various movements such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and other groups actively opposing the Jewish state. But antisemitism is not a term we want to throw around lightly, as this “oldest hatred” is now considered a hate crime.

The U.S. State Department in cooperation with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), developed a non-legally binding “working definition” of antisemitism in 2016, which is generally accepted across the globe: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”1

The Anti-Defamation League also provides an excellent definition of antisemitism, defining it as “the belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.”2

Antisemitism is on the rise in the United States, and it is essential for us as a Jewish mission to address this crucial topic. My people often blame Christianity for antisemitism because of tragic events like the Crusades, Pogroms in Russia, and the Holocaust. WE believe that loving Jesus the Jewish Messiah is incompatible with antisemitism. Yet, the fear of Christianity because of past actions by alleged Christians created a deep antipathy on the part of Jewish people toward the gospel, which is why it is so crucial for us to dispel this association between Jesus and antisemitism.

The Spiritual Roots of Antisemitism

We always need to view life’s critical issues through the lens of Scripture. The roots of antisemitism are ancient and have changed dramatically over the centuries. What started as Greek and Roman disdain morphed into theological anti-Judaism in the early and medieval church. It became racial antisemitism in the nineteenth century leading to the murder of more than six million Jewish people. At the time Adolf Hitler implemented his catastrophic “Final Solution,” antisemitism was primarily racial. If you had a Jewish mother or father, or even a Jewish grandparent, you were declared Jewish, placed in a concentration camp, and likely put to death.

But, if we pull back the curtains of time and history and consider the role God gave to the Jewish people in the redemption of the world, it becomes evident that the roots of antisemitism are spiritual and satanic. When God chose Abram to become the father of the Jewish people, the devil chose the Jewish people to be his perennial enemy (Genesis 12:1–3).

Throughout biblical history, we see attempt after attempt to destroy the Jewish people, which was predicted by the ancient Jewish prophets, especially Daniel. He envisioned the Jewish people’s oppression by Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome in the post-Old Testament period. The Bible never mentions the antisemitism-inspired activities of the Crusaders, the Russian and Ukrainian pogroms, or the Holocaust. The Bible also did not predict the attacks in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018, when eleven Jewish people were killed. Nor did it foresee the attack at the Chabad congregation in Poway, California, on April 27, 2019, when Lori Lynn Gilbert-Kaye was killed, and others shot, only for being Jewish.

The reasons for hating the Jewish people have changed over time, but the source remains the same. The devil is not all-knowing like God, but he truly believes he can thwart God’s plan. That is why he has focused on destroying the Jewish people throughout the ages. Satan hates the Jewish people because he knows that it was through the Jewish people the Lord revealed Himself through the Scriptures. At the right moment in history, God unveiled Himself through His Son by choosing a young Jewish virgin to give birth to the Jewish Messiah (Isaiah 7:14)!

God is not finished with His chosen people. There is so much more to come! One day, the Jewish people whom God promised to preserve—will repent, recognize Jesus as Messiah, and the Lord will return and establish His Messianic kingdom on earth (Romans 11:25–29).

Antisemitism is satanic. A good friend of mine once said, “We need to love what the devil hates!” As followers of the Jewish Messiah, we have a holy duty to bless the Jewish people, which fulfills His sacred purposes and demonstrates our loyalty to the One who chose the Jewish people for His divine purposes.

What Can We Do Today to Counter Antisemitism?

1. We should counter antisemitism and enlist the help of the church to do the same.

2. We should counter antisemitism as a witness of God’s love for Israel and the Jewish people.

3. We should help mobilize Christians to stand with the Jewish people in opposing antisemitism. These activities could save Jewish lives.

4. We should post messages of love and support for our local Jewish communities on Facebook, Twitter, or even encourage our pastors to use their church marquees.

5. We should provide believers with information about the Jewish people and antisemitism. Good communication helps believers better understand God’s love and plan for the Jewish people.

A Call to Action:

Some things are just too horrible to let pass! 

That was the theme of an article that appeared in a newspaper.3 The horrible act that could not go unnoticed was the writing of antisemitic statements on a subway car’s walls in New York City—my hometown. Several good Samaritans saw the remarks and came up with the idea of erasing them, using hand cleaner that had high alcohol content to cut through the thick, waxy strokes of a sharpie pen. I cannot tell you how happy I am that New Yorkers took the initiative to act on their outrage and eradicate these despicable statements. Their quick-thinking act of righteousness demonstrates to me that New Yorkers—and Americans, in general—believe we have a culture of freedom, respect, and goodness that is worth preserving. We are willing to put our most cherished values into action.

As a Jewish New Yorker who follows Jesus the Messiah, I am impressed by what these good citizens did on behalf of the Jewish people, especially since the newspaper does not indicate that those who erased the graffiti were Jewish. I long for my fellow believers to take the same kind of actions when we see antisemitism rear its ugly head in our local communities. I would love to see local churches make a public stand against antisemitism. What a testimony that would be of Christ’s love to your local Jewish community!

When believers in Jesus take personal or public stands against antisemitism, they express God’s heart for His chosen people, which is one way to bring your Jewish friend another step closer to thinking about Jesus.

Thanks for your prayers and generous support! I pray that you and your family will have a safe, healthy, and fruitful 2021.

In Him,
Mitch

1 “Defining Anti-semitism,” U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/defining-anti-semitism/.

2 “Antisemitism,” ADL.org, https://www.adl.org/antisemitism.

3 Mark Sundstrom, “Police Investigating Anti-Semitic Graffiti in Upper West Side Subway Station: Officials,” Pix 11, November 11, 2019, https://www.pix11.com/2019/11/11/police-investigating-anti-semitic-graffiti-in-upper-west-side-subwaystation-officials/.

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It’s Time to Look Up!

Dear friend of the Jewish people,

Shalom in His grace. I hope your new year is off to a good start. I am taking one step at a time and praying for the best. Our nation is struggling to control the virus, and hopefully, we will make further progress this month.

The Scriptures provide great comfort and encouragement during this trying time. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Passages like this fill my soul with hope.

One of the blessings of leading a 127-year-old mission to the Jewish people is realizing that the Lord can guide us through the toughest of times. Throughout our history, Chosen People Ministries has survived antisemitism and persecution, the Holocaust, two world wars, the Great Depression, the struggles faced by the nation of Israel at her birth as a modern nation, and even a couple of pandemics!1 Yet, we are still serving the Lord and growing in our ministry’s scope and strength because He is faithful and has a heart for His chosen people.

I believe the Lord will sustain us as a ministry until He returns—when there will no longer be any need for Jewish ministries! I cannot wait until Jesus returns so I can begin my new career as a full-time worshipper of the Jewish Messiah!

TURNING OUR EYES TOWARD THE FUTURE

As we turn the corner and work our way through this pandemic, it is time, I believe, to think about the future. We have a hope that will never disappoint and is full of confidence in the Lord who sent His only Son to die for our sins, rise from the grave, ascended to the right hand of His Father, and will return at any moment!

My dear friend, it is time to turn our eyes toward the Second Coming of Yeshua and to allow Scripture to fuel our hope and transform the way we live!

According to the Bible, we know that Jesus will return in the same way He left—physically—with great glory. Luke wrote, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

The Lord of glory is on His way and could come at any moment. While there are still a few steps along the way, the next significant move for all who love the Lord is to spend eternity living in His presence. For you and me, that should cause us to smile and be encouraged.

A SURVEY OF THE END TIMES

A year ago, we co-sponsored a survey with Lifeway Research, an arm of the Southern Baptist Association. We discovered that many pastors say they are focused on the Second Coming and are confident in teaching and preaching about the “end times.”2

According to the survey of more than one thousand pastors, nine in ten see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur before He returns. Not surprisingly, 97 percent s say they believe Jesus Christ will literally and personally return to earth again.

Our board member, Dr. Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, noted that the Bible lists several signs of Jesus’ return, such as in the Olivet Discourse passages of Matthew 24–25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Some include concepts of global sicknesses. 

Dr. Bock notes,

“Numerous biblical texts speak of disturbances in the creation that disorient and trouble people,” said Bock. “These disturbances have quite a range with earthquakes and wars being the most common. However, Jesus mentions plagues or pestilence explicitly in Luke 21.” 3

The chart below is from the study and lists the signs and records the numbers of pastors and Christian leaders who believe these to be true!

One particular sign of the end times grabs our attention in Luke 21:10–11:

“Then He continued by saying to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.’”

Many English Bibles translate the Greek word loimos used by Jesus as “plague.”

In other words, when you see the signs, including the plagues, get ready, because He is coming soon!

LIVING LIFE IN LIGHT OF HIS SOON RETURN

In an encounter with the Jewish leaders of His day, Jesus asked the haunting question in Matthew 16:3, “Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”

We should consider this question too. We do not want to see signs that are not there or become cynical and allow occasional misinterpretations to keep us from the joy of expecting His return!

In light of the signs of the times, let us move forward in faith through the pandemic and allow our eyes to be on His return, whenever that day or hour might be.

WHAT ABOUT THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THE END OF DAYS?

Now, this is where Your Mission to the Jewish People plays a critical role. In passages such as Zechariah 12:10 and Matthew 23:37–39, we see a link between the end-time turning of the Jewish people to Jesus and the Second Coming.

Let us list a few signs of the times that might already be fulfilled.

  • The Jewish people are back in the land of Israel and returned in unbelief, as Ezekiel predicted in chapter 36.
  • Jerusalem is in Jewish hands.
  • Enemies still surround Israel—look east to Iran and Syria!

In 1 John 3:3, the Apostle John told us to prepare for His coming: “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

If we believe that Jesus is coming soon, then we should be drawing closer to the Lord, repenting of our sins, and getting ready for His return.

Yet, the Bible also tells us that we can do more to participate in Christ’s Second Coming by becoming involved with world evangelism, beginning with the Jew first, according to Romans 1:16.

Now why to the Jew first?

The Jewish people and the nation of Israel play a primary role in preparing the way for the Second Coming. Jewish people need to hear the gospel, as Paul told us that faith comes through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Evangelism is the preparation that turns the hearts of Jewish people to the Lord and eventually leads to the salvation of an end-time remnant described by Paul in Romans 11:25–26.

Jewish people need to hear the gospel today, and we must pray for and stand with His chosen people in the United States, Israel, and worldwide so the good news of Messiah Jesus may be proclaimed to Jewish people—preparing the way for the return of the Lord.

The Jewish people’s role in world redemption will continue to the very end—when the remnant and the Jewish people as a whole cry out in repentance and turn their eyes to the One who was pierced.

He will return when the Jewish people turn!

PARTNERS ALWAYS!

My dear brothers and sisters, please join us as we turn our eyes to the future to the Second Coming of Jesus. Let us remember the importance of Jewish evangelism and the Jewish people’s role in these last days.

Thank you so much for your generous support and prayers.

Mitch

1 Since the founding of Chosen People Ministries in 1894, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four global pandemics before the current COVID-19 outbreak: the Spanish flu (1919), the Asian flu (1957–1958), the H3N2 flu (1968), and the swine flu (2009). “Past Pandemics,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last modified August 10, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/basics/past-pandemics.html.

2 The phone survey of 1,000 pastors from evangelical and historically black denominations was conducted from January 24 to February 11, 2020. It was sponsored by Chosen People Ministries, Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, Rich and Judy Hastings, and the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all evangelical and historically black churches. Quotas were used for church size.

3 Aaron Earls, “Vast Majority of Pastors See Signs of End Times in Current Events,” LifeWay Research, April 7, 2020, https://lifewayresearch.com/2020/04/07/vast-majority-of-pastors-see-signs-of-endtimes-in-current-events/.

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To the Jew First in 2021

Shalom, dear friend.

It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of January 2021! Time is moving forward so rapidly! Last January, I had such hope in the afterglow of celebrating Chosen People Ministries’ 125th year of ministry. We had a fabulous gala! The future looked so bright, the opportunities to serve the Lord and reach Jewish people with the gospel were electrifying, and the Chosen People Ministries staff was ready to go!

But then tragedy struck, and however you feel about the virus, it has impacted all of our lives in many ways. The effects of COVID-19 on our friends, families, and congregations have been severe. Our economy and the overall stability of our nation suffered as well.

My dear friend, 2020 was a challenging year!

But the Lord is ALWAYS in control. He is sovereign and loves us with an everlasting love. He created us, sent His Son to redeem us, and is coming back, so we are hopeful.

Job’s sentiments very well express how you and I might sometimes feel: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15).

When there is nothing else to hold onto, we can always cling to the nature and character of our God! He will never disappoint, though His ways, thoughts, and will are so mysterious to us at times (Isaiah 55:8–9).

But we know in the depth of our souls that the Lord is always worthy of our trust!

While I anguish with those who have lost loved ones, businesses, and more to the virus, I believe that 2021 will be a year of restoration. I also have an even greater sense of urgency than ever before to proclaim the gospel to the Jewish people. Your Mission to the Jewish People will move forward in hope, fulfilling the mission and vision God gave Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894 when he founded Chosen People Ministries.

The Messianic Jewish Apostle Paul expressed our vision at Chosen People Ministries when he wrote,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

I like to remind our staff and prayer partners of this verse every January. It is best to read this verse—and the entire Bible—as literally as possible. David L. Cooper, a missionary to the Jewish people who lived and ministered in the 40s and 50s in Los Angeles, said this about reading Scripture: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” He explained that, unless there is an obvious reason not to, we should apply Scripture literally.

A LITERAL APPROACH TO ROMANS 1:16

If we take Romans 1:16 literally, we see that we should not be ashamed of the gospel as it is the power of God for salvation. I know this is true, as I experienced God’s power when I was nineteen years old and accepted Jesus. He transformed my life!

This verse also teaches that we should not keep this glorious and powerful message to ourselves. It is the power of God for salvation, not just for us, but for everyone who believes. Our divinely appointed goal in life should be to present the gospel in ways that others might see the power of the good news and believe in Him as well.

Finally, the text tells us that the gospel should be proclaimed to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Here is where some people find it hard to take this verse literally.

The Greek word translated “first” is protos and does not need to be understood sequentially. I do not think Paul intended for the Roman believers to witness to all the Jewish people in Rome before sharing the gospel with non-Jews! Paul used a nonsequential application of the word first.

To the Jew first means that bringing the gospel to the Jewish people should be a heart priority for every believer in Jesus.

We must find a way to apply the plain truth of God’s Word to our lives. Whether through prayer, giving, or witnessing to Jewish people we know, we all need to be involved in sharing the good news with God’s chosen people.

REACHING THE HAREDIM IN THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL

We want to take Paul’s statement a little bit further in 2021.

We not only want to bring the gospel to the Jewish people first, but we also want to take the gospel to some of the most challenging and resistant Jewish people first. The group I have in mind is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, usually called the Haredim. A literal translation of the Hebrew word Haredim is “those who fear the Lord.”

This Jewish community represents close to one million of the more than fifteen million Jewish people in the world.

They are viewed as “old style” in their keeping of Jewish tradition and dress. Haredim follow the Torah diligently, live under the rabbis’ authority, and share a vibrant community life that includes schools, jobs, and synagogue life, which is central to this Jewish community.

My heart breaks for the Haredim for many reasons. But the primary reason is biblical, as Paul wrote in Romans 10:1–3. He noted that these beloved Jewish people have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. The Greek word Paul used is epignosis, a composite term that implies full or complete knowledge. The Haredim understand God to a degree, but this knowledge is incomplete because it lacks an understanding of Jesus, who fulfills all that the Bible promises.

I live in Brooklyn. Outside of Jerusalem and a few other enclaves in Israel and the greater New York area, my hometown is the epicenter of Haredi life. However, you will find Haredim in every major city in North America.

We have developed tools designed to reach these dear people through the use of social media in the United States, Israel, and other strategic places where many Haredim live. We are using the Yiddish language, which combines Old German and some Slavic and Hebrew terms but is written in Hebrew letters.

We have the New Testament in Yiddish and the Jesus Film in Yiddish as well, which we are offering for online viewing.

HAREDI SAFE HOUSE INITIATIVE

We are also establishing a fund to purchase a property somewhere outside the New York area where the Haredim who are seeking the Lord can safely stay when their community persecutes them. We call this the “Haredi Safe House Initiative.”

God has given us a big vision and ambitious goals. We have already done a lot, but now we are prepared to move full steam ahead.

We expect to receive quite a bit of opposition, and we need to have the prayer support to press on.

We have not yet located the site, though we have a good idea of where we want to be. So stay tuned, and we will tell you more about this later on in 2021.

We are prepared and available to God for this monumental task, and we hope and pray that, in the days ahead, the Lord will use us in the lives of this exceptional part of the global Jewish community.

We are not stopping anything else that we are doing; we are adding to what we have done in past years. This includes a more extensive outreach to campuses, initiatives among children, and more.

The gospel is still powerful, and it is still for everyone; it is the only solution that works for you, me, and every other citizen on earth. But as we apply the preaching of the gospel, we need to take Paul’s words seriously and present the gospel to the Jew first.

THANK YOU!

Thank you so much for your prayers. I see God’s hand on the Jewish people and especially the state of Israel as part of the unfolding of the end times. I believe with my whole heart that the Jewish people will turn to Jesus before He returns at the end of days. This makes reaching the Jewish people for the Messiah Jesus so very important.

As Paul wrote,

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, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25–27).

Let us lift our eyes and hearts together and, by His grace, reach the Jewish people for the Lord. Thank you for caring and for helping us bring the gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles.

Your brother in the Messiah,
Mitch

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We Thank God for Another Year!

Shalom, dear friend.

Happy New Year!

We made it to 2021, which is encouraging! I thank the Lord for bringing us this far!

I have found the well-known passage from Psalm 23:4 to be a source of strength and hope: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Maybe, like me, you have rediscovered that all we need is Him!

The pandemic has tested our faith, but I believe we will slowly regain a sense of normalcy and return to the world we once knew. I am sure you have learned some great spiritual lessons in the last ten months. These past months have powerfully reminded me that this world is passing away, and we belong to a coming kingdom, which is unshakable. The hope of Jesus’ return is sweeter to me now than ever before, and I hope this is true for you too.

I long for His coming and the establishment of His righteous kingdom. The book of Revelation promises, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3–4).

What a wonderful promise!

Meanwhile, Your Mission to the Jewish People is ready for the challenges of 2021. With full dependence upon our good and glorious Savior, we are moving forward, doing what we have done for one hundred twenty-six years—reaching Jewish people with the gospel.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Romans 10:1). I want to be part of God’s answer to Paul’s prayer!

Paul, a Messianic Jew, also penned the following words of Scripture, which became our marching orders when Rabbi Leopold Cohn founded Chosen People Ministries in 1894:

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

For one hundred twenty-six years, we have focused on this clear, biblical basis for Jewish evangelism every January. We start the year by reminding our staff and friends of this mandate that explains why we do what we do, day in and day out, using the tools God provides. Chosen People Ministries has endured incredible challenges in fulfilling our mission: World War I, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, World War II, the Holocaust, Israel’s establishment, and the wars fought to keep her safe—and today, we are facing a pandemic!

Your Mission to the Jewish People is still here serving the Jewish Messiah and making Him known among His kinsman according to the flesh!

By God’s grace, Chosen People Ministries has never changed its mission or theology. Irrespective of the circumstances, we exist to reach Jewish people worldwide for their Messiah, Jesus. With the help of an army of prayer warriors like you—including both individuals and local churches who love the Lord and the Jewish people—we will be able to continue the work!

OUR MISSIONARIES HAVE OVERCOME SERIOUS SETBACKS IN 2020

We have spoken in very few churches—about one thousand fewer churches than 2019! Still, He has provided through you. Thank you.

We struggle with not being able to worship and witness in person. Yet, we know His Spirit cannot be quarantined and still works powerfully in the lives of those seeking Him. He is never locked down!

In so many ways, our ministry has flourished during the pandemic. We have engaged with tens of thousands of individuals online. We have met many hurting people whose personal suffering and loss has drawn them to Jesus. We have seen many Jewish people come to faith, be baptized, and become part of our congregations and Bible studies.

I hope this openness continues and that we will continue to find both Jews and Gentiles seeking the Lord during the months ahead.

We are ready to move forward in 2021! We will take it one step at a time, but we see hope on the horizon! Our staff is filled with vision and overflowing with ideas and new strategies!

Will you pray for our workers in nineteen countries around the globe, as you have in the past?

By God’s grace, let us walk arm in arm toward the opportunities ahead. Together, we can meet the challenges of reaching the Jewish community in the United States, Israel, and worldwide!

USING DIGITAL MEDIA TO REACH JEWISH PEOPLE

It takes a village to reach the Jewish community for the Messiah, and both our missionary and administrative staff, which number about one hundred twenty-five in the United States, need our continued prayers and encouragement.

I am especially thrilled with the work of our digital media department. They do some of our most critically important missionary work by creating the videos and social media we use to proclaim the gospel.

We have learned a lot about ministering to Jewish people who understandably want to keep their search for Jesus private. They are concerned about their friends and relatives knowing about their interest in the gospel, which is why our digital media outreach is so critical. We have created four evangelistic websites and are working on a fifth as well.

AboutMessiah.com is an entry-level online outreach. The articles address an unbelieving Jewish audience open to the gospel and curious about Jesus.

FollowMessiah.com is a video-based Bible study based on the Sermon on the Mount. The videos help seekers who are further along in their search for the Lord, and they also serve to disciple Jewish believers who have come to faith.

ChosenPeopleAnswers.com focuses on the tough questions Jewish people ask about Jesus and the gospel. This site will help Jewish seekers, but it will also help gentile Christians who are trying to answer the questions their Jewish friends are asking about the Messiah.

IFoundShalom.com shares the testimonies of more than one hundred Jewish people who have come to faith in the Messiah.

OUTREACH AMONG RELIGIOUS JEWISH PEOPLE

Our newest website, still in development, reflects our growing burden to reach ultra-Orthodox Jewish people for the Lord. An online approach is perfect for an ultra-Orthodox audience since many religious Jewish people do not want their friends and family knowing that they are interested in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. The website will contain portions of the New Testament in Yiddish, part of the Jesus Film (also in Yiddish), and several other online resources to help ultra-Orthodox Jewish people find the Lord, like our Isaiah 53 Explained book in Hebrew. The ultra-Orthodox speak and read Yiddish, but many are also fluent in Hebrew. The book is available in print and as a downloadable pdf.

There are more than one million devoted ultra-Orthodox Jews in the world today, and we have recently had phone calls from many of them who are seeking the Lord. We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to produce this site and advertise it within the religious Jewish community.

IT IS TIME TO ADVANCE!

I cannot thank you enough for your faithful and generous prayers and support. Our staff joins me in being deeply appreciative of your partnership.

I know that we have been through a hard time, but I have hope! The Lord is all-powerful, and He has promised a glorious future for those who love Him.

It is my greatest desire to find as many Jewish people as possible to enjoy His eternal presence along with you and me!

Happy New Year and God bless you. We are looking forward to great things in 2021.

Your brother in the Messiah,

Mitch

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The Christmas-Hanukkah Connection

Shalom,

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! I love this season of the year: lights, joy, lots of presents, and the ability to freely focus on our faith in Jesus—the reason for the season. When I say the reason for the season, I am including Hanukkah, not just Christmas!

There is an amazing connection between the two holidays. It is a bit hidden, but I am sure that, once you see it, you will be as thrilled about it as I am. We find this extraordinary link in John 10:30, where Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”

We know from the gospel that the events in John chapter ten occurred during the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22–23), also called Hanukkah. The Hebrew word hanukkah means “dedication.” It is still the most often used name for this great holiday.

Jesus Celebrated Hanukkah!

Curiously, the only biblical mention of Hanukkah is in the New Testament. The origin of Hanukkah is in the intertestamental literature, particularly in the First and Second books of Maccabees, which many people consider significant records of Jewish history.

The story of Hanukkah serves as the stunning backdrop to the words of Jesus, particularly in John chapter ten and especially in verse thirty.

The saga begins with a well-known historical figure—Alexander the Great.

Upon his death in 323 BC, Alexander’s kingdom was divided among four of his generals. Eventually, the lands that included Israel came under the control of Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. His name alone tells the story—the word epiphanes means “revealed” or “manifestation” and refers to the Greek gods who often took on human form. In this instance, Antiochus probably had Zeus in mind as he desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing to Zeus (1 Maccabees 1:54; 2 Maccabees 6:2).

Antiochus demanded loyalty from the Jewish people to Greek culture and the Greek gods. He sent his emissaries with a statue of himself to each village in Israel and made them bow down to it. According to Jewish tradition, the emissaries entered the town of Modi’in and demanded that the Jewish people bow down and worship the Greek gods and their representative, Antiochus.

But a family of Levitical priests was living there. Mattathias and his five sons refused to bow and began a revolt. Mattathias cried out, “Let everyone who has zeal for the Law and who stands by the covenant follow me!” (1 Maccabees 2:7). His call is one of the grand statements of loyalty and unity that every young Jewish child learns at his mother’s knee.

His family and followers fled to the Judean foothills and waged guerrilla warfare against the Syrian Greeks for the next three years, between 167–164 BC. When Mattathias died, Judah became the leader of the rebel forces.

During that time, Antiochus perpetrated one of the most heinous acts against the Jewish people recorded in all of history. After defeating Antiochius, the Maccabees discovered that he had sacrificed a pig on the altar in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Israel. The Maccabees retook Jerusalem and wanted to cleanse the Temple. However, when they realized that a pig’s blood had defiled the altar, they took it apart and stacked the stones off to one side. In a very intriguing tradition recorded in 1 Maccabees, they left the rocks for someone more powerful to do the cleansing (1 Maccabees 4:46).

They built a new altar, and according to Jewish tradition, only had one day of oil left in the Temple’s eternal light (the seven-branched menorah), although it took eight days to cure olive oil to keep the light shining. The miracle that took place, according to tradition, was that the oil lasted for eight days, which allowed the Maccabees to prepare the oil needed and prevented them from being extinguished.

This legend provides the rationale for why we celebrate Hanukkah over eight days and why the symbol of light is so important. It reminds us that the ner tamid, the ceremonial light that shone in the Temple, must never be extinguished. Of course, the physical Temple was destroyed in AD 70 when the Romans conquered Jerusalem. Many Jewish people fled, and the Romans took the remaining Jewish people as captives. The menorah and other holy implements were looted and brought to Rome by the armies of Titus. To celebrate the victory, the Romans engraved these historical events inside the Arch of Titus, which you can still see today in the Roman Forum, near the Roman Colosseum.

The Declaration of Divinity

Jesus made His declaration of divinity in John 10:30 amid the grand traditions observed during the magnificent Hanukkah celebrations at the Second Temple. These traditions are described in the Mishnah, a collection of rabbinic commentaries on the Bible.

The story of Hanukkah, which would have taken place fewer than two hundred years earlier, was well-known by the Jewish people at that time. The average Jewish person living in Israel would have known that Antiochus Epiphanes, also called “Antiochus the Madman,” had declared himself to be a god. The Jewish people were commanded not to have any other gods but the Lord and were forbidden to worship idols (Exodus 20:3–4).

Indeed, the order to bow down and worship a statue would have been especially repugnant to the Jewish people. To this day, Jewish resistance to incarnation is rooted in the Jewish rejection of idolatry and the belief that God cannot be corporeal.

Resisting the claim that Jesus is God in the flesh has been viewed as a testimony of Jewish loyalty throughout the centuries. The fact that any Jewish person can overcome thousands of years of Jewish faith and tradition and accept Yeshua’s deity is a miracle.

The Deity of the Messiah Is Rooted in the Hebrew Bible

I was raised in a modern Orthodox Jewish home and taught to reject this possibility out of hand, not only for Jesus but for anyone.

I remember when I was thinking about becoming a believer in Jesus and was confronted with the idea that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. After reading the Gospels and seeing the way Jesus acted and spoke, I concluded that if anybody was God in the flesh—it would be Him. I am so glad that the Lord worked in my heart and enabled me to accept this glorious and fundamental truth—that Jesus is God, fully divine and fully human.

If Jesus was just a very bright and articulate itinerant Jewish rabbi, then you and I are still walking in our sins and face judgment on the last day. But because He is God in the flesh, His death provides a perfect atoning sacrifice for our sins, allowing you and me to receive forgiveness of sins and stand in the presence of the Lord forever.

I came to realize that the Hebrew Scriptures actually did teach that God could appear in the flesh. Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6–7, and several other prophetic passages in the Old Testament teach that God would take on flesh one day.

I understand why the Incarnation rubs Jewish people the wrong way. We were raised celebrating Hanukkah and taught that bowing to any corporeal God is idolatry.

I would agree that the Bible teaches against idolatry. Isaiah wrote with a combination of anger and humor, it seems, concerning how idolators worship:

Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”
(Isaiah 44:16–17)

Yet, we do not worship a God made of wood or stone but one who became a man while fully retaining His divine nature—a glorious mystery!

There is no stipulation against the true God taking on flesh. Without the Incarnation, Jesus would not fulfill the Messiah’s prophetic description and qualify as the Savior of the world. There is no other way to be the Messiah as no human being could accomplish what the Bible prophesied the Messiah would achieve. The deity of the Messiah is essential to His Messianic role in the story of redemption.

With this background, we understand that Jesus’ declaration that He and the Father are one was a declaration that He is God in the flesh. There is no other. Antiochus Epiphanes was a fraud; the statue was merely an image that was eventually destroyed.

Jesus is not an idol made of wood or stone, nor is He just a man or a great rabbi or miracle-worker. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that teach us that the true Messiah and Savior of the world would be God in the flesh.

Dear friend, it is the Incarnation that forms the magnificent bridge between the holidays. I cannot tell you how happy I am that our Messiah Jesus chose Hanukkah to declare Himself God in the flesh. What could be more appropriate? What could be more Jewish?

I hope you enjoy the additional teaching on this great topic in this newsletter.

We are so grateful for your prayers!

Blessings and Merry Christmas,
Mitch

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Nothing Can Keep the Gospel Locked Down!

Dear brothers and sisters,

Merry almost Christmas and thank you for your prayers and partnership. Chosen People Ministries, Your Mission to the Jewish People, is positioned to reach thousands of Jewish people during December, and I am excited. We could not be where we are today without God working through you!

I am especially pleased with the opportunities we have for online evangelism. We are now in the midst of evangelistic campaigns in the United States, England, and Israel. We are offering a booklet about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah entitled Hanukkah: A Bright Light for Dark Times, who we know is Jesus, the Light of the World! We have been speaking to Jewish people about Jesus on Zoom and in person as restrictions allow, and a growing handful of Jewish people in Israel and across the globe are coming to faith. We have baptized some new believers in the past few months too. God is moving!

No one, and nothing the devil can throw at us, can keep the gospel locked down!

FACING HARD TIMES IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Our dedicated missionaries are working through the many challenges facing them daily in their ministries. And the Lord is using these hard times, caused by COVID-19, to bring out the best in our staff. They are more creative, sacrificial, and dependent upon the Holy Spirit than ever before!

I am concerned, however, with our missionaries who have been enduring hard times in hard places! Your prayers can help our staff power through the challenges by His Spirit.

Let me tell you what these wonderful missionaries are facing.

Our staff in Israel and Brooklyn face regular opposition from religious Jewish people who protest our Bible studies and services—especially at our Greater Tel Aviv Messianic Center in the suburb of Ramat Gan. Some of our staff also face the challenge of having limited resources, as the regions where they serve do not have an abundance of local churches committed to Jewish missions. I wish we could send the staff everything they need, but we cannot as our resources in the United States are also limited.

Our missionaries here at home are also having a tough time because the opportunities to speak in churches—one of the primary ways our missionaries raise their support—is still severely limited because of the pandemic.

We are not sure when churches will fully reopen their doors to our ministries.

Our staff who work in hard places need the freedom to travel to other places to raise prayer and financial support, but it is impossible for our overseas staff to come to the United States to raise support right now.

Our global staff also face the challenges of working in countries plagued by government instability. For example, the governments of England, Israel, and Argentina are under pressure. Policies are changing and uncertainty rules, which make people hesitant to give to missions, even if they can.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

We have to admit that even though we have endured some tough times over the last nine months, we also know there is a lot to be thankful for!

I hope you were able to gather with your family to celebrate Thanksgiving. Yet, I imagine you may have limited the number of your guests to protect your more vulnerable loved ones as we did. Our heavenly Father also protects those He loves. In one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture, Isaiah wrote:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you (Isaiah 43:1–3).

Like our heavenly Father, we are “wired” to protect those we love!

We do have so much to be thankful for in the midst of hardship, including the freedom to express our faith, the availability of Bibles and other Christian literature, and loving families, even though we might have to see them via Zoom.

God is good—all the time.

Let me list a few reasons why I am so thankful this year.

1. Our online outreaches have been very successful.

2. Many Jewish people have come to faith during the pandemic.

3. There is growing interest in the gospel among ultra-religious Jewish people. We have never received as many inquiries from religious Jewish people as we have during the last few months.

4. The Chosen People Ministries staff is healthy. We are still working mostly from our homes, but some of us are also in the office a few days a week. And our congregations—at least some of them—are meeting again in person, following their own state and local requirements.

There is a lot to be thankful for each day, even in light of what we have lost. The Lord always makes up for our hardship, but in His way.

He promised Israel, “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25).

He loves each of us so deeply and personally. Jesus taught His disciples this as well. Matthew wrote:

Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:31–33).

And He loves those who are preaching the gospel through Your Mission to the Jewish People.

I am grateful for you, too, as it is because of your sacrifice and generosity that the Lord cares for our dedicated staff worldwide, especially those serving in hard places! We currently have staff working in areas that cover 96 percent of the world’s Jewish population, which today is about 15 million!

We are thankful for you, and we pray regularly for the needs of our broader Chosen People Ministries family. Please feel free to send us your prayer requests at chosenpeople.com/pray. We want to thank God for what He is doing in your life and pray for your needs.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving and early Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Your brother,
Mitch

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