Monthly Archives: March 2012

Conference Summary: Israel, the Church and the Middle East Crisis

More than two thousand people, including hundreds of students, attended the “Israel, the Church and the Middle East Crisis” conference, showing the deep interest that believers in Jesus have in knowing more about the End Times and the role of Israel and her neighbors in the plan of God.

As you know, this conference was co-sponsored by Chosen People Ministries, Biola University, the Talbot School of Theology (part of Biola) and the ministries of Joel C. Rosenberg, the award-winning author and Middle East expert, who was also a main speaker at the event.

The event took place on the campus of Biola University in La Mirada, California on Friday evening March 23rd and continued all day Saturday before concluding with a celebration of Israel, the Jewish people and God’s plan of redemption for the world on Saturday evening.

The other main speakers included Dr. Walter Kaiser, our foremost Evangelical Old Testament scholar and Dr. Mitch Glaser, President of Chosen People Ministries, a 118- year-old mission to the Jewish people.  Musicians included Messianic minstrel Marty Goetz, as well as Steve Wiggins, who serves on the staff of Harvest Fellowship in Redlands, California.

The conference highlighted the testimonies of Michael Zinn, a Russian Jewish believer and leader of Chosen People Ministries’ work in Israel, as well as Hormoz Shariat, an Iranian evangelist and former Muslim.  A variety of workshops and panel discussions were held on the topic of the Middle East Crisis and the plan and purposes of God for the Jewish people.

Seminars were held on how to witness to both Jewish people and Muslims and difficult issues such as the impact of anti-Semitism on Jewish evangelism, the impact that the Middle East Crisis has had on relationships between Jewish and Arab believers in Israel, as well as how the conflict impacts the work of the Gospel in Israel in Israel today.

On Friday night at the beginning of the conference, I outlined the goals and unique viewpoint of the conference, detailing some of the reasons why I believe that understanding the Middle East crisis is important for everyone, but especially for those who believe the Bible to be the Word of God and that biblical prophecy must be taken seriously.

In my talk, I suggested the following:

  • The Middle East and Israel in particular is the focal point of biblical prophecy and will become the “nexus” for End Times events preceding the Second Coming of Jesus.
  • Prophecies of End Times events must be viewed through the lens of Scripture, so that believers today do not join those who have been enthusiastic about the Second Coming, but have wrongly made the Church look foolish by setting dates and identifying the last days key players and events. The serious study of End Times prophecy must be done with humility, care in interpretation and, above all, must be true to Scripture and not speculation.
  • Understanding the Middle East crisis through the lens of Scripture will enable believers to become a more relevant witness for the Lord as friends and neighbors today are confused and frightened by world events. Those seeking comfort and peace of soul will never find it in USA Today, CNN or Fox News.  Followers of Jesus should be ready to let help loved ones know what the Bible says about today and about tomorrow.
  • Understanding the Middle East crisis, through the lens of Scripture, will give us hope and help us to point others to the Prince of Peace, who is the one and only true hope for the world.
  • By understanding the Middle East crisis, believers will gain new biblical insights into End Times prophecy–and knowing the urgency of the hour, will become more fervent to proclaim the Good News to those who do not yet believe in Jesus the Messiah; both Jews and non-Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Buddhists and the mass of those who are unaffiliated.  Knowing more about the End Times will motivate us to fulfill the Great Commission; “to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles” (Romans 1:16).
  • Understanding the complexities of the current Middle East crisis and what the Bible says about His promised future for Israel and her neighbors will move us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem; more effectively, more intelligently and with greater passion.

The event was recorded and podcasts of the messages and testimonies will be available within a month!

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Conference Blog: Israel, the Church, and the Middle East Crisis

We are just hours away from the start of Chosen People Ministries’ conference at Biola University entitled Israel, the Church, and the Middle East Crisis.

The main speakers are Joel Rosenberg, Dr. Walter Kaiser, myself, Hormoz Shariat (a former Muslim) and Michael Zinn (Director of Chosen People Ministries’ work in Israel).

The conference will focus on the current Middle East crisis, with special attention to what is happening in Iran, Syria, Egypt and Israel. I believe it is critical to understand contemporary events from the perspective of Scripture, as all too often we allow ourselves to be overly influenced by CNN, Fox News or even USA Today! We always need to balance our news sources with the truth of God’s Word.

I’d like to tell you why I believe this conference is unlike any other, and why this event is so critical for believers in Jesus.

Many Christians are struggling to figure out if they should support Israel or the Palestinian cause. A recent conference held at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel, seems to have exacerbated this struggle in the hearts of many believers. I know of quite a few who came away from this conference feeling they have to choose between Israel or the Palestinian cause – yet I don’t think a choice needs to be made.

This is especially true when you focus on the spiritual needs of both Israelis and Palestinians. Christians need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem – including all who live within the environs of the nation of Israel, both Jews and Arabs. We need to pray that they come to know the Lord Jesus and have their lives and futures transformed by His grace. This would certainly begin the peace process within the hearts and souls of individuals, though it might not have immediately obvious political effect. However, it will certainly help in developing deeper relationships and true spiritual brotherhood in the Messiah. After all, if more citizens of the Middle East believe in Jesus, it would lead to greater opportunities for peace on all sides.

Let me list a few of the reasons why this conference is unique:

  • The speakers at the conference all believe that the Jewish people have a divine right to the land of Israel.
  • The speakers all believe that both Jewish people and Arabs need to believe in Jesus to be saved, and that faithfulness to their own historical religions will not suffice.
  • The speakers all believe that Christians need to separate the wheat from the chaff regarding the news we hear about events in the Middle East.
  • The speakers all believe that the true answer to peace is the Middle East will come from the Prince of Peace, Jesus, and that the lives of Jews, Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians need to be transformed one at a time.
  • This conference will offer workshops on reaching Jewish people for Jesus – both in Israel and in the United States – as well as seminars on how to reach Muslims around the globe.

Be sure to check both my blog and our Chosen People Ministries website as we will be posting tidbits from some of the terrific conference messages.

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Kosher Jesus?

Mike Brown and Shmuley Boteach debated before an audience of more than 700 Jews and Gentiles, believers and non-believers, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan last night.The debate focused on Shmuley’s book, Kosher Jesus, and Dr. Brown’s forthcoming book in response, The Real Kosher Jesus.

Brown summarized Rabbi Boteach’s viewpoint as being completely opposed to any reasonable interpretation of the New Testament.  Brown suggested that Shmuley turned Jesus into a rebel against Rome, who taught nothing new and died because of his treason against Rome.

According to Shmuley, Paul was the person who reinvented Jesus and transformed him into a Divine Messiah who died for the sins of humanity.

In effect, according to Dr. Brown, Shmuley has stripped Jesus of the uniqueness ascribed to him in the New Testament scriptures.

Shmuley responded by painting a picture of Jesus as a Jewish freedom fighter who was both a sincere zealot for Jewish causes and a great rabbi who taught in a way similar to the rabbis of his day.

Mike said that the only way Shmuley could be correct would be to assume that the entire New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, was edited and influenced by later Christians, inspired by Paul, who elevated Jesus to a status he never claimed for himself.  Mike noted that Shmuley gave very little historical or other type of evidence to justify such a radical reinterpretation of the New Testament.

The debate was successful in raising critical issues about Jesus. Clearly  both Mike and Shmuley agreed that Jesus was Jewish and spoke as a rabbi and a Jewish prophet   But that is where their agreement ended!

There has clearly been more interest in the Jewishness of Jesus within the Jewish community, from Kosher Jesus to a new Jewish Annotated New Testament edited by Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler.

Hopefully more and more Jewish people will study the New Testament and discover that indeed Jesus is Jewish, and more importantly, the Messiah and Savior of the world.For more information on why the New Testament should be taken more seriously as an historical  document, read the book, Isaiah 53 Explained. It is yours for free at www.isaiah53.com.

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