Category Archives: Jewish Christian Dialogue

The Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies

Dear friend,

Shalom in His grace. I hope you are looking forward to the Passover/Easter season this year. We expect hundreds of Jewish people to attend our Passover banquets around the globe. Your prayers for these events are greatly appreciated as we hope that many Jewish people will discover that Jesus is the Messiah and Lamb of God!

We exist to tell Jewish people about Jesus!

Yet, once a Jewish person (or anyone) comes to faith, they need to be discipled and taught the Word of God.

This is why we started the Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies in Brooklyn, New York, in 2007. We have trained dozens of Jewish and Gentile believers, who are now serving the Lord among the Jewish people, and who are capable of discipling a new generation of Jesus-followers!

We named the program after Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg—the first dean of Talbot School of Theology within Biola University in California, and our partner in this wonderful course of study.

Dr. Feinberg was one of my heroes in the faith. He was the reason I chose to attend Talbot after graduating from Bible college in 1974. There was only one person with whom I wanted to study further—and that was Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg.

He was a legend among the young Jewish believers who came to faith during the turbulent days of the Jesus Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most of us were the only believers in our families and felt completely alone. We definitely did not know any rabbis or Jewish community leaders at the time who were believers in Jesus. My little group of ex-hippie believers longed for an example or two of older Jewish believers we could look to as role models.

Dr. Charles Feinberg became the spokesman and example we were seeking.

Dr. Feinberg trained as a rabbi but interrupted his training when he came to faith in Jesus. He was in the first graduating class of Dallas Theological Seminary, and then taught there for a number of years. Eventually, he earned a PhD in Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University and moved his family west to take up a new role at Biola (the Bible Institute of Los Angeles).

Dr. Feinberg became a believer in the 1930s through Chosen People Ministries, which was then known as the American Board of Missions to the Jews. His books helped shape a generation of Christian leaders, training them in how to understand the Old Testament. Dr. Feinberg’s superb commentary on the minor prophets began as a serial Bible study in the monthly magazine, The Chosen People.

Dr. Feinberg helped me develop a great respect and love for our historic mission to the Jewish people where I now serve as president. His passion to see Chosen People Ministries grow in fruitful service for the Lord was both relentless and infectious.

Those who attend the Feinberg program and complete the rigorous coursework walk in the footsteps of a spiritual giant. But the proof is in the pudding! After reading these testimonies of past and present students, you will see what I mean.

Brian, one of our graduates, had this to say about his experience:

The Feinberg program provided an invaluable exposure to the world of the Bible and to the Jewish and Christian interpreters who have been studying it for millennia. Learning Greek and Hebrew opened up vistas of depth and nuance I never knew existed. And through study, it was a joy to interact with Church fathers and rabbis as they sought to understand the texts. All of this prepared me for a ministry of apologetics to the Jewish people.

Liz, who completed our Certificate program, shares how the Feinberg program prepared her for ministry.

Before attending the program, I had a big heart for the Jewish people but very little understanding of the Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. Now I feel extremely prepared for whatever direction God takes me in ministry. We were also thrilled at the cost of the program. This allowed my husband and me to complete our seminary education with zero debt!

One of the greatest benefits of the Center is that it is in the heart of Brooklyn, with a mission field just outside the door. Toby, one of our current students, puts it this way:

There is no better place in the world to study Messianic Jewish ministry than in Brooklyn. Imagine learning about a specific group of people and the way they think and live, and then walking outside and that same people group is all around you! I have been able to host Sabbath dinners in my home, take part in street evangelism and campus ministry, and most recently volunteer at an Orthodox-run soup kitchen.

Stephen*, one of our new students, describes the ministry opportunities he enjoys through the program.

Since I am a new student, I have been on rotation, participating in college campus outreach, street evangelism, Messianic congregational ministry, and apologetics writing. Participating in ministry activities during our studies that teach us how to practically reach out to Jewish people with the gospel is invaluable.

The benefits of the Feinberg Center reach far beyond the individual students, as the goal of the Seminary degree is to train leaders—theologically and practically—to take us into the 21st century of Jewish evangelism. Dr. Gregory Hagg, Dean of the Feinberg program, writes:

Many of the leaders in the Messianic Jewish movement have little formal biblical training, and often the Jewish studies component is lacking in the education they do have. The majority come from secular Jewish homes and did not receive a broader understanding of Jewish life and faith growing up. The Feinberg Center provides the best of both worlds through Bible-based and Messiah-centered courses, as well as training in Jewish literature and religion. Since the Association of Theological Schools, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the New York Board of Regents approved the program in 2007, we have graduated two dozen well-trained leaders now engaged in Jewish ministry and almost every graduate is debt free because of your generosity!

THE PROGRAM

Coursework

We designed the Feinberg curriculum to incorporate both Jewish studies and the courses one would usually take through an evangelical seminary, although every class is taught with Jewish evangelism in mind. Our professors are all excellent scholars with years of personal experience in Jewish ministry.

Field Ministry

We situated the Feinberg Center in the New York metropolitan area because the city is home to two million Jewish people and is the center of Jewish life in America. Our Center is in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn, and just living in the midst of the Jewish community provides endless possibilities for students to immerse themselves in Jewish culture and ministry while completing their coursework. In fact, each semester we organize Jewish-focused field ministry programs to help each student put what they learn in the classroom into practice.

The Costs

The Feinberg Center provides our students an affordable education and gives them the opportunity to graduate debt-free. To achieve this affordability, we offer a wide range of scholarships and subsidies to offset student costs. We also provide accommodations for single students and housing for families through rent subsidies. The generous and regular support from our ministry partners makes a debt-free education possible, which I believe is critical for missionaries who raise their own support.

Dr. Charles L. Feinberg demonstrated in both his life and ministry that one could be Jewish and believe in Jesus. He loved the Lord, he loved his Jewish people, and he loved our Mission—Chosen People Ministries. And it is in his honor that we dedicated the training program and our beautiful Center in the midst of a very Jewish part of Brooklyn. We hope you enjoy learning about our New York initiatives!

Happy Passover and Easter.

In Him,

Dr. Mitch Glaser

 

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Let’s Keep the Discussion Going

I am grateful for all of you have commented on the recent blog where I respond to the religious Jewish people establishing the Kiruv Center near our new Charles Feinberg Messianic Center on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue P in Brooklyn. There was quite a bit of interest in the topic and a willingness to discuss the issues.

The dialogue has been excellent, but there are so many responses I really cannot answer each one. Let me try and summarize some of the key issues that seem to be under discussion.

1. Can you be Jewish and believe that Jesus is the Messiah and God in the flesh?

2. Is there a good case for Jesus begin the Messiah predicted in the Tenach? (the Old Testament for those who are not Jewish)

3. In what ways can you express yourself as a Jew if you believe in Jesus? Can/should you do this religiously and if so in what tradition of religious Judaism? How do we combine belief in Jesus with being Jewish?

4. Did Yeshua call upon Jeiwsh believers to abandon the Torah?

5. Can Jewish people who believe in Yeshua and those who do not, find non-acrimoniuos ways to relate to one another and even help one another where responding to mutual concerns; Israel, anti-Semitism etc.?

6. Can you be forgiven of sin without an atoning sacrifice?

7. What is the difference between the Jewish view of salvation and that of Messianic Jews or Christians?

For these and other questions please take the discussions to http://isaiah53.com/forums. This will be a better venue for our ongoing discussions.

Thanks!

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Orthodox Jewish Group Opposes Chosen People Ministries’ Brooklyn Messianic Center.

A new website has just been posted entitled The Missionary Threat. It is sponsored by an Orthodox Jewish group that is trying to counter our efforts to share the Gospel with Jewish people, as well as for their own aim of trying to influence more secular Jewish people to become Orthodox.

They have posted a video that focuses on the ministry of our new Charles Feinberg Center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn:

This is not the first time that this group has leveraged our efforts to bring the Gospel to the Jewish people in Brooklyn to enhance their fundraising drives. I cannot blame them – in fact, I think it is quite entrepreneurial!

The last time this happened, I wrote to the leader of this group, which is located only a few blocks from our new center, and invited him to meet with me so that at least he would see the face of his alleged enemy. I never received a response back, and can only assume that it’s a lot easier for people to attack an unknown person rather than someone they have met and might even grow to like as a person – though disagreeing with their message and perspective.

How I feel about this?

In fact, I think I am the Jewish person who is alluded to in the video.

First of all, I’m actually not really upset at all. I find it easy to love and appreciate these folks who are so dedicated to their task that they feel part of what they must do is oppose us as we bring the Gospel to the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn. They are simply doing what they believe the God of Israel is calling them to do! After all, I feel the same way.

However, I do not want to minimize the seriousness of the matter. Chosen People Ministries believes that no man or woman, Jew or Gentile, can go to heaven or have an abundant relationship with God outside of believing that Jesus (Yeshua) is the promised Messiah. It is through His death and resurrection for our sin and believing in Him that we can enter into a deep and personal relationship with God. These are the eternal issues that are at stake – and it is no joke!

Perhaps it’s easier to see the black-and-white issues when you are involved with reaching Jewish people for Jesus, especially those who are more Orthodox. You see, Orthodox Jewish people believe in the God of Israel as revealed in the Bible. They accept the Bible as God’s word, and most are very sincere about keeping the Law and pleasing God.

Orthodox Jews usually have wonderful families, good ethics and share many of the same values as true followers of Jesus. In many ways, we are in the same trenches together with the Orthodox Jewish community when it comes to fighting against the growing decadence and secularism of our modern culture and calling for people to draw close to the Lord!

In fact, I will keep praying that the Lord would create some bridges of friendship and fellowship between ourselves and those who have chosen to oppose us, because we have so much in common. Please pray that we might even be able to work together with these folks in areas of common concern both within the Jewish community and in society.

I knew that the Lord was leading us to establish this Center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn. Our “opponents” are correct in reporting how expensive the project was, and how I and many others within the Chosen People Ministries family believe in the profound importance of shining the light of Messiah in the midst of this intense concentration of religious Jewish people – perhaps one of the largest in the world.

I hope that you will watch the video and pray for our Orthodox Jewish friends. Their efforts remind me of the ways in which Paul describes some of his fellow religious Jewish enthusiasts when he wrote in the book of Romans,

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Messiah is the end (the fulfillment) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:1-4).

A few of our very wise and experienced staff members asked me to reconsider sending out this website and video. The reason is that they were concerned that our Gentile Christian friends would in some way get a negative view of Jewish people, especially Orthodox Jewish people, as a result of this video.

I understand that some who are reading this letter may not know many Jewish people personally, but I want to assure you that if you did know some of the Jewish people who are opposing us – you would really like them. They are good people, but they simply need to know that Jesus is the Messiah. I hope you’ll think positively of them and that you will join us in prayer.

It’s important to remember that Jewish people have had some very bad experiences with Christianity. From the Crusades, the Pogroms and ultimately the Holocaust, Jewish people have developed a mentality that Christianity is antagonistic towards the Jewish people. And quite frankly, when describing “institutional and more nominal Christianity,” this is not far from the truth.

This means that we have to demonstrate through our lives and action that true Christians love the Jewish people. We must make sure our Jewish friends understand that we do not want anyone to change religion, but to follow a person – Jesus the Messiah. We are preaching a relationship, not a religion. This is so important for Jewish people to understand – and for you to try and help your Jewish friends comprehend.

The basic and most fundamental reason why Jewish people do not believe in Jesus is because of the fear that once a Jewish person starts believing in Jesus, he or she gives up being a Jew. This is not true (Romans11:1), but it’s up to us to communicate this to our Jewish friends, relatives and neighbors.

Now, since the founders of this center did such a great job of encouraging others to fund their work of bringing Jews back to Orthodox Judaism, let me return the favor. It is obvious to me that we are doing the right thing, and I hope that you will support us and in particular support the work of our Messianic Jewish center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn.

Please write Charles Feinberg Center in the “Special Designation” field

We not only need your financial support, but we are desperate for your prayers – as what we want most in life cannot be accomplished with money. We want the God of Israel to open the hearts of our Jewish friends and family so that they too will believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

Your brother,

Mitch

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Shavuot – The Day of Pentecost and The Festivals of Israel

Shavuot – The Day of Pentecost The Festivals of Israel

The festivals of Israel were designed by God to focus the hearts and minds of the Jewish on various elements of God’s person and plan.   In addition, the Festivals, as much as any other portion of the Hebrew Scriptures also point to the coming of the Messiah. This is especially true of the seven great festivals outlined in Leviticus chapter 23.

I believe the four Spring Festivals were fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus.   The three Fall Festivals will be fulfilled in His second coming.

The Fourth Spring Festival

The Biblical Names

Shavuot – Weeks – 7 weeks after Passover

The fourth and final Spring Festival is called Shavuot. This word means seven because seven-sevens – or seven, seven-day weeks are to be counted by the Jewish people; beginning with Passover and then Shavuot is to be observed on the 50th day.

Pentecost – Fifty – 50th day after Passover

In Christian tradition the festival is called Pentecost – the Greek term which means 50, as this fourth spring festival is observed on the 50th day after Passover.

The Traditional Jewish Names

Zman Matan Torah – ‘the season of the giving of the Law’ – One of the Hebrew titles for the holiday in Jewish tradition is Zman Matan Torah – ‘the season of the giving of the Law’ as the Rabbis believed that the Torah was given on the day of Pentecost.  We eat special holiday bread – a reminder of the Jewish tradition that Moses climbed a ladder to heaven to receive the Law.  Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people and the Talmud tells us that God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews on the sixth night of the Hebrew month of Sivan.

The Biblical Commands

  • Sheuvot always falls 50 days after the second night of Passover. The 49 days in between are known as the Omer.  A later Jewish tradition teaches that the Torah was given on Shavuot.
  • The counting for the 50 days was to begin on that ‘day after the Sabbath’(Lev. 23:15), the day when the First Fruit/sheaf was waved occurred on the day.
  • They offered two leavened loaves of bread concluding the grain harvest. (Lev. 23:17), which was the Tithe (Lev. 27:30).
  • The two-loaves were the results (symbolically) of the one sheaf, waved before the Lord on the Day of First Fruits mentioned in Lev. 23:11
  • Shavuot is also one of the three pilgrimage feasts when all Jewish males were required to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem.

Jewish Traditions

  • There are many Jewish traditions associated with Pentecost.
  • The reading of the Book of Ruth as it is a harvest time story – King David was born and died on this festival and Ruth took on the burden of the Law.
  • Many religious Jews commemorate Shavuot by spending the entire night studying Torah at their synagogue or at home.
  • Chanting the Ten Commandments.

The Messianic Fulfillment of the Festival

Now if Passover was fulfilled in the death of the Lamb of God and unleavened bread in his sinless character and His resurrection the fulfillment of First Fruit then we must ask ourselves – how was the of day Pentecost fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus?

It is no coincidence that God selected this Jewish festival as the day when he would send his Holy Spirit.  In Acts, chapter 2 we see this festival fulfilled in some remarkable ways. To understand why God would choose to pour out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost – we must rehearse the relationship between all the Spring Festivals.

  • Passover – redemption – death of Christ
  • First Fruits – first results – Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23)
  • Pentecost – Fruition – Birth of the Church

In Acts, chapter 2 God fulfills this festival in some remarkable ways.

The Promise

The 120 Disciples (Acts 1:15), were in one place, in one mind, praying and focusing on God’s work. They were waiting in obedience to the command of Jesus (Acts 1:4-5) and also in obedience to the Laws of Shavuot regarding “no work’ – Lev. 23:21.  Many were pilgrims who had left their homes in other places to be part of this Festival. God would bless their obedience now in a powerful way – some of those waiting were pilgrims as Pentecost was one of the three Festivals where Jewish people were commanded to go “up to Jerusalem’ to worship.

God would bless their obedience.

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49)

And further, before His ascension to the right hand of the Father He says to His disciples,

… He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”(Acts 1:4-5)

Signs and Wonders

After some days of patient waiting – the presence and power of the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples on the 50th day after Passover.  It was a new revelation given on a new Pentecost!  The initial giving of the Torah by Moses at Mt. Sinai had come with signs and wonders in the heaven as seen in Exodus 19.

Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. (Ex. 19:16-19)

There were now signs and wonders in the Upper Room marking this new Pentecost as well.  It was the birthday of a new revelation and the fulfillment of God’s promises to pour out His Spirit in the last days! (Joel 2)

Hearing the Good News in their Own Language

The Tradition of All Israel Being Present at Sinai

According to our Sages, every Jew who would ever live was at Mount Sinai, pledging their obedience to the Law.  According to Jewish tradition this was not limited to the Jews alive at this time.  The Rabbis believed in the pre-existence of the soul and that every Jew who would ever live – was at Mount Sinai – with or without a body! The rational for this is that every Jewish person at that moment agreed to keep the Torah.  The verse used to teach this is,

Ex. 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said,  “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.”

In light of this, it makes sense that there was also a Jewish tradition that every Jew present at Mount Sinai that day actually heard the giving of the Law in their own native tongue – after all how could they obey what they did not understand.

The fulfillment on the day of this new Pentecost, which took place 50 days after Jesus the Lamb of God died for our sins, is obvious.  There were signs and wonders, just like at Mount Sinai and those who heard the disciples preaching heard this new revelation in their own native tongue.  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be present at this new Pentecost?  It would have been amazing especially as the Jewish people realized that the new had come with the power of the old!

How gracious of God to use a tradition of man to communicate His truth to the Jewish people.  God Himself is our role model for missionary service and evangelism.   He seeks to communicate with us in ways we can understand…He could prove His point otherwise, but He deigns to prove Himself in ways that we humans can understand…as our ability to understand spiritual truth is so limited.  Perhaps the best example of this is the Son of God Himself, who took on flesh in order to communicate with you and me…to show us His love and to help us better understand the Father through His role model and example.  We too need to incarnate the Good News in ways that our families, friends and neighbors understand …through love, helping in practical ways and doing whatever it takes to help those we pray for understand that God is not far away, He is close and He loves them.

Happy Shevout/Pentecost and may the Lord fill you with the presence and power of His presence. 

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The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sin of the World!

A Passover Devotional:

Lessons on the Lamb of God Part 1

The Hebrew Scriptures conclude with two prophecies in the Book of Malachi describing a Messenger (also the meaning of the prophets name!) who would prepare the way for the Lord.  The first of these prophecies is found in Malachi 3:1,

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

This Messenger would purify the priests so they might once again offer sacrifices on behalf of the Jewish people.  As the prophet writes, Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.(Malachi 3:3)

The Jewish people would be judged because of disobedience, but also left with hope. In fact the very last words recorded in the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5-6), predict that this messenger identified as the prophet Elijah would call the Jewish people to back to God and reconcile both fathers and sons.

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

This call to repentance was God’s way of preparing the Jewish people for the One whom Elijah would introduce to the Jewish people. Jesus believed that John the Baptist fulfilled these prophecies and that He was the Elijah like messenger who came to turn the Jewish people back to the Lord.  Jesus affirms this in the Gospel of Matthew,

As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send MY messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ (Mt. 11:7-10)

John repeatedly denies that he is the Messiah and tells those gathered that the One they have really been waiting for is coming and it is simply his job to introduce Him.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them saying, “ I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. (John 1:24-27)

The earth shattering moment comes when John’s introduces this One place at Bethany beyond the Jordan. (John 1:28). He was immersing Jewish people in water as a symbol of their desire to be cleansed from sin. But now he declares that the One who was to come – had come! John describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  The Jewish people on the banks of the Jordan would have understood this to be a reference to the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 with additional information provided by Isaiah in chapter 53.

John declares,

The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘ After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me (John 1:29-30)

John mentions this again a moment later to two future disciples when he said,

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)

This theme of Jesus as the Lamb of God would become a major teaching theme by the writers of the New Testament. Peter, also establishes this link, as he was the brother of Andrew, one of the two disciples who heard John’s statement about Yeshua.

Peter writes,

…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.(1 Peter 1:18-19)

This link between Yeshua and the Lamb had already made by Luke in the Book of Acts in reference to the encounter between Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Luke records,

Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: HE was led as A sheep to slaughter; And as A lamb before its shearer is silent, SO HE does not open His mouth. (Acts 8:32), which is our first indication that Jesus was not only compared to the lamb in the Book of Exodus, but the Lamb as well in Isaiah 53.

Rabbi Saul, the Apostle Paul takes this link one step further and declares,

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:6-8)

The links between Jesus and the Passover Lamb are overwhelming. In describing the crucifixion of Yeshua John adds,

For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “ Not A bone of Him shall be broken.”(John 19:36), looking back to Exodus when Moses tells the Israelites how the lamb was to be sacrificed,

It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. (Exodus 12:46)

The Lamb in Exodus 12 is a prophetic portrait of the One who would come and shed His blood for the sins of the world.

The Lamb of Isaiah 53

The prophet Isaiah develops the significance of the lamb as an atoning sacrifice.

There are two key passages in Isaiah 53 which conjoin the idea of the Messiah with the Passover lamb…

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Admittedly, this can be a reference to the lambs that were regularly sacrifice at the temple and especially on some of the holidays. Yet, when you look at the entire passage it does seem that the prophet had the Passover lamb specifically in mind.

And additionally in Isaiah 53:1,

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

The key link in this passage is that the term for arm is zeroah,which refers to the arm or forearm, but is more often used in passages which refer to God’s saving power and intervention in human history.  This idea easily brought the mind of an Israelite back to the deliverance from Egypt as a picture of God’s redemptive work on behalf of His people.

Exodus chapter 6, quoted in the Hagaddah teaches this very clearly,

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. (Ex. 6:6)

Jesus is the saving zeroah of God who intervened in Egypt and into this world to deliver Israel and the nations from spiritual bondage.  And when a man or woman, Jew or Gentile, boy or girl, by faith “smear” the doorposts of their hearts with His shed blood with blood of the Lamb that the wrath of God passes over us and pass from death into life.

This is the way to begin the Passover season and Holy Week – knowing that God’s promises are true and that He has provided the Lamb of God to be the Savior for us all.

Happy Passover.

 

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Focusing on what Unites Jews and Evangelicals

A few nights ago, a dialogue between best-selling evangelical author Joel C. Rosenberg and Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Riskin took place in an Orthodox Synagogue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

I attended the dialogue and am convinced that it was a significant event! I have been a believer for forty-two years, I come from a traditional Jewish background, and I never thought I would hear a clear testimony for Jesus in a modern Orthodox synagogue (the type of synagogue in which I was raised!)

Joel did a wonderful job of explaining the Gospel and was winsome and generous in his approach. Rabbi Riskin is an Orthodox Jew who has a better-than-average understanding of evangelical Christians; he started an organization, based in Israel, which engages Evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox and others in dialogue. I am sure he understands that believers, like Joel, will not shy away from making the Gospel message clear when dialoguing.

One of our long-term staff members, Olivier Melnick, who watched the event online wrote a commentary that I wanted to pass along to you as I believe he really captures the heart of the dialogue and the issues that are on the table between born-again believers – both Jewish and Gentile – and the Jewish community.

Olivier’s comments primarily reflect the positive side of this dialogue, and next week I will try to point out some of the problems I see ahead of us as the discussions continue.

Enjoy Olivier’s comments!

Focusing on what Unites Jews and Evangelicals

For as long as Jews and Christians have existed, there has been an obvious tension between both groups too often resulting in the ostracizing, force conversions, expulsions and deaths. Both sides have become very good at itemizing what divides them and dwelling on the differences.  Over the years, finger pointing and blame shifting has almost become an art form in Judeo/Christian relations.

To be perfectly honest, I regularly find myself on the forefront of a constant battle to defend Israel and the Jewish people, and I do my own share of finger pointing. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that there is much to be learned about Christian anti-Semitism through the ages, and even today if we want to successfully defeat the beast. But I often wish that we could focus on what unites evangelicals and Jews more that what divides us.

On April 1st (no joke here!) a dialogue between Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone and Joel C. Rosenberg, New York Times bestselling author, took place at an orthodox Jewish synagogue in New York. The theme for the evening was “Are We Still Alone?” and was based on Rosenberg’s new novel The Auschwitz Escape.

I resonate with Rosenberg who after visiting Auschwitz in 2011 and reading a book on the few who escaped the death camp, wanted to write a book about those who helped the Jews. That process led him to discover the incredible story of the small French village of Le Chambon sur/Lignon and how all the villagers went out of their ways to save Jewish people from the Nazi furnace. They risked their own lives and many even lost their lives as they were also taken to the camps with Jewish people. But to the villagers, saving the Jews was “the most natural thing to do!” like this elderly woman says in the book by Philip Hallié about le Chambon titled “Lest Innocent Blood be Shed”.

I haven’t yet read The Auschwitz Escape but I can tell you that we can learn a few things from the dialogue that just took place in New York. While I tend to side with Joel Rosenberg theologically, I am also very aware that as a Jew I am a constant target for many different people today. Yet, some of them have never met a Jew in person.

The fear expressed by Rosenberg and Rabbi Riskin, is that a second Holocaust would take place today, especially if or when Iran finishes building the bomb. It is a real fear because Iran wants the eradication of Israel more than anything. Even though President Rouhani sugarcoats his anti-Semitism to the West, his goal is the total annihilation of Israel. Disagree with him all you want (and I do), but at least Ahmadinejad was very clear about his desire to destroy Israel. So the question remains: Will there be Christians to stand for Israel?

Rosenberg made an excellent point when he defined who was an evangelical Christian based on what the Bible has to say. It can be very easy to succumb to some sort of corporate character assassination and put all Christians who didn’t help Jews in the same shameful category. I can even justify it by quoting passages like Psalm 83.

If a Christian is defined by a commitment to follow Yeshua’s teaching based on the Bible, then the boundaries are clear. Christians are forgiven not perfected (at least not yet). Christians can and will make mistakes, wrong judgments and even biased decisions. Yet, in Leviticus 19:18 we read: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord”. It is then repeated by Yeshua in Matthew 5:43-44 and even taken one step further: “You have heard that it was said, ‘ You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

Have Christians fallen short over the centuries? Yes! Are some giving a bad rep to the rest of the Christian community? Yes! Should we then paint with broad strokes? NO!

On one hand, Rosenberg claimed that while some Christians might have made mistakes about the Jews and even some that lead to the death of some, this cannot disqualify them as born-again Evangelicals, and as much as I dislike the divide and its tragic results, I must agree.

On the other hand, I also agree with Rosenberg who stated that if you are characterized by a chronic hatred leading to a constant desire to destroy the Jews or any other human being for that matter, you are not a genuine Bible believing follower of the Jewish Messiah.

One of the most important aspects of true Christianity is the ability to love unconditionally. Christians who love Jews–and they still exist–ought to love them regardless of their ability or willingness to embrace Yeshua (Jesus) and His teaching. Anything short of that kind of love falls short of what Christian love is. Period!

Rabbi Riskin obviously didn’t share Rosenberg’s belief in Yeshua of Nazareth being the Messiah but recognized the common obligation of biblical Jews and Christians. Followers of the one true God must be driven not only by their convictions but also by a constant desire for human decency and justice.

Rabbi Riskin and Joel Rosenberg see the need for Jews and Christian Zionist (a disappearing breed) to unite, and I join them in their honorable effort. Christians failed the test of unconditional love in the 1930’s and 40s. The day might be coming when there will be a retake. Will they fail again? I pray that they don’t.

Christians and Jews are UNITED by the Jewish Scriptures!

Christians and Jews should be UNITED by their love for Israel!

Christians and Jews can be UNITED by Yeshua the Jewish Messiah!

Olivier Melnick is the Northwest Regional Director of Chosen People Ministries. He and his wife Ellen serve in Seattle, Washington.

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Joel Rosenberg, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Rabbi Riskin, Uncategorized