Category Archives: Judaism

Israeli Soldier Encounters Yeshua

Shalom from Jerusalem! I am writing this quick note from the Holy Land. I have been here for a month working with our staff, participating in Chosen People Ministries’ celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel, mentoring young leaders, and sharing the gospel with Israelis.

We also organized a special outreach event at our Ramat Gan/Greater Tel Aviv Center. We invited all those who have responded to our Hebrew Facebook ads by ordering a copy of the book I wrote, Isaiah 53 Explained. It was billed as a Meet the Author event. Of course, the author of Isaiah 53 is only Isaiah in part, since God Himself is the true author of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16)! So, they came to meet me, but I was hoping and praying they would meet Him!

A handful of Israeli non-believers attended, for which I was grateful. The conversations were lively with a lot of interaction, and they respectfully listened as I shared the truth of the gospel from this great chapter of the Bible. Afterward, I spoke with Ronit,* a young woman currently in the army who attended the event in her fatigues! She came with another young female soldier from her unit who was her friend. Ronit approached me with a copy of Isaiah 53 Explained in Hebrew and asked if I would sign the book. I did, and I also asked her what she thought of my talk. She was all smiles and told me how much she enjoyed it. Then she said something I will never forget. I asked her if she had heard about Jesus before and she said, “Absolutely!” When I asked how, she hugged her friend and said, “This is my friend and she has been talking to me about the Messiah…and it is beginning to make sense to me.” She replied that there was another female soldier who was a believer in her unit, and with a big smile said, “They are the best people I have ever met!”

I was delightfully surprised by her heartfelt and evident respect and love for her two believing friends. There is no doubt in my mind that she is not far from the kingdom. I was reminded of the power of our personal witness in word and through our lives! As Peter describes,

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

Please keep reading for another moment and let me explain what really goes into my being able to meet a young woman like Ronit.

First of all, we need to write and edit books like Isaiah 53 Explained. We had to print the book and pay for the mailing costs, Facebook ads, and rent for a center in very expensive Tel Aviv. Remember, we cannot easily rent a church or another facility for an outreach as there is only one church within twenty-five miles of our center!

I am so grateful for your sacrificial gifts that help us make the message of the gospel known to a sinful and broken world.

In fact, if this precious young soldier is the only person that ever comes to faith because of the ways God uses our very “human and frail” efforts, then I will be satisfied and rejoice. But, we know there will be others and that God is faithful to His word. As Paul writes, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Please continue to pray for the work of Chosen People Ministries. You have a vital part in bringing the gospel to Jewish people in Israel, Brooklyn, and around the globe through your prayers, support, and encouragement.

Thanks so much and I pray you have a great rest of the summer.

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Filed under Israel, Jews and Christians, Judaism

Reaching Jewish People in the Other Holy Land

MitchGlaser_Portrait copyDear friend in the Messiah,

I’m writing to you on behalf of those who would never communicate with you.

I’m writing on behalf of my mother and father, grandparents, uncles and aunts and literally hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who were born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City—the current home of almost a million Jewish people.

I’m writing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish people and Russian Jewish immigrants—many of whom cannot write in English and are already quite elderly!

By now you realize I’m writing to you on behalf of the many Jewish people in the borough of Brooklyn, who do not believe in Jesus.

These are the people who would never ask you to send them a missionary!

1606PZLW_BrooklynTVMovieTourJuniorsBelieve me, so many of these dear, precious Jewish people in Brooklyn are very able to communicate. As you well know, there have been many famous Jewish people from Brooklyn, who are teachers, professionals, thinkers, artists, and musicians. Within the Jewish community, we know that most of our leading Jewish rabbis and Jewish theologians either come from or still live in Brooklyn, which I affectionately call the other Holy Land.

There are also hundreds of thousands of Jewish people in Brooklyn who are more secular and do not think they need a relationship with God at all.

Allow me to tell you a quick story about one of my favorite Brooklyn Jewish family members—my father.

Whereas my mom was raised in a more Orthodox Jewish home, my paternal grandpa was a tailor and a butcher and did whatever it took to help his family survive. He was a good man, but not religious, though his family, of course, celebrated all of the Jewish holidays. My dad followed suit.

Some years before my father passed away, we were sitting in his car in an area of Brooklyn called Bensonhurst, where he lived. I was speaking to him about Jesus, and the conversation went on for about 15 minutes. He listened attentively, and I actually thought that he was more open to the Gospel than ever before. I was excited! So I kept on talking.

By the way, this is a mistake some of us make when sharing the Gospel with non-believers. We should make sure to take a breath every once in a while and ask the person we are speaking to if they are still interested in what we are saying!

Eventually, I paused, and my father looked at me and said, “Son, I really love you, and I know it makes you happy to talk to me about your faith; I’m always happy to listen.”

I stayed quiet for a moment to see what else my dad would say and thankfully he kept talking! He continued, “It’s not that I have anything against Jesus, but I don’t even believe in God.”

I was stunned and disappointed because I thought that he was becoming more open to the Lord. I thanked my dad for being so honest. He knew I would not be happy with his position, but loved me enough to tell me the truth.

My dad was typical of many secular Jewish post Holocaust men and women who live in Brooklyn, in Israel and around the world! A recent study of Israelis reported that 50% of those living in Israel claim to be secular Jews. This does not mean they do not identify as Jews—as my father had a strong Jewish identity. It simply means that they do not practice the Jewish religion outside of celebrating many of the holidays which are viewed as part of the Israeli national calendar.

Those who need the Gospel the most do not know it…and would never ask us to send them missionaries. We know Jesus said the field is ripe for harvesting and the laborers are few, but those who are part of the harvest are SILENT.

They will never issue the invitation for us to come!

My dear brothers and sisters—the initiative is ours to take, as Jesus has already told us to go!

Shalom Brooklyn
Your Mission to the Jewish People has been preaching the Gospel to Jewish people day in and day out…in Brooklyn and throughout the world for almost 123 years! Sometimes we intensify our efforts, as we will this summer in both Brooklyn and Israel.

1606PZLW_SB-Prayer-Brooklyn-DSC08141Would you please pray for our intensive summer outreach in Brooklyn called Shalom Brooklyn?

The Hebrew word shalom means “peace” and Jesus is the Prince of Peace according to Isaiah 9:6. These verses adorn the plaque on the front of our Brooklyn Messianic Center, in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn. Isaiah writes,

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Dozens of Chosen People Ministries’ staff and volunteers will be on the streets of Brooklyn for two weeks proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Messiah to both religious and secular Jewish people. We will be reaching out to both Russian Jewish and Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn. Additionally, we will be placing evangelistic ads on Facebook directed towards Jewish people in the greater New York area.

We expect there will be hundreds of Jewish people who will be interested in receiving a copy of Isaiah 53 Explained and in learning more about the Lord.

I would also appreciate your prayers for our two short-term mission trips to Israel this summer. Chosen People Ministries’ staff and volunteers will be reaching Holocaust survivors, young secular Israelis and religious Jewish people who will listen.

Give on Behalf of Those Who Would Never Ask for Help
We also need your financial support. This summer of outreach is going to be a huge investment, especially as we enhance the work on the street with our Facebook ad campaigns. We are offering a free copy of Isaiah 53 Explained in English, Hebrew and Russian. We can deliver this book into the hands of a Jewish person for $5, inclusive of printing costs as well as the ads.

1606PZLW_SB-EVANG-DSC08406Your gift of $50 will enable us to send ten books and your gift of $500–100 books. We also need your support to help
underwrite
the evangelistic outreaches on the streets of Brooklyn and in Israel. We have budgeted $10,000– $25,000 per week for these efforts, and we have four weeks of outreach planned between Brooklyn and Israel.

Thank you for your willingness to pray and give generously so that we can reach Jewish people with the Gospel of Jesus our Messiah. I especially want to thank you on behalf of those who would never ask or thank you—until they come to faith in Jesus the Messiah.

Have a joy-filled summer in the Messiah and please pray for our summer outreaches!

Yours on behalf of those who are SILENT…but desperately need the Lord,

Mitch

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Preparing for Passover

We are getting ready for Passover! The holiday begins on Friday, but preparations are moving full steam ahead.

During Passover, the Jewish community refrains from eating leaven and eat what is known as matzah during the eight day holiday, as Moses and the nation of Israel fled Egypt in haste, not having time for our bread to rise and so we eat unleavened bread as a reminder of our leaving Egypt in haste.

Matzah

Matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten during Passover

For seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a foreigner or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread (Ex 12:19-20).

As the Jewish community prepares for Passover, each family removes leaven from the home and stores – especially in heavily Jewish areas remove leavened products from their shelves. Then, during a ceremony called Bedikat Chametz, immediately before the first night of Passover and the first Passover Seder, we conduct a final search for leaven throughout the house, gather it together and throws it all out or burn it, symbolizing the house is purified or kosher for Passover.

Paul uses this understanding of the Jewish practice as the background to his statement in1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

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.

The community of Corinth evidently demonstrated a tolerance for gross immorality. Paul compares sin to leaven and commands the congregation at Corinth to clean out the sin from their midst in the same way the Jewish community removes leaven from their homes during Passover. Just as leaven permeates an entire lump of dough, sinful behavior affects the entire life of an individual and congregation. If the congregation at Corinth did not deal with the wicked behavior in their midst, then this behavior would defile the entire community.

When my wife makes challah, the traditional Jewish Festival bread, she puts a small amount of yeast into the dough. This small amount of yeast makes the entire loaf of challah leavened. In the same way, sin affects the entire life of a person. We cannot compartmentalize our lives and isolate sin to a particular area. Sin in one area affects all areas of our lives. We deceive ourselves when we think the small or hidden sins in our lives will not creep it’s way into our entire soul. Even the small and hidden sins will permeate and corrode our entire being.

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide;

I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

Therefore, we should pursue righteousness, since our Messiah has removed the chametz, leaven, from our lives. Rabbi Saul (the Apostle Paul) describes those with leavened lives as depraved and wicked, but reminds his readers that those who are pure in motives and upright in character behave as if they are without leaven. The person free from leaven does not have a hidden or secret life. The preparation for Passover reminds us of the unrighteous behaviors we tolerate in our lives. If we tolerate immoral thoughts or actions, they will begin to affect our spiritual lives and ultimately destroy our soul.

We only deceive ourselves if we think that what we look at on the Internet, watch on television or do when others are not watching will not have any affect upon our spiritual life. We simply cannot behave badly towards our spouse or children, be dishonest in business or mean to at work if we are serious about honoring God. If we are going to have a healthy spiritual life we cannot tolerate our hidden and secret sins…the ones we only we know about, as the Lord knows them too1

In the spirit of Passover, let’s remove sin from our lives, so that we are kosher for Passover and can experience the joy that only godly obedience, in light of the redemption we have through Yeshua, can bring to our souls.

Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.(Psalm 37:37-38)

For more on Passover click on http://tinyurl.com/no7r8l8

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Filed under Jewish Holidays, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Passover

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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Filed under Brooklyn, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, New York City

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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Filed under Brooklyn, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, New York City

A Response to the Murder of Three Israeli Teenagers

It is hard to think about the usual matters of ministry after hearing about the three Israelis Yeshiva students who were mercilessly slain by terrorists. It is a reminder of how sinful and cruel our world can be and how our Jewish people continue to be subjected to such fierce hatred. These terrible circumstances also remind us that the is little time left for our work of preaching the Gospel.

I received the following note from one of our dear friends and supporters which also reminds me of just how much some Christians are moved by Gods love for the Jewish people.

This brother and friend writes,

Bro. Mitch,

When we learned of the news about the three kidnapped boys, we were deeply moved as we had been following this story daily in the online Israeli newspapers. I am privileged to teach an adult SS class each week and they enjoy being kept up to date on news from Israel. I use Powerpoint to show map locations, headlines, and had shown pictures of the boys with their names. I know people were praying for them.

What an opportunity to support Israel wholeheartedly when the circumstances are so clear. So I can only shake my head and realize that we are seeing prophecy unfold in my lifetime. Soon, Israel will be hated by every nation.

Thanks for your tireless efforts to reach God’s Chosen People with the Gospel about their Messiah.
——————

I am grateful for those who stand with the Jewish people and rejoice with the victories of the Jewish people and who and mourn for our people during the very dark times as we have experienced this week.

Please remember to pray for the families of those who lost their sons and for the people of Israel that they might be encouraged and kept safe during these trying times. As we know, Israel will not simply accept these murders and so times will certainly get tougher and more tense over the next few weeks…so pray fervently.

I prayed this prayer;

Father in heaven, we live in disturbing times. The innocent have been murdered and we have again come face-to-face with the cruelty of mankind. Our world needs redemption through your promised Messiah more than ever. Our hearts grieve for parents and siblings who lost their sons and brothers and for the whole household of Israel. We pray for the perpetrators as you told us to pray for our enemies. We pray that your justice will prevail and that those who killed these three teenagers will be brought to trial and punished for their crimes. Most of all Lord, we pray for peace in the Middle East. Please give wisdom to Israel’s leaders and to our own elected officials as battle against terrorism in Israel, Syria, Iraq and throughout the world. Thank you that we know through the promises of Scripture that your holy purposes will ultimately prevail and that true justice will fill the earth when your Son returns and rules on his rightful throne. Until then, Lord, please be merciful to us and we beg you – help us to find a way to stop terrorism and this continued slaughter of our innocents.

AMEN

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Filed under Boycotts against Israel, Christ at the CheckPoint, Israel, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Middle East, Palestinian

The PCUSA’s Divestment Dilemma

The Presbyterian Church USA recently approved an initiative to divest stock holdings in companies allegedly profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.[1]

This decision, as well as others that were made at the 221st General Assembly held last week in Detroit,[2] demands a response from followers of Jesus and especially from Messianic Jews like myself – Jewish people who believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah for all.

However, one needs to look at the divestment vote of the PCUSA holistically. When this is viewed as one decision among many, it is easier to see what is at the heart of this vote.

Reasons for the PCUSA’s Divestment

Let’s start with some good points. The 310 delegates who voted in favor (303 voted against) of the PCUSA divesting their stock holdings in three companies – Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar – probably did so with noble intentions.

Most of the delegates probably believed this symbolic gesture; removing about 21 million dollars in invested funds might cause Israel to reconsider its approach to the current conflict.

The PCUSA delegates who voted for the divestment measures believed their vote is an expression of Christian ethics, affirming the dignity of all humanity created in the image of God, and that true Christians are called to support the oppressed and withstand the oppressors. The assumption of course is that Israelis are genuinely oppressing Palestinians – an assumption that may be heartfelt, but naïve.

I would also assume that those who voted for divestment did so out of a sincere heart of love and compassion for Palestinians whom they believe are victims of Israeli aggression. The PCUSA also affirmed Israel’s right to exist. However, this is especially challenging today because of the decision by the Palestinian Authority to unite with Hamas, who persistently deny Israeli’s right to exist. Unfortunately, the PCUSA statement ignored the linkage between the Palestinian Authority and this known terrorist group.

I speak in many PCUSA churches, and believe that there are many sincere and devoted believers among the 1.8 million members of this great historic church body. However, I question whether or not the pro-Israel PCUSA voice is being heard, as so many have simply given up and left the denomination.

Flaws in the Rationale for Divestment

Let me suggest a few reasons why the PCUSA’s decision to divest is faulty.

First of all, the delegates have chosen to believe the Palestinian narrative of the conflict and therefore – despite the PCUSA’s claim that they have not sided with either Israel or the Palestinians – they have. The PCUSA has decided to accept the charges against Israel by the Palestinian side and have acted upon them. This includes measures taken by Israel in Gaza and hotbed areas of the West Bank to prevent further acts of terrorism. The profound role of terrorism has not even been addressed in the PCUSA decision to divest.

The PCUSA has also “paraded” a few left-wing Israeli peace activists to demonstrate that there are Jewish Israelis who agree with their position. According to the Times article,

Of more influence was the presence at the church’s convention all week of Jewish activists, many of them young, in black T-shirts with the slogan “Another Jew Supporting Divestment.” Many of them were with Jewish Voice for Peace, a small but growing organization that promotes divestment and works with Palestinian and Christian groups on the left.[3]

This effort to show Jewish support is a tactic practiced by the Palestinian media machine and has now been evidently adopted the PCUSA as well. Israel is a free country and dissent may freely be expressed there, as in the United States. The PCUSA should have asked an Israeli government official to speak, or at least had had someone representing the mainstream views of average Israelis. The event must be seen as heavily orchestrated towards persuading delegates to pass the divestment measures.

I just returned from Israel, where Palestinian spokespersons for Hamas and other similar groups reported that the three Israeli boys who have recently disappeared were not kidnapped, but are merely missing – though the evidence is virtually decisive that they were kidnapped and may have already been killed. The Palestinian media machine claims that the Israelis are using this as an excuse to “crack down on” the Palestinians.

Most PCUSA delegates have been influenced by a booklet produced by the anti-Israel lobby of the PCUSA entitled “Zionism Unsettled,” which perpetuates the most radical political viewpoints of the Palestinian media machine.[4] This document has been disavowed by many within the PCUSA as much too one-sided, yet it has been the major influence and provided the essential political perspective for the divestment decision.

Ultimately, one of the main reasons the vote passed at this General Assembly, despite failing to be approved in the past, is because many of those who supported Israel have already left the denomination because of a variety of issues.

The PCUSA’s General Departure from Scripture

Other issues were also affirmed at this General Assembly, besides divestment from the three companies. For example, the New York Times reported the following:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its General Assembly on Thursday to change its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” and to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal.

The vote giving discretion to ministers to marry gay couples takes effect on Sunday, at the close of the General Assembly.[5]

This issue has been more schismatic for the average PCUSA congregation than the divestment issue, but together these decisions speak to a trend. Viewing these decisions by the PCUSA General Assembly as aspects of one agenda will sober evangelicals who may have unwittingly embraced the divestment decision without understanding the underlying values moving the PCUSA leadership in this direction.

The PCUSA seems to be leaving its biblical moorings. Instead of allowing Holy Scripture to judge the trends and philosophies of our day, the opposite is happening – today’s trends and values are beginning to determine the ethical, moral and political decisions of the church.

Dangerous Results of the PCUSA’s Decision

As a Messianic Jew, I am also very concerned with the decisions of the PCUSA. I am very disturbed with the lack of understanding or commitment to the literal promises of God in the Old Testament to the Jewish people. In fact, a literal interpretation of the Old Testament would have caused the PCUSA to make a different decision on the issue of gay marriage as well.

Disregarding a more literal view of the Old Testament can easily lead God’s people along the path of moral relativity and spiritual decline, as when we spiritualize God’s commandments, we become rudderless boats navigating the turbulent rivers of discipleship in today’s world.

I grieve over the increment general turn of the PCUSA from a heartfelt concern for the spiritual welfare of the Jewish people to the current loss of evangelistic zeal for Jewish people. In fact, in the first half of the 20th century, the Presbyterians – which then included a number of more conservative groups that have since split from the larger body – were active in Jewish missions and believed that reaching Jewish people for Jesus was important. The Home Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church at the time supported dozens of workers among the Jewish people and Neighborhood Houses that were funded as Centers for Jewish outreach.

The PCUSA of today do not seem to care how these politically-driven decisions might impact the eternal fate of Jewish people. But perhaps the leaders of the PCUSA have stopped caring about this a long time ago?

The PCUSA must understand that even if a few liberal Rabbis or Jewish community leaders support their decision, the vast majority of Jewish people – my people – will view their divestment decision as one of a long list of Christian acts against the Jewish people. It makes me heartsick to see this happen again, as it will decrease the willingness of Jewish people to listen to the Gospel. Why should my people be interested in a faith that has made a politically-driven decision against the Jewish homeland?

I will have a lot of explaining to do. Dear PCUSA leaders, you could have handled this better!


Notes:

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/21/us/presbyterians-debating-israeli-occupation-vote-to-divest-holdings.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

[2] http://www.religionnews.com/2014/06/20/prebyteriansdivestment/

[3] IBID

[4] http://store.pcusa.org/2646614001

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/us/presbyterians-vote-to-change-definition-of-marriage-to-two-people.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Boycotts against Israel, Christ at the CheckPoint, Israel, Judaism, Middle East