Monday, October 29, 2018

Some thoughts on the tragic event at Tree of Life Synagogue

Our hearts are saddened from this past weekend after hearing the news of another mass shooting... and this one in our own beloved city of Pittsburgh!  Our hearts go out to the Jewish families of Tree of Life Synagogue.. and to the courageous Pittsburgh police.  Interesting, the Talmud instructs us to pray for the police, "for if people did not fear it, a person would swallow his fellow alive."   L-rd, we also pray for the police. 

We Jewish believers are the saved remnant of Israel and make up the body of Messiah (along with our beloved Gentile mishpacha), but we are only a remnant.  We call ourselves "completed Jews" because we believe the words of the Jewish prophets concerning the Coming Righteous One (Yeshua) and believe we are completed by our faith in Him.  But we are only a remnant and will never be fully complete without the rest of our people (the wider Jewish Community).  Our hearts go out to you, our wider Jewish family.     

We do believe that G-d takes the evil in the world and redeems it.  We grieve over the loss of these precious lives, but we also believe that senseless tragedies like this arrest us and force to open our hearts like never before to that One called Yeshua... that we may hear of His love for us and be open to it.  We pray this prayer on behalf of our wider Jewish family .  As you (our larger Jewish family) read through the weekly parashot, may you confess, O G-d of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, show me the truth as I read this book and help me to follow the light that is given me by You, Amen.

We believe that all hatred is satanically inspired, but that Jewish hatred is even more satanically inspired.  Why?  Because there's a theological basis for antisemitism.  Satan has always sought to destroy the Jewish people prior to the coming of Messiah because they, the Jewish people, were the vehicle through which Messiah would come.  Since Messiah's coming, satan still seeks to destroy the Jewish people because he knows that Messiah's return will only come by special invitation by the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.  So we pray specifically that G-d would send insubordination and confusion into the enemy's ranks.  In the meantime, let us not keep silent... and for Jerusalem's sake, not keep quiet (Isaiah 62:1) until our wider Jewish family embraces their Messiah.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Three Reasons Why Israel Missed the First Coming of the Messiah

1) First Century Judaism was preoccupied with concepts of Messiah as King-Deliverer. Roman occupation provided the "perfect storm" for which to see Messiah as only a Rescuer. Their "apocalyptic consciousness" caused them to be inundated with thoughts of deliverance and even how to inaugurate that deliverance, therefore, they missed the office of Messiah as Suffering servant and sin-bearer.

2) First Century Judaism found no place for the priestly office of Messiah. As rabbinic tradition teaches, it is completely within the power of each to wholly overcome sin and gain eternal life by study and good works. Original-Sin and the Total Depravity of the human nature are not in Jewish thought processes. Whatever happened in the garden, say the rabbis, was not bad enough to warrant the need for a "Second Adam" to come and undo what the first Adam could not. If our condition is not that bad, than "Savior" terminology makes no sense in Jewish thinking. Original sin and the sinfulness of our whole nature is a fundamental difference between rabbinic Judaism and Scripture.

3) The problem of rabbinic authority: the claim of the rabbis to establish their own authority by stating that the Oral Law goes back to Moses so that the Oral Law has more authority than the Written Law. Rabbinical authority supersedes the authority of the Word of God, so when the Spirit convicts or brings enlightenment to the original meaning of the text it is dismissed in favor of halachic ruling.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Sukkah and the Genius of G-d...

What is the historical meaning of the sukkah?  Is not this simple structure of wood framing, blankets for walls, and branches for the roof we call a sukkah the genius of G-d?  The world is out of control and we are quite vulnerable, aren't we?  The recent incident in Los Vegas and the natural disasters in Texas and Florida remind us of this, don't they?  
Celebrating Sukkot each year is meant to free us from worry and return us to a more elemental Creator-creature approach to life.  It's a seven-day opportunity to return to the essential ingredient in our relationship with the Most High.--trust.  If I'm not trusting Him on a material level, how can I trust Him on a spiritual plane?
Taking seven days out of our normal routine each year to sip coffee in a sukkah in the shade provided by the thatched roof helps us achieve the frame of mind G-d is after.  And just what is that frame of mind?  Bottom line---it's a mind free from worry and full of trust.  One of life's most besetting sins is "worry."  How will we meet our bills this month?  What about those emergency repairs and medical costs?
Let's face it---we need reminders.  Building a sukkah out of simple materials with no protection from the elements, we remember how truly vulnerable we are, but also where our true help comes from.  How in a world we cannot control do we gain any security, peace of mind, and a sense of promise for the future?
This is the lesson of the sukkah and this is the genius of G-d.  G-d knows how to take mundane things like boards and branches and bring us back to Himself.  It's a heart thing.  By taking seven days each year out of our normal routine, G-d is saying, Hey, aren't you forgetting something in your mad rush to function and survive in this world?  Remember Me, I'm the Author of all this stuff.  Stop acting as if you're responsible for all that you have or achieve.  I'm the Supplier.  I'm the Source.  Look to Me and be at peace.  Come back to Me and I will give you rest. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Conviction about the Biblical Priority of Jewish Evangelism

My conviction about the biblical priority of Jewish evangelism in Scripture (below) can sound very self serving, I know. After all, I was raised in a Jewish family from infancy. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. My two best friends growing up were Jewish, I attended Hebrew school (although against my will), but one thing folks may not know about me is that I was adopted (along with my two sibling sisters).
In other words, I'm kind of Jewish, but I'm kind of not. I carry in my heart the best of both worlds and because of that I believe I may have just a tad more objectivity when approaching this very sensitive subject of the biblical priority of Jewish evangelism.
And yes, my experience after many years in Jewish ministry is that much (not all) of the resistance to this concept, "to the Jew first" comes from Christian leaders. This does not make anyone a bad, it just means that we all have blind spots, me first.
My central message "to the Jew first" is simply because G-d loves the nations. It was always His purpose to bless and lift up the Gentile people and so He chose a particular nation to be the vehicle of His love to them. Honestly, it's really not even about the Jewish people, it's about the God of the Jewish people and His love for the world!
Blessings, Ned

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Is there a biblical priority for Jewish Evangelism?

Is there a biblical priority for Jewish Evangelism? I think there is. I believe the biblical pattern for the Great Commission is set in Romans 1:16 and 11:11. All Scripture is to be weighed in light of other texts. One would be surprised to know where the greatest resistance to this comes from.
Apart from these few texts, however, there is a strong biblical pattern for bringing the gospel to the Jew first (I'd love to explain why I believe Romans 1:16 still has contemporary application). We see it in Jesus' personal pattern first. Second, we see it in the fact that Jesus passed on this pattern. We also see that Paul personally followed this pattern even though he was called primarily to the Gentiles. Finally, we see it in God's passion in Scripture.
Again, this is not because the Jewish people are better or more important than other people groups, but they are more strategic in God's plan for world redemption.
One might ask, "Isn't there something different about today though?" Yes. What is different about today is that God has joined the Church to Israel's saved remnant so that there's a real partnership of Jew and Gentile in fulfilling Israel's original irrevocable calling to be a blessing to the world. That's what's different, but the original goal of Israel being the instrument of blessing has not changed, its just been reinforced with the Church.
Blessings, Ned

Thursday, June 4, 2015


It occurred to me following this year's Tikkun Conference entitled RESTORE that I'm truly a Restorationist. I"m not necessarily an optimist. I believe that the world will grow darker and colder, however, simultaneously (as if one causing the other to happen) I believe that the body of Messiah (the Church) will grow warmer in love, unity, and power in these last days.
Imagine a parent telling his/her child, "You'll never amount to anything." How terrible that is! Well, on a corporate level that's exactly what one of two major theological systems (Dispensationalism) in our western world has told us. They espouse a "Low Ecclesiology." They've told us that the Church will end in failure---dismal failure. In fact that failure is needed to bring about the next dispensation which also ends in failure.
But this is not in accordance with Yeshua's words in John 17, that "we may be one even as He is one,,, that the world might believe." This was His dying prayer for His Church. This is what was most deeply on His heart before His death. Imagine a prayer on the Son of God going fulfilled!
I'm not a Post-Millennialist---I don't believe that through human effort alone we will bring the Kingdom on earth. I'm a Pre-Millennialist---I believe that Yeshua's return is the primary factor in bring the Kingdom, however, the Church hastens this by her unity.
Consider in the book of Revelation that Satan doesn't just decide, "O, I think that this is a good time to attack the body of Messiah." No, he's on the defensive! As one theologian said, "We smoke him out." He has to respond because of the fervency of the church.
Yeshua even says that that His glory is given to us that "they may be one." His glory is given to the Church for this very reason, that we might fulfill His purpose and continually grow in unity and love in these days. This unity among the Church will set in motion end-time events and will have an impact on the world "that the world may believe that You sent Me."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Church... in ADDITION

One third of our Bibles is what we call the New Testament. The word "testament" and "covenant" are synonyms. They essentially mean "a promise; a contract." Covenants are set in motion through mutilated flesh and shedding of blood. In Exodus 24 the Mosaic Covenant was ratified when Moses sprinkled the blood over the alter and scrolls. Likewise it was Yeshua's death that set in motion the New Covenant with all of its blessings. It's similar to a last-will-and-testament---it's only effective after a person dies.

Where in the Bible does God speak of a new covenant? In Jeremiah 31. Notice that this covenant is made with the "house of Israel and the house of Judah." Let's not do violence to the text by reading it as having a primary spiritual application for the Church. Certainly it applies to the Church, but a sound hermeneutic means that we must treat the text respectfully. 

The essential difference between the old and new covenants is that the new covenant is essentially an inward work in the heart. The older covenant was a covenant of outward rules and laws that govern our lives. This was important because we still need a universal standard of right and wrong, but it left us with no power with which to walk out God's standards.

Question: If the new covenant was made with Israel, how, then, does the Church enter into all of the blessings of the new covenant? They enter through their connection to Israel (brought into the commonwealth of Israel; grafted into a Jewish olive tree) through Jesus who is the Jewish Messiah. The Church inherits all of the blessings and promises given to Israel through their connection to Israel through Jesus. Let's get this right---the Church in addition to Israel, not in replacement.