This Week’s Comment: When Christianity was Jewish (Paula Fredriksen) Romans 11:17 You being a wild olive have been grafted in among them and with them to become partakers of the goodness of the root Ephesians 2:19 Therefore you are no longer aliens or foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and the members of the household of GOD
Note from David: Most people, both Jewish and Christian see Israel and the Church as two totally separate entities. Based on Romans 11:17 and Ephesians 2:11-19, I see born-again Jews and true Christians as one entity – Israel. I believe that after understanding this GOD ordained relationship is the 2nd most important issue for every Bible believing Christian, after the understanding of our salvation through the blood sacrifice of Yeshua. Someone sent me the following article which supports my position, so I am sending it out as this week’s comment. – David How did what clearly started out as a part of Judaism become what we know today as Christianity? When did Christianity as we now know it begin? A leading scholar on Christianity in its earliest form, Paula Fredriksen, has written much about the Jewish context of Jesus? original disciples and about early Christian attitudes toward the Jews. In her recent book, When Christians Were Jews (Yale Univ. Press, Oct. 2018), she presents a history and analysis of Christianity when it was still a part of Judaism.
Fredriksen emphasizes the Jewishness of that first generation of Jesus-followers. She reminds readers that Jerusalem was at the heart of their Messianic faith. The disciples of Jesus left Galilee to live in Jerusalem and wait for the risen Jesus to return. Fredriksen argues that the early Jewish believers expected, as the Hebrew scriptures teach, that salvation for the world would go forth from Jerusalem and out of Zion, God?s ?holy mountain.? She contends that the disciples had a positive attitude toward the Temple in Jerusalem and challenges the idea that it was Jesus? disturbances in the Temple that led to his arrest. ?Jesus did not so much condemn the Temple as he did prophecy a new one,? Fredriksen writes. The disciples? faith and hopes in Jesus as the promised Messiah were rooted in their unwavering commitment to the Jewish faith. Initially, what we now consider Christianity was really just a form of Judaism, and was not Gentile-inclusive until later.
The Apostle Paul understood the Old Testament prophecies that in the last days the Gentile nations would come to the God of Israel (e.g., Isaiah 2:3 – Zechariah 8:20-23). How did a group Jewish disciples end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the Gentile Church? The gathering of Gentiles into the early Ecclesia was ?unintended?, Fredriksen suggests. It simply came about as Paul and others spread the message to the Jewish people throughout the diaspora. In synagogues throughout Asia Minor at the time, there were Gentiles know as ?God-fearers? who were attracted to the God of Israel and Jewish culture, such as Sabbath observance. The early Jesus-followers required these Gentiles to cease from worshipping their ancestral deities. So the Gentiles who accepted Jesus could no longer be considered pagan Gentiles, nor were they any longer God-fearers, nor proselytes to Judaism. Instead, they were understood to be the fulfillment of scripture and the ?Coming up of all nations to the Mountain of the Lord.?
The central understanding of what became the Gentile ?Christian? identity was the belief that the end of the age and the Kingdom of God were at hand. Here we have a theological position that embraces both the unity and distinctiveness of Jew and Gentile. ?In their own eyes, the early disciples were history?s last generation,” notes Fredriksen. “It is only in history?s eyes that they would become the first generation of the Church.? (end of quoted article)
The LORD bless you as you bless Israel by standing in defense of her right to exist on all of the land given to the Jewish people by the GOD of Israel. Please pray that all Israel will turn back to their GOD. Do not be silent, but share this with your fellow Christians, share it with your pastors, and with anyone you have a chance to speak to. Lets also pray for a breakthrough to the Muslims, and please remember to pray Divine protection for all of the soldiers in the IDF.
Shabbat Shalom ….. David & Josie h
This Week’s News Items
1. US Recognises Israel Sovereignty Over Golan Height – a Purim Miracle Times of Israel News March 22
Israel?s leaders have welcomed US President Donald Trump?s announcement that the time had come for the United States to ?fully recognize? Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, while the Palestinians warned the move would further destabilize the region and lead to bloodshed. ?After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel?s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!? Trump tweeted. There was no immediate reaction from Syria, which has long vowed to recover every inch of the Golan from Israel. Pray that President Trump is not planning to use this as leverage to force Israel to give GOD’s land to the mythical ‘Palestinians’
2. Israeli Air Force Jets Attack Hamas Targets in Gaza Arutz 7 News March 25th
Israel Air Force fighter jets assaulted 15 enemy targets early Tuesday morning as Hamas rocket attacks on Israel’s southern communities continued into a second day. The targets included a military compound belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in Beit Hanun and a military compound belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Beit Lahiya. Over 30 rockets were shot into Israeli airspace, some being taken out mid-air by the Iron Dome defense system and others hitting open areas. The red alert siren sounded throughout the night in Sderot, the Eshkol Region, Ashkelon Beach, and the Shaar Hanegev region, where a spokeswoman for the cluster of communities said power was cut due to the attacks. Many residents reportedly slept in bomb shelters, as communities in the Gaza belt region have 15 seconds from the time the “code red” warning siren is sounded until rocket impact. The latest wave of rockets caused no injuries or property damage, but some residents were treated for shock. School was cancelled for Tuesday in the city of Ashkelon and the Ashkelon Beach regional. The escalation started early Monday morning when Hamas launched a rocket that flew toward the center of the country, slamming into a private home in Kfar Saba. Seven people were injured and four dogs were killed. Located in the Sharon region, Kfar Saba, unlike the southern region, does not border on Gaza attesting to the range of the Gaza rockets. PM Netanyahu canceled his scheduled speech at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington and boarded a plane home to Israel following the attack. “We gave a very strong, very powerful response,” he stated of the retaliatory attacks on Gaza following the destruction of the home on Monday. “Hamas needs to know that we will not hesitate to enter and take the necessary steps,” he added. Pray that PM Netanyahu will not hold back from his threat to end the Hamas regime in Gaza.
3. Iran Continues to Seek Israel’s Destruction United With Israel News March 17th
Iran?s military activities and clear public threats to annihilate Israel continue to grow in frequency and intensity. These moves not only instill fear, as they are doubtless meant to do; they also threaten to disrupt the international community. With such dire promises of conflict, it would be expected that the international news media and politicians throughout the world would have something to say about this situation. Instead, Iran?s continued abusive behavior continues to be cozied up to at worst, or at best, ignored. One of the core pillars and revolutionary ideals of the Islamic Republic is destroying Israel. It is also one of the religious prophecies of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, and his successor, the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Israel will be eventually erased from the face of the earth. As Iran?s theocratic establishment believes that the Supreme Leader is Allah?s representative on earth, whatever words or desires the Supreme Leader utters are considered wishes, which must be brought to life by Allah?s true believers. While they progress toward destroying Israel, not only do Iranian leaders believe that they are inching closer to fulfilling a religious prophecy, but they also see that they are gaining strategic and geopolitical victories ? in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip. Salami recently made it vehemently clear the strategy of the Iranian government, stating: ?Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And, it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that.? In addition, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently posted a Twitter tirade against Israel. It stated that the, ?the Zionist regime will perish in the not-so-far future.? This burst of confidence is bolstered by Iran?s military buildup in Syria, among other places. The Syrian civil war has been viewed as a perfect environment for the Iranian leaders to advance and ultimately achieve their objective of destroying Israel. Iran has built, or is in the process of building, more than 10 military bases in Syria, some of which are near the Israeli border. Tehran has used this strategic position in Syria to fire rockets into Israel. While many of the world leaders disregard Iran?s evident intentions to destroy Israel, they always seems extremely quick to criticize Israel for actually defending the safety of its citizens. The E.U. announced that it will not do so. Pray that the LORD will turn back any Iranian missiles fired at Israel, upon their own heads.
4. Majority of Israelis Say “Smash Hamas” World Israel News March 27th
A poll by Israel?s public broadcasting authority published Wednesday shows that most Israelis do not think Israel?s response to the most recent barrage of Hamas rockets has been harsh enough. Of 545 people polled, 53 percent said that the IDF?s counterattacks were too weak following Monday?s rocket launch from Gaza that destroyed a home deep in Israel?s central region and injured seven. Only 29 percent said the response was proportional, while a mere 3 percent considered it too harsh. In addition, only 24 percent of the respondents gave PM Netanyahu?s job performance over the last several days a ?good? grade. And equal numbers gave him a ?poor? or ?so-so? rating ? 33 percent each. The IDF has hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip since Monday, retaliating both for the hit on the Wolf home in Moshav Mishmeret and for the dozens of rockets Hamas has launched at the south since then. Several have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system, though one hit a house in Sderot. Fortunately, it failed to explode. Prime Minister Netanyahu has described the Israel Air Force?s actions as delivering a ?very, very powerful? blow against the terrorist organization. This included hitting high-value targets such as the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, a weapons manufacturing site and a Hamas military compound. The citizens, especially in the south, however, disagree with the prime minister?s assessment. Pray that PM Netanyahu heeds the feelings of the majority and launches a full scale attack on Hamas.
5. Lebanese American Analyst: Palestinians Have Been Refusing Peace INN News March 27th
American Mideast Coalition for Democracy Co-Chair Tom Harb said in an interview on Al-Alam TV (Iran) that the “Palestinians” began with their refusals of peace with Israel with the 1947 Partition Plan, explaining that Arab countries are starting to think about their own interest since the Palestinians haven’t offered any solutions, reports the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). He also said that Lebanon’s economy is weak and that foreign companies are unwilling to invest in it because of Hezbollah’s unchecked influence. Pray that the world will realise that the so called Palestinian do not really want peace with Israel.
6. Israel’s Bible Bloc Party Wants to Put Messianic Jews in the Government Israel Today News March 27th Israel’s general election is less than two weeks away, and few expect that the nearly-unknown Bible Bloc party has any chance of winning seats in the next Knesset. Even so, the fact that this party finally exists and is standing in a national election is a major step forward for the local Christian and Messianic Jewish communities. Established by Dennis Lipkin, the Bible Bloc’s official Knesset list consists of observant Jews, Christians and a Messianic Jew, David Friedman. Like all of the 47 parties registered to run in the election, the Bible Bloc was allotted a small budget and one minute of air time to get their message out to the public. Here’s a translation of the Hebrew-language commercial, in which Lipkin says that it’s about time to get Christians and even Messianic Jews into the Knesset. “Dear citizens, “After 2,000 years, Christians and Jews march side-by-side down the streets of Jerusalem. A new Christian-Jewish party called the Bible Bloc seeks to give representation to both Jewish and Christian citizens, all those who believe in God’s promises to the people of Israel found in the Bible. “The party will give equal voice to Jews and Christians. The Jews [in the party] will consist of those who are religious, traditional and secular. The Christians [in the party] will be from all denominations, as well as Messianic believers. “Eight percent of Israel’s population is made up of non-Jews, including Christians, and they are not properly represented. This is not right. “Our goal is to establish a strategic Jewish-Christian alliance to stand up for all Jews and Christians around the world who are facing the threat of terrorism, as well as to preserve Judeo-Christian culture around the world and in the State of Israel.” Pray that this plan to place Christians and Messianic Jews into the Israeli government will succeed.
7. Dutch Boycott Activist Triggers Record Sales of Israeli Wine World Israel News March 27th
Israel supporters claimed a resounding victory over the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement Wednesday as a Dutch anti-Israel activist?s plan to pressure a supermarket to take an Israeli wine off its shelves led to the bottles flying off ? straight to consumers? homes. BDS activist Mieke Zagt took to Twitter Monday to ask Hema, one of the largest supermarket chains in the country, why it was selling Efrat wine from ?the Judean Hills.? ?Is this possible? Efrat and Judean Hills are in occupied Palestinian land. Efrat is an illegal Israeli colony. Can you verify the origin?? Zagt wrote, attaching a picture of the bottles. Zagt was factually inaccurate on a number of counts. Despite the wine?s name, it?s produced well within the original 1949 boundaries of the State of Israel, which the vast majority of countries, including the E.U., does not consider disputed territory. Several pro-Israel activists took up the BDS supporter?s challenge and tweeted out a call to buy the wine, along with Hidde J. van Koningsveld, of the Center for Information and Documentation Israel, a Holland-based group that defends the Jewish State and tracks anti-Semitic incidents in the Netherlands, posted the web address of the supermarket chain so consumers could check which stores still had the wine in stock. Pray that the |LORD will continue to cause Israeli exports to increase in the face of the BDS movement