What I learned and love about the Israeli Messianic community – 2. Christian or Jewish?

In my first part, I described how the building styles for gatherings for Jewish believers in Jesus can vary quite a bit.

So are Messianic Jews

  • Jewish or Christian?
  • Both?
  • Somewhere in between?

I think about 99% of all the first generation believers during the time of Jesus were Jewish.   The handful that wasn’t, is the Syrian-Phoenician woman and the Roman soldier whose servant were sick, who Jesus healed. Matthew 15:21-28 / Luke 7:1-10

So today’s Messianic Jewish movement in Israel is the same.   They are modelled on first-generation Christians, who were Jewish.

They are from a wide variety of backgrounds.

This road in Israel points towards Damascus – not that you can get there now, but its a thought of where Paul was journeying to.

Paul made things different, as he was a scholarly and traditional religious Jew who on a road I imagine like this heading the direction of Damascus after becoming temporarily blind, then having a real-life encounter with Jesus, U-turned his life from being a Jew antagonising followers of Jesus, to a pioneer of the gospel of Jesus to the mostly to the gentile world.

From clothing and physical attributes, Messianic Jews stand out less than Orthodox Jews who have instantly recognisable clothing like black hats, jackets and white shirts for the ultra-orthodox, and kippors worn by traditional orthodox.   Messianic Jews, for the most part, tend to wear more plain clothing.

Christians who live in Muslim countries are often persecuted.  In Israel, there is some degree of persecution to Messianic Jews, as they are considered not yet proper by many religious Jews, but generally, Messianics are used to this and tend not to draw attention to themselves.   For Messianic Jews from other countries making Aliyah, the formal process of immigration to Israel from another country can be difficult as the fact they are believers in Jesus could get them declined.   Immigration can be done, its just a little more complex, with some discretion required.

Messianic Jews in Israel all observe the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, most will speak Hebrew, and almost all will have family in the army or full-time employment and pay taxes.

Jews in Israel are made up of any of these, and Messianics can be found in these groups.

  • Ashkenazi – European / America / Canada / Australia / Russia
  • Mizrahi – Mahgreb (Morocco and North Africa) / other Middle east (Yemen, Iraq, or native Israeli)
  • Sephardic – Spanish / Latin American / Other Middle east
  • Falasha – Ethiopia
  • Or, a family of a combination of any of the above
  • Or, parents of a mixture of above Jewish descent and western gentile Christians

Jewish people of all kinds have suffered persecution under people calling themselves Christians.    Where it pains me to see this, we also know that Messianic Jews were also sent to the holocaust camps as well.  Because of this, there is much concern from Jewish people from some history which needs to be reconciled.

My Messianic Jewish friends in Israel generally cope well with some of the challenges of these things, but they would all consider Israel to be their home and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

What I learned and love about the Israeli Messianic community
1. Buildings 2. Christian or Jewish? more soon…..

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What I learned and love about the Israeli Messianic community – 1. Buildings

While I lived in Jerusalem, I found that Christians and Messianic Jews living there would host travellers and people doing short term projects.   This gives you a unique angle for visitors who both love Jewish people and the Jewish Messiah.    So after being there a few months, I was encouraged to do the same, often I was asked to show around someone who is new to doing volunteering work, see interesting places like Jerusalem’s old city, the Kotel, good places to eat out, but also somewhere to fellowship at the weekend.

Now imagine this.   New visitors have often told me how this congregation looks like a ‘normal church’ or doesn’t feel authentic.    Or, in the case of June of 2019 an angry-sounding woman commented on my blog tells me any congregation that isn’t her perceived style is pagan and “doing it all wrong”.

I got thinking, how do I reach out to these sorts of people to understand what I learned from the Messianic community in Israel?    I think its quite different from how people perceive what’s an ideal place to have fellowship.

Different religious buildings can be on a scale, one end of this scale is traditional and other is modern.   Let’s look at some well known examples:-

This St Paul’s Cathedral in London

This is the Dominion Theatre in London, its borrowed by Hillsong church on sunday

In conventional churches in the UK, these can have stained glass windows, giant organs set into the building, pews and similar decor.  Or, some can be modern places with car parks, modern kitchens and a stage with a projector for song lyrics.

Jerusalem Great Synagogue, Israel

Here is the #2 biggest synagogue in the world in Budapest Hungary

In traditional Judaism, you will see buildings with pews also, which I think facing three sides of a square, some nice hanging brass lamps and lots of wood panelling everywhere. Also like modern Christianity, some synagogues will be new buildings with more emphasis on practicality and comfort and have a sophisticated AV system.

Neither traditional or new is wrong, they are just two different styles of how things are done.    Some buildings will be owned and some will be rented off someone else.

The Messianic movement in Israel is relatively new (modern Israel is only 71 years old) and the body of believers is small 20,000-30,000 people.  So congregations are small and budgets for a building are small and will usually rely on donations from other places, ie: Christian friends from other parts of the world.

So, therefore, Messianic congregations can vary quite a bit also in style.

I think I’ve visited 8 different Messianic congregations, one Arab congregation and 2 house type churches.  Here’s an example of a few well known ones:-

Here is Christchurch congregation inside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, Israel.  Like a traditional-looking church but has services in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

Here is Kehilat HaKarmel near Haifa.   This is maybe the closest you will see to a Jewish Synagogue, it has an amazing custom-designed building, but I love the community, teaching and the outreach work that has been done there also.

This is King of Kings congregation in the Clal building.  This is a shopping mall with the congregation in the basement which is a converted cinema, and the 16th floor if you look up hosts prayer conferences in smaller gatherings.   This congregation has a big stage, theatre type sound and lights, and often used for hosting international speakers.   Teaching and worship is great too!!   This was my main source of fellowship.    Door is to the left to with the green stickers to the entrance of the shopping mall and you take some steps downstairs.

This is the Shelter Hostel in Eilat, this congregation is more look a house church but is a functioning youth hostel for any type of traveller (like me) with staff to run the place but also has optional bible study and worship on Shabbat.

This Jerusalem Assembly.    This is the most likely type of building I think believers meet in.    An ordinary office block.    Looks a little scruffy from the outside, but it has been painted up nicely inside.  
All these places are authentic places for worship, the building shape and style doesn’t always matter, but these all provide bible teaching and worship for Jewish believers in Yeshua in different parts of Israel.
What I learned and love about the Israeli Messianic community
1. Buildings 2. Christian or Jewish? more soon…..

Jerusalem hotel entrance and perspectives on the Gospel

See this? this is the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem.  Spin around, and you can see some nice scenery, look for the four flag poles on the right. (use your computer, probably won’t work so well on a phone)  Also look at the English/Hebrew text on the side of the building.

Here is the same place, but different floor:-

This hotel I stayed in on my first ever trip to Jerusalem on a tour with my Dad in 2004.  I see this as an analogy to the way Jews and Gentiles see the gospel.

Look at the hotel from the top floor, on one side and it is next to Hebron Road, and you can enter it from there.   That’s right, the building has entrances from different floors, because like most of Jerusalem, it is built on the side of a hill.

It’s a little far away, you might need to zoom, but spot those 4 flag poles, there is another entrance which is several floors downwards.   The sign writing is also there.

I think of this, Jewish people read the Tanakh (what Christians call the Old Testament) could enter the hotel from the bottom floor.

Christians tend to be more familiar with the New Testament.   This is the top floor.   The two floors are connected together.

Imagine the building is the body of Christ.   We are one in Jesus/Yeshua, Jew and Gentile.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Often observant Jewish people who know Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord and Saviour would of learn the Tanakh, and when reading the New Testament will find that this completes the prophecies in Zechariah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and more, from the very first book of Matthew explains Jesus family lineage from Adam to Abraham to Noah to King David all the way through.

For Gentile Christians, when reading the New Testament, then reading the Old Testament, told us the promise of the Messiah, the need for his atonement on the cross, Jesus’s Jewish background, and the New Covenant to come.

Both the OT and the NT also will harshly remind us of the past when mankind has been in sin, with idolatry and immorality.

This scripture doesn’t discard the Jewish people, not are Gentiles suppose to take up Jewish holidays and customs as an essential thing.  (actually, I like doing these when I visit Israel, or my Jewish friends in London)   Neither Jew or Gentile is more important than the other.   When understood right, salvation means we are one the Messiah.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Also, as I’m a languages nerd, I remember looking up a word ‘Bishara’ I heard in Arabic from someone reading the beginning of the book of Matthew; I found that in the Hebrew it is הבשורה (Ha Bishara) and Gospel in Arabic is Injila according to Google Translator, but the word I was looking for is actually “Good News” which is Bishara in Arabic.

I was just thinking about memories of this hotel and how the Jerusalems’s unique places made me think of the bible’s plans for us.

Liechtenstein 10. Government buildings and museums

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Vaduz government buildings are here, they look very modern.   I didn’t get to go inside or learn much about their administration system.

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What was also very modern was this modern art museum.   I went here by mistake, don’t go it is really boring and a waste of 15 Francs.   There is another museum with a proper history of this country which I didn’t visit and I need to get back to my hostel on the train as it was getting late.

I wanted to get back to this little country but here and Switzerland have already massively busted my budget, and I still had to get to Zurich to spend the last few days before flying home.

Lastly, I finally get to meet and chat with a local person, actually, the two ladies who work for the stamps museums.   All these micro countries are very proud of their functioning post office and own stamps.   I bought some postcards and stamps.   They told me they only real thing this nation lacks is a maternity ward, and the hospital here in Liechtenstein is too small and new babies have to be born in St Gallen in Switzerland.

That’s all.   I achieved my bucket list of visiting some of the weird obscure small countries of Europe (which most aren’t part of the EU and are jolly pleasant places to live) before the UK Brexit leaving date which is in October 2019.

The only ones I need to visit are San Marino and Vatican I’ll do one day.

Related:  Other tiny countries I have seen:- Andorra, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein,  Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums

Liechtenstein 9. Vaduz church

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This is the church in Vaduz, which is Catholic.    I think this is the main religious hub here in Liechtenstein.

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This is a fairly ordinary sort of typical Catholic church.

In 1880, the Duke of Liechtenstein permitted religious freedom in the country. For several years pastors from Switzerland and Austria served the Protestant community. In 1963 a church was built in Vaduz. The Evangelical Church in Liechtenstein adopted this name in 1970 and includes Reformed and Lutheran churches.

Outside there is a poster for service for a young (maybe late 40s) woman who passed away from cancer.

I didn’t find any functional churches in Andorra.   I’d like to see if there are any evangelical churches that meet in a dedicated building or a community centre or someone’s home.   The small close-knit community seems appealing.

It was hard to find local people to chat about life here.   I got to do this on my next post.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums

 

Liechtenstein 8. Tiny country, big output

So the Germans can do industry like Mercedes and Siemens, and the Swiss can make small and precision things like watches, this nation has its only unique portfolio of industries.

One of the places I really wanted to see in Liechtenstein was the headquarters of Hilti.  I didn’t get time to, but I’ll demonstrate from this 3D map.

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This is in the bigger town of Schaan.   Martin and Eugen Hilti who are brothers set up this company in 1941, and is now a $5B company with offices all over the world and 29,000 staff, yet amazingly, they are still in this teeny nation.

Wikipedia tells me Liechtenstein has a population of only 37,877, yet about 20,000 people actually commute into a tiny country.

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Ivoclar Vivident is the world’s largest maker of false teeth, also based in Schaan.

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This might be the wrong poster, but a sign similar to this was advertising a current mayor who I spotted had the surname Hilti.  When I visited another tiny country, Malta in 2014, I noticed there are a lot of very common occurring surnames, from certain families.

https://www.hilti.com/content/hilti/W1/US/en/company/about-hilti/company-profile/history.html 

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums

East Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

This is really something you don’t expect to see in Switzerland at all.

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This is a museum that is part of Zurich University.   The collection of stuffed animals is pretty good, but what really surprised me was this:

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This is a Tanystropheus, its a 3 metre long dinosaur I’ve never seen before.  I never expected dinosaur bones to be found in the Swiss Alps.

The other one not pictured is a Helveticasaurus, could be a posh type of font found in a dictionary.   Helvetia is actually the Latin word for Switzerland, where the letters “CH” are used to denote Switzerland, being Confederation of Helvetia.

This reminds me of a story.   When I was about 9 years old, my teacher asked me to go to the library and look up what was the biggest dinosaur.   I looked in 4 different books, and each one told me something different.    This was because one of the books was very old, and one very new, and few in between, new types of scientific discoveries happen over the years.

A few months later I was asked to research planets, how many moons around Jupiter.   Because of the books being of differing years, one was 3, another 6 another 12.

This is taught me a lesson in life, and that is to research and question everything you are taught and respectfully challenge authority.   I’ve applied this to my way I look at the bible, science, government and work (I am in IT)  but sometimes gets me in trouble!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanystropheus 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helveticosaurus 

https://www.zm.uzh.ch/en/ 

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums

East Switzerland – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland

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I kind of think that Switzerland, as being a rich, famously neutral and cast iron political stability, is very fair and conservative.

But I think all countries might have one city that’s a bit different, just like Tel Aviv is very different from Jerusalem or other parts of Israel.   This might be Zurich.

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A specialist condom shop?

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I heard rumours that Switzerland was to legalise Cannabis, but this came close but was overthrown.   I did catch a whiff of it in one street like any other city, but there is a 100 CHF fine if you are caught with a joint, but bizarrely, Switzerland’s police fine you several day’s salary if with more than a handful of soft drugs. Wikipedia.

I don’t do any type of drugs, mostly because I’ve seen weed produce mental health issues on friends I care about.

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This boat which was an Asian restaurant was pretty cool to see.    Like the rest of Switzerland, eating out is outrageously expensive here.

Zurich has licenced prostitution I’ve been told, on the outskirts of the city with official DSCF0849 1024bus shelter type places.   No, I didn’t venture to find out.

The Swiss Jesus impersonator can be booked for your function according to this random poster.

I’ve seen plenty of crazies and cult groups in both London and Israel, but didn’t expect to see it here.

Zurich needs a simple genuine message of the gospel to the public like every other place.

DSCF0931 1024I think this must be the only place in the western world today that still allows a limited amount of indoor smoking, with this specialist lounge.   This lounge in Zurich airport does this.   Could it because Philip Morris European headquarters is in Zurich, no surely not….

When I was in Basel in 2012, my Swiss friend told me there isn’t much crime, but folks don’t like the police as are overly strict, don’t have any sense of humour, and don’t do much PR work to make them approachable like in other countries.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums

The fragrance of Christ

In February I was back to my flat in Harrow, north west London with a lot of things on my mind, about to move house, worries at work and concerns over lots of future plans.

I walked past this street and could smell flowers, like roses on a hot but slightly windy day.   I look around and I don’t see any.  I look around for the second time.   I’m walking in bewilderment.

I then walk on.   After 3 or 4 houses later I can still smell flowers.  It is mid-February and people’s front gardens are not in bloom yet.

Today I’m reading this passage and remembering how the Lord can remind us of his love through experiences that don’t have any tangible reason why.

2 Corinthians 2 : 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 

East Switzerland – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich

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The Swiss trains and railways system is undoubtedly the best in the world.

You would be hard pressed to find something this neat and efficient that covers all the country, with amazing scenery on every journey.

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DSCF0809 1024AS you can see, the pretty town of Grusch I think is quite typical of many of the idyllic looking villages in Switzerland.

There several characteristics of trains here.    There are several classes of trains with different stock and track like the funicular trains that go up impossibly steep hills.

The platforms are not high.  Often you can walk across flatter parts of the track.   The trains don’t actually go very fast, and the barriers, lights and sirens come on well in advance.   Some of the modern trains have a small motorised platform that appears to help you get up.

SBB is the Swiss railway operator, and it is also easy to buy your ticket using your smart phone and therefore know exactly where you are going and where to change and the right platform.   I didn’t get any pictures of Zurich’s station, but it is huge and has 45 platforms.

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There is a lot of freight I see going past.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums