No, the bible doesn’t teach the world is flat

I heard from two people I know that some Christians were following some really peculiar teaching that the world is flat.  This sounds silly but this odd idea have been growing in popularity recently.   Flat Earth followers consider the world to be a flat disc and that the sun and planets revolve around us.

Here’s some examples of the Old Testament (I’ve used the NIV here, some bits but not all look more sensible actually in KJV) that Flat Earth people might use to justify this weird idea;

Ezekiel 7:2 2 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel:
“‘The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land!

Jeremiah 25:32 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Look! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth.”

Job 37:3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth.

If you look up these links for Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Job you can see the word אָֽרֶץ (Eretz or H’aretz, land or the land)

The word Eretz is used a lot in Judaism, its used in the blessing of the bread that traditional Jews do on Shabbat.


Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

Israel has always been known as Eretz Israel (Land of Israel) too.   There is even a newspaper in Isrel caled Ha’aretz.   (The Land)

We know from the Hebrew language this word is a little ambiguous.  The word can be the ‘world’ or it can mean the ‘land’

Meanwhile, in the New Testament, here is a wonderful message of Jesus to his followers:-

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Lets now look at the Greek here:  You can see the Greek word: γῆς (pronounced “ge”)

Strong’s Greek shows just like the Hebrew, this word can also have two meaning.   Land and Earth.

So what the bible is telling us the corners of the earth, are the corners of the continents of the earth.

For people to think that space agencies are lying and the world is a flat disc or square with Antarctica is a radial edge, and that the bible is supposed to say so, only makes look a bit silly.

Science and the bible do work together very nicely!

Advertisements

Days of the week – Norway and Judeo/Christian influence

In late October I took a long weekend trip to Norway, to be honest it wasn’t intended to be a journey to learn about anything religious themed.  But I did make an interesting discovery looking at shop signs.   In Norwegian Lordag is “Lord’s day”

Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden I have learned all became Christianised between 900 and 1200AD.  I visited Finland in 2002 its a bit different, as it has a different language and I’m not sure about its history as modern Finland became a nation in 1918.

There’s always been confusion over if Saturday or Sunday should be a holy day and if it got interfered with over the years by the Greeks, or the Vatican or whatever.   I’m still undecided on this, so I decided to do some research using Google Translator.

So what is saturday in other languages, Saturday, Lord’s Day, Sabbath, or something completely different?

Norwegian – lørdag
Danish – lørdag
Swedish – lördag
Faroese – leygardagur
Icelandic – laugardagur
Estonian – laupäev
Finnish – lauantai
Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) – Arfininngorneq
Northern Saami – lávvordat

Ok, now lets head back southwards;

Serbian – Субота (Sebota)
Polish – sobota
Romanian – sâmbătă
Uzbek – shanba
Urkainian – субота
Azerbajani – şənbə
Albanian – e shtunë
Russian – суббота
Macedonian – сабота
Czech – sobota
Hungarian – szombati
Slovak – sobota
Catalan – dissabte
Lithuanian – šeštadienis
Latvia – sestdiena

This isn’t a big surprise as Russia and Eastern Europe and the Baltics had a lot of Jews.

More closer to home we have:-
Spanish – sábado
Portugese – sábado
French – samedi
Italian – Sabato
Greek – Σάββατο (Sávvato)  Big surprise there!!
Galician – sábado
Welsh – Dydd Sadwrn
Dutch – zaterdag
German – Sonnabend

Hebrew – יום שבת (Yom Shabbat, yeah!!)
Yiddish – שבת (like above)
Maltese – Is-Sibt (Maltese is a Semitic language, therefore distantly related to Arabic and Hebrew)
Amharic – Qdame (Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia)
Arabic – يوم السبت (sebat)
Persian – روز شنبه (shanbe)

Even languages spoken Israel’s worst enemies seem similar!!

Various Hebrew Roots people will say that Greek or Catholicism changed our weekend’s days around, but from what I see here, that my own nation using English, that we got a Pagan word (Saturday, based on Saturn-day) over our neighbours, I find this most interesting….

Norway – The city of Bergen – Days of the week – Norway and Judeo/Christian influence – Bergen’s fish market – Electric automotive Utopia – Bergen’s forest of Christmas

Hyper Hebrew Roots movement – 6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy

1. What my definition of HHRM is 2. Popular but highly sketchy names in the movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping & eating4. Sacred names5. Do believers need to keep Torah?6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy7. what do real Jewish believers in Jesus think of this movement?8. How we can help people in HHRM

These are false teachers that need to be avoided at all costs.    However some pastors and Christian organisations still work with them not realising their background.

Jono Vandor – “Truth2U”

It may seem obvious this guy should be avoided, but he pops up in some of my friend’s Facebook likes which concerns me.

jono vandor false teacher smaller

Jono is an Australian blogger and radio host for the last 5 years initially as a bible study for Christians to learn about Jewish roots, in 2010, this was quoted on a forum:-

“TRUTH2U is a new radio program gaining listenership around the globe.

It broadcasts out of a little country town, the cherry capital of Australia, Young NSW. (GMT+11, Sunday mornings 11-12)

It runs for one hour and is hosted by me, jono vandor.

The aim of TRUTH2U is to expose the pagan (!) and elevated traditions of man in professing Christianity while upholding Torah and the reality of Scripture. Primarily, TRUTH2U seeks to serve YHWH and those set-apart to Him by broadcasting the truth of His Son, Yahshua Messiah.”

Since then the direction has changed completely to being against Yeshua and against the gospel and teach Christians about Judaism. This guy uses lots of material from people like Michael Skobac, Tovia Singer and Ira Michaelson from Jews for Judaism.   This is a group specifically to stop Jewish people knowing about Jesus, truth2u aboutbut a bunch of 50 something Rabbis aren’t going to appeal to today’s youth, that why they need a middle man like Jono who can make it sound appealing to Christians look from today’s blogging/podcast generation.    Actually Jews for Judaism aka Outreach Judaism also want to target ordinary Christians who are attracted to Orthodox Judaism.

These online presentations and Israel tour visits are slickly presented as a Jewish/Christian social thing, but its clear they want to present you with an exit from the gospel with some false teaching.

Nehemiah Gordon

Nehemiah is not a believer but a Karaite Jew.   Hes been interviewed in a few Christian TV channels.  As he writes about Yeshua he must be a good guy?   Or almost getting there??

hebrew Yeshua book

This book is effectively telling Christians about the sacred name idea I wrote earlier, its a way to get Christians out of their normal church and regular thinking into odd sound teaching which leads them to dropping Yeshua.

Disturbingly pick at random any of the people who are a member of this group, there is a disturbing trend of these people tend to be ex-Christians wanting to be Jewish and seeking strict religious structure.   Gordon is often a guest on the spiritual babiesTruth2U and Spiritualbabies blogs.

He works with an American pastor a lot, this is mainly because the two charge $7.99 a month biblical history subscription to a Christian audience so not surprisingly my warnings to this pastor I emailed fell on deaf ears.

Jason “SpiritualBabies”

Sounds like a cult?    You are correct.    Jason and Lyn are an Irish couple who run a business doing graphics and illustration work.   This was initially used for the message of the gospel, then for a more Hebraic slant as it got Christians to take Jewish practices.   Now its specifically against the gospel.

Like Jono, these people are huge fans of Tovia Singer, and they work together with Jono and some other people to point people towards Tovia’s theology.

Pathways Radio 

This is a channel run by ex-believers which yet again promote anti-Yeshua teacher Rabbi Tovia Singer.   It proclaims itself as ‘idolfree’ but actually it has some talks on witchcraft!!!

From this appalling site:- “There is nothing more offensive to the Jewish people, and the Jewish faith, than organizations that target Jews with vile, disgusting perversions of scripture in order to trick, manipulate, and convert a holy people into pagan religion.

The Christian church considers the Jews as prime targets for this onslaught of lies.  The church has incorporated assimilation tactics into its repitiore. These tactics include additional Christian denominations called: Messianic Judaism, Nazarene (Netzari) Judaism, Hebrew Roots, and other alternative names.  Their principle objective is to trick the Jewish person into seeing Jesus….”

From a book from a member of the ‘Pathways radio’ cult;

“….In this book, the reader will witness how AJ and his family journeyed through the following: Christianity Atheism Born-again Christianity Messianic Judaism Hebrew roots Nazarene Judaism Finally, reality (!!!!) Each dramatic step, each oddity, and even the colorful characters met along the way are described in every way! AJ Ostrander was an energetic and passionate evangelical preacher in the church for ten years….”

Bottom line; the Hyper Hebrew Roots movement pulls people away from the church and Christian friends and family and gradually into progressively more weird teaching, excluding the love and salvation of Christ, into apostasy.

2 Peter 2 : 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

There is a consistent pattern that many of the believers were following Yeshua up until a few years ago, but were telling ordinary Christians to keep Torah and keep kosher and urged them that Jewish practices were mandatory for everyone.     Then these people denied Jesus altogether.

Ephesians 5 : 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Am I indulging in slander, Lashon Hara (or Lashing Horror) towards these people?   I have chatted to some people who are believers who got into this stuff.  Some to the bad stuff (Staley/Rood Crowd in part 2 below) and some truly appalling stuff like these men.

Please, please, this is not about encouraging antisemitism or bashing Judaism in any way, this is exposing half a dozen oddball religious groups pretending to be education for Christians pointing them towards denying Yeshua using the same old teaching from Singer/Skobac.   I have a huge respect for Judaism, but not when its twisting Christian and Jewish scriptures as used by these phonies.

If I can save one person from this total garbage then these blog posts will be worth it.

1. What my definition of HHRM is 2. Popular but highly sketchy names in the movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping & eating4. Sacred names5. Do believers need to keep Torah?6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy7. what do real Jewish believers in Jesus think of this movement?8. How we can help people in HHRM

Hyper Hebrew Roots movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping kosher & eating

1. What my definition of HHRM is 2. Popular but highly sketchy names in the movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping & eating4. Sacred names5. Do believers need to keep Torah?6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy7. what do real Jewish believers in Jesus think of this movement?8. How we can help people in HHRM

NB, I’m a Christian who loves Israel and Jewish people.   These posts aren’t criticism of actual Jewish people or Israel or believers in Yeshua/Jesus, only of Christians that may go a bit over the top or get confused of the roles of Jewish diets and holiday practices.

In the Hyper Hebrew Roots Movement (HHRM) folks may often tell you that Christmas and Easter are Pagan and should be avoided.

Well yes, they are mostly true, over years lots of things have distorted and changed the defining times which we remember Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.   I like Christmas and Easter as I don’t have to work and I can see family.  More importantly its a time to remember Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.   These are times which are unlikely to be their authentic weeks but its not really a big deal.  Fussing and wanting people to change is simply daft.

If you want to keep the biblical feasts then great!  If you want to do Christmas and Easter great! if you want to do everything, even better!

video-friday_im_in_love

To keep overly religious people happy. The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love will now be known as Yom Shishi I’m in love.

Valentine’s day, Halloween, Lag B’Omer are all Pagan too.  The days of the week are named after pagan gods!   Therefore paganism is everywhere.   Should we call them something different?

Let’s face it, you are not going to change the minds of 99.99% of Christians who celebrate Christmas and Easter, or worship on a Sunday.

If you feel uncomfortable about Christmas and Easter, don’t be a jerk forcing everyone not to celebrate it, unless you actually want to go to work that day.

Want to celebrate Jewish holidays?

Purim, Hanukkah, Feast of Trumpets, Shavuot, Yom Kippur are great ways to get together, gain an understanding of Jewish history and their meaning, as well as build friendships with Jewish people, whether they are secular, religious or believers.

What does the bible say about holidays?

Romans 14 : 14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

What does the bible say about eating practices in the New Covenant?

Colossians 2 : 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Therefore for believers in Yeshua/Jesus;

  • If you eat all things including pork and shellfish you are ok
  • If you don’t feel comfortable eating those things you are ok
  • Being vegetarian is ok
  • Abstaining from alcohol, which is common among more conservative American and African believers is ok, but not wrong for believers who do it in moderation.

Forcing other people to do it your way isn’t ok.  Doing something to upset your brother who doesn’t have the same diet as you is definitely not ok.

Something I see in the HHRM movement is people forcing other people to engage in special (not talking about kosher) diets.   Eating healthy is great, but telling people they have to do juicing and buying more expensive organic stuff is ultimately part someone’s artificial religious rules forced upon someone else.   I once visited a friend’s bible study who were so into this stuff, they told me I couldn’t come unless I did 2 hours ‘training’ on their special diet practices.  Hmm.

Acts 15 :15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” (!) 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” (!)

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

What do today’s Israeli Messianic Jewish believers do regarding when to go to congregation?   Friday, Saturday or Sunday?

Today’s congregations of Jewish believers in Jesus in Israel aren’t really called synagogues (which is actually a Greek word, the Hebrew word for Jewish house of worship is a Beit Ha’Knesset, house of meeting places)   but usually a kehilat assembly or just church.   These building are usually plain in appearance, such as a converted office or factory.   When I traveled up to the Galilee in northern Israel, I had the opportunity to fellowship in congregations with local believers up there.

King of Kings Jerusalem meet every Friday for Hebrew speaking believers and Sunday for English speaking believers.   Christ church in Old City of Jerusalem, have at least 4 services over the weekend for Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and English believers.   All other congregations can greatly vary being Friday, Saturday or Sunday.   Often it’s just practical logistics in terms of having enough seats, and multiple services need to be over several sessions.   Of course some of these are home churches too.

In addition to that, among the relatively tiny (15,000-20,000) body of Jewish believers in Israel, there is an inner niche group for Russian and Ethiopian believers too.    Often Arab believers can be part of some of the larger congregations too.

Congregations are shared because there are not enough seats, so multiple fellowships are done over several slots.

More scripture warning against legalism

Romans 16: 17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Related:

The Christmas tree is a pagan decorated idol myth:-
http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1389 

Defending Christmas
http://extraordinaryintelligence.com/defending-christ-the-king-refuting-the-pagan-roots-lie/

1. What my definition of HHRM is 2. Popular but highly sketchy names in the movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping & eating4. Sacred names5. Do believers need to keep Torah?6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy7. what do real Jewish believers in Jesus think of this movement?8. How we can help people in HHRM

Hyper Hebrew Roots movement – 1. What my definition of HHRM is

1. What my definition of HHRM is 2. Popular but highly sketchy names in the movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping & eating4. Sacred names5. Do believers need to keep Torah?6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy7. what do real Jewish believers in Jesus think of this movement?8. How we can help people in HHRM

What is Hyper Hebrew Roots? Its a word I’ve made up, but this is my definition of what it is. This is a modern religious movement of Christians who are fascinated by Israel and Jewish people, but are confused about the roles and how this impacts them. Christian Zionism and supporting Israel is great, and making friends with Jewish people, secular, religious and believers.

Recently I have seen mention of “Hyper Grace” – Christians who believe in Grace but feel forgiveness and confession of sins isn’t needed.   Grace is needed but not by compromising our need to deal with our sins.

When I see some Christians who love Israel and Jewish culture changing their worship and teaching to something new and unknown this can concern me.

I use the Hyper Hebrew Roots Movement as a separate thing from traditional Jews, Messianic Jews and Christian Zionists. Christians who are opposed to Christian Zionism who I disagreed with do have used some legitimate concerns about the Hebrew Roots movements, so I thought I’d share my criticism as someone who supports Israel.

Warning, I need to state I am completely against antisemitism and any hostility to Jewish people and nation of Israel.   These criticisms are intended to people of Christian audience who may have confusion over their faith background or for who get into some unusual teaching without discernment. So, why on earth would a Christian like me who loves Israel and Jewish people who served the Jewish people talk about this on his blog?

This because all niche ministries in the Christian world can have some bad stuff.   It is necessary to educate people who may get swayed by them kindly but firmly with patience. The HHRM phenomenon is not Christian or Jewish, it is a big man-made heap of religious confusion. HHRM is characterised by the three or more of the following:-

  • Pretends to have understanding of Hebrew and Jewish traditions and practices but often getting them wrong
  • “Sacred names”, a rigid compulsion to only refer to God and Jesus by certain words only
  • Unkind words to former churches, Christian friends and pastors
  • Defence of criminal actions by teachers of questionable doctrine (certain bad teachers are going to jail for fraud)
  • Legalism
  • Frequently gets into fights and quarrels
  • Has unusual religious clothing
  • Rigid ideas about food (not necessarily about kosher)
  • Denial of the Trinity
  • Paints the whole church as ‘pagan’ and lost
  • Lacks discernment
  • Does not go to any church or congregation at all
  • Lives in solitude and doesn’t mix with others believers, won’t let their kids mingle with any other kids
  • Little understanding of New Covenant and Jesus’s death and resurrection
  • Believe someone can be saved without Christ
  • Cultish behaviour
  • And in extreme situations, apostasy

I love:-

  • Christians who support Israel
  • Dialogue between Christians and traditional Jews
  • Getting to know Arab people who consider Israel their home, as well other ethnic groups in Israel such as Armenian Christians, Bedouins and Druze
  • Evangelism, this needs to be done sensitively with bad ways Christians have treated Jews previously
  • Supporting Israel in prayer and in physical needs
  • Learning Jewish foundations of Christianity
  • Learning Hebrew
  • Discovering Jewish history in other countries (I went travelling around Morocco in March, a country that once had 250,000 Jews)
  • Finding out about biblical history

In Israel, I love the Jewish people, I particularly love the Messianic Jewish communities. In my opinion to me they are the benchmark of what I see are the right way for Jewish people worldwide to know Yeshua, the styles of teaching will often vary greatly though.    My Israeli believer friends are completely far and away from the odd teaching I see from the HHRM movement.    In short, HHRM is an embarrassment to both Jews and Christians.

There are builders or tradesman there are people who will do terrible building work or take people’s money and disappear. Sometimes the ministry world is like that, there are bad people can take advantage of vulnerable people.   So rather than blame the whole movement, I need to highlight some bad practices that crop up for the purpose of keeping my brothers and sisters in Jesus safe and show examples of scripture.

I’m going to talk more about what I have seen over several posts here.

1. What my definition of HHRM is 2. Popular but highly sketchy names in the movement – 3. Holidays, Shabbat, keeping & eating4. Sacred names5. Do believers need to keep Torah?6. Bad teaching that leads to apostasy7. what do real Jewish believers in Jesus think of this movement?8. How we can help people in HHRM

Common pitfalls that can catch believers volunteering or studying in Israel

For believers, Jewish or Gentile volunteering or studying in Israel, I thought I would offer a list of pitfalls that can trip up followers of Yeshua who are staying in the holy land for any length of time.

Cultural sensitivity

Try and avoid wearing Tshirts with religious or political message.  Making sure you the right attire for religious sites which means arms and legs must be covered, and the Orthodox Jews don’t like women in trousers, you need a long skirt in you are a female and wish to go through religious communities.

Staying in your flat all weekend

Theres lots to see if you are in Jerusalem, when Shabbat is over its fun to get into the centre of town and meet with friends at a coffee shop or ice cream joint.  Usually there is people playing music in the streets in Ben Yehuda Street and the place starts to become alive Saturday evening.

I’ve noticed what I would describe is a habit that some people never go out.   I had two housemates like this.   This has happened to me too often.   I think its a spiritual thing that can cause people to hide away sometimes.

Not praying over yourself

Pray for the armour of protection.  THIS IS A MUST.  Before you leave the house.   This place is a spiritually volatile as it is politically volatile.   No need for alarm or panic, but be aware any worries, negative thoughts can intensifying and depression can creep in while you are in Israel.

Ephesians 6 : 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This passage is saying about praying protection on yourself like the pieces of protective equipment worn for a war.   This is a quite a good metaphorical statement needed.

If you don’t understand this passage, then get familiar with it.   If you don’t want to understand this passage or would rather ignore this, don’t come to Israel.

Working on Shabbat

Don’t do it, stick to the biblical week, and shut down normal week friday evening.   I’m not saying when you return to your original country you have to change away from your traditional working patterns, just while you are in Israel, observe the Sabbath and get a nice meal and invite some friends over, or get together with family, its good to invite someone outside of your usual group of friends who might otherwise be on their own that evening.

Because of spending all the time working, making every day the same, I’ve sadly seen some believers here and in my own country fall away this way.

Some ministries are working to a very tight deadline to make a complex project happen, and I’ve done it a few times only to find the project I was working on went wrong.  Seriously friends, if you are doing ministry in Israel, don’t work Shabbat, its meant to be special for a reason.

Not going to a congregation of believers

Sadly some Christians have this idea if you work in a ministry, do a bit of private bible study or a visit an Orthodox synagogue you don’t need to go to a congregation, this is not true!! As well as get teaching and participate in worship, you need to have fellowship with believers, its also great to meet other foreign Christians, Jewish believers and sometimes Arab believers this way, take part in Jewish holidays, Torah portion (both Tanakh and Brit Hadasha, ie: Old Testament and New Testament)

Hebrews 10 : 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Once you build some good friendships in your congregation (this took quite a while for me)  its a great way to get mentored or be a mentor.   If you find your life is completely peachy and never have any worries or struggles (you must be an extreme rarity!)  use your experience of overcoming struggles to help others.   Ok, realistically, if you have overcome many struggles you might also be called to look out for those who are on their own or going through a tough time.

 Not drinking enough water

This happens a lot, it seems that a human being’s thirst doesn’t quite get calibrated right, and you may stick to usual pattern of fluid intake in a cooler country, don’t rely on this, you often need to drink about 2-3 times as much as you are used to especially if you are outside a lot.

If someone you are with doesn’t pack water on a trip and after you remind them they say ‘no I am alright’ don’t accept this and keep reminding them in making sure they are taking enough.   A hike for some hours in the desert necessitates 3-4 litres of water at least.   I find it best to get into a pattern of drinking some at least every half an hour.   Dehydration takes places quickly and can really spoil your day or at the very worst make you very ill.

Don’t bash regular Christianity

If your brothers and sisters in Christ don’t show the same interest in the Holy Land, don’t get into a them-and-us mentality.  There’s nothing worse than religious arrogance.

We are meant to be ambassadors for Jesus whilst we are away from our places of origin.   It gives a bad impression if we show there is division among our fellow Christians.

When churches go with the world of plans to redefine marriage and family structure to appease a twisted society, people get angry and blame the whole church system as going down the tubes.   I think the institutional church is not what it was but its crucially important we give a good impression of us as servants of the Lord.

When I see Hebrew roots movements telling people ‘listen to our theology, not pagan Christianity’  this makes me very cross.   Don’t listen to any arrogant person who attacks the wider body of church, but do pray for the body of believers in our own respective countries.

My observation is that many Christians simply don’t know a lot of the bible, and don’t know the importance of Israel and the Jewishness of Jesus, but don’t know many other aspects of their faith, just because (particularly me) getting familiar with all aspects of the scriptures in the entirety is hard work.

Don’t try and be something you are not

If you are a gentile Christian with an interest in Hebrew Roots or Jewish foundations of Christianity, please don’t put on a kippur or tzi-zit.   Don’t try and be something you are not.   This causes so many problems.

Here’s a classic anti-replacement theology passage:- Romans 11 : 11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

The bible tells us (regular gentile Christians) that we are to make the Jews jealous from our salvation from the Jewish Messiah.

Some overly enthusiastic Christians get their theology back to front and try and wear clothing used by observant Jews.   This can be interpreted as Replacement Theology, that Christians are the ‘new Jews’  and the almost certainly the reaction from other Christians as they are being just being plain daft.

Studying Hebrew roots can be great, but its not meant to be a religious dressing up game.

Be aware of unusual teachings and having discernment

Which way round do the events in end times event happen?  Is the New Testament written originally in Greek, Aramaic or something else?  Jesus’s birthday is 25th December?

Often people come up with some ideas that seem different from the norm, so be careful and research everything thoroughly yourself.

1 Timothy 1 : 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

Sometimes there’s aspects of the bible that have several plausible explanations that we will have different interpretations, they often aren’t significant enough to argue about.    I admire my friend Judah’s earlier blog post about tolerance of different ideas from our brothers and sisters in Christ, but robustly challenging anything false.