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

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.

Germany 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village

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This place is also close by the BMW museum and BMW world and the actual factory plant’s front gates, just by a big park.

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IMG_20190223_132359334 1024These apartments built for this event are a little strange, they are tiny, their original utilitarian concrete form has been brightened up with a lot of artistic makeover by their current young and creative owners.

These dwellings were built for the 1972 Olympic games which were hosted here in Munich.

 

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The Olympics should encourage friendly competition between nations without prejudice or political agenda.   Sadly this particular year would be twinged with tragedy, as Palestinian group Black September kidnapped some Israeli athletes and an attempt by the Germany police to get them out failed to result in the death of 11 Israeli athletes.

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These monument stands in the Olympic park to commemorate the athletes lost.

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There is a video on a permanent loop with footage from the 1972 games, you can clearly see also a clip from David Ben Gurion announcing the new state of Israel from Tel Aviv in 1948.

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

AirBNB boycots parts of Israel, so forget them and see places anyway

This morning (20/11/2018) I woke up to BBC Radio 2 at 6am to get ready for work, which mentioned a story about AirBNB deciding to unlist properties in disputed parts of Israel, this is sad. I’ve booked all my travels in hostels in Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Europe and China using hostelworld.com mostly when I travel and see things for myself and not told what to think.   Hostelworld act as a middleman for booking hostels by paying for a deposit in advance and knowing the place isn’t fully booked when you get there (can happen)

AirBNB would be the better choice for a couple, family or a group.   Now being a Christian Zionist, avid traveller and curious about places, this is yet another one of those depressing stories how countries, authorities and businesses ignore the plights of Christians persecuted who live in Muslim majority countries (Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Sudan, etc) and decide to pick on Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.

In some weird way this might be a good thing seeing as Israel based companies often succeed better in the holy land than multinational organisations, ie if you look at Eldan car rental is more popular than Hertz Avis Budget etc and Aroma coffee shops out did Starbucks.

This is Hebron by the Tomb of the Patriarchs.   This is considered disputed territory but contains crucial bits of history of Jewish people, and its a place where Jews and Palestinians live.  I’ve not been here and I want to go and see it.   This is a more unstable place to visit.   I think its ok to visit but to go with a tour guide.

AirBNB is one of these internet companies that ‘disrupt’ traditional businesses doing hotels and holiday villas using the power of the internet, and are probably the “go to” brand for many holidaymakers looking to rent a place as part of a trip.

I see this as an opportunity for Israeli businesses to be shrewd and take away some of their business.   Let’s hope Israeli travel companies make a new portal to book places for foreigners that can see the many exciting parts of the country

 

Big moon makes appearance on Jewish holiday Tu Bishvat

This week is a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, Tu Bishvat (New Year of Trees) and again there is talk on the internet about the Blood Red Moons and End Times.

jerusalem moon

Here is the moon in Jerusalem, I’ve taken this from a reliable source of someone I know out there at the moment.

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Here is the moon from the camera of my phone (1/2/2018) Thursday of this week, its the thing in the middle, it looked not red at the time, but very big and clear.

Note I’m an average Christian, saved by grace and not law, of non-Jewish descent, and not a Hebrew Roots guy but worked with Jewish people for a number of years and prefer to have a non-ambiguous approach to my faith.)    I like to use Jewish holidays to meet up with Jewish friends, but I don’t fully observe them and definitely don’t force them on Christian or secular friend.

In the past, the whole Blood Red Moons thing got a bit ridiculous amongst hysteria online but I think God could be trying to get our attention, by coinciding events in the Jewish holiday with the movement of planets in the sky. 

I see it as this, to get right with God, seek Christ alone, and pray for our nation and communities.

The myth of Palestinian nationalism – part one

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IMG_20160606_151306966_HDR - smallOften common mainstream opinion these days is Israel “goes and helps itself to someone else’s land and justifies it by religion and nationalism.”    But actually, when you look at history this isn’t true.

I found this old book at a library of a charity I was working for in 2016, but one with no interest in Israel.   Its a Reader’s Digest Atlas, its first printed in 1965 and this edition is from 1982.

Contemporary maps may mark out the West Bank and Gaza regions as ‘Disputed territory’ just to be even-handed and diplomatic.

IMG_20160606_151044743 small Bethlehem jordan small

Jerusalem was recaptured by Israel in the Six Day war of 1967.   Therefore much of this book predates it.   It would appear the 1972 reprint didn’t show a modern Arab Palestine.   Before 1948 Israel was the British Mandate of Palestine, and before 1918 it was owned by Turkey.

A new proposed Palestine is proposed as being sovereign Arabic nation, this is actually a modern concept which leaders around the world are trying to make a reality to appease Islamic authorities in the name of peace.   They are severely misguided.   The most well known father of Islamic Palestinian nationalism is Yasser Arafat.    Who was born in (cough ahem) Cairo, Egypt.

Palestine as a name was invented by Roman emperor Hadrian in AD120.   When crudely transliterated into Arabic, it is pronounced Filastin.   This is because the Arabic language doesn’t have a letter P.

You might think “hold on, you can’t gauge history by just one book?”   – well if you care to look at reliable sources of history, rather than Islamic sources you will find this to be correct.

 

Books on examples of Jewish evangelism in Israel

Ok, taking a break from my European travel writing, instead going back to my focus on the Holy Land and things I’ve seen and experienced.

I’ve been to a couple of places where there were congregations of Messianic Jews worshiping together who had some books on the testimonies and ministry work that brought Israeli Jewish people (and also Arab people and other groups) to Jesus.  I have two books from these places which have some of the most heart warming stories of Israeli finding their Messiah.

Let’s quickly make up this map:-

david davis bookThe first one at the top, is David Davis Z”L (he died in 2017) who is a pastor of a congregation in Mount Carmel, who wrote about his life in this book from being an actor and moving from New York.

The second is in the extreme corner of the bottom of Israel in Eilat from John and Judy Pex at The Shelter Hostel, which is also a meeting place for local believers on Fridays.

dscf8621Some people are told its illegal to spread the gospel to people in Israel.   This is a lie.  Israel has freedom of religion, albeit with some restrictions, you cannot convince child to adopt another religious without parents permission, and you can’t coerce someone to follow another religion in return for a gift or bribe.

Conventional evangelism in say, Jerusalem tends to not work well and its socially frowned upon, as in walk-up giving out leaflets.  In Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) the number of believers is very small and congregations are probably limited to meeting in people’s houses.  The most common way people accept the gospel is through a Youtube videos which then results in people privately contacting the group like OneforIsrael for more information and a meet up.

I had a flash of inspiration the other day….

Maybe, revival of the Jewish people will happen at opposite edges of Israel and work its way back to the middle when Jesus will come back to Jerusalem!!

One the left, the blue symbols I’ve marked for “WhyMe?” which is from Tel Aviv based evangelist Jacob Damkani, and also for “Leave me alone I’m Jewish” by Pastor Ron Cantor also from Tel Aviv.   I’ve not seen these books but I need to get them soon.

Mount Carmel congregation https://britinjerusalem.com/2011/03/13/from-karmiel-to-mount-carmel/ 
The Shelter Hostel Eilat https://britinjerusalem.com/2015/07/31/come-stay-celebrate-the-story-of-the-shelter-hostel-in-eilat-israel-book-by-john-judy-pex/ and https://britinjerusalem.com/2009/12/23/journey-to-the-red-sea-%E2%80%93-part-two/ 

I’ll maybe write a part 2 to this part as theres some scripture that points to certain parts of Israel getting revival first.

Trip to Turkey 5. Spirit filled believers from Cappadocia

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My phone isn’t readable in bright sunlight, I’m glad I brought a real bible 🙂

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Acts 2 : 2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Me myself, I’m still trying to learn about tongues and spiritual gifts, its great to know there were so many believers of such different backgrounds in the middle east and beyond, which might sound completely unthinkable today.   I believe we will see true peace when Jesus returns soon.

I put the different ethnic groups of people into Google Maps to see how the body of Christ were all over the Levant.

Previous 4. The cave town in Goereme
Next 6. Hot Air Ballooning

1950s stamp book shows Palestine Occupation different from what you think

stanley gibbonsInteresting find I discovered a few weeks ago.

I saw a Commonwealth Stanley Gibbons stamp collectors book in a charity shop.   Its basically a British book publisher that’s considered an authority on the value of old stamps.     This book dates from 1956.

This book just covers countries of the British Commonwealth only.   I didn’t end up buying, just snapped a couple of photos;

This caught my eye.   This stamp dates from 1918.

palestine stamps

The one Piastre refers to a small value coin used by the Ottoman Empire, ie: the Turkish.  In the 1920s these stamps were made obsolete by the British who took over.

Therefore these stamps showing “Occupied enemy territory” is not referring to Jewish people, its referring to Islam.

To avoid putting big files on my WordPress account, I’ve listed these on my Google drive cloud storage space to share if you would like a closer inspection.   Apologies the 2nd page is a bit blurry.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9YywUr33gtSLTg5dzEteVlCWEk 
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9YywUr33gtSSkhWbGZxXzMwQXc

Mosh Ben Ari – Israel’s best kept musical secret

Mosh_Ben-Ari_01I absolutely love Mosh Ben Ari.  Mosh is an Israeli guitarist of Iraqi/Yemenite Jewish background from the Galilee city of Afula.   He is in his mid 40s with dreadlocked hair who plays regular guitar, electric, bass, and various exotic middle eastern style guitars.   What’s his most closest equivalent mainstream artist?   Maybe Sting, but in all honesty his wide covering of musical genres makes him entirely unique, his style ranges from reggae, folk, Spanish and middle eastern Jewish/Arabic music.   All his lyrics are purely in Hebrew.   I’m pretty sure he is the best selling local Israeli artist of all time.

mosh ben itunes

In Israel, his best known work is the album “Derech / דרך” (The way)   The main track on this track is a famous one worth a listen.   The other perhaps golden track on this LP is “Ben Adam” which you can listen here.

This soothing upbeat slightly reggaefied track Yesh Gal, reminds my awkward time trying to find a new job after heading back to the UK, as I was listening to this driving home in a car I went just bought, seeing as I haven’t driven in 4 years.   Looking for big beats with Arabic style horns?   Then you need this track.

Probably the biggest shame is the fact in the UK, and probably everywhere else.   No one has heard of him.   Don’t expect to find his music on Amazon or anywhere else but the most specialist shop that sells imported records from the holy land.  I have 4 out of his 7 albums.

If you are a Christian who has a varying taste in music and spending any time in Israel, do get to see local bands and try and see if Mosh is doing any concerts around the time you are around.  If like me you are a Christian interested in Jewish foundations of our faith, don’t try and looking for something of spiritual value in Mosh’s music.  Yes he makes Hebrew language sound exquisite, and there are references to Elohim in some tracks.  Why?   According to listening to two songs, Mosh hints at being something of a universalist 😦  yes sadly he mentions a bit about Allah in “Jah is one” this is a pleasant upbeat track,  but – the god of Islam is absolutely not the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, blending bits of foreign religions doesn’t work.   Actually the title of track Hineh Ho Bah (Here he comes) reminds me of Zechariah 9:9 which points towards a prophecy that the Jewish Messiah would be riding on a donkey (fulfilled in Matthew 21)

In all honesty various different pop music, artists change their religious ideas like their haircuts.   If you look at say, the Beatles, Lady Madonna hints at Catholicism and John’s Lennon’s Imagine is about Atheism.

I very nearly got to see him live.   He was doing a gig at Jerusalem’s yearly multicultural festival.   I queued up only to find the people in front got the last ticket and the places was full.    I was gutted.

Mosh, if you are reading this, you are incredible musical genius who should be better known outside your nation.   I hope you can discover the love of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua that surpasses all understanding.

http://www.moshbenari.net/
Official Youtube channel