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
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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.

Gospel of the Jewish Messiah hitting secular Israeli media

Saw this great article today from local Israeli believer news site and magazine Israeltoday.co.il

The mainstream secular Israeli news site Walla announces in Hebrew about the growing number of Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) in Israel and how the New Testament is a continuation of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and how Yeshua fulfilled the commandments as promised.   It is quite unusual for this to appear on mainsteam Israeli media.

http://familyguide3.walla.co.il/item/2914039 (In Hebrew only)

Somewhat strangely the video can only been shown in Israel.   Maybe I’ll try this with a proxy (such as this one which is Israeli technology) later. The internet is probably the best tool to provide Israelis with the gospel of the Jewish Messiah.

Please pray that more and more Jewish people will be drawn to their Lord and saviour.

 

Hyper Hebrew Roots movement – 4. Sacred names

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 over names and language differences.   Please see first article to get better idea of what this is about.

How people say most common names for God

Traditional Jews: God is written as יהוה (Yod Hey Vav Hey) phonetically pronounced Yahweh or Jahovah.   However traditional Jews will never pronounce this, only pronounce this as Adonai. (Lord)  Therefore if Christians pronounce this in public this may offend or seem insensitive to observant Jews. God may also written as G-d, traditional Jews will leave one letter missed out, in a way deemed respectful of not writing his name in full. Elohim, El Shaddai, Eloheunu are allHebrew names for God.   In fact anything with -im on the end is a plural (aha! you can spot the trinity!) You will often see words with Yah or El.   This words are found inside a few popular names. Hashem literally ‘His name’

Ways of writing Jesus

Correct: Jesus or Yeshua or ישוע (Yod Shin Vav Ayen)

Not right: Other names used by the HHRM, that are not really right; Yahshua, Yahoshua, Ioshua, etc Allah this is the Muslim word for God, and used by Arab Christians, and also Christians in Malta. (they have an Arabic derived language)   I prefer not using these for regular western Christians, this is another theological hot potato for another day.

Definitely wrong:-
Yeshu/ישו (insult)  This is a Hebrew abbreviation for “may his name by blotted out” used by those against Yeshua.
Issa (used by Muslims who describe Jesus as only a prophet in the Koran)

Arab believers: Correct word for Jesus in Arabic for Arab believers is Yesu

If believers in Jesus/Yeshua someone tells you can ONLY use a certain name and gets finicky about it, they may have issues with legalism. Often HHRM people will tell you can only use THEIR own definition of a name only, and anything else is wrong or ‘Pagan’. I once went to a Messianic congregation in UK, there was a man who was Jamaican who was dressed as a Jew who was speaking, he told us that anyone who used the word Jesus was actually referring to the Greek God Zeus.   This was the worse teaching I have heard so I walked out.    This was a total embarrassment as this was a congregation of mostly non Jews trying to do Jewish customs in a clumsy insensitive way, in a part of the city with a lot of ultra Orthodox Jews close by.  This was such a cringeworthy painful experience that would no way impress anyone in this community.

What they forget is the gospel was spread to all nations, so Jesus died for all people and all races, so his name is going to be written differently as the gospel is translated to every language, tribe and tongue.   Today, because of the internet and more affordable travel, its feasible to bring the message of Jesus to every single part of the world.

Philippians 2 : 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Here’s another example.   My name is Jonathan.   I’m not Jewish.   My name is extremely popular among Jews especially in Israel, and ordinary British chaps like me born in the mid 1970s. Actually name is Jonathan is really which is pronounced Yahnatan which is written יונתן (yntn) My name comes from Yah Natan = God’s gift/given.

Over the years this has got changed on its way to a language like English. Yah has become Jah which has become ‘Jo’ I think “J” only pronounced “Jer” in English, French and Arabic.    In German, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch and Hebrew its pronounced as a Y.

“natan” has become Nathan (another boy’s name) There is two different types of Ts in Hebrew that look like ט and like ת – so when one is Latinised its written as a “TH”. So among religious hipsters thinking they have the most authentic way of doing religion, please look down on me as I’ve got a Hebrew name that’s been interfered with over a few centuries.   Oh well. 🙂 I get annoyed if people call me Jonathon, Johnathan or something else, but that just me 🙂

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

Jeremiah 31 – The Tanakh’s warm up to the New Testament

I forgot to mention that verse from the Joshua Aaron worship song I posted a short while back.

This is by far one of my favourite passages from the Tanakh (Old testament)   its like a kind of ‘warm up’ to the New Testament of what’s planned through salvation through Yeshua (Jesus)

Jeremiah 31 : 31

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

This bit is mindblowing, soon even atheist Jews in Israel will have God revealed to them!

35 This is what the Lord says,

he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the Lord Almighty is his name:
36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
declares the Lord,
“will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.”
37 This is what the Lord says:

“Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,”
declares the Lord.

Here, the Lord is abundantly clear that the Jewish people have a part to play, with the modern nation of Israel, with Jesus’s return in the new future.

This completely trashes the concept of “fulfillment theology” (or replacement theology, or supercessionism) common opinion that says that God’s covenant with the Jewish people is finished.   Jesus fulfills the law but one of the biggest revivals will happen back in the land where it all started.

Interesting sign, turn around left and you can see the Golden Gate where Jesus will return (blocked up with Muslim cemetery in front)  to the right the Mount of Olives where he will stand.

Take out coffee and Transfiguration

These don’t seem like related subjects do they?

I didn’t think so, until the beverage I got from Aroma had this interesting message on top of it:-

P1060568

It’s made in a factory in Tavor (Mount Tabor, V and B are often interchangeable in Hebrew) funny as this is also the mountain considered to be the most likely place of Jesus’s transfiguration.

It’s also an exciting sounding place I’d like to go.  I am waiting for two new PCs to arrive at work, then I need to visit Karmiel to install these are some other maintenance then I will visit some of these places.

I think the town at the foot of Mt Tavor is Arab.   I’m now curious if the little hole is to let the heat out slowly, of it could be a symbol of something implied over Tavor? 🙂


Actually now you can see it on Google Street Map View!!    I’m not sure if this ‘spoils’ visiting biblical places or not, you could see it like a spoiler in a movie or trailer to get an idea what to expect – in this case Mount Tabor on your computer is more of the latter as you can’t see much pass the car park when you get to the top.

Matthew 17 (I have added some colours for emphasis)

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

The climb up the hill goes in a zigzag fashion which looks not too difficult to do, or you can go up in a car or bus.    Interesting enough, although three shelters were erected on here, there are two churches (Catholic and Orthodox) at the top today.   Its not guaranteed if Tabor is the exact place of the transfiguration, but seems the most likely place by biblical historians.    The other mountain in the north, Mount Hermon is covered in snow a lot of the time, I think Jesus would of mentioned this if it was there. 🙂    This part of the world has had earthquakes so maybe the shape of the landscape could of been different then, which Jesus mentioned in Matthew 17 : 20 that mountains aren’t necessarily a permanent fixture.

Related: My quick glimpse of Mount Tabor in September

unless you change and become like little children….

Whilst I was at church on my first weekend back in Israel, after the service I noticed something amazing;

There was an Arab family in the hallway as I was leaving, I had not seen this couple and their daughter who was only about 4 years old or so.    I introduced myself to the man but didn’t think he spoke much English.    I was just leaving and I noticed the little girl tugging on the sleeve of her friend another girl the same age, who had blonde hair and Jewish.

It took me back to see this, with all these attempts at meetings between nations on peace, when you realise any kind of prejudice in human beings is not preinstalled in us but is sadly picked up around us.   For all the problems that exist between Arabs, Jews and Christians, its us needing to be like children as Jesus mentions here:-

Matthew 18
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Return to Nazareth – 4. Looking for the Jesus village

Back in the youth hostel I asked the staff how to get to the Jesus village, a place I missed out on previous trip, they very kindly phoned up the museum in advance, and told me I had to get there quick to not miss out as there was only one more guided tour left that day.

To get there, I had to follow the purple dots painted along the walls, this was quite fun actually, a sort of biblical follow the yellow brick road, hunting the painted on dots through the maze-like paths around Nazareth’s old city.

As you may have already seen, Nazareth’s tightly packed collection of houses closely resembles Jerusalem’s old city, its like no two houses are a like, completely unlinear in their shapes, sizes, with different steps, roofs, balconies.  I think this is a small mosque in between some ordinary houses, as it has this dome with unmistakable crescent ontop.   Theres a sort of odd mix of extensions and alterations on top of ancient houses!

At one point it took me through this Islamic cemetery.

After a few more narrow alleys, I got to a main road, and it was here I found the entrance to the Jesus village.

As you can see the car park is made big to cope with a volume of tourist buses that come often here….

Like the aforementioned following the brick road idea, I was concerned that the wizard, or in this case the intended representation of Christ’s home town may be a disappointment, but actually this place was very well done….

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes

Jericho – 4. View of Jericho’s plain

Joshua 4: 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them.
13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the LORD to the plains of Jericho for war.
14  That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
15  Then the LORD said to Joshua,
16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”

Reading this makes me appreciate that Jericho is built on land thats completely flat.

All the towns I have seen in the non-coastal parts of Israel are mountainous.

So this is the view from the Mount of Temptation, now myself and Jeremy and Tim moved over to another part of the hill.   Seems to be quite a varied range of fruit being grown in fruit of the mount too.

Given that Jericho is meant to be the oldest city in the world, it makes sense to start building on the most easiest terrain here I guess!

No churches in the sky here, just where you come up if you use the cable car, and a nice restaurants with amazing views, some of the caves here been given some clever uses, one of them is a bird aviary, another one shown closer below, contains things for sale in bazaar.

This was good time to get ice cream 🙂

To the right of these railings and down into yet another cave covered by some beaded string door you go if you want to make a deal for any ornaments and souvienrs.

Back down the hill, going down hill was considerably less work, as I think I lost a litre of sweat at least going up here!!

At the foot of the cliff, I see this highly unusual bush.  Since I have been in Israel, I have got to try various unusual fruits I haven’t seen before, but these green things are something else.   They look vaguely citrussy but they are hollow and squeezable like almost flat balloons.   Can anyone tell me what they are, are they edible?

Next, off to see a much larger tree, without fruit, but some quite exciting background!!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

The Kinneret lake

The Kinneret, or the Sea of Galilee, or even Lake Tiberias are the names of the body of water where Jesus spent probably the majority of his ministry.

Its 214 metres below sea level, not as low of course as the Dead Sea, and has a radius of 53km or 33 miles.

Either name, its a peaceful and relaxing place to spend a few days off work.  When I came here last year in a rented car its actually very pleasant to drive around the bendy road that heads along the west edge of the sea.

I went into the Jesus boat museum previously whilst waiting to get a boat ride.   This pleasant path with trees and iron modern art is a path that heads towards the jetty onto the Kinneret.

Like the previous times I have been here, the sea seems like a peaceful and great place to relax, by the side or in a boat.

However the bible tells us of great storms that happened here, and of course Jesus commanded a storm to stop in Matthew 8 : 23-27

It would be interesting to witness a storm here I think, thunderstorms are good fun as long as you are safe indoors 🙂

There is a lot of gadgetry on this boat.  There are 3 cellphones, an iPod nano with Christian worship music playing during the trip, a Motorola CB radio and a music mixing desk and tannoy system, oh and a rudder for steering, a throttle and other typical nautical controls.

The Arab chap who was the man in charge of tour boats who came onboard has an iPad as well which contains the schedules of the boats, I thought maybe there could be some kind of nautical navigation and weather conditions apps as well, but I can’t really see anyone getting lost!

There is a party of Christian visitors from Bratislava, Slovak republic but as they booked the trip themselves and there isn’t a tour guide with them they were happy for me and my friend Arnold to share with them 🙂

Next: I investigate this mysterious beacon that shines over the Galilee…

A day in my work in the GalileeThe Jesus boat in GinosarThe Kinneret LakeTiberias evening light showPreaching and miracles of Jesus in CapernaumTiberias city centre and Muriels and Maimonidies