In the Arrows from Zion & Weekly Summary of Prayer Requests from Israeli Ministries list this week our Priority Prayer Focus is an actual sounding of the alarm. We are issuing a shofar blast, a trumpet to rally in intercessory prayer for the believers of Israel as next Tuesday, Sept 14th an anti-missionary conference is being held calling all activists against Messianic believers to meet together with the leaders.
This is a grave threat and ominous gathering which leaders in the Weekly Summary are asking us to join in prayer about.
The anti-Messianic leaders have called for activists throughout Israel to come to conference in Jerusalem next Tuesday 9/14. Pray for a spirit of division in their ranks and that what the enemy means for evil, the LORD will use for good!
In the late 1990’s when Netanyahu was Prime Minister, there was a mean drive to legislate against the gospel and the Messianic believers in Israel to outlaw all sharing of faith. This will be one element of the strategy in the upcoming conference, plus a release to persecute more strenuously. Pray for the threat to be made known to the Israeli public – for a blind eye to cease among government, legal and law enforcement authorities.
In the late 1990’s as activists were trying to legislate against the gospel and Messianic believers, a young ultra-Orthodox stood up and said, “I am only waiting for the Rabbis’ Approval to Kill Them” (source: Haaretz coverage of a meeting held by Rabbi Deri against the Beer Sheva Messianic congregation). That approval has been recently given by West Bank rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yitzhak Ginsberg.
Anti-Messianic believer activism is heating up in Israel, even as rabbis with superb relationships with Christians encourage Christians to reject any Jewish believers who share their faith in Jesus with fellow Jews. This is the valley of decision for many Christians: will we compromise our faith by rejecting the Jewish members of the Body of Messiah/Christ. Pray many will find the courage to stand united as one body.
The following is being reprinted here by permission of the author, Messianic pastor in Jerusalem, Eddie Santoro of Zion's Glory Ministry and Ahavat Yeshua (Love of Yeshua) Congregation.
Unity and division are powerful spiritual realities which can impact situations for the good or for the bad. In Luke 11:17, Yeshua declared that "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall". In Genesis 11:9, when speaking of the Tower of Babel, God declares the power of unity when he says; "if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." And Paul exhorts in Ephesians 4:13 that "unity of the faith" is one of the prerequisites to "becoming mature, and attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah."
In every situation, unity brings about great power and division will cause a house to fall. As I have pondered recent events in Israel, I have been impressed with the need for us to pray either for unity or division, depending on the different events.
Anti Missionary Conference
Next week in Israel's largest national conference center in Jerusalem, the enemies of the Gospel will be gathering in unity to address the growing problem of "Missionaries" in Israel. Their translation of the word "missionaries" is "Messianic Jews".
The problem the religious community is addressing has arisen because the Messianic Jews are succeeding in bringing Israelis to faith and are ever more visible to the Israeli public. Recently, there have been major outreach events in the towns and cities of Israel, articles written about us in major Israeli newspapers and several television interviews.
This past week in synagogues throughout Israel, leaflets were handed out advertising the coming "anti missionary" conference and encouraging people to come. No doubt those interested will be bused in from throughout the country. Many of Israel's leading anti-messianic organizations along with important area rabbis will be taking the opportunity to "educate" the people on the "impossibility" of being Jewish and believing in Yeshua, as well as informing them of the great danger Messianic Jews are to traditional Judaism.
This is the first time that there has been (such) a concerted effort by numerous anti messianic organizations against us and this new unity could increase the intensity of the daily persecution that we face.
Please pray that a spirit of division would be on this gathering of religious Jews. Pray that their house would be divided and that no effective strategies would be achieved in their intensifying battle against those of us who believe. Also, please pray that we would know the right strategy in response to this event. Pray that in God's mercy, even as they speak against Yeshua, that some hearts would be touched by his great mercy and love.
Israelprayer also got this information update in from Yeshua's Inheritance pastor Howard Bass in Beer Sheva.
Howard writes, "Two of the main speakers at the big 'The Missionary Enemy' in Jerusalem next Tuesday, the 14th, are the eminent Beer Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and the director of Yad L'Achim, Rabbi Lifshitz.
This is not actually the first time such a conference has been held, but it may be the first time at such a large venue in Jerusalem. After the 1998 demonstration against us, they had one at the hotel in Beer Sheva, which is where the comment was made about 'waiting for them to tell us to kill them'.
"Another time they had one in a synagogue in Beer Sheva, where I went to try to listen from outside. Another time they did it in Arad, and using Beer Sheva as an example of their effectiveness.
"In every case, only their own religious community came, despite inviting 'the public'. At one, they claimed to have proof of their accusations against us, but produced absolutely nothing, not even the parents of the children which we supposedly had kidnapped to baptize. It was all a 'show' to get support. The 'public' for them does not include gentiles, nor any recognized Jewish believer in Yeshua."
This input also from Asher Intrater, of the Love of Yeshua Jerusalem congregation and Revive-Israel Ministry
Asher writes: The conference most likely has three primary aims.
The first is to raise money for the anti-"missionary" missionaries.
The second is to convince Jewish organizations not to receive money from Christian Zionists (a goal that we are not necessarily opposed to).
The third is to stop all efforts of evangelism to our people. This third goal is what brings them into conflict with us.
Please pray with us that
1. the forces of Satan would be divided (Luke 11:17),
2. what was intended for evil will be turned to good (Genesis 50:20),
3. the grace of salvation would be poured out on religious Jews (Romans 10:1; Zechariah 12:10),
4. the local body of Messiah would be more united than ever in the face of the growing attacks against us (Acts 1:14; 2:1; 4:32),
5. we would have wisdom on how to react to "anti-Messianic" groups (Matthew 10:16-25; Acts 4:29).
In relation to this growing opposition of religious forces against the Messianic believers in Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin who has been under great pressure lately from the anti-messianic activists for his relationships with Christians wrote an Op-Ed for the Jerusalem Post encourging Christians to distrust the Messianics who share their faith. Messianic Asher Intrater Answers Rabbi Riskin's Jerusalem Post article "Dialogue: The Messianic movement"
On August 31st the Jerusalem Post ran an Op-Ed by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin title "Dialogue: The Messianic movement". The sub-head to the title read, "There is a minority who use deceptive proselytizing practices to win Jewish converts."
It is easy to say the Messianic community is a monolith and all wish to bring the Gospel to every Jew. The truth is that many just want to practice their faith in private and have no active agenda in missionizing other Jews.
However, there is a minority who use deceptive proselytizing practices to win Jewish converts.
This is spiritually offensive and says those who practice Judaism in its current state are not living a salvific expression of the covenant.
Riskin also denied that any persecution against believers is taking place in Israel. This was an article meant for the consumption of Israel-supporting Christians, so the Messianic believers in Israel would be discounted.
Here is an answer to Rabbi Riskin's JPost Op-Ed by Messianic Jewish minister, Asher Intrater, as it was submitted to the newspaper last week. So far, the editors have chosen not to publish Intrater's response article.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin's recently published article ("Dialogue: The Messianic Movement," Jerusalem Post, 8-27-2010) describing his assessment of Messianic Judaism demands a thoughtful response by someone who is part of this community.
Rabbi Riskin is well-respected in both Christian and Jewish circles. He is dynamic, intelligent, spiritual, and has great leadership abilities. We respect him as well for those qualities.
Furthermore, there are many issues in which we are in total agreement. - He promotes dialogue between Christians and Jews. - We should emphasize common ground in interfaith dialogue. - Cooperation between Israel and the Church is a national duty. - Pioneers of reconciliation face a barrage of criticism. - We are under attack from Islamic Jihad and secular materialism. We Messianic Jews are not asking anyone in either Orthodox Judaism or Christian Zionism to agree with us. We believe our position is correct, just as they do. We ask others to examine our beliefs with the same respect that we give to theirs.
Having said that, there are certain points in which we would disagree with Rabbi Riskin's statements. While he says that he does not believe our community has been persecuted, we know otherwise. Our community is not persecuted by the State of Israel. However, it cannot be ignored that a fringe minority of Ultra-Orthodox Jews do execute pre-meditated attacks against us.
1. The Ortiz family whose son Amiel miraculously survived an attempt of murder upon his life.
2. Mrs. Conforti, whose bakery business in which she has worked from pre-dawn to post-dusk for years was deliberately destroyed.
3. The Beer Sheva Messianic congregation was ransacked by a mob (an attack recorded on film).
4. The smaller Messianic congregation in Arad has been physically attacked repeatedly.
5. Dozens of new immigrants have been denied citizenship simply because of their faith (all of whom are Jewish enough to have been slaughtered in the Holocaust, and have relatives who were).
6. Numerous Messianic Jews have been beaten, attacked, kidnapped, spit upon, cut off from families, and so on.
The list could go on, but this should be enough to make the point that one should not be "astonished" (in Rabbi Riskin's words) when asked about persecution against Messianic Jews. These attacks were perpetrated by extremist elements of the Ultra-Orthodox (who do not represent mainstream Judaism in our eyes). The ONLY reason these attacks took place was because the victims were Messianic Jews.
Rabbi Riskin compared us with the Mormon Church in America, which is not received by most of the Evangelical Christian community. The example, however, is not relevant for two reasons: First, Judaism is not solely a religion; it is also a people group. Secondly, Orthodox Judaism has religious monopoly in Israel, which Evangelicals do not have in the United States.
While many Evangelical Christians would not agree with the tenets of the Mormon faith, they would not deny their right to be Americans, nor their right to be part of the religious spectrum that exists in the United States. Mormons have full legal rights to conduct all religious and social duties, from birth to burial. Riskin has denied our God-given right to be Jews. We are denied legal rights to perform religious duties necessary within our community. Therefore, the comparison to the Mormons is not at all parallel.
We are also accused of "proselytizing" (a claim we deny by our very insistence to remain Jewish and live a Jewish lifestyle). Disseminating our beliefs is a basic right of freedom of expression, thought, religion, and the press. In fact, we do not disseminate our faith as many Ultra-Orthodox missionaries do, who approach cars in the middle of traffic, ask people to lay tefillin in shopping centers, and drive mission-mobiles around the city with loudspeakers in their "proselytizing" efforts.
Rabbi Riskin accused us of being "deceptive." Yet our beliefs are openly stated to anyone who asks. There is no hiding or pretending. It is virtually impossible to join our gatherings for more than a few moments and not understand who we are. Expressions of Jewish practice, from circumcision to Shabbat to Feasts of the Torah to Bar Mizvah to Chuppa, are an essential part of our faith. There are differing levels of expression of those customs within our communities. However, each person's religious expression is inherent to his or her faith. We have stood with integrity for those values despite criticism from both Christian and Rabbinic circles.
Finally, if our view of the Messiah is said to put us out of the realm of Judaism, then what about the Chabad movement which has invested millions of dollars in advertising campaigns to proclaim that their Rebbe is the Messiah? (Their "Meshichist" stream even believes that he was raised from the dead and answers prayers of his followers from heaven.) Are Lubavitchers not Jews? What about the Tel Aviv "Messiah?" What about those who proclaim that reciting the name of Nachman brings world redemption? What about professors of Tanakh in Israeli universities who do not believe in God? What about Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, New Kabbalah and New Age? All of those above differ from Orthodox Judaism "mainstream." Are they also “out of the realm of Judaism?”
My point here is not to try to convince anyone to believe what we believe. We simply wish to stop the "de-legitimizing" of our community. We are Jewish by birth and Jewish by choice. We pay taxes, serve in the army, believe in the God of Israel, the Torah of Israel, and the Messiah of Israel.
Asher Intrater Congregational Leader – Ahavat Yeshua, Jerusalem
Love of Yeshua Messianic Congregation
We ask you to pray over these things, even as the entire focus of many are upon how anti-Israeli forces in the nations are heating up. We agree the latter needs prayer intercession – but first, our prayers must be for the household of faith who are expanding the Lord’s kingdom in Israel & the Middle East.