The Feast Of Shavuot

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ruthWhat do a harvest festival, 49 days, and a passionate love story have in common?

Shavuot means 'weeks'. God said, "Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you" (Deuteronomy 16:9-10). Offerings of barley and wheat are made, and the 'seven species': pomegranate, grapes, olives, wheat, barley, figs and date honey are celebrated. It's a thankgiving time for the goodness of the land. It's a time of 'bikurim' or firstfruits. It's the time that the Torah was given to Israel and they agreed to follow it, making them a covenant community, and it's also the time that the church or body of Messiah was born at Pentecost. New birth... First fruits.

Traditionally, the book of Ruth is read during the feast, because the story is set at the time of the barley harvest, and Shavuot occurs between the barley and wheat harvests. Also, it is in the instructions for how to celebrate Shavuot that God includes this commandment: “when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22). This was the set up for the love story. Well - part of the love story...

The Myth of Moses' Million Eye-Witnesses

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Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.24.15 PMRabbi Amnon Yitzhak states that Jesus is not the Messiah based on the following claim: “I am a rational person, so I say wait a minute, if the Lord, blessed He, gave [the covenant of the Law] to the people of Israel, witnessed by millions, and let’s say that he decided to then say: I’m really fed up with you, I don’t want you anymore, now I choose Jesus and whoever follows him. That is possible, right? Why would you do it the first time in such a public way but this time do it in secret, like a thief whispering to him behind the mountain? If you want to declare and announce [a new covenant], then it should be done in public, at the very least as public as it was the first time.”

The rabbis think this is a very strong argument. But there are a few gaping holes in this line of thinking...

Is Jesus Just a Copy of Eastern Religion?

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Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.04.34 PMRabbi Daniel Asor claims that the story of Jesus is a copy of Eastern stories of pagan idols such as those found in Hinduism. The rabbi attempts to prove this by presenting “similarities” between Jesus and various idols or characters from Eastern religions. In order to do so, the rabbi quotes some out-dated ideas from about two hundred years ago, but he’s unable to quote even one single modern source. Why not, you wonder? Because there are no such sources. Today, informed scholars understand that these ideas do not hold water. These ideas, which appeared in the 19th century were refuted long ago, some even by Jewish biblical researchers and historians due to several archaeological findings, such as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of Qumran.

Does the New Testament Twist the Old Testament?

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Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 11.03.57 AMOne of the original ways certain rabbis are now attacking the New Testament is by referring back to old claims of biblical criticism from the seventeenth century. These claims have long since been refuted, due to discoveries in archaeology and historical research developments, but that doesn’t seem to trouble some rabbis in their quest to discredit the teachings of Jesus. Here are a few examples of their criticisms along with the refutations:


The Talmud Shoots Itself in the Foot

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Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 3.22.20 PMTo this day, when the rabbis are asked about Jesus, they always refer to a story tractate Sota 47 in the Jerusalem Talmud, where it is says that Jesus was a disciple of the President of the Sanhedrin, Joshua ben Perahiah. The story is about how Jesus was a bad, lustful, unkind yeshiva student who fell into idol worship and led others astray. But there are a number of reasons why we can be certain that this story has been fabricated - including an embarrassing oxymoron. The Talmud really shot itself in the foot when trying to put the dirt on Jesus.



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Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 2.15.22 PMAt times it seems that there is only a remnant of Jews who believe in the Messiahship of Jesus, and we are often accused of being brainwashed.


But the number or the general consensus have never been a good indication. Especially not during the time of the Old Testament. See for example God’s answer to the Prophet Elijah, after he complained that the people of Israel didn’t really follow him: “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18). There was a remnant of the people of Israel that truly followed God.

Today is no different.
Almost all of us Jews being told from childhood that Jesus is "A gentile for gentile.” Why is this? Who is really being brainwashed?

The Crucifixion Foretold by Zechariah

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Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.04.11 PMWe are all very familiar with the famous icon of “the Crucified Jesus”, probably mostly recognized as the symbol of Christianity. But what if we told you that this image of the pierced Messiah is actually a biblical Jewish concept? And what if we told you that there is a prophecy in the Old Testament describing it?

Does God Care for Man-Made Traditions?

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Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 11.42.55 AMRabbi Daniel Asor accuses Jesus of coming to sow hatred and cause war and division in the world. The rabbi says: “Even according to his own words, Jesus didn’t come to bring peace… but the sword. “Don’t think that I have come to bring peace to the world, but a sword…” Jesus didn’t come to give love to the world; he came to rob it.”


Let’s look at what Rabbi Asor’s accusation, at the context in which Jesus said those words, and what he really meant when he said them.


Are there Mistakes in the Geneology of Jesus?

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Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 10.41.10 AMOne of the ways that some modern rabbis to try to contradict the Messiahship of Jesus is to claim that there are contradictions between the two different genealogies given about his ancestry.


For two thousand years there has been no documentation of the lineages of the house of Israel, which makes it easier for modern Rabbis to attack something that even the Sages didn't. But let's look carefully at the accusations made, and if there is any truth to them.


Here, Near and Far - the Principle of Firstfruits

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Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.05.23 PMBy Dr. Erez Soref

As we trace from Jacob to Jesus we can see a Biblical emphasis on their parting words. Jesus’ last instruction to his disciples is often referred to as the “Great Commission”; he charged them with the daunting task of letting the whole world know about the Good News, starting in Jerusalem.

If this task seems a little horrifying in its scope, I hope to encourage you with a few words about God’s principles that each one of us can apply.

Playing With Fire

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lag_bomerOn Wednesday night in Israel people up and down the country lit bonfires to celebrate “Lag B’Omer”. This is not a Biblical holiday, mind you. In fact it is quite the opposite. During this time of counting the days between Passover and Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks) some events transpired in Jewish history back in the late first century and early second century after Yeshua which gave rise to this tradition... but it flies in the face of God's intentions for his people.

Cultivating Messianic Businesses in Israel

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Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.08.59 PMIsrael has been called the “Start-up Nation” after the book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer which tracks the country’s astonishing economic growth. Israel now has more high-tech start-ups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other country in the world, and Messianic believers are also keen to contribute and to play their part in the success of their nation. To this end, the “Firstfruits” center for economic advancement encouraging entrepreneurship has been established specifically to help Messianic believers get their business ideas off the ground. Firstfruits are currently holding a business forum from April 27th - May 1st, with over 100 Jewish and Arab participants from congregations from all over Israel, and inviting investors and business people from the nations to come and see what God is doing.

Why Should a Jew Want to Believe in Jesus?

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Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.44.20 AMBy Mottel Baleston

If you’re reading this, at some point you’ve come across the growing trend of a few brave souls within our Jewish community willing to say two things you rarely ever heard more than 50 years ago:
1. “I’m Jewish and I believe that Yeshua/Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah”
2. “I’m proud to be Jewish and didn’t stop being Jewish when I came to believe in Jesus”
Now, because I’ve recently turned 60 I can offer you some historical perspective from my experience growing up in the New York City Jewish community, with all four of my Grandparents from traditional Jewish homes in Europe. Here’s the main point: There have always been Jewish people who were attracted to Jesus.

On Whom Can Israel Depend?

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cropsIt will soon be the Feast of Shavuot, which is the Feast of Weeks, and there is much hanging in the balance at the moment. Between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot, the weather can be very changeable, and has a huge impact on the destiny of the famous seven species of crops that God promises to the people of Israel. It would have been tempting for ancient Israel to revert to praying to idols to control the forces of nature during this time to get the ideal conditions for good crops. Today, we are also in a season of great trouble in the Middle East, which will most likely have alarming ramifications for Israel, also raising the question - on whom will Israel depend?

67 Great Things About Israel

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Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 1.14.48 PMIn honour of Israel's 67th birthday, here are 67 reasons to love Israel!

From technological breakthroughs to ancient wonders, natural beauty and social achievements, there are so many things to thank God for here in Israel.


Can A Nation Be Born In A Day?

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Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 6.28.45 PMWednesday and Thursday are two very significant days for Israel - a day of mourning followed by a day of rejoicing. Wednesday is the annual Memorial Day for all those who have died in Israel's struggle to exist, either in the armed forces or as a result of terrorism. It is a day of solemn recognition that there have been many casualties in the birth and continued existence of the State of Israel.

As often seems to be the way in the Jewish way of life, the bitter and the sweet are juxtaposed - almost without time to catch a breath. Thursday is Israel's Independence Day, when the nation breaks out into a huge party to celebrate its reestablishment after a 2000 year exile.

Did God Forsake Jesus? (Psalm 22)

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Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 4.56.12 PMRabbi Yosi Mizrachi claims that Jesus cannot be the Messiah, because when he was on the cross he begged God to save him, but God didn’t save him and he wasn’t able to save himself. In the New Testament, Matthew describes what happened: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mt. 27:46)


These are the very words that King David wrote at the beginning of Psalm 22. Jesus addressed the crowd in their spoken language, in Aramaic, so that they would hear and understand. In other words, Jesus wasn't asking God for help, but he was deliberately quoting King David's words in Psalm 22. But King David's prophecy about the Messiah sounded "too Christian" so they simply changed a letter in order to change it's meaning.

The Deity of the Messiah

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Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 3.46.52 PMRabbi Tovia Singer says: “Anyone who thinks that God came down to us, manifested as anything, whether as cottage cheese or as Jesus, such person is going to the eternal fire of hell and will not enjoy Heaven.”


Rabbi Daniel Asor adds: “The Old Testament forbids pagan beliefs which evolve around “human idols” a man-god.” And in page 256 in his book, he writes the following: “The Christians lean on Old Testament verses when it comes to the divinity of Jesus.” And then in a condescending and arrogant way, the rabbi suggests you take a look "at a number of verses in the Old Testament on which the missionaries base their Pagan belief.”


So let's do that. Let's look at what the Bible has to say, and at Rabbi Asor's objections, and then explain why even the ancient Jewish Sages think he is wrong.

Is Blood Necessary for Atonement of Sins?

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Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.20.22 PMThe motif of blood is so strong, so central, and so important in the Torah that it's impossible to separate it from the motif of sacrifice and atonement for sins, which are interrelated. The Torah (Law of Moses) teaches that when someone sins, they must be put to death; or someone or something else needs to take their place and die in their stead. But since there is no temple, no sacrifices, and no priests, more and more modern rabbis refuse to recognize the importance and centrality of blood for the atonement and forgiveness of sins. The radicals among them exaggerate and take it even further. See the sayings of Rabbi Daniel Asor for example: “Christianity’s obsession on the subject of ‘atonement for sins' through someone else’s pure blood comes from the pagan idolatry of ancient religions.” Rabbi Asor found a creative way to avoid dealing with God’s demand in the Torah for blood sacrifice to atone for sin, by claiming that this is paganism and idolatry. If this is true, why did God demand it from the people of Israel in such a clear way?

Can We Make Substitutions for Blood Sacrifice?

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Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 3.36.35 PMAs we know, blood sacrifice is a central theme in the Torah, when it comes to the atonement of sins. But today, in an attempt to find a way around the need for the temple and for sacrifices (and especially the sacrifice of the Messiah) certain rabbis claim that even during the time of the Pentateuch it was possible to atone for sins without blood, but with fine flour and money.


See for example the words of Rabbi Daniel Asor: “Forgiveness of sins does not necessarily depend upon blood, but on repentance and on the offering of fine flour, without any blood.” Here he is quoting Leviticus 5:11. Sounds reasonable, right?




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