In the Hebrew calendar, today is the 16th of Elul, 5775 years since the creation of the world. Elul is a special month of preparation and repentance before the "Ten Days of Awe” starting with Rosh HaShanah - the Feast of Trumpets (which will start on the evening of 13th September this year), and continuing until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement ten days later. It’s time to turn our backs on sin and turn towards God again. It’s time to turn away from the world, and look to the face of the One who loves and leads us. If we want to say “repent” in Hebrew we say, “Lachzor be Tshuva” - to return to the answer. Actually the two words both imply a return - one is to return as one might go away from home and return later, and the other is from the root word to respond, or reply, to come back with an answer.
How often do we approach the Bible, looking for something for us, as if it's all about us? Have we got it all upside down and back to front? Arlie Francis from Disciple Daily talks us through some thoughts on making sure we're reading the Bible the right way up...
"A good story has a beginning and an end. This is especially true of the Bible. Read the greatest story ever told like any other book, from the beginning!"
There was a Bible college professor who used to conduct a special ceremony on the first day of class, called “the tearing of the page”. His new students had to tear the dividing page out of their Bibles between the Old and the New Testaments, to symbolically reconnect the two testaments as one book.
The very name "Old Testament" gives the false impression that it has become invalid and replaced by the "New". But God's word is eternal! We dare not forget that every single one of the 66 books of the Bible was inspired by God, and is still living, active, and relevant to our lives today. Here's how...
Did you know that this year it is 67 years since Israel’s establishment in 1948, and 48 years since Israel regained Jerusalem in 1967? For some these dates are cause for celebration, but for others, they are painful reminders of events that have been extremely controversial and costly. Many Christians find the Middle East conflict overwhelming to think about, but the “BDS” movement that is encouraging Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel paints a very simplistic picture: Israel is portrayed as the bad guy, and Palestinians are the victims. The truth and history of it all is, of course, very much more complicated than that. There is wrong, injustice and sin on both sides, along with a huge battle in the heavenlies over this spiritual epicenter of God’s choosing.
Psalm 92:12-13 says, "The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.They shall still bear fruit in old age".
There is some remarkable news in Israel about a palm tree that has done exactly that! In the 1960s, archaeologists found an ancient jar containing palm seeds that were 2000 years old. They sat in someone's draw for decades, until in 2005, they were planted, and lo and behold, they sprouted! Astonishingly, a palm tree was successfully grown from these seeds from Biblical times. What is even more amazing is that this year, the male palm tree (named Methuselah, now ten years old) and has successfully pollinated a female palm tree, which has produced dates! This miraculous palm tree really has borne fruit in old age! 
There are countless palm trees in every direction in Israel, and there is wonderful Biblical significance to the tree, which we can remember every time we see them, or taste its fruit.
Paul states in Romans 10:4 that the Messiah is the goal of the Torah (see also 2 Cor 3:14–15; Col 2:16–17). In John 5:46, Yeshua argues that since the religious leaders did not believe Moses, they did not accept Him as the promised Messiah. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” Likewise, in Matthew 5:17 Yeshua says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The author of Hebrews argues the Law was never a goal in and of itself, but rather it prescribed a system of worship that was divinely intended to point people to the Messiah. He writes about the tabernacle,
By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation (Heb 9:8–10; see also 10:1).
Please don’t love us (Jewish people) more than you love your Jewish Messiah! What do I mean?
I am Jewish – that makes me 1 of about 14,000,000.
Also, I was born in Israel (Tel-Aviv) – that takes it down to 1 of about 4,000,000.
Also, I am an Israeli-Jewish follower of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah – that now makes me 1 of about only 7,000.
Being part of “the remnant” (Romans 11:1-6) is no easy task. On the one hand, many of my fellow Jews (who only know what the rabbis have told them about Yeshua) tend to look at me as if I have betrayed my heritage and chosen follow some kind of pagan god. We Messianic believers are not very popular among the majority of Jewish people in Israel.
Is there really such a thing as "Torah Observant"? Does God expect us to try and keep the 613 commandments of the Sinai covenant while we are under the New covenant of Yeshua? (*Tip: read all the way until the end!)
When we renovated the second floor of our facilities, we forgot to take into consideration how much we love coffee; for this reason, you will find a tiny kitchenette poorly situated in the middle of a narrow hallway. This hallway is always messy and crowded with thirty of us walking by and, of course, stopping to make coffee. One day we hope to replace this tiny kitchenette with a spacious, beautiful, perfect, fully-functioning kitchen. But until that day comes, we must make do with what we have, and make the extra effort to keep things in order. Our boss established several rules regarding the kitchenette: Keep quiet so as not to disturb your co-workers working nearby; clean up after yourself immediately, because the sink is so tiny; and do not prepare meals in the kitchenette—meals result in noise and unwanted odors. These rules will help us maintain order (and keep our boss happy)—until that glorious day arrives when we have a new kitchen! When that day comes, there may be new principles we can implement in our lives and in our new kitchen, but most of the old kitchenette's laws will no longer be applicable to the beautiful new kitchen.
The Greek word, τέλος (telos), can be interpreted in the following ways: "end", "purpose", "goal", “to set out for a definite point”... This word τέλος was used by Greek thinkers such as Aristotle and was also used in the New Testament by Paul, the author of the book of Romans.
He states in Romans 10:4 that the Messiah is the τέλος of the Torah. The Messiah is the goal, the purpose, the end, and the definite point which the Torah was moving towards.
Did Yeshua command us to follow the traditions of the Rabbis? Did not Yeshua Himself tell us to listen to the rabbis and follow their laws in Matthew 23:2–3 which says, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you’”?
It is not wise to build a comprehensive and wide-reaching theology over a single verse, taken out of context. At this point, Yeshua is speaking before the New Covenant is made. After all, if Yeshua wanted us to follow the rabbis (Pharisees and scribes), He never mentions it anywhere else in the Gospels; neither do the apostles teach us to follow the rabbis. Yeshua demonstrates in His own life the exact opposite. He did not wash His hands according to the tradition of the Second Temple Period (Matt 15:1–9). Elsewhere He clearly states: “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:9).
Just for the sake of argument—can Israel keep the Law and\or be justified by it?
Well, even if we wanted to give it a try, it is simply impossible. There is no priesthood, no temple, and no sacrificial system—all of which comprise the heart and essence of the Law. You see, we cannot separate the Sinai Covenant from the Law. The laws are merely an outgrowth of the covenant; they cannot stand on their own, just as eating mayonnaise and mustard is pointless without the sandwich itself. The covenant was ratified by the shedding of blood (Exod 24:8) and was maintained by the blood of the sacrifices upon the altar (Exod 30:10). Without the sacrificial system we are unable to keep the Sinai Covenant. All we can do is keep a few leftover laws, which are not related to the temple, the priesthood or the sacrificial system. Moreover, while these laws continue to speak to us as inspired Scripture, many of these laws were given to Israel 3,500 years ago in order to establish a nation in the context of the Ancient Near Eastern world. If we were to establish a new nation today, we would give its people laws and rules (traffic, family, taxes, torts, civil, labor, etc.) according to their situation, lifestyle, era and location. However, many of Moses' laws are practically impossible to keep in our day and age, due to the current reality in which we live: for example, issues concerning slavery or purification rituals are no longer relevant.
This little lump of charcoal is a fragment of a scroll which was found 45 years ago near the Dead Sea, at a place called Ein Gedi. It was found in a burnt out synagogue that was destroyed in the late sixth century. If you look closely, can you read what it says? No? Neither could anyone else, until just recently, when new technology enabled experts to make a 3D scan of the document and electronically “unscroll” it in order to make the contents readable. The charred scroll hasn’t been read for 1500 years! Would you like to know what they found?
The three weeks between the dates of 17th Tammuz and 9th of Av, (that is, 4th-25th July this year) is known as the time “בין המצרים” or “between the straits”. The phrase “between the straits” means to be forced to thread your way between grave dangers on both sides - like a ship trying to squeeze through a perilously narrow path and trying to avoid the almost inevitable shipwreck. Have you ever felt caught in this sort of situation? Israel certainly has once or twice! What hope does God's word offer in perilous times?
I was taught by a rabbi that when reading the Bible, it is critical to ask good questions. We need to keep our eyes peeled and observant to see all that God wants to highlight to us in the text, and to ask good questions of it. For those of us who have the advantage of knowing God personally through his Messiah, we can also count on the help of the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us. A.W. Tozer said, “The Bible is a supernatural book, and can be understood only by supernatural aid”. We can read the Bible in companionship with the author himself, and with his help, steady observation, and an inquiring mind that seeks to know more of God, we can learn a great deal even from familiar passages, or that might seem strange to those who don’t know God’s ways. So it was in this way that I stumbled across the Biblical meaning of bronze...
You may well know the verse when Yeshua tells Peter, "the gates of hell shall not prevail" against us (Matt 16:18). But have you ever noticed that it's an odd thing to say? Are we being attacked by gates? What a strange picture! Or perhaps we are not understanding who is doing the attacking.... Gates are for defence, not attack. Yeshua is saying that the enemy will not be able to stop the Kingdom of God and the power of the gospel. When we come against the kingdom of darkness with the liberating truth of Yeshua, we can break down the doors and set the prisoners free, and he will not be able to stop it. His efforts to protect his territory and keep people captive will ultimately fail. God's kingdom is surely advancing here in Israel, but we want you to know about some recent attempts keep people imprisoned, and away from the truth.
Rabbi Yaakov Ades writes: “The more we know about the value of the Law and of our soul, the more strength we will have to strive and overcome in the work of the LORD. Therefore, we need to know the great value of the Law and the commandments. The Vilna Gaon explains, that the entire purpose of creation, the giving of the Law and the choosing of the people of Israel is that we connect to the LORD, blessed is He, and the Law is the medium, and is the most important in the world, and the entire world is nothing compared to studying the law, and compared to keeping a commandment, as nothing compares to the Law.” (Yeshiva.org.il)
We have no doubt that the biblical Law is the word of God, but from the rabbi’s words, and from what the rabbis have been saying for thousands of years, they seem to have got the impression that the commandments of the Torah (Law), are THE most important and central thing to God. But would God agree that the commandments are the main point of these first five books?
This year's graduation ceremony was particularly special, as it marked 25 years since the founding of Israel College of the Bible. Here is a translation of the address originally given in Hebrew by Dr Erez Soref, President of One For Israel.
As a friend once said in a similar situation, “Victory is in the air, and the victory is the Lord’s”. This is a day of happiness, and a milestone in the lives of our graduates, for Israel College of the Bible, and also for the body of Messiah in Israel.
What can we as the body of Messiah in Israel, in all our diversity, offer to Israeli society? Quality of life? Hope for a better financial situation? Freedom from problems? No - none of these things. The truth is that what we have to offer to those around us in Israel is not an idea, but a person; the Messiah himself.
Hopefully most people know that 20% of Israel’s population is Arab, both Muslim and Christian. But there are other ethnic minorities living in Israel who also need Yeshua!
One of those minority groups has been in the headlines lately, due to peril at Israel’s northern border with Syria. There are approximately 130,000 Druze people living in Israel today and many more in surrounding countries, and each and every one of them is precious to God.
In fact, the Druze are very important people in Israel, and we'd like to show you why.
It is only by God's supernatural grace, in the name of Yeshua, that both Arab and Jew can find salvation, hope and unity in the conundrum here in the Middle East.... but the good news is that this is exactly what is happening here at One For Israel!