Monday, December 20, 2010

Second day in Jerusalem; Goodbye to Ariel

Note: This is based on a trip I took to Israel in 1999; I've added the character of Ariel to help introduce and explain a few concepts.

I was getting ready for bed when I heard a knock. I was still in my clothes, so I opened the door to see Ariel holding a folder; I said with a surprised tone, “Hi can certainly come in, but perhaps we should talk elsewhere - maybe in the lobby; what would you like to do?” Ariel said, “I know it’s late, but I will be leaving the tour tomorrow, so this may be the best time to share some things with you.”  I made sure I had my key and followed him down the hall to the elevators. Along the way, I said hello to a few of our tour members. In the lobby, we walked over to two comfortable looking chairs that had a table between them and no one within earshot. 
Ariel began, “I saw you briefly at the ministry center, but I couldn’t speak with you. The gentleman that was with me is a prominent member of the Jewish community in Jerusalem and happens to be a friend of our family. That’s why I came to Israel; he asked me to come so that we could talk about the Lord. He had a strong encounter with the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah and I wanted him to speak with Reuben. I can’t go into much detail, but I’ll just say that my friend had many questions about the Bible. Reuben explained how the passages he mentioned pointed to Yeshua and showed him in Hebrew how the references in the Torah to a person who is called by the holy Name (YHWH), are really references to Yeshua; such as when the three visitors came to see Abraham before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. He had always wondered how the invisible God could appear and speak with Abraham. It was a very rich time going over the scriptures. My friend is wondering how to speak of this openly; to do so would bring great difficulty on him and his family. I need to spend a little more time with him.”
To this I responded, “When you walked in tonight, we were listening to a woman speak of that very problem. She had expressed a belief in Yeshua and her family immediately sequestered her - she was not allowed to leave her home. But she finally escaped and had to find a safe place to live. Becoming a Jewish believer in Yeshua is apparently not easy, especially in Israel.”
Then Ariel changed the topic, “Earlier today I went to the library at the Hebrew University. I did a little research and brought you some information. First, as to Ernest Martin’s belief that Revelation 12 points to Yeshua’s birthday on September 11, 3 BC, it’s interesting to note that this year 1999 has the same setup as did the Jewish calendar in 3 BC. Starting with September 11, 1999, if we go backward 271 days, we end up on December 13, 4 BC, which is the first day of Chanukah. 271 is the average number of days  for a woman’s pregnancy; it’s also the gematria for the Hebrew word herayon, which means conception/pregnancy. (Heh = 5, Resh = 200, Yod = 10, Vav = 6, Nun = 50) which equals 271. So, the conception took place on Chanukah and the birth took place on September 11th, the Feast of Trumpets.” I responded, “That’s not going to sit well with tradition! September 11th instead of December 25th; it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.” 
Ariel continued, “I also did some research on your request about where the church started to go wrong, and I can only give you my impression; the sources are few and not well attested. The early Messianic believers, including the actual relatives of Yeshua, who were called the Desposyni, went through a lot of turmoil and persecution in the first centuries. As Christianity’s center moved from Jerusalem to Rome and from Jewish to Gentile leadership, the role that the Torah played in the Christian faith was attacked and trivialized along with the treatment of its adherents. Though the history of this period is very sketchy and unreliable the outcome is plain to see.”
“The Roman empire, partly in reaction to the Second Jewish revolt in 132 AD, became quite fed up with these troublesome Jews and passed laws against them. The Messianic and Gentile believers were grouped with the Jews by Rome for they saw them as variants of the same sect. By the time Constantine arose and made Christianity the state religion, the balance of power had shifted and there was no room for anyone or anything that was connected to Messianic Judaism. This caused the Gentile believers to distance themselves from the Messianic Jews. There were pockets of such believers in the eastern church, but they were not invited to the church councils organized by the Catholic Church and they slowly died out. The rulers in Rome essentially cut them off because they stubbornly maintained their validity of the Torah, the Sabbath, and the Biblical Feasts. Constantine wanted to unify the new Roman Church under his authority and had no time for old beliefs that sprung from the failed root of Judaism. This prejudice only grew worse as the church gained authority and power. It was handed down from century to century until the time of the reformation. You mentioned that you were Lutheran; well Luther had been indoctrinated with this anti-Jewish, anti-Torah teaching as well and it was not questioned. Luther initially questioned the treatment of the Jews by the church, but eventually surpassed them in his vileness. Here are some of my notes. With that he gave me the folder.
Dennis, it’s been good sharing with you these last few days. God is at work in the world and it’s exciting to be part of His work. We’ve shared a lot of technical stuff, and it certainly has its place, otherwise the Father wouldn’t have put it there. But, don’t forget, as the Shema says, that the important thing is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” I nodded. Ariel added, “I have your address and we’ll keep in touch.” With that he began to pray, “Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe. I pray for Your blessing upon Your people as they seek to follow You and Your Word. I pray for those who do not know You. Please break the chains of ignorance, hatred, and religion that enslave so many. May Your Kingdom come here on earth, and in this holy city of Jerusalem. I pray your blessing upon my friend Dennis; use him for your glory and continue to reveal Truth from your Word to him. Amain” 
Note: I will be returning to my regular schedule on my next post. As I post this, it is just before Christmas. Celebrate this time as the conception of the Messiah. Count the days with me as the Biblical calendar goes through its annual cycle to the birth of the Messiah almost 9 months from now. God bless you and Merry Messiah-mas.

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