Israel: A Mixed & Confused Nation:
The Partial & Primary Restoration Today
Saturday, May 18, 2013
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Hello, this is Paul Billington speaking with you this week from Jerusalem, Israel. This is a divided city and a divided nation - a divided people in fact. No, I do not mean Jews and Arabs - although that division exists as we all know - I mean the division between secular Israelis, the Haredi and the religious Zionists and others.
The Jerusalem Post on Friday reported a demonstration by some 30,000 Haredi, radical ultra-orthodox Jews who do not want to serve the country in the Israel Defence Forces. These represent one section of the division in Israel. Another section is the secular, non-religious Israelis who made up the majority in the country for many years. These people want peace with the "Palestinians" and Arabs and are prepared to give away Land and even half of Jerusalem in order to achieve it. Whether they would ever get such a deal is another question and many have no confidence at all in such a peace process. Certainly this would include many of the religious Zionist camp.
There are those Jews in Israel who would seek to be faithful to the Scriptures, but they do not have a sound understanding of it. As I have spoken to several Israelis this week, the reason for this lack of understanding becomes clear - it is faulty and corrupt spiritual leadership. This is confirmed by such Scriptures as Isaiah 9:16,
"For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed."
And again, Ezekiel 34:2-3,
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock."
The problem in our day is with the spiritual leaders, the rabbis who follow traditions and the so-called oral Law. As Jesus said, Mark 7:8, "For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men." And verse 9,
"And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
So what is lacking is sound Scriptural leadership. But ordinary lay Jews often do see the issues. This became quite clear in a discussion with Daniel Luria earlier this week. Daniel is administrating the Jerusalem reclamation project. He sees a spiritual development.
I asked him: "Is there a spiritual development taking place in the land of Israel today or are we in a quagmire? Are we stuck?"
Daniel L: "I don’t think we’re ever stuck. I think the messianic donkey, even though he may be slow from time to time, and he may take a breather, he’s still moving forward. We are living in messianic times. Some would call it the footsteps of the Messiah. Some would call it the unfolding redemption process. We don’t even see it sometimes. Sometimes we have taken a step back, it seems with Gush Katif, where ten thousand lives were destroyed and cemeteries were pulled up and synagogues were destroyed. This is something which is incomprehensible; a tragedy for the Jewish people. Sometimes maybe we needed that in order to wake up. I think many in Israel woke up. For many it was a “we told you so.” As a result of that we’ve got missiles landing in regular cities. Hopefully the same mistakes won’t be made with Judea and Samaria.
"There is an awakening politically. I think many people are asking the questions, “What is it that we really want here? What does it mean to be a Jewish state for Jewish people? Not just another multicultural, democratic society. We are a Jewish state for Jewish people. That means also Jewish values. What is it that we’re here for? What are we doing here? What have we come back to? So I think, there was a time in history for the Zionism to unfold and maybe even Zionism without religion. Even though religious Zionists were always coming back. But now that we’ve built the physical state. Now the other questions are being asked. Who are we as a people? Where are we going? What are the Jewish values we want to live by? And there was a huge awakening. The religious, the Truva movement, the Repentance movement is huge in this country. We are seeing it with different groups that have gone to Eilat and Tel Aviv and Lod and Ramle and areas that were the bastions; even Kibbutzim today. I know of certain Kibbutzim that were anti-religious. Not just non-religious but anti-religious and today they are asking questions. Today they have some semblance of religious - celebrating religious festivals. In some kibbutzim there’s even synagogues being built. Who would have even considered that thirty or forty years ago? Or the foundation of the State? So, at some point, once you build the house you need to ask yourself, how do we want to fill the house?"
Paul B. "So, you’re here. Now the question that is in my mind is what does Hashem expect of you? Now He’s given you the Land. In fact, He’s given you the city. What does He expect of you?"
Daniel L: "I don’t have a direct link to God".
Paul B. "Yes, you do. Through the Torah…"
Daniel L: "We are located in the holiest land in this world. This is the place you feel the closest to God. That there is no question. We are at the centre of the fire. What exactly He wants from us I don’t know. I can only tell you what He tells us via the Bible. Now via the Bible things are very clear. We have to live in accordance to His Law. If we live in accordance to His Law, and follow His path and walk in His ways, then we’ll be okay. If not, then we can be thrown out. This Land can spew us out as the Bible says. If we don’t live in accordance. We believe of course that we’ve now come back for the final time here. We were kicked out in previous times. We’ve now returned for the building of the final temple which will be rebuilt by God whether it be in some heavenly fashion, but that’s in God’s will. Our job today is to return to godly ways. To be a moral people; to be a shining light for the world and to be a shining light for ourselves. That involves many, many different things. I don’t know what’s more or less important. I can’t say that keeping the Sabbath is more or less important than being a moral person or not speaking gossip or not murdering. There’s a gamete of 613 laws there. It doesn’t say after each law, this is worth x number of points. All we know is, there is a path to follow. There are laws between man and God and there are laws between man and man. We just now celebrated yesterday the festival of receiving the Bible. Now receiving the Bible is more than just a festival of agriculture. It was recognising because of God’s blessing we have fruits. We have vegetables. We have everything under the sun. We have seen the trees grow once again. But it is more than that. It is acceptance of the Bible itself that was given on the 6th or 7th of Sivan. The early time of Sivan thousands of years ago. If we are to keep this Land, if we are to go along the redemption process then we also have to recognise that we have to live like Jews. This has to be not just a Jewish state for Jewish people but a Jewish state for Jewish people living according to a Jewish law. And that is the law that we’ve been given, that we’ve lived by for thousands of years, albeit in little ghettoes; in various exiles. Today we’re back in the Land of Israel and the last thing that we should be doing is trying to mimic the world. The last thing that we should be doing is to be scared of the world or to act in accordance to what the world dictates."
There are others who take a similar view. I discussed this with Israelis who live in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), in Beit El, in Eli near Shiloh, in Mt. Gerizim, in Hebron and with a farmer in the Judean Hills - they are all people who read Scripture and who look for redemption under Messiah. But the religious leaders, the rabbis are far astray from the true reality.
I talked to one Rabbi who was somewhat antagonistic and provocative - he was convinced that we were christians trying to convert Jews. He asked challenging questions about the virgin birth and, because he couldn't understand it, tried to adopt a superior and condescending approach - trying to trap me into a false position. When I didn't bite he began making rather hostile comments saying that Jesus was a criminal who had broken the Law - so he said (I Quote) "We killed him." He was obviously proud of that and manifested the same spirit as those First Century Jewish leaders who had Jesus condemned. He would fit in with those councils to whom the apostle Peter declared:
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."
But the fact is that you rarely meet Jews like that. Most will acknowledge that Jesus was a righteous man, even a prophet, but they stumble at his being the Son of God and cannot see beyond the natural and carnal process of human reproduction.
It is difficult to understand why Jews - including the antagonistic Rabbi - stumble at this rock of offense. I explained that Jesus of Nazareth was a special creation who embodied the word of God. He was born, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Thus in John chapter 1 we read:
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
This was explained to Mary in the words of Luke 1:35. If we can believe that God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), and made man in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 5:1), what is so problematic about forming Jesus in the womb of a woman (Galatians 4:4)? It seems that the leaders do not want to believe - they prefer to be "willingly ignorant." The words of Stephen (Acts 7:9) said it all - the pattern is the same:
"And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him."
As we see the fanatical Haredi stirring up things today (the so-called 'Black Hats') it is not difficult to visualize the mobs that clamored for the crucifixion of Jesus many years ago.
But today there are so those who look for consolation and redemption in Israel, and within certain limits they are being drawn more and more towards the Scriptures of the Prophets. They understand, like Daniel Luria, that a process of repentance is taking place. This is the time when many different voices are heard in Israel; it is the time referred to in Ezekiel 39:26 when they dwell safely in the Land (the word is translated "carelessly" in verse 6) and trespass against the Lord.
This is a time of preparation - it is a process which will bring a period of instruction and repentance so that the people will be able to say "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Luke 13:35).
Join us again next week on Bible in The News.
Printed: Saturday, May 18, 2013
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