Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Investing in the Next Generation ...of Israel-Supporting Christians

PHOTO CAPTION: How can I capture an image so you can have a better visualization of the reality of the body of Messiah in Israel? Not just photos of one congregation but the larger picture. How about with this photo I took in 2003 of an annual picnic of the Messianic Jewish and Christian Arab congregations in northern Israel. It is a gathering to cultivate a greater sense of what they all belong to rather than just their own congregations. Even this does not capture how large the crowd was...or what the ever increasing Israeli body of Messiah really looks like as a whole. They are now estimated to be 20,000 strong, and that is just an estimate of the Jewish believers. Does it matter? Yes. For the international Church, the Israeli believers cannot remain hidden and their significance remain unknown forever. We are supposed to be linking together just as this picture shows the Israeli Jewish and Arab believers forging the spiritual family ties. It's a must.  

Countering Rabbi Eckstein's False Claims to Christians
Investing in the Next Generation
 ...of Israel-Supporting Christians

It caught my eye in January when the article notice came from a web alert I have set up. The Jerusalem Post headline read "Investing in the Next Generation" and it was all about the $60 million headquarters that Rabbi Eckstein's International Fellowship of Christian and Jews is building only 1 block away from the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. 

Apparently money is no object in the IFCJ quest to capture the donations of future generations of Christians because four of Israel's most acclaimed architecture firms competed to build the 10,000 sq.meters, 7-floor Jerusalem HQ.
As the JPost article noted, "the warm and inviting structure is the organization’s way of telling the Christian world: come on in, this is your spiritual home."
Rabbi Eckstein's daughter, Yael Eckstein, then the IFCJ Senior VP put it this way: “This center is not a Fellowship museum, but a building for Christians to visit physically and virtually that will help them deepen their spiritual roots in the Holy Land."
The plan is to use this impressive, extravagant HQ to draw in the Christian tourists is so they can "partake in pro-Israel programming" and, Yael Eckstein explained, "since many Christian visitors want to 'give back' to the country and help the people of Israel too, the building will provide volunteer opportunities. For example, visitors will be able to pack food packages for Holocaust survivors, sort clothes to be donated to the needy, and much more."
Of course, all of this is to be completely divorced from having any relationship whatsoever with the Israeli Jewish followers of Jesus who are the sharing their faith and seeing steadily increasing numbers of Jews come to faith in Israel's one true Messiah.
Here's the truth of the matter: Having spent the last two decades focused on Israeli ministries, I knew that IFCJ building would be paid for almost exclusively by Christians donations. Also, that not one Israeli believer ministry comes anywhere near receiving Christian donations equal to the massive amount of money that goes from Christian hands to Eckstein's IFCJ disposal.
That is a tragic on so many levels. One person who gives to IFCJ recently countered that the reason for the troubling fact  must be because IFCJ does a ‘much better job' of blessing Israel with the Christian donations than anyone else. That depends on what you think God wants Christian donations to Israel to do.
Let's review some of the facts.
Here is a quote from the late Rabbi Eckstein himself and expresses the position of IFCJ:
“… Until now,” Eckstein said, evangelicals “have realized that if they want to have relations with the Jewish community and Israel they have to put messianic groups aside because they know people like myself aren’t going to work with them …”
See how that statement separates Christians from their spiritual kin, the Israeli Messianic Jewish community? It also sets up Eckstein like IFCJ the only game in town.
Eckstein has gamed Christian good intentions toward Israel, but IFCJ is not the major artery that God intends for Christians to assist in ministering to the need in Israel. No sir. The major artery of material supply must be fed from within the body of Christ —meaning from the international Christians directly to the Israeli believer ministries for distribution to the needy in their own communities. 
IFCJ are not the only ones ministering to the needy of Israel, what's more, IFCJ are not ministering in the faith of Jesus either. For every type of outreach that IFCJ does, the Israeli Messianic congregations and ministries also do to the same with one big difference: they do it to the glory of Messiah Yeshua! 
Rabbi Eckstein died suddenly just a few weeks after the new HQ announcement was made, but his daughter, Yael, had been groomed for several years to take over. She has "inherited" the billion dollar charity which The Times of Israel noted "raises $130 million a year, mostly from evangelical Christians."
Imagine that amount financial support becoming the lifeblood of the Israeli Messianic congregations doing outreach among their people. The fact that it does not go to the body of Messiah in Israel brings one to consider how similar this is to the original entrance led by Joshua into the Promised Land "little by little".
Joshua, or Yehoshua, in Hebrew, was a forerunner type of Jesus (Yeshua) of the Jewish people entering the "Promised Land" of Israel. That is not the only parallel: Exodus 23:29 and Deuteronomy 7:22 may also give us a window into why more Christians are still not able to see God's intentions and join into the work of the ministry by the Israeli body of believers.
As the forerunner type, God told Moses ahead of Joshua's leading them into what would become Israel, that He was not enabling them to overcome the opposition "all at once" because that would cause "the wild beasts to multiply around you". Wild beasts indeed! Spiritual wild beasts that oppose the kingdom of the Lord coming to Israel!
There were 29 documented Jewish believers in Israel in 1948; 5 took the new Israeli government offer to relocate to other countries and 24 refused. From that humble beginning, in 2019 the numbers of Israeli Jews who believe in Yeshua has swelled to an estimated 20,000.

How is it with that kind of increase they are still such a hidden mystery even to the majority of the international church? Increasing this is changing as more and more in the international church are going to Israel specifically to connect with the believers in Israel. It is happening little by little, but should we not endeavor to help Israel-supporting Christians see how in throwing such heavy support to those who oppose the body of Messiah in Israel, that they are hurting Christ's cause in Israel, not helping it?

The late rabbi Eckstein died suddenly of a heart attack as 67. Just the day before he gave the last interview of his life saying some truly troubling things. The interview was given to The Jerusalem Report. It was only reported in Hebrew and was summarized in the Caspari Media Review of the Hebrew Press. In it Eckstein misrepresented New Covenant scriptures to bolster his own cause.
"Eckstein referred to Romans 9, where Paul wrote that Christians have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel by grace. This passage, said Eckstein, provides impetus for Christians to be involved in work that supports Israel and the Jewish people."
Caspari's summary from the same Hebrew news magazine article noted that "IFCJ has 1.6 million Christian donors, and has raised 1.4 billion dollars, mainly from Christians."
He also he said he had faced opposition both from the Haredi community, as well as Messianic Jews, who feel “they should be the ones to lead this movement of bridging Christians and Jews. And here we are, the largest organization with the biggest budget, and headed by a rabbi, even though most of our donors are Christians and we teach at Christian seminaries all over America.”
That statement is so grievous because it is not about a competition for donors as Eckstein saw it, but it is because it is God's plan to unite the Church with the Jewish believers in Israel.
The unsaved rabbi Eckstein twisted the meaning of the Romans passage. He was quite adept at appropriating New Covenant scriptures to suit his own purposes, but this passage was written by Paul to the believers in Rome. It was about how Christians were being "grafted in" by faith and to the faith of Jews who were the first to believe in Jesus in great numbers of Jews according to the New Covenant.
Romans 9 was not about how Christians are grafted in to unsaved Israel, Paul laid out in great detail that unsaved Israel were the branches broken off because of their unbelief. Still today Christians are ONLY able to be grafted in to the saved branches of Israel. That is the only spiritual family ties we have in Israel, although our desire and heart is to help Israeli Jewish believers in all their labors to spread the Good News until "all Israel is saved". This is what Romans 9-11 is about, not at all how Rabbi Eckstein stated it.
How it must have grieved God's heart to hear the arrogance in Rabbi Eckstein's statement and even more so that because of how he has stood in opposition to God's stated plan for uniting Jew and Gentile in the Messiah.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been so successful in isolating Jewish believers in Jesus from the Christians who desire to please God by helping Israel. Why do major Christian organizations still support IFCJ despite this fact?
Over the years as many have tried to speak to Christian donors to the IFCJ and sadly many responded by accusing the Messianic Jews of being jealous of Rabbi Eckstein. Those who have eternal life in Yeshua are jealous of the rabbi who does not?
Reality check: it is not a matter of being jealous over the billions of dollars that have been misdirected from those building the kingdom of God through sharing the gospel with Jews, it is about trying to wake Christians up that they are being led astray by those that are hostile to the Gospel.

The ultra-Orthodox community, or Haredi, are the most zealous persecutors of Israeli Jewish believers in Yeshua, but they were also opposed to Eckstein because they don't want Israel accepting any donations from Christians. They don't want Christians having anything to do with Jews. PERIOD. So, I hope you see that just because Rabbi Eckstein got opposition from Messianic Jews and ultra-Orthodox Jews alike, it doesn't make Christians giving to IFCJ right.
The ultra-Orthodox community, or Haredi, are the most zealous persecutors of Israeli Jewish believers in Yeshua, but they were also opposed to Eckstein because they don't want Israel accepting any donations from Christians. They don't want Christians having anything to do with Jews. PERIOD. So, I hope you see that just because Rabbi Eckstein got opposition from Messianic Jews and ultra-Orthodox Jews alike, it doesn't make Christians giving to IFCJ right. 
IFCJ has been pulling the wool over Christian eyes long enough. Here are some confirmed points to counter the most recent Charisma Standing with Israel article, submitted by The KAIROS Company: "Fellowship of Christians and Jews Calls for Emergency Assistance

• Rabbi Eckstein's salary with benefits totaled $1.2 million per year. That is DOUBLE what the president of World Vision—a ministry with a budget 10 times larger—earns.
• For every $1 raised 40¢ goes to fundraising & compensation
• Eckstein's daughter, who inherited IFCJ received a 63% Pay Raise in 4 Years! $206,491.00 to $292,248.00 to $324,500.00
In Eckstein's 1984 book, What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism, he mischaracterized Messianic Jews by accusing:
“… By sprinkling their Christian lives of faith with Jewish customs and rituals taken out of their proper, historic context, they pervert Jewish symbols and make a mockery of the Jewish faith … A Jew who accepts Jesus as Lord or Messiah effectively ceases to be a Jew. He is viewed almost treasonously as having abandoned his faith, given up his Jewish heritage, and severed all links with the Jewish peoplehood … More than constituting an imposing threat to Jewish life and survival, Hebrew Christians are the source of much of the Jewish distrust of Evangelicals and the discord in their relations …”
How could he charge Jews who believe in Jesus as "constituting an imposing threat to Jewish life and survival"? Is there anyone ever in history who has been more Jewish than Jesus? Isn't a Jew discovering the Jewishness of Yeshua the best thing that could ever happen to a Jew —or to any person, for that matter?
The real tragedy is that so many Christians have believed every twisted thing that Rabbi Eckstein has told them to put Jews who believe in Jesus in the worst possible light — as if they are enemies of the Jewish people rather than the truth of who are and what they are in the plan of God.

Now IFCJ leadership has set its sights on capturing the hearts and donations of the next generation of Christians too. For as long as they are successful in this mission, they are strangling the lifeblood of Christian financial assistance to the hundreds of congregations and ministries across Israel who are declaring the faith of Yeshua to all Israel. We have to help them. We must. —Donna Diorio

Lest anyone believe this is a personal attack on the late Rabbi Eckstein and his daughter who now heads the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, it is not. IFCJ is not the only organization that is causing a major bypass of Christian donations from reaching those spiritually mandated with reaching all Israel with the gospel, namely the saved Remnant of Israel.

As a friend and major leader in the Israeli Messianic leadership asked, "Don’t you think a lot of these Christians think that Jews are almost saved already?" He observed that even pre-Trib Christians "used to believe that if Jews died without Jesus they would go to hell, so what about all the Jews who die before the tribulation?  There is something fishy going on."

Those scales aren't fishy, but serpentine.

Please share this article with your friends and pray for eyes to be opened to the truth of this matter.

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