Monday, August 17, 2020

Real Unity before the End


A HaAretz book review caught my eye, 'We Curse Christianity Three Times a Day' Can Jews and Christians Truly Reconcile? Despite the spiritual darkness of a people who curse Christianity three times a day, the answer to that question is an unequivocal YES. God reveals in His Word that is the Divine plan. If He said it, it is not only possible but God is going to bring it to pass. God promised He would return to Israel in mercy, removing the spiritual blinders, and that "all Israel shall be saved." I don't think that is the outcome most Jews are really looking for, but whether a Jew or a Christian expect it or not, that's where we are headed. God will have His way.

It could come in our lifetime, or perhaps in our children's lifetime, but we are very close to the conditions God's Word describes as existing in the times He will bring fulfillment. Still, God has to whip both sides into shape before we actually live out the unity that is described by Paul in Ephesians 2 where out of two is created one new man in Messiah. We are sure not there yet, even if we are closer. So what are the obstacles in our path to this one new man unity? 

'We Curse Christianity Three Times a Day' covered how historical Jews have responded to Christians extending an olive branch. However, in a related opinion piece Richard Landes' explored another interesting question, What Fuels Evangelical Christians’ Love-hate Relationship With Jews. If you are a Christian who doesn't know the history behind Landes' question, you should educate yourself, because it is not without reason that so many Jews think in those terms. 

Landes recalls the instances where Christians first loved the Jews...until they didn't. He writes, "A cyclical, volatile and dangerous form of apocalyptic Christian belief moves rapidly from philo-Semitism to hating Jews." In just about every case the underlying answer is because the timing of God was "not yet" for the wide removal of spiritual blindness from the Jews regarding the Messiah and the Christians involved didn't even know there was Divine timing in play. Being ignorant of God's timing in returning salvation to the Jews, Christians became frustrated and eventually turned on the Jews for not living up to expectations of acceptance. Martin Luther is a great historical example of that, but it has happened repeatedly and I'm pretty sure it will happen again. It may be rolling out in America right now.

In the closing lines of Richard Landes' commentary, he asks, "...despite the evangelical hopes of two post-1948 generations, there’s still no sign that the Jews 'understand' their critical role in everyone’s salvation. In the past, the slippery slope to violence and human sacrifice has won over and again. Can Christians hold on to the unconditional love they profess, and cling to the ways of peace?"

For quite some time I have expected many Christians would turn on Jews before the end. I expected the reason to be, not so much what Landes sees as the classic reason — of Christians becoming tired of waiting for Jews to come to faith — but other reasons. Because even though it is somewhat still under most Christians' radar, and certainly the world's radar, Jews are already coming to faith in Yeshua in great numbers. It is an ever increasing stream of Jewish salvation that so many Christians are completely unaware of. Often if they are aware of it, they still have no grasp of the significance of it happening now.

In fact, many Christians are still of the mind that if Jews come to faith in Jesus, then that means they have left Jewish identity and have become Christians. They have no grasp of the significance of the commonwealth of Israel, another subject I am writing about currently. We must be preparing Christians through teaching to accept a unity that does not require Jewish abandonment of Jewish identity. Just like a wedding unites two — a husband and wife — into one before God, it does not mean their male and female identity is wiped out by becoming a couple. As I said that is another article in progress.

My expectation the many Christians will turn against Jews is because of how unsaved American Jews have played such dynamic roles in supporting the godless agenda of the Democrats. I'm not talking just since Trump. We may never talk about it but that doesn't mean it isn't noticed. I believe we are really playing with fire if we are not actively preparing Christians to see the long range plan of God's intention to save the Jewish people, "all Israel," and bring Christians and Messianic Jews into a unity that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2. 

As for Christians who do not know what God is doing in bringing over a million Jews to faith since 1948, these are the ones I have believed would become so incensed at the role of unsaved Jews in the de-morals-izing of America that it would have strong potential of becoming anti-semitism. It will have to be so strong that it drives a major Jewish exodus to Israel as we saw in Russia. Many don't think that will happen, but I'm not one of them.

We live in such a divided nation, as many nations are experiencing today. I am among the conservative Christians in the USA who sees it in terms of a battle for the soul of our nation, not just politics but an existential threat and ultimately the battle between good and evil, God and anti-God.

Some of the older generation of American Messianic Jews are still in such rejection of Christians because of the historical persecution, that they align themselves much more with American Jewish political views and causes. It is quite shocking considering the godless agendas that Democrats stand for, but I have personally been rebuked as not having a "healthy" attitude about Democrats. Weird since Democrats have such a godless agenda and are so openly anti-God. Even some Messianic Jewish Millennials who have stepped into leadership ministry roles are just like Christian Millennial peers in embracing secular social justice rather than traditional Messianic embrace of God's biblical justice. From my perspective it is compromised faith; from their perspective they are just keeping 'relevant' to their society. God is able to 'right the ship' but I don't believe we can afford to ignore it any longer as a normal thing happening among us.

But the greatest source of the rising tide of anti-semitism has begun to come into focus despite the failure of Jewish watchdog groups to keep Jews informed. In fact, some of the leading watchdog groups have done everything within their power to obscure the facts about how Leftist intersectionality has created more antisemitism than the over-hyped "far right" extremists. Most secular American Jews are Left-leaning and too many of the American Messianic Jews follow their lead in these matters.

Jonathan S Tobin, a traditional American Jew who happens to be conservative just wrote about the ADL's gross misleading of Jews in an op-ed where he said that in the last five years under, "Jonathan Greenblatt, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations, the ADL has become a reliable auxiliary of the Democratic Party taking sides against Israel’s government and involving the group in partisan squabbles and bashing President Donald Trump." That includes over super exaggerating the "right wing" extremism in the USA and turning a blind eye to Islamists intersecting interests with activist groups like BLM.

In Europe it is much clearer to see how the mass immigration of Islamists into Europe has brought an intense rise in antisemitism throughout Europe. In the US, the Islamists have worked much more strategically and by explicit planning that involved alignment with America's grievance activists - BLM, Feminists, LGBTQ, Antifa, etc. This is the most virulent form of anti-Semitism that has raised its head in American life — initiated on campus, but now blossomed spilling out in governmental power and on the streets as we saw in past months with the attacks on visibly Jewish New Yorkers by blacks.

How did this happen? American Jews are perplexed why suddenly their Leftism doesn't protect them, but it will become even more pronounced if and when the Democrats return to power. The political rise of Leftists in the US government is not going to be good for all the Leftist Jews fighting for that return. They see biblical and Christian values as a threat to establish their own definitions of justice and morality. In their zeal "never again" applies here. From the looks of Israeli newspapers, there isn't a bit of difference in how the American Left perpetuates the myth of where this anti-Semitism has risen from.

With all this in mind, will we Christians, as Richard Landes asked, "hold on to the unconditional love they profess" for the Jewish people? Are we able to look squarely at what Jews are now and what God is calling them to become, and remain in faith for what God is going to do to restore salvation to the Jews? It is always challenging even with our own family members at times, which is why we need to be prepared. We do not want to be taken unaware of Satan's devices because the truth is some of us will and some of us will not "love our enemies" especially if we don't know they are beloved by God as Romans 11 says. 

I have advocated for a while now that we should be teaching on this issue so Israel-supporting Christians and Christians in general could understand what is going on and be prepared to stand when the going gets so tough — disappointing, frustrating and even threatening. This is true especially because we still have some unresolved issues with each other as Jews and Gentiles in the faith of Jesus. Even among those of us who support Israeli believers and the Israeli believers who embrace us, we are still going to be challenged to remain in the unconditional love we profess. God is continually winnowing the chaff from the grain.

* Please watch for my upcoming related article in The Messianic Times Sept-Oct issue titled, They Never Saw It Coming | How Intersectionality is the new foundation for Antisemitism

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Event that Set Paul on the Road to Jerusalem 5 23 2007 Draft

I did tinker with this 2007 draft just a tiny bit - a bit of editing and clarifying - but 95% is just as I wrote it in 2007 when I pulled it from my 2001 writings on the subject. I got this revelation in the early 1990’s and it has been the guiding force behind my labors for the believers in Israel since 2001.

by Donna Diorio

The event that awakened Paul to the need of the Gentile Church to minister to the material needs of the Messianic brethren, started at Antioch. The consecration to God’s purposes took place after Paul and Barnabas’ returned from Jerusalem where they had carried provision for the Israeli brethren for a prophesied famine that was coming on the whole world. Their arrival in Jerusalem had also coincided with great persecution of the believing community and Herod’s execution of the apostle James (brother of John). Herod also arrested Peter.

After the stoning of Stephen, many of the disciples fled from Jerusalem to surrounding countries, where they continued to preach the gospel to Jews only. However, some of them who went to Antioch also preached to Gentiles and “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”

News of their effective ministry came back to the believers in Jerusalem, so Barnabas was sent to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God, he “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.”

Saul had been in Arabia and also at Damascus for about thirteen years when Barnabas sought him out for the ministry work at Antioch. When Barnabas found him, they returned to minister to the Gentiles for one year. Then events began to unfold that would send Saul, now known as Paul, back to Jerusalem for the second time since his conversion on the road to Damascus.

What happened there could only be the leading of God to bring Paul into recognition of the mission He was preparing the apostle to carry out.

After Barnabas and Paul had returned together to minister in Antioch: After one year, a prophet from Jerusalem, Agabus, “stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout the world.”

I want to draw special attention to the fact that the prophesied famine was not only to affect Israel, but would be throughout the known world. Scripture notes that the famine did indeed occur according to the prophetic utterance during the days of Claudius Caesar.

In response to Agabus’ prophecy, we are told, “Then the disciples, each according to his own ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they did by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

Even though the famine would affect the whole known world, the prophetic utterance stirred Gentile believers at Antioch to be especially concerned for the welfare of Jewish believers in Israel.

Why? Not because the Jewish brethren were considered “special” in themselves, but because there was recognition that they lived and ministered in a more gospel-hostile environment than most Gentile believers did. I have come to learn that the ability of the body in Israel to thrive through the help of the believers in the nations is just as - maybe even more important and significant in our day than - in the early days of the faith.

From that day to our day, the situation for Messianic Jews in Israel has been much the same - except for this important difference. There is still religious persecution of the faith, but NOW is the time that the veil is being removed from the eyes and hearts of Jews so they can received the Messiah Yeshua.

Now the believers at Antioch had understood that even though a famine would have impact throughout the world—including where they were—that there was a special need to send relief to the brethren living in Judea. There was a special need to supply relief for those believing Jews living among unbelieving Jews. It was true in those days and remains true to this day.

Special care from the Gentile churches is required to keep the Jewish brethren from suffering excessively for the sake of the gospel and for them to be able to minister effectively to all Israel.

There are many believers worldwide who suffer the effects of persecution, and we do not discourage any assistance directed toward any of them. However, we must point out that there is greater significance to the Antioch believers’ recognition of the special circumstance that Israeli believers labor under. That significance, “To the Jew first, and also to the Gentiles,” is a principle that must be applied in our ministry support and missions giving.

As Paul told the church at Corinth in direct reference to their collection of funds earmarked for the Jewish brethren, “And in this I give my advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there may also be a completion out of what you have.” 2 Cor. 8:10-11

It is to OUR advantage in this day also! "For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" Romans 11:15

There is also significance in the timing of Paul and Barnabas’ arrival in Jerusalem to deliver famine-provision for the Jewish believers. The timing is significant in two ways: First, it was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is observed immediately after Passover and also within days of the observance of Shavuot.

And secondly because, “about that time Herod stretched out his hand to harass some” of the Messianic Jewish body. Then he killed the apostle James, brother of the apostle John, with the sword and “because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.” Acts 11:26-12:3

We must believe in Divine timing when we see it! Here Paul looked plainly into the eye of both the spiritual indebtedness of the Gentile believers to the Jewish believers (Romans 15:27) and also to the persecution of believing Jews by unbelieving Jews: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” Romans 11:28

How could Paul escape what God was speaking to him in the timing of these events?
Surely as these events unfolded before his eyes, Paul recognized the clear call and leading of God in his ministry! Could it be that as these events played out during the Days of Unleavened Bread (when Jesus became the sheaf offering of the first ripe grain), that God began to reveal to Paul what the meaning was of the Shavuot offering?

Paul was experiencing first hand how the Jewish brethren in Israel were suffering without any assistance from believers outside of their borders. He had come to deliver the first Holy-Spirit inspired contribution from the Antioch Christians, and he witnessed how great the persecution was!

He had been a persecutor of Jewish believers, and now he is witness to how the zeal he had carried in his own bosom against Yeshua’s faithful, had multiplied and jeopardized the top leadership among the apostles of the Lord! One apostle had already been killed and another thrown in prison.

The believers in Jerusalem were terrified of what would happen to Peter, and surely also of what it would mean to all believers in Israel. There was intercessory prayer going on day and night on Peter’s behalf by all the believers in Jerusalem! This is the scenario that Paul and Barnabas walked into upon arrival in Jerusalem. How it must have impacted them!

What unfolded before Paul’s eyes was in the perfect timing of God. For we know how by His Word and through the events of our lives, God directs our paths. He set Paul on a specific path in the same way by these very events that were unfolding.

After Peter’s Divine release from prison, Acts tells us that Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and only then were the two men set apart by God to their callings. Having “fulfilled their ministry” to Jerusalem, and in a season of fasting and prayer with prophets and teachers in Antioch, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate (consecrate) Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:13

In the past we have understood these passages to be only the singling out of Paul and Barnabas to be sent out as missionaries. We must reconsider the consecration as an even fuller calling on Paul to prophetically model the support of the church to the body in Israel to insure those ministers who are living in this very day would be able to minister to the Israeli people the Good News of the Messiah Yeshua.

Certainly, as the years of evangelization among the Gentiles, Paul increasingly acts on his calling to establish giving in the churches toward the material needs of the Jewish brethren. By the latter part of Paul’s second missionary trip, he has made this a priority focus in his in-person ministry and also by letters to the churches.

Near the end of his second missionary journey at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, Paul consecrated himself under a Nazarite vow for God’s favor. The passage does not tell us why but it is only in Acts 21:23-24 in Jerusalem that he ends the vow because his mission is accomplished. That Nazarite vow was fulfilled in his last trip to Jerusalem When he was delivering the donations from all the Christian churches he had oversight of.

From the time he took his vow until he embarked on his last trip to Jerusalem, his letters urged the churches to take up a collection for the “saints,” the “poor in Judea” (2 Cor 8, Ro 15:26-27, 2 Cor 9:12-13, Gal 2:9-10, 1 Cor 16:1) . Not just poor in general, but the poor in specific - the believers in Israel.

I believe that Paul understood his calling to do this was not just for the Jewish believers in the time he was living, but it was for the time such as this. He fulfilled his prophetic modeling to the church bringing their donations to the body in Israel. He knew his freedom was at stake and there were prophecies all along his journey to Jerusalem that it would end with him in chains. His closest friends and followers cried, not wanting him to personally escort the donations to Jerusalem, but Paul had already decided to fulfill God’s calling on his life to set the standard of giving to the ministers in Israel so they could fulfill their calling.

He was arrested in Jerusalem, imprisoned and eventually died in Rome. He is no doubt in Heaven now rooting for the understanding of what he prophetically modeled for our sakes in such a time as this, to begin to break loose throughout the whole Christian world. It is a revelation of God’s purposes in such a time as this.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Vision for Peace | Arrows from Zion

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu Meeting at the White House Jan 28, 2020

I'm going to break from the naysayers decrying this Trump initiated "Vision for Peace" deal by highlighting some of the more positive views that are being expressed by Jewish commentators — both Messianic and traditional conservative Jews. My starting point is that we know there is no true peace for Israel until Yeshua returns, but that does not mean that Israel should not take advantage of how this deal moves the ball forward on Israel's behalf. 
One idea I reject outright is that this is an "Antichrist" peace deal. 
(Published first as the cover story 1/29/20 in Arrows from Zion)

Vision for Peace
A roundup of assessments 1/29/20 by Donna Diorio

The "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People" is 181 pages long, but you can read it for yourself. It is posted on the White House website and is downloadable in pdf format.

As soon as the plan was shared yesterday, the first opinion I saw was from one whose views I often find compatible with my own, from traditional Jewish, but the American Conservative editor of, Jonathan S. Tobin. Haaretz ran Tobin's take in Trump's peace plan means settlements are permanent. Democrats, get used to it.

Tobin wrote, "Any assumption that Trump's plan has no long-term significance is almost certainly wrong." 

"Even when Democrats hold the White House again, they won't be able to reverse the core terms of Trump's Middle East peace plan, and U.S. leverage over Israel will have diminished."

“There is no going back to a diplomatic universe in which there's an assumption that Israel will bow to US demands for territorial withdrawals—involving the mass eviction of settlers—once framed as a necessary basis for peace.” Tobin wrote.

From the statement by Jared Kushner, that is very much the point. He ought to know because Kushner is the president's Jewish son-in-law and was one of those involved in crafting the plan. 

Kushner has said, "I'm not  looking at the world as it existed in 1967. I'm looking at the world as it exists in 2020."

That simply means this plan takes off the table any fantasy negotiation that envisions Israel returning to 1967 border lines. It is a point that is always pressed that has now been permanently taken off the table. That is reason enough for the favorable reception the plan apparently received from both Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz.

The headline at Israeli Messianic Israel Today magazine read, Trump Deal Flips Peace Process on Its Head. "After more than 20 years of failure despite intensive diplomatic efforts," they write, "US President Donald Trump’s 'Deal of the Century' finally proposes a different approach." 
"For the past two decades," Israel Today notes, "the formula underlying the Middle East peace process was to accept the Palestinian positions, turn a blind eye to their transgressions (because they were the “oppressed”), and require painful concessions of Israel."

Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights attorney and journalist called Trump's Vision for Peace plan "the most pro-peace, pro-Israel proposal to date!"
Ostrovsky also tweeted, "That the #Palestinians were going to reject the #DealOfTheCentury was a given. Most interesting for me, is seeing the reactions coming from the Arab / Gulf world. This is BIG. Palestinians increasingly on their own."
He cites the Jerusalem Post report that "Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE on Tuesday issued statements welcoming the Trump administration's peace plan, and called on both sides to begin negotiations."
Jonathan Schanzer, a counterterrorism expert and a VP at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says that the Trump plan changes the dynamic that past administrations were locked into by recognizing both sides as equals. This produced Palestinian recalcitrance leading to deadlock in peace talks for decades.

“The Palestinians are often granted more power than they actually have; the Israelis are asked to relinquish power and it’s ended in disaster,” Schanzer says. “This is an attempt to shift the dynamic to give the Israelis more power and the Palestinians less in a way that affects the actual dynamic.”
Ron Cantor of Messiah's Mandate notes, "Understand, I am not 100% opposed to a Palestinian state. I recognize that there are 3,000,000 Arabs within Israel in the disputed territories—people who deserve more. But until they change their leadership, there will be no peace and no state. The PLO was born in the blood of terror—not war. They are the fathers of martyrs and suicide bombers. ...[To this day] The PLO pays out some $360 million a year to the families of suicide bombers and martyrs."
American Messianic Jew Dr Michael L. Brown makes a difference between many of the Palestinian people and their terrorist leaders, "if the Palestinian populace as a whole could see a way forward to peace and prosperity, wouldn’t they want to achieve it? And what if the surrounding Muslim nations said, 'Yes, do this and we will help you prosper as well!' What then?....Frankly, without massive pressure from the populace as a whole, joined by other Muslim nations, I do not see this happening. And that is the crux of the problem."

Most of the Jews making comment recognize that there is no way the Palestinians will live up to their side of the deal to bring it to pass. In essence the US plan insists that for the Palestinians to reap the benefits of the plan they have to first accept the plan, then the Palestinian Authority must stop paying terrorists and inciting terrorism. Hamas and Islamic Jihad must put down their weapons. Both the PA and Hamas governed territories must give up corruption, respect human rights, freedom of religion and a free press. This is according to the Jerusalem Post summary of conditions. Few see that happening.

Which may be why US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman urged Israelis to "apply Israeli law to the settlements and to the territory" in an "on-the-record press call on the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Ambassador Friedman said, "Israel does not have to wait — does not have to wait at all. The waiting period would be the time it takes for them to obtain internal approvals and to obviously create the documentation, the calibration, the mapping that would enable us to evaluate and make sure it’s consistent with conceptual map."

The Ambassador says that the plan provides "certain benefits to Israel up front in exchange for Israel keeping the option open to the Palestinians for a very lengthy period of time.”

Today it was reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu will ask the cabinet in its next meeting to vote on applying Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.

In news breaking in the past hour (at this writing 1/29), Blue and White Leader Benny Gantz has announced that he will bring the US peace plan to the Knesset for an up or down vote next week. "This is a historic opportunity to draw Israel's future borders," Gantz told participants today at a national security conference.

As PA President Abbas appears to threaten Netanyahu with breaking Oslo agreements related to security coordination, Israel news is also reporting that the IDF is bolstering its West Bank troops as Palestinians riot and is conducting ongoing assessments of the situation.

Jared Kushner said the plan is "rooted in the principle that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must be based on an agreement that satisfies the basic aspirations of the two peoples – in a manner that guarantees security, dignity and opportunity for all."

"The question comes down to, what will the Palestinian leadership do?" Kushner asked.

He told Al-Arabia, "wholehearted rejections will show the world that they are not interested in peace, they have never been interested in peace. And, quite frankly, in the Palestinian areas, you have a lot of people that are very vested in the status quo."

If nothing is done with the deal on the Palestinian side, the situation, Kusher says, will only get worse for Palestinians who are living in great poverty as it stands not. There is a $50 billion economic plan and refugee compensation fund that will help with the Palestinians reabsorbing Palestinian refugees.  

Kushner does not see potential for a better deal if Palestinians let this opportunity die.

"This is a great deal for them, he says. "If they come to the table and negotiate, I think they can get something excellent."

"It’s difficult to come up with a construct where you have a continuous Palestinian state, where you can drive from one end to the bottom through bridges, tunnels, roads, Kushner continued. "We figured it out, it was not easy. And then we were able to sit with Israel and get them to agree to freeze settlement for four years. That has never been done before. And get them to agree to a Palestinian state, and get them to agree to a map."

Many will try to dismiss President Trump's plan as merely an ego-driven deal. That would be a great disservice to the heart that has been put into this plan to benefit both sides, but at last from a position that places Israel's needs in proper priority. 

Yet again, President Trump has shown himself to be the hands down best friend in an American president that Israel has ever had.