Sunday, July 30, 2023

The Mystery of Paul's Collection

The Mystery of Paul's Collection
by Donna Diorio

 Back in 1992 or 3 God began to remove layers off of the mystery of the indebtedness of the Gentile Christians to financially aid the body of Messiah in Israel that he speaks of in Romans 15:26-26. It is a mystery and the nuggets of truth are subtle in Acts and in his letters. God must open our eyes or we will pass right over them without catching the relevance.
     The first of it was the big recognition of how we Christians were actually still indebted to help the Israeli ministries. I received that understanding with joy and it set me on a course that continues today. I wasn't sure exactly where I was headed with it but by 2001 many other layers of the mystery had been revealed to me — right out of Paul’s own letters in the Bible.
     It was August 2001 when I launched my first e-list to encourage the recognition among Christians that in Israel there were many followers of Jesus, many congregations and ministries and that they needed our help. Our help is REQUIRED in order to fulfill all the vision God had given each of them for reaching Israelis with the Good News of Messiah Yeshua.
     To me in 2001 it seemed most Christians did not have a clue there was already a Body of Messiah in Israel and if they did, they did not seem to care. I have actually had Christians tell me there was no need to send financial support to the Messianic congregations in Israel because they already knew the LORD! Their thinking was that it is only Christians who will make unbelievers in Israel "jealous" of our faith. They believe this jealousy is going to be prompted by the overwhelming generosity of financial support of Christians to Israeli traditional rabbis and government projects. They balk at understanding how many they were funding were persecutors of any Jew professing Jesus is LORD. It didn't seem to bother them that none of unsaved Israeli Jews showed even a smidgen of jealousy of Christian faith. Truly they are too wrapped up in their own interpretation of "making Israel jealous" to be bothered with even considering the believers in Israel are significant to God's plan of the spiritual redemption of Jews. 
     Over all these years I have unpacked many times what the Spirit has revealed to me about Christian indebtedness, Paul's final mission to Jerusalem and "The Collection." Paul urged the Christian churches he worked with to take up collections over a several year period. It started after he witnessed events in Jerusalem in Acts 12 when Herod killed James. 
     Last week I began to write my understanding of these things again for the Weekly Summary of Prayer Requests from Israeli Ministries and Arrows from Zion. When I did the Holy Spirit suddenly removed another layer of the mystery to me: 
EVEN THOUGH the apostle Paul had been a zealous persecutor of the followers of Yeshua, something became a REVELATION to him as he witnessed the events of Acts 12 when Herod executed James and intended also to execute Peter. 
     It was not until that point that Paul had a REVELATION that the Jewish believers in Israel were always going to live and minister in a state of persecution until the time God removed the veil from the eyes of Jews - as he wrote in Romans 15:25-27 AFTER the fulness of Gentiles had been fulfilled. It was a REVELATION to Paul that the Jewish believers were going to need the help of the Gentile Churches because the persecution of the spiritually blinded Jews was always going to be great against the Jews who came to faith in Yeshua. He and Barnabas came to town to deliver financial aid because they knew by prophecy a worldwide famine was coming. That meant the believers in Israel would experience even greater financial need than they already were under because of the faith in Yeshua.
    To thrive, Paul saw in the events of Acts 12, they were going to need the financial support of the churches, to whom he said clearly, "For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual blessings, they are obligated to minister to them with material blessings." 
     There must be 50 ways to misunderstand this "mystery" Paul wrote about and acted on when he took up the collection he delivered in Acts 21. I've seen a lot of them over the years but found a new one the other day.  Doing a search on the passage I came across a website discussing "The Collection." As I began to read the opening paragraph or two sounded eerily like the writer lifted them straight out of my writings. . . but dismissing my explanations of what was going on. 
     There was no recognition of why Gentile Christians were indebted to help the Messianic Jews in Jerusalem or why the Israeli Jewish body would need help on an ongoing basis. The writer supposed when Paul carried "The Collection" to Jerusalem in Acts 21 that Israeli believers must have been going through yet another famine like in Acts 11-12. That was not what Paul saw in Acts 12 prompting the Apostle in the Acts 21 collection which was meant to teach the churches to financially support the Israeli ministries. It was persecution, pure and simple.
     The writing I was viewing made so many assumptions about Paul taking that final trip to Jerusalem with the collection from the churches, like deciding he took representatives of each church with him because traveling with such a large amount of money wouldn't be safe except with a large group of people traveling. It is an explanation that totally misses the point that Paul was modeling to Christians what should continue to happen among the churches: the support was to be ongoing.
     Another assumption was Paul did this just to prove to the apostles in Jerusalem that God was working among the churches. The problem with that is the apostles already knew that and, besides, Paul had no need to "prove" anything to them. Paul writes in Galatians 2:7-9 of the Apostles recognition of his anointing to minister among the Gentiles at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. 
     The writer also assumed that Paul was trying to "shame" the church in 2 Corinthians 8 to prioritize the collection by pointing out what generosity the poor churches in Macedonia demonstrated. "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Paul was just telling them the facts: the Corinthians had much more in wealth, but the poor in Macedonia gave much more than those living in much better circumstances. There are lots of Bible verses on that common reality that those with wealth are less apt to help those in need, than others who are much poorer and pressed with persecution themselves. 
     History shows that the churches did not keep up sending aid for very long to the Jerusalem Apostolic leaders for distribution as needed among the Body of Messiah. I wish I could give you the documentation that Malachi Martin, a now deceased Catholic historian with access to the Vatican libraries had when he wrote what took place seven years prior to the Council of Nicea in 318 AD. Martin did not document his sources on this portion of his book but it was probably not as big a deal to him as it was to me when I read what he was reporting.
     Martin's 1983 book, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church" noted that a contingent of Israeli Messianic Jews came from Jerusalem to Rome to make an appeal to Pope Sylvester I, the pope from 314 to 335. Part of their mission was to appeal to the Christian leader to restore the financial assistance to the Messianic Jews that had been established by the Apostle Paul as told in Acts 21." The pope "curtly dismissed them" and then seven years later the dismissal of the Messianic Jews was made official at the Council of Nicea. 
     That sets the stage for the terrible Christian history against the Jews that unfolded from that point on in my opinion. Now as we have clearly entered the period of God's promise to restore not only the physical State of Israel, but also His promise to restore Israel spiritually, that means all of the excuses, misunderstandings, and ignorance of what God is doing in Israel must come to an end in the Church. We have to grow up now because God is moving among Jews opening eyes to the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel. The timing of "the fulness of the Gentiles" is upon us.
     What is the pleroma, or fulness of the Gentiles? It is Christians filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Messiah.
Only those who enter into this state of Christlikeness are going to understand what Paul was doing when he took that Collection to the apostles in Jerusalem. We will be the only ones to respond to Paul's call to us across almost two thousand years that we are STILL indebted to financially assist the body of Messiah in Israel who are declaring the Good News of the Messiah's Presence in the midst of Israel today.
     In Romans 11:25 he wrote, "For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."  Will we go on in ignorance, or will we enter into what is meant to be the mutual blessing of Jew and Gentile becoming one new man in Messiah?

Thursday, July 27, 2023

For Such A Time EXACTLY As This!


For such a time exactlyas this! 
by Donna Diorio

It's crunch time for Christians who love Israel but many of you misunderstand what's going on there because you don't pay enough attention to what Israeli Messianic ministries have to offer you. If you got your Israel news from Israeli Messianic ministries you would have more understanding of the times and how what is happening in Israel impacts us all. I'm not saying this to make anyone mad or feel ashamed because what I'm saying is THE TIME HAS COME for Christians and Messianic Jews to pay far more attention to what is happening in Israel. May God do a quick work in your understanding and may you see why after Acts 12 when the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul came to Jerusalem just at the time of these events, his eyes were opened to exactly how much help the body of Messiah in Israel really must have.

It changed Paul’s ministry in the churches from that point on because as he ministered to the Gentiles, he made it a point to foster their understanding of spiritual indebtedness to the Israeli Jewish body of Messiah. He was not raising donations in all the churches for the support of the Messianics in the Diaspora because they had freedoms that the Messianic body in Israel did not have and still don't to this day.

Current events in Israel are worsening their situation significantly. It is high time we dropped the petty, internecine jealousies between the different schools of thought in the Messianic community and among Christians. God is calling us to stand with our Israeli brothers and sisters IN THE FAITH of JESUS. But will we answer that call, or will we cling to our petty jealousies and pecking orders?

Break free, believer, and follow the LORD who is building His LIVING TEMPLE in the Land of Israel even in the midst to complete societal upheaval unfolding as the super religious make their play to "legally" make their minority judgment rule over all other Israelis.  Even God himself gives every human being the dignity of choice. Israel will NOT become holy through the reign of the most pious of religious Judaism. Only the Messianic Jews in Israel are on the path of the LORD Yeshua.

Acts 12:1 King Herod Agrippa[a] began to persecute some believers in the ekklesia. 2 He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.[b]) 4 Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.

 ....23 Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
     24 Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.
     25 When Barnabas and Saul (Paul) had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned,[d] taking John Mark with them.

     Even though God had saved Saul from himself, from passionately persecuting Jews who followed Yeshua, the events he witnessed in Jerusalem were a revelation to him. His eyes were opened by the events to another call God was adding to his apostleship of the Gentiles. (Galatians 2:7-8) From that point on, in addition to preaching the kingdom of God to the Gentiles and setting up functioning congregations among them, Paul began to stress to all them to collection donations that he would take to the apostles in Jerusalem for the distribution of the needs in the body of Messiah. Not to the unsaved rabbis, not to the government projects in Israel - but to be given to the apostolic team to help the body not only survive but thrive in sharing the Good News of Messiah in Israel. He continued to urge this collection in his letters written after Acts 12.

     Then the time came a few years later for him to take the donations to Jerusalem, along with ambassadors from each of the Gentile churches contributing. He pressed in to make it to Jerusalem before Shavuot (Pentecost), even though prophets came out of the woodwork to tell him that if he continued in his journey to Jerusalem, he would be bound in chains and his freedom taken from him. But Paul would not be turned back, because he knew his assignment was from God, not from himself and not from other men. He had to set the precedent for the level of sacrifice that would be required from the churches in the days we are now entering.

    If you are unaware of these things, it is time to open your Bible and your eyes to SEE!

Friday, July 7, 2023

Making Israel Jealous


An unbeliever Israeli Tour Guide happens on the scene of the religious mob protesting Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews praying together for Israel on Pentecost 2023, calls the mob scene “scary”

Making Israel Jealous
by Donna Diorio

Many times I have heard Christians in ignorance and arrogance say that if the Israeli body of Messiah were really effective they would have more to show for their efforts than they do. That is the reason for this writing.

     It is different from replacement theology and mostly afflicts Christians who operate in the spiritual gifts. I will say that many are well meaning. At least they recognize that God wants Israel to come to faith in Jesus, but unfortunately they do not understand as much as they think they do or they would not dismiss the Israeli Messianic believers working in the harvest field of Israel.

     Unfortunately to believe they could do better coming into Israel for the purpose of evangelizing Israelis better than those who live there and are engaged in the work is pretty conceited. Paul called it being wise in their own eyes.

     Truth is they do not understand the Israel dynamic at all. Israel does not present the Gospel the same freedom Christians have enjoyed in Western nations. It takes something more. It also judges the entire body of believers in Israel with on an incredibly superficial level. Martin Luther also held the same kind of inflated view of himself not recognizing the timing or the plan of God to reconcile the Jews back to Himself through Israel's Messiah Yeshua. It turned him into an anti-Semite and that’s why it is good to take this kind of thinking on, to shake us loose from it.

     Almost always the Christians who think that it will be the gentile Church who go to Israel performing miracles, healings and salvation is their role in provoking Israel to "jealousy." Many saved Jews also believe this but I believe it is a misreading of what the actual biblical texts are saying about provoking this jealousy. (Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 10:19, Romans 11:14, Romans 11:11, Acts 5:17, Acts 13:45 and Acts 17:5) In Deuteronomy God said "They have provoked My jealousy by that which is not God...their worthless idols. So I will make them jealous by those who are not a people."  Continue to read the plan of God given to Moses in song to tell the children of Israel. Pay special attention to verses 36, 39 and 43 because God clearly says when all Israel's strength is done, He "will vindicate His people" and He says the Heavens and the angels will rejoice when He does. He says, "Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His children...He will cleanse His land and His people."

     The main point here is about the source of jealousy: it was God who stirred up jealousy in the Jewish people whom He chose to be a people and a unique nation of God’s people. Christians are from all nations, we are a people who are not a people, we are not a nation, only our faith in Yeshua makes us a people of God. We are not a replacement of the nation God singled out for Himself but instead we are destined to be joined together with them, adopted into the family of God.

     Jealous in the New Covenant:  In Acts 5:17 the apostles were arrested when Jews from the cities around Jerusalem began to come to them “bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were healed. Then the high priest and all his associates, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.” They were made jealous by the Jews who were followers of Yeshua empowered by the Holy Spirit.

     Then in Acts 13:41-45, Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch and preached in the synagogue, when they were scoffed by some, they left but “many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God…. On the following Sabbath, nearly the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and they blasphemously contradicted what Paul was saying.” Again, the Jews were made jealous by Jewish believers speaking salvation to the Gentiles.

     In Acts 17:1-7 Paul goes to Thessalonica where he went first to the synagogue “as was his custom.” For three Shabbats in a row Paul taught them from the Scriptures “explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Yeshua I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he declared. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few leading women. The (other) Jews, however, became jealous.

     So they brought in some troublemakers from the marketplace, formed a mob, and sent the city into an uproar. They raided Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas, hoping to bring them out to the people. But when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, named Jesus!”

     All of the jealousy portions in Acts should remind you of current events in Israel because this is exactly what has been happening for many years – the years that there has emerged in Israel Jewish believers who are operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit particularly and declaring Yeshua is the Messiah. This was seen on a global scale by the mob that was gathered to show up on Pentecost on the Southern Steps of the Temple to violently protest the prayers going on there for Israel. It was repeated shortly afterwards when the Messianic believers from across the land went to attend a worship concert in Jerusalem. This is what creates jealousy: Jewish believers worshipping the Messiah of Israel.

     Paul also addresses the issue of Jewish jealousy in Romans.

     Romans 11:25 says this is a mystery that Paul did not want Christians to be ignorant of BECAUSE if Christians are ignorant of this mystery, it makes us "wise in your own conceits" = thinking we are so much greater than the Jews, not failing God like Israel did. Paul's points: this is a MYSTERY because "A hardening in part has happened to Israel, until the PLEROMA of the Gentiles may come in."

     What is pleroma?  It is not a predetermined number of Christians to be saved in history, but rather it is the quality of our transformation in the likeness of Jesus! Pleroma means "repletion or completion" - The condition of being fully supplied or completely filled.

     Many in the Church think they are there, but they are not until they grasp God's plan has always involved Yeshua raising up a “living temple” in Israel made of “living stones.” That’s who the believing Jews of Israel are, the Church in the nations, who are also a living temple of the Holy Spirit of Messiah Yeshua are very much need for the Israeli part of the body of the LORD to accomplish everything God has placed in their hearts to reach Israel for salvation in Yeshua. It takes a recognition of God’s plan, purposes and timing for the restoration of Israel through Messiah. It takes humility of the Church to realize that the Holy Spirit has equipped the body of the LORD in Israel to reach their own people – the people who have the same historical obstacles to overcome regarding Jesus and who have the same experience of being an Israeli living in a land where the demonic-empowered rage of Israel’s enemies are focused on annihilating the Jewish people. Few Christians in the nations have the same experience. But as the Gospel has traveled the globe spreading West, it is the nations closest to Israel from the East who come nearest to knowing how those realities impact Israel.

     Christians have NEVER really made Israel jealous of our faith, surely not on a major scale. From the book of Acts to the current day, it is only the believing Remnant of faith in Yeshua that has made Israel SUPER JEALOUS.

     If you want to understand how you make Israel jealous of what you have, then understand they were made jealous May 28th on the Southern Steps of the Temple when worldwide Christians joined in with Messianic Jews to pray for Israel’s. This made unbelieving religious Israeli Jews insanely jealous! It flipped their jealousy on high intensity. From this point on the Messianic body of Israel will be in greater measures of targeting. We as Christians must stand with the believers in Israel in every way. That is our role to play. God wants us to understand this and support Yeshua's BODY in Israel with both prayers and practical support. 

     Or some could continue to think that the Jews are just waiting for anointed Christians to come preach salvation to them. I sincerely hope all who believe this way would be humble enough to partner with the witness Yeshua has raised up in Israel already: the Messianic Jewish ministries need us.  

The Curse Causeless


The Curse Causeless
by Donna Diorio

Over the last 24 hours, from two unrelated sources I have read Proverbs 26:2 and it is a proverb I have always be a little troubled by. When I went back to the original language this time I saw and made my own choice of interpreting the Hebrew verb meanings I believe fits:

"As the bird by wavering, as the swallow by fleeing
so the curse causeless shall not enter."

     Without those specific interpretation choices the usual interpretation of the proverb has always sounded judgmental to me. It brings to my mind Job's friends pointing out all the ways they thought he must have failed for all the trials that came on him. Awful things you would hope your friends would not think of you, but they were trying to explain it in terms of their understanding of God's Word.

     Yet God also said to Satan, the enemy of our souls in the book of Job: "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."

     Jesus was perfect, sinless, yet He was crucified. In the case of Yeshua, He took upon Himself our sins and laid down His own life for the purpose of defeating the enemy who had entrance to our lives through those sins. 

    That's the thing, a curse cannot enter us if all the doors are shut that allow entrance. So in the case of Job, even though he was in God's eyes "blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil" despite all that, there was an entrance left in Job that was open to Satan. Was it the "wavering" of Job expecting bad things to befall his children because they were not as blameless and upright as He was? 

     So I am wondering if all our trials in life are not simply God leading us to close off all the entry-ways of the enemy to come in with curses. Not the big entryways that our friends may judge us to have, but even the little ones like our wavering and fleeing without trusting God in every situation of life. Each of us has things in life that are easier for us to trust God about than other things in our lives - and we are all different on that count!

     Perhaps these trials in life are also somewhat prophetic of the trials of the last days and our battles with the enemy to retain our faith in how our salvation in the LORD covers us to the uttermost, no matter what. 

     Jesus said in John 14 "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." He was talking to the disciples preparing them for His death and the promise of the Holy Spirit that would come to abide in them.

     No matter how we might consider ourselves "blameless and upright" fearing God and shunning evil, I have yet to meet the person who could say honestly like Yeshua that Satan had ZERO entryway into Him.

     There was no legal access for the curse of crucifixion to come upon Jesus. Not until He voluntarily took the cup of the sins of mankind upon Himself so that all the curses that could enter in to people, entered in to Him instead. The price paid entirely, now ours for the receiving - without wavering or fleeing when threatened by curses coming our way. 

     When God's Word says that He is coming back for a Bride without spot or wrinkle, those are the smallest defects not the big flaws of human beings. Like Job's opening that gave Satan legal entry/access to bring curses upon him. These spots and wrinkles are more like the wavering or fleeing instead of trusting that sometimes plagues us all . . . if we are honest about it.