Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis Conference - Jewish Voice Ministries

Volunteers - Steve & Laurie Martin, Indira & Edgar Persad
Jewsih Voice Ministries' "A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days"
- Indian Land, SC June 18, 2011


Conference booklet

Israel & Angela Smith - worship leaders
of Jewish Voice Ministries

Jonathan Bernis - President, Jewish Voice Ministries

Jonathan Bernis and Walid Shoebat


Walid Shoebat - author and speaker

Jonathan Bernis and Dr. Larry Bates

Why Palestinians Want This Video Removed

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ahava Love Letter - "Wait"

Dear family of friends,

This wasn’t quite what I had imagined. Was this the way it was supposed to turn out? I hadn’t thought so.

Sitting out here, hot, dry and thirsty, watching these creatures wasn’t what I had envisioned the way it would turn out. What about all those words received earlier? Why the sudden change from glory to glum? Whatever happened to the spectacular events that I had determined would be the outcome? After all, wasn’t that the way it was supposed to be?

I sat on the rock. Pondering. Wondering. Asking “what if” over and over again.

Not even a lone bird broke one streak of the summer sun beating down on this forsaken bit of earth. Seemed like this was going to be it. Not at all what I had expected. Or planned for.

As these thoughts rambled over and over again through my head, they also drifted back to what was reality just a few years ago. Second in line to the top man. Ready to use all my training to lead as I knew things should be. Prepared for the hour when everything was right for that stepping out and “do it” moment.

But it didn’t happen that way. My heart saw one thing. My eyes told another. I did what I thought was in my heart to do, and now this.

Sometimes I wonder if this was what Moses thought while sitting there, watching sheep. There isn’t much a shepherd can do out in a desert. Can you imagine, sitting there some 10-12 hours a day, day in and day out, with not much other stimuli going on around you. They must have been long, lonely days. Plenty of time to think such thoughts.

He probably kept beating himself mentally, asking where did he miss it. How did it turn out this way? What was to be seemed that it would not ever become.

What was God saying in all this? What was the purpose now, if not to be the leader of his people, the one to deliver them from their troubles? Why had he blown it, so it appeared?

Desert times are separation times. When there is nothing else that can be done, or ones to turn to for answers, we are meant to wait it out and hope for the best. We are given the opportunity to put our faith and trust into Someone beyond ourselves, our own abilities, our own understanding. We are asked to wait.

Moses didn’t know the end result of his waiting. He couldn’t imagine what the Lord was doing in his heart and spirit during this seemingly wasted time. Forty years of wasted time it looked like. He didn’t see the end result.

But as they say, our time is not His time. I am glad His time is eternity. He knows the end after the beginning.

Ahava to my family of friends,

Steve Martin
Founder/President


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Ahava Love Letter #27   Date: June 21, in the year of our Lord 2011    

"Believed (Emunah)" - Dr. Bill Duerfeldt

אמונה Emunah (pronounced:  ee-moo-nah’)

One of the most quoted verses about Abraham is Genesis 15:6 – “Then he (Abraham) believed (emunah) the LORD, and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness.”  The meaning of this key Scripture – that our salvation rests upon faith, apart from works – is one of the cornerstones of the Judeo-Christian faith.  Indeed, Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) quoted this Scripture twice (Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6), and James, the brother of Yeshua, refers to it in his epistle as well (James 2:23). 

It is important to note, however, that the central word in this passage – “believed” – has a slightly different connotation in Hebrew than it does in English.  In English [and also in Greek (pistis)] the primary meaning of “believe” is:  “to concur with a factual statement, or to agree with the truth of an idea”.
In Hebrew, the word אמונה (emunah) does mean to believe, but it carries with it a much broader implication.  Let’s look at two Scriptures in the Tanakh which use the word “emunah”; Scriptures that illustrate the broader Hebrew meaning of this word.  In Exodus 17 we read that Moses was required to lift his hands to assure that Israel prevailed in the battle against the Amalekites.  The last sentence of verse 12 reads:  “Thus his hands were “steady” until the sun set.  The word “steady” in this passage of Scripture is the word “enumah”.
Likewise, the word אמונה is also used to describe one of God’s primary characteristics.  In Deuteronomy 7:9 it says:  “Therefore know that the LORD your God is God.  He is the “faithful” God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations…”.  Here again, the word translated “faithful” is “emunah”.

In my opinion, one of the greatest aspersions that the “Church” has cast upon the Name and the character of God, is the doctrine of Replacement Theology.  This doctrine, so rampant in the “Church” today, claims that since the majority of Jews have rejected Yeshua as the Messiah, therefore God has rejected them.  In replacing the Jews, God supposedly has transferred His covenant from Israel to the “Church”.  Although this doctrine is accepted and preached by the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the majority of Protestant denominations, it is totally contrary to the Scriptures in both the Tanakh and the Brit Chadeshah. 

For example, God speaks of His covenant with Israel three hundred and thirteen times in the Tanakh, and in sixteen of those instances He reminds Israel that His covenant is an “everlasting covenant”!  (My dictionary says “everlasting” means “continuing indefinitely; lasting forever”.)  Moreover, the Apostle Paul himself asks the rhetorical question, “Has God cast away His people?” and then answers emphatically, “Certainly not!”  (Romans 11:1).  Second Timothy 2:13 makes the same point – “Even if we are faithless, He is faithful.  He cannot deny Himself.” 

Finally, consider this -- If Replacement Theology is correct, then what gives the Christian Church the assurance that God will not “change His mind” once again and cast the “Church” aside as He supposedly did to Israel?  Indeed, the doctrine of Replacement Theology is such a smear on the integrity of the God of Israel, that in my mind it is tantamount to blasphemy of His Holy Name.

Of all the characteristics of God (mercy, lovingkindness, compassion, and the others) it is God’s “emunah” that, to me, stands out above the rest.  Emunah”, in the Hebraic sense, is much more than agreement to a set of facts or circumstances; more than simply a mental assent to something.  It implies “steadfastness” and “faithfulness” toward the object of our belief.   This is how God acts toward us, and how He wants us to act toward Him and toward others.  As James points out in James 2:19 -- even Satan believes the truth about Yeshua.  But mere believing will not save him.  Satan believes, but he does not have emunah toward the LORD.

What God saw in Abraham, and what He is seeking in us, is not simple “belief”.  What He is seeking is אמונה.  He is looking for a steadfast faithfulness in us. It is a faithfulness that is not dependent upon the circumstances that confront us moment to moment, but rather a faithfulness which is grounded and anchored on the Rock of our Salvation – Yeshua HaMashiach – Jesus the Messiah. 
May אמונה be found in all of us – and may God “reckon it unto us as righteousness”.

Dr. Bill Duerfeldt
Asheville, North Carolina


Friday, June 3, 2011

Shavu'ot - Dr. Bill Duerfeldt

Shavu’ot

Let’s look at Leviticus 23:1-4. 

“And the LORD spoke unto Moses saying, Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are My appointed feasts, the appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy assemblies.  These are My feasts…These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies which you are to proclaim at their appointed times.”

Notice the emphasis:  These are the Feasts of the Lord.  These are not “Jewish Feasts”.  God says:  ‘These are My Feasts’. 

The NAS says “These are the Lord’s appointed Times” which is a very good translation, because the Hebrew word here is “mo’a’dim” which literally means “an appointed meeting” or “an appointment”.    I’m a physician.  My patients made appointments to see me.  When one makes an appointment with one’s doctor there are certain expectations?  First, one expects the doctor to be there and secondly, the doctor expects the patient to be there too.  Right?  Well, these mo’a’dim are like that.  Essentially God is saying:  “I’m making an appointment with you.  At these appointed times of the year I – God – am going to show up and I expect you to be there too.” 

I’m dating myself, I know, but I’m reminded of a line in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977).  Richard Dreyfus, in the movie, is constantly repeating:  “This is important.  This means something.”  My comment about these scriptures is this:  This is important.  This means something.  We Gentile Christians have been saying:  Oh, that’s Old Testament stuff; we don’t need to do that.  And that’s true:  we don’t “need” to.  God doesn’t love us any less.  But He has been faithfully showing up for His feasts for over three thousand years and we Gentiles are missing out on all the blessings and all the joy.  This is important.  This means something.  J


Of the Feasts of Lord, three are especially important:

    1. Pesach (Passover);
    2. Shavu’ot (Pentecost);
    3. Succot (Tabernacles).
    4. These three feasts are also called “Pilgrim Feasts”, because every able-bodied Jewish male was to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for these three feasts every year.

This past April we celebrated Passover and Resurrection Sunday.  Now we have entered the season of Shavu’ot or Pentecost.


   (Shavu’ot)

Shavu’ot comes from the Hebrew word Sheva which means Seven, and so Shavu’ot means weeks.  The full name is Hag Shavu’ot (the Festival of Weeks) and is the second great Feast of the Lord on the Jewish calendar. 

The LORD said to Moses, “From the day after Shabbat, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Shabbat, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.  On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”


Shavu’ot, therefore, is not tied to a particular calendar date as are Pesach and Sukkot, but rather occurs exactly 50 days after Pesach.  In English, we call the festival Pentecost, from the Greek word meaning “fifty days”.  One may ask, “Why do we need to count the days from Pesach to Shavu’ot?  Why didn’t God just say that the feast was on such and such a date as He did with Pesach, Sukkot, Yom Kippur and the others?”  The rabbis have several answers, but one of my favorites is this – God wanted us to always look back at Pesach – to reflect on the fact that He obtained our freedom from Egypt, and, through the Messiah’s death, burial and resurrection, He also redeemed us from the consequences of sin.  To fully and correctly celebrate Shavu’ot, therefore, we must always begin with Pesach!
 
Agriculturally, this holiday commemorates the time when the first fruits are harvested in Israel.  Specifically, these “first fruits” are the seven (“sheva”) species of Israel – as described in Deuteronomy 8:8 – wheat, barley, figs, grapes, pomegranates, dates, and olives.  This time of harvest of the seven species occurs in Israel to this day as it has throughout antiquity.  As such, the holiday is also known as Hag HaBikkurim (the Festival of First Fruits). 

The Jewish rabbis and sages tell us that the Torah (the five books of Moses) was given from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai on Shavu’ot.  It’s interesting to note that the Jews emphasize that the Torah was given, on Shavu’ot rather than that the Israelites received the Torah on Shavu’ot.  The rabbis say that the Torah was given by God only one time.  However, every time we read the Word of God we are receiving it from God fresh and new.  I like that!

And, of course, Shavu’ot was when the Ruach HaKodesh was first poured out upon all the early Believers.  More on that in a moment.

Other Shavu’ot customs include the idea that Shavu’ot was the marriage between God and the Jewish people.  As a bride counts down the days until her wedding, so we (the Bride of Messiah) count down the days between Passover and Pentecost as we are united with God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Also, some Messianic Jewish Believers in Yeshua consider the tongues of fire that covered the heads of the disciples at Pentecost, was like a chuppah or wedding canopy that God Himself placed over the Believers who were first baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Another custom is the reading of the book of Ruth.  It was during the Spring harvest that Ruth was gleaning in the field of Boaz and met her “kinsman redeemer”.  Also, it was Ruth (a gentile) who identified herself with the Jewish people.  She said to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi -- "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and I will live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  God honored Ruth’s commitment to the Jews, and she became the grandmother of King David, and through David, an ancestor of our Messiah Yeshua.

Another Jewish tradition on Shavu’ot is to decorate the home and place of worship with greenery, and to eat dairy and sweets, to remind us that Israel is a land flowing with milk and honey.  My favorite is a cherry cheesecake!!

Finally, because the Torah was given on Shavu’ot, it is customary for the Jews to stay up all night studying the Torah, and then praying at dawn on the first morning of Shavu’ot.  To this very day the Jews continue to gather in the synagogues throughout the world for this ritual. 

In Yeshua’s day, if they were in Jerusalem, they gathered in the Temple, which was called “HaBy’eet” – The House, i.e., The House of the Lord.   In fact, today, in Israel, the Temple Mount, where the “Dome of the Rock” now sits, is still called in Hebrew -- Har HaBay’eet, “The Mountain of The House.”

You may recall that Yeshua Himself referred to The Temple in this way.  At age 12 when Mary and Joseph found Him in the Temple, He asked – “Why did you look for Me?  Did you not know that I had to be in HaBy’eet Avi?” -- The House of My Father?  (Luke 2:49).

Let’s look at Acts 2:1-4.  Dr. Luke writes:  “And when the morning of Shavu’ot had fully come they [the disciples] were all together in one place.”  (Why were they all together?  What were they doing?  There is no question in my mind about it.  As was the custom then, and continues today, they were praying and they were studying Torah.)  “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”  (Acts 2:1-4).  How remarkable that both the Torah and the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) were given to men by God on exactly the same dayShavu’ot!

There is a long standing tradition that this event occurred in the Upper Room, but is that what the Scriptures actually say?  Notice the words “the house”, and remember that Luke is writing primarily to Jewish Believers.  To the Jewish reader and to Jewish ears, The House (HaBy’eet) is always synonymous with The Temple.

I believe that Luke is telling us that the disciples had been up all night studying Torah in The Temple and then praying at dawn as was – and is – the Jewish custom to this day.  It was during these morning Temple prayers when the Holy Spirit fell.  Luke says that Jews from throughout the Diaspora were present when this happened and they were able to hear and understand the disciples – “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” (Acts 2:11)  This makes sense, because these other Jewish pilgrims were also in Jerusalem at “HaBy’eet” (The House) studying Torah through the night and praying together on the dawn of Shavu’ot.  What a morning that must have been!  I love it that Peter actually had to get up and explain to crowd that the disciples weren’t drunk! (vs.15)  It must have been a sight to see!

On this Festival of First Fruits – Shavu’ot -- may He who is the giver of every good and perfect gift grant to all of us a life full of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” -- the “Fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23).   Hag Semeach!  (Happy Holiday!)

Dr. Bill Duerfeldt
Asheville, N.C.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

israel today Magazine

Netanyahu on Jerusalem Day: This city is ours!


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