I. Gibson, Yes; Vaanunu, No
The front page of Yediot Aharonot (largest Israeli Hebrew newspaper) had a giant headline today, “Vaanunu the Christian.” Unfortunately, this is exactly the opposite kind of testimony we Messianic Jews in Israel are hoping for.
Mordecai Vaanunu was arrested in 1986 for spying against the nation of Israel. He served 18 years in prison and was released yesterday. Vaanunu had been working in the nuclear power plant in Dimona. He obtained information concerning Israel’s nuclear weapon capability. He then worked to expose those “secrets” and was thus abducted by the Israeli Mossad and convicted of espionage.
Vaanunu is a native born Israeli. During the time of his trying to expose Israel’s nuclear secrets, he supposedly “converted” to Anglicanism. He saw himself on a campaign for the sake of world peace. He became very angry against Israel. Whether he has any real faith in Yeshua or not, is not for me to judge, but certainly his rebellion, hatred of Israel, arrogance, and anger all seem to be against the spirit of the gospel.
In any case, the publicity connecting his treason against the nation of Israel to his so called conversion to Christianity is a terrible witness and is doing damage against the sharing of the true gospel here in the Land. In addition, the widespread international press coverage brings disrepute to Israel in its stand against terrorism and Islam.
Please pray to reverse the effects of this negative testimony.
At the same time there has been ongoing discussion of the Gibson film “The Passion” in the Israeli newspapers as well. This morning reports state that the Cinematek Theater in Tel Aviv has retained rights to at least an initial showing of the film. While much of the discussion about the film contains accusations that it is anti-Semitic, there is also a good amount of positive questioning and analysis.
This week I read an article by an Israeli film critic, who said that although he agreed the film was anti-Semitic, he nevertheless thought it was an excellent film. He said that the younger generation could relate to the figure of Yeshua in the film, much the way they relate to “Neo” in the film “The Matrix.” He saw Yeshua as kind of a “low tech Neo for the Matrix generation.”
Another article by a very well respected writer mentioned that he did not see the film itself as anti-Semitic, since most of the violence in the movie was by the Romans. He went on to say that he thought anti-Semitism came not from the fact that we Jews crucified Jesus, but rather that we gave birth to Him. Brilliant. Our punishment from God may be connected to our rejection of Yeshua, but the source of anti-Semitism is the jealousy on behalf of the Gentiles that we are the chosen people and that Jesus Himself is Jewish.
Pray that “The Passion” will be widely and positively received here in Israel.
My new witnessing tract in Hebrew taking off from the public discussion as to whether the Gibson film is anti-Semitic goes to press this week.
Pray for wide distribution and positive reaction to the new tract.
II. ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE GOSPEL
We must fight against false claims that the gospel is anti-Semitic as if there were no real anti-Semitism.
We must fight against real anti-Semitism as if there were no false claims of anti-Semitism concerning the gospel.
We must preach the gospel as if there were not anti-Semitism.
We must fight anti-Semitism as if there were no gospel.
Actually, they are both part of the message about Yeshua: one concerning His first coming and the other concerning the second coming.
Anti-Semitism has an evil purpose to keep Jewish people away from the gospel of salvation, which Yeshua provided on the cross at His first coming.
Anti-Semitism has another evil purpose, which is to keep Christians away from Yeshua as a conquering king fighting for Jerusalem at His second coming.
At the first coming, Jewish religious leaders rejected Yeshua’s claim to be Messiah and to give eternal life.
At the second coming, leaders of the Gentile nations will reject Yeshua’s authority to reign over them as king from Jerusalem.
(Ben Gurion was quoted as saying that we must fight Nazism as if there were no British Mandate [which at the time was preventing Jewish people from immigrating to Israel], while at the same time fighting against the British Mandate as if there were no Nazism.)
III. SHARON’S DISENGAGEMENT PLAN
This afternoon there was a heated debate (as usual) in the Israeli Knesset concerning Sharon’s “Disengagement Plan” from Gaza. Actually a large number of parliament members are supporting the plan. When I say “support,” I mean reluctant support. All Israelis believe that all the land morally belongs to them, and that having a peaceful coexistence with the Arabs would be better than a unilateral disengagement. However the reality of terrorism among Palestinians and the brainwashing of fanatical Islam have made idealistic solutions and peaceful settlements impossible.
My view is that Sharon’s disengagement plan is a terrible plan. However, it is also the only plan available at this point. Therefore, it is also the best plan.
It is also true that the plan may never get carried out. The bizarre reactions of the terrorists may force a different solution before this one ever gets carried out. Even if it never gets carried out, the disengagement plan must be adopted at this time by the Israeli government, because it is the only workable strategy under present conditions.
In the Knesset discussion today, there were two small groups of hecklers: the Muslim Arab parliament members and the ultra-right-wing orthodox Jewish settlers. It is ironic and typical of the Middle East problems that these two groups would both be in opposition to the same plan.
Bush’s recent statement in backing the disengagement plan has brought him into widespread recognition within Israel as the most supportive U.S. President ever. The high appreciation for Bush has to do with several elements of his statement:
1. commitment to stand as an ally to Israel
2. commitment to fight terrorism and back Israel’s effort to fight terrorism
3. acknowledgement that the larger settlements on the “West Bank” will remain in Israel’s hands
4. acknowledgement that the solution for Palestinian “refugees” must be found within the Palestinian territories and not to be returned within Israel proper
5. requirement for a responsible governing body to arise within the Palestinians in order for there to be a permanent final status agreement.
Ultimately all the land of Israel will return to the hands of the Jewish people.
– for this our children serve in the Israeli army
Ultimately all the nation of Israel will return to faith in Yeshua as Messiah.
– for this we constantly share the gospel in Israel
Ultimately all the nations (including Israel) will live in peace with one another.
– for this let us pray and work for reconciliation.
In the meantime, let us realize the enormous practical, social, economic and military problems that the Israeli prime minister and the American President must face. To my view they have both demonstrated strength and moral courage in their leadership.
Let us pray for wisdom and direction for George Bush and Ariel Sharon to bring about a peaceful and orderly society so that the gospel can be shared (according to I Timothy 2:1-6).
IV. DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING CENTER
Our plans for the new Discipleship Training Center continue to go forward. Our staff and team are coming together wonderfully. Now that is exciting!
We need guidance from the Lord concerning our relationship with local pastors in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and provision from the Lord concerning property and building facilities for the school, staff and students.
James 1:5-6 tells us that if we ask for wisdom with single-minded faith, He is sure to give it to us. Deuteronomy 6:11-12 tells us that the Lord will provide all the property and living space we need here in Israel. If we put those verses together, we can fully expect to see the Lord’s grace come into action.
Pray for the right relationship with the Israeli pastors for the Discipleship Training Center, and for the right provision of land and buildings, according to James 1 and Deuteronomy 6.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.