The dirtiest word in the Hebrew language is not 4 letters. Unfortunately, it is the word "missionary." The cultural ramifications are complex. There are 5 basic levels of meaning. Starting from the worst:
This week anti-Messianic groups continued their campaign against us. The demonstration in front of S and N's house was not successful. Only about 30 religious showed up (most of them from the synagogue that I attended until asked to leave). The inflammatory rhetoric was directed against 3 targets: Messianic Jews in general, myself, and S and N's family. In addition another accusatory article came out against us in the newspaper.
The more we study the book of Acts, the more we realize that religious persecution is an inseparable element of true apostolic lifestyle. Three elements that we noticed this week are: inciting a crowd, false witnesses, and accusation of being anti-Jewish. The same was true of Stephen and Shaul/Paul.
Religious leaders incited a crowd against Stephen (Acts 6:12) and Paul (Acts 21:27). In order to cause persecution, people have to become emotional and excited so they will act irrationally.
False witnesses were raised against Stephen (Acts 6:13), and accused Paul of bringing a Gentile into the Temple (Acts 21:29). When a false witness is brought in an environment that does not allow for presentation of facts and evidence, there is no opportunity to refute the statements. The crowd's anger is reinforced by the false testimony.
Both Stephen (Acts 6:13) and Paul (Acts 21:28) were accused of operating against the Torah, the Temple, the Jewish people or the traditions. We, as Messianic Jews, have a fervent loyalty to our people, our land, and our covenants. Paul went out of his way to make a vow and a Temple sacrifice to demonstrate this loyalty (Acts 21:21-24). Although this didn't seem to help, it was important to him, both toward his people and toward God. I felt the same way about being in the synagogue, even though those who came to protest were members there.
We are facing continuing threats from further demonstrations, media reports, false witnesses, and religious leaders. S and N are being threatened with being thrown out of their home. In all these things, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Most persecution leads to a witness for Yeshua (Mark 13:9). We rejoice to take part in persecutions for His name (Matthew 5:11-12).
The primary purpose of these attacks is intimidation. John describes this spirit as "fear of the Jews." Nicodemus came at night (John 3:1). Many religious Jews believed in Yeshua but kept their faith hidden (John 7:13). The fear was to be excommunicated from the community (John 9:22). Among the rabbis there were many secret believers (John 12:42). Joseph of Arimathea came in secret (John 19:38). Even the disciples hid for fear behind closed doors (John 20:19).
This was not a fear of the Jewish people, but a demonic spirit of intimidation through offended religious leaders. An American reporter was present at this week's meeting. He has much experience reporting on persecution in the Muslim world. He called us and said, "I want to apologize. I thought your persecution was not real. Yet I experienced a fear here that I have never seen even in the face of Jihad radicals."
The good news is that these persecutions are actually drawing people towards us. Many are seeing the injustice. While we continue in love, faith and humility, the Lord is touching the hearts of our people.
Here is an 8 minute video of Mousab describing his faith in Jesus, and his feelings toward Islam and Israel. http://www.katsomo.fi/?progId=71943
Please keep him and all our Arab Christian brothers and sisters in prayer.
To my dear friend, brother, and son in the faith, Youval Yanai, was born a beautiful 10 pound baby girl, Shirel, on Friday. On Sunday, his father, Samek Yanai passed away at the age of 91. Samek was one of the founders of the Israel Navy and among Ben Gurion's personal advisors. At his funeral were 5 generals and numerous community leaders. Actor Chaim Topol sang a eulogy. It was a precious moment to give honor to one of our country's founding fathers.
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