Tel Beer Sheva and a Biblical Truth

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Baruch sharing with the group at Tel Beer Sheva today.

Today we went to Tel Beer Sheva with another ministry, whose board is located in England.  They are a delightful group who are also burdened for the Jewish people.  We praise G-d for their love, interest and prayers for the people here in the Land.  Meeting with people such as these gives us an opportunity to share about our television program and teaching in England.

Today Baruch shared a short devotion concerning the Law and “keeping” it.  He spoke about the fact that the Law was never a means of salvation;  rather, it shows our need for salvation.  What was really interesting is that he shared that the law has blessings and curses associated with it.  On the cross, did not Yeshua take all of the curses upon Himself for our behalf?  What does that mean?  As we seek, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, how to utilize the Commandments in our lives, this is for being blessed and turning the blessings we receive into being a blessing to others.  It is NOT related to salvation.

This is a great truth to meditate upon.

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More scenes from Tel Beer Sheva.  A teacher dressed in period clothing teaching his class about Abraham.  Ancient Beer Sheva with modern Beer Sheva in the background.  Part of the ruins of Tel Beer Sheva.

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Poor Theology

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Written by Baruch.

Recently, Rivka showed me a post on a friend’s Facebook page. The post originated from John Piper’s Desiring God website. I feel I must disclose that I believe that John Piper is theologically very dangerous. His methodology for interpreting Scripture is highly flawed. I have a few examples of this on our website LoveIsrael.org. For example, in a dialogue with David Brickner from Jews for Jesus, Mr. Piper used the term, the New Palestine. Biblically, one should use the term the New Jerusalem. Mr. Piper has demonstrated an anti-Israel position that strongly misrepresents the verses he provides as support for his views. Below is a link to my response to his article on Israel and Palestine:

https://loveisraelconnection.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/b381b-piper.pdf

The post which I saw was based on a November 26 article from desiringgod.com.  It was a brief article, entitled “Jesus Prays for Us”.

The primary Scripture for Piper’s article is Hebrews 7:25.

He used the ESV translation, which renders the verse,

He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

When I read this verse, I understand the intent is to state the awesome power of Yeshua (Jesus) to draw people to G-d, by means of the Gospel and Yeshua is constantly interceding for people to respond to the Gospel. Please notice the context is drawing people to the Father for the purpose of saving them.

When one looks closely at this verse in Greek, I would translate it as follows:

Which then, He is able also to save to the uttermost, the ones drawing near through Him to G-d, at all times living to intercede in behalf of them.

The context of Hebrews chapter 7 is the Priesthood of Yeshua, as He is the Priest of a better covenant which does what the Old Covenant, i.e. the Law, could not accomplish. Namely, bring about salvation.

Let us ponder this verse more intently. The bold is placed there by me to assist the reader in understanding the message of the text.

Which then, (as a basis of His superior Priesthood) He is able also to save (through the Gospel) to the uttermost (potentially all people), the ones drawing near through Him (by the means of His blood) to G-d, at all times living to intercede in behalf of them.

Please pay attention to the final phrase,  at all times living to intercede in behalf of them. The ESV renders the word which I translated as “at all times” as “always.”  Mr. Piper wants to conclude that Yeshua is interceding always, not simply to bring people to salvation, but his primary point is to maintain the salvation experience (continually renewing). I respond to Piper’s view as heresy. Such a view is an attack on the sufficiency of the Cross. It undermines the statement of Yeshua immediately before His death on the Cross, “it is finished”.

It is very important that one remember the context is not maintaining salvation, but establishing salvation. Piper does not give any consideration to the fact the phrase which the ESV translates as “He is able to save” consists of two present tense verbs. Hence, the verbs are only speaking about achieving salvation. The present tense refers to a moment in time and not an ongoing activity. A perfect tense would have appeared if there was any hint of some need for Yeshua to continue to do something to maintain salvation. Our salvation is eternal, Messiah’s sacrifice ensures this, but to imply that Yeshua must continue to intercede on behalf of the believer, so our salvation will not be lost, is extremely problematic, i.e. false.

I understand the implications of the phrase, “since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (ESV) to imply that Yeshua is praying and constantly praying in this age for those to draw near to G-d, i.e. be saved through the only message of eternal salvation, i.e. the Gospel. In the New Jerusalem there will not be people turning to G-d for a salvation experience; rather, all in the New Jerusalem will be saved. In other words, Yeshua will not be bringing people to salvation in the Kingdom. Because of this fact, which I do not think anyone could disagree with, Hebrews 7:25 would not be pertinent for the Kingdom. Perhaps Piper would counter this and say, but He will be praying to maintain the salvation of all of G-d’s people even in the Kingdom. The problem is that Hebrew 7:25 could not be used for such a view, as the context is about establishing salvation and not maintaining.

Within Piper’s article he states, “he (meaning Jesus) would not be able to save us forever, if he did not go on interceding for us forever.” Once again, this attacks the sufficiency of the Cross and adds Yeshua praying as a necessary component for salvation to be eternal. It is very interesting that in Hebrews chapter 9 one reads,

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us.” KJV

This verse clearly points out that it is Yeshua’s blood that achieved eternal redemption for us and not any continued intercession. A key word in this verse is “once”. If a person checks it out carefully it means “once and for all”. This verse strongly undermines Mr. Piper’s theological point.

Also within Piper’s article he states,

“This means we should not talk about our salvation in static terms the way we often do— as if I did something once in an act of decision and Christ did something once when he died and rose again and that’s all there is to it.”

I strongly disagree. I see no evidence in the Bible to support that one’s salvation is dependent upon an ongoing intercession to maintain the salvation. Piper says that even today he is being saved by the eternal intercession of Jesus in heaven. This last sentence is a quote from him.

“This very day I am being saved by the eternal intercession of Jesus in heaven. Jesus is praying for us and that is essential to our salvation.”

So for Piper, salvation is an ongoing, daily experience that must be maintained eternally by Yeshua praying for this. I disagree and I could list numerous verses which speak about the blood of Messiah justifying the believer and the fact that justification is in the passive perfect. This means that His sacrifice alone provides eternal salvation.  These verses do not allude to any intercession that combines with Yeshua’s sacrifice as part of maintaining salvation.

To support his divergent theological position, he offers two verses of Scripture, Romans 8:34 and 1 John 2:1. Please notice that Piper does not quote these verses. However, I want to do so.

Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Roman 8:34 KJV

Once again, if one examines the context of this section of Romans chapter 8, it is about Yeshua praying for believers, not to maintain their salvation, but in the face of trials, tribulation, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword. It is Yeshua’s prayers that help us to overcome such things. Furthermore, such attacks do not separate us from the Love of G-d in Messiah Yeshua. Paul is simply speaking about how receiving the love of G-d leads to the believer obeying and overcoming the schemes of Satan. The context is not salvation at all, but our being conformed to the behavior of Messiah in this world. Please read from Romans 8:15-39. It is most significant that Paul points out since G-d the Father did not withhold His only Son, how much more will He also give to us all things with Him. The point is not salvation, but G-d providing what the believer needs to be conformed in this world to the likeness of Messiah. Again, it has nothing to do with maintaining the salvation of the believer. 

In First John chapter 2 and verse one it states,

My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” KJV

Apparently Piper is implying that without Yeshua advocating for us before the Father, believers would lose their salvation. The context from the last few verses of chapter 1 is confession of our sins. In other words, the believer should not hesitate to confess sin to G-d because we have an advocate Who paid the price of not only believers’ sins, but 1 John 2:2 states the sins of the whole world. These verses simply encourage the believer not to live with unconfessed sin, but to boldly come to throne of grace, because of the sufficiency of Messiah’s work on the Cross. He is indeed our advocate and intercessor. Because of this we should not fear to confess our sins.

There is a very dangerous conclusion from Piper’s understanding and use of this verse. Since he uses this verse to support his theological perspective, namely that our salvation is only maintained by the eternal intercession of Yeshua, this interpretation would demand that Yeshua’s advocacy is a response from our confession. This would lead one to ask the question, what happens if the believer does not confess some sins? Does Yeshua still intercede in behave of those sins?

Finally Mr. Piper states, “We are saved eternally by the eternal prayers (Romans 8:34) and  advocacy (1 John 2:1) of Jesus in heaven as our High Priest. He prays for us and his prayers are answered because he prays perfectly on the basis of his perfect sacrifice.”

In conclusion, it is absolutely incorrect to add intercession and advocacy as an additional component to Yeshua’s work on the Cross for eternal salvation. When one teaches that it is Yeshua’s blood plus anything else, my advice is to stop listening to such a teacher.

I know that there will be those who find it problematic to publicly disagree with a fellow believer, but Mr. Piper keeps a very high profile and makes statements publicly which must be refuted publicly. He has a history of using very careless exegesis to justify his theological positions. People should be very careful about posting what others state. Make sure that such posts are theologically sound. I do not make a habit of responding to everything with which I do not agree, but lessening the sufficiency of the Cross is a matter to which I strongly felt I needed to respond.

Shalom,

Baruch   

The Past Few Days

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Pretty landscaping outside our new hospital.  Taken today.

The past few days have been very busy here.  Baruch has taped some new shows, we had our study at our center, and we had our Live Stream.  The Live Stream went really well.  For those on Youtube and Facebook, I really enjoy being able to communicate with you via live chat and FB comments.  It is fun to be able to participate together as we listen and learn.  Please plan to join us next week!  It begins at midnight Saturday nights in Israel.  That translates into 5:00 pm Saturday afternoon Eastern time (US), 4:00 pm Central (US), etc.  We hope you will join us next week!

A Thought About the Ukraine:  As many of you know, our television show is dubbed into Ukrainian and broadcast there on CNL-Christian Television.  From our visits to the Ukraine, we have met several people at Baruch’s conferences and we keep in touch with a few of them.

One man posts quite a bit on Facebook and his posts are a stark reminder of what is going on there.  The Ukraine is at war!  We need to remember that Russia is continuing to make land grabs and that soldiers are engaged in fighting–Ukrainian and Russian.

When we were in Cherkassy, Ukraine, we saw a memorial in the main park, where pictures of loved ones who have been killed in this conflict are posted and many flowers are laid.

Let’s please remember to pray for the people there.  It does not look like any country is going to come to their defense.

Genesis Teachings Update

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Enjoying fall weather!

I have received several emails asking when the next Genesis video will be ready.  Please realize that these teachings are not on television and therefore do not have the same time urgency as the television show.

These episodes are not filmed in bulk like the television show.  Therefore, while we were in the States leading up to and during our Conference, Baruch did not film Genesis episodes, and there were not any in reserve to release.  Since we have returned to Israel, he has begun filming Genesis videos again, and there is one in production right now.  Please know that we will post it as soon as it is ready! 🙂

We appreciate so much the positive comments in the series. The Bible is under attack!  The Museum of the Bible recently opened in Washington, DC, and some of the response has been very offensive.  I was reading one article today and here is what it said:  “If you want the cartoon Bible, eternal and infallible, you can find it in quotes from scripture on purple banners along the walls.”  This vile blasphemy is being spread throughout the media.

We are in the minority.  We are outsiders.  It was so good to hear people at our National Conference talk about how one of the highlights of the conference is to be able to meet other like-minded people.  They receive much encouragement and inspiration at our conference, and that makes us feel so good!

 

Close to Egypt

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I took this picture today in Eilat, Israel.

If you have listened to Baruch teach for any length of time, you have heard that Egypt, in the Bible, is synonymous with…the world.

Right now I am in Eilat for a couple of days with our son getting some things done.  Many times in Eilat it is sort of hazy, perhaps because of the extreme heat.  But today, we were able to clearly see Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Being so close to Egypt reminded me that we, as believers, are still very close to the world.  We are in it but not of it.  Yet, being so close, we can be adversely affected by it.  But, just as Israel has to have very secure borders and constantly be on alert for threats from her neighbors, so we too need to be aware of the dangers surrounding us which seek to destroy our walk with the L-rd.

relationships.  Have you ever been in a relationship with a friend, another couple, etc., where you can just feel the dynamics changing or their outlook changing?  Maybe the person is backsliding.  Maybe they are encouraging you to participate in their disobedience.  Whatever the behavior, it is important for you to be aware of changes in an existing friendship, to make sure that they are not becoming a negative influence on you.

time management.  Do you spend time on wasteful things and then not have enough time to spend with the L-rd or your family?  We need to evaluate how we spend our time to make sure we are using what G-d gives us to participate in His plans and purposes.

work ethic.  We need to make sure that we give our employer our 100% effort.  We are to do our work unto the L-rd and we certainly wouldn’t want to give Him a half-hearted effort!  Being at work on time, giving our full effort, not doing personal work on employer’s time.  Concerning all of these things we must keep our guard.

lifestyle.  Can the world detect a difference in us in the way we dress, the way we speak, the choices we make?  As women, we should dress modestly.  Most of the time this doesn’t really apply to men, but of course men should be covered fully as well!

Do we speak in a G-dly way, reflecting the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  Or do we throw around coarse language and off-color jokes?  Do we go to movies we shouldn’t fill our minds with?  And listen to music or read books or magazines which reflect the world and not righteous living?

We need to constantly guard ourselves against the toxic world in which we live!

A Thought on Hanukkah and a Link

Isn’t this a great thing to find at the bus station?

As I said yesterday, this is a great sign that Hanukkah is on its way!

There are several themes found within the Hanukkah festival and historical events which took place.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I will talk about a few of these and how these can impact our lives.

Theme One:  Overcoming/Enduring Persecution

Where the Hanukkah story usually begins is with Judea being ruled by Antiochus Epiphanes in 175 BC.  He had gone to war with King Ptolemy V Epiphanes from Egypt.

When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BC, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.

Antiochus’ actions provoked a large-scale revolt.  Mattathias (Mattityahu), a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. It started with Mattathias killing first, a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus’s order to sacrifice to Zeus, and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government’s behest (1 Mac. 2, 24-25). Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 166 BC Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BC the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.

This is a brief overview of the festival.  Today I just wanted to talk about the first part–the persecution.  Just as in the time of Daniel, and during the time of the Maccabees, we will at some point be confronted with a situation where we are to obey G-d or man.  And the consequence of obeying G-d may be steep.  We need to be spiritually ready for the persecution to come.

What are some ways we can prepare ourselves?

First we need to be in the Word.  Nothing will prepare us better than studying and meditating upon the Word of G-d.  He communicates with us through it.  He encourages, instructs, disciplines and blesses us through it.  Do not neglect this.

Second, we need to be in prayer.  G-d wants to fellowship with us and hear from us.  Telling Him our fears, troubles, doubts and asking for Him to give us the grace, faith and favor to react in a G-dly way will greatly bless us and help to prepare us.

Thirdly, we can fellowship with other believers.  There are many places in the Bible where it speaks about if one member suffers, we all suffer.  Let us love in deed and truth, not in word only.  Have compassion upon one another.  The way we, as believers, are to treat one another is totally different than what the world says and does.  Let us not fall into the ways of the world, but rather build up one another, share each other’s burdens, encourage one another.  Remember, many people do not have family members who are believers, and Biblically-based friendships are VITAL to them.

Finally, I want to share a link with you.  This link is for a Hanukkah video we used to show our children many years ago.  We had the VHS and didn’t bring it with us to Israel when we made aliyah 16 years ago.  It was a very well-made video.

Lost Tribes?

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Taken on my walk on Thursday afternoon.  Ashdod, Israel.

Recently, Baruch wrote an article concerning the “Lost Tribes.”  I thought I’d share it with you today.

Thank you to all of you who tuned in to the Live Stream.  I talked to a few of you on the Youtube chat.  Hopefully next week more people will join us 🙂

The Ten (Nine) “Lost” Tribes

It is very common for people to refer to the ten “lost” tribes of Israel; however, are they really lost? Before answering this question, it would be helpful to present a brief overview of the history of the Covenant people. This will assist the reader in understanding certain terms relevant for our discussion. It is very common to call Abraham the first Jew. More precisely, one should refer to Abraham as the first Hebrew. It was the Hebrews who found themselves in bondage in Egypt. Those who took part in the Exodus from Egypt were called the Children of Israel, or the Israelites. While in the wilderness, the Israelites worshipped G-d at the Tabernacle which traveled with the people. After taking possession of the Land, the Tabernacle was located in one location, Shiloh.

The first capital of Israel was in Shiloh. There, all twelve tribes assembled to worship the G-d of Israel. It was under the leadership of King Shaul that the Ark of the Covenant was lost to the Philistines and shortly thereafter, Shiloh ceased to be the capital. It was David who once more brought unity to the twelve tribes at Hebron, and after ruling from there for seven years and six months he acquired the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) to build the Altar to the L-rd upon it. The unity among the twelve tribes did not last long, for after the death of Solomon, the kingdom was divided between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Rehoboam was anointed king in his father’s place.  But, soon thereafter Jeroboam, the son of Nevat, rebelled and formed a kingdom in the north of Israel, making Samaria its capital. The Southern kingdom, under Rehoboam’s leadership, consisted of only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin; while the Northern kingdom consisted of nine tribes. One must remember that the tribe of Levi had no inheritance and lived in various levitical cities to serve the other eleven tribes. The Southern kingdom was called Judah and the Northern kingdom Israel.

Israel fell into idolatry and approximately 210 years after its formation, it was exiled by Assyria in 722 BC. This exile never ended, and according to the Biblical prophets, only in the last days will Israel be reunited to Judah. Because Northern tribes were scattered abroad, it is common among Christians to speak of the ten “lost” tribes. I emphasize Christians because, although Judaism agrees that these tribes were scattered, it does not assert that these tribes were lost, in the sense that no one knows where they are located. There are perhaps small communities of Jewish individuals which the larger Jewish community was not aware of, but such communities are rare and do not consist of large numbers. So what does Judaism believe happened to the Northern tribes? Those who were not killed by the Assyrians, simply relocated to locations within the Assyrian Empire, while others fled to other locations, including Judah. The view of Judaism is that the vast majority did not lose their identity as Israelites, although assimilation certainly occurred to some degree.

When one studies the prophets, he will find that frequently this Northern kingdom is called Ephraim. There is an errant theology that believes the Northern tribes, i.e. Ephraim, lost their identity as descendants of Jacob altogether and were absorbed into the larger Gentile community. This theology is without foundation and based upon faulty exegetical methodology.

Idolatry also plagued the Southern kingdom and in approximately 586 B.C. Judah was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and a 70 year exile began. At the end of this exile, those who returned to Judah from Babylon and other locations such as Egypt where also some had fled, were called Jews. The term Jew, since the end of the Babylonian Exile, includes all descendants of Jacob, regardless from which tribe one may actually be. It is incorrect to assert that the term “Jew” only refers to those from the tribe of Judah (and Benjamin).

Many descendants of Jacob never returned to the Land. It is true that this number would obviously be larger for Ephraim (nine tribes) than Judah (two tribes). Today, other than for the tribe of Levi, Jewish people do not know from what tribe they are.

I am very opposed to those who hold to another errant theology, that Ephraim (the nine Northern tribes) is really the Church. Some hold that their faith reveals that they are from the “lost” tribes and others believe that salvation is reserved for those from the covenant people, thus awarding salvation on the basis of DNA, rather than on one’s faith in the blood of Messiah Yeshua.

People often speak about the Jewish communities that were found in Ethiopia, India, and Zimbabwe. I totally accept that those individuals are Jewish and in a matter of speaking were “lost” in a sense. Meaning, those of the larger Jewish community did not know they existed. What is important is that they knew that they were Jewish. Simply because they were located in a most remote area and cut off so to speak from the larger Jewish community does not mean that they were lost. As we approach the end times, it is most important that HaShem is revealing where all the Jewish exiles are, and we can expect Him to manifest His faithfulness, and bring the Jewish people of all tribes back to the Land of Israel for the appearing (Second Coming) of Yeshua.