- What Does the Future Hold?
- Acts Chapters 16 & 17 in Full Technicolor
- Haifa Theological Institute
- Download November Newsletter as a PDF
In October 2000, during the Feast of Tabernacles, a bride and groom walked hand in hand, looking at each other shyly, toward their wedding “tabernacle.” Around the white cloth chuppah canopy and its crimson flowers stood four groomsmen together with the officiating “Uncle Rabbi” and the beaming, teary-eyed father of the bride.
It was a rapturous moment witnessed by 400 guests, family and friends: a harmonious unity between an African-born Jew and an American-born Jew, now both planted in the Land of Israel. It was a canvas painting, colorfully illustrating the reality of God’s promises of His people returning to the Land and inheriting His blessings. The wedding canopy stood on a small peninsula jutting out over a small pool. The wedding processional recalled the path through the Red Sea with water on both sides, opening the way to the Land of God’s promises.
That exultant evening was page one and day one of the tale of our life together as a new family in Land of our Fathers.
However…bathed in the gladness of our celebration, we were only vaguely aware of the rapidly degenerating political atmosphere in the country. Ironically, the very next day, on the first morning of our honeymoon we were greeted with shocking news pictures. We saw on the television screen, a man waving his blood-stained November 2015 Our wedding procession hands from the police station window of Ramallah. This man had participated in a violent lynching of two Israelis – Vadim Nurzich and Yossi Avrahami who had accidentally entered Palestinian territory. This incident the day after our wedding marked the beginning of the Second Intifada.
In Israeli life, too often the joyful and sorrowful coexist almost inseparably.
Back To the Future
Now fifteen years later as we celebrate our “crystal” wedding anniversary, the nation again faces rising political tensions tending towards a Third Intifada. The term Intifada comes from the Arabic word “shaking” but is understood to mean an uprising. This current Intifada has already claimed several lives.
One incident which captured headlines and escalated tension was the brutal killing of a young couple – Eitham and Naama Henkin who were shot from close range while driving in their car with their four children. This killing happened right in front of their children. Having four children ourselves, we soberly wonder what the future holds for our nation?
- What does the future hold for these four children who saw their parents killed because of being Jewish?
- What does the future hold for the Middle East?
- What does the future hold for our lives here in Israel?
No single reason can be pointed to as the main cause of this uprising. The ongoing incitement in the Palestinian population towards the Jews, as well as individual incidents of killings or attempts from extreme members of both sides – Jewish & Arab – have all contributed to this volatile state. But one of the most explosive ingredients for this uprising has been the Muslim High Holiday Id-El-Adcha (Holiday of Atonement/Offering). During these four days Muslims gather at mosques or Mecca to pray and participate in the holiday. Ironically this holiday is connected to what is called Akedat Ishmael – the Binding of Ishmael, commemorated by offering a lamb which would then be eaten during the festivities. The Muslims believe that it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was bound by Abraham to be sacrificed. Unfortunately this holiday has been associated with igniting hostility towards Jews. The Muslim prayer houses have been used to induce zealots to hatred and violence towards Zion.
As fate would have it, in our coexistence with the Arab/Muslim world, we Jews also have a similar Holiday. During the days of awe at Rosh Hashanah we also read Akedat Yizchak – the Binding of Isaac – by Abraham as commanded by God. How ironic is it then that we read of Isaac’s binding and the Muslims read of Ishmael’s binding, and we are facing such a clash between our peoples!
Isn’t it so clear that we all need an offering?! One that would be offered up on behalf of the both of us. This is key to understanding our region. The root reason for the crisis in the Middle East is the question of jealousy and acceptance.
“Who has got the right offering?”
“And who is the rightful heir and promised son of Avraham?”
Addressing this root cause, God has already graciously provided an effective redemption. It is only in the “Binding” and Offering of Yeshua, the Lamb of God, that we can find true acceptance and redemption. Five thousand years ago God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son and told him that He had was the one who would bind and provide the sacrifice. This is the message that we need to revisit again. May this revelation be realized and released to our peoples.
Would you please pray for this season?
For the angels of God to protect innocent lives.
That our people would be able to see hope, peace, and redemption for the future.
We believe this is what the future holds, that we will go through these trials and tribulations until we finally come to realize it was the Son of God who was bound and pierced for our sake. Then we will experience revival in the Land, and the King will come rule over us forever. In the end, there will be a Wedding one day whose joy will not be tempered by the sadness and the tragedy of hatred. For when the Bridegroom returns He will gather His Bride to an everlasting joy of the New Jerusalem and the rest of eternity will be an anniversary celebration.
Standing in the ancient synagogue of Berea, Greece, I draped the tallit (prayer shawl) over my shoulders. We had just received a moving account of the history of this house of worship—including the profound detail that the Apostle Paul had preached the gospel here to the Jews and “not a few of the Greeks” who “received the word with all readiness…and many believed” (Acts 17:10-12). I was humbled by the entire scene, knowing that there’s no longer a minyan in the town (the requisite 10 Jews needed to conduct a prayer service), and that this ancient house of prayer seldom hears the Hebrew that rang here until the Holocaust. As part of the Jewish people, and as a spiritual descendant of those Bereans who became Messianic Jews twenty centuries ago, I sang the Sh’ma (Deuteronomy 6:4), declaring “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one.” The words still hung in the air as an Israeli tour guide entered with a group from Israel, to show them the synagogue site.
After their tour, the guide gave me an opportunity to greet the Israeli tourists. Taking a mere three to four minutes, I presented Yeshua as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant ( Jeremiah 31:31ff) some 600 years before His birth. All of this was in Hebrew. I’m sure the group was not expecting to meet a Messianic Jew from Israel in the Berean synagogue. Five or six members of the group came to me afterward with serious questions about what I’d shared. God’s ways are amazing!
The next day I found myself in Philippi, a massive archaeological site, preserving the city—called the “foremost city of that part of Macedonia” in Acts 16:12. What moved me the most was not the Greek columns, nor the amphitheater, but the small cavity in one hillside that had been a jail. In this jail Paul and Silas sang midnight praises to God after being locked in chains. I thought “What radically dedicated men these were. They gave up their freedom for the sake of the gospel of Yeshua. It was, for them, a joyful fate to be beaten with rods and put in stocks while their wounds still bled.”
At the entrance to the Philippian jail I stood with a pastor from Thessaloniki, whose name, appropriately, is Pablos—the Greek version of Paul. Many members of his congregation have been persecuted by their Greek Orthodox families. There are churches in modern Greece that preach the gospel, bring Greeks to personal faith in Jesus, and disciple in the fullness of God’s Spirit. However, these churches are considered hereticical by the majority of the dominant, state-supported Orthodox religion. Like Paul and Silas, this does not stop them.
It was my memorable privilege to spend three days with this man of God, his family, and his flock. From celebrating Erev Shabbat (the festive meal inaugurating Shabbat on Friday evening) to a well-received two part series I titled “The Prophets and the Apostles,” the Apostolic Church of Thessaloniki won my heart. Their eagerness to embrace Israel, myself as a representative of the Messianic movement of indigenous congregations in the land, and a dear sister—Greta—whose 30 years of intercession helped build this bridge between local believers in Israel and Greece.
On the last night, Pastor Pablos followed my message with a call to repentance over the Thessalonian betrayal of some 53,000 Greek Jews who were taken to the Nazi death camps via city cooperation. The church members came forward, heads bowed, to proclaim their anguished regret for that sin. Then their shepherd extended his hand to me, desiring a sincere covenant of friendship between us, our congregations, and our national communities of faith. I have seldom seen such sincerity and genuine humility. This desire for mutual strengthening at such a tense time in history is nothing short of a sign and a wonder.
Haifa Theological Institute
Many of us have read the prophecy of Isaiah: people of all nations and languages, and they will come and “… and gather the see my glory” (Isaiah 66:18). Today, this biblical prophecy is coming alive and God’s Word is becoming reality. The desire to get to know Israel, Jewish traditions, and the roots of our faith is arising among Jews and the nations.
While the revival of the Jewish-Messianic movement in the Unites States occurred half a century ago, this wave reached the countries of the former Soviet Union only a few years ago and has not yet gained its full force. We are pleased to see in recent years how God puts into the hearts of believers in Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet Union countries the desire to get acquainted with Israel and its heritage, and to unite into one heart with it.
At present we are in need of spiritual sowers. Soon we will need spiritual reapers as well. In addition to being spiritually anointed, sowers and reapers must be well educated theologically, with experience in applying their knowledge in ministry. They must be able to touch the hearts of everyone, combining the message of the Gospel with knowledge of the law and traditions.
In order to equip such ministers, as well as to study complex issues of Judaism and Christianity, the Haifa Theological Institute was founded in Haifa, Israel, in 2009. The institute offers balanced teaching, centered on Yeshua the Messiah of Israel and emphasizing the role of Israel in God’s plan of redemption.
HTI develops projects such as:
- Distance learning and a certified program on Messianic Judaism and Practical Theology
- 4-5 intensive classroom courses per year for believers in the Haifa area
- Development of an online library
- Publications of academic articles about Messianic Judaism on the HTI website
These and other projects are for mainly Russian-speaking believers, in Israel and all over the world.
We are grateful to be God’s instrument in applying HIS plan! We invite you to participate in this process, to study the Scriptures and apply them, and to help others do the same. On the website htinstitute.co.il you can learn more about HTI projects, or apply for a course of study, as well as donate to the development of this ministry.
Feedback from Students
Katherine: “HTI was recommended to me by a friend, for which I am very thankful. The knowledge that I gained in this institute helped me to understand the Scriptures from the Jewish point of view, as they were written, and made them more understandable. A correct understanding of God’s Word helps me with my ministry in the church—a ministry directly related to Israel and its people. “
Igor (Belarus): “One day my wife showed me a link to the HTI website. I inspected it and got interested. My wife and I decided to study, and we enrolled in different programs. During the studies, I felt some changes inside of me; now I`m looking differently at Scriptures and teachings that I received for so many years before. Thank God, this year we have completed our training! But I will continue my self-education by listening to more lectures that will be recorded and published by HTI.”