Sunday, September 23, 2018

Jewish Evangelism as the return of Yeshua is near!



When I received the following newsletter from my friends, Michael and Mimi Finesilver, who are Jewish evangelists in south Florida, I knew I had to share it on my blog. Ever since the Lord called me to be a Mizpah (watchman and witness) for Israel in 1995, I have tried to fulfill that calling in two ways, teaching the Church about her Jewish roots in Jesus and reaching the Jewish people for their Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth. Most of my ministry has centered on teaching the Church, but my heart's desire now is to show Yeshua to His "natural" brothers, the Jews, especially since His return to Jerusalem may not be so far off! I always pray Zechariah 12:10, and I have witnessed a little on my trips to Israel, but contributing support to Michael and Mimi and others who are on the "frontlines" of Jewish evangelism is an important part of fulfilling my calling. You will enjoy this report from the Finesilvers. We can back them up in prayer, and you may feel led to make a donation.

JESUS 4 JEWS
Volume 12 Issue 9 SEPTEMBER 2018

Matt. 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

As we wrote before, we had a gathering at our home when we first moved in several months ago. This was to pray that our home would be a lighthouse.

“Sally” was waiting for the elevator when Mimi passed by. Sally wished her a “Happy New Year” (this was during the time of Rosh HaShanah/the Feast of Trumpets). She quickly added, “Oh, do you celebrate it?” Mimi was about to speak about the Messiah being the fulfillment of this Feast when Sally continued, “You know I used to be a Messianic Jew, too, but I’m not that devout anymore.” Before the elevator arrived, she asked about our Discussion Group and Mimi encouraged her to come just as the elevator arrived. Sally lives two doors down from us and most likely saw our Jewish star and cross on our front door 
as well as our Jacob’s Ladder on our terrace (we needed to store Michael’s 10’ ladder somewhere, so now it’s sitting on our front terrace with angels’ wings up and down the ladder and a sign declaring “Jacob’s Ladder.” 
 And, of course, Sally must have seen our notice in the condo newspaper. We will be calling her soon and asking if she would join us for some coffee and a nosh.

Ellen, whom we wrote about in recent newsletters, has been attending our group. After talking with her about current events, she mentioned that somewhere she heard that one day mother would be against daughter and daughter against mother, and she said, “I think it’s supposed to be at the end of days.” When we told her she was quoting Jesus, she admitted that she basically knows and maybe believes, but just hasn’t “let go yet.” And added “Maybe because of growing up Jewish.” Last week we met Ellen’s daughter who visited from out of town. She is a Believer and told us she has been praying for her mother’s salvation for a long time and is blessed there is someone in her building who is sharing with her. Please, pray she will let go and fall into the arms of her Savior.

Last week the president of our building knocked on our door to ask Michael a question, He looked at Jacob’s Ladder and asked if this was from the Bible. He grew up Catholic but is now going to an evangelical church and said he is loving it. There was a sweet humility in how he spoke of this and said he is now reading the Bible—hasn’t gotten to the place in Genesis where it records the story of Jacob’s Ladder.

A friend of ours brought a Jewish woman, “Dorothy,” from her condo to church this month and we all sat together and went out for coffee and conversation. Our friend has been faithfully sharing with Dorothy for several years now (our dear friend is a bright light in her condo and we enjoyed having time with the fruit of her ministry). Dorothy, after we shared some of our testimony, said, “Well, you were lost, but I’m not. I’ve always been good and don’t need a savior.” She then asked, “Where was Jesus during the holocaust?” and before that could be answered, she asked about the title “Son of God.” Michael answered her questions with a series of questions: “Where were you when the earth was formed? Can you explain how the light is divided?”

We also were invited to the home of “Ruth” who Mimi knows from her writing group in the community center. Ruth and her husband were having a party with the members of their conservative synagogue and we were the only couple there who were not members. Several times at the dinner table, we spoke of God, for example how He answered prayer that brought us together and how He spoke to a man at our church to pay for us going to Israel. This dinner party was on a Sunday and interestingly the message at church that morning was how God SPEAKS to us. We were aware by their reactions that it startled them how we spoke of this intimacy with our Lord. They go to synagogue but it’s all about observances etc., and never about the character of God and loving Him. Ruth is a sweet lady who promoted Mimi’s book to her guests and at least two people (a man and a woman) wrote down the title and said they would be ordering it online.

We do not want to appear to be exalting ourselves by reporting to you the opportunities we have had in the last month, but because many of you support this work, we simply want you to know you are providing us these opportunities—living in an area where there is a very large Jewish population.

Love in Yeshua,
Michael and Mimi Finesilver       


Everlasting Life Outreach
7806 Trent Drive
Tamarac, FL 33321
954.478.6893 or 954.512.4102
Email: mmfinesilver@gmail.com
www.everlastinglifeoutreach.com/support.html

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Divine Appointment in Israel and a New Ministry


 (Photos - Kevin reading my book, Jewish Roots Journey: Memoirs of a Mizpah and me, Kevin, and Janice in the lobby of the Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem, photographed by Penny)


My friend and ministry partner, Janice Bell-Lewis, and I went on a tour of Israel last December. This was my 9th trip to Israel and the third for Janice and me together. Little did we know that God was going to introduce us to a couple from Colorado who had prayed for a "divine appointment." It turned out to be us! They sat with us at dinner the first night and listened with rapt attention to Janice as she told about her encounter with Jesus, her Messiah. I told them her testimony was in my book, Jewish Roots Journey: Memoirs of a Mizpah, but I didn't have the book with me. I did have another of my books with me, Why Christians Should Care About Their Jewish Roots, and I gave it to them the next day. This started our relationship with Kevin and Penny Spencer.

After we returned home, we received an email from Kevin, stating that God had called them out of retirement, and they were starting a new ministry. The Lord gave Kevin a "download" one night for a ten-session Bible study, and Kevin wrote that my little book was "spot on," and he would be drawing from it. He and Penny had seen Janice and me as an example of the "one new man," Jew and Gentile, and that would be a focal point of the study (Eph. 2: 11-22). Then as Kevin proceeded to write it all down, he sent draft copies for Janice and me to proofread and edit. In our correspondence, Kevin and Penny said more than once that meeting us was the divine encounter they had prayed for.

Kevin and Penny Spencer's study was published this June. The tenth session is a Photo Journey by Penny, who is a professional photographer. Janice and I are listed on the copyright pages as "contributors." We are both highly honored to have been used by God in the development of this outstanding Bible study, Understanding Our Roots: the Forgotten Stories and Promises of Our Hebraic Heritage. 

Understanding Our Roots is a detailed, but easy to read study program, focused on major Biblical topics. Sessions 1 - 9 discuss the Bible, God’s Appointed Feasts, Jesus in Creation and the Old Testament, the Covenants; Old & New, Grafting In (Romans 11), and the “One New Man.” Session 10 is a tour of Israel through unforgettable photographs.

The Spencers' new ministry is called Lion's Gate Foundation. You can purchase the book at this link - Understanding Our Roots

One very interesting part of the book is the explanation of "theophanies" and "angelophanies." Have you ever wondered about the seeming contradiction in God telling Moses, "You cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live" (Ex. 33:20), and yet Moses speaks to God "face to face, as one speaks to a friend" (Ex. 33: 7-11)? Several instances of seeing God face to face in Scripture are thoroughly examined, and the conclusion that Kevin Spencer reaches is well-grounded in the text and satisfying to the mind and heart!

Another part of the book concerning "concursive authorship" of the Bible was especially illuminating for me. Spencer compared "the word of God" and "the Word" (John 1:1). We know that the Word was made flesh, Jesus in His incarnation. We also know that God's written word was passed on to us through human authors. But so did Jesus come to us through a human vessel, the Virgin Mary. I had never quite linked the two before. (II Peter 1:20-21)

In conclusion, the major themes of the Bible are made so clear in this study, and there are beautiful color illustrations throughout. It is packed with Scripture and also has great reference material, such as a list of Messianic Hebrew Scripture Prophecies: New Testament Fulfillment. Jesus is shown in the Feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23) in detail. I learned a lot in Session 4: Understanding the Covenants. And the union of Jew and Gentile is the goal, as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, "... that they may be ONE, as We are ONE" (John 17:22). This book was written for both Jews and Gentiles.

My experience reading this book, Understanding Our Roots, was a sheer delight! I wholeheartedly recommend it! It is available on Amazon.com.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Jewish Wedding - Fulfillment in First and Second Comings of the Messiah


This is the final installment in the summary of "Here Comes the Bride" by Richard Booker. I have quoted him exactly in places.

Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled around 333 prophecies in the Tanach (Old Testament) concerning the Messiah in His First Coming. There are yet many prophecies to be fulfilled in His Second Coming from both Old and New Testaments. (My own words)

Just to think that the baby whom Joseph and Mary dedicated at the temple in Jerusalem was God in the flesh! He is called "Immanuel," which means "God is with us" (Matt. 1:23). God, in the person of Yeshua, came to the house of His bride (eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel) to present His marriage contract, the new covenant that Jeremiah foretold (Jer. 31:31). Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) was the herald of the Messiah. Some people said he was the Messiah, but John said that he was not, but he was "the friend of the bridegroom" (John 3:28-29).

John introduced Yeshua as the bridegroom, the Lamb of God. Yeshua was willing to pay the bride price of His own blood as the atonement (really, the propitiation) for sin for both Israel and the Gentiles (I Pet. 1:18-19). God had chosen for His Son a bride, Israel and all Gentiles who accepted Jesus as their personal Redeemer. Yeshua would drink the cup to show He was willing to pay the price. This was done at the final Passover meal with His disciples (today celebrated in the church as The Lord's Supper - Matthew 26:26-28).

Isaiah foretold Yeshua's blood sacrifice, as well as His resurrection, in chapter 53. Isaiah said that Yeshua would "prolong His days" (53:8-10), and it was fulfilled three days after His crucifixion when He rose from the dead! Then Yeshua spent 40 days with His bride, the Messianic Jews who had believed in Him. He had told them He would "go to prepare a place" for them and would come back and get them (John 14:2-3). The New Jerusalem in heaven was to be the wedding chamber, their eternal chuppah (Rev. 21:2, 9-10)!

The disciples asked when Yeshua would return - "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age" (Matt. 24:3)? Yeshua gave them signs to look for but told them that only the Father knew the exact day and hour (Matt. 24:36). Like the betrothed Jewish bride in waiting, we will also know the times and seasons, but not the exact moment the Messiah will return.

After Yeshua returned to heaven, he sent a matchmaker, the Holy Spirit, to find all Jews and Gentiles who would be a part of His bride (John 14: 16-17, 25-26)! This happened on the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot), a Jewish feast day, when Jews came to Jerusalem from far and wide. In Acts 2, we read of the thousands of Jews who acknowledged Yeshua as Messiah and formed the first church, but the powerful religious leaders rejected Yeshua as their Messiah. Jesus had used many parables to foretell this (Matt. 8:11; 22:1-13). Only a remnant of the Jews, God's chosen people, would be saved, but God has promised that at the end of the age He will woo them back and join the Gentiles to them to become His one glorious bride (Psalm 102:13-16; Rom. 11:26-27).

God has been calling the Jewish people back to their ancient land, and the return increased during World War II, out of the ashes of the Holocaust. God is bringing them back to the land, and then He will bring them back to Himself!

About ten years after the Pentecost of Acts 2, God sent His matchmaker, the Holy Spirit, to the Gentiles, when Peter took the gospel to Cornelius and his family and friends (Acts 10:44-45). These were the first Gentile believers. They believed the good news and were saved. (Nancy: I also believed the gospel of Jesus Christ approx. 1,935 years later and was saved! Glory!)

Paul (Shaul) considered the church to be the bride of Christ (Eph 5:22-32; II Cor. 11:2), but he knew that God did not have two brides, one Jew and the other Gentile. He did not believe that the church had replaced Israel as God's bride. "Messianic Jews would not become part of the bride by joining the Gentile church. To the contrary, Gentile believers would become part of the bride by joining themselves to the Messianic community (See Romans 11)."  (Exact quote)

Shaul wrote, "There is neither Jew not Greek ... slave nor free, ... male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). This doesn't mean there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. There is still a difference between them, as well as a difference between male and female, but we can be ONE in Messiah Yeshua.

We, as the betrothed of Yeshua, after we have said yes to His proposal, make ourselves ready (Rev. 19:7-8) for the marriage by drinking the cup of acceptance at the new covenant meal of Communion and also by being baptized (I Cor. 11:23-26; Acts. 10:48). We use the gifts He has given us through the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12; Rom. 12; Eph. 4:11). We keep ourselves holy, and we keep oil in our lamps, being full of His Word and His Holy Spirit. We wait and watch for Him eagerly (parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Matt. 25: 1-13). Paul describes that day when the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, and we will rise to meet Him in the air (I Thess. 4:16-5:1).

Our wedding feast will be "the marriage supper of the Lamb" on the earth (Rev. 19:7-9), and we will reign with Him for a thousand years.

"Until He comes, our holy lives are the veils that separate us from the world. We are in the world but not of the world. We belong to Yeshua. We keep ourselves pure for Him. Although the world may not recognize us today as the bride of Yeshua, they will when we appear with Him at His coming for we shall be like Him (Phil. 3:20-21). When we appear with Him as His unveiled bride, the whole world will know who we are and proclaim, 'Here comes the bride.'" (Paragraph is an exact quote.)

This book, Here Comes the Bride, by Richard Booker, is filled with Scripture. It includes some historical events that have fulfilled Scripture, and it is very well written. You can order this booklet here. I have taught several courses from his series of booklets, written in the 1990s. I recommend this as an excellent source for Bible studies.



Friday, February 2, 2018

Jewish Wedding - Yahweh and Israel



The following teaching is a continuation of my last blog, taken from Richard Booker's booklet, Here Comes the Bride.

God was His own matchmaker (shadkhan) and acquired Israel as His bride. In the exodus from Egypt, Yahweh said, "... I will take you as My people, and I will be your God" (Ex. 6:6-7). The words, "take you," indicate marriage. Isaiah said, "For your Maker is your husband ... the Holy One of Israel" (Isa. 54:5-6).

God gave Israel a formal, written marriage contract or covenant. He spells out the terms of the marriage covenant, (Ketubah) in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Israel had to forsake all other gods (first term in the Ten Commandments) and love God "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:4-5). Yahweh would be jealous over His new bride (Deut. 4:24). If the Israelites went back to worshiping other gods, that would be spiritual adultery, a breach of the marriage contract. She would suffer God's curses and be scattered from her land and miss her Messiah.

Yahweh had offered His own bride price, the blood of the Passover lamb! The blood on the doorposts of their homes was the means of their rescue, their redemption from slavery. If the Hebrews accepted the terms of the covenant, they would be His "special treasure" (segulah) above all people (Ex. 19:5).

Israel accepted God's marriage covenant. She would drink the cup of wine at the Passover covenant meal to show this. In modern times the Jewish people drink four cups of wine at the Passover meal. When they drink the fourth cup, they are saying "yes" to God's marriage proposal, even if they don't know it.

Yahweh promised many gifts and blessings to His betrothed people - "a land flowing with milk and honey," making her the head of the nations, and making a new covenant with her through the Messiah, the Promised Seed of Abraham. God would be faithful to His covenant.

The bride made herself ready by cleansing herself in a mikveh. This cleansing happened before the Israelites met with God at Mt. Sinai. God gave her instructions for worship and serving Him. He provided a Tabernacle, the priesthood, sacrifices, and moral and civil instructions, so she could be the bride He wanted. He gave her a veil, the Torah. This set her apart from the pagan world. Israel was to be holy, as Yahweh was holy (Lev. 11:45).

Yahweh prepared a wedding chamber, the Sabbath, for the Israelites. God's bride was to shut herself in with Him and enjoy Him as the bridegroom and bride come to know each other in the wedding chamber.

The wedding celebrations were the feasts of the Lord. Three times a year the males were required to go to Jerusalem for a big celebration of their marriage covenant with God.

The marriage was a tragedy right after the betrothal! Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it! Her punishment was to wander forty years in the wilderness. God still had mercy on His wife and brought her into the Promised Land through Joshua. Israel was a faithful bride under Samuel and King David, but most of the time she played the harlot. God sent many prophets to warn His people. He pled with them to return to Him. Finally, God had to issue Israel a certificate of divorce! (Jer. 3:8-10). Yahweh showed His great mercy through His prophet, Hosea. Israel was scattered from her land as a result of her continual idolatry, but, finally, she would repent and return to her land and her God (Hos. 3:4-5). Yahweh would betroth her to him forever! (Hos. 2:16, 19-20)

Jeremiah explained this would be a new covenant marriage (Jer. 31:31-34). Until this marriage is renewed in the latter times, God would call a people from among the Gentiles (goyim) who would become part of the bride with Israel.

THE MESSIAH BRIDEGROOM - Yeshua (Jesus) would be the fulfillment of the promise of a new covenant to the Jewish people and a light to the Gentiles - the Jewish Redeemer and Savior of the Gentiles.

NEXT BLOG: Although the parallels with Jesus and the nation of Israel as the Bride of Messiah are obvious for one who understands the gospel, I will write about the ultimate fulfillment pictured in the Jewish wedding in the next blog. This will complete the summary of the booklet, Here Comes the Bride, by Richard Booker, Copyright 1995 by Sounds of the Trumpet, Inc. You can visit his ministry site at rbooker.com.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jewish Wedding Customs Reveal the Messiah and His Bride!

I promised on my recent blog that I would make another post about the Jewish Wedding, so here it is. I recommend the booklet by Richard Booker, "Here Comes the Bride." The following article is taken from this important writing. You can easily see how this correlates with our salvation and our identity as the "Bride of Messiah."

There are three phases of the Jewish wedding: the betrothal phase, the wedding phase, and the celebration phase. God shows His deep love for us in these phases. God wanted the man to acquire a wife publicly and ask her father for his daughter's hand in marriage by means of a "marriage contract," really a COVENANT, a blood covenant. The father might choose the groom or enlist the services of a matchmaker.

The young man draws up a contract (covenant), called a Ketubah, and presents it to the young woman and her father. The young man proposes a bride price to the father to get his permission to marry his daughter. This is a compensation for the financial liability of raising a daughter (she couldn't do the hard work a son could).  If the father accepts the contract and the bride price, the young man pours a cup of wine for his beloved. If she drinks the cup, she is saying "yes!"

The bridegroom has brought gifts for her, which she will use as she waits for the wedding.  Before the wedding the bride has a ceremonial cleansing, called a Mikveh, denoting a purifying through baptism. Now they are betrothed, which means they are legally married. In the West it might be called an engagement period. The consummation of the marriage comes in the celebration phase.

As the young man leaves the house of the beloved, he announces that he is going to prepare a place for her. Then he will come get her! This place is usually a room he builds onto his father's house. It is called the chuppah and represents the wedding chamber. It may take a full year to complete it. The man's father is the one who decides when it is ready. The young man may say when questioned about the time, "I don't know, only my father knows."

While the bridegroom is gone, the bride is making herself ready, using the gifts he has given her. Whenever she leaves her house she wears a veil, signifying she is "spoken for." She has been bought with a price.

The bride never knows the exact time the groom is coming, so she has to be ready at all times. It was the custom for the bride to keep an oil lamp beside her bed, along with her veil and other belongings. Her bridesmaids also wait while making sure they have plenty of oil for their lamps. The groom may come like a "thief in the night" and steal away the bride!

When the day comes for the wedding, the groom and close friends make their way to the bride's house. As they get close to her house they give a shout and blow a shofar (ram's horn) to alert the bride. The groom and his friends charge right into the house and carry off the bride and her maids! The neighbors hear the commotion and look outside, but the bride is wearing a veil, so they don't know who she is! In a week she will return with her veil off, and they will know!

When the bride and groom reach his father's house, they go into the wedding chamber for a seven-day honeymoon. They consummate the marriage. The groom's best friend has been waiting near the door. The new husband takes the honeymoon sheet stained with blood and gives it to him. The friend then shows those who have gathered to celebrate the evidence that the two have become one. This signifies the marriage covenant is established.

The invited guests have been having a party during the seven days of the honeymoon until the newly weds emerge from their wedding chamber. There is a lot of singing and dancing, and a joyous feast follows, the marriage supper. When the party is over, the couple goes to their own house. The bride discards her veil, and the neighbors know her identity. They also rejoice and celebrate the marriage!

NEXT BLOG: GOD TAKES A BRIDE, ISRAEL

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

JESUS HAD FEELINGS LIKE WE DO

In commemoration of the International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th, I am sharing one of my poems with you.

The Lord impressed on me that Jesus has feelings like we do, and he had his share of grief, especially when his cousin, John the Baptist, was so horribly murdered. Of course, Jesus bore OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows, according to the prophet Isaiah, who also said He was a "man of SORROWS, acquainted with GRIEF" (chapter 53).  Jesus was very close to John the Baptist and also to His disciple John. This poem tells the story, from an emotional viewpoint, of Jesus' reaction to the atrocity of his cousin's beheading!

May we Christians who know our Jewish roots in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, also grieve for the six million Jews who were murdered by Hitler in the Holocaust, some of whom no doubt knew that Yeshua was their Messiah. Remember, Jesus said, "As you have done it (good or bad) unto the least of these MY BRETHREN (Jewish believers), you have done it unto ME" (Matt. 25:40).


JESUS’ GRIEF
[Based on Matthew 3 and 14; John 19:25-27; Book of Revelation]

Jesus had two Johns in His life; the first was John the Baptist,
And we know that they were cousins, as Luke 1:36 has it.
For Mary visited John’s mother to talk of their sons before born,
And John would be six months older than Jesus, his cousin but also his Lord!
The Father called John into ministry to preach to His wicked people.
He lived in the desert and didn’t attend a church like ours with a steeple.
But people came out to the desert to hear the prophet cry, “Turn from sin!”
And one day Jesus came out to be baptized by John, His very own kin.
They shared an awesome moment when God spoke, “This is My beloved Son!”
Then the two went their separate ways, working to see God’s will was done.

Jesus was doing miracles, and John was preaching, “Repent!” to Herod,
For Herod had taken his brother’s wife – to him John was a terror.
He dared not take the life of John, for the people honored this prophet,
But Herodias, Herod’s wife, conceived a plot, and no one would stop it.
When watching Salome dance, Herod promised to give what she asked.
She asked for John’s head on a platter – Herod was trapped in an evil task.
She gave the platter to Herodias, her mother; his disciples buried John’s body,
Then went to tell Jesus of this awful horror! No conscience had the ungodly.
When Jesus heard it, he immediately departed by boat; His grief was heavy.
He wanted to pour out His heart to the Father, for crowds He was not ready.
But they followed Him, seeking His help, so Jesus delayed His time of prayer.
He healed them all and fed them, too, unselfishly showing them care.

He told the disciples to cross over by boat, and He sent the crowd away.
At last He was alone, and now He could go up on the mountain and pray.
A man of sorrows, He had suffered deep hurt and had seen the evil of man,
But hearing of His loved one’s horrible death was hard for Him to stand.
The Father comforted His Son and showed Him John with a golden crown,
The heavenly hosts attending and glory shining all around!
Just as He felt new strength to continue all the way to the cross,
He heard the call of the disciples crying, “Help! Or we are lost!”
Forgetting His weary body, having had no sleep at all,
He made His way to the boat, walking on water and didn’t fall.
His heart was cheered to see Peter, accepting His challenge to come,
Bold in his faith for a moment, but then he took the plunge.
Jesus gently reproved him, and then they got in the boat –
Now He was back with His friends, the ones He loved the most.
The wind died down, and they worshiped, and Jesus’ grief was gone.
The boat docked in Gennesaret, and soon there was a throng.
People had heard of His presence and brought their friends and kin.
They touched the hem of His garment – this was God in human skin!

Yes, He was human, at least for a while, and He sorrowed just as we,
He got so weary He could hardly smile, but He worked to set men free.
His cousin John had baptized Him and heralded His arrival.
The Apostle John who stayed at the cross has prepared us for revival.
So taking a cue from our Lord’s selfless service in the midst of godless rage,
We can be encouraged with His presence now 
and endure to the end of the age.


By Nancy Petrey – November 11, 2016

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A JEWISH WEDDING IN JERUSALEM!




 This description of a Jewish wedding in Jerusalem is excerpted from a Jewish friend's email. She lives there, and her observations are beautifully recorded in her emails to friends. As a relative by marriage to the groom, she was invited. She has given me permission to share this:

                "The groom is the oldest of fourteen in an Haradi (ultra orthodox religious family, his father being a Rabbi and scribe, also the head of a yeshiva, and his mother a leader and teacher in that community as well.)  The wedding was called for 7 p.m. and would likely last until at least 2 a.m.  There was much tradition that I wasn't fully familiar with, and I wasn't really looking forward to being there, but it was 'required,' as was a head covering, which I dutifully donned.
                 At weddings here [in Jerusalem] the ONLY gift given to the bride and groom is money.  A wedding 'gift' as we in the west thought of it, would be an item, but here those gathered know that they are attempting to make the young couple's way ahead of them as easy as possible for that first year in particular.  The economy here is so different than in the west for the most part, and 'community' is very important in supporting one another in every way, so it is 'natural' that the community would give into the support of this young couple. 
                There were perhaps 500 people present (often weddings draw over 1,000) to bless the union and ALL of the little children come and are welcome too!  They were dressed like tiny princesses and princes, and none of their 'disruptions' were considered annoying. In other words, it was really one big family, blessing the noisy little ones who ran along the wedding area, which is the chuppah [or canopy], the covered area where the vows are made. The children were 'messing' it with their small feet, doing cartwheels and dancing around, and no one was at all critical or disturbed by this.  Considering how formal the wedding area was, that impressed me, and I thought back to the days when Yeshua and His family went up to Jerusalem to the feast. Only after three days did His parents seek Him among the procession of family and friends.  At this wedding I totally understood why they were comfortable with not seeing Him for three days!  I SAW what it was for our one year old and three year old granddaughters to be cared for by the entire extended family, the safe feeling that there was. There was real 'care' for all of the little ones; it was a comfortable and natural feeling.  I learned a lot by watching this. 
                As the family and friends mulled around visiting, the bride sat on a 'throne-like' chair, set apart, and received guests [see photo above].  The entire time she was praying and reading her 'bridal prayer book'.  I watched as guests would come up and pray along with her as they embraced.  At one point my dear three year old Maya came and sat on my lap.  We talked about the color 'white' and about 'brides' and 'clean things,' and I asked her if she would like to go and 'see the bride.'  'Oh yes, Tata!' she answered, so hand in hand we went.  Although I had been watching the bride- Rivka- pray, it wasn't until I approached that I was jolted by the intensity and reality of her prayers.  She seemed to me nearly in a trance…NOT an 'occult trance' but a rapture of seeking God, and intensely she was crying out 'Shalom bayit!  teni lanu shalom bayit, ana Adonai!'  I was taken aback, nearly to tears.  'Shalom bayit' is literally 'peace home,' but the meaning is very deep in its short description of a 'peaceful home' - peace and order between all members of the family, initiating from God, through husband and wife to the children and beyond, an undisrupted peace in the home.  She was praying, 'Shalom bayit!  Give us shalom bayit!  I beseech you, Adonai!' Over and over she prayed, clutching her prayer book.  As friends would approach her she would grab them, and they would agree with her, 'Shalom bayit!  Amen!'  She was so intense in her 'beseeching' that one friend or cousin or sister came to pray, and she literally beat her chest! Yes, I was taken aback, because it WASN'T a 'show.' She WAS beseeching The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with all of her heart.  She was not participating in the festivities, but she was seeking God. Little Maya saw the pretty dress and smiled shyly. 
                I did not see the groom and do not know what the groom's preparation is, but I am now curious.
                A middle eastern group of musicians played the exotic instruments. The groom stems from a French Algerian Jewish family.  'Traditions' are probably as varied as the places on earth that we were all dispersed to from Jerusalem to the four corners 2,000 years ago! 
                A call to the 'minyan' was made (a 'minyan' is at least ten elderly men who were to stand together to pray the set prayers of preparation).  Probably 30 gathered, many elderly rabbis among them, and the groom's father. 
                The wedding began with the groom 'kidnapping' the bride from her 'throne,' and then the young men dancing him up to the wedding chuppa.  He is soon followed by the bride, accompanied by her mother and grandmother.  The three of them encircle the groom seven times and then leave her there by his side for the ceremony, which has now begun. 
                I don't know if there are ever any two weddings 'alike,' but this one had at least three rabbis officiating and several different cantors (singers of the prayers).  Three of the bride's young friends moved noisily in front of me, blocking most of my view, but their ongoing commentary actually 'helped' me to understand some things, as they strongly disapproved of much of what the rabbis said! (Is it that way in Churches?  I am often so na├»ve.)  Indeed, the Rabbi DID say many things that I had not heard at a modern wedding. For example, Jews do not celebrate birthdays like the Gentiles do, because it is the MARRIAGE that is the creation of a new person through a covenant, and this is a true 'birthday' of a new being.  The friends did NOT agree.  Nor did they agree when he spoke of the dowry of 500 shekels that had been given, 'according to scripture.'  There was (I believe) discussion of the 'evidence of her virginity' presented and accepted, making them a holy household in Israel.  I had not heard that before and will confirm it with my daughter. 
                All through the ceremony the small children played joyously on the podium; only under the chuppah they were not allowed.  I felt as if I was peering into a different world than I had known before.  There is so much that none of us know and understand about one another.  Lord help me to be HUMBLE and DISCERNING and to walk as YOU walked…"A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth." Isa. 42:3 and Matt. 12:20 
                As always, the center of religious Jewish weddings is Jerusalem and the temple. 'If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!  If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth— If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.'  Psalm 137:5,6 was read, the admonition being that our chief joy is not to be 'one another' but to have HIS chief joy FIRST…considered to be Jerusalem and the Temple…God with us…Emmanuel!  God dwelling in the midst of His people! [See photo above for ending of the ceremony when the groom smashes a glass to indicate the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. Even at a time of greatest joy, the Jews must remember the glory of the temple era and also its destruction.]
                With the ceremony ending and the joy breaking loose, it was about 10 p.m., WAY past my bed time!  The little ones were dancing around, unaware that they were exhausted, but I knew that I had faded and made my way through the two-cheeked kisses and the 'Mazel tov! Brachot!' wishes. I was all too aware that I was indeed exhausted, and that my next morning would be arriving soon." 

(The next blog will explore the meaning of the Jewish wedding as it relates to the Messiah and His bride, the Church.)