What is the big deal about Israel, and why should Christians care? Those are questions this new series seeks to address. In this opening episode, we take a brief look at what the Bible says. This is more than an issue of supporting the Jewish people and the state of Israel; it’s actually a question of identity.
In April 2017, Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler sent out invitations to participate in a book project with the working title, Ten From The Nations: Exploring the Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews. Her motivation is to increase awareness of the fact that we are witnessing the gradual fulfillment of Zechariah 8:23. She did so by compiling testimonies from non-Jews who have experienced a Torah awakening of some sort, and from Jews who are actively building relationships with those who are stepping forward from the nations. Her book includes the voices of Christian Zionists, Bnei Noach, Ephraimites, Gerim and more.
It is an honor to be one of those invited to submit a testimony. What follows is the story of my journey into an appreciation of Torah and the Hebraic roots of my Christian faith.
For more information on Ten From The Nations, visit http://www.tenfromthenations.com/.
For the first few years of my life, people fell into one of two categories: white, or black. Then the rules changed and the world got complicated.
The world into which I was born was white, Southern, and Baptist. That was in 1961, when the requirements of my father’s career in insurance caused my parents to depart from their native Alabama and take up temporary residence in Pensacola, Florida. As we moved back to Alabama in 1963, the Civil Rights Movement entered its most active stage. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail, sit-ins and marches defied segregationist strongholds, and the Federal Government took steps to correct a longstanding injustice. Little of this turmoil impacted me until 1968, when a Federal judge ordered the desegregation of Birmingham’s public schools. One day I went to school with my all-white third grade class of about 20 students; the next day the class had swelled to over forty, half of whom were black.
I cannot say whether the addition of so many new playmates of color caused any trauma to myself, but I know that it shook my parents to their core. At the end of that academic year, they removed my brother and me from the public school, opting to make the financial sacrifice of placing us in the sanctuary of a Christian academy where we could receive a better education. It also had the advantage in their eyes of being an all-white school.
Well, almost. What may have escaped their notice was that Briarwood Christian School had a non-discrimination admissions policy. That explains the presence of one black child in the kindergarten – the only black child enrolled there during my years at Briarwood. My education was hardly interracial, and yet this turn of events triggered inexorable alterations to my worldview. By the age of 8, I learned that the antiseptic white society into which I had been born was less utopian than I had been taught. There was a world of color awaiting my exploration, and a host of questions that the scripted answers could not begin to satisfy.
What I had been taught was not all wrong. Much of it was right, but it was incomplete. So was the worldview of my black counterparts –much of it quite right, but incomplete. Our combined worldviews formed a far more complete picture, with the white perspective filling gaps in the black perspective, and vice versa. Thus my education proceeded along two parallel tracks: a formal track provided by the teachers and preachers at school and church; and an informal track hidden in the recesses of my heart and soul and mind. The hidden track evaluated everything presented to it, often reaching conclusions at odds with the accepted norms. Hence the reason it remained hidden.
The Bible contains so many comforting words of assurance that everything will be all right in the end. It contains a number of frightening words as well, but our preference is to avoid those, thinking that they must apply to someone else. Consider, for example, this familiar passage by the Apostle Paul:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:1-6 NKJV)
We like to think of ourselves as those who will not be caught off guard. After all, what would it mean if we are among those caught unaware when sudden destruction comes?
But what if the apostle’s words are intended to warn those among God’s people who are not paying attention? Paul seems satisfied that his correspondents in Thessalonica are sufficiently alert, but can he say the same about their brethren elsewhere – or perhaps us today, two thousand years removed from his personal instruction? His friends in Thessalonica probably understood that his words about those who say, “Peace and safety!” referred to prophecies Jeremiah and Ezekiel had spoken about the people of God who paid no attention to the signs of the times and refused to repent when YHVH sent them warning (see Jeremiah 6:9-15, 8:8-12, and Ezekiel 13:15-16).
Surely the apostle was also aware of Messiah Yeshua’s parable about the Ten Virgins – all of whom went to sleep while waiting on their Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). The difference between the wise and the foolish was not their degree of vigilance, but their degree of preparation. That, too, is something we should heed.
Consider what happened on December 23, 2016 (23 Kislev 5777 in the Hebrew calendar). That was the day United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 declared illegal anything Israeli that exists beyond the 1967 borders of Israel. That means not just the communities that have grown up on unoccupied and unowned land in Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), but neighborhoods in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem where friends of mine live. It means as well the Temple Mount and the Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest sites in Judaism and the places God Himself has established as His own.
Who is paying attention to the Torah Awakening among Christians? Israeli Jews are beginning to take notice, as Hanoch Young explained in a recent article originally posted on United2Restore. Here is additional testimony: an article by Rivkah Adler of Breaking Israel News about the phenomenon of Hebrew studies among non-Jews.
It is encouraging enough that Dr. Adler chose to write on this topic. What is even more interesting is one of the questions she asked of her sources: How can Jews help Christians learn Hebrew? Of course, we understand that by “Christians” she means all of us who are not Jewish, but have an affinity to Israel – including those of us who have embraced our Hebrew identity. The question should be an encouragement. The more interest there is in learning Hebrew, the more our Jewish brethren will be motivated to help, resulting in an ever-expanding number of contacts and relationships.
Who knows where this will lead in years to come? Certainly it will contribute significantly to global support for Israel in material ways, and hasten the day that the Jewish and non-Jewish parts of the Hebrew people are reconciled and reunited. All the more reason for us to take advantage of the Hebrew language opportunities available to us!
Rivkah Lambert Adler
Published in Breaking Israel News, December 15, 2016
“And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.” Genesis 11:1 (The Israel Bible™)
Christians and members of the Hebrew Roots movement are united in their view that learning Hebrew is an important part of understanding the Judaic origins of their faith.
Speaking to Breaking Israel News, Bob O’Dell, pro-Israel Christian, author and co-founder of Root Source, described his interest in Hebrew as two-fold. As a frequent traveler to Israel, O’Dell recognizes that learning modern, conversational Hebrew could help him “to fit in a bit better when visiting Israel.
However, his primary interest is “to understand the Bible better. What motivates me here is the absolute conviction that I am not ‘seeing’ but a small fraction of the potential insights in the various passages by reading an English translation.”
Many people realized the significance of Ken Rank’s letter to the Jewish people when he published it last week. We have only begun to see the impact of it. Within a few short days it appeared as a guest blog piece in The Times of Israel, and today Breaking Israel News published it along with a deeply moving response by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz.
In years to come, when our God has completed His work of bringing together the fragmented parts of His people, these two letters by Ken and Eliyahu will be counted as major milestones in the process of breaking down the wall between those of us from the Christian side and our brethren from the Jewish side.
Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
October 11, 2016
Originally published on Breaking Israel News
I received this letter from Ken Rank last week. Rank founded United 2 Restore in order to bring Jews and Christians, or as he prefers to describe it, Judah and Ephraim closer together, in order to “re-build bridges of communication which have been previously burned”. He sent me this letter as part of his personal teshuvah (repentance) for Yom Kippur. My response to him was sincere, and I intend for it to be a part of my Yom Kippur prayers.