[Editor’s note: Is the Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth, or is the Creator bringing all His people to Heaven? If we accept the testimony of John the Apostle, it would seen Heaven comes to earth:
“Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3 TLV)
If that is the case, then what does the Kingdom of Heaven on earth look like? How does it arrive? What, if anything, can we humans do to hasten its coming?
These are questions Angus Wootten pondered for much of his life. His conclusion was that the Kingdom of Israel, composed of the Jewish part (Judah) and the non-Jewish part (Ephraim) would be restored, with both houses reunited under the reign of Messiah Son of David.
In this article, first published in January 1996, Angus offered his observations on the process of Israel’s restoration. His assessment of contemporary developments gave him cause for concern, but also great reason to hope and work for the ultimate fulfillment of the Almighty’s promises. As for how God’s people can participate in the process, Angus offers a frank analysis and a practical challenge. How have things changed in the intervening 25 years? Perhaps this article will give you a lens through which to assess our present circumstances.]
A Messianic Vision
By Angus Wootten – January 1996
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Adonai [Lord], and of his Mashiach [Anointed One]; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
How does the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, plan to accomplish this age ending event? How will He realize His Messianic Vision of manifesting His presence – in His earthly Kingdom – in the midst of a united people? To reach this goal it is obvious that one of His larger challenges is “uniting His people Israel.”
Let us examine this challenge as it currently exists. First and foremost we have the almost three-thousand year old division between the two houses of Israel: Judah and Ephraim, originally the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel. This division is manifested in our day by the division between the Jewish people and Christians, or the Church.Additionally, we have the divisions that exist among each of the houses.
On one hand we have the Church divided by laws and opinions into a multitude of denominations and cults with a vast smorgasbord of theology and doctrines. These divisions are a result of generation after generation of forefathers, to some extent, forsaking the covenants of Yahveh, and following after other gods – the gods often being themselves or other men. For this reason, we have a multitude of divisions among a people who are blinded to their heritage and destiny.
On the other hand, we have the divisions among the Jewish people who are blinded to the identity of the Messiah of Israel. While their divisions are not as numerous as those among Ephraim, they currently tend to be deeper. The deepest rift is currently being manifested in the land of Israel between those who are supportive of the government policy of trading land for peace, and those who are adamantly against this sellout of their inheritance for what they see as a vain hope of a fragile and temporary peace.
We should be encouraged to see our young people taking action on important issues. It means they are paying attention, they care, and they want to make a difference. Whether that difference is good or bad depends largely on what they have learned from their elders, and the willingness of both youth and elders to partner in identifying what is good and how to act on it.
Of course, we at Nations’ 9th of Av understand both from scripture and from our own relational experience that support to the Jewish people and the state of Israel is good, which means that antisemitism is bad. That is why we are encouraged to see one of our young colleagues take a stand in a highly visible public forum.
At 21, Matthew Wearp is the youngest member of our planning team. His talents and energy have enriched our work. As you can see in this opinion piece published inThe Jerusalem Post, one of those talents is writing. The opinion he expresses here is the result of his upbringing in a family that has labored for years in Israel and America to make a difference for good that impacts the Kingdom plans of the Almighty.
The rise of antisemitism on the Left and in America – opinion
The Jerusalem Post
By MATTHEW WEARP, JULY 31, 2020 10:28
In the past few years, we have seen a surge of antisemitism in America.
Antisemitic hate crimes are rising at an alarming pace, and according to the ADL, 2019 saw the highest level of antisemitic incidents since tracking began in 1979.
Only two months ago, as protests raged across our nation, Los Angeles experienced an explosionin antisemitism as kosher stores and synagogues were vandalized, looted, and burned.
The same has happened in cities across America as antisemitic incidents are sadly becoming more commonplace around the United States.
The problem is, instead of the Left condemning and strongly opposing these attacks, antisemitism has found a home in the Democratic Party and has become a shameful problem that the Left must confront.
Outright antisemitic statements from Democratic members of Congress have either been ignored or dismissed by party leaders and even if it is condemned no action is taken. The lack of action will doubtless lead to a rise in antisemitism in the party if Democrats continue to avoid the underlying problem. Politicians who spout any kind of antisemitic rhetoric must be shunned by both parties or else it slowly becomes accepted and normalized when party politics become more important than rejecting antisemitic hatred.
Democrat representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have both come under fire during their first term in office for prejudice towards Israel, support of the BDS movement, and outright antisemitic comments.
Early on in her time in office, Ilhan Omar portrayedAmerican supporters of Israel as having been bought off by Jews, the scandal that followed forced Democrat leaders to scold Ilhan Omar for her comments yet beyond that, no action was taken.
In January, Rashida Tlaib retweetedand then removed a tweet falsely blaming Israelis for the death of a Palestinian child. This spread of an antisemitic blood libel was largely ignored by Democratic leaders and the media.
“The Democratic Party failed to condemn antisemitism, and that failure sent a message which Omar and Tlaib heard quite clearly. They were given a free pass to traffic in and promote antisemitism.” writes Bethany Mandel for the Washington Examiner.
“The Rubicon has been crossed. One of the two major political parties in this country is openly accepting of antisemites in its midst. We have not even begun to understand what the ramifications of this new reality are.”
The outright hypocrisy from the Left when it comes to antisemitism is also outright alarming.
We need museums to teach us what we do not know and to reveal to us what we should have known. The Virginia War Museum in Newport News did that for me. This institution exists to educate the public about the American military experience and to honor those who have borne the burdens of it. Its exhibits cover every phase of my birth nation’s conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism, but as one might expect, many of those exhibits are devoted to the Second World War.
The disturbing thing about all wars, including World War II, is that they never bring permanent solutions to anything. The same evils overcome in one generation take shape again in the next, requiring renewed effort to keep them at bay. The evils overcome in the Great Patriotic War, as our erstwhile Soviet allies called it, were not foreign to us. They were, and remain, an integral part of the civilization the Allies struggled to preserve.
One exhibit made that abundantly clear to me. In a well-illuminated display case there hung the tunic of a German soldier. The buckle of the belt fastened around the tunic depicted an eagle of the Third Reich grasping in its claws the swastika of Hitler’s National Socialist Party. That was not surprising, but the inscription above the eagle was a surprise. In capital letters it proclaimed boldly –
GOTT MIT UNS
“Gott mit uns” means “God with us.” German soldiers have worn it on their uniforms for three centuries, long before the Prussian kings began uniting the separate German states into the cohesive empire that eventually became the instrument of Nazi aggression. The Third Reich had ample reason to continue the tradition, not only for many of its soldiers, but also for certain civil servants. Adolf Hitler, after all, believed he was doing the work of God in creating space for God’s “master race” to rule the world. Such work required the enslavement or elimination of all those who were considered lesser beings according to Hitler’s ideology: Communists, homosexuals, Gypsies, Slavs. . .
. . . and especially Jews.
Jews of Germany understood the inscription on the belts of police officers who enforced the decrees that robbed them of life, liberty, and property. Jews of Poland and Russia had no trouble deciphering Gott mit uns on the belts of soldiers who rounded them up and marched them away to an uncertain fate. Jews of France, Holland, Greece, and Italy would have recognized the message as Wehrmacht soldiers handed them off to SS Totenkopf (Death Head) units that staffed the camps where their lives became solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
What would those Jews have been thinking? Some surely wondered which god these Nazis thought was with them. That this was a Christian God seemed to be certain. The Germans were, after all, Christians. Protestants and Catholics alike embraced Nazism. Many of those same soldiers and policemen who efficiently eliminated 6,000,000 Jews faithfully attended church and chapel services, and almost all of them enjoyed the festivities of Christmas. The Christian God, then, was the one served by those who sought to make themselves masters of the earth over the bones of Jews and other supposedly lesser beings.
Why do we wonder that Jews have a hard time accepting the Christian message? If Christians – even nominal or cultural Christians – like the soldiers of the Third Reich did what they did in the belief that their crimes faithfully served their God, why would any Jew want to have anything to do with that God? If the experience of the Shoa (Holocaust) was the only evidence they had, then it follows that Jews might perceive the Jesus those German soldiers praised on Sunday must be a cruel god indeed, or perhaps a demon from hell.
Gott mit uns. God with us.
How arrogant. How dare they believe God would sanction such crimes? Surely the Nazi era was an anomaly. No other Christian nation would do such things. Surely none would believe that God’s chosen people, the Jews, would be so deserving of His anger that they should be eliminated from the face of the earth. Surely the Germans were led astray. It could never happen to anyone else. Or could it? The sad truth is that the same refrain, “God with us,” echoes through the corridors of history.
God with us –
– on the lips of Crusaders marching under the banner of the cross, ravaging Jewish communities across Europe long before they ever set eyes on the Holy Land.
God with us –
– in the minds of Inquisition agents searching for Jewish houses in the cities of Spain. It was easy. Since the Torah prohibited Jews from kindling a flame on the Sabbath, all they had to do was wait until Saturday and look for the smokeless chimneys. Once identified, the Jews were given opportunity to embrace the Savior. If they refused, the best fate they might hope for would be deportation. Even descendants of Jews who converted were not immune. Those who aspired to a privileged position in society required a certificate of limpieza de sangre (purity of blood) to prove several generations of Christian heritage. Unwary applicants might find, to their horror, that they had a Jewish grandfather, making them subject to the mercies of the Inquisition courts.
God with us –
– in the decrees of Christian kings across Europe as they expelled Jews from their realms. Spain, England, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Lithuania, Holland, Portugal, and the German states all did so. After, of course, expropriating whatever Jewish wealth might be available to aid the crown in its “divine work.”
God with us –
– moving the hands of Russian Orthodox magistrates as they authorized pogroms that made the Motherland uninhabitable for the Czar’s Jewish subjects.
God with us –
– in the hearts of American Protestants as they excluded Jews from their professional organizations and social clubs, insulted them with derisive jokes and demeaning names, and complained fearfully about Jewish bankers who supposedly controlled the world’s wealth. It’s not that these American Christians objected to the blessings of Jewish achievements. They appreciated the financial innovations of Marcus Goldman and Samuel Sachs, the scientific advances of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the creativity of George Gershwin and Leonard Nimoy. It wasn’t so bad that they were Jewish, but it would have been better if they could have been Jewish somewhere else.
Come to think of it, the German Nazi experience was not so unique after all. We might think of it more correctly as the culmination of two millennia of Christian holy arrogance. Such arrogance seems to have overlooked the solemn word of God:
“If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:37 NASB)
If God can break His promises to the Jewish people, and to the rest of scattered Israel, then what prevents Him from breaking His promises to Christians? How, then, do we dare presume that we act for God by relegating Jews to the status of lesser human beings?
Or what do we make of these words of our Savior, the Messiah of Israel?
They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. (John 16:2-3 NASB)
It is customary to consider this as a prophecy of persecutions coming upon Christians, but we rarely consider that these words were spoken by a Jew to His Jewish disciples. Did He, perhaps, have in mind the persecutions that would happen to all His Father’s covenant people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike?
Do we truly desire to heal this breach between Christians and Jews? If so, the first thing we should do is to let our Heavenly Father restructure our thinking. It is, after all, His Kingdom we profess to serve. Perhaps He should have the last word about who is in it.
Repentance prayer ~ Our Father and our King, truly the revelation of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is an awesome gift You have given. Your prophet Isaiah identifies Him as Immanuel, God With Us (Isaiah 7:14). The redemption of all Israel and the world through Him is the greatest message of life. Yet we who profess His Name have all too often turned the message of “God with us” into an authorization to persecute those we should be embracing and honoring. Forgive us, Father, for our arrogance. We do not understand how Your mercy and grace work with our Jewish brethren, but the testimony of history demonstrates that You are not finished with them. Judgment belongs only to You. We want to leave it in Your hands, and instead be Your instruments of peace and reconciliation. Help us, Father. We ask in the Name of Yeshua, Amen.
Plagues have always been part of our human story. In fact, medical disorders that inflict large parts of a population have been known since ancient times, and even enter into the biblical narrative. Is there any significance to these periodic occurrences? Does God ever use them to get our attention?
Rabbi Chaim Eisen of Zion Biblical Studies has some thoughts on that subject in connection with the current pandemic. In this video teaching, he weaves together some fascinating data points from the accounts of 1 and 2 Samuel, Lamentations, and the present day. Is it possible that God is trying to get our attention, saying that His Temple in Jerusalem is much more important than we thought?
[Editor’s Note: This article from Breaking Israel News illustrates why the Nations’ 9th of Av exists. The act of kindness recounted here is something we pray will be multiplied the world over as Christians come to understand our history toward the Jewish people and begin to take action to make things right. Please visitwww.9-av.com to learn how you can be part of this work that touches the heart of our Heavenly Father.]
For Jews, the 9th of Av, also known as Tisha B’Av, is a 25-hour fast spent mourning over the destruction of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem.
A remarkable group of Christians, sensitive to the bloody history of Christian anti-Semitism, have chosen this exact day, the 9th day of Hebrew month of Av, for what Breaking Israel News reporter Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz called “a powerful act of contrition by Christians.”
Beginning in 2018, and continuing in a dramatically expanded way in 2019, there is a movement inthe Christian world to use Tisha B’Av to repentfor the atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the name of Christianity over the past two millennia.
Because COVID-19 has shut Israel’s borders to tourists, the Nations’ 9th of Av planning committee prepared a completely virtual experience for 2020, including lectures, prayer events and virtual tours of Israel for Christians worldwide.
Something New For 2020
This year’s event, which runs onlineJuly 28-August 6, includes yet another new dimension, something Board member Barbara Wilkins called “putting ‘feet’ to our prayers.”
Touched by a personal visit with a Holocaust survivor couple living in Israel, Breaking Israel News Publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz suggested to the Nations’ 9th of Av Board that making a donation to assist this elderly couple would enhance their mission of repentance. The Nations 9th of Av Board unanimously agreed.
Weisz described the couple’s story. During the Holocaust, Mr. Hoffman was six years old when his father was taken away from the family home. Before he left, the father put his hat on the six-year-old’s head and charged him with being the man of the family. He was told, “It’s your job to take care of your mother and your younger brother,” Weisz related, “and it gave me the chills. It was very emotional to hear that.”
Hoffman fulfilled his father’s wishes and cared for his younger brother and mother who also survived the war living in a ghetto in Budapest.
Sadly, according to Weisz, “Mr. Hoffman’s health is declining and his needs are increasing. He has not only Parkinson’s disease, but he also has dementia. He doesn’t even recognize his wife. It’s a lot on the wife, who is elderly herself, to take care of him.” They need a number of renovations to their home, including a ramp outside of their house, renovations for him to enter the bathroom in his wheelchair and specific equipment to get him in and out of bed.
Weisz said, “I told the Hoffmans two things. Number one is that you told your father you’re going to look after your family when you were a child and now, in your old age, I’m telling you, we’re going to help take care of you. And I said that this help will come through the generosity of Christians who love Israel and love the Jewish people.
“Mrs. Hoffman was so blown away by that. She thanked me profusely, from the bottom of her heart. It really meant a lot to her that Christians would be so moved by repenting for Christian anti-Semitism by compassionately caring for Holocaust survivors. She asked me to thank them on her behalf.”
Board Members Comment
For 9th of Av Board members, caring for Holocaust survivors is a natural extension of the repentance work in which they are already engaged.
Board member Al McCarn told Breaking Israel News, “This gift, going directly to help a Holocaust survivor in the days leading up to Tisha b’Av, testifies of our desire to see healing and reconciliation between Christians and Jews. We can’t make up for the untold suffering Christians have inflicted on Jews over the past 20 centuries, but this humble act is a gesture of hope that we can build a better future together.”
Fellow Board member Laura Densmore explained that, “Each one of the nine hours of prayer is focused on a theme for that hour. One of those hours (from 4-5pm EST on July 30) is focused on prayers of repentance regarding the Holocaust.
“The principle of teshuva (repentance) involves a change of mind, a change of heart and a change in behavior/actions, which can include making amends or restitution for the past wrongdoings.
“It is a joy and an honor for the Nations’ 9th of Av team to make a financial contribution to the Holocaust Survivor Fund to bless Holocaust survivors. Our repentance must go from our head, to our heart, and finally, to our feet,” she shared.
Last year was Barbara Wilkins’ first experience with the Nations’ 9th of Av and today, she’s an active member of the planning committee. “As we planned for this year’s event in Israel, it became apparent we would not be able to travel there, and our hearts were grieved for our Jewish partners in the Land over the disconnects to tourism and income that people from other Nations coming in provides.”
Instead, travel funds are being used, “To try and bless, in loving support, those in need. In Christianity we call it putting ‘feet’ to our prayers. It’s one thing to pray, but another to support. We pray that all our efforts brought forth to the Nations’ 9th of Av Virtual Tour event this year will bless our Jewish friends and partners as well as all who view it and participate in the nine hours of prayer kicking off this event,” Wilkins elaborated.
Noting how the Hebrew Scripture focuses on action, Board member Steve Wearp told Breaking Israel News, “I believe God’s people are called to be people of action. And I see all that throughout the Torah. Abraham took his family, packed it up and left. You see Moses doing the same. You see Jacob doing the same when he’s leaving Laban. Everything that I see in the Torah is people of action making a difference – Joshua going into the Promised Land, the people of Israel, building the Temple as a house for God to dwell on Mount Moriah. Everything is action. “So for me, giving just a little bit to help a survivor, is the minimum I could do. And I pray my life and the lives of many others, all the nations, will someday come alongside, and bless the Lord, and bless the Jewish people. If you bless, you’ll be blessed. If you call insignificant or don’t pay attention to the Jewish people, God says you’ll actually be cursed or cut off.
“This is huge. This is not insignificant, because Israel bears the name, Israel bears the testimony of God. We are seeing His faithfulness. So I would just call all Christians, we [the Nations’ 9th of Av Board] shouldn’t be the exception. We should be the norm.”
Christian interest in the 9th of Av began when two Christian men gradually uncovered the truth about the myriad of sins committed against the Jewish people in the name of the church throughout Christian history. They intuitively understood that they had to share these shocking facts with other Christians.