The Faith of Abraham, by Angus and Batya Wootten

[Editor’s note: What happens when we learn who we are? This is a question of identity beyond our present reality, but who we are stretching back through time to the peoples and places our or origins? Could it be that ignorance of our ancestral past contributes to the rootlessness and angst so common in the lives even of Yeshua’s followers?
This is a line of thinking that Angus and Batya Wootten investigate in one of the first articles published in the House of David Herald. In this piece from 1989, they are bold enough to ask what it really means to be adopted into God’s family, what it means to be the see of Abraham, and how the two parts of Abraham’s seed, identified most commonly as Jews and Christians, are to join one day to complete the covenant nation God established through Abraham.]

The Faith of Abraham

By Angus and Batya Wootten – February 1989

What did Abraham believe? Furthermore, what must we, his heirs, believe?

We know that when Abram did believe the Lord, “God credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

The importance of Abraham’s faith, and his resultant righteousness, cannot be over emphasized.

The promises made to Abraham were so important that God confirmed them on eleven different occasions: to Abraham seven times, to Isaac twice, and to Jacob twice. These three were “fellow heirs of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:9)

Abraham believed the Lord when He said: “I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” (Genesis 17:5-7, NIV)

With Abraham there began a new birth in the history of mankind. For, he is “the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:11)

Only With Us

Abraham’s faith had a powerful impact upon history. However, in regard to the great men of faith, we are told: “These were commended for their faith, yet . . . only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39) The covenant promises made to Abraham are imperfect without us! It is only in and through us that the faith of all generations will be realized (Hebrews 11:39, 40)!

We are part of the promise when we “walk in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:12) Then, we are his children. It is not enough to simply be Abraham’s physical child. We also must have the faith of Abraham! But, to have the faith of Abraham, we first must truly understand what Abraham believed! Then, we will know what we, his heirs, must believe.

When God told Abraham that He was going to bless him, God said: “Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward. But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said: “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the Heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:1-6, NIV)

Abraham, childless at the age of 85, had a 75 year old wife. Still, looking down the corridors of time, he believed that he would not have to adopt an heir! Rather, Abraham believed that his heir would come from his own body! Furthermore, he believed that through this heir, his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars! And, he believed God would be a personal God to these children.

If we have the faith of Abraham, we too must believe what he believed! But we must believe it from a different perspective.

Four thousand years later, we must believe that Abraham did have an heir from his own body (Isaac). And, through that heir, his seed has become as numerous as the stars! This faith requirement is the keystone of all Scripture!

According to Hebrews 6, it is the acceptance of this promise that leads the Believer from the elementary teachings of Messiah, and on to maturity!

Hebrews also tells us a mature Believer needs a diet of meat. For, “Anyone who lives on milk, [or, elementary truths], being still an infant is not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness.” (Hebrews 5:13) Obviously, we will be righteous if we believe the same thing Abraham believed! When we digest the meat of the Word promised to Abraham – we will perceive our physical inheritance and identity – even as we have perceived our spiritual inheritance and identity. Then, we will realize the full truth of the Scripture: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

The Spirit of Adoption

Nowhere in Scripture are we told we are adopted as Abraham’s sons. Rather, of the five times adoption is mentioned in Scripture, each speaks of our adoption as “the sons of God.” It is God’s family that we are adopted into – not Abraham’s!

Why should we believe we are physical, rather than adopted sons of Abraham?

First, we must believe it because Abraham was told he would not adopt – rather, he was told his heirs would come from his own body.

Secondly, nowhere in Scripture are we told we are adopted as Abraham’s sons! Rather, of the five times adoption is mentioned in Scripture, each speaks of our adoption as “the sons of God.”[1] It is God’s family that we are adopted into – not Abraham’s! God said myriads of physical descendants would be born into Abraham’s family.[2] However, this is only an earthly promise. In order for us to live eternally, we must be adopted into God’s family. We must believe that God is a personal God to us, even as He promised He would be. This occurs when we experience the second birth, which is a birth by faith. When we are born from above, then we receive the Spirit of adoption, and thus we become a member of God’s family.[3] Furthermore, all must receive this adoption: Jew, Gentile, bond or free!

Last, but not least, there is an inherent danger in denying our birthright! “Esau despised his birthright,” then could find “no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” Because Esau disregarded his birthright, he is called “godless” and was “hated” (Genesis 25:34; Romans 9:13; Hebrews 12:16,17).[4]

We must realize that great numbers of physical descendants were promised to Abraham! Whole nations were to come forth from him! Abraham was specifically told: “None but him that shall come forth from within you shall be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4, ArtScroll Tanach Series) If we cannot believe this promise of God, how can we believe any other promise?

For too long, we have not rightly divided the truth about Abraham’s descendants. For too long, “Gentile Believers” have been crippled by the lie that they are his adopted heirs.

Our Roots

Kunta Kinte Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis, Maryland, Preservation Maryland, January 16, 2003, via Flickr.com.

The fact that Roots was the most watched television series ever speaks of the importance mankind gives to a knowledge of their roots.[5] People want to know from whence they came. Our roots give us a sense of belonging – a feeling that we are part of history. Our roots tell us about ourselves – who and what we are. Through them we discern our inheritance.

The world is full of stories of adopted people who have sought long and hard to find out from whom they were descended. Most adoptees have difficulties with feelings of rejection, abandonment, not being wanted.

No amount of worked-up self-esteem, fortitude, or tenacity will cover for the feeling of being a rootless, adopted, second class, citizen.[6] Further the feeling of being adopted can produce resentment toward the child that was fortunate enough to be “natural born.” (Could this be one of the sources of anti-semitism?)

Speaking to those who call themselves “Gentile Christians”: What if Jesus Himself told you that you were a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Would not the Bible be more alive to you? What if, when reading the Scriptures, you knew for a fact that these were your forefathers? What if you realized that God foreknew you before the foundation of the world – saw you in Abraham’s loins – called you in Isaac – predestined you to be one in Him, through the Messiah! Would it not add to the glory of what God has already done in your life through the Messiah?

Yes, it would. And therefore, your identity as a descendant of Abraham is important.[7] The fact is, the truth about your roots tells you about your Biblical inheritance. It tells you about the destiny God has planned for you and what He has planned for you to become. It is Abraham’s children who will rule with God. It is his descendants who will “possess the gates of their enemies.” (Genesis 22:17) It was “In Isaac that his seed was called.” (Hebrews 11:18) And, it was Isaac’s son, Jacob, that was called to be Israel, meaning: A powerful, prevailing prince, a soldier of God, one who rules with the Almighty!

But, if we are Abraham’s descendants, and thus, Israel what about the Jewish people? Are they also Israel?

The answer is yes. Because in Scripture there were, and still are, two houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14; Ezekiel 37:15-Z8). The two houses are called Ephraim and Judah. Both serve God’s purposes – as His two witnesses in the earth. They are His two olive branches. Also, both of these houses have experienced the “partial hardening” that is spoken of in Roman’s 11:25.

Judah is the house of Israel that God has used to uphold His Law. For, “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15, NIV)

Furthermore, “The Law is our tutor to bring us to Messiah.” (Galatians 3:24) Judah knows their roots as Israelites – but they have been hardened to a knowledge of the Messiah.

Ephraim, on the other hand, has been used to establish the principle of “salvation by faith.” They know, and have a personal relationship with, the Messiah of Israel. However, they have been hardened as to their roots as Israelites. They do not realize that they too are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They do not realize that Judah is literally their brother.

The Revelation of the Sons of God

These two brothers are likened to the Cherubim over the Ark in the Tabernacle. One day they will recognize each other. They will reach out to touch each other even as the wings of the Cherubim touch each other. Then, and only then, will we see the Glory of God. Then, His Presence will be made manifest in us.[8]

When these two reach out to one another – when they repent of their sins toward one another – and forgive one another – then the world will in truth see the sons of God!

The whole world “waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known.” (Romans 8:19, AMP) But these sons will not be fully made known until they realize their identity as sons of Abraham – and unite in the Messiah!

The Apostle Paul speaks of “a mystery” in Romans 11:25. He says, “a hardening in part, has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” The fullness of Gentiles is the “melo goyim,” promised to Ephraim (Genesis 48:19). This “hardening” was to remain until the fullness of the Gentiles was brought in. Thus, it is our Father’s plan to save all Israel!

Many believe “the times of the Gentiles” are over. If that is so, then it is time for the veil to come off the eyes of all Israel! It is time for Ephraim to recognize his roots! It is time for the two houses of Israel to unite in Messiah! Only in this way will all Israel be saved!

Eating Meat Is Doing

Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” (John 4:34, KJV) To eat meat is to do the will of the One who sent us. Likewise, Abraham’s seed was sent forth and commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply.” In other words, they were to increase, to be made great, to excel-exceedingly, and to be in positions of authority. That is the call of the physical, faith-filled seed of Abraham!

Hebrews six warns us not to be sluggish about understanding our inheritance as Abraham’s children. Rather, we are to change our diet to one of meat. We are to be like Isaac, faith-filled children of the promise, having a sure and steadfast hope (Galatians 4:28; Hebrews 5:13-20).

O Father, we ask You to lift the veil from the eyes of all Israel.

Amen and Amen


[1] See Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5. Note that the Spirit of adoption as sons of God belongs to the sons of Israel. In other words, it is the Israelites who receive the invitation to come into God’s family!
[2] See Genesis 15:5; 17:4; 26:4; 24:60; 28:3, 14; 48:4, 16, 19.
[3] See John 1:13; 3:3; Galatians 3:22, 26, 29; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; 1 John 3:9.
[4] The right of the first born belonged to Joseph, whose heir was Ephraim, who is called the Firstborn. Ephraim is one of the two houses of Israel. This house of Israel was to be scattered among “all the nations.” Ultimately, their descendants were to become the “sons of the Living God.” Thus, as the people of Ephraim – or, the Congregation of the Firstborn – we must not despise our birthright. (See 1 Chronicles 5:1-2; Genesis 48:5, 13, 14, 19; Jeremiah 31:9; Isaiah 8:14; Amos 9:9, Hosea 1:10; Ezekiel 37:15-28; Genesis 48:19; Hebrews 12:23.)
[5] Roots is a 1977 TV miniseries adapted from the book of the same name by Alex Haley. It is his novelization of the story of his family, which is descended from Kunta Kinte, a slave taken from his homeland in Gambia in the mid-18th century. The miniseries remains one of the most popular productions ever made for television not only because of its quality, but because, as the Woottens’ say, it appeals to the desire of people to identify with their places and peoples of origin. Haley’s work about his African family made the book and the film adaptation groundbreaking achievements in the years immediately following the Civil Rights era. For more information, see the IMDB article at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075572/.
[6] This is not to imply that adopted people are second class. However, adoption is not the normal way one becomes a member of a family. Thus, being adopted makes one a different member of the family.
[7] We are in no way suggesting that anyone should attempt to trace their genealogy. In fact, it is ludicrous to try. Because of the sin of adultery, no one can be certain of who their forefathers are. Furthermore, no one can trace their genealogy back 4,000 years to Abraham. Still, God knows exactly where Abraham’s seed is, and who they are! Physical descent as an Israelite is not something that can be proven. Even as “circumcision is of the heart and our praise [confirmation] comes from God” (Romans 2:29) – so it is with our confirmation as the sons of Abraham. We cannot prove it. But, for that matter, no man can prove that we are not!
[8] See Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, “Introduction,” What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism (Waco, TX, Word Books, 1984).

A Messianic Vision, by Angus Wootten

via A Messianic Vision – B’ney Yosef North America 

[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.[1] 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.

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Why Ephraim Should Know More About Judah, by Angus Wootten

via Why Ephraim Should Know More About Judah – B’ney Yosef North America 

[Editor’s note: What is it that inflicts the greatest damage to human relationships? Misunderstanding, miscommunication, and stereotyping are high on the list, but perhaps there is something even higher: the belief that we know the other person.

Think about this for a moment. If we believe we know how another person or people group think and perceive the world, then we set ourselves up for all manner of obstacles to mutual respect and cooperation. If we have little or no contact with the other, then our preconceived notions remain our reality, and the other’s preconceived notions of us remain their reality. Can you see how this situation increases the probability of conflict.

This is the situation Angus Wootten addresses in this article, first published in the House of David Herald in 1995. The observations he shares – both his own and those of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein – outline the divide between Christians and Jews (Ephraim and Judah, as Angus explains). Overcoming this divide is not impossible, but it takes conscious effort in an attitude of humility and genuine brotherly love. Moreover, it is a divide we must overcome if we truly desire to see the Messianic Age that both Christians and Jews have so long awaited.]


Why Ephraim Should Know More About Judah

By Angus Wootten – October 1995

Yahveh’s ultimate goal is to manifest His presence—in His earthly Kingdom—in the midst of a united people.

To accomplish this, He chose a people from the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and He called that people, “Yisrael.” His chosen people went down into Egypt, being seventy in number, and there they grew into a nation. Then Yahveh brought them out of Egypt and into the Land of Promise.

Under the consecutive reigns of Kings David and Solomon they reached the pinnacle of their glory as a united kingdom. However, after the death of Solomon, the twelve tribes of Israel divided into two houses: the house of Judah and the house of Ephraim.[1] These two houses are fundamentally divided until this day. Presently, we find Judah among the Jewish people, and primarily, Ephraim is found among the “nations.” For Jacob declared that those of Ephraim would become a “melo goyim,” or, a “fulness of Gentiles.”[2]

To save those of scattered Yisrael (see Ezekiel 34), to restore “both the houses of Israel” (Isaiah 8:14), Yahveh sent His Son, Yeshua: He came to give the hope of eternal and abundant life to those whom Yahveh had called and chosen. This hope of a regathered, reunited, and thus restored kingdom of Israel, will become a reality when the greater son of David establishes His throne here on earth—when he begins His actual reign over the reunited kingdom of Israel.

How can we, as individuals, help to reunite that kingdom?

By following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.

Paul, in Romans Eleven, saw that a combination of Jewish acceptance of Messiah, as well as the ingathering of the full number of Gentiles from among the nations, would herald this end-time kingdom. This Apostle to the nations was willing to pay the high price of his own salvation to gain the reward of a restored kingdom of Israel. His ministry to the “Gentiles,” or “wild olive branches” of Israel, had the added benefit of making the Jews jealous, that some of them might be saved. (See The Olive Tree of Israel.)

Paul wanted those of the “wild” side of the family tree of Israel (Jeremiah 11:10, 16; 2:18, 21; Romans 11), meaning the non-Jews who were being grafted into the “Rich Root” of the Olive Tree of Israel, which “Root is Yeshua (Revelation 22:16) – as well as those Jewish branches that remained on Messiah’s tree – together, he wanted them to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, in the nineteen hundred years since Paul’s witness, both houses, one believing in a present Messiah and one in a future Messiah, have contributed to building walls of misunderstanding. One solid wall that has been built by the non-Jews is that of presenting a Greek/Romanized Christ in a paganized smorgasbord of theologies. This “Greek Jesus” is much more difficult for Jews to accept than is the Hebrew Yeshua, because Yeshua conforms more closely to their image of the Messiah.

So it is that we will begin reuniting the remnant in our own house, and the reunification of both houses, as we search for the Hebrew truth of the Gospel. This search will cause us to receive back from our Jewish people many ancient truths about our heritage. It will better prepare us to reach out to them in love and mercy. And, if we will treat both houses with the dignity they rightfully deserve, then, we will be demonstrating the true message of Messiah.

Coming from the Jewish side of this search for love and mercy is Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Yechiel is an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, and founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. In the introduction to his book, What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism, Rabbi Eckstein likens the relationship of Jews and Christians to the two Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. Very prophetically, Yechiel says:

It is only when the two cherubim reach out and touch one another that we will see the glory and salvation of our God.

Unfortunately, over the past two thousand years, the wild olive branches (Ephraim) have continued to behave in a very “wild” manner toward their Jewish brethren. They have failed miserably at following Paul’s example. For the Jews, the Ark with its Cherubim remains lost. They are without Temple and sacrifice. Fortunately, Yahveh has a plan in progress to restore His Kingdom to the united House of Israel. That plan is as follows:

    • From the throne of His father David, Yeshua is currently ruling over the House of Jacob.
    • The Father has established the time, season or epoch that will signal when the Kingdom will be restored.
    • Yeshua has a core of disciples that are trained in the Word given Him by the Father. These disciples are raising up successors in each succeeding generation, who believe in Messiah through the words of His original disciples.
    • Thus, there will be disciples in the generation destined for the restoration of the Kingdom. They will be ready, willing and able to accomplish the desire of their Master. It is from this predestined generation that the partial hardening or blindness will be removed – and these disciples will be gathered from both the Houses of Israel, they will be gathered from all twelve tribes. From Judah will be removed his blindness to the Messiah, and from Ephraim his blindness to his roots (Jeremiah 31:18-19).
    • These disciples will witness both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. They will witness to the truth that it will be through the unity of the two Houses of Israel that the world will believe. Then, the end will come, and the Kingdom of Yahveh will be manifested on earth.

If you believe this may well be the generation destined for the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, then we need to answer two questions: What are we going to about it? And, what price are we willing to pay?

The correct answer to both questions is: LOVE! We must love our brother Judah. The price we must pay, if we are going to be successful, is a price of love.

Sound Advice From An Orthodox Rabbi

Man Reading Torah, by Cottonbro, via Pexels.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein tells the story in his book, What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism, of a young man who visited his rabbi. The young man became so overwhelmed by the emotional experience that he cried out, “Rabbi, I love you dearly.” The rabbi, who was both touched and amused by his student’s sincerity, asked him, “Tell me, my son, you say that you love me, but where do I hurt? What ails me?” To this the perplexed young man responded, “I do not know where you hurt, Rabbi, but, nevertheless, I love you dearly.” The rabbi then replied, “But how can you say you love me when you do not even know where I hurt and what brings me pain?”

Yechiel’s story illustrates the truth that we cannot truly love our brother Judah until we know where he hurts. We cannot help until we know what brings him pain. Let us listen to Yechiel as he speaks at an Israel Symposium, and recounts some of his thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. The following excerpts from his message will give us a better understanding of our brother Judah, of what he believes, of what brings him joy, and of what brings him pain.

************

Recently, in my role as a mediator between Christians and Jews, I was called to mediate in regards to a Christian company called the Family Entertainment Network. They are producing bible stories on video for children. And they are using TV infommercials as a marketing tool for their videos. In a half hour program they present selected segments from their video series to motivate the viewing audience to purchase their videos.

These animated videos were deeply offensive to Jews. They portrayed Yeshua as a blond, blue eyed, soft featured Anglo-Saxon. And they presented all of those who did not accept Him with big hooked noses, unkempt long black curly hair. A totally different image from Yeshua – as if Yeshua was not a Jew.

Also there were segments of the video that used selections from the King James Version of the Scriptures to paint a very unfavorable picture of the Jews who did not accept Yeshua. One example was how they conspired to kill Yeshua.

Sadly, the primary targets of this message are children, ages five to twelve.

What struck me about this affair is that the Christians who produced this material were in my mind not anti-Semitic. However, they were unaware of those pages of Christian history that most Christians never studied, yet they are the pages that Jews are primarily familiar with.

However, this situation is quite similar to the situation surrounding the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. In it, there were insensitivities on the part of many Jews to Christian sensibilities.

What this shows me is that two thousand years is a long time to be apart, to be separate. And that all sorts of misunderstandings can arise during that period.

Yahveh Does Not Hear The Prayers of Jews?

A number of years ago Baily Smith, then the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, made the comment that God Almighty does not hear the prayers of Jews. It became a big issue at the time, so I took him and some Southern Baptist leaders to Israel. And, I spoke at his church in Dell City, Oklahoma. I spoke frankly about the history of the Jewish people and their images of Christians. I told them about the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel. After I finished, the congregation was clapping, and Baily Smith came over to me and said: ‘Isn’t Rabbi Eckstein terrific? We have to bring him back for one of our crusades.’

The whole congregation was agreeing, ‘Bring him to the crusades, bring him to the crusades.’

I heard the word ‘crusades,’ and I was ready to run.

In that moment, I realized again, that to him the word crusade meant one thing, and to me the word crusade elicited an entirely different emotion. Yet, he was not intending to be offensive or instill that emotion in me.

The Cross: Symbol of Yahveh’s Love For Christians An Object Of Fear For Many Jews

One more example, that is more powerful than any other, involves the symbol of the cross.

Father Ed Flannery, one of the first Catholics involved in Christian/Jewish dialogue, wrote a book in the early Sixties in which he described why he became involved:

One day he was walking down the street with a Jewish woman. Suddenly she stopped talking. He could sense she was uncomfortable. He thought maybe he had said something to offend her, but she assured him that he had not said or done anything offensive. Later, Father Flannery pressed the woman as to what had happened. She answered, ‘Do you remember when we were walking on Elm Street, and we passed that church with a big cross? I am sorry Father, but every time I see a cross I am afraid. I shudder. I am reminded of what the cross meant to my forefathers, and how they were taken to the cross and burnt and martyred because they refused to accept the cross.’

Father Flannery asked himself, ‘How could this symbol of God’s ultimate love be understood by this Jewish woman as an object of fear?’

That is when he began to study the pages of Christian history that he had never studied before. These pages are the only pages of Christian history of which this Jewish woman was aware.

I see Christians and Jews as two ships passing in the night. We each want to make this world a better and holier place. But often we fail to do so. The stereotypes and images that we have of one another just go right by the true essence of one another.

The Challenges We Face As Christians and Jews:

First to reverse our sad and tragic history by really coming to understand the other – not as we perceive the other but as the other perceives himself. We need to stop and let the other community and individuals define themselves.

Second is to demonstrate true love. It is often easy to love a community as an idea or as an ideal. I have come to know many Christians over the years, who love Jews as an idea. They sometimes love Jews as a biblical ideal. This is a good starting point. But, it is a lot harder to love us with our flaws. We are flawed, we are sinful. Many of us are secular, and it is a lot harder to love us in reality than as an idea.

We must come to a place where we can love one another unconditionally.

I have met many Christians who have loved in the hope that _______. Who love in the expectation that ________. Who love on the condition that _______.

I’ll let you fill in the blanks. However, the essence of Christian love, as I understand it, is to love unconditionally. And, then to let God move.

I have been in many churches where the Pastor will ask the congregation, ‘How many people did we bring to Christ this week?’

I feel like saying, ‘According to my understanding of Christian theology you didn’t bring anybody to Christ. It is God through the Holy Spirit who brings people to Christ.’

The Christians who feel their goal is to bring the world to Christ are wrong. The Christian great commission is to preach of God’s love through Yeshua to the whole world. And God, in His time, in His mysterious way, as Paul describes in Romans Eleven, will do what He wants to do through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit He will work on individuals to bring about the changes He desires. It will not be man’s doing but God’s doing, and God can be trusted.

In essence, the second goal is to love unconditionally and to leave things to God.

The third point is to demonstrate unselfish love. A boy scout schleps an old lady across the street, who doesn’t want to go across the street. He isn’t showing love to her. He is harassing her. I’ve met many Christians who want to love Jews the way that they want to love Jews, not the way Jews want and need to be loved.

Why Are We So Chosen?

We are witnessing God’s presence in history today, in a way that, in my opinion, is no less powerful, and no less demonstrable than when He entered into history and delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. I asked myself, and my congregation, ‘What did we do to merit the privilege of being part of this generation. The generation that has seen the rebirth of the State of Israel. Why should we be the ones to witness the reunification of Jerusalem? That we should be the ones to see a community of black Jews, that have not had any contact with the rest of the Jewish community for two thousand years be plucked out in one twenty-four hour period to return to their homeland to join their brothers and sisters. What did we do to merit seeing the Jews of Russia repressed and oppressed for decades being allowed to come to home to Israel.’ I don’t know. But, one thing is very clear to me, God is calling his children home. We are seeing that He is true to his Word.

Six Million Bones In The Valley of Sheol

The Jewish people lost six million of their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in the Holocaust. One third of the of the world’s Jewish population perished. We Jews looked down into the valley of Sheol that was in Europe, and we saw six million dry bones. This was no less compelling than what Ezekiel saw in his valley of dry bones. And, we asked as Ezekiel did, ‘Will these bones again live?’

As Jews we wondered if we could recover from such a life blow. And, behold a miracle occurred. Flesh and sinew appeared on those bones. And, the Jewish people experienced resurrection – they came to the State of Israel!

For Jews, The Road To Jerusalem Is Paved With The Ashes of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Treblinka

The link between death and resurrection constitutes the core of your identity as Christians. It is not enough for you as Christians to say that Yeshua died on the cross on Friday. What makes you a Christian is your ability to say, ‘He rose from the dead three days later.’

Israel Is Our Easter Sunday

The rebirth of the State of Israel is our Easter Sunday. It gives us hope for the future, and the will to carry on. Israel is our proof that God still loves His Jewish people – that He has not abandoned them. And, that the promises and covenants He made with our forefathers are still intact.

Seeing Israel: Through The Eyes of a Black Pastor

My work and ministry were born, without my even knowing it. It began one evening in a hotel room in Jerusalem.

I grew up in an Orthodox home. My father was an Orthodox Rabbi, the chief Rabbi of Canada. I studied in Yeshivas, and Orthodox Jewish schools all my life. After my ordination in New York I went to Columbia for my doctoral. It was my first time not only being in a school with non-Jews, but in a school with women. I became the Director of Interreligious Affairs for a group called the Anti-Defamation League. And, one of the first things I did was to bring a group of twenty-five Christians to Israel.

I must tell you that all my life I thought Israel was only related to the Jewish people. I was never aware of the fact that there were Christians who felt anything about Israel. This was my first experience at seeing Israel through Christian eyes. My roommate on the twelve day trip was an eighty-six year old black Baptist minister from Virginia. And, I said to myself, ‘This is going to be a long twelve days.’ I had nothing at all in common with this man. He was poor, and had been saving money for ten years so he could afford to go to Israel before he died. Finally his children got together and picked up the balance of the ticket so he could go. And, as fate would have it, this man was my roommate.

On the morning of the first day in Jerusalem I went out on the veranda overlooking the city. I put on my tallit, tefillin, prayer shawl and phylacteries, and said my morning prayers. Tears came to my eyes as I looked over the beautiful city of Jerusalem and realized I had come home.

I’m sure that my roommate saw me, but he didn’t say anything. That night I came back to the room a little bit late, and, he didn’t see me walk in. I saw him kneeling by the bed with hands lifted upward to heaven. He was crying like a baby. He kept saying, ‘Lord, thank you. I am luckier than Moses. I am luckier than Moses. Moses only got to see the Promised Land. I got to walk in it.’

We Both Cried Our Tears Of Joy

I realized at that moment that this eighty-six year black Baptist minister from Virginia, and this twenty-five year old, newly ordained, hot-shot white Rabbi from New York, had far more in common than I ever could have imagined. We both cried our tears of joy for the privilege, the undeserved privilege of being able to walk in the Holy Land.”

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We pray these nuggets from Yechiel will give you food for thought. And, that they will encourage you to more effectively reach out to your brother Judah.

To learn more about Jews and Judaism we recommend Yechiel’s book, and his audio and video tapes:

    • In his book, What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism, Yechiel will continue to enrich your understanding of modern Judaism. And, he continues his eloquent plea for both Christians and Jews to relinquish prejudicial myths about each other, and to enter into dialogue that respects the individual parameters of each faith. 336 pages.
    • In his cassette tape, Selections From Ask The Rabbi, Yechiel discusses: What Christians should know about Jews, and Jews about Christians. What the State of Israel means to Jews today. Why Jews wear prayer shawls and affix a mezuzzah to their doorpost, and much more.
    • His video, God, Israel & The Bible: A Jewish Perspective, is geared toward Christians and Jews alike, and includes teachings on: God, the Abrahamic, Mosaic and Noahite covenants, the Dispersion, the Holocaust, Christian/Jewish relations, Christian missions, The Jewish return to Zion and building of modern Israel, Establishing fellowship between Christian and Jews, and more.

Yechiel is not only a learned Rabbi, he also is a soul stirring singer and guitarist. In his audio cassette tape, Shiray Shalom (Songs of Peace) he sings Hebrew Scriptures set to modem and traditional Jewish melodies. The cassette comes with a printed English translation.

We also recommend the following books:

    • Anti-Semitism: Causes And Effects (Revised & Updated Second Edition) by Paul E. Grosser & Edwin G. Halperin. This book is an indispensable guide to an understanding of anti-Semitism, its history, and the present state of Jewish-Christian relationships. Hard cover, 438 pages.
    • The Jewish People And Jesus Christ After Auschwitz, by Jakob Jocz. This is an excellent study in the controversy between Church and Synagogue. It also integrates a “new phenomenon of our age,” the rise of Jewish Christianity. It integrates the Messianic Jewish movement as an important factor in the discussions between Church and Synagogue. 273 pages.

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Quite naturally, there are profound theological differences between the Believer and the Orthodox Jew. Nevertheless, like Yechiel and the eighty-six year old black Baptist minister from Virginia, we have much in common.

If we, as Ephraimites, are going to successfully lead the way in making the house of Judah and the house of Ephraim the united house of Israel, then we must concentrate on hearing our brother, and learning how to love him.

A Word To The Wise

In seeking to love the people of Judah, let us not add to the problem by mistreating the people of Ephraim. Let us be wise enough to treat both houses with absolute equity. Let us judge both peoples with righteous, absolutely equitable, judgment, for only then will they reunite.


[1] See books In Search Of Israel, and The Olive Tree of Israel, both by Batya Ruth Wootten. In Search of Israel is available through Key of David Publishing (https://www.keyofdavidpublishing.com/product/in-search-of-israel/). The Olive Tree of Israel is currently out of print.

[2] The ArtScroll Tanach Series says the word used, m’loh, means a “fullness” and, “Connotes abundance . . . meaning: His seed will become the abundance of the nations. . .  They will have to inhabit lands of other nations.” See Genesis, Volume 6, page 2121. Also see Strong’s words # H4393 and 1471. Additionally, note that melo is used in Psalm 24:1, being translated, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”