Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Whats in a name?


Many in the Congregation have noticed that I am using Gavri'el (my hebrew name) more and in correspondence. You may be wondering why, so I thought it was appropriate to explain.

In English, a name is treated as merely a name, but in many cultures, a name is much more, it has meaning! For example, we use Yeshua instead of Jesus, why, because Yeshua was His original name and it means literally "Salvation"!

Taking from my Grandmothers heritage (Sephardic from Spain), Gavri'el is my given Hebrew name. Choosing to use Gavri'el reflects more than a "change of name", but a "change of identity". Why a change, because it correctly reflects the identity G-d revealed to me on our recent trip to Israel, and upon our return.

One personal note I would like to share. While we were in the Praise and Worship before going into the prison 3 weeks ago, G-d told me clearly in my Spirit, "you are Gavri'el". He repeated this 3 times. He has futher confirmed that by affirming my place amongst His people.

He has completed my identity!

Note:Gavri'el means messanger of G-d.

Banning Jews from believing in Messiah?


The council of Nicea II did just that!

Nicea II, in the eighth century, officially banned Jewish life in Jesus. All who continued to practice circumcision, Sabbath observance or other Hebrew rites were to be banned from the Church. Many think that the first Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. precluded Jews from Jewish life in Jesus. However, there is no canon of this council explicitly dealing with this issue. Apparently, many have confused Nicea I and Nicea II. Only universal councils were universally received and became binding to the whole Church. Regional councils, such as Toledo, Elvira, Antioch and Laodocia making such decisions against Jewish life in Yeshua had influence, but did not become universal law. Nicea II provides us with universal law. The text translated from the Latin follows:

"Because those from the Hebrew religion have been deceived, they seem to mock Christ as God, pretending to become Christians, but they deny him as they openly and secretly keep the Sabbath and follow other practices in the manner of the Jews. We determine that they are not to be received into communion, nor into prayer, nor in the Church, but the Hebrews are manifestly according to their own religion: their children are not to be baptized; nor is a slave to be purchased or acquired. But if anyone of them will convert out of a sincere faith and heart and will make a profession of faith with all his heart, disclosing their customs and practices so that others might be exposed and corrected, he is to be received and baptized, and also his children; but indeed we decree that they are to be observed so that they depart from Hebrew practices, otherwise they are not to be admitted at all."

Article excerpt from "Anti-Messianic Judaism in the Church", by Dan Juster, used by permission.

Who is a Jew


One question commonly asked is, Who is a Jew?

Obviously, this is a question that has been debated for centuries. One cannot be considered Jewish strictly on the basis of religion, because most Jewish people today are not religious. The same applies to any definition of a Jew based on culture, as well. According to Rabbinic Judaism, to be considered a Jew, one must have Jewish parents and in particular a Jewish mother.

This rabbinic definition is not Biblically correct. The Scriptural definition of a Jew is three-fold: First of all, we are a nation and a people; to be considered Jewish one must be a physical descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 12:1-3). Secondly, the Biblical lineage is patrilineal, i.e. carried through the father, not matrilineal or carried through the mother (for example, Moses had a Gentile wife and King David’s great grandmother was Ruth, the Moabite, yet their children were all considered Jewish).

Finally, the Scriptures indicate that if either parent is Jewish or if a grandparent is Jewish (i.e., if there is a significant Jewish heritage), one can identify himself or herself as being Jewish and can claim himself as a part of God’s Chosen People.

Blessings Gavri'el

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pictures from the Holy Land (Israel)


We recently returned from a 15 day trip to the Holy Land. During that time we travelded the route of the Exodus, from Egypt, through the Sinai, to Jordan, finally arriving in Ertz Yisrael, the land of Israel. Pictures may be found at http://www.cbhm.org/ExodusTour2006.htm

What is the difference between Messianic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism?


We often get asked What is the difference between Rabbinic (Talmudic) and Messianic Judaism.

Rabbinic Judaism is a Judaism centered around the teachings and writings of Rabbis. Its formation began over 1,900 years ago when the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Before then, "Judaism" was centered around the Temple and the sacrificial system according to the Torah (the Law or the five books of Moses). After the destruction of the Temple the Rabbis reorganized Judaism, adding many new laws, rules and traditions. Today, their writings and commentaries (Talmud, Midrash, ect) form the foundation of Rabbinic Judaism.

Rabbinic Judaism consists of several branches: Orthodox (very traditional), Chassidic (Ultra-Orthodox), Conservative (middle of the road), Reform (liberal) and Reconstructionist (very liberal). Some are still looking for the Messiah to come in the form of a Man, while others are looking for a Messianic Age.
Messianic Judaism differs in that we rely totally on the Scriptures. Our faith is the Judaism of the Bible (Biblical Judaism) and is centered around the Messiah. We in Messianic Judaism believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah and that we don't have to go through the Sages or the Rabbis to know God. We have access to God because of the great atoning work of the Messiah Yeshua, who has fulfilled us as Jewish believers (Mt. 5:17-19).

Messianic Judaism formation began with around 30 AD with all of the first believers. All 12 of the first disciples where Jewish as well as Yeshua himself. This makes Messianic Judaism about 40 older than that of Rabbinic Judaism.


Israel's population surpasses 7 million


On the eve of Israel’s 58th Independence Day, figures were released showing that Israel’s population has surpassed the 7 million mark. At 7,026,000, the number of residents is 8.7 times larger than it was when the state was established. Israel had 806,000 citizens in 1948, and half of them still live here. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 80 percent of Israelis (5,639,000) are Jewish and 20 percent (1,387,000) are Arab.


Shabbat is the 4th Commandment.


We often get asked why we worship on Friday night & Saturday. Below sums it up nicely.

1. Shabbat is the 4th Commandment.
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Exodus 20:11

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.
Hebrews 4:9-11

We know that Yeshua celebrated Shabbat. Yeshua, speaking of himself said, "the son of man is Lord even of Shabbat." If Yeshua is your Lord, you should honor Shabbat and if you observe Shabbat, the Lord of Shabbat, Yeshua, should be your Lord.
Matthew 12:8

2. Shabbat is for the family
We believe it is important for families to celebrate Shabbat together and keep God at the center of their celebration. Children see their parents actively worshiping Adonai and ”Walking the Talk". It is important for children see their parents worship God, as they grow in their spiritual life as well. Use this as an opportunity to invite family and friends who want to know more about Shabbat.

Blessings in Messiah

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tefillin (Phylacteries) in Worship


Michael prepared a good article on Tefillin. Blessings

Compliments of Michael Bugg Assoc. Messianic Congregational Leader -

I got a question today about using tefillin, more commonly called (among Gentiles) phylacteries, in worship. Tefillin are the leather bands with small leather boxes which contain scrolls with passages from the Torah (most commonly Deu. 6:4) that Orthodox and Hasidic Jews wear in prayer.

There's nothing wrong with using tefillin in worship. Whlie Yeshua criticized those who made their tefillin over-large to show off their "piety" (Mat. 23:5), He did not condemn the practice itself and even paired it off with the Biblical practice of wearing tzitzit, or fringes.

The tradition comes from Deu. 6:6, 8, in which YHVH commands, "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart . . . And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." Certainly, wearing tefillin is a very literal way of fulfilling this command. However, as I explained in the post on living a symbolic life, it's not the whole fulfillment.

In Exo. 13:16, YHVH commands Israel to keep the Passover every year, saying, "And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt." Therefore, we must interpret Deu. 6 in the light of the previous command in Exo. 13, and conclude that what God is saying that we must do symbollic acts ("bind them for a sign upon thine hand") and view symbollic things ("they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes") to remind us of God's commands and all that He in His boundless grace has done for us.

Literally binding the tefillin to one's hand and head certainly qualifies as keeping this command in both a very literal and yet also a symbolic way. However, it is not the only, or even the primary, means by which we are to keep this commandment, nor should it be considered a requirement. When we keep the Passover, we keep the command. When we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we keep the command. When we put on a talit and look on the tzitzit, we keep the command. When we are baptized, we keep the command. All of these things involve doing and looking upon physical symbols of the spiritual reality that we are a part of, and serve to keep God's Word frontmost in our mind.

Therefore, while a Messianic Jew or former Gentile may use tefillin as a part of his (or her, but that's another subject) worship, he is not required to, nor should he do so simply to show off how holy or Torah-observant he is.