29 October 2006
Here's one on the Five Mountains that might inspire you today.
By Bob Mendelsohn
Given at Beth Messiah
2 February, 2002
Revised for form only 29 October 2006
Today I want to talk to you about 5 mountains. Perhaps you've been to Mt Kosziusko near Jindabyne. Or to Mt Hutt or the scenes of the Winter Olympics are already captivating you, are they? The Rocky Mountains in the US are awesome to behold and vast. Of late we've been studying the Bible, specifically the Gospel of Matthew, and some of our most exciting conversations have centered on the return of Messiah to earth, the Parousia, when Y'shua puts His foot down on the Mount of Olives very soon. One thing that may help us, is to take a short break from Matthew and look at the Olivet discourse from the top of some other hills, getting a higher view if you will of history. Can we do that today?
Each mountain gives us a different view of the land around it. Each mountain gives us perspective on our lives and how God is leading us today. Each mountain will show us God's plan then and perhaps give us a glimpse of His continuing purposes in our own history. And maybe it will help you in sorting out how God is talking to you about these 2nd Coming realities.
I. Mt Moriah: Mountain of Faith that works (Sacrifice)
As we begin, we go to the place of the beginning of the Jewish people, the man Abraham, and to a mountain which would define his call and his commitment throughout history. Mount Moriah is the place. Modern day Jerusalem is the present day location of this mountain. It's described in the book of Genesis, chapter 22. This section of Bible is called in Hebrew the akedah, that is, the binding. It is the place of the supreme sacrifice, the giving of a child of promise.
Tell story. (For those online, please read the chapter to 'hear' the story. Here we learn about Jehovah Jireh and the God who demands and yet provides).
It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me."
Moriah is the mountain of sacrifice which foretells another sacrifice which is to come. God would give His only son to deliver us and to give us eternal life, but I preempt myself.
II. Mt Sinai: The Mountain of God’s instructions: Torah
Mountain #2 is made famous by both Charleton Heston and Stephen Spielberg in "The Ten Commandments" and "Prince of Egypt." It's the story of God delivering the Jewish people from slavery and taking us out of Egypt, our 400 year detention center, and making us His own. Mountain #2 is called Mt Sinai. It's here the Jewish people received the Law, later called the Law of Moses. Of course, it's really the Law of God, given to Moses to give to us.
Whereas Mount Moriah is the mountain of sacrifice; Mount Sinai is the mountain of law and constitution. It's where God teaches us about His ways and His ordinances. It's where God reminds us of His being God, and that He is the boss.
Some view this mountain with derision. Don't do that. God needed to teach his people whom He delivered from Egypt. We needed to learn how to think as a redeemed people, rather than as victimized slaves. Law is good the apostle said. (1 Tim.1.8) Let's get this in context.
“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” (3-11)
To the Thessalonians, Paul had given instruction, " For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2 Th. 3.10-15)
So Law is good, if used lawfully and to help us lead disciplined lives.
III. Mount of the Sermon on the Mount: Ethics
Mountain #3 is the Mountain of Ethics. It's the Mount of the Sermon on the Mount. We talked about this some weeks ago. Y'shua amplifies the Law, He elevates it beyond human understanding or manipulation. He teaches that it's not enough to comply with legal regulations. He insists that a man should have a true heart which goes beyond actual duties. The inside of the cup must be clean, not only the outside.
Maybe this story will assist as we understand this ethics vs. law business. He uses the terms of grace vs. law, but the meaning is the same. In 1945 Dr HA Ironside told this story: Some years ago, I had a little school for young Indian men and women, who came to my home in Oakland, California, from the various tribes in northern Arizona. One of these was a Navajo young man of unusually keen intelligence. One Sunday evening, he went with me to our young people's meeting. They were talking about the epistle to the Galatians, and the special subject was law and grace. They were not very clear about it, and finally one turned to the Indian and said, "I wonder whether our Indian friend has anything to say about this."
He rose to his feet and said, "Well, my friends, I have been listening very carefully, because I am here to learn all I can in order to take it back to my people. I do not understand all that you are talking about, and I do not think you do yourselves. But concerning this law and grace business, let me see if I can make it clear. I think it is like this. When Mr. Ironside brought me from my home we took the longest railroad journey I ever took. We got out at Barstow, and there I saw the most beautiful railroad station and hotel I have ever seen. I walked all around and saw at one end a sign, 'Do not spit here.' I looked at that sign and then looked down at the ground and saw many had spitted there, and before I think what I am doing I have spitted myself. Isn't that strange when the sign say, 'Do not spit here'?
"I come to Oakland and go to the home of the lady who invited me to dinner today and I am in the nicest home I have been in. Such beautiful furniture and carpets, I hate to step on them. I sank into a comfortable chair, and the lady said, 'Now, John, you sit there while I go out and see whether the maid has dinner ready.' I look around at the beautiful pictures, at the grand piano, and I walk all around those rooms. I am looking for a sign; and the sign I am looking for is, 'Do not spit here,' but I look around those two beautiful drawing rooms, and cannot find a sign like this. I think 'What a pity when this is such a beautiful home to have people spitting all over it -- too bad they don't put up a sign!' So I look all over that carpet, but cannot find that anybody have spitted there. What a queer thing! Where the sign says, 'Do not spit,' a lot of people spitted. Where there was no sign at all, in that beautiful home, nobody spitted. Now I understand! That sign is law, but inside the home it is grace. They love their beautiful home, and they want to keep it clean. They do not need a sign to tell them so. I think that explains the law and grace business."
As he sat down, a murmur of approval went round the room and the leader exclaimed, "I think that is the best illustration of law and grace I have ever heard." (H. A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth, Moody Press, 1945, pp. 40-42.) Maybe that helps you too.
IV: Mt Calvary: Sacrifice of Y’shua: Redemption
Mountain #4 is the most famous so far in history. It's called Mt Calvary. This too is in Jerusalem. It's there that Y'shua died. He was crucified on a Roman cross as a punishment for treason or blasphemy or … well you just don't know, do you? What got into the people who had the power to release him? Why did they not let him go? Why did they long for his death? What possible good was there to his dying?
Some aver that he was a martyr. As a result of his death, a movement, a revolution was born. Jesus they assert, was a type of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted peace and human understanding and compassion between peoples. So he died on a cross much like King took a bullet after a peace march or Joan of Ark was burned at the stake. Sir Thomas More died for his convictions, perhaps that is it?
I want you to know that martyrdom is not the purpose of Y'shua's death. We'll read it in a few weeks, " Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit." (Mt. 27:49-50) He died for our sins. Like the Suffering Servant of Isaiah's predictions, Y'shua would take upon Himself the sins of the world, and bear us up on His loving and powerful shoulders. Isaiah had earlier predicted "And the government will be upon His shoulders" (9.7)
Y'shua's death was Plan A, and as I said, we'll talk more about that in weeks to come, but for now, let us remember this in historical context. We are looking over the top of 5 awesome mountains, remember? And the death of Y'shua is the Mount of God's redemption. Here He saves the people of the planet who trust in Him. Here He delivers from sin.
We thought we could be lawful or ethical. We thought we could keep God's commands. Sin has been the problem of the distance, the great gulf between man and God since the Garden of Eden. Sin is the separator and the most serious crime, worse than the Evil Axis of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Worse than any terrorist mob. Sin is that which is a slap in the face of the Almighty. It's the mud you cannot wash off your spiritual face or feet. It's the blot on our spiritual white trousers. And only God Himself can deal with sin. And on Mt Calvary He did just that.
No wonder we say we love Him. No wonder we owe Him so much. No wonder we long to be with Him. Because of Mt Calvary. It's the mountain of reconciliation with God. Praise the Lord!
V. Mount of Olives: Eternal Hope: The return of Y’shua
Finally we come to Mt Olivet. That is the one mountain yet to be touched by man with God. It's the mountain of hope. And hope for something very present. Our hope as believers is not in getting a new car or a tax-free estate in Vaucluse or Toorak. Our hope is not about getting married and having loving grandchildren. Our hope is summarized by one thing: the return of Y'shua. It's the Parousia.
Everyone has a dream and hope. That dream is great and I don't want to make light of any of them. Remember the story from Parade magazine -- the story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem, a tough gang-driven area of New York City. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.
Bob Dylan described it this way,
"Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond skies with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea circled by the circus sands with all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves let me forget about today
From "Mr. Tambourine Man"
Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all...As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. (G.K. Chesterton, Signs of the Times, April 1993, p. 6. )
But I'm talking beyond human hope and aspirations of Chesterton's or Dylan's description. It's more than giving uni education to poor students. All of these are good in and of themselves. But we're talking on a mountain; this is a higher place. It's the place of the return of Y'shua to earth. It's here that the hope of all believers will be fulfilled. It's when Messiah returns, putting His foot down on the Mount (Zech. 14:4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.) [online folks look up http://home.regent.edu/ruthven/zech14-4.html
On your browser. It's the map of the faultline…amazing]
Some will call us meghuge. Listen to this report from the Melbourne Age from 1999.
The Second Coming is in site
By JONATHAN PETRE
Monday 13 December 1999
An evangelical organisation in Britain has trained cameras on Jerusalem's Golden Gate and the Mount of Olives and is broadcasting the pictures live on the Internet in the hope of witnessing the Second Coming.
Christine Darg and her husband Peter, who run Daystar International, a "multi-media ministry" in the English town of Hereford, said that up to 200,000 people were visiting their "olive tree" website every month to meditate on the pictures from Jerusalem, which are updated every minute.
Mrs Darg, an Anglican who worships at Hereford cathedral, said the main purpose of the live pictures was to help Christians pray for Israel and Jerusalem, which would become the "worship capital of the world" after the return of Jesus.
"We are showing the place where Jesus left and, according to the Bible, the Mount of Olives is the place where He will return," she said. "He commanded His followers to watch and to pray. Evangelicals are logging on and they can pray as they watch."
Although she believes that Jesus would return in her lifetime, she doubts that the cameras would be able to record the event because it would be so overwhelming.
"It's going to be the most spectacular event ever, and it is going to make the overused word awesome totally out of date," she said.
"Something significant will happen. The Bible says that His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and there will be an earthquake, so our cameras might not even stand up to the impact. But we have a Swiss company who helped design these Web cameras and the Swiss are very impressive technically."
The website also details a series of conferences and healing sessions the organisation is planning in Jerusalem over the next year. It also advertises for sale a ram's horn or shofar, which, it says, can be used "to demolish citadels of Satan"
The world will mock. We who have this hope fixed on Him will work to give others true hope. We will extend His life and teaching to others. We will pray that all the people of the earth may know that He is the Lord.
OK, so maybe the world isn't ready for this appearing. The question is… are you ready? Do you long for Y'shua's return? Do you want to be with the One who died for you and who is the ultimate sacrifice? Nothing else can match the joy of His Parousia. For that day we long, and until that day we work.
My friend, if you are not yet a believer in Jesus. Today can be your day. Please say 'yes' to Him. He's the Saviour and the One who can save you, in fact, the only one who can save you. Let Him do so. Pray this prayer and receive His love and care. Father I accept Jesus as my Lord and Messiah. He died for me and still cares for me to this day. I receive Him as my Saviour and ask for forgiveness of all my sins, knowing He died on Calvary to save me. Thanks Lord for all you do for me and all you did for me. Help me to live for You.
If you prayed that prayer, please see me after the service is over [online folks, please email me on email@example.com]. OK? Thanks.
26 October 2006
An article immediately follows from today's Jewish newspaper here in Australia. My comments follow.
by Dan Goldberg
A traumatic row over a bar mitzvah boy's circumcision forced a Sydney mother to move her son's simcha from an Orthodox shul to a Progressive temple at the 11th hour last week.
The bar mitzvah boy had been scheduled to read from the Torah at Chabad Double Bay last Shabbat, but rabbis from the Sydney Beth Din (SBD) ruled on the previous Monday that his circumcision was not kosher. Rabbi Moshe Gutnick and Rabbi Yoram Ulman, two judges at the Jewish court, were at the mikvah in Bondi preparing to draw a drop of blood from the boy to symbolise his Orthodox conversion when they noticed that his brit milah, conducted by a Jewish doctor in 1993, was incomplete.
"We immediately called one of the mohelim to check, and he confirmed a further circumcision needed to be done," Rabbi Gutnick said. He said he told the boy's mother, journalist and author Ros Reines, that her son could either be operated on under local or general anaesthetic, and that 'hundreds of boys' many from the former Soviet Union have undergone this procedure in Australia prior to their bar mitzvah.
"In order to become Jewish he has to be [properly] circumcised there's nothing we can do about it. We feel terrible it's devastating," Rabbi Gutnick said. "I didn't want my son to have that trauma [of another circumcision]," she told the AJN this week. "It's not true he wasn't circumcised; it's a question of degree."
"I spent the week in tears," she said. "To me it didn't sound very compassionate. I just feel a sense of sorrow because perhaps we don't really fit in. It's that feeling of being an outcast again." The single mother, who had an adult bat mitzvah following her Progressive conversion, said she had to inform the 100 or so guests of the change of venue due to a technical problem just days before the simcha.
But she said her son sang his portion magnificently. "He's a kid that bounces back. It was one of the happiest weekends of our lives." However, she added: "To know we'll never be counted there [at Chabad] really hurts me." She said the pain had been magnified because her son had a brit milah, conducted in the presence of Rabbi Kamins, eight days after he was born.
"You don't take your 13-year-old son four days before his bar mitzvah and give him a general [anaesthetic]. He didn't want to do it. Just imagine if there had been an infection," she said. Temple Emanuel Woollahra, which had a double aufruf and a bat mitzvah already scheduled for last Shabbat, accommodated the bar mitzvah.
Rabbi Kamins said it is the first time he has ever heard of such a case. "We were able to help the family in a way which they [the Orthodox rabbinate] couldn't," he said. "I don't think they would have made that decision with any lightheartedness or lack of consideration." But Rabbi Gutnick told the AJN the temple was "fooling the child" into believing he is Jewish.
"Unless the child goes to the mikvah and is circumcised according to Jewish law, pretending the child is Jewish is ultimately doing a disservice to the child," he said. In response, Reines said: "I don't know how they can live with themselves." Chabad Double Bay's Rabbi Yanky Berger said he was "very distressed" by the saga.
"I'd be surprised if any rabbis anywhere in Australia have been in this situation before," said Rabbi Berger, who attended the bar mitzvah party last Sunday night. He said he had spoken to rabbis around the Jewish world "to see if there's any type of halachic leniency, to see if there's a precedent." "He is an amazing kid. In difficult times people shine. He was shining. He showed such strong spirit." Rabbi Ulman failed to return several calls from the AJN.
I read this story on the Australian Jewish News website today, and felt so sad. The Jewish community missed the mark one more time. Abraham circumcised himself and his son Isaac with a rock. No measurements would matter then. It was a sign, not a matter of degree.
The community had a chance to help this young man, who sounds like a terrific kid, forge a new adult life. And they blew it. They reminded him that judgment conquers mercy. Or so they think.
But the truth is that Mercy triumphs over Judgment. The record of the Scriptures is clear. God wants mercy and not sacrifice. He wants us to care about people more than rules.
Jesus forgave a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders knew the 'rules' that she should be killed. They knew the man caught should also be killed. But they heard Jesus say, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
If only the rabbis in the Beth Din would hear those words. The kid is Jewish and fully so. If only they knew mercy and not only mandates. Shame on them and God help the young man.
I hope we all get the story straight on this one. It's worth everything.
25 October 2006
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
Most people in the West have a desire to live peacably and quietly. Most want to get along with their neighbours. Most want to go to the shops, or the movies or the schools without fear of reprisals. Fair enough. And they want government to build good roads and schools and maintain the air in healthy quality.
But when you really get down to it, the number one concern is the economy, and at that, really it's not Gross national products or stock exchanges that much matter, since most folks cannot figure those out anyway.
What really is the bottom line? My wallet. That's what people say. They want enough in their wallet to get through this week, or this month, or some...this day! And if they have enough, the chicken in every pot, then they are happy. And they will re-elect government officials. It's that simple. Always has been. Always will be.
But what's the number one agenda item on your list? Peace with neighbours? Peace in the Middle East? Relationship with God?
Where your heart is that's where your treasure will be. And where your treasure is, that's where your heart is.
20 October 2006
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
Witnessing one on one, whether here in Buenos Aires or in Sydney where I usually live is always hard and always worthwhile. Do you know Jewish people to whom you have born a witness and you'd like us to continue? Just email us.
Bob is going again to Buenos Aires in November 2006. Please pray for me to be successful.
14 October 2006
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
Nearly 5,000 Evangelical Christian supporters of Israel from around the world have decended on Jerusalem for the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebrations. It is estimated that one in every three tourists to Israel is an Evangelical Christian.
The 27th annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, which is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, is expected to pump $15 million into the economy, in what has been billed as the single largest tourism event of the year.
Israeli Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said. "The Evangelical Christian community is a major pillar of the tourism industry in Israel, and they are true friends of Israel wherever they are. As radical extremist forces in the region call for the annihilation and eradication of the Jewish state, we should join forces with anyone that supports Israel," Herzog said.
Source: Jerusalem Post
What Israeli wouldn't welcome the financial 'good news' that Christians are to the state of Israel? Even if they come with baggage, it's welcome at this time, wouldn't you think?
News Australia reports that Prime Minister John Howard gave a keynote speech recently to a security conference in Canberra in which he said the Arab world must recognize Israel's right to exist and Israel must accept the establishment of a Palestinian state if the world is to ever live in peace and move forward.
"There must be unconditional acceptance throughout the entire Arab world, without exception, of Israel's right to exist in peace and security behind recognized borders," he said. "The entire Arab world - including Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas and in addition Iran - must give up forever the idea that the Israelis can be driven into the sea" Mr Howard said
Source: News Australia
Now is in fact a good time for believers to stand with Israel. That doesn't mean you have to endorse everything the country does, and 'bless' everything the politicians do (nor should you in any country). But it means to pray for Israel and for peace and love between all peoples. It means to help Jewish people find eternal life in Y'shua. It means speaking well of Jews and thanking God for making such a people as us.
I'm not choosing political "sides", but asking people of good will to support the rights of Jewish people in the Land to live in peace.
12 October 2006
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
On the streets in Sydney or San Francisco or in this case, in Buenos Aires... we strive to make the Good News of Y'shua clear for people. Not everyone understands it; some want to take the mickey out of us. But for others, it's a case of investigation.
I'm so proud of the people who come to our Bible study in Sydney (Thursdays @ 6 pm) and who are genuinely dealing with the claims of Y'shua. Is he the Messiah? What does that imply?
Good questions. Keep working on this. It's worth the answers.
04 October 2006
They say the last time there was 'no war' was in 1837.
That's almost 200 years ago, and I wonder if there was simply a lack of reporting of hostilities that year.
But when will peace come? When will people really be safe in their schools or homes or airplanes?
I believe it's when the Messiah, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, returns to the earth. Prince means governor, leader, commander, boss. He's the one in charge of true peace and all other treaties of peace and good wishes are all well and good, but fall short.
Only when Jesus returns will there be true peace on the earth. Won't that be an awesome day?