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October 2010

Peace

By Gary Alley

It is the most important lesson we learn in childhood. It prevents civilization from falling into anarchy. One could argue, it is the foundation of the Bible.

Psalm 34:14 commands us, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursueit.” The Hebrew word for “pursue” is typically used of warriors passionately chasing their enemies who are fl eeing in the heat of battle (Lev 26:7; Josh 8:16). In Psalm 34 though, the reader is not to pursue their enemy’s defeat but rather peace with their enemy. This pursuit of peace demands the same amount of devotion and intensity as a soldier seeking victory.

Psalm 34 is at the core of Jesus’ command to make peace, Peter’s exhortation to live in peace, and Paul’s mandate to promote peace (Matt 5, I Pet 3, Rom 14). Shalom or peace is much more than the absence of war; it is a pursuit of wholeness, wellness, and mutual respect.

Peace has been a controversial subject within the Body of Christ, especially regarding the modern state of Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Predominately, there are two opposing camps within the Church, one that sides with the Palestinians and the other that supports Israel. Jeremiah 29:7 should cause all camps to pause and consider. “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city (Babylon) to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if [Babylon] prospers, you too will prosper.”

Despite our disagreements, we should pray for good for those we think are against us. While the terms of a just and secure peace agreement are always debatable, may we never be a stumbling block to peace. As followers of Jesus, the pursuit of peace is our godly calling. Seeking peace with our enemy (i.e. Babylon) is what God’s Word commands, and what Jesus demonstrated on the cross..."when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son." Romans 5:10

JCF Study Tours

Caesarea Maritima, King Herod’s Jewel on the Mediterranean Sea

Join Yoni Gerrish and the JCF staff on a tour in 2011 that investigates “The Backgrounds of Jesus’ World”. See JCFtours.com for details One of the first stops on this fascinating journey of Jesus’ world is King Herod’s dazzling seaside city, Caesarea Maritima which was built just before the birth of Jesus. While Herod the Great is known in New Testament tradition as the baby-slayer of Bethlehem (Mat 2:16-18), he also was known in history as an ambitious builder. The massive and marvelous structures he left behind throughout the land of Israel testify to his architectural achievement. Caesarea became the capital of the Roman province of Judaea shortly after its building completion. Pontius Pilate governed in Caesarea when he condemned Jesus to death. Caesarea also imprisoned Paul for two years prior to his trip to, and trial, in Rome. The immense and ornate remains of Caesarea—its temples, public buildings, theater, hippodrome, amphitheater, aquaduct, sewage system, and, most impressively, its man-made harbor where concrete was poured under water to build its breakwaters—speak to the marvel of Caesarea from 2,000 years ago.

 

Biblical Pearl

Celebrating God’s Word: Simhat Torah

By Gary Alley

The Jews are known as the “People of the Book”. Jewish society has revolved around the Hebrew Bible for more than 2,000 years as demonstrated by the finding of nearly every book of the Old Testament in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. The Jewish people’s extensive relationship with Scripture stretches back another millennium or more beyond that, demonstrated by the discovery of the Priestly Benediction (Num 6:24-26) on two silver amulets buried in a Jerusalem tomb from seven hundred years before Jesus.

The oldest and most important part of the Jewish Scripture is its first five books, the Pentateuch. In Hebrew, these books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are known as the Torah. Often, the Church has translated Torah as ‘the Law’ but this can be a misnomer leading to a skewed, antinomial perspective of God’s Word. The word Torah is better translated as ‘instruction’ or ‘teaching’, because it has the connotation of being a guide that leads one on the right path, or as ‘a teacher’ that trains a student on how to avoid the wrong way. Simply put, the Lord’s teachings lead to life. “For these commands are a lamp, this Torah is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life (Prov 6:23).”

Every year, the Jewish people read through the Torah on a weekly schedule, starting with Genesis and ending with Deuteronomy. At the beginning of the Jewish New Year (during the early Fall season), that Bible reading schedule culminates with a celebration of the giving of God’s Word on the day of Simhat Torah, or “The Joy of the Torah.” In the synagogue, they will read both the end of Deuteronomy (33-34) and the beginning of Genesis (1:1-2:3) in recognition of the cyclical and timeless nature of the Torah. This Bible-reading party peaks with the congregation joyously dancing around while passing the Torah scroll among themselves, like fans cheering and rooting for their hero. “Blessed is the man…his delight is in the Torah of the LORD; he meditates day and night on His Torah (Ps 1:1-2).”

Contrary to some teaching, as followers of Jesus, the Old Testament is just as valuable and foundational for our faith as the New Testament. In fact, Jesus’ Bible was only the Old Testament; the New Testament did not aggregate until years after Jesus’ ministry on earth. Jesus emphasized the importance of these Hebrew scriptures when he appeared to the travelers on the road to Emmaus, teaching them everything that spoke about him—using the Torah of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44, 27).

As disciples of Jesus, let us be challenged to fall in love with God’s Word again. May we search it, contemplate it, and share it. For in God’s teachings we have life and joy; that is something to truly celebrate. “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night…do everything in it and then you will prosper (Josh 1:8).”

 

Charity Report

Irrigating the Deserts,Educating the Disenfranchised

By Liz Kopp

Imagine you are an honor student in your high school graduating class but you will not be able to continue your education. The reason is your father, addicted to drugs, is in and out of prison while your mother cleans houses for minimal pay, while trying to raise six children. Now that you are sixteen, your family cannot afford to pay for your subsistence, much less your studies, so your extended family has graciously arranged for you to marry an elderly distant relative; due to your dire circumstances, you have no recourse. This decision by your family has been made to ensure that you will have a home, financial stability, and that the family honor will not be shamed.

Such were the prospects for Fatima, who lives in Al-Azaria on the backside of the Mount of Olives. In the New Testament this village was known as Bethany or later as “the place of Lazarus” (hence Al-Azaria). For the last eight years, JCF has stepped in to assist young women and men caught in these cracks of social and fi nancial diffi culties. With donations provided from JCF’s Educational Fund (EF), Fatima was able to attend university and graduate with a B.A. in Chemistry. Today, Fatima is engaged to a handsome young lawyer while her two younger sisters are following her example and are currently enrolled in university studying Social Welfare and English respectively.

C.S. Lewis writes, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” Through your gifts to the Education Fund (EF), we at JCF are trying to do that—irrigating “deserts” in a dry and thirsty land.

News

During October, Yoni Gerrish is guiding the Foursquare Church’s Global Leadership Training Network during their conference and visit to Israel. These leaders of the Foursquare denomination with more than 8 million members worldwide will be gathering in Israel to pursue strategic opportunities of training and consultation. There is no better place to gain both a local and a global perspective of Scripture than from within the land of the Bible and the Gospel.

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

  • Christian Worker Visas in Israel. Over the last few years Israel has been clamping down on foreigners living and working in the Land. This has especially impacted different Christian ministries that are serving in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
  • Randall and Margret Buth. In California (Oct 18-Dec 29) visiting, speaking, and developing biblical language programs.
  • Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks. That there would be postive steps toward a real and lasting peace.
During October, Yoni Gerrish is guiding the Foursquare Church’s Global Leadership Training Network during their conference and visit to Israel. These leaders of the Foursquare denomination with more than 8 million members worldwide will be gathering in Israel to pursue strategic opportunities of training and consultation. There is no better place to gain both a local and a global perspective of Scripture than from within the land of the Bible and the Gospel.
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