My right knee is pretty sore. I really should have stretched before starting to inline skate, but such is the way with a 49 year old that thinks he is 19 years old! The bottom line is that I am thankful I have nothing more than a stretched (strained) ligament in my knee and though it is quite sore, I will recover.
I have learned that our Father is a bit more tender than the pavement in stretching us and generally, He is quite patient if we will work with Him and allow Him to stretch us. My family and I began this Hebraic/Messianic walk about five years ago and it has been a process of stretching and recovering from each successive step that our Father has led us through.
Each step has taken us out of this box or that box, shifting our paradigms and helping us to learn and grow and understand Him and His Word more. Some steps have been HUGE. The first six to eight months of this journey was like wrapping my mouth on a firehose. My head almost exploded! But, graciously, after each new step, Father gives us periods of time wherein we can recover and process and adjust to our new paradigm before He leads us farther forward.
The past five weeks or so have been one stretching paradigm-shifting event after another. We had been in a somewhat relaxed/recovery phase before our recent trip to Israel, but He shook us up good on this trip and so stretched us that it has been much like those early days drinking from a fire hose. I am still processing so much.
One of the really cool paradigms that shifted on this trip was my understanding of Judah and his relationship with YHVH. On our first trip to Israel last year, Hanoch Young, our excellent tour guide for a couple days, took us to the Shorashim Shop in the Old City so we could hear from Moshe Kempinski, Orthodox Jew, who recognizes what is happening with this great Torah awakening among non-Jews. As I sat and listened to Moshe, I heard his heart and in the hour or so we were in his shop, I could see the fruit of the Spirit all over him. Here was a man that exposed falsehood in either what I had been taught, or what I had understood from what I had been taught.
In Christendom, the continual anti-Semitic undertone, and the ‘new’ Testament-centric theology would imply, if not say overtly, that Judah did not and could not have the Spirit. Never mind that we could see clearly that there are many Spirit-filled saints all through the ‘old’ Testament. The implication was always that that changed at the cross.
Somewhere in the back of my head I think I knew that was wrong, but I had never been face-to-face with a living example that shattered the false paradigm. Then, there I was with leaky eyeballs listening to Moshe and seeing someone who does not know the Messiah as I do, but clearly walked in the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. I came home with this nagging struggle in my head that needed solving.
As we set out on this trip to Israel, we prayed individually as well as corporately for ‘Divine appointments’ wherein we could interact with Judah and get to know our brother. As I have written in many recent posts, Abba answered ‘in spades.’ We had so many incredible interactions and spent quality time with so many different brothers that I came away with numerous additional examples to lay beside Moshe. Not only was he not an anomaly, but I found his fruit among many of the Orthodox.
I stood in the Shorashim Shop and spoke with Dov Kempinski and could feel and see the same Spirit that was clearly with Moshe a year ago.
I had multiple interactions with our host’s father, David ben Aharon, and though he spoke very little English, his personality and mannerisms exuded the Presence. I’ll never forget him drawing us forward in their synagogue on Simchat Torah and he throwing his personal tallit over my shoulders and guiding me to a Torah scroll to walk with in the celebration. He returned to me near the end, again giving me his tallit, and motioned for me to take a particular scroll to the ark for storing, an honor not quickly bestowed.
There were numerous others, but perhaps the single most impactful was the evening of Simchat Torah as we joined the celebration outside of the Synagogue in Gi’vat Ye’arim. Men were singing and dancing and walking scrolls and though several stood out with the aura from being in deep worship and filled with the joy that only comes from the Lord, there was one in particular. I did not get to speak with him, but I watched him for the two or three hours we were in their midst. Even now I can see the joy and peace as he danced. At a couple points I was drawn to dance next to him and hold his hand as we circled the table with the scrolls. The fragrance of the Messiah was all over him!!
No, I don’t think any of these men know Yeshua as we do and would certainly not articulate their faith with the ‘Christaneze’ terms we would use, but every one of them exuded the Spirit in a way that few do. They each showed me Light that removed the darkness of false understanding from my soul.
Years ago, I might have said, “Impossible.” Last year…, “plausible.”
Now, I know truth: There are absolutely many Spirit-filled Orthodox Jews. They may reject the ‘Jesus’ of Christendom because of the falsehood attached to that name and the horrors done in it, but they are most certainly looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and they walk by faith and keep His commandments.
This whole discussion impresses me further with the clear understanding that instead of talking about Judah and what we think they do or don’t believe, maybe we should be talking to Judah and getting to know them and their hearts, then we can have the right to have discussions about what we and they believe. Most will be surprised to find that we are amazingly close on a significant number of points. What connects us is far greater than what separates us.
Again, my paradigm has been shifted.