Shabbat, January 10, 2015
Pilate dismissed Yeshua’s otherworldly discourse about truth with worldly disdain: “What is truth?” For him, truth was as uncertain as… justice… and therefore irrelevant. Nearly twenty centuries later, some things remain the same—only more so! Nevertheless, I proclaim that God and His word are as absolute as a rock—only more so! V’eemru? (And let us say?)
At the end of John 18, Pilate the Procurator backed by Roman power, questions Yeshua. In v. 33 he asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Yeshua replies , “My kingdom is not of this world.” So now do you see why I said that Yeshua’s discourse here is otherworldly? Pilate has his Roman boots firmly on the pavement. What is Yeshua talking about?
37, “So Pilate said to Him, “Are you a king, then?” Yeshua answered, “You say that I am a king.” [Pilate might be thinking, is Yeshua ducking the question? Well, answering yes would be dangerous.] “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world” [OK, more otherworldly talk], “so I might testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” [What does that mean? And how would citizens of Truth hear His voice? How would they know? How relevant is what Yeshua saying to the matter at hand? Doesn’t He want to save His own skin?]
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”But at this point, Yeshua says nothing more—like a sheep becoming silent before the shearers—and Pilate announces to the Judean leaders, “”I find no case against Him.” Yet ultimately Pilate becomes impotent under pressure, and orders Yeshua crucified—and so Roman justice crumbles. Indeed, the whole Roman Empire has crumbled, under the weight of its own corruption.
Yet the kingdom of Yeshua remains and His truth endures. V’eemru?
Nowadays, lots of people are questioning truth—or anything else that claims to be absolute. Most people in our culture are agnostics—they aren’t sure what to believe about truth or morality, let alone God. Many people say they believe in God, but not the Bible. Do you know folks like that? That wouldn’t just include your friends; it would include most of our federal justices, who make rulings that their forbears would never have dreamed of making a decade ago. The latest apparently popular opinions matter more than the Founding Father said, let alone the Bible.
If Federal justices aren’t impressed by time-honored standards, how much less are most media stars, college professors, or high school students? What was taboo in your parents’ day is normal today.
At the IAMCS Rabbis conference, which I attended this week, there was a roundtable discussion about Reaching “Millennials”—Millennial are the generation born in the 80’s and 90’s—the generation of my children. Thanks be to God, they and many other Millennials are with us at Beit Simcha! Millennials are all about the latest technology—I may be a Professor of Computer Science (Emeritus), but my son teaches me how to use my IPhone.
Millennials have a hard time embracing absolute truths. After all, there’s a new IPhone every year! But then, my generation, the Baby Boomers also had hard time embracing absolute truths—we were the generation that proclaimed, “Question authority!” and championed “free love” (especially since birth control was easy and when abortion became legal). All that mattered is “what is relevant?”
While my generation settled down, our children no longer question authority; they mostly ignore it. At least as long as their parents or principals will stop bothering them about it. For the generation of Twitter and Snapchat, being “relevant” is all that matters.
Yet even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity had an absolute standard—the speed of light—there’s no getting past that absolute limit—except by the power of God! V’eemru?
A featured speaker at the Rabbis Conference was Dr. Jim Garlow. When he opened Skyline Church to Rabbi Joel Lieberman of Tree of Life Messianic Congregation, his elder board asked how much rent they should charge. Pastor Garlow replied, “My relationship with Rabbi Joel is like a marriage. I don’t charge my wife Rosemary rent, do I?” How about that? That’s covenant relationship!
Pastor Garlow takes marriage seriously—his first marriage to Carol lasted 42 years until she died.His second marriage partner is Rosemary Schindler—her great-uncle was Oskar Schindler—she gave a stirring testimony about her uncle saving over a 1000 Jews from the gas chambers of Auschwitz and then regretting that he hadn’t done more. Now Rosemary champions the cause of Israel and teaches Christians to love the Jews. Rosemary Schindler knows something about absolute truth. V’eemru?
Pastor Garlow does take marriage seriously. He came to national attention in 2008 for his leadership role in organizing religious groups to support California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage with over 60% of the vote. However, though the California Supreme Court upheld it, a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional.
Dr. Garlow now hosts The Garlow Perspective radio broadcast commentary and is the spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. Such an organization wouldn’t have seemed necessary a generation ago. How many of you are aware that the need to defend the standards of our faith have against legal attack is a pressing matter today? I spoke about this need when I introduced changes to our by-laws at our annual meeting in August.
Dr. Garlow cited Psalms 11:3, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Is the Psalmist talking about America in the 21st century?
Biblical standards once were the basis of morality in America.
George Washington affirmed, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” John Adams, co- author of the Declaration of Independence and Second President of the USA, wrote, “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” Thomas Jefferson, our third President who coined the expression “separation of Church and State” in a letter (it’s not in the Constitution) was mainly concerned that the State not establish or impose its will on churches, not the other way around!
Yet nowadays, moral standards are scorned. Our foundations are being destroyed. Dr. Garlow pointed out that Psalms 11:3 could also be rendered, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what will the Righteous One do?” Indeed, what will the Righteous One do, when His righteous standards are mocked? Indeed, what is the Righteous One already doing?
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger as well as The Mystery of the Shemitah, both New York Times best sellers, also spoke at the Rabbis conference. (Rabbi Cahn didn’t get to hear Dr. Garlow.)
If you’ve ever heard Rabbi Cahn speak at the Messiah conference, you know that he flips his pages fast, with passion! So my notes are only a paraphrase of excerpts:
“This past year has been one of the most dramatic years in a moral change that is overtaking America and the world. Since we were last together, 36 states no longer have laws defining traditional marriage. For Millennials, the percentage of children born out of wedlock is 57%. Atheism is rising, removing the name of God form the public square, while Satan is heralded in the public square. On Christian dating sites, the majority favor sex before marriage. Movies and TV program portray God and the Messiah as objects of laughter. Our society is one that calls evil good will call good evil.
“In the name of tolerance, God’s people are being increasingly persecuted. Mozilla’s co-founder was fired because two years earlier he had supported Proposition 8 (along with over 60% of Californians), holding that marriage is between a man and a woman. Last year, the mayor of Houston demanded that pastors who protested her pro-gay policy hand over their sermons to the city.
“These developments parallel what happened in ancient Israel. The citizens of Israel worshiped Baal and defied God; they promoted sexual immorality, and murdered their children for Molech. A national persecution of those who followed God and prophets went into hiding. Those were the days of Elijah.
“The Biblical culture once was the foundation that assumed absolute adherence, but it is now the fringe. Anti-biblical culture rises up and treats the biblical culture as merely one of many truths, then issues the challenge that biblical values have no right to claim supremacy, while the anti-biblical culture grows and gains more visibility, power and legitimacy. At the tipping point, the majority in the land embraces the anti-biblical culture, while the biblical culture is seen as intolerant and hateful. In the final phase the anti-biblical culture has become dominant and requires that any view that opposes be stamped out with state-sanctioned persecution. These are the days of Elijah.
“Elijah was seen by the powers of the state as the enemy of the state. He was a thorn in the side; he had not bowed his knee to Baal. He represented the righteousness that men now called intolerance. He questioned the unquestioned, challenging the apostasy.”
In 1 Kings 18:17–19, Elijah confronts King Ahab of Israel. “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’ But Elijah answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.’Those were the days of Elijah—who was scorned and persecuted as the troubler of Israel.
“The same attempt to marginalize the old morality is happening now. Today who is Elijah?” [To his fellow Messianic Rabbis, Jonathon Cahn proclaimed,] “We are Elijah! Elijah represented everything that the culture was abandoning. Then Elijah out of nowhere appears. What is happening now is that this nation and end-time culture is abandoning biblical faith—which Messianic Jews of the first century brought into the world. Our civilization is rejecting Judeo-Christian values. The culture is at war with its Messianic foundations. If it weren’t for first century Messianic Jews there would be no Judeo-Christian foundations for Christians. It was Messianic Jews—Simon Peter, Yaakov, Sha’ul—who received all these Biblical values and brought them out to the world along with the message of the Messiah and spread them throughout the world.
“The culture war today is against what they proclaimed. Then we, right now, here, appear in the last days, as Elijah did. On the day that they said they are going to wipe out these old values, we appear, standing up as bearers of these values again. This age cannot end until we return. We are the Elijah of this day. It’s what we are, who we are.
“Where are the voices standing up for God strongly? When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, where were the pastors, the voices of Christian leaders? There was silence. In past days, Billy Graham would preach the gospel and be honored by Presidents. Billy made biblical values relevant. Then came a church that proclaimed prosperity and compromise.
“Nowadays, the strongest voices for traditional morality are Jewish: Dennis Praeger, Michael Medved, Matt Drudge, etc. It’s not that they have the whole truth, but they do have a shadow of it.
“It wasn’t so long ago that Messianic Jews were an oddity. No one know what a Messianic Rabbi was. But the times they are a-changin’! Messianic Rabbis are being lifted up. One of the most prominent voices speaking about transgender issues and homosexuality is Dr. Michael Brown. One of the most prominent legal voices standing for traditional values in our courts is Jay Sekulow. (Rabbi Cahn didn’t mention that one of the prominent prophetic voices speaking warning to our culture and now to our Congress is Jonathan Cahn.)
“Into the Roman world of decadence came the message of Messiah. After Messianic Jews proclaimed their message to the world, it eventually transformed that world. But the message became separated from its Jewish roots. The Jewish believers were marginalized and eventually disappeared.
“Yet now, as the gospel is being disestablished from world culture, God is re-establishing Messianic Jewish leadership in proclaiming His message. While Western culture is declining, the Messianic Jewish movement is reviving. It was a pagan world of immorality that the Messianic Jews originally knew and it’s becoming that way again. We come back at a time to faith when it’s radical and counter-cultural to do so. Faith in Messiah is becoming more Jewish all over the world. God is raising us up, reviving our identity.Now we move to another stage: to take our place as we had at the beginning. The mantle of Messianic Rabbi is being restored. We must walk less and less on the periphery and more and more at the center of a world movement.
“In the end our branches will not extend farther than our roots. Deep roots will produce much fruit.
“It is important that we become more independent of the world and more dependent on God—independent of culture so we can touch the culture.
“As Elijah was led by the voice of God, so we have to become all the more sensitive to the voice of God and go with it. Elijah was unbowed by any God but God. He showed no respect for Baal. [In 1 Kings 18:27, Elijah mocked the priests of Baal, “Shout louder! After all, he is a god! Maybe he’s deep in thought, or he’s relieving himself, or he’s off on a journey, or perhaps he’s asleep and must wake up!”]
“It’s the most Jewish thing in the world to oppose false gods and smash the idols. We are not to reverence the false gods of our day but to defy them.
“Elijah rebuilt the altar of the God of Israel. We must restore the altar of Messiah and reverence the blood of Yeshua. We must proclaim His resurrection.
“Elijah was bold and unintimidated. He clearly had his fears, yet he acted against his fears. We have a culture that seeks to intimidate God’s people. So we must be bold and unintimidated. We are here to impact our people. Elijah was defiant, calling the prophets of Baal to a showdown. He poured water on the altar. That’s bold defiance. The enemy hates us, because he knows that when we appear, his days are ending.
“When we are attacked, we must even more stand up for God, as Elijah stood up. His name means My God (Eli) is the Lord (Yah). That was his life. Is He your Lord?
“Elijah spoke to his generation, “How long will you waver?” That’s who we are. We can just proclaim it. We have to be all the more those who actually live it out, because God has called us for this day.
“Then the people said, “The Lord, He is God! Adonai, He is God!” Because He is Lord, when His Spirit says go right, we go right, or He says go left, we go left. Our calling and anointing is as Elijah was: all out for God, committed to Him and His word. I believe the anointing will be even more powerful.
“I believe a great shaking is coming to this land and to the world. 2015 is the year of the Shemitah. The peak of the year comes in September. We can’t put God in a box. He doesn’t have to do what we say he might do. Yet the Bible does warn that when God’s judgment comes, a great shaking comes, with economic collapse. The point of the shaking is to bring people back to God.
“At the time of Elijah, a famine came upon the land. God used it not to create fear but repentance. I believe our greatest days are ahead. Elijah called his civilization to return to God. We are messengers of teshuvah. We call the church to return; we call the nation to return. That means we have to return, ready to receive the anointing of an on-fire, Elijah and Book of Acts anointing. Let’s dare to believe as they did and be that people who step out, as they stepped out, out of our comfort zone, to do what you’ve never done before, to walk as you’ve never walked before.
“God will empower you to produce great change, because His Spirit will do it. Though it is beyond us, we can rise up to it by the power of God. For God will do great and mighty things through us that we know not of. Amen!”
Then Jonathan closed with a rousing prayer and an awesome Aaronic benediction.
So I ask you all: when the foundations are shaken, what will the righteous do? What will we do? Will we build our house on sand or on rock? But what if others mock the Rock?
Who will stand up for the Word of God as absolute truth—His mitzvot as the just standards of morality? Who will proclaim that Messiah Yeshua is relevant today? How about our Millennials? Will you stand up for Yeshua today? Will you stand on the Word of God today? Let’s get ready to rock!
This sermon may not to be reprinted in whole or in part without the express written consent of Messianic Rabbi Glenn D. Blank of Beit Simcha. Your generous support for our ministry and building project is appreciated!