With the recent death of John Allen Chau, the internet erupted with many different reactions. Some news pages simply stated the facts as they knew them and moved on. Some painted a picture of just another white colonialist out to make the world more white American. Some in the evangelical world praised him as a Martyr, a hero, and someone to be modeled. Some said he was an idiot and stupid. The following is my humble take on the matter as I ask several important questions like: What is the great commission? When is it ok to break the law in regards to the gospel? What is the kingdom of God and are we responsible for its advancement? What exactly happened on that island that got John killed? Was he truly a martyr?
These are big questions and I must tread carefully. I will also state that due to time and space, I cannot be exhaustive in this undertaking though I hope to be thorough.
First off I must relay my condolences to the Chau family. I am a father of four and cannot imagine losing one of my children to natural or unnatural causes. So although I will be frank and will not mince words, I will not in any way question or deride John’s character, or doubt his belief in God and what he was trying to do.
What do we know about John?
Chau, 26/27(reports have both), was from southwestern Washington state, where he attended Vancouver Christian High School. He went on to graduate from Oral Roberts University, a Christian college in Oklahoma, in 2014, with a degree in health and exercise science. While there, he worked with the university's missions and outreach department.
"I have never known a more courageous, selfless, compassionate man and friend," said Bobby Parks, the department's former director. "John lived and gave his life to share the love of Jesus with everyone.” (us news and world reports)
By all accounts, John was an incredible individual. Skilled, courageous and lover of our Messiah.
Now I want to be careful not speculate as much as possible and to not make assumptions so I will tread carefully regarding the events of that fateful day. I will examine them and then do my best with the utmost of courtesy to preset my arguments with respect.
From what I have been able to read from John’s diary and other’s statements about his actions as I said before he was a courageous man. He had spent approximately 7 years gathering what information he could about a small Island off the coast of India called North Sentinel Island, which is home to perhaps the most secluded and aggressive group of natives the world. I have personally been fascinated by these people and island for years as I am sure many others have been for their particular aggressive nature and protected status by the Indian government.
It is important to note that the island is protected by law from anyone going there for any reason so that these people are not exposed to harmful bio-agents that most of us are immune to, but could wipe out their entire population in a matter off days. In fact, once an elderly couple and children were taken from the island to the mainland. The older couple died within days after becoming ill and the younger inhabitants were taken back to the island for fear of them becoming ill and dying as well.
A few incidents: (times of India)
• In 1967, the Indian government initiated contact with Sentinelese in association with anthropologist T. N. Pandit. They tried extending a hand of friendship by leaving gifts for the tribe and beckoning them. However, the tribesmen would turn their backs on the government delegates and sit on their haunches in a defecating posture. This gesture was obviously meant to insult.
• Again, in March 1970, when Pandit’s team made another attempt to befriend the Sentinelese, the tribesmen hurled cryptic words at them. When the group signaled and spoke to make them believe they wish to buddy up, the tribe threw another shocker at the unassuming party. A woman from the tribe joined a warrior man and sat on the shore in a cozy embrace; other women of the tribe followed suit.
After the 2004 Tsunami which wreaked havoc in South India and parts of the Indian Ocean, the government had sent helicopters from the Indian Coast Guard to render aid to the Sentinelese and drop food packets. At this sight, a member of the Sentinelese tribe reacted by shooting arrows at it.
In 2006 two fishermen were killed by the Sentinelese after drifting too close to the island. Since then a three-mile border has been enforced by the Indian government to keep both tourists, fisherman, and the isolated tribe safe.
So what happened that fateful day, November 16th, 2018?
Days before John Chau bribed several fishermen to bring him close to the island so that he could paddle ashore in a canoe. The reported amount of $350 would be approximately 1-month salary to a mainland fisherman in India. However, in this most remote of Island chains, it could be much more. Make no mistake all parties knew the risks and that this was illegal. In a note, John said that God had protected them from the authorities and they were able to reach the Island without detection.
John paddled ashore and in his diary reported that two men approached him shouting with bows and arrows. He said “My name is John. I love you and Jesus loves you.” A small boy then shot an arrow at him which was apparently stopped by his Bible. John then fled and swam back to the fishing boat.
After this encounter, he gave notes to the fishermen to give to others if he was killed. One note said, “I have been so nice to them, why are they so angry and so aggressive?” And another“(I am) doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island.” He added, “Do not blame the natives if I am killed.”
According to the fishermen on November 16th, they saw his body being drug by the tribespeople and apparently buried in the sand.
Many have compared this tragedy to that of Jim Elliot but I argue that the two cases are very different and have very few parallels other than the fact that both stories involve indigenous hostile tribes.
I don’t have time here so I would encourage all parties to read the account of Jim Elliot in Ecuador and you will see that the two are very different.
Before I continue on to my editorial thoughts on the matter I want to ask in the most pleading of terms for you the reader to keep an open mind and to use your logic and God-given mind to analyze what I am proposing before you make an emotional plea. Yes, this is a tragic loss to many. Yes, this is sad, but we must learn from this as a community who believes that we are commanded to give a defense for the hope that is within us. Remember that your feelings do not determine what is true and what is false. A careful examination of the facts at hand can lead to a truthful takeaway.
These are the facts. John bribed multiple individuals with a vast sum of money to help him break the law which had been set up to protect not only him but the Sentinelese. He made his way to a shore speaking a language to a people who had no idea what he was saying or what he was doing. He was yelled at and not fired upon by the adult natives although a child/adolescent did shoot at him. He was apparently allowed to leave and swim back to the fishing boat. Upon return to the Island, he was killed by the Islanders.
I think to properly understand this case we must put ourselves in the preverbal shoes of the Sentinelese. In the past, they have had their children and elderly kidnapped by anthropologists who then in their eyes killed the elderly and then brought the children back. If I am in my home and someone tries to break in, I am going to defend my family and ask questions later. Without hesitation, I would shoot an intruder and protect my spouse and children.
In the eyes of the Indian government, John was a trespasser and those helping him were also breaking the law. It is unclear from the diverse nature of reports, but it may be that the fishermen are being charged/held responsible for John’s murder.
As cold as it may seem, I can not view this case as anything else but a man being killed during a breaking and entering. Regardless of his intentions for the B&E.
Some have said that we must die for the advance of the gospel and that John’s actions should be applauded and aspired to.
I must answer these individuals with the facts of the case and not the intention of one individual's heart.
We are warned that the preaching of the Gospel will come with persecution, death, tribulation etc. We know as much from the book of Acts, epistles of Paul and book of Revelation. However, the apostles did not purposefully break the law, or bribe others to do the same. They were killed because of the Gospel and its message which declared that Caesar was not God and that man was sinful and in need of redemption apart from our works.
But what about John? As stated before his intentions were noble. Righteous even. His courage and ambition for the gospel are beyond question. But is he to be hailed as a Martyr? Are his actions to be applauded?
I have to answer both of the questions with a reluctant “no”.
The apostles and the early church were martyrs because of what they were preaching. Not because they were killed while they were perceived as a physical threat to a people protecting their families. The examples we see in scripture and commands to live at peace with all men if possible should be heeded. Romans 12 is full of wise instruction for how we as believers should act. Was John Chau loving those fishermen by bringing them into trouble with the law? We have to say no. Was John a Martyr being killed for preaching the Gospel? I think we have to say no. He was killed as an intruder.
No matter how good his intentions he was operating, as I hope to show, under a false understanding of the great commission. He had been influenced by a false doctrine of the kingdom. And may have had a view of God’s sovereignty and power which is simply not true.
In Romans 13 Paul states the following regarding human governance.
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Was John Chau adhering to this wisdom from God to be subjected to the ruling authority in India? We have to say no.
Isn’t it possible and according to the above message from Paul to the Romans probable, that in the omnipotence of God, he has allowed world governments to rule as they are and given them the authority which in a way we can not and may never understand directs His will? (One good argument for who the “restrainer” is in 2 Thessalonians is the human government. I am doing more study on this but it is certainly worth considering.)
By acting against the human government in an unlawful way it seems we are specifically disobeying God’s plan for human government.
But what about the circumstance where someone in Nazi Germany was hiding Jews in their wall and Nazi’s came in and asked if they were hiding Jews? Were they supposed to tell the truth and expose the Jews to a certain death?? No of course not. When human government prohibits us from doing what we are commanded by God then we are to obey God and not human government.
Where do we see this in scripture?
Several places. The Hebrew midwives who hid the newborns from the Egyptians when they were being thrown in the Nile. Moses’ mother and his basket. Moses defying Pharaoh. The disciples in Acts 4 continuing to preach the gospel in the Temple after being flogged by Jewish authority and told not to. Daniel in Babylon. Yet we are to understand that we take on the full responsibility and consequence of rightfully disobeying human authority. In other words, God didn’t have to shut the mouths of the lions though he graciously did anyway.
The list goes on, yet we are continually presented with a narrative where despite preaching the gospel the early church submits to human government. Not resting arrest, or being combative, yet also never giving up proclaiming the truth. In the end, the gospel conquered the Roman world without a single sword being raised or riot being roused or if I may official being bribed.
In the following I have to begin to speculate a little bit so I can not be dogmatic nor do I want to be. I can only go off what I know that John said and where he went to school.
There is a popular view among American evangelicals regarding the great commission which teaches that Jesus will not return until we spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth and every single person tongue tribe and nation has heard the gospel and either accepted or rejected it. This view is demonstrably false and is found nowhere in scripture. It assumes that God is shackled by our will and desire to spread the truth. It is a view that ignores the sovereignty of God and ignores the doctrine of immanence which states that Jesus can return at any moment.
This view also denies a literal physical Davidic Kingdom where Jesus rules from Jerusalem. It propagates a view that the “church” is the true Israel and there is no future kingdom which Jesus rules physically. That Jesus “reigns in our hearts” now and we are responsible for extending “his kingdom” to the ends of the earth.
Now there are several variations of this false doctrine which I do not have time to expound upon, but the roots of the most errant form are found in a movement/theology known as “Dominionism” or “Kingdom Now”. Proponents of this false view are those in the Word of Faith movement, Bethel Church in Reading, CA, and those affiliated and proponents of the New Apostolic Reformation movement. All of which were heavily influenced by a man named Franklin Hall who married the new age occult with Christianity in the Latter Day Rain Movement.
Now I have no idea what John Chau believed personally. Again I can only speak on what he stated in his diary and notes. However, what he did state hints strongly at a Dominionist theology. That is we are responsible to take the kingdom of Jesus to the end of the earth and without us, it will not happen.
At face value when looking at the Kingdom of the Messiah I think it is evidentially clear that the Davidic Kingdom of the Messiah is a physical Kingdom where Jesus rules from Jerusalem and the whole world is subject to his perfect rule. Zach 14. 2 Sam 7. Jer 23:5-6. Micah 4. Zeph 3. Etc. Etc. Etc. That this world is subject to the rule of Satan, powers, and principalities of the air is clear and evident.
Bottom line, the Kingdom of the Messiah has not yet come and we are not responsible to bring it HE IS.
“This is the plan devised against the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:26-27).18
‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:3-11).
Now the previous two passages were of course given to Israel and at the center of almost every errant view of scripture is the misuse or supersessionism of Israel. That is, that people tend to take whatever is said in scripture and think that the “you” in the passage is always them (at least when it sounds good, forget about all that judgment stuff).
I cite the two passages above as examples of God’s will being accomplished by HIS HAND. God asks us to come alongside him and desires that we participate, but make no mistake. He will do what he has planned with or without us.
Ok. Ok. What does this have to do with John Chau?
John attended Oral Roberts University which was founded by Oral Roberts who was heavily influenced by Franklin Hall and the Latter Day Rain movement. Hall and Roberts championed Dominion/ Kingdom Now Theology and taught that we as humans can achieve the level of perfection that Jesus achieved and that the only reason for sickness, disease, or poverty is because the individual simply doesn’t have the faith to be healed, the faith overcome poverty, or hasn’t fasted enough to empower the Holy Spirit. Roberts was a false prophet who claimed that a 900 for Jesus appeared to him and commanded him to build a hospital and that it would be a success. Roberts swindled millions upon millions from people while preaching a prosperity false gospel and approximately 8 years after opening, the hospital failed and closed. It was not a success and apparently made the 900 foot tall Jesus out to be a liar.
I relay this not to say in any way that John Chau believed what Oral Roberts believed of course not. But it seems as though he was certainly influenced by this false view of the kingdom and commission of the gospel.
John Chau stated in his diary “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?”
Another note from his stated “
“(I am) doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island.”
I think John clearly believed that without our participation the word of God will not go forth and that we are responsible for bringing the Kingdom of the Messiah, Jesus. Now I admit I am speculating and so I don’t want to be dogmatic here. I only want to draw out some important things to look at.
But I think this is a very good teaching moment about how dangerous bad theology is. Scripture is clear that Jesus brings his kingdom, in literal form, to the earth and reigns from Jerusalem. We are not responsible for “bringing the kingdom”. God is.
Additionally, Satan has a stronghold on the entire world not just in places where the gospel has allegedly never been heard.
We know basically nothing about this tribe. But we do know from Paul in Romans 1 that
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,7 in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
No man exists on the planet that doesn’t know of God’s nature and existence. God has used visions and dreams in the Muslim world in places where the gospel was not being preached. He can and does do what He wills without exception. So the argument which has been put forth time and time again in the public square that if John didn’t go do this they would never hear the gospel or know of Jesus is simply false.
Finally exactly what is our responsibility under the great commission?
First off we have to ask who specifically the great commission was commissioned to. So who was it? The 11 direct disciples of Jesus in person by our Messiah.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
A thing to note. Jesus commands his disciples to go and make disciples. A duplication process. And then commands them to teach their disciples to obey all his commands. He never tells them to spread his kingdom. (Some take the Lord's prayer out of context and twist it beyond recognition trying to make the point that he does there (Matt 9:6), but careful exegesis denies this possibility) He tells them to simply teach what they were taught, which was from the TNK. The Torah, Ketuvim, and Prophets. The Hebrew scriptures. And what do the Hebrew scriptures teach? That the Messiah King of Israel and son of David would rule over a physical kingdom from Jerusalem and through the revelation of Yeshua to John we know this will be a 1000 year reign while Satan is bound and then released before final judgment. We are to be salt and light, to give a defense for the hope that is within us 1 Peter 3:15. Yet with trepidation I must put forth that we are never in my understanding commanded to bring the kingdom of God, to break the law in attempting to share the gospel in this manner. We are also responsible for our own actions and God does not have to save us from unwise decisions which put us in grave danger just because we say that we are doing it for him or in his name.
Friends John Chau is in the presence of our Lord and Savior and creator of the Universe. He was a courageous and brave human being who thought he was doing the right thing. Yet I believe he was led astray by a false theology of the kingdom, a false understanding of the great commission, and an American “church” which doesn’t understand their own place in the outworking of God’s plan for the world.
I would caution and have cautioned those who hold this example as one to be praised. It is not. It is tragic. It is heartbreaking. And it could have been avoided. Few are as brave and courageous as John Chau. Let us not make the mistake of encouraging them to a most certain death when nothing of the sort is commanded or wanted by our creator who cherishes life and came that we might have it abundantly.
We should be willing and able to proclaim the truth of Yeshua of Nazareth to anyone and everyone. We should expect persecution because of it. Yet we need to be grounded in the Word Of Truth so that we are not lead astray to think that we have a role that we do not. God is in control. God’s plan will be completed by His Hand and His Hand alone. He will receive the glory and honor as He brings His kingdom to fruition as king of Israel and creator of the Universe.
David HaLevy is the founder of Builders of Israel and Jew and Gentile Radio
Happy New Year to all of you. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I am working on a couple of podcasts that will cover in depth God, Science, Morality and YOU! The first show is in editing and we will have at least one per week. One show is called the "Jew and Gentile" podcast. It will be hosted by myself David HaLevy and Aaron Marshall. Aaron is an attorney, seminary graduate and chapter director of Ratio Christi at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. If you would like to send in topics or questions please feel free to post them on the Apologetics Workbench Facebook page or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, I will be hosting a podcast titled "Strange Bible-Weird World". In this podcast we will discuss all of those really hard to understand passages in the Bible that make you go "HUH??!!??". We will also discuss topics that one never hears from the pulpit, or even in most conversations, yet are vital to understanding the world around us. Topics like the reality of heaven, hell and the after life. Prophecy. Who are principalities and powers of the air? Why is Israel seeming to be always at the center of what is going on in the world? Does God have a future for the Nation of Israel? And many many more.
We look forward to many great conversations and answering your questions. May God bless and keep you!
The world of fine woodworking is an expanse of techniques which deal with natural materials. There are countless circumstances where I know that if I do something one way, I will get good results. If I do something another way I will get bad results. One style of woodworking tradition is nearly void of bad results. That style is that of the Japanese.
Japan has one of the strongest and most skilled cultures of wood working mastery. Japan has buildings that were built over 1000 years ago, with stand countless earthquakes, and will continue to stand for another thousand years, and have not a single nail holding them together. They were built entirely with hand tools, and no YouTube for guidance! The Japanese have an amazing tradition of harvesting trees for Shoji screens. If you have ever seen a Shoji screen you will notice that they are made of a Conifer species (soft wood such as Fur, Cypress or Pine). Conifer species, as with many species of wood have specific difficulties which the craftsman has to be aware. One of these is the tendency to warp, twist or bend upon environmental changes. You may notice a door in your house that sticks in the summer and then in the winter suddenly stops sticking. This is do to humidity changes in your home. Thus the Shoji screen becomes even more challenging as the small pieces of wood which create the frame and grid pattern are made from a soft, warp prone wood. So how do the Japanese do it!?!?! They simply mark which way the tree was growing when they cut it down. The nature of the tree is to want to channel water from the roots up the trunk and into the outer extremities. If the craftsman were to cut the tree down, mill the lumber, and not keep track of which way the boards were naturally growing there would be trouble! Unfortunately, this technique of felling trees and marking how they grew is nearly a lost art.
You see the Japanese master craftsman makes sure that all the vertical Shoji screen grid muntons are placed so that they are running the same direction they were growing. They have a built in memory of sorts which by nature leads them in a certain direction. There is an absolute nature of each piece which if ignored leads to catastrophic failure. This I believe is where we get the term “ingrained”.
Such is the human being. Each human being has a nature, and it is not what the secular world says it is. We are not animals that learned how to make tools and thus are now the conquering species. We have a unique story, one that most ignore and call mythical. A story that a man named Moshe/Moses wrote down in the Torah. A story that begins all of our current nature with a story about two Humans being Naked and Ashamed.
On to a documentary called “First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon”. In this documentary an anthropologist deep in the Amazon Jungle on the border of Brazil and Peru catches on film, for perhaps the first time in history, a lost tribe making first known contact with the outside world. This people group has a totally native language. It uses the most primitive of hunting techniques and tools. They wore nearly no clothing what so ever, just a small loin cloth. They emerged from the forest scared, and fleeing another group of people who were trying to kill them. The anthropologist and small village helped the tribe relocate there camp and ended up giving them clothing, utensils, plates, cups etc. The most amazing thing happened. Of all the technology and “modern implements” that the emerging tribe encountered the most important to these people were the clothes. They actually stole clothes from the villagers after they observed the villagers wearing them. When the anthropologist asked the tribe’s Chief if he would feel more comfortable going back to the way things were when they were naked. The man said “No, we don’t want to be naked anymore. We were naked and ashamed.”
This is a fascinating statement. Here is a group of people, with no previous connection to the outside world. They were even encouraged by the anthropologist to continue with their way of life, yet they eagerly desired to be clothed because in their own words were ashamed to be naked.
In the very nature of man, with no outside influence, we are naked and ashamed before our creator.
Genesis the 3rd chapter
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[d] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Who told the people of the isolated Amazon tribe they were naked? No one. They knew it intuitively. As humans who are uniquely made in the image of our creator, we know without being told, that something is wrong. That "something" is ourselves. We were originally created in a perfect world, without sin, and then chose to defy our creator and now suffer the consequences of that defiance. Yet there is hope. Our creator took it upon himself to redeem us back to himself. He became flesh and dwelt among us and paid for all the death and destruction which we humans willfully raged and continue to rage upon this earth. There is only one catch. We have to trust Him. We have to place our trust in the fact that He paid the penalty, and conquered death to bring salvation to each and every one of us, IF we accept it.
We are all Naked and Ashamed looking for someone to clothe us. Looking for purpose in life. There is only one source for meaning in life, and salvation from ourselves. Our creator and redeemer. Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah.
My father became a believer in Yeshua as the Messiah while attending Brigham Young University in Hawaii. Thats right, a Jew, attending a Mormon University. He loved to surf and sail and the North Shore of Oahu ain’t bad!
A Christian pastor who wasn’t Jewish began to share with him a few versus here and there about the Jewish Messiah from the Old Testament or as we would call it the Tenach “TNK”. From here my father began to ask questions and before long was convinced that the Bible was the truth, and that Jesus/Yeshua was the promised Messiah that the Jewish people have so awaited.
This pastor was doing something which is central to sharing the Gospel. He was provoking a Jew to jealousy. My father became jealous of this man’s love, his heart, his truth. So what about the title of this article? What is this so called missing link?
The fact is that the First Apologists were all Jews. Shaul was schooled in Philosophy, Pharisaic Law, and undoubtedly had the Torah memorized with most likely other books in the hebrew scriptures as well. The topic of discussion was not if God existed, but what the qualifications for the Messiah were, when he had to come, and if Yeshua was in fact the right guy.
Additionally Paul lays out an example of order to which the gospel is to be taken to the world. He first verbally writes this order down, and then provides a physical example by living out exactly what he teaches. Lets take a walk in his footsteps for a moment.
In Romans the 1st chapter verse 16 Paul writes. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes; to the Jew first and also the Greek.” This is a powerful statement which many argue was only meant for the first century. After all, one couldn’t be expected to take the Gospel to the Jewish people first and foremost in this day and age, that would be discriminatory!
Let us take a closer look at this verse. The two clauses in this passage are linked in the prophetic perfect tense. Which means the following. If the Gospel is REMAINS the power of God unto Salvation, than the Gospel REMAINS to the Jew first. Think about that for a moment. If your salvation is still bound in the power of the Gospel, than you should also be taking the Gospel to the Jewish people in what ever manner you are able.
Let us further examine the word for “first” in the Greek. It is the word Proton, which means first in order and first in importance. But why would this be? We must look at the origins of the promised New Covenant and the Messiah himself. You see in Jeremiah 31:31 a new everlasting covenant was promised. Promised to the nation of Israel, the Jewish people. The Messiah who is the physical embodiment of the Shekinah Glory of God, was promised to the Nation of Israel, a Son of David to reign on David’s throne forever and be the righteous remnant of ONE who would put an end to transgression. This is why the Gospel, the good news that the Jewish Messiah has come must go to the Jewish people first. Because HE is the Jewish messiah promised to the Jewish Nation of Israel.
When one reads through the book of Acts. At every single stop Paul makes, he first goes to the Jewish population. Even when he returns to a city such as Ephesus, he again goes first to reason with the Jews in the Synagogue, even though it was a place he had already been. All of this while Paul is an “Apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11).
Here are the references of Paul going first to the Jew.
Acts 13:4-5; 13:14; 14:1; 16:11; 17:1-4, 10-14, 16-17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8
So the missing link in Apologetics is the ability to present the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people. We have an overwhelming amount of material which argues for the existence of God from the cosmos, apparent design, complexity and fine tuning of the universe. We have amazing work done on scriptural reliability. We have scholars dedicated to the evidence of the resurrection of Yeshua. All great areas of study and reasons to believe, yet they over look one simple but crucial fact. It is estimated that less than .01 percent of all missions go to the Jewish people. Because of this very few Churches give to Jewish missions and certainly last on the list is training people to answer the objections of the Jewish people to the claims that Jesus is the Messiah. We have amazing work done by Jewish believers such as Dr. Michael Brown on the Jewish Objection to Jesus, yet few know of or care of such resources. To be frank, who needs such a resource when there is no desire to use it.
There is a great chasm between the world of Apologetics and the Mandate of taking the good news that the the Jewish Messiah has come to the nation of Israel, both as a people and a modern state. One does not have to feel called to give to Jewish Missions. One does not need to feel called go to the Jewish people. We have a mandate to go to the Jewish people with their Messiah, and where there is a mandate, no call is necessary.
Friends, the missing link exists, because the Gap is not recognized. Scripture is clear that some day the fullness of the Gentiles will come in and all Israel will be saved. You happy Goy, you gentiles who God graciously grafted into the saving work of the Jewish messiah have an incredible role to play. You are to provoke the Jewish people to jealously. A jealously of your love for them, for the Jewish Messiah, and the truth that He has come and will come again. Pray for the salvation of the Jewish people. Act on the mandate to take the good news to the Jewish people. Return the favor to a people who gave the scriptures and Messiah to the world.
I recently returned from Israel. I was privileged to lead an international apologetics organization on a tour of the entire country and over 5000 years of history. We covered many topics ranging from the Bible to modern day living. One of the questions I get every trip is in reference to a wall which separates Jerusalem proper from a neighborhood in Judea Samaria which is politically known as the West Bank. This wall is where foreign press camp out and wait for the big bad IDF (Israeli Army) to kill innocent Palestinians. Ah but they are always disappointed and never report what really happens. Such as IDF soldiers handing out free water and treats to local Arab children in the heat of the summer. But I digress.
Apologetics, the defense of the faith, I believe must go beyond the topics of the existence of God and the resurrection of the Messiah. We must defend Truth both in nature and content. Israel as a modern and historical Nation must be understood for what it is. A legitimate sovereign Modern Nation. A people who has not been cast off from the God who created them. An upcoming article will defend Israel and the word of God against "fulfillment theology" and Anti-Semitism within the "Church"; yet here I simply want to address the wall.
The wall which is pictured above is a physical barrier to stop snipers from shooting Israelis from the Arab Muslim neighborhoods which overlook Israeli roads and towns. Below you can see how this wall works. It is merely a concrete section of the security fence which stretches for hundreds of miles between Judea Samaria and Israel proper. The security fence was erected beginning in 2003 after the Second intifada where over 1,000 Israelis were murdered by Islamic terrorist suicide bombers and attackers. After the fence was finished these attacks were drastically cut by 85%. Yet it wasn't enough. The fence kept the suicide bombers out, but not the sniper's bullets which flew right over the 10 foot chain linked security fence. In came the concrete panels. In fact the concrete barriers don't even act as a physical barrier to anyone. One could walk right around them once past the security fence. They are simply there to stop a snipers bullet. I have included a link below to a much more comprehensive article on this subject which I recommend reading.
One statement is made by nearly every person I have the blessing of taking to Israel. "It is nothing like I had imagined in my mind. It is so safe here. So beautiful. Nothing at all like the press makes Israel out to be." Come see Israel for your self and see the Bible and your faith come to life.
For the Salvation of Israel
Once upon a time I was teaching an Adult Sunday school class. The subject of Jesus’ name came up and so I explained that Jesus was never called Jesus. One woman, blurted out “What! Where does it say that?!?” Well, the Bible doesn’t say that specifically, but it is clear when we study the languages of the day that the name Jesus as we know it simply did not exist. Jesus is an english word which is the end result of a transliteration from Greek. Yeshua is what Jesus was called. This is an Aramaic version of Yehoshua, or Joshua. It it a kin to saying Mike, instead of Michael. However many people know this. If you have seen the film “The Passion of the Christ”, or “Risen” you have heard Jesus be called Yeshua.
This however is not the principle focus of today’s title “Under cover Jews”. In fact many of the people of the New Testament (and also the Old) have been given English names, and naturally so as we read an english version of the Bible. This however over time has been just another reason why we miss many things about the Bible which make it come to life. Lets look at a few of these names with there corresponding Hebrew name and meaning.
Matthew - - Mattityahu Which means “Gift of God”. You may have heard of a famous Hasidic Jewish rapper with the same name. However his name was also Levi, pronounced Levy associating with the tribe of Levi.
Mark - - Yochanan Ben Moshe— John son of Mark (Moses) Mark was John’s Surname which in Jewish culture is primarily derived from your father’s first name. Seeing that John’s surname is Mark we can deduce that this was his father’s first name. A name which is really Moshe, or Moses.
John - - Yochanan- Yehochanan- Meaning “Yahweh is Gracious” It is thought that John may have been a priest because of his intimate knowledge of the priesthood and ability to be present in the residence of Caiaphas when Yeshua was being examined. interestingly one can note that any Hebrew name with Ye/Ya or El in it contains the name of God. (Elohim, Yahweh)
Jude- Yehuda- Judah- Often overlooked, the book written by Jude is one of the most “Jewish” books of the New Testament and interestingly quotes from the Book of Enoch, which is not considered part of the Cannon by Protestants. It is however in the Catholic Cannon. The book of Enoch is also among the dead sea scrolls and is certainly worth studying to find context for the quotes which Jude includes.
Paul- Saul - Shaul Contrary to popular belief and many sermons on Sunday morning, Jesus did not change Saul’s name to Paul on the road to Damascus. He simply had two names.
Sha-ul pronounced Sha-ool, was his hebrew name and Paul his greek or latin name as it was both a greek and latin name at the time. He simply used Paul, Paoulos, Pavlos, in Greek and Roman circles, and Shaul in Jewish circles.
There are many other names such as these that have totally lost their meaning and significance over time and translation. I hope this will spur you on to learn more on this subject and always seek out the deeper context of the greatest TRUE story ever told.
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As Jew growing up in West Texas life is a little different. It was dry. Not only were we short on water, but we were also short on Jews. Not that there are ever many Jewish people just walking around, unless you happen to be on a Hollywood Set, in Brooklyn or the Other Holy Land Israel. I have since lived all over the U.S. and other countries. From the North East to the Deep South. One thing has been made very clear. There aren’t many Jews in the Bible either. At least that is what you would think if you were to spend much time in your average protestant Church.
Sure you have the Israelites. Sure Charlton Heston lead them out of Egypt. But then Jesus came and started the Southern Baptist Convention right?!?! I don’t mean to pick on the Baptists. You can plug in what ever denomination you like and the analogy still fits. My point being that the vast majority of Churches look at the Bible with no contextual separation between their lives and the lives of the people who make an appearance in scripture. In other words, they (ok, lets drop the act, you I’m talking to you friend) you more often than not come to the Bible with understanding, seeking faith, not faith seeking understanding.
I frequently speak in Churches on various topics ranging from the Passover to defending our faith against secular atheism. Regardless of the topic I often tell this little analogy. Imagine you picked up a book detailing the daily life of an Amish person in rural Pennsylvania. Having never spent any time on a Pennsylvania Dutch farm you were unfamiliar with many of the terms being used. Terms like yoke(horse/ox collar), Dabber Spring (run fast), Denki (thank you), Fraa (mother), Gaul(horse). Names were also unfamiliar so you began to change the names so they were easier to remember. The descriptions of clothing articles were also foreign so these began to change to more familiar articles in your mind. Even the games being played didn’t make much sense, so these also found associations.
Upon your finishing of the book, a friend asks what it was about. You begin to retell the main bullet points in the book. However, you plug in all of your replacement terms, names, and descriptions so that your friend understands just what the heck you’re talking about. The problem being that your friend in the end has the view that the Amish are basically like him. When the truth is that they couldn’t be more different.
I hope you know where I am going with this, but just in case let me spell it out. Jesus is a Jew. His actual name is Yeshua. He was not a Southern Baptist; he wasn’t a Catholic. His last name isn’t “Christ”. He had more in common with the Sadducees and Pharisees than he did you or I. He was a Rabbi. Those who followed him did not “Convert” to Christianity. They didn’t pray a prayer to accept him into their hearts. They looked on Him and declared “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!
Let’s talk about Yeshua’s brother Jacob. No not James. Jacob. Yes, Jacob(Yacov) was his real name. Jacob interestingly enough was Yeshua’s brother. He didn’t believe that Yeshua was anything special while he was traveling around teaching, and performing miracles. He in fact did not believe that Yeshua was the Messiah. Yet something peculiar happened. After Yeshua was crucified his disciples doubled down on the belief that Yeshua had risen from death. This ultimately lead to their own martyrdom. Let me ask you a question. If you were a skeptic like Jacob before Yeshua was killed. Why would you suddenly change your mind about him being the Messiah? What event could declare to you beyond doubt that he in fact was who he claimed to be? For Jacob, Yeshua’s brother, it was this. That he had seen his brother tortured and murdered, and three days later alive again. The resurrection turned the tide in Jacob’s heart and mind so that it was now undeniable. . . .Yeshua was and is the promised Messiah to the Jewish people.
My purpose in writing this to you is to challenge you to re-think the context of what you believe. I challenge you to stop being lazy in your reading of the Holy Scriptures. I challenge you to read the Bible from a Jewish perspective and if you don’t know how to do that there are many great resources available to you by Jewish scholars such as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum and Dr. Michael Brown. My friend you are missing so much. Stop forcing the Bible into the presupposition that its stories and characters happened in any-town USA. Begin an incredible journey into the history of the world and its future through the eyes of God’s chosen people, Israel.
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Above is a picture of a guitar I built for a friend of mine. It consists of many parts and pieces. Some more critical to its function than others. It is built of exotic materials which are quite costly. I built it with care, to as high a level of precision as I could muster, though it has many flaws. If you spend over a year crafting one thing, you tend to know every millimeter of its being. After overcoming a few relatively drastic failures, it was final finished. I had strung it, set the action, and intonation (height of strings, and purity of note pitch). I set it on a stand and looked at the finished product. I was pleased. As a perfectionist, I wasn't entirely satisfied, but pleased none the less. There was however one thing missing. The guitarist. This is true with any instrument. It must have its musician. With out the force to pluck the strings, work the bow, or clash the symbols, the greatest of instruments are merely bits of organized matter. You must have the musician to begin the first note, and its successor's. To have a song you need multiple notes. To have even one chord, you need three notes played together. You must have a continual exertion of energy to keep the song going. If I pluck just one guitar string, it will quickly dissipate leaving nothing. The instrument, the music, needs a sustainer or else it ceases to exist. By the way the other picture above is a Jewish musician named Paul simon who you may have heard of. He is playing a James Olson guitar, who is one of the greatest Luthiers in the world and an inspiration to my own instruments. Do you know what happens when Paul stops playing his guitar? You guessed it. The Sound of Silence!
Upon an initial dive into the world of quantum physics one can get very very very overwhelmed. I know this is how I feel when I attempt to read even the most "accessible" work by physic's most renown P.H.D holders. However, at a broad look, physics is primarily focused on the nature of particles and how they interact with one another. Without getting too technical, so that I don't confuse myself, lets take a brief look at one law of physics. The Law of Causation says that for every effect, there must be a cause. So when we think of the music, we must work back and find a musician causing the music. The guitar, or violin are simply avenues for the music to be played. The universe where we find ourselves is no different. Even the smallest particles that we know of are moving, all be it unpredictably, still moving. So we have a "problem". Even the most inorganic, seemingly insignificant, beyond microscopic particles need a cause. They need a musician to get the song going. Beyond the fact that they first need to exist, they then have to be plucked, played, moved into action. However we can't stop there, because the Universe continues to be plucked, played, and moved into action. There is a sustainer, a conductor if you will, to the most beautiful of symphonies. This conductor also holds all the particles together, the notes if you will, so they don't go flying part from one another. So this is the unmoved mover. God himself. Ah but you say, "Well then who caused God?" Very good question. The Law of Causation applies to physical non-eternal things. Yes everything that has a beginning demands a beginner. However, God did not have a beginning, so He does not need a beginner. Again you may say "How convenient! Well, I just say that the Universe is eternal, therefore it doesn't need a cause." True, if the Universe is eternal, it does not need a cause, and God does not need to exist. However, it is an undisputed scientific truth held by the most respected scientists such as Stephen Hawking that the universe had a beginning. So one can believe that" Nothing" created something out of nothing. Or that "Something" created something out of nothing. Which is more reasonable to you?
If you enjoyed this please like and share. Others need to know that our faith is not based on fairy tales and wishful thinking, but on the firm foundation of evidence.
As a cabinet and furniture maker I meet with clients. One of the many things that we talk about when agreeing on a design is Color. There are several ways that we look at color in regards to the piece or pieces we are designing. Sometimes the client brings in some fabric they would like to try and match from their couch. Other times we are looking at a color wheel from a local paint store. However the most difficult time is had when the client doesn’t quite know what color they want but they will “know it when they see it”. Some of you are smiling because I am talking about YOU! And you drive people like me crazy! No fault of your own. Everyone does this, just with different things. For some people its shoes. Other people cars etc. Some people do it when they are looking for a house to buy.
Back to color selection. Before I continue to apply a finish to the piece I have built, I provide a color sample to the client for final approval. This accomplishes several goals. First, it gives the client a physical, in hand look at what the piece will look like. Its sheen, texture etc. Most importantly for me, it gives an unchanging standard. Lets say the client wanted a very specific Teal Green Semitransparent stain. Sounds cool I know. I would then deliver a sample of exactly what would be used on their new retro coffee table. The day arrives when I deliver their ultra-sleek three legged table to their home and the client says “That isn’t what I had in mind, its the wrong color green” Aha! “No problem” I say, “Lets look at the sample you approved and see if it matches.” At this point we take out the unchanging standard. The sample they approved. I lay it down on the table and see that it indeed does match.
Friends, oddly enough, people treat Truth and Morality the same way they treat paint colors. Lets say that instead of paint colors we were discussing wether Murder was right or wrong. I will let you be the “good” guy or gal and say that during our discussion you said that Murder was wrong. I replied and said no, Murder is most certainly NOT wrong. You see without a standard outside our selves, like the color sample, how would we be able to know for sure if Murder was in fact wrong?
You may say, well, society says its wrong, I don’t need a God to tell me its wrong. This may seem like a logical point living in America, but what about when the majority says that Murder is right. Nazi Germany declared murdering 6 million Jews was a good thing because it cleaned the human race of an inferior people group. Adolf Hitler obtained his morality from Darwinian Evolution. In their minds, they were merely catalyzing natural selection. Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong killed upwards of 60 million people under the same banner. These acts are universally recognized as being evil, wrong, sickening. Yet by what standard can we call these acts evil?
With no Moral Law Giver, there can be no moral law, for it would just be your opinion against my opinion. We would essentially be arguing over a paint color with no standard to compare it to. Mother Teresa being “Good” and Hitler being “Bad” doesn’t mean a thing without an unchanging standard to differentiate the two.
I will leave you with a quote form C.S. Lewis who summed it up better than I ever could.
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
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In the world of apologetics there are many, many terms which almost seem purposefully difficult to understand the first time one hears them. One of the these is the “Teleological Argument”. This is the argument for the existence of God from the perspective of the apparent master design and fine tuning of the universe. Within this argument there are many examples which over time we will cover. However today I was thinking of my carpenters level. It is useful in a number of ways, but is most commonly used to ensure objects are plumb and level. “Plumb” is a term used for making sure objects are perfectly inline vertically with the force of gravity pulling down upon them. Similarly “level” is applied the same way but to a horizontal surface. Over time, if an object like a wall is not plumb and level, gravity will pull it down. The wall will lean, twist and eventually fall over. This is caused by it being out of balance relative to the force of gravity pulling down upon it. Generally speaking an acceptable tolerance for a framed wall is about 1/32 of an inch over 8 feet.
On a much larger scale the entire universe is in a delicate balance with gravity. Imagine that you are on a giant seesaw and that seesaw is a giant level that stretches the entire length of the Universe. The fulcrum on which the level balances is gravity itself. This I admit is more or less impossible to comprehend so let me give you a glimpse into just how big the Universe is. Place yourself into the space shuttle, which travels at a speed of 15,000 MPH. If you began to travel to the nearest star to our solar system the year Jesus was born, today you will still have another 200,000 years to go. The average distance between stars is 30 Trillion miles. The number of stars estimated in the Universe is equal to all the grains of sand on all the beaches on the Earth. To put this in to perspective one cubic yard of sand has over 42 billions grains of sand. So to put it comedically light, that has to be one big level to stretch from one end to the other! But now down to brass tax. (What ever that means) If you were to move gravity one inch to the right or the left on this imaginary balancing act, everything we know would cease to exist and collapse in upon itself. This is the level, pun intended, of precision to which the balance and roll of gravity has upon the universe.
One is faced with the notion that by all logical conclusions such a balance could only have been begun by the unmoved mover. The creator of said cosmos. God. Of course we have the free will to choose to believe that this has happened by accident. However if I relied upon mere chance to obtain accurate results when building someones house, I would have some very upset clients and a house that would immediately fall apart.
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