Gates of Zion 2005
GATES OF ZION NEWSLETTER
The Ultimate Goal
In my last newsletter I mentioned the ultimate goal. Most Messianic Jews realize that it is impossible for the few of us to reach all of the Jewish people with the gospel. This is where the rest of the Body of Messiah needs to step up and be counted. There has always been a small number of Christians who have had a heart for the Jewish people and thankfully this number is increasing. These saints realize that the Messiah and all his first disciples were Jews and they have a heartfelt commitment to bless the people from whom their salvation came. Their faith is eternally tied to Israel and their love for the Jewish people has always amazed me. Then there is the rest of the body. By far the majority of Christians have practically nothing to do with Jewish people. They read all about Israel and the Jewish people daily in their bibles but they sadly have no connection at all with Jewish people today. Many of them think that the Jews were once Godís people but nowadays they as Christians have taken their place. This is a result of replacement theology which has significantly influenced Christendom. In this worldview the church replaces Israel. Simply put, the blessings and promises of Israel now belong to the church and of course the curses remain with unfaithful Israel. This replacement theology somehow neglects the unfaithful church but my focus now is not to address this great error but to rather focus on the biblical perspective Christians are indeed called to.
The ultimate goal for us is that the church would embrace Romans 11:11:Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. (NIV)
What a statement! And remember this comes from the apostle to the gentiles! If you think this through, the salvation of the Jewish people must be of immense importance if the very purpose of gentile salvation is for Jewish people to become jealous of them and want this salvation for themselves! Of course God loves all people and desires all to be saved but in the big picture the salvation of Israel is a key to world redemption!
The fact is that Romans 11:11 remains to be fulfilled. The eyes of the church have somehow been blinded to this very clear mandate. It is almost as if a veil lies over the minds of Christians in much the same way as it lies over the minds of unbelieving Israel when they read Moses and the prophets! I believe those of us who see are called to awaken the church to open her eyes. A great spiritual battle lies ahead!
Yaronís Bar Mitzvah
The Bar Mitzvah of our son Yaron was an event that will be long remembered. It was totally orchestrated by the Lord! Most people plan Bar Mitzvah celebrations a year or more in advance. Since we were transitioning from life in Kazakhstan to life in New York City we did not really have the time or frame of mind to plan Yaronís Bar Mitzvah in the typical fashion. So as little as three months before the event we still had no idea where it would be! The Lord had put it on our heart years ago that our sonís Bar Mitzvah would be a powerful time to impact our many Jewish family members and friends with our faith in Yeshua. I am convinced there is no greater way to express our faith in Messiah to our Jewish people than in the context of a Jewish celebration. We knew Yaronís Bar Mitzvah would be extraordinary but how to pull it off was entirely in the hands of the Lord.
Our new Jewish believing friend Eric had an idea. He began calling the very best Catering Halls in all of the New York Metro Area. He began with the famous Tavern on the Green in Central Park. His plan was to find a cancellation. You see, these big caterers prepare food for many hundreds anyway and in the event of a cancellation they will fill the vacancy at a much lower price to recoup whatever revenue they can. Ericís next call was to the Manor, an exclusive enclave situated in a beautiful old mansion in nearby New Jersey complete with beautiful gardens, exquisite rooms and a five star cuisine. The Lord was with us. During the peak of the wedding season on Saturday evening May 28th there was a wedding cancellation! We immediately drove to West Orange, NJ and at a fraction of what the cost would normally be; we booked our event at the Manor! As the Manor is well known, family and friends alike were in awe we were having our celebration there!
We invited about fifty of our not yet believing Jewish family members and friends and about 50 Jewish believers and some of our close Christian friends. We strategically placed believers and not yet believers at the same tables. At first my Jewish friends from Brooklyn loudly protested but in equally loud Brooklyn fashion I told them, ďToo bad this is where you are sittingĒ!
A RIGHT OF PASSAGE
The Lord showed me that we should not have a typical Bar Mitzvah celebration. Today most of these celebrations have almost nothing to do with God and in fact ungodly reveling with sensuous music and dancing is the norm. The themes of these Bar Mitzvah celebrations are often centered on sports and once the actual synagogue service has ended there is little if any mention neither of God nor of the deep meaning which surrounds the event.
Truthfully the Bar Mitzvah or Son of the Commandment is a rite of passage of a Jewish boy into manhood. Therefore the celebration should rightfully be about this passage and focus on the young manís transition into his new position as a responsible member in the community of faith.
Therefore I asked seven men to prepare a short five minute message that they would speak into Yaronís life. My uncle Jerry who is the elder of our family spoke about the importance of working hard. My oldest friend Robert Mazor (since I was 4!) spoke to Yaron about the importance of friendship. A few of my Messianic Jewish rabbi friends spoke about godliness, intimacy with the Lord and the importance of worship. Our friend Eric spoke to Yaron about the importance of setting goals.
Messianic Jewish rabbi Barry Feinman speaks into Yaron's life about worshipping the Lord
Our guests saw that we were taking our sonís passage into manhood seriously and that his Bar Mitzvah celebration was full of meaning and not just some big extravagant party.
The actual synagogue service took place in a beautiful downstairs room at the Manor. Yaron chanted the portion (parasha) for that day reading directly from the Torah scroll. He had spent the past few months studying with one of the rabbinical students who attends the Jewish theological seminary at nearby Columbia University. The passage Yaron sang was from Leviticus 26:3-13. After chanting the passage he gave a short message on itís meaning which I admittingly helped to write. Yaron was able to truthfully say that in light of Godís commandments that he surely falls way short and that he sees his need for atonement and forgiveness in Messiah Yeshua.
PHOTO # 3
Yaron reading his Torah portion flanked by dad and rabbi Eitan.
My friend Messianic rabbi David Rosenberg and his son Matthew did a great job of chanting the Sabbath Torah Service along with my dear friend also a Messianic rabbi serving in Israel, Eitan Shishkoff who led the service.
There were times during the service that my Jewish relatives were weeping. Many of them were greatly moved during the entire evening. There was a genuine spirit of love among us.
My male family members chanting the blessing over the reading of the Torah before Yaron chanted his portion
It was a powerful and moving time when I and seven of the Messianic Jewish rabbis who attended laid hands on and prayed for Yaron at the end of the service. The Spirit of God was present throughout the entire time. For many days afterward we received phone calls from family and friends telling us that this was the best Bar Mitzvah service and celebration they had ever attended!
PHOTO # 5
I and seven Messianic rabbis pray over Yaron
Jewish Businessmenís Fellowship
Our first Jewish businessmenís fellowship got off to a great start. There were seven Jewish businessmen present and all of them were excited and full of great ideas. We saw the need for an effective strategy so our meetings will draw the unbelieving Jewish businessmen we seek to reach. One of the topics we all agreed would be relevant is the one of ethics.
Our second meeting as the summer began was more about us getting to know one another better. The suggested name for our group is ďBread-breakersĒ. A while back there was another group of Jewish men who were also bread-breakers. The result of their bread breaking began to change the world!
Acts 2: 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
We believe that as we break bread with gladness of heart that we also will find favor especially with the Jewish people of New York City and that the Lord will also add to our numbers! Please be praying for the beginning of Bread-breakers!
JEFF THE IMMERSER
This Shavuot (Pentecost), I immersed (baptized) a new Jewish believer Stephen Frieder in the Hudson River. Stephen did not realize that he asked me to immerse him on the day of Shavuot. It was on that day that the first three thousand new Jewish believers came to faith after tongues of fire fell in the upper room. This was followed by Peterís powerful message to the men of Israel who were then cut to the heart, repented and were saved. Like them, Stephen is among the first fruits of many Jews who are being added and will be added to the Kingdom of God in New York City! Please keep Stephen Frieder in your prayers.
PHOTO # 1
Jeff Immersing Stephen in the Hudson
PHOTO # 2
Jeff and Stephen
BACK TO KAZAKHSTAN
By the time you receive this newsletter our family will be on our way to Kazakhstan. It has been almost two years since we have left Central Asia. The Lord has put it on our hearts to return to Almaty for about one month this summer. We are trusting it will be a great time of reunion and of mutual encouragement. I believe we will also have a great opportunity to help strengthen and encourage our leadership network and the members of our congregation. The political situation in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan is somewhat unstable so we are not sure we will make it to those nations so they may come to us. Please pray for a safe, fruitful and successful trip.
During the summer months many tell me that giving to the works of the Lord drops off sharply. I am guessing it is because many families are traveling leaving their homes and normal routines. I am asking you, our partners not to allow a decrease in giving to the Gates of Zion this summer but to help bring in an increase! In the Kingdom of God the harvest is as plentiful in the summer as at other times I would really like you to consider actually giving a little more these next two months! We trust the Lord for the plane fare and expenses for our trip to Kazakhstan which amounts to many thousands. Airfare alone to Kazakhstan for our family of five is over seven thousand dollars! Please prayerfully consider making a generous contribution to the Gates of Zion over and above your usual gift at this time. May the Lord return your investment a hundred fold!
We deeply appreciate all of you who have stood and continue to stand with us as together we put our hands to the plow and do our small part to help bring about the salvation of the Jewish people in these last days.
Blessings, Shalom and Love,
Jeff & Janet Bernstein
Your co-laborers serving Yeshua - A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel." (Luke 2:32)
Specific Prayer Requests:
1 Please continue praying for our son Yaron. He will be with believing youth in a great spiritual environment in KC for three weeks in July before joining us in Kazakhstan. Pray he is impacted with the Love of Messiah and for his safety in traveling on his own.
2 Pray for strength and inspiration for Jeff to complete a book he is writing this summer on the importance of the salvation of the Jewish people.
3 For a fruitful time in Kazakhstan this summer. Please keep praying the Lord provides all the necessary funds we need for this trip.
4 For the seeds that were sown in New York City this past year to grow into a great harvest of souls.
As the Lord inspires please send your gift to the Gates of Zion. Please make checks out to Gates of Zion and mail to our clearing house at:
Gates of Zion
PO Box 55123
Phoenix, Arizona 85078
Thank-you for your generosity and faithfulness!
Web site: www.gatesofzion.net