Monthly Archives: March 2015

Preparing for Passover

We are getting ready for Passover! The holiday begins on Friday, but preparations are moving full steam ahead.

During Passover, the Jewish community refrains from eating leaven and eat what is known as matzah during the eight day holiday, as Moses and the nation of Israel fled Egypt in haste, not having time for our bread to rise and so we eat unleavened bread as a reminder of our leaving Egypt in haste.


Matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten during Passover

For seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a foreigner or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread (Ex 12:19-20).

As the Jewish community prepares for Passover, each family removes leaven from the home and stores – especially in heavily Jewish areas remove leavened products from their shelves. Then, during a ceremony called Bedikat Chametz, immediately before the first night of Passover and the first Passover Seder, we conduct a final search for leaven throughout the house, gather it together and throws it all out or burn it, symbolizing the house is purified or kosher for Passover.

Paul uses this understanding of the Jewish practice as the background to his statement in1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The community of Corinth evidently demonstrated a tolerance for gross immorality. Paul compares sin to leaven and commands the congregation at Corinth to clean out the sin from their midst in the same way the Jewish community removes leaven from their homes during Passover. Just as leaven permeates an entire lump of dough, sinful behavior affects the entire life of an individual and congregation. If the congregation at Corinth did not deal with the wicked behavior in their midst, then this behavior would defile the entire community.

When my wife makes challah, the traditional Jewish Festival bread, she puts a small amount of yeast into the dough. This small amount of yeast makes the entire loaf of challah leavened. In the same way, sin affects the entire life of a person. We cannot compartmentalize our lives and isolate sin to a particular area. Sin in one area affects all areas of our lives. We deceive ourselves when we think the small or hidden sins in our lives will not creep it’s way into our entire soul. Even the small and hidden sins will permeate and corrode our entire being.

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide;

I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

Therefore, we should pursue righteousness, since our Messiah has removed the chametz, leaven, from our lives. Rabbi Saul (the Apostle Paul) describes those with leavened lives as depraved and wicked, but reminds his readers that those who are pure in motives and upright in character behave as if they are without leaven. The person free from leaven does not have a hidden or secret life. The preparation for Passover reminds us of the unrighteous behaviors we tolerate in our lives. If we tolerate immoral thoughts or actions, they will begin to affect our spiritual lives and ultimately destroy our soul.

We only deceive ourselves if we think that what we look at on the Internet, watch on television or do when others are not watching will not have any affect upon our spiritual life. We simply cannot behave badly towards our spouse or children, be dishonest in business or mean to at work if we are serious about honoring God. If we are going to have a healthy spiritual life we cannot tolerate our hidden and secret sins…the ones we only we know about, as the Lord knows them too1

In the spirit of Passover, let’s remove sin from our lives, so that we are kosher for Passover and can experience the joy that only godly obedience, in light of the redemption we have through Yeshua, can bring to our souls.

Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.(Psalm 37:37-38)

For more on Passover click on

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Prayer for Elections in Israel

Mitch Glaser

The Key Players & the System

Today in Israel, twenty-six different parties are competing for 120 parliamentary seats. These parties represent the broadest spectrum of Israeli society from far-left to far-right. This is a very important election for Israel, as Netanyahu faces possible defeat, something that can be very dangerous for Israel and the free world. Dangerous because other PM’s might be more willing to accept a deal with Iran, a country whose leadership has openly called for the destruction of Israel, murder of Jews and the downfall America.

For Benjamin Netanyahu to win his party must win at least 3.25 percent, which equals 4 seats, in order to secure representation in the Knesset. Even then the parties that receive more than 3.25 percent of the vote are not guaranteed to win, as in Israel’s history no party has ever received an overall majority win. It is the best coalition that most likely ensures an overall win.

Israel is a parliamentary democracy, which means that the Israeli voter selects from amongst lists of parties and the leader of the party with the most Knesset (Parliament) seats becomes the Prime Minister. Also, the whole country of Israel is considered one constituency and the 120 Knesset seats are divided proportionately between the votes that each party wins.

Netanyahu faces Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) party which is led by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, whose shares some views with the PM, but is running on a platform which emphasizes the economy and settlement issues. His biggest opponent is the Zionist Union, which is a collation party of the Labor party, one of the oldest parties in Israel, and a few newly formed parties (Yachad and Kulanu). Zionist Union’s platform is focused on addressing social and economic inequalities, as well as diplomatic and foreign policy issues. Other opponents include a Jewish non-Zionist party, an Arab majority party, a few more newly founded parties, some far-right religious parties and Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) comprised of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who leans heavily towards right-wing and nationalistic positions.

The Issues

Historically, Israel has a large voter turn-out. According to some sources, during the January 2013 election 68 percent of eligible voters went to the ballots. Israelis are engaged. This election has two main issues that the voters are asked to consider, and in turn that the Israeli voter is genuinely worried about. First is the security of the land – the platform of PM Netanyahu, and the second, the economy – the platform of his most viable opponents.

The high cost of living is a central issue for Israelis, especially as it continues to rise. Many claim that buying the basics is becoming difficult as housing prices soar. Netanyahu’s primary focus has been security and his opponents have used this opportunity to pledge to the Israelis that they will work on fixing the economic problems of the Land. For Netanyahu it is the existential threat posed by Iran that is of the utmost importance.

Israelis are somewhat torn. The younger generation wants a chance to succeed and provide for their families. Some in the older generation say, “What point is there in having a good job and a full fridge if you’re dead.”

What will it take to form a coalition?

Because no one party is expected to win a majority of seats in the 120-seat Knesset, the party that wins is the party that can put together a coalition with a majority of seats (at least 61). The two leading parties, Likud (Netanyahu) and the Zionist Union (Herzog and Livni) are neck and neck in the polls; each suspended in eagerness around 24 seats. The real question is: “Which one can form the winning coalition?”

Jerusalem Post reported:

An internal Likud poll has shown for the first time that a majority of Israelis do not believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government, a Likud source said Monday. On March 9, the Likud’s data showed that 62.3% thought that Netanyahu would form the coalition and 19.9 % thought that Zionist Union leaders Issac Herzog and Tzipi Livni would form the government. On Monday, for the first time, the number believing Netanyahu would form the government fell to 49.6 %, while 30.4 % thought Herzog would form the coalition. It marked the first time since the election campaign began that the number dipped below 50 percent. The polls are taken by McLaughlin and associates, the American Republican strategist working for the Netanyahu campaign.

The Foreign Policy Research Institute observes,

With a rightist government, Netanyahu should be able to get a core group of about 53 seats (highlighted in darker blue). As the numbers now stand, the Netanyahu-led coalition would fall just short of the 61 seats it needs should either Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) or Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) refuse to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, as each has threatened.

Netanyahu must work hard to garner votes, as his party is neck and neck with Likud, and be wise in who he sides with. In my opinion it would be wise to join forces with the Kulanu party (All of Us), led by former Likud member Moshe Kahlon. Kulanu is campaigning on promises of lowering the cost-of-living, bridging economic inequalities and fixing the housing crisis.

The Impact for the Gospel

Whoever the winner is, he or she will need to closely monitor Lebanon and Syria, and keep an eye on Hezbollah activities in the Syrian Golan Heights, as well as Hamas in Gaza and Fatah. Yakkov Lappin, writing for the Jerusalem Post observes,

By the time the results of the elections in Israel are clear, and the next ruling coalition emerges, Washington and Tehran might complete a deal that will leave Iran in possession of a large chunk of its uranium enrichment assets, all of its missiles, and all of its regional terrorist proxies and networks intact.

In the midst of all this upheaval and uncertainty, Israelis, especially secular Israelis, are not only responding to the Gospel, but asking for it. Our Tel Aviv based worker reported that many young secular Israelis are seeking out believers to discuss faith, God, and the Messiah Yeshua.

Please pray for the people of Israel and the work of Chosen People Ministries at this crucial time. Thank you.


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Response by the Baptist Press to Netanyahu’s Speech

David Roach, writing for the Baptist press, prepared an excellent article that is very appropriate for this first day of the Jewish festival of Purim. He elaborates on the parallels between the book of Esther, Netanyahu speech and the relationship of Iran (ancient Persia) today with the Jewish people in the modern state of Israel. Though I don’t do this often, I am including David’s article in full as it better articulates all I would have to say about this dire challenge that faces not only Israel, the entire world. a nuclear armed Iran is more frightening for the Jewish people and  our global community then an out of control Haman!!

Netanyahu: Iran’s threats parallel OT Esther story
by David Roach
Date: March 04, 2015 – Wednesday

WASHINGTON (BP) — A genocidal chapter in the ancient relationship between Israel and Iran could be the result of a nuclear agreement the United States may sign with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint meeting of Congress March 3.

Threats by the modern Persian state of Iran to annihilate Jews, Netanyahu said, are frighteningly reminiscent of the murderous Old Testament plot hatched by the Persian viceroy Haman — whose plan to kill all Jews was foiled by the Persian queen Esther, a Jew, and recounted in the biblical book bearing her name.

Iran’s threats could translate into horrific violence if a nuclear deal reported widely in the media is signed, the prime minister said, noting that the day following his address, Jews would begin celebrating Purim, a feast commemorating their deliverance under Esther.

“Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews that oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology,” Netanyahu said, lamenting that the “very talented” Iranian people were “hijacked” by the “religious zealots” of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Khamenei tweeted in November, “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” In a separate tweet, Khamenei said he was not suggesting “the massacre of the Jewish people,” but he advocated arming Muslims in the West Bank to fight Israel.

Netanyahu told Congress that striking a nuclear deal with Khamenei’s regime would not inspire Iran to decrease its aggression toward Israel and that the specific deal under consideration “would all but guarantee” that Iran obtains nuclear weapons — “lots of them.”

The nuclear deal being considered by Iran, the U.S. and five other nations would allow Iran to keep around 6,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges while limiting development of more efficient centrifuges. It also would limit stockpiles of material that could be developed into nuclear weapons and subject Iran’s nuclear facilities to inspection, as described by the Washington Post. The agreement likely would last 10-15 years, and a March 24 deadline has been set for establishing the framework of a final accord.

Not “a single nuclear facility” would be demolished under the agreement, Netanyahu said, and Iran could amass a “full arsenal” of nuclear weapons legitimately after the accord expires. He urged legislators to press for a “much better deal” that would:

— Further restrict Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons.

— Maintain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program until it ceases aggression toward Israel and other neighbor states.

— Demand that Iran stop supporting terrorism around the world.

America must secure a “better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live — literally,” Netanyahu said.

President Obama, who did not watch the speech but reviewed a transcript, said Netanyahu’s demands are unrealistic and would cause Iran to walk away from negotiations with an unchecked nuclear program, the New York Times reported. A senior administration official told the Times that Netanyahu is inconsistent to insist that Iran change yet simultaneously portray its government as unchanging.

<b>Evangelical reaction</b>

Evangelical commentators said Netanyahu’s comparison of modern Iran with Haman of the Old Testament was appropriate.

Jim Sibley, a professor of biblical studies at Israel College of the Bible in Netanya, Israel, called the timing of Netanyahu’s speech “remarkable.”

“The day following Netanyahu’s address to Congress marks the beginning of the Feast of Purim, which celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from an Iranian anti-Semitic plot to exterminate them. At that time, God raised up Esther, who was willing to breach protocol in order to plead for their deliverance,” Sibley told Baptist Press in written comments.

“Iran and others who turn against Israel have fallen under the curse of Genesis 12:3 and may well be paving the way for the great end-times enemy of Israel and God,” Sibley said. In Genesis 12:3, God promised to bless those who bless Abraham’s descendants and curse those who curse them.

Sibley added, “God is dealing with the Jewish people on the stage of current events, drawing them back from the four corners of the earth to the land of Israel. This, together with the rapidly growing number of Jewish believers in Yeshua [Jesus], increasingly amplifies the cognitive dissonance inherent within any view that claims that Israel no longer occupies a unique role in God’s purposes.”

Mitch Glaser, a Jewish follower of Jesus and president of Chosen People Ministries in New York City, agreed that Netanyahu’s citation of Esther was appropriate.

“The story of Esther provides a very obvious and powerful parallel for the modern Hamans of Iran who are incessantly trying to destroy Israel through arming Hezbollah, Gaza and others seeking the destruction of Israel,” Glaser told BP in written comments. “The prime minister pointed out the blatancy of the religious leadership of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.”

<b>Israel & ancient Persia</b>

Not all of the Persian Empire’s Old Testament dealings with Israel were as destructive as those recounted in Esther. The Persian king Cyrus defeated Babylon in 539 B.C. and allowed Jews to return to the Promised Land and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4). After a break in construction, Jews completed the Temple under the Persian monarch Darius I, with Darius funding the project, protecting the builders and donating animals and other materials for Temple sacrifices (Ezra 6:6-12).

Daniel began his ministry under Babylonian rule, but it continued under the Persians. He prophesied their rise to power (Daniel 5:1-31), and King Darius placed him in a significant position of authority within the Persian Empire (Daniel 6:1-3). Although Daniel was cast into the lions’ den when he prayed to God rather than the Persian king, Darius announced upon Daniel’s miraculous rescue, “I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel” (Daniel 6:26). Later, the Persian king Artaxerxes allowed his Jewish adviser Nehemiah to lead an effort to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, guaranteeing Nehemiah’s safe passage to Judah and providing timber for the project (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

At the height of its influence, the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt in the south to southern Russia in the north, from Greece in the west to India in the east. The empire fell to Alexander the Great and the Greeks in 334 B.C. However, Persian influence continued in the New Testament, as when Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), using a word for heaven derived from the Persian term for “park.”

Relations between Jews and Persians became more strained in the seventh century A.D., when Muhammad founded Islam and Muslims conquered the region inhabited by Persians. Because most Jews did not accept Islam, Muhammad grew hostile toward them, beheading at least 600 in Medina in 627 and executing others elsewhere, according to a classic Muhammad biography published in English as “The Life of Muhammad.”

<b>Israel & contemporary jihad</b>

Netanyahu told Congress that contemporary Iranian aggression is a continuation of Islamist jihad. The main difference between ISIS and the Iranian regime, he said, “is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.”

Fred Fleitz, senior vice president for policy and programs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, agreed with Netanyahu’s reservations about the nuclear accord being considered by the U.S. and Iran. Fleitz told BP the deal is a “giveaway.”

“Iran is a radical Islamic state,” Fleitz said. “It is pushing Islamic supremacism. It is trying to push its brand of Shia Islam around the world, and it sees the United States and Israel as enemies.”

Some in Iran, like past president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fleitz said, believe that a messianic figure known as the “12th Imam” is alive today and will reveal himself at the end of time. Known as “Twelvers,” those who hold this belief think the 12th Imam’s return will be precipitated by a series of cataclysmic events that presumably could include nuclear war.

Although Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, Fleitz said there is “no conceivable way” the nation’s uranium enrichment activities are merely to produce nuclear power. There is “every possibility” Iran is lying in nuclear negotiations because it has violated past agreements multiple times.

“We should be trying to work cooperatively with Iran, but the price the Obama administration is trying to pay to get a deal is simply too high,” Fleitz said.

The U.S. demanded in the past that Iran give up centrifuges and plutonium reactors and answer questions about its military activities, Fleitz said. But America has wrongly conceded those demands in recent negotiations.

An acceptable deal would be to sell Iran discounted nuclear fuel rods to power its nuclear energy program and convert the nation’s enriched uranium stockpile into fuel rods. In exchange, Iran would abandon its uranium enrichment capability, Fleitz said.

That recommendation aligns with the views of Netanyahu, who contrasted the U.S. Constitution’s celebration of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” with the Iranian regime’s celebration of “death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad.”

Netanyahu closed his address by applying Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 31:6 to Israel and America’s relations with Iran.

“Be strong and resolute,” Netanyahu said. “Neither fear nor dread them.”
The original story can be found at:

DISCLAIMER: Baptist Press should be credited for any reprinted stories that originate with BP.
Suggested credit line: Reprinted from Baptist Press (, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Please note that Baptist Press periodically carries stories from other sources by permission. Individuals interested in reprinting non-BP stories should contact the entity where the story originated to seek reprint permission.

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Prayer for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech before the US Congress

Tomorrow morning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United States Congress. We believe he will argue against the United States joining a number of major European powers in signing an agreement with Iran that would temporarily limit the development of nuclear grade enriched uranium and allow for the production of non-nuclear grade material.

Netanyahu views this agreement as simply putting off the inevitable, which would endanger Israel, the Middle East and beyond. However, it might be better to wait for the speech and not put words in the prime minister’s mouth.

The speech comes in the midst of what has been a virtual firestorm of unraveling relationships between two great historic allies – Israel and the United States. In particular, there has been an unfortunate erosion of relationship between Netanyahu and the American President, Barak Obama.

Augmenting the intensity of the discussion are a number of internal political issues. First of all, the invitation for Netanyahu came from Republicans through Senator John Boehner and not from the president’s office, which caused the US Democrats to view the speech as being used by Republicans for political gain. Additionally, the Israeli general elections are scheduled for March 17, where Netanyahu is running for his third term as Prime Minister and is facing considerable opposition on the home front. The timing of his trip and the speech is viewed as Netanyahu using the moment to show that he has influence with a broader coalition of Americans beyond the current president.

Jewish critics in America and Israel are concerned with Iran’s nuclear proliferation, but are also worried about the relationship between the United States and Israel, and see the speech as potentially causing further political damage.

Netanyahu is calling upon the United States to adhere to the agreement made in 2006, UN Security Resolution 1696, which demands the dismantling of the infrastructure for creating weapons grade enriched uranium. Our president agreed to this resolution, but is now wavering on implementation.

According to the New York Times, the American President has argued that the current “deal on the table” would help rather than hurt Israel,

Mr. Obama has maintained that a nuclear deal with Iran can help assure Israeli security, particularly given that neither the United States nor its European allies in the Iran negotiations are interested in military action to halt Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Mr. Kerry said that Israel is safer because of the short-term agreement that world powers reached with Iran in 2013, and that the United States is trying now to get an improved deal.[1]

It is also true that some American Jewish groups are also concerned about the speech as well.

It is very hard for everyday Americans and everyday American Messianic Jews, like myself, to know how to respond to this very difficult situation. So, let me try and help my fellow average person know how to pray for this difficult situation that concerns so many of us.

First of all, we do affirm that the Scriptures tell us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.” For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:6-9)

I believe this appeal is primarily spiritual and the Psalmist wants us to pray for God’s shalom to rest upon the chosen people, whether scattered or in the Promised Land. So, let’s pray that Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama, John Kerry and even Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister who has been at the heart of these negotiations, would hear from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and make decisions leading to the peace of Jerusalem and most of all, to the Lordship of the Messiah of Israel in this and every other situation of life.

I am not debating whether or not these men know the Lord as their Savior, as only God knows their hearts. However, we must still pray that they submit their hearts to His will in this particular instance and that ultimately, each one answers to God for his choices.

We must pray for God’s guidance to fall upon these leaders and for their ears to be open to hear His voice.

Further, we should pray for the protection of God’s chosen from hostile nations, including Iran which is a primary supporter of terrorism against Israel, through arming those who seek the destruction of the Jewish state and Israelis in general, whether they live in Israel, Argentina or elsewhere.

It is so important for believers to pray intelligently and to rise above the everyday politics that are part of the democratic political process in both the US and Israel. We are grateful for free elections and certainly candidates everywhere will assert themselves in ways that will help them win elections or gain favor with their constituencies. This is part of our process and is always a matter for prayer.

May I also remind all of us of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1st Timothy 2:1-3,

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We must accept the encouragement of the great Rabbi Saul to pray for our leaders and for the leaders of other nations as well, that we may live a life that enables us to focus on bringing the Good News to all: Americans, Jews and Gentiles, Iranians and Israelis.

I pray the speech goes well and that Americans will continue to support the modern state of Israel and oppose those who seek the destruction of the Jewish people; and to do so as loyal citizens of our great country!


[1] NY Times by Helene Cooper and Michael R. Gordon March 1, 2015

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