Monthly Archives: September 2022

Introducing some of my heroes . . .

I hope you have time to read a little story. I love good stories, and this is a good one! 

Isaac Feinstein is one of my heroes. He became a martyr for Jesus at the start of World War II. Joseph Hoffman Cohn, the son of another of my heroes in the faith, Leopold Cohn, the founder of Chosen People Ministries, tells the story. 

THE COHNS’ LIFE AND MINISTRY 

As you might know from Chosen People Ministries’ history, Leopold Cohn immigrated to the United States in the early 1890s and came to the Lord in 1892. He founded Chosen People Ministries in 1894 and held outreach meetings in a cleaned-out horse stable in Brooklyn! 

Leopold grew up in the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, among whom most members who remained in Europe died during the Holocaust. However, by God’s grace, quite a few from the Satmar community landed safely on the shores of the United States of America, where they have thrived and grown to become one of the world’s largest Hasidic sects.1 

Naturally, Leopold Cohn’s ministry focused on the millions of eastern European Jewish immigrants, like the Satmar, who settled in turn-of-the-century New York City. Leopold’s son Joseph became the director of Chosen People Ministries in 1932 after his father passed into the presence of the Lord. As the ominous Nazi plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe became known, Joseph began to share in the desperation of his fellow Jews in Europe. 

Joseph Hoffman Cohn traveled throughout Europe from 1938 to 1939, encouraging Messianic Jewish leaders to leave the continent because he sensed what was coming. This trip to Europe was Joseph’s last-ditch effort to help as many of the Jewish missionary leaders as possible. His reports of his conversations and adventures appeared in various issues of the Chosen People magazine, some of which I have included below. 

THE MARTYRDOM OF ISAAC FEINSTEIN 

Joseph Cohn was especially fond of Isaac Feinstein, who led the Norwegian Israelite Mission work in Jassy, Romania, before the Nazi invasion. Cohn visited with Feinstein before the war and tried to persuade him and his family to leave Europe: 

It was the summer of 1938. We were walking together on the Buda side of the Danube at Budapest. My companion was Isaac Feinstein, a beloved young Jewish brother who was then stationed at Galatz in Romania, about 200 miles farther east than Budapest, and was carrying on a faithful and brilliant testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ under the support of some Christian brethren in Norway. I coveted this young man and his talents for our work here in the States. 

Every time I looked into his face I could not help thinking of Nathaniel of old, the Israelite in whom our Lord found no guile. His eyes burned with the explosiveness of impassioned zeal. He had the perfect background for a marvelous ministry to the Jews of New York City. He was young, he was steeped in all the Hebrew lore as on his way he was a master in Israel and could speak to his Jewish compatriots with authority. So I turned to him suddenly and asked him if he would leave Romania, take his wife and six children and come to America and join our staff. 

I pointed out to him the imminent dangers developing in Europe and brutal thoughts of Nazism and asked him to ponder and to pray seriously over the question as to whether the Lord would not have him leave these lands of horror and come to America for a greatly enlarged field of service and testimony. 

He was overwhelmed for a moment, but soon recovered his poise and told me frankly with affection and emotion how grateful he was for this compliment. But that he felt it would be an act of cowardice to leave his post in the face of threatened dangers. He felt that Nazis or no Nazis, it was his duty to stay at his post. There were so many of his Jewish brethren in Galatz who were depending on him for spiritual comfort and leadership that he would feel all his life the terrible shame of having deserted them in the hour of their need. So, we parted, and my last words to him then were that if ever the time came that he found himself compelled to leave Romania, he should take the first boat to New York and report to our office.2 

Cohn continued, 

Came the war, one by one the Nazi beasts took captive country after country. And soon Romania fell victim and the Nazis stormed over the land like the lice in Egypt. And to Galatz they came, spreading cruelties and death on every side. They seized this young brother, who had done them no harm but was a faithful servant to the Lord Jesus Christ. They tied him to a stake and then for days they tortured him. His tongue hung out of his mouth in desperate body-torturing thirst, but never was he shown one shred of mercy or decency. Finally, he died from sheer torture and exhaustion.

Cohn printed a letter from Isaac’s wife, Esther, in the Chosen People magazine in which she thanked him and Chosen People Ministries for their support. She also provided insight regarding her continued ministry among the refugees and the plight of the survivors in general: 

This week I had the great joy to receive a letter from you, though with the date January 14, 1944, so it is just a year ago. 

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your help which I had never expected, and which came in such a wonderful way to us. I really see that the Lord sent it and I take it from his hand praising him. Of course, I had heard of you through my dear husband, but I shouldn’t have thought to ask your help. It was Richard (Wurmbrand) who wanted me to do it. How glad I should be to have news from our friends there, but what a terrible time they must have gone through. I am looking forward very much to seeing you when you will come to Europe. I shall have lots to tell you. 

Somehow, I feel that you are a sort of a father for my little orphans and I am so happy that you take an interest in them. For the present I am working among Jewish refugee children and am trying to be a mother to those poor dear ones who lost so much. My own children are well, living with friends, except my six-year-old, little Gabrielle, was not healthy like the others and must be looked after in a special home. I use part of the money to pay her board. I ask the Lord to bless for all you do and have done for us.3 

Cohn wrote of the ministry’s continued concern for the wife and children of the martyred Feinstein. He also shared with us his expectations for post-war ministry among the survivors. 

His widow with her six children escaped to Switzerland, and like the woman in the wilderness of Revelation, it is our privilege to nurture her as we send each month, through your generosity, $100 that she may have food for herself and her children. This is only a sample of what will await us once the war is finished and we are told to go across and minister to these, His disciples.4

HEROES OF THE FAITH 

Many Jewish refugees also came to Jesus through the efforts of Isaac’s wife, Esther! I cannot help but think that if the author of Hebrews wrote chapter eleven today, Isaac and Esther would take their place next to Abraham, Sarah, and the other heroes and heroines of the faith. Hebrews chapter twelve describes a cloud of witnesses, and I wonder if Isaac and Esther are in the heavenly stands cheering us on as we reach Jewish people for Jesus today! (Heb 12:1–3). 

YOUR PARTNERSHIP IS DEEPLY APPRECIATED 

I wish you could meet our brave missionary staff serving the Lord in Israel, Ukraine, Brooklyn, Buenos Aires, and many other places where Jewish people are plentiful, and there are few Christians. There are many obstacles and much opposition to presenting Jesus to His kinsmen in the flesh. 

Yet, I rarely hear a complaint about the difficulties our staff experience. Moreover, I believe their peace of soul and confidence in the Lord is partly the result of your faithful prayers and support. We see the light of God’s love shining through the dark clouds of difficulty because of you! So, thank you for caring about the Jewish people and our missionary staff.

1 Hasidism is a form of ultra-Orthodox Judaism characterized by conservative religious values and an insular lifestyle, of which the Satmar group is one of the most extreme. 

2 Joseph Hoffman Cohn, “Salutation,” Chosen People 48, no.7 (1944a): 6. 

3 Esther Feinstein, “Jewish Notes,” Chosen People 51, no. 2 (1945b):14. 

4 Cohn, Chosen People (1944a):6. 

5 Latte Neanni, “Romanian Jewish Chronology,” The Romanian Jewish Community, December 9, 2020, accessed September 6, 2022, https://www.romanianjewish.org/. 

6 Tuvia Friling, Radu Ioanid, and Mihail E. Ionescu, eds., International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania: Final Report (Iași, Romania: Polirom, 2005), 249. 

7 “The JUST Act Report: Romania,” United States Department of State, accessed September 1, 2022, https://www.state.gov/reports/just-act-report-to-congress/romania/. 

8 Romania: Ukraine Refugee Situation Update (UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, July 12, 2022), https://data.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/94235.

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The Tabernacle: A Portrait of Redemption

Let me tell you how excited I am about a new Bible teaching project we have been working on these past several months! We are partnering with a wonderful Christian production company to create a virtual three-dimensional model and tour of the Tabernacle, which was the “portable Temple” where God dwelt during the Israelites’ journeys on the way to the promised land. The Hebrew for “tabernacle” is mishkan, which means dwelling place.

In Exodus 25:1–27:19, Moses outlined the plan for the Tabernacle, which God revealed to him on Mount Sinai. In many ways, the Tabernacle is a biblical type that points to the person and work of Messiah Jesus. That is one reason why I believe it is crucial that we understand the Tabernacle! Within this incredible structure, we find the “spiritual essentials” we need to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Once done, we hope our 3D model will help you experience the Tabernacle in a fresh and deeper way. You will find several images of the model in this newsletter.

Now, allow me to give you a “sneak peek” by examining the Tabernacle’s components and showing why they are important for anyone who wants to live for the Lord.

THE ALTAR (מִזְבֵּחַ)—mizbeiach

One of the major roles of the priests was to offer sacrifices to God on the altar (Exodus 27:1–8) in the Tabernacle (and eventually the Temple). One cannot underestimate the importance of the required sacrifices for atonement. We read in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

Yeshua was the lamb of God who offered Himself as a sacrifice, and His death atoned for the sins of Israel and the entire world (John 1:29). We are grateful for God’s sacrifice of His Son for our salvation. As followers of the Messiah, we also offer ourselves in sacrificial service, which is our spiritual duty (Romans 12:1–2).

THE LAVER (כִּיּוֹר)—kiyor

The priests were commanded to cleanse themselves in the laver, or basin, before offering sacrifices (Exodus 30:17–20). This law teaches us a key lesson, as there must be purity before we are able to worship. The laver teaches us the importance of purity and cleansing in our spiritual lives. In fact, the cleansing that Israel and the world needs is not produced by bathing in water, but rather we are washed and purified through the blood of Jesus. The laver points to the perfect cleansing we experience by faith through His sacrifice for our sins.

I believe the Lord had the death of the Messiah Jesus in mind when the prophet wrote, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zechariah 13:1).

This end-time cleansing will take place when the Jewish people turn to Him who was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). For those of us who already know the Lord, we understand God forgives and cleanses us each day as we confess our sins and re-experience the full power of His atoning blood (1 John 1:9).

THE LAMPSTAND (מְנוֹרָה)—menorah

God instructed Israel to make a lampstand with six branches (Exodus 25:31–40). Light is an integral theme in the Bible and a key element of our walk with God. His light guides us. His word is a lamp to our feet and a light that keeps us from stumbling (Psalm 119:105). The Lord chose Israel to be a light to the nations, yet His Son Yeshua, Himself an Israelite, shines this light more brightly than any individual or nation.

He is the light of the world, as John wrote, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

The Ner Tamid, the eternal light, in today’s synagogue is a reminder of the menorah that burned in the Temple. God told Israel to burn a lamp continually in the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:20–21). This eternal light points to God’s eternal, glorious, and holy character. God is unchanging in His attributes and nature. The ever-present light reminds us that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob exists from everlasting to everlasting and that His Son shares the same nature. Therefore, Micah wrote that the Messiah’s “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic 5:2).

THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE (לֶחֶם פָּנִים)—lechem panim

In the ancient Middle East and even today, a meal is the ultimate expression of intimacy and friendship between individuals. The bread of the Presence refers to a meal we can share with God that speaks of this potential depth of intimacy and friendship with the King of kings. Israel was to always have bread on a table in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:23–30; Leviticus 24:5–6).

Yeshua has made a way for us to enter into and enjoy this relationship with the Lord. We are forgiven friends of the almighty and holy God of the universe through the sacrifice of Yeshua (John 15:15). In Him, we are free to fellowship with God like friends sharing a meal. We also joyfully await the marriage supper of the Lamb when the Messiah will dine with His bride (Revelation 19:9).

The laver and the altar prepare our hearts for the beauty of this eternal fellowship with the Lord and Creator of all things.

THE ALTAR OF INCENSE (מִזְבַּח הַקּטֹרֶת)—mizbach ha-ketoret

Prayers of intercession were another special responsibility of the priests. God instructed them to continually burn incense in the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:1–10) to symbolize their prayers wafting between earth and heaven.

Prayer is, of course, critical to our spiritual life. It is the line of communication between us and the Lord. We may pray liturgically or spontaneously—with or without a formula. Just as the priests were to burn incense constantly, we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

THE DIVIDING VEIL (פָּרֹכֶת)—parochet

This veil was a curtain that divided the holy place and the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:31–33). Once a year, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) sacrifice (Leviticus 16).

The moment Yeshua died on Golgotha, the veil in the Temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51) as a sign that all who believe now have access to the Holy of Holies through faith in the justifying work of Yeshua on the cross (Romans 5:1–2; Hebrews 10:19–20). One of the critical components of a healthy spiritual life is recognizing the access we have to God through the Messiah. Nothing can stand between us and God. We simply need to take advantage of this marvelous and privileged access to the presence of God, nurtured through prayer, reading Scripture, fellowship, meditation, and obedience for those cleansed by His atoning blood.

THE ARK (אָרוֹן)—aron

In Exodus 25:10–22, God told the Israelites how to build the ark. He commanded them to place several important items in the ark, including the two stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:1–5), Aaron’s blooming rod (Numbers 17:1–11), and a pot of manna (Exodus 16:33–34). All these items testified to God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people. These reminders of God’s word, the miracle of His transforming power, and His provision were important, and they reminded the high priest of why his obligations to the rest of the nation were so critical.

Yeshua is represented by each of the three items within the ark. As to the manna, He said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven” (John 6:51). Aaron’s rod was a definitive symbol of God’s power, representing how Jesus was God on earth; “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Finally, the word of God, represented by the stone tablets, finds its greatest fulfillment in the Messiah, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

THE MERCY SEAT (כַפֹּרֶת)—kaporet

The mercy seat is the piece of Tabernacle furniture that was most significant for the ancient Israelites. The mercy seat covered the ark in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 25:17–22). One might think of the mercy seat as atonement central. It was where the high priest sprinkled blood when he entered the Holy of Holies once a year to seek atonement for the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:14–15).

Yeshua died once for all, for all humanity, and His one sacrifice suffices for all time (Hebrews 9:11–14). His blood fully cleanses all who believe. Yet, that is not the end of His work as our perfect High Priest, as Jesus continually intercedes for us in heaven. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). 

He is our everlasting High Priest!

In Conclusion

As you can see, the Tabernacle gives us much to consider as this mobile Temple reveals so many of the essential building blocks that shape our spiritual lives. The Tabernacle pointed to Jesus our Messiah who fulfills every intricate feature of the Tabernacle. The shadows match the substance. I hope this brief guide to the Tabernacle encourages you to more deeply appreciate the atonement Jesus made for us.

Thanks to Him and Him alone, we can draw near to the Lord each and every moment of our lives!

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Back to Normal—Hallelujah!

Shalom in His grace. We are living in exciting times. I never thought I would be thrilled about the ability to engage in the routine tasks of ministry, but after a couple of years of not being able to do this great work of reaching Jewish people in person—all I can say is I am ecstatic!

We are now in the midst of Foundations ’22, a campaign to support Your Mission to the Jewish People’s commitment to in-person ministry—proclaiming, discipling, and training others to reach the Jewish people for Jesus.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more.”1

I cannot agree more with the great British writer, whose insights into Scripture are profound and helpful. The Lord chooses and uses people to accomplish His holy purposes. He left us on earth to be His arms, legs, and voice to a dark and broken world.

Next month, I will be preaching at Moody Bible Institute’s annual missions conference in Chicago. The school is honoring the one hundredth year of its Jewish Studies program. I will be preaching on the well-known text that we often call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20).

I will do my best to forge a link between the Great Commission with what I like to call the Great Mandate in Romans 11, in which the apostle Paul invites the church to make Jewish people jealous with the gospel message (Rom 11:11).

I have spent my adult life trying to make sure that Jewish evangelism does not become the “Great Omission of the Great Commission.” I am persuaded that reaching Jewish people and reaching the world are like twin sisters, both essential parts of God’s plan for the future of humanity. Jewish evangelism is not one of the side jobs of the church. It should be, according to the Bible, one of our primary concerns as the church reaches every nation, tribe, and tongue for Jesus.

I believe Jewish evangelism is at the very core of world evangelization!

It is the starting point for the Great Commission.

A well-known Messianic Jewish theologian, Dr. Jacob Jocz, wrote in his book, The Spiritual History of Israel,

If the Church has no Gospel for the Jews, it has no Gospel for the world.2

I realize that most Christians do not intentionally withhold the gospel from the Jewish people, but many do not always include the Jewish people within their call to reach the world. Reaching Jewish people for Jesus should be an intentional strategy for all Christians and churches because of the role God gave to the children of Israel as part of His plan of redemption.

THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE GREAT MANDATE

In Matthew 28:19–20 (the Great Commission), Jesus gave His disciples three main tasks to accomplish as they go out to reach the world: make disciples, baptize, and teach those disciples to obey His word.

The apostle Paul added a more specific mandate for Gentile believers. He wrote,

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.
(Romans 11:11)

Paul wrote these inerrant words in light of what he penned a few sentences later in his letter to the Roman believers. For Paul, knowing the future instructed them as Paul was referring corporately to the Roman church. The salvation of Israel in the last days is the last human step leading to the second coming of Christ. He wrote in Romans 11,

Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! . . . For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
(Romans 11:12, 15)

The nations have a role to play inching us closer to the second coming of Messiah—through reaching the Jewish people and adding to the expansion of the remnant.

Jewish evangelism should be a priority of heart for the church because of the role the Jewish people have played throughout sacred history and will play in the future.

A SUMMER OF IN-PERSON MINISTRY

Summer Camp

We had a great summer of outreach. We enjoyed a renewed and full participation of kids who joined our Camp Kesher (Hebrew for connection—to the Lord and one another). We held two camps—one on the West Coast and another on the East. Our East Coast camp had a total of seventy-two campers, thirty-six staff, four counselors-in-training, and one nurse for a total of 113 people. The theme for the week was “Own It!” through which we encouraged the campers to take ownership of their faith in the face of opposition. On Friday evening, after our service, we baptized two young counselors who recently rededicated their lives to the Lord.

Shalom New York

I also praise God for the couple of dozen staff and volunteers who hit the streets of New York City during the first week of August and spoke to hundreds of Jews and Gentiles about the Lord. The streets were packed, despite the heat. The team had some great conversations! Let me share the experience of one of our full-time missionaries:

On the first day of our Shalom New York outreach, one of the teams met a Jewish lady from Omaha, Nebraska, at a street fair. She was drawn to our I Found Shalom book table, but was hesitant to get into a conversation about faith or religion. One of our team members was also from Omaha! When she found that out, she was in shock. The conversation continued, and they discovered they were from the same community. As they shared some memories, her heart got softer. She eventually appreciated the conversation we had about faith and allowed us to pray for her. We finished our conversation and exchanged contact information. She would like us to keep in touch with her. That is definitely a divine appointment from the Lord, who graciously sent this lady to our team on the first day to encourage us to trust and depend on Him during the rest of the Shalom New York week.

There were many other great stories. We cannot do this work without our well-trained and dedicated missionaries who love the Lord and the Jewish people. We believe every conversation is precious and orchestrated by the Lord! Your prayers and support keep our missionaries in the field.

Serving Suffering Ukrainians

I was overwhelmed by the response of our friends to the needs of Ukrainians suffering as a result of the Russian invasion. We are still able to meet the physical and social needs of Ukrainian Jews and Gentiles in Ukraine, Poland, Israel, Germany, and many other places. We have especially cared for the hundreds of scattered members of the Messianic Jewish community in Ukraine, whom we have served for decades.

I believe we have saved lives by providing funds for food, medicine, and housing. This aid enables Chosen People Ministries and the local pastors to advance the Great Commission among these millions of displaced Ukrainians. We continue to do all we can to help!

WHAT’S NEXT?

We need your prayers as we will have dozens of Messianic worship services in celebration of the three major fall Jewish festivals: the Jewish new year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. All three point prophetically to Jesus. While we plan to offer hybrid services, all our congregations and branches are also planning in-person services.

A HISTORIC CONFERENCE

This month, we are sponsoring a conference in Germany for Messianic Jewish leaders and missionaries—mostly from around Europe but also from the United States and Canada. We hope to build greater unity and infrastructure to continue our ministries to Ukrainians. The conference will be held and organized by Beth Sar Shalom, our ministry partner in Germany. We expect a few hundred leaders, so please pray and give generously if you can. We need to cover the costs for most of the attendees.

Finally, I want to let you know that, in the midst of all the struggles of the last few years, Chosen People Ministries has taken on more than a half dozen new missionaries and have also found some of our more veteran missionaries struggling to raise support.

The missionaries are serving everywhere from Israel to New York City, London, and other places that are expensive and/or where it is difficult to raise missionary support.

Thank you for your prayers as well as your generous and sacrificial support.

1 C. S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis: Readings for Meditation and Reflection, ed. Walter Hooper (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1996), 18.

2 Jacob Jocz, Spiritual History of Israel (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961), 160.

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