Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry.

February 23, 2024.

By Joseph Shulam – From Mount Juliet, Tennessee, USA

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. We are in the home of our son and daughter-in-law. We had a good night’s sleep and are ready to do the Jerusalem Prayer List from Middle Tennessee. I woke up this morning and had a confusing moment. On the television screen, there is the same TV channel that I watch in Israel every morning to find out what is cooking – Shooting — being argued by the Israeli politicians and by the discussion with the world of what and how to resolve the hostage problem in Gaza. 

Each Shabbat ( actually on Thursday or Friday of every week), I start thinking about the Torah portion and the reading from the Prophets, and sometimes the related reading from the New Testament.  

This Shabbat, the synagogues around the world will be reading from the Torah from Exodus 27:20 to 30:10. This portion of the Torah deals with several interesting and fascinating texts. The reading starts with the preparation and the lighting of the Lamp Stand that stood between the Holy and the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem. Light is always essential, and today, we push a switch lightly, and lights come on in our homes, even in our bathrooms.  

They don’t even punch an electric switch in my son’s house. They say, “Alexa, turn on the lights in the dining room!” BOOM! The lights come on! “Alexa, turn off the lights in the garage!” BOOM! The lights in the garage are off!” No wonder that in this generation, young people have the hallucination that they are like God’s. They speak, and things happen. Not so in the days of the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai!  

Our reading of the Torah portion in English starts with the words: “and you shall command!” In Hebrew, this text is much stronger. It doesn’t give Moses a choice. It is the strong language of a command! The Big Boss commands you to command your people. Exodus 27:20,

     “And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.”  

This language of the LORD gives Moses little wiggle room. It is a direct command with details that can be rationalized and simplified.  

Pastors and Elders of churches seem to reason this command away with faulty logic: 

    “This oil is for burning in the lampstand inside the Tabernacle. We are the priests of the Lord; we don’t need such “pure olive oil of pressed olives for the light!” The High Priest says to his fellow priests. “This oil is only for burning, not for eating. First, pressed oil from good olives is for an enjoyable, delicious salad. Even in my home, said the high priest, we don’t use the best olive oil with an acidity of 02% for cooking. We use oil of 5 to 8% or even a higher-grade oil acidity for cooking and frying our morning eggs.” 

 Dear brothers and sisters, I have been in full-time ministry since I was 18, just a little more than 60 years, and have been a few times around the world teaching and preaching in some of the most famous churches and pastors in this ball called Earth. I can count on one hand the leaders of churches that understood the principle that the LORD deserves only the best, the healthy, and the most precious. I could bring to you, dear brothers and sisters, biblical texts that will demonstrate how severe and gravely sinful and spiritually criminal it is to try to be cheap with the LORD and His people.  

It is well known that some of the church leaders and the so-called “Messianics” have had good taste and a rich appetite for themselves always to have the best. I would not deny that I have inherited such a good taste for clothing and food from my earthly father. But, I have yet to use ministry money for my clothing. I have always advocated that we must give the best we can rationally and wisely afford for the Lord and His people.  

Yes, even for people experiencing poverty in Jerusalem, the Hamotzi food distribution program has always given fresh, first-class fruits and vegetables and meat and chicken, even under the most complicated circumstances for the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects. We have to carry several different Kosher brands because one Jewish Chasidic sect eats only kosher that is approved by their Rabbi. Other Ultra-Orthodox Jews eat another type of Kosher brand. We must accommodate our Orthodox Jewish needy of Jerusalem, and we do it with joy, honor, and respect. We always give people experiencing poverty in Jerusalem the best:

    “you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats. Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf.” (Leviticus 22:19-20 NKJV)

This principle from the Torah of the Lord given to Moses is fundamental but often neglected. “We!” The disciples of the Messiah give our leftovers and spare and second-rated gifts to the Lord and for the Lord’s work! You read God’s Word and realize what a serious sin this is and why the Lord ignores your prayers. It is better to give like the widow in Luke: 

    “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4 NKJV)

The LORD values not the amount of our giving but the quality of our intentions and hearts in what we are giving for His ministry. Our gifts’ sincerity and generosity are of much more value than the amounts. We must take this teaching to heart, dear brothers and sisters. Remember the text from God’s Word that says that God is the owner of our whole world, and all is His, and all is from Him! Paul states this truth in Acts 17 when he speaks to the Supreme Court Judges of Athens, Greece:

     “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and Earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the Earth and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:24-26 NKJV)

The account of the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai is boring for me because I am not an architect or a builder of Tabernacles. I suppose the Apostle Paul, a tent maker, would have enjoyed all the architectural information in this Torah portion. I enjoyed just the first word, “Command!” 

My problem these days is dealing with cancer in two places in my body, in the pancreas and the lungs, which are different, and my concern is for my wife, Marcia. Who is going to take care of her when I am in the hospital for surgery or other invasive treatments? The commands of the Lord that apply to my family and me today or apply to our ministry in Israel and other countries occupy my attention many hours every day. 

I want to repeat and reinforce my deep gratitude to all of you who have given and contributed from your hearts to the Israeli military that is still fighting the Hamas terrorist organizations in Gaza and the Hezbollah in the north on the Lebanese and Syrian borders. 

Please keep praying and supporting the LORD’s work through Netivyah in Israel, the Hamotzi Food Distribution Program that feeds more than one hundred families. 

The House for Healing Project serves families of both Jews and Arabs who come from outside Jerusalem and whose loved ones are hospitalized in Jerusalem’s top-quality hospitals in the Middle East. Houses for Healing is a joint ministry with Johnathan Millie’s ministry that has been serving the Arab population’s sick children who need urgent medical care, complicated heart surgery that Israeli doctors in Israeli hospitals gave at least a part of their services for free, and the rest our dear brother Jonathan Millie’s has paid for. 

Netivyah has been a pioneer in many humanitarian ministries, including the scholarships for Israeli disciples of the Messiah in Academic institutions and Universities in Israel. Other projects are being carried out in Israel by our faithful men and women in Netivyah in Israel. 

Netivyah International supports ministries outside of Israel. It publishes books and material Netivyah Israel does not cover, pays for my travel and outreach, and has international projects. Please also remember Netivyah International, which gives American and global citizens tax credits for charitable contributions. 

Right now, the needs of our men in the war in Gaza and the north of Israel have diminished. With the blessings from our brothers and sisters in Asia, America, and Europe, Netivyah International is taking up a new and significant battlefield. This battlefield is of supreme importance these days. There is a dramatic rise in international antisemitism led by false accusations and fake information about Israel’s war in Gaza. 

Demonstrations of Arabs and pro-Palestinian Christian devotees all around the world have turned antisemitic and violent against Jews. These Arab lies and fake news have duped some Christians and have become violent against Jews and Jewish communities and institutions around the world, especially in Europe and Scandinavia.

 I have literally had a vision, and I believe it is from God and for God’s Kingdom that Netivyah International has to pick up the gauntlet and go out to defend the Israeli and Jewish position and the righteous effort to defend and protect Jewish communities and institutions in Israel and around the world from Arab and Palestinian and pro-Palestinian Christians who are ignoring the biblical paradigm of who is a disciple of the Messiah Yeshua, the King of the Jews! 

In 1967, as a student at David Lipscomb College in Nashville, Tennessee, I often walked to West End Boulevard. I went to the Sharit Israel Orthodox Synagogue. The Synagogue was across the street from the West End Church of Christ. On Sundays, I walked or rode to the church across the street from the Synagogue with a friend. Jim Bill McEntire, the pastor of the church, was a true Southern gentleman and a fine teacher of the Bible. 

One Sunday morning, I arrived too early. The church doors were closed, and I saw that the lights in the Synagogue were lit. I walked in, and there was no one downstairs. I walked up to the Rabbi’s office. Rabbi Zalman was in his office. I knocked on the door, and The Rabbi welcomed me in and offered me some tea. He asked who I was and what I was doing in his office. I told him that I was a Jew from Jerusalem, Israel, and I came to visit the church across the street. Rabbi Zalman said: These are good people across the road; they let us use their parking lot on special occasions. 

The Rabbi said: “I have been a Rabbi here for 13 years, and no one from that church has ever visited us or invited me for anything in that church! The Rabbi walked to the window and said: ‘Joseph, please come and see!’ I got up from the chair and went to the window. People were walking into the church, all dressed up for Sunday worship. Rabbi Zalman said to me, “Joseph, is it not strange that every Sunday these good people go to the church and worship a dead Jew still hanging on the cross, but the living Jews they don’t like.” 

Rabbi Zalman’s statement changed my life. I realized that the relationship between the church and the Synagogue is in real urgent need of repair. I have worked to bridge the chasm of faith necessary to restore the true biblical and New Testament faith and the relationship between the Church and the Synagogue. 

A book I read many years ago written by Lev Gillet, a Russian Orthodox Priest during World War II, changed my life. It was written in two weeks during the world war with the goal and desire to reconnect the Christian Churches with their Jewish Messiah and the nation that was facing and still facing the threat of extermination. Then it was Nazi Germany. Today, it is Nazi Hamas and Hezbollah that have the same goal as Haman from the book of Esther, Hitler, and Germany in World War II. The Christians who believe that Yeshua (Jesus, his Greek name) is the Messiah and Savior of the world and hate Jews believe in a lie and a twisted teaching and live in a bad movie, not in Biblical reality. 

The promise of God to Abraham for His seed to bless all nations was repeated by God to Isaac and Jacob, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and Amos. The whole Bible is testimony to this everlasting covenant.

 Every true follower of Yeshua (Jesus in Greek) has a God-given obligation and a moral responsibility to stand with Israel and to defend the Jewish people from those who have written in their constitutions to delete Israel and the Jewish people from the face of God’s Earth. 

These are the true enemies of God who want to prevent Yeshua from returning to Jerusalem and ignore the words of the Old and New Testament and the Prophets who repeat a promise made by God from Moses to the very last prophet of the “Old Testament.” God is going to save Israel eternally. According to the Apostle Paul, this promise includes, “All Israel shall be saved!” (See Romans chapter 11:24-27.) 

The New Testament text we will be reading on Shabbat is from Matthew chapter 5:13 – 20, a significant part of Yeshua’s sermon on the mountain.  

    “You are the salt of the Earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

”    Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and Earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-20 NKJV)

Dear Brothers, who do you think Yeshua was talking to? Was Yeshua talking to Catholics or Protestants, Pentecostals, Seven-day Adventists, or the Churches of Christ? 

Yeshua was talking to Jews. 

Only Jews were there on the side of the mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Yeshua was repeating one of the central themes of the whole Bible, the mission that God gave Abraham, and repeated to Isaac, Jacob, and the children of Israel to the classical prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all of the prophets.  

It is time, dear Christian brothers and sisters, to stand up for God and Yeshua, our Messiah, and stand up with and for Israel and defend the Jewish communities in your countries and cities. 

Refrain from being confused by the lies of the enemy. Israel is God’s beloved. No other will take the place of Israel or the promises of God to Israel. 

Christians stand up and be counted for standing for truth and righteousness. 

 I confess the Jewish people and the nation of Israel are also sinning and making mistakes even after the building of the state of Israel on the Land of Israel. Israel is far from being perfect or sinless. Israel needs significant changes and to repent from mistakes and sins, but look what Jeremiah the prophet said just after God’s promise and giving a new covenant (a New Testament). Take it seriously into account tomorrow morning when you see the Sun rising above your horizons and stand with Israel! 

Yeshua is coming back to Israel, the people, and the Land!

    “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): “If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the Earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD. “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that the city shall be built for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.” (Jeremiah 31:35-38 NKJV)

God bless those who stand for Truth and Righteousness!