Articles by Toby Janicki

Toby Janicki is the director of the 12-21 program for First Fruits of Zion. He also contributes regularly to Messiah Journal and has written several books including God-Fearers: Gentiles and the God of Israel.


Strangers and Sojourners

It makes sense that Abraham uses this language while he is still awaiting the promise from HaShem to be fulfilled for his descendants to inherit the land but why does David still use this terminology when the Jewish people are firmly within the land?

5-minute read

Egypt My People

He chose Israel not just to be an island unto themselves but that Israel would be a blessing to all peoples spreading the light and knowledge of God to the other nations of the earth. After this is the end goal of the kingdom of heaven, the Messianic Era, when all mankind will know God and worship him alone.

6-minute read

Earth Day and Genesis

When we piece all this together, we can truly agree with the Psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Nature reveals to us not only the depth of God’s wisdom as is found in the Torah; it also reveals to us the glory of God in Messiah. Should we not seek to preserve and care for such a precious revelation?

8-minute read

Omer Day 9: Is Seeing Believing?

True faith that lasts is not sustained on experiencing signs and wonders but on working out our faith “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). That’s what this period of counting the Omer is all about and this is the lesson that the Master taught to Thomas.

6-minute read

Dry Bones: Hear the Word of the LORD!

We have been resurrected in Yeshua from the death of sin and brought into the fullness of life in HaShem. As disciples of Messiah we have individually experienced the prophecy of the valley of dry bones. Passover and the exodus from Egypt symbolize this for us. Just as the Israelites left the slavery and death of Egypt, so we have left the slavery and death of sin.

6-minute read

Passover and the Death of James the Just

The most important detail we receive is that James’ death took place right before Passover. Although neither Jewish nor Church literature preserves an actual date for James’ death, it seems from Josephus’ and Eusebius’ information we may conclude that James was martyred in 62 CE during the week before Passover.

10-minute read

Passover and Gentiles: A Universal Exodus

In the days of the apostles there were many God-fearing Gentiles who celebrated Passover along with the Jewish people. Even rabbinic literature made room for non-Jews at a seder. In the Second Temple Era, Gentiles were not permitted to eat the actual Pesach sacrifice, but they were allowed to participate in the rest of the meal.

11-minute read

Rosh Chodesh Nisan: A Time of Renewal

Rosh Chodesh is a time of renewal. Just as the moon is made new again so there is a spiritual power present at that time for us to begin again and transform our lives. But Rosh Chodesh Nisan is even more special.

6-minute read

The Jews and All Who Joined Them: A Purim Celebration for All Nations

Whether or not the original writer of Esther had this intention, based on Isaiah 56, I believe this passage prophetically alludes to Gentiles who have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel. Purim is a Jewish holiday but it is also for Gentiles who have found Messiah and cast their lot with the Jewish people.

8-minute read

Birds of a Feather: Haman, Amalek, and Shabbat Zachor

The Amalekites struck down not the warriors and soldiers but the weak, sick, and elderly who were traveling at the back of the pack. These were not the tactics of an army that sought to win a battle or a war but the merciless strategy of an enemy that desired to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth.

8-minute read

The Purim Fish

Why the shekel in the fish’s mouth? Yeshua could have just produced a coin from behind Peter’s ear like magicians do today, or perhaps he could have just told him to look in a place one might normally expect to find a lost coin such as under a bed or between the stones of the floor. I believe that the key to understanding this passage is the story of Purim.

5-minute read

Something Fishy about Adar

Adar is the month in which we observe the joyous festival of Purim and the symbol for the month of Adar is the fish. What do fish have to do with Adar and Purim? In Jewish mysticism the fish represents a concealed reality. This is because the fish swims under the water and is hidden from plain sight. The book of Esther is full of concealed realities.

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6-minute read

The Great Commission: Revelation through Prayer

I remember reading these verses and wondering where the basis for this commission was in the Hebrew Scriptures? Yes, Israel is called to be a light to the nations but where are they told to go among the nations and actively turn people to the God of Israel?

5-minute read

Thought, Speech, and Action: Connecting to the Commandments

According to the approach offered here, every Jew can connect with all of the 613 mitzvot on at least two of the three levels, that of thought and speech. When they study a mitzvah that is not incumbent upon them and discuss its implications, they are connecting to the commandment.

5-minute read

A Sabbath Rest Remains—A Universal Shabbat

The Sabbath commandment was given directly to the children of Israel. This means that here in Exodus we have evidence of Gentiles joining themselves to Israel and voluntarily observing the Sabbath in solidarity with the Jewish people and in honor of the God of Israel.

7-minute read

Let’s Take This Thing Worldwide!

We are excited to announce the launch of the 12-21 website. With this website and our focused presence on 12-21 social media, we hope to be reaching and connecting with kids worldwide. If we don’t reach the next generation, this movement dies with us.

3-minute read

By the Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin: Facial Hair in the Bible

One gentleman took a look at me and my colleagues and asked “Are any of you guys related? You sure look similar.” We all looked at one another and said, “No, it’s just the beards and the hats.” Am I just trying to be cool or is there a reason I have a beard?

8-minute read

The Man to Whom Messiah Revealed His Name

Kaduri’s disciples came across a note written by Kaduri in which was encrypted the name of the Messiah. This note contained instructions saying that it was not to be opened until a year after Kaduri’s passing. After a year passed, Kaduri’s disciples opened the note and discovered the name the Messiah revealed to Kaduri: Yehoshua (the Hebrew form of the Aramaic Yeshua).

4-minute read

12-21 Hanukkah Shabbaton: The Beginning of Something Beautiful

It’s not easy being a disciple of Yeshua in the world today, let alone a Messianic Jewish or Gentile teen or young adult. It can be a lonely and difficult road. It is important to surround yourself with like-minded friends who will help you stay on the narrow path and uplift your identity. That may have been the most powerful aspect of the whole event.

8-minute read

Asarah B'Tevet: The Fast of the Tenth Month

The siege was headed up by the notorious Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and eventually led to the total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Therefore a fast takes place every year in the tenth month (Tevet) on the tenth day.

3-minute read

Simon Peter's Yahrzeit

Simon Peter holds a special place in the hearts of many believers. We find camaraderie and consolation in a man who could sail from the highest points of discipleship to the lows of denying his Master. His struggles are our struggles; his challenges are our challenges, and, with the help of Heaven, his triumphs are our triumphs.

15-minute read

Hanukkah and the Light of Creation

According to the Rokeach, when we light the hanukkiah each day of Hanukkah we are lighting the light of the Messiah and it is a foreshadow of the return of this great light in the kingdom of heaven. It also adds a bit of a universal flavor to the holiday by connecting it with the creation of man and the light of creation.

5-minute read

C.S. Lewis and the Jews

On this day, November 22nd in 1963, Lewis passed on into the world of truth. May his writings continue to inspire us all and may the humility he expressed as a Gentile believer toward the Jewish people be an example to us in the Messianic movement today.

5-minute read

The God of the Living: The Master on the Resurrection

The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, while the Pharisees did. One of the reasons that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection is that it is difficult to see it in the literal exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Pharisees on the other hand, were skilled in the area of midrash, which often probed beyond the literal meaning within the Scriptures.

15-minute read

Abraham’s Covenant, Circumcision, and Non-Jews

Obviously this mitzvah is still in place for Jewish males today. Yeshua was circumcised on the eighth day and we even see the Apostle Paul circumcising the Jewish disciple Timothy. In turn, circumcision was not canceled by Messiah and all Jewish followers of Yeshua are obligated to this mitzvah. But what about Gentile believers? Do they have to be circumcised?

9-minute read

Answering Anti-Missionaries

If you took Troki’s arguments and applied them to rabbinic literature, then the Talmud, the Midrash, and virtually all rabbinic interpretations would fail by the same criteria. It is not fair for the midrashic content of the Gospels to be criticized by the people who use the same midrashic methods.

15-minute read

Noach the Tzaddik

According to apostolic tradition we should view Noah as a tzaddik who was able to stand strong for God despite the wicked ways of the world around him. Noah was not just righteous in his generation but righteous in spite of his generation.

7-minute read

The Blessings of Shem

As believers in Messiah Yeshua I like to think that we are dwelling in the tents of Shem. We have chosen not to be slaves of Israel but to become partners with them in working toward the kingdom of heaven. Indeed we can also say “Blessed is the God of Shem!”

8-minute read

Sabbath Fish: A Foretaste of the Kingdom

As disciples of the Master I think we have some additionally reasons to partake in fish on Shabbat. For one, many of the Master’s disciples were fishermen and many of the gospel stories involving food make mention of fish. The point is that we are tasting something physical to remind us of something spiritual.

6-minute read

Please HaShem Save Now!

Hoshanna Rabba is the seventh day of the festival of Sukkot. It is written that “…on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’”

3-minute read

Bob Dylan: A Messianic Jew

For Dylan it was not an either/or scenario between Judaism and Christianity. He was comfortable with a world that drew from both. I saw a man who struggled with his identity much as we do today — stuck in between Christianity and Judaism.

7-minute read

Sukkot, Gentiles, and the Messianic Kingdom

Sukkot is a foretaste of the Messianic Kingdom, when there will be peace on earth, Israel’s enemies will be defeated, and Jew and Gentile will dwell together serving the one true God. Sukkot is a prophetic shadow of the coming kingdom of heaven.

7-minute read

Sukkot and the Early Believers

For the earliest believers, both Jewish and Gentile, the rhythm of the biblical festivals complete with the celebration of Sukkot, was a natural part of their faith. In fact, when we get attuned to the symbolism of the holiday, we realize that so many passages in the New Testament simply assume that all followers of Messiah are observing Sukkot.

6-minute read

Holy Guests: Sukkot and the Transfiguration

One of the most important aspects of Sukkot is inviting guests into one’s sukkah (booth). All throughout the week celebrants travel from sukkah to sukkah, enjoying hospitality and extending hospitality from their sukkot (booths). A peculiar custom that developed was not just inviting physical guests to one’s sukkah, but spiritual guests as well.

7-minute read

The Fast of Gedaliah

The Fast of Gedaliah is another wonderful opportunity for both Messianic Jews and Gentiles to connect with the Master’s words, mourn, and pray for the current state of the world, and it serves as a physical reminder that we need to be eagerly anticipating and working toward Yeshua’s second coming.

7-minute read

A Day of Judgment for All Nations

It is not just Israel who is judged during this time but all the nations. Even as the Jewish people are repenting and praying that they will be sealed for life in the coming New Year, so is God also judging the nations.

6-minute read

The High Holidays in the Early Church

With Rosh HaShanah and the beginning of the High Holidays only a few days away, I thought I would post a blog reviewing some of my material on this from my book, God-Fearers. It should be no shock to anyone that the early believers both Jew and Gentile celebrated the festivals of Israel even after coming to Messiah.

6-minute read

Assumptions about the Assumption

It’s time to redeem Miriam the mother of our Master and give her the honor and respect that she deserves and is in fact given in the Gospels themselves. The best way to do that in Messianic Judaism is to look at how holy figures are honored in Jewish tradition.

8-minute read

The Universal Sh'ma

The full verse from Zechariah 14:9 reads: “And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.” This represents the fullness of the Sh’ma message. God is king and he is the one God not only of Israel but of all of the nations on the earth.

6-minute read

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

It appears that right now God is saying "no" to the rebuilding of the Temple. The sages have said, "Any generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt is considered as if it had destroyed it." Why has the Temple not been rebuilt? Perhaps it is because of us.

12-minute read

Job, Gentiles, and the Ninth of the Month of Av

Many non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua with whom I come into contact express a lack of interest and disconnect with these fast days and the traditions that surround them. They dismiss them as “traditions of men” that are “not biblical, just Jewish” as if somehow just because they are Jewish they are not for us or, worse yet, are not important.

6-minute read

From Despair to Hope: The Month of Av

Even at the beginning of exile and the destruction of the Temple, God promises that one day the Messiah will come and redeem Israel. The story is not so much about predicting when the Messiah will be born but to point out that even in total darkness there is light in the distance.

7-minute read

Remembering Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles

The date the the death of the Apostle Paul has been preserved in the Syriac Church tradition. The source is called “The Book of the Bee.” It was compiled in the twelfth century by Solomon, the Bishop of Bassora and preserves a lot of very Semitic-sounding material, which may indeed go back to the early Jewish believers.

6-minute read

Shabbat: Practical Advice for Messianic Gentiles

Jew and Gentile both need to set aside a holy day for rest and sanctification. We need a time to reconnect, both with our family and with God himself. Sabbath is the day we prepare for ahead of time, so all that we have left to do is to enjoy and delight in this precious gift.

12-minute read

The Master's Minhag: The Manners and Customs of Yeshua

Minhag is defined as a particular and specific custom. Great rabbis had their own unique set of customs, and students of these sages would carry out these customs exactly the same way their beloved rabbis did. As imitators of the Master, we should learn about our Master's customs.

16-minute read

Hit-bo-what? The Master and Rebbe Nachman

Praying alone with our Father and talking to him from our heart can do nothing but strengthen our walk with him. In the daily hustle and bustle of life we need time alone with HaShem. What better method of attaching ourselves to God is there than the one that Yeshua has shown us in his life of prayer?

3-minute read

The Fast of Tammuz

Three weeks before the fast of Tisha b’Av is the Fast of Tammuz. This is traditionally associated with the “fast of the fourth month” in Zechariah 8:19 and takes place on the seventeenth of the fourth month. It is said that this day is the anniversary of Moses breaking the first set of tablets at Mount Sinai upon seeing the Golden Calf.

4-minute read

A Lawyer's Case

Jim Jacob presents evidence for the existence of God, as well as the historical validity of the Bible, and the life, death, and resurrection of Yeshua, among many other topics. As he would do in a courtroom, Jacob anticipates and systematically refutes many of the rebuttal arguments often offered by skeptics because he was once one himself.

3-minute read

Resolution 5: Southern Baptists Stand with Israel

We are seeing more and more disciples of the Master turn against Israel and find reasons to side with their enemies. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest protestant denomination in the United States. At their meeting they passed a resolution for the continued support of the State of Israel.

4-minute read

Yom HaAliyah: The Celebration of Ascension Day

Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy still celebrate the day as one of the great feasts of the Christian year. So what about Messianic Judaism? Should we be celebrating Ascension Day? I think the answer is a resounding “yes!” It represents an event in the life of the Master that is at least as important as his death and resurrection.

5-minute read

Back to College — Reconnecting with Millennials

This year at our national conference we will not only have our usual teaching track for adults, but an additional track for young adults. It is our prayer that this will be the first of many similar events and that we can, with God’s help, energize young people for this important work of the kingdom.

8-minute read

A Window in Time

We have not truly left the slavery of Egypt until we have received God’s instructions and his Holy Spirit dwells within us enabling us to perform his will. In that sense the Counting of the Omer is a count that should count for something. This is not a passive count but an active count.

5-minute read

FFOZ on Christian Television

What would happen if a Christian television broadcaster caught the vision for the kingdom and Messianic Jewish teaching? God’s Learning Channel is broadcasting the First Fruits of Zion television show, “A Promise of What Is to Come,” along with other Messianic content, to televisions throughout the United States through various cable networks.

4-minute read

Tears and Tear Gas

It was finally time to pay a visit to the tomb of the matriarch Rachel. I had been longing to visit her tomb for years. It’s kind of tricky to get to, or at least used to be, because it’s near Bethlehem, which is in a territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

8-minute read

A Trip Down South

I have decided that, God willing, I would like my next house to have a big front porch where I can have a couple of rocking chairs to sit in. I have a feeling that we established a relationship with the community in Baton Rouge that will continue for years to come and I look forward to seeing all the fruit it will produce.

5-minute read

The Dubrovin Farm

Every time I visit Israel, I see something I’ve never seen before. While there are sites such as the Kotel, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Master’s cave in the Galilee that I feel must be a pilgrimage each time I travel to Israel, there is just too much to see to not visit some places for the first time.

8-minute read

The Bram Center: The Lectures Begin

Toby Janicki’s recent trip to Israel with his family featured the debut guest-lecture event of the Bram Center in Jerusalem. The young demographic of Israeli Yeshua-disciples attending the lecture offers hope for the future of Messianic Judaism in Israel and around the world.

6-minute read

Jeremiah 10 and the Christmas Tree

If we want to argue against observing non-biblical Christian and secular holidays, we have to be careful to leave the emotion and junk scholarship out of the discussion, otherwise our criticisms lack credibility. To directly link the Christmas tree with Jeremiah 10 is anachronistic and a violation of context.

3-minute read

The Four Craftsmen: Agents of Redemption

When salvation and the knowledge of God is spread to all the nations of the earth, the final redemption is close. These righteous Gentiles will join in with Messiah and Elijah to help “cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it” (Zechariah 1:21) and in turn help usher in the final redemption.

7-minute read

Rav Shlomo, Abraham, and the Pagans

We must remember that Abraham does not know that these men are angels and has no idea that they are coming to announce the birth of a son. All this was just a few days after he had fulfilled the mitzvah of circumcision and most certainly he was in pain. Yet Abraham welcomes them.

6-minute read

Fasting with Intention

Yom Kippur (or "The Day of Atonement") is synonymous with fasting. For many people in both Jewish and Messianic communities, Yom Kippur is quite possibly the only day of the year on which they fast. Even secular Jews who are not religious will sometimes fast on Yom Kippur.

12-minute read

Spiritual Lessons from the Didache: The Two Ways

All disciples of Messiah have a choice: the way of life or the way of death. A biblical worldview supports the fact that life is about choices. The path we choose each day will ultimately determine our destiny. Yet not only is life full of choices, it is also a progressive journey that never stops.

7-minute read

The World of the Ger

Unlike many books for the Noachide that rely heavily on an in-depth overview of the seven Noachide laws, The World of the Ger focuses on “parables, stories, and historical narratives that form the character and worldview of a people”. The result is a work is both encouraging and inspiring.

6-minute read

Rediscovered! 2000 Year Old Tefillin

It seems like every week there is a report from Israel of an exciting new archeological find. Many exciting sites and artifacts have been discovered since the Jewish people returned to their homeland in 1948. Each new discovery helps shed light on the Scriptures and confirm their truth. Last week was no different when The...

2-minute read

Can Women Wear Tzitzit and Tefillin?

The Hebrew in Numbers 15 where this commandment appears is in the masculine form. Additionally, in Deuteronomy 22, where the mitzvah of tzitzit appears again, the commandment appears in close conjunction with the mitzvah “A woman shall not wear a man's garment

4-minute read

Why Don't More Orthodox Jews Wear Techelet?

There is an ongoing debate as to what the source of the techelet blue in the Bible really was. This new discovery has caused some to say that this adds significant credibility to the argument that the techelet blue dye of the Bible was from the Murex trunculus.

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5-minute read

Techelet: A New Discovery!

In Numbers 15 the Torah commands the Israelite males to place fringes (tzitzit) on the four corners of their garments. The purpose of these fringes was so that the Israelite would look upon them and remember the commandments of the Torah and do them.

4-minute read

Torah and the Environment

Tikkun olam is the idea that we are preparing the world for the Messianic Era. Although it is the Almighty who will finally complete the healing process, we can prepare the world for the Messianic Age by doing our best with God's help to begin the work of restoration now.

24-minute read