It’s been well over a month since my husband and I were able to come to Israel and visit briefly with Boaz at the Bram Center. We had a wonderful trip all over the land to see many beautiful and historic places with a friend of ours who served as our guide.
Our visit with Boaz was a highlight for me because this journey we’re on in Messianic Judaism is really a fire in my heart. So often I’m reminded of the story in Luke 24 regarding the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how Yeshua opened up the Scriptures beginning with Moses and the prophets the things “concerning himself.” The disciples reflected how their hearts “burned within them” at his words. My watchword this season has been “Open my eyes that I may see wonders in your Torah.” It’s been a very fruitful time for me personally and within the small circles of believers to which I am connected. I should say “we,” because my husband gives me lots of time and resources to pursue these things. He’s not directly involved with the groups I’m in, but he provides, so it’s his work too.
I just wanted to interject into your very busy days this small (and a bit wordy) word of encouragement. I know how alone and buffeted we all can be by the currents of secularism and religious controversy that swirl in our world today. Trying to keep a straight path or even stay on a path can be challenging. Through all the “craziness” that one can find in the so-called Hebrew Roots or Messianic movement (honestly, I find it even hard to define terms on these issues) from the Gentile side of things, First Fruits of Zion has continued to plow a straight furrow. I applaud you all, everyone involved, on your commitment to precise and accurate scholarship with both Scripture and extrabiblical writings, your humility in teaching, your patience with and respect for the church, your commitment to Torah, Yeshua, the land of Israel, and the people of Israel.
Today I began a second cycle of teaching the aleph-beit to a small group of South Korean women. So far, it hasn’t been their desire to learn to read the language, but they are vitally interested in the rabbinic (and maybe somewhat kabbalistic) interpretations of spiritual truth one can find in contemplating the letters of Torah. And they love Israel!! We finished the first cycle right before we came to Israel going through one letter a week. This time we are taking them two by two, which will finish in time to start the Torah cycle in the fall. They all agreed they would like to do that as a group and further their learning in Hebrew with a study in the weekly portions. I’m very excited about this.
I’ve been supported in my own learning by so many of your resources, and though I am no expert in the language, the class has opened up many conversations with them about the relationship of Gentiles and Christians with the Jewish people. Following the lead of FFOZ, I’ve been able to gently reframe or maybe even correct for them some misapprehensions about Torah, covenants, and the Jewish people that are unexamined assumptions in those of us coming out of an evangelical framework. It’s been challenging to me to teach weekly, and they are so appreciative. Our class today was so inspiring that I just ordered a few copies of the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels to use as a resource for them.
Further, in my own Sunday school class at our church, we are studying the Gospel of John. I’m not the teacher, but since beginning the class in September, I’ve been able to raise occasional points from Jewish understandings that have helped us old Southern Bible-Belt Christians understand some of the perplexities of this gospel. The teacher has called me at home outside of class to discuss some things. This past Sunday, he told the class that he felt these talks with me had convinced him that we need to study “the Old Testament” to understand Jesus. I count that as a huge victory in a population that traditionally honors the Hebrew Scriptures as God’s Word but doesn’t really feel we need to study it because, after all, “we have Jesus.”
When we met in March, I told Boaz that the Tent of David seminar at Tikvat David several years ago was instrumental in encouraging me to stay in my church and serve and wait until I had enough credibility to be heard. I’ve also followed the attitude that I see reflected in all your teaching materials to be gentle in introducing new ideas, to find different analogies and ways of framing positions in order to be non-confrontational or divisive. Finally, I think I see a little light shining, and I truly hope that I can continue to show myself studied and approved for teaching.
These things aren’t much, but I wanted to acknowledge them to you, not to present myself, but to encourage you that many of us are out here in our circles learning from you, digesting your teachings, interpreting to others as best we can and working for the day when HaShem will be One and His Name One. As Boaz said to us, we are working shoulder to shoulder. The fallen tent of David is rising slowly in places near and far.
Y’all are staying SO true to your mission statements and visions. I know it is often hard and might feel thankless. So, thank you!!
I hope to see y’all at the Shavu’ot Conference in June. I’m gonna be there (HaShem willing)!!!