When in Jerusalem, Israel's Evangelical Pilgrims Feast, Prey and "Love"

Prior to Sukkot, JewishIsrael reported on the Chief Rabbinate's ban on Jewish participation in a prayer vigil scheduled to be held at the Southern Wall of Har Habayit as part of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's (ICEJ) Feast of the Tabernacle pilgrimage. The event was reportedly cancelled by the police as a result of pressure from the Chief Rabbinate as well as from prominent rabbinic figures affiliated with the organization Derech Emuna.

After reviewing personal accounts, video coverage and publications about ICEJ's happenings as well as other related evangelical events which took place over Israel's Sukkot holiday, JewishIsrael feels that the Rabbinate was more than justified in its concerns.

It is not just Orthodox rabbis who have raised eyebrows or questioned the degree to which evangelical Christian events and influence impact Israeli society. Veteran Jerusalem Post columnist Greer Fay Cashman appeared to empathize with rabbinic angst when she reported on the The Day to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. The event, which took place at Jerusalem's Haas Promenade on October 5th, was organized by Eagles' Wings, "a global missional community" founded and directed by "Charismatic Pastor Robert Stearns". This event closely coincides with the ICEJ Feast of the Tabernacles, in which Stearns was also a keynote speaker. Excerpt from Greer Fay Cashman’s article:

"To a neutral observer, it was easy to understand why Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef were concerned about Jews and Christians praying together. With the crescendo of music and outpouring of emotion, protective psychological barriers could easily fall by the wayside.

Indeed, it seemed to some extent as if they already had. Jews such as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, co-founder of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat; David Nekrutman, its executive director; and Dr. Faydra Shapiro, an Orthodox mother of six who covers her hair and directs the Galilee Center for Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations at the Max Stern Jezreel Valley College, all sounded like Evangelist preachers – whereas Stearns, the founder and executive director of Eagles’ Wings, a global movement of churches, ministries and Christian leaders, sounded like a modern Orthodox rabbi."

JewishIsrael has posted a disturbing video sampling and excerpts of some of the Christian and "interfaith" events and activities that took place in Israel over the recent Jewish holidays. We ask that readers please take the time to view the following clips in full (the link appears on each clip subtitle and all of these clips can be viewed in our video library).

Clip 1: Orthodox Jews and Israeli political leaders join missionaries at Christian worship festival in Jerusalem (Excerpts Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem)

As already cited above, Israeli political, academic and community leaders, as well as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, participated in Rev. Robert Stearns' "Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem", a Christian worship festival organized by Eagle's Wings Ministry, and televised by GODTV. Keynote speakers included known missionary and messianic leaders such as Rick Ridings who has called for a jesus revolution in Israel among young people.

Jewish Orthodox leaders and Israeli diplomats peppered their speeches with shouts of "Hallelujah" and talk of Jesus. 

As Rabbi Shlomo Riskin raised his hands to deliver Birkat Kohanim to the Christian crowd, he declared that, "Jesus the Jew was crucified in this city".

Former Ambassador Michael Oren Cited the birth, baptism and death of Jesus and compared Mary and Joseph to Judean settlers. He went on to speak about church silence in the face of Palestinian denial of "the Temple where Jesus taught", stating, "Temple denial is quite simply Gospel denial."

David Nekrutman, gave a shout of "Hallelujah" from the podium, and was labeled a "Pentecostal Orthodox Jew" by Robert Stearns. A day after the event Nekrutman had an article published in the Jerusalem Post dissing the Chief Rabbinate's stand against interfaith prayer events.

Stearns presented Meir Panim with a "love offering" at the prayer event, which he compared to bringing “an offering to Hashem.”

Stearns' regular offerings to that same Orthodox-managed organization has earned him a plaque which was recently hung in Meir Panim's Jerusalem "feeding center". The plaque features a quote from the new testament (“For I was hungry…”, Matthew 25:35) and a photo of Robert Stearns with his ministry’s logo.

While Robert Stearns and Eagles' Wings pump out "come to Israel" promotional material because, “In the heart of every Christian is the desire to be in the land where god became flesh…", Religious Zionist Radio personality and activist, Yishai Fleisher, has given Stearns significant air time which adds legitimacy to him and his activities.  Stearns was also featured at the recent Beverly Hills Gala for Magen David Adom.

 

Clip 2: IDF marches to the drumbeat of messianics in Jerusalem (excerpts from ICEJ's Israeli Night, October 2014)

ICEJ’s David Parsons and Israeli messianic leader Doron Schneider (a self-described “Jesus believing Jew”)  who serves as ICEJ’s liaison officer in Israel, called IDF paratroopers, who served in Gaza, to attention and asked them to march on stage, where they were joined by Christian soldiers and Greek Orthodox priest Gabriel Nadaf.

As part of the “honor”, these soldiers were subject to sermons on the Jewishness of jesus and how Christian prayers from churches and saints are behind them. The small group of Christian soldiers on stage held a banner sporting a Magen David along with what appeared to be a cross.

While messianic Doron Schneider arranged for IDF participation in the event, Stearns was the keynote speaker and spoke of jesus and the miracle of the coming together of Jew and Christian.

Over a year ago, JewishIsrael's academic advisors asked for our thoughts regarding Arab-Christian enlistment in the IDF.  We listed our concerns in our article, Cast a Giant Jesus over Israel

Excerpt:

  • We have no issue with the exceptional Arab Christian who, out of a sense of loyalty and moral and civil duty (secular allegiance so to speak), chooses to serve in the army of a Jewish state.
  • It becomes a problem if the movement to enlist these gentile soldiers is a faith–based initiative based on religious nationalism, such as Bishara Shlayan's establishment of the "Sons of the Alliance Christian party".
  • It's problematic if Jewish parties encouraging Arab Christian enlistment harbor hopes of pitting Christians against Muslims.
  • If the Christian press is going to turn the enlistment initiative into a religious issue and manipulate and twist it to promote a Christian agenda in Israel, then it's also a problem.
  • It's possible that certain enthusiastic evangelicals will put a theological spin on the "IDF is a melting pot" or "one people, one draft" concept, or demand that the IDF provide Christian houses of worship which will then become "messianic/interfaith" centers and attract Jewish soldiers.
  • It's concerning when government officials such as Likud MK Danny Danon make reckless promises to these Christian soldiers such as: “The government plans to advance land re-zoning plans and allocations of plots for Christian ex-servicemen and women,” Danon promises. “The State of Israel is opening its doors to you. We want you ‘equal amongst equals’.”
  • Will a devout Christian soldier place a theological spin on the concept of "equal amongst equals" and will that change the nature of the Jewish army in the Jewish state?

Based on what went down at ICEJ's Israeli Night, it appears that JewishIsrael is on target with its concerns.

Clip 3: Missionary Sid Roth Claims “Over 500 Unsaved Jews Come to Know Jesus as Messiah” in Jerusalem event during the 2014 Feast of the Tabernacles

Missionary and televangelist Sid Roth was in Israel during the Feast of the Tabernacles and claims to have performed a public conversion of over 500 “unsaved Jews” who stood up in a Jerusalem auditorium on October 9, 2014 and “made a public profession of faith in Jesus as Messiah!”

Roth’s missionary programming appears on Daystar, TBN and GODTV, which all have studios in Israel and broadcast via Cable and Satellite into Israeli homes with the licensed approval of Israel’s Communications Ministry.

Clip 4: Hayovel in Judea and Samaria on a restoration mission on behalf of jesus   (excerpt from a HaYovel video posted on October 19, 2014)

A recent HaYovel Ministries promotional clip pleaded for funding and volunteers. In the clip, which has since been removed from public view, Hayovel spokesperson Luke Hilton cites Christian scripture and prophecy and relays that Hayovel volunteers are to be jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. They are to connect to the land in anticipation of the time when they believe jesus, their lord, will restore the kingdom of Israel.

While Hilton claims that Hayovel has no designs on Israel and respects the uniqueness of the Jewish people, a prominent harvester and recently appointed member of HaYovel's board, David Brumlow, can be seen with his family in the streets of Jerusalem dressed as Torah Observant Jews, with all the trimmings. The Christian family which has  blogged that they are "Torah Observant" and believe that jesus was "god incarnate",  joined a rabbi in prayer in an Old City synagogue, to mark the celebration of their sons "Bar Mitzvah".

JewishIsrael urges Jewish leadership to be aware of Hayovel’s theologically fueled mission and the pitfalls it presents, and to use foresight and wisdom in their dealings with zealous Christian volunteers,

Clip 5: Replacement theology by any other name is a twisted olive tree  (excerpts from James Hutchens’ “Truth Report” October 28, 2014)

Christian Zionist Dr. James Hutchens, of “The Jerusalem Connection”, explains that according to Christian scripture, believers in jesus are the “Israel of God” and that the new testament concept that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) refers to a Jesus-believing remnant. Ironically Hutchens’ uses this line of reasoning to challenge replacement theology.

Hutchens is a former Regional Director of CUFI. In the 1970s Hutchens and his family managed to falsely obtain conversions to Judaism with the intentions of making aliyah and establishing a messianic congregation to teach Jews that it is possible to believe in jesus and to remain Jewish. The plot was discovered and their case was taken to the Israeli Supreme Court. Hutchens and his family were kicked out of Israel and their conversions were revoked.

 

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The above five video clips represent only a small fraction of the constant flow of problematic audio, video and blog material from "Christian Zionist" sources which JewishIsrael reviewed last month.

Israel is a nation full of great Jewish hearts, minds and souls. Why are certain Torah observant rabbis and leaders promoting the desecration of Judaism’s Sukkot holiday by participating in an evangelical festival of frenzied worship centered on "the crucified Jew"?  JewishIsrael has no doubt that those representing the rabbinic, political, economic and tourist sectors of this country can sit down together and find a dignified way to welcome visitors of other faiths to this land and to offer Christian tourists an inspiring experience without encouraging missionary mayhem and empowering evangelical designs.

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