Confusion in OUR Camp!

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Anti-Messianic “superstar” activist Tuvia Singer must have thought he hit the jackpot when Shannon Nuszem showed up because the former Houston pastor’s daughter has turned into Singer’s most valuable player. Nuszem’s aggressive new non-profit Beyneynu specializes in exposés that seek to provoke new rounds of persecution of Israeli Messianic believer ministries. Several of her latest reports have been to expose Christians who are engaged in false impersonation, deceitfully passing themselves off as traditionally religious Jews. 

Splashy headlines follow, and not just in Jewish publications, but also in some of the major international newspapers. One reason non-Jewish news publications pick up on the stories is because of the hysterical terminology of anti-Messianic (anti-missionary) activists, who say repeatedly that they consider Christians who present the gospel to Jews are “worse than terrorists.” The use of counter-terrorism terminology is standard procedure in the hysterical accusations against Israel’s Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua/Jesus. Demonizing believers in shrieking accusations helps create an urgency to destroy with all haste.

One UK newspaper picked up on the inflammatory accusation of the most recent incident Beyneynu exposed. The Daily Mail wrote in their headline, “Arizona father and son are accused of being a ‘sleeper cell’ of fake Orthodox rabbis who are actually Evangelical Christians: Any rituals they performed like weddings and washing the dead could be invalid.”  The article goes on to report, “Some rabbis fear they are Messianic Jews whose ultimate goal is to bring about the second coming to the Holy Land.”

Did you catch that wild leap from the bad acts of Christian-wannabe-Jews to the Israeli Messianic believers? You see, to anti-Messianic activists, there is no differentiation made between non-Jewish Christians and Jews who believe in Jesus. To them, if a Jew believes in Jesus he has ceased to be a Jew. It is much the same as the long standing but erroneous belief of many Christians that it is not possible for a Jew to believe in Jesus and remain Jewish. 

There is a difference between the followers of the Messiah/Christ who are Jewish and those who are non-Jewish Christians and it is similar to the difference in God’s calling on male and female. The trouble here is that by not making the differentiation of a non-Jewish Christian passing themselves off as Jewish rabbis, anti-Messianic activists can whip up more persecution against Israel’s Messianic Jews who are not being deceitful about their faith in the least.

The latest Beyneynu expose is of an America Christian family who has been passing themselves off for years as Jewish, and not only Jewish, but the father has been passing himself off as a rabbi. The report also circles back to include making a native Israeli Messianic leader ‘guilty by association’ of knowing the American family. The Israeli Messianic leads a congregation in his birthplace and is from a family of rabbis. Now I have known the leader in question for twenty years or more. He loves his people, fellow Israelis, and has never hidden his faith in Yeshua even from the hometown rabbis or city officials that govern the city. City officials have come and gone, but they have all welcomed the humanitarian aid provided for the needy of their town.
Beyneynu would like to destroy all relationships Messianic congregations have with Israeli municipalities. They would cut off the aid Messianic congregations give to forgotten Holocaust survivors and poor immigrants without the any hesitancy. Anti-Messianics in Israel first stir up the religious, then they to apply pressure to whatever group is working with Messianic Jews, which are many. The Messianic Jews of Israel are exemplary citizens, but the continual and ongoing hysterics among the anti-Messianics, sometimes intimidates municipalities and organizations into dropping relationship with them.

That is what makes it all the more urgent to address how we got here and how we defend the falsely accused, provide necessary back up for them and stop just watching Christians morph into a Jewish identity that is not a healthy identity for them take on and is trickery when they present themselves as Jews to unsaved Jews. We have so much confusion in the camp over Jewish identity because we have not taught a scrupulous biblical differentiation in the callings of Jewish and Gentile believers. When Christians became fascinated by all things Jewish, we did not guide them away from spiritually unhealthy attempts to become Jews themselves. It is like the gender confusion we see so much of today as first there is cross-dressing, then the person tries to make themselves into something there are not biologically. It is essentially the same identity confusion at work.

How that Works | First we have the evangelical Christian pastor’s daughter who became so fascinated by the Jewish roots of the faith that she started sitting at the feet of the renowned Jesus hater, Tuvia Singer, who convinced her to embrace Judaism and reject Jesus. Singer’s teachings also convinced her pastor father to identify as a Noahide (I assume this means rejecting Jesus, too).

I don’t think it is a coincidence that Shannon Nuszem’s testimony is in an exact reverse of the apostle Paul’s in Acts 9 where Paul goes from “breathing out threatenings…against the disciples of the Lord” to being knocked off his high horse and asking Yeshua, Who are You, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Shannon says not all Christians are the “enemy” but she most definitely breathes out threatening to Messianic Jewish believers and any evangelical Christians who know that the Gospel is meant for Jews too.

Even without Tuvia Singer confusing Christians who become Israel-fascinated, there are many Christians who travel that road. Some go to a Messianic congregation and next thing you know they are imitating the outward appearance of ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews. It seems to me we are far past the time in American Messianic congregations where the identity issue confusion should put to rest with scriptural teaching: Christians are not to become Jews and Jews are not to be Christians in Messiah. Both identities are valid and necessary – just like male and female. 

The encouragement of Christians seeking to be supportive of Messianic Jews, to themselves present as “Messianic Gentiles” is really not a kosher idea according to the first Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). Perhaps some of these cases of Christians deceiving Jews into thinking they are Jewish would not be taking place if we started having “the talk” with Christians in the early stages of transforming into appearing to be Jews. It may not create big problems here in the US, but it surely does create major repercussions for the Messianic Jewish community in Israel and we have some accountability for that.

In the most recent case of a Christian passing himself off as a Jewish rabbi, the man and his family moved from Michigan, to Houston, to Phoenix. In Houston he was the director of the Kashrut organization that does Kosher oversight and certification! Beyneynu became suspicious of them in the process of scouring the internet for Messianics… just like counter-terrorism groups do in search of potential terrorists before they go operational. Beyneynu wants to root out any Messianic believer who potentially could try to immigrate to Israel. 

So in scouring the web they came across an event featuring the (Dawson-Isaacson) family who touted their connection to an Israeli Messianic leader saying they had “the privilege of working with” him involving “humanitarian aid.” They also claimed he was a “close family friend.”

The Messianic leader named told me that “my last contact with them was 8-9 years ago.” He also told me that he emphasized to them that “salvation does not come from converting to Judaism” and not to renounce Yeshua to fit in among Jews.

Shannon Nuszem also finds fault with Messianic Jews providing humanitarian aid to Israeli Holocaust survivors calling it “Deathbed Evangelism.” She see evil in the good works of those seeking to feed Holocaust survivors the 1/4th of Israel’s Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line. Shannon accuses Messianic ministries, who almost all provide humanitarian aid to Holocaust survivors as seeking “to take advantage of the elderly who are vulnerable, fearful of death, and feelings of loneliness in order to convert them to Christianity in their dying days or even last moments.”

These are evil accusations and an outright lie in my knowledge of twenty years of associating closely with Israeli Messianic ministries. Israeli Messianic Jews are not living deceitful lives instead they are open books – “living letters” of Messiah’s love for the Jewish people.

I know we have all heard the urban legends of the great many Jewish rabbis in Israel who “secretly” believe in Yeshua but just don’t want to reveal themselves lest they get kicked out of their congregations. Personally, I have never believed in this and in fact think it would be an incredibly deceitful way for anyone to live in any honest measure of faith in Yeshua. The Israeli ministries I know of, not one of them live in closeted existence which is a betrayal to God and man of hiding their faith. They are openly believers in Yeshua, and willing to share their faith with any who are seeking to learn of Him.

Which brings me to another point of Christian confusion in the camp about Jewish identity: In researching to write this article over the past couple of days, I saw a news article about the first Christian Shannon Nuszem blew the whistle on for false impersonation of a Jewish rabbi. The man was sitting on the TV set of an American prophetic figure. I have many questions about how this all unfolded, but one thing that was reported was that the prophet’s ministry had been donating $500 a month to this Christian posing as a Jewish rabbi.

Did the prophet think the man was really Jewish, a “secret rabbi” or did he know he was a Christian posing as a Jew? I don’t have the answer to that yet, and whether I ever get a direct answer on that question, this is one thing I do know: far too many Christians assume that they can sort out who to financially support in Israel and it is pretty clear most do not have a clue. If they did, they would be supporting the leaders of the body of Messiah in Israel and consulting with them any time they considered giving regular support to someone in Israel.

All the statistics show that Christians financially supporting things in Israel are supporting Israeli Messianic Jewish believer ministries the least —by far.

Not only would we stop supporting people who are operating deceitfully in Israel (and I can think of other examples over the past years including outright conmen!) but also we would not have Christians aligning themselves with nationalist-religious settlers who indoctrinate Christians to think of any Jew in Israel who believes in Jesus as belonging to “a cult” and/or being “an enemy of the State of Israel.” That is what they did recently when they convinced a high-profile Christian supporter of Israel to condemn the Messianic ShelanuTV network all the way to then Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office. It consequently forced the cable TV network that approached the Messianics in the first place to pull the plug on airing their own channel in Hebrew. Her anti-Messianic campaign stopped the Gospel in Hebrew from airing on Israeli television. An America Christian woman did that and she thinks she did God a favor.

It is not a crime in Israel to believe Yeshua is the Messiah. These are issues of identity confusion and we need to do better. This is only the first article I will be writing on this issue. There is a lot of ground to cover and I hope both Christians and Messianics take those issues to heart — especially for the sake of the LORD’s body in Israel.