• OPINION \ Apr 29, 2002
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    "I am very sorry for the insensitivity"
Salaam dear brothers and sisters,

I want to express my deepest sorrow and regret for the unnecessary hurt that many (all) of you felt from the letter of appeal and from the newspaper announcement of support for Israel put out by some of the Messianic leaders in Israel earlier this month, especially being that I was one of those involved. These notices have been circulated around the world, both through our own efforts and also through Arab-oriented internet sites such as Come and See.

There is truth in both of the announcements, yet we are to speak the truth in love. There is love expressed for our own people in each of the announcements, yet we are to draw people to the righteousness of YHWH our God that His mercies towards all touch our hearts and minds. Not being able or authorized to speak on behalf of others, and knowing that we all have different sensitivities in every important matter in our lives, I can only express how I have been affected by the reactions of my Arab/Palestinian brothers and by the Holy Spirit working both in me and through others concerning these messages.

I was troubled by the language and tone of the draft letter of appeal to Christians. The letter was then revised to be less extreme, yet still contained a SELF-righteous and SELF-centered attitude in parts which leaned more on one?s own position and understanding rather than on the wisdom of God in Messiah. If we are to point the finger at others (and that is not usually profitable to do), we need to first be sure that we have first judged ourselves in like measure. Nonetheless, I did put my name to it ? doubting, without faith, thus sinning. For this I ask the forgiveness of everyone. At the same time, my part in this appeal in no way reflects a breach of faith with my commitment to our Arab/Palestinian brothers and sisters, nor for the salvation of as many of your people as possible to the praise of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, extremists and emotions ? including the powerful desire to be approved by our own -- can sometimes manipulate us to be party to something that we afterwards regret. The good of the Spirit has been marred by the bad of the flesh.

The newspaper declaration of the Messianic believers? support for the people and government of Israel is also legitimate for any other citizenry to speak out for their country, yet the prophetic and priestly message which believers in Jesus/Yeshua/Isua have is different in spirit and focus than the message of merely loyal patriots. In our own times, we have seen well-intended Christians in each their own country express unquestioning and undying support for their peoples and governments, only to find in hindsight how blind they were. We in Israel especially are to lovingly, with salt, express our support for our people and land because of our God?s holy name, while also calling them to return to the Lord for the true peace and security they so much seek. This is the love of God our Father, both for us and for our Arab neighbors (as in ?love your neighbor as yourself?). This message was not communicated by the ad, yet again I lent my support to its publication. For this, too, I ask the forgiveness of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Love is not easily offended, which is why it is so important and rewarding to get to know one another. It helps to overcome unrighteous judgments. Believers can take a spiritually discerning approach to passages which offend our flesh (which the cross always will do), and know that the LORD God will defeat and remove all His enemies and those of His people (who, of course, include true Christians). God will also make many who are presently enemies His friends! Christians have such assurance of this because in Christ all of God?s promises are ?yes? and ?amen?: they will all be fulfilled, including those to the nations of Israel, to Egypt, to Jordan, to Sudan, etc. Meanwhile, He is also keeping His promise to save now whomsoever will repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, and to give us such great and precious promises that being His sons and daughters in Messiah is even better than simply remaining part of our natural kinsman! Sadly, there are those who do take a too carnal, worldly, rationalistic approach on the one hand, or a too metaphorical, spiritualistic, allegorical approach on the other. The Holy Spirit knows fully what the Word of God is, has been, and will be, and God?s Word abides forever.

I am very sorry for the insensitivity expressed in those two notices. I am also thankful for the grace and mercies of God who forgives us our sins and is reconciling us to Himself in every needful thing, which makes possible our reconciliation with others. He is wisely and with long-suffering working in us to conform us to the image of His Son, and is leading us all through our paces so that we will grow in love for one another. I would ask you, my Arab brothers, to forgive not only me, but also my people (including the believers amongst us) because we still do not always know what we do. (And for those who do know, the Lord Jesus knows how to handle them!)

Please do not harbor any bitterness or despair that things will never be any better. As we abide in Christ, we can only show more of His glory as we learn from Him. We need a fresh revelation of Him to endure and overcome even ourselves. Please pray for us, so that the devil will gain nothing out of this.

Thankful for you all,

Your chastened brother, Howard