You may have heard by now that Gary and Shirley Beresford received a negative decision from the Supreme Court Justices in Israel. The court decided that Messianic Jews cannot claim the right to come to Israel as immigrants under the Law of Return.
The Law of Return states that "every Jew has a right to come to Israel as an oleh (immigrant)". In 1970 an amendment was added defining a Jew as one who is born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism and has not converted to another religion.
Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon, an Orthodox Jew, ruled that Messianic Jews are members of another faith. Of which faith he thought them to be he did not state. In his decision, he concluded that because Yeshua (Jesus) is the central element in the Beresford's belief, it is irrelevant that they celebrate Jewish holidays and declare themselves to belong to the Jewish people.
WE "CAN'T" GO BACK TO OUR ROOTS
Elon continued that Messianic Jews will not succeed in their attempt to reverse the wheels of history by 2,000 years - meaning that going back to the days when many Jews believed that Yeshua is Messiah cannot be repeated.
On the other hand, Justice Aharon Barak, a non-religious Jew, disagreed with Justice Menachem Elon, stating the decision should not be a religious issue. Instead he chose to base his opinion not on religious law, but on how he perceived the majority of the Jewish people would feel. On this basis he rejected the Beresford's petition to settle in Israel as Jews.
Interestingly enough, he ignored the court document of an official national poll (Dahaf Poll 1988) which found that 78% of Israelis (including the Orthodox) felt that Jews such as the Beresfords who see themselves as part of the Jewish people, participating fully in the Jewish calendar, the Israeli labor force and army, and believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, should be allowed to immigrate to Israel as Jews.
The third judge, Avraham Khalima, a traditionalist, concurred with no comments. The high court then offered the Beresfords a permanent residency in Israel, but not citizenship.
THE WAR IS YET TO BE WON
We want to state clearly: we may have lost a battle, but we have not lost the war! Here are the reasons why. The Scriptures foretell and promise that in the Last Days believing Jews will be among those returning to the Land of Israel and possessing it.
Yes, many unbelieving Jews have returned to settle in Israel and will continue doing so. It is in Israel that a precious remnant will be cleansed and redeemed.
But none other than Moses himself specifically prophesied that born again, believing, heart changed Jews would be among those immigrating back to the Land.
For if we believe in the Son of God, Yeshua the Messiah, then we believe the New Testament which states that there is no other atonement sacrifice, no other name whereby Jews or Gentiles can be saved.
A PROMISE IS A PROMISE
It follows for us then that Moses was speaking of Jews who received a new heart through a gift of salvation by God. Keeping this in mind, we read the following familiar passage with anticipation and excitement.
So it shall become when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nation where the Lord your God has banished you,
and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons,
then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.
And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. Deut.30:1-5
Since magistrates and rulers and laws will come and go, but the Word of the Lord stands forever, Messianic Jews will ultimately win the victory in Israel. Even now there is a steady stream of Messianic Jews immigrating to Israel from countries all over the world. Satan cannot shut the gates completely. Messianic Jews, of course, do not come into Israel illegally or by lying. They simply have need of an angelic escort to make it through the iron gates!
A PARALLEL WITH HISTORY
A very similar situation today exists among the Messianic Jews that existed with all Jews in the first half of this century. In 1914, the British, who then controlled the Holy Land, begrudgingly claimed to be facilitating Jewish immigration to their Homeland.
The Balfour Declaration had declared Britain's good intentions, but in reality, they did much to discourage and hinder Jewish immigration.
The British did not want the Jews immigrating to Israel because they hoped to please the Arab majority in the Middle East and keep control of the area. The populated Arab nations so greatly out numbered the small Jewish settlement that Britain felt the Jews were insignificant.
Even so, a steady stream of Jews were able to walk overland or come ashore in clandestine makeshift boats under cover of night, to settle in the Land that God had given them. By 1937, however, England had clearly decided to cut off Jewish immigration to all but a trickle as stated in her series of infamous "White Papers".
Yet, God allowed thousands of Jews to successfully enter by boat and by land. Hundreds, however, were drowned, shot, or otherwise killed by the British. Thousands were incarcerated in detention camps. Boatloads were sent back to Nazi Europe.
Only in 1948, when the British were forced out of authority, could all Jews come freely to Israel. All, that is, but Jews who had received a heart of flesh given them by the God of Israel.
It is true, that the Law of Return of 1948 promised that all Jews could now come home. In reality, Jewish believers in Yeshua have been continually discouraged and hindered by the Orthodox government officials.
"WHITE PAPERS" FOR THE MESSIANIC JEWS
See the parallel. In 1970, the Israeli Knessett pressured by the Orthodox community passed its own "White Paper" specifically stating that Jews who had changed religions could not immigrate to Israel.
Sounds fair enough? It must be noted, however, that no Jew who has converted to Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, pantheism, New Age, atheistic humanism or the occult has ever been refused entry to Israel because of his religion.
However, if a Jew converted to Christianity, then he is considered persona-non-grata.
Meanwhile, the Messianic Jewish movement has sprung to life in the last twenty years, bringing thousands, and even tens of thousands of Jews to believe in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, as Jews and in so doing they have moved strongly back to their Jewish roots. They have in no way, converted to Christianity. On the contrary, they are giving their allegiance to the original King of the Jews!
IF YOU ARE A JEW SO WHAT?
Now in the Beresford case, the Israeli Supreme Court's "White Paper" is saying no matter if you are recognizable in every way as a Jew, if you believe in Yeshua, you are barred from coming to your God-given Homeland.
Satan has long used the tool of keeping Jews out of Israel to attempt to thwart God's plan for his people!
The time has come for us, the Messianic Jews, to keep believing, praying, interceding and petitioning the authorities, until the iron gates to the nation come crashing down.
THE FIRST IMMIGRANTS FROM BABYLON
Even during the time of the first return to Israel, there were incredible obstacles placed by the devil to keep the believing Jews out of Israel. But God had a plan to break the barriers. That time, he used a heathen king.
It is I who says of Cyrus, "He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire."
And he declares of Jerusalem, "She will be built," And of the temple, "Your foundation will be laid."
Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand...
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars. Isa 44:28,45:1-2
THE KING'S HEART IS IN THE HAND OF THE LORD
If God could persuade a heathen king to bring back His believing remnant the first time, indeed if God can topple dictators at will, and restructure countries such as He is doing in Eastern Europe and within Russia, he can certainly open the gates of Israel to the first fruits of his believing remnant coming home now.
Surely the overwhelming desire of the Eastern European people to believe as they will and follow the dictates of their consciences cannot escape the notice of these three reactionary-by all democratic standards-Israeli judges.
GOD ALSO USES HARDENED HEARTS
Or is God for His own purposes hardening their hearts as He did Pharaoh's to simply accomplish a greater miracle for His children that He has promised to bring home?
For those who have followed the Beresford Case, you may recall that in 1986, when the Beresfords immigrated to Israel, the authorities refused to give them citizenship upon learning from a close relative of theirs that they were believers in Yeshua the Messiah.
The Beresfords then appealed to the Supreme Court, countering that they were born as Jews, would die as Jews, were living as Jews, and believed in the Jewish Messiah. They should, therefore, be granted what every other Jew receives, the right to immigrate to Israel.
The first Supreme Court session was heard by one judge who granted them a positive decision, saying that they would be allowed to receive citizenship, on condition that there was no additional information that the opposition (in this case the Interior Ministry) could produce to show that the Beresfords should not receive their rights.
The case dragged on for three years, and on December 25, 1989, a court of three judges decided that the Beresfords should not receive their citizenship.
WE ARE APPEALING
The next step, then, is for us to appeal this ruling before a five judge court, which is the highest appeal possible. In fact, at this moment we are in the process of appealing this case.
It may be interesting to you to note that the Orthodox are accustomed to appeal their causes over and over again, until they succeed to pass laws and receive decisions that almost nobody wants, except the Orthodox themselves. They are usually attempting to gain control, not over their own community, but over all Israelis who in turn look on in horror at their own freedoms eroding.
The significance of the Beresford Case is not, of course, in whether they themselves receive citizenship or not. In fact, they have been granted a permanent residency. But they have refused to receive it on the basis that they would be considered non-Jews.
The crucial point then is that this case is related to the possible destiny of every Messianic Jew worldwide. And there are Supreme Court judges who do stand for freedom of religion!
MESSIANIC JEWS MAY SUFFER PERSECUTION
Perhaps, there will always be freedom in the United States and Canada, and never any persecution against the Jews here. May God grant it.
But there IS persecution of Jews in many other countries today. And if Messianic Jews cannot freely flee to Israel as their refuge, then there may be those who physically perish.
We have received firsthand reports that right now in Italy, there are tens of Russian Jews who fled Russia months-and even years-ago and who are stuck in transient housing because they have not been allowed into Israel because their faith in Yeshua the Messiah became known. They are Jews without a home, without citizenship of any kind.
Are there Messianic Jews who must perish before Israel's gates are thrown open?
REFUSENIKS AND REJECTNIKS
There are now four other cases pending in Israel's Supreme Court of Messianic Jews waiting to be granted immigration rights as Jews.
Yes, we have to stand up and be counted. Just as the much publicized REFUSENIKS of Russia paved the way for the large exodus of an estimated 750,000 Russian Jews who are now expected to leave the U.S.S.R., so we, the Messianic Jews, now have our REJECTNIKS, rejected by the dictator-type Orthodox authorities who at this time control the Gates of Israel. The refuseniks were refused visas out of Russia. The rejectniks are rejected as immigrants to Israel.
As we stated, many Messianic Jews have immigrated to Israel; others have been rejected. These rejectniks are due the same honor from believers that the refuseniks received from all the Jewish people, until the iron curtain came tumbling down-at least for the Jews.
THE ULTIMATE WEAPON
There is, of course, one weapon that we have, which is fatal to the enemy. It is praying and beseeching God in faith, believing that He will keep His Word to His people.
If His people, which are called by His name will humble themselves and pray, and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND. II Chron. 7: 14 \
The real issue, of course, is whether Yeshua is the Messiah of the Jews, or of the Gentiles only. If He does not save Jews as Jews, then followers of Yeshua, who are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have no place in Israel, because God promised the Land to the Jewish nation.
"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
If this fixed order departs from before Me," declares the Lord, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever." Jer 31:31, 36
Therefore, we cannot give up. We believe God's Word.
We have written to four National Messianic Organizations and a number of Messianic congregations requesting them to participate with Maoz in the $15,000 court costs that will be incurred by appealing the Beresford Case. We believe the Messianic Jewish leaders of our people will see the significance of this case and participate in a bountiful way.
We therefore are not asking our readers to share in this particular court case. We do feel, however, that it is in place for all of us together to make a strong statement to Gary and Shirley Beresford by sending them an offering of love and concern.
A SPECIAL GIFT FOR THE BERESFORDS
The Beresfords have been under constant pressure for three years, not being able to put their roots down in Israel. Now their work permit has been revoked. Part of the battle is standing up to the psychological harassments and threats of the Orthodox. The idea, of course, is to subject the Beresfords to such stress, both psychological and financial, that they will simply give up.
They, in affect have been the representative of all Messianic Jews who wish to immigrate, and have taken the brunt of the spiritual attack by those forces that are determined to keep our Jewish people out of Israel.
The Beresfords will be very grateful for whatever help we send them. Though they have not solicited help from us, we know their need is great.
Whatever you designate for the Beresfords will be sent in full to them. In our April newsletter, we will report to you the total sum you, our readers, contributed to this couple.
We want to encourage them in their lonely stand against unrighteousness and injustice. Yet, they are not alone. Their God is with them, and so are their brothers and sisters!
We greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Ha Mashiach!
In our Messiah,
Ari & Shira