A Messianic rabbi in Israel has issued a direct challenge to the regathered Sanhedrin, or rabbic council: “Show us you will marry a Messianic couple, and do it on video.”
That’s in response to the Sanhedrin’s ruling, announced last week, outlawing the marriage inside Israel of Jewish believers in Jesus Christ. The potential consequences of that decision continue to reverberate across the land of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus.
The story was first broken in the United States by WND on Friday, Sept. 1, the same day it broke in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. It was further confirmed by an article in the Jerusalem Post on Monday, Sept. 4.
Zev Porat, a Messianic rabbi who heads up Tel Aviv-based Messiah of Israel Ministries, said in an interview Tuesday with radio host Carl Gallups that once the Sanhedrin’s plot to delegitimize Messianic Jews was exposed, they tried to back off of their decision by saying it did not apply across the board to all Messianics applying for marriage licenses.
All marriages conducted in Israel fall under the authority of either Jewish, Christian, Islamic or Druze religious leaders. Messianic Jews have traditionally been married under Jewish rabbinic authority because they do not consider their faith to be anything but truly Jewish, since Jesus is seen as their Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy recorded in the Jewish Bible. That discourages them from getting married in the nation’s Christian churches.
Deny Christ or go abroad to get married
But the Sanhedrin’s Aug. 29 decision in the rabbinic court of Tel Aviv was a first for the state of Israel, a lightning-rod ruling that said for a Messianic Jew to get married by the Jewish religious authorities, they must deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They could still go and marry outside the country, but that would require them to apply for that marriage to be recognized by the Ministry of Interior, a bureaucratic process that could take months or years.
“This has never been done before to a Messianic Jewish couple born in Israel,” Porat said. “Normally, you show your card and they don’t ask questions. Well, now they are asking questions.”
“For years Jews have been getting married with the sole question ‘are you a Jew,’ and you say ‘yes.’ But now they are not satisfied with that answer. They want to know if you are a Jew who believes in Jesus,” Porat continued.
“They are Jews but have never been asked if they are also a believer in Jesus, until now. If you say yes, they will say ‘you’re not a Jew in our category, and, if you are not a Jew, you are not getting married.'”
Jews who may be atheist or Buddhist, by contrast, are not asked to prove their Jewishness by answering any religiously based questions, Porat told WND.
After one Messianic couple was denied a Jewish wedding ceremony in Tel Aviv, a second couple was reportedly denied a marriage in Haifa.
Porat says the fact that WND’s story was followed up by Israeli newspapers, including the Jerusalem Post, is huge.
“Now it is documented. It’s something new. It’s something huge, and people need to know about it,” he said.
Should Christians still support Israel?
Some Western Christians have reacted to the news with anger, but that’s not the correct response, said Gallups, who is a Baptist pastor.
“Some are asking if they should quit supporting Israel. Should they quit supporting the Jews in Israel? Of course the answer is no, but some people are asking the question now,” Gallups told WND.
God said in the Old Testament scriptures, “I will bless those that bless thee and curse those that curse thee,” Gallups reminded those Christians who asked him about the issue. “It doesn’t say to bless them only if they bless you.”
Porat agrees. He said Israel needs the prayer and support of Christians now more than ever.
“In the first 48 hours or so after the story hit the streets of Israel, the Sanhedrin, the rabbis, were boasting all over the news, all over the radio, you could hear it everywhere in Israel,” he said. “Then, after the WND story came out, they started to switch their story around. They said it was not a corporal attack. It’s an individual case.
“We said, ‘Well, OK, we pray it’s an individual case, but it’s not an individual case, because you said Messianic Jews – meaning Jews who believe in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah – are no longer getting married in Israel because they’re no longer Jews; they’re Christians.’ That is not an individual case. That is a corporal attack.”
Porat posted a video to YouTube on Sept. 3 in which he issued a challenge to the Sanhedrin: If it’s not true, and Messianics can still be married as Jews in Israel, “Show us.”
Watch video challenge that Messianic Rabbi Zev Porat has presented to the Sanhedrin in Israel:
“I told them that if you are not targeting us corporally, then show us that you can marry one Messianic couple, that you’ll come out and you’ll say, ‘These are Jews that believe in Jesus, and we will marry them, and this is not a corporal attack.’ They won’t do it because it is a corporal attack.
“It doesn’t matter what people say,” he added. “If we are looking at the evidence here, the evidence shows they don’t want to marry Messianic Jews. The evidence shows that they never, ever asked, ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ And now they are asking. And if it’s not true, the Sanhedrin need to prove through a video that they’re willing to marry a Messianic couple.”
If the rabbinical rabbis said their ruling was corporal, it wouldn’t have the same effect as leaving it vague, Porat said.
“If they say it’s a corporal decision, what’s going to happen? No one who is Messianic is going to try to get married, right? But if they say it’s just an individual case, then it means what they’re saying is there is an option for Messianics to get married. And that’s what they want. They want the Messianic to come to the rabbinic court to find out, number one, who they are, and number two, to let them try to deny Jesus,” he said. “That’s another reason why they are saying it’s not corporal, because if they say corporal, it’s a done deal, they’re not going to marry Messianics anymore, you’re not going to try. But if you say it’s individual, you leave the door open for the Jews to come into the rabbinic court and then you can question them, see if they will deny Jesus. So it’s a spiritual attack here.”
Replay of early church persecution?
Gallups said the earliest Christians, who were also Jews, were set up in this same way. They came up against the very same spirit in Jerusalem.
“You have to deny Jesus, or you have to come to us and lie, and say you are not a believer. But if we ever find out, we can initiate criminal proceedings against you. It’s just a deceptive, hypocritical, biblical, prophetic attack in the last days, in the return to Israel, against Jews who are coming to Christ, which by the way Jesus said would happen in the last days. He said you would be delivered over to the authorities. Your own families will turn you in, family will turn against family, sisters and brothers will turn against each other. I can see some real trouble coming out of this if the government in Israel doesn’t get a grip on this.”
Jews who believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah have always had difficulties when it comes to making Aliyah, or migration, to Israel.
“The question of whether you believe in Jesus has always been part of the application,” said Porat, who comes from a long line of Jewish rabbis, including his grandfather and great-grandfather. “If you say you are, there is no way they are going to let you in. Have there been cases where people hire an attorney and they get in after a fight in court? I’m sure there have been. But I’m sure a lot of people were dishonest on their application form and were let in that way. I am sure this is going to be even more of an issue going forward in light of this rabbinic ruling.”