"And their sons shall be as of old ..." (Jeremiah 30:20).
A young man stood, poised and
ready to chant from the Torah scroll placed in front of him. The warm
October sun behind him highlighted his youthful features and the tallit
(prayer shawl) draped over his shoulders. He stood not in a modern house of
worship, but on the grounds of an ancient Galilee synagogue, one of the
oldest in the world. Though the walls and roof were no longer standing the
His forebears had positioned their synagogue on a ledge of land, looking
down through a steep cleft in the earth, their gaze ending at the shore of
the Sea of Galilee. At the foot of this same mountain, Yeshua preached and
performed miracles in the valley of Ginossar, as recorded in the Gospels.
Yeshua taught in synagogues all throughout the region, possibly even right
What was it like when the Scriptures were last chanted here? Who had prayed
among the skillfully carved columns, entering through the elaborate
doorway - carved out of a single limestone rock? The village and its
substantial synagogue are thought to have been in use from the
1st century until at least the
4th century. Abundant crops of wheat, olives and
flax for linen cloth surrounded the synagogue. A major trade route between
the Mediterranean basin in the West and Syria to the Northeast, skirted the
Sea of Galilee just below the adjacent Mt. Arbel.
While many young Messianic Jews have been called to the Torah, why did this
lad and his family choose such an unusual setting for his bar mitzvah?
Establishing the organic connection between faith in Yeshua as
Israel's Messiah, and the Jewish way of life passed to our people from
generation to generation is an uphill climb. The tragic history of church
anti-Semitism causes most Jewish people to distance themselves from our own
Redeemer. Thus, living out our faith in Israel, in the vividly Jewish
historic environment of an ancient synagogue, makes a simple yet eloquent
statement that is essential in conveying the resonant truth of the Hebraic
roots of the New Covenant.
One young Israeli's bar mitzvah was celebrated in the ruins of a long
silent synagogue. Its fallen pillars and walls again heard the melody of
God's word being chanted. The young man and his family were declaring:
"We are here in fulfillment of the inviolable promises of Almighty God in
His word. This is our land, and we treasure it. Faith in Yeshua is as
Jewish as our ancient covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
When we welcome our young people into early adulthood, we are identifying
with the entire nation and its long history, dating back to Israel's
"Renew, renew our days as of old" (traditional Jewish prayer).