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Soli Deo Gloria is the writing and teaching ministry of Baruch Maoz in Israel. Baruch is engaged in writing original commentaries on the Bible, and theological and practical works in Hebrew. Some of his books are available in English. His Critique of the Messianic Movement, Come Let Us Reason Together: The Unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church, has been published by P&R, and his Devotional Commentary, Malachi: A Prophet in Times of Distress by Founders Press. Both are available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon while Shepherd Press produced his Devotional Commentary Jonah: A Prophet on the Run.
Baruch has written a series of commentaries in Hebrew on Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Jonah, Nahum and Malachi, Matthew, Romans and Colossians. He has written an Introdution to the Life and Epistles of Paul, an Introduction to Systematic Theology, and edited a modern translation of the Old Testament into spoken Hebrew. He is presently translating the New Testament into Modern Hebrew and engaged in other writing projects. In the pipeline are books on church life and structure, How to Preach and Listen to Sermons, and Daily Christian disciplines. To date, Baruch is the only author writing Christian literature n Hebrew.
Baruch and Bracha are Israeli Jewish Christians who have served in Israel for 5 decades now. Between April 1974 and December 2006 Baruch served with Christian Witness to Israel, most of that time as Israel Field Leader. Betwen May 1975 and December 2008 he served as Pastor of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation in Rishon LeTsion, Israel. Our website reflects the experiences gained in the course of that time.
Our monthly newsletter, MaozNews, is available for the asking, with back-issues to be found on this website (Baruch's Writings/News From Israel). To subscribe, click address at bottom of this page. His faceBook and Linkedin pages serve as blogs and provide almost daily information on the scene in Israel. His postings are also avaialble via Twitter @BaruchMaoz
Following is a link to Baruch's summary to Paul's letter to the Romans (audio, 40 minutes)
June 29, 2016
The Meaning and Importance of Jihad in Traditional Islam
While there are versions and conflicting interpretations of Islam, it is factually undeniable that the original, most fundamental documents of Islam call for the use of violence for the promotion and defense of that religion. In other words, groups such as El Qaida, ISIS (ISI), Hezbollah, The Muslim Brotherhood and consists Wahabism are all acting consistent with their religion’s basic tenets when they engage in terror and various forms of violence.
The following is taken from ISLAMIC TERRORISM, The Islamic Doctrine of War by Dr. Patirck Sookhdeo, Isaac Publishing, Pewsey, Wilts. UK, 2004 PP. 203 ff. Dr Sookhdeo is eminently qualified to discuss this subject. He is Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, visiting Fellow and Cranfield University’s College of Defense Technology. He frequently lectures the British Armed Forces and NATO on Islam and Islamic terrorism. His book is available from Amazon.
“History shows that until now the advance of Islam has only ever been stopped by military defeat… it is noteworthy that Islamic terrorism was in abeyance throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when European colonial powers ruled most of the Muslim world. It was only in the mid-twentieth century, when the colonial yoke was being thrown off all around the world, that radical Islam re-appeared on the scene … “
Subjected to violent reaction “[i]t is noteworthy that in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood have now abandoned their policy of violence and are pursuing their goals by political means … However, if the movements seeking to reform society change only their methods and not their aims, the question remains as to what they will do once they have attained power through the political process. will they continue to allow some form of democracy or will they install a totalitarian regime?
In western democracies the method of brutal repression is not an option, hence the flourishing centers of radical Islam which now exists in the western world, directing and funding the activities of the terrorists …
“In theory terrorist activity should cease if the terrorists are given what they want. This is the analysis of the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, citing examples of the IRA in Northern Ireland and ETA in Spain: “there is only one method of defeating political violence. It begins by mobilizing the support of governments who might otherwise be quietly sympathetic to extremists, and goes on to isolate those responsible for the violence by reducing the causes of discontent” (SIMPSON, JOHN, “WHY TOURISTS ARE NOW THE IDEAL TARGETS” in The Sunday Telegraph, 1 December 2002, pg. 21. Emphasis added).
“in the case of Islamic terrorists their immediate goal is to rule the Muslim world according to the strictest forms of Islam. Some might argue that the non-Muslim world should cede Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, south Thailand, Mindanao in the Philippines, and all other areas where Muslims are seeking to establish Muslim or Islamic states … But would this permanently satisfy the terrorists? Or is it possible that, because of their ultimate global agenda, i.e. to changer all the remaining Dar El-Harb to Dar El-Islam (The Abode of the Sword – the non-Muslim world to the Abode of Islam. BM)? …
“If terrorism is to be dealt with at its source, Islam has to change and undergo a transformation. In the long term it would appear that the only way to bring an end to Islam terrorism is to reform the teachings of Islam with regard to war and violence … Without a theology to feed it, Islamic terrorism would eventually shrivel and die.
June 27, 2016
From my commentary on Colossians (3:3-19); To be published 2017, by Founders Press
The next term is the Greek pathos, translated “passion.” There is nothing wrong with passion. One should love God passionately. Husbands and wives should love one another and their children passionately. David expressed passion in his love for God, as did others before and after him. What Paul was speaking of here is hedonism, a culture that views the pursuit of pleasure as the meaning of life, a sensuality that is given over to bodily stimulations, be it by way of music, food, drink, drugs, sex, cruelty (sadism), or pain (masochism).
The Roman world was a world of pleasure in which human life had little value. Gladiators were taught to fight to the death. Roman feasts involved participants gorging themselves on servings of exotic meats and fruits prepared according to innovative recipes and presented in unusual, dramatic ways; inducing vomiting; and returning to eat in sumptuous surroundings, from costly tableware and with the accompaniment of music, the sound of waterfalls, and the patter-patter of male and female servers. Roman ceremony, political and religious, was designed to create the kind of pathos against which Paul warns his readers. Breaking away from such a culture is, likewise, little less than the killing of a bodily organ. It too involves a long, determined refusal to satisfy desires accustomed to immediate satisfaction.
The next Greek word is epithumia, which connotes desire, usually inordinate desire and therefore lust. Lust is most often an exaggerated desire for the satisfaction of a legitimate need. We need food and drink, human companionship, love, and respect. We need a house in which to live and clothes to wear. We need to know and understand, to be what God has made us and to realize the potential he has planted in each of us. There is nothing wrong with wanting such things. There is nothing wrong with ambition. But if we want them more than serving God, if we want more of them than we need or are willing to sin in order to obtain them, we are guilty of lust. “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man” (Prov. 27:20). “The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, ‘Enough’” (Prov. 30:15).
The Christian virtue of self-discipline is the opposite of the unrestrained, exaggerated desire of which Paul spoke. Self-discipline is not easily achieved and is easily lost. Ask any active sports person how much effort it takes for her or him to develop and maintain the body tenor necessary for successful sportsmanship. Ask further how much effort is needed for the necessary abilities to deteriorate. Sin drives us to want more than we need, to hoard more than is reasonable. Self-discipline, an aspect of self-denial, requires careful, constant, consistent spiritual and moral exercise and the determined development of a spiritual and moral conscience by the study of God’s word and self-examination in light of what we have learned.
The next sin naturally follows desire: covetousness. Covetousness is the desire to have something that belongs to someone else: “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's” (Ex. 20:17). There is nothing wrong with wanting something, so long as what we want is legitimate and our desire is within spiritual and moral boundaries. It is wrong to want what belongs to others, all the more so if we want it because it belongs to someone else. You might want to have a new car or an available position at work because you need (or will simply enjoy) them, but be sure your motives are pure. Beware of jealousy. Beware of coveting.
Paul went on to describe covetousness as “idolatry.” Why? What is the relationship between covetousness and idolatry? Coveting involves wanting what others have. Its basic motive is wrong. It knows no boundaries and is inclined to set that desire above all other considerations. That is why Paul described it as idolatry. Only God must hold that position in our hearts and lives. He demands the right to be first in our lives and commands us to conduct our lives in light of his legislated standards “Because of which God’s anger is coming.” All of these sins are said to be reasons for the approaching anger of God.
God’s anger is not a subject most preachers like to address. Nor is it one about which most people want to hear. But it is a truth we all need both to hear and proclaim. God hates sin and will not allow it to go unpunished. He is a holy God whose beautiful, holy righteousness stokes the very fires of hell “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41) and will cast into it “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars. Their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). We cannot be true to the Gospel without proclaiming this truth. Nor can we explain the cross except in light of God’s terrible hatred of sin.
That anger “is coming.” It is active, ever approaching. No event is indicated as standing between the present coming of God’s anger and its arrival. By choosing the present continuous tense, Paul created the kind of tension that put his readers on their spiritual and moral toes. One can never tell when the process of coming will end, how near it is, and where it will catch us. Mankind would do well to live in light of that reality and mends its ways.
This is one of the ways the biblical message impacts our lives: by creating the very tensions we wish to avoid. We prefer to have everything nailed down so that there are no surprises. The Word of God is not fashioned to our likings but to our needs. We are called upon to live between the “not yet” and the “any moment now,” indeed, often between the “already” (“these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” [1 Cor. 10:11]) and the “not yet” (“see that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” [Matt. 24:6; see also 36–44]).
June 20, 2016
Romans 9-11 in Sermon Form
Bracha and I have been busy touring the U.S. for the last few months, speaking at different churches in addition to spening time in fellowship with old friends, congregants and new acquaintances. Naturally I have shared old sermons as well as new ones that I had the privilege of preparing and studying for. Happily I share with you my view of Romans 9-11, preached at King's Chapel in Cincinatti on June 19. The summary can be found here in sermon form.
May 24, 2016
On Grace and Government in the Present Conflict with Terror
I am pleased to announce the completion of a new article which can be purchased on my website here. This article deals with grace and government in the present conflict with terror. The word "grace" in our title stands for the Gospel, and therefore for the church. Hence our discussion will focus on the respective roles of the church and of government in the present world conflict, and of the relation between these two bodies. Our topic will be divided into three headings: The Role of Government in the Conflict with Terror; The Role of the Church in the Conflict with Terror; and A Brief Review of Present Realities and the Possibilities They Present.
May 16, 2016
From my commentary on Colossians, Col. 2:18-19 (To be published 2017 by Founders Press)
Living under the domain of the Law meant that the Colossians were to be under the domain of the rulers and the authorities, emanations that purportedly made up the Divine Fullness and called for an adherence to some or all of Jewish custom. But such a submission brought death, not life.
Paul described these powers in terms that seem to be taken from the heretical terminology being taught in Colossae. The emanations were believed to control various levels of spiritual life and achievement. But they were all dealt with by Messiah in his death and resurrection. Paul said that Jesus, “taking off” the rulers and the authorities, “exposed them openly, triumphing over them” in so doing. Jesus is Lord of all, above all, conqueror of all. What point is there, then, in turning from him to serve lesser beings?
In an admittedly difficult passage Paul described the emanations as if they clung to Christ, somehow trying to keep him from the fullness of his accomplishments in the vain hope that, if they managed to hold on, a vestige of their powers would be preserved. But he “took them off.” He “exposed them openly,” much as Roman victors did when they returned from war and paraded their vanquished foes to the jeering, mocking, celebrating Roman crowd. The Roman Senate granted such a parade to the few whose victories were especially significant. They were called “triumphs.” The general would ride into Rome with his booty and captives, “triumphing over them” to the jubilation of the crowd. Paul borrowed this lively picture of victory to indicate the completeness of Christ’s accomplishments. What room is left for rituals, ceremonies, or other human accretions? Jesus did it all. All to him we give.
Such exactly was Paul’s conclusion: because of that, “allow no one to judge you about eating and drinking, or with regard to a feast or a new moon or of Sabbaths.” Food is a major issue in Scripture, greatly accentuated in Jewish tradition. But there is nothing in Scripture with regard to forbidden beverages. The rabbis enlarged on biblical injunctions and forbade a host of foods and food combinations. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk” (Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21) had become a prohibition that disallowed all forms of cooking or consumption of milk and meat at the same time (as if there were any danger of eating a chicken with its mother’s milk), or even on the same plate.
The celebration of the New Moon is mentioned in the Law (Num. 29:6), but had become an important feature of Second Temple Judaism, as was—and is—the careful observance of the calendric year. “Sabbaths” is in the plural because Paul did not seem to be referring to the weekly Sabbath but to the various Sabbaths that were commanded in the Mosaic Law in relation to the feasts (Ex. 16:25; Lev. 16:31; 23:32; 25:2). Please note that Paul’s reference here is not to rabbinic custom but to the statutes of the Law as interpreted by the rabbis. No man was to hold the Colossians to account with regard to these statutes. No man has the right to oblige Christians by them. To the extent they were ever binding, they have found fulfillment in Christ. To the extent that the interpretations were wrong, they never had valid binding force.
Speaking of the Law, Paul went on to describe the statutes of the Mosaic Law as “a shadow of things coming, but the body is of the Christ.” Shadows are flat, dark contours of reality, void of detail, created by an object obstructing light. They are often distorted, depending on the angle of the light obstructed. The external, ceremonial aspects of the Law are to the Messiah what a shadow is to an object: flat, no more than the dark contours of a wonderful reality, void of important detail.
Of course, there is in the Law real indication of the general contours of Christ, his work, and his message. “But the body is of the Christ.” What are we to prefer, the shadow or the body? The Law or the Messiah? Why, Paul was intimating, should one prefer the shadow to the reality when the shadow is but a partial representation of who Messiah is, what he has done, how it affects us, and what he has taught? The shadow fades into insignificance in comparison with the reality. Jesus is a glorious savior!
If such is true of the Law, given by God at Sinai, what ought to be said of rabbinic tradition? It is, of necessity, far less than the Law, less than a shadow of reality. It can offer less. Why, then, should we be taken up with such a tradition when the glorious reality of the Son of God is with us?
Paul therefore insisted, “Allow no one to deliver judgment against you in self-assumed humility and worship of the angels.” The Colossians were to resist every effort to bring them under the yoke of mystical experiences and Jewish ritual. They should not buy into the teaching that offers them a means to communicate with angels or succumb to what Paul described as “self-assumed humility,” which is nothing less than a show, one could almost say a parade (the contrast is striking: How does one parade humility?) by submission to the rites and teachings of the heretics. These are things he (the purported teacher) had seen in a trance, but it served no real purpose.
Paul did not argue whether what the heretical teachers claimed to have seen was real or not. He will assume for the sake of the argument that it was. What good could such visions be? Can they contribute to a stable, mature kind of holiness, or do they create a sense of smug super spirituality? Do they encourage moral purity or pride? Do they truly bring one into God’s presence or simply provide an emotional rush?
Paul answered: by “intruding into [them],” that is, into such trance-induced visions, one’s pride is being encouraged by fleshly thinking. Rather than humility, pride is cultivated. Rather than spirituality, fleshly thinking becomes the order of the day because those undergoing such experiences cannot distinguish between the Spirit of God and their own spirits, between the presence of God and a sense of well-being.
What is more, those who hold to such views are “not holding on to the head” who is Christ, the source of life, direction, and purpose for the body, “from whom all the body, by way of the joints and ligaments provided, and being connected, will grow together by God’s doing.”
Do you want to grow in Christ? Hold on to the head rather than to every new-fangled idea that raises its head. Do you want to be more spiritual? Make sure you are connected to the body so that you benefit “by way of the joints and ligaments provided.” Don’t separate. Don’t seek the company of the initiates, of those who follow your patterns and embrace your pet doctrines and practices. It is by way of the joints and ligaments provided by God in Christ that the body will grow together, and “together” is the only way it will grow in a Christian way. It is the only way it will grow “by God’s doing” rather than through human effort.
That’s the key. Spiritual growth is God’s doing, not ours. It is a gift, not a reward. It is a fruit of divine blessing, not a product of human prowess. Fruit is cultivated, but all the cultivation in the world will not create a single fruit apart from the blessing of God.
On Grace and Government in the Present Conflict with Terror, pg. 1
Ministry and Family News, pg. 12
Baruch and Bracha are touring Central and Eastern USA April-July. Interested churches are invited to write firstname.lastname@example.org
Israeli high-tech company Mellanox hires programmers in the Gaza Strip
I have deep respect and love for Baruch Maoz, and the work that he is carrying on in Israel, despite obstacles and opposition. He has been a dear friend for many years. I’ll never forget doing a conference for him in Israel several years ago. I pray that God may use his sound theology, helpful preaching, excellent books, and numerous gifts for the conversion and spiritual maturation of thousands of Israelis and for the abundant glory of God. Rev. Joel R. Beeke, Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation, Author
Baruch Maoz has been a minister of the gospel, author, publisher, and voice for believers in the land of Israel for four decades. I have seen firsthand the fruit of his ministry and I cannot recommend it too highly. Baruch’s preaching, teaching, and writing ministry should be supported by all who care about the gospel and its impact in Israel and beyond! Pastor Jerry Marcellino, Audubon Drive Bible Church, Federation of reformed Evangelicals – Laurel, Mississippi
Knowing and embracing our Lord’s clear directive to bring the Gospel to the “Jew first” I, along with BPC have been extraordinarily blessed to work in partnership with the effective biblical and faithful ministry of Baruch Maoz. His ministry of evangelism, discipleship, along with his strategic and insightful writing/translation projects, only enhance my opportunity to recommend him and his ministry. Rev. Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Birmingham AL
Tom Ascol of the Founders Movement writes: "Baruch and Bracha Maoz serve in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Baruch has served as a pastor, publisher, author and church reformer in his homeland of Israel. He has ministered several times with our Grace Baptist Church family in Cape Coral and our people have come to love Bracha and him dearly. I highly recommend his and his ministry to any church that values expositional preaching and the gospel of God's grace." Dr. Thomas Ascol, Grace Baptist Church (SBC), Founders Movement, Cape Coral FL
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