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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 Commetary, Malachi: A Prophet in Times of Distress by Crossbooks. Both are available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Shepherd Press is now preparing to print his Devotional Commentary Jonah: A Prophet on the Run.
Baruch is also engaged writing (in Hebrew) a commentary on Romans and Micah, futher books in the Devotional Commentary series, an Introduction to Systematic Theology, editing a modern translation of the Bible into Modern Hebrew and writing other expositional and theological books. In the pipeline are also books on church life and strucutre, How to Preach and Listen to Sermons, and daily Christian disiplines. 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.
May 13, 2015
From my commentary on Colossians:
Glorious God, we thank you for the power of the Gospel to transform, for its beauty and wisdom, and for the subtle way it often works. Teach us to understand the Gospel. Show us its inner workings, the motivations is creates, and the goals it establishes. Make these our own. Teach us to think, and to think as Christians ever seeking to serve and honor you, so that the Gospel shapes our lives and our lives commend the Gospel. Teach us to love and respect all of our fellow humans, to make best use of our time and of our tongues, and to grow in holiness as we go through life. Cleanse us of our sins and protect us from temptation. Bring us to your eternal home, that we may love you purely, as we ought. We seek your grace in Jesus’ name, amen.
May 11 2015
There is a certain order in the universe, with God in Christ paramount. A time will come when children will have the duty and the right to educate their own children. That is when they can call the shots. But as long as they are minors, their safety is to be found in accepting the thoughtful, godly, loving guidance of their parents.
Such an order lays a tremendous burden on parents, especially fathers: “Fathers, do not frustrate your children, so that they do not lose heart.” What frustrates children more than anything else? What causes them to loose heart? Inconsistency on the part of parents, lack of fairness, unfulfilled warnings, arbitrariness, contempt, and suppression all contribute to a child’s frustration and led to the kind of indifference that expresses despair.
Children are taught to lie by parents who break promises and do not fulfill warnings. They develop a well-justified sense of injustice if their parents do not hear them out before reacting, treat any of their siblings differently, or vacillate between forbidding and allowing the same kind of behavior. They are frustrated when they do not know what to expect, because their parents’ reaction depends more on the parents’ mood than on what they have done. They rebel or sink into indifference if their parents do not respect the image of God in them and therefore suppress initiative, repeatedly express lack of confidence in them, or do not encourage them to think and act on their own. If the children can never do right, why should they try? What is the point of trying when there is never any encouragement and, however well the child performs or however much he or she has invested effort, no compliment will be forthcoming? If they can never meet the standard, they will inevitably give up in despair. Trust your child. Give her opportunity to grow, to make mistakes and learn from them, to develop her own God-given propensities, to be herself.
Contrary to what Roman culture taught, children are not subject to the arbitrary whims of their parents. Nor are they extensions of the parents’ persona. Parents are not to live out their unfulfilled ambitions through their children, nor impose their views—not even their faith. True faith is the product of a work of God in the human heart, not the imposition of man. It is the God-given response of an individual to God; it can never be forced by human hands. If we are to avoid frustrating our children and causing them to lose heart, we must educate them to think independently and equip them with spiritual and moral standards. Such standards are best inculcated by way of example. Children who grow up in a godly home where faithful, tender affection is expressed, integrity is preserved, and God is lovingly feared will have the means to weigh and make their own decisions. God will draw to himself those among our children whom he sees fit.
The opposite of frustration and loss of heart is what we should seek for our children: a holy, humble, honest ambition to fully realize their gifts; a respectful, caring attitude toward others; a sense of dignified integrity, vigor, and happiness. When these are combined with God’s saving, sanctifying grace, our children will realize their full potential, and God will be glorified in them. What more could we desire?
The apostle proceeded to tell the Colossians what they should put on: “Above all of these, love.” Of course, love is expressed in all the aforementioned characteristics: sympathy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing one another, and forgiving each other. It is the motive behind them all.
But why should a slave love his master, and what kind of transformation must the master undergo to love his slave? Why should a Jew love a Gentile or a Gentile a Jew? The answer is ready: because of the Gospel, which recognizes no such distinctions and calls people from every nation under the sun to love and worship God, and to do so, among other ways, by loving one another. How could they love each other when they differed from another and had such a history of mutual exclusion? Once again the answer is ready: by the grace of God, by the power of the Gospel, by the moving of the Spirit.
Love, then, is “the bond of perfection,” or perhaps better, the perfect bond. Nothing binds better than love. Nothing binds us firmer to God than his love for us. Nothing blinds us more to ignore other people’s faults, moves us to care for people, bear with them, and sacrifice for them more than love. It is the perfect bond, capable of uniting diverse individuals who would not normally relate to one another by demanding of them, exemplifying to them, and motivating them toward a love that captures the heart and drives them to admit most willingly that “we love because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19).
Armenian Pain, Official Israeli Indifference
The Arminians, commemorating 100 years since the Turkish-implemented genocide have expressed their disappointment over Israel's repeated official refusal to acknowledge their tragedy, seeking to reserve the term genocide solely for a description of the Holocaust. Is our blood redder than that of the Arminians? Is our pain greater because it was forced on us in Europe rather than in Asia? Indeed, is not the determined, systematic murder of 1.5 million people -- approximately half of the population -- not a holocaust? How dare we nurse our own sorrow and ignore that of others?!
From my commentary on Colossians -- On the Importance of Church Life:
They were not alone in the struggle against the habits of sin and its demands. The new man that they were in Christ “[was] being renewed” by the ongoing activity of God the Spirit; they were being granted” full knowledge” in the sense of a personal, intimate understanding and embracing of God and his will through which they were being increasingly changed “in compatibility with the image of him who [was] creating him.” The image into which they were being changed was the image of God. The “him” being created was the new man. The one creating him was God himself. God's marvelous work of salvation began with faith and repentance, but there was a lot more to it than that. He was at work in their hearts by his Spirit, transforming men and women, boys and girls, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freemen into his own image.
The ravages of sin were being removed. Increasingly, the beauty of God’s glory was shining forth in them. He was strengthening them in their conflict, rebuking and encouraging them when they failed, renewing their desire for his ways, comforting them, and ever motivating them to greater holiness, sincerer humility, broader kindness, and more substantial integrity. God’s people were being prepared for life in heaven in the happy, holy presence of God.
This is now the moment to draw your attention to an important fact: the “you” from verse 5 onward is plural. Paul was not addressing individuals in the church but the body as a whole. It is much easier to break bad habits and replace them with good ones when we enjoy the support and encouragement of community. It is much easier to break away from one’s former way of life and adopt another when we are in loving, exhorting, rebuking, inspiring, motivating fellowship with others engaged in the same spiritual and moral pilgrimage. That is one of the reasons why church life is so necessary to Christians. If you have noticed the similarity between the Spirit’s work and that of the church, do not be surprised. The Holy Spirit uses the church for the accomplishment of his purposes. The church is God’s habitation through the Spirit (Eph. 2:22).
As a community the Colossians had put on Christ. As a community they had clothed themselves with the new man. As a community they were being remade into the image of the Creator. No individual can by himself reflect the fullness of the infinite glory of God. All of redeemed humanity cannot do that, let alone any individual. John heard no solos sung in heaven, no individual performances. What he saw was a congregation so large it could not be numbered.
The more united the church is, the more effectively it can reflect the image of Christ and the more effectively it can serve for the formation of that glorious image in each individual Christian. We need one another to serve God in Christ as we ought. The new man is you and me, the pastor and the elder, the deacon and the evangelist, the old and the young, the wise and the foolish, the strong and the weak, together in Christ.
In this new man former distinctions have no place. Their foundations have been removed by the death and resurrection of Christ. “There is no place for Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave freeman . . . but Christ is everything (all) and in all.” That’s it. That’s the point Paul had been making. Christ is everything. He is all and in all.
From my commentary on Colossians -- On the Relation between Truth and Life
Truth is meant to shape life. None of Paul’s letters, indeed, none of Scripture is the product of abstract intellectual exercises; it arose out of the real-life situations it addressed. Paul was keenly aware of the fact that truth is the servant of duty, as duty is the incarnation of truth. For that reason, all of his letters include practical instructions, always after a presentation of Gospel truth. Paul now came to the practical application of the principles he had presented.
“If, then, you were co-raised with the Christ.” The “if” here is indicative, not expressive of doubt but of contingency, of consequence, and is to be understood as “since.” Paul spoke of the Christians as having died and risen in Christ. So far as the apostle was concerned, none share in Messiah’s death without sharing in his resurrection, and none who share in his resurrection are free to live in any way that is not consistent with that transforming reality. So he appealed to the Colossians: “Seek things that are above, where the Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.”
April 27, 2015
We live at a time when people know more and more about less and less. Supposed news is often no more than gossip, or irrelevancy geared to waste time on inanities to no moral or practical use. Scan today's newspaper and ask yourself: "of what real value is this bit of information?"
Scan an average FaceBook Wall and ask yourself the same question.
Life is far more valuable, far more serious a matter than the echoing hollowness many of us have cause it to become.
We shall have to give account!
April 19, 2015
Thoughts on Being Christian in Our respective Cultures
(A Paper in the Works)
To a meaningful extent, we are shaped by surrounding realities, including upbringing, education, culture, life experiences and the expectations of our elders and peers. Surely it is clear to us that the primary factor that should shape us must be the will of God as expressed in his word. That being so, there is not an individual on earth who does not need to be challenged and changed.
We need to be changed for a number of reasons. First, because even in the Garden of Eden, prior to his sin, Adam had much to learn, imbibe, internalize and implement of the image of God in him. Human perfection is relative, virile, ever-progressing. In eternity, as we gaze with wonder at the majesty of our God and Saviour, we shall ever learn more of his glory, ever increase in love and adoration. Man was created to aspire and to grow.
As a result, even the best of factors that shaped us are but partial perceptions of the ultimate for which we were created and to which we should aspire. Our education, our culture and our personal backgrounds can, at best, provide us with aspects of truth and glory. They can render us sensitive us to perspectives others might not have. But their shortcomings incline to become blind spots. We need the contribution of others to be what we are intended to be. That is why the full measure of the stature of Christ is attributed to the church as a body rather than to individuals on their own. Adam needed Eve. It is not good for man to be alone. He needs a helper suitable to him -- and the Hebrew indicates the kind of help that complements him, that provides by way of contrast what he was lacking.
Second, sin has impacted each and every one of the factors that shape us from the moment of conception to the day we die. No culture, no experience of life, no social or educational background is exempt. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one (I John 5:19). We are conceived in sin, born with the image of God in us distorted. We are brought up by families and in societies that have likewise been impacted by sin. As a result, some influences are not only partial but wrong, contra-biblical.
Some thoughts from my commentary on Colossians"
Paul had become “a servant” of the church. God made him that servant (“in accordance with the responsibility God has given me for you”). As such, it was his duty “to accomplish the word of God,” to live it out and to proclaim it far and wide, so that the people of God would be gathered out of every tongue, tribe, and nation, united by the Gospel, living for him as a body, and realizing the wonders of his loving righteousness in the course of their shared lives.
The word of God to be accomplished is “the mystery that had been hidden from the beginning of the ages and from generations [past] but has now been shown to his consecrated ones to whom God wanted to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations. [That mystery] is Christ among you, the hope for the glory.” For clarity, let’s abbreviate this long sentence before we consider its particulars. The mystery, once hidden and now revealed, has to do with “the riches of the glory . . . among the nations.”
That little word, among, is key. I greatly hesitate to go against the grain of common scholarly opinion and make no claims to scholarly knowledge, but I believe it probable that the common way this Greek word, "en", is translated in this context is incorrect. Paul did not, at this stage, have individual Christians in mind (he will in a moment) but the church as a whole, Christians as a collective. The “you” of this passage is “you Gentiles,” and the "en" is not Christ dwelling in the heart of each individual, but dwelling in the church among the Gentiles, among whom he was not expected to dwell. That is the mystery for which Paul suffered (remember why he was arrested and under detention). That is what evokes “the hope for the glory.”
If such a tremendous change had become reality, then surely it would be the harbinger and the assurance of something much greater. "En" is translated as I have translated it here, “among”, in Matthew 2:6 (“among the princes”), for example, and in Matthew 3:23; 11:11; Luke 1:1, 25; 2:44; John 7:12; 11:54; Romans 1:2, 5, 6; 2:24; 11:17; Ephesians 1:18; 3:8; 5:3; Philippians 2:15; Colossians 1:6; 3:11; and many other places.
For still further clarity, let’s look for a moment at the parallel passage in Ephesians 3:4–6 (esv), where Paul spoke of “the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
The mystery that Paul served, for which he suffered and that loomed so large in the apostle’s mind, was exactly that: the unity of the church on the grounds of grace as an indication of the sufficiency of Christ’s work and the finality of his accomplishments. God is to be gloried through his grace; a grace that unites Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freemen, men and women into one body; a grace that demands of them to live together and then equips them to that end.
In This Issue:
Israel’s New Government, pg. 1
Armenian Pain, Official Israeli Indifference, pg. 2
Disaster Relief in Nepal, pg. 2
The Church in Israel, pg 2
Tensions on the Borders, pg. 3
Ministry and Family News, pg. 3
Gulf States Concerns over US Policy in the Middle East
(MEMRI -- Middle East Media Research Institute -- Special Dispatch 6047, May 12 2015)
May 14, 2015 is the date set for the summit at Camp David between U.S. President Barack Obama and heads of state of the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, and Oman. A meeting at the White House with President Obama and the conferees is planned for the preceding day, May 13.
The objective of the Camp David summit, as announced several weeks ago, is to reassure the GCC countries about the nuclear agreement slated to be signed with Iran next month, as well as to discuss tighter U.S.-Gulf security cooperation. In advance of the summit, the GCC held several preparatory meetings at various diplomatic levels, including: an April 20 meeting of GCC foreign ministers; a May 4 summit of GCC heads of state which was attended also by French President François Hollande; a May 7 meeting in Riyadh of Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir and his U.S. counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry; and a May 8 meeting in Paris of all the GCC foreign ministers and Kerry.
However, on May 9, Saudi Arabia announced that Saudi King Salman would not be at the Camp David summit as planned, and that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would be participating in his stead. Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir explained that the monarch would not attend because he had to stay home to ensure peace and security in Yemen and to oversee the arrival of humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people.
Later, it was reported that the Bahraini king, the UAE president, and the Sultan of Oman would also not be attending the summit, sending representatives instead. As of this writing, the Emirs of Kuwait and Qatar are the only GCC heads of state who are planning to attend.
The downgrade of the level of representation at the summit appears to constitute a message to the U.S. that Saudi Arabia and the other GCC member countries were not pleased with the preliminary talks with Secretary of State Kerry, and also that they were disappointed at what the summit would achieve. According to a May 2, 2015 New York Times report, the Saudis had even then hinted that they would downgrade their representation if they felt that the summit was not going to produce results that conformed to their expectations.
In fact, Arab press reports that preceded the announcement of downgraded representation pointed to what the GCC countries were demanding from the U.S., as well as to dissatisfaction on their part. At the May 4 summit of GCC heads of state with Hollande, Saudi King Salman called on the international community, especially the P5+1 that is negotiating with Iran, to "set stricter rules that guarantee the region's security and prevent it from plunging into an arms race." The king also stipulated that any final agreement with Iran must include unambiguous security guarantees. Additionally, on May 7, UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba announced that the GCC would demand from the U.S. guarantees in writing that the latter would defend it from Iran. Likewise, on May 9, the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat reported that even at the May 8 meeting with Kerry, the GCC foreign ministers had demanded U.S. guarantees that their countries would have military superiority over Iran.
also reported, on May 9, that the Gulf heads of state, headed by the Saudi monarch, would not settle for aid, military contracts, and defense systems provided by the U.S., but that they were seeking "clear, honest, and practical clarification, by means of absolutely firm, long-term resolutions, that Iran would be prevented from actualizing its expansionist aspirations in the region and from developing nuclear weapons…" Elaph also reported that "the Gulf leaders are headed for confrontation with the American president, and they want answers and explanations about his positions on these burning issues…"
On May 12, three days after the Saudis announced that King Salman would not be attending the summit, it was reported that President Obama and King Salman had spoken by phone about the preparations for the summit, and had discussed the agenda of the meetings that would take place during it. Both the White House, in an announcement, and Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir, at a press conference, emphasized the continuing Saudi-U.S. partnership. According to the White House announcement, Obama and Salman had, in their phone conversation, "reviewed the agenda for the upcoming meetings" and had "agreed on the necessity of working closely, along with other GCC member states, to build a collective capacity to address more effectively the range of threats facing the region and to resolve regional conflicts." The two also discussed "the importance of a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran that verifiably ensures the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program" and "emphasized the strength of the two countries’ partnership, based on their shared interest and commitment to the stability and prosperity of the region, and agreed to continue... close consultations on a wide range of issues." Also, at a Washington press conference, the Saudi foreign minister stressed that King Salman's "absence from the summit is not in any way connected to any disagreement between the two countries," adding, "We have no doubts about the U.S.'s commitment to Saudi and Gulf security. The U.S. will present the Gulf countries with a new level of cooperation that will meet the needs on the ground."
At the same time, the Saudi press published numerous articles, including op-eds and editorials, fiercely attacking the Obama administration's Middle East policy, stating that it had repeatedly disappointed the Arab countries, in its positions on Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, and Iran. The articles accused the Obama administration of reinforcing Iran's power in the region so much so that it was now threatening GCC interests and claimed that it was not the Iranian nuclear bomb but Iran's imperialism in the region and Iran's interference in the affairs of the Arab countries that was the "real bomb threatening [the Arab countries'] security," and called on the U.S. to curb these. These articles focused on the demands that the GCC countries would be presenting to Obama at the summit, including that he change his policy towards Iran and "restore the regional balance," while at the same time he would undertake unprecedented security military cooperation with the GCC. The articles emphasized that "the Gulf countries no longer believe the U.S.'s promises and guarantees," and that they would now demand guarantees in writing. Some of the articles even warned that U.S.-GCC relations were now at a point of a grave, even critical crisis of confidence, and that the Camp David summit was a chance for the U.S. to prevent the collapse of its alliance with the GCC. If this alliance did fall apart, they said, U.S. interests in the region would suffer, and the smoldering regional conflict would erupt into a conflagration.
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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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