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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)
July 12, 2016
It is redundant to say that the State of Israel...
...is in crises; it has been so since its' founding. Indeed, the Jewish people have faced repeated crises every time we turned our backs to the covenant God made with our forefathers. Such will continue to be the case until we forsake our national rebellion, put our trust in the savior he sent, fly the banner of his kingdom and submit to his perfect ways. God is the Lord of our destiny and, so long as we rebel against him, we bear the consequences.
Economic pressures that are the normal course of life in Israel are compounded by security threats looming on our borders (ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas), vicious attacks on our citizens, growing international isolation on the political level contrasted with increased clandestine military cooperation, increased social tensions between Ethiopian and Caucasian Israeli's, between Israeli Arabs and Jews, between the political left and right of our society and a yawning vacuum in leadership. On the other hand, our economy continues to flourish, the recently-achieved agreement with Turkey and Egypt's open relations with us are reasons for encouragement, as is the probable increased stability of our Government due to the broadening of its' parliamentary base.
Prime Minister Netnayahu is under renewed investigation, this time in relation to professed lucrative relations with notorious criminals. Two of the PM's prominent advisors are also under investigation for dishonest dealings, falsifying tax returns and the abuse of authority. Rumblings in Netanyahu's Likud party and initial steps being made toward the formation of a viable political alternative to the Likud and to Netanyahu are being made and contribute to the political unrest.
Efforts to bring down the price of housing have so far not been crowned with success. Nor has the cost of living been reduced. I was recently astounded to learn, for example, that the cost of a single wooded step -- a plank covering a cast concrete step -- is $387 (!). The cost of the cheapest model of the Honda Fit is is just over US$24,000 ($15,890 in the US), and a Kitchen Aid mixer costs US$500 ($269 in the US). On the other hand, the price of Listerine mouth wash has been reduced. A 500 ML bottle now costs "only" $12.65, more than three times its' cost in the US.
No progress has been achieved with the Palestinians and negotiations between the sides have not been resumed. Egypt is seeking to bring the two sides together, while Europe is threatening an imposed solution. The US, including a growing number of US Jews, is increasingly critical of the Israeli Government's declared policies. The spate of attacks on Israeli civilians, recently climaxed with a shooting incident in a Tel-Aviv coffee house and the cold-blooded stabbing of a 13 year-old child asleep in her bed have all naturally impacted the atmosphere of the Israeli public, deepening the sense of angry despair.
The churches continue to grow in size and in number while increasingly engaging the social challenges of our society. Israeli Jewish Christians are becoming more visible to the public in various contexts and in a positive sense. What we desperately need is a biblical yearning for godliness and a solid grounding in the word of God. We need to challenge society by our fear and love of God more than by our kindness, by our spiritually-motivated morality more than by our Zionist credentials. We need to challenge our world by being courageously other-worldly. To those ends we need to be exposed to the kind of preaching that will call us to self-examination in the light of God's holiness, to repentance and to sacrifice in the service of Christ.
Of course, our needs and shortcomings are no different from those of the church elsewhere (small comfort to be found there!). We all need to dare measure ourselves by standards that radically differ from those of the world. True spiritual life is not to be measured numerically, nor by the social standing of our congregants. Its' criteria differ in every way. They are, rather, a heartfelt affection for God, a sincere humility in the fear of God, a love for God's word and for his church, an earnest longing for holiness, these and similar attributes are of the essence of biblical spirituality. It is these that we in Israel must endeavor to cultivate in our personal lives and in our churches.
July 08, 2016
A nation at war with itself
Tragically, the USA has become a nation at war with itself. Internal tensions, fomented and utilized over the years by those who should have labored to unite the nation, are now coming to a head. Dark days loom ahead unless the present course is reversed - and no more effective reversal can be imagined but that created by God's blessing on the preaching and the living out of the Gospel. We must pray!
July 05, 2016
From my commentary on Colossians, To be published 2017 by Founders Press
“[And] in which you conducted yourselves when you lived in these things.” By reminding the Colossian Christians of their past, Paul was urging them not to return to their former ways by focusing on ritual and purportedly spiritual exercises instead of on the realities that serve to make up biblical holiness. Further, he called upon them to exert still greater moral efforts: “But now put away you also all these things: fury, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech from your mouth; don’t lie to one another.”
“Put away” is a conscious, deliberate act, here described as something that the Christians in Colossae were to do rather than wait until it was done by God for them. It involves intended moral action, an exercise of self-discipline that eventually will lead to the breaking of bad habits and the forming of new ones. It entails premeditation, self-examination, and the lack of moral compromise. Our goal is not to weaken the habits of sin but to rid ourselves of them. With that in mind, as Moule put it, we must not allow ourselves to “sin on a moderate scale.”12 Rather, we should work at killing sin every time it raises its ugly head, the very moment it does so.
It is worth reminding ourselves that Paul addressed these warning to Christians. Yes, Christians are susceptible to the worst of sin. They too—we too—need to be reminded that moral exertion in the fear of God is an ongoing duty. We are to put away, set aside, remove from ourselves and from the habits of our lives and to take control of those moments when we are so angry we do not control what we say or do. “Anger,” not all of which will be unjustified, must never be allowed to be the sole determining factor of our actions.
There will be times when it will only be right to be angry. “God . . . feels indignation every day” (Ps. 7:11) as he looks down on mankind’s wickedness. But “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Certainly, anger should not be what characterizes us, or our relations.
Paul exhorted the Colossians to “put away . . . malice.” Regardless of what others do to us, we should never act toward them out of malice. We should not harbor any desire for their ill. The only way to do that is to avoid bitterness and the only way to avoid bitterness is to forgive, heartily, sincerely. This we can do if we realize that the worst of deeds done to us are tools in the hand of God. If he wills, no fire can so much as singe our clothes, no lion can harm us. However unkind people may be, we should turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, concede our cloak, and be slow to anger, quick to forgive, and brave enough to recognize that we can, by the grace of God, derive good out of every evil.
Blasphemy is the next sin the Christians are exhorted to put off. To blaspheme is to desecrate the honor of God by word or by deed, the avoidance of which is the logic behind the prohibition, “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes his name in vain” (Ex. 20: 7). In the Roman era, as in our day, it was common to vow as well as to curse in the name of the gods. Christians are forbidden to do both (“Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King” [Matt. 5:34–35]).
We also blaspheme when we disparage the image of God in man by belittling someone in word or in deed, when we rob him or her of their dignity or of hope, and when we deny them the liberties and duties that are the privileges of mankind. Slavery is a form of blasphemy, as is prostitution, moral manipulation, deceit, scorn and the withholding of the basic necessities of life.
We blaspheme the name of God by lifestyles and actions that run contrary to our claim to love and serve God. It is not possible to honor God without honoring our fellow humans, nor can we truly love God unless we love our neighbor as ourselves. We should be very careful in all things that pertain to God, so as to honor him at all times. We should be very careful of God’s dignity. Loving him inevitably means that we are eager for others to love him too, and that we exert ourselves in ways that honor him rather than attach shame to his name. Israel failed in this respect by the way it conducted itself as a nation (Isa. 48:11; Jer. 34:16; Ezek. 20:9).
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]).
The Church in Israel: Conditions, Challenges and Concerns, pg, 1
Ministry and Family News, pg. 6
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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