The Feast of Tabernacles, one Romanian Church and Baruch Korman
Yesterday, I had an unusual experience, but it was also a positive one, and one with unexpected results …
I am at an age when I do NOT follow big name Bible preachers / teachers, having in the past been let down, feeling disappointed at both the lives and teaching of those, when I had. But I do check out those with something to say that is of interest and, importantly, adds to my understanding. Dr Baruch Korman is one such person (check here for information about the man and his ministry). Many of his talks, typically on books of the Bible, can be found on You Tube (he is involved in a ministry called: Love Israel).
In recent years my interest in the Jewish Feasts mentioned in the Bible have been renewed and the Feast of Tabernacles is one of my favourites. It is as relevant to Gentile believers in Jesus as much as to the Jews given the significance Jesus attached to it and is a feast that features during the millennium. Leviticus 23, Nehemiah 8, Zechariah 14 and John 7 are four Bible passages that are particularly pertinent to my thinking on the subject. I have also been recently re-awakened to importance of the Jewish roots of my own Christian faith and, when checking out what people who are able to talk about these subjects, authoritatively, one name that has recently cropped up was that of Rabbi Baruch Korman, who is now based in Israel and travels all over the world to teach, and I have already checked out a number of his talks, which I have found to be helpful.
So, when two people from my church told me that Baruch Korman would soon be in town (in Barking, a 90 minute drive from where I am) and talking on the Feast of Tabernacles, I jumped at the opportunity to join them to go and listen to him. I knew very little of the set up and wrongly thought he would be coming as a result of an invitation by various messianic groups (i.e. those typically into the Jewish Feasts as opposed to regular “Christian” festivals, such as Christmas and Easter, celebrated by most churches). I was a little reticent, given I feared my views may not be acceptable to some folk in those groups, including my belief that Israel can do wrong.
But then came my first surprise and it was a pleasant one at that. The venue was Barking Baptist Tabernacle (see here for their website) – a church established in 1850 with a legacy including links with the great nineteenth century preacher, C.H.Spurgeon. But it wasn’t that church that laid on the event and invited Rabbi Korman but a congregation of Romanian believers that use the premises (see here for their website (in Romanian) and here for their YouTube channel, that includes Dr Korman’s talks). Having taken an interest in helping new immigrants, typically Eastern Europeans and Africans, as part of my previous community activism, I was intrigued, noting many of these folk were articulate, well educated and often working as professionals. More importantly was the warmth of welcome and hospitality, with an evident love for the Lord and desire to know His Word that led to the invitation.
The turn out was disappointing (I had expected more), with most of those attending being members of that Romanian church, and the fact this was a church of mostly first-generation foreign immigrants that did the inviting of someone who had an important message for the UK church, tells me something about the state of the church in the UK, and it isn’t encouraging. There were four one-hour sessions, with a short Q&A after each session and a refreshing tea break halfway through. I had several positive conversations with people I hitherto had not met. There was simultaneous translation and live broadcasting of the message. The first three sessions were based on John 7 and the final one on Nehemiah 8. While some minor going off on tangents, the approach was a solid verse-by-verse exposition, given added value because of the language and contextual understanding. My verdict (and also my friends) was the talks that were given were excellent and edifying, exceeding expectations.
I will refrain from summarising, what would be a poor summary anyway, what was said, other than sharing one of the key texts, one I have been aware of since my early days as a Christian and want to see worked out. What I liked especially was the humility of the man, his straight talking, and of course the Jewish perspective, who sees his role as one who is to teach his audience and to give glory to God. In a short private exchange after, this view was reinforced when we shared different perspectives, including ones we disagreed. I would have liked to attend today’s session on my favourite Bible character, Jacob, but can now do so online. I confess to going away from the event encouraged, both by the teaching and because I had spent time with those, from a quite different cultural background to me, but who were intent on serving the Lord.