In that day, I will restore David’s fallen sukkah. I will repair it’s broken walls and restore it’s ruins. I will rebuild it as in the days of old.

– Amos 9:11

“He being dead still speaks” – A perspective on the eschatological teaching of Art Katz

The Book of Hebrews describes Abel as a righteous man whose sacrifices were approved of by God (Hebrews 11:4). Though he was murdered by his own brother Cain (who was the first child born on this planet), Abel’s righteous testimony speaks volumes – even after his death.

As the blossoming revival known as the Messianic Jewish movement moves into the 21st century, we look back at various leaders who have passed into the presence of God, having left behind lifetimes of ministry (pastoral and evangelistic) as well as lifetimes of teaching. Stellar lights like Rachmiel Frydland and Jacob Jocz come to mind –  men who blended scholarship, sensitivity to their people, an evangelistic heart, and personal experience of both pre-Holocaust Europe and the horrors of Hitler’s genocidal murder of the Jewish people.

In every generation

In the Passover Haggadah (the recounting of the Exodus story), there is a beloved song (and one of my favorites) called V’hi she’amda (The covenant still stands):

‫וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְלָנוּ שֶׁלֹּא אֶחָד בִּלְבַד עָמַד עָלֵינו לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ אֵלָא שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר עוֹמְדִים עָלֵינו לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנו מִיָּדָם

The covenant still stands that God made with both the Patriarchs and us. For not only one enemy has risen up in history to destroy us, but actually in every generation they arise in their attempt to destroy us. But the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hand.

In every generation the God of Jacob has rescued Israel from destruction. YHVH has continually raised up leaders and deliverers for the Jewish people, and for this we are thankful. The heroes of the Messianic faith are our heroes, and we remember their battles and victories, their challenges and struggles with appreciation.

Of course not every contribution from previous generations of Messianic Jewish leaders has been stellar. Even in the days of the Exodus, the Bible tells us that there was both a Moses and a Korah (Numbers 16). Both were Jewish, but each one had a very different purpose and behavior. If we zoom in even more closely, we would discern differences of righteous response even between Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam. In the same way, in every generation not every utterance by every Messianic Jewish figure is automatically kosher, and not every strong Jewish leader is inerrant in his temperament or his teaching.

Art Katz’s teachings on Israel and the Last Days – ‘fartaytcht un farbessert’

There is a Yiddish story told of a man of letters who translated the entire works of Shakespeare into the Yiddish language. On the frontispiece he wrote the following words “Shakespeare  fartaytcht un farbessert” (Shakespeare translated and improved)!

The recent release of Dalton Thomas Lifsey’s book “The Controversy of Zion and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Maskilim Publishing, 2011) is a reworking of the eschatological teachings of Arthur Katz, a well-known Messianic Jewish figure from the late 20th century.  Lifsey has openly explained on public internet forums “Art Katz has had a very deep and lasting impact on my life;” “Katz’s contribution to the Body concerning the mystery of Israel was a precious gift from the Lord to us;” “Art Katz was a precious man with a very important message;” Art “carried … a profoundly Biblical message about Israel and the Last Days.”

Inasmuch as most readers of Lifsey’s book might not know much about Katz’s teaching, this newsletter presents some of Katz’s background and teaching as an aid in weighing these matters. It is a follow-up to my May 19, 2012 newsletter, “Prophesying the destruction of Zion?” (http://davidstent.com/prophesying-the-destruction-of-zion/).

Katz’s method of biblical interpretation

In the 1970’s cult-like religious groups rose to some measure of public notoriety, especially in America. Some of their benchmarks included an unhealthy belief in the ‘nearly infallible’ pronouncements of a strong or manipulative leader, a tendency to defensive withdrawal from normal social interaction into a closed group which ‘draws the covered wagons into a tight circle,’ and (in Christian forms of this abuse) an insistence on both interpreting portions of the Bible in extreme ways and making an acceptance of that extreme teaching a test of community or spirituality. Some of these three markers were occasionally evident in certain aspects of the teaching ministry of Art Katz. Art was not a cult leader, or was his group a cult. Yet sympathetic vibrations with some of these dynamics were found here and there in his teachings.

  •   Inasmuch as Katz’s teachings continues to influence some in our day, and inasmuch as certain aspects of  Katz’s teachings have the capability of causing damage to the Jewish people, the Jewish state, the Messianic Jewish community and the cause of Messiah Yeshua vis-à-vis the Jewish people worldwide, it is important that these influences be understood and the relevant lessons applied.

In two small sentences of one article (http://artkatzministries.org/category/articles/israel-and-the-church-articles/; Israel In Flight, abbreviated as IIF) Katz acknowledged that his theological perspective is not easily understood from a simple reading of the Bible: “There are no systematic line-upon-line statements to make it easy for us to understand them.  We need, therefore, to be apprehended by the implicit pattern rather than by a methodical, chronological approach.”

Katz is saying quite a lot here, for those who have ears to hear. He is admitting that he did not employ clear, plain, systematic Bible study methods in his study, interpretation and teaching of Scripture regarding Israel. On the contrary, Katz used Scripture selectively to bolster his own peculiar eschatological views regarding the Jewish people’s destiny. His distinctive perspectives of Jewish history were fixated on judgment and punishment of Israel, neglecting to emphasize or teach on God’s continuing grace. love and covenant faithfulness as demonstrated in the present regathering of the Jewish people.

A major focus of his teaching (which will be shown in this article) is that Israel’s return to her homeland in our day is not a gracious move of a loving God, but merely an assembling of a disobedient people in order for them to be judged and nearly totally destroyed. Therefore, Katz would say, all scriptures which describe a positive return of Jews to the Land of Israel at the End of Days cannot possibly be speaking of our day. These positive prophecies can only happen, Katz believed, after Israel is nearly wiped out and all her cities are destroyed. That was Katz’s hermeneutical grid.

The next step in Katz’s methodology was to interpret most biblical passages dealing with judgment on Israel (each one in a different place with its own different context) as referring only to the coming destruction of the Jewish people’s state – even if other biblical interpretations of those passages are the more likely choice!

  • Katz was not considered a scholar, nor was he known for facility in Biblical Hebrew and Greek exegesis. Nevertheless, a dispassionate analysis of his own teachings shows that he exerted intense efforts at making his personal interpretation of one aspect of End-Times eschatology a test of spirituality, insight and obedience to God.

From Manhattan to Minnesota

Art Katz was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn in 1929. He is the author of the testimonial autobiography Ben Israel: Odyssey of a modern Jew (co-authored with Jamie Buckingham). He worked briefly with the American Board of Missions to the Jews in the New York area under Moishe Rosen, was one of the keynote speakers at the World Conference on the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (March 1974), and was the spiritual founder and leader of Ben Israel Ministries (founded in Kansas City, 1974) and Ben Israel Fellowship (founded in 1975 in Laporte, Minnesota) at Dominion Farms. Matt Schwartz, a Messianic Jewish believer, initially became the Ben Israel administrator and Art’s travelling companion, but moved on within a year, joining the leadership of Agape Fellowship in Kansas City.

The initial vision of Katz’s community was challenging: “a rugged discipleship training camp for end-time ministries (particularly to the Jewish people); a year-round convocation center for the preparation of God’s people; a permanent community of committed believers out of which ministries will be nurtured and sent forth and finally, a refuge for entire Jewish families whom we expect to be swept into the Kingdom at a soon-coming time (largely out of Orthodox ranks)” (Ben Israel newsletter, Summer 1975; see Katz: Ben Israel, the Early Years from Flatbush to the Burning Bush By Peter Brock, Mill City Press, 2008, abbreviated as BIEY).

Katz’s publically expressed perspective on Jewish culture

At a conference “The Jews and the Church in the End-Time” in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1970’s (where Katz was the keynote speaker), a group of young people gave a presentation combining Israeli folk dance and Jewish music. Katz’s response was “a scathing criticism from the pulpit, saying that to imitate Jews and to ‘emulate Jewish dance and things Hebraic’ while they were in the ‘Diaspora estrangement from God’ amounted to approval of their ‘apostate condition while being cast out from the land and rejected’“ (BIEY, p. 128).

  • This comment reveals Katz’s attitude to the culture of his own people: he rejected it and saw it as apostate. He refused to accept sociological continuity or communal identification with his own people, in striking opposition to the Apostle Paul’s own teaching, “To the Jewish people I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jewish people” (1 Corinthians 9:20).

At the 1977 Conference on Messianic Judaism and the Holy Spirit in Kansas City, Katz spoke sarcastically to his fellow Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua, “You know what one of the brilliant contributions we Jewish believers can make to the body of Christ? We, whose reputation is so well-established, so known to all for cleverness, for being intellectual. We Jacobs, who have lived by our own strivings and own connivance?”

  • Art often described his Jewish people from a scornful perspective. This is in striking opposition to what the prophet Isaiah commanded, “Speak tenderly to (in Hebrew, over the heart of) Jerusalem” (Isaiah 40:2).

He continued, “I wonder how many of you who squealed with delight at the various aspects of Jewish culture, mentioned or demonstrated in this conference, realize that much if not all is the more recent expression of Jewish culture since the Dispersion, since the Diaspora. It’s ghetto culture, folks! And, it hearkens back to what should be a remembrance of our shame – having been banished from God and banished from the land. This culture which we so much exalt is a testimony to our shame and not to our glory…” “… (Consider) the swagger and esteem by which the Jewish community continues to hold itself…” “Is not our most serious mistake revealed in reference to ‘completed Jews’?” “We don’t have to slap ourselves on the back that we’re Brooklyn Jews who know how to play stickball and love pastrami – it is a statement unto our shame!”

Katz would later write down his own unique and alternative perspective about that meeting, “There were gasps and sobs and convulsions and people literally falling out of their seats with such repentance that broke into their deepest consciousness from the revelation of the Holocaust as judgment!” He added in his comments, “Higher criticism, the ‘God is dead’ myth… contemporary ‘rationalism’… all of these things had their origins in Germany and with Jews…”

  • Katz’s denigration of his own Brooklyn Jewish identity and his stooping to deprecate even Jewish deli food shows how he was not above using anti-Semitic language. In many articles, books and sermons Katz accused his own Jewish people of being responsible both for the Holocaust and for the evil which has come out of Germany. Katz publically disparaged nearly all Jewish cultural expressions, extending the ban to modern Jewish music, dance, food, dress, etc. Ironically, medieval Christian anti-Semitic laws as well as the Nazi Nuremburg law attempted to outlaw the same Jewish lifestyle observances that Katz constantly attacked in his teachings.

Not long after the 1977 Conference in Kansas City, Katz explained, “I took that cassette from Kansas City back home with me to the community in northern Minnesota, carrying it like a palpitating thing, knowing somehow that we had a key to God’s real thrust to the Jews for the End-Times. It wasn’t going to be with cutesy evangelism and wearing Stars of David around our necks and yarmulkes, or imitating and feigning the synagogue culture that was born in judgment and in being cast out of the land. It’s not to be celebrated, let alone imitated or emulated or used to appeal to the Jews. It is to his disgrace and infamy.” As Brock says, “The Katzian oracles for the next three decades would weave in and out from what he’d spoke at Kansas City” (BIEY, p. 145).

  •  Art invalidated the Messianic Jewish movement’s basic undergirding philosophy here, castigating any usage of Jewish culture, behavior or dress as a disgrace and infamy. According to Katz, Jews can no longer continue to dress or act like Jews, or have any distinguishing Jewish markings or attributes about them.

What is astounding here is that, whether in the pulpit or at his writing desk, Katz appropriated spiritual authority to himself as would a Messianic dictator, publically disallowing Jewish forms of behavior. He declared a commonly accepted Jewish lifestyle as a “disgrace, shame and infamy.” Were his teachings to have been carried out, all Jews (and Messianic Jews too!) would need to come to Katz, asking for his imprimatur regarding permitted expressions of “kosher Jewish culture.” Though Jewish people for the most part do not live in a cultural vacuum, it seems that Katz believed he could successfully do so – at least concerning his own attitudes about his own Jewish people.

“A little more than kin, and less than kind” (‘Hamlet’, William Shakespeare; 1.2.65)

Katz was fond of quoting Hamlet to explain his rather harsh behavior “toward the community, church/conference audiences, and even family – ‘One must be cruel in order to be kind;” (BIEY, p. 159).

By 1979 the Ben Israel community dwindled down to four families. It was eventually disbanded in late 1986, and Camp Dominion was sold in 1998.

“The Time of Jacob’s Trouble has commenced”

In 1985 in California Katz released a series of seven messages titled “Holocaust, the Jew and the Gentile in the Last Days” as well as a teaching on martyrdom. In that series, Art says, “The kind of church which can move the Jews at the end of the age to jealousy of such a kind as will provoke them to consider the gospel can be answered in one word: Martyrdom. The church that will move Jews to jealousy is a martyr church” (BIEY, p. 180).

  •  Katz took two aspects of biblical doctrine – provoking the Jewish people to jealousy (Romans 11:11) and the reality of martyrdom (John 13:36; 15:20-21; 16:2-4; Matthew 23:34; Luke 21:12 etc.) – and moved them away from their original contexts. The Apostle Paul taught that the godly lifestyle of Gentile believers could move Jewish non-believers to thirst for that same personal relationship with the God of Israel that these Gentiles had. Katz moved that entire dynamic into a Tribulation context, and focused not on godly Gentile living but on apocalyptic Gentile death through martyrdom.

As a messenger of fast-approaching doom, Katz prophesied, “New York will no longer be habitable for Jews…” In the Philippines Art declared, “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble has commenced” (BIEY, p. 185).

  • The Time of Jacob’s Trouble was fast becoming the main focus of Katz’s teaching, with judgment on Israel and the evangelistic martyrdom of Gentile believers in Yeshua on Israel’s behalf as twin buttresses.

Roots and fruits

Though the experience may be painful, and though some of us would shy away from examining not only a leader’s teachings but also his public persona, it is biblically necessary to understand the theological and spiritual roots at the heart of some of Katz’s teaching. Yeshua explained that great teachers need to look unflinchingly at their own deeds, and that their followers also need to have a discerning eye about such matters: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them (Matthew 23:2-3).

Though Samson was divinely chosen to be a judge in Israel (Judges 13), and though he actually was a divine scourge against the Philistines, his own character flaws led to years of unproductive activity and shameful captivity. Yeshua warns His followers to examine not only the ‘biblicity’ of someone’s prophetic teaching, but also the ‘biblicity’ of that person’s life and relationships. The ‘test of fruit’ is a valid one for prophetic ministry.

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).

  • I am not suggesting that Art Katz was a false prophet. But I am asking believers to consider the above-mentioned examples of Katz’s own publically expressed attitudes, behavior and language in evaluating these influences on the truth and purity of his teachings on Israel and the Last Days.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews has a relevant warning for us all in this regard: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

Preaching the death of Israel

In his teachings now available on-line (http://artkatzministries.org/category/articles/israel-and-the-church-articles/), Katz taught that the nation of Israel will be ‘justifiably destroyed,’ and that what is now the modern state of Israel will basically be wiped out for covenant violations by a righteous God.

“How are we going to respond when we see God destroy this sinful nation, especially when we have an inadequate understanding of what we think God’s nature to be?” (Israel In Flight, and following as IIF).

“Many are opposed to the view that present Israel must come into death” (IIF).

“The ruined cities … in the literal land of Israel … the cities of today: Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, etc, will be made waste.  That means that there is a history or an experience of destruction, devastation and calamity right up to the inauguration of the millennial age.  The last thing in the experience of Israel is devastation and ruined cities…” (IIF).

The Scriptures speak of a future Time of Jacob’s Trouble, and most Messianic Jews sadly accept this future reality, as do all students of the Bible who take God’s word literally. However, even among these leaders there is some diversity of opinion concerning whether or not the Holocaust was part of that time, whether or not the troubles are world-wide or limited to the Land of Israel or basically limited to Israel among the nations, etc.

  •  Katz’s error in his teaching about the Time of Jacob’s Trouble is two-fold – both in his misrepresentation of the multifaceted nature of biblical teaching on this subject, and in his communicating imbalance regarding the character and nature of the God of Israel on the subject of Israel and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

Katz goes beyond the texts which describe a measure of destruction in Israel, force-feeding interpretations of total destruction for Jacob.  Katz moves far beyond the plain text as he dramatically extrapolates and intensifies the extent, the severity and the ‘exact time-line’ of specific physical damage in the Jewish state. He ‘fills in the blanks’ about issues that God Himself has chosen deliberately and intentionally to leave vague. In doing this, Katz has gone beyond Scripture, teaching with harsh dogmatism about subjects that the Bible treads on with great care.

“What we call present Israel is only the preliminary for the desolations that must immediately precede” (IIF).

“Surely what has distinguished Israel’s prophets, namely, a Deuteronomic view of Divine causation (a covenantal blessing/curse perception of Israel’s history) needs to shape our own prophetic understanding of the nation’s present and future afflictions as judgment” (IIF).

  • It is worth noting that Katz’s focus is on the judgments of Deuteronomy 28 as the main axis of Jewish history. His obsession with these curses eclipses nearly any emphasis on the Father’s love or grace in his theologizing.

“Our mistake, and indeed, tragic in its implications, is to interpret that preliminary presence [i.e., present political Israel] as constituting already the redeemed nation rather than the necessary remnant that ‘shall be eaten’ [Isa.6:13, i.e., ‘given, up to destruction’ or as it is rendered in the NIV, ‘again be laid waste’] (Some Comments on Netanyahu’s Election in Israel: A Prelude to Coming Disaster?, and following as SCNEI).

End-time destruction, “in my opinion, does not refer to the cities of antiquity but present Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and all the cities of contemporary Israel… This violence concludes with Israel’s millennial blessings” (SCNEI).

“When God’s servants ‘find pleasure in her stones and feel pity for her dust’ (See Psalm 102:13-14).  I believe the stones and dust are not the ruins of antiquity but the ruins of modern-day Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tiberias, etc… God will not be arbitrary in bringing those judgments; but those judgments will be, as they have always been, in exact proportion to our sins” (SCNEI).

“Israel will be reduced to a place of utter destitution.  We Jews are the epitome of human self-reliance and self-assurance; therefore, whatever comes to us has got to come to us from outside ourselves” (SCNEI).

“There are passages … that foretell a future time of distress for Israel … describ(ing) something more than a minor military defeat, even suggesting a humiliation, whereby those inflicting the defeat want to relish and luxuriate in Israel’s humbling … ‘Your sons have fainted, they lie helpless at the head of every street, like an antelope in a net.  Full of the wrath of the LORD, the rebuke of your God’ (Isaiah 51:18-20)… Every time I read this, in my mind’s eye I imagine the Israeli Defense Force helpless, frustrated, confused and defeated.  Israel’s sons, the strength of Israel, will be caught up in a net like a helpless animal, choked, stupefied, and unable to get out.  If this is future, and God is saying it, then who are we to gainsay it?  If there is a humiliating defeat that is imminent and must come, then what ought we to anticipate as believers, both in Israel and in the nations?”   (“Summary of Israel’s Present Plight and Her Future Glory”, and following as SIPP).

“When one sees increasing Islamic hatred expressed against Israel and against the Jew, … they will not be content with Israel’s defeat; they will want to see her uttermost humiliation.  God will allow that kind of humiliation if it serves His redemptive purposes and glory” (SIPP).

The passages to which Katz refers (like Isaiah 51) may or may not specifically be describing the Last Days. They may be describing any number of calamities in Jewish history – either in Assyria’s day or Babylon’s invasion or something else. On the other hand, there are other clearly Last Days passages (like Isaiah 41:14-16) whose emphases about Israel’s victorious destiny in battle are strongly positive. But these encouraging Scriptures are shunted aside in Katz’s eschatological scenario.

  • Our challenge, as believers who want to accurately handle the word of truth (see 2 Timothy 2:15) is to weigh and meditate on all clearly Last Days passages (both positive and negative) and to attempt to draw out balanced conclusions which blend and do justice to both aspects. Katz’s way was to zoom in on the negative passages while sidestepping the positive ones.

The Holocaust and anti-Semitism as God’s righteous punishment

One of Katz’s main teaching points is chilling – the Jews had it coming to them. The Holocaust was their “just desserts.”

“Jews complain of revisionism, the denial of the historicity of the Holocaust; but few of us have considered that this might well be a chastening judgment upon us for our denial of the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus” (SIPP).

“The failure to rightly interpret the past Holocaust as judgment has robbed us of that knowledge, and needs, therefore, to be repeated again” (IIF).

“What we construe as a global anti-Semitism, may well be the action of God that ‘assembles all the wild animals…to devour [us].’ While this unpalatable thought might be dismissed as irresponsible conjecture… I am suggesting, on the basis of this and other biblical texts, that what we construe as anti-Semitism, and attribute to negative references to the Jews in the New Testament and to other sociological and historical factors, may have their root in our own failed call… The fact is that even truth can be used for incendiary purposes … For all our clever analysis and critique, only prophetic insight and prophetic proclamation offer the prospect of hope” (Anti-Semitism: a little considered root).

“Nazi Germany was the rod of God’s chastisement, but the cause was Jewish sin itself both historically and presently… The Holocaust was judgment in exact proportion to Jewish sin  … The Scriptures admonish us that our sins will assuredly find us out. It found us Jews out in the Holocaust … We need to make known that the Holocaust was not some momentary, historical aberration but the calculated judgment of God. It had been promised in Scripture in Deuteronomy and Leviticus of what would befall us in the Last Days if we would not acknowledge our transgressions and that of our fathers. .. We have experienced two thousand years of accumulated Jewish sin, open and naked … Only those who have the courage to speak to us the truth can save them from the judgment that is to come both in time and eternity” (IIF).

The focus of Katz’s message was now becoming Israel’s responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and Israel’s responsibility for a future Holocaust. The language Katz used in describing his pet hypotheses is coldly anti-Jewish.  There is a lack of pastoral wisdom and a counselor’s heart in his above-quoted words . Though Katz saw himself as a prophet, there were no warm tears (like those Jeremiah cried) in Katz’s above-quoted rebukes, no agonies (like the ones Amos felt) in Art’s above-quoted condemning words.

Among Jewish people there is an understood term – the “self-hating Jew.” These above-quoted teachings from Katz certainly fit into that category, and have the potential to match the historical records of some Jewish converts to Christianity who caused great damage to the Jewish people (see Nicholas Donin, Abner of Burgos, Solomon Levi of Burgos/Paul de Santa Maria, Joshua Ben Hazan/dei Cantori, Joseph Pfefferkorn, etc.). Personal affection for Katz should not blind the reader to the potentially damaging effects of his above-quoted statements.

Squelching intercession for Israel

Katz challenged believers not to pray that Israel’s enemies (like those described in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 36) might be stymied or removed. He declared that these enemies are God’s means to destroy the Jewish homeland, God’s way of laying waste to the Jewish people. He expressed his hope that the ‘deceived’ charismatics who believe that God is restoring Israel to her homeland would also find their hopes dashed.

“To pray for the ‘elimination’ of that which now vexes and threatens Israel, however humanly it is to be desired, is to find us perhaps praying against the very instrumentalities raised up by God to obtain that very death of Zionist and charismatic hopes by which alone the prophetic and enduring glory is birthed” (IIF).

Disagreeing with Prophet Art is disagreeing with God

Katz exhibited classic abusive behavior in his deriding of those who disagreed with his interpretation of Scripture. As the following quotes show, he ‘circled the wagon trains,’ accusing those not in agreement with him of being spiritually blind and evil, on the brink of apostasy, heretical, and disobedient to God and His prophet.

“The greatest obstruction to our being a mouthpiece for God is, ironically, our own unwillingness to relinquish our present sentimental attachment to Israel.  Sentiment is that soulish element in our natural inner life.  It is in the carnal realm, disguising itself as love, and is revealed by the way it condescends to the Jewish people and confirms them in their own thinking.  The love of God chastens, is unsparing, and will not withhold judgment” (SIPP).

“Such a view is cross-avoiding … A Church that shrinks from such an apocalyptic view makes itself a candidate for apostasy … (Katz’s message is) God’s provision to wake the Church from its own escapist sleep and unpreparedness” (SCNE).

“To see present Israel romantically as anything other than a ‘Jacob’ is simply not to see. Such a projection is more the statement of our own unrealistic spiritual condition” (SCNE).

When believers see Israel’s regathering as a positive work of God, that (according to Art) “is a statement of a condition that perhaps borders upon willful deception (and if in that, what then in anything?) (SCNE).

Referring to believers who delight in God’s restoration of Israel to their Promised Homeland, Katz described these people as “those whose celebration of the nation and her people is extravagant to the point of near idolatry …” (“The necessary death and resurrection of Israel”, and following as NDRI).

And again, “How assuredly is a prophetic mouth disqualified when it speaks a false word, however well-meaning!” (NDRI).

“The reason many are opposed to the view that present Israel must come into death in order to be raised up, is because it is a reflection of our own unwillingness to see” (IIF).

One of Katz’s long-term friends, Reggie Kelly, has had an influence on Dalton Lifsey which is markedly acknowledged in Lifsey’s book. On Kelly’s own website (http://the.mysteryofisrael.org/category/israel-and-the-church/) Reggie states, “Many of the key leaders in the Land today subscribe to the ancient heresy of Israel’s ‘inviolability.’…  There is much more to this issue than meets the eye, but it is an end-time deception of the first magnitude that has ironically infected the messianic leaders in the Land more than anywhere else, except parts of Europe and Russia where these leaders exercise their greatest influence” (“Israel’s Inviolability – Truth or Myth?”).

Some of Katz’s teaching and influence (in this case his teachings on Israel and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble) still speak through his disciples, even though Art himself has moved off the scene.

A word of exhortation

In light of the above, an exhortation is due.

According the prophetic challenge of Ezekiel 18, the sins of the fathers are only visited on the children when the children insist on walking in their fathers’ sins. If they turn from the errors of a previous generation (even a previous Messianic Jewish leader of the previous generation), they will not share in the “punishment for the father’s iniquity” (Ezekiel 18:14, 17, 20, 32).

  • Though Art Katz was a gifted and anointed speaker, and though in other areas of his ministry he had a winsome personality and penetrating perspective, in the areas mentioned in this newsletter he departed from the consensus of the larger Messianic Jewish community. Though that it itself is not a mark of invalidation, in the case at hand it shows that the dangers and imbalances in Katz’s teachings on Israel were quickly recognized by a broad majority of Messianic Jewish leaders – even if they disagreed with themselves on many other issues. 
  • Katz’s public on-the-record pronouncements disparaged the blossoming and Spirit-breathed sensitivity developing among Gentile believers regarding the budding shoots of revival among Jewish people worldwide and in Israel.
  • Katz often brought a public and on-the-record condemnation of Messianic Jewish leaders, and occasionally functioned as an accusatory mouthpiece – condemning Jewish culture and the Jewish people, and  prophesying Zion’s destruction in terms should probably be defined as anti-Semitic, and not faithful to the whole and balanced counsel of God regarding Israel as set forth in the Scriptures.

There is a new challenge in this generation to forsake the sins described in this article, and to no longer walk in these errors from a previous generation. Caveat lector. Caveat emptor.

How can we pray?

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to sensitize the hearts of believers across the globe about His strongly burning and continuing tender passion for the Jewish people
  • Pray for believers to be able to distinguish between the hand of Satan and the hand of God in Jewish history
  • Pray for those who are called to intercede for Israel – to clearly recognize and refuse entrance to a root of bitterness, one which unfortunately characterized much of Art Katz’s teaching on Israel in the Last Days.
  • Pray for believers who love Israel – to pray ardently for her protection, her preservation and her entering into full repentance and faith in Messiah Yeshua.

Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

Donations can be sent to:

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BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA

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A postscript regarding the eschatological teaching of Art Katz

I would like to add a brief postscript regarding the June 21 newsletter dealing with the background and teachings of Art Katz.

Katz was a man with many facets to his personality. Someone who knew him well once said that he was a complex and larger character.

This newsletter deals with only one area of Katz’s life and ministry – his teachings and activities concerning Israel. Quotations from Katz’s articles, letters and sermons are presented in some detail in my newsletter, most of them quoted from the website dedicated to spreading his teachings.

Some of those who knew Art personally have communicated to me that there are other whole chapters of his life and heart that were quite different from the on-the-record quotations from his sermons, writings and public declarations. I am glad for any and all positive testimony about Art, and I very much want for readers to understand that Katz was not a one-dimensional figure, and that in other areas of ministry his contribution and stature were different and positive.

Art was not a cult leader. There certainly were occasional aspects of his behavior and teaching, which involved similar dynamics to those often described in sociological analyses of cult-like leaders and communities. But tendencies in that direction are not the same as being either a cult leader or being a cult community.

Katz’s teaching on Israel and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble – that the state and its cities would be destroyed, and that the Jewish people’s return to the land in our day is a not a positive fulfillment of biblical prophecy but only a regathering for violent judgment – these teachings are potentially damaging on many levels, and have the potential of chilling intercessory compassion, of inadvertently fostering anti-Semitism, and of separating the hearts of believers from an active role and interaction in the restoration of Zion in our day.

Our role as watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem is to call out when potential dangers to the Jewish people approach. Please be in prayer about the challenges raised in the June 21 and May 19 newsletters – for the benefit of the Jewish people, the state of Israel, all those who carry an intercessory burden for Jerusalem, and for the rest of the body of Messiah.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

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