You Don’t Have To be Jewish To Love Israel

By Brian J. Hennessy 

 

             Ever since the Jewish State of Israel was resurrected from the dustbin of history in 1948 to take its place on the world stage again, Christians have been sharply divided over its spiritual significance. By my reckoning, we fall into roughly four groups.

            One group (in which I include myself) has been awakened to a supernatural compassion and identification with the Jewish nation, as well as for the rest of her people worldwide. We see in this 20th century development a clear indication that God’s glorious unfulfilled promises concerning historic Israel are now coming to pass. And that we non-Jewish believers are included in all those promises.

            Another group of Christians also sees great prophetic significance in the birth of Israel. But they are content to view it all at arm’s length, seeing it as simply a harbinger of blessings for the Church. They hold to a theology of natural and spiritual Israel, which separates Jews and Christians into separate peoples with different promises and rewards from God. For the Jews it is an earthly reward (the land of Israel). For the Church it is a spiritual reward (heaven, the rapture, etc). Some make room for a coming together of the two peoples in the millennium Kingdom, however.

             Still a third group sees no significance whatsoever in the birth of the nation, and rail against Christians who gush over the whole matter. Their view stems mostly from a centuries-old theology called replacement theology, which teaches that Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s only people, and that any Jewish nation of Israel - alive or dead - is now irrelevant to the Kingdom of God. It is the teaching, I believe, that is most responsible for anti-Semitism in the Western world today.

            And finally, many (most?) Christians are simply so confused by the whole issue they’ve left it to the theologians to figure out.

            However, it is my belief that soon no one will be able to ignore the spiritual significance of Israel. Or the special relationship that exists between the Church and the Jewish people. Circumstances will conspire so that all Christians will be forced to become either hot or cold on the issue. Lukewarm will not be an option. And I believe that how we decide will ultimately determine whether we move forward into the fullness of our salvation experience at this time or not. A fullness that will be marked by an ingathering of all the members of the Body of Messiah, Jew and non-Jew, into a glorious Holy of Holies experience (the spiritual fulfillment of the  Feast of Tabernacles) to become ‘One New Man’ in Jesus. Or else find ourselves being left out in the “outer darkness” (the outer court), gnashing our teeth over what we could have had, but missed because of unbelief. We see the type of this scenario in the bitter experience of Israel after they refused to enter the Promised Land under Moses and had to return to the wilderness for another 40 years. But this time, the unbelievers won’t hold back the believers. (I base that insight on Scriptures like Hebrews 3:12-4:11; Isaiah 11:11,12 and 26:18-21; Matthew 13:41-43 and 25:10-14, 28-40 and Ephesians 2:11-22.) 

With that in mind, I would like to offer you the perspective on Israel that God birthed into my spirit around 1978. A perspective that continues to strengthen and grow with each passing year.

 

God Caused the Jews to Reject Jesus

           To begin we must understand the sovereign plan of God regarding the Jewish people in the light of the New Covenant.

            This perspective is found primarily in Romans eleven. Here we learn, as incredible as it may sound, that God deliberately hardened the hearts of His people so that they would reject Jesus as their Messiah. “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear to this very day.” (v.8) This judgment of spiritual stupor had been imposed upon them in Isaiah’s day (Isa. 6:9-13). Not only was it still in effect at the time of the first century (see also Matt 13:14,15 and Acts 28:25-28), it’s still in effect today. Only a remnant in the first century were given the grace needed to believe in Him and to form the Church. The rest became an active opponent of the message that Jesus was the Christ (or Messiah).

            Well, why would God cause His people to reject Him? Traditionally we have looked at the Jews rejection of Jesus as God’s way of bringing about the crucifixion. (Acts 4:27,28 tells us the Gentiles were equally responsible for His death, yet God was behind it all.) But another major reason was so that the good news about Him and the coming Kingdom of God could be made available to the Gentiles. Although Israel had been instructed to become a light to the nations (Gentiles) through the witness of their heartfelt practice of the Law, predictably they had failed miserably. Instead of pointing the nations to God, they allowed the nations to corrupt them until their light had all but been extinguished. Indeed, ten of the twelve tribes were completely divorced by God and dispersed among the Gentiles. God labeled them, Lo-Ammi, “not My people.”

            Later, God also dealt with the remaining two tribes, who had come to be called “Jews” (from Judah), and sentenced them to spiritual blindness until the time when He would physically and spiritually resurrect the whole nation again. (Hos. 1:10,11) In the meantime He would take another approach to revealing the truth about Himself and His coming Kingdom to the Gentiles. He would use the Jews very rejection of Him as the means of propulsion. So, as Romans 11: 27 says, it was necessary therefore for them to become “enemies of the gospel...for our sake.” He loved us so much that He actually caused His covenant people to fight against the gospel so that it would be driven out into the nations where we could enter into all the benefits of His marvelous salvation. “For by their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” (v.11)

Knowing that, we can better understand why the Jews have been so obstinate when it came to the message about Jesus. That was the role God wanted them to play. But down through the centuries many, in the name of Christ, have caused them to turn away even more. Some have tried to bring them to “Christ” through forced conversions. Others have vilified them as "Christ-killers" and persecuted them unmercifully. Hitler and the Nazis were even able to use the writings of several Christian leaders, notably Martin Luther, to justify their murderous undertakings. At the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Julius Streichter, defended himself by arguing that he never said anything that Martin Luther had not said.  In view of this, is it any wonder that Jews do not embrace those who come in the name of Christ? This happened in spite of Paul’s dire warning to Gentile believers not to be arrogant towards the natural branches in their present state, “but to fear.” For we are only in this tree by the mercy of God. “And if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” (Rom. 11:18-21)

            In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tried to impress upon us the magnitude of the mercy shown us so we could fully appreciate our inclusion into what was once a purely Jewish domain. He wrote, “Therefore remember, that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh... were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah.” (Eph. 2:11-13).

            But although God may have caused His people to reject His Son so that we could get saved, it did not mean he stopped loving them. Or stopped considering them as His chosen people. Or that their present state of unbelief would be permanent. He had just used their sin to accomplish a greater purpose, the same way He used the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers to get Joseph thrown into Egypt so God could bless His people later with a mighty deliverance. He was just working all things together for good according to His purpose. And that purpose was to arrange it so no one could ever boast before God. By the Jew’s disobedience He was able to show mercy to us. And because he showed mercy to us he is now able to show mercy to them. That way all would enter the Kingdom by His mercy alone. “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on all.” (Rom. 11:32) But much time and patience were required before things would turn around for the Jew.

Paul tells us that the turning point would not occur until all the Gentiles who have been chosen to become part of Israel are found and grafted in. He informs us “that a partial hardening has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved.” That is, a time would come when God would be finished taking a people for His name from among the Gentiles and then He would graft in again the natural branches. And then all, Jewish and non-Jewish believer, will come together as one holy nation, the Israel of God.

Jesus gave us further insight, telling us what would actually trigger the coming Jewish awakening. Weeping over Jerusalem, He prophesied that they would not see Him again until they said, “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matt 23:39) I believe that when the Jews, individually and as a nation, start to see the Body of true followers of Jesus as those “who come in the name of the Lord,” scales will begin to fall from their eyes. Then they will see their Messiah. That of course means we had better start acting like the loving followers of Jesus we’re supposed to be. Only by loving the Jew unconditionally will they ever see Jesus in us. This was also foreshadowed in the story of Joseph when his love for his brothers finally became so strong he could not control his tears, and the sons of Jacob saw him for who he was. Not a Gentile, but their very own brother.

 

So God Never Rejected the Jews as His People?

            Never.

            Their situation following the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 AD is just like when they were exiled to Babylon 600 years earlier. Although unbelief and idolatry had caused the Jews to be thrown out of the land and sent into exile to Babylon, God never rejected them or left them for a minute. As Isaiah proclaimed, “But you Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend...I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you...for I am your God.” (Isa. 41:8-10). Just as He brought them back again after seventy years of Babylonian exile according to promise, so He has brought them back once again from their Roman exile in our time. Their eyes may not be open yet to see Jesus as their Messiah, but with the outbreak of the Messianic Jewish Movement after the Six-Day war in 1967, heavenly eye-salve is now being applied. 

            But if we need even more proof that God never rejected the Jews from being His people, we have only to look again at Paul’s words in Romans 11: “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!’ (v. 1) “I say then, they did not stumble as to fall, did they? May it never be.” (v. 11) Could it be any clearer?  And also, after stating that “from the standpoint of the Gospel they are enemies for your sake,” Paul adds, “but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved (present tense) for the sake of their Fathers; for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11: 28,29)

            Now one verse that is often quoted as proof that God has rejected the Jews is verse 15. In the NAS it reads, “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead.” But this seeming contra-diction is quickly cleared up when we realize who, or what, is being rejected. Clearly it is not the Jew - but the gospel! In other words, because of the awful, centuries-old teaching of replacement theology, many Christians (and translators like the King James and Living Bible) have automatically read into this sentence a meaning that is not there. They read it as saying, “For if their rejection (by God) be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance (by God) be but life from the dead.” But it should be read, “For if their rejection (of the gospel) be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance (of the gospel) be but life from the dead.”

            But is this understanding I am suggesting the right one? NOTHING ELSE MAKES SENSE IN LIGHT OF THE WHOLE ARGUMENT PAUL PUTS FORTH IN THIS CHAPTER AND ELSEWHERE. And even if you wish to read into that verse a rejection by God, the verse still ends with the promise of their ultimate return to God. So it still wouldn’t be a permanent rejection. But as I say, in light of the first few verses I quoted, it is quite clear Paul is saying God never rejected them at all. They rejected Him! It’s true that the First Century generation paid a heavy price for their unbelief, but the Jews as a whole remain His people. What replacement theology ignores is that although some branches were cut off, a remnant was saved, preserving continuity. “If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump” (Rom.11:16)

            I should point out also that the promise of v. 15 clearly states their acceptance of the gospel will result in greater blessing for the world than their rejection – which resulted in the gospel coming to the Gentiles. Paul’s brevity is agonizing, but he says their acceptance will be so life changing it will result in “life from the dead.” I believe he is referencing the events of national resurrection prophesied in Ezekiel 37, which will usher in the Messianic Age.

 

Does God Have Two Israel’s Now?          

            Not in the sense most Christians understand it when they describe the Church as “spiritual Israel” and the Jews as “physical Israel.” Weren’t Moses and David and Peter and Paul all part of a physical Israel – and also spiritual Israel? And aren’t we born-again Gentiles, who are now included in the Israel of God as Abraham’s offspring, included as physical human beings also? Those labels only continue to divide us. Yet, in another sense, there are two Israel’s. Because there has always been a chosen remnant within the people as a whole. Isaac was chosen, Ishmael was not. Jacob was chosen, Esau was not. “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” (Rom. 9:6) Likewise, we could say, “They are not all the Church who go to Church.” Only God knows who among His people are His chosen ones. Because He is the One who does the choosing. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

But generally we can say there is only one Israel - one single group of chosen, predestined people. Some are Jews and some are non-Jews. All are simply at different levels of faith experience. Some of course are not even alive anymore in the flesh, but alive only in the spirit world. And some, like the Jews, are alive in the flesh but not yet in the spirit. But all of us, whoever and wherever we are now, are being brought along by the Holy Spirit “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah.” (Eph. 4:13)

            The Church of Jesus Christ represents the continuation of God’s presence in Israel. We are like the Tribe of Levi chosen to minister to God in His tabernacle, whose tabernacle we are. We didn’t displace the Jewish people in their identity as Israel then, but we were simply grafted in among them as priests (an anointing they will receive some day, also, so that we will truly become a “kingdom of priests”). When we non-Jewish followers of Jesus were told we were now the only ones in Covenant with God, we were fed bad theology. The Jews, although in a state of suspended unbelief regarding Jesus as Messiah, remain part of Israel under the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT. The New Covenant only replaced the Old or Mosaic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant, which preceded and supercedes the one God formed later with Moses at Mt. Sinai, is still in effect. (Gal. 3:17) Based on the “promise” of God, it assures the Jews and all the chosen descendants of Abraham of God’s eternal love and commitment to their ultimate success.

            Which raises the age-old question, “exactly who are these people called “the Jews?”

 

The Jews are a supernatural people.

            Of all the wonders of this present world, none is more full of wonder than “the Jews.” Scholars, Christian theologians and rabbis have tried for centuries to define them, but with little success.

For example, if you say that a Jew is one who practices Judaism, than what about Jews who are Buddhists, atheists or believe in Jesus? Aren’t they still Jews? Of course they are. If you say a Jew is a particular race, how do you explain that they are found in every racial group in the world and look no different from any of the peoples they live among. Notably, the Ethiopian Jews called falashas, who are one the blackest tribes in Africa. If you say they are an ethnic group, Semites, that is true. But that doesn’t distinguish them from the Arabs or other groups in the Middle East. “Semite” certainly doesn’t begin to touch that indescribable something that makes a Jew a Jew. And until 1948, you couldn’t even say a Jew was someone who came form a particular country. Israel didn’t exist! And even now, fifty years later, the Arabs are claiming the land belongs to them.

No, the Jew defies being put in a box or defined according to any of the natural categories of this world. Because that’s the way God wanted it. As the descendants of the House of Judah, they are a unique people created by God and set apart to be a living testimony to His existence. Which goes a long way towards explaining why they are so persecuted. He told them, “You are my witnesses…and “a light to the nations.” (Isa. 43:10;49:6) Their very existence and visibility heralds the promise that God will ultimately prevail, and a new order in which righteousness dwells will one day appear on earth. The only way to describe the Jews is to say they are a supernatural people!.          

The Jew was supernaturally conceived when God quickened a 100 year old impotent man so he could impregnate a barren, 90 year-old woman. Later that “child of promise” grew up into a large family that became a nation, which God then supernaturally protected and delivered and preserved for nearly four millennia - right up to this very day. As Jeremiah 31:35,36 states, “This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD Almighty is his name: Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "WILL THE DESCENDANTS OF ISRAEL EVER CEASE TO BE A NATION BEFORE ME."

So even though the Jews for the most part may be spiritually blind to Messiah, they are still a spiritual people. (Which is what trips up most Christians.) The only other people group in the world with a similar status is the Body of Christ. Like them, we too can claim we are the “spiritual people of God” – and therein lies the rub. Each group, for different reasons, disparages the other group and sees itself as the only people God cares about. We are like two brothers both contending for the role of being our Father’s favorite, without realizing Father can and does love us both equally. It is the rivalry I believe Jesus was alluding to in his parable of the prodigal son (the “born-again” Christian) and his stay-at-home, law-abiding  brother (the Jew) who became jealous.

The solution to this age-old problem is in seeing that both camps represent the two halves of Israel. This requires that we understand that Israel was always a nation historically divided into two rival camps.  Although the rivalry was below the surface for many years, it broke out into the open following King Solomon’s death. As the story is told in 1Kings 11 and 12, Israel suffered a civil war and was split into two rival kingdoms. The northern kingdom, with ten of the tribes, was called the Kingdom of Israel and known as “Ephraim.” The southern kingdom, comprised of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah (and many Levites), was called the Kingdom of Judah. 

By and by, the northern kingdom, because of it chronic idolatry, was divorced and scattered by God among the Gentiles (with an assist from the Assyrians) and disappeared. The southern Kingdom, after a brief stay in Babylon returned to the land of Israel in time to give birth to the Messiah. Then they too experienced exile (but not divorce like its sister kingdom), as Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and scattered the Jews to the four winds, where they have remained until this century. And even though all the prophets declared that the descendants of both Kingdoms would be found, forgiven and reunited into a glorious Kingdom ruled over by a descendant of David (Messiah), historically this never materialized.   

            I believe these two brothers, Judah and Ephraim, are represented today by the Jews and the non-Jewish believers in Messiah (the majority of those in the Church). What’s more, I believe we are not just stand-in representatives but the actual physical, flesh-and-blood descendants of the twelve tribes. The Jews certainly are. And by faith I believe we are too. When you read the promise of the New Covenant, Gentiles aren’t even mentioned as being included. It was to be made only –“with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah.” (Heb. 8:8) That’s why I believe Jesus, speaking to His Jewish disciples (who were descended from the House of Judah), declared, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold (meaning those from the lost House of Israel). I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Jesus was saying I am the promised Son of David who will bring the two Houses of Israel together. It can only happen -  in Him!

Although we may be in different places spiritually and culturally right now, nevertheless the Church and the Jewish community each has something the other part desperately needs. It seems God has left us each incomplete without the other to bring us together. We obviously have the knowledge of Jesus as Messiah, which they still need in order to get into the Kingdom of God. We also have the numbers. But they have the title deed to the land of Israel and the identification that they are the chosen line of Abraham. Right now we are Abraham’s offspring only through faith in the Word of God declaring it to be so. “If you belong to Messiah you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:29)

Therefore we need the public manifestation that we are Israel, while they need the personal, cleansing, empowering manifestation of His Presence within them. One of these days God will bring us together in a most powerful way.

 

The Church’s Identity Crisis

Besides the Church’s historic prejudice towards the Jews, there is another big reason so many Christians have such difficulty in caring very much about them or their re-gathering to their homeland. It is because we have lost the big picture. We don’t know who we are, where we came from or where we are going. In the early centuries, Gentile church leaders made a concerted effort to distance Christianity from its Jewish beginnings. (Just as King Jeroboam did with the ten tribes of the northern kingdom to keep them under his control, which is a prophetic picture of what would happen to the Body of Christ centuries later. See I Kings 12:26-33). This “ethic cleansing” was so effective that many Christians are still shocked to learn that Jesus, the first Church and the writers of the New Testament were all Jewish. Cut off from our roots, we were left orphaned on the cathedral steps of Mother Church to be raised as “Christians,” never being taught about our true Israelite heritage or inheritance. But like so many Jewish children who were placed with Gentile families during the Holocaust and raised as Lutherans and Catholics and Episcopalians, but who later discovered their lost heritage (like Madeleine Albright), so we too are finally beginning to rediscover our “Jewish roots.”

Our complete lack of awareness over the centuries that we are truly part of the continuation of Israel, and not just a spiritual entity, has robbed us of our family relationship to the Jews. And also from realizing we have a homeland! Scripture calls us a “holy nation,” yet except for our misguided attempts to set up a Christian state in our own countries from time to time, we make no historic claim to any territory or national identity on this earth (the Vatican not withstanding). For the most part we have been content to focus upon our heavenly reward, treating only our denominational Church buildings as our “home turf” while on earth.  After all, didn’t Jesus tell us, “My Kingdom is not of this world?” And that “we are in the world, but not of it?” But He was not referring to the earth, but the corrupt world system, which was passing away. Indeed the whole earth was promised to Abraham and his descendants (Rom. 4:13), with a unique claim on the land of Canaan.

Our false sense of identity began to develop severe cracks in 1948 with the rebirth of the Jewish State. And then, after Israel trounced five invading Arab armies in the Six-Day War and retook Jerusalem, the cracks became a full-blown neurosis. Because even if you had only one spiritual eye open, you couldn’t deny that God was again fighting for the Jews. That meant, for the first time in centuries, Christianity had to face the fact that we were not the only ones with whom God had attached His Covenant Name. Christians quickly began to take sides. At the very center of the controversy, which is in reality a spiritual war of the first magnitude, is the land of Israel itself.

Until this century, the Jews were basically a non-entity as far as most Christians were concerned. They were looked upon as just a downtrodden, nomadic people moving from nation to nation in a seemingly endless state of divine displeasure. All “fiddlers on the roof.” Centuries of replacement teaching had convinced us they had been exiled from their homeland for “killing Christ” and shorn of their former Covenant position. As a result they were easy pickings for whatever over-zealous "Christian" government or self-righteous bigot wanted to beat up on them. And there were plenty of Popes and bishops and kings and despots who encouraged just that in every century. Then God mercifully and miraculously reopened the doors for a Jewish homeland again following their most crushing persecution of all – the Holocaust. And centuries of painful exile came to an official close. That’s when the “fun” started. 


First the Physical, Then the Spiritual

            Many Christians, who sense real prophetic significance in the restoration of the Jews to Israel, have been perplexed by the obvious lack of true spirituality in the people there. Many of the early “Zionists” did return giving thanks to God with the ritual words, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” spoken at countless Passovers, ringing in their ears. But the majority, especially the leadership, was mostly secular Jews, many even having a strong bent towards Marxism. And that secular view, in spite of a large Orthodox population, is still very dominant today.

            Many Christians ask, “If God was really in the formation of this nation, wouldn’t the people be more spiritual? Be more repentant?” As a result, some have concluded the whole thing is still too “Jewish” to be worthy of their support or spiritual interest. And many have even fallen prey to Arab and Islamic claims to ownership of the land, ignoring the clear statement of Scripture that God had promised it to Isaac’s descendants, not Ishmael’s.

                But when Christians begin to judge the Jews in this way they forget a principle revealed in 1 Corinthians 15:45: “The spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.” That principle didn’t cease after Jesus introduced the New Covenant. Nor is it limited only to the future transformation of these mortal bodies into our new spiritual bodies. No, it applies in many ways to things “today” also. Each of us, for example, first had to be born in our Adamic bodies, before we could be born-again of the Spirit. The same with the Jews, who are still waiting to receive their promised spiritual inheritance. (Replacement theology proponents misapply this principle, saying, “See? Physical Israel was first, then came spiritual Israel, the Church, to replace them.” As if the Church was made up of disembodied spirits. And the Israel of Abraham, Moses, David and Elijah wasn’t a spiritual nation.)

            So God in His love and mercy is now meeting the Jews where they are (as He did us) to prepare them for meeting their Messiah and the glories that will follow. And He’s doing it just the way He said He would do it through the prophet Ezekiel. He said He would first physically restore them to the land of Israel. That is their place of blessing. Then He would address the spiritual condition of their hearts. “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. THEN I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. Moreover I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove THE HEART OF STONE from your flesh, and give you heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:24- 26 NAS) That is the Old Testament way of saying what Jesus described as being “born again.” And indeed, since they have returned to the land, we have seen a powerful outpouring of God’s grace upon them resulting in over 200,000 Jews worldwide who now believe Jesus is the Messiah. And their numbers are growing. 

            Ezekiel also tells us (vs. 21-23) how God feels about His people wandering among the nations, seemingly forsaken by their God. It is more than just an embarrassment to Him - it as a profanation of His holy name! So He declares that for His name’s sake alone He will restore them from exile. Which immediately removes their efforts or righteousness from the equation. What we are seeing in their return then is a sovereign work of God, not dependent on them having a lovely disposition or weeping in repentance. That will surely come later, as Zechariah prophesies (12:10). But first things first.

            In the meantime, we non-Jewish believers need to wake up and get with God’s program fast. We all have to be ready for the quantum leap I believe the Church will soon be asked to take concerning Israel and the Jewish people. For those who are not ready, the result I fear will be as traumatic as the first coming of Messiah was to unbelieving Israel in the First Century. Remember that He came to those who had the Scriptures and were waiting for Him, yet “His own received Him not." I already discussed why they rejected Him, but look at HOW they stumbled. They missed Him because they couldn't see past the physical. The corrupt religious leadership of Israel had convinced most of the nation that He was an ordinary man speaking out of a demon-inspired, carnal intellect. They didn't believe that God could come in the flesh.

Likewise, many Christians can't get past the thought today that God could have anything to do with carnal, physical Israel again. We can be SO focused on spiritual things that we miss what is going on right under our noses. The people in Noah’s day missed the boat God was preparing for His people. And many Christians are in danger of rejecting the ark of safety I believe He is preparing, via the physical Jews and Israel. As Jesus declared to the Samaritan woman, "salvation is from the Jews." (John 4:22) It still is. Zechariah writes, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, in those days ten men from the nations of every language will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zech. 8:23)  


“Awake, O Israel!”

  What I so desperately want each non-Jewish reader to see and understand is that this development in Israel impacts us as directly as it does the Jews. It’s important for us to understand what God is doing there so we don’t find ourselves on the wrong side and battling God. When Israel returned after the Babylonian exile under Ezra and Nehemiah, the forces of darkness were there to oppose them. Satan knows the value of the land as it pertains to God’s plan for bringing in the Kingdom. And he is opposing that plan now even more fiercely because he knows his time is short. Arrayed against Israel are all the Arab nations, the PLO, the other Islamic nations, most of Europe, the UN, the US State Department and White House, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and most of the world press. (And some would add the present Israeli government of Ehud Barak as well.) The only real friends the Jews have right now are those praying Christians who “understand the times.”

 From the start, there has been a concerted effort to de-legitimize the State of Israel by suggesting the Jews came by that land unethically and immorally. Israel is continually accused of dispossessing the Palestinian Arabs who lived there peacefully for centuries and cruelly oppressing them like “slumlords.” All this is completely untrue (which I can’t go into here for reasons of space), but this argument carries a lot of weight with Christians who are ignorant of the facts and true situation over there. Or are gripped by an anti-Jewish bias. Or lack the necessary spiritual insight revealed in Scripture on the subject. Does that mean the Israelis always do the right thing? Of course not. They are as flawed as any people. But they aren’t the bad guys in this war! (And yes, God loves the Palestinians, too. But right now they stand in opposition to the will of God – as Pharaoh did - to restore His people to the land, that His Name may be glorified. Even if that opposition is also part of God’s plan.)

                Although we were not taught to see that the Jews were our lost “brothers” and destined to be part of the glorious conclusion of the “Church Age,” there is still time for us to wake up, repent and get focused. All Christians must purge their minds from the false teach-ing of replacement theology that has prejudiced us against the Jews for so long. Because now is the time for the great restoration Peter spoke so boldly about in the Book of Acts. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. He must remain in heaven UNTIL the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through his holy prophets.”       

            Lest anyone misunderstand, I am not saying there will be a return to the Old Testament Mosaic Law. The Jews, who will soon be coming into the Kingdom en masse, will be coming in under the New Covenant only. There will be no return to temple buildings, animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthood, circumcision, kosher eating and Sabbath days. It's a new day! "When He said, 'A new Covenant,' He has made the first obsolete." (Heb. 8:13)

            As for the Jewish people, here or in Israel, I don't judge them. I just love them unconditionally as God commanded. Nor do I bury my testimony of faith in Jesus when talking to them. I tell them God loves them and encourage them to believe the Scriptures that promise them so much more. I urge them to look to Him and expect His divine intervention on their behalf. I know that in the near future they have a divine appointment to meet with God "for His Name's sake." He has given them partial dominion in the land right now (which the secular leadership seems intent on giving away), but there is much to come.

            The question is, will we Christians be ready to join with them to become “one new man” when the time comes?

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