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

A Dead Baby Or A Full Gospel?

Solomon son of David was now king over Israel with the kingdom firmly established in his hands (1 Kings 2:46). Three important events now happened in rapid succession which would shape Solomon’s reign. First, Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh Siamun, solidifying political connections with the super-power at his western flank. Then he cried out to God for wisdom – how to lead the Jewish people in the unfriendly neighborhood of the Middle East. YHWH appeared to Solomon at Gibeon (modern al-Jib) and rewarded him with the highest wisdom and with a discerning heart, great riches and a long life.

The third event (according to 1 Kings 3:16-28) was his first public appearance as kingly judge over Israel. At that trial two prostitutes came pleading for the king to grant them “justice against their adversary”. Each accused the other of manslaughter – of having accidental smothered the baby in her sleep. Solomon instantly demonstrated a divine wisdom which revealed the heart of the true mother. He commanded that the living baby be divided in two between the two women.

The real mother was moved with compassion for her live son, and was willing to give up her valid claim in order to preserve the baby’s life. The evil mother could have cared less, because she only wanted revenge. The Bible tell us that “when all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice” (1 Kings 3:28).

“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

Messiah Yeshua was once confronted by a group of spies who were undercover agents for the Pharisee and Sadducee power brokers. Pretending to be interested in the finer points of theology, they were hoping catch Yeshua in something that He said, so that He could be handed over to Pontius Pilate. They presented Yeshua with a leading question which was two-faced or duplicitous (Luke 20:23): “Rabbi, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

If Yeshua answered with a ‘yes’, they could accuse Him before the common people of being a collaborationist with the Roman occupation. If He answered ‘no,’ they could accuse Him before the Romans of sedition and treason. The text continues, noting that Yeshua was aware of their duplicitous trap (Luke 20:26).

A Messianic Catch-22

A Catch-22 is a term coined by American author Joseph Heller to describe a paradox in which one becomes a victim regardless of the choice one makes. A modern example would be Groucho Marx’s famous question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” If one says ‘no’, this means that one is still beating her. If one says ‘ yes’, it means that one confesses to having beaten her in the past. This is a no-win situation.

In the same way, the enemy of our souls has been trying to create a false dichotomy – a sordid trap – in order to confuse believers who love Israel. His desire is to lead us all into pointless and unproductive conflict – into a small civil war. This satanic and misleading strategy involves trying to polarize lovers of Israel into two opposing camps – one called “pro-gospel” and the other called “pro-land.”

The “pro-gospel” group asserts that believers must make a choice between ‘something praiseworthy’ and ‘something of absolute importance’. Being concerned and pro-active about dividing up the land is praiseworthy (this stream tends to say) but calling Israel to righteousness and doing evangelism among Jewish people is the priority of the moment. According to the ‘pro-gospel’ perspective, a spiritual line is being drawn in the sand and it concerns the survival of the gospel itself.

The “pro-land” group asserts that the dividing up of the land of Israel is tragedy that will lead to the judgment of the nations, and that intercessors need to be praying about this and warning their nations. Those who do not join the call to the spiritual and physical barricades (this stream tends to say) are turning their backs on Israel in her hour of need.

Is there a solution to this impasse? Is this a no-win situation? Is there really only one choice available, and is it fated that a dead baby is the unavoidable outcome?

The Gospel and The Land

The solution to this conflict involves expanding our hearts. It means listening with an open heart to both ‘sides’ in the divergence, grasping whatever truth there may be on both sides and then holding fast to those truths with both hands. It involves bringing our own positions into balance – which probably will require increased courage and humility. It means asking for and receiving Yeshua’s opinions even if His opinions are in any way at variance with our own.

God has sown aspects of His truth into both movements. And He wants the rest of us to extract those precious oils for the benefit of the whole body of Messiah.

Learning from the “pro-gospel” stream

The Christian Zionist movement often tends to be weak and even fearful or skittish when it comes to evangelism. There are many reasons for this – some are called strategic, others occasionally (though rarely) are based on the false teaching called “two covenant theology” (which says that Jews don’t have to believe the gospel but have another way of salvation). Sometimes Christian Zionists are concerned that open evangelism of Jewish people will close doors to the Jewish non-Messianic community, or that the Israeli Ministry of the Interior may revoke the visas (meaning, the temporary right to live in Israel) for ministries who have bases and workers within Israel.

It is here that the “pro-gospel” stream definitely has something to say. Yeshua gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. It was not a “Great Suggestion”. It comes with the full authority and weight of the Risen Messiah who is Son of David. That good news is about the Jewish Messiah and it is earmarked with special priority to the Jewish people (as Paul stresses in Romans 1:16 and 2:6-11). Some Christian Zionists lack gospel courage and gospel backbone, and some of their strategies have the odor both of fear and of the desire to be pleasers of men rather than pleasers of God (see Galatians 1:6-12 and 2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

Another salient point: some Christian Zionists are embarrassed about Messianic Jews. They would rather be photographed while embracing rabbis who persecute Messianic Jews, than take the risk of being photographed while embracing Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith. The “pro-gospel” stream can rightly asked them, “Are you ashamed of the gospel which is the power of salvation, to the Jew first?”

Learning from the “pro-land” stream

On the other hand, the “pro-land” stream is ‘hammering out danger’ and ‘ringing out a warning’, applying them equally to the leaders of the nations and the leaders of Israel: God is not pleased with international pressure to divide the land, and He will bring those who lend a hand to that process into severe judgment. Some of the “pro-gospel” stream need to take this message to heart, because sometimes the “pro-gospel” stream seems to want to adapt itself to the prevailing secular peace movements and avoid stressing what God is doing in His “controversy with the nations” (see Isaiah 34, Jeremiah 25 and Jeremiah 30:16-17). It seems that there is a desire to circumvent conflict and controversy, and all this in the day of battle! The prophetess Deborah had some piercing words to level at the tribe of Reuben who tried to avoid their wartime responsibilities to their fellow Israelites (see Judges 5:15-16).

Another salient point – some Messianic Jewish people in the “pro-gospel” stream may have been compromised through co-option. Some Arab believing groups in Israel have a not-so-secret agenda – to sow doubt and uncertainty among Israeli Messianic Jews regarding the righteousness of Israel’s claims to the Holy Land. For years these Arab groups have been asking “Hath God said?” (see Gen.3:1) regarding the Jewish people’s prophetic right to the Promised Land, slowly but surely undermining the faith of some Messianic Jews in Zion. We have watched one or two Messianic Israeli leaders who formerly were defenders of Israel but now have become hesitant and apologetic, and have occasionally turned into purveyors of anti-Israel propaganda. This grieves us deeply.

Let the gospel and the land kiss each other!

The Sons of Korah were relatives of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6) and they were literally worshipping warriors (2 Chronicles 20:19-22). One of them wrote Psalm 85, and buried in the verses of that psalm lies a key which can help to bring real reconciliation between the ‘land’ stream and the ‘gospel’ stream.

“Show us Your covenant faithfulness, YHVH, and grant us Your salvation. I will listen to what YHVH God will say. He promises shalom to His people, His ‘made righteous’ ones – but let them not return to foolishness! Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land. Covenant faithfulness and truth have met up; righteousness and shalom have kissed. Truth will sprout up from out of the land, and righteousness will look down from Heaven” (Psalm 85:7-11 – my translation from the Hebrew).

God’s faithfulness to His promises regarding the land are not at conflict with His gospel call for Yeshua’s righteousness to be applied to Israel (and to Arabs, to Americans, to the English etc.).  Believers need to be pro-active in prayer and actions about the dividing up of the land and about the need to evangelize the Jewish people. Both of these streams – these ‘donkeys’ – need to be hitched to the same Messianic wagon. And they need to pull together. This is not a case of ‘either or’ but of ‘both and’.

This newsletter is a plea for both sides in this spat to come together and to kiss each other, to meet up and make up, and to pursue in truth the things that make for peace.

By some strange quirk of history and linguistics, today the English language uses the term “the judgment of Solomon” half-correctly. That term describes a decision which destroys the issue over which people are fighting rather than allowing either disputing party to share in it.  Another modern proverb which says much the same is “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”

Let those lovers of Israel and lovers of the Messianic Jewish believers in Israel commit to honoring both the nose and the face! Let the gospel be preached and let the land be defended. Let prophetic intercessors and prophetic evangelists move as one, “without jostling each other, without breaking ranks, and without swerving from our God-given course” (see Joel 2:7-8).

In Messiah Yeshua’s love,

Avner Boskey

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