Taking a biblical stand for the Jewish people sometimes results in strife and division. Does that mean that there is something wrong with our zeal? Why do blowback, opposition or negative feedback sometimes accompany our preaching of God’s heart for Israel? What is the cost of standing with the Jewish people and how can we count it accurately?
Land o’ Goshen!
At the dawn of Jewish history, in the land of Egypt, YHVH spoke to Pharaoh through Moses, regarding one of the Ten Plagues, “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, YHVH, am in the midst of the land. I will put a division between My people and your people” (Exodus 8:22-23).
The purpose of division was to throw the spotlight on the people whom YHVH had chosen, to show which nation had God’s approval and which nation was standing against the purposes of God.
The Apostle Paul says something quite similar when discussing divisions in the Messianic congregation of Corinth: “For, in the first place, when you gather together, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18-19). Paul is referring to the age-old dynamic of ‘truth or consequences.’
Messiah Yeshua clearly proclaimed that one of the purposes of His ministry among the sons and daughters of Adam is to bring division: “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53). The preaching of the truth often has consequences: “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and man loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
Years ago I had the privilege to study under a rabbi of Montreal’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, who taught a class for Concordia University called “The historical encounter between Judaism and Christianity.” This rabbi quoted Luke 12 and then waxed eloquent about how Yeshua’s words seemed to violate the spirit of Judaism as the rabbi understood it.
“Excuse me, Rabbi,” I asked, “Isn’t Jesus quoting here from the prophet Micah 7:5-6, where the prophet grieves over the spiritual state of some Jewish people?” A quiet rustling of pages among all present commenced, after which the rabbi, not quite sure how to respond, quickly changed the topic of conversation. It did not fit the rabbi’s worldview, it seemed, for Yeshua to be seen as a kosher champion of the prophetic tradition.
- Obedience to the prophetic tradition and to Messiah the greatest prophet who ever lived, will usually bring with it blowback, opposition or negative feedback, divisions and strife. We have it on the Highest Authority!
Yeshua King of Israel – a sign to be opposed
A prophetic word spoken over Joseph, Miriam and Yeshua by Shim’on (Simeon) in the Temple precincts adds depth to this subject: “And Shim’on blessed them and said to Miriam His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed’” (Luke 2:34-35).
The New Covenant reveals that the coming of the Jewish Messiah to the people of Israel would bring division. It was YHVH Himself who purposed this division – “to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
- If the first coming of Messiah brought division to even the Jewish people (and salvation – let’s not forget that as well!), will not His second coming and the events surrounding that also test the thoughts of many hearts, both Jewish and Gentile?
Israel – standing up to be counted
Years ago I listened in to a conversation of some zealous seminary students discussing Romans 13:1-7. One of them declared that if he had been a believer concealing Jews in his home in Nazi-occupied Holland, he would have surrendered them to the tender mercies of the Gestapo. God would have honored his decision not to disobey the powers that be, he opined. My response was to the point, “This Jew will never take refuge in your home!”
Certainly Corrie ten Boom’s Hiding Place (www.corrietenboom.com) would have been seen by the Nazis as treasonous, for at that time saving Jewish lives was considered ‘politically incorrect.’ Her father died in a Nazi prison, while she and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbuck concentration camp, where Betsie died of typhus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/bonhoeffer/?content=1) was a Lutheran theologian who had to walk a fine line in Nazi Germany. He saw that believers were being called not only to clarify their own attitudes toward Judaism and the Jewish people, but even more to properly discern and respond actively against the Nazi state’s actions against the people of Israel. His actions (which included smuggling Jews out of Germany, and involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler) led to his imprisonment and eventually his execution by the SS on the gallows at Flossenbürg concentration camp.
In the 1930’s a believing Officer (later Major-General) in the British Army, Orde Wingate (www.ordewingate.net) helped to train the fledging Jewish special operations forces during the time of the British Mandate. He rallied his Jewish troops (the future leaders of the Haganah), regaling them with biblical strategies of Joshua and Caleb, Gideon and the Maccabees. His strengthening of the Jewish people’s restoration in their hour of need was considered politically incorrect by the British High Command. He was later transferred to Ethiopia and then to India/Burma to train the chindits against Imperial Japanese forces, where he was killed in a military plane crash.
- Ten Boom, Bonhoeffer and Wingate were believers in Yeshua who defended the Jewish people, each in their own way. The fact that most of these Jews were not believers in Yeshua in no way hindered the believers’ activism.
- These true heroes of the faith did not stand on the sidelines doing nothing. Neither did they simply declare that anti-Semitic attacks were understandable because “the Jewish people were under divine discipline.” On the contrary, these men and women threw themselves into the battle, and were mightily used of God to help restore the Jewish people to their Promised Land.
When Messiah Yeshua returns, He will judge the nations based on how they treat the Jewish people (Matthew 25:45; Hebrews 2:11-16) and how the nations divide up the land of Israel (Joel 3:1-2; Zechariah 14:1-4). At that point in time, it will be too late for believers to decide that the “prophetically correct” time has come to be more activist in furthering the restoration of the Jewish people. Now is the time.
- Standing with Israel certainly involves praying the prayer of faith today about Israel’s destiny tomorrow. But let us not be deceived – it also involves the necessity of works today on behalf of the Jewish people’s protection and salvation (see James 2:14-17). “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Israel – not standing up to be counted
I have noticed that some believing leaders exhibit a measure of fear when discussing Israel. They are afraid of being typecast by other believers as having gone overboard in their love for Israel, as not being balanced, as ‘going beyond the Bible’ in their expression of biblical convictions about Israel.
It is certainly true that even good causes can have some advocates who are out of balance. Yet these false fears must be confronted head-on.
For someone to have God’s heart for Israel:
ü It means that one accepts Israel’s priority (Deut. 21:15-17; Exodus 4:22-23; Romans 1:16; 2:5-11; 9:1-5; 11:28-29) in intercession, in evangelism, in international affairs and in rescuing Jewish lives.
ü It means that one feels the same pains and joys about Israel that YHVH feels (Isaiah 63:9; Hosea 11:1-4,8-9).
ü It entails night and day passionate intercession for Israel and God’s purposes to be birthed through her (Isaiah 62:1-9).
- People who do these things will face a measure of opposition, of blowback, of negative feedback, of divisions and of strife.
When you are willing not only to embrace God’s heart for the Jewish people, but also to share the same fate as the Jewish people, even in the present –
- People may accuse you of having a primary loyalty to Israel and not to Yeshua. This is due to the fact that they do not understand or embrace the high priority that God places on the Jewish people.
- People may accuse you of ‘being for Israel in a way that God is not for Israel.’ This is because they do not understand how deeply God’s heart is for Israel.
- People may accuse you of ‘getting lost in Israel.’ This false charge is based on a profound misunderstanding of God’s prophetic heart and ways. A helpful corrective is found in something Mike Bickle told me years ago – that that one day the body of Messiah will begin to get so much revelation about God’s heart for Israel that it will fill their field of vision – it will seem as if they can see nearly nothing else.
Sentiment versus conviction
Some people are afraid that if they stand firmly with God’s heart and purposes for Israel, they will be accused of being motivated by sentiment and not by Scripture. This fear is usually expressed by male theologians, and is often based on a misunderstanding of the divine origins of emotions.
Human emotions are part of the package called “being created in the image of God.” This means that YHVH has divine emotions, and not only divine intellect. The God of the Bible is not an unflappable and distant Greek deity. He expresses deep emotions for Israel. He longs for Israel, as expressed in passionate avowals like “How can I abandon you, Ephraim? How can I give you up, Israel?” or “In all Israel’s afflictions He was afflicted” etc.
- Let’s not be embarrassed by God’s emotions. God’s sentiments toward Israel are enscripturated, and the result is divine convictions which are both solidly biblical and deeply emotional.
Standing for Israel’s king and for the King of Israel’s people
Rees Howells (free download at www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/rees-howells), a warrior among intercessors, saw intercession for the restoration, protection and salvation of Israel as an essential calling for all believers. His school prayed for the defeat of Nazi Germany, the protection and victory of Allied forces, and the protection of Israel. Howells was not afraid of being seen as ‘political.’ He was more concerned about being faithful to the heart of the Lord and to the fulfillment of His word regarding the Jewish people.
- Israel’s King cares about His people Israel. When you care about Israel’s King, you also care about the King’s Jewish people. When you stand for Israel’s King, you will find yourself standing for His people as well.
The mystery of Israel (Romans 1:25; Ephesians 3:3-6) truly is about Israel. It is about the God of Israel, the people of Israel, and how YHVH adds multitudes from among the nations to share in what He calls “the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12-13).
Do not be afraid to take your stand in these matters, both in the spirit and on earth. Pray, reach out and extend your hand of rescue to the seed of Jacob. You have it on the Highest Authority!
- Pray for yourself, your friends, and your congregational leaders – that the God of Israel will grant greater revelation of His heart and greater courage to stand for and with the Jewish people.
- Pray for this revelation to spread throughout the body of Messiah as we prepare for the coming days.
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,
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