The Bible is an unusual book. One can read a million volumes, but this is the only book that actually reads the person who peruses its pages. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In the same way, God’s strategic choosing of the Jewish people to be His firstborn nation (Exodus 4:22; Romans 9:4; 11:29) is meant to expose the heart of the world, to weigh the nations as to whether or not they accept God’s sovereign choice and appreciate the passions of His heart.
- “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)
- “He who touches you, touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8)
- “Therefore all who devour you will be devoured, and all your adversaries, every one of them, will go into captivity. Those who plunder you will be for plunder, and all who prey upon you I will give for prey.For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares YHVH, because they have called you an outcast, saying:‘It is Zion; no one cares for her’” (Jeremiah 30:16-17)
- “From Aram Balak has brought me, Moab’s king from the mountains of the East. ‘Come curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!’How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?And how can I denounce whom YHVH has not denounced?As I see him from the top of the rocks, and I look at him from the hills – behold, a people who dwells apart, and will not be counted as among the nations” (Numbers 23:7-9)
As humankind considers the existence, the calling and the destiny of the Jewish people, it is worth remembering that the God of Eternity is using the sons of Jacob to sift, weigh and purify the hearts of the nations of the world.
Though the peoples of this planet may feel that they are the ones who are making decisions about the role and righteousness of the Jewish people, in the final analysis it is the God of Jacob who is weighing the nations (which also includes the followers of Yeshua) in the balance (see Daniel 5:25-27; Isaiah 40:15-17, 27-31)
The Gospel according to Dylan
In his classic song ‘Gonna change my way of thinking’ Bob Dylan wryly notes, “Don’t know which is worse – doin’ your own thing or just being cool” (Copyright © 1979 Special Rider Music). For many in the Western world today, Israel is not cool, and standing with God’s heart for Israel is definitely uncool. There are some believers who insist on hyphenating or footnoting their love for Israel, insisting that it is the Jewish people they love, and not the Jewish state (which they then deprecate and delegitimize).
God’s outstanding example of a woman of faith, chosen from Israel’s adversaries, is Ruth. Her heart is the atomic core of the Book of Ruth, and it ticked in sync with the heart of Israel’s God. Even though a famine had visited Israel, Ruth made a bold and no-holds-barred confession: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may YHVH do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
In the same way that James (or Jacob, as his Brother Yeshua called him) teaches us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), so Ruth’s love for Israel meant that she manifested real fruit of that love. That love was so tangible that Jewish men and women in her day could concretely see and tangibly feel her love. Ruth was willing to identify totally with the Jewish people. She was willing to share their lot (the good and the bad), walk with them even when they were attacked by their enemies, embrace their culture and lifestyle, and cleave to that people more than to her own original nation.
Those who feel a mandate from God to stand with Israel need to ask themselves if their commitment measures up to the living example of Ruth the Moabitess. Words have never been enough. And today being politically correct won’t cut it. Distancing ones’ self from the regathered Jewish people and their prophetically established state in order to appeal to a PC generation will not make God’s grade. ‘Asking the hard questions’ means asking if we really see Ruth as our mother in the faith.
But perhaps it would be more honest to admit that cool-hearted reserve toward the Jewish people more suits our style. Ultimately, before the eyes of an all-seeing God, it comes down to a question of courage and backbone (“For the eyes of YHVH move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
“And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Matthew 11:6)
Job’s friends – from a Jewish context
The Book of Job describes the eloquent arguments of Job’s friends in his time of need. They raised questions concerning God’s sovereignty and Job’s potentially hidden sins, but they missed the point of what God was trying to get at. Ultimately God rebuked them:
“It came about after YHVH had spoken these words to Job, that YHVH said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has’ ” (Job 42:7-8).
Yeshua teaches us that our attitude as His followers need to be touched by humility and compassion. My friend John Wimber used to teach that a heart of forgiveness and compassion is a key to ministering the healing heart of God. A heart which ministers without compassion will not make the grade. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’” (Matthew 18:32-33).
So in the same way we must ask the Lord God of Israel to tune our hearts, revealing to us even hidden sins of the heart, especially in our attitudes toward the Jewish people. A heart of compassion toward the Jewish people is the sine qua non – the essential foundation stone for anyone who wants to minister God’s heart for His chosen people.
Satan in Hebrew means the accuser. One of the priority callings of the body of Messiah is to love the Jewish people with Yeshua’s love – to actually be an incarnation of the Good News. Followers of Yeshua are not called to point cold-blooded fingers, all the while insisting that they are Job’s best friends.
Isaiah wept over Assyria’s cruel violation of the daughter of Zion, while Jeremiah mourned over Babylon’s destructive acts against Israel. Obadiah pointed out that the Arabs of Edom gazed upon Israel’s ruin with voyeuristic joy, and even furthered the violence. Corrie ten Boom’s pastor refused to encourage anti-Hitler resistance, declaring that the Nazis were the established and God-approved authority.
What will believers in Yeshua do in our day when anti-Semitic clouds swirl across the capital cities and squares, streets and marketplaces of the world? What will the body of Messiah do when jihadi forces succeed in obtaining nuclear weapons and prosecute deadly jihad against the Jewish people and their state (see Psalm 83). Will we weep, intercede, actively rescue and stand with the Jewish people, or will we simply cluck our tongues like Job’s friends and damn Israel with faint praise, saying, “Nice try! Jolly good show! That was quite an effort your army and air force put up, but it was all in vain!”
One famous brother (now departed) posited in a public address that we will see “the probable extermination of the present state of Israel.” What a blithe and cold-hearted delivery irradiated his voice when he said those words. Where are the tears on the cheeks of Job’s friends?
“For wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Luke 7:35). Let us be wise children filled to overflowing with God’s heart of compassion for the Jewish people.
Identifying with the Israel that doesn’t exist
Years ago my own brother once told me that he could have stood with Israel back in the day, in the 1950’s, when the country championed values more socialist in nature. That was the Israel worth supporting, he said. But not present Israel, which to him is anti-progressive.
In the same way, I have met some believers who say that they would support the Israel of King David’s day, when camels roamed, Jews lived in tents and the Big House of Worship stood on the Temple Mount. But not now, when Israel has to fight to survive, and the combined propaganda might of the Islamic world paints Israel as Goliath and the forces of Palestinian jihad as David. Ex-President Jimmy Carter is an outstanding example of a nominal Christian activist who labors to undermine the Jewish state while sheltering beneath pseudo-Christian camouflage netting.
In the same way as a small cadre of radical ultra-Orthodox Jews (the Neturei Karta) refuse to recognize or support the modern state of Israel because its present leaders are not radical ultra-Orthodox Jews themselves, some Evangelicals refuse to allow their hearts to warm to Israel because (they explain) most Jewish people do not yet believe in Messiah Yeshua. This is conditional love. It cannot even be properly defined as love. Rather, it is better described as a withholding of one’s affections in an attempt to manipulate a faith response on the part of Jewish people – a rather hopeless and non-biblical endeavor!
Strikingly, some politically correct people who define themselves as Christians show a greater affinity for and identification with Islamist Arab forces, even if those groups openly call for the physical Replacement or removal of the Jewish nation from their Promised Land. Often the phrase is heard “I would be more supportive of Israel if only they were more supportive of my solution to Middle East hostilities.”
The love of a colonialist is not cut from the same cloth as a love which flowers between friends or between equals. The body of Messiah is not called to foster or model such a twisted form of love. It is the opposite of God’s own burning and passionate heart:
- “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son … Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them in My arms. But they did not know that I healed them.I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love. I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws. I bent down and fed them … How can I give you up, O Ephraim?How can I surrender you, O Israel?How can I make you like Admah?How can I treat you like Zeboiim?My heart is turned over within Me. All My compassions are kindled” (Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8).
- “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth,the love of your betrothals, and your following after Me in the wilderness through a land not sown.Israel was holy to YHVH, the first fruits of His harvest.All who ate of it became guilty. Evil came upon them, declares YHVH” (Jeremiah 2:2-3)
Forgetting how to cry
Years ago my dear friend Mike Bickle spend a season traveling with John Wimber, encouraging him about passion for Yeshua and the importance of intercessory prayer. At one point Mike told John that he (Mike) needed to stop traveling with him and return to the prayer room in Kansas City. When John ask in puzzlement why this had to be, Mike explained to John that he (Mike) was no longer crying when he prayed – that the tears and passion that had been so much a part of his prayer life had subsided somewhat, and for Mike this was a litmus test that something was out of place for him. These words are powerful, and the truth behind them is rock-solid.
In the same way, when tears are not a part of our prayers for and teaching about Israel, something has gone wrong. Israel is not an eschatological chess piece, whose suffering and troubles are merely part of a huge Last Days blueprint that we sign off on.
- Yeshua weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). We cannot teach about the Jewish people or lead intercessory prayer for them when our hearts are distant and cool vis-à-vis the sons and daughters of Isaac.
“Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…” (Isaiah 29:13)
- We need to get back to the prayer room and learn how to cry again.
“Oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! … Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come. Send for the wailing women, that they may come! Let them make haste and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may shed tears and our eyelids flow with water … Now hear the word of YHVH, O you women, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth. Teach your daughters wailing…” (Jeremiah 9:1, 17-18, 20)
Catching the seventh wave of the Spirit
Theologians and researchers refer to various waves of the Holy Spirit during the 20th century. One of the last waves yet to come is the future wave of restoration for His Jewish people, based on God’s burning and passionate heart for Israel, and His continuing priority and loving strategy for the sons and daughters of Jacob (see Zechariah 12:10).
Entering into this revelation requires a circumcision of one’s eyes as one reads the Holy Scriptures. When one truly believes that the Bible was written over 90% by Jewish people, and that its prophetic declarations focus over 90% on the Jewish people, then reading the Word becomes an invigorating and eye-opening event. If God really means what He says regarding Israel’s restoration, Israel’s regathering, Israel’s repentance, Israel’s Last Days role as a mighty army, etc., then we live in days of awesome opportunity and awakening – days which will bring life from the dead to the entire world (see Romans 11:12, 15).
It has been in vogue in some circles – the fashionable approach – to focus on the future shaking of the house of Jacob as the main eschatological event coming down the pipe. It is biblically true that both Jews and Gentiles will be shaken. As C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers in our pleasures and shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to raise a deaf world.” Yet the Scriptures have much to say (if we have eyes to read) concerning many positive Last Days events concerning the Jewish people.
Teachers and preachers in the body of Messiah need to get a spiritual checkup every so often concerning possible fixation or tunnel-vision on negative events regarding the Jewish people. The Doctor of our souls may well ask, “For every teaching given on calamity yet to befall the Jewish people, is this declaration accompanied both by authentic tears and by balanced focus on the amazing plan God has to bring light and victory – life from the dead – through the Jewish people as well”?
- The preaching of the cross without the follow-through – the amazing resurrection of Yeshua – that is only half a gospel.
- The preaching of the resurrection without preaching the Second Coming – that is also a crippled gospel.
- The preaching of coming shaking for Israel (communicated without tears) and without simultaneously declaring the amazing redemptive Last Days calling that the Jewish people will usher in – that is also less than the fullness of the gospel, and it is a message which will never capture the heart of the Jewish people nor the imagination and hearts of believers worldwide.
It is time for us all to be about our Father’s business!
How shall we then pray?
- Ask the God of Israel for the gift of tears that Jeremiah 9 describes
- Ask the God of Israel for deepened and balanced revelation concerning His passion and heart for the Jewish people
- Ask the God of Israel for strategic downloads on how to prepare today to bring help to the Jewish people in this Last Days operation
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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