The Bible is chock full of prophecies specifically given to the Jewish people. What happens when Gentile believers re-interpret those Jewish promises away from the Jewish people? Most Christian use of Scripture ignores its Jewish context and simply replaces it with a Gentile Christian context. This is Replacement theology, practically speaking. Even my best friends do this on a daily basis.
Let’s look at this problem, and then try to bring some biblical balance. The Bible says that cursing, making light of or ignoring the Jewish people is a biblical no-no (see Genesis 12:3; Jeremiah 30:17). Is there a more excellent way of using the Jewish Scriptures – one that will not separate the Jewish people from their promises, while at the same time allowing Gentile believers to apply the relevant spiritual principles to their own lives?
A diamond is forever
The Apostle Paul gives us a solid foundation for understanding and using the Jewish Scriptures: “From the standpoint of God’s choice they (the Jewish people) are beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) – because the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28).
Simply put, all of the promises originally spoken over the Jewish people still apply to the Jewish people. They are all valid prophecies and they will certainly come to pass for the sons and daughters of Jacob. These promises, like diamonds, are forever. They are the family jewels of Jacob’s children.
How are we to honor the original and lasting intent of the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) in our teaching, preaching and calls to intercession? Whenever we use a Scripture passage which talks about Israel, let’s ask ourselves some basic questions:
- To whom is this passage written? In most cases the answer will be ‘to the Jewish people’
- What does this passage teach or explain about the Jewish people? What is God saying to Israel?
- What can you do to communicate God’s message to Jewish people?
- What encouragement can be drawn for your own life situations and challenges based on who this covenant-keeping God is?
Discovering that the Bible really is a Jewish book
If nearly all of the Bible’s prophecies are about the Jewish people, God must have a reason for that.
God is calling for a radical reformation in the Body of Messiah. His challenge to us all – can we let the Bible mean what it says? Will we allow those prophecies to breathe, giving honor to God’s word by honoring His original intent?
“Does that prophecy actually refer to the Jews and their destiny?” (first illustration)
A movement of worship and intercession is spreading across the planet. Christian believers are glorifying the God of Israel and calling on Him to bring repentance, renewal and revival to their own nations. Scripture passages are often drafted and pressed into the service of these movements. A closer look at these passages almost always reveals that the verses used are actually prophesying specific destiny over the Jewish people.
One example is Isaiah 60:1-3, 12, 14:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come and the glory of YHVH has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples. But YHVH will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising … For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined … The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, and all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet. And they will call you the City of YHVH, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 60:1-3, 12, 14)
This passage is not a declaration that the church will bring revival to other Gentiles. It is definitely a declaration that Israel will bring revival to all the nations (which is part of her prophesied destiny; see Romans 11:12, 15).
How to use this passage honestly? It’s a two-step process:
- One, proclaim that YHVH will shine His light on Israel and through them He will bring light to the Gentiles. This is a high strategy for God and we all need to make it part of our strategy as well
- Two, encourage people to appeal to the God of Jacob to shine His light upon their own nations as well
This two-step process keeps us honest:
- Point one above declares that Isaiah 60 is a prophecy over the Jewish people. It is our privilege to proclaim this prophetic promise over Israel
- Point two above is our own prayer response, though it’s not what the prophecy is stressing. We ask God to shine His light on our nations – but without weakening the biblical promise for Israel, and without turning our prayers over our own nations into false prophecies
“Does that prophecy actually refer to the Jews and their destiny?” (second illustration)
Here’s another example of how to use scripture honestly:
“So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O YHVH, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name. For we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O YHVH, hear! O YHVH, forgive! O YHVH, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before YHVH my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God… (Daniel 9:17-20)
Daniel’s intercessory prayer is highly specific. It focuses on the Jewish people, their sins and their prophetic destiny. If we want to use this scripture passage to encourage other nations and peoples to intercede for their own countries, the same two-step process applies: One, recognize and proclaim that Daniel is interceding for Israel’s repentance, restoration and salvation. This is a high priority for God. It should be our high priority as well. Two, encourage people to appeal to the God of Jacob to bring repentance, restoration and salvation to your own nations. If we follow this two-step process, we walk in God’s ways, honoring His prophetic intentions and His heart for Israel. We enter into God’s burdens without weakening the biblical promise for Israel, and without turning our prayers over our own nations into false prophecies.
“Does that prophecy actually refer to the Jews and their destiny?” (third illustration)
Here’s a third example of how to use scripture honestly:
“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David and wall up its breaches. I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name, declares YHVH who does this. Behold, days are coming, declares YHVH, when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed – when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them, says YHVH your God” (Amos 9:11-15)
Amos’ prophecy is very specific. It talks about:
- the physical restoration of the Land of Israel
- the physical return of the Jewish people to that land
- the physical judgment on the people and land of Edom
- the physical restoration of the dynastic governmental rule of the House of David over the entire planet.
If someone would want to use this scripture passage to encourage nations and peoples to press in to God through worship, the same two-step process still offers help here, though it should be stressed that worship is not the subject of Amos 9:11: One, proclaim that Amos is prophesying the Jewish people’s physical and spiritual restoration and salvation. This is a high priority for God. It should be our high priority as well. Two, encourage people to worship the God of Jacob. If we follow the first step of this two-step process, we will be walking in God’s ways, honoring His prophetic intentions and His heart for Israel – without weakening the biblical promise for Israel, and without altering the meaning of Amos’ prophecy.
A little less boasting, a lot more equipping
Two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul called out a warning to Rome’s Gentile believers: “Do not boast against the (original Jewish) branches” (Romans 11:18). To teach that YHVH’s gifts to the Jewish people are revocable and have now morphed into Gentile and not Jewish gifts – this is precisely the boasting against the Jewish people that Paul condemns in Romans 11:18, 20.
Leaders and teachers in the Body of Messiah need to get out of our easy chairs and start teaching what the Bible actually says about these issues. A daily dose of Vitamin J (kosher teaching about the Jewish calling) is long overdue. Paul calls us upward: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah – until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:11-14)
Mañana (tomorrow) is good enough for me
One of our ministry emphases focuses on the urgent need to equip believers – so that we will all be pro-actively ready for the restoration of Israel. Occasionally some believers respond to the challenges with these words:
- There are differing viewpoints on these matters. A focus on the Jewish people will only cause division
- It’s not yet time to talk about these things publically
- It’s more spiritual to focus on Gentile needs than on Jewish destiny and biblical priority
Brothers and sisters, the time for hesitation’s through. Let’s stop the delaying tactics. Let’s own up to our lack of prophetic courage.
- “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)
- “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Let the Jewish people back into their own tent
In your devotions, in your Bible reading, in your preaching and teaching, allow the Jewish people into your tent. According to Romans 11:24 it is actually their own tent –“their own olive tree”. But do make room for the Jewish people, and allow them back into their own Bible, their gifts and their calling.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for the eyes of believers worldwide to be opened to the Jewish Scriptures and the calling of Israel
- Pray for pastors, teachers and spiritual leaders to receive and be obedient to this revelation
- Pray for Messiah Yeshua to be revealed to and accepted by many hungry Jewish hearts
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
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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