Certain buzz words are guaranteed to tug at people’s hearts – words like ‘motherhood’ and ‘patriotism.’ Who could possibly stand against motherhood, or betray one’s true and native land? Obviously – only a villain!
The word ‘reconciliation’ has a similar strong pull. Who could conceivably be opposed to reconciliation? Only a warmonger or a racist, most would say.
Today in Israel the term ‘reconciliation’ is being used by a few small Christian groups to describe ministry which advocates a strong Replacement theology agenda coupled with a invalidation of Jewish restoration. This is a twisted use of the term ‘reconciliation’ and its outcome is twisted results.
This twisted understanding of reconciliation is confusing some Messianic Israeli believers, as well as some good friends of the Jewish people. It is leading to uncertainty and muddy thinking regarding God’s restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. It has caused some dear believers to hesitate and stammer concerning the biblical teaching on Israel’s irrevocable gifts and calling (Romans 11:28; 3:1-2). Some are even reconsidering their whole theology vis-à-vis the Jewish people’s national restoration.
Many believers want to be used as agents of reconciliation in Yeshua’s name, but are unsure as to what this would look like. Fruitful reconciliation – reconciliation in the truth – must be biblically based. And especially in the Middle East it is essential that it be illuminated by Scriptural teaching regarding God’s gifts and calling to the Jewish people.
Today a theologically skewed distortion of reconciliation is making the rounds in some Middle Eastern circles. Only Spirit-led and biblically solid foundations will keep the elect from being fogged by it.
Peace is made between enemies
Reconciliation is something that happens between enemies. Enemies usually have a highly developed awareness of who their own adversaries are. But when God steps into the arena, something happens which radically transforms enemies into friends. Suddenly warring is substituted by peace, anger is replaced by love. But let’s not forget – reconciliation only begins between enemies.
“The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’” (Acts 7:26)
Ephesians 2:14, 16 twice refers to hostility between Jews and Gentiles (“… the dividing wall of hostility; His purpose was … to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility”). Paul tells us in this context that Yeshua’s death on the cross has two purposes: one, to destroy the enmity between God and man; and two, to destroy the enmity between man and man. Paul is not generic here, but very specific. He says that God purposed to eliminate Gentile hatred of Jews (and biblically speaking, Arabs are Gentiles), as well as to eradicate Jewish hatred of Gentiles. Reconciliation means taking God’s enemies and transforming them into friends of God and then friends of each other – through the power of the blood of Messiah.
Reconciliation does not mean “ignoring the enmity” or sidestepping it – it means facing that enmity “with eyes wide open,” and seeking a biblical solution.
Until enemies stop being enemies, reconciliation has not happened.
Talking heads on TV sometimes call on Israelis to surrender tangible land in exchange for flitting ‘declarations” (in English) of peace from Palestinian leaders. Usually another Palestinian declaration (in Arabic) comes out a few minutes later by other Palestinian leaders calling for continued armed struggle. Nevertheless, TV interviewers continue to lecture Israel, saying that one must remember that “peace is made between enemies.” This is true. But though peace can be made between enemies, every now and then one of the enemies does not want to make peace. In such an eventuality, of course, peace won’t be established.
One must remember that it is also true that war is made between enemies.
Real peace is not some fantasy-based sprinkling of magical Hollywood stardust on ‘the bad guys.’ It does not mean being exceptionally polite or politically correct to someone you hate or fear, or being forced to call your enemy “friend.” It is not a name-change that is needed; it is a heart change.
Biblical reconciliation happens when God’s mighty power causes our hearts, thoughts and spirits to come into alignment with God’s own heart, purposes, strategies and Spirit.
Reconciled to God but not to each other?
A quick survey of the New Covenant Scriptures dealing with reconciliation shows that the primary biblical stress of reconciliation is that people get reconciled to God. In other words, reconciliation is when people who turn to Yeshua are changed from being God’s enemies into being His children (e.g., Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20, 22). Real reconciliation begins with a change of heart and spirit toward God. When reconciliation is mixed with healthy obedience, it then percolates upward into relational fruit.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11)
Not all believers walk in reconciliation all the time. Some people are reconciled to God, yet continue to nurse a degree of anger or bitterness in their hearts toward other people (Matt.18:21-35). This is not healthy, but it does happen. This can happen between nations too!
Not everyone walks in fullness of love all the time. Ideally, certain spiritual failures should not exist. Nevertheless, pastors find themselves working with this exact scenario – failing human beings – on a regular basis.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10)
What happens when a believer is my enemy?
During the American Civil War, Jewish people were soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies. A document from that time describes a Confederate Jew who shouted out the Jewish ‘last rites’ – the Shma Yisrael (Deut. 6:4) prayer – every time he fired his musket. The logic was simple: perhaps his bullet would kill a Jew on the enemy side, one who would not have the time to utter the final prayer. So he prayed for his enemy even as he shot in his direction.
During times of war one has to shoot at enemies, and occasionally those enemies may also turn out to be brothers.
If Arab believers in Yeshua who live in Israel or on the West Bank stand with terror groups or organizations in their activities – whether by seeking approval from Islamist religious authorities by stressing one’s anti-Israel credentials; by allowing snipers to shoot at Israeli soldiers from atop Christian-owned buildings; by teaching Christians to abandon their love and biblically-based support for Israel and the Jewish people; or by campaigning among international believers for a Palestinian state (which would ultimately be ruled by terrorist dictators) – the uncomfortable fact must be stated without frills: these Arab believers are siding with active enemies of the Israeli people.
How are believers supposed to relate to believers who are at the same time enemies? Is it enough to declare that enemies aren’t really enemies because we are really all one in Messiah? Is it enough just to sing “Kumbaya” together and to ignore the malodorous detail that some of our Arab believing brothers and sisters are at the very least cooperating with the forces of Islamist jihad which call for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people? Both the covenants of the PLO and of Hamas are unambiguous in this regard.
Here’s something worthy of even more serious consideration: one of the hidden agendas of this false message of reconciliation is to sow doubt among Israeli Messianic Jewish believers and in the larger body of Messiah as to the moral and theological rightness of Jewish restoration. This tactic, in military and strategic terms, is what is called a “fifth column” approach.
Biting the reconciliation bullet
“Pseudo-reconciliationists” sidestep the biblical teaching about God restoring the Jewish people back to their land (e.g., Isaiah 11:11-16; Jeremiah 30-31; etc). They teach that there are many differing views on eschatology, and that mature believers simply disagree on these points. What is needed, it is said, is not to defend “divisive viewpoints” but to sidestep the issue of Jewish restoration as a minor and nonessential detail.
According to the above scenario, Messianic Jews who believe that God is restoring the people of Israel to the land of Israel according to the prophetic Scriptures simply need to bite the bullet, and warmly embrace without reservation Arab believers who believe that Israel’s existence is a sin against humanity and God. This, it is said, is what true reconciliation is about.
Various conferences have been held in Israel by those influenced by false reconciliation teachings. I have seen Arab believers encouraged to get up and declare (often with great anger) how Israelis have sinned against them. Then a Jewish Israeli representative comes forward and confesses sin and asks for forgiveness. At that point everyone applauds and the conference moves on.
Certainly, since all have sinned, and since a war is going on between jihadi Palestinian groups and the Jewish people in Israel, there are undoubtedly sad instances of cruelty, racism and evil on all sides. But these conferences rarely witness any balancing statement that God is restoring the Jewish people to their own land, that jihadi goals are not biblical goals, and that believers must wrestle with the ramifications of God’s land promises to Israel. Rarely does an Arab brother get up and declare that hating the Jewish people is a sin, and that he repents of rejecting God’s gifts and calling to Israel.
How can it be called reconciliation when Jewish people repent for sins of their nation, while Arab believers are treated with kid gloves and given a wide berth regarding their rejection of God’s word and promises concerning Israel? Foreigners could serve as a helpful bridge here, and not allow such events to drift into cosmetic and ‘politically correct’ directions.
Both firefighter and arsonist deal with fire on a regular basis. But they are not morally on the same level. In the same way, those who side with a nationalistic Palestinian movement which legitimizes and uses terror, are not on the same moral level as those who are being restored to their own Promised Land by the hand of God.
Is Jewish restoration “just one more opinion?”
But is it really true that belief in Jewish restoration is simply one option of many on the theological smorgasbord? Not according to YHVH! Hear the word of the Lord to the Jewish people:
“I am with you and will save you, declares YHVH . Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you . . . But all who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil. But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares YHVH, because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares” (Jeremiah 30:11, 16-17).
Those who would attempt to market a false reconciliation – one which invalidates or ignores Jewish restoration – are crossing the line and aligning themselves with the enemies of the Jewish people.
Who is my enemy?
Years ago Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy about the End of Days. He was given a message straight from God’s passionate heart which was enscripturated in Ezekiel 36. In this passage YHVH the God of Jacob looks across the sands of time and sees that Arab nations (including Edom and surrounding nations) would invade Israel with malice of heart – conquering and ravaging the land, and claiming it as an exclusively Arab possession. This process indeed reached a pinnacle in 637-38 AD when the armies of Mohammed invaded Israel, and then declared the whole Promised Land to be “waqf” or Muslim territory for all eternity. Read YHVH’s perspective on these Arab invasions:
Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of YHVH. This is what YHVH Adonai says: The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.” Therefore prophesy and say, This is what YHVH Adonai says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander, therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of YHVH Adonai: This is what YHVH Adonai says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you – this is what YHVH Adonai says: In My burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made My land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland. Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: This is what the YHVH Adonai says: I speak in My jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations. Therefore this is what YHVH Adonai says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn (Ezekiel 36:1-7).
God laughs at ‘political correctness’ (Psalm 2:4). He calls these invaders “the enemy” – “those who ravage, plunder, ridicule, slander and scorn” the Jewish land and the Jewish people. From God’s perspective, it comes as no surprise that Muslim Arabs who see Mohammed as a true prophet would oppose the promised restoration of Israel.
Those who accept the Bible as God’s book know that the Muslim conquest and Arab occupation of the land of Israel are not a fait accompli. God will have the last word on the demographic makeup of the land of Israel. The effects of that jihadi invasion will one day be reversed, and the people of Israel will fully possess the land of Israel (Isaiah 62:4-5).
Believers cannot allow this very serious biblical issue to be swept under the carpet and to be blithely dismissed as “a simple theological disagreement among reconciled brothers.”
Love your enemies
Years ago Yeshua said “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44). Part of the good news is that in Yeshua we can love our enemies. God promises to help us to love those who do us evil, even those who seek our destruction. Yet at the same time, we need to realistically remember that a time is coming when those who work for the destruction of the land of Israel and of the Jewish people will be decisively and forcibly stopped in their tracks.
True reconciliation between Jewish and Arab believers in Yeshua can never fly until both sides hit biblical bedrock. Both sides need to recognize that God has covenanted that land to the Jewish people alone, and that those who try to hold onto that land (the Arabic word for this attempt is summud) and establish a Palestinian state within the biblical borders of Israel are defined clearly by God’s prophet Ezekiel in chapter 36 as enemies.
Reconciliation in the truth between Jews and Arabs can only move forward when people repent for siding with the destroyers of Israel, and choose to no longer curse or do harm to God’s chosen people (Genesis 12:3).
Sad to say, but some Arab believers (although definitely not all!) are actually enemies of the Jewish people. When they stop being the enemies of the Jewish people, there will be room for new buds of reconciliation between us.
Some very good news today is that there are a growing number of Arab believers and former Muslim believers who grasp these truths, who stand with the Jewish people and with Jewish believers in blessing our restoration to the land. May their tribe increase!
Biblical reconciliation between Jewish and Arab believers in Yeshua really isn’t chanting ‘politically correct’ mantras with glazed-over eyes. Biblical reconciliation begins by calling things by their correct names. This means that we need to start calling an enemy “an enemy.”
But it moves way beyond that. It calls believers into repentance for racism and hatred of Jews (and hatred of Arabs too). It insists that believers embrace without reservation the biblical truth that God has a biblical priority with the Jewish people (Romans 1:16; 2:5-11; Number 23:8-9) and has granted the land of Israel by covenant to the Jewish people exclusively and eternally. Biblical reconciliation causes both Jewish and Arab believers to humbly looks for ways to bless that Jewish restoration process with the minimum of suffering created for all sides. And God has called Jew and Arab to be friends in truth – beloved participants in His community of reconciliation.
Yeshua has prophesied in Ezekiel 37:9-14 that He is calling the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland in order to make them into an exceedingly mighty army in Him.
- Those who would weaken, confuse, fog or sideswipe this army are not involved in true reconciliation, but are pushing a counterfeit manifestation. In this area they are sowing doubt and trying to impede the strategies of the Holy One of Israel. Caveat emptor!
- Pray with us that YHVH the God of Israel will grant a revelation of true reconciliation to many Jewish and Arab believers throughout the Middle East – one not based on denial of God’s promises to Israel, but affirming His calling on the Jewish people; His holy and high standards required from Israel; and the centrality of Jewish restoration in Yeshua’s end time strategy.
Thanks for standing with us. 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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