The Prime Minister-designate, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, is facing difficulties forming a new government coalition, partly over the issue of “sharing the burden”. Sharing the burden here primarily refers to more equality in sharing the economic and military burdens of the country. The political agenda of Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid (There is a Future), the party receiving the second largest number of votes in the recent elections last month, included in its platform making military service compulsory for most of the ultra-orthodox religious Jewish men who have been exempted in order to ‘study Torah’ (which is not really the Law of Moses or the Old Testament, but rather the Gemara, or commentaries on the Torah by Jewish sages of earlier centuries). The dilemma is growing as the percent of the ‘haredi‘ population grows, putting a burden not only on the defense of the nation, but also on the cost of paying social welfare subsidies to more and more non-working adult males.
One of the fears of the ultra-orthodox haredi community is the rampant secularism of the military institution, which they fear will negatively impact those young men (and women) with respect to their religious convictions. It is just on this matter that proclaims the weakness of their rabbinic religion and faith. Even us among the Messianic community of believers in Yeshua/Jesus recognize the risks at this juncture in the life of our children who generally do go and serve in one of the branches of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces/Tzahal): the years of military service of 18-21 year-olds is a proving ground and critical turning point in their lives regarding the choices they make for the way in which they will live.
We as believers in Messiah Yeshua are stereotypically accused of belonging to a cult, a deviant religious belief system outside the predominant religious culture, controlling and minutely regulating the lives of the adherents, and threatening to the ‘normative identification’. In Israel’s case, the predominant religion and culture is Judaism, which denies and rejects the truth of Messiah being Jesus. Yet, nearly all who identify themselves as of the Messianic Jewish/Christian faith (excluding Arab Christians) in Israel serve in the IDF, defending the country and its people — including the haredim and the Arabs — as a necessary phase in their lives, not only as citizens, but also in submitting to the civil authority under which we live.
For those who believe in Yeshua, this is part of religious faith, too, in this present evil age, even while we much prefer peace to war, and look with expectation for the Lord’s return to transform this world. The large majority of the believers in Yeshua here of working age also have jobs whose incomes are taxed by Israel. We are not cloistered away, but are sent even as sheep among wolves. (See earlier post on the topic of serving one’s country here: http://streamsinthenegev.com/latest-news/serving-ones-country-4-july-2012/ )
The tension in Israeli society between the secular and the religious is not between the large majority of Israeli Jews and the small minority of believers in Yeshua, but between the vast majority of seculars who believe that they are just as Jewish as the growing minority of the ultra-religious who claim to be the guardians of Jewish identity. Which is more the ‘cult’? According the the Law of Moses, all have a role to play as one people and family to share the burden of hearing YHVH’s voice and doing His will. Then, there will be an end to civil strife, military conflict, economic struggle . . . and the one true God will be glorified: Israel will be His people, and He will be their God; and all the nations of the Earth will praise and glorify the God of Israel for what He has done!