God works in mysterious ways, but always with wisdom and perfect understanding in all things. He has a plan which He conceived before time began, and He will fully display its perfection when time is no more. Meanwhile, a major objective of all His activities is to resist the pride which is in man and in nations, and to bring forth in His children the choice fruit of the Holy Spirit: a holy man and people, who have learned from the Messiah Jesus to be meek and lowly in heart. To whom much is given much is required. To whom has more been given than to Israel and to the Church?
With this in mind, I want to share about a subject that many of us pray about, even worry over. Over the years, many people have complained to the congregational leadership and even blamed us regarding this matter. As one who also is deeply interested in the same, I have sought the LORD about it, and not too long ago I believe that He has given me His answer. The subject is: Why aren’t more Israelis repenting and believing in Yeshua, and why doesn’t our kehila do something to make the services more Jewish or Israeli in order to be more effective in this regard?
In the beginning the first believers were Jews and the church had a heavily Jewish flavor. Because the nation of Israel did not accept or receive her long-promised Redeemer-King, then afterwards, in fulfillment of the Word of the Lord, God took away the privileges belonging to Israel as first-born among the nations unto God, and He gave them to the Gentiles in order to obtain His fruit (Mt. 21:40-46). (This follows a consistent Biblical pattern of the first-born losing the presumed birthright and blessing, even if only for a time.) From then until now the Body of Messiah has been heavily un-Jewish in outward personality and style. The relatively few Jews who have been born- again have had effectually little impact. Even in Israel today it is no easy matter to define or determine Jewishness or Israeliness.
The answer to the subject lies in the necessity of God to cause His people to humble themselves—each one and all together—in order to know the glory of God in His wisdom to build up (edify) the weak and despised, even His Church. Many who are first shall be last.
Let us look together at three passages from the O.T. and N.T., from which I believe the Holy Spirit opened my understanding to see their relevance to our own day and time:
- Ezek. 11:14-17 (Deut. 8:10-18) – Those living in Jerusalem, the beloved city of the Great King, believed that they were special because they lived in Jerusalem and in the Land of Israel. They disdained in their hearts those Jews who were living in the dispersion, saying, “Get you far from YHVH; this land is given to us as a possession!” But God comforted those in captivity outside the land and said that he would be for them a little sanctuary. The Good Shepherd cares for those who are dismissed in the eyes of the so-called privileged, and He brings us home according to His promise!
Brothers and sisters, most Jews who are saved today live in the diaspora and not in Israel. In Israel the Jewish leaders presume to themselves the determination of who/what is a Jew while remaining indifferent or hostile to the claims of Jesus. But the LORD has been faithful to many Jewish people not living in Israel today. There is no place for pride before God! It doesn’t “cut it” with Him.
2. Zech. 12:7 (Dt 17:20) – In order to subdue pride in the chosen House of David to whom belonged the ruling authority, YHVH would save others from the House of Judah first. Today, most of the Israeli Jews who do believe in Yeshua are immigrants like most of us here. Very few are native-born (“sabras”). Think what it is like when local people or an influential family controls a situation. It becomes very difficult for an outsider or a newcomer to fit in. The locals have the language, the culture, the contacts, the power. They think, “This is how it’s done here, and we know how to do it!”
God in His sovereign grace and wisdom is giving those with less status and natural privileges an opportunity to grow and develop confidence. He wants all His people to be kings and priests. Likewise is our Father in Heaven subduing the pride of the Israeli by showing His love for us all who live here in the Land of the Covenant. He has something for all His family members. The personal relationship of each of us with Father is of great importance and value.
3. Rom. 11:25-32 (Deut. 32:21) – God is still saving Gentiles and is using them to provoke Israel to jealousy, and even to anger. Look at how many foreign workers are being brought into the Kingdom of God right under our Jewish noses right here in Israel and Beer Sheva! Still the Jewish people are partially blinded and will be until the fullness of the Gentiles is completed. Meanwhile God is requiring Israeli believers here to accept their Gentile brethren fully and equally, just as we have wanted them to accept us fully and equally in Messiah. It is in mercy that any of us are saved by God.
The prayers of the Lord Yeshua and of all the saints throughout the generations have been accumulating until today for the Kingdom of God the Father to come and for Israel to be restored and saved. We are entering into the labors of others also working by the Spirit of Messiah, and the time is near when God is going to answer all these prayers. We can be thankful for all of the Jewish people being saved today. Much opposition to the truth of God still reflects the great pride in man. We want to see more “real” Israelis repent and believe the truth of Messiah in Jesus.
Peter, the apostle to the Jews, was a typical Israeli. The lesson he had to learn is one we must all learn: to accept God’s way of doing things. The Holy Spirit will glorify the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and not ourselves or our culture.
Let us remain obedient with faith in what we have been given to do and God will take care of the consequences. Praise the LORD! Amen.