Recently a group from our church made a journey to the Holy Land of Israel. I was not expecting to be so moved by this trip and I know this may sound clich?©, but I definitely left a piece of myself in Israel and while I cannot speak for the others, I’m sure they would say the same. I can also say that because of this experience my heart and my thinking towards the Holy Land and the Jewish people is forever changed since I spent time in this spiritually significant place.
Have you ever asked yourself, or wondered why, Israel and the Jewish people should be important to us as Christians? As a Christian, I will say that I haven’t spent too much time thinking about Israel or the Jewish people, in fact, it was only recently that this subject was brought front and center for me. Going to the Holy Land is guaranteed to effect great change in anyone’s life. Secondly, my pastor asked me to write about this very subject concerning why Israel and the Jewish people should be important to us as Christians?
To start with, I interviewed a few Christians and asked them why they thought Israel and the Jewish people should be important us and here is what I got:
A: Visiting the Holy Land reaffirms everything we believe and gives us a chance to see and touch where Jesus actually walked. It’s our duty to be there for the Jewish people because they are Gods chosen people and we need to be there to support them; we provide a Christian touch to the Jewish people. (45 yr old Christian male)
A: This is where our roots are. (81 y o Christian male)
A: This is where Christianity began; this is where Jesus was born, that’s where He spread the Word of God and that’s where He was crucified. (22 y o Christian male)
A: When Christians believe that Jesus is their Savior, they by virtue become citizens of the commonwealth of Israel equally franchised with the Jews, as joint heirs to the promises of God. As citizens of the commonwealth of Israel, it is most important for Christians to visit their spiritual homeland. Once they do, their lives will be changed forever because they will have set foot on the soil of the land that is their destiny. (75 y o Messianic Jewish female)
A: Because Israel is our spiritual home; where everything we believe in and base our lives upon began; this is where everything we read about in the Bible took place, it’s where Jesus was prophesied to be born, where He was born, where He walked and was baptized, where He made disciples and did miracles, and where He sweat great drops of blood as He prayed realizing the price that He would have to pay in giving His life for us and finally, it is where He will return. (55 y o Christian female)
One thing I noticed in common with those interviewed is that the answers were mostly pertaining to the significance of Jesus and the Holy Land. I received only two answers that included the Jewish people. I found this to be interesting and revealing and it caused me to wonder about how I felt about the importance of the Jewish people and their position and role as it pertains to Christians today. So I thought, as a believer how does God want me to think about and view the Jewish people and how do they fit into the picture as relating to and in relationship with Christians.
When it comes to our faith and everything we base our Christianity upon, it all came out of Israel. For us Christians, otherwise known as Gentiles, like the Jewish people, we find that this is where it is all began. The very beginnings of our faith were recorded on ancient scrolls compiled together and carried forward throughout thousands of years that contributed to the Holy Bible: the Word of God.
Israel, the City of Jerusalem and the surrounding area is God’s land! This is the very heart of our faith. Jesus, our Savior, having been born there, living and gathering His disciples there, He gave the Olivet Discourse there, He sweat great drops of blood as He prayed there, He was tortured and shed His precious ALL powerful supernatural blood for us there, He gave His life for us there, He rose again and ascended up into Heaven from there, AND He will return to the same place and in the same way that He left the Holy Land – – all this happened right there!
I could think of many reasons why Israel and the Holy Land were important and significant to me, so that part was easy, but only recently could I have answered the question as to what the Word of God said about how Jewish and Christian people relate to one another.
To be honest, I could not answer this question and I don’t think I’m alone in this, and many, if not most Christians today would be hard pressed to give a Biblical answer to this question for sure because we simply haven’t been educated, and haven’t educated ourselves. Without knowledge of the Word we base our thinking on our own opinions culminated in the teaching we have, or haven’t, received. The things that I knew of the Jewish people could be summed up in this:
The Jewish people are God’s chosen people from the foundation of the world, and He loves them with all of His heart!
The Jewish people followed God’s law by offering sacrifices God’s specific way, honoring feasts, praying, binding God’s Word upon their hands and their foreheads.The Jewish people much of the time did not obey and follow God’s laws so He punished them even when it broke his heart.
The Jewish people rejected Him and were threatened by Jesus their own Messiah
The Pharisees, as we read in scripture, were threatened by Jesus; they were haughty, arrogant, controlling, and they were stingy and selfish with the Word of God
The Jewish people cried out and demanded the Crucifixion of their own Messiah.
We, as Christians, are to pray for the peace of Israel.
So, based upon my limited Biblical knowledge and learning, I’ve always wondered if Christians and Jews are even on the same page; if we share the very basic foundational belief that as Christians we must accept Jesus Christ as our Messiah and Savior, and this is where it all begins. If we don’t, as Christians, know these things, then there is NO beginning for us, only an eternal end.
From my own perspective of being in the Christian church for almost 40 years, I haven’t heard ANY teaching about the Jewish People, and how we, as Christians, should view, relate to or be accountable to them and if so, how are we to do this?
I know the Bible says this:
Hosea 4:6 tells us: My people perish, and are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.
Factoid pause: Did you know that perish doesn’t just simply mean to pass away and die; the word perish means much more: it means to die an untimely, destructive death!
We, as Christians, know this scripture is addressing “God’s people,” not the people, of the world,” and secondly, God’s people are perishing, that is, dying a destructive and untimely death, which is attributed to a lack of knowledge of what the Word of God really says. As Christians, we do know God’s Word is the substance and hope of our life, promise, answer and direction. The Bible does give us the answer to this fundamental question, and we will be held accountable for the words written therein, including and concerning the Jewish people as God’s chosen people.
A good place to start is to ask this question: What does Jesus show us Himself about His attitude and thinking towards His chosen people, the ones who rejected Him and demanded His death?
Ephesians 2:14: For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
Wow! This is good! This power-packed New Testament scripture tells us that part of the work that Jesus, our Savior, did on the Cross, was to specifically break down the walls of hostility between Jew and Gentile that had once separated us so that we now could be as one united in Him. What is the definition of a Christian?
1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart.
2) Be a follower of Jesus Christ’s example;
3) Be obedient to God’s Word while paying attention to His heart,
4) Be in relationship with Him.
This scripture reveals to us the very heart and desire of our Savior regarding His people, the Jews and the Gentiles, in that we become as one people under Him. So, as a follower of Christ, our heart’s desire should line up with His clear and expressed desire and intentional work on the Cross!
Based upon one scripture we have learned what our attitude, our heart, our thinking, and our position should be towards the Jewish people so that we can be united with them as one in God; no hostility, no walls!
The Apostle Paul wrote in Acts 17:1-21 I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew then to the Gentile.
Paul demonstrated this on his missionary journeys. Unfortunately, throughout the centuries this mandate to take the Gospel to the Jew first has been lost. This, in fact, is what Paul did. Some Messianic scholars believe that every time a Jewish person comes to faith in Yeshua; we as a, body of believers‚ move that much closer to the Messiahs return.
We see from this verse that the Jewish people are first; we need to take note of this. Christians have always been and continue to be motivated by having a part or role in bringing about the 2nd coming of Jesus and we can have a part in speeding this by bringing the gospel of Jesus to the Jewish people!
Matthew 23:37-39 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the men who speak for God and throw stones at those who were sent to you. How many times I wanted to gather your children around Me, as a chicken gathers her young ones under her wings. But you would not let Me. 38 See! Your house is empty. 39 I say to you, you will not see Me again until you will say, “Great is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!”
While he appears in this last discourse with all the authority of a lawgiver and judge, He, at the same time, shows the tenderness and compassion of a friend and a father: He beholds their awful state – his eye affects his heart, and he weeps over them! According to Matt 23:39, we can be sure there will be a time when the final remnant of the Jewish people will cry out and say: “Baruch habba b, shem Adonai,” that is, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The prophecy as written in Zachariah 12:10 says: “They will look upon Me whom they have pierced and mourn for Me as an only begotten Son.”
From this verse we come away with the fact that at some point those who crucified Him will come to the realization that they have pierced and rejected their Messiah Yeshua.
Romans 11:25: “I do not desire brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
This alludes to the fact that a “blindness has been placed on Israel‚ for a time”– not forever, because it says “until.” And why does the Word of God say that blindness has been placed on Israel until the fullness of us Gentiles come? The question is: Has God placed a blindness upon the entirety of the Jewish people for the sakes of us Gentiles? It sure sounds like that is what has happened to me. What do you think? All the more reason for us to be busy praying for, and evangelizing, the Jewish people.
Is it our responsibility to pray for the blind eyes to be opened; to evangelize the Jewish people, and to have a heart for them? After all is said and done, it seems that according to the Word of God they probably have taken a hit for us!
The spiritual restoration of the Jewish people is at hand. The time where God’s Word in the New Testament alone finds a receptive audience only among the Gentiles has come to an end. The end time remnant, which is the Jewish people coming to Christ precipitates the Second Coming of Messiah their realizing this, should cause us to be highly engaged to reach Jewish people; we must realize that we must stay motivated to evangelize and pray for the blindness to be removed from the eyes of the Jewish people.
Romans 11:1: I ask then, “Has God put His people, the Jews, aside?” No, not at all! I myself am a Jew. Abraham was my early father. I am from the family group of Benjamin. 2 God has not put His people aside.
We, as Christians, dare not say the church has replaced Israel God’s chosen people, which was based upon these very words of Paul in the New Testament. We must realize we are in this together; just as Jesus told us which is written in His Word.
Romans 11:7-8 7: This is the way it was; Many Jews did not get what they were looking for. Only those God chose were able to receive it. The hearts of the others were made hard and they let their hearts be hardened. They could not understand anything about Jesus. 8 The Holy Writings say this about them, “God gave them hearts and minds that want to sleep. He gave them eyes that could not see. To this very day He gave them ears that could not hear.”
Romans 10:1: Paul says: “Christian brothers, the desire of my heart and my prayer to God is that the Jews might be saved from the punishment of sin. 2 I know about them. They have a strong desire for God, but they do not know what they should about Him.”
We see from this scripture that the desire of Paul’s heart is that the Jews would be saved from their punishment of sin. We should follow his example and do the same. As Christians we should have a passion to see our Jewish brothers and sisters come to faith in Jesus, to disciple them so that they, too, can be fruitful.
Psalm 122:6 6: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May all go well for those who love you.”
As Christians, we ARE to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We know, and are never surprised, to hear of violence, and suicide bombings in the “Holy Land”; we also know how much fighting happens over every square inch of that land; sometimes on a daily basis! We also have to mention the unseen intense spiritual warfare going on in the airways as different belief systems are pushing against one another in such a small space, all struggling and wrestling for control over more of the land.