By Greg Denham
Jesus is one of Israel’s own. He was born in Israel, He lived in Israel, and at Passover, Jesus died for the sin of the world in Israel. He was resurrected in Israel, and later ascended to Heaven from Israel. Just as Jesus is Jewish, His first followers were also descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moreover, He promised to return to Israel to establish His Kingdom.
A Christian is a follower of this Jesus, this Messiah of Israel, the promised Davidic King of Israel and the Savior of the world!
The question that we need to get right in a generation witnessing ongoing attempts to discredit, devalue, dismantle and destroy Israel is, “What, if any, is a Christian’s relationship and responsibility to Israel?”
Here’s a short-list …
#1 We can fight against the ignorance and madness of anti-Semitism
There is no greater friend of sinners, of man, of Israel – than Jesus. Yet tragically, history attests of unspeakable acts that have been done against Jews by those who have worn a “mask of Christianity”. We must denounce these acts! (Zechariah 2:8; Duet. 7:7-9a). Here are some suggestions of how Christians can help combat anti-Semitism:
#2 We can see our faith as part of God’s story of redeeming His people, in which we are included
At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief in the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 that was promised to Israel and inaugurated by the death of Jesus on the Cross. This New Covenant is celebrated and remembered today in what is known as Communion. Paul said,
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)
The Hebrew word for New Covenant is “brith Hadasha” – from which the phrase “New Testament” comes. This is a dynamic five-fold promise:
- That the law will be internalized in the hearts of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- That there is forgiveness of sins available to all who believe (Hebrews 8:12)
- That Israel will be reconciled to God, just as He promised to Abraham (Romans 11:25ff)
- That all of humanity will know the Lord (Jeremiah 31:34)
- That the Jewish people will be preserved throughout the ages (Jeremiah 31:35–37).1
At the heart of a Christian’s faith is the belief in the redemptive plan of God from eternity past to eternity future. A plan promised to, and unfolding through, Israel and the Messiah of Israel. A plan that the nations are invited into!
#3 Remember Jesus is coming back to Israel and to a Jewish Jerusalem
In fact, Peter when speaking to a first century Jewish audience in Jerusalem, underscored an “eschatological link” to Jewish evangelism by saying,
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)
This coincides with Jesus saying,
“For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Matt. 23:39)
And Revelation 1:7 reads,
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
The reality is, before the world “sees Him,” Jerusalem will “turn to Him”! (Zech. 12:10)
“And so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:26)
You can see then that there is a great spiritual battle over Jewish evangelism that we need to be aware of. Because, if Jerusalem will not see Him until she welcomes Him back, then no eye will see Him until Jerusalem receives Him! 2
#4 We can believe the whole Bible and the prophetic significance of the biblical calendar
From Passover, which prophetically speaks of Jesus’ death, to Tabernacles, which prophetically speaks of the final in-gathering of the nations of the world, it’s all still relevant. Therefore, the Christian faith sprang forth from the Hebrew Scriptures and from the city of Jerusalem – not Rome. A Christian believes in the whole Bible and calls both Jews and Christians back to the study of the Holy Scriptures. (Zech. 14:16-19; Rev. 7:9; Lev. 23:40)
In the context of the Passover Seder prior to His crucifixion Jesus said,
“Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:25)
It was a way of saying that at His second coming when He sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem and establishes the Kingdom of God while restoring planet earth to wholeness with Israel at the center. The “Jesus and Passover connection” will continue in the celebration of its divine completion. (Ez. 45:21, Matt. 23:37-39)
#5 A Christian’s highest expression of blessing “Israel” and the Jewish people is offering the good news of the Messiah
We can demonstrate unconditional love toward Jews and helping Jewish friends (as well as the rest of the world) to know and believe in the hope and salvation of the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus – one of Israel’s own! The Gospel of Christ is
“…the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
Paul wrote this verse in the present tense which means which means that if the gospel is still the power of God “for” salvation and is still for “everyone who believes,” then the gospel is still “to the Jew first.” It is important to note that the term “first” does not merely speak of sequence, but priority.3 Israel is called God’s “Firstborn” and are recipients of God’s covenant with their fathers (Romans. 11:28; Ex. 4:22). God is fully committed to Israel with His covenantal love. One day there will be a national repentance in Israel, an awakening and resurrection through Messiah Jesus, and “all Israel shall be saved”. The salvation of Israel means the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the righteous, the revival of the Church, and the restoration of the earth.4 Scott Volk, founder and director of Together For Israel summarizes:
“The Bible tells us that without Israel’s spiritual resurrection, God’s plan will not be accomplished; and Jesus will not return. That alone should compel the global Church to bless Israel. Paul made this clear to Gentile churches. He urged them to pray for Israel’s salvation, to proclaim the truth about Israel, to provide for Israel, and to provoke Israel to jealousy.” 5
#6 A Christian believes that the Lord is a covenant maker and a covenant keeper
God covenanted the Land of Israel to the Jewish people several times over – promising it to the descendants of Abraham, then to Isaac, and also to the sons of Jacob. Today, in fulfillment of His word in the Scriptures, God is regathering His people in the land of Israel after nearly 2,000 years of dispersion. God keeps His promises and cannot cancel His character! Standing with Israel today means standing in agreement with God as He unfolds His plan to restore the people to the Land. Zionism is the belief that Jews have a right to live and govern themselves in the land of their forefathers, but we can also love and support other peoples of the land at the same time. It has been the hand of God behind Israel’s rebirth and continued existence, and seeking to destroy Israel is in opposition to God’s purposes. (1 Chron. 16:17-18; Ez. 26:24; Romans 9:1-5; Joel 3)
#7 Christians can pray for Israel
Let us pray for Israel’s salvation in Jesus as Paul prayed:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” (Rom. 10:1).
Let us pray for Jerusalem’s peace:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.” (Ps. 122:6)
Let us pray that that Jerusalem will become the praise of all the earth:
“And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Is. 62:6-7)
Let us pray for Jewish believers on the front lines in Israel:
“the faithful remnant of Israel” and support them the best we can (Mt. 9:36-23; Rom. 11:5; Rom. 15:25-27).
Let us pray for an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in these last days:
“I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.” (Zech. 12:10)
Let us provoke our Jewish friends to jealousy in the genius plan of the heavenly Father in His Son the Messiah the Lord Jesus just as Paul said:
“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” (Romans 11:11)
Let us be unashamed of the Gospel like the Apostle Paul was, and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Jew and Gentile!
The time to favor Israel is upon us.
- Dr. Mitch Glaser online blog https://drmitchglaser.wordpress.com/2019/03/19/passover-and-the-new-covenant/
- Michael L. Brown, Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the Church and the Jewish People, revised & expanded ed. (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2019), 226.
- Michael L. Brown, Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the Church and the Jewish People, revised & expanded ed. (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2019), pg. 223
- Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and rev. W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, second rev. F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 726; Wilhelm Michaelis, “proton,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), 6:869.
- Scott Volk, Jesus was not a Christian, Burning Ones Publishing, Pg. 157 President of Together for Israel