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Good News for Israel

What incredible days we are living in today! Even some 50 years ago, when God was gathering arm loads of Jewish People into His Kingdom through the Jesus Movement of the 1960s, few could imagine they would see the day when more than just a handful of His Chosen People came to faith in Messiah at one time.

Today, many of those young Messianic Jewish men and women from the ‘60s and  early ‘70s have risen to lead what is clearly the most proliferating season for Messianic Judaism since the First Century. Not only do Messianic congregations exist in nearly every city in the United States, but every day, more are springing up in key cities around the globe.

Not since the Book of Acts have we witnessed such growth  and in numbers none of us could have ever imagined.

But what is Messianic Judaism? What is its call? Why has God restored it and caused it to flourish so abundantly in our day?

Messianic Judaism is an Evangelistic Movement

Paul writes in Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of the Messiah because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew and then for the nations.” So the call to evangelize, which simply means sharing the Good News as Messiah instructed, is central to the essence of Messianic Judaism.

Some people object to this. When they see Messianic Jews declaring the Gospel to other Jewish People and to Gentiles, they say, “Why are you doing that? That’s not Jewish. We Jews are not a proselytizing faith.” Well, that may be a popular notion to many people, but it isn’t true. In Matthew 23:15, Yeshua says, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees. You hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and, when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Clearly, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day were proselytizing. They were telling people about God. They were winning converts, Yeshua says. So, sharing our faith is definitely Jewish. Not only was it true in the First Century, and before Messiah came, but it is also true today.

To me, Messianic Judaism isn’t simply an alternative among a number of forms of Judaism. Messianic Judaism is true, biblical Judaism! There are no alternatives. When we share the Gospel with other Jewish People, we’re not saying, “Here, try this.” We’re saying, “You know how the Scriptures have always been telling us that God was going to send His Messiah? Good news! He’s already come. His name is Yeshua and He wants a relationship with you!”

The Bible calls Believers salt and when salt loses its flavor, it’s worth nothing and should be trodden down by man. (Matt. 5:13) When Messianic congregations shift away from Yeshua and from being evangelistically oriented, then our salt has definitely lost its flavor. God called us to spread the Good News of the Messiah. Woe to us if we fail to do so.

When God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees and head “for the land that I will show you,” He said that He would make Abraham and his descendants a blessing to all the world. That blessing involved being a People through whom God would show Himself to every person on earth. It has always been God’s plan to use the Jewish People to reach all the nations with the Good News. In the First Century Church, in fact, all the evangelists were Jewish. For many years, however, the Church took the helm. But the day is coming  in fact, I believe it is here now  when Jewish Believers will be restored to places of apostolic and evangelistic leadership in the body of Messiah.

God is surely restoring the call to the Believers of the House of Israel to be a royal priesthood and declare His Good News throughout the earth. We must not be lax. Harvest time is at hand and God has commissioned us in the Messianic Movement with an important part of the task.

Messianic Judaism is a Prophetic Movement

In 1948, Israel was restored as a nation with a homeland after nearly 2000 years. Now that’s news, but not the kind that would warrant the extended worldwide coverage that this nation has received since it was reestablished. The extent to which the eye of the world is riveted on Israel goes far beyond what one would expect in the natural. Israel is, after all, just a little sliver of land, barely more than a dot on the world map. Why then would all the earth give it so much attention?

Because it was a prophetic statement to the world, when in 1948 Israel was once more on the map, and then again in 1967, when Jerusalem was restored, that God was fulfilling His promises to Israel made thousands of years ago, predicting the restoration of His People to their Land. The physical presence of a Land named “Israel” is a bold declaration made by God, on public display for all to see and which cannot be ignored: “Sit up, world, and take notice! I promised to restore the Land of Israel and I have done it! I’m faithful to My promises.

"They will all be fulfilled.”

In the same way, the Messianic Movement is also a sign, made visible through Messianic Jewish congregations, that God is restoring His People to Himself.

In Romans 11:1-3, Paul writes: “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people whom he foreknew.” In essence, Paul was saying, “Hey, you can’t say God has rejected His People, I’m Jewish! I’m living proof that God has not rejected us. I’m a physical sign, ministering before you today, that God is faithful to His promises. He will fulfill them.”

In the same way, our Messianic congregations, with their physical buildings and their signs, are a visible testament to our covenant-keeping God, a prophetic statement that what God has promised concerning the spiritual restoration of the Jewish People is being fulfilled. Our existence alone boldly declares it in a way that cannot be ignored.

Some years ago, a woman I knew was walking outside her offices in New York City when a person approached her and handed her a tract. She wasn’t a Believer yet, but she had been raised in a church. She glanced down at the pamphlet in her hand and saw the words “Jews for Jesus.” Her eyes got really big and this excited shock wave ran through her body.

Suddenly, she did a little hop right there on that New York City sidewalk. “Jews for Jesus!” She exclaimed. “Jesus, You’re coming soon!” You see, that woman had been told that one day, the eyes of the Jewish People would be opened and that would mean Jesus’ return was soon. So, that Jewish tract was a sign to her that God was doing what He said He would and that Messiah’s return was near. A few weeks later, she became a Believer  and it all started with a tract distributed by a Jewish Believer, which gave evidence that prophecy was being fulfilled!

As I consider the impact just one Jewish Believer had on one Gentile lady, I can’t help but think about the impact entire Messianic congregations on fire for Yeshua can have  locally, nationally and internationally. That’s why I’m so committed to seeing Messianic Jewish congregations established all over the world. When one person is sent proclaiming Jewish faith in Yeshua, perhaps a few people will hear. But as Jewish Believers draw together, unified through community, soon whole communities are hearing the proclamation: “Look! God is restoring His People. He is fulfilling prophecy written by the prophets centuries ago.”

Messianic Judaism is a Revival Movement

In Haggai 2:6-9, we read: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come. And I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord God Almighty. The silver is Mine, the gold is Mine, says the Lord God Almighty. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, says the Lord Almighty.”

I am fully dedicated to the idea that the Messianic Jewish Movement has been raised up to be a vehicle for revival, for the Jewish People and all the nations of the world. Here in Haggai, as well as many other portions of the Old and New Testaments, God talks about a latter day outpouring upon the Jewish People and ultimately the nations will be greater than at any other time in history. We are living in those days! Messianic Judaism is not someone’s “good idea.” It is the first fruits of the latter day rain upon Israel. God in His Word declares it, and nothing will stand in the way of Him ultimately bringing revival and restoration to the nations. What we have witnessed over the past 40 years is marvelous indeed  more than we ever expected  but I believe this is just the beginning. The “latter house”  the assembly of all Believers, both Jewish and non-Jewish  is definitely going to be greater than the former one, greater in size, in scope, in depth of understanding and relationship.

The Messianic Movement is charged with a great purpose: to bring this revival, which the Gospel boldly proclaims, to the entire earth. It is going to take work, prayer, finances, time, and energy. But we must be willing to invest all these things in the revival of the lost Sheep of the House of Israel. There is no better or wiser investment we can make, and we are called to invest in nothing less.

Messianic Judaism is a Restoration Movement

In Acts 3, we read the familiar story about Peter, John and the healing of the lame beggar at the Gate called Beautiful. The crowd of people who witness this miraculous healing are understandably amazed. Noticing this, Peter tells them what God has provided for them through the death of Yeshua haMashiach. Then he says: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you  even Yeshua. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything as he promised long ago through his prophets.”

Who is Peter talking to in the Temple? Jewish People! He’s telling Jewish People to repent for two reasons: First, that their sins might be “wiped out” but also that “times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” My understanding of what this verse declares is, as the Jewish People repent and their sins are forgiven, it will release upon the entire world “times of refreshing.” Many authors have used this statement, “times of refreshing” as a definition for revival, but that isn’t where it ends!

In Acts 3:10, we see that these “times of refreshing” are connected with the return of Yeshua. So, even though revival of people is a great thing in itself, the best thing is that this refreshing and “restoration of all things,” as I understand these Scriptures, will mean Yeshua’s physical return to Earth. Through the salvation of the Jewish People, Peter was saying, “times of refreshing” would come, according to the original Greek text, not only for them but also for the entire world. Then, when that happens, God can send Yeshua back.

In Romans 11:11-12 and 15, Paul writes: “Again, I ask: Did (the Jewish People) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring… For if there rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

What is this “life from the dead” that Paul is writing about? It’s the same thing that Peter was referring to back in Acts 3. It’s part of “the restoration of all things.”

But we won’t experience this “life from the dead” until the Jewish People repent and are restored to their God, nor will we see the return of our Messiah to earth!

The very fact that the natural branches of the olive tree are being restored declares that God is in the process of “the restoration of all things” and that Yeshua’s return is near.

There is an inseparable connection between the Jewish People getting saved and the restoration of the nations. The Jewish People are not just another people group. They’re the gauge of God’s biblical timetable.

Mark Twain was once asked why he believed in God. Immediately, he replied: “The Jew, my friend. The Jew!” How do we know that we’re living in the final days, that Yeshua is about to return and that we’re in the process of “the restoration of all things?” The Messianic Jew my friend. The Messianic Jew!

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