by Michael F. Haverluck
Living for centuries without a homeland, Messianic Jews have increased from the four corners of the world, and since the end of the 19th Century, the international movement has become more pronounced. After the Jewish people returned to their homeland in 1948 following the Holocaust and reestablished the nation of Israel after two millennia, the number of Jews who believe in Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah, while holding onto their Jewish customs, has grown around the globe — at about the same rate that Jews continue to return to Israel.
In no place around the world is this increase more pronounced than in the United States and the promised land — Israel.
But because Jews have been a persecuted people without a nation for so long, many evangelical Christian groups and missionaries have found that they’ve been a tough nut to crack, particularly in, as the Bible puts it, ”The Land of Milk and Honey.”
The Israel of modern times places them on a plot of land the size of New Jersey in the center of the Middle East’s powder keg, surrounded by Arab nations threatening to wipe them off the face of the earth. This is going on while the occupying Palestinians (led by the Islamic terrorist organization, Hamas) continue their incessant uprisings, hurling rockets over the dividing lines into peaceful Jewish communities.
This anti-Semitism by no means ends for Jews outside of Israel’s borders, as it is seen carried out throughout Europe and across the world — not excluding the U.S. And the hostility against Jews doesn’t stop with the Islamic world, as anti-Semitism has been witnessed for thousands of years across the globe by people of every faith — including Christians.
“Living with those concerns, the people have become cautious about ‘outsiders,’ especially after nearly two millennia of ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Barry Rubin reported in Charisma News. “Thus, Christian missions to the Jews of Israel often have been met with suspicion. Yet some have been successful, especially if they are sensitive to and supportive of Messianic Judaism.”
And cracking the hard veneer of native Israeli’s Orthodox Jews is no easy task, calling for unconventional means.
“The primary evangelistic work in Israel is not through missions,” Rubin contends. “It is being done through local Messianic congregations. There are 150-plus congregations in Israel with as many as 15,000 Messianic Jewish believers, of whom about 60 percent speak Russian as their first language.”
Within the past two decades, there has been an unprecedented growth in Messianic Jew congregations — not just in Israel, but abroad, too. And as this trend continues to proliferate, the number of these Jesus-loving Jews returning to their homeland expands, as well, amplifying the increase in Israel.
And once converted to Christ, Jews are no longer shunned by their Orthodox neighbors as they have been in the not-so-distant past. In fact, it’s the other way around now, as the two groups have been seen embracing each other.
“Messianic Jews are gaining more acceptance in Israel,” Rubin asserts. “Instead of being perceived as threats to the Israelis, due to prejudices going back 2,000 years, they are recognized as friends, fellow citizens, and an active part of Israeli society,” Rubin reports. “In part, the groundwork for this was laid by the benevolence work of groups such as Chosen People Ministries, The Joseph Storehouse, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America’s Joseph Project, and other similar works.”
Why are Jewish believers to important?
Line of Fire radio host, Dr. Michael L. Brown, perhaps the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist, understands the importance of what is happening in the hearts of Jews around the world today.
“Many believers today, especially in the younger generation, have serious questions about why they should stand with the people of Israel,” Brown, a nationally syndicated columnist, said. ”Tragically, throughout much of Church history, professing Christians have driven Jews away from Jesus, to the point that many religious Jews today associate the Holocaust with Christianity.”
Brown stresses how the apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of the Jews’ coming to Christ.
“He wants the Gentile believers in Rome to understand the implications of Israel’s salvation, writing, ‘For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?’ (Rom. 11:15),” Brown points out. “He is saying that Israel’s salvation is intimately tied in to the return of the Messiah, and when He returns, the righteous dead are resurrected and living believers receive their glorified bodies. You’d better believe that Israel’s salvation matters!”
He also addresses attitudes within the Church that some have when it comes to Orthodox Jews, believing that they should be indebted to them for sharing the Truth about Jesus.
“Since the Law and the prophets and the Messiah and the apostles are all from Israel, and since the Gentile believers have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel — into Israel’s olive tree (Eph. 2:11-22) — they should be humble rather than prideful.,” the founder of “Ask Dr. Brown” contends. “And so Paul warns, ‘do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you’ (Rom. 11:18); in Rom. 15:27, Paul goes so far as to urge the believers in Rome to help support Jewish believers living in Israel, since they are spiritually indebted to them.”
Another misperception many believers harbor is that Jews not believing in Christ reject the Gospel because of their own stubbornness or contempt for Christianity, but Brown says that their aversion to salvation through the Savior has been written about thousands of years ago in the pages of Scripture.
“Paul explains that the great bulk of the nation remains hardened and outside of the Messiah (and therefore lost), but that hardening is only ‘in part,’ meaning, it is not for all the people (there is always a remnant that believes) and it is not for all time,” Brown asserts. “As he writes, ‘Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in’ (Rom. 11:25).”
Brown reminds non-Jewish Christians not to get haughty and think they are the replacement for “hard-headed” Jews who won’t listen to Jesus’s words.
“Paul was concerned that the Gentile believers would think that they were the new Israel and that they had replaced the old Israel (sadly, this had been taught through much of Church history, resulting in much suffering for the Jewish people, not to mention much spiritual darkness in the Church),” Brown explains. “He emphasized that Israel’s hardening was only partial, waiting until the full harvest of the Gentiles would come in. This clearly speaks of the climax of the Great Commission.”
Playing parts in the greatest story ever told
A Messianic Jew himself, Brown emphasizes that what is happening in Israel and Jewish hearts today is not a product of Jewish stubbornness or Christian evangelic efforts … it is all about the unfolding of the story that God has already told through Scripture:
“Paul then writes, ‘And in this way [meaning, on the heels of the fullness of the Gentiles coming in or provoked by that fullness] all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins’ (Rom. 11:26-27),” Brown continues. “This is not a matter of divine favoritism; it is a matter of the faithfulness of God. He always keeps His promises!”
He makes it clear that the Jewish people are key pieces in God’s puzzle that will be appropriately fitted in His perfect timing.
“And so Paul concludes, ‘As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:25-29),” added Brown, founder of the FIRE School of Ministry in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Word to the skeptics
For those still doubting the Jewish people’s intricate tie-in with Christ’s Second Coming and other End Times events, Brown makes his case.
“You might be wondering, ‘But how do I know if the modern state of Israel today is the fulfillment of prophecy?’” Brown poses. “The answer: When God blesses no one can curse, and when He curses no one can bless. When He opens a door, no one can shut it, and when He closes a door, no one can open it. In the same way, when He scatters no one can gather, and when He gathers, no one can scatter.”
He further shows how, just like in biblical times, believers and non-believers alike are used by God to fulfill prophesy declared to mankind ages ago.
“’It is He who scattered the Jewish people in His wrath, preserving us under His discipline as He promised (Jer. 31:35-37), and therefore it is only He who can re-gather us,’” Brown highlights from Scripture. “The fact that we have been re-gathered to the Land, especially in the aftermath of the horrors of the Holocaust, can only be explained as a glorious act of God.”
Brown briefly lays out the reasons why Christians’ and America’s bond and alliance with Israel is of paramount importance.
“The Church should stand with Israel because of its spiritual, historic debt, since salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22),” Brown argues. “The Church should stand with Israel to help eradicate the horrible history of ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism.”
Putting it all in a nutshell, Brown says believers should customize their treatment of God’s people (Jews) according to their knowledge of things to come, understanding that the softening of their hearts to Christ is an indication of the soon-to-come reunion with their Lord and Savior.
“And, the Church should stand with Israel and share the Gospel with the Jewish people because Israel’s salvation means life from the dead and the return of the King,” Brown concludes.
Repairing broken bridges
Taking to note from Scripture that God is ultimately in control of softening and hardening hearts, Rabbi Rubin notes that the walls once erected between Jews and believers kept the progression of Jews to the Savior at bay.
“Over the past centuries, because of all the atrocities done to Jews in the name of Jesus, Jewish people have avoided having anything to do with Him, His followers, or His teachings,” Rubin informed. “It was too costly, too risky.”
He notes that Israelis being under the constant bombardment of militant Islamic attacks has contributed to their aversion to outside influences, but he says that God has recently opened hearts.
“But Messianic Judaism is changing things,” Rubin added. “Now, Israelis are more open to talking about Yeshua and considering his claims to Messiahship.”
Rubin argues that God has now opened the door to the Gospel in the hearts of Jews.
“Encouragingly, the perception of Messianic Jews is undergoing a steady transformation in Israel these days — from one of mistrust and outright loathing to recognition and acceptance,” Rubin insists.
He is confident that the rising number of Jews coming to Christ in Israel, America and around the world are ushering in the fulfillment of Scripture.
“Knowing the love of Yeshua in the Messianics’ hearts, the bridge between them and Orthodox Jews is getting shorter all the time,” Rubin concludes. “Doors to hearts once closed are beginning to open wide.”