Recently I taught at the Christian Embassy Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. There was some controversy around a Messianic Jewish leader teaching there. The theme of my message was the strategic alliance between evangelical Christians worldwide and the modern State of Israel. This is more than a strategic alliance; it is a revelation of the relationship between Israel and the Church.
I started out by reading a few scriptures from the Prophets about a positive destiny for “all the nations”. (The word goyim can be translated as nations or gentiles.) Some of the verses I cited were:
- Isaiah 2:2
- Isaiah 56:7
- Jeremiah 3:17
- Amos 9:12
- Zechariah 14:16
The Hebrew prophets play an important role as a bridge between the Torah and the Gospels. Neither traditional Christian nor rabbinic Jewish theology has had a clear understanding of the prophetic writings. The fact that there is a positive destiny for gentile nations in the Hebrew prophets challenges both Christians and Jews to find their mutual destiny in the plan of God.
A fresh examination of the prophetic writings in the light of the reestablishment of the State of Israel demands a reevaluation of both Christian and Jewish thought. Any revelation from God involves a kind of thinking which is “out of the box.” Here are a few examples on the Jewish side:
In 1881, Eliezer Ben Yehuda responded to a revelation from God to restore the “Language of the prophets in the Land of the prophets.” In doing so, he became the father of the modern Hebrew language.
David Ben Gurion developed his own method of Bible interpretation combining a socialist and nationalist analysis of the Hebrew prophets. In doing so, he became the father of the modern State of Israel.
Rabbi Kook challenged almost all of rabbinic thinking by seeing the secular State of Israel as the first stage of development in the Messianic age soon to come. In doing so, he became the first Chief Rabbi of Israel.
On the Christian side, the reality of the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, as well as the subsequent conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, demanded a revolution in theology. Classic Christian thinking saw the prophecies as merely symbolic and spiritual, referring only to the Church. When suddenly these prophecies were fulfilled in a physical and historical manner, the entire “replacement” theological paradigm was doomed.
In addition, the modern international Islamic Jihad, with its common hatred of both Jews and Christians, is forcing Jews and Christians into allegiance. Starting in the year 2000, Israelis began to say, “Our only friends in the world are the Evangelical Christians.”
Not all of the gentiles are seen with a positive destiny. Quite the contrary, the nations are seen in rebellion against God, against Israel and against the Messiah. Compare:
- Psalm 2:1
- Zechariah 12:9
- Zechariah 14:2
Some of the gentiles are good and some are bad. Israel must figure out the difference: Who? What? Why? Where are the “good” gentiles going to come from? Ninety-nine percent of the people who read the Torah of Moses on a regular basis today are believers in Yeshua (Jesus). Part of the mission of the Messiah is to bring the light of the God of Israel to the nations of the world (Isaiah 42:6, 49:8). Israel must deal with this international community of people who both believe in the God of Israel and love the people of Israel.
The Church must deal with the fact that anti-Semitism and Islamic Jihad is not going to just “go away.” They will be key issues right up to the Second Coming of Yeshua. How could it happen that “all of the nations will come against Jerusalem to battle”? First, there would have to be a widespread ideology calling for total destruction of the Jewish people. Secondly, there would have to be an international political forum to enable that kind of combined operation.
The ideology of destruction we find in Islamic Jihad. (A case in point is Ahmadinajad’s recent “world without Israel” conference.) The political forum we find in the United Nations. (Both these elements came together last week in Ahmadinajad’s address to the general assembly of the U. N.) For the first time in history, we see an ideology to provide the “why” and the political forum to provide the “how”. It is certainly time for us to “wake up.”
The combination of Islamic Jihad and Secular Humanism (in the U. N.) is much more dangerous than Hitler’s Third Reich ever was. The combination of the two seemingly contradictory world views (Jihad and Humanism) reminds me of the “beast” in Daniel, whose feet were described as a mixture of iron and clay (Daniel 2:41; 7:7).
The alliance of evangelical Christians and the state of Israel is not just a defensive reaction to Islam and anti-Semitism, but a proactive revelation of the plan of God. Ephesians 2 describes a marriage between Israel and the Church; Ephesians 3 describes the partnership between Jews and Gentiles in the kingdom of God. If we have one God, He must be the God of all people. We believe in one Messiah, Yeshua, who is both the head of the Church (Eph. 1:20) and the king of Israel (John 12:13).
Evangelical Christianity is a spiritual movement, whereas the state of Israel is a national government. They are different in function, like spirit and soul. Both have a purpose; both need one another. There is no reason for them to try to replace the other. There is no reason for Christian Zionists to push a particular political party or agenda within the government of Israel. There is no reason for a Christian to pretend he is Jewish.
On the other hand, Israel can trust Christians Zionists as true friends. It would be a tragedy to miss such widespread and well-meaning support. Also, there is no reason for Israel to limit religious freedom for the Messianic Jews. Israel should be proud that we are a nation that allows for freedom of religious expression, including that of Jewish believers in Yeshua.
We Messianic Jews do NOT want to convert Jews to Christianity; nor do we want to convert Christians to Judaism. We are asking for a REFORMATION of the very foundations of BOTH. This is not a superficial issue of cultural sensitivity, but a loving and daring call for biblical reformation – one that will lead to the restoration of Israel (Acts 1:6), the resurrection of the dead (Romans 11:15), and the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 23:39).
Ezekiel 37:15-28 describes a symbolic act in which the prophet takes two sticks – one representing the children of Israel and one representing the whole house of Israel – and brings them together in his hand. This prophecy refers to unity of the people of God under the reign of the Messiah. It can be interpreted on two levels: first, literally, as unity within the people of Israel; and then, by spiritual extension, as unity between the remnant of Israel and true believing Christians around the world.
We stand in the footsteps of Ezekiel today. Let us pray for these two sticks to come together in our hands. Then there will be one king and one people (Ezekiel 37:22). Then His kingdom will be one and His name one (Zechariah 14:9).
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.