Israel – Part 2

I received several great responses to the questions I posed in my last post; exactly what I was hoping for when I posted them. So with this post I’d like to give some of my own answers.

What should be the response of the church to National Israel in the last days?

I think it should stir us to be keenly aware of what God is doing [prophetically] in our day. As I see it the Nation of Israel’s regathering and existence in these days is fulfillment of both Old and New Testament prophecies. I do recognize that my amillennial brothers (Daniel) will not agree, but you will one day 😉 (sorry I had to). Therefore, I think that the church should respond by doing just what Matthew 24 and 25 say in parable, be watching, waiting and continue working for the glory of Christ’s kingdom.

That said, I’m concerned that we (the evangelical church in America) sometimes turn a blind eye to certain unethical dealings of National Israel because, “Well, they’re ISRAEL.” Israel is an incredibly secular society filled with sinful people who need Jesus and therefore we ought to respond evangelistically. Yeah, I know, that’s a given.

How should we interpret and apply Paul’s words “To the Jew first” in the context of 21st century Christianity?

Let me preface my remark by saying, James Class, I totally respect your desire to serve among the Jewish People in Israel. I believe your heart for this was developed in prayer and by seeking God’s direction. Therefore, if any leader comes to the same conclusion by seeking the Lord for missions strategies, I applaud them.

That said, I don’t believe, as a general rule of missiology that the church should begin all missions endeavors by beginning with “the Jew first.” Furthermore, Jesus commission to His disciples, to begin at Jerusalem, move to Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts, should not be held over all that we do in fulfilling the commission. In other words, a church in New Mexico doesn’t need to send missionaries to Jerusalem or Jews before they go to Africa or China. I think the principle has more to do with doing at home and in your own sphere first what you plan to do else where in missions.

How should we interpret and apply Paul’s words “To the Jew first” then? Just as they were intended to be when Paul wrote them. The gospel, by order of who it came by, came first to the Jewish people, but was never God’s intent to stay only with them. The power and magnitude of the gospel is not only for Jews. Praise God, it’s for us non-Jew gentiles too.

Should the evangelization of lost Israel take precedent over other lost peoples?

In line with the last answer, I don’t believe so. Lost peoples are lost peoples and there are a lot more lost non-Jews than there are lost Jews. Fact is we need more people fulfilling the great commission everywhere.

Does the promise of Genesis 12:3 (i.e. “I will bless those who bless you…”) mean that we—the church—should seek to bless, monetarily, the nation of Israel to receive a blessing ourselves?

So I’ll admit, this is kind of a trick question. If you read carefully you’ll note that I said “seek to bless… to receive a blessing.” I point this out because I believe the worst form of giving is giving that gives for the purpose of getting. This is akin to prosperity teaching that says, “You give to the Lord and you’re sowing a seed, you’re going to get tenfold, maybe even a hundredfold in return.” I am [personally] bothered when I hear people encourage physical or monetary blessing to the nation or people of Israel so that we can get a blessing in return.

Do Jews and Christians worship the same God? Do Muslims?

This may be the toughest question of the lot. It is, however, a relevant question to ask in light of discussion this past month  prompted by some articles surrounding Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Church’s reported associations with Muslims in Orange County, CA.  I’m not sure I have the best answer for this, my own question, but I do have a few thoughts.

True worship of God must be offered through Jesus Christ as He is God, and [is] the way by which we are given access to God. Some could argue that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but I’d say that only worship offered in Christ is acceptable to God. Therefore, worship of the right God in the wrong way is [essentially] idolatry and therefore sinful. To this I would add that Muslims have a far greater respect for Jesus than Jews (twice in the last 6 months I’ve had Jewish Rabbi’s make rather condescending/mocking remarks about Jesus to me, that wouldn’t happen from a Muslim), which is, at least, an interesting thought for consideration.

Like the scribe of Mark 12, I think there are many Muslims in the world who are “not far from the kingdom of God.”

4 replies
  1. Jeanne DeBenedictis
    Jeanne DeBenedictis says:

    Great article Miles,
    I do agree with you in regards to “the principle has more to do with doing at home and in your own sphere first what you plan to do else where in missions.”
    On your question; “Does the promise of Genesis 12:3 (i.e. “I will bless those who bless you…”) mean that we—the church—should seek to bless, monetarily, the nation of Israel to receive a blessing ourselves?” I don’t think blessing Israel has all that much to do with giving monetarily. In my mind, when I pray for Israel and it’s peace as the Word of God instructs me to do. When I extend my hand in friendship and uphold their right to exist in the world, I believe I am blessing Israel. These are small things and not at all a comprehensive list, but blessing involves many such things, including the giving of money, or political and military support.
    I know that many Jews are “Israel = governed of God”,in name only, as are too many Christians, and Muslims also, but that is too high for me. I will let God, the judge of all the earth, and He who searches the heart of men, sort them out. I thank God for blinding the Jews as it were to Jesus Messiahship, in order that we could be grafted in to His Family tree. We to, are sons of Abraham according to the New Covenant, but soon I believe God’s Spirit will be poured out upon “all flesh” including Muslims, Jews and those of many other world religions. I think we are all beginning to see this phenomenon more and more in our time. I want to be aligned with God and the move of His Spirit and involved in Christ’s Great Commission, when, how or wherever HE would call me to be a part. I believe that is our common ground. None of us knows fully nor perfectly the Lord’s holy will, but He is intimate and is revealing it us in our little bite sized pieces. Together one day we will rejoice as we see the “big picture” of how He has been systematically winning people from every tribe, nation and ethnos on the earth.

    To me, Israel is still the center point geographically and from it God reached out and sent out, it is important and relevant in our day and one day we will all worship the KING Jesus around the throne in New Jerusalem. I for one, can hardly wait. Until then, I will do what I can for the increase of His glorious kingdom.

    Reply
  2. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Miles – the question that most intrigues me is the last one you pose. The discussion/debate bounces between two spheres of focus that are easily blurred. Unless someone is dogmatic about the Muslim/Jewish/Christian God not being the same God, the answer to this is nuanced – as is reflected in your post. The discussion bounces between Allah being the true God vs. adherents offering true worship. Is it the true God being served by less than true worship or is it a false God served by untrue worship? It bounces between the object of worship and the worship which he is offered. I think this is a distinction that is lost to many and can be fruitfully explored.

    Reply
  3. Jim Vander Spek
    Jim Vander Spek says:

    Until the people of Israel turn to Jesus, they are not pleasing Him. During the seventies when end times teachings were fervent, I remember a Bible Prof suggesting that if the current crop of Israelites continue in disbelief, it is possible/likely that God could wipe out their feeble political existence and raise up a true Israel, say in another thousand years or so. That always stuck with me and actually prepared me for the delay in the prophetic cycle. Maranatha.

    Reply
  4. James Class
    James Class says:

    Good article Miles, I have to admit I feel a little special being specifically mentioned. : )

    I think that much of the church is missing out on a an incredible blessing. So much of our history, doctrine, and traditions are rooted in blatant anti-semitism… Racism against any people group is wrong and sinful, racism against Jewish people is especially satanic and challenges God’s promises. He has connected His name to that nation in a very unique way.

    The church should have a powerful witness in Jerusalem. Does it mean that every local church must send missionaries there? No, at least I don’t think so. But as a local church considers what’s going on in the world, should Israel be a starting point? I think it should. We know that one day the attention of the entire world will be on Israel, we can see that happening even now. Does it stand to reason that in order to have a grasp on what is really going on in the world, one must have a good understanding of what is happening in Israel?

    I think we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I think we should pray for the hearts of Jewish people to be open to the Messiah. I think we should, prayerfully, financially give to ministries in Israel. I think we should reconnect with our roots that so many of our “church fathers” methodically tried to sever. And yes, in some cases, I think the church should send missionaries to the land of Israel itself. And in doing all of these things, in my personal opinion, we will become an even greater witness in our local spheres of influence, and in the rest of the world.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong in desiring a blessing, as long as we understand that the blessing may not be earthly or material. That’s not to say that it couldn’t be in some cases, but even when it is that’s only one small part of it. The real blessing is God Himself. Growing closer to His heart, experiencing more of His presence, finding joy in the glory that He is receiving.

    Reply

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