What does love look like? Pastor Steve DeWitt (Bethel Church in Crown Point, IN) defines love as “Actively seeking the good and joy of others.”So how do we seek the good and joy of the Jewish people? To view the first five suggestions, please see the previous post. Here are FIVE more suggestions:
6. Consider Israel’s national future. What are the implications of the biblical promises yet unfulfilled? Surely if everything culminated with the Church being gathered to her Bridegroom and the glorious Marriage Supper of the Lamb ushering in the eternal state, God could simply destroy Earth after uniting us to His Son. But Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9) picks up where the 69th leaves off – with Israel in primary focus.
And it is to the Jewish people Messiah reveals Himself when His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3-5) after His wrath and judgments have been poured out on the nations who oppress the Jewish people during the Tribulation. In Zechariah 12 God says He will “make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples” (vs. 2). “All the nations of the earth will gather against it” (vs. 3).
Verses 7-9 of Zechariah 14 detail the physical deliverance of the Jewish people. But it is the verses which follow that make our hearts thrill the more:
10“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”
Zechariah 13 tells of the fountain opened for cleansing from sin and Israel’s spiritual restoration. And then we have the reign of Yeshua (14:9ff), with Jerusalem the capitol. And the Jewish festival of Booths will be observed – by Gentiles, even (14:16-19).
The Church Age, a mystery in the OT, is an insertion amid God’s dealing with Israel. He promises to fulfill the final chapters when the “pause button” is released. [Who in our churches even knows about Israel’s prophetic future? Should they not, when Scripture reveals it?]
The Church and Israel are not identical people of God. Neither are they in competition. Right now, Jews and Gentiles are being united through faith into the Body of Messiah – the Church. And if we understand correctly, the saints will return to reign with Yeshua in His earthly reign when David’s greater Son takes His throne.
This culminating rule on earth will bring full circle God’s prophetic purpose for the physical descendants of Jacob, and will result in God’s greater glory among the nations – something repeatedly referenced in our Bibles. This matters to God – look how much of Holy Writ is devoted to it. Should it not matter to us?
7. Speak the truth in love. Scripture is clear: the Jewish people need the Savior. They (and the Church) need to be reminded of that. The Jewish people (like all others) are under God’s judgment – but it begins with them (Rom. 2:9-10).
When we speak of God’s wrath against Israel’s unbelief and disobedience, we should do so with the sorrow reflective of Jeremiah and Yeshua. The very tone of voice we use (warm and tender versus indifferent, dismissive, or derisive) when speaking of the Jewish people communicates much.
I once observed a believer who literally backed a stranger into a corner, wagged his finger under the poor trapped man’s nose and said angrily, ”You’re going to burn in hell if you don’t repent.”
The response came quickly: “And something tells me you’d be happy if I did (go to hell).” [OY!!]
8. Align with the biblical priority. Most Gentiles are fine with Paul’s statement that judgment is “to the Jew first” (Rom. 2:8-9) [Interestingly, “glory, honor, and peace” are also first to the Jewish people in vs. 10 – and verse 11 emphasizes God’s impartiality!]
More often than not Romans 1:16 is quoted with the wrong punctuation: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” But God didn’t put a period there!
We know of a church that has in its bylaws that Jewish evangelism must be included in its missions giving based on Romans 1:16. And a former Life in Messiah board member is following the example of his father (a pastor) by contributing a check to LIFE each January 1 – his “firstfruits” giving to the Lord is “to the Jew first.”
9. Understand Jewish sensitivities and culture. Love pays attention to the wants and needs of others so that their good and joy is maximized. The deep wounds the Jewish people have suffered over centuries – too often at the hands of those identified as Christians – is a huge barrier for the gospel.
It seems a minor step, but interspersing vocabulary “friendly” to Jewish ears (e.g., Messiah, Yeshua, Jewish people, Hebrew Scriptures) with their “gentile” counterparts (Christ, Jesus, Jews, Old Testament) helps them feel “at home.”
Jewish holidays provide a great opportunity for building bridges. As a side benefit, it helps Gentiles recognize the Jewish roots of our faith and gain insights into Scripture. “Messiah in the Passover” seders are one example, and we’re delighted when churches host these. A “Happy New Year to our Jewish friends” sign at Rosh Hashanah is a loving touch churches can employ. (For ideas, please see http://www.lifeinmessiah.org/calendarofjewishholidays)
10. Get to know Jewish people. It’s impossible to love in a vacuum. The best love is what Yeshua modeled: incarnational and relational. Spending time with people, listening to their stories and sharing our own, is something most everyone can do.
As one idea of a conversation starter, think about watching our video letter (http://www.lifeinmessiah.org/whatsnew/) with a Jewish friend. Asking their opinion of the message would help you gain their perspectives of Christians/Christianity, and perhaps spark opportunities for dialogue. How wonderful it would be to counter misperceptions by contrasting the hateful actions of some with the clear teachings of Yeshua (we are to love even our enemies, e.g.) and with acts of lovingkindness toward our Jewish neighbors.
Another option for interchange with Jewish people on spiritual matters is “In Search of Shalom.” This website, developed by Life in Messiah in cooperation with other partner ministries, provides on-line training in sharing your faith. It also allows you to chat with seekers using your own computer or mobile device. www.insearchofshalom.org is the place to start.
As always, more could be said, but I’ll hit “pause” here. May God help us – His Church – to reflect His love for His chosen nation. Together we are going to reign with our Redeemer, Israel’s Messiah and Savior of mankind – to the praise of His glorious Name.