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Why Jewish Evangelism? PDF Print E-mail

Why Jewish Evangelism?

I am often asked why we believe Jewish evangelism is so important. This is a great question to which I love to respond.

Our motivation for Jewish evangelism begins with thanksgiving to God who chose the Jewish people.

As Yeshua Himself said, "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22).

Without the Jewish people, we would not have the Bible or the Messiah Himself! This is quite fundamental and basic, but there are many clear passages in Scripture that support the case for the importance of Jewish evangelism.

Romans 1:16: To the Jew First

Paul, also a Jewish believer in Yeshua, writes, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

Although Paul was considered the "apostle to the Gentiles," he still carried a great burden for his own people...and he practiced what he wrote. In fact, wherever Paul traveled during his ministry among the Gentiles, he first preached the Gospel to the Jewish people who lived in that area (Acts 13:13–52; 14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10).

We should ask ourselves why the Apostle Paul made Jewish evangelism such a priority in his own life. The Apostle Paul's argument may be summarised as follows: "If Jewish people are successfully evangelised, then Yeshua the Messiah will return." There was a sense of end-times urgency in his preaching, which is why Paul encouraged the Roman believers, and us, to prioritise the evangelisation of the Jewish people.

Matthew 23:37–39

Matthew 23 is a pivotal passage in understanding the logic of the argument:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 23:37-39)

Throughout His earthly ministry, Yeshua took every opportunity to turn the hearts of His Jewish people to Himself, but was thwarted by the Jewish leaders who rejected His person and message. Finally, the Savior came to the heartbreaking conclusion that He was going to be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3, John 1:11). Matthew 23 should be viewed as a lament, reflecting the love of the Messiah for His people. He portrays Himself as a hen wanting to gather her chicks under her wings, which is a very moving image of the Savior's love for His chosen people.

Yet, He was unwilling to reject the Jewish people because they rejected Him. On the contrary, He added a promise: The Jewish people will not see Yeshua again until they believe He is the promised Messiah and cry out, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

Some suggest that this declaration is reminiscent of the statement made by rabbis at weddings when the groom approaches his wedding canopy to receive his bride. Therefore, by saying, "Baruch haba bashem Adonai," Israel, the bride, is portrayed as recognising Yeshua as her true bridegroom, linking the repentance of the Jewish people with the second coming of Yeshua.

Another Old Testament passage which teaches this idea is Zechariah 12:10. In this passage, we learn that one day the Jewish people will look to the One who was pierced and then mourn for Him like one mourns for an only son.

Romans 11:11–29

Another important passage is found in Romans chapter 11, where the Apostle Paul argues that God has not cast off His people, Israel, despite their national rejection of Yeshua as their Messiah. Paul argues that God is not finished with Israel, because one day "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:25–27).

He writes in Romans 11:15, "For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" The Lord will not reject His people because He is always faithful to His promises (Romans 11:29). In fact, the very existence of the Jewish people today is a powerful argument for the truth of the Bible and evidence for the existence and power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The great day of salvation for the Jewish people will bring about the return of the Lord and God's blessing upon the world because, in that day, Yeshua will sit on the promised throne of David, as predicted in Isaiah 9:6-7 and 11:9-10.

The Bible teaches that the Jewish people will turn to Yeshua in the last days and only then will the Lord return. This is why reaching Jewish people with the Gospel must become a priority for all Christians. The salvation of the future remnant of Israel described by Paul is the final step in the chain of events preceding Yeshua's second coming and culmination of the Abrahamic blessings promised to the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

There is a remnant today of Messianic Jews, and I am so glad to be included among them. However, a great movement of Jewish people who will believe in Yeshua, is coming, and this is the hope that really motivates us.

What Is Our Role Today?

The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are God's instruments in preparing the hearts of those who will come to faith today, and even those who will be a part of the remnant of tomorrow. He writes, "I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous" (Romans 11:11).

The salvation of the Jewish people will come about because of the power of God, but He wants to use us – especially non-Jews – to share the Good News with the Jewish people. Through your prayers, giving, and witnessing to your Jewish friends and family, the plan of God will go forth in power!

I pray the Lord will burden all of us to reach Jewish people for Yeshua. Remember, it all begins with our thankfulness to God for all He has done through the Jewish people and through the greatest Jew who ever walked the earth – Yeshua the Messiah!

Our best estimate is that less than one percent of the worldwide Jewish community believes that Yeshua is the Messiah. This gives us plenty of opportunity to preach the Gospel to the remnant today and prepare for the great outpouring of His Spirit upon the Jewish people tomorrow.

Please consider a generous gift today to help us continue our ministries. We cannot do all of what God has called us to do without your partnership.

May blessings and joy fill your life in 2018.

Your brother in the Messiah,

Lawrence

 
Shalom and blessings to you in Yeshua our Messiah! PDF Print E-mail

I believe that the number one reason why Jewish people do not believe in Jesus is because they believe they would no longer be Jewish if they accept Jesus. Of course, nothing can be further from the truth! When a Jewish person becomes a believer in Jesus, he or she is simply embracing the Messiah, for whom we've been waiting thousands of years. How could it NOT be a "Jewish" thing to do – to believe in the Messiah? Our Scriptures and tradition teach us that every Jewish person in the world should follow Him when He comes.

Our yearly evangelistic newsletter is designed for you to read, enjoy and learn and then hopefully give away to your not-yet-believing Jewish or Gentile friend. You can download a PDF version here. The newsletter is packed full of great Messianic Jewish apologetics explaining why we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, including web related links and offers to receive more information. We hope that you will take this opportunity to prayerfully reach out to Jewish people that you know, and help us "Bring the Message to the Original Messengers." Please pray that many Jewish people will receive these newsletters, as well as our online version, with a spiritually open and enquiring heart.

We also invite you to prayerfully share in the harvest with us through your financial support as we continue to reach out to Jewish people here in Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Israel, and in 14 other countries around the world. We are doing as much as we can in these urgent times to share the Good News of Yeshua with our Jewish people. Every gift, large or small, helps us fulfil our mission. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

Yours together for Israel's salvation,

Lawrence Hirsch

Executive Director, Celebrate Messiah

 
Jewish Objections Answered - You Can't Be Jewish and Believe In Jesus PDF Print E-mail

I was raised to believe that Jews can't believe in Jesus and remain Jews. The vast majority of Jewish people would call this a "no brainer!" But how did this type of thinking come about?

The historical facts of the case would actually lead to the opposite conclusion. Jesus Himself was Jewish! Also, His disciples and nearly all the writers of the New Testament were Jewish. One of the very first controversies discussed by Yeshua's followers was whether non-Jews could believe in Jesus the Messiah and be viewed as equal citizens in the kingdom of God! The answer, of course, was a heartfelt and resounding "Yes!"

As these early Jewish Jesus-followers shared the message of His death and resurrection, Gentiles began to embrace the message in far greater numbers than Jewish people. Within two centuries, the communities of Yeshua's followers lost their Jewish character, as Gentiles became the dominant force within the community. Increased polarisation on both sides fueled the belief that Jews cannot believe in Jesus and that Jewish people who did believe must abandon Jewish customs. These positions became matters of Jewish and Christian law (in the Talmud, Roman Law, and Canon Law), leading to today's status quo.

Nevertheless, some Jewish people did believe and continue to believe in Yeshua while remaining Jewish. They celebrate the Jewish holidays, identify with the Jewish past, present, and future, and keep many of the Jewish traditions that remain consistent with both the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament message. Whether we speak of rabbis like Rabbi Cohn, or politicians like British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, or Messianic Jews in Israel, North America or Australia, we find that it is indeed possible for Jewish people to believe in Jesus. There are also hundreds of Messianic Jewish congregations around the globe, and they are growing in number and vitality, without abandoning their Jewish identity.

From the New Testament until today, Jewish people have believed in Jesus while maintaining their Jewish heritage. They believe despite the pressure of a growing secular culture, where neither being Jewish nor following Jesus is very popular. When asked why they believe in the Jewish Messiah, most of today's Jewish followers of Yeshua would simply say it's because Jesus fulfills the Messianic prophecies found in the Hebrew Scriptures. And even more so, these Messianic Jews have experienced God in ways they never had before they embraced Yeshua as their Messiah. It is hard to argue with another person's experience!

 

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By Bruce Kleinberg, A Messianic Jew from Dallas, Texas

 
Jewish Objections Answered - If Jesus is the Messiah, Why Isn't There Peace in the World? PDF Print E-mail

If the Messiah snaps his fingers and, "poof," world peace is suddenly here, how long do you think it would last? Probably not too long based upon thousands of years of human experience. Ask yourself, "How quickly would the bickering start? How long would it take for wars, even small interpersonal ones, to heat up?" Clearly, humans are not naturally inclined toward maintaining shalom (peace).

What good would this finger-snapping messiah have really done in the long run? What is the point, if he had only quelled a few skirmishes, but left the human heart unchanged? As the great Jewish prophet Isaiah wrote,

"...And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war." (Isaiah 2:4)

How will this transformation happen? The only hope for sustainable world peace is to change the hearts and the spirits of individuals and communities; not by solving all of the world's political disputes in an instant, because instants are over instantaneously! This is why the idea of two comings of the Messiah makes sense. The Messiah will bring inner peace to human hearts through His death and resurrection and then will come again to bring external peace. The heart of an individual must be changed before the global community can be transformed.

The idea of two comings lines up with the biblical hope of the Messiah who comes to die for sin, rise from the dead to give power to change, and will return again to judge the nations and transform the world. True peace comes one heart at a time, and it starts with you and me.

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By Eric Mattson, a Messianic Jew from Atlanta, Georgia

 
Jewish Objections Answered - Jewish People Do Not Believe That God Could Become a Man PDF Print E-mail

A popular Bible passage that is used by our rabbis to counter the idea of God becoming a man is Numbers 23:19. It says:

"God is not a man, that he should lie; nor a son of man, that he should repent...."

However, this verse has not always prevented Jewish people from believing in the possibility that God can become a man. For example, the first-century Jewish philosopher, Philo, speaks freely about God taking the form of a man: "Why then do we any longer wonder, if God at times assumes the likeness of the angels, as he sometimes assumes even that of men, for the sake of assisting those who address their entreaties to him?... (On Dreams, 1.238)." At other times, classical Jewish sources taught about God taking the form of the Memra (Aramaic for the Word) or the Shekhinah (the Glory of God), that is, divine intermediaries that were somehow physical and divine at the same time. Consequently, it is a relatively recent innovation that Jews cannot believe in the possibility of God entering His creation in physical form.

A more reasonable interpretation of Numbers 23:19 is that God does not have the same capability as man to lie or have the need to repent like a man because He is sinless. This interpretation takes the whole verse into account and is in harmony with historical Jewish thought. Furthermore, it does not deny the possibility that God could become a man, which we believe is what happened when Yeshua prophesied, forgave sins, and rose from the dead.

On the positive side, there are actually quite a few Bible verses in the Hebrew Scriptures indicating that God could in fact become a man. For example, in Genesis 18, there is the case of three "men" visiting Abraham, immediately preceding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is described as speaking to the three men and then to one of the men whom he addresses as Lord (Adonai). A careful reading of the text shows that one of the men must have been God Himself taking the form of a man, at least temporarily.

There are many other passages indicating that God would become a man to complete His work of redemption, including some popular passages in the book of Isaiah. The prophet speaks of a future redeemer who will reign forever on the throne of His father David, and this "son" has titles that could easily be understood to mean that this person would be God in the flesh:

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"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)

We believe that Yeshua the Messiah is God "in the flesh" as described by the writer of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament,

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power...." (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Eric Mattson

 
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