Israel is both God’s ‘treasured possession’ and the church’s richest resource
I awoke on Monday morning to the sound of my wife’s mobile phone bringing us more news from friends in South Africa, who keep us up to date on what the Lord is doing there – and elsewhere.
This time it came in the form of a YouTube link which really made my day. It was the testimony of a young Jewish woman from Israel who was abused as a child and later almost drowned herself in alcohol to ease the pain of her struggles, eventually contemplating suicide as she rode her motorbike, praying to God: “I don’t want to live anymore; I want you to take my life.”
At that moment she was suddenly enveloped by what she could only put down to a divine presence of love and hope running through her body from head to toe. She knew it was God, and desperately wanted to know more. So she sought out all kinds of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ including Buddhism and fortune-tellers, but to no avail. None of these was the source of her overwhelming experience of the warmth of God’s love.
After a year of searching, she picked up a newspaper and read of an invitation to volunteer on a farm where free accommodation would be provided. She duly signed up and discovered it was run by believers in Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus), and it was there that she came to know the living God who had saved her life on that motorbike. “I know that Yeshua is alive,” she says with total confidence and assurance.
The beauty and wonder of the relationship she now has with Jesus was expressed in every syllable she uttered as she simply glowed with joy and delight at the new life she is now living and passionately sharing with others.
This is the sort of thing I was trying to convey to a gathering in London last weekend – that Jews everywhere are sharing their faith in Jesus, their Messiah, and that this is a sign of His soon return.
It also shows why Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1.16)
It was the Jews who first brought us the gospel. Endued with Holy Spirit power received on the Day of Pentecost, Jewish evangelists took the message of Jesus throughout the known world, causing it to spread like wildfire – even under severe persecution.
That is why the Bible places such importance on Gentiles reaching the Jews for Jesus (see also Romans 10.1) – not only because it’s pay-back time (i.e. we owe it to them – see Rom 15.27), but also because when they get it, they really do something with it! When they experience an encounter with God through his Son Jesus, they don’t dig a hole and turn it into a memorial; they run with it – just like our young lady.
That is why, despite their still relatively low numbers in Israel, they are forcing both government and media to sit up and take notice.
Yes, I’m well aware that Israelis on the whole are not yet fully following the Lord as a nation, but there is already a Gideon’s army of passionate believers bursting with energy as they invest their time and resources into spreading the gospel. We should be cheering them on, and praying for them.
“For if their rejection (i.e. Jesus’ death) brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom 11.15) “…If their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”
Not only are they God’s “treasured possession” (Psalm 135.4), but they are also potentially the church’s richest resou