Shalom from Tel Aviv!
It's only a guess, but the present number of born again believers in Yeshua who are Israelicitizens is probably around 7,000. That is the number usually bandied about these days.
Back when Israel was a kingdom, there was great spiritual famine in the land, just as there is today. Then the number of true believers had dwindled to a mere 7,000 men. In those days of which the prophet Elijah spoke, the life of a man of God was worth little. Most were secret believers and didn't know about each other. Even the great prophet Elijah thought he was the only true believer in all of Israel.
Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have torn down thine altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life. But what is the divine response to him? I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Rom 11:3-4
Today in 1998, almost certainly there are not 7,000 men in Israel who have been redeemed through God's provision of the sacrificial Lamb. This figure of 7,000 Israeli believers today includes every man, woman and child in the nation who is a believer in Yeshua. Yet these 7,000 are a significant remnant far beyond what their numbers would indicate.
WHO IS GOD'S "ULTIMATE REMNANT"?
The term "remnant of Israel" is an emotional, passionate phrase that is used by both Jews and Christians. It may describe those Jews who have escaped the holocaust, or it can represent the whole nation of Israel that presently occupies the physical land of Israel. Indeed the prophets prophesied that in the last days a remnant would surely return to the land God bequeathed to Israel's forefathers.
However, within that remnant is another remnant--those who will be a light in the terrible days ahead coming upon Israel and, indeed, the whole world. This remnant will be Jews who not only return to the land of Israel, but also to the God of Israel. They will be the remnant who survives because they have been redeemed of the Lord.
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the remnant whom God calls. Joel 2:32b
Now it will come about in that day that the remnant of Israel.. . who have escaped. will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. Isa. 10:20-21
A REMNANT WHO ARE SAVED
As the last days bear down upon us, God is focusing more and more upon this remnant that will survive because they have been born anew.
The Bible speaks often - in passage after passage - there will be a remnant of godly Israelis with new hearts and new spirits- a remnant to Himself.
For then I will remove from your midst your proud, exulting ones. but I will leave among you a humble and lowly people. And they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.
The remnant of Israel will do no wrong, and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths; for they shall feed and lie down with no one to make them tremble. Zeph. 3:11-13
This is God's true remnant. Yes, we often use this term today to refer to the whole nation of Israel, and in a general sense, this is, of course, true. However, God clearly proclaims that when all is said and done, the remnant who remains will be those redeemed of the Lord. Paul quotes the warning of Isaiah concerning the remnant: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved. Rom 9:27
The saved remnant who God is focusing on today is then, the Messianic Jews of Israel.
A REMNANT WHO ARE CHOSEN
In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice. Rom 11:5
Out of the approximately 7,000 Messianic Jews in the land of Israel today, probably more than 6,000 are originally from the U.S. or other western countries, the former Soviet Union or Ethiopia. They are the remnant who has thus far returned from captivity into the promised land. They are those of whom God said, "I will faithfully plant them in this land with ALL MY HEART AND WITH ALL MY SOUL." Jer.32:41b These are the precious fruit of God's promises--the , ingathering of those Jews who have turned to the Mighty God.
A REMNANT OF ZION-BORN
However, within this critically significant remnant of 7,000 is even a smaller core group which probably does not number more than a 1,000. These are Messianic Jews who were born and raised in Israel. We call them "sabras" - after the cactus which has a hard exterior but a soft sweet interior. The Lord makes special note of those born in Israel!
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwelling places of Jacob. [And] of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her"; The Lord shall count when He registers the peoples, "This one was born there." Psa. 87:2, 5-6
Our sabras, of course, have no limitation in their use of the Hebrew language or in understanding Israeli culture. (We include in this number for simplicity's sake those few immigrant believers who, though born outside of Israel, have totally mastered the Hebrew language and assimilated into the culture.)
THE MOST STRATEGIC REMNANT
Let us repeat: there are probably no more than 1,000 Israeli sabras who have made Yeshua Lord of their lives--including several hundred believing soldiers now serving in the Israeli army-- who are completely at home in the Hebrew language and Israeli culture.
Today only a few sabras are in leadership roles in the Israeli Messianic movement. In fact, in most congregations anywhere in the land, sabras are only a small minority. Yet, this is the remnant of the remnant that will be most instrumental in evangelizing the nation of Israel.
We have some 30 sabras in training in our congregation now. Most of these have the potential to be real leaders. They simply need concentrated discipling - Bible training, instruction in building godly character, developing their prayer life and spiritual gifts and building relationships within the Body. They can and are quickly becoming leaders.
Every Messianic pastor in the land knows that national revival means a spiritual revolution among the Israeli-born Jews. For that reason, the present sabra believers are a key to revival in the land. We are in no way intending to imply that believers from other Israeli communities will not be intensely involved in reaching the lost and in discipling. What we are saying is that when the sabras are turned on to God, every immigrant group--Jews from Russia, Ethiopia, North and South America and Europe will be right there with them!
THE MOST EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE TOOL: THE PRINTED PAGE
God has a treasure of talents and gifts in the sabra believers of Israel. However, they are the most under-equipped portion of the Body in Israel!*
Therefore, strategically, we need to concentrate on the training of Israel's native born believers. What are their needs in order to be prepared soldiers in the Kingdom of Heaven?
If we were allowed only one tool to reach Israel, we would choose the written page. Cost wise and strategically, it has the greatest potential to reach large numbers of Israelis in depth. Satan knows its effectiveness and for this reason is attempting to deprive Messianic believers of their single greatest tool by making it illegal to publish and distribute Gospel books in Israel.
Translating and publishing books in Hebrew will greatly accelerate the growth of new Israeli believers. The vast amount of Biblical literature on every conceivable subject which is available in English, Spanish, German and other languages is NOT available in Hebrew. Sabras whose native language is Hebrew, do not necessarily know English. And even though many do speak passable English, reading and studying Biblical subjects in English is an entirely different ball game. Most are unable to do so.
In Israel, we have a few very choice books in Hebrew for reaching out to the lost. The two finest books we know of are Stan Telchin's "Betrayed" which tells the story of what happens to a nice American Jewish family when the daughter becomes a follower of Yeshua; and "Why Me" the life story of Israeli evangelist Yaacov Damkani. Both of these books are fascinating and clearly explain the way of salvation. But when an Israeli enters the door of salvation, where does he go from there?
*(with the possible exception of Ethiopian Jewish believers.)
WHAT IF YOU HAD NEVER READ A GOSPEL BOOK?
Can you imagine an effective pastor or layman unable to access any of the thousands of books available throughout the believing world? Would you be in the same place spiritually if you had never read any Gospel books? The depth and breadth of one's walk would be drastically different if he were deprived of the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon different members of His great corporate Body, and which are made available to believers around the world through the printed page.
Would you care to sit under the ministry of a leader who had never been exposed to anyone else's teaching through the printed page? Obviously not. God has revealed many great facets of truths through the centuries. He continues to reveal Himself today through his teachers and ministers of righteousness. He wants all of his people to have this body of truth which He has distributed to His people in many different countries.
He wants the believers of Israel to also have the same opportunity! They are going to need it! Within this growing, vibrant Hebrew-speaking remnant are many leaders-in-the-making. They have the desire. They have the commitment. They have many natural talents and are growing in spiritual gifts. All they need are the tools to prepare themselves.
You might ask why are there so few books in Hebrew, especially those which instruct toward maturity? Do not the people of God around the world know that it is critical that Israeli believers beimmersed in the Word of God and the wisdom and revelation of other teachers and preachers?
ONLY FOR VISIONARIES!
The answer is quite simple. The cost of translating a 150 page book into Hebrew is around $5,000. The cost of printing 5,000 copies is about $7,000. In other words, the cost of printing small editions of books in Israel is a high mountain that only the most visionary would attempt to move out of the way.
Only when it is understood that these books will lay the foundational truths for God's chosen remnant, will there be a rush to provide literature for them despite the cost. It is this sabra remnant that will bring their friends, their spouses, their business acquaintances, their children, parents, and other relatives into the Kingdom of God. It is this remnant that will bring great blessing into the world!
Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, [through the atoning death of Yeshua] what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Rom 11:12, 15
In what way will these greater riches be revealed? There are many Scriptures that proclaim the fact that Israel's salvation will generate revival throughout the world.
In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout; And they will fill the whole world with fruit. Isa. 27:6
If you wish to take part in world revival, invest in Israel's remnant of sabra believers!