During the last two years we have traveled from Canada to Mexico, from Honolulu to New Jersey teaching and preaching in Messianic Jewish Congregations and Christian Churches. As we prepare to return to Israel, we wish to share with you some of the questions which we heard from earnest and sincere Christians seeing information and knowledge concerning the Jewish people.
QUESTION: Isn't it true that when a Jew is born again through the atoning blood of the Messiah, he is no longer a Jew, but becomes a Christian? Doesn't the Bible say, "there is neither Jew nor Greek"?
We believe that the Bible clearly states that it has never been, nor is it now, God's plan for Israel to disappear as a nation. Consider this question: Would God keep a nation together for 4,000 years-against all odds-even while much of the time they were living in sin, only to destroy their identity when Israel did return to God?
WHERE ARE THEY?
There are no Hittites, no Canaanites, no Perizzites, Hivites, Kenites, Kadmonites, Girgashites, Amorites, Amalekites, Anakites, Nephilim and more, all of whom at one time lived in the Holy Land.
There is not a single one left of these nations. But there is Israel. Why? Because of one man's faith and obedience. God swore to Abraham that he would preserve his seed forever, for all generations.
He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.
GOD'S OATH TO NEVER CAST OFF ISRAEL
God's covenant promise of redemption is to the Jew as an individual, but also to Israel as a nation. In the only place in the Old Testament that the words "new covenant" are used, Jeremiah prophesies through the Holy Spirit:
Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah, if this fixed order (sun, moon, stars) departs from before me, declares the Lord, then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever...
If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord, (Jer.31:31,36,37)
Then why did Paul say there is no Jew or Gentile? The answer is simple. He also said there is no male or female. Let us reread the Scripture.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Gal. 3:28
As far as salvation, righteousness, spiritual inheritance, access to the throne of God, we are all one. But never did God annul the role of male and female in this world. Each has a specific purpose in God's planning. Consider how God looks upon homosexuality as a travesty of the identity and purpose of his creation.
The Jewish person then, rightly reasons: God created me a Jew. Therefore, I know I'm supposed to be a Jew. Anyone who tells me otherwise has to be wrong.
When a Christian brings the true Gospel wrapped in an erroneous identity package, the Treasure inside is lost to the Jewish person. How tragic! The only One who can help our Jewish people is hidden from them by inaccurate packaging!
Indeed, Paul himself said in I Corinthians (May I paraphrase?);
Was any man called of God who was created a Jew, a natural son of Abraham? Let him not become a Gentile. Has anyone who is a Gentile been called of God? Let him not become Jewish. For it won't do him any good. Neither one means anything as far as salvation is concerned, but what matters is obeying the commandments of God. Let each man remain with the identity that God gave him. (Paraphrased I Cor. 7:18-20)
Galatians 5:6 adds, "For in Messiah Yeshua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
NO BROWNIE POINTS IN HEAVEN FOR CHANGING BIRTH CERTIFICATES
We could apply this to other identities. If you are Hispanic, do you think becoming a Caucasian will bring you closer to God? If you are Oriental, will becoming Black or Scandinavian make you a better believer?
For none of those things mean anything in Messiah Yeshua. Rather, it is by our faith working in love that we have favor with God. The clearest explanation of what God is going to do with his Jewish people is found in Romans. Paul presents the image of an olive tree. The natural branches are the Jews. Some of these, Paul says, have been cut off. Then wild olive branches (the Gentiles) were grafted in. But God is planning to graft the natural branches back in.
BACK TO THEIR OWN TREE
For if you (the Gentiles) were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? Rom.11:24
Notice that these natural branches will not be regrafted onto the wild olive tree branches, but back into their own tree. If they were to be grafted onto the wild branches, this would signify that the Jews are to be absorbed into the different Christian denominations and ethnic groups. But notice, they are to be regrafted back into their original olive tree, of whom Abraham is the root. (Rom. 11:16, 4:16, Gal. 3:29)
It goes without saying that grafting will take place when our Jewish people accept the Everlasting Covenant that Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, has ratified with His blood.
But as natural branches, they were Jews, and as regrafted natural branches, they will remain Jews. In this tree, which represents the children of God, there are Jewish and Gentile branches. (Remember that "the Gentiles" simply means "the nations").
One might wonder that if it is true that Jews are to remain Jews when they are saved by the atoning blood of Yeshua, why then do so many Christians not see this truth? This answer also is found in the Scriptures.
FIRST CENTURY QUESTION: CAN GENTILES REAMIN GENTILES AND BE SAVED?
For centuries, Gentiles who wanted to know the one true God, had to become a Jew. Yeshua Himself said, "salvation is of the Jews". (John 4:22) Israel was the only nation that had the truth of the knowledge of God. Men and women like Rahab, Ruth, Jethro and Naaman the Leper, not to speak of the mixed multitude of Egyptians that followed Israel out of bondage, had to either join Israel or become very closely associated with her and accept her covenant with God, in order to receive God's gift of redemption. In fact, the prophets encouraged and praised aliens from other nations who chose to keep the Law of Moses and join the House of Israel. (See Isa. 56:3-8)
Then suddenly Peter, after having a very unpleasant vision, was sent to preach salvation to the Gentiles. Surely he expected to teach these "unclean people" how to keep the Law of Moses, and become circumcised into the House of Israel. But before he could get that far, the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Peter knew that the Holy Spirit only comes upon redeemed souls.
Was Peter surprised? Yes. Were the apostles and elders in Jerusalem surprised? No. They were shocked. Indeed, they did not say, "Oh Peter, isn't it wonderful how even the Gentiles are receiving our Jewish Messiah?" Absolutely not! Instead they exclaimed in dismay, "Peter, you went and ate with the Gentiles!"
But in all fairness we must remember that their understanding was that a Gentile could be saved only if he became a Jew. In fact, the Judiazers were men of that conviction. They wanted the Gentiles to get saved, but they were sure that the Scriptures taught that all believers must join the House of Israel.
TEACHING WHAT THEY HAD ALWAYS TAUGHT
And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1)
I emphasize the fact that this was not some new doctrine or heresy, but simply a continuation of how God had been dealing with the Gentiles for some 2,000 years.
But Paul and Barnabas countered that this was a new era. The Lord Himself was reaching down and saving Gentiles as Gentiles. There is now no Jew or Gentile as far as salvation is concerned. Gentiles may keep their own identity, their own nationality, whether it is Greek or Roman or Egyptian. For the Lord is making up a bride from all the nations, not just Israel.
Was this truth self evident? At first, no. The apostles in Jerusalem said, "We've got to hold a special meeting to figure this thing out and to pray it through and get the mind of the Lord."
WHY DIDN'T THEY UNDERSTAND?
May we add that these were the apostles who had learned from Yeshua first hand for three years. They were righteous, holy men, full of the Holy Spirit. It was not because of a lack of godliness that they did not understand. It was because only at that appointed time, when God began to deal with the Nations as Nations did He choose to reveal His plan to His people Israel.
Then as the elders in Jerusalem began to recite what marvelous things God was doing among the Gentiles, and to search the Scriptures, they saw it! They saw that it was there all the time in the Word of God. (Read the "minutes" of the meeting in Acts 15.) The fact is that they discovered the prophets had prophesied all along that one day the nations (Gentiles) of the world, not just Israel, would follow the Lord. '
It was John the Beloved who received the understanding that not only would the nations be represented in heaven, but people from every single tribe, tongue, people and nation would be in heaven. (Rev. 6:9)
Again, was this a brand new revelation? Again, negative. Hundreds of years earlier Daniel was told that "all the peoples, nations, and men of every language would serve Him." (Daniel 7: 14)
Yet, God's people had not grasped this truth until the Lord Himself began to fulfill the Words that He had spoken so many centuries before.
THE APPOINTED TIME IS HERE
Twenty years ago, there were virtually no identifiable groups of Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua anywhere. Today, there are over 200 congregations and home groups in the U.S., over 30 in Israel. There are pioneer Messianic congregations in Honolulu, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, France and England.
Now is the time for our Gentile brethren to search the ancient Scriptures and see that Israel will also be an identifiable nation to stand before God on that triumphant day.
And yes, Israel will yet be a nation of priests to the Lord and ministers to the world. Why?
And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel. Ex.19:6
And thus all Israel will be saved: just as it is written...
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
FOR THE GIFTS AND THE CALLING OF GOD ARE IRREVOCABLE. Rom. 11:26, 28, 29
Yours for the salvation of Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram