Seven Criteria to Make Sure We Are Well-Serving the Jewish People

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In Romans, chapters nine to eleven, Paul speaks of two “fullnesses,” “the fullness of the nations” (11:25) and “the fullness of Israel” (11:12). In verse 12 he says,  “if their [Israel’s] transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!” In verse 15 he says the same thing another way, giving more details: “If their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” In other words, just as Israel’s stumbling, her transgression, her general failure to welcome Messiah when he fist came led to blessing for the entire Gentile world, then when the people of Israel instead say of him, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD,” this will mean “life from the dead,” that is, this will trigger the general resurrection of God’s people to eternal embodied immortality and party time for the entire cosmos.

As I have been saying in my brief videos, my Red Door Diaries, while the particular mandate of the Church is the Great Commission, expediting the fullness of the nations, I believe our mandate to do so is what I term “the Greater Commission,” the fulness of Israel which Paul says, is greater riches than the fullness of the nations, because it leads to “life from the dead,” party time for the entire cosmos.

Some erroneously imagine and insist that the only issue we should be concerned with is that Jewish people come to Yeshua faith. While this is crucial and must not be neglected, when judged against God’s criteria for the fullness of Israel, to say that this is all that matters is just plain wrong. This imperative is nested in a group of imperatives by which the faithfulness—or the irrelevance—of the Messianic Jewish Movement will be judged by the Judge of all. On the other hand, if that one horse agenda were true, then if Baptists do a better job than we do at winning Jews to Yeshua faith, then we ought to dismantle the Messianic Jewish Movement and throw our support behind  the Baptists. But no, we still have a set of responsibilities, and I believe that above all others, we are the ones charged with them.

That set of responsibilities, the small print of the fullness of Israel, is sketched for us by the Prophet Ezekiel, in chapter 37, verses 21-28 of his prophecies.

God’s end-time agenda for the Jewish people, of which we are called to be a seed, a sign, a demonstration and a catalyst has seven aspects:

  1. To gather Israel from all the nations: “Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides, and bring them to their own land” (Ezk 37:21). This means the Messianic Jewish Movement should participate in and support Jewish return to the Land of our ancestors and the establishment of a stable Jewish state within secure borders.
  2. To unify the Jewish people as one nation in the Land: and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms” (Ezk 37:22). This means we must learn to see the Jewish people as one people, and in real and consistent ways honor our covenantal bond with all Israel, seeing their wellbeing as our wellbeing, their tragedies as our tragedies, and seeing Jewish assimilation into other contexts as a negative. We should consistently demonstrate our commitment to Jewish communal cohesion and continuity. 
  3. To spiritually renew the people of Israel (repentance-renewal): They shall not defile themselves any more with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezk 37:23). We should be a movement characterized by ongoing repentance and renewal. We must consistently pray for, implement, assist, and welcome any signs of our people being spiritually renewed love of and faithfulness to the God of Israel, whether under our auspices or that of others, including the institutions of the wider Jewish world.
  4. To gather all Israel around our Davidic King, Messiah Yeshua: My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd” (Ezk 37:24a). This of course is evangelism, but it is not simply one-by-one soul salvation, but more broadly, winning our people to allegiance, that is obedience, to the Risen Son of David. Not just salvation, but service!
  5. To cause all Israel to live in covenant faithfulness, obeying God’s ordinances and statutes: They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes” (Ezk 37:24b). In the missions world, in the church world, and in the Messianic Jewish Movement, one can find multitudes who are committed to winning Jews to Yeshua faith, but who deny that these Jews should live as Jews in covenantal obedience to the ordinances and statues of Torah. But if such people affirm the first half of Ezekiel 37:24, how can they justify denying the second half of the same verse? This ought not to be done. Torah living and Yeshua faith are meant to be coordinate. This is God’s destiny for the Jewish people and we will only be judged negligent if we fail to implement both of these agenda items, and the others listed here as well.
  6. To bring Israel to a full and relational experience of the Divine Presence: I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Ezk 37:26-27). This is the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but not as a personal endowment, but rather as a national reality—that all Israel will experience the fullness of the presence of God in fulfillment of God’s dream, “I will be their God, they shall be my people, and I will dwell in the midst of them.”
  7. To vindicate God’s name in the sight of the nations through vindicating Israel: Then the nations will know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezk 37:28). This brings us back to statement concerning God’s unique purpose for the Messianic Jewish Movement, “to be a seed, a sign, a demonstration, and a catalyst of God’s consummating purposes for Israel A catalyst of God’s consummating purposes for His people Israel to the end that he be glorified as Israel’s God and Israel vindicated as His people, to the everlasting benefit of Israel, the nations, and the cosmos.”

This seven item agenda is God’s agenda for his Jewish people at the time of the end. How can it not be our agenda too? And if we neglect this, or even inconvenient aspects of it, should the Messianic Jewish Movement expect the Messiah’s “Well done, thou good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your master?” I don’t think so.

 

This is meant to criticize no one, to challenge everyone, and to help change the world.

If you want to know more about these things, go here and pick up Christians and Jews Together and also Son of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Jewish Movement. They will bring great depth to your explorations. If you want to go deeper still, the pick up Converging Destinies: Jews, Christians, and the Mission of God. 

And if you are interested in personal counsel, coaching, mentoring and discussion, come up and see me some time!  Make an appointment here. 

2 Comments

  1. For #6, doesn’t it speak of a rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem? A plain reading of the text appears to say so.

    I ask this because I know many modern Jewish believers in Yeshua are ambivalent about the rebuilding of the Temple, and even negative on the offerings to be brought there.

    1. This is an intelligent question, Judah. If you trace the history of God’s longing for a place to dwell among his people, you will find that his passion is not about buildings, nor about sacrificed, or pomp and circumstance. His passion is to personally be among his people. This is why in the next to last chapter of Revelation we read this:”3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will [a]dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them[b], 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev 21:3-4). The longing is relational rather than institutional. As for the Third Temple, a lot of people get excited about this because it makes them feel like super-Jews, or perhaps they are looking for a tangible emblem of God’s work in our time. But after having made a study of what I term God’s dream, I am confident his focus is relational. His dream? “I will be their God, they shall be my people, and I will dwell in the midst of them.”

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