Preventing the Failure of the Messianic Jewish Movement: My Answer to the Core Question [Part Two]
July 5, 2014
In my last posting, I said that the unique purpose for which God raised up the Messianic Jewish Movement is that we might be
A demonstration, and
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.
At the end of my posting, I mentioned something that bears more explaining—the greater commission. Let’s look at that for a moment, before going to the main subject of this post: the small print of what the fullness of Israel will look like, toward which we are meant to he that seed, sign, demonstration and catalyst.
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.
To all reading this I therefore want to make clear that the imperative to help our Jewish people welcome Messiah is the responsibility of the Messianic Jewish Movement above all others. As I said last time, “If not us, who?” Our mandate to do so is what I term “the Greater Commission,” because as Paul says, the results are greater than the results of the Great Commission.
Some erroneously imagine and insist that the only issue we should be concerned with is that Jewish people come to Yeshua faith. But this is wrong, and indeed is at cross purposes with the details Scripture supplies concerning the fullness of Israel. While this is one of the imperatives with which we are charged, 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. And as I said earlier, 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 them. 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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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, 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.
In my next post I will bring this series to a close by summarizing its major shape and tying it in solidly with the New Covenant spoken of by the Prophet Jeremiah, and quoted in the Newer Testament, such as in Hebrews chapter eight. I will close by posing some questions all of us should ask and answer.
Until then, think on these things, and may the God of peace be with you [Phil 4:8-9].