WHY SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WITH JEWISH PEOPLE?
Jewish evangelism is possible. God promised that there would be a faithful remnant of Jewish people who would turn to the Messiah (Messianic Jews) in every generation (Romans 11:5), especially as we enter the Last Days, when eventually all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26). The 1990 Jewish Population Survey, published by the Council of Jewish Federations, indicates that approximately 14%to 20% of the 5.5 million Jewish people in the U.S. have some positive faith or association with Yeshua. That’s around 1,000,000 Jewish people! The Messianic Jewish movement is growing. There are more than 150 Messianic Synagogues in the U.S. and 40 in Israel.
Christians are commanded to bring the Jewish people the Good News. Messiah Yeshua commanded His disciples to go to all the world with the Good News about Him, starting with Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8). Christians are commanded to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) and to “comfort My people.” Comfort, comfort My people says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:1-2). This is a call to Christians to comfort the Jewish people by telling us about the forgiveness of our sins.
There is a priority to Jewish evangelism. The Apostle to the Gentiles instructed the Christians in the heart of the Roman empire: I am not ashamed of the Good News, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
We will be identified with the best of the spiritual heros of the Faith. Moses in Exodus 32:32, Rabbi Paul in Romans 9:2-4 and 10:1, and Messiah Yeshua in Matthew 23:37 all willingly offered their lives up for the sake of Israel.
Gentile Believers have a special calling to provoke Israel to spiritual jealousy. Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous (Romans 11:11). Those Christians who obey this mandate will fulfill their calling.
Christians owe a debt to the Jewish people. Through Israel the promises and covenants were given. Through the Jewish people came the law, the prophets and the Messiah who has opened up access to God for all. It was through Jewish apostles that the Good News first went to the nations (Romans 9:4-5, Romans 15:27).
God promises blessings to those who share the Good News with the Jewish people. Those that bless the Jewish people will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed (Genesis 12:1-3). Those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem shall prosper (Psalm 122:6). Bringing the Good News is the best blessing you can give us. Not bringing this all-important eternal life saving message is the worst kind of anti-Semitism. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you (Israel) will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined (Isaiah 60:12).
It is in the best interests of the Gentiles to bring the Jewish people the Good News (Romans 11:12-15). If Israel’s failure to recognize the Messiah brought untold spiritual riches for the Gentiles, and if Israel’s rejection of Messiah brought about the reconciliation of the world, how much more will our acceptance of the Messiah be! When the Jewish people accept Messiah it will result in the golden age for all the nations of the world. When the Messiah is recognized by the Jewish people, He will return to planet Earth, and reign from Jerusalem over all the nations. For the Torah will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war (Isaiah 2:3-4).
In addition, evangelism is an integral part of the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:15). The preparation of the Good News protects our “feet.” In other words, it is part of our walk (lifestyle) and our self-defense in the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. Learning how to share the Good News with Jewish people will better equip our faith with everyone.
True Christians should make up for Christian anti-Semitic teachings and deeds of the past. Since the second century Church leaders have been guilty of anti-Semitic remarks and actions. The teaching has been spread in the Church since the early centuries that the Church has replaced Israel. This false doctrine is not faithful to either the Old Testament or New Testament Scriptures, and is a source of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism in the historic Church has provided a basis for rulers to ridicule, discriminate and even kill the Jewish people. Often these actions have been perpetrated by those who claimed to be followers of the Messiah. Can we blame the Jewish people for so often resisting the Messiah when His followers appear to be anti-Semitic? True Christians need to make reparation for the tragic record of historic Christianity in its dealings with the Jewish people.
UNDERSTAND YOUR JEWISH FRIEND
We are to be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you. To accomplish this goal with Jewish people, it helps to become familiar with Jewish culture, interests, literature and humor. Learn what issues concern the Jewish community most. It helps to read a Jewish paper and Jewish authors, go to a deli, visit a synagogue.
AVOID JEWISH STEREOTYPES
All Jews are not rich, intellectual, religiously knowledgeable, have the same physical characteristics, or think alike. The Jewish community is very diverse in almost every way.
KNOW THE MAJOR BRANCHES OF JUDAISM
Orthodox: Rabbinic Judaism, traditional, observant. Orthodoxy comes from the Pharisees. There is belief in a personal Messiah and in the World to Come. The Talmud is believed by many to be equal to the Bible in authority. This book has influenced Jewish religion more than any other.
Chasidic: It is considered a part of Orthodox Judaism. It started in eastern Europe in late 1700’s. Devotion to the “rebbe,” mysticism, even some “New Age” influence in their theology, like reincarnation. They tend to be isolationist.
Conservative: reaction to Reform Judaism, in between reform and Orthodox. Traditions can be modified but with Orthodox influence.
Reform: Reform Judaism comes from the German enlightenment in the early 1800’s. It liberalized laws and traditions and de-emphasized the supernatural. Jews are able to fit into Western society but retain the morals and ethics of Judaism. There is no faith in a personal Messiah, in heaven or in hell. There is not as much strictness about keeping the Sabbath or keeping kosher or other traditions.
Secular-Humanist: Judaism without God, centering on mankind, and the Jewish people. Organized here in Michigan with the Birmingham Temple, it is now growing throughout the world.
Reconstructionist: started in 1934 by Mordecai Kaplan. Modern and secular in thinking though mixed with Jewish culture in observance.
Approximately 60% of the Jewish population is “unsynagogued” although most still identify as Jews. That makes American Jews among the most “unsynagogued” of Americans. Only 39% of American Jews claim to belong to a synagogue. Approximately 15% are Reform, approximately 15% are Conservative, and approximately 10% are Orthodox. Only 25% report attending synagogue once a month. 33% go on the High Holy Days or a few times a year, while another 23% go to synagogue on special occasions related to rites of passage, like a wedding or a bar mitzvah. This is taken from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey reported in the February 25, 1994 Detroit Jewish News.
Approximately 60% of Jewish people now inter-marry. The majority of those that inter-marry do not raise their family as Jews.
KNOW THE AREAS WHERE THE JEWISH COMMUNITY COME FROM
Ashkenazim or Ashkenazi Jews: Jewish people from Europe.
Sephardim or Sephardic Jews: Jewish people from Mediterranean and Arab countries.
Sabra: a native born Israeli.
UNDERSTAND JEWISH HURT
Most Jewish people have directly experienced some anti-Semitism during their life. It is difficult for Jewish people to distinguish real Christians and the real Yeshua from the false anti-Semitic Jesus preached by some so-called Christians. Most Jewish people think that all Gentiles are Christians and anti-Semitic under the surface. As a result we have banded together and developed a “we – they” mentality.
Phase #1 You cannot live among us as Jews
Many horrible things have been done to the Jewish people in the name of Jesus by the historic Christian Church. Most Jewish people have some familiarity with the history of Christian anti-Semitism. Soon after the Jewish Apostles died, the leadership of the Church was transferred to people who had no respect for Jews or Judaism. Rather than seeing the Jewish people as erring brothers to whom they were indebted for the gifts of the Scriptures, the Messiah, the Apostles, and the Old Testament saints, the Jewish people were looked upon as reprobates hated by God.
Sentiments in the New Testament expressed against some Jewish leaders by Jewish followers of the Messiah were used by later non-Jewish leaders as an indictment of all Jewish people. Messianic Jews who expressed their faith in a Jewish context were looked at with suspicion. When the Church and the Roman Empire merged around 400 A.D., Jews were reduced from Roman citizens to barely tolerated immigrants. They were forbidden to seek converts. They couldn’t own non-Jewish slaves. They were forbidden to marry with Christians. Severe economic and social sanctions were progressively made by a Church-State collaboration against the Jews that lasted for 1500 years.
Jewish converts had to swear to forsake all Jewish practices. The following profession is taken from the Church of Constantinople which Jews had to affirm if they wanted to join the Community of the Jewish Messiah: I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and sacrifices of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications and propitiations, and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymn and chants and observances and synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce absolutely everything Jewish, every law, every rite and custom…
Protestants often didn’t do much better. This is from Martin Luther’s tract, “On the Jews and Their Lies” published in 1543. “What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews?… I shall give you my sincere advice: First, to set fire to their synagogues… in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians… I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed… I advise that their prayerbooks and Talmudic writings… be taken from them… I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb…”
Phase #2 You cannot live among us
During the Middle ages anti-Jewish legislation continued to increase and Jews were herded into ghettos, separated from Christian society, forbidden to own land, deported out of country after country. Eventually they were totally isolated in the Ghettos. Jews were deported from nation after nation in Christian Europe.
Phase #3 You cannot live
The Crusaders massacred thousands of Jews in Europe en route to Israel. Many were burned alive or tortured. When the crusaders conquered Jerusalem they burned to death about 1000 Jewish people in a Jerusalem synagogue as the crusaders sang hymns. Jews were blamed for poisoning the wells of Europe during the Black Death in 1348. Many were killed. The fearsome Inquisition was directed at “conversos,” Jewish converts whose loyalties were questioned. Many were burned at the stake. Periodically the Blood Libel was made – that Jews killed Christian children at Passover and used their blood to make Passover matza. Individuals and entire towns of Jews were destroyed as a result. The persecutions continued with the pogroms in Eastern Europe and Russia, usually encouraged by the King or Czar, who were the titular heads of the State Church, and other Church leaders. Eventually this culminated in the Holocaust.
Letter to Editor published in Jerusalem Post (World-Wide Web Edition)
October 14, 1996, by Ike Goldman, Delray Beach FL USA
I understand that you are upset over us, here in Israel. Indeed, it appears that you are quite upset, even angry. (Outraged?) Indeed, every few years you seem to become upset over us. Today, it is the “brutal oppression of the Palestinians”; yesterday, it was Lebanon; before that it was the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Baghdad and the Yom Kippur War and the Sinai campaign.
It appears that Jews who triumph and who, therefore, live, upset you most extraordinarily. Of course, dear world, long before there was an Israel, we – the Jewish people – upset you. We upset a German people who elected a Hitler and we upset an Austrian people who cheered his entry into Vienna and we upset a whole slew of Slavic nations – Poles, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians, Romanians.
And we go back a long, long way in the history of world “upset.” We upset the Cossacks of Chmielnicki who massacred tens of thousands of us in 1648-49; we upset the Crusaders who, on their way to liberate the Holy Land, were so upset at Jews that they slaughtered untold numbers of us. We upset, for centuries, a Roman Catholic Church that did its best to define our relationship through Inquisitions, and we upset the arch-enemy of the Church, Martin Luther, who, in his call to burn the synagogues and the Jews within them, showed an admirable Christian ecumenical spirit.
And it is because we became so upset over upsetting you, dear world, that we decided to leave you – in a manner of speaking – and establish a Jewish state. The reasoning was that living in close contact with you, as resident-strangers in the various countries that comprise you, we upset you, irritate you, disturb you. What better notion, then, than to leave you and thus love you – and have you love us? And so we decided to come home – to the same homeland from which we were driven out 1,900 years earlier by a Roman world that, apparently, we also upset.
Alas, dear world, it appears that you are hard to please. Having left you and your pogroms and Inquisitions and Crusades and Holocausts, having taken our leave of the general world to live alone in our own little state – we continue to upset you. You are upset that we oppress the poor Palestinians. You are deeply angered over the fact that we do not give up the lands of 1967, which are clearly the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Moscow is upset and Washington is upset. The “radical” Arabs are upset and the gentle Egyptian moderates are upset.
Well, dear world, consider the reaction of a normal Jew from Israel. In 1920 and 1921 and 1929, there were no territories of 1967 to impede peace between Jews and Arabs. Indeed, there was no Jewish State to upset anybody. Nevertheless, the same oppressed and repressed Palestinians slaughtered tens of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Safed and Hebron. Indeed, 67 Jews were slaughtered one day in Hebron – in 1929. Dear world, why did the Arabs – the Palestinians – massacre 67 Jews in one
day in 1929? Could it have been their anger over Israeli aggression in 1967?
And why were 510 Jewish men, women and children slaughtered in Arab riots between 1936-39? Was it because of Arab upset over 1967? And when you, world, proposed a U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 that would have created a “Palestinian State” alongside a tiny Israel and the Arabs cried “no” and went to war and killed 6,000 Jews – was that upset stomach caused by the aggression of 1967? And, by the way, dear world, why did we not hear your cry of upset, then?
The poor Palestinians who today kill Jews with explosives and firebombs and stones are part of the same people who – when they had all