Monday, June 15, 2009

I know what it takes

I know what it takes to prosper in an Israel-focused ministry: don't stand with the Body of the Lord within Israel.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of offense (to God), considering the reproach of Messiah greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. Hebrews 11:24-27

Christians don't want to hear about them because if you want to become persona non grata to the Israeli government leaders and rabbis then all you have to do is take a stand with the indigenous Jewish believers in Jesus who are citizens of Israel.

Christians operating in Israel know this. Christians leading tour groups to Israel know this. Christians whose ministries are all about defending Israel in their own nations throughout the world know this. The ones who don't know it, are probably not even aware that there are 10 to 15,000 Jewish believers in Jesus in Israel.

Here is a community of faith that is growing daily and steadily since the Jews returned from their long exile from the "Holy Land" that is virtually ignored by all quarters of Christianity. For those who see the intention of God to return to Israel with salvation through Jesus, and for those who think Jews are of no further consequence to "the Church" – both are content to ignore our Israeli spiritual brothers and sisters.

To me, both segments of Christendom are suffering from a tragic blinding of spiritual eyes, because neither see their spiritual brothers and sisters in Israel as a missing piece of their own Body. Neither understands that this is a member of their own Body that so often suffers because of the lack of significance their existence holds to the rest of the Body of Christ.

1 Cor 12:24-26 says, "But God has so composed the that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

It is amazing to me that in Christian circles, if one has a special heart for a people group it is accepted - EXCEPT if that people group happens to Jews. One group rejects that Israel has any significance whatsoever to * "the Church" today and the other group has been so misdirected from the real significance of Israel in God's plan today that it refuses to acknowledge the very work of the Lord that is happening in Israel - namely the harvest that is in progress.

This latter group has been misdirected to believe that God is primarily interested in the preservation of the borders of Israel or the politics of Israel in the international league of nations. I am not speaking against the advocacy of Christians for beleaguered Israel in the demonic hatred against that nation we see in international politics, but I am just saying as strenuously as I can: That is not God's first priority toward Israel - the salvation of the people is.

Photo/Graphic by Paul Lee for

If you put all the Christian organizations that support Israel into a pile and weighed them according to what their focus is - either concentrated near exclusively on political issues or those focused on supporting the Lord's harvest in Israel...well, let's just say that would be one overwhelmingly lopsided set of scales. Those who seek what God sees as the #1 issue among Israelis are few and far between.

My ministry seeks to serve the Body of the Lord in Israel so it really doesn't much surprise me that I struggle with lack of support like the ministries I serve. For seven years, I would not even put an appeal for material support on my weekly emails because I did not want to take away from support that would be directed to Israeli ministries. There are enough ministries prospering because their focus is Israel but who never support Israeli ministries. I simply did not want to be one of them.

I know what it takes to have a prosperous ministry for Israel: simply tell Israel-loving Christians what they want to hear about Israel. What they deem to be the most important thing is supporting Israel politically. The "urgent" need they have been convinced is helping Israel survive in a world that mostly hates the Jewish state.

Once drafted into that mission, the humanitarian need is emphasized. Groups that adamantly oppose giving the good news to Israelis are the most Christian-funded organizations in existence by millions and millions of Christian dollars given each year. While the leading Christian organizations that bring in donations for Israel projects are doing primarily political projects...or planting trees.

Sometimes, when I go to a gathering of Christians who see no significance to "the Church" today of Israel in the plan of God for the salvation of the world, I can't help feeling a little put off by the party atmosphere. Everyone just celebrating in the coming forth of the kingdom of God in earth through Body.

It's not that I'm against celebrating that wonderful truth; it is just that they do not seem to ‘get it’ that it is not going to happen apart from the coming together of the WHOLE Body of Christ - which most definitely includes the ever increasing community of faith in Israel.

What? You think you are going to get "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" without them? The Body is going to come "to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man" without all of its body parts? I don't think so.

You may never think they are significant until you begin to see that we don't get to that level of kingdom living on earth without them.

One of the most outstanding observations I have heard on this came from an Israeli prophet, Asher Intrater, who was talking about why the Christian prophets are all over the place in predictions about the last days. They don't know where God is going with all this so they are aiming their arrows in every which direction. If you don't know where God has painted the 'bull's eye' then you don't know where to aim your bow and arrow.

When we all come into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man - what is this perfect man but that which was referred to as God's intention in Jesus (Eph 2:15-16):

"so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross."

So, for those Christians who think they are going to enter the fullness of the kingdom of God without receiving the significance of what God is doing in Israel in terms of salvation of the Jews, think again.

And for those Christians who think that you don't have to worry about the salvation of the Jews because God is going to handle that Himself some by some other means in the midst of the Great Tribulation, think again. The plan of God couldn't have been more clearly stated in the Ephesians 2 passage - God is reconciling both Jew and Gentile "through the cross." There is no other way, just like Jesus told His Israeli brothers when He was walking among them.

All of the plan to bring salvation to Israel was known unto God from the beginning. When the gospel travels around the world from east to west, it ends up back in Jerusalem. The Grand Scheme of God has Israel in the beginning and in the ending, that is why Paul could explain the mystery it by revelation to us in Romans 9-11.

I started this piece by telling readers that I know what it takes to have a prosperous ministry about Israel, but I have spent my time telling you why that is not the most important issue to me. It is more important to me to stand shoulder to shoulder with my spiritual brothers and sisters in Israel who are living sacrifices to the purposes of Messiah among Israelis. Their reproach is going to be turned to great joy at some point. I want to be there rejoicing with them.

Back in the late 1980's when I didn't know anything about the existence of Messianic Jews or about Israel, Kim Clement prophesied over me that people will look at me one day and say, 'See she is as Miriam dancing with the Israelites.' I didn't know what it meant. Now I do.

Dancing with the Israelites at Tents of Mercy in the Haifa Bay Region in 2005

* Many Christians believe that “the church” was born in Acts chapter two, but the “congregation of the righteous” is a concept that predates the “ekklesia” of 120 that gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem in Acts 2. King David wrote in Psalm 1:5 about the “congregation of the righteous.” The “kehillah” congregation concept was certainly carried over into the “ekklesia” that is mentioned of the Jews who received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) in the Upper Room.

We Christians often think that the salvation plan of God began with us, but in fact, He initiated His plan as indicated in Rev 13, that the LAMB was “slain from the foundation/conception of the world”. From the beginning, God has been progressively revealing His plan to man. The Church is not God’s “Plan B” and Israel is not standing outside of God’s intentions for salvation.

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