Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Understanding

The Understanding
by Donna Diorio

In 1998, as Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as Israel's Prime Minister was coming to an unplanned end, there was a strong campaign among the religious parties to legislate against the Israeli believers in Yeshua from sharing their faith.  I have always believed that God removed Netanyahu from power because he allowed the religious parties to increase too powerfully and threatening to the Israeli Messianic Jewish believers ability to fulfill their mandate from God. 

With new elections, the liberal party took control and Israel became less safe in national security because of it, but Messianic believer-citizens became more safe. That seems to be the trade-off politically for Israel. My trust is that God will keep both of those needs balanced. That balancing act may be exactly what we are seeing  unfolding again in the chaotic Israeli political situation. While Netanyahu is strong on protecting Israel from international pressures, he is miserably weak in protecting the religious freedoms of Israeli Messianic Jewish believer-citizens. 
Here is another troubling fact: the Israel-supporting Church generally has the exact same strength and weakness as Netanyahu. When Netanyahu failed to adequately speak up for the Israeli believers in 1998, I believe God sovereignly  removed Netanyahu from office.  He moved to limit the damage that the religious parties were set on doing to the Israeli believers sharing their faith. In God's eyes, the believers are every bit as important as the whole nation of Israel because, in fact God's plan to save Israel from annihilation in the end times is inextricably entwined with His plan to bring "all Israel" to faith in Yeshua through the testimony of Israeli Messianic Jews.  
Fast Forward to 2019. Netanyahu's political problems may be of God because once again Israel may be getting a course-correction so that too much power is not given prematurely to religious parties in opposition to the Gospel.  There are again increasing reports of aggressive religious persecution against the Israeli believers.
 Just this morning the Times of Israel tweeted about a meeting where the Israeli  President gave reassurances: "Rivlin to Christian leaders: Israeli sovereignty will never erode religious freedom".  The problem, of course is that this promise is pointless if it does not extend to Israeli Messianic Jews who profess Yeshua. 
And that brings us to the religious riot at a private Messianic worship event in the Clal Bldg Pavillion in Jerusalem last week. It was reported on Facebook the next day by Shelly Greenberg, a law intern and Messianic believer who witnessed the riot. Because of her experience in Messianic events, she also helped to get arriving guests of the event into the facility, past the rioting Lehava organization. 
Shelly Greenberg wrote that "Kids were crying, mothers and old people were terrified. . . . I must say, I've been dealing with those kind of things for years, but I have never seen them so possessed. They were in craze." Even the police & SWAT teams that arrived failed to control the crowd she said.
Inside the concert proceeded but outside, after two hours the riot area was finally pepper sprayed. As far as we know there were no arrests made and we have not been able to find any coverage of the riot in the Israeli newspapers. See coverage in Messianic news here and here. Some videos also captured a small measure of the riots posted on Facebook here and here.
We need to understand that God has placed a mantle of great purpose on the Jewish believers in Israel, and He will defend them waiting for us to step come alongside them 100% as He intends. They are paying the price for our failures to support them in prayer, in finances and in the political influence we hold. 
The religious persecutions of 2019 are a continuation of the opposition to the Gospel we see in the Acts of the Apostles, and which has shown itself time and again since Israel's modern re-birth in 1948. We must know this and not let it deter us from cooperating in the vision God has for the faith of Yeshua to bloom again in Israel. 
"Those that do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it." | In 1998 the Zvili bill sought to stop the gospel from going forth in Israel by Israeli Jewish citizens was stopped due to months of tireless efforts by the Messianic Action Committee. Through their informing Christians about the threat they faced a strong worldwide outcry rose among Israel-supporting Christians. Israeli politicians noticed.  But the political realities were that Netanyahu's promises to Christians not to let the bill pass was too much for Netanyahu to uphold. He was under the same pressures to allow the religious parties too much power in order to maintain a coalition government.
Meanwhile Israel-based Christian organizations came up with their own solution to deal with the religious opposition in proposing what was known as "The Understanding".  What they hoped for was their  agreement would ease the religious political resistance to their own presence in Israel. It certainly did not ease the resistance for the Israeli believer-citizens and was viewed by many as a betrayal of them and of the faith, as well.  
Here is some of the wording of The Understanding: 
"We believe that the covenant which God concluded with the people of Israel was never revoked. We deeply respect the Jewish people in their identity and integrity not engage in activities, which have as their intention to alienate them from their tradition and community. Nor will we exploit, for the benefit of our denominational interests, such economic, social or psychological needs as may emerge. 
"We earnestly call upon the government of Israel to maintain its enlightened policy which allows our Christian communities in this country, both native as well as expatriate, to freely follow our vocation, which includes among others, caring for our members; engaging in many social and charitable projects; welcoming and assisting pilgrims and visitors from abroad; and maintaining schools and institutions for teaching and research - to the end, that the Christian communities in the State of Israel may flourish in harmony with those of other faiths."
I am among those that believe what is expressed in The Understanding falls short of what God wants to see from Christians in terms of supporting His plans for Israel. The reason is because it fails to see Israel is coming to faith in Yeshua now and they are coming by the anointing of God on the Israeli Jewish believers to bring them to faith. 
The Understanding ultimately left the Israeli Jewish believers vulnerable to un-protested persecution by the very Israeli religious organizations that "non-proselytizing" Christians have entered into agreement with. It has encouraged the Israeli believing community to suffer in silence. Why talk about what your family doesn't want to hear about of your hardships? We really have to do better, don't we? 
Increasingly Israel-supporting Christians are learning the truth and coming to cooperate with the plans of God for it. We can love our Israeli brothers and sisters in Messiah, and put them in the forefront of our desires to support Israel with the full knowledge that this is what God wants from us. 

Post Script I have sat for over a decade on the article I wrote originally on The Understanding from which this new article has been drawn. For the sake of the Israeli Ministries, I believe it is time to acknowledge the past so we don't repeat it once again in 2019.  Our alliance is to God's plan for Israel. We can't brush the Israeli Ministries aside as inconsequential to Christian ties to Israel.

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