Thank you for taking a moment to read our latest news! We appreciate your interest in what God is doing among the Jewish people and through Your Mission to the Jewish People today! We deeply value your prayers and support.
TEL AVIV UPDATE
I want to update you on the new Messianic center in Tel Aviv. We are working on two fundraising tracks right now. First, we are only in the third month of raising funds for the purchase of this new Messianic Jewish outreach center in the greater Tel Aviv area—home to about four million Israelis!
Second, we are beginning construction on the build-out of the center as this new commercial space will house our Bible study classrooms, weekly outreach lectures and concerts, young adult activities, a café, and hopefully future congregational activities! The entire area is new, so we will need to renovate the interior space by adding walls, flooring, heating and air conditioning, bathrooms, and more.
We could not be more excited about the future as we are finding a new openness to the gospel in Israel, especially among younger Israelis. It is like an unstoppable wave moving across the country, and we are doing all we can to disciple those coming to faith.
Please pray and join us in building the future of the IsraeliMessianic community through your prayers and generous support for the new center. On the back of this newsletter, you will find more information about how you can give toward the purchase and renovation of the property.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. We can only get it done with your partnership!
ANTISEMITISM KEEPS JEWISH PEOPLE FROM BELIEVING IN JESUS
As you continue reading the newsletter, you will quickly discover this edition focuses on the alarming and deeply tragic increase in antisemitic incidents in the United States and around the globe. This trend dramatically impacts our efforts to bring the gospel to the Jewish people today. Generally speaking, Jewish people blame Christianity for antisemitism.
Unfortunately, one of the most frequent and negative Jewish responses to the gospel is not driven by differences in the interpretation of Scripture or Jewish tradition but by the past and present experiences of Jewish people with Christianity and the church as an institution.
I remember when I told my grandmother I was a believer. She accused me of joining the side of those who persecuted Jewish people. It was incredibly difficult to convince her otherwise. She immigrated to the United States from Belarus because she experienced pogroms, and later the Nazis murdered her entire family for being Jewish. She thought those men and women were Christians! I cannot blame my grandmother for feeling this way, as she did not know any better. She judged what she thought was Christianity based on the actions of so-called Christians.
Is this claim against Christianity accurate? Historically, it is certainly the perception of the Jewish people. Still, I cannot imagine how true Christians who love the Lord and believe the Bible could hate the Jewish people. It has not been my experience since I accepted Jesus a half-century ago. On the contrary, I found true Christians love the Jewish people and do not persecute anyone! If more of my people had genuine Christian friends, they would immediately discover those who persecuted Jewish people—especially in Europe—are different from those who name Jesus as Lord today.
Jewish people still hold Christianity accountable for the crusades, the pogroms of eastern Europe, and even the Holocaust. Without question, some in the past who called themselves Christians mistreated the Jewish people. This truth is a blight on the history of Jewish-Christian relations. Some Christian leaders spoke and wrote harsh words against the Jewish people in the earlier days of the church. These ideas tragically influenced Christian attitudes toward the Jewish people for centuries.
John Chrysostom (354–407 ce),1 who was considered a church father and the “golden-mouthed preacher” (chrysostom is Greek for “goldmouthed”), wrote a series of eight sermons called “Against the Jews.” In one message, he wrote:
Certainly it is the time for me to show that demons dwell in the synagogue, not only in the place itself but also in the souls of the Jews. . . . Do you not shudder to come into the same place with men possessed, who have so many unclean spirits, who have been reared amid slaughter and bloodshed?. . . Must you not turn away from them since they are the common disgrace and infection of the whole world? Have they not come to every form of wickedness?2
There are many other examples from the writings of the early church fathers as well as later pillars of Christianity, including Martin Luther. They were flawed men who did a lot of good but also mischaracterized the Jewish people in ways leading to what is often called “Christian antisemitism.” This history caused the Jewish people to view Christianity—and therefore the gospel—as a threat rather than a lifeline to salvation.
THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF ANTISEMITISM
The real issue is much more profound; we must look at the Scriptures to understand it.
Our current dilemma begins in Genesis 12:1–3 and the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. By God’s Spirit, Moses penned this promise, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3).
From the moment God made Abraham His friend, the devil chose Abraham and his descendants as enemies. After all, Satan understood God would one day save the world through the death and resurrection of a son of Abraham. He also knew the Jewish people would one day repent and call upon Jesus, leading this same Savior to return to reign as king.
When Israel acknowledges Jesus as Messiah (Romans 11:26), all the plans of the ultimate heavenly rebel will fail. Therefore, from the moment of Abraham’s call, the devil tried to hinder God’s plan by moving heaven and earth to crush Abraham’s descendants.
THE SOLUTION TO ANTISEMITISM
The apostle Paul urged the Gentile followers of Jesus to tell Jewish people about Jesus by demonstrating His love in word and deed. For Paul, this lovingkindness would cause the Jewish people to be jealous of the Jewish Messiah living in the hearts and souls of Christians (Romans 11:11–15).
Paul wrote in Romans 11:11, “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.”
Therefore, we must ask ourselves why Jewish people often perceive Gentile Christians—whom God gave a primary role in reaching the Jewish people for Jesus—as seeking their harm.
We know the enemy works especially hard at turning all of God’s people against each other. One of those ways is to mobilize the same people God called to bless the Jewish people to do the opposite. This sabotage is his failing effort to keep the people of promise from recognizing their Messiah and thus destroy the plans of God for the ages.
We can stand against the evil one by reversing his evil plan. We can make Jewish people jealous and bring the blessings of the gospel to His chosen people.
We can be part of His effort to reverse the curse. By fighting antisemitism, we challenge the devil’s cosmic plot to undo what God created for the world’s redemptive good.
Therefore, Your Mission to the Jewish People wants to encourage you to oppose antisemitism vocally and publicly when you see it. We are the solution to the problem of antisemitism, which is destructive and keeps Jewish people from considering the gospel.
Together, we can make a difference in changing the mindset of many Jewish people about the gospel. Through simply being ourselves and living as authentic believers, we will show Jewish people the gospel is not antisemitic but rather Jewish in nature. As Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
I am sorry to say antisemitism is rising in the United States and around the globe. It is time for Christians to take a stand and oppose antisemitism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head. We do this not simply because antisemitism is wrong and satanic but because we love the God who created the Jewish people and the Jewish Messiah. We want to see Jewish people come to faith in Jesus the Messiah.
1 John Chrysostom (354–407 ce) was the most distinguished church father of the East and one of the most virulently anti-Jewish preachers. Born in Antioch, he was baptized in 373 ce and ordained a priest in 384 ce. He delivered his eight sermons (homilies) “against the Jews” during his first two years of preaching in Antioch (386–387 ce).
2 John Chrysostom, Against the Jews, Homily I, VI, 6–7, accessed February 2, 2023, https://www.tertullian.org/fathers/chrysostom_adversus_judaeos_01_homily1.htm.