Shalom in His grace. I hope and pray you are well, healthy, and serving the Lord with joy!
I want to share a great story with you of how a young Israeli came to faith through our Isaiah 53 Explained Facebook ads and the follow-up so wonderfully and faithfully carried out by Randall and Luda, two of our staff members in Israel. Randall wrote to me, and I think he should tell the story!
“M” (name left out for privacy purposes) is a young man, twenty-five years old, originally from Uruguay, who immigrated to Israel with his family in his early teens. He was very good at soccer and played professionally. He has some believing family members, perhaps grandparents, but they were not active in a congregation, so there was not much influence on “M.”
Curiously, when he would see pictures of Jesus, he had a feeling that He was somehow watching over him and that, because of Jesus, everything would be all right. After his father’s recent death, we happened to follow up on his request for your Hebrew Isaiah 53 Explained book.
Somehow, Rachel (one of our Israeli staff members) got to the post office during the COVID-19 crisis to send him a Hebrew New Testament. He was delighted, as he had no biblical knowledge other than Bible classes in Israeli school.
“M” is very friendly and, at first, may have viewed us in light of his focus on education—as just an interesting learning experience. However, he was strongly attracted to the Word, the message of the gospel, and the person of Jesus. After several weekly ZOOM meetings, he agreed to pray to ask for forgiveness for his sins and receive Jesus as Savior.
The Isaiah 53 outreach is a great privilege. The book has opened dialogue with hundreds or even thousands of Israelis, apart from the exposure on the internet.
Now, “M” is trying to finish his high school comprehensive exams, which he never did because of chasing his soccer career.
He is between jobs and is also changing apartments soon. Over the next couple of ZOOM sessions, we plan to discuss linking him with other believers.
Please keep us in your prayers.
There are many others in Israel, the United States, and worldwide who have come to faith during the pandemic! Our inability to sit face-to-face or mask-to-mask with people who are ready to give their lives to the Lord does not limit God’s saving power.
He is working powerfully among His chosen people around the globe. If I have learned anything from the pandemic, it is this: all people, including my Jewish people, are looking for answers that only God can provide.
And the harder the times, the more intense the search!
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
I came to faith during the Jesus movement after almost being killed in a drug deal and finding little meaning in the lifestyle I embraced in my late teenage years. It was a dark time, and I was searching without realizing it. I also had no idea what I was looking for, but I knew I needed a new lease on life—a new beginning!
My two Jewish best friends accepted the Lord during those days and shared the gospel with me. I heard their words, but they did not make sense. As a Jewish person, my impulse was to reject Jesus out of hand. After all, whoever heard of Jews believing in Jesus?! I had not, and I had never met a Jewish person who believed in Jesus before my two friends came to faith.
Thank God, He did not give up on me. After months of searching, answered prayers, and reading the New Testament, I accepted the Lord as my Messiah and Savior. And just like “M,” I grew to love the Bible. From then on, all I wanted was to serve the Lord and tell others about Him! I feel the same today as I did then, almost five decades ago!
THE APOSTLE PAUL WAS JEWISH, TOO!
I remember when I discovered that the Apostle Paul was Jewish. That was a shock. I understood that Jesus was Jewish, but the Jewish community generally views Paul as a renegade. I continued to read the Epistles he wrote with this new understanding, and along with Abraham, Moses, King David, and (of course) Jesus, Paul became one of my Jewish heroes.
I had many of the same questions that Paul had. For example, Why did the Jewish people not believe in Jesus when He first came? Why have my ancestors and leaders of the Jewish community generally rejected Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah? Has God rejected the Jewish people for rejecting Jesus?
Paul, or Rabbi Saul, answered these questions in the book of Romans, especially in chapters 9 to 11. I was so impressed with his burden for his Jewish people.
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…. (Romans 9:1–3)
In simple terms, Paul said he was willing to go to hell if it meant that a Jewish person might go to heaven. Paul had a deep burden for his people.
In Romans 10:1, we also learn that Paul prayed for the salvation of his people. He wrote, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” The apostles struggled through many of the same challenges I had when I first came to faith.
Did all Israel reject Yeshua? Did God reject the Jewish people? No! The proof is that Paul, himself, in Romans 11:1, declared that he was a Jew! Had God rejected the Jewish people for their unbelief? No! Paul was living evidence of God’s faithfulness.
Paul was a Jewish believer, but he also said there is a remnant of Jewish people who believe in Jesus, preserved by God throughout time. Did Paul believe that God rejected His chosen people because they had decided not to follow Jesus? Heaven forbid!
Paul told the Roman believers that there is a remnant today, just as there was in ancient Israel (Romans 11:2– 4). He recounted the story that appears in 2 Kings 18 when, following a great victory over the prophets of Ba’al, Elijah traveled to the desert. He told the Lord he felt all alone, and God showed him that he had company. There were seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Ba’al.
Paul stated a principle for the ages based upon this story when he wrote,
“In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice” (Romans 11:5).
I am part of this remnant today, as is “M.” We are not alone, though for now, we are a growing few.
The Lord is preserving a remnant today for His glory, though we know that one day the entire nation of Israel will come to Jesus. In Romans 11, Paul concluded that God has not rejected the Jewish people and that a day is coming when the Jewish people who are alive at the time of the Second Coming will turn to Jesus.
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation— that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25–26)
THE SPECIAL MANDATE FOR GENTILE BELIEVERS (ROMANS 11:11)
Paul answered another critical question in this triad of chapters. What is the Gentile believer’s role in God’s plan for the Jewish people?
The apostle said there is a biblical mandate for Gentiles in the Body of Messiah to reach Jewish people with the gospel message. In fact, according to Paul’s statement in Romans 11:11, the Gentiles are to make the Jewish people jealous.
As a mission to the Jews, we understand that we are to help our Gentile brothers and sisters accomplish this great work. It is part of our organizational mission statement to help (empower and equip) our brothers and sisters in the church to evangelize and disciple Jewish people.
Chosen People Ministries hopes to encourage, provide materials, and build strategic bridges with Gentiles in the Body of Messiah to fulfill this mandate in the twenty-first century.
We are partners in the gospel, and together we will reach Jews like me, “M,” and many others for the Savior.
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support. Let us look forward to the great future God has prepared for those who love Him as we try to help as many as we can to love Him too.