Tag Archives: Romans

A New Year of Ministry

I love this time of year as we reflect upon God’s goodness and grace. I hope you had a joy-filled Christmas and were able to give more thought to the dozens of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament. Last month, I highlighted a number of these prophecies that have impacted the messianic expectations of my Jewish forefathers. I am excited to share more with you about some of them.

One of my favorite prophecies describes the promise of God to David through Nathan the prophet:

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. . . . Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David. (2 Samuel 7:12–13, 16–17)

We know the baby born in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah 5:2, would be the promised Davidic King and sit on his throne forever. But those meant to be His subjects—my Jewish ancestors—did not accept Him. As John wrote, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).

As a Jewish person, I wish my Jewish ancestors had accepted Him as Messiah.

We will not realize the complete establishment of His glorious kingdom until my people—the Jewish people, His chosen people—declare their loyalty to the one true Messianic King of Israel. Paul wrote of that day, “And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

I believe that day is coming. According to the word of God, the emergence of this glorious and literal Davidic kingdom is unstoppable! As sure as He came once, so He will come again! Luke wrote:

And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10–11)

Maybe we will see Him face to face in 2022!


Jesus fulfilled a hidden and more mysterious element of messianic prophecy in His first coming as His journey to the Davidic throne included suffering and dying for our sins.

Isaiah wrote in chapter 53:4–5, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”

I recognize that this rejection by many first-century Jewish leaders was part of God’s plan as it would lead to His death for our sins. We understand that the Son of God was born to die so that the sons of men might become the children of God—through His finished work at Calvary.

But this is not the end of the story.

He would also rise in triumph by resurrecting from the dead and then, one day, taking His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of the nations.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:2–5, “. . . which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake.”

We pray that God will use you and our 127-year-old mission to reach today the remnant of Jewish people who will come to faith in the promised Messiah.

We also believe the calling of Chosen People Ministries is to stir the hearts of our Jewish people to prepare them for their end-times turning to Jesus, which will initiate the final series of prophecies related to His return. Again, the apostle wrote in Romans 11:25–26, “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.”

Jesus promised this end-of-days turning of the Jewish people to Himself when He spoke to the Jewish leaders during a pivotal point of His ministry, “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:39).

I take great comfort in knowing that the day will come when the Jewish people will welcome Him, and He will reign forever. This eternal reign is our biblical hope.


In the meantime, we will work tirelessly to bring the message of the King to the Jewish people. As I think about all the Lord accomplished during 2021, and what He is doing today, my heart is encouraged, but we need your prayers and partnership more today than ever before! We hope and pray that Chosen People Ministries will emerge from the pandemic strong as we draw closer and closer to the day of His return.

Allow me to share some of the blessings of this past year and some hopes for the future:

  • In Israel, we recently took about two dozen Holocaust survivors to Haifa on a retreat, which was a first over the last eighteen months. We prayerfully hope the landscape will change in the coming months in Israel, allowing us to fully reopen our Ramat Gan and Jerusalem Centers to meet in person without restriction.
  • Last month, we took forty young Israelis for a retreat in the desert for fellowship, and several seekers joined us for the trip.
  • Our Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies initiated our first virtual class in Israel through Zoom! Dr. Gregg Hagg taught Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods. This addition to our seminary program is an exciting step forward in making disciples in the Land!
  • We are developing a brand-new and innovative website in Hebrew to reach younger Israelis. This site will cover many of the challenges that younger and more secular Israelis face regarding relationships, education, the stress of serving in the Israeli army, and other emotional issues like loneliness.
  • We are also getting ready to begin our new “Hosting Israelis” network in the United States and other countries where Christians can invite Israelis traveling after their army service to spend a few days in their home. This network will give Israelis an opportunity to see what a Christian family is like and it will provide our hosts the opportunity to talk to these precious young people about the Lord.
  • We are developing other digital media tools for evangelism, including a new animated “gospel tract” for Facebook and other social media platforms.
  • We had great success with our online Hanukkah and Christmas outreach as thousands responded and requested our booklet, The Gospel according to Hanukkah!


By God’s grace, we have certainly experienced the Lord’s blessings throughout 2021, but I believe 2022 will be a year of more incredible progress in sharing the gospel with the Jewish people. We plan to continue our advancement strategy focused on three areas: training a new generation of Chosen People Ministries staff; expanding our ministry through social media, videos, and websites; and growing our exciting work in the Holy Land as we continue to add new young staff members.

I so appreciate your help, prayers, and generous support throughout 2021 and hope you will continue to stand with us in 2022.

The encouragement and trust you have shown me and our staff reflect your heart for this ministry and your continued commitment to making the gospel known among God’s chosen people.

Please pray for our efforts in working with hundreds of local churches by marking January 16, 2022, as “To the Jew First Sunday.” We have provided videos, various books and booklets, and other resources to make this a special Sunday for God’s work among the Jewish people. For more information on “To the Jew First Sunday,” please visit chosenpeople.com/priorityinfo.

May the Lord fill your heart and home with great joy during this new year. Zhava and I and the Chosen People Ministries worldwide staff wish you a happy and hopeful New Year.

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Filed under evangelism, Holocaust Survivors, Israel, Jews and Christians, Messianic Jewish

Hope in Suffering

Everyone from the angelic-voiced Mahalia Jackson to the great Louis Armstrong sang the traditional African-American spiritual entitled, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” The lyrics are worth noting:

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory Hallelujah

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory Hallelujah

This great song poignantly expresses the loneliness and heart-rending nature of suffering. Have you ever tried to tell your story of personal pain to another individual, especially someone who is not very close to you? Have ever you felt like your story sounds hollow and trite as soon as you begin to recount it to someone else, even though the experience was deeply agonizing for you? If you have, then you know the feeling of emptiness when you realize the other person simply cannot appreciate your pain.

In moments like these, when the gap in understanding is so deep and wide, we might just decide to give up explaining and suffer in silence to avoid trying to give good reasons for why we are hurting. Nobody likes having their suffering minimized by someone else’s inability to empathize and feel their pain. We should never be put in the position where we need to justify why life hurts.

The moving lyrics of this old spiritual and its haunting melody breathes authenticity into its testimony of pain. We know it grew out of the bitterness of slavery and a desire to rise above that hateful circumstance and turn our hearts to God who alone understands life’s trials. It is sad but realistic as it seems the only time our hearts reach out to heaven is when life’s solutions are elusive or shrouded in darkness, and we have come to the end of our proverbial rope.

Everyone suffers, but the history of the Jewish people is best understood only through the lens of national suffering. The saying, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”—always mentioned with a wry smile—is tender, touching, and true. So much of Jewish life tells the story of survival, celebration, and remembrance. “Never Again”—declared in remembrance of the Holocaust—is a mantra that befits the Jewish experience and helps us seize the future with defiance and hope.

Our Jewish people have been enslaved, persecuted, oppressed, and virtually destroyed during the Holocaust. The prayers, poems, and songs of our people encourage us to turn toward God who is above and beyond all and gives meaning to the pain and suffering that would otherwise be meaningless.

The Shehechiyanu prayer expresses our corporate gratitude and acceptance of the destiny God allows. Along with heartfelt mourning, our tradition reminds us to be thankful that we are still alive! This sentiment is captured in one of our most familiar prayers when we recite,

Baruch Atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech Ha’olam, shehechiyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to arrive in this moment.

This traditional Jewish response to good times and bad, to suffering and celebration, is prayed at almost every Jewish holiday. Recognizing God’s hand of protection upon the Jewish people as we have lived to enter another year’s holiday season, it speaks of the faithfulness of God. He is the rock in the midst of our suffering.

The Mourner’s Kaddish, another well-known prayer, is prayed at perhaps our greatest times of suffering as we come face to face with the death of a loved one.

There is nothing like death to make us appreciate life.

The Mourner’s Kaddish is a magnificent, eloquent, and hopeful prayer that is mistakenly understood as a prayer for the dead. The opposite is true. It is a prayer of praise to God for life itself. The Kaddish is life-affirming, and it is at the heart of the Jewish response to suffering and death. The Kaddish lifts our hearts as the words we say glorify God and extol the virtues of His divine perfections. The prayer gives voice to our suffering by reaffirming our acceptance of His plan for us personally and as a people. This acknowledgment enables us to be thankful to God in the face of great loss and the worst of human pain.

The ability to recite the prayer in a heartfelt and sincere way is in itself a victory over the potential emptiness of suffering that can consume us. Although the Mourner’s Kaddish is only recited once at the end of synagogue services, versions of the Kaddish are repeated throughout. At the heart of every variation of the prayer is the following statement about the character of God:

Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored, elevated, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He—above and beyond any blessings and hymns, praises, and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen.

When we pray these words together as a family and community, it becomes easier to accept the isolation and desolation of suffering.

I believe this Jewish approach to hope is found in the Bible—in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. The well-worn words of Job, the master of theodicy, enable us to walk into the “whirlwind” of distress with faith and hope in the character of a good and gracious God. Job, in a perfect illustration of submission to God’s will, said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).

We might understand suffering today in deeper and more profound ways than ever before. COVID-19 has shattered many of our lives in so many ways. Some of us have unfortunately lost loved ones. We have also recently witnessed terrible floods, earthquakes, fires, and wars we thought we would never have to fight again.

Yet, we can have hope in the midst of suffering!

Bitterness, hopelessness, and anger are self-destructive options , but there is a whole range of life-affirming choices we can make as well. We might never quite understand the why of our pain, but we can still find peace in suffering when we entrust our souls to the God who made us.

The story of Jesus as told in the four Gospels is worth reading as you will see how the God of the universe chose to suffer on our behalf and repair the damage brought about by sin. In fact, He clothed Himself with humanity and endured pain and loss and injustice, just like we experience. He did even more for us. He died for our sins and rose from the grave to pave a new way into the presence of God. His suffering is the ultimate solace for our suffering! Once healed, this new and personal relationship with God through Yeshua the Messiah will become your greatest source of joy and give meaning to your suffering.

As the venerable rabbi and apostle Paul wrote so many years ago,

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3–5)

Like most of us, you are probably suffering in one way or another today. How can you avoid it? You do not have to be a weak person to suffer—we all have our limits. Loss and disappointment are a part of life, and we desperately need to find ways to cope. I and so many others affirm that knowing God intimately and personally, through Jesus the Messiah, is not only true—it will transform you!

I was searching and quietly suffering when I read the following for the very first time. Growing up in a Jewish home, we did not read the New Testament, of course! Jesus said,

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

These words were so comforting, although at first, I did not even know who said them! I hope and pray you will discover what the Messiah promised to be true for you as well.

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, evangelism, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish

To the Jew First in 2021

Shalom, dear friend.

It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of January 2021! Time is moving forward so rapidly! Last January, I had such hope in the afterglow of celebrating Chosen People Ministries’ 125th year of ministry. We had a fabulous gala! The future looked so bright, the opportunities to serve the Lord and reach Jewish people with the gospel were electrifying, and the Chosen People Ministries staff was ready to go!

But then tragedy struck, and however you feel about the virus, it has impacted all of our lives in many ways. The effects of COVID-19 on our friends, families, and congregations have been severe. Our economy and the overall stability of our nation suffered as well.

My dear friend, 2020 was a challenging year!

But the Lord is ALWAYS in control. He is sovereign and loves us with an everlasting love. He created us, sent His Son to redeem us, and is coming back, so we are hopeful.

Job’s sentiments very well express how you and I might sometimes feel: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15).

When there is nothing else to hold onto, we can always cling to the nature and character of our God! He will never disappoint, though His ways, thoughts, and will are so mysterious to us at times (Isaiah 55:8–9).

But we know in the depth of our souls that the Lord is always worthy of our trust!

While I anguish with those who have lost loved ones, businesses, and more to the virus, I believe that 2021 will be a year of restoration. I also have an even greater sense of urgency than ever before to proclaim the gospel to the Jewish people. Your Mission to the Jewish People will move forward in hope, fulfilling the mission and vision God gave Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894 when he founded Chosen People Ministries.

The Messianic Jewish Apostle Paul expressed our vision at Chosen People Ministries when he wrote,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, 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).

I like to remind our staff and prayer partners of this verse every January. It is best to read this verse—and the entire Bible—as literally as possible. David L. Cooper, a missionary to the Jewish people who lived and ministered in the 40s and 50s in Los Angeles, said this about reading Scripture: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” He explained that, unless there is an obvious reason not to, we should apply Scripture literally.


If we take Romans 1:16 literally, we see that we should not be ashamed of the gospel as it is the power of God for salvation. I know this is true, as I experienced God’s power when I was nineteen years old and accepted Jesus. He transformed my life!

This verse also teaches that we should not keep this glorious and powerful message to ourselves. It is the power of God for salvation, not just for us, but for everyone who believes. Our divinely appointed goal in life should be to present the gospel in ways that others might see the power of the good news and believe in Him as well.

Finally, the text tells us that the gospel should be proclaimed to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Here is where some people find it hard to take this verse literally.

The Greek word translated “first” is protos and does not need to be understood sequentially. I do not think Paul intended for the Roman believers to witness to all the Jewish people in Rome before sharing the gospel with non-Jews! Paul used a nonsequential application of the word first.

To the Jew first means that bringing the gospel to the Jewish people should be a heart priority for every believer in Jesus.

We must find a way to apply the plain truth of God’s Word to our lives. Whether through prayer, giving, or witnessing to Jewish people we know, we all need to be involved in sharing the good news with God’s chosen people.


We want to take Paul’s statement a little bit further in 2021.

We not only want to bring the gospel to the Jewish people first, but we also want to take the gospel to some of the most challenging and resistant Jewish people first. The group I have in mind is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, usually called the Haredim. A literal translation of the Hebrew word Haredim is “those who fear the Lord.”

This Jewish community represents close to one million of the more than fifteen million Jewish people in the world.

They are viewed as “old style” in their keeping of Jewish tradition and dress. Haredim follow the Torah diligently, live under the rabbis’ authority, and share a vibrant community life that includes schools, jobs, and synagogue life, which is central to this Jewish community.

My heart breaks for the Haredim for many reasons. But the primary reason is biblical, as Paul wrote in Romans 10:1–3. He noted that these beloved Jewish people have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. The Greek word Paul used is epignosis, a composite term that implies full or complete knowledge. The Haredim understand God to a degree, but this knowledge is incomplete because it lacks an understanding of Jesus, who fulfills all that the Bible promises.

I live in Brooklyn. Outside of Jerusalem and a few other enclaves in Israel and the greater New York area, my hometown is the epicenter of Haredi life. However, you will find Haredim in every major city in North America.

We have developed tools designed to reach these dear people through the use of social media in the United States, Israel, and other strategic places where many Haredim live. We are using the Yiddish language, which combines Old German and some Slavic and Hebrew terms but is written in Hebrew letters.

We have the New Testament in Yiddish and the Jesus Film in Yiddish as well, which we are offering for online viewing.


We are also establishing a fund to purchase a property somewhere outside the New York area where the Haredim who are seeking the Lord can safely stay when their community persecutes them. We call this the “Haredi Safe House Initiative.”

God has given us a big vision and ambitious goals. We have already done a lot, but now we are prepared to move full steam ahead.

We expect to receive quite a bit of opposition, and we need to have the prayer support to press on.

We have not yet located the site, though we have a good idea of where we want to be. So stay tuned, and we will tell you more about this later on in 2021.

We are prepared and available to God for this monumental task, and we hope and pray that, in the days ahead, the Lord will use us in the lives of this exceptional part of the global Jewish community.

We are not stopping anything else that we are doing; we are adding to what we have done in past years. This includes a more extensive outreach to campuses, initiatives among children, and more.

The gospel is still powerful, and it is still for everyone; it is the only solution that works for you, me, and every other citizen on earth. But as we apply the preaching of the gospel, we need to take Paul’s words seriously and present the gospel to the Jew first.


Thank you so much for your prayers. I see God’s hand on the Jewish people and especially the state of Israel as part of the unfolding of the end times. I believe with my whole heart that the Jewish people will turn to Jesus before He returns at the end of days. This makes reaching the Jewish people for the Messiah Jesus so very important.

As Paul wrote,

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; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25–27).

Let us lift our eyes and hearts together and, by His grace, reach the Jewish people for the Lord. Thank you for caring and for helping us bring the gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles.

Your brother in the Messiah,

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Filed under Brooklyn, evangelism, New York City

The Priority of Jewish Evangelism

Shalom in His grace!

I hope and pray this letter finds you healthy, safe, and filled with His joy.

I continue to believe that sharing the gospel with everyone should be our greatest priority in life! My personal burden, and the focus of Chosen People Ministries, is reaching Jewish people for Jesus. But, as surprising as this might be, we actually lead as many or more Gentiles to the Lord as we do Jewish people every year!

Yet my heart’s greatest desire is to see my own Jewish people accept Jesus and receive the gift of everlasting life!

It is essential to ask the question, “If Jewish people number only 15 million among almost 8 billion people on earth, why is Jewish evangelism so essential and urgent?”

As the leader of a traditional mission to the Jewish people, I believe Jewish people must accept Jesus to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:16–17; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

I do not believe a Jewish person or a Gentile can satisfy God’s demands for righteousness through his or her merit or good works (Galatians 2:15–16; 3:23–25; Romans 10:2ff.). According to the Apostle Paul in the early chapters of Romans, we must all put our faith and trust in God’s Son, who died and rose for our sins.


The following two passages, in particular, provide a sound biblical basis for the urgency of Jewish evangelism.


The Apostle Paul expressed it this way, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, 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).

Franz Delitzsch, the well-known Old Testament scholar, wrote, “For the church to evangelize the world without thinking of the Jews, is like a bird trying to fly with one broken wing.”

Of course, Paul was not suggesting that the Roman believers withhold the gospel from the Gentiles until every Jewish person in the world hears the good news. Neither was he implying that the gospel has already come to the Jewish people first, therefore, preaching the gospel to the “Jew first” no longer has any application in 2020. Paul wrote Romans 1:16 in the present tense. So follow the logic of the text with me: If the gospel is still the power of God “for” salvation and is still for “everyone who believes,” then the gospel is still “to the Jew first.”

Paul used the same Greek word for “first” that Matthew used in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus reminded us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness….” The kingdom of God should always be a priority in our lives, even as we pursue other vital life issues. Similarly, reaching Jewish people with the gospel should be a priority for all who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

Wherever Paul, the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles, traveled in his ministry, he always first preached the gospel to the Jewish people living in that area (Acts 13:13–52; 14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10), which is why he usually began his ministry by preaching in the local synagogues. The salvation of the Jewish people was an ever-present burden for Paul, and his actions in the book of Acts reveal his understanding of what he wrote in Romans 1:16.

But there is more!

ROMANS 9 –11

In Romans 9–11, Paul pointed out some critical insights about the Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. For example, in Romans 9:1–3, we learn of Paul’s burden for the Jewish people; he expressed his willingness to give up his salvation if it meant that Jewish people might enter the kingdom of God. Romans 10:1–3 describes his heartfelt prayers for his people. In chapter 11, Paul concluded that God has not rejected the Jewish people—there is hope for the salvation of individual Jewish people in the present age and nationally at the end of days.

His first line of argumentation for God’s continued faithfulness to the Jewish people was that he—Paul—was Jewish! Paul was living evidence of God’s faithfulness. I, too, am a Jewish believer in Jesus, and there is a remnant of Jews today who are accepting the gift of salvation in Jesus the Messiah!

The work of Your Mission to the Jewish People can be summarized this way: We are Jewish and Gentile believers searching for the promised remnant the Lord has prepared among the Jewish people. We continue this ministry in the United States, Israel, Europe, South America, and in nineteen countries worldwide! I am a part of the remnant of Jewish believers looking for the others!


There is a remnant today as there was in the Old Testament period, as evidenced by Paul’s recounting the story in 1 Kings 18. God revealed to Elijah that 7,000 other men did not bow the knee to Ba’al. This group remained faithful to the God of Israel. Paul concluded that a remnant existed among the Jewish people of his day who, like himself, received Jesus as Lord (Romans 11:5). Messianic Jews today are God’s signposts of His faithfulness and power to save.


The task of reaching this remnant is also a mandate for the church. In Romans 11:11, Paul specifically called upon Gentile members in the body of Christ to make Jewish people jealous with the gospel message. Ultimately, that jealousy would drive the nation to Jesus, as detailed in Romans 11:25–26.

The link between Israel’s salvation and the Messiah’s return is perhaps a mystery, but true nonetheless. This relationship is spelled out in the book of Zechariah from chapter 12 through chapter 14, where we see the connection between the Lord’s return and the repentance and return of the Jewish end-time remnant.

This connection might even explain why Paul gladly accepted the mantle of apostle to the Gentiles, knowing that the salvation of the Gentiles would lead to the salvation of the Jewish remnant, which, in turn, would lead to the glorious consummation of all things!

The practical implications of these few thoughts are clear. The Gentiles within the body of Messiah have a calling to reach Jewish people for Jesus. As a 126-year-old mission to the Jewish people, Chosen People Ministries is happy to equip and train our brothers and sisters to accomplish this prophetic work.

It is part of our organizational mission statement: “Chosen People Ministries exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same.”

We accomplish this mission by encouraging, providing materials and resources, and building strategic bridges with the larger body of Messiah to fulfill this mandate in the twenty-first century.

One of our staff recently spoke to a Jewish man:

When he started reading Isaiah 53, he asked me who it was about. I said, “Who do you think it is about?” He responded, “Jesus.” Then I pointed out that it was written 700 years before Jesus was born. He said he was “blown away.”

Critical Jewish areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, and Israel are still facing difficult circumstances as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Our hearts break, as Paul’s did, for the salvation of our Jewish people. So many elderly Jewish people, including Holocaust survivors in Israel, are frightened and looking for answers. We know that there is only one answer to the problems and challenges of life, whether it be poor health, the loneliness of old age, or economic instability. Many Jewish people today are also concerned about change and the apparent frailty and instability of life.

We have a golden opportunity to reach Jewish people with the gospel. NOW is the time, and because of our success online, we are talking to thousands of Jewish people about Jesus. We try to visit and minister personally when able, but if not, our missionaries are now all adept at making significant online and phone connections with Jewish people.

Once again, we consider the words of that great Jewish apostle to the Gentiles, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Romans 10:1).

In Messiah,

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Leveraging our Grief for His Glory

As a result of the pandemic, we have all had time to think more deeply and reflect on how we have lived, walked with God, served in our ministry, and held to our priorities and values. Yet, one of the most valuable experiences to grow out of the pandemic is the opportunity to make changes and reprioritize as we consider our next steps and begin the “new normal” of the days ahead. What are our life’s highest priorities, and how will they change in the future?

One of the priorities cherished by the Apostle Paul was evangelism—to participate, to pray, and to ask others to pray.

But I believe it is essential for us to consider the underlying motivation that fueled Paul’s passion for evangelism. The factors that moved the apostle may be used as a mirror to discern our level of passion and desire to share the gospel, especially during this challenging time of being separated from so many people we love and care about.

Paul wrote:

“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).

This great sorrow and unceasing grief are at the heart and core of the apostle’s motivation to faithfully share the gospel and endure the persecution, suffering, disappointment, and difficulties of doing so. He is ultimately motivated by grief.

We understand grief better today than ever before. Grief simply means mourning what is lost, and we are all grieving today, in one way or another. We are mourning the loss of “normal” life, opportunities to see family and friends, the loss of a job, or even more so, the loss of a loved one to the virus or some other reason.

The great writer and Christian thinker, C. S. Lewis, was married to Joy Davidman, a Jewish woman from New York City who passed away from cancer only four years into their marriage. Lewis wrote a lot about this experience, and one book, A Grief Observed, summarizes much of his feelings about grief, loss, and the heartache that comes from no longer being able to sit face to face with someone you love.

He writes,

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”[1]

And further,

“I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache and about lying awake.’ That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”[2]

And most poignantly,

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”[3]

I think that this is what Paul was trying to help the Roman believers understand. He loved his Jewish people so much and was in a constant state of grief not because he was away from them but because he knew that his beloved Jewish people and family were separated from God and was grieving on their behalf. His sense of grief consumed him because of the separation his people experienced from God. In reality, it was a separation that was not understood, known, or accepted by the Jewish people.

The Apostle Paul’s grief led to his prayer in chapter 10:1 where he cried out,

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”

How about you and me? How intense is our burden?

We have the rare opportunity today to better understand grief and loss because of this tragic pandemic. There is now the possibility of leveraging those feelings of sadness and separation to pray more fervently for our friends and family—especially our Jewish friends—who are separated from God and might not even be aware of it. Because we are aware of it, we can grieve on their behalf.

Grief is a hard thing, as it requires us to feel with our hearts and carry the burden for something that will not have an immediate resolution, especially if we are speaking of the case of Jewish evangelism. Yet, feeling the hard edges of life is so important. If we allow grief to penetrate our hearts, perhaps we can better understand and join in the Messiah’s anguish over His people, as seen in Luke 19:41–42, when He weeps over Jerusalem and the troubles that would befall His Jewish people in the future. I believe the Apostle Paul joined in this grief. The Jewish people could not possibly understand the consequences of being separated from God for all eternity. (Acts 4:12) If we can allow this grief to touch our hearts, perhaps we can better understand these days—to motivate us to pray, to witness the hope we have through Yeshua the Messiah, and to appreciate the salvation and Savior we have, who bore all our griefs, burdens, and sin according to Isaiah 53:4:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

By His grace, the Messiah has ushered us into a glorious relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This faith in Him causes us to grieve for others because we know what He has done for us.

Lewis added in A Grief Observed,

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”[4]

Sometimes we hang onto the thread of faith as we face disappointment and even disillusionment growing out of the hard experiences we face in this life. Yet, that thread does hold us because it is attached to the firm grip of our loving and all-powerful Savior. We will experience loss and grieve, yet we have also been given the gift of hope through the Messiah of Israel. We should try to prayerfully use our now more profound understanding of grief and loss to motivate us to pray and witness to those who might not even know what they are missing. But we do and, by His grace, should make intercession for those who do not, just as our Savior did for us.


[1] C S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), 52.

[2] Ibid, 9–10.

[3] Ibid, 11.

[4] Ibid, 22–23.

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