Category Archives: Israel

Should We Evangelize the Jewish People? Catholic View

Below is a interesting link to a letter I found from a converted Jewish woman to Cardinal Keeler,  the U.S. bishop’s moderator for Jewish relations.  This open letter was regarding the controversial document on whether catholics should evangelize the Jewish people.  Since this controversial document’s release, the Catholic church released a statement to offer clarification.

Dear Cardinal Keeler:
I am grateful, your Eminence, that you have encouraged serious reflection on the statements of the document by Jews and Catholics throughout the United States, and I beg you to bear with me as I try to convey to you the things so heavy on my heart. (All quotes below are from the document unless otherwise indicated.)

Having been born and raised in a Conservative Jewish home, I have deep love and respect for the Jewish people, many of whom see me as a traitor now that I’m a Christian (or, more specifically, a Hebrew Catholic). While I fall far short of the depth of Paul’s heart for his kinsmen according to the flesh, wishing himself accursed and cut off from Christ for their sake (cf. Rom. 9:3), I anguish yet at Israel’s unbelief in the Messiah who came for them, though them. One of the most heartrending statements to me in all of Scripture is that of our Lord as he wept over Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. . . . How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not” (Matt. 23:37.

Yet Israel’s lack of belief is not so great a mysety to me as my belief. That we are born in original sin, which plunged us into darkness, is a fact, however sorrowful. That, in addition to our fallen condition, “a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in” (Rom. 11:25) is another. But that the love and grace of God should have penetrated my heart and drawn me to him is a mystery for which I will sing God’s praises through all eternity.

Though the document was “meant to spur reflection,” it caused me considerable distress. I agree with much of what it says, and I am grateful for the love of the Jewish people that is at its core, but I believe the conclusions it reaches are opposed to the temporal and spiritual welfare of this people. I beg your forgiveness if, in stating my thoughts so forthrightly, I offend you in any way. That is not my intention…LETTER CONTINUES HERE

The Israel Mandate

There are two question often asked in response to understanding Israel’s mandate:

  • To whom is the Bible referring when it uses the phrase, “All Israel”?
  • What does the verse “Not all Israel … is Israel” really mean?
Who was Paul referring to when he used the phrase “all Israel” (Romans 11:26)?

There are only a few possibilities. First, “all Israel” some say means every single Jewish person that has ever lived. The logic is that God’s covenants are eternal and are made with ethnic Jews and His promise to bring the nation of Israel into a place of spiritual revival is unconditional. Therefore every Jewish person is granted salvation on the basis of God’s covenants.

Second, others say “all Israel” refers a specific eschatological time in the future prior to the Second Coming and it refers to every single Jewish person alive at that moment in time.

Third, still others say that “all Israel” refers to a specific group of Jewish people that comprise a Believing remnant and although this will be a substantial number of Jews that are living when the Lord returns … it may not be without exception “every single” Jewish person alive on the planet when the Lord returns. I believe the answer to the second question is helpful in answering the first.

What does the verse “Not all Israel … is Israel” (Romans 9:6) really mean?

The problem we run into with the name “Israel” on the front end is that it is a multi-dimensional term. Meaning that Israel is: (1) A geographic area (2) A distinct ethnic group and (3) A spiritual entity comprised of two separate groups; namely believers and non-believers. To further complicate things the believing group is comprised of believing Jews as well as believing Gentiles, hence “not all Israel … is Israel.” Thus, there are those who are ethnic Jews whom God disqualifies when it comes to being identified as a true Israeli. These are clearly non-believing Jews.

This reality in no way takes away from nor does it diminish in any way God’s unique calling and promises that have been specifically given to ethnic Jews who live in a geographic region called Israel. (NOTE: This obviously includes and applies to Jews living elsewhere.) The promises that God gave to Abraham and his offspring were given specifically, however not exclusively, to the Jewish people (direct descendants of Abraham). God also included very specific promises that were given to a geographic area in the Middle East called Israel. His promises were always focused on both the people and the land. Be aware that Israel has never fully occupied her God given inheritance and will not do so until the next age. Although Israel is often mentioned in the press as occupying Arab land—the truth from scripture is that the Arabs are currently occupying a huge portion of Israel’s rightful inheritance. Just for the record.

Subpoint: I believe that a portion of “All Israel” that is rarely addressed are Gentile believers who have been, in the grace of God, called and set apart to join themselves to the Jewish people in an extreme way and are thereby recognized by God as Jewish, in the fullest sense of the word. The Old Testament term is “stranger” and “foreigner” and these were Gentiles who joined Israel (i.e. Ruth) and were granted full citizenship. These individuals feel compelled to celebrate the Feasts, Shabbat and other Jewish customs. This calling has been massively misunderstood and has caused much confusion and disruption in the Gentile Body of Yeshua. I believe this is a legitimate call and needs to be recognized and understood. For the record—I’m not one of them. I love being an “observant” Gentile. By “observant”, I mean a card-carrying member of the Acts 15 club.

I believe that “all Israel” (Romans 11:26) is a specific term and in this context applies to believing Jews who turn to the Lord before Jesus’ Second Coming. However, in a general sense we need to be aware that included in “all Israel” is a subset called believing Gentiles, we’ll look at Romans 9:6 and Galatians 6:16 in a moment. The scenario presented in Ezekiel 20 suggests that not all Jews will believe and receive Yeshua as their Messiah. Some Jews will continue to resist Him and are labeled “rebels” and will be restricted from entering the land of Israel. Not sure if their final fate is “the Lake of Fire” or exiled somewhere other then Israel but allowed to live during the Millennial Kingdom.

The Danger: Including believing Gentiles under the banner of Israel is a bit tricky and can at first glance appear to some to be a statement supporting Replacement Theology. However, unlike RT that attempts to transfer all the covenants and promises given specifically and in some cases, eternally to Israel; what I am referring to are the promises that make a clear statement that Gentile believers are now “grafted in” and have become “adopted” into the family of faith with Abraham and his natural off-spring.

Where we miss it:

  1. We have not been called to replace but rather, God, in His great mercy has opened a door called “faith” for those who believe in His Son and we have been adopted into things that were previously only available to the Jews.
  2. Their rejection of God, His covenants and their Messiah has done nothing to alter God’s original plan in the slightest. In fact, He saw it coming and went to extravagant measures (the cross) in order to promote a people (mostly Gentiles) who would fast, pray and provoke His people to reconsider the claims of Christ. Their destiny in God is stunning.
  3. The covenants and promises God made with ethnic Israel and their land are still securely intact. Nothing has been added or taken away.
  4. However, His promises to the Jewish people must be believed and appropriated by faith. Whereas being Jewish is contingent upon biology and DNA, being a true son of Abraham is conditioned upon believing the promises and covenants and by receiving their Jewish Messiah. Case and point, without faith in Messiah genealogy is meaningless when it comes to the issue of salvation.
  5. The Gentile church has been strictly warned (Romans 11) not to explain away, spiritualize or minimize the unique role that God has assigned to the Jewish people in redemptive history. That role has never been reassigned and will be fully appreciated in the next age. Their place in the plan of God is to be highly esteemed and supported, as it is the passion of God’s heart.
  6. Having an authentic love for God while carrying contempt for His people is an oxymoron.

Conclusion: To whom was God referring when He used the term “all Israel” in the context of end-time salvation in Romans 11:26?

A. “All Israel” I do not believe means “every single Jewish person alive when Jesus returns.” I think we need to be careful about giving that impression in the light of Ezekiel 20. “All Israel” I believe rather refers to every single Jewish person who genuinely puts their faith in their Messiah, which appears to be most at the end of the age. If we could insert one word it would make this verse a little clearer. That word would be “believing” or “spiritual”. In other words, I believe the thought Paul is conveying here is that “all believing Israel” or “all spiritual Israel” will be saved. It’s the equivalent of saying that “Every sincere believer will be saved.” I would add some strength to that by saying that Zechariah 12:10; Ezekiel 37; Romans 11:26 and numerous other passages, make a strong case for a corporate awakening. I still maintain that although this will affect most of the Jewish people alive at that moment in time, not every single one will yield to that revelation, however, most certainly will. I just feel a bit uncomfortable declaring unconditionally that every single surviving Jewish person will surely turn with their whole heart and follow Yeshua. I would be overjoyed to be totally off on this one.

B. The reason Paul said, “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham”; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called” was because there is a distinct criteria for being identified with true Israel, spiritual Israel, believing Israel, One New Man, the Body of Yeshua, the “Israel of God” or whatever other term we might want to tag on it. The truth is there have always been believing and a non-believing Jews. Every generation has had a mixture of both. There is a spiritual component to being affiliated with the name Israel and Gentiles are certainly included in that title, but it must be clearly stated when we make that claim what it is we are really talking about. The name Israel is mentioned over 2,200 times in the Bible and all but two of those references, from my studies, are speaking specifically about ethnic Israel or the Jewish people. This is an extremely difficult concept for most believers to grasp.

What If They Are Wrong Regarding Zion?

God’ Heart for Israel

About 6 months ago, I began praying about Israel–not for her, but for an understanding of why I should pray for her to begin with.  The media told me that she was evil and the opinion of many of the people I encountered was also a very negative one.  I continued to pray because I did not want to be wrong on this one matter.  Many times I have found that the majority opinion is not the correct stance.  So I continued to seek truth.   As I did, I found that an unveiling like never before of scripture revealing God’s heart for Israel and our Jewish brothers.    I took comfort in this fact, as a crescendo of revelation fell before me over the next few months from elders, scripture, in prayer time, and from many people that serve God with a whole heart. I was reassured at this point and very joyful that God had answered my prayers so quickly on this matter.

God had answered most decidedly that his love affair with the descendants of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac was forever.   Throughout the old testament, we read of this tumultuous relationship between God and Israel, but not once does God change.  The basis of replacement theology states that because the Jews rejected God the covenant with them was also rejected.   But this occurred repeatedly throughout God and Israel’s history.  Not once did God break his convenant or stop seeking this people.   It was David’s prayer that God keep his promise forever so that God would be great ( 2 sam 7:22).

God loved Israel first and spoke of his love for her many times.  If this has changed, then He is not the God I serve.  For my God never changes.  Would God make a promise and then replace it with a different promise or give new conditions that would allow Him to disengage from his first promise/covenant?   God does not change nor does his character.  His feelings toward Israel and the descendants of Abraham are just as strong today as they were 1800 years ago.

Division Among Christians: Replacement Theology

Then I began running into countless individuals that not only were not supportive of Israel but were actively opposed to Israel.  These fellow believers felt justified under the premise of replacement theology or fulfillment theology.  Two of these men were not only believers, but were theology scholars.   Both of these men had at one time believed in supporting Israel and of the Jews special place in God’s heart.  Over time and with more advanced study, each of them had moved away from this belief and towards the views of replacement theology.

For a moment, I began to look into the scriptural basis for replacement theology.  But moreover, I found that it’s basis was founded in pulling specific scriptures from writers such as Paul.  Ironically, Paul’s words are also the foundation of Zionists and Evangelical dispensationalists. The views of replacement theology, although presented as very scholarly and supported, are not supported within the character of God and Jesus.

In this world, if a person is intelligent and well-studied, we would trust that opinion over another.   But in Christianity, we must look at the heart.  You know their heart by their fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.   As I looked at the two replacement theology-supporting  individuals I had interaction with, I began to look for these gifts.  In their presence, I did not feel love and acceptance, but disapproval and disregard.  This was not the way that I ever felt around men of god who spent much time in the presence of God.

God is Not an Author of Confusion

Could it be that these scholars had somehow lost the child-like love that they once had with Christ?  Had they traded theological knowledge for the knowledge of knowing Him intimately?  I cannot judge their faith, but I did immediately consider the verse:

But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:27

These scholars are very much set in their understanding of the scripture in stating that we are the new Israel and that the new covenant replaced the old covenant.   But what if they are wrong?  What if they are risking being blessed with greater intimacy with God and prophetic power by turning their back on God’s people?  Why are they willing to take such a risk?

For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:13–15)

For Paul the mystery of Israel is a key component for walking in apostolic power. It is a key component to walking in the fullness of the anointing that Gentile believers a longing for. The Israel mandate is foundational to walking with apostolic authority in missions that will provoke Israel to jealousy.

In a day when God is amazingly fulfilling prophecy and bringing the Jewish people back to the Land according to
Ezekiel 36:24 and preparing them to receive the New Covenant, this replacement teaching is terribly
unfortunate. It robs the Church of its glorious role in making Israel jealous. It steals our rejoicing in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In a day when the saved remnant of Israel is growing steadily in numbers and quality, how can there be such blindness?

Israel will be a Dividing Line

As the last days move forward, Israel will be a great divide among believers.  I believe as more Christians seek God’s heart and are led by the Spirit, the truth about Israel and the Jewish people will be revealed.   Paul was a man so close to God’s heart.  He gave up everything for his love of Christ.  And here is what he has said about Israel:

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part 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 Key to Truth: Prayer

As truth is revealed in these last day, global missions outside the context of having a theology of Israel, at the end of the day will not make sense. The mystery of Israel will fuel and energize world missions as Gentile believers get gripped with an apostolic burden and revelation like the one Paul expresses in Romans 9–11.  I hope that everyone that seeks truth will spend more time in prayer than researching anything else.  This way the heart of God will be revealed to them in the scripture.

We can not disregard prayer for that neglect is the means which deception enters.  Jesus would stay up all night praying to the Father.  When is the last time that you did this?  When is the last time you fasted sleep to pray to God?  Jesus spoke to the Father incessantly and unscripted.  His communication with the Father kept him from deception and in line with the Father’s heart and desires.  We must also follow his model and make prayer not study our highest priority.

Further Notes on Rom 11:25

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved… (Romans 11:25–26)

Wesley’s Notes

11:25 St. Paul calls any truth known but to a few, a mystery. Such had been the calling of the gentiles: such was now the conversion of the Jews. Lest ye should be wise in your own conceits – Puffed up with your present advantages; dreaming that ye are the only church; or that the church of Rome cannot fail. Hardness in part is happened to Israel, till – Israel therefore is neither totally nor finally rejected. The fullness of the gentiles be come in – Till there be a vast harvest amongst the heathens.

4 Ways to Bless Israel

I’m getting delerious from a lack of sleep, but I wanted to follow up with a quick summary of how we as Christians can bless Israel and supporting verses.

  1. Know Them
  • Deut 32:10, Zek 2:8. Isaih 62:3, 1Pet 2:9

2.  Pursue Them

  • Rom1:16, Rom 11:11

3.  Invest In Them

  • Rom 15:27

4.  Defend Them

  • Psalm 122:6
  • Isaiah 62:8

Bless Israel

My roommate picks up the latest book I am reading on Israel shakes his head in disapproval and sets it back down not without giving one last flippant roll of his eyes.   In the church service, a member vocally gives protest to an offering taken for an Israeli ministry.  Christian writers and bloggers give negative report against Israel’s people, the Jewish nation.  A few months ago, I began to pray for a greater revelation on my role in standing for Israel.  I had read the verses, but did not understand the full implications.  I wanted to know God’s heart for Israel.  What did he require of me and my understanding?  I had begun to fall victim to news reports.  Some of you may remember when I posted about Israel bombing and using white phosphorous gas.   I wrote this post with the question in my heart.  God brought to my mind the verse in Hosea, “a people without knowledge will come to ruin.”  So, I began to seek out the truth of God’s heart regarding Israel.

Sometimes God’s response when I call on him about truth on an issue is delayed or very gradual.  With the matter of Israel, it has come in intense waves.  The emotions of God have many times overcome me.  I have stayed up for nights and hours at a time praying for Israel along with Jesus, Yeshua, the great intercessor.  I pray that if you are a Christian and are in doubt of the importance of our part in loving, supporting, and reaching out to Israel, ask God.  He will answer you with an intensity that you may not be ready for.  In fact, if you need any help, send me an email and I will give you all of the resources and insight that God has blessed me with on this matter.

Romans 11:11  Because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

We have been grafted in because God’s first fruits, the people of Israel, rejected Jesus.  Because of their rejection, you and I (if you are not a Jew) were able to be adopted into the family of God.  Now if we are the adopted children of God, then the Jews are the natural born children.   This is the ‘first-born’, in God’s order they were first.  He doess not love them most, but He loved them first.  The Jewish people are more familiar with God, his ways, his processes. They are a nation that speaks the language of God.

I don’t know how many opportunities you have had to hear the Hebrew language spoken, but it is a beautiful and amazing language.  One word paints a picture in your mind.  Take the word:  Shalom.  It carries with it so much meaning.  Nothing Missing, Nothing Broken.  It’s a wholeness and well-being in the sense of everything working together smoothly, particularly in the sense of being at one with God.  When I hear God speak to me, of course He speaks English, but He speaks in this way.   He may say only three words, but those words are pregnant with the meaning of a hundred words.  I do believe that the Hebrew language is the closest to the language of God.

I remember one night I was driving home from taking my long-distance boyfriend back to the airport so that he could fly home to California.  Doubts had began to stir within me regarding the future of our relationship, and I began to pray.  God began to speak three words over my heart “He Will Come”.  Those words resonated and echoed in my spirit.  He will come.  Three simple words.  But those words stirred up a lack of faith and patience.  It reminded me of dreams that God had given me of a husband with longer hair, and my boyfriend with his crew cut represented the opposite of this promised man.  Those words reminded me of God’s faithfulness and his promises.  Three words that changed my life and my thinking forever.  It is the language of God ever piercing, permeating to our souls. When I hear Hebrew spoken, I feel the presence of God.  I’m hearing the language of my saviour, Jesus …Yeshua Hamashia.

I recommend that you read the apostle, Paul’s word to Christians regarding the nation of Israel in Romans 11:11-32.  I pray that God will cause you to join with His love for Israel and the Jewish people.  For if you are against Israel, then you stand against God. For God said in Genesis 12:3 , 

I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God’s words are forever and Amen.  He does not change nor does his covenant. He is the same today as He was yesterday and His words concerning Israel stand firm today. Do not fall into the deception that is prevailing today in the world to stand against Israel.  We must stand for her and bless her.