The Spiritual Birth of Israel

by Johan Malan
July 2013

There is great anticipation for the time when Israel as a people will be reconciled to the Messiah as that event will mark the formal conclusion of the times of the Gentiles, which elapses between Israel’s Babylonian captivity and the end of the Antichrist’s reign. During this entire period there was no king who ruled on the throne of David. After Israel’s spiritual awakening, their kingdom will be restored by the Messiah Himself. That event will introduce a period in world history when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea

(Isa. 11:9). Any study on Israel’s end-time restoration should therefore focus on their political restoration as well as their subsequent spiritual awakening. The Messiah will be their Saviour and King.

Israel’s present settlement in the land of their fathers is only a preparatory step towards their spiritual restoration when, in the true sense of the word, they will become God’s people. Their hearts must be circumcised and that can only be done by the Messiah through the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 2:28-29). That is exactly what will happen when Jesus returns, sets foot on the Mount of Olives and again presents Himself to the Jewish people as their Saviour from heaven. This time it will be with absolute positive results as all surviving Jews will, with broken hearts, look up to Him for mercy and salvation, while fully embracing Him as Messiah and King (Zech. 12:10).

When Jesus was rejected by Israel and their spiritual leaders during His first coming, He knew that it was not the end of His relationship with Israel as a people, and that is why He said to them: “You shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:39). This second meeting is rapidly approaching, and it will have the great significance of spiritually transforming Israel into a people worthy to inherit the promisedMessianic kingdom in which they will all be servants of the Messiah.

Within every generation of Jews since the first coming of Jesus there was a small remnant of people in Israel who were reconciled with the Messiah and maintained a relationship with Him. However, the exile of the nation continued because of the unbelief of the majority. During Israel’s restoration in 1948, the spiritual condition of the nation was still unchanged. Messianic believers are despised by the majority of orthodox Jews because they do not relate their salvation to Torah observance but are instead “followers of the God of the Gentiles.” In spite of their negative treatment, the numbers of Messianic Jews are dramatically increasing. In their very existence we can see the beginning of Israel’s spiritual awakening. This is a very important eschatological development as this group is an early indication of what the entire nation will become in future.

Messianic Jews often call themselves “completed Jews” and have no inclination to be disloyal towards their nation. To the contrary, they have a profound love for their own people and are deeply concerned about the spiritual blindness of the majority. A completed Jew is a Jew who has met the Messiah, the hope of Israel, and dedicated his life to Him – he is a Messianic Jew. In his testimony, A completed Jew, Jeff Miller says: “I accepted Jesus into my life and He completed me” www.precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain

In an article on Messianic Judaism, Wikipedia says: “Messianic Judaism states that Jesus is not merely a man, but the Jewish Messiah and ‘God the Son’ (one person of the Trinity), and that salvation is only achieved through acceptance of Jesus as one’s Saviour. Any Jewish laws or customs that are followed are cultural and do not contribute to attaining salvation.”

However, orthodox Jews regard a “completed Jew” in the Messianic movement as a “lost Jew” because he confesses a Messiah who is not recognised by them, and also because he no longer finds his salvation in law observance. Consequently, the modern Jewish disciples of the Messiah experience just as much opposition from orthodox Jews as was the case with the first century disciples.

The Messianic movement is statistically small compared to the great majority of orthodox and agnostic (non-practising) Jews, but they are making good progress and are rapidly expanding. There are various large, international missionary organisations, as well as co-ordinating bodies for Messianic congregations, of which a few of the important ones are mentioned below. They introduce themselves as follows, and on some of their websites more information may be found on the testimonies of Messianic Jews:

Caspari Centre for Biblical and Jewish Studies   www.caspari.com

“Caspari Centre is a network of people: Jews and Gentiles throughout the world working together to raise awareness of Jewish believers in Jesus and support the growth of Israel’s congregations. Our passion is to support emerging leaders who will transform Israel by developing and leading mature, confident and visionary Messianic communities. ... For a number of years we have been praying for new premises for our centre in Jerusalem. We have now moved in to our new premises at 55 HaNevi’im (Prophets) St. in Jerusalem. ... The book Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries, is the first in a series edited by Caspari Centre. It examines the first five centuries of Christian history as experienced by individuals who were ethnically Jewish, but who professed faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.”

Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations   www.umjc.net

This organisation issued the following statement of faith:

  1. We believe the Bible is the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of G-d.
  2. We believe that there is one G-d, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  3. We believe in the deity of the L-RD Yeshua, the Messiah, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through    His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
  4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
  5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a godly life.
  6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
  7. We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in the L-RD Yeshua, the Messiah.
  8. We believe in the process of discipline and conflict resolution taught in Matthew 18:15ff, as applicable to all congregants and leaders.
  9. As Jewish followers of Yeshua, we are called to maintain our Jewish biblical heritage and remain a part of our people Israel and the universal body of believers. This is part of our identity and a witness to the faithfulness of G-d.”

British Messianic Jewish Alliance   www.bmja.net

“It is with great concern that we witness the rapid growth of worldwide anti-Semitism, all too often these days in the guise of anti-Zionism. We wish to express our concern that anti-Jewish sentiment is so frequently manifested in British society. We call upon the church to oppose it. As Jews who are part of the church we are distressed to hear anti-Jewish attitudes expressed in the church and in the name of Christianity. We call upon our fellow believers from many nations to acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew, and to disavow all racism aimed at Jewish people both inside and outside the State of Israel. We call upon the church to publicly affirm God’s ongoing relationship with the Jewish people, and His determination to continue to work with them since He has not cast them away. Even more unthinkable [and insulting] would be the idea that a Covenant God should ditch His first choice in favour of another. When we hear people in the churches suggesting that God’s promises to us are null and void we are concerned, not just for what that says about us, but also for what it says about God, as if He were fickle. Our very existence into the 21st century speaks for itself. We are part of a large, diverse and vibrant Messianic Jewish movement that professes Yeshua [the name ‘Jesus’ in its Hebrew form] is Messiah, Saviour and LORD.”

The Messianic Times   www.messianictimes.com

“The Messianic Times has become the leading international Messianic Jewish newspaper since its inception in 1990. Started as a quarterly publication, it is now published six times per year by Times of the Messiah Ministries. It includes news from the worldwide Messianic community, Israeli current events and analysis. The paper proclaims that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah.”

Jews for Jesus   www.jewsforjesus.org

On this organisation’s website they make the following statements on their call to proclaim the gospel among Jews, as well as the problems encountered while doing so:

“Jewish people tend to dismiss evangelistic methods and materials that are couched in Christian presuppositions and lingo, because they reinforce the assumption that Jesus is for ‘them’ not ‘us’. In order to get beyond that assumption, we have to be innovative. We place full-page gospel proclamations as paid ads in leading newspapers and magazines such as Newsweek, Parade, and The New York Times. We also broadcast evangelistic messages on billboards, in commuter trains, in bus transit shelters and on secular radio stations. Others have begun using some of these avenues to an extent, but Jews for Jesus have been on the cutting edge of making the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to Jewish people via the secular media. We also conduct special witnessing campaigns during the summer months in New York City, Toronto, Paris, London, Moscow and various other cities throughout the former Soviet Union.

“It is difficult, even as a Jewish mission, to keep the focus on sharing Christ with the unsaved. Jewish evangelism is difficult. Jewish people have a long-standing tradition of unbelief, and often view with contempt those who seek to share the gospel. The discomfort of being vulnerable and the pain of rejection that necessarily accompany effective missionary work can take their toll if not handled properly. If we don’t keep that vulnerability, that pain, in perspective, the natural desire to avoid them can slowly erode any commitment to direct evangelism.

“A second difficulty in maintaining the focus on evangelism is the fact that there are so many distractions. Whether it be leading tours to the Holy Land, conducting prophecy conferences or attempting to win support for the state of Israel, there are many worthy endeavours that simply do not add up to Jewish evangelism. No Jewish mission can afford to take on these endeavours at the price of neglecting to speak directly to the unsaved. That is why you will find us Jews for Jesus out on the streets and on college campuses handing out our gospel tracts. That is why you will find us calling on the telephone and meeting in person with unsaved Jewish people. It is all part of our Jews for Jesus commitment to remain visible, vulnerable and available as we maintain direct Jewish evangelism as our priority.”

Trumpet of Salvation   www.trumpetofsalvation.com

“With the new birth of Jacob Damkani also came a calling to proclaim Yeshua to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, no matter what the cost. Distributing tracts he printed himself, he evangelized in the streets of Israel despite the resistance of his family and the hostilities of many orthodox Jews. In 1984, Trumpet of Salvation to Israel was founded. Since then Jacob has dedicated his life full time to this calling. The autobiography of Jacob Damkani, Lama Davka Ani? (Why Me?), has helped many Israelis come to faith in Yeshua and also many Christians to understand the origin of their faith. Available in Hebrew, Russian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.”

THE BEGINNING OF THE NATION'S SPIRITUAL REVIVAL

The end-time Messianic movement in the world is closely associated with the restoration of the Jewish state and has a strong prophetic expectation on the second coming of the Messiah. Some of the Messianic Jews move to Israel, while others send their children to work on kibbutzim, serve in the IDF or to do secular work in Israel. They are conscious of the Lord’s plan with the restoration of His people in their land, i.e. Israel’s spiritual quickening by their national reconciliation with Yeshua as Messiah.

The first phase of Israel’s restoration is physical and political, which will be followed by their spiritual awakening. The first phase is however very important as the Lord brings them back to a land which He, Himself, calls “Israel” and not “Palestine”: “Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Ezek. 11:17).

Back in their land, the Lord will bring Israel in distress until they seek their rejected Messiah, find Him, and humble themselves before Him (Ezek. 22:18-20; Jer. 30:7; Hos. 5:15). Messianic Jews do everything possible to lead their fellow-countrymen to Yeshua, in order to help them escape the doom of the lost and also the coming time of trouble for Jacob (Jer. 30:7).

These believing Jews fully accept the promise that Israel will not be destroyed during the tribulation period, but that the Lord will intervene to save a remnant of the Chosen People and then use them as His special witnesses. He will also raise two special witnesses to strongly proclaim the Messiah during the reign of the false messiah (Rev. 11:3-12). After the termination of the church age these witnesses will be commissioned to further prepare Israel on their spiritual awakening.

THE WITNESS OF A MARRIAGE 

In Mathew 25:1-13, a very important sign is given to end-time Israel that Jesus is the Messiah. This sign will be fulfilled at the rapture when Christ comes as the heavenly Bridegroom to secretly receive His bride and take her away. The rapture will occur during a spiritually dark time of world history when Messianic Jews as well as evangelical Christians among the Gentiles will be ridiculed and rejected because of their Bible-based belief in Jesus Christ. During that time, shortly before the tribulation period, the spirit of the Antichrist will actively deny the deity of Jesus, question His resurrection, ascension and second coming, denounce the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and also belittle promises such as the rapture.

During the first coming of Jesus there was great hostility towards Him and His small group of true disciples. He said that He would go to His Father but the disciples were afraid to remain behind alone. The night before His crucifixion the Lord Jesus made the following comforting promise about meeting them again and taking them to heaven: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

This promise was made after the analogy of traditional Jewish marriage customs in biblical times. The first important step in the Jewish marriage was betrothal, which comprised the conclusion of a marriage covenant. During the time of Jesus it was customary that such a covenant was concluded after the prospective bridegroom’s successful proposal of marriage. He travelled from his father’s house to the home of his bride to be where he negotiated with her father on the bride-price (mohar) which he had to pay. After the bride-price was paid the marriage covenant was concluded. From that moment onwards the future bride was declared to be separated and dedicated only to her future bridegroom. As confirmation of the covenant they drank from a cup of new wine over which a blessing for the betrothal was declared.

The first statement that must be made from a study of this analogy, is that the sanctified church of Christ is His bride (Eph. 5:22-23). Just as the Jewish bridegroom took the initiative by leaving his father’s house to travel to the house of his bride, Jesus left His Father’s house during His first coming to the world, which is the abode of His future bride. Through His death on the cross He paid the full price to redeem His bride so she can belong to Him. Paul said to the church: “You were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20), while Peter also confirmed that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

During the same night when Jesus made the promise to the early disciples that He was going to prepare a place for us, He instituted Holy Communion. He passed the cup of wine to His disciples with the words: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood” (1 Cor. 11:25). That was a confirmation of the eternal bond that we have with Him through His death on the cross.

As the Jewish bride was declared to be holy and solely dedicated to her bridegroom, we also have an obligation to appear before Christ holy and without blemish. Paul says that our hearts must be “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 3:13), and further explains the need for sanctification: “... Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).

After concluding the marriage contract, the bridegroom returned to his father’s house where he stayed for about a year to prepare a place for his bride and himself. During that time he didn’t see his bride and she kept herself busy with making a wedding garment and collecting necessities for married life.

At the end of the year of seclusion the Jewish bridegroom fetched his bride to come and stay with him. She knew more or less when the time was ripe, but not the exact day when he would come. He usually came at night as it was a secret meeting between him and her. She went out on the road to meet him, and on this occasion he didn’t show himself to the rest of her family members. His arrival was preceded by a shout, which was the good tiding that the bridegroom had come for his bride (Matt. 25:6). By then it was too late to make further preparations for the coming of the bridegroom.

In a similar way, the heavenly Bridegroom will secretly come for His bride at the end of the church dispensation. He will meet her outside planet earth in the air, and on this occasion He will definitely not reveal Himself to the rest of the world. His coming will also be announced by a shout: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18).

The next morning when the family members of the bride discovered that she and her friends were gone, they knew that the bridegroom had taken them away during the night. As a separate group the family members then departed to the house of the bridegroom to attend the marriage feast.

The moment when Messianic Jews suddenly disappear at the rapture, together with all the other members of the bridal congregation of Jesus, many of the Jews who remain behind will know that the heavenly bridegroom has taken them away to be with Him. That will provide strong evidence to them that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world, and because of that realisation, there will be a great spiritual awakening in Israel in which 144 000 Jews will be saved shortly after the rapture (Rev. 7:1-8). However, the majority of the nation will still be spiritually blinded and conclude a covenant with the false messiah to become members of his false bride of deceived worshippers (Rev. 17:3).

The same shocking discovery of the sudden disappearance of evangelical Christians will also be made elsewhere in the world, where it will be obvious that some people have vanished without a trace from their homes or places of employment (Matt. 24:40-42; Luke 17:34-36). There will be only one biblical explanation for this phenomenon, and that is that the heavenly Bridegroom has taken His bride away from planet earth!

When the Jewish bridegroom and his companions arrived at his father’s house, his bride was still veiled and he took her to the bridal room (“huppah”) where they spent seven days alone to consummate the marriage. In the meantime, the guests started arriving to celebrate the consummation of the marriage. After the seven days the bridegroom introduced his bride unveiled to the guests so that all of them could see her. That wonderful scene was followed by great jubilation and festivities.

In a similar way, the Messiah will take His bride to a secluded place where the rest of the world will not be able to see her. The seven days of the “huppah” prophetically refer to a year-week, which will be the seven years between the rapture and public revelation of Jesus Christ and His bride. After the union between Christ and His bride, seven years will indeed elapse before the celebration of the marriage feast of the Lamb here on earth.

At His second coming, the Lord Jesus and His bride will be revealed to the whole world: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). After this revelation, the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated on earth. The remnant of Israel, who will only be saved at the second coming of Christ, will be among the guests: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). As the bride of the Lamb she will appear before Him in a spotless robe.

THE 144 000 SEALED ONES 

The conversion of 144 000 Jews and their dedication to the service of the Lord will be a very important event at the beginning of the tribulation period, just after the revelation of the Antichrist. The 144 000 will be the first group which will represent the ongoing spiritual restoration of Israel as a people: “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed” (Rev. 7:4).

There is nothing vague about this statement and it is completely unjustifiable to identify the 144 000 Jewish evangelists as the church, or as any other group of people outside Israel. In this chapter, no use is made of symbolic language. The twelve tribes of Israel constitute a well-known historical nation; consequently, the term Israel is not a symbol or allegorical description of the church or any non-Jewish group.

Likewise, the number 144 000 is not symbolic, but literal. Its components are not 3 X 4 X 12 X 1 000 as is sometimes alleged (3 referring to the Triune God, 4 referring to the four corners of the earth, 12 referring to the 12 apostles, and 1000 referring symbolically to any large group of people), but its components are 12 000 X 12: it is 12 000 people from each of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel. According to Ezekiel 48, the Promised Land – which is much bigger than the present Israel – will be subdivided and allocated to the twelve tribes during the millennial reign of the Messiah.

From a dispensational point of view it is quite obvious why the 144 000 Jews will be saved and dedicated to the service of the Lord. After the Lord Jesus removes His church, which He commissioned to be the light of the world during the present dispensation, He will utilise the spiritual potential of Israel to make His light shine in the dark night of the tribulation period. When Elijah was caught up to heaven, his mantle and prophetic ministry fell upon Elisha. Likewise, after the rapture of the church, the Lord will find a substitute in the Messianic Jews to be His witnesses during the reign of the Antichrist.

Revelation 7:1-8 ties up with an extensive series of prophecies in the Bible in which the guarantee is given that the Lord will not only restore Israel physically to their land, but that they will in the latter days also experience a spiritual revival: “Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ... Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put. My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (Jer. 32:36-40).

SALVATION OF THE ENTIRE REMNANT IN ISRAEL 

The moment when the Messiah appears on planet earth, the Mount of Olives will split in two and form a big valley into which the fugitive Israelis will run and find a safe shelter against the enemy (Zech. 14:4-7). The darkness of God’s judgements will become physically manifest, just as it happened almost 2 000 years ago when God’s judgement for the sins of the world were carried by Jesus on a cross outside Jerusalem (Matt. 27:45).

Even at this critical moment, when the wrath of God is poured out over a sinful world, mercy and grace will still be offered by Jesus to those who put their faith in Him, and trust Him for salvation. When the dark clouds of judgement envelop Jerusalem and its surroundings, the remaining Jews there will flee into a place of refuge created by the sudden rupture of the Mount of Olives. There, literally at the feet of Jesus, they will be safe. Great confusion will reign among their enemies as they are overcome by divine judgement, and they will start killing one another (Zech. 14:13). The false messiah and the false prophet, the two leaders of the worldwide rebellion against God and His people, will be captured and cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:19-20).

Jesus will reach out to His people to bless them. They will be terrified when they see the marks in His hands, and their first words to Him will be: “What are these wounds in your hands?” and He will answer them: “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:6). How will the Jews account for the fact that the Messiah will have wounds in His hands when He descends onto the Mount of Olives? How will they be able to explain where these wounds were inflicted on Him? It could certainly not have been in heaven! They will indeed look on Him whom they had pierced during His first coming.

Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit they will realise that the crucified Christ has come to their rescue. In a Messianic prophecy, He says: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:10-11). Their national mourning will probably last for 30 days, as was customary in Israel (Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8).

At this moment the spiritual restoration of Israel will be complete and irreversible (Jer. 31:34). Paul says: “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26).

THEIR FUTURE ROLE

After their complete reconciliation with the Lord Jesus, Israel will be saved and ready for their future role in the Messiah’s reign, where the following conditions will prevail:

  • “They [Israel] shall be Mine, says the LORD of hosts, on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him” (Mal. 3:17).
  •  “In that day the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people” (Isa. 28:5).
  • “Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23).
  •  “So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again” (Joel 3:17).
  •  “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in” (Isa. 26:1-2).
  •  “And in that day you will say: Praise the LORD, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted” (Isa. 12:4).
  •  “Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6).

For obvious reasons, the great enemy of God, Israel and the church of Christ, would like to avert a situation of this nature at all cost. He will make a final effort to destroy all worshippers of God on earth, or to deceive them into accepting the wrong messiah.

http://www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Birth.htm