“…Come from the four winds, O breath…” (Ezekiel 37:9)
I’ve watched and prayed over the Israeli Messianic community for more than 30 years. My first time in the land in 1982, I could find only a couple hundred struggling believers scattered across the land. But in 2013 I see in them a refreshing and exciting strength. I believe the approximately 20,000 Messianic Jews in Israel today comprise a vibrant body brought back to life from the dead—a “dry bones’ resurrection” in the spirit of Ezekiel 37:1-14.
Admittedly, my generalized perceptions are based on limited exposure and experience. But undeniably, Israeli Messianic faith has been forged in a furnace. For Jews in Israel, belief in Yeshua (Jesus) has always come with a price. Marginalization from society and family, physical assault, job loss, deportation, death threats—these have always been part of “normal” life. Through it, however, Israeli Messianics love their people with a passion. Like the apostle Paul, their hearts’ desire and prayer to God is that Israel would be saved (Romans 10:1). Therefore, they bless those who persecute them. When Messianic Jews occasionally seek judicial redress for wrongs committed against them, it is not for angry revenge but in humble hopes of bettering the spiritual climate of the nation. (Could some American Christians learn a thing or two here?)
Many leaders in the Israeli Messianic Body are aging baby boomers who emigrated decades ago from the US. For years they plowed through neglected, dry and rocky soil, planting and watering seeds with what little resources were available. In a sense they resembled early Zionist pioneers—European Jews who came to rehabilitate and work Israel’s long neglected land. Cities could not be built, nor ancient ruins restored, until after the land first became sustainable. Similarly, the Messianic community was not rebuilt as such, nor its ancient treasures restored, until several seasons of early, often sparse, harvest had passed.
But then came precious foreigners who helped rebuild the walls (Isaiah 60:10)! During the Palestinian terror wave of 2000-2006, Christians from the nations arrived in support of Israel—and its Jewish believers—as never before. Many Gentile lovers of Jesus laid down their lives to serve Him and His Jewish people. By their selfless perseverance the indigenous Body received much needed support and began to be rebuilt.
Today a new generation is starting to spiritually take the land. Born and bred in Israel, they shine as lights in their schools, serve faithfully in the army, and are entering professional society. Together with previous generations they stand strong in the Word of God. They worship with purity and witness with power to the Gospel of the Kingdom. At the same time, they desperately seek an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and genuine revival.
Of course, the Israeli Body is not without its problems. There is personal, family and congregational dysfunction and sin. The demands of everyday life are so complex that often even committed believers have no time for Body life other than on Shabbat. Sometimes the few large, more visible ministries overshadow the many smaller but no less godly congregations. Yet there is increasing maturity and unity in the Israeli Body. Generally, there is far more focused vision and humble reliance on Yeshua than in the Western (including American) Church at large.
It’s plain to see that as Rosh Hashanah 5774 approaches, God’s promised revival of Israel is not far off. There will be more shaking in the land and possibly war. Through it, He wants us praying for Arab and Jewish Israeli believers to be strong and courageous, beholding the salvation of their God. I believe there’s soon coming a time when He’ll use them to spark revival for many of us here in the West.