Israel’s national mission

Dear coworkers,

These dark days in Israel, as in the days of David, “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good?'”

Well there is a remnant in the land. Starting this morning, 37 Messianic Jewish and Christian Arab pastors have called the body of Messiah in Israel to three days of repentance, fasting and prayer. It’s worth quoting their call at some length:

Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I may weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.

For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn themselves, cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:1, 2:13, 17:5,7)

Our nation is passing through, what could be, the most critical hour that we have faced in our history since our establishment as a modern State in 1948…

The unexpected invasion of Hamas on Shemini Atzeret and the invasion of our unprotected security barrier by thousands of terrorists resulted in the first nightmarish holocaust on the soil of Israel. This happened, not by coincidence, one day after the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which also took Israel by surprise. The unprotected southern border of Israel was a reflection of an ominous spiritual reality that our spiritual gates were open and unprotected so that Satan could bitterly attack us because of sin in our Land…

All human solutions are feeble in the face of the multiple dilemmas and quandaries that face us concerning internal and external battles that threaten our existence as a nation. The sinister pressures and demands of the US and other nations that are weighing upon Israel, if conceded to, are sure guarantees of future disaster. If we do not submit to this outside pressure, we could well find ourselves fully isolated from the world community of nations…

If ever there was a time when we, the indigenous Body of Messiah in Israel, needed to take our place as a priesthood before the throne of God on behalf of our nation, it is now!…

The divisions and enmity within the nation and its leadership, the hatred without cause, the shedding of innocent blood through abortions, the advocacy of immorality and sexual perversion, the idolatry and pride, and the great sin of rejecting the sovereignty of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob over this land and its people – have all worked to remove God’s covering of blessing and a great measure of His protection from upon us. The Nova party, at which our youth were dancing around a large statue of Shiva was reminiscent of the sin of the Golden Calf and a clear warning of its consequences. We do mourn with all those who have suffered and lost their loved ones at this event.

We have indeed failed as a Body to beseech the Lord in unity and unison for His mercy for Israel and to stand in the gap before Him in asking Him to forgive us of our many sins against Him and each other…

There is hardness of heart within the Body, and unresolved and unrepented issues between brethren which include unforgiveness, divisions, a lack of confession of sin, and a poverty of grace and love…

The Lord has long waited for us to come before Him together and He is faithful to do a deep work in our hearts as we humble ourselves before Him. If we come to Him in an attitude of mourning and sincere faith, He will surely hear our prayers for Israel and respond to our cry for mercy on behalf of our people.

And thank God, the first gathering of these leaders this morning ended with heartfelt prayer for the people of Gaza, and this declaration: “It’s time for the Arabs in our midst to hear the gospel.”

Friends, this is the broken heart that our Father has been longing to hear from his children since the start of the conflict. As foreign friends of Israel, we too are called to join in the cry of these local leaders.

It’s no surprise that repentance in Israel begins with those who’ve tasted the sweet mercy and atonement found in Messiah. But look how the spirit of God is also stirring the hearts of young not-yet-Messianic believers, in this video flagged by our coworker Berith in Sweden:

JTV video
Ironically and unintentionally, Hamas’ dedication to eradicate the Jewish people is creating a revival and reawakening among the Jewish people about who we really are, and why we must actualize our national mission and destiny…

We the Jewish people are God’s chosen people. Now you may feel a bit uncomfortable saying that, and it might not be politically correct, but we didn’t choose it, He chose us and it is what it is, and it’s a bit too late now to be denying it, and frankly the world knows it. We are the direct biological descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who were tasked with a mission at Mount Sinai to introduce and perpetuate the voice of God in our world, by entering into an intimate covenantal relationship with him.

It’s a job that has obviously been very challenging and painful, and has led to a lot of hardship and suffering and pain over the past 3000 years. Being God’s chosen people is not easy. But it’s also a mission that has been extremely rewarding, and has gradually transformed the world’s values and shaped so much of modern thinking.

But we the Jewish nation have more to do, especially now that we have returned to our homeland. And we aren’t going anywhere, because our destiny is tied to the very destiny of the world.

And the Israel Defense Force soldiers, whether they consider themselves secular or religious, it didn’t matter. They are all waking up to this. Our enemies have woken us up to the need to reconnect and rediscover our spiritual purpose.

In the same way that our enemy’s lives are centered around their mission to destroy, we are realizing that we must center our own lives around our national mission to bring true life to our world.

Wow! Where did this come from? It’s one thing to wake up to Jewish identity. But “our national mission to bring true life to our world?” I’m not sure we’ve heard Jews speaking with an outward focus like that for 1900 years. It points inevitably to the one Jew who has, more than any other, brought the knowledge of God to the ends of the earth.

So it’s become virtually an article of faith among Jews that they don’t proselytize (and neither should anyone else). We Gentile believers are looked at with deep suspicion for our conviction that yes, Israel’s national mission is to bring true life to the world. From an excellent Times of Israel article this week, “Turning the other cheek on extremist Jews’ incitement, Christians flock to Israel“:

“I hope that as Jews see Christians take a more visually present stand, the relationship changes for the better. I hope it brings us closer together as a family,” Webber said.

Juliussen from Norway, however, doubts that Christian solidarity will change Jewish extremists’ minds.

“Whoever thinks that Christians are really out to proselytize will probably view those acts as a missionary strategy, unfortunately,” he said. The way forward, he opined, is “through love that we Christians need to maintain despite the challenges.”

And yes, one reason our community loves to bring children to Israel for heart surgeries is because Israel’s national mission is to bring true life to the world, and compassionate medical care is a foreshadowing of the ultimate fulfillment of that mission in the resurrection. It is costly and at times heartbreaking, as Zech shared in this week’s Shevet Prayer concerning the passing of beloved baby Mohammed, who was on ECMO heart-lung support in Israel. But that same ECMO support saved the life of little Lya, and she returned to her family in Kurdistan Friday full of joy:

Shall we press on friends, in weakness and rejoicing, to whatever task our Father puts before us, regardless of the outcome? Around the dinner table in our Jerusalem community tonight we spoke of leading like Messiah: taking on the jobs no one else wants to do. Let’s end this letter with a glimpse of two men who lived this way, and went on to their reward in the last ten days.

John Barros saved thousands of babies over the past two decades, simply by showing up day after day outside an abortion clinic in Florida and calling out to those entering in:

barros video

If anyone ever asked him how many babies he’d saved, he would insist that he had saved none—only God could change the hearts of the women walking past. 

I asked him, once, how he’d felt called to the pro-life movement. “I wasn’t called to the pro-life movement,” he replied. “God called me to forty feet of sidewalk.”

His name may not be known in this world, but there should be great rejoicing as he enters the next.

The name of the other man who died in recent days, Russia’s opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, is known to millions. But lesser known is what he revealed at his 2021 trial, that he would lay down his life in an Arctic prison out of obedience to the words of Messiah:

navalny and police

“The fact is that I am a Christian, which usually sets me up as an example for constant ridicule in the Anti-Corruption Foundation, because mostly our people are atheists, and I was once quite a militant atheist myself,” Navalny said (as rendered by Google Translate). “But now I am a believer, and that helps me a lot in my activities because everything becomes much, much easier.”

“There are fewer dilemmas in my life, because there is a book in which, in general, it is more or less clearly written what action to take in every situation,” he explained. “It’s not always easy to follow this book, of course, but I am actually trying.”

Specifically, Navalny said, he was motivated by the words of Jesus: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6, NASB).

“I’ve always thought that this particular commandment is more or less an instruction to activity,” Navalny said. “And so, while certainly not really enjoying the place where I am, I have no regrets about coming back or about what I’m doing. It’s fine, because I did the right thing.”

“On the contrary, I feel a real kind of satisfaction,” he said. “Because at some difficult moment I did as required by the instructions and did not betray the commandment.”

“For a modern person this whole commandment—‘blessed,’ ‘thirsty,’ ‘hungry for righteousness,’ ‘for they shall be satisfied’—it sounds, of course, very pompous,” Navalny said. “Sounds a little strange, to be honest.”

“Well, people who say such things are supposed, frankly speaking, to look crazy,” he recognized. “Crazy, strange people, sitting there with disheveled hair in their cell and trying to cheer themselves up with something, although they are lonely, they are loners, because no one needs them.”

“And this is the most important thing that our government and the entire system are trying to tell such people: You are alone,” he continued. “You are a loner. First, it is important to intimidate, and then, prove that you are alone.”

It turns out that Navalny found companionship in the last year of his life by writing to Jewish refusenik Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem, who in his book “Fear No Evil” told how he survived his time in isolation decades before in the same prison colony.

alexei letter
And from Sharansky’s reply:

sharansky replyFriends, a Christian and a Jew, both abandoned and alone, years apart, in the same Arctic isolation cell. In the end they found out they were brothers.

May we too find in the end that we and the people of Israel are brothers, as we suffer together the shame of being the people of God.

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133).