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Israel, the Church, and the Return of Jesus

Dr. Howard Morgan

The coming of Messiah is the great promise of the Bible from both Old and New Testaments. For millennia, Jews have diligently prayed for the coming of their Messiah, and for centuries, Christians have maintained their blessed hope of the return of Messiah Yeshua. There are, however, four reconciliation’s which the Scriptures require before the coming of the Messianic kingdom, and there are opportunities for believers as God’s fellow workers to help bring these things to pass (I Corinthians 3:9; II Corinthians 6:1).

The first reconciliation is that of the Church to her Jewish roots; the second is the Church to the Jewish people; the third is the Jewish people to their Messiah; and the fourth is the Messiah to planet earth.

According to Acts 3:21, the heavens must literally restrain the Lord Jesus until the times of restoration of all things that the prophets have declared. In addition to this precondition, Jesus, himself, declared that he will not return to reign upon the earth until the Jewish people call him back from heaven: "You will not see me again until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:39). It is important to note that the saying precedes the seeing. This is speaking about a literal, physical return of the Lord Jesus to earth. Central to all of the visions and prophetic utterances of the Hebrew Scriptures was the unwavering commitment of God to restore Israel ultimately both to her land and to "David" her king, a symbol of the Messiah.

Diabolical Devices Against Israel

Satan knows that the return of Jesus spells his doom; therefore he has worked throughout history to prevent the words of the prophets that are consummated in the Messianic Kingdom from being fulfilled. He has sought either to effect the genocide of the entire Jewish population of the earth or to force them to lose their national identity and distinctiveness by assimilation or conversion. In either case, if the Jews should cease to be a nation before the Lord, the words of the prophets would fail to be fulfilled (cf. Jeremiah 31:35-37). Satan obviously believes that he can succeed in these attempts at genocide or assimilation and that the Lord Jesus can be prevented from returning forever. This is why anti-Semitism, in whatever form it manifests itself, is so very evil and pervasive. It is the demonic spirit that seeks to prevent the coming of the Messiah by eradicating the Jewish people. Adolf Hitler was not Satan’s first emissary of and unfortunately will not be his last. (For an in-depth review of "Christian Anti-semitism see Dr. Morgan’s tape series "For Zion’s Sake" in the tape catalogue section).

Since the Lord Jesus must also wait for the Jewish people to say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," we must consider God’s plan for provoking such a response from a people who have been temporarily and partially blinded to the spiritual truth that Jesus is the Messiah. As we study the scriptures, we see that God has always intended to use the church as an instrument by which he will provoke Israel to jealousy (Deuteronomy 32:21; Romans 10:19; 11:11). Satan was also aware of this plan; therefore, he launched a counter attack on the church to prevent God’s plan from succeeding. His work was subtle and up to now very effective. By gaining entrance to the church in her earliest stages, Satan was able to divert the church from the scriptural pattern and distort her into a caricature of what she was called to be (II Corinthians 11:2,3). But...I believe that we are at that point in history where Psalm 102:13-16 is going to be fulfilled, and Satan’s plan will finally be foiled.

Greco-Roman Influences

The church became a politico-religious hierarchical organization built around doctrines and practices that were shaped by the surrounding Greco-Roman culture. The scriptures were effectively hidden from the common man, and the Church came to see itself, rather than the Lord Jesus, as the source of salvation. In essence a new non-Biblical (and therefore non-Jewish) religion emerged and took the place of the authentic Biblical church. Both Paul (Acts 20:29, 30) and Jude (3, 4) foresaw this tragedy and warned the church against it.

Since Satan was aware of God’s plan to use the authentic church to provoke Israel to jealousy and eventually to faith in her rejected Messiah (Romans 11:11, 26), he cunningly devised a strategy to distort, change, and corrupt the once biblically-based church into a non-Biblical organization that carried the name church and proclaimed itself the worshippers and representatives of Jesus. He used this "counterfeit" church to deprive the newly-emerging Christian religion of its Biblical relationship with the Jewish people.

Judgment on the Church

By depriving the church of its relationship with the Jewish people, Satan effectively did the following three things:

First, he was able to bring the church under God’s judgment by having it disobey the scriptural injunction not to become arrogant and boastful against its own Jewish roots (Romans 11:18-22). God said that the consequence for such an attitude would be that he would cut the church off. As we study the history of the church, we can see that such a judgment was inflicted upon it. It is most interesting to note that the progressive loss of spirituality in the church exactly paralleled the contemporaneous rejection of the church’s Jewish roots. The nourishment the roots provided was replaced with non-biblical doctrines and practices that poisoned the church. Instead of growing as a faith-filled international community bearing the fruits of the Spirit, it descended into gross spiritual darkness where it remained until the time of reformation and renewal, when the light of revelation began to break Satan’s hold. This darkness is most clearly seen in the blood the church shed. Instead of expressing the LOVE of God, which is the true testimony of a disciple of Jesus, the church manifested the HATRED of the devil. This hatred was not only expressed toward the Jews, but to anyone who dared to disagree with those who were in power at any particular time. Catholics and Protestants were both guilty of persecuting those with whom they differed.

Second, by effectively destroying the church’s relationship with the Jewish people, Satan was able to prevent the church from experiencing the "rich root of the olive tree" (Romans 11:17) that the faith, history, scriptures, traditions, and heritage of the Jewish people represent. This "root-rejecting" church made it virtually impossible for Jews to come to faith in Messiah Jesus and still maintain their Jewish identity. This destruction of the church’s relationship with the Jewish people has resulted in great tragedy; for if individual Jews had had the opportunity to hear the true "Jewish" gospel of their own Messiah, uncorrupted by Gentile traditions, untold number’s of them would have come to faith. Then, the Jews would also have continually brought into the Church the rich root of their own cultivated olive tree via their own heritage and background, and this would have greatly enriched the lives of the Gentile believers.

Third, because the judgment of God came upon the church for her denial and rejection of Romans 11:11-32, Satan was allowed access to the church and was able to turn it into his agent of persecution and death rather than God’s Spirit filled agent of power and witness. No one can deny the tragic, bloodstained history of the church’s systematic and unrelenting persecution of the Jewish people. By perverting the church and making it an agent of death, Satan virtually destroyed the church’s testimony to the Jewish people of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews would never believe in the "founder" of this murderous religion and would obviously never call upon him to return from heaven.

As the "times of the Gentiles" are ending, God is not only restoring apostolic truth that has been lost to the church for centuries, but he is also restoring to the church a consciousness of its Jewish roots. It is extremely important for us to understand that the ultimate purpose of this new awareness is reconciliation between the church and the Jewish people, so that a "jealousy-provoking" testimony, i.e. an authentic loving witness to the love and power of the gospel, can come from the church.

More Than Academics

Mere academic understanding about the historical roots of the Christian church or the addition of a "Jewish" flavor to church services is not the reason for the Holy Spirit's move to restore the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. God's desire is that the church return to its first century Jewish mindset so that the scriptural purposes for the church can be accomplished. The apostolic truths that are being recovered in many churches, including the great overarching truth of the unity of the Body of the Messiah, are essential ingredients in the restoration of the church. Unless the church once again becomes the powerful witness that it was at its birth, it will never provoke Israel - or anyone else for that matter - to jealousy.

When the Apostle Paul discussed in Ephesians 2:11-22 his revelation of the church, he taught us that it is composed of Jews and Gentiles who are no longer separated by any walls of partition. The church is, in fact, one new man. He also went on to reveal that this new man is now brought into fellowship with God and made part of the commonwealth of Israel and fellow citizens with the saints of the Hebrew Scriptures. This was complementary revelation to Romans 11 where he was teaching the church about its inheritance in, with, and among the Jewish people. Please note the use of the words "with" and "among."

Gentiles Grafted Into Israel

For too long, the church has taught that the Jewish people had to be "converted" to a Gentile religion, when the exact opposite is the truth. It is the Gentiles who have been, and must yet be, "converted" to a "Jewish" religion. Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah, who sealed with his own blood the New Covenant that was promised to the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31). The book of Acts records how God opened the Jewish New Covenant, the fullness of God’s Judaism, to all the Gentiles who believe.

This true Judaism of God touches all areas of life. It gives us a view of heaven and instruction for successful living in this life. The New Covenant Scriptures were written from a first century Jewish perspective, not from a second or third century Greek or Roman perspective. We cannot continue to allow those pagan societies to influence how we interpret the scriptures or the realities of everyday life. Too many of our church traditions have come under the influences of an Hellenic, rather than a Biblical world view, and the church is still influenced by Greek and Roman philosophers more than by Jewish prophets and apostles.

Christians must more and more come to see themselves as "spiritual Jews." This simply means that when one becomes a believer in the jewish Messiah Jesus, he is grafted into Israel’s Olive Tree, made a partaker of the commonwealth of Israel and is considered by God to be "Jewish." This does not mean that one rejects or renounces his own natural culture or heritage or has to copy modern day jewish religious external forms. Nor does it mean that the gentiles replace the Jews in the purposes of God. (See Dr. Morgan’s article, "Re-placement or In-Placement Theology") It does mean that spiritually he has joined himself to the God of Israel and, like Ruth (1:16), has become one of His own people. As spiritual Jews, believers have a Biblical mandate to allow the Holy Spirit to show them the kind of relationships He wants them to have with their "spiritual brothers and sisters," the natural Jewish people.

In my spirit I see a great move of the Holy Spirit among "spiritual Jews" (the Church), as they reach out in love and support to the "natural branches" of God’s Olive Tree (Romans 11:17-20). I see the true testimony of the love and power of the Holy Spirit reaching out in many different ways to the Jewish people. My prayer is that such a testimony, about their long rejected Messiah, coming from a multi-national multi-cultural unified church will so provoke them to spiritual jealousy, that they will, without bias or prejudice, earnestly pray for revelation as they study the scriptures for themselves, to see if the things prophesied about the Messiah are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.

As the world turns more and more against Israel, I pray the church will turn more and more toward her Jewish roots and to her bibilical relationship and responsibility to the Jewish people. As the birth pangs of the Messiah increase and Israel faces the moment of her greatest distress, I pray that the testimony she has received from the church will inspire her to fulfill the Scripture that will usher in the return of the Lord. The Jewish people will finally call out to Jesus,

"BARUCH HA BA B’SHEM ADONAI"
"Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name of the Lord!"

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