Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Would Jesus seek to convert the Jews?

Would Jesus seek to convert the Jews?
More to the point:
Would Yeshua call Jews to return to the Lord?


A few days a great controversy was stirred up by the World Evangelical Alliance which published a statement in the New York Times affirming their love and friendship for the Jewish people, but unapologetically stating that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ.

Although they may have softened the blow somewhat by using His Hebrew name and title, Messiah Yeshua, nevertheless it was a statement bound to make waves in religious circles.

Fairly immediately many in the Jewish community – especially those who have fostered inter-faith alliances with the Christian community – cried, Foul! Asking publicly, “Would Jesus seek to convert the Jews?

Before Israel-supporting Christians beat a hasty retreat from the backlash of the WEA statement we must understand what the word “convert” means to Jewish ears and what it meant to those Jews, including Jesus, who spoke about it in its Hebrew context in the first century.

When Jews today hear or say the word “convert” in relationship to a Jew placing faith in Jesus, what they think is, this is a Jew who has ceased being Jewish and has become a Christian…like they forced Jews to do in the Spainish Inquisition, for example.

The sense of the word “convert” or “conversion” in these days is bound up in the Jewish mind as the forced conversions of Jews to Christianity in the past. As Christians we need to understand that heavy baggage we carry with Jews but we also need to address the sense of the word in its root form, and in the meaning it was given by the biblical speakers.

It is not a "conversion" to Christianity for Jews to recognize Israel's Messiah.
It is instead a return to the God their fathers. As Yeshua said in John 8:53, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

Few of us wanted people bothering us with the gospel before God quickened our hearts with the knowledge that Jesus was the son of God. Jews are no different from us in that, with the exception of a history of Christian coercion of Jews to see the Light that God had not yet shown them.

It is good that the WEA statement acknowledged that fools rush in unprepared to understand where the Jewish people are really coming from on the issue of Yeshua, whose very name means salvation in Hebrew. It is good that the WEA has made a distinction that both upholds the good news of salvation to every nation, tongue and tribe in the world, without compromising on the good and FREE will of all to see Him and choose Him.

There will be a lot a pressure applied because of this WEA statement to compromise the gospel by saying Jews have their own special way to God that does not need Jesus. It is better for these evangelicals to keep their alliance with Yeshua and the Father God, than to try to keep alliance with unsaved Israel.

The WEA made the very important statement that there is an anointing to reach the Jewish people that they would leave up to those with the anointing, which would be the Jewish and Palestinian Arab followers of Yeshua who are Israeli citizens. Some 10-15,000 Jews believers in Israel carry the testimony of the Lord in their daily lives, which is were all valid testimony is demonstrated.

The WEA is doing its part just by recognizing and supporting the anointing that is on the Jewish believers of Israel to be witnesses for the Lord to their own people.

Those who refuse to make this acknowledgment, and who compromise on the need of Jews for Yeshua's salvation, are not merely trying to keep peace within the context of the Jewish-Christian alliance, they are also compromised with regards to the gospel of Messiah Yeshua, or as they refer to Him, Jesus Christ.

In the true sense of the word, it is not “conversion” for Jews to come to faith in Yeshua.

James 5:19 uses the word in the same sense as the Hebrew word tshuvah – to turn, to make a turnaround.

Matthew 13:15, Yeshua says of Israel, 15For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Again, it is used the word in the same sense as the Hebrew word tshuvah – to turn, to make a turnaround.

In every case of use in the New Testament, it is used in the same sense as the word tshuvah, to make a turnaround. We are walking the wrong way, then we see Yeshua and make a turnaround and follow Him in the right path. That is what the word “convert” means, which has taken on a religious meaning that is alien to the true meaning as it was spoken and written the Lord and His first century apostles who understood the meaning of tshuvah – and the call of God throughout the ages to “Tshuvah!”

As in Psalm 80:7 Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

"Turn," which is from the root Hebrew word “shub,” to turn back, to return to the starting point.

Salvation is coming to the Jewish people. It has already begun. There is great warfare that surrounds it, but it is promised by God to come and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Support the Body of Messiah in Israel who bear the witness and testimony of God’s salvation to the Jews through Messiah Yeshua.

As Yeshua told His countrymen at the temple in Jerusalem just before the crowd became a mob picking up stones to throw at Him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

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