Most Christians know the Great Commission, which says: "Go into the world and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). But this isn't the Great Commission for Christians; it's for Jews!
All the men addressed in this verse were Jewish. In this statement Jesus was telling the apostles to go to the gentiles and nations, and make disciples of them. Messiah was actually telling them to teach these pagans (since that's what they were) about the God of Israel and his Messiah.
Jews going to gentiles was what the Great Commission was initially all about, even though it has been expanded to Christians going to the lost.
In chapter 11 of Romans, Paul (Rabbi Saul) wrote to the believers in Rome about his people, Israel. He spoke of them as "natural" branches of the olive tree, whereas he considered gentiles to be "wild" branches (11:16-24).
When we went to Russia to be intercessors for a music festival in St. Petersburg, we heard many testimonies from Jewish people. As they shared how their lives had been changed when they received Yeshua (Jesus), these testimonies all had a common theme. I do not recall hearing one testimony that did not include some type of sign that God used to reveal His Son Jesus to them as their Messiah.
In 1 Cor. 1:22-24, we see Paul's insight into those with whom he was sharing the good news. He says, "For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
Though Jesus was born in Bethlehem, taught in Jewish synagogues, and spread His message "to the Jew first," the majority of people in His homeland do not recognize Him as the Messiah. But thanks to what they say is a spiritual awakening unfolding in the Holy Land, many Jewish believers are sharing the gospel and leading their brothers and sisters to Christ. Click below to watch the video.
Are you aware that your Christian faith was built on a Jewish foundation? Think about it: Jews wrote the entire revelation of Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—except perhaps for the books of Luke and Acts. The Old Testament prophets all were Jewish. The apostles all were Jewish. And Jesus was not born a Christian—nor did He later convert. He was born a Jew and grew up to become a Jewish rabbi.
On Pentecost, it was Jewish men and women who first received Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah and who were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit. They went out to tell the things they had seen and heard, and when they were dispersed through persecution, they became witnesses to the gentiles.
A veteran high school coach in Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was fired by a Muslim principal because of his Christian faith and his association with a Pentecostal minister who helped lead a Muslim student to Christ.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, Gerald Marszalek, a wrestling coach for 35 years at Fordson High School in Dearborn, accused Dearborn schools and Fordson Principal Imad Fadlallah of violating his constitutional rights to free speech and exercise of religion, as well as Michigan laws against religious discrimination.
In the hills outside of Jerusalem, the Israelis have built a memorial to the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, the Holocaust. This memorial, called Yad Vashem, houses a large and graphic exhibition detailing the murder of 6 million Jews. This display achieves its intended effect: it is impossible to walk through it and not be burdened by the enormity of the crime that the Nazis and their henchmen committed against the Jewish people. Visitors exit the hall carrying a heavy weight.
Outside the museum, nestled in a wooded campus, Yad Vashem hosts a more uplifting memorial: the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations. Here, scattered among the trees, are plaques in honor of the thousands of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. This part of Yad Vashem also impacts the visitor's state of mind. A detailed display of the depths of human cruelty ends, in this garden, on a note of hope.
Hundreds of years ago, God the Father gave to Abraham—and his descendants—the land of Israel. He established an eternal and everlasting covenant with Abraham, promising that his seed, through Isaac and Jacob, would possess the land forever. Out of all the nations of the earth, He chose Zion to be His special people.
Yet Christians often wonder what their responsibility ought to be regarding Israel and the Jewish people. Some are indifferent toward or ignorant of the believer's role in the nation's history; others are opposed to lending their support because they don't understand what such a commitment means.
Support of the nation of Israel does not mean a person endorses every political action of the government. Support of Israel means the support of biblical Zionism, and those who know the Bible know that it is not an option for the committed Christian.
During my trip to Israel several months ago, I ran into a group of Jewish kids on a field trip in the Old City. They reminded me of my nieces and nephews, running around playing and giggling nonstop.
But not far from Jerusalem are children whose faces have been draped with anger and rage. Radical Islamists who seek only death and destruction have seared their minds with lessons of hate. But these children need our prayers too. Click below to watch the video, then ask God to turn their hearts toward Him.
Several years ago the Lord told Oral Roberts, "This is the hour Jewish people are being drawn to God."
Proverbs 11:30 says, "He who wins souls is wise" (NKJV). Why? Because souls are the only thing we take to heaven. Earth is a war zone and the battle is for the souls of men. God's order has always been to evangelize the Jew first. God started with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people.
Jesus followed this pattern as well. He said, "'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'" (Matt. 15:24). The apostle Paul also spoke of the gospel's being for the Jew first (see Rom. 1:16).
Pro-lsrael Christians from across the U.S. gathered in the nation's capital this week to participate in the fourth annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit. The event gave some 4,000 participants the opportunity to demonstrate their support for the Holy Land by lobbying U.S. lawmakers to back the Jewish nation.
"America really shouldn't be pressuring Israel to make concessions Israelis don't want to make," said CUFI executive director David Brog. "Israel has been devoted to the peace process."
Tisha B'Av is a day of mourning when the Jewish people remember the destruction of both the first and second temples. Tradition holds that the temples were destroyed some 656 years apart but on the same date. This year, Tisha B'Av begins on the eve of July 29 and ends at nightfall on July 30.
Traditionally, it is also believed that many other tragic events occurred on the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av):
No matter how good your explanation is of the gospel, and no matter how well you know the Bible, if your Jewish neighbor doesn't trust you, your witness will fail. But what makes a person trustworthy?
In my 35 years of talking to my people about the Messiah, I've found that the first step in gaining someone's trust is honesty. This is especially true between Christians and Jews.
All Jewish people know that during the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition vast numbers of Jews were killed "in the name of Christ." Even more so, many Nazis gassed Jews and went to church on Sunday. Many Jewish people have negative feelings about Christians, because of 2,000 years of anti-Semitism from those who named the name of Jesus.
To Christians, death is the doorway to eternal life with God, where troubles cease and peace abounds. To others, it represents uncertainty. But Christ offers salvation through His death, and Jews and gentiles alike can know for certain where we go when we die.
I was privileged to sit beside him on a flight home from Israel last year—that is, with the obligatory empty seat separating us. Jewish tradition holds that a rabbi is forbidden to sit next to a woman. I asked him his name. He smiled and answered, "Gavriel."
What a passionate young rabbi he was! We freely discussed the Scriptures from our different perspectives as well as the promised redemption of Israel and the coming of Messiah.
Three months later, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his young, pregnant wife, Rivka, 28, were dead, savagely tortured in the Chabad House in Mumbai, India, by Islamic extremists.
I cannot adequately express my initial disbelief on hearing the news and my subsequent grief and outrage. Those few hours together on the plane with Gavriel had marked me.
This was not an isolated incident. Every day across Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world, Jewish schools and synagogues are firebombed and cemeteries desecrated. Jewish people, regardless of age or sex, are beaten by neo-Nazi and Islamic extremists.
Now a virulent anti-Semitism is fomenting in the United States. Last December, a coalition of far-left Muslim and Arab groups organized demonstrations in 30 U.S. cities to denounce the Gaza War. More rallies were held in January. The participating groups touted the events as a response to Israel's "massacre of Palestinians." Speeches and placards were rife with slogans such as "Death to the Jews and the State of Israel."
Given the upsurge of Islam in the U.S., a biased, liberal media, and a president who courts Israel's enemies and surrounds himself with anti-Israel cabinet members and advisers, it is only a matter of time until Israel's friend, the United States, joins the infamous ranks of all nations that Zechariah prophesied would stand against the Jewish nation (see Zech. 12:3; 14:2).
As Isaiah the prophet foresaw, Jewish immigrants are flooding home to Israel in record numbers. Soon we will hear his words pronounced in our day: "This place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell"(Is. 49:20, NKJV).
Those in the body of Christ who think they understand the times and seasons and yet do not actively stand with Israel and the Jewish people grieve me. They tend to ignore what the Spirit is saying to the church regarding Israel: "Comfort, yes, comfort My people!" (Is. 40:1).
Now is not the time for the church to become apathetic. Old Testament prophets clearly foretold this end-time regathering of the Jews and the church's responsibility to them. Isaiah prophesied that we are to cry out to God day and night until Jerusalem becomes a praise in the earth; that we are to remove the stones and prepare a highway for God's people to return to Him; to declare to them the words of hope, "Surely your Salvation is coming!" (see Is. 62:1,10-11).
The end-time church is to be engaged in extending our Lord's heart and hands to His Jewish brethren: proclaiming good news, healing the brokenhearted, setting captives free, comforting those who mourn, declaring the coming of Messiah to a weary and despised people (see Is. 61:1-3).
Today I plead with pastors: Adopt a ministry in Israel. Partner with a ministry run by those who live among the Jewish people and know individual families' needs. I beseech Christians: Give to anointed ministries in Israel that are the Lord's hands extended to His people. No longer give offerings indiscriminately to every cause that has "Israel" or "Jewish" attached to it. Connect directly with the land today!
Melva Lea Beacham is the president of Melva Lea Ministries and the director of international development for Christian Friends of Israel in Jerusalem (cfijerusalem.org). You can contact her at [email protected] .
Jesus made it clear while He ministered near the Galilee and in Jerusalem that He came to minister first to the house of Israel. This was His first charge by the Father. He carried the message of the kingdom of God to the Jew first. We have the same commission Jesus had, but many of us have forgotten to go to the Jew with the liberating message of the gospel. Paul in this passage reminds us of our commission to the Jew first (v. 16).
Over the years I have seen many Jewish people completed in their faith when they have heard the good news of the kingdom. It seems that Jewish people who come to know Jesus as their Messiah are more zealous than the Gentiles who have known Jesus for years.
When we were in Russia at a festival designed to reach out with the message of the gospel to Jewish people, I heard the testimonies of many completed Jews. They all searched for a relationship with God deeper than they had in their Judaism. In Judaism they knew God as the King of the universe, but now through their belief in Yeshua, they received the spirit of adoption whereby they now could call God "Abba," which means "daddy" in Hebrew.
Jesus came to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God, which is something everyone who exists on earth desires. The gospel of the kingdom of God is simply the good news that on earth if we accept the King of this kingdom by faith, we can enter into His domain or dominion of peace, joy and right standing with God the Father. I have not met anyone who did not desire to have peace of mind and heart, joy and a feeling of rightness about themselves.
I believe that preaching the kingdom of God is the way to reach the Jewish people today. We need to ask them if they want continual peace and joy in their lives, and the response will always be yes. Then we need to share with them that we know about a kingdom they can live in here on earth where they will always experience peace and joy no matter what circumstances they are encountering. This should peak their curiosity, and then we can share about not only the King of the universe, but also the King of this kingdom.
Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it" (Luke 16:16).
Some Jewish people are familiar with the Law and the prophets, but now they need to know about the kingdom of God so they can press into it. Are you willing to reach out to God's chosen people with this message?
Lord, forgive me for keeping this good news to myself. I need to share it with Jewish people and with all those You place in my path. Open doors for me to share with Your chosen people. Amen.