The Orthodox Response to the Worship and Prayer at the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount

A great culmination of the 21 day fasting and prayer for Israel’s salvation and world harvest took place on May 28 when 100-120 million joined in prayer.  The central event was at the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount where 800 gathered including Lou Engle, Dr. William (Billy) Wilson, the President of Oral Roberts University, Messianic Jewish leaders and so many more. It was a great day. Before the event, a very negative article came out in the Jewish press vilifying this as a missionary event. My readers need to understand that the Orthodox Jewish leaders see all followers of Yeshua, who maintain the hope of Israel embracing Yeshua, as missionaries. The article was, of course, imbalanced, and foolish. Here is what I wrote to the IHOP leaders:  

I wanted to write something more since my response was so brief.

Over the years, I have noticed such articles, and some even say that Israel should not partner with Christian Zionists since they think Israel will believe in Yeshua at the end of this age!  Why should they be so upset that people believe this?  If the end of this age comes and Yeshua is revealed, then their arguments against his messiahship are defeated.  But until then, why not partner with Christian Zionists? Somehow all who believe in Romans 11:11-15 and Matthew 23:39 are suspect. Both texts teach that Israel will turn to Yeshua. But other, wiser Jews have argued that holding such a view of the final end is without practical effect, unless coupled with overt efforts of Jewish evangelism in this time before the end. They argue that believing in the final revelation of Yeshua should not cause a rejection of Christian Zionist support since such an eschatological vision does not mean that Jewish people will not be rightly treated. For liberal Jews such point will never come. For them, the answer to this article would be “so what.” For Orthodox Jews the Messiah will come, and it will not be Jesus. They could declare their conviction they look for as the time that the world will all accept the true Messiah, but not Jesus.  And should Christians not support Orthodox Jews and Israel since they believe this? This is all so very stupid. It is true that there is an issue with those who seek to follow the Bible and bring Jewish people to faith in Yeshua. 

There are three types of Christians Zionists.

1.  The first group eschews Jewish evangelism and does not support Messianic Jews who are winning their  people. But they do believe that Israel/Jewry will ultimately confess Yeshua. (Romans 11:15, 25, 26)

2.  The second group does not engage in overt evangelistic efforts. This group might contain individuals who discretely share their faith with Jews.

3. The third group believes that Romans  11:15, “Israel’s full acceptance” implies a growing movement of Messianic Jews (Rom. 11:14-some of Israel) and therefore they strongly back Messianic Jewish works that seek to bring a witness for Yeshua to our people. This is a necessary prelude to all Israel being saved. 

All three of these groups can easily support the 100 million prayer for Israel’s salvation and protection from destruction.   When Mike Bickle speaks about salvation, he is not only speaking of embracing Yeshua, but of being protected from destruction which is a big emphasis right now in this difficult time.

Note as well the Roman Catholic Catechism paragraph 674 below!  This is the unifying idea for all.  It is amazingly so well stated. Is the author in the Jewish Press so ignorant that she does not know this? Probably she is that ignorant and is not aware of what all true Christians confess form all streams of the Church.   

674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”, will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.

This is amazingly so well stated

Event Response 

Since writing the above, I attended the amazing gathering of 800 at the Temple Mount Southern Stairs.  A few hundred ultra Orthodox protestors sought to block our entrance to the Davidson Center entrance to the Southern Steps. They shouted “Missionaries go home.  We don’t want you here.” Many Messianic Jews attended the gathering at the steps and Israel is our home! They pushed and shoved. A few fell down or were hit. Then the police opened up the way into the entrance.  During our meeting they gathered below our site and chanted during the whole time, but they were at a distance. It did not disturb our gathering but actually gave all a sense of the spiritual warfare over Yeshua. We prayed blessing over them to overcome their cursing. 

Articles in the Jewish press were mixed in response. Some were more negative to the Ultra-Orthodox Protestors than to the gathered Christians. One Ultra-Orthodox Jew, Aryeh King, who is one of the Deputy Mayors of Jerusalem said the gathering was a desecration of a Jewish holy place which has nothing to do with Christianity. This is historically totally wrong since this is the area of the water immersion of the 3000 who came to faith on the day of Pentecost (Shavuot). It was place of the immersion into the Holy Spirit of thousands. The location has everything to do with Messianic Jews and Christians. What a foolish and ignorant response! We were all thankful for Mayor Lion who did not cancel the event and for the police who enabled us to enter. 

A Most Momentous Month, May 2023

The most momentous day in history during my lifetime and maybe in centuries will take place on May 28, 2023. On this day, over 100 million people will be networked for fasting and prayer for the salvation of Israel. Here is a little history. 

In March 1983, Mike Bickle, the founding leader of the International House of Prayer, was given a prophecy that his calling was to raise up a prayer movement that would lead to 100 million intercessors praying for the salvation of Israel. At that point, he had hardly any sense of the importance of Israel/the Jewish people and their irrevocable election. However, he received this word and did have a prayer and fasting time in May 1983 with his local community.  

Now 40 years later, the 24/7 prayer movement has become very large. The point has been reached where over 100 million people are networked for a world prayer day for the salvation of Israel on May 28th. Over one million are embracing fasting and praying for 21 days to lead up to the great day of prayer at the end of May. Lou Engle will lead prayer at the Southern Steps of the Temple on that day. 

In addition, at the end of January, Jewish ministry leaders and Church leaders, some with significant roles in world leadership, came together to discuss the past and future of the Messianic Jewish communities. They committed together to pray and fast on May 28th for the outpouring of the Spirit and greatly needed revival in the Messianic Jewish communities.  

I believe we are moving into the most momentous of days. I expect we will see a revival in the Messianic Jewish communities. I believe we will also see an alignment of the Church with Israel and the Messianic Jewish community. Toward Jerusalem Council II has been working toward that alignment for 28 years. Our ministry, Restoration from Zion of Tikkun Global has been working for this in parallel to Toward Jerusalem Council II. Tikkun Global itself is our family of ministries that is committed to an alignment that someday will lead to the salvation of Israel. We are all in on the prayer movement from IHOP and have been in partnership for 33 years. If you want to link to IHOP during May for encouragement for your fasting and prayer, please sign in to their streaming service for this purpose. Revival in the Messianic Jewish community will be a game changer. It will establish a more biblical theology of Holy Spirit power and successful advance for the Gospel. Let us pray and believe for great things. 

Take all the Land Now

Some Christian Zionists and some Messianic Jews have a very strident position on possessing the Land promised to our people.  Their attitude is to take all the Land and don’t worry much about the Arab population in Samaria and Judea.  With Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of a very radical Otzma Yehudit party and Bazalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionists, the heated rhetoric and actions toward “taking it all” have now become part of the landscape of the Netanyahu government.   Some Christians and a very small number of Messianic Jews applaud.

I want to argue that this is a foolish direction and akin to the first century Zealot Party that gained control of Judea and went to war against Rome.  Yeshua warned what would happen.  Jerusalem would be destroyed because they did not recognize their time of visitation (Luke 19:44).  Having not recognized Yeshua, even after his resurrection, propelled them into following a false way.  Let us recognize that we as a people still have not recognized that time of visitation.  Also, our lack of embracing the apostolic witness to this day, a witness given with great signs and wonders, is compounded history of antisemitism in the  historic churches.  Yet, the trajectory was set by the Sanhedrin and the post Jerusalem destruction Rabbis in Israel who did not turn to Him.  This is why I believe that this is not the time to pursue maximalist visions to take the Land.  The Religious Zionist party today is so different from its moderate predecessor, the National Religious Party (NRP).  This party with the Otzma Yehudit of Ben  G’vir is the return of the spirit of the Zealots.

When I teach on the return to the Land and declare myself a Biblical Zionist, it is based on Ezekiel 36:24 ff.  There we read that we will come back to the Land in significant numbers before we are given a new heart and before the Holy Spirit is given to us.  Until that day, and until we call upon Yeshua (Matthew 23:39,40), we may well be bringing a counsel that will bring harm to Israel if we council “Take it all.”  Let us remember that Israel has still not come to Yeshua.  Secular Israel fosters the most radical LGBTQ agendas.  Parades celebrate Israel as the most pro LGBTQ nation.  Abortion is rampant.  The Orthodox Jews still practice a faith that is partially right but which also blinds to Yeshua in a life of a plathora of commandments.  The spirit of the Talmud is mostly not in accord with the spirit of Yeshua.

My council is, let’s lovingly support Israel’s right to exist.  Let’s stand with Israel.  Let’s support the Jewish people in this Land.  However, let us not give counsel in agreement with the radical right wing views of “taking it all now.”  For this season, living with partial fulfillment of the Land promises I think is wise.  We also do care about the Arabs in the Land of Israel and want them to be treated with justice.

Are we moving to an amazing replay of first century Israel history?

It is commonly taught that we are seeing a lineup of nations against Israel, a setup that seems like a replay of the first century but with one amazing difference.  Instead of Jerusalem’s destruction, the last days’ final war against Jerusalem will lead to Israel’s full victory with the return of Yeshua.  Zechariah 12 and 14 make this very clear.

One aspect for those who do not live in Israel might seem quite amazing.  It is that the divisions in Israel seem in some ways quite analogous to the first century.  We have Jewish secularists who still desire to be Israeli Jews but are like those who were very Hellenized in the first century.  They like the Sadducees do not believe in angels, demons, or the inspiration of the prophets.  The Ultra-Orthodox are like the strict Shammai Pharisees who believed that living strictly in accord with myriads of multiplied laws would make us so holy that the Messiah would come and bring us victory.  We also have the Zealots of our day who want to take the whole Land now and push the Arabs out of the Land.  Recently, in response to a terrorist attack, some of these modern Zealots have rioted against the nearby Palestinian village, burning cars and houses and shooting at civilian innocents.  These folks and their leaders are not democratic libertarians. The Prime Minister spoke out against this anarchy, but two of the party leaders in his coalition support the reactive violence and are frustrated at him.  Yeshua warned that the Zealots would gain ascendancy and Jerusalem would be destroyed.  As in the first century, there are also religious Jews of a more open and tolerant stream like the Hillel Pharisees of old.  Will the nations unjustly invade, maybe in some kind of U. N. action in response to zealot policies?  Maybe. Or will it be a Muslim invasion of the surrounding nations supported by the rest of the nations (writers W. Shobat and J. Richardson)?  We don’t know.

However, as in the first century, there is a growing Messianic Jewish community.  In the first century, the destruction of Jerusalem did not lead to repentance and the embrace of Yeshua, though the prophecies He gave were clear and fulfilled.  However, this time, the witness of the Messianic Jews with the whole Body of Believers will lead to the embrace of Yeshua before Jerusalem is destroyed.  He will return to rule and reign forever.

The Law of Return and Definitions of Who is a Jew

One of the challenges of the new more radical right-wing government is the great power of the Nationalist Orthodox and the Ultra-Orthodox in the Israel coalition.  There are two overlapping issues.  First, these parties want to change the law with regard to the definition of who is a Jew, since all Jews have a right to immigrate and receive citizenship according to the Law of Return.  Who is a Jew has been defined in Jewish post-biblical history as those born of a Jewish mother or legitimately converted to Judaism.   For the Law of Return, this definition, according to Israel’s courts and the general consensus of the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), included those who converted under Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism.  However, the Orthodox Parties in Israel want to declare conversion from Reform and Conservative Rabbinates as invalid.  For the Chief Rabbis in Israel, some Orthodox converts have even been rejected.  For the Law of Return, one is not considered Jewish if converted to another religion.  This was from a Supreme Court decision in the late 1980s.  However, we should note that this is contrary to Jewish Law (Halakah) which states that one is always still Jewish even if given to false beliefs. Some Rabbis have so objected to this newer idea.  They argue, yes, preclude citizenship, but do not say that they are no longer Jewish.

Then there is a second part of the Law of Return.  It is that descendants of a Jewish grandparent are qualified.  Some Americans but mostly Russian Jews have come under this provision.  The Orthodox want to cancel this and only allow one to come from a Jewish parent and strictly that they do not practice any religion but Judaism.  Previously there was no such religious test for descendants.  This is more recent.  This is a terrible thing and does not credit the original idea of the law to save those who would be persecuted for Jewish descent.

The Israel law and Rabbinic definitions of who is a Jew are incoherent.  For example, the idea of practicing other religions as precluding citizenship theoretically would be applied to all religions but mostly targets those who believe in Yeshua even if they do not identify as Christians.  In the United States, the Supreme Court declared that secular humanism is a religion.  Many Jews in Israel are secular humanists.  However, this never precludes immigration.  Secular humanists deny the foundation of Judaism, the belief in God, the Sh’ma, and His Law, “Here O Israel, the Lord our God is One.”  Buddhist Jews claim that their Buddhist beliefs are not religious.  I do not argue that such people are not Jews, just wrong in their beliefs but still Jews.   

The only coherent policy is to define a Jew as a descendant of a Jewish mother, and better yet a Jewish mother or father who identifies as a Jew.  What they believe should not be an issue or all kinds of problems and complications arise.  In addition, a descendent of a Jewish grandparent by the broader and coherent definition of who is a Jew is the right and just way forward.  Do I have much hope that Israel will do this?  No, the cry and resistance of the Orthodox will be too great.

In Memory of Dr. Jack Hayford

Many are writing about Dr. Jack Hayford.  It is remarkable how many leaders see him as a personal friend.  Many are writing about him and their connection.  I have such a story as well.

My connection with Jack began indirectly in the Spring of 1995 when Rabbi Marty Waldman received the vision for a second Jerusalem Council and the project he first called Jerusalem Council II.  It later became Toward Jerusalem Council II.   Marty shared this vision with the three other Executives of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations of which I was one.  Marty was the President.  We confirmed the vision.  Marty said that God spoke to him to fly to Israel where Jack was doing a seminar for Pastors.  If Jack confirmed this, then he was to work to bring it about. We confirmed Marty going and the Union put up money for the trip.  Jack enthusiastically embraced the vision. He said we could use his name, his stationary, and more to foster this vision.  He eventually became the President of the International Church of the Four Square Gospel.  Their executive eventually signed the Seven Affirmations of TJCII.

I first met Jack in person at a Promise Keepers planning meeting after Coach Bill McCartney became convinced to include Messianic Jewish leaders. Jack was warm and welcoming to us.  Subsequently, Coach and Raleigh Washington sponsored a great conference of thousands in Palm Springs, The Road to Jerusalem.  I was a speaker as was Jonathan Bernis, other Messianic Jews, and Jack Hayford.  It was a great conference where I gave the message that is to this day my most listened to, Messianic Jewish Theology in 15 Minutes.  Jack enthusiastically endorsed this message.

Jack sent a wonderful video greeting for my 40th anniversary of ministry in May of 2012 at the Tikkun national conference.

The real lasting fruit came when Jonathan Bernis and met with Jack and the leaders of the newly formed The King’s College and Seminary (now The King’s University.)  We approached him to consider having a Messianic Jewish joint program with our school, Messianic Jewish Bible Institute.  Jack was enthusiastic.  We even interviewed key faculty to vet their understanding of the continued Jewish calling of Messianic Jews.  I became a visiting professor and taught at the Van Nuys campus annually, Messianic Jewish Theology, Apologetics, New Testament, and Eschatology.  Most years Jack and I would have dinner together.  The school was at the Church On The Way campus.  Before the real estate meltdown in 2007-8 Jack gave me a tour of the hospital he was planning to buy for the school.  It would have dorms, classrooms, offices, and more.  Alas, the meltdown ended those plans. Jack’s vision of the school as a school that was flexible in the way of offering courses, academically solid, and which would empower in the Spirit. Jack eventually transferred the school to Gateway Church under Robert Morris.  The King’s University thrives and the Jewish program continues under the able leadership of Dr. David Rudolph.  And yes, I am still a visiting professor.

One year I was so very privileged.  Jack sponsored an annual leadership conference at the Church on the Way.  Amazingly I was invited to present two keynote addresses to over 1000 leaders. One was, What Kind of Church Must there Be to Make Israel Jealous and to see the Return of Jesus?  The second was, What kind of Messianic Jewish Movement Must There Be to see the return of Jesus? Jack graciously embraced these messages and endorsed them at the meeting.

When Jack spoke, he said that he never sought to build a mega-church but a faithful church. And so it was, and it became mega.  Jack had a deep integrity, humility and how we need more like him!  As Jack was aging, he recommended Pastor Jerry Dirman to carry on his work in the Four Square for the Jewish connection.  He was again preparing the way.

In 1986, 1,100 gathered at the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia at the Sheridan Hotel.  The Friday Erev Shabbat service began with Israel’s Hope leading the worship.  There was a processional of Torah Scrolls from the regional congregations.  We sang Jack’s hymn, Majesty.  Harvey Smith, our treasurer, turned to me and said, we might as well go home now because nothing is going to be better than this.  The presence of the Spirit was amazing.  Now Jack arrives in heaven and no doubt hears the human and angel choirs singing Majesty. Goodbye, for now, you were a great friend and friend to the Jewish people and the Messianic Jewish Community especially.   


LGBTQ Controversy in Israel

The Orthodox Jewish Parties in Israel, four of them, now dominate Israel’s government.  They have pushed greatly curtailing LGBTQ civil rights.  This has led to a strong pushback from the Israeli secular community and the parties that are now not in power in the new government.  In my view, both sides are partly right and partly wrong.  The Jewish press in Israel has referenced some of the battles in the United States on these same issues. 

Until now, the primary Orthodox push back against the LGBTQ movement has been to protest the gay parade in Jerusalem as contrary and offensive to the character of Jerusalem as a religious city.  They have not been able to stop this parade. 

Today the Orthodox push back seeks to pass laws that would release those who do not want to provide services to LGBTQ people.  This is being stated broadly as a religious conscience accommodation.  Event halls owned by religious people, or medical services by Orthodox doctors, and business services people in general are to be given liberty to not provide as long as others can provide these services.  The issue of what counts as public services and accommodations are not well defined.  Shouldn’t a doctor help all people?  Of course, religious doctors do not want to perform abortions or give gender blocking hormones or do gender re-assignment surgery.  This would be terribly against conscience for some.  

It seems like the Supreme Court in the United States is drawing reasonable lines where public accommodations and services have to be offered without discrimination while offering relief for conscience.  The conscience exception is for a person who runs a business that is the creative expression of an artist, the cake maker or wedding planner since they would be required to engage in creative speech, art, which is against their beliefs.   The court seems to be moving to accommodate personal services from doctors for procedures that are against their conscience.  They also accommodate religious non-profit organizations so they may foster their faith convictions by hiring staff, teachers, etc. that are in accord with their faith confession.  Orthodox Jews can hire only Orthodox Jews, Catholics only Catholics and Evangelicals only Evangelicals.  In this way the LGBTQ agenda is not permitted to destroy free speech and religious based organizations that follow their convictions.  We see this in the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization that did not want to provide health insurance with abortion and contraceptive coverage.  Radical leftists do not want these reasonable accommodations, but act from a totalitarian conformity streak which I also see with some of the left in Israel.  I hope that the Israel government can come to some balance in all this.  Freedom of religion and speech are at stake but so are some basic civil rights. 

The Political Dilemma in Israel

It is very hard not to be very ambivalent about politics in Israel. There is no party that has representation in the Knesset that represents me. My Facebook friends may or may not have an understanding of this. Here is a bit of the challenge. Note that the right in Israel does necessarily mean social conservative.

On the Right:
1. Likud: Bibi Netanyahu I agree with free enterprise, strong defense, and peace with Palestinians that does not jeopardize Israel’s security. I disagree with support for the LGBTQ agenda and its weak policies re: help to raise the quality of life for Arab Israeli citizens. Pro-abortion. I think they have been weak in policies to build enough housing to lower costs.

2. Otzmah Yehudit. Ben G’vir. Agree with not supporting the public fostering of the LGBTQ agenda. But wants to eliminate the historic 75-year-old grandfather clause so non-halakhaic Jews can not make Aliyah if they have a Jewish grandparent and want to identify with their Jewish parentage. This would be a terrible direction and for Russian Jews, very bad. They only want to have Orthodox conversions. Wants to annex the West Bank in ways that may be very dangerous. He also wants to gut the Supreme Court so a majority of the parliament can overturn any decision, ending the independence of the court.

3. Religous Zionist Party: Bazelel Smotrich. This is not your grandfather’s National Religious Party of yesteryear which was moderate. Most of the same position as above.

4. Shas Party, Aryeh Deri, Sephardic Orthodox Party. A convicted felon. Wants as well to up-end the Supreme Court. Was the leader who had the interior department adopt a policy to resist Jewish believers in Yeshua no matter what their qualifications. Is anti-LGBTQ agenda but not as strong as the first two.

5. United Torah Judaism Party. The Ultra-Orthodox. Wants to gain back total control over Kashrut and Conversions even if the conversions are from other Orthodox Rabbis Wants to have a monopoly over Kashrut. Wants all its men to be exempt from the army, education that prepares them for work, and to have them forever supported by welfare to study Talmud all day. This means most ultra-Orthodox live near poverty.

National Unity: Benny Gantz. The former general was good on defense and went after terror strongly. Most policies seemed good but then supported a pro-LGBTQ agenda, including in the Army.

Left of Center
Yesh Atid, (There is a future) Yair Lapid. He is the present Prime Minister until Bibi forms his government about ten days from now. Has governed as a moderate and not bad. Pro-LGBTQ agenda for all levels of society. Pro-Abortion.

Labor Party: Similar to all the positions of Democrats in the U. S.

Arab Parties
Ra-am. Mansour Abbas has become moderate and seeks to accept Israel but desires development and a better life for Arabs. A good development that there is such a party.

Joint List: Anti-Israel Arab Party.

I really don’t fit in with any of the parties. We add all the issues up and just pick the best we can, but none have my wholehearted agreement. We pray to be led by the Spirit and then vote.

Progressive Dispensationalism, Essay 20

A new movement with the name “Progressive Dispensationalism” is growing and gives some hope for breaking the impasse in theology between Dispensationalism and other classical Evangelical views.   Most progressives are still pre-tribulation rapture proponents.  One cannot teach at Dallas Theological Seminary (the #1 school of Dispensationalism) and not hold to this view.   I should note that there were and are some who are mostly Classical Dispensationalists and who held to a mid-tribulation rapture, a pre-wrath rapture (Marvin Rosenthal of Friends of Israel), and a post-tribulation rapture.   The progressives are represented by Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock. In important ways, they move toward a Covenant Premillennialism in helpful ways.  I have had a dialogue with Craig Blaising.  Here are some of the amazing changes. 

First, there is a change in distinguishing the Mosaic Period, from Moses to the Death and Resurrection of Yeshua, as a dispensation of Law over against a dispensation of grace.   Both the Mosaic dispensation and the New Covenant dispensation were gracious covenants that included law.  The applicability of the Law is embraced. 

Secondly, both the Kingdom of God and the New Covenant are understood as having come with partial fulfillment, the already not yet sense of fulfillment that is the consensus of Bible scholars today.  The Gospel of the Kingdom was not just an offer of the Kingdom to Israel.  It will be offered again to Israel after the rapture, but a partial offer continues at this time for all people.  Also, the New Covenant will be fulfilled in fullness with Israel at the second coming of Yeshua. 

Thirdly, the identity of Messianic Jews is both still part of Israel and her election as well as part of the Church, the One New Man.  Yes, they will be raptured out before the tribulation, but that does not mean a loss of Jewish identity.  The Schofield idea that one is exclusively a member of one of three categories, Jew, Gentile, and Church, is no longer embraced. 

Of course, with the rapture view held by some, the Church and the Messianic Jewish members are not present at the end of the tribulation effecting making Israel jealous so they embrace Yeshua. 

In my interview, I asked the question, “How can you say you are still a Dispensationalist with such contrasting views to Classical Dispensationalism?”  The answer was that the key is in maintaining the distinction between Israel the nation and the Church, though one could be part of both. However, before Darby, there were restorationists (in regard to Israel) in Germany, the United Kingdom, and America that believed this.   I think the progressives make a more radical break than they want to admit. 

Yet, there are still weaknesses. The pre-tribulation rapture view is one weakness. Missing the vision for the last day’s revival and the gifts of the Spirit, including the five-fold gifts of Eph. 4:11 ff. are other weaknesses.  Yes, I see the Progressives as a breakthrough and hope that there is more to come.

The Identity of Messianic Jews and Dispensationalism, Essay 17

When the first Messianic Jewish Congregations were beginning in North America (1970-1975), there was quite a bit of attack against the new Messianic Jewish movement.  We were told we were, “Confusing law and grace,” “Re-erecting the wall of partition” and “Going back under the Law.”  Some Reformed leaders also had a rejection on the basis of the wall of partition argument and the idea that ethnic Israel is no longer elect but affirmed the replacement theology idea that the true Israel of God is now the Church.  But that is a different argument that will be addressed in a later essay. Here we want to just note the Dispensational view. 

In classic Dispensationalism, there is still an election that pertains to the Jewish people, Israel.  Israel will be preserved and God’s promises to them will be fulfilled in the Millennial Age.  However, the Church is defined very much like some of the early Church fathers, as a third race and in spiritual and essential identity its members are not Jew or Gentile. This is clearly stated in the little C. I. Schofield classic, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.  “Neither Jew nor Gentile” in Gal. 3 is a proof text despite the text also saying, “Neither male nor female.”   One is part of one of only three mutually exclusive categories, Jew, Gentile, or Church.  

God’s purpose and plans require keeping the Jew and Gentile separate and as noted in an earlier essay, Israel will become God’s primary instrument on earth only after the Church is taken away before the tribulation.  Messianic Jews on this basis are wrongly confusing identities and callings. Living a Jewish life is not fitting for members of the Church.  A limited ethnic identity may be accepted like Italians, Poles, and Russians but no deeper real spiritual identity or Jewish election identity.  A Passover seder is unacceptable as is keeping the Sabbath. 

However, such definitions imply the rejection of other clear passages and in some cases explain them away.  First of all, this includes the clear definition verses on the identity of Jewish believers in Yeshua, Romans 9-11.  In Romans 11:5 when Paul speaks of a “remnant saved” at the present time, it implies that they are the remnant of Israel, not people who have left their identity as part of Israel for a new identity as a “third race.”  When Paul states that we are to follow him who magnifies his ministry so that we might see some of Israel saved, he connects this some as important in being connected to all of Israel being saved, for the acceptance of all of Israel would lead to life from the dead.  (Rom. 11:15)   As if this was not enough, Paul goes on to argue that those who follow Yeshua from the Jewish people are, “The first fruits” that sanctify the rest of the nation.  It is not possible to be a sanctifying first fruits of the nation if not a part of the nation.  The nation remains set apart and made holy by the sanctifying remnant.  

Paul’s practice is fully in line with this teaching.  He has no problem living a Jewish life and showing that he is still part of Israel.  He takes a Nazarite vow (Acts 18:18) and later brings a sacrifice completing this vow and professing that he lives as a Jew in Torah obedience (Acts 21).  Paul professes Jewish life loyalty through the rest of the book of Acts before rulers and lastly before his people in Rome. 

Jewish identity in Yeshua is not as neat as the three separate identities but is truer to the text.   The Messianic Jew is part of national ethnic Israel, its identity and destiny, and also a Jewish part of the One New Humanity of Jew and Gentile in Yeshua.  Things are much better today for Messianic Jews: there is much more support.  However, there is still pushback against Messianic Jews due to the conscious or unconscious bias of classical Dispensationalism.  We have to reject the wrong separation of Israel and the Church. Their destinies are intertwined.