Many Jewish leaders embrace evangelicals but with a deliberate agenda to drive a wedge.
In the last two columns I wrote for Charisma, I expressed my concern for two issues. First was the importance of proclaiming Christ openly to Jewish people. Jesus is the only name given under heaven by which all may be saved. We must not compromise this foundational biblical reality.
The other issue was the need for Christians who love Israel to wisely invest their financial support in Jewish organizations.
Unfortunately, some Christian organizations support groups that actively oppose Messianic Jews and ministries in Israel. But we need to be cautious and donate to groups that are committed to sharing the gospel of Jesus.
What I would like to address in this issue is the exclusion of Messianic Jews from prominent roles in Christian Zionist events or organizations.
I know there is pressure from the Jewish community to keep Messianic Jews from participating in anything. In their understanding, it’s fine for a gentile to believe in Jesus, especially if he loves the Jewish people and Israel. No Christian leader who desires to be accepted by Jewish leaders wants to offend or anger them. I can understand this. But we must be authentic and true to who we are. After all, are we seeking to please men or God? (See Gal. 1:10.)
Many Jewish leaders embrace evangelicals but with a deliberate agenda to drive a wedge between Christians and the Messianic community. Their perspective is that any group promoting the idea that someone can believe in Jesus as Messiah and still be Jewish is deceptive and unethical. Jewish leaders want evangelicals to support this view.
Ministries called to reach Jewish people with the gospel such as Jews for Jesus, Chosen People Ministries, Jewish Voice, the Messianic Jewish Alliance and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations are targets because they boldly proclaim that Yeshua is the promised Messiah. They are accused of distorting Jewish symbols such as the Passover matzo and wine, and using them to represent the body and blood of Christ. But this is in no way a modern invention of Messianic Jews. It was Yeshua Himself who gave us this interpretation.
Since the very early days of Christian history, leaders in both Jewish and Christian communities have sought to isolate and exclude Messianic followers of Jesus. In A.D. 150, Justin Martyr wrote to Trypho the Jew, saying, “You can be a Jew or a Christian, but one who claims to be both a Jew and a Christian is neither Jew nor Christian.”
After the destruction of the temple, Jewish leaders tried to ban Jewish believers from Jewish life. They even added a benediction to the synagogue liturgy around A.D. 90 against the heretics (Jewish believers) and notzreem (Christians).
I am convinced that these efforts are a calculated strategy of the enemy to keep Yeshua’s prayer for unity written in the book of John from being fulfilled. Satan is likely the only one other than the Lord Himself who understands the power that will be unleashed through this unity, and he is working overtime to keep this from becoming a reality.
Some liberal “Christian” leaders hope to create some sort of ecumenical harmony between faiths. But genuine believers adhering to the Bible as God’s infallible Word should know better. Satan’s strategy has always been “divide and conquer,” and we should not fall prey to anything that aids his cause.
If Christian Zionist leaders stood up for Messianic Jews, leaders in the Jewish community would realize they need Christian support and would accept the inclusion of Jewish believers.
Biblically, as Jewish and gentile believers in Christ, we are brothers and sisters in the faith. We must stand together if we want to be pleasing to a Lord who prayed “that they may be one just as We are one'” (John 17:22, NKJV).
Jonathan Bernis, a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus), is the founder of Hear O Israel Ministries, an organization doing extensive outreach and humanitarian aid around the world. He is also the executive director of Phoenix-based Jewish Voice Ministries International. He founded two Messianic congregations and served them as a senior Messianic rabbi for 11 years. To read past columns in Charisma by Jonathan Bernis, log on at charismamag.com/bernis.