The Flight from Israel



Twelve excuses for not telling Jewish people about Jesus with answers from the Bible:

Most Christians seek to obey Christ's commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. But many Christians are reluctant to witness to Jewish people. For some the reason is fear, but for an increasing number of Christians it is a deliberate policy. We might expect this from liberal theologians who do not accept the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith. But a number of evangelical thinkers are now voicing the opinion that Jewish mission must be abandoned. This is a serious matter and must be addressed. What are the reasons - or excuses - that are presented, and what does the Bible say in response?


1: "God has finished with the Jews."

"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel: 'Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me'? And what was God's answer to him? 'I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.' So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace." (Romans 11:1-5, see also: 1 Samuel 12:22; Psalm 89:31-37; 94:14; Jeremiah 31:37; 33:25,26)


2: "The Jews are God's chosen people."

"You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins." (Amos 3:2)

"There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism." (Romans 2:9-11, see also: Luke 12:48 cf. Romans 9:4,5)


3: "Jews have their own way to God."

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (Romans 10:1-5)

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)


4: "The New Covenant is for Christians, not Jews."

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them", declares the LORD. "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time", declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD', because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest", declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 31:31, see also: Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 8:13; 9:15)


5: "It is not God's time to evangelise the Jews."

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)

"Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16)

"I tell you, now is the time of God's favour, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2, cf. Haggai 1:2-11)


6: "We must comfort Israel instead of evangelising."

"Comfort, comfort my people", says your God. "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins." A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God'' ... You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" (Isaiah 40:1-3, 9, cf. Matthew 3:1-5; Mark 1:1-5; Luke 3:1-6; John 1:19-28)


7: "The Church has lost the right to evangelise the Jews because of the way it has persecuted them."

We should never forget that the "Church" that persecuted the Jews also persecuted true Christians. Believers in Christ had their bodies broken on the same racks and burned in the same fires as the Jews, because they would not accept that a piece of bread turned into God after being consecrated by a priest. Christians and Jews are fellow-sufferers.

The greatest crime of the "Church", however, has been to withhold the good news of Messiah Jesus from the Jews. To preach the gospel to all nations while ignoring Christ's own people Israel is the worst form of anti-Semitism.


8: "Before we can speak to Jewish people about Jesus we must repent of our anti-Semitism."

If you are an anti-Semite you must certainly repent. But repentance is more than just saying sorry. It involves a change of mind and action. Christians have been apologising to the Jewish people for years and yet still keeps from them the most precious thing in the world. If the Church is truly penitent she will stop refusing to tell the Jewish people that their longed-for Messiah has come.


9: "The Jews will only believe in Christ when they see him return in glory."

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"... Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:12-15, 17)


10: "The Gospel is offensive to Jewish people."

"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

"Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offence of the cross has been abolished." (Galatians 5:11)


11: "Jewish people know the Old Testament too well for me to be able to witness to them."

Jesus replied [to Jewish religious leaders], "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" (Mark 12:24)

"If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." (John 5:46)

"[Jesus] said to them [Jewish disciples], How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (Luke 24:25-27)

"But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." (2 Corinthians 3:14)


12: "There are four billion other people in the world who need to hear the gospel and only fourteen million Jews. Jewish evangelism is not so important."

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

"We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:46)

"But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fulness bring! ... for if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" (Romans 11:12,15)

A famous evangelical leader of the last century, Charles Simeon, had a great burden for the salvation of the Jews. While speaking at a missionary meeting, he seemed so carried away with the future of the Jews that a friend passed him a slip of paper with the question, "Six millions of Jews and six hundred millions of Gentiles — which is the most important?" Simeon immediately scribbled back, "If the conversion of the six is to be life from the dead for the six hundred, what then?" (Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, pp154, 155)

This article appeared in the Spring 1995 Herald.



   
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