1. The Restoration of all things
"...the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time."
The apostle Peter’s statement of Acts 3:21
does not tell us what will be restored, when nor how it will be restored, but it indicates that Restoration is in God’s plan for the time when the Messiah will return. The return of the Jews to their Saviour in the sense of repentance and turning away from their wicked ways is the primordial restoration. This priority had already been established when the disciples asked Jesus what time the restoration of the kingdom would come. Thus, it was the promise of the Holy Spirit to enable them to fulfill the Missionary Mandate ( Acts 1:6
) . As to the question of time: "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" The clearest answer is recorded in Matthew: "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door ( Matt 24:3, 32-33
The apostle Peter’s reference to the prophets and to the rest of Scripture points to the restoration of all things that went wrong from Creation to His first coming. Since the prophets spoke of things beyond the Messiah’s first coming, His second coming and the messianic kingdom are also in mind. The prophets spoke about God’s plans for the Gentiles, that they should become one with the Jews and about the Jews and the Gentiles being the light of the nations together. It is therefore clear that what the Church misunderstood concerning the role of the Jews in reaching the nations of the world – in the Missionary Mandate – will equally be restored and this is the direction that mission strategy must lead.
The coming together of Jews and Gentiles will lend credibility to the prophetic word about their oneness. It will also lead to a greater effectiveness of local and global missionary initiatives. Since both are called out to be His remnant people and to be His witnesses in a joint assignment, they both face the same opposing principalities and powers. God’s enemy will target both. The suffering will be proportionate. Is it unreasonable to assume that the suffering of the persecuted church worldwide is bound to reflect the suffering of Israel in intensity as long as the Church fails to provoke Israel as a scattered and re-gathering nation to return to her Messiah? When churches and governments try to appease the principalities that terrorize Israel, should we be surprised to see the same principalities persecute the church in their borders? Are they not targeted together openly?
Those who cannot see that the modern return of the Jews in a geographical sense has anything to do with the parable of the ‘fig tree” of Matthew 24
had better reflect on Isaiah in light of the fact that prophetic times are historic processes comparable to biological events. It takes time for blossoms to open and time to bear fruit: “ Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people.” ( Isaiah 11:11
) Will the Church continue to watch without taking note?
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2. Israel as Key to World History
"There are four primary directions on a compass – north, south, east, and west: The direction of north is of no greater intrinsic value than any other direction on the compass. The uniqueness of north is in its chosenness as the direction from which all other directions take their bearing. So it is with Israel. God’s dealings with the nations take their bearing from his dealings with Israel." (Gavriel Gefen, Restoring Mission from Israel to the Nations.) Further comments on this topic are found in Key-Issues: Israel’s History – Why is it unique? click here
3. Israel’s Temporary Replacement
"There was a time when the Gentiles were passed over while God dealt with Israel and now there is a time while Israel is largely passed over as God gathers the full number of his elect from the nations." (2)
Looking back to understand where we are today
Why is it that the Church has understood the Missionary Mandate as if it had been given to the Christian Church in the first place, to the Christian Church alone? Why has the Church adhered to a concept of Salvation History that got stuck in Romans 11:25
ever since as if this verdict applied to all of Israel? The apostle Paul calls it a ‘mystery’ that
"a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."
The Church took that mystery and made a theology of it according to which the Church saw herself as the heir of the promises to the Jews – forgetting the inventory of Jewish properties that Paul had listed in Romans 9:4
(adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the Law, the service and the promises as well as the fathers from whom the Messiah came; in Romans 3:2
he had already begun with that inventory and summed it up as the very ‘oracles of God’ whereof the Jews are the custodians). Perhaps she didn’t forget it but simply adopted it for herself – at least for the time being. The Church thereby deprived the Jews of their identity and their calling even though Paul declares that both their identity and their calling are irrevocable ( Rom 11:29
Paul does not say that the totality of Israel was hardened. He defined it as ‘a partial hardening’ and said that “if they do not continue in their unbelief, (they) will be grafted in ( Rom 11:23
).” The door has never closed. How long have the Gentiles had their time to reach that fullness? Almost 2000 years whatever that ‘fullness’ means. Johannes Gerloff concludes his discussion of its meaning: „Perhaps it [its meaning] is a combination of the quantitative, the qualitative and the chronological possibility.
What is essential is that the hardening of Israel is not final.” (3)
Paul’s reference to ‘fullness’ stands in the context of the salvation of ‘all Israel’, of Israel as a whole nation ( Rom 11:25-26
). God’s word uses the term ‘remnant’ when it speaks about those who believe. Zechariah prophesies an end-time destruction of the nation that will only leave a remnant of one third in the land of Israel ( Zech 12:8
). Gerloff concludes his exegesis of Romans 11:25-26
that with regard to the meaning of the „fullness of the Gentiles“ and of „all Israel,“ we can only speculate:
"What is essential for the apostle Paul is that his non-Jewish readers realize that there is a relationship of cause and effect in terms of Salvation History ...To this very day the spiritual conditions of the non-Jewish nations is directly dependent on the spiritual condition of Israel.“ „In this relationship the Christians are to know their position with regard to Israel and are to fulfill their ongoing mission to the Jewish nation."(4)
Perhaps someone may ask the question: is it not contradictory if Christians are to see a mission to the Jewish nation despite the fact of Israel’s partial hardening? If the concepts of “fullness” and “all Israel” are not necessarily mathematical terms in a western sense, contradictions – for instance where “all Israel” seems to be identical with a ‘rest’ of one third (see Zech 13:8
) - are paradoxes and not errors. The apostle Paul uses the term “mystery” that is beyond our human understanding. What is essential is the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in terms of Salvation History (Heilsgeschichte). Our argument hinges on the fact that Hebrew thinking does not only consist of “either/or” propositions but also of “both/and” – contrary to western logic. We submit that it is most unlikely that the high-priestly prayer of John 17 on behalf of the unity between Jews and Non-Jews was only to apply to the time of some 2000 years after Gethsemane. Jesus knew that some of the Jews would be hardened. The Messiah nevertheless prayed for the oneness of his Jewish and Gentile followers ”that the world may believe” that the Father has sent the Son. It can be shown that the unity of Jews and Gentiles was part of God’s plan of salvation before the foundation of the world and that it was the very capstone of messianic credibility (‘that the world may believe that the Father has sent me’), a unity that would even stun the invisible world ( Eph 3:10-11
). If Paul understands “the mystery of Christ” to be a perfect partnership between Jews and Gentiles as members of the same body ( Eph 3:4-10
), is oneness of the new humanity ( Eph 2:15
) merely an eschatological concept (applying to the far off future) to work out when the time for the Jews will have come again just prior the Messiah’s arrival or is it a goal to pray and work for in spite of Jewish rejection?
Therefore, we must ask: was the hardening of the Jewish majority truly meant to last for almost 2000 years – the so-called Church age – or was the hardening also the result of the Christian anti-Semitism that infiltrated the early Church? Has Israel been assigned to sit in the waiting room – as many evangelicals believe - or is it the Christians for whom God is waiting?
Compared to the rest of the nations, the Church is a remnant also – the believing remnant. Was scattered Jewish majority to be hardened during the many hundreds of years in order that the Gentile remnant should be gathered or was the initial hardening only to last for the time of severance from the missionary perspective inherited from the Older Testament? History tells us that the Gentile Church drove the Jews into the darkness of hundreds of years of rejection that climaxed in the Holocaust. And that rejection has left deep scars.
The reality of Gentile arrogance over the Jewish root is a tragedy of unparalleled historic proportions and the Church today is faced with the legacy of her own past.
It used to be that Israel’s calling as a light to the nations was understood in terms of a geographically fixed “beacon” (Jonah being the exception). Jesus’ Missionary Mandate, the ‘Great Commission’ changed that centripetal to a centrifugal concept.(5)
The Queen of Sheba travelled from Ethiopia to come to see the wisdom of King Solomon and the court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians , visited Jerusalem according to Acts. Yeshua told His talmudim (disciples) to GO INTO ALL THE WORLD…That changed the direction and the Gentiles soon responded to the message in greater numbers than the Jews. “Salvation is from the Jews” – yet not in a centripetal sense anymore. Both, Jews and Gentiles should have carried the light that emanates from Zion/Jerusalem to the end of the earth. The leading Jews of the Sanhedrin had excommunicated the Messianic minority and not long after the Christian Church followed suit.
Israel has been back on the world scene since 1948 and during the last 30 years Messianic Jewish congregations have been formed not unlike the first ones from of old consisting of Jews and Non-Jews quite often with a majority of Non-Jews but always under the leadership of Jews. One would assume that 50 years after the reappearance of the State of Israel it is high time to take a fresh look at the Great Commission in light of the rapidly advancing “End Time.” When the post-war missions mushroomed in Europe and America there was much debate about whether to focus on the cities or on the ethnic minorities. With the focus on the “lost people groups” missionary thinking was preoccupied with the defense against opposition from those who accused missions of destroying cultures. Now we hear of the boomeranging effects of missions in reverse. So called “Indigenous missions” are sending forth their own missionaries and even to those countries from whom mission work started. Yet in all these years since the birth of the nation of Israel in 1948 with all the missions concentrating on the Jews and on Israel itself there has hardly been a publication on a fresh understanding of missions in a time when Messianic Judaism reappeared. The Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelism expressed the need to preserve Jewish identity in these terms:
"we believe that the core of Jewish identity is tied to a purpose and a divine calling that is fulfilled only in Yeshua—to be reconciled to God and to be a light to the nations for his glory"
"As Jews and Gentiles united by faith in Yeshua, we recognize the right of Jewish believers in Yeshua to maintain a recognizable Jewish identity and to communicate faith in the Messiah to Jews and Gentiles alike"
but this gathering even at the end of the second millennium did not come out with any statement that would have indicated that this Jewish identity is part of a Salvation History that needs to be restored and seen in its worldwide significance in the face of the Messianic Jewish awakening and the determination of Israel’s enemies to prepare her a second holocaust.(6)
Why have the 30 years of the existence of “Lausanne” not indicated at least to the members of its ‘Jewish Consultation’ that Gentile-Jewish relationship is more than evangelizing the Jews (which has been going on ever since), more than reconciliation and recognition of the Jewishness of the Gospel, and more than “to respect and affirm the Jewish identity of Messianic believers, whether they worship in traditional churches or Messianic congregations.” Hopefully, the next “Lausanne” on ‘Jewish Evangelism’ in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania April/2006 will address these issues.(7)
The prophetic clock is moving forward. Globalization and the spread of cultural pluralism with its post-modern philosophy that denies all absolutes and everyone deciding what is truth for him-or herself are pointing to the rise of a coming world government and an end-time world-religion. However one wants to prove that advancement of that clock, be it by the accumulation and the co-occurrence of the signs of the time or by missionary developments, there is a widespread sense that we are much closer to His coming “than when we first believed.” The Chinese Underground Church is gearing up to bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem - across the most closed nations worshipping the gods of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. That message once travelled from Jerusalem across the silk-road to China. The Chinese have received from God the vision to be part of those that complete the task.(8) At the same time, Israel’s enemies have raised their heads for “the final solution” of the Jewish problem. The synchronicity of these two events cannot be overemphasized. Will the suffering of missionaries to those nations that are captured by the spirit of Antichrist be as great as the birth-pangs of Jacob is to Israel as a suffering nation? Are the two sufferings proportionate to one another? With great sufferings will come great joy, but first we must ask: Is our failure to reach the suffering in the nations held in the bondage of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism related to our lack of support for Israel in her time of need? There are publications that see this danger in apocalyptic proportions. Anti-Semitism is rising to an alarming extent. A Christian Coalition for Israel has opened an office at the European Union in Brussels to defend Israel’s right of existence. On the other hand, the EU on Rosh Hashanah 2005/5766 decided to negotiate the acceptance of Turkey as a full member by the year 2015 or 2020. This year even the newly formed Sanhedrin apparently mirroring the 70 elders that prophesied at the Sinai under Moses, elected their own president.
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4. The Concept of a Theological View of History
For many believers, Jewish involvement in world missions belongs to an eschatological phase of history. Yet the need to reconsider the Great Commission has deeper roots than just eschatological developments. The signs indicating that the time of the ‘restoration of all things’ has advanced are part of a larger concept called Salvation History or in larger terms a theological, biblical view of history. For this reason, the observation that the Holy Spirit is continuing to take away the veil from an increasing number of Jewish people is more important than just eschatological considerations. In view of the lack of inclusion of Israel and the Jews from missionary thinking, it seems to be necessary to call the prevalent Salvation History into question. It is interesting to note that the so-called Lausanne Covenant of the 1974 World Congress of Evangelism (the first one after Billy Graham had initiated the Berlin Conference in 1966) made no reference to Israel nor to the fact that the God of history is pursuing a Plan of Salvation for both Jews and Gentiles. The focus of Lausanne was on evangelizing the nations. Jewish evangelism is listed as the last of the 31 special issues that the Congress assigned to various action groups, ‘Issue Group’ IG#31. This is not to say that the Congress suffered from Replacement Theology (RT) as such but the question needs to be asked why Jewish Evangelism was not designated as ‘Issue Group’ #1. The fact is that many evangelical churches still adhere to a variety of – partial or total – Replacement Theology (RT) – not to talk about the mainline denominational Churches under the World Council of Churches in Geneva. RT is a heresy whose origin and history has been described elsewhere.(9)
The Great Commission was given to the Jews in the first place and to Jews and Gentiles alike by implication. Jews and Gentiles have worked together ever since but less in recognition of God’s plan of redemption than in order to increase the number of the missionary personnel. The Jews have participated as Jewish Christians, as members assimilated and integratedin Christian Churches and not as members of God’s chosen nation with an awareness of their special role and function in God’s plan.
The evangelical understanding that the time for the Jews will only have come when the curtain drops and the Messiah/Christ appears on the world stage for the second time cannot be right. It needs to be noted that the prophesied return of the Jews on the stage of salvation history is paralleled by the partial apostasy of the church as it aligns with the spirit of antichrist in the nations against Israel and by the refining preparation of the “Bride.” Did the Father not prepare the world scene for the first coming of His Son? Would He not do the same for His second coming? Yes, he will come ‘like a thief in the night’ (no contradiction!) but the night is a process. Will His coming be a ‘big bang’ affair? History consists of changes or (birth-) processes with overlaps in the course of time that may need to be measured in decenniums rather than days or years. These developments may be sequential and simultaneous depending on how they fit into God’s plan, the History of Salvation.(10)
The return of Israel as a nation and the growth of the Messianic Branch indicate that we are in a time of transition. Is it not reminiscent of Ezekiel 37 (the chapter about the dry bones)? Messianic Judaism is uncertain whether Luke 21:24
(… until the times of the Nations are fulfilled ) is to be associated with 1967 (six-day war), with the proclamation of 1980 that Jerusalem is united under Israeli sovereignty, or whether it is still to be considered as ‘trampled under the Gentiles’ because of the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem under Moslem control. That fact at least appears to confirm that history is in a phase of overlap. Who knows how far away we are from “the full number of the elect out of the nations?”( Rom 11:25
). We repeat the question: are we certain that “the hardening” of the Jewish majority for almost 2000 years – the so-called Church age - is not the result of Christian anti-Semitism that infiltrated the Church due to the Church’s pride and arrogance clearly addressed in Romans 11 rather than Jewish stubbornness or even God’s initiative?
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5. About the Jewish Stubbornness
Then and NowHow much of today’s “hardening” is the result of the Church’s ‘Replacement Theology’ – whether in its temporary or definitive variants - of Christian and secular anti-Semitism and can therefore no longer be explained with Jewish stubbornness or with ‘God’s Sovereignty?’ We believe that the time has come for all believing Christians to pray for the return of the Jews, both in the geographical as well as the spiritual sense. The time of the nations is coming to an end and the time of the Jews has begun.
John Piper in his book on Missions ‘Let the Nations Be Glad – The Supremacy of God in Missions” devotes a section to the interpretation of the apostle Paul’s expression “The times of ignorance” in his sermon to the Greek philosophers on the Areopagus:
"Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent," ( Acts 17:30
Supported by Calvin regarding God’s non-intervention in Israel’s waywardness in Israel’s history Piper declares: “It means that for generations God did not intervene to overcome this disobedience, but for his own wise purposes ‘allowed the nations to walk in their own ways’ – and allowed his own nation to walk in the disobedience of missionary indifference.
God’s ways are not our ways. Even today we live in a similar time of ‘hardening’ – only now the tables are turned, and it is Israel that is passed over for a season.” (11)
The question is, can Piper’s Calvinist argument be simply extended into the present time? There is a parallelism of disobedience: once it was Israel, then it was the church. Romans 11
supports this view where the apostle Paul addresses the Christians in Rome concerning their Jewish brethren:
(… for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.)
For just as you [Roman Christians] once were disobedient to God [see Romans 1:18-32], but now have been shown mercy because of their [the Jews’] disobedience, so these [Jews] also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you [Roman Christians] they also may now [!!!] be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. ( Rom 11:29-32
Who would dare argue with the apostle Paul’s conclusion of a parallelism [between Jews and Non-Jews] of disobedience under “God’s sovereign decision”!
Paul is confident that in the end “all will be saved.” We need to ask some questions:
If because of its partial hardening Israel is passed over for a season, how long is that season to last? Will it last till the moment when “all will be saved,” when the Messiah returns? The answer is ‘ until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.’ If joint evangelism is in God’s plan as we believe it is, the Jews will need to be brought in and join the battle. There will have to be a time of transition between what some call the Church age and the time when God sets up the stage for the end when both Jews and Gentiles in Messiah will have to join hand in hand to fulfill the Missionary Mandate.
Is the reason for the hardening that lasted till this day because Israel is passed over for a season? It would be foolish to think that man knows the answer of a plan that was conceived before the foundation of the world. The reason is “a mystery” that opened the door for the Gentiles to come in. Also, we may surmise that since Israel in its failures and sinfulness is representative of mankind as a whole, it was a hardening of the human race that led God to select a chosen nation in the first place. He needed a nation to reach all the other nations. Yet this chosen nation alone could not complete this mandate for the whole race until Christ, the Son of God was born in their midst. Hence the initial centripetal thrust and the change after Christ to a centrifugal missionary outreach. The suffering, death and rejection of Christ would have taken place in any nation He had chosen to appear. In conclusion then: in effect He was rejected by all nations.
Who is responsible for the hardening of the Jews after their dispersion in A.D. 70? Largely, Replacement Theology with all its consequences is responsible. If Israel’s hardening had continued to be “God’s sovereign decision” the argument with the “Sovereignty of God” could turn into an excuse for the false attitude of the Church toward the Jews, for its anti-Semitism. Yet God’s sovereignty does not annul man’s responsibility ( Acts 3:13-20
). If God’s sovereignty in Paul’s time hardened the Jews, the following almost two thousand years were marked by the arrogant sovereignty of the Church rather than by the sovereignty of God.
If one still maintains that it was God’s sovereignty, Replacement Theology must be considered a “tool” that God needed – but a “a tool for what purpose?” In Paul’s time the stubbornness of the Jews served to open the door for the non-Jews. Since then, many non-Jews have long entered the kingdom and have taken up the call for Mission and Evangelism. It follows that the stubbornness of old no longer serves its initial purpose. To overstate the case: the reason for the veil before their eyes – that the Gospel may go to the nations – is no longer valid, for as Paul says to the Corinthians: “ But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” ( 2Cor 3:15-16
) and to the Romans; “if they do not continue in their unbelief, (they) will be grafted in (Romans 11:23
) and “ they also may NOW [!!!] be shown mercy ( Romans 11:32
Having stated all this, we are still left with the paradox expressed by this prophetic statement: “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” ( Romans 11:25
) Considering Israel’s disobedience throughout its history, has Israel as a nation ever been different since David’s kingdom? Have the other nations never shown any partial hardening as well? The purpose of this statement as we have shown above is to underline the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation. (See 3. Israel’s Temporary Replacement: Looking back to understand where we are today)
What was and is supposed to happen between the Letter to the Romans and the return of the Messiah when “all will be saved,” between Paul’s time and when “ the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”? What causes even the partial hardening to end? We do not know what percentage Paul meant by his term ‘partial.’ He must have been aware of Israel’s track record and of Zechariah’s apocalyptic warning that 2/3 of the nation will perish on the mountains of Israel, (a statement reminiscent of a similar warning in Rev 9 that one third of mankind would perish before the Messiah’s return).
The case seems to be clear: what has happened cannot be undone. It once took the Church over a thousand years to take the Missionary Mandate seriously, at least to some extent. Christian missions have made progress since World War II. Is it not time now for the church to abandon the historic fixation on the “hardening” as if it had been meant to be total, or as if it were a justification for replacement, and to embrace God’s plan of salvation with the result that the church will put the Jews back into place? If the church does not respond to the original mandate – Jews and Gentiles together in Messiah, it is in danger of arrogance, hypocrisy and even apostasy. If the Jews still wear a veil, the church wears one as well.
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6. A fresh look under changed conditions
The world has changed to an extent that a deeper understanding of missions is needed. Israel is back on stage. The Great Commission was given to the Jews in the first place. The primitive Church, the messianic Jews of the time of the Apostles carried their mission forward ‘beginning in Jerusalem.’ In Acts 10
the non-Jews were incorporated or rather ‘grafted’ into the original trunk of what the Apostle Paul calls ‘the olive tree.’ (Romans 11). With the growth of the number of Gentile Christians the messianic Jews were outnumbered. The increasingly anti-Semitic Church alienated and drove out the Jews through the decisions of successive Church Councils. Mission work began with the monastic movement in the Middle Ages. It was not until the Revivals of the 17 th/18 th century that the Great Commission was remembered and revived (Pietism). The Moravian Brethren who were the first on the Evangelical side even targeted Israel with their Mission work yet the time had not come to see the Jews as the original recipients of the Great Commission. Until the reappearance of the Messianic Jews as congregations in their own right, the remnant of the Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah was integrated and assimilated in the Christian Church. The Consultation on World Evangelization in Pattaya, Thailand, in 1980 held a ‘Mini-Consultation on Reaching the Jewish people’ and published a 20-page report called “Christian Witness to the Jewish people.” In its section on “Why go to the Jews,” the sub-plenary group of this Conference adopted an excellent first step in trying to define an evangelical position. It concedes to the Jews “a special place in the Church’s outreach:”
First, God has used the Jewish people to give the Christian the way of salvation. Secondly, the Jewish people have a prior and continuing covenant relationship with God ( Jeremiah 31:31; Isaiah 49:6
). Part of that covenanted responsibility involves their being a light to the world. Jews, however, cannot perfectly fulfill that responsibility without Christ. Thirdly, Paul anticipated the turning of Jews to Christ which would have a life-giving impact on the entire church.
There is, therefore, a great responsibility laid upon the church to share Christ with the Jewish people. This is not to imply that Jewish evangelism is more important in the sight of God, or that those involved in Jewish evangelism have a higher calling. We observe that the practical application of the scriptural priority is difficult to understand and apply. We do not suggest that there should be a radical application of "to the Jew first" in calling on all the evangelists, missionaries, and Christians to seek out the Jews within their sphere of witness before speaking to non-Jews! Yet we do call the church to restore ministry among this covenanted people of God to its biblical place in its strategy of world evangelization.(12)
There seems to be a certain ambiguity with regard to a full recognition of the role of Israel in God’s plan of salvation when we read that “ We observe that the practical application of the scriptural priority is difficult to understand and apply.” Is it the priority that is difficult to understand or is it merely how this priority is to be applied? The reason for it may well be the fact that evangelicals are divided in what they understand by a theological view of history or specifically God’s plan of salvation for Israel and the Church:
There exist among evangelicals different opinions as to the interpretation of Old and New Testament prophetic texts with regard to the prophecies concerning the nation and land of Israel. Whereas some of us are hesitant to speak about the fulfillment of specific prophecies with regard to the establishment of the State of Israel, others are convinced and believe that various Old and New Testament prophecies still await further fulfillment in the restoration of the National Israel and of the fullness of the Messianic Kingdom. A third opinion among us is that it is not necessary to give these prophetic texts an exclusive application to either ethnic Israel or the church, and that it does not detract from the reality of the promise to apply it both to the church and to the Jewish people in their homeland.(13)
This lack of unity among Evangelicals or among Messianic Jews reflects the need for a new orientation. While these papers contain an enormous amount of excellent formulations of biblical truth, they do not seem to contain a clear indication of a fresh understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation. Much of this material is more concerned with defending the need for Jewish evangelism rather than with an apologetics that would show how this work fits into a theology of history. Is this due to a reluctance of the Church to concede Israel its biblically rightful place as the older brother, as the trunk into which the Church needs to be grafted? Can we assume that it is not only the Messianic Jewish movement that undergoes a birth process? May we consider that it is also the Evangelical movement that has its birth pangs when it sheds its traditional perspectives of working with ‘minority groups’ in the case of Jewish Evangelism? This is why these papers combine divided opinions on the same pages.
While a part of Israel continues to reject God's Messiah, yet it is God's will that the church reach the remnant of Israel in every generation until the day when "all Israel will be saved." ( Romans 11:26
We therefore call upon the church to labor for the re-gathering, of these natural branches into the olive tree, the covenantal fellowship with God in the Messiah, through faith in Christ and through the seal of the new covenant, which is baptism. (14)
While Jews are rightly seen as the first recipients of God’s Mandate their evangelization does not seem to be primarily motivated by the vision of making them jealous to get them re-established as ‘the light of the nations’ and thus to assume their co-responsibility for world evangelism.
Mission work among Jews outside and inside Israel was practically work among minority groups like any other. Salvation history until today is largely based on the belief that God has set the Jews aside until the fullness of the Gentiles will have come in – if the Jews are given any prophetic significance at all.(15)
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7. David Stern’s Call for a New Approach
It was David Stern, translator of the CJB and author of the JNT-Commentary, who called attention to the need of a different mission strategy when it came to reaching the Jews with the Gospel. Based on the difference between a sociologically and a theologically defined understanding of the Jews, Stern called for a fourth type of Evangelism as far as Jews are concerned. In his book ‘Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel’ (pp. 12ff, 1998) (condensed from the ‘Messianic Jewish Manifesto’ pp. 248ff) he defined Evangelism Type IV as ‘not a Gentilized Gospel contextualized for Jews, but a restoration of the Jewishness which is in fact present in the Gospel but which has become obscured.” Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel in Sterns view means calling attention ‘to aspects of the Gospel which would have been evident to first-century believers but which centuries of neglect have hidden from view.” He then deals with Israel, the Jewish people and the Church and introduces his ‘Olive Tree theology’ based on Romans 11.
Contextualization may still be needed in order to restore the Jewishness of the Gospel if one takes into account that there are many kinds of Jews as the Pattaya Conference paper LOP No. 60 shows:
“ There is a diversity of religious expressions amongst Jews. Some follow Orthodox, Conservative, Liberal [Reform] and Reconstructionist, Humanistic or Hassidic forms of Judaism while others identify as secularists, agnostics or atheists. Contemporary Jewry has also embraced alternative religious forms in Kabbalah (mystical Judaism), New Age, a form of Jewish Buddhism and Jewish Hinduism.” (16)
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8. Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel also implies a Revised Understanding of the Missionary Mandate
The Lausanne Covenant (1974) not only omits any reference to the Jewishness of the Gospel but it also fails to mention the importance of unity between Jews and Gentiles that embrace Jesus Christ / Yeshua HaMashiah. Eschatology is confined to the “lowest common gender,” the Second Coming, the New Heaven and the new Earth. Jewish Evangelism according to the various papers of the Consultation for Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) is obviously seen as a responsibility even if Evangelicals who see themselves called to it still adhere to Replacement Theology or its variants. None of the LCJE statements explicitly discusses the historic error of RT. “Paul did not describe the Church as having replaced Israel in God’s salvation history” is about the boldest statement allowed for that topic. The only section dealing with it enumerates “Other Forms of Replacement” such as the replacement of evangelical mission among Jews by other preoccupations: dialogue, aid and compassion, political and financial support of the State of Israel, the future of Israel in God’s plan of salvation, or the loving quality of communal life. These forms of RT (!) the statement says “are just as harmful to the cause of Christian outreach to Jewish people as other forms of replacement theology have been for the church’s appreciation of Israel’s place in salvation history.” This statement points out the basic weakness resulting from the LCJE’s need to find the lowest common gender to be acceptable to the whole spectrum of participants.
This tension is brought openly to the surface in the Thailand report of 2004 in its section on ‘Messianic Jews and Prophecy:’
“ A variety of prophetic expectations and political opinions are found, but there is no united view on the principles of biblical interpretation, let alone how the biblical data meshes with contemporary events.”(17)
One might ask: Is this any different from what would be found in Christian churches? The frequent use of ‘some’/’others’, ‘many,’ ‘one’ etc. is certainly an indication that the Lausanne papers attempt to be objective. At the same time, one wonders what is the intention behind this report. Are we reading a political statement or an evangelical view of mission to the Jews? Its section on Eschatology begins in this same style: “ Evangelicals have different interpretations of Old and New Testament prophetic texts concerning the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
Some…Others…Some…Others…” Then we read “Christians must note that the land promised to Abraham is today the home for both Jewish and Arab peoples. Any view of future outcomes that does not respect the present inhabitants or fails to see them as precious in the sight of God is at risk of being unchristian.” May we ask: Is the problem the fact that there is an Arab population that need to be fitted into a vision of the future or the deplorable absence of a biblical view of Salvation history? Jewish Evangelism seems to be used to propagate a subtle temporal RT that demands that the Jews refrain from making any claims on their land: “The promised land of the Bible is the home today of both Jews and Arabs.” Jews and Christians are obviously expected to see the conflict as a matter of equivalence in complete blindness to the fact that the real problem is the agenda of an Arab population that is Muslim seeking the total annihilation of Israel as a nation. “A commitment to both outreaches prevents polarization within the body of Christ” – if this is the final word on Jewish and Muslim Evangelism it also prevents Christians and Jews from an awareness of a theological view of History, the view that sets its vision on a World Evangelism according to the original mandate that was given to the Jews AND the Gentiles by implication. Should the Church not recognize that World Evangelism (including Muslim Evangelism) is not going to succeed without the cooperation of Messianic Judaism and that Jewish Evangelism is not going to succeed without getting God’s priorities back into place – recognizing the strategy of God’s enemy to destroy the only credible witness to God’s covenant keeping faithfulness – the Chosen People, the Jews? The counter-strategy therefore must be the Church’s all-out engagement in the battle to see the Jews returning to their God-given identity, to see the Jews enter into their heritage. It will be “life from the dead.” When that happens the Missionary Mandate will have been restored.
There is no alternative to that restoration. There are Christians who believe that Jewish-Christian dialogue should lead to a kind of Jewish-Christian cooperation that will heal the world (Tikkun Olam, a truly Jewish concept). Upon careful analysis this kind of cooperation will be found to be mere humanistic philanthropy or humanitarian (humanistic) charity since it is based on three false assumptions,
- that healing is possible outside the Messiah apart from repentance and forgiveness of sin
- that Jews do not need the Messiah since they are saved through their own Covenant. There are no two covenants through which man can be saved. The only saving covenant is the one that was renewed by the Messiah in his own blood. True unity must be based on unity in Him.
- that healing the world when attempted without unity in the Messiah presupposes that the Messiah is a merely human Jewish Rabbi whose teaching was rabbinic but not on the same divine level of the Torah. The fact is that it was Yeshua the Messiah that taught how man must be saved and He said that no one can come to the Father but by Him - which is the reason for His Missionary Mandate: His Gospel should be preached to Jews and Gentiles alike. If total healing could come by man alone, then why was Christ crucified? How could true healing come to the world other than through Him who solved the problem of sin, the very cause that made the world sick. He is THE HEALER - a truth that in German is anchored in His very name: "Heiland" - the one who brings "Heil" or Salvation, the Saviour. Jewish-Chistian dialogue must decide whether it wants to cooperate on a humanist-religious or on a biblical basis."
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9. A six-fold change without which the end cannot be reached
A new missionary understanding that will put the Jews and Israel back into God’s order will require more than evangelism. What is needed in the first place is a biblical relationship between Israel and the Church; relationship characterized by love and respect for one another but much more. At this time of World and Church History with Israel back on the world stage, there are at least six processes that have to take place toward the fulfilment of the missionary mandate or else “the restoration of all things” will not be complete. The Great Commission is given “to the Jews first” and through them to the Non-Jews as well. Enumerating them should help our awareness where traditional missionary thinking is in need of change:
: the Churches need to get reconciled with the Jews, the evangelical Christians with the messianic Jews at the grassroots level and at the leadership level. Equally necessary is the removal of the disunity in the Messianic Branch itself. If this God-ordained unity cannot take place, the historic guilt of Christian anti-Semitism will continue to divide the body of Christ, the Body of Messiah. The testimony of His church will lack credibility before the visible and the invisible world as long as His Body is divided.
: the Christians have to recover the respect for the OT (in recognition of the fact that the Pentateuch or the five books of Moses are the very foundation of the Jewish and of the Christian faith). The Older and the Younger “Testament” are forming a unity in any case that is respected by all messianic Jews. Christians specifically have to respect God’s calling of Israel and His eternal covenant with the Jews as recorded in the OT, including their consequences throughout history until this the present time. Without this double respect, Christians cannot fulfill their own calling with regard to the Jews: to make the Jews “jealous.”
: Since most forms of Judaism (from atheistic to ultra-orthodox) are variations of humanist philosophy Christians may have to do more than to 'witness' to them by word and deed: They will have to persuade Jews of their own identity. This may require an apologetic, target-oriented approach and a compassionate confrontation. Both were Paul’s method. The Church will need to find and promote servants with a quality of understanding, skills and faith that will remove the mountains of prejudices accumulated over hundreds of years of negative experiences with Christians. Unless the Holy Spirit can show the keys to persuade the secular humanist group of Jews, the majority of them will not be won for the messianic side.
: Once the reconciliation and alignment are taking place, the Church will understand God’s plan for Israel and will be able to pray intelligently for the return of those Jews who are meant to make ‘aliyah’ (to immigrate) to their land. Unless the Jews understand why they are called to come out of their assimilation they will not pull up their roots in the countries where they reside. Let the Church encourage the Messianic Jews in particular to return to Israel. The need to return to their own land sooner or later is as clear as the missionary mandate. Aliyah is part of God’s prophetic plan for Israel and implies a commitment to solidarity with those who at the risk of their lives took up the challenge to return to existentially very difficult conditions.
: Accepting the theological insight that Israel as ‘the trunk’ or ‘the root’ is carrying the branches that were grafted in and not the other way round, is going to require a great deal of humility on both sides or else pride and arrogance will perpetuate the status quo. The parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20 and the analogy of the olive tree in Romans 11, both comment on this spiritual requirement.
RECOVERING THE JOINT CALLING
: Israel needs help to find and fulfill her calling not to be like other nations but to be a light to the nations, to evangelize the world in line with the Great Commission that was once taken away from her by an arrogant Christian Church. This must be the higher goal of Jewish evangelism. The Great Commission must be understood in light of what the Hebrew prophets have foreseen hundreds of years before this process began. Did they not indicate the direction that both could have pursued together had the Church fulfilled her calling? If we fail to see this unity as a priority without which world evangelism is not going to reach its goal, Christians will lack the motivation to focus on it and they will likely continue as ever without seeing the breakthrough that is needed for the final thrust. Isaiah 66 confirms that the miracle will happen one day that both, hand in hand, will fulfil the Missionary Mandate.
There is much that could be added under each of these points. We are offering the above for examination and for response. Many organizations have been raised to preoccupy themselves in most of these areas except for the third. That is going to be the most challenging of all and only the Shepherd of Israel will be able to show how Paul’s method is to be handled in today’s context. Jewish identity is a gift of God for a people created to worship the true God and reveal Him to the nations. Humanism will never cut it. Humility, repentance, forgiveness, love, justice, compassion, respect for life, hope of the resurrection and those spiritual values which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit are the only common base from which Judeo-Christian aspirations may be realized. They point to Messiah, not to a mere cardinal system of ethics. The humanists scream peace, but there is no peace. The good for them is merely a matter of education. - May this suffice to cover the span between Matt 28 and Isaiah 66, the initiation of the process and its completion.
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10. Comments on Supporting Documents
Johannes Gerloff in his German book “Accursed and separated from Christ” (Hänssler, 2002) argues that it is God that hardened the hearts of the Jews. One is tempted to think of Pharaoh’s case. In private correspondence the author admitted that he used to believe that Pharaoh during the first five plagues did the hardening himself upon which God during the final five plagues did the hardening as a consequence of Pharaoh’s own initial hardening. This view, according to Gerloff cannot be maintained if Scripture as a whole is being considered. And indeed, Peter in his sermon in Acts informs his Jewish audience that the Jews had killed Jesus but that God had foreordained it. (See 5. About Jewish Stubbornness) For us this is paradox - if not downright contradictory - but for the disciples in their day both, human responsibility and divine providence, are part of Hebrew thinking. This is not a question of either/or but of both/and.
In his exegesis of Romans 9-11
, Gerloff (see his summary below) demonstrates that in all his apostolic work, according to Paul’s missionary principle “to the Jews first”, the Jewish nation was the target and the purpose of the apostle’s mission – even though he was the missionary to the non-Jews. To understand Paul’s principle one has to read Romans 9-11 in which the apostle argues that he sought to make Israel jealous. “A theology of missions that ignores the Biblical distinction between Israel and the nations and merely holds Paul’s reference to the special heritage of the Jews in his testimony to Israel to be a variety of ‘contextualization of the Gospel’ is a theology in danger of aligning itself with ‘Moab and Seir’ who said: “Behold, the house of Judah is like the nations,” ( Ezekiel 25:8
). “To provoke Israel to jealousy is the foundational calling of the Church of Jesus in relation to Israel.” (Gerloff, Verflucht und von Christus getrennt, pp. 108, 116). If the apostle felt he would have preferred being accursed and separated from Christ, if thereby he could have made Israel turn to her Messiah, can one go wrong in claiming that the desperate need to save Israel was Paul’s powerful motive to evangelize the Gentiles? If this is true, is there any reason why what was true almost 2000 years ago should no longer be true today?
There is a functional difference between the two callings, the calling of Israel and the calling of the Church. The function of the Church is to make the Jews jealous. The function of Israel is to be a light to the nations. If the Jews find reason to get jealous of the Church they will discover their calling and distinct identity. The only way they can be provoked to jealousy, is modelling the Jewish Christ. It results not just in their recognition of the Messiah, but their willingness to give their life to Him for the nations. This does not negate the church's role in cooperating with Israel in bringing the light to the nations through partnership in the fulfilment of the Great Commission. Rather, it facilitates it. Is it not this that is going to mean “life from the dead?”
To conclude the argument for the need of a new understanding of missions in light of the emerging Messianic Branch among the Jews we are offering some pertinent articles to stimulate discussion and to contribute to the needed paradigm shift in missionary thinking:
A) Johannes Gerloff’s summary of the above mentioned book about Romans 9-11
. He argues that:
- Paul shows “how salvation was able to come to the heathen only through the stumbling of Israel”,
“the Church is spiritually dependent on the Jewish people” (Olive Tree analogy) and that the
spiritual condition of the Gentiles depends directly on the spiritual condition of Israel – yesterday, today and in the future.”
- “the spiritual future of the non-Jewish world is also directly connected with the spiritual condition of the Jewish people“
- The author’s conclusion is that “it is important that we as the Church of Jesus fulfill our Biblical commission regarding the Jewish people.”
B) Gavriel Gefen’s testimony “Restoring Mission from Israel to the Nations
.” This is the author’s personal testimony how God led him as a Messianic Jew to found the first Missionary organization in Israel, Keren HaShlichut. It is an example of the practical outworking of the above presentation, even though the two documents, Gefen’s and ours were produced independently from each other: The call for Jews from Israel to take up the Great Commission; how Jews are being called to the nations; “Our aim is to see Israelis in bringing the Word of the Lord to the very last tribal and language groups that we might help to complete the task that was originally given to our people.”
This article was published in the International Journal of Frontier Missions in 2004. Both articles are hereby presented with their author’s consent and are under their respective copyright.
We join the two authors in their invitation for comments and contributions in order to get this discussion going about the Exegesis of Romans 9-11
and its practical applications as Keren HaShlichut exemplifies it.
Johannes Gerloff’s article is the summary of his book on the most important Biblical text for any discussion of our article itself. ( Click here
Gavriel Gefen’s article and website is a first concrete example of what our Key-Issue is about in practical terms.
God is calling Jews to have a part in Old Testament translation in the nations.)
Apart from completing the task of Bible Translation, the vision of the Chinese Christians (see “The Heavenly Man
,” a Biography written by Brother Yun/Paul Hattaway) may indicate the area where messianic Jewish-Gentile cooperation will be most needed to complete the final chapter of World evangelization. A search of unity in how to restore the Missionary Mandate at the end of times may do well to consider a theological view of history as seen through Chinese eyes:
Brother Yun mentions in his book that the gospel must be "advanced by an army marching humbly on its knees." What this entails is in his words, "a gospel of action, not a gospel of self-preservation. The pursuit of doctrinal purity in and of itself [which has given rise to denominationalism] only results in legalistic bondage if you have no intention of also obeying God's command to proclaim the gospel throughout the earth." (Back to Jerusalem, 2003, p. 127) He also advocates that we never pray against any government or call down curses on it, regardless of its opposition to the faith and persecution of believers.
"That is why I correct Western Christians who tell me: 'I've been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.' This is not what we pray! ... Instead, we have learned that God is in control of both our own lives, and the government we live under. Isaiah, prophesied about Jesus, "the government will be on his shoulders" (Isa 9:6). Instead of focusing our prayers against any political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God." (ibid. p. 57)
Brother Yun then asks that even when imprisoned, we should pray that the workers be released after God's purposes for the stay in prison be fulfilled, i.e. in God's timing. Greater numbers have come to faith through imprisonment and in times of persecution than through the most organized mission plans with all safety precautions taken. We are to discern to what extent imprisonment or persecution is the devil's attempt to hinder the Great Commission and to what extent it is God's effort to birth, prepare and train an army of disciples and missionaries willing to take the gospel boldly in the darkest parts of the earth. Of course, this does not mean that all efforts to put pressure on governments that imprison dissidents should stop, but opposition must be expected and it is doomed to fail. History shows that when opposition does its worst, the most and best fruit is released. Brother Yun goes on to say, "The devil doesn't care if you have your own plan or vision. But when there is vision that comes from the throne of God, there will be fierce opposition." So what matters most is that "those whom the Lord calls can clearly discern God's heart and desires." (ibid. p. 111) This clearly puts the burden of missions on the missionaries themselves and not on the spectators who pontificate far from the battle zones. It also indicts the churches in the more affluent countries that have become social clubs and lost the missionary vision, thus missing the calling. It helps to remember that the work of the church is not done by a few "qualified individuals", but by millions who love the Lord Jesus and have a passion to reach the lost for him. This passion is motivated by love, while the seeds of complacency, disunity and indifference quench it. Sleeping churches are without opposition, but they are cold, hardened, and dying churches. They tend to focus on Satan's replacement theology, and are in danger of falling under the lie that their enemy is not sinfulness, but Israel and the Jews (the anti-Semitic scapegoat). Israel as a secular and unbelieving nation is not unlike all the other nations which are also primarily secular and unbelieving, therefore the nation of Israel is not the number one enemy of the world. We should not pray against it or reason away its right to the land. We should thankfully accept the fact that it exists in light of its history of great suffering. We should advance God's heart and purpose for Israel in Messiah Yeshua, by including scattered and re-gathered Israel in the Great Commission and cooperating with the re-grafted Messianic Jewish remnant. It seems that the hardening of governmental authorities or a nation calls for the equal hardening of our resolve to spread the gospel, endure its opposition and pray for those that persecute us, and THIS IS EQUALLY TRUE CONCERNING ISRAEL. Woe to us if we fail to discern the heart of God in this.
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11. Appendix: The Missionary Mandate – JEWISH EVANGELISM as the LAUSANNE COMMITTEE FOR WORLD EVANGELIZATION sees it.
The International Congress of World Evangelism , (The Lausanne Congress, ‘Lausanne’ in short) produced the ‘Lausanne Covenant’, a statement on World Evangelism signed by some 2,300 members at the 1974 Conference. In the following year The Lausanne Committee was formed. The ‘Covenant’ statement neither deals with Jewish Evangelism nor mentions it. The Committee singled out 31 subjects for special ‘consultations’ that produced their statements throughout successive gatherings. We thankfully recommend the statements dealing with Jewish Evangelism for all who are interested in seeing the Missionary Mandate restored. Nevertheless, some general observations concerning the premium attributed to Jewish Evangelism in the Lausanne context up to this point may be permitted.
The first of the two most informative papers is the one produced in June 1980 in Thailand (Pattaya) by the Issue Group 31, ‘Reaching Jewish People with the Gospel.’ LOP#7 (18)
The second substantial paper was published more than 20 years later under IG 31 again in Thailand/Pattaya, in 2004 as LOP#60, “Jewish Evangelism, A call to the Church.” (19)
IG31 was the “smallest of the Issue Groups at the 2004 Forum” and we must add, it also was the last of the 31 work groups that was set up: Jewish Evangelism. Nevertheless it was one of the first ones to be published: Lausanne Occasional Papers, LOP #60. By Lausanne’s definition, LOPs are considered to be of historical importance. It needs to be noted that the Forum “does not necessarily endorse every viewpoint expressed in these papers.” Of the seven authors of LOP#60 four represented ‘Jews for Jesus’(20)
and three were Christians from Lutheran Churches (two from Denmark and one from Norway.(21)
We may not be totally wrong in concluding that 7 out of 1,530 participants and a representation of 3 out of 130 countries do not allow the conclusion that Jewish Evangelism was a top concern at this conference. The papers of the other conferences seem to give a similar impression. Every one of the six conferences between 1980 and 2004 produced at least a one page statement reflecting the historic changes that took place at the end of the millennium. In terms of missionary vision there appeared to be no substantial change. The second was published in 1983 (Newmarket, UK), the third in 1986 (Easneye, UK), The Willowbank Declaration (22)
, 8pp, indicating a broader participation was published in 1989 as part of the second International Congress on World Evangelization (Manila), the forth in 1991 (Zeist, NL), the fifth in 1995 (Jerusalem), the sixth in 1999 (Hofstra University, Long Island, New York)(23) , the seventh in 2003 (Helsinki).
On March 28, 2008, The World Evangelical Alliance published "An Evangelical Statement: The Gospel and The Jewish People."
This short document makes no mention of preceding papers. It seems to have been generated by the need to confess the Church's historic failure to stand with the Jewish people and to reject Dual Covenant Theology. The statement fails to indicate that the Church recognizes the central role of the Jewish people in Salvation History in terms past, present and future.
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(1) John Piper, Let the Nations be Glad, The Supremacy of God in Missions, Baker Books 1993, 13 th printing 2002. p. 137 and 201 lists the following passages that relate to the missionary vision including ‘all nations’ Genesis: 12:2-3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Ps 48:2; Ps 67; 71:11, 17; 81:8; 85:9: 116:1; Isa 2:2; 25:7; 52:10; 56:7; 61:11; 66:18-20 (numbering as in LXX?)
(2) op.cit., p. 137.
(3) Johannes Gerloff, “Verflucht und von Christus getrennt. Israel and the Nations. A Study on Romans 9-11. Hänssler Verlag. 2002. p. 191. www.haenssler.de
(4) id. S. 195/197
(5) See George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions, Moody Press, Chicago, 1972, p. 21. It needs to be noted that Peters in 1972 does not deal with the implications of Romans 9-11.
(6) Restoration of Salvation History in the sense of defining the worldwide significance of God’s election of Israel, its identity and function and the biblical relationship between Jews and Gentiles, between Israel and the Church. The fact that secular society begins to ridicule and attack the American Right because of the influence that this plan – as rudimentary as it may be - has on American foreign politics is an indication that the restoration of this Mandate is urgently needed. For the 1999 meeting see: http://www.lausanne.org/Brix?pageID=14835
(7) http://www.lcje.net/ For a review of the Lausanne Covenant and the papers of the Lausanne consultations on Jewish Evangelism see the appendix to this article.
(8) Back to Jerusalem, Paul Hattaway, Yun, Peter Xu Yongze and Enoch Wang, 2003, Piquant, Carlisle/UK
(9) The effects of RT even in its moderate temporary variant has had a blinding effect on the Theology of Missions as can easily be shown in John Piper’s highly influential book ‘Let the Nations be Glad.’ His parable of the two sinking ocean liners says it all. There are no Jews on either of them. God has set the Jews aside – at least for the time being. (op.cit. pp.168-170 ) In some way, this is understandable since his book concerns the nations. Nevertheless it needs to be noted thatRT has penetrated the Church comparable to an eye disease: the NT is read without awareness of its historic context: John Piper states that Andrew Murray interprets Rom 10:14 “ how will they hear without a preacher? “ in reference to the Jews while Charles Hodge refers it to the Gentiles. Although Piper acknowledges this difference, he uses this passage exclusively as an argument for the mission to the nations (p. 154-157 & p.165). Johannes Gerloff (see 10. Documents) writes “According to my observation, Romans 10:14-21 is the only text in the Holy Scripture addressed to non-Jews that is concerned with the proclamation of the Gospel to Israel.” (p. 96 of his German original.) RT starts with the theologians and is passed on to the preachers. The sum of it is that whatever blessing or promise is addressed to the Jews is read as if it had ever been addressed to the Gentiles. For most Christians – at least in Europe – the Bible is a Christian book. This prevents the biblical understanding of who the Body of Christ, the Body of Messiah is and obscures God’s plan of salvation. – [The Gentile authors of this article confess that they were guilty of this same theft before they realized who is the thief. ]
(10) Luke 21:24 ‘Jerusalem will be trampled on by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.' See the Article ‘Reflections on the meaning of History’
(11) op. cit. p. 136-137
(15) See George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions, Moody Press 1972. Peters was a standard work for conservative, evangelical missions. It propagates the conclusion attributed to Paul in Romans 9-10 that “if God has the right to choose Israel from among the nations and set aside the nations, the same God has the right to set aside Israel and chose another nation.” Paul’s arguments of Romans 11 are bypassed except for two brief statements: “God has not totally, absolutely and finally cast away His people and ...restoration is awaiting Israel.” “His love and concern for the Jews never failed.” (p. 152-153)
(17) “ Many Messianic Jews understand the return of their people to the land of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. They hold different views on how the state of Israel should respond in the Middle East conflict. “ “ Among Jewish believers in the Diaspora there is a small but steady flow of those becoming Israeli citizens. The majority of Jewish believers in Jesus still live outside the land and do not believe they are called to immigrate to Israel.”
(20) This observation is not meant to disparage the ministry of JFJ. On the contrary. There seems to be no other mission that has evangelized the Jews more effectively than JFJ. Michael Harvey, one of the authors of LOP#31 writes elsewhere: “ They have been at the fore-front of pioneering new and effective strategies in Jewish evangelism, whilst continuing the rich heritage of Jewish mission work in focusing on person-to-person ministry.” http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/forjewsforjesus/harvey . It is this focus on individual salvation – as necessary as it is – that needs the complement of the larger vision: the salvation of Israel and consequently a restoration of the missionary mandate that does justice to Israel’s calling and identity in God’s plan of salvation.
(21) One of the three Christian authors was Ole Chr. Kvarme , Dean of the Lutheran Church in Oslo, theological consultant of the LCJE. [He was leading the lutheran-adventist consultation in May 1998 in Cartigny, Switzerland, that decided that the Lutheran Church would no longer consider the Seventh-Day Adventists a sect but a ‚Free Church and Christian world-community.’ (http://www.adventgemeinde-altona.de/keine_sekte.htm )
The other two Christian authors, the Danish Lutherans Kai Kjær-Hansen and Bodil F. Skjøtt , had conducted a survey among messianic congregations in Israel between October 1998 and June 1999. Kjaer-Hansen is international Lausanne consultant for Jewish Evangelism and president of the Danish Israel Mission. The Lutheran theologian Skjøtt was secretary to the editor of the Caspari journal ‘Mishkan.’ Their research was published under the Caspari Center for biblical and Jewish studies in Jerusalem, a foreign Institution that belongs to the Lutheran confession of faith. Their study "Facts and Myths about the Messianic Congregations in Israel" according to Johannes Gerloff does not cover the question what messianic congregations in Israel believe about Salvation History. ( http://www.bibelbund.christen.net/htm/99-4-262.htm ) In view of the denominational background of the observers and the problems of inquiries of this nature in a diverse and ever developing messianic movement the publication obviously may not be as reliable as one would like it to be. In how far this publication influenced the LOP#60 of 2004 remains a matter of conjecture.
(22) The Willowbank Declaration (we affirm…/we deny…) contains what is probably the most detailed description of God’s Plan for the Jewish People but falls short of the implications of Paul’s teaching in Romans about the identity and calling of Israel. (http://www.lcje.net/willowbank.html ).
(23) Their Affirmation, JEWISH EVANGELISM ON THE EVE OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM, contains a section on ‘Jewish Identity.’ One could only wish that it were more solidly anchored in the context of Salvation History: http://www.lcje.net/affirmations/newyork1999.html
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