Why Pray for the Jewish People
God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile as far as the way of salvation is concerned. “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13). He does not show partiality (Acts 10:34,35). While we need to pray for all people groups to come into the Kingdom, the Lord has different callings on different nations, just as He has different callings on the lives of individuals, eg prophets, teachers, pastors etc (Eph 4:11).
Scripture attests that God chose the Jews to fulfil a specific purpose (Gen 12:2,3). In part, this was fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah to save us all from our sins. “You shall call His name Jesus [Hebrew = Yeshua] for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). However, if this were the end of the story for the nation of Israel (or the church), we could all be transported to Heaven as soon as we received Jesus as our Saviour. This does not happen, because salvation is not just individual, but the coming of the Kingdom of God involves the destiny of nations (Matt 25:32, Ezek 35:15, Joel 3:12 etc).
The ultimate aim of God’s love for all nations is that “they shall know that I am the Lord”(Joel 3:16,17). To this end, He chose the Jewish people to be a “light to the nations”(Is 42:6) - an instrument and demonstration of that love. He is still waiting for that nation to fulfil its destiny. Only when the Jewish nation is united to its God will that be possible. We can be encouraged by seeing that the Messianic congregations are growing, and that there are more Jews coming to the Lord now than ever in history since Biblical times. The Lord has been faithful to His covenant and kept a remnant to this day. He is once again re-gathering His people so they are an identifiable nation. The work is far from finished, as most of those re-gathered are yet to believe. However, the congregations in Israel are flourishing, despite (or maybe because of) the opposition. The Lord said that He will return to Israel when Jerusalem again welcomes her King, after a period of desolation (Matt 23:37-39).
“O Jerusalem…Behold your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (which is the Hebrew way of saying ‘Welcome’).
The stage is once again being set for an occasion as momentous in history, as the resurrection of Jesus, but it cannot be fulfilled until the Jewish people are ready. This is why praying for the Jewish people is an essential part of preparing the way for the coming Messiah.
The state of events in Israel is also the Lord’s time-clock to measure the times in which we live. God’s measuring stick for the judgement of nations is their attitude towards Israel (Matt 25:32)! By keeping our eyes on Jerusalem, where the Lord will return (Zech 14:3,4), we will be watching and waiting for that Great Day of the Lord.
“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle…The Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle, and on that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the East” (Zech 14:2-4).
THE CALLING OF THE GENTILE CHURCH
Jesus commanded his followers to go and take the gospel of God’s love to the ends of the earth before the end would come (Matt 24:14). This part the church has understood, even if it has not always been very diligent in obeying. Jesus also said that the gospel was to go to the Jew first (Rom 1:16). What has not been clearly understood, is the crucial role the Gentiles must play in making the Jews jealous, so they will want to return to their God. The good news for a Jew is when someone reminds them that “Your God reigns”.
“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation and says to Zion, “Your God reigns””(Is 52:7)
For most of Christian history, we have accepted Israel’s God, claimed Him for ourselves to the exclusion of the Jews, or forced them to convert to Christianity – meaning that they must give up all their Jewish traditions, often to trade them for more pagan-based practices. We have forgotten that Jesus was Jewish and actually kept all those Biblical ‘traditions’. Paul warned us of this arrogance and reminded the Gentiles, that they were only ‘grafted in’ and that although the Jews had been cut off for their unbelief, God was perfectly capable of re-grafting the original branches back in (Rom 11:23,24). It is only a matter of time until God’s prophetic word will be fulfilled (v25,26).
With the ongoing troubles in the Middle East, we see more and more how the central core of the conflict centres on Jerusalem, just as the Biblical prophets said it would in the end times (Zech 12:1-7, 14:1-4, Is 2:1-4, 66:7-23, Micah 4:1-13, Dan 11:36-12:4, Joel 3:12-17). I believe that the promised restoration is a process, not an event. We are fortunate to be living in the days that these prophets longed to see, when the fulfilment has begun. If we are looking for an event, we may miss the mighty things that God is already bringing to pass. One of the aims of the Jewish Prayer Focus is to give us a glimpse into that restoration and encourage us to search the Scriptures and see how they are being fulfilled. As the Lord opens our eyes to see this relationship, He is also inviting us to be a part of this restoration process, through prayer, relationship and practical help. Being a blessing to God’s people, will reap eternal rewards (Gen 12:3, Matt 25:31-45).
WHY CELEBRATE THE FEASTS?
In Leviticus 23 the Lord instituted a Biblical calendar for His people. These Feasts are not called Feasts of the Jews, they are called Feasts of the Lord (Lev 23:4). They are ‘Mo’edim’ or appointed times, set aside by Almighty God in His calendar to meet with us. He awaits our company. What a privilege to be present at His table. The Feasts not only celebrate the agricultural seasons, and past events but each one also has a highly significant prophetic meaning. By participating in these feasts, we remember what has been done for us or what will soon be accomplished. As we will see, God has been 100% consistent with fulfilling the early Feasts in His calendar and we can expect that He will continue to do so. By keeping the Feasts we will be ready for His coming.