The salvation of all Israel is the key to starting the clock on earth’s final global events. It is no wonder, then, that there are countless forces actively working to delay that inevitable day.
Sadly (and arguably), the greatest antagonists toward the work of sharing the Messiah with Jewish people are Jewish people themselves. Especially among the Orthodox, there is such a hatred of Yeshua and His Jewish followers that the ancient practice of oppressing Messianic Jews remains alive and well. We see this oppression especially in the matter of Messianic Jews who desire to make aliyah—to immigrate to Israel.
What Does the Law Say?
Israel’s “Law of Return” says that all Jewish people everywhere may immigrate to Israel, with a legal right to become Israeli citizens. The law was enacted shortly after the modern State was established, and has been amended several times over the years. The most significant change to the Law, where Messianic Jews are concerned, came in 1970, when the Law of Return was amended to exclude Jews who had converted to another religion. So as far as Israel’s Ministry of Interior is concerned, when a Jew believes that Yeshua is the Messiah, he has de facto converted to another religion, and is therefore disqualified from Israeli citizenship. While this was not openly stated in the 1970 amendment, the issue was ultimately brought before the Israeli Supreme Court in 1989, at which time it became a matter of law that Messianic Jews are explicitly barred from legally gaining citizenship in Israel.
An interesting twist in the rulings occurred just a few years ago, however, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of some Messianic Jewish plaintiffs wishing to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that they were not Jewish! How is that supposed to work? Well, since Jewish tradition traces Jewishness through the mother, Messianic Jews whose only Jewish parent is their father are not considered Jews… which means they never converted to a new religion but were born into one, and may therefore return to Israel based solely on their Jewish heritage (at least one Jewish grandparent). The plaintiffs received Israeli citizenship, but in the eyes of the government, would not be considered Jews. Such a ruling is both confusing and insulting. Yes, you can come in, but you’re not truly a Jew!
The newest developments in this ongoing oppression of Messianic Jews have taken place over the course of just the last few months. As a result, the aforementioned ruling for Messianic Jews who are Jewish only through their father has been essentially gutted.
Rejected as Messiah-followers
The first ruling a few months ago concerns a well-known Messianic Jew who is active in “missionary activity” (Jewish evangelism), whose immigration application had been denied. The government made the case that a Messianic Jew is by definition an active missionary to Israeli Jews, and therefore the missionary activity outweighs any right to immigration that one would otherwise be granted through Jewish heritage. Now, Jewish evangelism is against the law in Israel, but only when trying to evangelize minors, or using bribes to coerce a confession of faith. So it is clear that this ruling is not based on the law, but on prejudice against and fear of Jewish believers. This ruling has already been used as precedence in a case as recently as this past June. The immigration laws for Messianic Jews in Israel have clearly been set back.
As it has been the case for decades now, Jewish believers wishing to make aliyah—to immigrate to Israel—must do so outside the boundaries of the law. They must either hope that the immigration office fails to ask them direct questions about their faith, lie on their application or in person if the question of faith is raised, or pray that they will receive approval due to official oversight. The fact of the matter is, the Ministry of Interior and the courts of Israel do not want the influence and presence of Messianic Jews within their borders, and they have finally encoded their contempt for Yeshua into the laws of the Land.
1 Keifa (Peter) 4:14-17a says,
If you are denounced in the Name of Messiah, you are happy, because the Ruach of glory and of God rests on you. Indeed—let none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men’s matters, but if as a Messiah-follower, let him not be ashamed; and let him glorify God in this Name, because now is the time of the beginning of the judgment with the house of God! (MJLT)
Breaking Through the Hatred
Let us pray fervently for the Jewish people of the world, that their hatred for Yeshua would give way to brokenness and the hope to be healed. Let us look forward with anticipation to the inevitable Day when all Israel will be saved, and we will see our Master’s triumphant return!