With the recent war in Israel, the clash between Arabs and Jews in the region is once again a hot button issue. While many onlookers on both sides continue to rail against one another, this time, the conflict has also spilled over into cities around the world, with anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence ticking up to even more dangerous levels than before. Given the abundance of misinformation, false accusations and questions surrounding this explosive topic, here are some facts about the tumultuous history of the holy land, and how this recent bout between Israel and the Palestinians got started.
A recent exchange on social media highlighted a shifting view of Yeshua/Jesus among the Jewish people—a change that can both encourage us and remind us to be ever-vigilant.
As you may know, Linda Sarsour is a first-generation Palestinian-American political activist. Formerly the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, she was co-chair of the 2019 Women’s March until the organization recently broke ties with her over her anti-Semitic activity.
Yair Netanyahu is the eldest son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An Israeli Jew as well as a conservative social media activist, he is an ardent defender of both his father and the State of Israel. He publishes on Internet websites such as Twitter—a service which allows people to post information and interact with each other through short messages limited to about 50 words each.
I remember when Senator Joe Lieberman ran as Vice President on the Democratic ticket with Al Gore in 2000. As a Jewish believer in Yeshua, this created a bit of a predicament for me, albeit short-lived. How should I, as a Jew, respond to a potential Jewish vice-presidency? And more specifically, how should I, as a Messianic Jew, respond to a potential Jewish liberal vice-presidency?
Now two decades later, with the recent entrance of Michael Bloomberg into the presidential race (though things can turn on a dime in today’s political climate), for the first time in American history, there are two serious Jewish candidates for president of the United States. While this time around I have no internal turmoil whatsoever, it is nevertheless a unique situation worth reflecting upon, as we see two prominent, influential Jews with deep Jewish ties who have lost virtually all connection to their heritage and their God.
A Messianic Israeli kindergartener set off sparks recently when she declared before the other children in her class that “Yeshua is the Messiah and He will deliver us.” As reported by Kehila News Israel (KNI, kehilanews.com), citing an interview with Israel’s Channel 7, the mother of one of the girl’s classmates immediately complained to the school for allowing such “hypocritical” and “brainwashing” speech and, upon two rabbis’ recommendations, withdrew her child from the institution. The mother of the Messianic kindergartner, on the other hand, maintained that the whole episode had been blown out of proportion, and all three of her children continue to be welcomed by the school and other parents.
For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. … And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”
(Zechariah 2:8-9, 12, ESV)
On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the State of Israel and demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement activity in the so-called Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 (including East Jerusalem), saying that continued construction is a “flagrant violation” of international law. In other words, the resolution declared that the pre-Six-Day War borders are unchangeable, thereby making any Israeli building behind those borders illegal. By abstaining from the UN vote and refusing to use its veto power, the US went against its long-standing policy of protecting the Israeli State in the UN Security Council.
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.
From its foundation, MJMI’s express purpose has been to tell every Jewish person everywhere about the Messiah Yeshua. But sharing the Messiah with Jewish people means more than simply the salvation of individual Jewish souls, or even the restoration of an entire Jewish nation. Indeed, proclaiming Yeshua to the Jewish people is necessary for the salvation of the world!
A Nation Set Apart
Within the nation of Israel (Yis’rael), God established an order of separateness. This order establishes an increasing closeness and responsibility of service to God Himself.
First, the nation of Israel is, herself, a people set apart by God from among all the other nations.
Then, inside Israel, God set apart the tribe of Levi (Leviy), who would not receive a land inheritance along with the other tribes, but whose inheritance would be God Himself. The Levites (L’viyim) would be responsible for the maintenance of the tabernacle (HaMish’kan) and all the holy things related to God’s service.
At the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East is a fundamental, socio-religious ideology that says Jews should not exist—anytime or anywhere—much less as the modern State of Israel. As a result, the tiny nation faces a constant threat to her national sovereignty and safety, and the world continually demonizes every effort she makes to defend herself. Despite this perpetual crisis, however, we need not be concerned that Adonai will fail to protect and preserve His people. Eventually, Israel will have peace and safety; in the end, Israel will survive (Zechariah 12:1-9). But what of Israel today? What assurances do we have that during the present era, God will protect and preserve the State of Israel from her ever-present foes? And what is our role and responsibility as we watch these events transpire?