I am often asked why we believe Jewish evangelism is so important. This is a great question to which I love to respond, especially during the Advent season!
Our motivation for Jewish evangelism begins with giving thanks to God who chose the Jewish people.
As Jesus Himself said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
Without the Jewish people, we would not have the Bible or the Messiah Himself! This is fundamental and basic, but there are many clear passages in Scripture that also support the case for the importance of Jewish evangelism.
Romans 1:16: To the Jew First
Paul, also a Jewish believer in Jesus, writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Although Paul was considered the “apostle to the Gentiles,” he still carried a great burden for his own people…and he practiced what he wrote. In fact, wherever Paul travelled during his ministry among the Gentiles, he first preached the Gospel to the Jewish people who lived in that area (Acts 13:13–52; 14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10).
We should ask ourselves why the Apostle Paul made Jewish evangelism such a priority in his own life. The Apostle Paul’s argument may be summarized as follows: “If Jewish people are successfully evangelized, then Jesus the Messiah will return.” There was a sense of end-times urgency in his preaching which is why Paul encouraged the Roman believers – and us – to prioritize the evangelization of the Jewish people.
An important passage is found in Romans chapter 11, where the Apostle Paul argues that God has not cast off His people, Israel, despite their national rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. Paul argues that God is not finished with Israel, because one day “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–27).
He writes in Romans 11:15, “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” The Lord will not reject His people because He is always faithful to His promises (Romans 11:29). In fact, the very existence of the Jewish people today is a powerful argument for the truth of the Bible and evidence for the existence and power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The great day of salvation for the Jewish people will bring about the return of the Lord and God’s blessing upon the world because, in that day, Jesus will sit on the promised throne of David, as predicted in Isaiah 9:6-7 and 11:9-10.
The Bible teaches that the Jewish people will turn to Jesus in the last days and only then will the Lord return. Therefore, reaching Jewish people with the Gospel must become a priority for all Christians. The salvation of the future remnant of Israel described by Paul is the final step in the chain of events preceding Jesus’ second coming and culmination of the Abrahamic blessings promised to the world (Genesis 12:1-3).
There is a remnant today of Messianic Jews, and I am so glad to be included among them. However, a great movement of Jewish people who will believe in Jesus in coming, and this is the hope that really motivates us!
Matthew 23 is also a pivotal passage in understanding the logic of the argument:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 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!” (Matthew 23:37-39)
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus took every opportunity to turn the hearts of His Jewish people to Himself, but was thwarted by the Jewish leaders who rejected His person and message. Finally, the Saviour came to the heart-breaking conclusion that He was going to be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3, John 1:11). Matthew 23 should be viewed as a lament, reflecting the love of the Messiah for His people. He portrays Himself as a hen wanting to gather her chicks under her wings, which is a very moving image of the Saviour’s love for His chosen people.
Yet, He was unwilling to reject the Jewish people because they rejected Him. On the contrary, He added a promise: The Jewish people will not see Jesus again until they believe He is the promised Messiah and cry out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Some suggest that this declaration is reminiscent of the statement made by rabbis at weddings when the groom approaches his wedding canopy to receive his bride. Therefore, by saying, “Baruch haba bashem Adonai,” Israel, the bride, is portrayed as recognizing Jesus as her true bridegroom, linking the repentance of the Jewish people with the second coming of Jesus.
Another Old Testament passage which teaches this idea is Zechariah 12:10. In this passage, we learn that one day the Jewish people will look to the One who was pierced and then mourn for Him like one mourns for an only son.
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
This is a good description of the day predicted by Paul in Romans 11. He may have had this prophecy in mind when he penned this passage to the Roman believers.
Today we see the table set for Zechariah 12 as Israel is back in the Land, Jerusalem is in Jewish hands and the Israel is surrounded by Israel on all sides. This indicates that we should be active in Jewish evangelism today as the time of the Lord’s return is coming closer and closer each day. The Church has never lived at time day when all the above elements of the prophecy have been so obviously in place.
What Is Our Role Today?
The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are God’s instruments in preparing the hearts of those who will come to faith today, and even those who will be a part of the remnant of tomorrow. He writes, “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous” (Romans 11:11).
The salvation of the Jewish people will come about because of the power of God, but He wants to use us—especially non-Jews—to share the Good News with the Jewish people. Through your prayers, giving, and witnessing to your Jewish friends, the plan of God will go forth in power!
I pray the Lord will burden all of us to reach Jewish people for Jesus. Remember, it all begins with our thankfulness to God for all He has done through the Jewish people and through the greatest Jew who ever walked the earth—Jesus the Messiah!
Our best estimate is that less than one percent of the worldwide Jewish community believes that Jesus is the Messiah. This gives us plenty of opportunity to preach the Gospel to the remnant today and prepare for the great outpouring of His Spirit upon the Jewish people tomorrow.
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