In honor of Eitan Shishkoff's 20th year in Israel, "Oasis
Magazine" is proud to print the introduction from his forthcoming book,
What About Us? Publication details will be available soon.
"Hey, what about us? What about the
The woman who asked me this question had been journeying with us, visiting
Israeli Messianic congregations. She was witnessing firsthand the
phenomenal rebirth of faith in Yeshua (Jesus) among Israeli Jews, both
native-born and immigrant. Her heart was touched and she wanted to
participate, to be more than a spectator looking on.
The purpose of this book is to answer her question. It is a good question,
an important question. If God has left the non-Jewish followers of Jesus
out of Israel's historic/prophetic awakening, something's wrong.
If in Israel's rediscovery of the most famous Jew of all times, our
King Messiah, there's no place for His Gentile disciples to be
involved, it leaves most of God's family out of the celebration.
Yet thankfully this is not the case. In fact, the Scriptures speak vividly
and inspiringly of an end-time partnership between Jewish and Gentile
believers in Yeshua. The precedents for such a partnership abound in the
Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Covenant. I have been privileged to
experience the deep joys of this partnership first hand, around the world.
I want to share those stories with you. We will explore foundational
passages from the Scriptures that provide a strong theological
understanding of our mutual dependence.
We Need Each Other
It is this dependence which provides the key in answering the question
"What about the Gentiles?" Simply stated, we need each other. We Messianic
Jews cannot fulfill our God-given role in hastening Yeshua's return
without our Gentile brethren. Nor can they realize the age-old dream of
God's Kingdom established on earth without us. My prayerful hope is
that through this book a friendship will be fostered. That has been the
divine plan all along. We were tragically separated in the early centuries
of this era. Yeshua's original community began with Jewish disciples
in first-century Israel. Then the door was opened to the Gentiles by the
apostles as recorded in the Book of Acts. That short-lived, active unity
without uniformity was ended by religious leaders on both sides. The rabbis
said "You can't believe in Jesus and be Jewish." The bishops said "You
can't be a Christian and do Jewish stuff." But they were both wrong.
This was an unscriptural, unintended uprooting of faith in Yeshua from its
original and eternal roots in the Hebrew Bible, Israel's history and
the prophetic expectation of the exiles' return and revival.
Historians validate with one voice that Yeshua's first followers and
the early congregations were fully Jewish, celebrating the Torah of Israel,
looking for the fulfillment of her prophets' words.
A Shared Mission
Now, some 20 centuries later, we have returned to the land. We are walking
with Yeshua as our Messiah. And the signs of His return are appearing
daily. But what about the Gentiles? Is their time over? "... And
Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are
fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). "... Blindness in part has happened to
Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 1:25).
Is that what Luke and Paul meant? Or is there a shared mission at the end?
There is a mystery here (Ephesians 3:4-6) that is to be revealed in these
times. We are being handed an unprecedented opportunity to overturn the
tragic division between us and by so doing welcome back the King as His
covenant friends, deeply committed to each other. I believe that we have a
rare chance to show Israel and the nations of the world what humility and
mutual serving looks like. I believe that we have been given a high and
As a Messianic Jew involved in Jewish ministry for over 30 years, I've
had the adventure of participating in the historic awakening of Jewish
people to faith in Jesus. This phenomenon has been accompanied by
increasing interest among the Lord's Gentile disciples around the
world. What began in the 1970's as distant curiosity has become a
growing passion to explore the Jewish roots of New Covenant faith and to
further God's purposes for Israel.
Assisting in Israel's Salvation
Since immigrating to Israel in 1992, a meaningful portion of my work has
focused on responding to the desire of Gentile Christians to assist in
Israel's salvation. On every continent Christians are praying
earnestly for Israel - crying out to God that we will find Yeshua (Jesus)
as our Messiah King. Travelling to numerous countries, I've
experienced this amazing love for the Jewish people within the Church.
In fact, there are churches where worshipers wave tambourines with stars of
David, Israeli flags are proudly displayed and the call of the ram's
horn (shofar) is heard. Until very recently in the history of Christianity
this combination of Gentile Christians and Jewish symbolism was virtually
unknown. Why is this happening now? And what are the implications for the
life of the Church? As a Messianic Jew and an Israeli, I cannot but view
positively this newfound attraction for things Jewish. Yeshua (Jesus) has
been painfully cut off from His Jewish roots for some 1800 years. This
development is a refreshing change in Church history, to say the least.
Indulging in a bit of Jewish gallows humor we might say "Hey, I can put up
with some extremes in Jewish 'accessorizing' among our Christian
neighbors. It sure beats getting killed by them!" We might say that the
Church is rediscovering her origin in the ancient soil of God's
promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Yet for all the celebration, there are also causes for concern. Many are
confused. Are Gentile believers to adopt the Mosaic law as their requisite
pattern of life? Should the Church yield to mainstream Jewish demands that
evangelism be off limits because of the ugly anti-Semitic past? Is there a
separate salvation covenant for Israel that removes the necessity of faith
in Yeshua? How is the Church to relate to Israel ... or to the remarkable
movement of Jews embracing Jesus? These and many other questions call for
thoughtful answers. At stake is not only the health of the body of Christ,
but the salvation of Israel.
God's Hour of Destiny
I want to address this extraordinary hour of destiny. God has set this up.
I believe He opened the eyes of my generation of Jewish seekers, refugees
of the wild and wooly cultural revolution of the 1960's. When we saw
Jesus (this happened to me literally), we knew He was the true answer to
all we sought. Then, many of us returned to our Jewish heritage, as members
of the universal body of Christ.
Some of our Gentile brethren encouraged us to live an authentic Jewish life
in Yeshua, realizing that a special work of grace was taking place. I
simply could not have fulfilled my calling without them. In the decades
since, God has used precious brothers and sisters from the nations to give
us in-depth ministry training, abundant financial resourcing and steadfast
intercessory backing. At the same time, I began seeing vivid evidence in
Scripture that this was God's plan all along. I am convinced that this
partnership, of Yeshua's Gentile and Jewish followers, is essential
for the salvation of Israel, and thus for the Second Coming of Messiah.
We have a unique, history-making opportunity as Jewish and Gentile
followers of Jesus the Messiah. His plan is to bring us into covenant
friendship - to share His cup, to share in priestly intercession for the
sake of Israel's redemption and to share in restoring the presence of
God in Israel ... just as King Solomon and King Hiram did when they teamed
up to build the first temple.