by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel
In the 1980s there were a series of meetings between Arab Christians and Messianic Jews to express our unity as believers in Yeshua. In the 1990s, after the First Intifada and Gulf War (1991), Arab Christians and Messianic Jews in Israel began to deal with some more difficult issues in the light of political crises. By 1995 some of the Arab Christians began to express their identity as "Palestinians," including their opposition to Israeli policy. That identification led to more sensitive communication on the part of the Messianic Jews toward the Arab Christians, yet at the same time introduced a measure of polarization on political and prophetic issues.
Reconciliation Should Lead to Cooperation
In the early 2000s, after many years of reconciliation conferences, we began to ask the question, "What happens after basic reconciliation?" We realized that the next stage is cooperation.
After much prayer, we discerned that the first area of cooperation should be Muslim Evangelism. We sought to support Arab Christians who were involved in evangelism to Muslims (and were doing so at great risk to their lives). These include many unknown and secret evangelists. They are heroes in our eyes.
In recent years we have been entering a new depth in our relationships. Jerusalem Pastor Bassam Adranly has become a key leader here in Israel. David Demian, Egyptian-born Canadian leader of the Global Gathering movement, spent much of the last decade gathering a large number of Chinese Christians to pray for reconciliation in Abraham's family between the "sons of Isaac" and the "sons of Ishmael". Marcel Rebai, who has spent many years in the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, also helped to gather both European and Arab leaders. These gatherings emphasize reconciliation, along with prophetic praise and worship. During one of the meetings in preparation for the "822" conference in Jerusalem, our brother Majdi (an Egyptian pastor based in Jerusalem) expressed with tears, humility and courage, his desire as an Arab Christian to be symbolically "married" to us Messianic Jews.
Majdi's proclamation brought an opening in the Spirit. I came forward asia representative Jewish believer. We embraced and cried together. At that point we Jewish believers began to confess our sins in a deep way, recognizing our pride today, and all the way back to the rejection of Yeshua 2,000 years ago. At that moment, it was as if a spiritual bomb went off in the room. David cried out, fell on the floor, and began to intercede. There was a spontaneous outburst of tears and intercession from everyone in the room: Arab, Jewish, Asian, European ...
At the main assembly of the "822" conference and a year later at the Global Gathering in Munich, the Messianic Jewish leaders knelt down on the stage and expressed a similar measure of confession and repentance. David and Bassam then led the Arab Christians in a response of commitment and covenant toward the Jewish brothers. They publicly made a "Ruth" vow: that "Your people would be my people" and "Your God will be my God" (Ruth 1:16).
For Arab Christians to make this commitment not only to Yeshua as the Messiah, but also to the Jewish people, as Ruth did, represents to me a significant shift in the body of Christ. It heralds a re-alignment of historic proportions, because it was linked to international Christians from Asia, Africa, Europe and America as well. We realized that the "Ruth Paradigm" was not to be a rare and exceptional calling for a minority of Christians, but the primary and normative position for the body of Christ.
The 2015 Global Gathering took place in Munich, where Israeli athletes were murdered at the 1972 Olympics. After several days of worship, intercession, prayer and fellowship, the Messianic Jewish leadership team sought to honor the Arab leaders. We realized that this was more than just honoring one another as fellow believers. There is a deep connection between Arabs and Jews, going all the way back to the time of Abraham, our mutual father. We pointed out that Ishmael received the sign of covenant in circumcision (Genesis 17) before Isaac was even born (Genesis 21). We are bound together by a covenant of almost 4,000 years. Because of this covenant, we have a joint destiny!
There was a profound heart reaction among the Arab brothers and sisters when the Messianics were willing not only to repent and bless them and honor them, but also to express our joint destiny and partnership. We also recognized that there is a covenant order: the children of Ishmael come to their spiritual destiny BEFORE the children of Isaac.
As Messianic Jews we are very aware of our calling and destiny according to Scriptures. The gospel is "to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16); there will be a great revival in the end times so that "All Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26); and we are to lead the world in inviting Yeshua to return with cries of "Blessed is He who comes" (Matthew 23:39). Our destiny is VERY important to us. Therefore it is difficult for us to perceive that through the Abrahamic covenant our destiny is LINKED to our Arab Christian brothers and sisters. And if our destiny is linked to them, then it is necessarily DEPENDENT on them as well.
Humility & Honor Required!
For us as Messianic Jews and Arab Christians, to recognize that we have a joint, interdependent destiny, demands a tremendous amount of soul searching, as well as searching the Scriptures. It reminds us of the turmoil of soul that Jacob went through when he wrestled with the Angel of YHVH all night (Genesis 32) before meeting with his brother Esau (Genesis 33). This issue is so deep in the history of the people of God, that its coming into right order has a potential to release healing, reconciliation, alignment, unity and revival throughout the body of Christ and ultimately to Israel as well.
This joint, interdependent covenant connection is difficult for us as Messianic Jews to accept. Not only that, but the Arab destiny must come first! The primary spread of the Gospel in the first century went north from Israel into Turkey, then westward into Greece, then Italy (Acts 16:10; 23:11). In this generation, the Gospel is coming around the world through East Asia, then to the non-Arabic Muslim world, then to the Arab world, and then finally to Israel. The nations of the world come to their fullness before revival comes to Israel (Isaiah 19, Matthew 24:14, Romans 11).
With the great turmoil in the Muslim world today, it would seem apparent that this is the time and season (Acts 1:7) for an historic sweep of evangelism to Muslims. They are already fleeing their homes by the millions. For us as Israeli Messianic Jews, who pray every day for the national revival of our people, it is a great revelation to perceive that the revival will come through the Arab peoples on its path to us.
Revival on its Way!
Covenantal cooperation and partnership between Messianic Jews and Arab Christians have great potential as we head into the end times. In preparation for this year's Global Gathering returning to Jerusalem, we are planning a joint Feast of Trumpets celebration and prayer meeting, to be led together by Arab and Jewish believers. As the Trumpets are blown, we will seek to proclaim Yeshua's kingdom on earth (Revelation 11:15) and mobilize the body of Christ worldwide toward unity, alignment and revival.
The next Global Gathering is here in Jerusalem on November 7-11. Please keep us in prayer, and we invite you to come and take part in this move of God in our day.
This article was previously published as a two-part series on 25Aug16 and 01Sep16 here and here on the Revive Israel website and on 29Aug16 and 08Sep16, here and here on Kehila News Israel
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