n old man gasps for his last few breaths. His family gathers. He has lived a long life, a good life. He gestures weakly towards his son. He wants to say something. The younger man bends down to hear his father's last words. What will he say? These are his last words and they will not only be significant, but will be remembered for years.
Yeshua gathered with His Jewish disciples just before His ascension. We have several accounts of the conversation. The apostles didn't know it, but these were His last words to them - His final instructions on earth. And just like that old man, He knew these words would be remembered for centuries.
Let's look at what Yeshua said, His deepest concern, before He went to be with the Father:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations ..." (Matthew 28:19-20a)
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
In His final moments on earth, He wanted more than anything to remind His Jewish followers that the calling was to the nations. In fact, there has never been a time, since Abraham the first Hebrew, when God did not expect the Jewish people to reach the nations. In His first words to Father Abraham, God said, "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." It is part of our Jewish calling and identity to reach the nations.
In Psalm 67:1-2 the writer expresses God's heart:
"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us ..."
Why? Why did he want God to "make His face shine upon" Israel?
"... that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations."
When most believers think of Israel and her prophetic fulfillment, they think of 1948 - Israel becoming a nation. However, starting with the Puritans, Christian Zionism preceded Israel's independence by 350 years. Christian Zionism was very strong in the mid 19th century and is still very robust today. It has been an amazing phenomenon and a massive reversal from the persecution of Jews by the Church for most of Western history.
A second great shift is the present day Jewish revival. For the first time since the beginning of the Yeshua movement, Jewish disciples are not denying their heritage. During the Middle Ages, church law required that any Jew turning to the Jewish Messiah had to renounce his or her Jewish identity under the threat of death. Now Jewish believers worship with kippot (skull caps) and tallitot (prayer shawls) on Shabbat without fear of persecution from the greater church world. Last month, tens of thousands of Jewish believers celebrated the Passover, even as they did in the first century.
In Israel alone, the body of believers has grown from about 150 in 1948 to an estimate of between 10,000-15,000 today! There were one or two Messianic congregations when Israel became a nation and now there are well over 100 scattered throughout the small country. This may be a relatively small number, but it is so many more than ever before.
As exciting as all that is, there is a third leg to this stool. Israel's prophetic fulfillment cannot stand unless Jewish believers fulfill their call to reach the nations of the world. Read the words of Isaiah:
"The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3b)
While Isaiah 2 speaks primarily about a time after the return of the Messiah, we are seeing a foreshadowing fulfillment in our time, as Jewish believers take the gospel from Israel to the nations. Indeed, Yeshua commanded Jewish disciples to reach the nations. This is a sign that His Kingdom rule has begun with His resurrection and ascension. This has been difficult for Jewish believers since our numbers are small and there is so much to do in reaching and discipling our own people. Tikkun International has launched a project to enable Messianic Jews to go to the nations on short term outreach trips. We are seeing God powerfully move through these young people. With their faith greatly increased, they have returned to Israel to be even more effective in their witness to our people.
The Hebrew Scriptures call Israel to be a light to the nations. While some might argue that this role was reserved exclusively to the Messiah, the greatest theologian ever would take issue with that interpretation. Paul, after preaching to the Jewish community in Antioch, winning many of them, but also stirring up opposition from Jewish leaders, said:
"We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Nations. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 'I have made you a light for the Nations, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" (Acts 13:46,47)
Here Paul applies the Messianic prophecy to Barnabas and himself, as Jewish followers of the Messiah.
Today, as we hold up the word of life for all Israel to see, we cannot ignore the words that Messiah spoke in Jerusalem, that we must also be a light to the nations and take His message to the ends of the earth. To that end, Tikkun International commissioned Ron Cantor to start the Isaiah 2 Initiative - a ministry taking Israeli young adults from Israel to other nations to preach the good news of Yeshua.
In December of 2009, a team of 18 left Israel for Gombi, Nigeria. Through the generous gifts of Tikkun partners, we were able to send this team. Each Israeli had to raise half of their own funds, and Messiah's Mandate (a ministry of Tikkun) paid the other half. In five days, our team preached to tens of thousands of Nigerians and it appeared that every hand shot up during the call to salvation. Former Muslims professed faith in Yeshua, several nearly blind people received their sight and many other miracles and healings were witnessed. Moreover, the young Messianic Jews were themselves transformed and returned to Israel with greater anointing and power to reach the Jewish people of this land. This should not be surprising since there is a special response to Messianic Jews who preach the Gospel in the nations.
The outreach in Gombi may have been the largest outreach ever from Israel!
The Isaiah 2 Initiative's next trip is in June to Ukraine. Once again, young Israelis will preach the gospel and pray for the sick. You can send them. Go to www.yeshuatelaviv.com to partner with us. Your sponsorship of an Israeli believer will make an eternal difference in the life of that young person as well as those we can reach in Ukraine. Only together in partnership with you can we fulfill this calling.
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Moshe Morrison: From Mud to Precious Stones|
|Eitan Shishkoff: The Hearts of the Fathers to the Children|
|Avi Tekle: Gifts of Spring|
|Eddie Santoro: Four Years of Wonder|
|Asher Intrater: The Glory of God|