The flight from Hong Kong to Osaka found me tired, but unable to sleep. With a personal movie screen imbedded in the seat in front of me, what was I to do, but surf through the inexhaustible film options available? I chose a mystery based on an unsolved series of murder cases in 1960’s San Francisco.
I got pretty involved in the intricate story line, and as the actors finally closed in on the villain I was really looking forward to the solution. Right then the pilot’s voice broke into the movie. “We will now be starting our final descent. This will conclude our entertainment program on this flight.” I almost protested out loud. “Oh no! Now I’ll have to find a copy of that film. I’ve have to find out how it ends.”
The Mystery: Israel’s Salvation & Gentiles as Fellow Heirs
When I reached Osaka for an Asian conference on Israel and Messianic Jews, it hit me. The intrigue of a well-told mystery is just what God meant when he used that word to refer to the enigma of Jews and Gentiles being one in Messiah. In Romans 11:25-26 Paul says
“I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery … blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved …” Again, writing to the Ephesians he says that God showed him by revelation, The mystery of Messiah, which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men … that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs (with the Jewish disciples), of the same body. (Eph 3:4-6)
As the Japanese-initiated event unfolded two things were strikingly evident. These were the harmony of numerous church leaders previously not so enthused to associate with each other (their description) and the hunger to understand and serve God’s purposes for Asia and Israel together with us, their Israeli Messianic Jewish brothers. I was watching the “solution” to God’s mystery thriller: “How will Israel be saved AND the Gentiles become true fellow heirs?” And it thrilled me.
Africa and Europe Too
The following week African leaders gathered outside of Nairobi, Kenya for intensive prayer and teaching from Israeli Jewish believers, my teammates Avi, Marty and Marc. At November’s outset, a group of Christian counselors and pastors in Great Britain listened attentively for an entire day to a series of messages on the Jewish roots of New Covenant faith. Soon after, German churches and evangelical Christians in city after city heard the story of one man’s rediscovery of his Jewish heritage through Yeshua, aliyah to Israel and the renewal of apostolic faith in the land. (That storyteller would be me.)
These trips were not for fund-raising. Rather, we were invited to speak about the emerging Messianic movement in Israel. In each case we were received with honor, fascination, gratitude and desire for continued friendship. Our experiences strengthened the realization that God is moving in a concerted way to reunite the Jewish and Gentile portions of the body of Messiah world-wide.
The Chambers of God’s Heart: Israel and the Nations
A huge portion of the Bible is dedicated to describing the essential role of Israel in world redemption. Increasingly, around the globe, men and women of God are realizing the truth to which the Church has been largely blinded for 18 centuries – that God’s promises to Israel are irrevocable (Romans 11:29) and that she will reawaken to put faith in the true Messiah, Yeshua, before His second coming. God’s passion for the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob throbs throughout His word. The apostle’s cry in Romans 9:2,3 gives voice to that passion:
“… I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.”
With so much focus on Israel and on Jewish believers, how are we to understand the Lord’s heart for the nations, and integrate that dimension with His clear emphasis on Israel at the end of days? I believe one key is found in Isaiah 49. There, speaking to the Messiah, God says
“It is too small a thing that you should be my Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
God wants all men to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4); this points to our calling to continue reaching out to all peoples with the gospel.
The universality of Yeshua’s atonement is well-established.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16)
But the relationship of Israel and the nations is not merely that we walk with Yeshua on parallel pathways. The drama of God’s closing act in history is that Jesus’ Jewish and Gentile disciples become aligned in “solving” the mystery of the ages.
The Five Clues of Isaiah 60
In his 60th chapter, Isaiah turns the spotlight on the nations and their end-time involvement with Israel’s destiny. Here, I believe, are the clues that solve the mystery of Jew and Gentile at the end of the age. First, the Spirit will draw Yeshua’s non-Jewish followers to an interest in Israel. This is exactly what is happening on every continent. “The Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (60:3) This happens in tandem with darkness covering the earth (v.2). Sound familiar? So, there is a simultaneous growing darkness and opposition to Israel (all we have to do is open today’s paper to see that) AND a movement of Gentiles loving Israel and wanting to bless her. Here, then are five clues Isaiah presents to clear up the mystery of how God intends to work through Gentiles loyal to Him in bringing Israel back to the Lord.
- FINANCIAL RESOURCES. “The Wealth of the Gentiles will come to you” (v.5 and 11)
- HELPING JEWS come HOME. “The ships … will come first to bring your sons from afar” (v.9)
- INTERCESSORY PRAYER. “The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls” (v. 10 )
- REPENTANCE for ANTI-SEMITISM. “The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you” (v.14)
- EQUIPPING for MINISTRY. “You shall drink the milk of the Gentiles, and milk the breast of kings” (v.16, I understand “kings” in this context to mean mighty men of God, like Derek Prince)
A Mystery Solved
After two wonderfully intense conferences in Osaka and Tokyo, plus a very full weekend of ministry, I took the return flight to Hong Kong. As I had hoped, the same mystery movie was available for viewing. Eager to see the end of the mystery, I opened the little screen and scrolled to the last scene I remembered. This time I got to see the ending. And though I’m not going to tell you how the movie ends, I’m delighted to have opened these few scenes from the mystery we are walking out together.
The more I learn of this mystery, the more thrilling it is. We are experiencing the long-promised release of love’s resources coming toward Israel in waves. At a time when many are clamoring for Israel’s punishment and rejection, it brings us bright hope, added courage and needed comfort to know that our Gentile family members are activated on behalf of their Israeli Messianic brothers and sisters.