A Personal Perspective
In the 1980’s there were a series of meetings between Arab Christians and Messianic Jews to express our unity as believers in Yeshua. In the 1990’s, 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. Some of that identification led to more sensitive communication on the part of the Messianic Jews toward the Arab Christians; yet at the same time brought some difficult polarization on political and prophetic issues.
Reconciliation Should Lead to Cooperation
In the early 2000’s, after many years of reconciliation conferences, some of us began to search for a better approach. We asked the question, “What happens after reconciliation?” After all, we are already reconciled by our faith in Yeshua. We realized that the next stage after reconciliation 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 traveling throughout Chinese world, gathering a large number of Chinese Christians to pray for reconciliation between the “sons of Isaac” and the “sons of Ishmael.”
David brought together many Arab and Chinese Christians. Marcel Rebai, who has spent decades in the Messianic community in Israel, helped gather both European and Arab leaders. He has uniquely been a link of reconciliation between all three communities. With this emphasis on reconciliation, along with the prophetic praise & worship style of the Global Gathering conferences, I believe that we are entering a new era for relationship, worship, dialogue and cooperation between Arab/Middle Eastern Christians and Messianic Jews.
During one of the meetings in preparation for the “822” conference in Jerusalem in November 2014, our brother Majdi (Egyptian pastor based in Jerusalem) expressed with tears, humility and courage, his desire as an Arab Christian to be symbolically “married” as a bride to us Messianic Jews as the bridegroom figure.
Majdi’s proclamation brought an opening in the Spirit. I came forward as a 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 suddenly released an almost-involuntary yell, 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 at the 822 conference and a year later at the Global Gathering in Munich, David called the Arab and Jewish believers to the stage. The group of Messianic 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).
What is the “Ruth Paradigm?”
For the 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 was 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.
In 2015, the Global Gathering took place in Munich, at the very stadium where Israeli athletes where murdered in the 1972 Olympics. After several days of worship, intercession, prayer and fellowship, the Arab and Jewish brothers and sisters again came up to the stage for a period of prophetic proclamation, repentance and reconciliation. During that time, the Messianic 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 was circumcised (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 historical and chronological order in the wave of the gospel coming back toward Jerusalem from the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, 11). The Arab nations are located in a wide circle surrounding Israel on all sides. The wave of the gospel will come to those nations right before it comes into Israel.
I felt that there was a symbolic pattern noted by Matthew (2:15) and Hosea (11:1), that “Out of Egypt I have called My son.” This could be an indication that there will be a significant witness of Yeshua that will come from Arab Christians in their love for the Jewish people in the end times.
The message of the gospel will include restoring the covenantal roots of the Abrahamic family. In this way, the children of Ishmael will come to their spiritual destiny right 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 SO important to us that it is difficult for us to perceive that because of the Abrahamic covenant our destiny is LINKED to our Arab Christian brothers and sisters. 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.
Not only is our joint, interdependent covenant connection difficult for us as Messianic Jews to accept; how much more so is the order that 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 has come around the world into East Asia, then to the non-Arabic Muslim world, then to the Arab world, and then finally to Israel. The nations of the world must come to their fullness before revival comes to Israel (Isaiah 19, 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!
The covenantal cooperation and partnership between Messianic Jews and Arab Christians has great potential as we head into the end times to proclaim Yeshua’s kingdom on earth (Revelation 11:15) and mobilize the body of Christ worldwide toward unity, alignment and revival.
Editor’s note: We felt this article, originally published in 2016, is more relevant than ever.