As a whole, the Jewish people have emphatically rejected Jesus. One author—Jewish himself, and not Messianic—puts this rejection so very clearly: his name—Michael Medved, film critic and political commentator. He ascribes this attitude to American Jews, but it applies to all of world-wide Jewry:
The chief distinguishing characteristic of most American Jews is not what they do believe, but what they do not believe. They do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Period. End of sentence, end of story. Tragically, for all too many members of today’s Jewish community, this rejection marks the sum total of their theological commitment…. (Himmelfarb: “What Do American Jews Believe? A Symposium. Commentary, 8/1996, 68-69)
Thus, their chief theological commitment is a negative: “I do not believe in…”
THE QUESTION: Will that ever change, and if so, how and when?
The answer to that question is found in the Prophecy of Zechariah, chapter 12.
In their homeland, as a people gathered from the ends of the earth, they will experience their redemption.
The first part of this prophetic vision involves the nations of the earth uniting against Israel. In that battle, the weak in Israel will be made strong, and the whole House of Israel will be made Godlike in their strength. The Lord says: “On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples.” Victory, glorious victory will ensue!
At that point the Chosen People (Jews) will experience a great spiritual rebirth. On that great day, the appearance of an unnamed person will throw the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into an outpouring of grief.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10 ESV)
Their hearts are changed. They are no longer “stiff-necked,” as they are called in the Bible. They are no longer “sabras” as those who are born in Israel call themselves; instead, they will have hearts of graciousness which will call forth pleas for mercy. Their hearts of stone will be morphed into hearts of flesh.
Their vision too will have been changed, because now they “look upon the one whom they have pierced.” And the word for “look” connotes a fixed look, a gaze, an intense look. His appearance is there for all to see and contemplate. They who have rejected Him are confronted with His image.
The speaker here is God the Lord designated by the use of the first person singular. And so the statement is of a divine personage being “pierced.” It is of the Lord’s Messiah who in human flesh was pierced on the cross—a phenomenon of which Zechariah the prophet was moved to write down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
As I say in my book, Israel the Chosen, this experience of all Israel is reminiscent of Saul of Tarsus who was stopped dead in his tracks on the road to Damascus. As Saul was, so this people is transfixed. In this moment, they see the one they pierced. “When they look on me.” (In Saul’s experience, he heard Jesus say to him, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Acts 9:5)
Then it is said: “They shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child.” And it elaborates as to this national day of mourning: “The land shall mourn, each family by itself.” Grieving and repenting with a full awareness that their Savior/Messiah is their own—a Jew born in one of their families. Can you imagine such a scene?
Their pride will dissipate as they are stunned and shaken to the depths, gazing upon the one they rejected.
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In the 1860’s through the next decades, Charles H. Spurgeon, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, preached this message to his congregation. On one occasion, he said:
Not long shall it be ere they [the Jews] shall come—shall come from distant lands, wher’ere they rest or roam, and she [Israel] who has been the off-scouring of all things, whose name has been a proverb and a bye-word, shall become a glory of all lands. Dejected Zion shall raise her head, shaking herself from dust and darkness and the dead.
On another occasion, he, Mr. Spurgeon, said this:
We cannot help looking for the restoration of the scattered Israelites to the land….We also look for the time when they shall believe in the Messiah whom they have rejected, and shall rejoice in Jesus of Nazareth, whom today they despise.
The Old Testament (the Tenakh) is the history of how a people responded to the Word of the Lord.
And today….How are the Israeli Jews responding to The Word of the Lord?
ANSWER: From Arthur W. Kac in his book The Rebirth of the State of Israel: “Large masses of the Jewish people—we are informed—are strongly indifferent to all things of a Jewish religious nature….They are ignorant of the God of Judaism. They have no knowledge of the Biblical or Rabbinic teachings with regard to the basic things of human life.”
Kac was a Messianic Jew who wrote this book in 1958. Just about everything in his book still exists.
The Lord’s Complaints
The Lord had established His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. He was to be their God Who redeemed, instructed and protected them; and they were to love Him and keep His commandments. That was the covenant….like a marriage.
You’d never know that the State of Israel was in covenant with their God today. There seems to be very little communication between the two.
Over and over again in the Tenakh, the Lord complains that Israel is aloof—will not listen—will not see what is obvious. That's not good for marriage or a covenant with the Lord. Is that true today? Sorry to say that it is. Otherwise, you would see and hear of Jews eagerly studying scripture—not the Talmud, the scripture. The Talmud will not do, for it is the word of MEN.
Jewish and Israeli students are not being given courses in the scriptures.
Hear the Lord, as He complains:
“Listen, you that are deaf; and you that are blind, look up and see!
Who is blind, but my servant? [Israel] Or deaf like my messenger?...”
He sees many things, but does not observe them;
His ears are open, but he does not hear.” (Isaiah 42:18-20)
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Who is calling the new nation of Israel to repentance? I don’t hear that call. Can you? Let’s name some people who could issue such a call: rabbis? What about leaders of Christian Zionism....instead of merely celebrating Israel, challenging her?
THE LORD through Ezekiel the prophet: “I scattered them among the nations…wherever they came, they profaned my holy name.” (Ezekiel 36:19) That’s the issue in a nutshell.
Check out those prophetic portions, and you will see that when the Lord says He is going to bring His people back to their land, He will also reprove and cleanse them. And that’s going to be some revolution!
“I will make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure…because your guilt is great.” (Jeremiah 30:11)
The Marriage Covenant Ignored.
When I was in Israel ten years ago, one of our taxi drivers said that he and his wife were getting a divorce and that divorce was common in Israel. I took that to mean that adultery was common. I believe that Jerusalem is an exception to this, since they are more observant religiously.
In Israel generally we are looking at an evil and adulterous generation, just as Jesus said about the situation of His time. The approach to immorality is casual. In the army, casual sex. In the reserves in which all men serve, it’s a time for fun. It’s called the “warrior-womanizer” culture.
Corruption in politics? There is some, perhaps much, but there is also an abundance of slander and malice in the public sphere so that you can’t know which is worse, the corruption or the mendacity (a tendency to lie).
“They sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say, but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths, they act; their heart is set on their gain.” (Ezekiel 33:31)
REALITY IN AMERICA: The American Jews are talented and have produced high entertainment in America. But much of that entertainment has become a mirror of their own godlessness, immorality and materialism.
Isn’t it time for Christian Zionists who love Israel so much to speak the truth about the “adulterous generation” in Israel?
THE LORD (in Isaiah): “Whom did you dread and fear so that you lied, and did not remember me or give me a thought?” (57:11)
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The most serious sin of Israel today is this: They continue to ignore the voice of the Lord--their covenant partner. The day of reckoning is coming.
IN THE LAST DAYS: “Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves….Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 36:31-32)
Yes, they are a democratic nation;
Yes, they have done good to the neighbors that have warred against them;
Yes, they are innovative and industrious;
Yes, they have a mission to “heal the world”….
Yes, some are taking on a spirituality as they live in the Land.
And yes, they are God’s Chosen People…
But…. at this point in their religious history, they mostly ignore the Word of the Lord and therefore most of them are living world-centered lives. They have no ear for the Word of the Lord….and yet….
They WILL encounter the Lord. And that is the His promise.
“I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses….A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh….”
Have you ever heard of Maimonides (1135-1204), a truly great Jewish philosopher?— seen as one of the greatest Jewish scholars of all time? He presented “Thirteen Principles of Faith,” consisting of “I Believe” statements.
The 12th was this: “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come.”
SCRIPTURE ON THE MESSIAH
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet…..[the Lord said]: I will raise up a prophet like you from among their own people. I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I shall command.” Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 (NRSV)
BELIEF IN THE MESSIAH IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ZIONISM
In our secular age, this is not appreciated or even recognized.
The term “Zionism” is not understood by many people, and the Messianic element in Zionism is known hardly at all. But historically, the expectation of Messiah is intricately bound to historic Zionist thinking. That is to say, when the Jewish communities would think about moving to Palestine, they were doing it in hopes that they would live and have their being there when the Messiah came in all his glory.
There have been “aliyot” (waves of immigration) to Israel—not large, but significant—from 1240 A. D. to 1840, late medieval and early modern eras. The driving force behind these aliyot (plural) was a “messianic ferment” that cropped up in Jewish communities every so often. There were attempts to predict when the messianic era would begin and the date the Messiah would appear. Charismatic leaders would organize groups of their members to go live in Palestine in order to hasten the time of “Redemption.”
It has been shown that in every generation there were a great many Jews, including communal and spiritual leaders, who were not content with passively hoping for divine intervention in the form of Messiah’s coming, but who instead took action aimed at bringing it about. They were convinced that a mass movement of Jewish immigration to Palestine would bring about his appearance and the Day of Redemption. Moving to Palestine would be the trigger.
Irving Howe (1920-1993) noted literary critic and son of Jewish immigrants, “saw messianism as the most urgent force in Jewish tradition, the force that could send a quiescent people into moments of transport and even collective frenzy.” (Daniel S. Ariel)
Even now in Israel itself, religious ultra-Orthodox folks are prepared to establish the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in anticipation of the Messiah’s imminent arrival. Preparation is being made by “weavers, smiths, and other artisans who have crafted the vestments, utensils, and paraphernalia necessary to conduct the priestly sacrifices in the rebuilt Temple.”
The Yearning for the Messiah Lessening
QUESTION: But…excuse me….Have you ever seen or heard of Jewish people living around you who have become excited about Messiah’s coming. I haven’t. Not until my wife and I went to the city of Jerusalem and asked people there: “Do you believe in the Messiah and that he will come? NOTE THIS: Many of our Jerusalem taxi drivers, waiters, servers and retailers were definite in their affirmative responses: “Yes, I do believe in the coming Messiah.” Some expressed a yearning to see him. And that was truly gratifying, especially coming from young people—2nd and 3rd generation Israelis.
Yes, many Jews DID in centuries past move to Palestine, or want to go there, out of a yearning for the Messiah’s coming….for the Day of Redemption. Yes…but that was then.
QUESTION: In modern times, in the mid-20th century and on, why were the Jews of Europe banging on Palestine’s door? ANSWER: Not because of Messianic hope but…because the Nazis were threatening.
Within the past 75 years or so, there hasn’t been much of a move to Israel to wait for the Messiah. It’s been largely because of a fear of anti-Semitic violence.
What’s happening to the expectation of Messiah? It’s been watered down.
LIBERAL JEWISH THOUGHT ON MESSIANISM
Liberal rabbis can’t envision any supernatural action of God in our world, and so they have changed the conception of Messiah’s personal coming to the coming of a “Messianic Age” when there is universal peace and justice. Some have joked that the Reform Jews in America think that getting on board the Democratic Party platform is to help bring on the new Messianic Age of Peace.
Liberal American and European Jews don’t believe in miraculous occurrences in history. The coming of the Messiah is modified in their thinking to be a vague “messianic age” in which there is universal peace brought about by human efforts. Example: “The idea of the personal Messiah was reinterpreted as the longing for universal brotherhood within the context of ethical monotheism.” (Ariel) The emphasis now of most American Jews has been on the human effort to create the perfect world of peace and justice. This denotes a messianic age without a Messiah. This is a messianism that won’t produce. It is a phantom.
Liberal thinking on the subject: non-literal, non-personal and perpetually-unfulfilled, for there is no redemption in this outlook.
MORE SCRIPTURE ON THE MESSIAH
“As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before Him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion…” Daniel 7:13-14 (NRSV)
It was Israel’s founding party.
It was once the strongest party among the many in Israel’s pantheon of parties.
It has been properly dubbed as the Zionist-Socialist party, for it is a member of the Progressive Alliance and an observer member of the Party of European Socialists.
It was the dominant Political Party – 1968-1977
Labor Prime Ministers: David Ben-Gurion; Moshe Sharett; Golda Meir; Levi Eshkol; Yitzhak Rabin; Shimon Peres; Ehud Barak -- all dedicated to the task of the creation and development of a Jewish nation. The Labor Party was their means to get it done.
In rejecting their Labor Party, the Israelis have, as I see it, done this:
-- rejected Socialism
-- rejected a party with little Judaism
-- rejected the persistent peace initiatives
1. Socialism. Many of the first groups to Israel came out of Eastern Europe and Russia and had known no other political philosophy but Socialism. Most of them had cast aside the practices and beliefs of Judaism. (However, David Ben-Gurion had a keen interest in the scriptures.)
The Labor Party was a Socialist Party and promoted the welfare state. In the 1970’s it brought on increases in pension benefits, the creation of new social security schemes, children’s insurance, vacation pay for adopting parents, family allowance for veterans, housing rehabilitation in some areas and others.
In the 1970s the party was troubled by internal dissention and persistent charges of corruption—a situation that nearly always accompanies socialism.
With that done, the policies of Labor Party socialism were discredited.
Capitalism benefited the nation enormously. Socialism had benefited somewhat through government programs, but corruption was rampant and the economy stalemated under Socialism.
When in 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu was appointed Finance Minister he undertook to reduce the government’s excessive regulations, its bloated bureaucracy and welfare dependency. He froze government spending for three years, attacked monopolies and cartels, increased competition and reduced the top tax rates. “An economic miracle!” the commentators said afterwards.
Now, new companies are being formed all the time; and these new companies use the intelligent high-techies.
Under the Likud Party, business entrepreneurs are encouraged and have multiplied until Israel is now called “The Start-Up Nation.” When the book by that name, authored by Dan Senor and Saul Singer,was published in 2009, they said that “Israel had the highest density of start-ups in the world, more Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ exchange than all companies from the entire European continent.” And the nation is thriving.
2. The Labor Party was mostly irreligious. It had no inclination for seeking God’s mercy and guidance. It rejected the rich tradition of their covenant with Yahweh. It didn’t view the long exile of the Jewish people as punishment for their sins, as did many traditional Jews.
Labor Party Zionism wasn’t based on the Torah but was secular, democratic socialist a proponent of gay rights, easy on sexual misconduct.
Are these party members expecting the Messiah? I’m foolish to bring that up.
It was European.
Modern Israelis now have more faith. Polls indicate this. They are becoming, in general, more open to their version of Judaism. Many of them are not strictly observant but quite a few are; and they have rejected the liberal Judaism of American Jews. For example, there are no “Reform” or “Conservative” (not very different from the Reform) synagogues in Israel. Those branches of Judaism are too wishy-washy. Israeli congregations are modern Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox; and even the “ultras” are being received more and more into society, especially as they are willing to accept military participation.
QUESTION: Is there not corruption in the Likud Party and in all of them, even some of the religious parties? MY ANSWER: Yes, but not the gross and persistent corruption of yesteryear. (In fact, it can be argued that those now alleging corruption are charging it against Netanyahu for very personal misdemeanors. Am I not right?)
3. FOREIGN POLICY. Under Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel recognized the PLO as the proper head of state for Palestine. Previously, the Israelis had opposed the formation of a Palestinian state.
Later, Ehud Barak, the Labor Party candidate in May 1999, was elected prime minister. During the elections he promised a new and vigorous drive for peace and was eager and anxious to partner with President Bill Clinton.
But Barak saw that Yassir Arafat wasn’t excited about peace. Instead, Arafat was said to be “aggressively passive” and his strategy “hyper-passive.” (From Aaron David Miller’s The Much Too Promised Land) Yes, he was passive.
Barak was angered. Nevertheless, he pressed on, conceding more….and yet more. No proposal was final. He just presented incentives like an overly-indulgent parent.
Here is what Labor Prime Minister Barak overlooked: (1) The Palestinian Charter called for the annihilation of the Zionist entity and that “armed struggle was the only way to liberate Palestine.” (2) The Islamic decrees that the Jews should forever be disgraced and debased. Therefore, if Arafat’s agreements would contradict these Islamic fundamental axioms, he would be dead meat. His own men would get him. (3) To adhere to any peace proposal, Arafat would have had to give up fighting, and he was a fighter.
Make no mistake: the Israelis yearn for peace—just listen to their music. But they have become disillusioned with the Peace Process.
The death of the Labor party has been coming partly because it was too ready to yield land that is both historic and that was provided for the Jewish people by the League of Nations.
Another thing: The Labor Party leaders knew that they needed the United States to negotiate for them, but schemed for an alliance with the European community once peace had been achieved!
The Labor Party ultra-peace, European-style Jews seek a democratic nation and a multicultural nation with no particular cultural allegiance. To them, a specifically Jewish state represents a rollback to a lower form of cultural-religious existence.” They’re O. K. with the stories of Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets. It’s their historical culture, but they’re not big on it. To speak of how to live as God’s people, to live in expectation of redemption or the Messiah—that’s not their thing.
In April, 2019, the party garnered only 6 votes, down from 24 in the previous election. In the election of March 2, 2020, it received just 3 votes. Then, in a recent poll, it didn’t get enough votes to have even one vote in the Knesset.
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The Torah and prophets of Israel warned Israel against going the way of the nations, because, if they did, they would be breaking the covenant with the Lord and covenanting instead with the nations that were headed towards divine judgment. The modern Labor Party ignored such.
Its demise is deserved.
Break up your fallow ground,
and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
Remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NRSV)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.