What can the Spirit of God effect in human/Jewish lives?
QUESTION: Can the human heart be softened? Can stiffnecked pride be transformed into humility and stubbornness become pliable?
ANSWER: Yes. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
In Christian conversation that would be a “conversion” or being “born again.”
And in terms of a movement, it would be “a spiritual awakening,” or “a revival.”
In American history, we term that sort of national event “A Great Awakening,” when the whole nation is caught up in an awareness of God’s power and love. When that happens, people are bold to speak of spiritual reality. We have had three of those “Great Awakenings” in American history when most of the nation is caught up in it, the first being in the 1730’s. Many lives are changed for the better. Individuals become convinced of their sinfulness and rejoice when they experience God’s grace. Hardened hearts become tender. In the churches, worship styles become less starchy and more meaningful.
The Spirit has moved and does move among us.
But the Spirit cannot be maneuvered, nor is He altogether predictable. Just as Jesus said to the Jewish leader, Nicodemus: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3)
QUESTION: Could there possibly be a spiritual awakening in Israel—and among all among the Jewish People?
ANSWER: “Well, that’s a stretch,” you might be thinking.
QUESTION: But don’t they need it?
ANSWER: Yes, and here is what I’ve read from various American rabbinical leaders as they evaluate their people’s religious condition:
1) Many of their people do not value Jewish traditions (their feasts, Sabbaths, etc.)
2) Most modern Jews would be embarrassed to have conversations about God and religious experience.
3) In the synagogues and temples there is much more talk of social justice and social service than of religious experience.
4) Their common watchwords are “inclusiveness” and “choice.”
5) They are ignorant of the Torah teachings.
6) In America, 70% of their non-Orthodox young people are marrying Gentiles, making their numbers fall precipitously.
7) They are spiritually malnourished.
(For more detail, see my book, Israel the Chosen, Chapter 11, “The Crisis of Judaism.”)
This is true of a very large portion of modern Jews, especially in America. Do they need a revival? They surely do.
THE TESTIMONY OF THEIR PROPHETS
Their ancient prophets scorched the ears of their hearers, writes the late Abraham Joshua Heschel, himself a Jew. Hear him: “They [the prophets] speak and act as if the sky were about to collapse because Israel has become unfaithful to God….The prophet’s words are outbursts of violent emotions.” (Heschel: The Prophets)
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
Who have eyes and do not see,
Who have ears but do not hear.
Do you not fear me, says the Lord,
Do you not tremble before me?..
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart.”
-- Jeremiah 5:21-23 (NRSV)
Does this apply to modern Jews? Yes. They need a revival.
* * * * * * * * *
But the prophets also say that in the latter days the Spirit will become very active in the house of Israel.
In my opinion and from reading these prophecies, I believe we are in the preliminary stage of this revival in Israel. (more of this in a later blog).
NOW GIVE HEED TO THESE PROPHECIES
The Prophet Ezekiel: The Lord speaking-- “I will take you from the nations….A new heart I will give to you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit within you…. And you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.” (Ezekiel 36:26, 31)
“Oh dry bones, hear the word of the Lord….And the breath came into them…” (Ezekiel 37:4,10)
“And I will pour out on the house of David and 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 [their Messiah]…” (Zechariah 12:10) Yes, a true revival involves Yeshua: He is recognized and gladly accepted.
What a glorious revival that will be!
This will occur when most Jewish people will be in Israel; and Jerusalem will be the center of this spiritual activity.
“The nations shall see your righteousness,
And all the kings your glory,
And you shall be called by a new name
That the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.”
(Isaiah 62:2-3 (ESV)
“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David, their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4-5
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