4. Messianic Jews
The chapter before this ended on an important
note: Even with Israel, His own special people God will not, cannot, do anything
except there be first of all some sign of a change of heart in His
Time and again this is the lesson, which the
history of the Judges harps on. In those stormy chequered days it was when, and
only when, the people cried unto their God for deliverance that He raised up a
saviour. An astonishing number of Scriptures, all of them with a marked Last-Day
flavour, make this principle inescapable: First, repentance in Israel, and then
the Messianic salvation, which will inaugurate God's kingdom.
1 Kgs.8: 47-49
Joel 2: 12-20
Zech.6: 15 (context)
Acts.3: 19,20 (R.V.)
Many readers of these words will not even trouble
to refer to those passages i n order to check their validity for the present
purpose, because they, and several generations before them, have been reared on
one particular passage which has been much miss-read and
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and
upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and
they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as
one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that
is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zech. 12:10).
From these words the inference has often been
made that it will be only when Messiah comes in person to his nation and they
look up to him in person, that repentance will sweep through the whole of Jewry.
This view depends entirely on the phrase: "look upon him” and on no
other supporting passage. But more exactly the Hebrew reading is: "they shall
look unto him". This reading conveys a very different idea - that of
dependence in time of need. The preposition and meaning are the same as at the
end of Numbers 21:9.
It is important, however, to avoid the assumption
that this impressive Scripture requires that there must be universal repentance
in Jewry. If we must wait for that, Messiah will never come. Does not Zechariah
13:9 foretell that "I (God) will bring the third part (i.e. the minority)
through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined... they shall call
on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people, and they shall
say, The Lord is my (not: our) God"?
Is it not a fact that right through history the
majority of Israel have been unworthy of their name? The prophets’ -
Isaiah and Amos especially- were constantly driven to make appeal to the
faithful remnant of the nation.
It is surely one of the most eloquent signs one
could wish to see that, whereas through long centuries conversion of Jews to any
form of Christian faith has been virtually impossible, today there exist in the
Land small scattered communities of practising Jews who believe Jesus to be the
Messiah. True, a big majority of these have come under the aegis of pentecostals
and other trinitarians. It is a well-earned reproach that the New Israel,
willing to spend any amount of money on sun-bathing and tourism in the Holy Land
have not bestirred themselves to find and help these Messianic Jews to a fuller
It is well known that in the United States and in
not a few other countries this belief in Jesus as Messiah has taken root amongst
Jewish communities. One is reliably informed that in London and other U.K.
cities, there are synagogues where practising Jews unobtrusively graft on to
their Judaism a belief that when Messiah comes he will be none other than Jesus
In the U.S.A. Messianic Jews regularly advertise
in the newspapers.
In Cleveland, Ohio, there exists a synagogue,
which has broken away from Jewish orthodoxy, all its members’ happi1y
believing in Jesus as their Messiah.
When it is considered that for generations
Christian societies for the conversion of Jews have had virtually no success to
report, this modem development is striking indeed.
It will, of course, be urged, as it already has
been, that this belief in Jesus is mostly a very fragmentary and inaccurate
affair, really worth very little. There is no doubt some truth in this. But
nothing can be more certain than that there is joy in heaven over even a partial
conversion of those whose hardness of heart regarding Jesus has hitherto been
phenomenal, and even heart-breaking, to those who would fain see stony hearts
change. Even in the days when Jesus and the apostles were among men, it might be
questioned just how fully those publicans and sinners and Samaritans would
assent to the thirty searching paragraphs in the B.A.S.F.!
And when some were preaching Christ even of envy
and strife, of contention and not sincerely, being intent on adding affliction
to Paul's bonds, that amazing man responded with "Notwithstanding . . . Christ
is preached, and I therein do rejoice" (Phil. 1:1-18).
In such barren ground as this, an austere demand
for perfection is out of place.
Every year an annual march takes place in
Jerusalem. It includes all kinds of Jewish organisations. Every shade of
political and religious opinion in Israel is represented. In 1987 it was
heartening to hear the broadcaster announce: "And now, here come the Messianic
In 1988 there was a conference in Jerusalem of
several hundred Messianic Jews
Such developments as these are at best straws in
the wind, but they do show that there is a breeze.