Harry Whittaker
Five Minutes To Twelve

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 people.

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.

Mt.23: 39
Is.17: 6-8
1 Kgs.8: 47-49
Lev. 26:4-42
Is.19: 20
Gen.18: 19
Deut.30: 1-3
Ps.81: 13,14
Zech.13: 9
Rom.11: 15
Jer.3: 14-18
Joel 2: 12-20
Hos.5: 15-6:3
Jer.29: 12-14
Ez20: 42-44
Zech.6: 15 (context)
Jer.31: 9
Ez37: 11
Jer.4: 1,2(RVm.)
Deut.4: 27-31
Zeph.2: 1-3
Acts.3: 19,20 (R.V.)
Amos 5:15

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 miss-used:

"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 faith.

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 of Nazareth.

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 Jews!”

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.

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