Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (June 7)

editor - 7 June 2019

In the coming days the Jewish people will be celebrating Shavu’ot, and Christians will celebrate Pentecost. Cause for reflection.

Pentecost does not, of course, replace Shavu’ot. Just as the “New” Testament does not replace the “Old” Testament.

Rather, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit almost 2000 years ago on the first believers, during the festival of Shavu’ot in Jerusalem, the Lord started to fulfil the prophetic promises that are contained in this most wonderful of Jewish festivals. The Lord started to gather and present His firstfruits, as a pledge (an “earnest”) of the coming ingathering when (typified by the Feast of Tabernacles) the great harvest from amongst the Gentiles will be brought in. And that, in turn, will be the moment that – the Jewish people having been gathered back to the land (at least in part) – the Deliverer will come from Zion, and “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25).

So when we give thanks to God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, let’s also give thanks for present miracles, and look forward to the days to come when even greater miracles will take place – for Jews and Gentiles.

One of those miracles is the physical and spiritual restoration of the Jewish people.
“Therefore, behold days are coming, says the L-rd, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the L-rd lives, Who brought up the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but rather, ‘As the L-rd lives, Who brought up and Who brought the seed of the House of Israel from the northland and from all the lands where I have driven them, and they shall dwell on their Land.” (Jeremiah 23:7-8)

So, in a very real way, the restoration of the Jewish people to the land is not only something we are joyous and thankful for now, it is also a proof and confirmation that God is faithful and true, and that He will do all the great miracles He has promised. Jesus will come, the Kingdom will come, the harvest of the church will be gathered, all Israel will be saved, and the Bride will be prepared for the marriage of the Lamb.

But how do these promise of future glory fit with the current imperfection of the world around (and within) us?

In particular, like you, I am sure, I have been struggling to make some sense of the current chaos in Israel. How can it be that there is so much division, so much conflict, so many different opinions within the Jewish people?

It occurs to me that what for us outsiders seems like chaos, for the Jewish people is not chaos at all. What may seem like conflict, is perhaps a necessary part of the redemption. There can be no birth without the birth pangs. That is not to say everything is “good” in Israel. It is, rather, that tension and “conflict” may be necessary conditions in order for the Holy Spirit to work. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

The Jewish people are never fully satisfied with the present. Aware of the brokenness of this world and their own shortcomings in this life, they are always on the move towards the future. That may be there reason they are so critical of each other. At the end of the day, despite their differences, they know that they are a family, the Jewish people, with a special calling. Even those who profess not to believe in God know that there is something special about being Jewish, something that brings a special responsibility. It seems God has planted deep in their soul the notions of justice, mercy, and peace towards which they are continually to strive.

Sometimes I wish that we Gentiles had as clear a sense of calling and responsibility as the Jewish people do.

David Ben Gurion – not a religious Jew – perhaps epitomised this deep sense of calling and responsibility more than other Jew of the past century. Ben Gurion called that “mamlachtiut”. As Gershon Hacohen writes:

“During and after the recent election campaign, Israeli political discourse was replete with calls for the need for “mamlachtiut” in the conduct of political affairs, though the current meaning of this concept differs drastically from its original idea, as conceived by PM David Ben-Gurion.

While present day politicians view mamlachtiut, which cannot be translated directly into English, as subordinating political and sectoral interests to the general good (or “Israel before everything,” to use the election slogan of the newly formed Blue and White party), Ben-Gurion did not confine the concept to proper administration and the rule of law, to avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring integrity. Nor does it seek, as the conceptual foundation for running the affairs of the state, an ostensible unifying basis of commonality representing clear-cut, shared interests that are beyond dispute. According to Ben-Gurion’s creed, mamlachtiut is the compass that should guide leaders even when they come into conflict with the law and with the political opposition.”

Perhaps we Gentiles could also do with a bit more “mamlachtiut”?

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Blessed Pentecost.

Andrew Tucker
Editor-in-Chief, Israel & Christians Today 

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