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How Evangelicals can help Jewish believers in Jesus the Messiah return to their homeland

It was after my recent trip to Israel (23rd in total) that I was extremely saddened to discover how Jews who believe in Yeshua (Jesus), as their Messiah, are being systematically denied citizenship to their ancestral homeland despite their parents also being Jewish. 

But there is more, the Interior Ministry, which grants citizenship, declares that they are no longer ethnically Jewish by virtue of not recognizing them as such! In some ways, it’s akin to Woke ideology - but in this case, being ethnically canceled. 

Once I got home, I felt compelled to write about this, and I received a number of responses to my article which appeared on ALL ISRAEL NEWS on January 30. Among the most heartbreaking, were the personal stories of Jewish people who have been denied citizenship as a result of their faith in Jesus, the most famous and influential Jew in history, who they believe to be the Messiah. 

Some more grievous cases involved those with first-level family members who had somehow managed to become citizens during a less-restrictive period. But because of today’s very stringent standards, these people are unable to be reunited with their mothers, sons, or grandchildren who gained entrance during an earlier time.

This has hit me especially hard, knowing that we are living in perilous times, especially for Jews who are now experiencing antisemitism at unprecedented levels not seen since the time of the Holocaust some eighty years ago. 

Therefore, I am convinced, that it is urgent that we throw light on this issue. As evangelicals, we are equipped to play a role in being a part of the solution so that Israel might be even stronger, to the glory of God. 

I would like to offer three important perspectives. 

Let’s cut to the quick. First of all, it is essential that evangelicals understand that Jesus was not a “Christian” who came to start a new religion called “Christianity.” Jesus was born King of the Jews, the “Son of David,” the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world: who on Passover, (Nisan 14) gave His life on the cross to bring a “new exodus” out of enslavement to sin and death (“the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”). Three days later, He conquered the grave through His resurrection. He was then seen by His Jewish followers, who handled His resurrected body and who became the foundational voices for the Messiah of Israel to the world. For the last two thousand years, Jesus has been the most influential and transformative person in the history of mankind!

Might I add, Jesus is the most famous and influential rabbi in Israel’s history, far exceeding the influences of Akiva and Hillel. Nathanael said, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49).

In fact, one of the downsides of the term “Christian” (or Christianity) is that it obscures that the Jesus movement was a Jewish movement that began in Jerusalem - not Rome.

Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said, “We must overcome the superstitious fear which we harbor about the Messianic movement of Jesus, and we must place the movement where it belongs, namely, in the spiritual history of Judaism.” 

In fact, Israeli scholar and Orthodox Jew Pinchas Lapide said, “Jesus was utterly true to the Torah, as I myself hope to be. I even suspect that Jesus was even more true to the Torah than I, an Orthodox Jew.” He even affirmed that Yeshua rose from the dead, saying, “I accept the resurrection not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event.” 

The notion, therefore, that a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah is converting to another religion or is no longer ethnically a, Jew, is simply absurd! 

Today, it is estimated that in the U.S. alone - there are nearly 900,000 who have one or more Jewish parents or grandparents who believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel.

Secondly, it is essential for evangelicals to be a voice to our Israeli friends by their affirmation that Israel is the most unique nation in the history of mankind: created by God and called by Him for divine purposes. It is essential that Israel not only rediscover the founding fathers of Zionism, but also the Hebrew Scriptures that clearly identify the land of Israel is for all Jews. 

Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, envisioned the future State of Israel as a place where, “Every man will be as free and undisturbed in his faith or his disbelief as he is in his nationality. And if it should occur that men of different creeds and different nationalities came to live amongst us, we should accord them honorable protection, and equality before the law.” 

Was Herzl wrong? 

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, believed that if one was Jewish enough to die in Auschwitz, then one was Jewish enough to be granted automatic Israeli citizenship. 

Was Ben-Gurion wrong? 

Theodore Herzl wrote in his book A Jewish State, “I shall now put the Jewish question in the curtest possible form: “Are we to ‘get out’ now? And if so, to what place?”

Today, thankfully, there is a place. Israel. And Israel is for all Jews!

If Israel loses her original ethos, as stated so authentically by these men, then, clearly, she will also lose her identity and reason for existence.

Let us pray for those in the interior ministry who steward Israeli citizenship because they stand at a moral, ethical and biblical crossroad. October 7 brought a new reality for all Jews, which is that each one of them is at risk and in a dangerously vulnerable position. 

Thirdly, it is essential that evangelicals rediscover the ground floor of the Jesus movement when Peter made clear that the resurrected Messiah will remain in the heavenly sphere in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1, “until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets”. What did God speak through the holy prophets? That there will be the restoration of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the land of Israel! (Is. 11:11-12; Is. 27:13; Jer. 23:3; Ez. 11:17; Ez. 36:24; Ez. 37:21-24) 

The reality is, that the destiny of the nations is intimately tied to the Jewish people living in Israel at the end of the age (Romans 11:11-15; Zechariah 12-14). 

This provides a deeper understanding as to why there is such an intense spiritual battle that we are witnessing today. 

It is because of this - that I believe, one of the most important questions in our time is, “Do evangelicals, Israel’s greatest friends, those who were transformed by a Jewish message of salvation, have a responsibility to support our Jewish brothers and sisters - by being a courageous voice to help them get back to the land of Israel in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy?”

I am convinced that we do!

Israel (with whom we love and stand) must stop denying citizenship to Messianic Jews who want to live in their ancestral homeland. Why? Because ideology or religious beliefs do not negate ethnicity. Denying Jewish citizenship to any Jew is antithetical to the scriptural prophecies which call for the exiles to return to the land of Israel. The denial of Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, is a denial of the most influential “Son” in Israel’s history - who has had the most profound transformative impact than any other person in human history - bar-none. 

I ask therefore … 

Will you be a voice that casts light on the denial of the rights of Messianic Jews to their homeland at a time when the extinction of all Jewish lives has become a slogan? 

Will you commit in public and private to say that every Jewish life matters and deserves the right to return to their ancestral home of Israel? 

I believe that, together, we can effectively advocate for Jewish believers who, for far too long, have been the target of discrimination.

If you agree and would like to correct this injustice, please take a moment and write to the governmental email addresses below to request that this matter be given immediate attention.

[email protected]

[email protected]

Greg Denham is the Senior Pastor of Rise Church in San Marcos, Ca. He is the founder of “The Context Movement” and spearheads yearly “Friends of Israel Weekends” to fight anti-Semitism and champion friendships between Christians and Jews. He is the author of the new book, “Rediscovering the Original Jesus Movement (How 1st Century Context Clarifies God’s Will & Course-Corrects the Church Today!).

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