Gospel in Asia
©March 30, 2009 Asher Intrater
This week I have been ministering in Korea. We believe in investing and sending Israeli believers to help spread the gospel throughout Asia (Isaiah 2:3, 66:19). Our team members, Youval Yanai and Ariel Blumenthal, are working together with our many dear friends there for strategic outreach. (Ariel speaks fluent Japanese, conversational Chinese, and has spent time in many of the Asian nations. He has a greater appreciation of Asian culture than any Messianic Jew I know.)
Yeshua (Jesus) gave us the great mandate to be His witnesses from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Starting from Jerusalem, the ends of the earth certainly pertains to East Asia. When Shaul (Paul) set out to bring the gospel to the Gentile nations, he first headed north to Syria and Turkey. He desired to turn eastward to Asia, but the Holy Spirit gave him the strategic instruction to turn westward instead to Europe (Acts 16:6).
The main thrust of the gospel continued to move westward during the centuries. Starting in the 1960's, there were major breakthroughs in South Korea, which has become one of the most "Christian" nations on the earth. Starting in the late 1980's, the underground church in China began to grow, so that there are reported to be more than 100 million born again believers in China today. The majority of human beings on planet earth live in Asia.
In the 1990's many of the Chinese believers received what became known as the "Back to Jerusalem" or "Silk Road" vision - that they would bring the gospel to all of Asia and continue through the Muslim nations heading back toward Israel. There was a basic understanding that once the gospel finished this world wide circuit, we would be ready for the 2nd Coming of Yeshua. However there was not much revelation about God's purposes for revival and restoration in Israel itself.
Israel and the End Times
There is a direct relationship between the restoration of Israel and the 2nd Coming of Yeshua. What is known as the "Israel mandate" is essentially connected to the End Times' message.
When the modern Messianic movement started in the 1970's, the primary reason was evangelistic. We desired to remain as Jews in order for our people to receive salvation (I Corinthians 9:20). As more Jewish people did come to know the Lord, our motivation grew to a pastoral one as well. We were Jews who wanted to express our faith within our own culture and world view, just as any other community would (somewhat a reversal of the Acts 15 council to let the Gentiles believe in Jesus without becoming Jews).
As we grew in understanding of the Scriptures, we discovered a teaching issue as well. Much of the New Covenant was not being interpreted in a consistent way with the Law and the Prophets. Correcting theology that was anti-Law, Israel replacement, non-covenantal, and anti-millennial kingdom was not a matter of cultural preference but of foundational biblical truth (Matthew 5:17-19).
As we grow closer every day to the 2nd Coming, the Messianic and Israel message is taking on more of a prophetic significance. Christians around the world may have an option as to whether to pray for the Jewish people (Romans 9:1), to have an evangelistic burden for them (Romans 1:16), or to identify with them as a people (Ruth 1:16). However being prepared for the 2nd Coming is mandatory for all believers.
As Yeshua went up to heaven from the Mt of Olives, so will He return
[Note: Before the 2nd Coming, I believe there will also be a restoration of apostolic ministry and authority for the greater body of Christ from the Messianic community in Israel (Acts 1:25; 2:42; 8:14; 15:2; 15:22; 16:4), but that is for a different study.]
Is the Restoration of Israel a Fulfillment of Prophecy?
We are often asked if the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy. My answer would be: one half.
There is a promised restoration of the nation of Israel throughout the Hebrew prophets. However that restoration comes in two basic stages: first physical and then spiritual.
Ezekiel 36:24 – I will take you out from the Gentile nations, and I will gather you from all the lands, and I will bring you to your land.
The re-gathering of the Jewish people to the land of Israel in the past 100 years has been the ongoing fulfillment of this verse. However that is only part of the restoration.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 – I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you… I will put My Spirit within you.
The spiritual revival is the second half of the prophecy. That has only barely begun. The modern state of Israel has many problems. Some see those problems and doubt that it is a fulfillment of prophecy at all. Others glamorize Israel and do not admit its great need for spiritual renewal. When we see both halves of the promised restoration – one mostly fulfilled and the other barely fulfilled at all, we will come into a balanced discernment concerning modern Israel and biblical prophecy.
Thank you for partnering with us as we labor to bring revival to Israel and to share the gospel around the world.
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Please PRAY for our ongoing ministry in Israel of indigenous evangelism, planting Messianic congregations, the discipleship training center, prophetic praise and prayer watches in Hebrew, and financial aid for the needy.