What's the Difference?
July 2001 by Asher Intrater
This summer in a conversation with Anne Carroll and Renee Branson in Houston, a question arose as to whether there is a difference between sharing the gospel in Israel and sharing it in any other country in the world. Certainly there is no difference in the principles of salvation, the truth of the scriptures, faith in Yeshua and so on. In every country there are certain cross-cultural barriers that have to be overcome.
However in dealing with the Jewish people in Israel, there are a few additional elements and issues that have to be dealt with along with the gospel. So there is a certain difference. Here are a few factors:
1. Covenant with Ancient Israel
There is a certain biblical world view that was established in Ancient Israel. In that world view there was a chosen calling to the people that had to do with the kingdom of God and the coming of the Messiah. The gospel to Israel is an extension of that original covenant.
2. Regathering and Restoration of the Nation
As Messianic Jews immigrate to Israel, they are going not only to preach the gospel to the people, but also to take part with the people in this prophesied restoration.
An interesting side issue here is that of the mixture of immigrant cultures. 150 years ago there was a very tiny population in Israel. Almost all of the present population, both Jewish and Arab, have moved and immigrated into Israel. Each of them has brought their own culture and language. Most of the Messianic Jewish community is also immigrant and multi-cultural in nature. This makes for a strange kind of "reverse tower of Babel" syndrome in the clash and confusion of different world views and lifestyles.
3. History of Anti-Semitism
4. Anti-"missionary" Efforts of the Rabbis
In the New Covenant scriptures we see that Yeshua often had to face strenuous arguments with the Rabbinic leaders. The anti-Yeshua arguments are an important aspect of Orthodox Jewish theology. This anti-Yeshua theology is based on interpretation of prophetic scripture and an application of the laws of Moses. On a day to day basis we come up against the same arguments that Yeshua did in his dealings with the Pharisees.
5. Christian "Holy Land" Identity
6. Hebrew Language
The use of the Hebrew language therefore is a much more significant factor than merely learning another language on a foreign mission field. For instance, in Acts 22:2 the crowd in Jerusalem turned attentive to Saul (Paul) when he began to speak in Hebrew. When Yeshua spoke to Paul in Paul's famous vision on the road to Damascus, Yeshua spoke to him in Hebrew (Acts 22:13).
In addition, because the Old Covenant (Tanach) was written in Hebrew, we use that original text as our text of the Bible. In this way we are not using a smoothed-over and edited translation. We have to deal with textual and grammatical problems when teaching any subject.
7. End Times Prophecies
In this way, developments in the military and the government of Israel become interwoven with the preaching of the message of Yeshua. If He is the Messiah of Israel than He is connected with government of Israel and the military of Israel. These are very complex issues which must be handled with balance and discernment. The military and governmental implications of the Messiahship of Yeshua may seem almost irrelevant to the preaching of the gospel in other countries, but here in Israel it has an immediate and urgent significance.
An important side issue here is the clash with Islam. Many Christians are martyred around the world by Islamic forces. Islam is the greatest international opponent to Christianity today. However most English speaking Christians are unaware of the battle against Islam. The center focus of Islamic militancy is upon Israel. In a strange way, Israel finds itself on the frontline on the battle between Islam and Christianity, in many ways (although unknowingly) defending the Christian world .