A New Generation Follows the Messiah in Israel
For centuries, Jewish people would not even consider Jesus as their Messiah. Christianity's disregard for the Jewish-ness of the Jesus and the Gospels, anti-Semitism in so-called Church, and Judaism's unwillingness to even acknowledge the historical Jesus, all contributed to the Jewish rejection of Israel's only Messiah. In 1948, with the
establishment of the State, there were approximately 100 Jews who believed in Jesus living in Israel. (Yediot Chadashot [Hebrew daily newspaper] 21 December 1950). By 1967, there were about 500 Jewish believers in Jesus, including children, gathering in 10 local, Hebrew speaking, congregations (Nerel 1996). Today, in just one generation, there are an estimated 15,000 Jewish believers in Jesus with over 200 Hebrew speaking congregations in Israel. Not a huge number, but significant given the historical context.
It is the young generation of Messianic Jewish believers here in Israel that gives me the most hope for the future. Yesterday we had the unique privilege of immersing yet another group of five new young believers in an ancient Mikvah in the Judean Hills on the road to
Jerusalem. Assisting these young people walk down the stone steps into through the waters of covenant to Israel's Messiah is one of my greatest joys. As we all sang "I am certain neither life nor death..... nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Yeshua our Messiah and Lord!" it was difficult to hold the tears back.
One of the Israeli fathers said, "You could almost hear the angels rejoicing with us."
These kids are amazing. They grew up in a crucible of faith, persecution, conflict, and hope as they fight for the right to be followers of Yeshua in his own homeland. They are eye witnesses to the establishment of a modern grass roots movement of Jewish followers of Jesus during the last 20 years, in places where the gospel has not been heard in nearly 2,000 years.
These youngsters are often despised and scorned because of their faith, and yet they are willing to talk about Yeshua at school and in the army. They have lived through wars, some have lost friends to terror, others are rejected by their families, but they never lose hope. For they grow up learning to pray through financial needs, physical and social crisis, and they have seen God answer. They are eyewitnesses to God's faithfulness, provision, and protection in a modern promised land.
It has been suggested that these young Israeli believers are like a generation of Joshua. Moses went through much turmoil to know the Lord; Egypt, Plagues, Mount Sinai, the Wilderness. Joshua's generation became fighters. They are bold about their faith.
These are the 14-18 year olds now going into the Israeli army, full of faith and confidence in God, prepared to give their lives not only for God, but for our people. There are now many thousands of these young people in Israel.. They meet together at conferences, rallies and youth gatherings all across the country, they are going on mission trips to Africa and Middle East countries to serve orphans and refugees.
While the Middle East may be a hotbed of violence, terror and ancient conflicts, there is a generation arising in this land with a message of hope, peace and love to both Arab and Jew, and they are not afraid, they believe, and God is with them.