“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Calling upon Jesus as Lord and Messiah. Cf. Matt23:37-39)
In Matthew 23, Jesus begins His farewell message to Israel. Of the scribes and Pharisees, the Lord says,
“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.” (Mat 23:4-7)
He then ends His message by saying to Israel,
“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” (Mat 23:38-39)
It was known and foretold by the prophets that the Jewish nation through its leadership would turn her back on God’s Messiah. But for now let’s get a feel for modern Israel.
There is a struggle in Israel of which many are not aware. The struggle is so intense that it is not uncommon to hear news media use the term ‘civil war.’ The struggle is largely between the religious Jews and secular Jews. Politicians are caught in the middle.
The issue is over power and influence. An intense hatred exists among the orthodox Jews, especially those of the ultra-conservative sects, for anyone who is not of their sect. This hatred is especially directed to the secular Jews. Secular Jews are considered traitors.
But it doesn’t stop there. These ultra-conservative groups also have war with one another – even over such things as whose rabbis are the greatest, and such like. So the hatred is deeply embedded in Israel’s religious spread.
A good place to begin is to understand that…
Jewishness is Cultural, Not Racial
Regardless of what some may think, being Jewish is not about race. And Judaism itself has never been a monolithic religion. Jewishness and Judaism has always been a mixture of many racial groups with a diversity of religious beliefs. The idea of Jewish blood is even discounted by Jewish writers today. It is promoted primarily by the Orthodox Talmudic groups.
This infighting among the Jews has coursed its way through history, with one group accusing the other of being heretics. A great many Jewish Christians were slaughtered in the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132-135 A.D., because the Jewish Christians would not recognize Bar Kochba as Messiah. This is only a sampling of bloodletting among the Jews. There are many, many other instances.
Orthodox rabbis in Israel have declared Conservative and Reform rabbis to be heretics. This comes through Talmudic writings, which the Orthodox hold as the only authentic guide to knowing and serving God. The only Bible the Orthodox are generally tolerated to study is the Bible as it is seen through the lens of the Talmudic writers.
Secular Jews on the other hand do not wish to be brought under the austere dictatorship of the ultra-orthodox rabbis. A great many Jews in Israel today will not even step inside a synagogue. The larger part of the Israeli population is non-religious. In fact Israel has the fourth highest percentage of atheism among modern nations today.
An Interest in Jesus
Here is the paradox. While we may think that the secular sector in Israel has little interest in Jesus Christ, this isn’t the case at all. Secular Jews are very much interested in Jesus. Actually the Christmas tree business in Israel is flourishing.
A little known fact is that there is a strong underlying Jesus movement sweeping Israel. Not a revival in the sense that Americans understand it. It is a movement of wanting to know more about Jesus.
According to Pinchas E. Lapide, the recently deceased orthodox professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, there is a “Jesus wave” passing through Israel. The wave is not about a Catholic Jesus or a Protestant Jesus or a Charismatic Jesus. It is about the Jesus of the land, the Jesus of the gospels.
And in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the New Testament is even used as a text-book in some of their classes.
The ultra-conservative orthodox groups are not very happy about any of this. Talmudic Judaism has attempted to erase Jesus from the history of the Jewish people, but the tables are now turning on them. The people want to know!
A Historical Perspective
It is hard for Christians to understand this enmity and infighting in Israel. We have such romantic notions about Jews. The problem is that most people in the west know very little about the true history of Judaism.
There are three essential periods of history for Judaism. The first temple period concerned itself with the original temple in Jerusalem, that is, Solomon’s temple, and up to the scattered tribes in the Old Testament.
Second temple Judaism began with Nehemiah and the repopulation of Israel, and runs up to the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem, in 70 A.D. Historians tell us there were twenty-four distinct Judaism’s during that time.
The third period is considered to have begun with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and up to our present. It essentially forms itself around rabbinic Judaism. The rabbis considered themselves the last mouthpiece of God, even exceeding that of Moses and the prophets.
The Story of False Messiahs
Then you have the issue of false Messiah’s. Throughout history the Jewish people have been deceived time and time again over supposed Messiah’s. This has contributed to the modern-day Jewish destain for anything religious. Jesus warned the people that this would happen, that many would come in His name and claim to be the Messiah.
But what of the Orthodox enmity against Jesus? This enmity reaches back to the times of Jesus and to the apostles, and even before. It has a spiritual base. Jesus and John the Baptist spoke of this hate element in Israel as, “a brood of vipers.”
Jesus said of them,
“If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.” (John 15:24)
Jewish orthodoxy has made little to no changes over the centuries. Their hatred for Jesus Christ and for all things Christian is often covered up, but it is always just below the surface. In fact if it came to the need for a blood transfusion, this group of Jews would prefer to die rather than accept the blood of a Christian, or of any Gentile, or even the blood of a secular Jew.
They believe other bloods are defiled. They cannot take a chance on defiling their own sacred “divine” blood.
It was pretty much the same during the time of Christ. Even the apostles had to process this. When Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius, he said,
“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” (Cf. Acts 10)
The Unraveling of Moses
The Law of Moses never said any such thing about entering the house of a foreigner. This came from the traditions of the elders which in turn became the foundation for all Talmudic writings. Even back then the rabbis had a choke hold on the people in Israel.
This helps us understand why Jesus often went outside the religious establishment to minister to those who were considered outcasts.
Jesus called the religious powers what they were. He said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Mat23:13)
If you would like to see the dressing down that Jesus gave the “hate” element in Israel, take time to read Matthew 23. It was immediately following this dressing down, that Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem … your house is being left to you desolate.”
The Enmity Goes Forward
Let me share some snippets of beliefs noted in common by the ultra-orthodox groups in Israel.
(1) They forbid Jewish men to listen to a woman singing in a choir or solo, regardless of what she is singing. They believe the voice of a woman is adultery. (Many Talmudic teachings are against women in general. These teachings are very much in favor today.)
Compare this to Paul:
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28 – Peter adds that husband and wife are fellow heirs of the grace of life.)
(2) They believe that when they come to power, all Christian churches are to be destroyed and all non-Jews to be expelled from the country, including secular Jews.
(3) Haredim rabbis often teach that the Holocaust was a well-deserved divine punishment for failure to keep Talmudic studies. (Among other things.)
(4) Their hatred for non-Jews comes from their continuous cabalistic tradition. They are much into magic. (They try to hide this fact from westerners.)
(5) For them the gravest sin is for a Jew to deny Judaism. The Jew who denies Judaism becomes a Canaanite, and to kill such a person is an act of righteousness. (Thus we see their hatred against the secular Jew, and against Jews who turn to Jesus.)
(6) The doctor Baruch Goldstein who slaughtered 20 Muslim worshippers, including children, in Hebron in 1994, is considered a saint by this group and is their intercessor in heaven.
But Why Are They There?
A question remains. Since there is such a dissonance among the Jews in Israel, then why are they there?
They are there because God brought them there. The nation of Israel has a purpose it must fulfill in God’s program of redemption. Yes, one day this Israel nation will cry out to the Lord Jesus and say of Him, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
So — What is it going to take to turn the eyes of Israel to Jesus? The answer isn’t as difficult as it may seem. It is clearly set forth in the prophets. The Lord said,
“In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hos5:15)
Jesus told the rejecters,
“I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sins; where I am going, you cannot come.” (John 8:21)
The time is shortly coming when Israel is going to desperately need a Savior. When that moment comes, they will cry out to Jesus. The apostle said,
“The deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Rom11:26-27)
We have a prophecy that sets the stage for these happenings. The Lord said,
“In that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth [United Nations] will be gathered against it.”
“In that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem … I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will LOOK ON ME whom they have pierced; and they WILL MOURN OVER HIM, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Cf. Zech12)
Every statement made in Zechariah 12:10, connects to something said about Jesus Christ in the new covenant writings.
(1) “They will look on Me….”
“You will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” [This is a clear statement that Jesus is Yahweh revealed fully in human form.]
(2) “…whom they have pierced.”
“…this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23 – In the Talmud the rabbis never credit Rome with the crucifixion of Jesus. They take it to themselves.)
(3) “They will mourn over Him as one mourns for an only Son.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
(4) “They will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom8:29)
Just to get you thinking.
There is much more to Jerusalem being the time clock of God.
In the meantime here is a song for your meditation - ‘Baruch Haba. Ma Tovu, B’Shem Adonia’ (Blessed is He), by Paul Wilbur.