I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.
We are living in unprecedented times in Israel: the gospel in Hebrew is more widely available than ever through numerous online platforms and digital outreach. Beginning in the covid crisis, we witnessed a dramatic increase of Israelis reaching out to us for information about the New Testament and Yeshua, surprisingly, mostly young men. That trend of seekers reaching out to us and to other outreach ministries continues today. We also see that God is using different societal pressures today to draw Israelis to seek the truth. Instead of the confusion, fear and disconnection experienced during the covid epidemic, Israelis today are facing a highly polarized and divided country, the likes of which modern Israel has not experienced in its 75 years of existence, to the extent that many are talking about the real possibility of a civil war or a separation between secular, pluralist Israeli society and religious, traditional Israeli society.
Seeing the Light
More Israelis than ever before are reading the New Testament and finding themselves drawn to the person of Yeshua and His teachings. When confronted with the powerful Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible, most see almost immediately that they clearly point to Yeshua. For years, I have shared openly with my family, friends and co-workers about my faith. Numerous times, I have seen the revelation from the Messianic prophecies hit them with the realization that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah. But it almost always stops there: most people understand immediately that accepting this truth and following it to its logical conclusion (denying themselves and following Him), would radically change the status quo of their lives and maybe even cost them dearly in terms of family, social relationships and social status.
For the last five years, our discipleship team has led an increasing number of seekers and new believers through studying the foundations of the faith: going through the Messianic prophecies pointing to Yeshua and understanding what a New Covenant relationship with God means. However, the reality is that a high percentage of those who reach out to us and want to learn about Yeshua ultimately ends up falling away. This dynamic, however discouraging it may be for our discipleship team, is not surprising. Even in Yeshua’s time, there were many, even among the elite religious leadership, who believed that He was the Messiah. But when it came down to it, the follow-through of following Him cost too much:
“Nevertheless, many of the leaders believed in Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” -John 12:42-43
Walking in the Light
The reality for those Jews who chose to follow Yeshua as the Messiah two-thousand years ago and those who choose to follow Him today is very much the same: believing in Him is one thing but choosing to follow Him another. The obstacles facing those who choose to follow Him are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes their decision harder. On the other hand, their ultimate decision to follow Yeshua requires coming to terms with the real cost. In fact, Jewish believers who choose to follow Yeshua today are overcoming an even greater obstacle than those who made that choice in Yeshua’s day: a two-thousand-year legacy of persecution in the Name of Yeshua by the historic church and an inherited cultural paradigm that the New Testament is a forbidden, anti-Semitic book stand as a great obstacle between every Jew and the message of the New Covenant.
While the numbers of seekers and new believers who ultimately remain steadfast and committed is less than those who fall away, the transformation that we witness in the lives of those who choose to follow Yeshua is amazing. At the same time, we are indeed seeing a steady increase in the number of Israelis committing their lives to Yeshua from all ages and backgrounds: secular, atheist and religious. It is a small foretaste of what we know is ultimately coming when God fulfills His promise to pour out His Spirit on the whole house of Israel:
“Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, when I regather them to their own land, not leaving any of them behind after their exile among the nations. And I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.” -Ezekiel 39:28-29
Until then, we will continue steadfastly praying for that day. At the same time, we are also keeping in prayer all of those who have already received the revelation that Yeshua is Messiah: may God cause all the seeds of truth in their hearts to sprout unto a harvest of salvation!