Should Christians Have A Heart For Israel? | Part 2
Christians should have a heart for Israel because God’s Word calls us to preach the Gospel to the Jew first by Rev. Jerry Marcellino with Yochanan Ben Yehuda
This unmistakable truth was the thrust of our Lord’s earthly ministry. We read in Matthew 15:24, “But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’”
Let us not miss the point here. Our Savior’s brief three-and-a-half year ministry was intentionally very focused. Therefore, it follows that He had to redeem his time obediently and wisely upon the Earth. In addition, because His Father had willed that He be born a Jew (John 1:11), and also because He was the promised Messiah of Israel (Isa 53), it was simply a matter of the Father’s heart that His brief ministry be focused only upon “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). Of course, the lost sheep were in fact and would ultimately prove to be those physically born Jews who believed His message. In a similar vein, our Lord preached upon this same point when he said, “…I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). That is, I have come to call those Jews who saw, by God’s grace, that they were in need of the forgiveness of their sins. In that wonderful picture of salvation – the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) – we find yet another example of our Lord’s focused ministry reaching fruition when he said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Once again, we see physical Jews, who are spiritually lost, coming to faith in their promised Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord!
Further, during the feast of Pentecost, Luke tells us about how the Apostle Peter’s second sermon to thousands of Jews, in Acts 3:25-26, echoes this same theme of priority to the Jew:
It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.” For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.
Now, is it surprising to you that even though Paul was the great Apostle to the Gentiles, he still maintained that the gospel was meant for the Jews first? Absolutely not! Listen to his words to a predominantly gentile audience in Romans 1:16 (Rom 2:10b; 9:1-5; 11:11-29):
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
It is important for us to understand here, that when Paul made the statement “to the Jew first” he was not speaking of the historical missions priority about to be fulfilled (Acts 1:8), or merely recalling the historical chronology of his ministry career. Rather, he was relaying a lasting priority of all gospel ministry! A lasting priority? Yes! Why so? Because as Paul penned those words, he was planning to soon visit the church at Rome on his way to preach the gospel in Spain (Rom 15:20-24). Further, Paul wanted to correct their thinking by reminding them that God has not rejected His people and neither should the church at Rome (Rom 11:1). Therefore, they should be active in reaching Jews with the power of the gospel, that the nations may experience a resurrection from the dead through the forgiveness of their sins (Rom 11:12,15). Such words (as Paul’s in Rom 1:16) would be quite strange coming from the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13), who was on his way to reach more Gentiles in Spain (Rom 15:24), if this priority was not to be a lasting mandate for the church. Finally, it is of massive importance that we do not miss the fact that when the Apostle Paul would enter Gentile cities to preach the Gospel, his custom was to always begin preaching in the Jewish synagogues (Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:1-2,17; 18:4,19; 19:8). So then let us not forget the Jews in all of our Gospel work. We must gear our hearts to aim for their salvation, and then plead, with broken hearts, for their soon salvation (Isa 62:6-7). The ramifications of such an aim will have a global impact (Rom 11:12,15)! Why did God the Holy Spirit place a missions priority upon reaching Jews with the Gospel? Because God the Father has a heart for Israel. Salvation belongs to the Jews (John 4:22; Rom 3:1-2; 9:1-5; 11:1-7)! Why did the Apostle Paul have such passion to reach the Jews first? Because the Father’s heart was also his heart! So naturally, his heart ached for the salvation of Israel. Oh, that all believers everywhere would be brought by God the Holy Spirit to both say and pray with Paul in Romans 10:1:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
My friend, do you have a heart for Israel?