Should the Church Have A Heart For Israel? | Introduction
A Historical Perspective by Rev. Jerry Marcellino with Yochanan Ben Yehuda
The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, His body, is a global reality. Ever since our Lord uttered those blessed words, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18), the church, through all of its trials, tribulations, and blessings, has nevertheless moved right along on God’s perfect time schedule, without missing a step (Matthew 13:31-33). Just like a mighty river, the church eventually flows through all of its obstacles, and keeps on keeping on. Why so? Because God has both intimately and providentially ensured that everyone and everything throughout history will accomplish all of His purposes (Ephesians 1:11). Therefore, should not the study of history, especially a study of God’s dealings with His people throughout history, be viewed by every believer as a worthy spiritual exercise? Jeremiah the prophet, in principle, thought so. Hear his words in chapter 6, verse 16, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you shall find rest for your souls…” So then, the study of history, especially Church history, is, a spiritually beneficial exercise, because it is a study of His-story. That is, history is the story of God’s work among men and man’s response to it. This being so, believers everywhere should make it their spiritual responsibility to study not only the works of God in the Word of God, but also, the works of God throughout history, especially the history of the Church of the past two millennia.
When you begin to study the history of the church by reading and then learning to live among the writings of God’s choice servants of yesteryear, you soon realize that you’re really a new kid on the “church history” block. In fact, rooting around in their recorded thoughts and testimonies quickly makes you realize that to nonchalantly discount their writings would not be good evidence that you are growing in spiritual wisdom. Follow my thinking a bit farther as I seek to illustrate this truth by referring you to Ephesians 4:7-16, where we read,
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things). And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
The apostle Paul is saying here that Jesus Christ has given His church many gifts. These gifts are pastors and teachers. They are given to each generation of the church’s existence. However, they are not gifts only to their own generation. They are intended by Christ to be gifts to His whole church from generation to generation. In other words, these gifts of Christ are gifts that keep on giving. They keep on giving to every new generation of believers. We at Heart for Israel (HFI) are pleased to have compiled for you, some of the best thoughts about God’s past, present, and future dealings with Israel, His covenant people of old, by some of the best of Christ’s gifts throughout the history of the church. In a day when the church has both replaced and forgotten Paul’s words regarding the Jews (in Romans 1:16) “to the Jew first” and (in Romans 11:29) “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable,” we are pleading that the church now listen carefully to the voices of its forefathers and present-day leaders. Listening to their voices must also be coupled with emulating their prayerful hearts for Israel’s salvation. We must now see before our eyes what they saw so clearly from a distance. Oh listen closely to their musings, test their writings with Scripture (Acts 17:11), and then respond with enlarged hearts to pray for the church of our day to join arms with the church of days gone by in praying for the soon salvation of Israel!