Q: Dear Pastor,
I’ve heard in my church that Jews are special and we’re supposed to pray for Israel. Why? They don’t even honor Jesus as the Messiah, so why do we have to put them in a special category? I don’t get it.
A: First off, if you’re in a Christian church, I’m hoping you’ve at least heard about one special Jew - Jesus Christ, the Savior. This is the main reason Christians consider Jews unique; that particular ethnic group gave us our Messiah. As a result, God asks us to honor Christ’s heritage.
However, it is true that Jews as a nation and as a religion (the two things are not the same) remain blinded by the lies that were told about Jesus. These lies were spread wildly by the Pharisees during his crucifixion, on the day of his resurrection and afterward. They spewed toxic fibs about the Savior; that he was simply a deranged man with a God-complex, a manipulative cult leader, and worse - a prince in Satan’s kingdom who threatened the Jewish leadership with an agenda to destroy their faith. Still today, while Jews acknowledge him as a gifted teacher, rabbi, even a prophet, they utterly reject the fact that he was and is the Messiah. Jewish people are still waiting for their savior to come.
Thankfully, a contingent of the Jewish population has pulled away from these errant beliefs and trusted Christ. These unique people are called “Messianic Jews.” Among themselves they sometimes say, “we are completed Jews.” My messianic Jewish friends have explained to me that this is because every Jew has a missing piece inside them. When they find Christ, they feel whole for the first time. It is the same for us. All people are born with a God-shaped hole designed to be filled by Jesus, the lover of their souls.
Now to the nut of your question: Why are we Christians asked to respect a people and a nation who reject our Savior? Because the same Bible that explains the painful rejection of Jesus by his own people also reveals the heart of God. Thousands of years ago, Abraham the first Jew, who had just been told that through him the nation of Israel would be born, heard God say this, ”... and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, NASB). Later, after Moses led the nation of the Jews out of captivity, God made this point again through the prophet Balaam as he stood prophesying over them, ”... blessed is everyone who blesses you, and cursed is everyone who curses you” (Numbers 24:9). God asks us to bless the Jewish nation and the people in it. When we do, we experience that same blessing returned. Naturally, when we curse them, we suffer too. God still loves Jews for the sake of his Son, Jesus. In our desire to honor God as Christians, we must respect his request.
Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the most important information on this subject - the “vine scriptures” in Romans 11. Jesus the Jew is the vine of life, says the Bible, and anyone who believes in him is “grafted in.” Like plant botany, this means our spiritual DNA mixes so completely with Christ that we become an extension of him. We then become heirs of everything God promised the Jewish people. They were given special blessings and promises because they are the nation of Christ’s heritage. Great news. We receive their Jewish blessings when we accept the cleansing blood of Christ to forgive our sin. Through Jesus, we are part of the same Jewish vine. When we honor Jews and respect their nation, we honor ourselves and God.
Psalm 122, written by the great King David, teaches us how to view Jerusalem which is the holy site of the Jewish nation. He asks his readers to, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” He then declares the reward over us: “May they prosper who love you.”
On my desk in my office, I have a rubber ducky. It is the kind children float around in their bathtubs. My rubber ducky, however, is wearing a Jewish prayer shawl and yarmulke (a prayer-beanie). He’s there, both to bring me joy (he’s cute) and to remind me to pray for Jerusalem. I pat his head and bless Jerusalem in honor of my Savior and in service to my King.
Adrienne Greene pastors the Rockdale United Methodist Church near Harrison, OH. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.