Something interesting about
the Messianic movement of the Holy Spirit, taken from Coach
McCartney's book"Blind Spots"
"Early in 1997, Promise Keepers held a pre-Stand In
the Gap summit for key participants and invited four Messianic
Jewish leaders to participate.
They expressed great satisfaction that we had asked
them to take a major role in the conferences, but they also
gave us a stern warning.
"You're the first Christian organization that has
ever invited us to be a part of its work," they said.
"But do you understand what you're doing when you
invite us as a group? You're inviting the highest order of spiritual
for the brunt of a spiritual attack."
relationship between believing Jews and Gentiles carries
such enormous biblical significance that Satan concentrates
much of hell's firepower on trying to keep the two groups
separate, apart, and alienated.
He knows that if he can keep us estranged, he will
have a much easier job keeping all other groups divided.
beyond that, Satan has always stoked a special hatred for
the Jews, the chosen people of God, for through them the
Messiah came to "destroy" the devil (Heb. 2:14).
[emphasis mine] Ever since the Lord announced that he would
send a Savior into the world, Satan has tried to wipe out
the people through whom that Savior would come.
It is not mere coincidence that wicked Queen Athaliah
managed to wipe out all of David's male descendants, except
for one (see 2 Kings 11:1-2). Nor is it coincidence that vile Haman tried
to exterminate all the Jews throughout Persia (see Esther
3:6) or that the evil King Herod tried to do the same thing
to all the infant boys in Bethlehem after Jesus
was born there (see Matthew 2:16).
after Satan failed in his many attempts to annihilate the
Jews (and with them, the Messiah), he continued to nurture
a furious rage against God's chosen people.
He nurtures it still.
book of Revelation declares how the devil even today continues
to hound and attack and try to snuff out the chosen people
of God. It pictures Israel as a woman who gave birth to Jesus Christ and
says Satan "persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male
Child" (Rev. 12:13, NKJV).
The devil knows that the Jews remain the chosen people
of God and that the Lord will one day draw all his people
to himself [read Zechariah chapters 12 through 14]. Satan especially despises all of God's chosen
who commit themselves to faith in Jesus Christ, and so Revelation
describes how the devil "was enraged with the woman, and
he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who
keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus
Christ [could this actually be referring to Messianic Jewish
believers in Jesus Christ, who both are Jewish-Christians,
and Jewish by race? (we Gentile Christians have often equated
this verse to ourselves-maybe Satan's real rage is for our
Jewish-Christian brothers, and to a smaller degree to ourselves)]
he can do so, Satan inspires intense hatred against God's
chosen people. On September 11, 2001, America found out how
intense that hatred can burn.
On that day, terrorists destroyed the World Trade
Center towers in New York and part of the Pentagon in Washington,
D.C., largely because of the support the United States has
given to Israel through the years.
The devil makes war not only against "the rest of
her [Israel's] offspring," but against any who dare to stand
with them. Our Messianic Jewish friends warned us about
the consequences of standing with them for good reason! When you get in touch with the purposes of
God and work to unite believing Jews and Gentiles, you will
experience the height of spiritual warfare.
But when you stick with it, victory is yours.
heard their warnings but went ahead with our invitation
week after our Stand In the Gap event, ABC newsman Ted Koppel
invited me to appear on Nightline, his award-winning
and highly acclaimed network program.
Shortly before I was to appear, I injured my back
while getting some exercise at the hotel where the show
was to be taped. The
pain grew so intense that I didn't see how I could go on
the show (by the grace of God I did appear) without some
relief. The hotel
doctor prescribed a strong painkiller, but his prescription
produced a reaction in me very similar to an overdose, and
I started to hallucinate. For three or four days I struggled with incredible
emotional turmoil and tangible physical agitation. Satan was just waiting for such an opportunity,
and I entered into what I have concluded was a period of
intense spiritual warfare.
I had to fight to keep my mind, and I have never
felt so dismayed in all my life, before or since.
It was horrifying. There is no doubt in my mind that the onslaught
was supernatural and evil.
the time I returned home, my wife had gone to visit family,
and I found myself alone in the house.
That night I grew so fearful that I called a Christian
brother and asked him to stay with me.
We also called many other Christian friends for prayer
thereafter, Promise Keepers began a nosedive.
We had been filling stadiums; now we were struggling
to stay alive. Internal conflicts erupted throughout our organization.
When we felt God calling us to work in Israel, we
spent a year doing some groundwork. It went nowhere.
this season of my life as a bitterly hard time. What had happened? Had we provoked the highest order of spiritual warfare? Had we been hit with the full force of a spiritual
attack? Only now
am I beginning to piece together the puzzle.
Messianic brothers had warned us that a close connection
to them would result in the most intense spiritual warfare
that we had ever experienced-and their words proved deadly
accurate. Yet they
also predicted that if we stuck with God's leading and continued
to encourage God's children to repair the growing divide
in the church, we would receive a "double blessing."
We think we may be on the threshold of that blessing
these experiences, coupled with a close reading of Scripture,
we believe that we have identified the key to repairing
the growing divide in the church. We're convinced that we will succeed in
our efforts at reconciliation only when we focus our attention
on the rift most highlighted in Scripture: the breach between
believing Jews and Gentiles. [emphasis mine] All others are subordinate to this one. Our mission is to rally the church and repair the divide.
A HISTORY OF DIVISION
For the first many years of the Christian era, believing
Jews made up the vast majority of the church. Not until the time of Acts 10, when God showed
Peter that he intended to share the Good News of Christ
with the Gentile world, did the church intentionally begin
to reach out to non-Jews.
read in Acts 13 that the Holy Spirit set apart Paul and
Barnabas to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
And by Acts 15, the church had to call a historic
council meeting to decide whether Gentiles had to be circumcised
and obey the law of Moses in order to be saved. The Jerusalem Council quickly endorsed Peter's
words that both Jew and Gentile were saved through the grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 11), and the Gentiles were
asked, not commanded (v. 28) to observe several essentials,
later reduced to four: abstain from idolatry; fornication;
bloodshed; and abstain from things strangled [taken from
F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts]
a few decades, the ethnic makeup of the church changed drastically. Largely due to the powerful ministry of Paul,
converted Gentiles began to outnumber, and then overwhelmingly
outnumber, their believing Jewish brethren.
The trend continued for hundreds of years until the
church was completely devoid of Messianic Jewish presence.
Indeed, the historic church officially rejected its
Jewish roots and a Messianic Jewish influence, particularly
expressed through the two Nicene church councils of the
fourth and seventh centuries.
history reveals that by the time of the Reformation in the
sixteenth century, evangelism to the Jewish people had nearly
died out. In fact, prior to the Reformation the church had implemented a "forced"
conversion policy toward Jewish people. An anti-Jewish attitude in the church continued after the Reformation
because Martin Luther and others expected many Jewish men
and women to welcome the reformed message of the gospel.
When it did not get a warm reception, Luther wrote
several anti-Semitic tracts, including "Against the Jews."
Throughout the following centuries, frequent pogroms
(organized massacres) against Jews broke out in many European
nations, often in the name of Christ.
Even in the twentieth century, Adolf Hitler quoted
Martin Luther to justify his efforts to exterminate the
Jews. In this way,
Christianity became repulsive to the vast majority of Jewish
thirty years ago, some of this attitude began to change
in the church and there was evidence of a growing receptivity
of the gospel among Jewish people. Through the efforts of groups such as Jews
for Jesus, the gospel began once more to spread among
the Jews. Out of this revival developed an ever-growing
force called the Messianic movement. Prior to its emergence, Jews who became believers in Christ were
expected to observe Christianity according to the patterns
developed among Gentile believers.
All customs, traditions, and actions recognized as
Jewish were considered heretical or at least biblically
inappropriate, as the practices were [erroneously] thought
to relate to law rather than grace.
For this reason, few Jews accepted Christ because
they assumed such a choice meant giving up every tradition
that marked them as Jews.
Gentile believers know little about the Messianic movement,
and some who are aware of it write it off as a cult or as
an "oddball branch of Christianity" without the courtesy
of investigation. The Messianic movement, however, offered
the faith of Yeshua (Jesus) without requiring anyone to
give up traditions and practices that Jesus himself observed
(the feast of Hanukkah, for example, is mentioned in John
10:22 [and Christians often overlook that Yeshua kept the
Sabbath and all of the Old Testament Holy Days, as did the
12 apostles on into and throughout the lifetime of the Jerusalem
Church of God-the original Christian church and first Messianic
congregation in history.]). This growing movement [which started about
30 years ago] struggles greatly for acceptance by the Gentile
majority of Christendom.
Most Gentile believers know little about the Messianic
movement, and some who are aware write it off as a cult
or as an "oddball branch of Christianity" without the courtesy
a result of such direct and indirect rejection, the divide
in the body of Christ, which has existed since early centuries,
continues to be perpetuated between believing Jews and believing
Gentiles. This divide
is both racial and spiritual. And while Messianic Jews probably represent the smallest segment
of the body of Christ in the United States, in my view they
represent the biggest spiritual dynamic.
Let me tell you why.
seventeen centuries of the absence of Messianic Jews in
the church, God is beginning to restore the Messianic Jewish
community (the Church of the Circumcision) to the body of
Christ. This revival
of the gospel among Jewish people is unprecedented apart
from the book of Acts.
The Jewish revival is nothing short of a miracle
and certainly represents the work of the Holy Spirit in
preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. [Coach McCartney saw the same thing I did and
neither of us compared notes.
I saw this by becoming a member of a Messianic congregation
and from internet contacts I had developed amongst Messianic
believers in Israel where the movement is spreading in ways
conventional Gentile Christianity never could.]
One of the major issues that faces the church
today is its receptivity toward our Jewish brethren. Our brothers, the Messianic Jews, have been
rejected by their own community for their faith in Jesus, the Messiah. Rather
than receiving this community of Jewish believers with enthusiasm
and love, the church has viewed them with suspicion and
One way to illustrate this point
is through the analogy of the olive tree used in Romans
11. The Jewish branches that were cut off because
of unbelief are now returning to their own olive tree. The wild olives (Gentiles) that were grafted
in to the Jewish tree because of their belief have occupied
this tree for seventeen centuries without much thought of
the natural branches. They also have forgotten that they were grafted
in[to the Jewish olive tree].
With the return of the natural branches [by the direct
agency of the Holy Spirit], the grafted-in branches feel
some discomfort and embarrassment and even unbelief.
can be compared to the owner of a home [the natural branches
of the olive tree] welcoming strangers [the Gentiles] into
his home just before leaving on a long journey.
When the original owner returns after such a long
absence, it is very difficult for the original strangers,
who have now come to accept this home as their sole possession,
to accept that they need to make room for the original owner
and even to give him the place of honor.
It is likewise difficult for the original owner to
return and find that he must now conform to the strangers'
ways. It is only
by God's grace that any of us occupy any part of God's house,
but Scripture tells us to give "honor to whom honor is due"
(Rom. 13:7, NRSV). Personally, I rejoice in the return of my elder
brothers of the Messianic Jewish community.
TEARING DOWN THE WALL
Do you like a good mystery? The Bible does, although it uses the term mystery
more to describe a long-hidden secret, now revealed.
apostle Paul uses the word mystery to refer to a
divine secret that "in other ages was not made known to
the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit
to His holy apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 3:5, NKJV). And what is this mystery? Just this: "that through the gospel the Gentiles
are heirs together with Israel, members together
of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ
Jesus" (v. 6). [emphasis mine]
proclaimed that God had commissioned him as an apostle "to
make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery,
which for ages past was kept hidden in God" (v.9).
And what was God's purpose in revealing this mystery?
What did he hope to accomplish?
Paul answers, "His intent was that now, through the
church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known
to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" (v.
did not want to create two church bodies but one. He had no intention of creating one church for Jews and a separate
one for Gentiles. He
planned for both ethnic groups to come together as one,
in a single body, and thereby show the powers of heaven
the depth and breadth of his awesome wisdom. We do not diminish today's intense struggles
between Anglo, African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native
American believers; rather, we believe there is a core issue
in The Great Divide.
did not want his Gentile friends to forget what an astonishing
thing God had done to pull off such a miracle.
The apostle reminded them what they were formerly:
You were separate from Christ,
excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the
covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in
the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were far away have been brought
near through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two
one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of
hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the [sterns: "enmity
of the"] law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new
man out of two, thus making peace, and in this one body
to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which
he put to death their hostility. (Eph. 2:12-16)
At Calvary, Jesus broke down the dividing
wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile in order to make
both groups one, thus establishing peace.
The Bible therefore gives no warrant for the growing
divide between these two groups of believers.
TOP BUTTON ON THE SHIRT OF CHRISTIAN
The apostle continues his thoughts
on mysteries in Romans 10-11.
There he tells his friends that God has saved the
Gentiles "to make Israel envious" (11:11).
He adds, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this
mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel
has experienced a hardening in part until the full number
of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved" (11:25-26).
Paul does not want Gentile believers to look down on unbelieving
Jews because they have so far missed the grace of God in
he encourages them to live in such a way that God's chosen
people will see and receive the riches available in Jesus.
Paul himself says, "I make much of my ministry in
the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy
and save some of them" (11:13-14).
This is God's declared plan for the church. But how can we provoke Jewish men or women
to envy if we have no relationship with them?
And how can we reach unbelieving Jews if we
don't even have a relationship with believing Jews?
[Greco-Roman Christianity has been not only missing
the boat on this one for 17 hundred years, they've been
contributing to the pogroms and anti-Semitism that has raged
over those past 17 hundred years. And the rest of Christianity has been infected
with this attitude without realizing it, an attitude that
directly goes against what Paul has spoken about in Romans
11.] I strongly believe that this is the core reconciliation
issue facing the church today.
The growing divide between believing Jews and Gentiles
violates Scripture and is a huge spiritual problem. Except where profound theological
differences separate believers, virtually all of the rest
of the divisions in the body are relational, whether they
involve Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans,
whites, denominational concerns, or other issues.
While Scripture speaks to all divisions, the relationship
between believing Jews and Gentiles is specifically addressed.
The most critical divide, the one to be addressed
first, is this growing rift.
It's not a good idea to put on a shirt by fastening the
middle buttons first. When
you do, the frequent result is misalignment.
If, however, you begin by fastening the top buttonhole,
all the other buttons and holes line up perfectly.
I believe that the relationship between believing
Jews and Gentiles is the top button on the shirt of Christian
Recent events have convinced me
that the Lord has been preparing us all along to encourage
and help the church to come together as one.
I have known for a long time that Promise Keepers
is a peacekeeping ministry, and I am starting to see more
clearly how God may want this ministry to help bring his
Just a few days ago I returned home from a Messianic Jewish
conference [Messiah Conference 2002] at which I gave a short
message. My Jewish friends introduced me like this:
"No one has reached out to us in seventeen hundred years
like Promise Keepers."
Just before I delivered my message, I felt tremendous spiritual
warfare raging all around-and then tremendous peace. God used it to show me that this work of reconciliation
is the most important thing we have ever done. Something broke that day in the heavenlies.
What happens next is going to change the church.
I know it in my heart.
This important focus on reconciliation between Messianic Jewish
believers and Gentile believers is a new priority for all
of us here at Promise Keepers.
I have prayed earnestly about its significance and
asked God to show me the best way to approach it.
I'm still in the process of figuring out the best
In the meantime, we'll continue our ongoing work of reconciling
different ethnic groups, emphasizing the divide between
urban and suburban church.God is orchestrating marvelous
things in our day. And when he orchestrates them in advance, we
get no credit-I learned that lesson years ago as a football
coach. I'm neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet,
but I believe I can see something of what God plans to do
In Matthew 24, Jesus predicts that the influence of the evil
one will vastly increase in the last days. He says that the love of most Christians will grow cold because
of an increase in lawlessness (v.12).
I believe that God is choosing this time to bring
together believing Jews and Gentiles so that we may triumph
in this dark day. Together we have enough power and resources to advance God's kingdom-but
not if we remain fragmented.
Promise Keepers, we often say, "is dedicated to igniting and
uniting men to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ." Our mission is and always has been to ignite
and unite; but while the first is happening, the second
is not. The first key to uniting, the second to becoming
the formidable force God wants us to be, is linking up with
the Messianic Jewish community.
And when that happens, says Paul, "through the church,
the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers
and authorities in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 3:10).
we on earth will reap untold blessings." [pp. 23-33]
Coach also says this on page 129,
paragraphs 2-5, "Messianic Jewish believers have felt shut
out of the church for seventeen hundred years!
Why don't we know that they feel this way?
Because they are so effectively shut out that we
are never near enough to them for long enough to hear them.
This kind of hurt doesn't get shared easily or quickly. For friends to risk being this vulnerable with
each other takes a lot of time, trust, and patience.
When I spoke with one Anglo friend about this issue, he admitted,
"Everything within me wants to defend myself. You say that these guys are crying out for
justice. I've sat
with every one of the guys you mention but one.
You've helped me to see that I've never cried with
Do you know why my friend never cried with these men? It's because he's never reached Level Four
[a Level Four Relationship, described in this chapter of
Coach's book] with any of them.Relationships are the only
things that truly "work" in repairing the division in the
church. Events apart
from relationships do not work; when the event is over,
so are the relationships.
And so is the healing." [p. 129]
[these excerpts taken from pp.
23-33, Blind Spots, by Bill McCartney, Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois.
Blind Spots is available at http://www.Christianbooks.com or http://www.amazon.com for about $12.00. These excerpts are what Coach Bill McCartney
of Promise Keepers has to say about the Messianic movement
of the Holy Spirit. Messianic Jewish congregations were all over
the eastern half of the Roman empire for the first three
hundreds years of Christian history--now they're back,
all over the United States, and spreading around the world,
and back into Israel.