In the 1980s there were a series
of meetings between Arab Christians and Messianic Jews to express our unity
as believers in Yeshua. In the 1990s, after the First Intifada and Gulf War
(1991), Arab Christians and Messianic Jews in Israel began to deal with
some more difficult issues in the light of political crises. By 1995 some
of the Arab Christians began to express their identity as "Palestinians,"
including their opposition to Israeli policy. That identification led to
more sensitive communication on the part of the Messianic Jews toward the
Arab Christians, yet at the same time introduced a measure of polarization
on political and prophetic issues.
Reconciliation Should Lead to Cooperation
In the early 2000s, after many years of reconciliation conferences, we
began to ask the question, "What happens after basic reconciliation?" We
realized that the next stage is cooperation.
After much prayer, we discerned that the first area of cooperation
should be Muslim Evangelism. We sought to support Arab Christians who
were involved in evangelism to Muslims (and were doing so at great risk to
their lives). These include many unknown and secret evangelists. They
are heroes in our eyes.
In recent years we have been entering a new depth in our relationships.
Jerusalem Pastor Bassam Adranly has become a key leader here in Israel.
David Demian, Egyptian-born Canadian leader of the Global Gathering
movement, spent much of the last decade gathering a large number of Chinese
Christians to pray for reconciliation in Abraham's family between the
"sons of Isaac" and the "sons of Ishmael". Marcel Rebai, who
has spent many years in the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, also
helped to gather both European and Arab leaders. These gatherings emphasize
reconciliation, along with prophetic praise and worship. During one of the
meetings in preparation for the "822" conference in Jerusalem, our brother
Majdi (an Egyptian pastor based in Jerusalem) expressed with tears,
humility and courage, his desire as an Arab Christian to be symbolically
"married" to us Messianic Jews.
Majdi's proclamation brought an opening in the Spirit. I came forward
asia representative Jewish believer. We embraced and cried together. At
that point we Jewish believers began to confess our sins in a deep way,
recognizing our pride today, and all the way back to the rejection of
Yeshua 2,000 years ago. At that moment, it was as if a spiritual bomb
went off in the room. David cried out, fell on the floor, and began
to intercede. There was a spontaneous outburst of tears and intercession
from everyone in the room: Arab, Jewish, Asian, European ...
At the main assembly of the "822" conference and a year later at the Global
Gathering in Munich, the Messianic Jewish leaders knelt down on the stage
and expressed a similar measure of confession and repentance. David and
Bassam then led the Arab Christians in a response of commitment and
covenant toward the Jewish brothers. They publicly made a "Ruth"
vow: that "Your people would be my people" and "Your God will
be my God" (Ruth 1:16).
For Arab Christians to make this commitment not only to Yeshua as the
Messiah, but also to the Jewish people, as Ruth did, represents to me a
significant shift in the body of Christ. It heralds a re-alignment
of historic proportions, because it was linked to international Christians
from Asia, Africa, Europe and America as well. We realized that the "Ruth
Paradigm" was not to be a rare and exceptional calling for a minority of
Christians, but the primary and normative position for the body of Christ.
The 2015 Global Gathering took place in Munich, where Israeli athletes were
murdered at the 1972 Olympics. After several days of worship,
intercession, prayer and fellowship, the Messianic Jewish leadership team
sought to honor the Arab leaders. We realized that this was more
than just honoring one another as fellow believers. There is a deep
connection between Arabs and Jews, going all the way back to the time of
Abraham, our mutual father. We pointed out that Ishmael received the
sign of covenant in circumcision (Genesis 17) before Isaac was even born
(Genesis 21). We are bound together by a covenant of almost 4,000 years.
Because of this covenant, we have a joint destiny!
There was a profound heart reaction among the Arab brothers and sisters
when the Messianics were willing not only to repent and bless them and
honor them, but also to express our joint destiny and partnership. We also
recognized that there is a covenant order: the children of Ishmael come to
their spiritual destiny BEFORE the children of Isaac.
As Messianic Jews we are very aware of our calling and destiny according to
Scriptures. The gospel is "to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16); there
will be a great revival in the end times so that "All Israel will be
saved" (Romans 11:26); and we are to lead the world in inviting Yeshua
to return with cries of "Blessed is He who comes" (Matthew 23:39).
Our destiny is VERY important to us. Therefore it is difficult for us to
perceive that through the Abrahamic covenant our destiny is LINKED to our
Arab Christian brothers and sisters. And if our destiny is linked to them,
then it is necessarily DEPENDENT on them as well.
Humility & Honor Required!
For us as Messianic Jews and Arab Christians, to recognize that we have a
joint, interdependent destiny, demands a tremendous amount of soul
searching, as well as searching the Scriptures. It reminds us of the
turmoil of soul that Jacob went through when he wrestled with the Angel of
YHVH all night (Genesis 32) before meeting with his brother Esau (Genesis
33). This issue is so deep in the history of the people of God, that its
coming into right order has a potential to release healing, reconciliation,
alignment, unity and revival throughout the body of Christ and ultimately
to Israel as well.
This joint, interdependent covenant connection is difficult for us as
Messianic Jews to accept. Not only that, but the Arab destiny must come
first! The primary spread of the Gospel in the first century went
north from Israel into Turkey, then westward into Greece,
then Italy (Acts 16:10; 23:11). In this generation, the Gospel is coming
around the world through East Asia, then to the non-Arabic Muslim
world, then to the Arab world, and then finally to Israel. The nations of
the world come to their fullness before revival comes to Israel (Isaiah 19,
Matthew 24:14, Romans 11).
With the great turmoil in the Muslim world today, it would seem apparent
that this is the time and season (Acts 1:7) for an historic sweep of
evangelism to Muslims. They are already fleeing their homes by the
millions. For us as Israeli Messianic Jews, who pray every day for the
national revival of our people, it is a great revelation to perceive that
the revival will come through the Arab peoples on its path to us.
Revival on its Way!
Covenantal cooperation and partnership between Messianic Jews and Arab
Christians have great potential as we head into the end times. In
preparation for this year's Global Gathering returning to Jerusalem,
we are planning a joint Feast of Trumpets celebration and prayer meeting,
to be led together by Arab and Jewish believers. As the Trumpets are blown,
we will seek to proclaim Yeshua's kingdom on earth (Revelation 11:15)
and mobilize the body of Christ worldwide toward unity, alignment and
The next Global Gathering is here in Jerusalem on November 7-11.
Please keep us in prayer, and we invite you to come and take part in this
move of God in our day.
This article was previously published as a two-part series on
25Aug16 and 01Sep16
on the Revive Israel website and on 29Aug16 and 08Sep16,
on Kehila News Israel