I remember a Jewish boy in my sixth grade class named Carey. I used to smile at him real big each day. I am sure he thought I was flirting with him! But I couldn’t think, as a sixth grader, how else to bless him. It tickles me now.
Then one day shortly after Christmas vacation, each member in my sixth-grade class went around the room and told what he did during the holiday break. When it was Carey’s turn to speak, he said, “We don’t celebrate Christmas, so we stayed at home.” The whole class gasped! And I immediately understood in a childlike way why I should bless God’s chosen people — they didn’t celebrate Christmas. And that tickles me even more.
It wasn’t until much later when I went to Bible school and joined a great church in Texas that I came to know who the Jewish people were and are and why, indeed, we should bless them.
Christianity and all its streams, even its extreme branches, finds its very hearty and deep roots in the Jewish faith. Jewish authors penned the Scripture by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Ten Commandments are the rule of law for Western civilization, and we unwittingly strive to obey it without even thinking about it seriously. It is so deeply woven into the framework of our society.
Jesus Himself was Jewish, raised keeping the laws of Torah, remembering the feasts, and honoring the patriarchs who went before Him. Some Christians are shaken to the core to discover or remember this significant fact.
The Jewish people have an important historical and prophetic role in God’s plan for mankind and for the universe. Abraham is their father, and God called him out to follow Him and raise up a people who would reflect God’s light to the world and who would become God’s voice to humankind.
Jewish people have been called to bless all the families of the earth! And they have handled this quite well in many ways, contributing to modern medicine, science, literature, technology, etc., in the most innovative and remarkable ways. They comprise only one percent of the population of the world, yet they are world changers!
In some ways, they failed. They turned against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when they rejected Yeshua or Jesus. It was God’s plan that they become a light to the nations through the resurrection power of Jesus, through His death, burial and rise from death. Jesus won power over everything we humans battle on earth when He died and rose. He won power over death — man’s ultimate enemy.
Whether secular or religious, Jewish people believe in themselves now and their human power to overcome. But the Scripture is clear that someday all Israel will be saved ,and those who crucified Jesus will mourn Him. Although the Jews sent Jesus to be crucified, the Roman drove the nails into his hands. But it is important to note that Jesus went to die according to His free will. He did it because our sin separated us from God.
Because of all this and much more, as Gentiles, as citizens of all nations, we are called continually to bless the Jewish people. Here are five practical ways to bless Israel.
To illustrate, these points are made using the acrostic PEACE.
1) P – Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good. ~ Psalm 122:6-9
There is much tension in the Holy City with three major religions fighting for the space and ownership of the city. There is hatred between two ancient brothers: Ishmael and Isaac, and the battles rages on generation after generation. It intensifies! Some are crazed because of it!
There have been wars and Intifada uprisings, and there may be more… But the prayers of the saints and the power of God have stayed back an untimely blood bath again and again. There are many true believers within her walls who need our prayer support and encouragement. Pray often for the peace of Jerusalem. This is God’s beautiful and holy city where He has chosen to display His fire and love. This place and people need our prayers desperately.
2) E – Encourage friendships with Jewish people.
Most church-going Christians do not know Jewish people. Here are a couple of ways to meet them. Attend classes (open to the public) at your local Jewish Community Center. They have many wonderful classes available. I have taken Hebrew and dance classes. The JCC is very receptive to visitors attending, and it gives you an opportunity to meet Jewish people. Friendships bridge the huge gap between Jew and Gentile. There is much skepticism on both sides, but friendship helps bring understanding, compassion, and eventually mends.
Let genuine friendship be your goal, not making a convert or winning a soul. Don’t be afraid to share honestly who you are: “I am a Gentile Christian, and I love the Jewish people. Here’s why… ” or this is always a good icebreaker: “I love and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Believe eyebrows go up on that one, because they know that is THEIR God. And we do indeed share that God. He is one and the same!
When Jewish people discover you are a person of prayer, they will ask you to pray for them or their family. Even if they are not religious, they respect prayer and people who pray.
Another way to encourage friendship is to start a conversation with the kiosk owners selling wares in the malls. Many of these are Israeli Jews living in the metroplex. They are selling skin lotions and treatments and other things. They are very warm, relational, and friendly. Buy something from them and plant the tiny seeds of friendship. Later invite them into your home or go out for coffee. Your life will be so enriched by extending an olive branch to them.
Be aware when you fly somewhere of those sitting around you. Almost every time we fly, we are seated by a Jewish person. The long flight gives us opportunity to make a friend.
Again, just work on friendship first, share your heart about the Good News later, of course, sometimes the Holy Spirit guides you to do share right away. He will prompt you when the timing is perfect to share.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~ Proverbs 17:17
3) A- Ask Them In
Invite your new-found friends into your home. It is a blessing to receive an invitation to visit in someone’s home. I love it more than going out to eat or anything. It is quiet and intimate and gives the opportunity to share and develop true friendships on a deeper level. Serve a meal and treat them as a royal guest. Asking them into your home shows you are willing to go beyond the casual “let’s have coffee” stage. It shows you are opening your heart. An open home is an open heart.
In Jewish thought, hospitality is rooted in the idea that God Himself cares for the “sojourner.” The Lord instructed the Israelite not to oppress the foreigners living in the land, not to harm them in any way, rather reach out, give to, and bless (Exodus 22:21).
Hospitality is a fundamental expression of the Christian faith. It is so intertwined with the Gospel that it can hardly be separated especially hospitality to the “stranger.” Invitations to those family and friends is easy, but offering a home-cooked meal to someone you barely know, is practically unheard in our culture today. And hospitality should be offered without a thought of being paid back in any form. This is true hospitality and true Christianity.
4) – C – Contribute to Jewish causes. Paul said that we should be concerned with those in the household of faith first. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. ~Galatians 6:10
Give through your local church to Jewish ministries first, then contribute to other causes. For instance, we support Holocaust survivors soup kitchens in Ukraine. These have become very successful in helping poor Jewish across the cities of Ukraine, and many have come to embrace Yeshua through this small endeavor.
If your church does not give to Jewish ministries, then schedule a meeting with your pastor to explain your heart on the matter. This kind of outreach will bless any church or person, because the Scripture is tried and true: I bless those who bless my people, and I will curse those who curse them (Genesis 3:12).
5) – E – Educate
Educate yourself on Jewish history, Messianic Judaism, the feasts and holidays, and the Holocaust. There are many wonderful books available: “The Irrevocable Calling” by Dr. Dan Juster; “They Thought for Themselves” by Sid Roth; “God’s Appointed Times” by Barney Kasdan; and “The Jewishness of the Gospel” by David Stern.
Try having a Sabbath meal in your home and invite your new Jewish friends. They will come and love it. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. No one cares. It is the extension of goodwill and love that draws.
Ask your new Jewish friends about the Holocaust. Many, if not most, have a story to tell. You will be touched by their stories and your heart will expand toward their plight.
Educate your church on current Jewish issues. For instance, anti-Semitism is escalating around the world. The rising statics are alarming. Will your church stand with Israel if the going gets tough? Spread the news wide and far that the church must love Israel in these last days. That doesn’t mean we agree with everything the Israeli government does politically or otherwise. It does mean we love the Jewish people and believe Israel has a right to exist no matter what stand the nations of the world may take against her.
Educate yourself on the people and faith of Islam as well. You cannot separate these two ancient brothers. Reach out to Islamic people in your hometown as well. There are many. You can follow these same steps to reach them. God does not love one above the other, nor should we.
As believers, we are called to reconcile and to make steps of peace toward each other. And these steps are very practical.