“Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: In those days [it shall come to pass], that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23 ASV)
We live in the most amazing and exciting times having the great privilege of witnessing Bible prophecies being worked out and fulfilled in this day and age. For those that have eyes to see it is a faith-building time, a time of glorious anticipation for the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach).
In modern times (1948) we have seen the rebirth of the Jewish State and the call of God going out to the four corners of the earth bringing back His ancient people, uniting them to their ancient and Promised Land. Among those making aliyah to Israel are believers in Yeshua, people that are planting the seed of faith in the land of faith. There is a new generation of Jewish people that are reaching out to YHWH through Yeshua/Jesus. It appears to me at least, that something else prophetic is happening; something as amazing and spiritually moving as this modern day exodus and return. Our opening verse provides a clue as to what that is.
“In those days” or “In that day” is a prophetic formula referring to a future fulfillment. Some see Zechariah 8:23 as referring to Jews such as the apostle Paul. Some see the completion of the verse in Jesus. I want to suggest there is an end-time meaning also. Those living at the end of the age will see the fulfillment; but even now, in our time we are seeing this verse open up to some extent in practical ways. I say even now because it seems to me we are experiencing a sort of preview of this phenomenon, a foretaste. Paul said something that has always excited me, every time I read it; it really does thrill my soul. You can find it in Romans chapter 11. Verse 12 first of all; “…how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” Then verse 15: “…what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Both verses refer to the Jews and the great blessing they are going to be to the rest of us. Firstly, it is thrilling to see God’s Word being fulfilled. Then, it is thrilling indeed to see God’s people, Israel, returning to Him as prophesied, and finally, it is thrilling because the world is being and will be blessed once again through and by the Jewish people of faith.
When we go back to the beginning, to the Book of Genesis/Bereishit, there we read in Ch. 1:5, “…and there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” For the Jew, the day begins in the evening, moving therefor from darkness to light. For us in the West, we would say the day begins in the morning and ends in the evening or night. Why do I find that interesting?
The Jews have undergone a ‘blindness’ or ‘hardening’ in part. We find that in Scripture (Romans 11:25). They have a veil over their eyes, which is removed when they believe in Yeshua (2 Corinthians 3:14-15). What is happening today? That veil is being removed. The Jews are moving from night, to day, and from darkness to light. On the other hand, the rest of the world is moving from morning to evening, from light to darkness. The Bible speaks of a great ‘falling away” in the end-times. Many in the Church that have had the light will move from that light into darkness.
The Jews, moving from darkness to light will become the light to the world that God created them to be. They are entering into their calling and destiny. And the Bride is being made ready for the Marriage supper of the Lamb.
What is occurring today is really exciting. Believing Jews are once again teaching Scripture and preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, following the example of the apostle Paul. This is what I am referring to when I say something equally as exciting as the present day exodus and return is happening. Jews that have received Jesus/Yeshua as their Messiah are instructing Gentile believers in God’s Word. It is truly awesome!
Gentile believers’ who hunger for a deeper understanding of Scripture, are clinging to the coats of those believing Jews that are filled with the Spirit and that are gifted and educated in the Scriptures and the ways of Yeshua. In Zechariah, this clinging to the coats of the Jews, or the khenaph, which is the corner of the long flowing garment worn in the East, has the sense of keeping a firm hold, showing an earnest determination of the Gentile believers to accompany the Jew, who is himself represented as travelling towards Zion. In effect they are acting out the words from the Book of Ruth – “Entreat us not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for wherever you go we will go…your people shall be our people, and your God our God.” It is a Ruth and Naomi moment.
The culmination of this prophecy is a time when the Jew shall not only “believe in one God” (as they claim to do) but will be one with God. Yahweh Himself, the Holy One of Israel, in the person of Messiah Yeshua shall be in the midst of them. Amen!
The Jews have the Hebrew language of the Bible, the culture, the mind-set and the call of God to bring out the riches of God’s Word that we would never see without their particular God-given insight. There is a move of God in the Church today bringing Jew and Gentile together in a way that has not been seen since the time of the apostles. This is God’s creative, reconciling hand at work.
The number ‘ten’ in our verse stands for “a great and complete multitude.” The Hebrew phrase, mikol leshonoth hagoyyim—“of all the languages of the nations”—echoes the words of Isaiah 66:18, where we read that “all nations and tongues” (or “languages”—haggoyim vehalleshonoth) shall be gathered to see God’s glory in Jerusalem.
There is a gradual realization among the Jews and revelation and awakening concerning Yeshua HaMashiach; and there is a gradual increase in understanding and awakening among the believing gentiles concerning God’s plan and purposes for Israel and the Jews, along with a hunger to know and understand the Scriptures. It is a move of God where the Spirit and the Word are coming together as Jew and Gentile are coming together in Yeshua.
Since the early centuries, Christianity has not affected the Jews in the way that it should have according to Romans 11:11. I would suggest the reason for this is that the Church has become far removed from the faith passed down to us. Having moved away from our Hebraic roots and mind-set, and having taken on the Greek interpretation of life and Scripture, the Church turned from being thankful for and to the Jews because salvation is of the Jew, to hating the Jews and persecuting them. How on earth would this provoke them to jealousy? How would such a gospel cause them to be envious? This gospel is totally alien to them! It has not been ‘Good News’ at all, in fact their experience with Christianity has been very ‘bad news’ for them, and it led to the holocaust during World War II.
During the Talmudic period of Israel’s history the rabbis came along and made a pun on the word euaggelion (Good News).
Because of the intense persecution by “Christians”, Talmudic rabbis made a word-play on euaggelion – calling it, aven-gillayon. Aven is Hebrew for wicked or crooked. Gillayon means scroll. What should have been Good News became wicked scroll, which is a tragedy and a reversal of what is properly God’s Good News. In a nutshell, Jews, such as the apostle Paul won the Gentiles to the Gospel. The Gentiles accepted the Gospel but went on to reinterpret Scripture, turn against and reject the messengers [the Jews] that brought it to them! A long history of contempt between Christians and Jews followed on. A Jewish scholar commented that “it is very difficult to build what the Church calls ‘good news’ on hundreds of years of bad history.” Thankfully God is beginning to reverse this now. Amen!
Even though God is at work changing attitudes and giving light on His Word, there are sadly still Christians who are, both actively and passively, working against Israel and the purposes and will of God. Yisrael’s gits and calling are irrevocable and it is futile to resist God. The word Yisrael means “God prevails”!
Romans 11:11 “So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling [Gr transgression] salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel [Gr them] jealous.” Gentile believers that have an understanding of their Hebraic heritage, who study and live out Scripture from that position, will, along with Jewish believers, cause this jealousy and the desire for the Jewish nation to embrace the true faith of their fathers and to enter into their inheritance and calling. The Jewish position has simply been one of “stumbling” and it is the place of the Gentiles to lift them up (Eccl 4:10). The word used for “pray” in “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” is shaˊalu and means “seek,” it is active – be actively involved, physically involved – a challenge to us today! This is the Word of God – It is not an optional extra. “Pray” – actively seek the peace of Jerusalem. Get involved. (Ps122:6)
Many Pastors and Ministers fail to understand the importance of Israel and are too busy with other matters. Are these leaders too busy to be involved with and intimate with God in the way that He called them to be? Israel is not an optional extra, and the Jews are not separated from the love of God. “All Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26) – this is a fact of God. Choosing Israel was an act of God (Deuteronomy 7:7).
If God had finished with Israel why is Paul in Rom 11:14 seeking to save some of them? Paul himself was a redeemed Jew, an apostle of Yeshua HaMashiach. A Jew is a Jew…Israel is Israel.
Either God has cut them off or He has not. Paul makes it quite clear that God has not finished with Israel. What is more, if we will enter into the purposes of God for this time and age, we can have a part in seeing Israel redeemed by God’s grace. God has a remnant just as He did in the time of Elijah when God said, “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Rom 11:4. God kept them, they did not keep themselves. God did it then and God is doing it today. We Gentiles can run with the Lord or we can run the possibility of being cut-off ourselves. This is a God-ordained opportunity for the Gentiles to be a light to the Jews so that they in turn will be a light to the nations. Arrogance will lead to God’s displeasure.
This resurgence of interest in the Hebrew understanding of the Scriptures might sound threatening and disconcerting to some. I would suggest that instead of undermining our faith or replacing it in any way, the Jewish understanding deepens and enriches our understanding as we look more closely into the world, life and teaching of our Lord. Our experience of God’s Word is transformed as we view it from a Jewish perspective.
Unlike many “revivals” of recent times which have been experience based and have included strange, even animal-like (unholy) behavior and phenomena, this is a move of the Spirit of God taking us back to the Scriptures. It is a resurgence of interest in God’s Word, the Hebrew Scriptures and Christian Scriptures from a Hebraic perspective. Even so, as in all things we must test what is taught against Scripture as did the Bereans “with all readiness of mind,” to see that it is true to God’s Word (Acts 17:11), and exercise discernment.
In looking back to the time and culture of Yeshua and the apostles we are gaining insight into Second Temple Judaism, the Judaism practiced by Jesus two-thousand-years-ago not to the rabbinic Judaism of today. Much has changed since the times of Christ. The Bible is essentially a Jewish document, and we ignore that to our loss. When we look at the cultural context that God’s Word was spoken into we can better understand that word.
This sea change between Christians and Jews has not gone unnoticed by the secular world. During a Christian gathering in Jerusalem in April 2012, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said: “…there is a dramatic transformation that is taking place in the relationship between Christians and Jews. For centuries this relationship was focused on our differences and our tortured past. But today … Jews and Christians are focusing on our common future and the common values that we share.”
What is happening in the Church today with the increasing love for the Jewish Scriptures, the Jewish people and the land of Israel, the fusing together of Jew and Gentile into one New Man is only a stirring, a beginning, an anticipation and foretaste of the future awakening and glory when Messiah comes again and rebuilds David’s tent (Amos 9:11). He will reign over all the earth.
If you saw a burning bush that wasn’t being consumed today, would you go and investigate it or would you walk on by? Moses investigated and entered into the purposes of God. God met with him face to face. This is a matter to be investigated not ignored. May we not miss this God-given moment in time and space.
“Open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of Your Torah.” (Psalm 119:18)
[First published in TorahGrace No.1]
Blessings and shalom,