I’ve had an unanswered question that’s sporadically popped up for over twenty years. A question that typically goes away, but recently has been lingering, consciously nudging at me, prompting me in a way that I know the Lord is pressing it on my heart to explore:
Why do I so clearly believe Jesus is the Messiah
the Israelites are waiting for, yet they don’t?
Moving to Chicago after college, I befriended many Jewish twenty-somethings: LJ, whose photographic memory, perfect CPA score, beauty and charm pushed me to my own sales success; Scott who left work on Friday not for happy hour, but to arrive home by sundown and the beginning of his Sabbath; and good-looking Jeremy, who we joked would flirt with anything in a skirt, but only date Jewish girls. Even when my friends claimed they weren’t religious, it was apparent that their culture and family traditions, had been maintained and passed down throughout hundreds of generations. Looking back, I’m surprised my pride-filled taunts of “you are missing the second half of the story (aka the New Testament)”, didn’t cause more debates, as it was so clear to me, yet veiled to them.
My research began in Hebrew Scriptures. I immersed myself in the deeper detail of Sunday school stories and could see the similarities with today: from the beautiful garden, jealousy that causes one brother to kill, another to be sold into slavery, tales idolizing the false gods of wealth, power, and status, even crazy weather patterns like our recent polar vortex and cyclone bombs. I also read about God’s love for mankind in creating human relationships, first with Eve so that Adam wouldn’t have to be alone, creating a covenant with Abraham so God could claim His chosen people and give them the homeland of Canaan. (Genesis 17:1-8), and a true, face-to-face friendship with Moses (Exodus 33:11). During their memorable burning-bush conversation, a new plan was disclosed, one that would put in motion the rescue of God’s people from Egypt. (Exodus 3:1-10). Clearly I am fast forwarding through thousands of years of the Old Testament, so let me point out just when the luck of the Israelites was changing – they were freed from slavery, had walked through the Red Sea, were headed toward the land of milk and honey… our Heavenly Father’s heart was breaking. He was looking at his children and knowingly predict they (including us!) would be tempted to sin and become disobedient.
“The Lord said to Moses, …You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods”. Deuteronomy 31:14-18.
Is this what happened to my Jewish friends? Are they veiled from seeing God?
Besides my Chicago friends, a few times a year I attend my husband’s industry conventions and enjoy dinners with Jewish business men. I’ve written in past blogs how I often receive Holy Spirit tingling when I am with Believers, so I was taken aback when the zaps occurred with these three Jewish friends. The tingling started when Fred explained his dietary restrictions – almost with pride “my body is my temple and bottom-crawlers aren’t welcome!” I laughed and asked more questions. He shared stories of how after the Holocaust, the UN returned a portion of the lost land to create a Jewish State and the numerous struggles that continue over boarders and ownership. And, sounding like a proud papa, he speaks of the strong economy and thriving agriculture that is a miracle amongst the surrounding desert countries. Convention after convention, Fred continued my education of current events that aren’t talked about much in my circles of friends, and I continued to be filled by the Spirit.
A convention or two after Fred sold his company, I met Jacob, who shared that his son left the upper middle class comforts of home in Chicago to join the Israeli army and claim his citizenship – my entire body was tingling – to hear the love and loyalty to an unseen homeland from an American youth, it can only be Glory to God. Most recently, cocktail chatter went deeper as Ken shared with me the importance of his children taking their Birthright Israel trip, a free trip for young Jewish adults to explore their heritage. There was deep conviction and pride in Ken’s voice as he described the experience, a perspective another Jew would intrinsically discern, and yet as he spoke, he held my gaze in a way that I too understood the significance of our conversation.
I’m so appreciative that God orchestrated these men to truthfully share as I boldly ask faith questions. I’m even more thankful that God provided the Holy Spirit to indicate His presence within me…and the Holy Spirit is available to all, even if the veil has prevented the Israelite population from understanding the references to Christ in scripture. Our Hebrew scholar and Christian-convert Saul/Paul describes it this way:
“We are not like Moses who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”. 2 Corinthians 3:13-18
See, even in His heart break, God provided salvation. He knew it had to be part of the original plan. We are humanly flawed and can never be enough, do enough, give enough away to earn our way to His arms. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT).
You may wonder, now that I know about the Veil, how am I going to operate differently? With empathy …and persistent boldness.
I recognize and repent the proud posture I held in Chicago, there is no intellectual conversation that will open eyes, God has to stir hearts of non-believers. There won’t be any breakthrough unless I place myself in a position of humility, praying that God reveals himself as He did to me, allowing for He and I to have a friendship. I need to continue living a life in the Light, sharing how Yahweh is showing up in my life, so all can see Him in me.
I’m more empathetic to Jews not wanting to give up a life-time of culture and traditions, as I too have a religious heritage from a Catholic upbringing. Yet I can share how thrilled I am that God lifted my own veil so I could see, hear and feel the richness of Him in creation, cathedrals and Temple celebrations.
I will ask God to continue presenting people and opportunities for me to speak boldly on His behalf. If I believe “Yahweh has a son and his name is Jesus. He is the long-awaited Messiah.*”, then I need to envelop them in compassion, listen and probe non-believers’ faith stories.
Please pray with me (feel free to insert the names of your friends):
Heavenly Father, you are an amazing God. I am in awe of your creation surrounding me and the people you place in my path. You know my needs and desires, and have a plan designed specifically for me that far exceeds what I could hope or dream. Thank you for loving me, Lord. I ask that more of my friends come to know you. I want to be there when the scales are removed from LJ, Fred, Jacob, Ken and many others that want something more from life, but don’t know how to ask you for You. Please nudge them and stay after them, let them see You for all that You are. Amen.
Much appreciation to the teachings of:
- John Myer’s “The Israel Story”
- Arie Bar-David’s “Israel and the Hidden Face of God”
- “From Time Immemorial, The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine” By Joan Peters. Recommended reading by my friend Fred.
- *Molly Cunningham’s quote plus special thanks to her editorial encouragement throughout.