This Sunday, we took a break from our "With One Accord" series to hear a word from Vladimir Pikman, director of Beit Sar Shalom ministries, about God's heart for the Jewish People. Mr. Pikman walked us through God's heart as revealed in the Old Testament, in Christ, and in the writings of the apostles. The overall picture God paints of himself is one of deep love and compassion for all His children -- starting with the Jewish people.
God of Compassion
In the Old Testament, God reveals himself as a God of compassion. He relates to his people through his heart and passion, and we, in turn, relate to God in the same way. In Isaiah 65, we meet a God who remains faithful despite the faithlessness of his people, Israel. His people are "obstinate" to say the least, but God stretches out his arms toward them (and toward us) in love. God calls his people the "apple of his eye." Not only does this expression connote intimacy, it also expresses sensitivity and importance. If the center of our eye is hurt, we hurt. By calling his people the apple of his eye, God reveals their prized and sensitive position. God longs for his people to return to his outstretched arms, because when they hurt, he hurts.
Christ who weeps
When we come to the New Testament, we meet Jesus, the Word made flesh. So, is his heart any different from God's heart? Does he suddenly abandon love for Israel in order to love everyone else? Of course not! One picture we get of Christ's deep love for the Jewish people occurs in Luke 19, after Jesus' joyful triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There, everything is a celebration -- even down to the very stones, which Jesus says would cry out if the people did not. But in verse 41, Jesus looks out over Jerusalem and weeps in love and sorrow for them. He longs for them to recognize his gift of peace with God.
Paul in grief
Finally, the apostles also reveal God's heart of love for the Jewish people. A particularly poignant passage occurs in Romans 9:1-5, which reveals Paul's deep grief and passion for the Jewish people. Here, Paul confesses that he is willing to be rejected by God -- to, in effect, take on their sin as Christ took on ours, just for the sake of his people, the Jews. Paul's prayer and hope is that Israel would be saved, and he later writes that the gospel is for all who believe, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
The church in prayer
So, how can we honor God's love for the Jewish people? First, we can take a few seconds out of our prayer time to specifically pray for the salvation of the Jewish people. Then, as God provides opportunity, we can share the gospel with them. God's heart is for the Jewish people; ours should be too.
Read more about Vladimir Pikman's Messianic Jewish ministry here.