Motivation For Messianic Ministry
By Sam Nadler
One might wonder why we so often go to Israel and other Jewish areas for ministry and outreach. To understand our practice, you would first have to understand our passionate priorities in our service for Messiah. Our motivation is reflected in Paul’s own statement on this very subject in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
Paul’s Passion for Israel
The word translated “desire” is the word for “well-pleased” and it may mean “will, pleasure, satisfaction,” as in Matt. 11:26; 2 Thes. 1:11 ; Phil. 1:15; 2:13; Eph. 1:5, 9. This desire means his “will” and “purpose of his heart.” This same heart’s desire is also the passion of God. Paul’s passion for Israel came from a heart surrendered to the will of God, not from any mere fleshly loyalty. The love of Messiah controlled his heart (2 Cor. 5:15), so Paul had Messiah’s concern for Israel upon his heart. It was not merely an intellectual theological regard for Israel. Rather, Paul’s theology was the articulation of God’s unfailing passion and purpose for the Jewish people (Rom. 11:1-5). If you have a theology without passion for the very truth it represents, that theology may be an intellectual substitute for what you genuinely and passionately believe and live for.
Paul’s Prayer for Israel
Immediately after acknowledging the national rejection of Messiah by his brethren according to the flesh (Rom. 9:31-33), Paul passionately prays that the Jewish people “may be saved.” Undoubtedly, Paul knew that the spiritual situation was far from hopeless for them, despite their present national unbelief, for he had shared their rejection of Messiah Yeshua. (As Paul had been miraculously saved by ‘looking unto Yeshua’ (Acts 9:3-6), so he had faith to believe God’s promises to “all Israel,” as well (see Romans 11:25-27). God had promised that one day Israel too, will look unto Yeshua and be saved (Zech. 12:10).
For Paul, his passions resulted from faith in the unfailing promises of God; and his prayers reflected his passion. Please note in this verse that both his desire and prayer are reflected in the verb “is” and not “are”. Both are seen as resulting in one unity in his soul. Your passion and prayers are not two different things, but the root and fruit of the same tree, two sides of the same spiritual coin.
The word for “prayer” means “to want” or “to beg”. It is used for a plea or entreaty when addressed to God as a prayer request, petition, or supplication. In my mind’s eye, I can almost see Paul during his morning and evening devotions beseeching God and pleading for Israel’s salvation. Does your passion result from fervent faith in God’s promises? Are your prayers for Israel reflecting your passion for God’s concerns and eternal love for them?
Paul’s Practice toward Israel
With this kind of passion and prayers based on God’s promises for Israel, we can easily understand Paul’s practice and ministry to the Jewish people. He wanted them saved and the Lord glorified, as the faithful Deliverer of Israel (Rom. 11:27). His ministry was to the Jew first because it is first in the heart of God (Jer. 31:3) and then accordingly, prioritized in his own soul and agenda. He made it a point to find Jewish people with whom to share Messiah (Acts 13:46, 14:1, 16:13, etc.). What is harder to understand are believers who say that the love of Messiah controls their hearts and yet have no particular passion, prayer, or ministry practice concerning Israel or the Jewish people.
But, What if God Calls me to Africa?
Regardless of your calling, take it from “the apostle of the Gentiles”, Paul (Rom. 11:13). This is still a Jewish message to Jews as well as to Gentiles (see also Acts 17:17). If you are called to Nigeria, France, China, or Pakistan, you have a message that is still ‘to the Jew first’. What this means is that you have a responsibility to love Jewish people, reach out to Jewish people wherever you may be, to teach and disciple believers of the Jewish emphasis of the Good News and to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122:6).
From God’s Heart to Yours
This is why we do not ask you to merely give your finances to help Word of Messiah Ministries in this work of bringing the Good News of Yeshua to the Jewish people around the world. We want you to recognize God’s promises and embrace His word for what it is: your soul’s spiritual nourishment (Matt. 4:4, 1 Pet. 2:2). Be passionate for the truth and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, especially that Messiah, the Prince of Peace, be made known to the Jewish people. Then as you pray, the Lord will direct your practice, whether it’s to personally witness to your Jewish acquaintances, or to financially help to bring the message of Messiah to places you can’t go, or both! All that is a spiritual result of what needs to be a first priority: yielding our hearts to His heart, that His passion would be our passion and His purpose for our lives would then be the practice of our lives. Shalom.