NOTE: I was asked to write a post on praying for Israel for another blog and decided to post it here as well.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” –Jeremiah 31:3
I was heading off to have lunch with a woman I’d never met. To be honest, I was feeling a little intimidated. The woman in question was a Messianic believer (a Jewish believer in Jesus) and an author. She had written a wonderful and well regarded book on Israel and, because of my own love for Israel, we had been connected by a mutual friend.
I had been praying for Israel for some years before our lunch date, but had been sensing an increasing burden from the Lord to share His heart for this land and its people in an even deeper way. Yet whenever I tried to share my conviction with others, I felt inadequate. The political, social, and spiritual dynamics in Israel are among the most intense and complex on the planet. With so many voices and opinions clamoring to be heard, I often felt lost in the overload. Since I understood so little myself, I didn’t feel qualified to intelligently discuss the subject with anyone else—let alone someone who had written an entire book on the subject!
Yet there I was. We weren’t far into our conversation when my fears were realized and it seemed my lack of knowledge would be exposed. She asked a seemingly innocuous question, “So tell me, why Israel? Why are you so interested?”
Here we go, I thought. This is where my ignorance will become woefully evident. I took a big gulp and decided to be as straightforward as possible. There was no sense trying to be profound or sound more knowledgeable about the subject than I really was.
“Well, the simple truth is that the closer I get to Jesus and the more intimately I come to know His heart, the louder I ‘hear’ His heart for Israel.”
There, it was out in the open. That simple sentence was the sum total of all I really knew about Israel.
Her response was totally unexpected and brought sweet relief to my heart. Tears welled up in her eyes as she softly said, “That’s the only answer.”
She was right. When it comes to praying for Israel, you don’t need to be a Bible Scholar or an expert in Jewish tradition. You don’t need to understand all the theological nuances of Replacement Theology, Dual Covenant Theology, or any other strange twists of doctrine the Church has embraced in full or in part over the years. You don’t need to be an expert on past, present, or future predicted events concerning Israel. And you don’t need great prophetic insight and understanding—you just need to love Jesus and be willing to press in to hear His heart.
It’s wonderful to have greater wisdom and understanding. If the Lord leads you to dig deeper into the vast amounts of information available, that’s great. But if He doesn’t, that’s great too. The point isn’t to be an expert—the point is to hear and share the desires of His heart. And the desire of God’s heart for His prodigal firstborn nation is that they return to Him.
His desire is “to gather [them] as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Matt. 23:27). His desire is to sit enthroned in Zion forever (Psalm 132:14). His desire is that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom.11:26).
Imagine how you might feel if your eldest child rejected you repeatedly despite your faithful love and devotion. Then imagine you had another child. This child did love you. This child did obey you (more or less!). You would be thrilled with the love and affection of your second child, but it wouldn’t ease the unceasing ache for your firstborn.
In a sense, God now has “another child” (the Church). His love for the Church is profound and steadfast, but His love for us doesn’t ease His unceasing ache for the lost sheep of Israel.
God is forever faithful. He is not just the Promise Giver, He is the Promise Keeper—and He will keep His promises to Israel. Although Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (see Matt. 5:17), God’s covenant with Abraham preceded the Law. It was, and is, unconditional and irrevocable. He’s not turning His back on Israel—not now, not ever. Neither should we.
The Lord told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you” (Gen.12:3). Psalm 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.” From the beginning, God desired that we would share His heart and love what He loves. When we do, He blesses us. It’s not complicated. You don’t need to be a theologian, or have years of experience, or multiple degrees and pedigrees to hear His heart. You don’t need to have all the answers. You just need an open, willing heart … a heart willing to love what He loves.
He loves Israel. He always has; He always will.
What about you?