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An Exquisite Irony

"There are three kinds of lies", said Benjamin Disraeli, "lies, damned lies and statistics". In the hands of the spin doctors statistics can prove that unemployment has never been lower, that hospital waiting lists have never been shorter and that crime is at an all-time low. It would be a turn up for the political books, however, if the opposition parties produced the statistics to prove that we've never had it so good while the government argued that the state of the country was at an all-time low
The last twenty years have witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of Christians who claim that, to put it crudely, God has finished with Israel. In answer to Paul's rhetorical question, "Has God cast away his people?" they answer, "Yes". How astonishing, then, that some Jewish authorities are alarmed at the increasing number of Jewish people who are turning to the Messiah. "Why", asked anti-missionary Rabbi Tovia Singer a few years ago, "have more Jews become Christians in the last nineteen years than in the last nineteen centuries?"

Jewish authorities are alarmed; and not without reason. The online journal The Jewish Times (www.mesora.org/jewishtimes.html) is currently running a series of articles to protect its readers from Christian missionaries. To reinforce its warning the JT informs its readers that there are currently 270,000 Jews who have “converted to Christianity”.

I am writing this in the passenger lounge at Stuttgart airport after attending the Jahresfest of Evangeliumdienst für Israel where I heard reports from evangelists working among Jewish people in Israel and Germany. During the last few years there has been massive Jewish immigration to Germany which has been accompanied by a phenomenal increase in the number of Jewish believers. In the nineteen forties Germany’s Hebrew Christian community was destroyed in the ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Yet now like a phoenix rising from the ashes Jewish believers are growing and Messianic fellowships exist in places such as Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hanover, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Aachen, Köln and Chemnitz.

Arthur Goldberg from Israel expressed his excitement that new Jewish believers are appearing all over Israel, and I was able to share how in Italy, a bastion of the infamous Inquisition, there is now a burgeoning Messianic movement. In June, Mark attended a conference in Italy where, among the four hundred delegates, there were sixty Jewish believers. Two Marano teenagers, descendants of Jews who “converted” under pressure from the Roman Church, attended the event out of curiosity. A Jewish woman and her Catholic husband also attended and during the conference they, and the teenagers, professed faith in Jesus.

Should it not be evident, therefore, that God has not cast away his people? As I return to the UK, I do so with a sense of excitement and anticipation that God is doing a work so amazing that, in the words of the prophet Habakkuk, “you would not believe, though it were told you”!

This article first appeared in the September 2004 edition of the Herald


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