Time For Favour

Scottish missions to the Jews 1838-1852

If God really has rejected the Jewish people, why, one wonders, are more Jews than ever turning to Jesus? About fifteen years ago, Rabbi Tovia Singer asked why more Jews had become Christians in the last nineteen years than in the previous nineteen centuries. When the state of Israel came into being in 1948, it was estimated that the number of Messianic Jews in the country was, significantly, just twelve. Twenty years later, in 1968, there were fewer than fifty Jewish believers in the land, while in 1988 there were probably fewer than 500. Today, almost 25 years on, no one knows for certain how many Israeli Jews believe in Jesus, although some have suggested as many as 20,000.

In Time For Favour John Ross, my predecessor as General Secretary, uncovers the roots of the modern Jewish missions movement. In the middle of the nineteenth century, God began to lay on the hearts of his people in the Church of Scotland a concern for the evangelisation of the Jews. In the second half of that century, this concern would result in a quarter of a million eastern European Jews – including such spiritual giants-to-be as Alfred Edersheim, Adolph Saphir and David Baron – finding salvation in their Messiah. Johnʼs book tells the extraordinary story of the birth of that mission, which also resulted in the establishing of the society that became CWI.

The cast of characters in Time For Favour features some of the most remarkable figures in the history of missions, including an archetypical eccentric absent-minded professor, a group of gung-ho young ministers full of romantic ideas about the Holy Land and the Jews, head-strong and sometimes morally-weak missionaries and awkward mission boards. It is a story of fallible but heroic men and women who were prepared to forsake everything, even their lives, all because they had faith not only that God was far from finished with the Jewish people but also because they believed in the New Testament principle that the gospel is 'to the Jew first.'

John Ross is singularly qualified, with his extensive knowledge of Jewish mission, to tell this story of how an all-wise God, more than 150 years ago, laid on the hearts of Christians in Scotland a burden for the salvation of his ancient covenant people, allowed them to make mistakes but sovereignly overruled personal agendas and denominational politics to achieve his purposes. Time For Favour is a gripping tale of faith, courage, high adventure and a God who moved his people both great and small, rich and poor to pray and give so that the people of promise might hear the message of Messiah.


'This book is unique: no other contemporary work covering this field is as a thoroughly researched, so well written or so engaging to read.' Dr. Kai Kjaer Hansen, Former International Coordinator Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism; Chair of the Danish Israel Mission '

“Time for Favour” began life as a doctoral dissertation under my supervision. I only had one problem: the thesis was so interesting and so well written that I constantly became caught up in the story and had to keep reminding myself that I was supposed to be assessing its academic standard!' Prof. Andrew T.B. McGowan, Minister of Inverness East Church of Scotland; UHI Professor of Theology

This article first appeared in the Spring issue of the Herald 2012

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