Welcome back, Bible students! Be honest: Did you struggle with yesterday’s homework assignment? Was it difficult to “welcome” all those people groups into “our” celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church? If we are honest, haven’t we knowingly or unknowingly claimed the work of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church as our own? Do we find it hard to share?
Throughout history, the descendants of Isaac (Jews) and Ishmael (Arabs) have been at odds with one another. Arabs countries have attempted to wipe Israel off the map, and we recently witnessed the animosity between them.
Add Christians to the mix and it gets even more complicated. For centuries, Jews were persecuted at the hands of Christians (Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, Holocaust and more), and Muslims persecuted Christians. There is no end to animosity!
But the fact remains: all were represented at Pentecost! Jesus died for the sins of all, He resurrected to give us all eternal life, and He sent the Holy Spirit to all who would receive! No one has cornered the market on God! (Though there is only One True God…and many of every group are still seeking Him today.)
Conflict recently dominated the news, but I want to share some really good news! Over the course of the past 50 years, incredible effort has been put forth toward building bridges between Jews and Christians and between Jews and Arabs. You don’t hear much about it, but it is a beautiful thing! Tremendous outreach of Christians toward Jews and Israel has resulted in tremendous reconciliation and growing trust. Israel knows that Christians stand with them.
But did you know incredible efforts have also been made between Jews and Arabs? One of the most surprising things I found in spending time in Israel apart from tour groups was that Jews, Arabs and Palestinians can and DO live and work peacefully side-by-side! It’s unbelievable! (Yes, tensions have risen somewhat due to the conflict, but for years relationships have been stable.) Pray for cities with mixed population.
Much of that is attributed to the work being done by Christian ministries in Israel to bring them together. Great strides are being made by ministries to train Arab, Palestinian and Messianic Jewish pastors to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their congregations, then live out the principles taught in Scripture. Today there are dozens of churches in Israel pastored by Arabs, Palestinians or Messianic Jewish pastors, and in many cases, they work together building the Kingdom of God!
That is one reason our EXPERIENCE ISRAEL TOURS go into the West Bank and meet with some of those pastors. Not only do we find out first-hand how peaceful it is between Jews and Arabs in many places, but we also get to witness the work that is going on in those churches. The impact is far beyond what virtually any church in America can boast.
Tomorrow I’m going to introduce you to one of those pastors and share with you some very real challenges brought about by the recent fighting. Until then, will you stop right now and spend a few minutes praying for the same power that occurred on that original day of Pentecost to fall upon Arab, Palestinian and Messianic pastors all across Israel? Ask the Lord to:
- Pour out favor upon them as they deal with hardships.
- Protect their families and their congregations as unrest continues.
- Move with kindness through believers as they reach out to their countrymen. Bring a harvest of lost souls to saving knowledge of Jesus the Messiah.
Check back tomorrow, as there is a valuable treat for you then!
BTW, if you have missed previous posts in this series, check them out here: