Does Israel Need the Gospel? – Part 1

Avi Snyder

The Jewish people once more have their own national homeland. This is a unique prophetic reference to God’s plan of salvation. And since, according to His Word, Israel’s national restoration is followed by spiritual renewal anyway, is it even necessary to evangelize Jews? An opinion piece by a Messianic Jew.

I often hear, “Evangelization among Jews is premature because all Jewish people will be saved anyway—at the Second Coming of the Lord. After all, Paul assures us that ‘all Israel shall be saved’ (Rom 11:26). And, we learn in Zechariah 12:10 that this national repentance occurs after Jesus’ return, when the Jewish people look upon the One whom they have pierced. This national salvation doesn’t just encompass all living Jews; rather, the phrase ‘all Israel’ refers to all Jewish people, past and present, living and dead. And that all happens after Jesus’ Second Coming.”

Paul does indeed tell us that “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom 11:26). There’s no doubt about that. However, he also tells us how Israel will be saved: solely by calling on the name of the Lord. Indeed, he even states that this necessity of exclusively invoking the name of the Lord is a universal truth: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:12-13).

But immediately after stating that there is only one Lord for all, and that salvation is possible only by calling on His name, Paul asks a series of challenging questions: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom 10:14).

Thus, all people (Jews and non-Jews alike) must hear in order to believe; they must believe in order to call on the name of the Lord; and they must call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved. And, in order for any of this to happen at all, somebody has to deliver the gospel message—not just to the nations, but also to the Jews. That’s why Paul continues with his questions: “and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom 10:14-15).

Romans 11:26 conveys the fact that all Israel will be saved. However, Romans 10:12-15 teaches us the way in which all Israel will be saved: hearing the gospel message, repenting by faith, and calling upon the name of the Lord.

The words of Romans 11 are our heart’s consolation: all Israel will be saved. But the words of Romans 10 are our call to action: we must tell the Jewish people about Jesus, so that they may hear, believe, call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved. If his call to action is too hard to bear, Paul concludes the passage with a glorious promise to all who are ready to go: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:15).

But can’t we just skip the Jews for the time being, since Israel is supposed to be saved anyway? After all, they will call upon Him when they look at Him, right? And they’ll look at Him at His return, won’t they?

As I write this, my father David is 97 years old. His mind is still clear and alert. And he still has an unbelieving heart toward Jesus. Whenever I ask him how he’s doing, he smiles and says, “Well, I’m old, but I’m still alive—and that beats the alternative.”

Some Christians wouldn’t really agree with that. In essence, they would counter that whether or not my father ever believes in the Lord, or whether he is still alive at the Second Coming of Jesus, he has nothing to fear in any case. “Either your father comes to believe after he looks upon Jesus at His return, or your father will be saved after death, even if he dies in disbelief.”

But is that what Paul meant when he said, “all Israel shall be saved”? And is that what Zechariah was predicting when he announced, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced”?

What, exactly, does Zechariah 12:10 say?

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

I often hear it said that “look upon me” means that the Jews see Him upon His return. So, this is the moment of repentance and atonement for all of us—after His return. But this argument is untenable for at least three reasons; the first and foremost being that this is simply not what this passage from the prophet Zechariah says.

Zechariah 12:10 begins with the announcement that God will pour out a twofold Spirit over us Jews: His Spirit of grace and then His Spirit of supplication. This means: through His Spirit, the Lord will first pour out His grace upon us—the very grace that makes faith and salvation possible in the first place. And in His grace, He provokes us to supplication; that is, He moves us to repentance. Only then, after we have pleaded and repented, will we look at Him whom we have pierced. That’s what the text says. That is what the sequence of words in this verse proclaims.

In other words, the text doesn’t say that after His return, we will look to Him, recognize Him as the One we have pierced, and then repent. Rather, the sequence of words in this passage explains that this looking upon Him takes place only after our supplication and repentance! Isn’t that the exact sequence of events that Jesus Himself announced to us? “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt 23:39). Centuries before the first coming of Yeshua, God’s Spirit announced the exact same sequence of events through the prophet Hosea: “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face” (Hos 5:15).

Jesus will only return after we acknowledge Him as the blessed One who comes in the name of the Lord. He will only return after we plead and repent of having spurned Him—the One we have pierced.

But in order for us to repent that we have rejected Him, we must first hear of what He has done for us. We need to hear the gospel message.

The words of Zechariah 12:10 aren’t a license to postpone or refrain from transmitting the gospel to the Jewish people. Rather, the words in this verse should motivate us to share the gospel even more fervently with our Jewish friends and relatives—in anticipation of that Day when this prophecy will be fulfilled.

The perspective that Zechariah 12:10 allows us to avoid or postpone evangelization among the Jews is contradicted in a second way: neither the Lord nor His apostles followed this erroneous view. Instead, they believed that current evangelization work among the Jews was justified to the highest degree. How do we know this? Well, if they had taken Zechariah 12:10 as a license to skip or postpone this work, then neither Yeshua nor His followers would have spent so much time, energy, and heartfelt passion on evangelizing the Jewish people of their day.

Finally, we should ask ourselves this question: what about all of the Jewish people who are still alive today, but will no longer be alive at the moment of national repentance (whenever it may take place)? What about my father David, who probably won’t be alive to see the Lord’s return unless He returns in the very near future? Are my father and all other Jewish people exempt from believing now? Will they get a second chance after Yeshua’s return? Will they get another opportunity to repent after death? Not according to the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Spirit originally addressed Jewish people when He said through the author of the letter to the Hebrews: “…It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). And through the prophet Daniel, the Spirit declared: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2). Neither Jews nor anyone else will receive a second chance after death.

News From Israel - 02/2019

ContactAbout UsPrivacy and Safety