Does the Church Have a Responsibility toward Israel? - Part 3

Johannes Pflaum

In Isaiah 40:1 we read the following: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” That is a command of the Lord. These words were written while speaking of Israel’s sin and God’s consequent judgments.

Comforting Israel was the motto for Friedrich Nothacker and his wife Luise, who founded the care facility Zedakah. In addition to the headquarters and guesthouse in Maisenbach [Germany], there is a nursing home in Maalot and a rest home in Shavei Zion. Both of these facilities serve Holocaust survivors. Throughout the centuries till our time today, Jewish history has been one of blood and tears. And we, the Church of Jesus Christ, have been given the task to comfort Israel. We are to encourage Israel’s people by reminding them of the great promises that are still theirs as a nation and a country.

I will never forget a short conversation I had with a Holocaust survivor in Maalot. He had survived both the death camps and the death march. There were no easy responses, especially for me as a German. He asked, among other things, whether I believed the Messiah was going to come, to which I replied, “Yes.” Then he countered that the Messiah did not come during the Holocaust and that He was never going to come. I silently prayed that the Lord would give me the right words for my answer. I said that the children of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for a very long time, but in the end, God freed His people. Thus, even though the Lord seemingly did not intervene during the Holocaust, He will finally come to redeem Israel.

Yes, it is the mission for the Lord’s Church today to comfort Israel with works of love. In view of Christianity’s failure to have a right relationship with Israel throughout its history, this mission is now more important than ever. As mentioned in the introduction, Isaiah 40:1 was written concerning Israel’s sin and God’s consequent judgments. However, there is more: the announcement of the Messiah’s coming. It becomes clear that to comfort Israel means to endear the Messiah to God’s people.

The second chapter of Luke’s Gospel tells us about the old man Simeon in the temple, who held the baby Jesus in his arms. Verse 25 says that he was waiting for Israel’s comfort. Israel’s comfort is a person: the promised Messiah Jesus. He who brings Jesus to Israel, brings comfort. After his first imprisonment in Rome, Paul stated that he bore the chains for the sake of Israel’s hope. The comfort as well as the hope of Israel is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the salvation that comes through Him.

The question is never whether Israel is in need of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ; the question is rather how we can best accomplish bringing this gospel to God’s people.

News from Israel - 10/2019

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