In the midst of a year of unprecedented upheaval throughout the world, a new voice in Bible prophecy has emerged coming out of Israel. Our guest this week on Christ in Prophecy blends a Jewish perspective as a Messianic follower of Jesus Christ with a passion for God’s prophetic Word. His name is Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel.
How to Witness to a Jew
Tim Moore: Amir, knowing that the threat of the wrath of God being poured out on the world during the Tribulation looms, why wouldn’t Jews and Gentiles today embrace the Messiah? Why is the cross continuing to be a stumbling block to the Jews? Why are Jewish people still resistant to the Gospel?
Amir Tsarfati: First of all, in the Jewish mindset, the act of being hanged on a tree is reserved for the worst criminals. So, in the Jewish mind, the cross and the Messiah do not belong together.
Second, the message of the cross is what they have a problem with. This is why Paul taught that they try to establish their own righteousness. It’s very hard for a Jewish person who has been taught all of their life to do good things and to pray on time and to do mitzvahs and to just try, that those things are not essential to salvation. Jews understand that they will never be able to fulfill the Mosaic Law, but they believe that God looks down and sees just how much they are trying. It is called in Hebrew “hishtadlus”, meaning “I’m trying.” Jews believe God will count their adherence to the Law.
The third thing that’s another stumbling block for the Jewish people is the fact that throughout history we’ve had horrific acts perpetrated on us by people who professed to be Christians. They were wearing a cross when killing us. So, when a Christian visits the Western Wall, they are being asked if they have a cross to put it all the way inside their shirts because the cross offends the Jewish people. Now, it’s not that they hate you for that, but they don’t understand how you can come to their holiest site wearing this horrific sign that to them represents the death, persecution, and troubles of my people.
Tim Moore: Sadly, even today, there are people who call themselves Christians who still show animosity towards the Jewish people. Some bought into the false teaching of Replacement Theology which claims that God has washed His hands of the Jews and so, therefore, He has no purpose left for them. Other people can just be filled with a satanic kind of anti-Semitism. How do these false doctrinal beliefs impact the relationships with those who claim to be Christians and the Jewish people today?
Amir Tsarfati: Yes, that’s another big problem. Say an Israeli guy is turning on, let’s say, YouTube, and he sees someone who says, “I came back to Christ. I am now a follower of Jesus. And I believe that God is done with Israel. And I believe that Hitler was a Jew. And the Holocaust never happened.” He even hears modern-day Nazi propaganda. How can I now say to this Jew that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life when he hears from so-called Christians saying such horrible things?
The Bible says that many will say to Jesus, “I did this in your name and that in your name.” Not a few, many, unfortunately. A lot of those people live with that perception that they are Christians, but they harbor in their heart racism and hatred. I personally don’t think these beliefs represent Christianity. You have to wonder if they’re really saved.
Tim Moore: No, indeed. We are told to put on Jesus Christ and to make no provision for the flesh. Christians are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We literally become Christlike in our thinking, in our attitude, and in our love. Living so can be very challenging. The lawlessness that is rising up in our nation is making the love of many, even believers, grow cold. We’re being tempted to allow our love to cool. If we have the love of Christ, our love informs everything we do. And, the love of Christ toward His Chosen People — the Jewish people — will also be evident.
Amir Tsarfati: While I don’t believe that loving Israel is a prerequisite for salvation, I believe it is the fruit of your salvation. I believe that once you are saved, there is no way you are going to hate the Jews for being the Jews. And, if you hate the Jews for being Jews, and you claim to be saved, then the love of God is not in you, and you are deceiving yourself. That is why I say to people, “If you hate Israel, you have to check your faith in Christianity. Hate and Christianity cannot walk together.” People dislike me for saying that because they’ll reply with, “You preach salvation through works. You preach that you have to love Israel in order to be saved.” No, you have to love Israel because you are saved. When a Jewish guy is looking at a supposed Christian and sees how he hates him for being a Jew, is that the fruit of the Spirit?
How to Show Love to a Jew
Tim Moore: Amir, how can a Gentile believer in Jesus Christ bless a Jewish person and the nation of Israel? How can we more effectively share our love for the Jewish Messiah — Jesus Christ — and be loving to that Jewish person instead of off-putting?
Amir Tsarfati: The best way to show your love to a Jew is to share with him the only thing that can ever save him. But, be very smart when you do that, because if you come to a Jewish guy and quote John 3:16, well it’s not going to work because they obviously don’t believe in the New Testament. It is very good if you understand Christ in the Old Testament. So, you challenge him about things that are about Christ in the Old Testament.
At the same time, tell him how much you love Israel because of what Christ did in your life. That is the one thing Jewish people don’t understand — because you are a Christian, aren’t you supposed to hate me? No, no, no! Because I am a Christian, I am supposed to love you. That’s the thing they don’t get.
Unfortunately, many Israelis when they think of Christianity only see Catholicism. The Pope is supposed to be the representative of Christianity on planet Earth, but the Catholic Church is not exactly the friendliest organization toward Israel. Did you know that Catholics don’t share Jesus with the Jews?
So, Christians need to change the narrative. We need to show them what Christianity is really all about. Only through love and through giving them the Messiah will a Gentile reach a Jew for Christ.
Tim Moore: As I have led tours of Israel, one of the great blessings I’ve seen with the Jewish people we encounter who have not yet embraced Christ is when they recognize we are evangelical Christians because we love them. Our pilgrimage groups demonstrate that we love the Jewish people with every individual Jew that we come in contact with. So, Amir, your presence here today bears testimony that we have a heart for the Jewish people and for Israel, and that we want to bless them.