Twenty-four years ago, when I first travelled to Israel, the tour leader warned me: “Don’t wear a t-shirt with the name Jesus, or with a cross on it. People might get offended.” She explained that to many Jews, the name Christian was synonymous with death or persecution. Christian soldiers massacred Jews during the Crusades, Catholic Christians tortured and killed them during the Spanish Inquisition, Protestant Christians murdered 6 million Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.
But times have changed. Today, even Jewish shops in Jerusalem sell Jesus t-shirts to the tourists! One popular shirt has the words “GRAFTED IN,” and a drawing of a Menorah (Jewish candelabra), the ancient Christian fish symbol and the Star of David linked into one insignia. Under this is a quote from the Bible describing how Christian gentiles (non-Jews) are “grafted in” to the Olive Tree that symbolizes the family tree of faith in the God of Israel through Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah. He has “destroyed… the dividing wall of hostility” and created “one new man”: Jews and gentiles reconciled through the Cross.
It’s beginning to happen.
At the vanguard are evangelical Christians who believe in spiritual rebirth, love Israel and believe in Bible truth and prophecies about the future glory of the Promised Land. And even conservative Orthodox Jews are extending hands of friendship and shalom (peace) with these Christian allies of Zion multiplying worldwide. Their bonds grow closer even as radical Islam and anti-Semitism raise their ugly heads globally. Clear proof is a landmark book written by unlikely co-authors: Gidon Ariel, an Orthodox Jewish teacher of the Torah, and Bob O’Dell, an evangelical Christian businessman. Their book is titled “ISRAEL FIRST! The Key to Understanding the Blood Moons, Shemitah, Promises to Israel and the coming Jubilee.” (www.israelfirstbook.com)
Gidon and O’Dell agree on some critical basics–that the Messiah, Savior of Israel and Prince of Peace is coming to Jerusalem, “and of His government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:7) And that the phenomenon of the 2014-2015 Blood Moon Tetrad with a Solar Eclipse sandwiched in between, are a rare signal from heaven that seismic, dramatic changes are coming to our planet. They also acknowledge the significance of the Shemitah, the Biblical seventh or Sabbath year.
But they underscore the importance of another sign that is one of the most significant in our decade and has been largely bypassed or underestimated! This is the Biblical “Yovel” or Jubilee, also called “Double Shemitah,” a divine promise for breakthrough and blessing that became valid September this year and will hold through until September 2016.
The Yovel is the latest among the biblical prophetic signs first revealed, and destined to affect Israel and the Jews, but which will impact the world. That’s why Ariel and O’Dell’s book is titled ISRAEL FIRST! And why bestselling author Joel Rosenberg calls Israel the “Epicenter ” the source of shaking for the nations. And why the Bible states that the eye of global events is not Washington, the Kremlin, Beijing or Riyadh. It’s the City where Messiah will come at the end of the age to fight the world’s final battle against the forces of darkness and establish His eternal capital of peace. According to the Scriptures: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her.” (Book of Ezekiel 5:5)
What is in store for Israel and the world in this year of Yovel and how can we enjoy the blessings?
(to be continued next week)