The First Wave of Jews coming to Jesus hit in the 1970s in America. The Second Wave were Russian Jews in the 1990s. And now – in what some observers call a Third Wave – Jews in Israel are coming to faith in increasing numbers.
“I have never seen the breakthrough like we’re seeing now,” said Tuvya Zaretsky, chairman of the board for the Israel branch of Jews for Jesus. “We’re seeing a steady stream of Israelis who are coming to Jesus from all walks of life, though usually among the young. There seems to be a greater openness to spiritual input. We’re thinking it’s a Third Wave of in-gathering.”
In the 1990s, there were about 3,000 Messianic Jews in Israel; today there are as many as 20,000 (still less than 1% of the population), said Simon Stout, executive assistant of Jews for Jesus in Tel Aviv. Also, one source estimates 150 congregations of like-minded believers in Israel. Of Israel’s 84 cities and towns, 81 have at least one messianic Bible study.
Messianism in Israel has “been a very unusual turning in Israel,” said Zaretsky, who’s been traveling to Israel since 1971. “The community of believers there has solidified. They’ve found their voice. There’s less antagonism. The situation is changing.”
When Jews for Jesus launched its Israel branch in 2000, its banners were torn down and workers beaten up by ultra-orthodox Jews who associated Christianity with the Holocaust. Now, Jews for Jesus has a staff of 31 and the world political situation has sparked greater interest in Jesus, Zaretsky said.
After World War II’s Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, Israel was created by decree of the United Nations as a safe place for Jews. But now many Israelis feel more imperiled than ever. Iran, which is feared to be close to producing nuclear weapons, is constantly threatening Israel’s destruction. On the streets of Israel, terrorism is a constant.
SOURCE: Assist News – Mark Ellis and Michael Ashcraft