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Open Letter to John Hagee: Does Israel Need Jesus?

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

Dear Pastor Hagee

Evangelical Christians in many parts of the world have serious concerns about the way in which you avoid the Messiah, Jesus, in your efforts to bless and support Israel. You are making strong biblical appeals to believers to support Israel materially in a number of ways without explicit mention of the Messiah as the only true source of all blessings to Israel and the Gentiles. Would the Messiah indeed motivate Gentiles to support Israel without any reference to the gospel of salvation which should be proclaimed “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”? (Acts 1:8).

How can you exclude Jerusalem and Judea from the Great Commission and hold the view that Jews can, in New Testament times, be saved by only observing the law? John said, “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Paul told fellow-Jewish believers that, “We who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:15-16).

The works of the law, such as the repetitive sacrifices of the Old Covenant, were only shadows that pointed to the once for all sacrifice of Messiah as the spotless Lamb of God. John the Baptist introduced Him to Israel as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19). “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). It amounts to gross unbelief if, after Christ’s coming and sacrifice on the cross, people would confine themselves to ”the weak and beggarly elements” of the law (Gal. 4:9).

Pastor Hagee, you are accountable to Messiah Himself for the unbiblical views that you promote on the salvation of Israel. Jesus plainly told the spiritual leaders of Israel, “If you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins... When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM... Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:24,28,58; Modern King James Version). Israel will die in their sins if they do not repent and, in faith, receive Messiah as their Savior. He is the fulfillment of the law (Matt. 5:17). “If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal. 2:21). Messiah is also Israel’s Mighty God and Prince of Peace who will rule from David’s throne (Isa. 9:6-7).

I agree with you that it certainly does not make one popular among orthodox Jews to proclaim Jesus as Messiah. But I would rather be rejected because of Christ than to become a friend of Israel merely because of extensive humanitarian aid to them. Humanism will not heal their spiritual blindness; neither will it draw them to Messiah. Uncompromised Christian support alone, linked to the gospel message, offers a solution to the deep spiritual needs of this nation. We must provoke them to jealousy by the way in which we serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the Messiah, Yeshua.

You said to a reporter of the Houston Chronicle that Paul abandoned the idea of Jews knowing Christ when he went to the Gentiles. This is not true. Although the majority of them (as among all other nations) are stubborn and unrepentant there was always a believing remnant (cf. Rom. 11:2-5). Paul said that “the gospel of Jesus Christ... is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). He always preached to the Jews first before turning to the Gentiles, and explained, “if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them” (Rom. 11:14).

Historical arguments

Israel’s history can only be properly understood in the light of their relationship to the Messiah. How can we explain the almost two millennia of Israel’s Diaspora with all its indescribable horrors, unless we relate it to their rejection of Jesus the Messiah? He said to first century Jews, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how often I wanted to gather your children together... but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:37-39).

The desolation of Jerusalem lasted for almost 2 000 years. Jesus said that the inhabitants of Jerusalem would “fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

Since the present generation of Jews, with the exception of a minority of Messianic Jews, still rejects Jesus as Messiah, how can abundant blessings be promised to them without being reconciled to Him? They are in the same situation as their first century forefathers who forfeited God’s blessings through unbelief and the observance of the doctrines of men (Matt. 15:8-9).

Israel is a Messianic nation by virtue of their divine calling. Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deut. 18:15). It was God’s plan that His Son, the Savior of Israel and the spiritually blinded Gentiles, would be born from this nation. The Law of Moses (the Torah) was only to be observed during the preparatory phase before the coming of the Lamb of God. These shadowy sacrifices were only a means to an end to emphasize the great significance of the shedding of Messiah’s blood for the remission of sins in the fullness of time (Heb. 9:14,22). “For this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15).

The promise to Israel that the Messiah would be raised in their midst, rendered them enemy number one in Satan’s struggle against God’s kingdom. Heathen nations were tools in the devil’s hands to deceive Israel by means of idolatry, to lure them into materialistic lifestyles, and also to relentlessly persecute them – all these methods were followed to thwart the expectation of the coming Messiah. The promise of the Messiah called for single-minded dedication to this great cause and also a willingness to suffer for His sake. “Moses... chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God... esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11:24-26).

How much more should Jews, after the coming of Christ, be prepared to suffer for His sake? The early disciples did just that! Paul says, “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). The encampment of Judaism should be abandoned in order to become true followers of Messiah, who alone can sanctify His people. “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4)

It is tragic that orthodox Jews would deny this great truth by preferring to perpetuate the preliminary practices of the law, thereby making these institutions ends in themselves. These Jews fail to recognize their fulfillment in Yeshua and consequently keep on looking out for another messiah who will allow the building of the third temple and the re-institution of animal sacrifices. This unscriptural attitude will be exploited by the devil, who will provide a “messiah” according to these people’s own desires.

The false messiah

If we Christians do not clearly and convincingly proclaim the Messiah to the Jews, and instead condone their legalistic spirituality, Israel will fall victim to the false messiah. This impostor will exploit their allegiance to the law, allow them to rebuild the temple and also encourage them to reinstitute animal sacrifices (Dan. 9:27). He knows that in so-doing they will not put their trust in the sacrifice of Christ for their sins. Jesus warned them against this fatal decision of accepting a false messiah (John 5:43).

One of the serious implications of Israel’s continued rejection of the Messiah is that they will pass through the time of Jacob’s trouble, which is the tribulation of seven years (Jer. 30:7). Jesus also prophesied a coming great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world (Matt. 24:21). Two-thirds of all Jews will die in the great tribulation and only one-third will survive it and accept Jesus as Messiah (Zech. 13:8-9). The remnant who look on Him whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him, will be saved (Zech. 12:10).

If we fail to proclaim Christ to Israel, we not only condone fatal legalism among them, but also drive them into the arms of the Antichrist. Pastor, of what avail is it to conduct interviews with orthodox Jews on TV, to accept their praises for your vast support to them, and to keep quiet about Jesus who is their only hope? In one instance during a TV interview an orthodox Jew remarked to you that the present events in Israel are sure signs of the soon coming of Messiah. You should have known that he means another messiah than Yeshua.

That was an ideal opportunity of sharing your faith with him by telling him that the Messiah came 2 000 years ago as the Suffering Servant to fulfill the law by being sacrificed for our sins, and that He will come again in power and glory as the King of kings to rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem (Acts 15:16-17; Jer. 3:17). But you kept quiet because you obviously do not want to offend them by disturbing their orthodox views. What would Jesus have said to such hypocrites who actively discourage their people to become followers of Him? He clearly said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Luke. 7:23).

We cannot be a real and lasting blessing to Israel if we do not relate our assistance to them to our faith in Jesus, and to His love for His people, Israel. It is highly deceptive to only warn Israel’s enemies that they will be killed on the mountains of Israel, as you did during the recent invasion of Lebanon, without warning Israel that God will allow great distress upon them because of their hardened hearts. They have become dross in the sight of God, and for that reason He is gathering them in Jerusalem to blow on them the fire of His wrath (Ezek. 22:18-22).

The salvation of Israel

It is clearly stated in Messianic prophecies that Israel will only acknowledge their offences and seek the Messiah during their coming affliction (cf. Hos. 5:14-15; Jer. 30:7). It is our duty to warn them against the consequences of rejecting Messiah. The peace of God will only be imparted to them when they mourn for the One with the wounds in His hands, and when they say to Him, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Their eyes are only blinded because they prefer to deny Jesus as Messiah. God wants to save them!

Jews need Jesus as much as you and I need Him. They should be admonished to put their trust in Yeshua Ha Mashiach and not in the law. Paul said, “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Phil 3:8-9).

In Christ dwells “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). After His first coming, there was never a possibility to any person on earth, Jew or Gentile, to approach, worship and serve God without Christ. Nobody goes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). Israel will only prosper after they have accepted Christ and wholeheartedly surrendered their lives to Him.

As Christians we are committed to supporting the Messianic movement in Israel as it is the early beginnings of a national spiritual awakening which will ultimately extend to the whole remnant in Israel. With the coming of the false messiah the majority will indeed conclude a covenant with him, but the Messianic group will dramatically increase through a revival in which 144 000 Jews from all twelve the tribes will be saved during a powerful working of the Holy Spirit. After the deceived majority have revoked their covenant with the false messiah they will be heavily persecuted by him and flee to the wilderness (Matt. 24:15-22). A remnant of them will be saved when the true Messiah comes.

The remnant will not be saved because they have built the third temple and reinstituted Old Testament sacrifices but because they will, as a last resort, after many years of futile efforts to evade the claims of Christ, drink from the fountain of salvation that was opened by the true Messiah on Golgotha when His hands and feet were pierced while laying down His life for the sins of the world. The angel of the Lord said to Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). That which the law could not do for Israel, was accomplished by the Messiah and was available to them during the entire period after Christ.

It is good to bless the orthodox and agnostic (non-practicing) Jews by recognizing their divine mandate on the land and to help funding immigration to Israel, provided the Messianic motivation for these actions is unambiguously stated. But remember that the rich blessings of God can only be fulfilled to Israel by the Messiah. Their house (Jerusalem) and their whole land were left to them desolate because of rejecting the Messiah 2000 years ago. Their spiritual heritage will only be restored to them in all its fullness and glory when the life of this nation is built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. As long as they fail to accept Him they are heading for great trouble and anxiety.

Even large-scale American aid will be of little avail to Israel as the Lord is going to gather all nations against Jerusalem (Zech. 12:3). He will not only do this to judge the nations because of hating and persecuting the Jews, but also to bring Israel in deep distress which will induce them to plead for mercy at their rejected Messiah’s throne of grace. God says that during the coming time of trouble, shortly before the Messiah sets foot on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem will again be taken and half of the city will go into captivity (Zech. 14:2). Why? Because, up to this critical stage of an impending national disaster, the majority in Israel will still reject Jesus as Messiah.

All these calamities can be averted if Jews would bow before Him who bore the chastisement for their peace (Isa. 53:5). If they fail to do that they can expect severe chastisement from God. The coming tribulation will not be aimed at their destruction but at refining the remnant in fire until, in deep contrition, they confess their sins to Messiah. If they do that now, and also watch and pray, they will certainly be among those who will escape the coming great tribulation and stand before the Son of Man in His heavenly glory (Luke 21:36). “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Jewish leaders of the 21st century must hear the same message that was directed to their counterparts of the first century: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).

There is no other basis for the salvation of lost souls in Israel and among the Gentiles. Can we deny this great truth because of fear that people with other persuasions will be offended? Jesus said, “Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33). There is no exception to this rule, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24). That certainly also applies to Israel!

Shalom

Prof. Johan Malan

Middelburg, South Africa

September 2006

 

PS. This letter was posted to John Hagee Ministries, and the following response was received on September, 24. I appreciate the comments of Edward Martinez but it is still not clear whether the various points will be considered by John Hagee himself. It is a pity that he could not find time to react shortly to this important submission.

 

September 24, 2006

Dear Professor Malan,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On behalf of John Hagee Ministries we thank you for your support and the confidence you have in some of Pastor Hagee's teachings.

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail letter to Pastor Hagee entitled, "Open Letter to John Hagee: Does Israel need Jesus". You want Pastor Hagee to review and respond to the various points addressed in your letter.  The Lord has blessed our ministry and Pastor Hagee's time is stretched to the limit.  Please understand why he is unable to personally contact you with a response to your message.

It is obvious that the interpretations and conclusions you address in your letter were well researched and well documented.  It is apparent you have researched this matter regarding the Jews and believe you are correct in your conclusions.

Please understand that your concerns are important to us but we just do not have the resources to respond to the specific points you present in your analysis.

We thank you for sharing these thought provoking conclusions with Pastor Hagee.

We at John Hagee Ministries pray for you in the name of our Lord.  May God bless you and guide you in all your ways.  Isaiah 26:3 reminds us, "And He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee".

God bless you!

Sincerely,

Edward Martinez

John Hagee Ministries