Esther Rosenberg, a New York transplant in California, needed a grand series of miracles. This suicidal Jewess required an immediate remedy for her despairingly difficult second marriage. She craved a cure for her pain ridden back and direction for her three disorientated Jewish teenagers. Esther did not want more religion, professional counseling, the awaited surgical procedures, or sedation for her offspring. Esther yearned for rescue in real life; she hungered after genuine biblical salvation. Immediately prior to committing the act that would end her life, she cried out, “God, is there any hope for me?” God answered her with one word: “Jesus.”
Spending a season of prayer at the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount a few years ago, I witnessed the arrival of an enthusiastic group of Koreans for prayer. Focusing on one of their party, they laid hands on him and prayed with old-fashioned Pentecostal exuberance for him to become Spirit-filled. I watched curiously as several rabbis and security guards came around the now sole Korean still ecstatically speaking in tongues with his face against the Wall, as tears of joy and shouting tongues poured forth. The rabbis studied him closely from all angles with looks of complete bewilderment. Finally some turned to me and asked, “Is he Jewish?”
While addressing a national conference in 1973, a young missionary to American Jews complained that there were some guidelines in Assemblies of God Home Missions policy that were not in the best interests of Jewish ministry. Theodore Gannon, then national director of Home Missions, jumped to his feet to address the speaker and entire conference: “You boys go out and do it. Whatever works, we’ll make policy.” Many of us took his challenge to impact the American Jewish community in a bold new way by establishing incarnational Pentecostal corporate models of the Jewish Jesus.
Fifty Messiahs And Still Waiting Many deceivers who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 1:7). The Jewish bookstore proprietor, Mr. Golden, was adamant with me. “Jesus cannot be the Jewish Messiah. The world is still in virtual chaos; children are hungry; diseases kill millions; and war and terrorism are tragic realities. Where is the world’s universal peace and prosperity that originate from the Messiah’s coming? These did not accompany Jesus, did they?” The normally gentle Orthodox Jewish bookseller did believe that a messiah would ultimately come based on his confidence in Jewish sages and rabbinic opinion. For example, the outstanding 12th-century theologian, physician, and philosopher, the famous Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (“Rambam”) mandated in his “Thirteen Articles of Faith” the daily Orthodox Jewish recitation of, “I believe in the coming of the Messiah; and though he tarry, yet will I daily wait for him.” Yet Rambam also strongly warned Jews against following false messiahs in his Letter to Yemen (1192) where he recounted the histories of four recent messianic claimants. These false messiahs had not only met with tragic fates; they also had brought shame, ridicule, and catastrophe on the Jewish world. Messiahs ranged from reportedly being miracle-working charismatic dreamers to messianic draftees compelled by Jewish people desperately needing national redemption.
This article first ran in the Summer 2003 issue of Enrichment Magazine (2-pages). We need to be people of the Spirit (Ruach) to effectively communicate the gospel to the Jewish community. Jesus’ ministry to His own Jewish community bore signs of divine energy as He performed miracles to bless His Jewish kinfolk and to signal divine confirmation of His heaven-sent message. Jesus, like Paul, recognized that the Jew requires a sign. The Torah was received on Sinai 50 days after the Passover exodus (on Shavuot or Pentecost) amid the thunderous noise and fiery presence of God. Jewish tradition holds that God spoke in 70 languages on that occasion to indicate the universal intent of His Word. On another Day of Pentecost in a different millennium, 120 Jews in Jerusalem were filled with the Spirit amid a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire. Heaven’s message was presented by a host of tongues to internationally gathered Jewish minds and hearts. Luke made clear the Jewish response was immensely positive.