Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Messiah. Galatians 1:10
One thing I did not realize before coming to Israel was the extent to which persecution, and even the fear of persecution, is a part of the Jewish experience, even today. The Holocaust is still in the cultural memory here and the family legacies, even holocaust survivors who were sent here after WW2. There is so much pain from this event still embedded in the culture here. More than that, with antisemitism on the rise again in certain parts of the world, we see a new wave of immigrants here who have been chased here, insulted or afraid for their life on the basis of their Jewishness.
Messianic Jewish communities in Israel are constantly dealing with persecution, sometimes physically attacked, severely under spiritual attack (manifesting often in physical injuries, mental and emotional torment), and most of the time ostracized by family members and social circles. They are seen as those who betrayed or were deceived into false teaching. They are viewed as dangerous, as duped, as dishonest or not genuine in belief, by other Jewish people in their jobs and neighborhoods. And these are only some of the accusations leveled against them. So today, we are praying for the endurance through persecution for the Jewish people on two levels: 1) that God would heal the trauma of past persecutions for all Jewish people, because that can be a barrier to the gospel and to Gentile-Jewish unity in Messiah, and 2) that God would help the Messianic Jewish people endure persecution both now and in the future.
Dealing with Past Persecution
For many Gentile believers, it is important to realize the extent that the Gentile “church” has participated in persecution and insult of the Jews, aligning themselves with Satan’s hatred of the Jewish people. John Chrysostom’s eight sermons entitled “Homilies Against the Jews” malign Jewish character and saying, “As for me, I hate the synagogues (Homily I)…I hate the Jews (Homily VI).” Though his concern was for his congregation getting deceived by Judaizers was valid and in many ways, similar to Paul’s writings, there was a root of hatred in many of the Gentile apologists that was vile and demonic. In their attempts to defend their flocks, they were disobeying Yeshua by sitting in judgment of others, even of the point of hatred and suggestions of murder. The Nazis would draw on these texts for motivation later.
Though Martin Luther once said,
“The Jews are blood-relations of our Lord; if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.“
However, Luther later wrote this (presumably after encountering proselytizing Jews/Judaizers):
So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them. Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite an their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope). Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim (Gentiles), to curse us and to strive for our final, complete, and eternal ruin! (Martin Luther : On the Jews and Their Lies)
Here on our church in Wittenberg a sow is sculpted in stone. Young pigs and Jews lie suckling under her. Behind the sow a rabbi is bent over the sow, lifting up her right leg, holding her tail high and looking intensely under her tail and into her Talmud, as though he were reading something acute or extraordinary, which is certainly where they get their Shemhamphoras.
The enemy of our souls is an accuser on both sides, Gentile and Jewish. We must be on our guard. Does this break your heart? Look in Acts and Paul’s letters in the Bible how the enemy has been trying to divide Jewish and Gentile believers from the conception of the church. For now, let’s pray and repent for our nations, and as one body of Messiah, for the Gentile and Jewish communities that have hated one another for so long.
Jewish and Gentile Joint Petition for the Removal of Judensau SculpturesRead the Petition
We Fight the Accuser of the Brethren:
As a family with both German Jewish and Lutheran heritage, we at Beloved feel comfortable sharing these prayers that we ourselves have offered:
For anyone of Gentile heritage, let’s pray:
Lord, as Gentile followers of Yeshua, we repent of the sins of our Fathers. For those with Gentile heritage, we mourn and repent for the way the Gentile “church” has excluded the Jewish Christians from very early on in the church. We mourn for the sins and accusations of our Fathers who put on the Jewish people the murder of Yeshua. We declare that the crucifixion was not the only accomplishment of both the Gentile (Roman) and Jewish leaders, but a demonic plan of Satan that you used for the good of all humankind, crushing the Messiah with your wrath so we could experience mercy, so that we could all be your children, free from blame. We ask you to bring up any hint of prejudice in our own hearts against the Jewish people. Even false stereotypes we have inherited or drawn from our own experiences. We want to see your people with your heart. Forgive our lands and our laws, the things we have allowed to stand. Show us what needs to go. Show Gentile believers how to stand with the Jewish people when they are being persecuted. We know the enemy wants to wipe them off the face of the earth. We break every attack of the enemy against the nation of Israel. Every tactic and every strategy against Israel must be broken in the name of Yeshua. Lord, we want to be listed among the protectors and defenders of your people in the spiritual realms and on earth. They are not perfect as a nation or as a people group, but no people group has experienced so much fear and pain for centuries. How long, oh Lord? Restore their hearts. Restore our love for your people. Restore the relationship between Gentile and Jewish believers. Only you can coordinate and choreograph this. We are at a loss for how to make things right because there is no way to fix this humanly, but your grace covers us. All of us are from lineages of both perpetrators and victims in some way. But for our families and nations’ roles as perpetrators of violence and hatred, we repent and we ask you to cover those things by your mercy. Bring healing now Lord in greater and greater measure for your glory! We declare right now that we will stand to the death with our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters, and we will seek to treasure, protect, and love the Jewish people as your special possession.
We also ask for the unification of the Arab and Jewish believers in Messiah to be unified in your love and Spirit.
For anyone of Jewish heritage, let’s pray:
Lord, as Jewish followers of Yeshua, we forgive the Gentile church. We mourn for the sins of our Fathers who may have been Judaizers and deceivers and persecutors of the Gentile followers of Yeshua. We forgive them for accusing us as murderers and thieves and for insulting us, putting disgusting sculptures of us on their churches (Judensau), and eventually trying to wipe us off the face of the earth in genocide. We ask you to bring up any hint of prejudice in our own hearts against the Gentile believers. Even false stereotypes we have inherited or drawn from our own experiences. We want to see your people with your heart. Forgive our lands and our laws, the things we have allowed to stand. Show us what needs to go. Show Jewish believers how to stand with the Gentile believers when they are being persecuted. We know that our enemy is not flesh and blood. We break every attack of the enemy against the nation of Israel. Every tactic and every strategy against Israel must be broken in the name of Yeshua. Lord, we want to be listed among the protectors and defenders of your people in the spiritual realms and on earth. We are not perfect as a nation or as a people group, but do not let the fear and pain we feel move us to inflict it on others, especially in the land of Israel. Restore our hearts. Restore our love for the Gentile church. Restore the relationship between Gentile and Jewish believers. Only you can coordinate and choreograph this. We are at a loss for how to make things right because there is no way to fix this humanly, but your grace covers us. All of us are from lineages of both perpetrators and victims in some way. But for our families and nations’ roles as perpetrators of violence and hatred, we repent and we ask you to cover those things by your mercy. Bring healing now Lord in greater and greater measure for your glory!
We also ask for the unification of the Arab and Jewish believers in Messiah to be unified in your love and Spirit.
The Persecution of the Followers of Yeshua Messiah
The words “persecution” and “tribulation” in scripture are really interesting. Persecution refers to a chasing and hunting down and tribulation means a trapping with no way out, with the intent to obliterate. Persecution might be the chasing down that occurs when you refuse to change your prayer habits (Daniel praying to God), or when you resist the subversion of the gospel (Peter, John, Paul), when you correct elders and leaders who are not following Yeshua (Stephen), or when you refuse the pressure to bow to anything other than God (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).
Yeshua HaMashiach is our model for understanding persecution. When we look at who persecuted Jesus we notice that He was persecuted by almost all the potential possible sources:
- religious leaders who were jealous, scared, pressured, blind, distracted with protecting their position and the temple culture
- political/cultural leaders who were (unjustly, at the time) worried about instability of military loss of power
- his own former disciples who were greedy, confused, or afraid
- and even family members who loved Him but who were worried or ashamed of Him and called him mentally unstable in public! (Mark 3:21)
But this is what Yeshua said:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. John 15:20
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 1 John 3:13
Everyone who seeks to live a Godly life will be persecuted. Obedience to Yeshua will lead to persecution, probably very soon after you begin walking like He walked (making disciples was literally an imitation of the life of Yeshua…we learn to walk as He walked…that’s being a disciple).
Notice Paul did not say, everyone who goes by the social designation of “Christian” or “Messianic” will be persecuted, but all who actually desire to live godly lives (as Yeshua lived). This is an important difference. Many who call themselves “Christians” or “Messianic” are not actively following the teachings of Jesus. These people may not experience persecution because they have chosen to live in a culturally comfortable way that offends no one. But ALL who desire to live a godly life will experience persecution, even in our efforts to live at peace as far as it depends on us, obeying our authorities as much as we can.
Yeshua said when you love me you will obey and He would give the Holy Spirit to help us. But many do not love Him in a way that moves them to make the sacrifices of time needed to have a conversing relationship with Him. Nor do they renounce sin or challenge brothers and sisters to reject socially accepted cultural habits of wealth-building, violence, licentiousness, and adultery. These false teachers and their followers have accepted a cultural amalgamation that is admittedly called “Christianity” or “Messianic Judaism” but grossly misuse biblical terminology to control instead of truly free people, while promoting a hypocritical version of compartmentalized morality that allows sin to multiply, and misinterprets the parables and other scripture to promote their own comfort, renown, and prosperity.
When we begin holding ourselves accountable to promote and live out the teachings of the gospel of the Kingdom (the words of Yeshua, according to the spirit of Yeshua, as written in the gospels of the New Testament), we WILL begin experiencing persecution (Matthew 5-7 is a good place to start with these commands of Jesus if you do not know what in the world I am talking about–and that’s ok! You should read it and let His words cut you to the heart so you can feel your need for Jesus and be changed by Him writing His law of love on your heart!). Anyone who steps into a real fellowship with Jesus, who falls in love with Him, and who begins wholeheartedly following His teachings knows this. When you begin to listen to the Holy Spirit and learn to follow Jesus, you will find yourself having to choose between pleasing God and humans on an increasing basis. Choose God every time and do not hide your love for Him and you will, most assuredly, offend people…probably more than once. For more about how to prepare for persecution, click here. Of any verse, the one that has gotten me through persecution more than once is this one. Memorize it now if you can.
Abba, help us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We forgive them right now and pronounce blessings on their lives. Bless their families and let them find you. (Pray for your persecutors.
For this season, we specifically want to lift up the Jewish people who are being persecuted right now for their following of Yeshua, and the ones who will come in the future, that God would supernaturally prepare, train, and strengthen them in advance. Lord, we pray for those who persecute the Jewish people, bless them and bring them to Yeshua. We especially lift up our Messianic brothers and sisters, who are persecuted by Jewish religious leaders. Lord help them endure in following the commands of Yeshua (pray through these scriptures on behalf of the Messianic believers.)
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Luke 6:29
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Romans 8:35
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:14
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:16
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Lord, help us to not be afraid. And when we feel afraid help us put our trust in you. Deliver us from evil. We will trust your love, and know that we are not alone but surrounded by others who have not bowed their knee to idols. You have reserved many who love you! I am really honored to count myself as one of them.
O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me. But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days plotting to harm me. They come together to spy on me—watching my every step, eager to kill me. Don’t let them get away with their wickedness; in your anger, O God, bring them down. You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:1-8
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:13-18
Adonai, you are our shield in times of persecution. We hide in you. Comfort us even when we go through persecution.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.
In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, even if you don’t understand us now. Then on the day when the Lord Jesus returns, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-14
Lord, make us one with you and even if we suffer for your name let us truly follow in your footsteps in trust you had in the Father’s love for you. We want to know you and be found faithful to you
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:5-11
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:7-10
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
…[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Hebrews 12:2 AMP
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. 13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
(2 Corinthians 7)
For a great resource about Jewish and Gentile church unity, I highly recommend Don Finto’s book, Your People Shall Be My People available here.