Black hats davening at the western wall. Jerusalem’s skyline, marred by the Dome of the Rock. Falafel and couscous from Ben Yehuda Street. Suicide bombings… the sea of Gallilee… the birthplace of Jesus.
The very thought of “Israel” can transport us to a foreign and mystical land. We are enamored with its beauty and power; captivated by its historical and spiritual meaning; fixated upon our minds’ fantastic images of an exotic and distant world. We send it money and humanitarian aid, we lobby for its support by our policymakers, and we pray for its peace, petition for its prosperity, and intercede for its salvation. And yet…
… there is no such place as a land called “Israel.” It is a figment of our imagination.
Yes, there is a God-given, Jewish homeland, and it lies in the Middle East.
Yes, there is a modern State of Israel that many mistakenly fancy as “Palestine.”
Yes, half of all the world’s fourteen million Jews live on a very real parcel of land only twice the size of the state of Rhode Island…
… yet Scripture never calls this place “Israel”—and the mere thought of such a place is obstructing our view. Indeed, “Israel” is not a place at all, but a people—and you can find us almost anywhere… including the Land that belongs to Israel, promised to us by Adonai our God.
“Israel” is not a place, but the name given to our father, Jacob, whose all-night wrestling match with God pictures the Jewish peoples’ struggle to follow only Him. (Genesis 35:10)
“Israel” is not a place, but the birthright of the sons of Jacob, whom Adonai set apart as His chosen people, though we are scattered throughout the nations of the earth. (Exodus 19:5-6)
“Israel” is not a place, but the spiritual heritage of every single Jewish person—the one who works in the cubicle across the aisle; the one who lives in the house down the street.
“Israel” is not a place, but every Messianic Jew—each Jewish believer in Yeshua who lives a Jewish lifestyle according to Scripture, and a sold-out life for the Good News of Messiah, our Master.
“Israel” is not a where, but a who, and we are in great need of your prayers, friendship and aid. The Jewish people living in what is presently considered the Land of Israel do indeed need your help, and desperately need to be turned toward the Messiah, Yeshua. But don’t just gaze longingly toward a land past the horizon in order to find an “Israel” to know, care for, and love. On the contrary, we are in your towns and cities, your workplaces and communities, the circles in which you move, and the ones you temporarily brush up against. We may know Yeshua, or we may not; but either way, we need to know you. Please—pray for the peace of Jerusalem; but don’t forget your own neighborhood, or the Messianic Jewish ministry from which you receive spiritual nourishment.
Look! Here I am! See me, children of God… I am Israel!