nian rule. Te second great exile, Roman forces destroyed and dismantled Jerusa- lem in August, A.D. 70, exactly as Jesus prophesied 37 years earlier. Te Romans killed 600,000 Jewish residents and de- ported 300,000 more to locations around the Empire.
Sixty-five years later Roman Emperor Hadrian’s forces crushed the last Jewish uprising led by Bar-Kochba. Tose forces hated and persecuted Jewish and Gen- tile followers of Christ. Some observers believe this might have helped plant early seeds of anti-Semitism in the fledgling Church.
JERUSALEM DECLARED “OFF LIMITS” Hadrian’s hatred for the Jews burned so bright that he changed Jerusalem’s name to Aelia Capitolina (his given name was Aelius) and declared it “a Roman city forever which no Jew could enter under pain of death.” He built a temple to Jupiter on the site of the former temple where sacrifices had been made to Jehovah. Ten he renamed the land Syria Palaestina (Latin for Philistia). Caesar overlooked one “minor” detail: Unlike the powerless gods of Rome, the God of Israel was and is alive and well.
Te devastated city of Jerusalem became the most contested urban real estate on earth, as for two thousand years various nations, empires and religious factions batled for its possession. All the while, its builders and original residents, the Jewish people, were forced to seek refuge in Gentile nations around the world but could call none of them “home.” Tat all changed in one day eighteen hundred and thirteen years aſter the destruction of Jerusalem. A new nation emerged from the birth pangs of World War II and the horrible Holocaust.
THE REBIRTH BEGINS In 1881, Russia’s tsar, Alexander II, was murdered, and his son, Alexander III, succeeded him. Alexander III hated the Jewish people, and that year a “pogrom” (an organized massacre or persecution of Jewish people) swept through Kishinev, the capital of Moldova, adjacent to Roma- nia and Ukraine.
As life for the persecuted Jews became more difficult under the tsar, Zionist ideas about a Jewish homeland gained strength and followers. Some Jewish leaders began to search for a place of refuge, a homeland for the world’s displaced Jewish popula- tion. Te first aliyah, or immigration, to Israel took place in 1882. Te word anti- Semitism entered the English language in 1882 as well, and it was defined as “hostil- ity toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic or racial group.”
THE FIRST OF THE FISHERMEN During this time of rebirth God sent prophetic voices of Christian and Jewish “fishermen” to His chosen people. Tese
During this time of rebirth God sent prophetic voices of Christian and Jewish “fishermen” to His chosen people.
divine messengers never used force; gently and persistently they warned the Jewish people and wooed them toward God’s plan to deliver those who took heed. In virtually every case, His goal was to preserve a remnant and return them to their ancient Land of Promise.
In the same year that the first aliyah to Is- rael took place, a prominent Jewish leader named Joseph Rabinowitz journeyed from Kishinev to Palestine (as Israel was called at that time). He was an unofficial delegate who wanted to see if Palestine was the right place to establish a Jewish homeland.
During his brief stay in Palestine, Rabi- nowitz went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem at the beginning of a Sabbath day. He watched in dismay as Jews who had gathered there for prayer struggled to worship and weep at the wall amid “the jibes and harassments of the Muslims.”
As he pondered the troubling scene, a
passage from the Hebrew New Testament he had read fiſteen years earlier flashed in his mind: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). In that moment, he began to realize that Jesus was the King and Messiah, the only One who could save Israel. Rabinowitz returned to his temporary residence, where he read John’s gospel. He was struck by John 15:5: “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”
In 1888 Rabinowitz said, “I have two subjects with which I am absorbed: the one, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the other, Israel.” A year later while visiting London he said: “Russia is like the ocean; the Jews there are like shipwrecked people; and since by God’s mercy my feet are on the Rock (which is Jesus) … I am shouting and signaling to my shipwrecked people to flee to the Rock.”
Read Goll’s full article online at jewishvoicetoday.org
This article is excerpted from The Coming Israel Awakening: Gazing into the Future of the Jewish People and the Church, by James W. Goll, © Chosen, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2009.
THE COMING ISRAEL AWAKENING
James W. Goll invites you on an insightful journey deep into God’s heart as he shares an understanding of the critical relationship between the Church and Israel, miraculous testimonies of Jews awakening to the call of Jesus around the world, a fascinating historical perspective of Jewish history from Exodus to the present day, and a prophetic look ahead at God’s plans for the Jewish People and the Church’s important role. As you peer into God’s heart for His beloved, you will discover your place in prayer and cooperative action during this momentous time in history.
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James W. Goll is the president of Encounters Network and international director of Prayer Storm. The co-author of twenty books, Goll is also a contributing editor for Kairos magazine.
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