“All of us, at some point in our lives, will come face to face with injustice. If we are on the receiving end of it, there is a kind of righteous anger that arises in us. But think beyond justice—other than just getting to a place where I am not a victim of injustice, how can I begin to become part of the solution to the problem?”
Ps. Peter Tsukahira posed this question to a crowded sanctuary of people on 20th June at PJ Evangelical Free Church during the third session of the SOM Conference 2015. Hailing from Mount Carmel, Ps. Tsukahira delivered an encouraging message to the Malaysian church about the importance of unity, not just amongst our local churches, but also on an international level—among the nations, as one united universal body of Christ.
Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” There is a certain power and desirability of unity which becomes even more evident in times of unrest. In the days of Elijah, Israel was divided. Civil war was waging among the tribes, yet Elijah rebuilt the altar on Mount Carmel with 12 stones that represented the 12 tribes as a prophetic act that Israel will reunite.
The Bible talks a lot about people groups coming together. When people cross those ethnic barriers and come together for a higher purpose, it moves the heart of God. That is God’s plan for humanity and He commands a blessing over such sacrificial unity. What we are seeing today is the complete opposite. Nations are rising against nations and ethnic groups against ethnic groups. Jesus said: “A house divided cannot stand.”
God’s initial plan for Israel was to make them an example of His Kingdom, and so He set them apart from the other nations. God Himself ruled Israel as a nation of priests and commanded them not to mix with their surrounding nations so that they will not become like them.
Over time, however, the religious authorities turned being the chosen people into a type of club. Unless you were exactly like them, you couldn’t join in at all. And Jesus criticized them: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees! Not only will you not enter into the Kingdom of God; you have prevented people from entering the Kingdom of God too!”
They had taken that special calling of God and turned it into a means of discrimination, and discriminatory division is the mother of all divisions. This was not God’s plan for His kingdom. And so God had to dismantle their legalism. Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, He wanted to break down that hatred that had developed between His chosen people and the rest of the world.
In John 17, Jesus prays for His disciples, and then for all who will come to believe in Him through their word. He says, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message”—“them,” being His disciples: the twelve who were Jews, and “those,” being us: believers, many among whom are Gentiles. He goes on to pray, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”
Jesus makes it clear that His desire is to see the two sides of His family—the Jewish people and the rest of the nations—come together so that the world will see and know that He is God. In Ephesians 2:14-16, Paul writes that Jesus came to remove the enmity between Jews and Gentiles:
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
Unfortunately, a large majority of Jews did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, and as a result, the disunity has only developed. Looking back through history, the Jews were always treated as a minority. They were marginalized, restricted, pushed to the borders of different countries, and massacred if they resisted.
In the history of Christian Europe, Jews were considered the killers of Christ—betrayers. They have wandered the world, been physically tortured by the church if they refused to convert to Christianity, and to top it all, Hitler, the leader of the most protestant country at that time, took mass murder of Jews to an industrial level.
These events have only created a greater division between Jews and Gentiles. For centuries, the church taught that God has rejected the Jews because the Jews rejected Jesus, but nothing can be further from the truth. Bringing these two sides of God’s family together in one body is something that needs to change in our Christian understanding.
Romans 11 speaks clearly on this issue. Paul writes: “Did God reject His people? By no means!” God in His wisdom used the Jews’ failure to recognize Jesus as the Messiah as His opportunity to bring the Gospel directly to us. And now we need to go bring the Gospel to other Gentiles. God also did this to provoke them to jealousy. Part of our calling as Gentile believers is to turn back to the people who gave Him to us, and witness to them: “YOUR Jewish Messiah changed MY life!”
We go on to read in verse 12: “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”
“This is the start of what I would call New Testament prophecy,” Ps. Tsukahira said. “Old Testament prophecy is powerful enough, but when we get to New Testament prophecy, I think it’s like a laser beam. It cuts through two thousand years of history as if it wasn’t even there. Paul is saying, ‘If God used the failure of the Jews at the time of Jesus to recognize Him as their Messiah and Lord as a blessing to the rest of the world, what kind of a blessing do you think it will be when the Jews recognize Jesus as their Messiah and Lord?’
“I am here to tell you as a first hand witness, as a pastor of a messianic congregation that that day has come!” Ps. Tsukahira declared. “Now after two thousand years, the people of Israel are back in their land and the Gospel of the Kingdom—the Gospel of salvation is being preached to them and they’re coming into the Kingdom of God through faith in their own Jewish Messiah for the first time since the days of the book of Acts!
“It is time for the body of Christ to recognize this and realize that it is a call back to unity. It is a call to bring Jews into the house of God, along with people from every nation to be one just as the Lord has commanded and desired so that the world will know that God has sent His Son. This is a day of great awakening. It is time for spiritual life of God to be springing up. It is a time of breakthrough and a time for change—not just for Israel, but for every nation that can see this in the Spirit and apply it to themselves, and I believe that for Malaysia, that time has come.”
Ps. Tsukahira then went on to explain how God uses the olive tree as an illustration as to how God plans to bring these two groups of people together: the Jews, and the Gentiles. Israel is the cultivated olive tree. God personally discipled them and gave them specific instructions for every aspect of their lives and society. We Gentiles, no matter what ethnic group we come from, are the wild olive tree.
For whatever reason, God only chose one nation to become His chosen people, and He chose Abraham and his descendants. When we are able to accept that, we can truly learn from the nation of Israel. In the same way that parents are usually stricter with their first-born child, and in the same way that younger siblings are expected to learn from their eldest sibling’s mistakes, so it is with God’s family of nations.
God loves us all the same, just as parents love all their children the same, but there can only be one first-born, and in God’s family, that is the nation of Israel. If we are smart, we will learn not to make the same mistakes that our older brother (Israel) made. And so it is that we have been grafted into God’s family through faith in Christ. That being said, it is important to remember that we are the ones who were the outsiders—not the other way around.
The Jews may have broken off from the tree (and have paid severely for it), but the roots remain the original cultivated tree. And although they have fallen away for so long, God is able to graft them in again. The number of messianic Jews only began to appear in the body of Christ in the 1960’s. Today, there are over fifteen thousand Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah. In just one generation, there has been tremendous growth.
This is the blessing of God! When Jewish people come to know their own Messiah, it brings a richness into the body of Christ. It is one thing to graft a wild olive tree into a cultivated olive tree, but it is an even bigger miracle when dead branches are grafted back to life! The Jews are back. God is forming His line again—healing that wound that existed for so long, bringing us together in one new man.
Paul says in verse 25: that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. “We’re part of that fullness,” Ps. Tsukahira said. “And it continues in verse 26, ‘And so all Israel will be saved.’ Now, we all want Israel to be saved, but it seems, from the Word of the Lord, it’s really clear that Malaysia is going to come first (as will every other nation). We’re going to be partially hardened in Israel until the fullness of the nations comes in.
“So we actually have a prophetic word for you from Zion. Believers in Malaysia, here’s the prophetic word: Please hurry up! We’re waiting for you! Have your breakthrough, bring the Kingdom, transform your nation, and get the Gospel back to Jerusalem!
“After all these years of Christian history, we’re now beginning to see the formation of the bride—the body of Christ. How can the bride be whole without Jewish people? She started with Jewish people, and now because this is the end times and the beginning of restoration of all things, God is turning back to His original covenant people and we’re beginning to see His complete work on this planet. What God chose Israel for, He will never change His mind. And that is to be a blessing to all the nations.”
Ps. Tsukahira wrapped up the session by giving us God’s solution. “God gives us a key to use as a solution for every racial division and he wants to put that key in the hands of His people today because not only do we want justice for all races, we want a solution that will stop the back and forth discrimination, revenge, and retribution and we want to bring the Kingdom of God which is a kingdom of justice and acceptance and love, and unity of every nation, tribe, and tongue.”
In Romans 12: 1-2, Paul continues, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“Paul is saying, ‘now that I’ve shown you how Jews and Gentiles should come together in the one body, go therefore together to the altar of sacrifice. Don’t be conformed to this world where there are ethnic divisions.’ Jesus went to the cross to break down the wall of division, to remove the hatred, and to bring the two groups together as one. This is the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God, and it has to do with learning to love your enemy.”
Jesus said to love your neighbor, but do more than that. Love your enemy. This is the pearl of great price. If we can somehow capture the power of this command, we will have the power to transform our enemies into our friends. “Isn’t that a better power than destroying your enemies?” Ps. Tsukahira asked. Destroying your enemies results in unending conflict. Your enemy’s children will destroy your children and vice versa.
The United States ended World War II with two enemies: Germany and Japan—one in Europe, and one in Asia. However, instead of completely annihilating these countries when they had the chance, America found it in her interest to rebuild them instead. And so they came up with the Marshall Plan.
They invested millions of dollars to rebuild Germany and Japan. One major reason why America is the superpower it is today, is because she has had the continual support of two great friends: Germany and Japan. A new generation of Americans is rising up today. They don’t remember World War II, but they love two things: German cars and Japanese food. Turn your enemies into friends. It works!
Finally, Ps. Tsukahira reminded us of a well-known parable: The Good Samaritan. The Samaritan man in this story crosses the ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural barriers, and does what is right. He saw that the injured guy needed his help and he helped him. “It all comes down to the little decisions that every single one of us makes every day.” Ps. Tsukahira said. “God did not give us a new proposal to love our enemies. It was a command.”
We all have neighbors who may be radically different from us who obviously need our help. Question is: Are we going to find a way to help them? “This is a beautiful land,” Ps. Tsukahira said. “It is a rich land—a good land! And you are not here by accident; God has given you this land. It is your inheritance.
“So because of the sacrifice of our King, can you be the one to bring the love, justice, kindness and peace to your land? We’re going to try our best in our country with our ministry there,” Ps. Tsukahira affirmed. Let us therefore do our part in winning our respective countries for Christ with the common purpose of reaching the full number of Gentiles so that all Israel will be saved, and the whole Body of Christ can truly come together in unity through our one Messiah!
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