The following is part one of JewishIsrael's rebuttal to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s article,"Christians Fulfilling the Prophecy of Isaiah", as it appeared in the Times of Israel on September 17, 2013. Quotation from Rabbi Melamed's article, below in red, are followed by JewishIsrael's response.
Rav Melamed: "Since the foundation of the State of Israel, the numbers of philo-Semitic evangelicals have increased. They see with their own eyes how the Jewish people is returning to its land…They see new settlements and vineyards flowering in the very areas described by the Bible, and they areexcited by our miraculous return to Zion. They are overwhelmed by the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies of the prophets of Israel."
“… Jews must deal with the question of how to relate to friendly Christians. For close to two thousand years, Christians have persecuted the Jewish people – murdering, debasing, expelling, or forcibly converting them. How is it that suddenly Christians love us?...”
“…The most serious problem we have with Christianity is its denial of God’s choice of the Jewish people and of the eternal relevance of the Torah. Christians have classically believed in supersessionism, maintaining that they have replaced the Jews and that the Torah and its commandments are no longer binding. Because of these beliefs, they caused us a tremendous amount of suffering.”
“…It seems that Christian philo-Semites are undergoing a very impressive process of elevation never previously experienced by Christianity. Therefore, with the appropriate caution, we are spiritually and ethically obligated to relate to this process very positively."
The reality of the State of Israel has prompted evangelical leadership to re-think their attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. However, JewishIsrael feels that it is premature to usher in a new and unprecedented era of Christian love for the Jew.
JewishIsrael's academic advisor, Professor Richard Landes, notes that far from being unprecedented, philo-Semitism is part of a millennial pattern in history. Millennial Christian movements, which are strongly philo-Judaic, can become anti-Semitic or turn to an aggressive conversionary agenda after their "outreach" to the Jews fails or when apocalyptic expectations don't materialize.
In fact, there are an increasing number of reports which are raising concerns about a possible change in attitude among evangelicals which does not bode well for Israel. A recent example:
"One obvious problem is that, for Christians, a literal interpretation of the Bible is keyed to the New Testament, which announces God’s covenant with man through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The people that evangelicals are supposed to bless, the Jews, don’t believe in Jesus as the messiah. At a certain point, evangelical support for Israel based on a literal reading of scripture has to confront the thorny question: Why support a state that by definition rejects Christ?
'That’s precisely the question some pro-Palestinian evangelicals are asking,’ says Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. ’Evangelical support for Israel and the fact that Jews don’t believe in the risen Christ is always going to be in tension,' says Van Zile." (Tablet Magazine, November 6, 2013)
God's Choice of the Jewish People
Jewish return to the land of Israel has done much to inspire Christian end-days scriptural aspirations. The recognition of the "chosenness" of the Jewish people has fueled the modern and unfortunately successful missionary movement which, according to today's statistics, has claimed hundreds of thousands of Jewish souls - including a significant toll in Israel. Indeed one of the most virulent and aggressive missionary organizations targeting Jews today is named "Chosen People Ministries". The current evangelical rhetoric referring to the Jews as "God's Chosen" is in no way indicative of a dramatic reversal in Christianity's conversionary doctrine or theological dogma.
Contrary to Rabbi Melamed's understanding, Supersessionism or Replacement Theology is still being preached to many millions of evangelical believers by "pro-Israel" pastors, such as Nigerian Mega-Church leader Pastor Enoch Adeboye, whom Rabbi Melamed himself hosted not too long ago.
In 2011, Rav Melamed participated in a widely disseminated Shomron Liaison Office media campaign which welcomed and honored Adeboye of the international Pentecostal denomination known as "The Redeemed Christian Church of God" (RCCG). Adeboye, sometimes referred to as the "African Pope", was invited to Israel by Shomron Regional Council Governor Gershon Mesika. Pastor Adeboye teaches what can only be described as Supersessionist Replacement Theology to his purported millions of disciples (RCCG also has several parishes throughout Israel):
"The physical Jews expect Isaiah 49:23 to be fulfilled but they failed to realise that a change has occurred. These promises have now been transferred to the Church. Any physical Jew who fails to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour will together with other unbelievers bow to us Christians someday."
"If you are a spiritual Jew- a Jew by reason of your new birth experience in Christ Jesus, you qualify to claim all the promises God made to Abraham. So what happens to the nation of Israel? To be relevant, they have to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and become a part of His Body- the Church."
The Shomron Regional Council's marketing of Adeboye in a media blitz ran from August through October 2011. The campaign featured Adeboye with Rav Melamed in a video press conference. Photos of Pastor Adeboye and Hayovel's Tommy Waller with Shomron leadership appeared in large ads in Israeli newspapers and magazines. There were plenty of photo-ops.
Yet perhaps the most disgraceful moment caught on camera is posted at the RCCG Israel website, featuring Shomron councilmen Gershon Mesika, David Ha'ivri and Yossi Dagan seated at a dinner table with none other than Israel's #1 street missionary and meshumad, Yaakov Damkani and his wife, Elisheva.
[NOTE: In February, 2013, Damkani posted pictures of himself among Jewish children in the Shomron]
The gala event was arranged by then Israel Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov to honor Pastor Adeboye for his generosity and support for Israel. JewishIsrael notes that Gershon Mesika traveled to London in April 2012 for Pastor Adeboye's 70th birthday celebration.
In his article, Rabbi Melamed stated that, “we are spiritually and ethically obligated to relate to this process [of Christianity's elevation] very positively”, albeit with "appropriate caution".
It will become evident as this full report unfolds that appropriate caution is not being exercised and that there may be very practical, spiritual and ethical problems with the parties who are advising Rabbi Melamed on Jewish-Christian relations.
Part 2 of this report will challenge Rabbi Melamed's view of Tommy Waller and Waller’s Hayovel Ministries and will expose Hayovel's past and present missionary agenda.
A JewishIsrael Statement of Concern: Regarding Rav Melamed's Position in Support of Messianic Christian Volunteers
"Jumping the Geula Gun" - a Response by Rabbi Sholom Gold to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed