The Church is Empty BUT so is the Tomb!
Church services around the globe are reading Scripture and teaching about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
From Palm Sunday,
to the betrayal in the garden
to the unlawful trial and crucifixion
concluding with the amazing event of Jesus’ resurrection
Few Jewish people – and even fewer Israelis – know much about Jesus. While the New Testament is the best-selling book in human history, few Jewish people have ever read it.
Yet, all this is changing. Over the last few years, more Jewish people, especially those in Israel have been reading the Gospels. In fact, they have been reading the entire New Testament and exploring the truth (claims) of Jesus.
Eitan Bar, an Israeli-born Jew, is the director of media for a non-profit organization called One for Israel. They produce videos called I Found the Messiah. These are short video testimonies of Jewish men and women explaining how they have found Jesus, the Messiah.
These online testimonies have been watched over 68 million times in English and more than 28 million times in Hebrew.
God seems to be moving in the Jewish community, especially in Israel. There is an undeniable growing interest from Jews in understanding the New Testament. It is not unheard of for Rabbis and Jewish scholars to encourage their fellow Jews to read the New Testament in full.
ONE FOR ISRAEL
Israel College of the Bible
Getting Jews to believe in Jesus has been a tough road but another tough road has been to have evangelical pastors preach on end times.
However, both may be changing. Many pastors have shied away from teaching on Matthew 24 when Jesus spoke about the coming birth pains. These are conditions and events that will be in the world leading up to the second coming.
This current worldwide shelter in home lock down has caused many to look towards the end
times. Just this week a fascinating new survey was released. It was commissioned by an
organization called LifeWay Christian Resources based in Nashville. Lifeway is the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. If you follow Ed Stetzer (Moody Bible church) or Tom Rainer, that is Lifeway. Anyhow this new research, being released during Passover/Easter week, finds the vast majority of American pastors seeing signs of the Biblical “last days” in current events.
According to a new survey focused on Christian eschatology, or the study of end times, almost 9 in 10 pastors see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before he returns to Earth.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research said, “While Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, many pastors believe they see signs his return may be close. These sentiments were expressed in January before the prospect of a global pandemic became known.”
In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked him about signs of his coming, and he responded by speaking of “birth pains” that would precede his return. Darrell Bock, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, noted that the Bible has several lists of potential signs of Jesus’ return, like the Olivet Discourse passages of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21,
and some include concepts of global sicknesses. “Jesus mentions plagues or pestilence explicitly in Luke 21.”
LifeWay Research asked pastors if they considered certain current events to be included in Jesus’ warnings.
At least 3 in 4 pastors agree Jesus was referring to current events including the rise of false prophets and false teachings (83%)
the love of many believers growing cold (81%)
traditional morals becoming less accepted (79%)
wars and national conflicts (78%)
earthquakes and other natural disasters (76%)
and people abandoning their Christian faith (75%)
Clear majorities also see famines (70%) and hate toward Jewish people worldwide (63%) as signs of Jesus’ return.
Around 1 in 10 pastors (11%) say they don’t consider any of these part of the birth pains to which Jesus was referring
More than half of pastors (56%) expect Jesus to return in their lifetime
6% who strongly disagree
Among those more likely to disagree Jesus will return during their lifetime are pastors ages 18 to 44 (27%) and pastors of churches with 250 or more in attendance (28%)
Pastors are also likely to see several events related to Israel and the Jewish people as fulfillment of biblical prophecy and signs of the end times.
7 in 10 evangelical or black Protestant pastors (70%) say the modern rebirth of the state of Israel and the regathering of millions of Jewish people were fulfillments of prophecies in the Bible.
Around 2 in 5 pastors (39%) agree that the establishment of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a sign of the end times.
Most (62%) believe another temple will be built in Jerusalem in accordance with a prophecy in Ezekiel 40-48.
Many make end times connections to Israel and specifically Jerusalem, in part, because 73% believe that Christ will return and reign in Jerusalem in fulfillment of God’s promises to David.
More than half of pastors (57%) believe the Bible teaches that one day most or all Jewish people alive will believe in Jesus.
Close to 3 in 5 (59%) say Jesus will return when the Jewish people accept Jesus.
Nearly all pastors (98%) believe sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important.
Around two-thirds of pastors (67%) say sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important because Apostle Paul’s pattern was to evangelize Jewish people first.
More than a quarter (28%) say Jewish evangelism will speed up the return of Christ.
End times teaching
Regardless of how close they believe the return of Christ is, most pastors feel confident in teaching on the subject.
Virtually all evangelical and black Protestant pastors (94%) say they feel equipped to teach on the prophecies found in the Bible, though more than a third did not give the highest level of agreement.
Most pastors also believe it is important to study and teach on biblical prophecies and eschatology.
Around 3 in 5 say it is important to preach on end times prophecies in the book of Revelation (60%) and the Old Testament (60%), as well as spend time personally studying eschatology (57%).
A quarter of pastors (24%) speak to their congregations about end times prophecies at least once a month.
Close to half (48%) say they do so several times a year.
Around 1 in 10 pastors say they talk about it with their church about once a year (11%).
The same number (11%) say they do so rarely.
3 % say they never speak to their congregation about those prophecies Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research “The current global pandemic will create interest among churchgoers and nonreligious people about what the Bible says about plagues, disasters, and the end times.” “The urgency pastors feel is less about stockpiling toilet paper and more about helping people be ready for Christ’s return.”
Two of the most interesting results:
70% of American pastors believe that the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, and the re-gathering of the Jewish people in the Holy Land, are among the Biblical signs of the “last days” and the coming of the Messiah to reign from Jerusalem.
Given all that is currently happening in the world, 56% of pastors believe that the
Messiah will return soon, perhaps even in their lifetime.
Let me challenge you to not just celebrate Easter – but LIVE IT
Let’s not focus on the EVENTS of Easter – lets focus on the MEANING of
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
How do you LIVE Easter?
With Hope. With Expectation!
Living knowing there is a future,
a good future still ahead.
Christ’s resurrection is something believers should be celebrated every day, not just once a year.
Now this year, highlighting, celebrating, embracing the events of Easter is unique.
The church is empty.
The church is home.
This is not the first time this has happened.
There was a time, when followers of Jesus were forced to meet in small gatherings and worship and pray together.