Should Jewish Believers Make Aliyah to Israel?
Some Jewish believers we met told my husband and me that it is our duty to make aliyah, since the Bible says all Jewish believers in Jesus should live in Israel. We feel drawn to Israel but are confused about this teaching and whether or not we now have the option not to make aliyah. What do you think?
Also, please remove our name from your mailing list in case we do decide to move to Israel. We would not want the authorities to disallow our application because of our involvement with your fine ministry.
Jewish believers are divided on the subject of making aliyah. Godly men and women of both persuasions base their positions on Scripture. This makes any discussion of aliyah to be difficult. Nu? That’s why you asked, right?
David Stern, along with his wife, Martha, made aliyah several years ago. He wrote an interesting book, Messianic Jewish Manifesto, in which he argues the case for all Messianic Jews making aliyah.
You don’t need a special call to make aliyah, because as Jewish believers you have been called already—by God, in Scripture! You know that God gave Eretz-Yisrael to the Jews, and if that doesn’t include you, why call yourself a Messianic Jew? Isaiah 51:11 says that ‘the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head.…’ In context, the ‘redeemed of the Lord’ are the remnant of Israel, which in the present era means Messianic Jews. So if you’re waiting for God to ‘call’ you to make aliyah, you’ve got it backwards!…if you have not been personally called by God to remain in the Diaspora, you should be thinking seriously about aliyah, not waiting for God to give you a special word.”
Stern, p. 228
Some agree with Stern and find his argument to be cogent. I happen to disagree with the idea that every Messianic Jew is obliged by Scripture to move to Israel. Yes, all believers have a priority calling on their lives. As I see it, the priority does not involve moving to Israel, but rather bringing the gospel to the entire world. (Matthew 28:19-20) In another statement of the Great Commission, Jesus actually commands his disciples to leave Jerusalem for the purpose of evangelizing the nations. (Acts 1:8)
Where in the New Testament does the Apostle Paul or Peter call upon the Jewish believers of the Diaspora to return to the land of Israel? I find no such appeal, but I do find many passages in which believers are called upon to take up their role in world evangelization. Practically speaking, if all but a few Jewish believers in Jesus moved to Israel, it would weaken the story of God’s people to the largest population of Jews in the world… the United States of America.
Also, many of us view passages such as Isaiah 51:11 as promises which are to take place at a future date when Yeshua returns to establish his kingdom. At that time, the Lord will gather the faithful remnant to Israel in his own program of aliyah. Until then, believers have a job to do!
I view aliyah as a way to fulfill the ministry of some who are genuinely called of God to bring the gospel to Jews and Arabs living in Israel. This does not mitigate against the special role of Israel in the plan of God, but rather respects the evangelistic priority given by the Lord himself and expected of all New Covenant believers.
What if God is truly leading you to make the move to Israel? I recommend reading the rest of David Stern’s book! I disagree with his premise of who should make aliyah, but I agree with some very practical suggestions he gives to those who do plan to make such a move.
As for your request to be removed from our mailing list, let me say this. One Jewish believer had problems making aliyah when the shaliach discovered that he was a Messianic Jew. This individual called to ask if our mailing list was secure. He thought that he might be on some type of Jews for Jesus list that exposed him to the Israeli authorities.
Believe me, many who have made aliyah had far more involvement with Jews for Jesus than this person. Our mailing list is secure; if it weren’t, you would know by now! But since you request it, we will take you off our mailing list, unless you change your mind.