Middle East warfare is spiritual, not political, Messianic group told

ST. LOUIS (BP)--The best human efforts will never win peace in the Middle East because the conflict is spiritual in nature, not political, a Messianic Jew told the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship June 10. Peace will come, however, because God will keep his promise to bless Israel and make them a blessing to the nations of the world.

"If we could improve the situation [in the Middle East] through our own efforts, we wouldn't need the return of the Messiah," said Stuart Rothberg, teaching pastor at Sagemont Baptist Church in Houston. "We're sending in the world's best negotiators -- Tenant, Powell and others -- who are sharp as can be, and they are failing miserably.

"The Lord is saying to us, 'When are you going to stop looking to your own resources?' Get on your knees, Arafat! Get on your knees, Sharon! And say, 'Almighty God, have mercy on us!'

"Nothing is going to happen until the Lord graciously intervenes -- and he will."

Rothberg said he sees no rational reason for the intense loathing many people seem to feel toward Israel.

"Why is there such a hatred of the Jews?" he asked. "If someone doesn't like me as a Jew, I can live with it. We're strange. We have an unusual culture. It's OK. But do you have to kill me? That seems to cross the line a little bit.

"Why this passionate objective to 'free the world of the Jewish problem'? Why? It's satanic, that's why. The Middle East is not a geopolitical problem. It is a spiritual warfare issue."

The devil wants to wipe out Jews because God promised their forefathers that he would multiply their number and, through them, bless all the other peoples of the world, Rothberg said.

"If Satan succeeds in ridding the world of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then he can point to Almighty God and say, 'You are a liar.' That's what is at stake," he said. "God told us, 'That covenant is eternal, and the fact I sustain it when you, Jewish people, are unfaithful, is a testimony to the fact that I am faithful.

"But God is not a liar. What's the proof? The Jew. Great persecutions have come and gone, but we, a handful, are still here. Why? Because God is true to his word. Our existence proves the reliability of God."

Christians must share the good news of God's love with Arab and Jew alike and must be sure not to promote anti-Arab feelings, Rothberg said. They have no choice, however, but to stand with Israel, he said.

"I don't want to promote any anti-Arab sentiment whatsoever, but if you're going to be on God's side, there is no option but to be supportive of Israel."

Congregations belonging to the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship are primarily composed of Messianic Jews -- Jewish people who have accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah that God promised would deliver and rule over Israel.

During their business session, fellowship members asked their president and executive committee to appoint a committee to draw up a statement of vision, mission, strategy and core values for the group. Once adopted, the statement would be added to a constitution and bylaws adopted by the group a year ago during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans.

The group also elected officers for the next year: president, Steve Barack of Wheeling, Ill.; vice president, Jorge Sedaca of Southfield, Mich.; secretary, Yonathan Dees of Rio Rancho, N.M.; and treasurer, Penny Isbell of Bessemer, Ala.


More information about the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship can be requested via e-mail, 4zionsake@mindspring.com.

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