What does it mean to provoke the Jews to jealousy? “I will provoke you to jealousy by those that are no people and by a foolish nation I will anger you” (Romans 10:19). Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:21: “They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous…I will provoke them to anger….”
Paul’s greatest desire was that his own people would accept Jesus as their Messiah and Savior like he did. He preached from the Tanakh to the Gentiles about the New Way and boasted of his ministry to his kinsmen in hopes of making them jealous.
Not surprisingly, the religious Jews of that day angrily cast Paul into prison and had him beaten on many occasions. Not many years earlier, Jesus was delivered over to be executed because of envy (Mark 15:10).
There is no shortage of anger from the Orthodox towards the Messianic community. Christians are tolerated, in part, but Jewish believers in Yeshua are not tolerated at all. Anti-missionary groups are quite vocal and sometimes hostel towards the “Messianic traitors.” Their protests are increasing as the Messianic groups grow larger. But is it due to jealousy, or is it feelings that are much more complex?
Jealousy is about protecting one’s position or place. The bible teaches that God is a Jealous God. He demanded that Israel not replace Him with useless idols. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14).
Israel failed to keep God first and was dispersed among the nations for 2000 years. Since that fall, the Gentiles have seen a great light because of God’s mercy (Isaiah 9:2).
What made other nations jealous of Israel? It was the presence of God in their midst (Ex. 33:16) that caused other nations to tremble. When Israel served the Lord with their heart, no one could touch them. He was not only their God, but also their King and their defender.
Christians know God’s presence through Jesus. Salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit is the favor that God has given to the church. From that, we have spread the Word of God all over the world.
I don’t think it is the money we give, the visits of millions of Christian tourists, or the fact that millions of Gentile Christians now stand with Israel, that could provoke the Jews to relationship with our Jewish Messiah.
We are told to not be arrogant. We Gentiles were grafted into the Jewish root (Rom. 11:18). Great harm has been done toward the Jews through arrogant Christians from about the 2ndcentury. They assumed the church replaced Israel. That demonic lie catapulted many nations to murder millions; many of them in the name of Christ and the cross. God did not, nor will He ever cast Israel away (Jer. 33:25-26). The church was wrong for a very long time (some still are). For 2000 years, Israel as a nation, did not exist and seemed impossible to restore.
God did restore (Jer. 31:10). Romans 11:28 calls them “beloved.” Salvation is from the Jew, and to the Jew first (Rom. 1:16). Therefore, we should give freely; we owe the Jews a lot. We owe them repentance for the atrocities done in the name of Jesus and the cross.
Stand with Israel. Be who you are—a Christian who loves the Jewish people, and the fact that God is keeping his covenantal promises with them. Unify with those who support Israel. Be big about it! Attend rallies, march, join the crowds in worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
Don’t be afraid to share your faith. Share honestly from the scriptures. Don’t try to flatter, manipulate, or impress. And listen with your heart.
Don’t judge the Jewish people if they reject Jesus as Messiah. He will unveil Himself to the Jewish nation, much like Joseph did to his brothers, in His time.
The church has a divine purpose with Israel. So, we must protect, provide, love and nurture her sons and daughters, the old and the poor. Ultimately, God’s presence through us will help the Jewish people trust again and to know the love of God in a greater dimension.