The Church needs to wake up to the fact that the Middle East conflict is spiritual, not physical, Messianic Jewish leader Barry Segal told an audience in Ireland.
And they also need to repent of their often hostile attitude toward Israel, borne out of a great end-time deception that somehow the Church has replaced Israel in God’s affections or that the Jews do not in fact need the gospel at all because they have their own covenant with God.
The latter reasoning amounts to one of the greatest acts of anti-Semitism, he said, because it denies hope to many in Israel who are spiritually desperate amidst a morally decadent society.
An Israel-based singer along with his wife Batya, Barry heads up a humanitarian aid program which has helped 750 000 destitute people over the past two decades.
(A Messianic Jew is one of a growing number of Jews who believe Jesus is their Messiah, and Barry was addressing the Shalom Messianic Fellowship in Belfast.)
As an example of the spiritual battle in which Israel is engaged, he told of how he and Batya had prayed over their son Ariel, an Israel Defense Force (IDF) commander, before he went into battle in a recent Gaza conflict.
Not sure when or if they’d see him again, they wept together as they prayed Psalm 91 over him – that he would dwell in the shadow of the Almighty, neither fearing the terror(ist) by night, nor the arrow (missile) that flies by day. The psalm also includes the statement: “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”
Ariel later reported back that he had witnessed miracles to his “right and left” and on one occasion heard a voice telling him to shut a door, which was riddled with bullets as soon as he closed it.
“Until the Church wakes up to this (the spiritual nature of the Middle East conflict), they will never grasp what’s going on,” he said.
Barry and Batya both became believers in Jesus through miraculous encounters – Barry in America and Batya in Jerusalem. “And the Word of God has led us to the Land of Israel.”
Batya, whose Orthodox Jewish parents made aliyah (returning home to Israel) from Yemen, got a job at a printing press, where she was asked to typeset the New Testament in Hebrew! She tried not to read what she was typing, but the message got through nonetheless. And in response to her prayer for God to reveal himself to her, an angel appeared to her twice – first beside her bed and then at a bus stop – as a result of which she became a believer in Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus).
“God is restoring the Jewish people to their Messiah in this day and age,” Barry explained.
The Messianic movement in Israel has experienced exponential growth, from just a few hundred to over 15,000 in 120 congregations, since he came to Israel in 1981. And the current number is “just the tip of the iceberg” of what’s to come, he said, adding: “The same Jew who died on the cross in Jerusalem is the one who’s returning there.”
Key to God’s great love story
Much of the Church was missing the key to God’s great love story, he said. But it’s all there in the Scriptures, and we need to filter out all other voices in order to grasp what is happening.
An increasing number of Israeli Arab Christians, for instance, were seeing the writing on the wall as to the fate that lies in store for them elsewhere in the region or in the hands of Islamic State, and are being encouraged by their own leaders to join the IDF in defense of the only democracy in the Middle East.
Barry is founder of Joseph Storehouse (also known as Vision for Israel), which has helped destitute people, including Arabs, with food, clothing and other necessities. And at every opportunity he tells recipients: “We are supported by Christians who love Israel.”
They are evidently very touched by such compassion, which will no doubt have the effect of softening hearts to the gospel many Jews still associate with persecution.