(A message delivered to the International Board of Jewish Missions in April 1986)
I rejoice that in the three churches I have pastured, I have had the joy of baptizing Jewish believers, Hebrew Christians. Having them in our congregations, we know that they are a very special kind of people, and we thank the Lord for them.
I am a Gentile, my father was German and my mother was Swedish. My wife is a Gentile, a mixture of Norwegian and English. How a Swede and a Norwegian ever got together, I don’t know, but we managed somehow.
Christians often talk about the ministry of the Jews to the Gentiles. Were it not for the Jews, we would not have the knowledge of the true God. Were it not for the Jewish nation, we would not have the Word of God, nor would we have a Savior.
I walked into the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, when I was pastoring the Moody Church, to visit one of our elders. I went over and sat by his bed, and we talked together. He said to me in a low voice, “The man in that bed over there is Jewish. I have been witnessing to him.” Like most pastors, I made it a point to talk to everybody in the room when making hospital visits; so, after my friend and I had chatted together, I walked over and said, “I want to thank you.”
The man looked at me and replied, “For what? I don’t even know you.” “Well,” I said, “I understand you are Jewish.” He said, “Yes I am.” I said, “I am a Gentile, and I want to thank you for what your people have done for me. . . . You gave me a Bible. You have given me the knowledge of the true God, and you gave me a Savior.” It opened up the opportunity to witness to him, and then I prayed for all the patients in the room. I hope that witness and prayer did some good and brought people to Christ.
The Past: Punishing the Jews
But I don’t want to talk about the ministry of the Jews to the Gentiles. I want to reverse it and speak on: What is the ministry of the Gentiles to the Jews? I want to approach it from a three-fold viewpoint: a past ministry, a future ministry and a present ministry.
In the past, what was the ministry of the Gentiles to the Jews? In the past, God used the Gentiles to punish the Jews. For example, we read in Judges 2: “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord that he did for Israel. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who knew not the Lord. . . . And the children did evil in the sight of the Lord. . .they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt. . .and followed other gods. . .they forsook the Lord, and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of the spoilers. . .” (Judges 2:7-14)
One of the problems God had with His people was that they defiled the land. They practiced idolatry, and God brought various Gentile nations into the land to punish Israel. These were nations that did not know the true God, nations whose hands were stained with blood; yet God used them to punish His people. God used various Gentile nations to punish them in the land, because the Jews had defiled their land.
Then Israel was punished by Babylon outside the land. Israel not only defiled the law, but they also despised the law. We read of this in Leviticus, chapter 26, beginning at verse fourteen: “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes. . .” Then there will be distress, there will be drought, there will be evil beasts, there will be diseases, there will be famine. . .then there will be captivity. This was God’s warning.
The defiled the land, and God “spanked them” in the land by sending the Gentile nations. They despised His law, and God “spanked them” outside the land and exiled them to Babylon. You would think that by then they would have learned their lesson, but don’t criticize them; we are the same way. It takes us so long to learn!
The ultimate punishment came when they denied the Lord. Peter talked about that in Acts 3. Peter was a kosher Jew. In Acts 10:14 he stated, “I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Peter kept a kosher hose, even up to Acts chapter ten. Peter said, “God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus whom ye delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. . .” (Acts 3:13). What was the result? You know the result: the Gentile nations didn’t punish Israel in the land or even outside the land. The Gentile nations “swallowed them up” as God dispersed Israel throughout the world.
So, in the past, God used the Gentiles to punish the Jews. How humiliating! Here are people who know the true God, who hold the truth of the Word, and yet they were punished by pagan nations. It may be that if the church keeps on going like it is, God may have to use atheistic, unbelieving people to chastise us. Let’s not be too critical of Israel. So much for the past; God used the Gentiles to punish the Jews.
© 2006 Warren W. Wiersbe
© 1989 by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).