Recently, I was asked by Olivier Melnick to participate in a conference sponsored by Chosen People Ministries (CPM). the event was hosted by Calvary Chapel of Edmonds, Washington. The theme of the conference was Celebrate Israel, Against All Odds! Three speakers were invited to make 45-minute presentations. The presentations were followed by a panel session featuring questions and answers. A wonderful Messianic concert by Debbi Kline and Vince Iantorno closed out the day.
Kicking off the conference was Bob Morris, a Jewish follower of Yeshua and the founder of HaDavar Messianic Ministries. Bob spoke on the biblical mandate for the State of Israel, focusing on the unconditional land promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. Correctly understanding God’s irrevocable promises made to Abraham and his physical descendants through Isaac and Jacob is a key principle for unlocking what the rest of the Bible teaches. Bob did a fantastic job of setting the stage for the day.
Olivier Melnick, CPM’s Northwest Regional Director, and also a Jewish believer, was the third presenter. Olivier is a widely recognized authority on the 21st Century resurgence of Anti-Semitism around the world. Born in France to Holocaust survivors, Olivier’s mother lives in the quiet Paris neighborhood where a brutal attack was recently made on a Jewish deli. In recent years, huge numbers of French Jews have exchanged their homes and country for safety among their own people in Israel. If nothing changes, France’s Jewish population will simply disappear. Olivier gave a powerfully alarming presentation on the characteristics of what he is calling Eschatological Anti-Semitism, the irrational and demonically inspired hate of the Jewish people living at the end of time.
Millennials for Israel?
Sandwiched between the other speakers, I was the lone Gentile on the program with a peculiarly titled presentation entitled Millennials For Israel. I wasn’t speaking of pre, post, or amillennials. My topic covered a growing concern about what the future leaders of the Church think and believe about Israel.
The people born between 1980 and 2000 are collectively known by demographers and sociologists as Millennials. They range from 15 to 35 years of age. Collectively, this demographic group shares certain general characteristics. Overall, the defining events of millennials have been the 9/ll attack and large scale mass shootings. Emerging technologies have contributed to their preferred means of communication via texting and social networking. Millennials have a low regard for most authority structures, seeking opportunities to collaborate. They are distrustful of organized chains of command. Generally speaking, millennials are motivated by authenticity.
Let me state right up front that I am 61 years old. I am not a millennial. I belong to the demographic known as the Baby Boomers. We are the children of the Builders, that group of people born shortly before World War II began. My group, the Boomers, gave birth to Generation X, born between 1960 and 1980. It doesn’t take a social scientist to recognize that all of these groups (Builders, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials) have different perspectives on life. Our perspectives are based on the defining moments of own unique time in history. These divergent views have a tremendous impact on everyone who self-identifies as a “Christian”, including millennials.
The purpose of my presentation was to address an issue that should be a growing concern for all who follow Messiah Jesus as disciples. Since the Garden of Eden Satan has attempted to undermine God and His Word. It should come as no surprise that throughout all of history Satan has been conducting an all out war against God through His own Creation. This has included a battle for the hearts and minds of men and women. “Did God really say?” are the four words the Destroyer has unceasingly whispered in the all too receptive ears of those who were made in the very image of God Himself.
As millennials make decisions concerning their own personal beliefs about the person of Jesus, it is natural that they would gravitate to people who appear to be authentically practicing their personal faith. Because they are motivated by authenticity rather than authority, millennials look for people who they see as making a visible difference in their world. Millennials are strongly drawn to role models who open their Bibles and explain their worldview, pointing to the reasons behind their actions. But, things are not always as they seem. Therein lies the problem.
Within Christendom, there are two primary approaches to understanding the Bible and applying what it teaches:
Reformed Theology – Many of the most popular 21st Century Christian leaders are adherents to the reformed theological tradition. The origins of this approach to interpreting and applying the Bible are found in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. Plainly stated, reformed theology interprets the Old Testament through the teaching of the New Testament. The reformed tradition believes that the Church, the Body of Messiah, began to exist in the Garden of Eden as a result of Adam’s sin. Reformed teachers place great emphasis on good works as proof of faith. Motivated by authenticity, Millennials perceive this as biblical truth in action, something to which millennials are intellectually and emotionally drawn. Reformed pastors and teachers are winning the battle for the hearts and minds of this generation, millennials who are the future of the Church.
Dispensational Theology – A lesser known approach to understanding the teaching of the Bible is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalists interpret the teaching found in the New Testament through the lens of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. This is an interpretive approach that is the opposite of reformed theology. Dispensationalists recognize that the key to studying, practicing, and teaching the Bible to others begins with identifying God’s eternal plan for all of history. This plan is driven by a number of biblical covenants (conditional and unconditional), all found in five books of the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, 2nd Samuel, Jeremiah). While the Church has always been a part of God’s plan for history from eternity past, Dispensationalism identifies the beginning of the Church with the events of Acts 2.
Millennials For Israel?
So, you may be thinking about now, “Where is this going? What’s the point you are driving at?” Over the last decade, a very strange wind has begun to blow throughout the evangelical community, a historically strong supporter of the nation of Israel. This wind is known by some as Christian Palestinianism.
Dr. Paul Wilkinson has written extensively on this subject. He has said, “Christian Palestinianism is an inverted mirror image of Christian Zionism. All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed, so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine, not Israel, the son of God is a Palestinian, not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered, 1948 is a catastrophe, not a miracle, the Jewish people are illegal occupiers, not rightful owners, and biblical prophecy is a moral manifesto and not a signpost to the Second Coming.”
Christian Palestinianism is dramatically altering the way many who identify themselves as Christians view what the Bible teaches about Israel and the Jewish people. This is relevant to the way they understand the very real tragedy of the people group known today as Palestinians.
Would you care to guess which of the two approaches to interpreting the Bible noted above most likely leads to the adoption of Christian Palestinianism? The way millennials study and interpret the Bible directly impacts how they will view what is happening in the world and how they live out their faith in that world. This includes the way they will think and act on issues concerning the Jewish people, Israel as a nation, and the conflict in the Middle East.
It is past time for the dispensational community of believers to start thinking outside of the box. We need to create opportunities to engage with millennials, the future leaders of the Church and expose them to God’s clear plan for the ages, equipping them to powerfully and convincingly communicate the importance of adopting the method of Bible interpretation that Jesus taught His first disciples.
Luke 24:27 – Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Luke 24:44 & 45 – These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
Millennials want to:
Know what is true
Observe truth in action
Be bearers of truth in their world
If we do not engage and proactively disciple millennials as to what the Bible actually teaches, what Jesus taught concerning the Jewish people individually and Israel as a nation, others will indoctrinate them with that which we know to be false.
For your further consideration, we are providing you with the manuscript of a presentation made by Olivier Melnick at the recent LCJE/NA meeting in Vancouver. Don’t just read it. Print it out and give it to your pastor, elders, and Sunday School teachers.