More than 1,700 Messianic Jewish people and evangelical Christians converged last week with Christian leaders at the Israel Summit in Loveland, Colorado, to rally behind the nation of Israel, fight global anti-Semitism inside and outside the Church, and incite believers to spread the gospel worldwide as treacherous days lie ahead. A sense of urgency was stressed at this year's event, subtitled "Stand FIRM," (Fellowship of Israel-Related Ministries) as End Times prophesy continues to unfold.
After the three-day event OneNewsNow interviewed a featured speaker of three sessions at the Israel Summit, FIRE School of Ministry founder and president Dr. Michael L. Brown, and asked what he regarded as the biggest misconception the Church in America has regarding the Jewish people.
"Probably the biggest misconception is that the Jewish population is monolithic: either entirely secular, or deeply knowledgeable of the Scriptures, or totally focused on Israel," Brown, a Messianic Jewish American himself, told OneNewsNow. "Although there are many common traits among American Jews, we are still a diverse population."
Brown, who is also the host of the nationally syndicated talk-show Line of Fire, was then asked what he considered to be the most crucial message he had for evangelical Christians in America concerning Israel and the Jewish people's role in the End Times.
"I would focus on the Jewish people as people loved by God and for whom Yeshua died — not as some type of prophetic timetable or piece in a prophetic puzzle," responded Brown, the host of the Jewish outreach documentary TV series, Think It Thru. "And I would encourage every Christian to pray for the salvation of the Jewish people and to reach out to them with the gospel. Most Jews in America come to faith through the witness and prayers of Gentile believers."
Dispelling Satan's lie
Another Jewish believer in Jesus featured as a conference speaker was Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, who serves as president and CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries International. He wasted little time opening up the first full day of the summit by stressing how proliferating anti-Semitism witnessed across the world today has spawned from the intense spiritual warfare taking place between God and Satan over the Earth's inhabitants.
"Folks, we are in a battle," Bernis alerted the audience during one of his two sessions. "We are facing a very real enemy who is wounded and who truly believes he can stop God's plan from being fulfilled."
Bernis shared with the crowd that he rejected the God of the Bible as a youth growing up in a Jewish home, when he led a rebellious life riddled with drugs and immorality — a lifestyle that came to a quick close when friends lifted him up with fervent prayers to God. After explaining how he realized — after coming to faith in Christ as the Jewish Messiah — that all the Old Testament scripture he read about actually led to Jesus, Bernis warned that the enemy is still scheming and that all believers should be on a mission to work toward what is foretold in scripture.
"What's our job?" Bernis asked summit attendees. "Fulfill the plan."
Bernis argues that one of the obstacles Satan has put in place is the global hatred and disdain – both inside and outside the Church – for the Jewish people. He insists that the coming together of Jewish and Gentile leadership will bring about God's blessings and mitigate much of the enemy's destruction in these last days.
"Like the rise of anti-Semitism, the growth of Replacement Theology [and] anti-Israel attitudes, we need to deal with this together, and we need to deal with this now," Bernis told CBN News, noting that the escalating anti-Semitism on a global scale is demonic in nature. His weekly television program, Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis, discusses these issues, along with the often overlooked Jewish roots of the Christian faith, Christians' current spot in Last Days' Bible prophesy, and the significance of today's Middle East events regarding the End Times.
Hate at the front doorstep
Not having to look far past the front doors of his church hosting the Israel Summit to see anti-Semitism at play, Resurrection Fellowship senior pastor Jonathan Wiggins and all in attendance witnessed a candlelight vigil demonstration outside the conference protesting Israel — complete with the brandishing of pro-Palestinian signs. The anti-Israel demonstrators claimed the Jewish State is guilty of "unimaginable and unspeakable" war atrocities and attempted to persuade Wiggins to cancel the conference, saying it would be "treating political Israel with God-like status," Assist News Service (ANS) reported.
Seizing the opportunity to use the protest to teach a valuable lesson, Wiggins validated the right for both the attendees and demonstrators to congregate in support of their personally held spiritual and political convictions.
"I gladly respect the right of this group to gather," proclaimed Wiggins, who founded the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) last year. "Every group in a free society should have the right to celebrate those individuals, customs and cultures that have paved the way for that which makes us who we are. We do this proudly and boldly, and we support others' rights to do the same."
Offering protesters assistance, Wiggins went out of his way to ensure that they conducted a "lawful, orderly and honorable" demonstration. He did this by making sure their needs were met, giving them hot drinks, bottled water, snacks and even a portable toilet.
Wiggins went on to explain how Christianity was established by Jewish people from the same covenants as Judaism, pointing out how all Christian tenets are based in the Jewish-written New Testament — not to mention that the religion's founding leader was in fact Jewish … the Lord Jesus Christ.
A blessed alignment
The summit's closing speaker on Friday night was evangelical Christian leader Jack Hayford — popularly known as the founding pastor of Church on the Way, where he formerly served as senior pastor more than 30 years. Hayford also emphasized Israel's position as being in the epicenter of world history and Bible prophesy. The author of dozens of books and hundreds of hymns also stressed how by joining forces with Israel, Bible-believing Christians will be in God's will and reap a harvest of His blessings, which includes protection from nations and militant groups seeking to destroy Israel and its allies.
"Standing with Israel and for traditional marriage are non-negotiable tenets for Christians living amid changing cultural viewpoints," asserted Hayford, who is currently the chancellor of The Kings University.
As the summit's opening speaker, King of Kings Community Jerusalem senior pastor and FIRM co-founder Wayne Hilsden tipped things off Wednesday night by stating the purpose of the organization behind the event.
"FIRM is a global fellowship of biblically grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships to bless the inhabitants of Israel (Jew and non-Jew) and the Jewish community worldwide," the Jerusalem-based pastor informed. Hilsden then told those in attendance that he sensed several years ago that Israel and the Jewish people had begun their journey into a time of "shaking on many levels, both externally and internally."
"Growing forces are attempting to delegitimize and stigmatize the nation of Israel," Hilsden proclaimed during his speaking session titled "Dare to Be a Daniel."
"Many Jews are predicting the end of the Zionist dream," he stated, "and the historic solidarity of evangelical Christians with the nation of Israel is undergoing a shaking as well."
Hilsden then stuck to the theme of Daniel by quoting the heroic Jewish exile, using a verse from the Old Testament prophet's book to incite attendees to prayer.
"The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action," Hilsden quoted Daniel 11:32 as a segue to the One Percent Challenge – an international movement based in a directive from God in Psalms 122:6 that calls believers to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" and "give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth" (Isaiah 62.7). It asks believers for a daily commitment to pray for one percent (14 minutes) of their day, asking God for Israel's peace and its reestablishment as a "light to the nations" (Isaiah 49.6).
When asked what he considered to be the greatest takeaway from the conference, Brown — who also heads up Ask Dr. Brown as an online resource for Jewish and Gentile believers and seekers — had this to say:
"I believe the attendees were deeply impacted in a number of ways, including: getting a deeper love for Israel; understanding the importance of Israel's salvation and; seeing how the Church often failed in its witness to the Jewish People — driving them away from Jesus rather than winning them to Him," Brown concluded. "[They should also come away] understanding the importance of standing with the nation of Israel (but while working for the best interests of the Palestinians too) and seeing the power of a united ministry for Israel."