Reaction to John Hagee’s Book, In Defense of Israel

Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa (February 2008)

The Executive Committee of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) distanced itself from John Hagee’s doctrinal position with regard to the salvation of Israel as expressed in his book, In Defense of Israel. In this book he states that Jesus never offered Himself as Messiah to the Jews, and that He is only the Savior of the Gentiles. For several years now he has been advancing the idea that Jews are saved without Jesus since they are in a covenant relationship with God. He says that all efforts to evangelize Jews are failing miserably. This unbiblical stance has aroused considerable support for John Hagee among orthodox Jews, but at the same time it has elicited the antagonism of Messianic Jews and most of the evangelical Christians. The UMJC posted the following article to their website :

On November 28, 2007, the Executive Committee of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations issued the following statement concerning certain doctrinal positions espoused in the recently published book, In Defense of Israel, by Pastor John Hagee:

As Messianic Jews we appreciate the support for Israel and the Jewish community that many Christians have shown in recent years. This remarkable change in Jewish-Christian relations corrects centuries of Christian anti-Semitism and promises to bear much fruit in the coming years. In particular, we recognize the important work that Pastor John Hagee has accomplished in rallying thousands of Christians to this cause. At the same time, we must note serious concerns about some of Pastor Hagee’s doctrinal positions, particularly as expressed in his recent book, In Defense of Israel. These teachings contradict biblical doctrine, undermine the testimony of Jewish followers of Jesus, and weaken the cause of Christian supporters of the Jewish people. 

Hagee argues that Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jews, but rather the Savior of the world.  The premise that Jesus is not Messiah not only ignores numerous passages in the New Testament, but also undermines the very claim that Jesus is Savior. The New Testament opens with the words, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1, NRSV). (John 1:41 and 4:25 state that the words Messiah and Christ are equivalent, respectively the Hebrew and Greek terms for “anointed one.”) If Messiah, son of David, is not Israel’s king, then whose king is he? Matthew connects the Messiahship of Jesus to his descent from Israel’s greatest king, David, and the father of the Jewish people, Abraham. At the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) Peter proclaimed to “Jews from every nation,” “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah . . .” (Acts 2:5, 36). As a result, thousands of Jewish people acknowledged Jesus as Messiah that day. By the end of the 1st century there were multiple thousands of Jews who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah. Were they wrong? 

Paul speaks of the Jews who accepted Jesus in his own day as a remnant that served as a reminder and anticipation of God’s unchanging purposes for all Israel (Romans 11:1-6, 16). How about today? There are hundreds of Messianic Jewish congregations around the world, comprising thousands of Jews who acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. We represent Paul’s great statement regarding the return of the Jewish people to the Messiah: “What will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Yet, Hagee ignores these realities and the foundational Biblical truths they reflect. 

Hagee’s book also weakens the cause of Christian Zionism to which he has devoted so much of his life’s work. If his theology is so clearly aberrant on the Messiahship of Jesus, why should thinking Christians accept anything he says in support of the Jewish state? But the extreme interpretations that he advocates are not necessary to build the case for support for Israel and the Jewish people. We affirm that Christians can proclaim faith in Jesus as Messiah and also support for Israel without diminishing either. 

To teach that Jesus did not come as the Messiah for the Jews is ultimately anti-Jewish. Jesus becomes the savior of the world, but with no particular relationship to the Jewish people. If Jews want to respond to him as savior they have to leave Israel and its messianic hope and become part of something universal. In contrast, when we declare Jesus to be the Messiah of Israel, we do not invalidate Israel or the Jewish people. Yes, Jews need to respond to Jesus, as do all people, yet in this response they discover that he is distinctly Jewish, distinctly relevant to them, and very much part of the Jewish story (en of article by the UMJC).

Jesus is indeed the Messiah of Israel!

The claim that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel is even made by a small group of orthodox Jews, despite the fact that the great majority of them strongly deny it. The testimony about Yeshua by a respected and very old rabbi (now deceased) is clearly part of the preparations for the soon return of the Lord Jesus. The following article was written by Teresa Neumann and published in Israel Today:

Claims of a Deceased Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Naming Jesus as the Messiah Circulate Around the World

Teresa Neumann (January 17, 2008)

A modern day Nicodemus? With God, all things are possible. 

(Israel)—As this report from Israel Today continues to circulate around the world, its incredible claim continues to thrill, confound, inspire and antagonize millions, depending on what side of the religious aisle one sits. In typical fashion, the hotly debated story (accessed by following the link provided) reads like an underground mystery novel.

In essence, the report claims that in September of 2005, before the prominent, 108-year-old, ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri died, he wrote a small note that he requested be sealed until after his death. In the note, it is claimed he named Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The note was reportedly signed by him, Yitzhak Kaduri, in “the month of mercy.”

Says the report: “A few months before Kaduri died...he surprised his followers when he told them that he met the Messiah.” 

Kaduri’s son, Rabbi David Kaduri, confirmed that in his last year, “his father had talked and dreamed almost exclusively about the Messiah and his coming.”

“My father has met the Messiah in a vision,” he said, “and told us that He would come soon.” 

The most striking thing about Kaduri’s manuscripts, other than naming Jesus as the Messiah, says the report, were the “cross-like symbols painted by Kaduri all over the pages. In the Jewish tradition, one does not use crosses. In fact, even the use of a plus sign is discouraged because it might be mistaken for a cross.” 

Naturally, the note continues to be contested by those in the orthodox community unwilling to believe that the elderly Kaduri was physically able to write it, even though the rabbi was famed for his intelligence.

Source: Staff of Israel Today.

A sign to the world

The time is rapidly approaching when the whole world will dramatically be confronted by Jesus Christ, who will reveal Himself to all people. John says: “Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18). 

First, the Lord Jesus will snatch away the saints (1 Thess. 4:16-17; Luke 21:36) to receive their reward at His Judgment Seat (2 Cor. 5:10) and then to judge and rule the world with Him (1 Cor. 6:2; Rev. 5:9-10). During the tribulation period He will pour out judgments upon the God-rejecting people of the world who refused to accept Him as Messiah and Savior (Matt. 24:21). At the end of the great tribulation, a remnant of Israel and the nations will be saved (Zech. 12:10; Matt. 24:29-30). After this, the millennial reign of Christ will be established on earth (Rev. 11:15; 19:11-15; 20:4).

The catching away of true believers in Israel and the nations will be a big shock to the whole world. Those people who were aware of the promise of the rapture will know exactly what has happened. From the viewpoint of the traditional Jewish marriage, orthodox Jews will know that the Bridegroom has come for His bride. To the bride it will be an escape from a particularly dark time of impending judgments upon an evil world, as was also the case during the time of Noah and Lot, when true believers escaped God’s judgments (Matt. 24:37-39). In the end time, a similar situation will prevail:

“Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matt. 24:40-44).

The sudden disappearance of millions of Christians will be a big shock to nominal believers, since they have completely rejected this promise of intervention by God. To the Jews it will also be a shock when Messianic believers suddenly disappear from their midst. Those who will truly realize what has happened will accept Jesus as Messiah. In this revival, 144 000 Jews will be saved and become powerful witnesses of the Messiah (Rev. 7:2-8). Large numbers of people among the Gentiles will also be saved (Rev. 7:9-17). 

At the same time, the Antichrist will appear on the scene as an impostor who will deceive most people to accept him as the true Messiah. He will pretend to be the one who saved Israel and the Gentile nations from a threatening world war, and also from a major economic collapse that would have been caused by this war. Because of this, Israel and the nations will immediately accept him as the promised Messiah (John 5:43; Rev. 13:3-4).

Jews and Gentiles have a last chance to take notice of the clear way in which the Lord Jesus reveals Himself in His Word as the Messiah and Savior of the world. If they don’t accept these divine facts they will be the objects of His wrath (cf. 1 Thess. 1:10). The coming of Jesus was for the fall and rising of many in Israel and in the world, and for a sign which will be spoken against (Luke 2:34). To those who believe in Him He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), but to those who reject Him He will be the Judge who will cause their final downfall by condemning them to the everlasting lake of fire (Acts 17:30-31; Rev. 20:11-15).

Let us rather be among the wise virgins who are preparing for His soon return. There is a terribly high price to be paid for spiritual foolishness.