“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” -Rom. 10.1-2, regarding Paul’s kinsmen who had not yet received the Gospel
”I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh….” (Rom. 9.1-2)
What is our “heart’s desire” and our “prayer to God”? Do we know anything of this“sorrow and unceasing grief” of heart, “for the sake” of Israel’s salvation?
It is not a contrived burden, nor an anxiety for a particular political expression. It was not merely Paul’s Jewishness that drove him to this anguish. It was “in the Holy Spirit.”
There is a travail that has yet to come to most of us along these lines. It is the anguish of God’s own heart. We need to open ourselves to Him, take up the Scriptures afresh for insight, and sit at His feet in prayer and worship until He begins to enlarge our hearts to receive the same spirit of prayer that rested upon Paul. It produced in Him that which we are still in radical need of; namely, a total jealousy for the glory of God, a joy and sobriety in the true knowledge of God, and a brokenness in prayer for Israel.
It is not chiefly a political prayer. It is a cry “for their salvation.” If you have been ignorant of the mystery of Israel, or neglected prayer for Israel, do not shrink from it under a weight of condemnation. The enemy will drive you away from prayer through confusion or by constricting your heart. Do not shirk the burden of the Lord through despair. The Lord is eager to Shepherd us into an identification with His heart, and even His burdens are “light,”for He carries them with us. When once we are touched by His grief, there is inward pain, tears flow copiously, but it is mingled with heavenly peace, for it is His pain, and to engage in prayer as co-laborers with Him, is to be with Him indeed. Instead of falling prey to the enemy’s scheme, hear the call from the Lord to enter into His anguish in prayer, “for their salvation,” and “for their sake.”
The greatest time of trouble is yet ahead, for the prophets of Scripture have declared it, and it is we as the Church, extending mercy unto the Jewish people at the risk of of our own safety, that will bring a necessary witness to them during the most turbulent time in human history. Whenever that time is coming, I do not know. But the time is now for us to find ourselves in a continuum with Paul, weeping and interceding “for their salvation,” “that Christ may be exalted” in us, “whether by life or by death.”