Just as people commonly take stock and think about the course of their lives at the beginning of January, so Israelis take time to reflect each time the Feast of Trumpets comes around.
Jewish and Messianic communities around the world celebrate the Feast of Trumpets by eating sweet foods, typically apples dipped in honey which symbolize a sweet year, and by hearing the stirring noise of the shofar being blown. We have a holiday from work, and wish each other ‘Shana Tova’ (a good year), even though it’s not really the new year according to the Bible – it points to the ultimate, last trumpet of Yeshua’s return! But until that time, each year, we take the opportunity to stand back to take a look at how far we’ve come… and where we are headed.
We invite you to take a look back with us, but to see it all through the eyes of faith in the Messiah and in his word.
God has truly brought his people back to the land, and is continuing to gather them in. There are now more Jews in Israel than in any other country. Of the 14.7 million Jewish people in the world, 6.625 million are living in Israel, just about 75% of Israel’s total population of 8.9 million. The remaining quarter are Muslim and Christian Arabs (21%) and just under 5% are Druze, non-Arab Christians, and other minorities.
We are seeing great steps forward in reaching both the Jewish population and also the Arabic speaking populations with the gospel primarily through media, and many are responding! Our evangelistic videos have been viewed well over 10 million times (that’s more than there are Israelis!) and we are contacted on average every two hours by someone wanting to know more about Jesus. Many have come to faith in this way, both Jews and Arabs. God is truly opening hearts here in Israel in an amazing way.
According to a poll carried out by HaAretz1, “54 percent of Jewish Israelis believe in God, and another 21 percent accept the existence of an undefined superior power other than God”, which is very high compared to other developed and democratic countries. An interesting fact is that of those who do believe in God, a significant majority are young (18-24 years old) compared to only 22% coming from the older generation (65+). The Holocaust severely affected the relationship between the people of Israel and God, and perhaps this is part of the reason for the stark difference. Here at ONE FOR ISRAEL, we are seeing people from all different ages coming to faith in Yeshua, but we would also report that the majority are from the younger generation.
However, there is a huge difference between following religious Judaism with all the rabbinic laws, and following the God of Israel. The rift between the ardently religious and the cynical secularists is growing all the the time, but frustration with the religious powers has led many secular people to become more open to considering the claims of Jesus – the great taboo.
“44.3% of Israelis define themselves as secular, while 21.4% are traditional, 12.3% are traditional with religious leanings, 11.5% are religious and 10.2% are ultra-Orthodox”, reports the Times of Israel2. Today we believe that there are at least 30,000 Messianic believers in Israel, which is still a tiny minority, but it is a number that is increasing all the time. The number was about 24 in 1948, but has tripled almost every decade since.
Happy and healthy, but not very wealthy!
The Central Bureau of Statistics data shows that “89% of Israelis satisfied with their lives, more than half exercise regularly, and life expectancy still one of highest in the world”2.
So almost 90% are happy with their lives, but the economic situation for many Israelis is not easy. “37% said they weren’t happy with their financial situation, and 31% said they were struggling to cover their monthly expenses.” The tense Middle East situation and challenging economic realities have not brought the nation down though. Technological breakthroughs and educational advancement are signs of a generally optimistic and successful society, despite the many challenges.
The vast majority of Israelis (84%) reported to be in good health, and the average life expectancy in Israel is 84.6 years for women and 80.7 for men, which is among the highest in the world. Along with that, Israel’s high fertility rate (average 3.11 children per woman), along with steady streams of new Jewish immigrants making “Aliyah” each year, means that the population is expected to reach 10 million in the next six years.
Pray with us that as the nation grows and develops, so body of Messiah will continue to prosper and grow, and that God’s kingdom would advance in all areas and aspects of our society.
Prepare the way of the Lord!
 Haaretz Poll: For Rosh Hashanah, a Picture of Israel’s Muddled Jewish Soul, Chemi Shalev, Sep 9th 2018
 The Times of Israel: Ahead of Jewish new year, Israel’s population at 8.9 million, largely content, Michael Bachner, Sep 4th 2018
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.