As an Orthodox Jew, there are many tenets of Christianity that I had never heard of growing up, or at best certainly never understood. Working in the capacity of building bridges between Jews and Christians for many years, I am often astounded at how much I have learned.
If you're Christian, you know about the rapture. You probably anticipate it, even pray for it. But when I speak to Jewish friends about the rapture (a strange situation of one Jew talking to another about this cornerstone of Christian faith), most of my Jewish friends look at me with eyes wide, partly from interest but largely glazed over from confusion.
When it comes up with Jews, I do my best to educate. But now that I know what I know, when it comes up with Christians, I ask if one is prepared for it? Until a few years ago, I never really considered the topic because it just was not relevant. Then, I had an extraordinary conversation that opened my eyes, began a dialogue and triggered a theological precedent that's taking off, a supernatural way in which Christians are affirming their support for and standing with Israel.
In that extraordinary conversation, I was speaking with Anne Graham Lotz. Christians know she is the daughter of renowned evangelical leader Billy Graham. Over the years, we have spoken openly together, prayed for one another and have become good friends. There are not enough good words to say about Lotz: her warmth, her faith, her love of Israel and so much more. It is a relationship that I cherish. When I look to biblical examples, she is very much a Ruth.
When we spoke, Lotz asked me how I would feel if she would leave me her possessions after she is raptured. It was a conversation for which I could not have been less prepared, and one which I will never forget.
"What a beautiful affirmation of your faith, and an expression of your heart for Israel to stand with and bless Israel, even after you're no longer here," I said. "I love it and would be privileged to be part of that."
Some time later, Lotz shared with me that should the rapture take place before her death, she had signed documents that leave her home to me. It still moves me deeply to think about this and everything that it represents, just like Ruth and her love for Naomi and the Jewish people.
As my friend Dr. David Pitcher explained in his authoritative book, After the Rapture, an abbreviated legal definition of the rapture is "a future miraculous event when all Christian people who have believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for personal salvation, will be suddenly caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus Christ."
While there are different views of the rapture, the point is that whether or not one is raptured before dying or not, there are many ways that Christians can leave a huge legacy, supporting and standing with Israel and the Jewish people. In fact, according to Pitcher, Christians not only can do this, but it's also an imperative that they do.
After the Rapture details biblical reasons and practical steps why and how Christians should leave their assets to the Jewish people. It is referred to as "an eye opener (teaching) about end times with authority (whose) message will convict your heart." You can get your downloadable copy of After the Rapture here.
A growing number of Christians have chosen to stand with Israel, to bless Israel even after they are no longer here. Much of this is being done through what's known as legacy gifts: donations made whose impact carries on after one's death. It's a common means of supporting charities and causes that one feels strongly about after death.
As people contemplate their year-end taxes and estate planning on a practical level, the conversation is particularly timely. The most common legacy gifts are bequests, trusts, life insurance and donation of appreciated assets. There are many tax advantages for the donor as well as the beneficiary charity. Announcing one's intention to do so also makes sure that his/her loved ones understand that blessing Israel is an important priority in their lives and part of their legacy.
It is innovative and special, blessing Israel and being blessed even after one is not alive. It's astounding to imagine how God might honor His commitment to bless those who bless Israel when making such a spectacular affirmation of faith. A legacy gift like this embodies Ruth's vow to Naomi. Because of Ruth's righteousness and standing with Israel, she merited to become the great-grandmother of King David, leader of Israel, and from whose bloodline Messiah comes. I am not God, but I believe strongly in His promise to bless those who bless Israel. There's no more unique and impactful way to prepare to do so with the inevitability that one is no longer alive on earth, but in heaven.
In a recent conversation about this for the Inspiration from Zion podcast, both Pitcher and John Sandager, a New Mexico attorney, address a wide range of topics relating to such legacy gifts, specifically after the rapture. Questions are raised as to how the rapture is proven, how one's assets are deeded to a Jewish person or organization, what happens if one's children are not "genuine Christian people" and what an Orthodox Jew is doing having these conversations to begin with, among many other things. You can listen to the Inspiration from Zion conversation here, or anywhere you listen to your podcasts.
As an organization responsible to build bridges between Jews and Christians and Christians with Israel, the Genesis 123 Foundation has launched an effort to enable Christians affirm and be part of Ruth's legacy, while leaving their own. Either way, blessing Israel after the rapture is something that any person, church or other ministry needs to consider.
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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