Messianics in the IDF

Jesus supports the IDF and he wants his believers to be the best soldiers they can be.

That was the message conveyed by members of the local Messianic Jewish community via sacred texts, prayer and talks, to a group of 18-year-olds who took part this week in a premilitary program called Netsor.

“I am a soldier of God,” said Boris, an intense redhead accepted to an elite combat unit, who is one of the 28 young men and women who participated in Netsor.

“I will do my best during my service in the IDF to serve God spiritually and physically. Not for the sake of state authorities but for the sake of God and Jesus,” added Boris, as we sat in the dining room of a guest house that overlooks Lake Kinneret on Wednesday.

Not far from here, according to Christian tradition, Jesus walked on water, healed the sick and preached. Now, nearly two millennia later, young “believers,” as they call themselves, convinced they are walking in Jesus’s footsteps, hope to become the next fighter pilots, reconnaissance soldiers, paratroopers, tank commanders and sailors.

Some 150 highly motivated believers will join the IDF this year. Many of them will serve in combat units. Some of them have been through Netsor’s week of mental and spiritual preparation offered by the Messianic community. Netsor is a Hebrew word that means “to guard” or “to stand vigilant.”

The return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel with the establishment of the State of Israel brought with it a small but growing group of Messianic Jews, numbering today between 10,000 and 15,000. These Christians celebrate their own version of Jewish holidays such as Pessah and Succot and set aside Friday night and Saturday as a day of rest.

But they also believe that Jesus is the messiah and that he is the only path to redemption. Messianic Jews, who distance themselves from the more in-your-face proselytizing tactics of Jews for Jesus, are nevertheless very open about their beliefs, including their conviction that traditional Jewish faith is not sufficient for redemption.

Due to their religious beliefs, Messianic Jews have been subjected over the years to physical attacks and discrimination, including in the IDF.

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