Our friends at All Israel News reported last week that an Instagram post of a new recruit being inducted into the Israel Defense Forces ignited a firestorm last week—all because he was holding a Hebrew Bible containing both the Old and New Testament.
It was the first in-person service since COVID began. What made the photo such a lighting rod is not that the soldier was carrying a Bible. All soldiers are given Scriptures according to their faith: Muslims receive a Quran; Jews, a Tanach (Old Testament), Christians, a full Bible (perhaps in Arabic) …but this recruit was holding a Bible written in Hebrew…with a pin from Natzor, a pre-army program for Messianic Jews, run by a local ministry.
Angry posts started appearing under the Instagram photo, accusing the IDF of missionary activity, trying to convert recruits to Christianity. The IDF responded, saying, "The IDF is a melting pot of Israeli society; therefore, it is fitting to protect it from missionary campaigns. The chief military rabbinate works hard to strengthen the morale of our troops for the sake of all of our soldiers from all religions. The reality in which outside missionary forces are attempting to infiltrate the army is bizarre and dangerous."
A famous, right-wing (pro-military) rapper, The Shadow, uploaded the same image along with one of a Muslim recruit with the Quran. He said,
"It's not weird, and it's not strange. Each one pledges on what he believes, and they swear to protect the Land of Israel and the people of Israel with their lives…encourage them, don't bring them down! The IDF is a melting pot, and this is a touching photo! I'm proud of anyone who protects this country."
The Shadow's post received thousands of likes. Several Messianic Jews commented on the post, explaining how they are fully Jewish AND they believe in the New Testament—a concept that is foreign to most Israeli Jews. "I am Jewish, Israeli, and I believe Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. I won't change my mind because of the opinion of a majority." Believers also encouraged fellow Jews to read Isaiah 53 and then compare it to Yeshua's life in the New Testament.