Friday at Tiferet Yeshua (our Tel Aviv-based congregation), we were blessed to have a group from China, Korea and Japan with us. As we brought them forward to pray for them, Ariel Blumenthal, co-pastor of our Jerusalem congregation, mentioned something about the gospel coming to the Gentiles, first through Cornelius in Caesarea. I sensed the Lord begin to speak to me.
It started in Tel Aviv
You see the Gospel first hit the Gentiles in Caesarea, but it came from Tel Aviv. You may be thinking, “Tel Aviv is only 110 years old.” Well, technically, our city is known as Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa). It began as a suburb of Jaffa, and the New Testament reports a great revival here.
Peter was in Lydda, where Ben Gurion airport is today. He met a paralyzed man named Aeneas. Peter prayed for him and he was healed. From that moment, a Jewish revival broke out in what today is the greater Tel Aviv region.
“All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9:35)
We know it was a Jewish revival because the disciples did not yet preach to Gentiles.
Peter was then summoned to Jaffa/Yafo because a dear woman, Tabitha had died suddenly. Peter came and raised her from the dead and the revival deepened within the Tel Aviv area.
“This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.” (Acts 9:42-43)
In short, he had a vision in which God told him to eat unclean animals. He refused, as he knew it was forbidden in the Torah for a Jew to eat such animals. He was told, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)
Not about Pork Chops
The vision had nothing to do with food. And Peter knew that, hence, he “was wondering about the meaning of the vision,” when he came out of the trance. Later, he tells us the meaning; “But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)
Meanwhile, God visited Cornelius the Gentile in Caesarea and told him to send for a man named Peter in Joppa. As the men from Cornelius arrived, the Holy Spirit tells Peter, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19-20)
Jews didn’t Host Non-Jews!
You have to understand—Peter had never been in the home of a Gentile and had never hosted a Gentile. Peter invited these men into Simon’s house to be his guests. My speculation is that Simon may have had a mini-stroke. No Gentile had ever been in his home—certainly not by invitation. This went against Pharisaical law. But you see, Peter had just raised Tabitha from the dead. I am convinced that one of the reasons that God raised her up through Peter’s word, was to give him the credibility to oversee the massive earthquake in Jew/Gentile relations.
We don’t know what Simon the Tanner or the others who found out said—but it would have been hard to tell a guy who just raised one of your most beloved citizens from the dead, that God would forbid hosting the Gentiles. Peter had serious street cred!
The Trip that Changed the World
The next day, Peter went to Caesarea with these men. A day before, he never would have entered their home, but now he says:
“You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection.” (Acts 10:28-29)
As Peter shared the Gospel, God did something else to convince the Jews that Gentiles too, could find salvation in Yeshua.
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The [Jewish] believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”(Acts 10:44-46)
The Jewish believers were stunned that the Gentiles were praying in tongues. And then Peter proclaims something that today would not be controversial at all—but then, it was considered heresy under their false understanding of God’s plan.
“’Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.” (Acts 10:47-48)
Today it is controversial for a Jew to be immersed in water—but no one would blink an eye at a non-Jews receiving water baptism. How things have changed.
Prophetic word for Tel Aviv
From Caesarea, a Roman Gentile city, the Gospel went around the world. But now we are entering the end of “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) or what Paul calls, “the fullness of the Gentiles.” I believe that two things indicated this.
- The Gospel has nearly touched every nation
- Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands, under Israeli sovereignty (June 1967)
Now we are starting to see the beginnings of the Jewish revival in the last days before the return of Yeshua. It began in earnest with the Jesus Revolution in 1967, just as Jerusalem was restored. And with Israel’s 70th anniversary, the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem and the moving of the U.S. Embassy, things are speeding up in the spirit.
Blessing from “Caesar”
As those Asians where standing in our congregation, I sensed the Lord remind me, what happened in Caesarea (which symbolizes the Gentile world) began as revival in Yafo, which is now Tel Aviv-Yafo. Through Caesarea, the Gospel bore fruit among the nations. We have longed believe, there was more than one meaning to Acts. 1:11.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Yes, of course it means that He went up and will come down on a white horse (Rev. 19:11) to the same place, the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3-4). But it also means that even as it began with a Jewish revival that spread to the nations, Yeshua will return to a Jewish awakening that has come from the nations back to Israel. Yes! The Gentiles will play a major role in prayer, love and outreach.
Again I ask: Did [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. (Rom. 11:11)
It was through Tel Aviv (Peter at Simon the Tanners house) that the Gospel made its way out to the nations (Caesarea) and it will be through Tel Aviv that Gospel will make its way back into Israel. Jerusalem will always be the high mountain where God’s name resides, but the Greater Tel Aviv region, home to the largest concentration of Jewish people in the world—3.5 million—will receive a massive revival, according to the Acts pattern. This lines up with what Romans 11:25 and 26 teach—that after the” fullness of the Gentiles,” “all Israel will be saved.”
We asked one of the Asian leaders to pray for revival in Tel Aviv and he did with great passion.
Or at least, that is what I sensed the Lord saying.
Will you pray for Tel Aviv?