Yesterday at the traditional ceremony where newly recruited Israeli soldiers are commissioned with a machine gun following the completion of their basic training, one new recruit was photographed holding a Bible which included the New Testament.
Social media was abuzz with conversations as to why a Jewish soldier would be presented with the ceremonial Hebrew Bible including the New Testament instead of the traditional Hebrew Old Testament only.
And no, Israel has not begun passing out Hebrew New Testaments to our brave soldiers as some have reported. The truth is that Israel recognizes and respects the religion of all its citizens.
It was 20 years ago now when my son completed his basic training at the evening ceremony in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and standing at attention in formation with the 500 or so soldiers in his battalion, that he raised his hand and shouted above the others, “Sir, may I also have the New Testament together with the Tanach (Old Testament)?” Following a brief conversation among the officers, one shouted back in reply, “Yes, private, you may.”
Back in those days the army didn’t carry around New Testaments, so he pulled out the pocket copy he always carried and held it against the Tanach (where it belongs) together with his shouldered machine gun and declared in unison with his comrades-in-arms the vows of allegiance to risk life and limb in defense of the Jewish nation.
Since those days, Jewish followers of the Messiah Yeshua have filled the ranks of the Israeli army with the kind of enthusiastic, Zionist, and brave young men and women who have left their mark on the IDF and the nation. That’s why we reported on how now the IDF Teaches Soldiers to Love Their Neighbor and Israeli Army Teaches Soldiers About Jesus.
Today we find making the rounds on social media a newly trained recruit holding a Hebrew copy of the Tanach and the Brit Hahadasha (NT) For its many Jewish followers of Yeshua as well as Christian Arabs, the IDF will provide a New Testament (in English) to swear-in upon. But as seen in the photo below, this soldier appears to be using his own Hebrew-language Bible produced by Natzor, a Messianic Jewish pre-army preparatory program. We have written before about a sister program for Messianic youth called Hetzim (Arrows) operated by the same Israeli youth ministry, Netivah. See: Messiah’s Arrows.
Reading the comments over the post pictured here, many could not understand why the army would pass out a Bible with the NT. Others saw this as the IDF’s way of showing respect to its soldiers. Some thought this was a new policy to give every soldier a New Testament. It’s not. Not yet, anyway.