Lamp Mode Recordings released a video this week for a new song from Messianic Jewish rap group Hazakim, “Don’t Forget the Ayin” featuring J. Williams, which is written as a declaration to Jews that Jesus is the divine Messiah.

“Yeshua (Jesus) is the most influential and most famous Jew that ever lived,” Tony Wray of Hazakim said. “Through Him, more people have come to a knowledge of the God of Israel and have been reconciled to God than any other Jew in history. Yet, because the religious authorities of His day rejected Him, the history and impact of this most famous and influential Jew upon His own nation and people has been nearly forgotten.

“In Israel, to this day, most Israelis only know him as ‘Yeshu,’ which is a derogatory name that his detractors applied to him. It is an acronym which essentially means ‘may his name and memory be blotted out.’ The final letter that spells His Name, the ‘A’ or Hebrew letter ‘ayin,’ makes all the difference in the world. Yeshua literally means ‘salvation’ or ‘safety’ in Hebrew.

“So we are boldly and lovingly declaring to the people of Israel that His Name is glorious and that He is the salvation of the nations (as was prophesied). The Jewish reclamation of Jesus is a very important matter for us. We long for the day when Israel corporately declares, as Messiah predicted in Matthew 23, “baruch haba b’shem Adonai” (Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord).”

Tony said the song was birthed as he endured health problems one sleepless night.

“In September of 2015, we were invited to Israel, and I had been praying and asking God what message the nation needs to hear in this hour. In the Messianic world, a lot of focus is placed on methodology and tact, which is good, but I wanted the Lord to give me a message that would actually ruffle some feathers and urge the nation and people (whoever would get to hear this song) to respect and embrace their unsung hero — the most famous Jew that ever lived: Yeshua — to remove the stigma surrounding this amazing man, of whom any people should be proud.

“During this time I suddenly began to suffer from some very strange physical problems out of the blue. I was constantly going to visits with various doctors, neurologists, neurosurgeons. It was crazy! They discovered a cyst in my brain, an enlarged kidney, abnormal enzyme levels. It was as if my immune system was suddenly attacking itself. During this time of seeking God, the idea for this song came to me at about 2 o’clock in the morning. I woke up, unable to get back to sleep and the title “Don’t Forget the Ayin” just popped in my head. I wasn’t able to go to sleep until I went downstairs and wrote down the idea as well as the layout for the song. I probably didn’t get back to sleep until around 4 a.m. By God’s grace, through much prayer and a drastic change of diet, my health is good now.”

Hazakim shot the video in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this past November.

“The goal was to give the viewer a picture of Israel that they probably rarely see,” Tony said. “Israel is a beautiful country with everything from large urban cities to ancient towns. Part of the video was also shot high in the mountains outside of Jerusalem in an abandoned town of stone ruins.”

The music video, Hazakim said, is controversial, so much so that the Israelites who filmed it asked to remain anonymous.

“To claim Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, and the only hope for lasting peace in the Middle East, is considered scandalous,” Tony said. “The religiously ultra-orthodox of Israel have a strong influence on the social, political and religious life of the nation. While they have done many amazing things in the fight to keep Jewish identity intact over the centuries of diaspora, they have also been somewhat oppressive and repressive to Jewish believers in the Land.

“Israel, which is a primarily secular nation, considers nearly everything ‘fair game’ for discussion and representation except for ‘Yeshu.’ Though it is not as bad for believers in Jesus in Israel as it is in, say, most Muslim nations, the persecution is still very real. Through intimidation and outright lies, ‘anti-missionary’ organizations, militantly oppose any proclamation of Yeshua.”

This spring, Hazakim will join several local and international leaders, including Francis Chan and Rich Wilkerson, Jr, on a tour of Israel and conference called the Jerusalem Encounter. Hazakim is committed to connecting Christians in the United States and Israel.

“Western believers need also to remember that it is more complicated than simply saying ‘the Jews rejected Him,’” Tony said. “Firstly, if it were not for 12 Jews believing the Gospel so strongly that they took it to the nations and eventually died for it, no one reading this would’ve ever heard the Gospel. Since the disciples, there has been in every generation Jewish believers in Yeshua, and now we find ourselves in 2016 with more Israeli believers in the Land than ever before. …

“Another large part of the controversy is the many unfortunate misrepresentations of Jesus over the course of 2,000 years of church history. Contrary to Paul’s command for ‘gentile believers’ to use their salvation as a means to ‘provoke Israel to jealousy’ (Romans 11:11), much of church history has been marked by some pretty ugly words and actions against the Jewish people. And regardless of how ‘unreal’ these Christians were. this is the only picture of Jesus much of the Jewish people have seen — not only in Europe, but also in North Africa and America. Jesus has been presented as anything but a Jew, and as anything but for Jews. Believing in the Jewish Messiah is, in fact, the most Jewish thing one can do.”