PEACE AND RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE NATIONS OF JACOB AND ESAU – Aug 1995

(Delivered in Lempala, Finland, at Israel Conference)

Summarize:
Gen. 25:21-34    birth of Esau and Jacob, fathers of two nations; birthright sold by Esau to Jacob; Isaac loved Esau (Edom); Rebecca loved Jacob
27:1,20-22   Isaac’s poor eyesight in his old age; voice of Jacob vs. hands of Esau; Isaac’s carnal love for Esau
27:28-41    the blessings; the deceit of Jacob; the hatred (grudge) of Esau
32:28   Jacob’s name changed to Israel by God, indicating new character (person) and position (status)
33:1-20   unresolved reconciliation between Jacob/Israel and Esau/Edom over the issue of the land

1Cor. 10:11    the Bible and its examples written for us living at the end of the age
Read:   Col. 1:19-23    Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness, is our peace

The Bible is very clear that the covenant of God with Abraham (Abram) extended through Isaac and to Jacob and his descendants.  Under the Old Covenant, YHVH was in personal relationship with the people of Israel as a nation, excluding the gentile nations.  Individually, the Lord has always had His witnesses amongst all peoples.  (Eph. 2:12; Amos 3:2; Deut. 4:32-39; Acts 14:17)

Esau and Jacob were born to the same father and mother – in fact were fraternal twins – yet one is the father of Israel and is thought of as “Jewish”, while the other is not in covenant relationship to the LORD, and so is considered not Jewish, but rather, in other words, gentile. (1Cor. 10:32)

From God’s viewpoint, the Land of Canaan was to belong to Israel.  The Arabs and other Gentiles have had no sovereign claim to it once God gave it to the children of Israel through the leadership of Joshua.  Gentiles, including Arabs – both Ishmaelites and Edomites – could live in the land but not possess it.  The LORD conditioned Israel’s possession upon their faith and obedience to Him and His law, which, as we know, they failed to do, as would any other people in the same position as God’s chosen people (Acts 15:10).  All blessing to Israel has been ultimately connected to the promised Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, whom God would bring into the world through the Jewish people, but who was to be the same promised Seed of the woman that was to deliver all humanity from the seed of the serpent.  God is faithful to His Word even if we are not, and He is presently dealing with the Jewish people (and with all the tribes of Israel which He alone can recognize) back again in the land which He promised and which He refers to still as the Land of Israel, despite peoples’ uncertainty regarding the name, and their rebellion against YHVH and His Anointed. (2Tim. 2:13; Josh. 5:13-15; Ezek. 36–39; Ps. 2; 83; Mt 2:20-21)

Under the New Covenant, which Israel as a nation has not yet accepted or entered into, although it was first (and still) offered to her, God is offering to both Jews/Israelis and Arabs/Palestinians far more than what they each are struggling over now:  eternal life with the Lord Himself in the New Heavens and New Earth He will create, rather than a portion of land which is not even all that was promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  When Yeshua returns, He will bring to fulfillment His word and promises regarding the land, its boundaries, and where the different peoples will live during the millenial kingdom.  Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus will bring righteousness and peace – even to the animals!

So until then, what do Isaac’s prophetic blessings to his sons, and the characters of and relationship between Jacob and Esau have to instruct us as Christians in the Church of God?  (Heb. 11:20)  Let’s look together at. . .
Gen. 27:28-29,33   blessing to Jacob in disguise. . .and he shall be blessed (much as Balaam had to concede hundreds of years later)
Rom. 9:7-8; Gal. 4:28   Isaac as child of promise (grace vs. works of flesh, custom, or law) a picture of believers and the Church
Gen. 27:39-40   “blessing” to Esau, but without fruitfulness and divine presence and protection
Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2-3; Heb. 12:14-17   character of Esau, and God’s attitude and sovereign election
cp. Mt. 10:37   love for Jesus vs. love of family and self

         Gen. 27:40   “intifada”:  shaking off (uprising), growing restless, gaining dominion (upper hand); the undoing of Jacob’s security and assurance

Much of the Body of Messiah today is similar to Isaac and Rebecca in their attitudes and action towards both the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs:  whether as pictured in Isaac or in Rebecca, God’s ways and will are being distorted.   Jacob’s hope is not in his father Isaac, who in his rightful annoyance at being deceived – though a consequence of his own paternal carnal love (Praise God for it though!) for Esau – undid Jacob’s confidence by giving to Esau the hope of “getting even”; Jacob’s hope is not in himself nor in Israel the people, nor in Christians and the Church; Jacob’s hope is not in an unresolved “reconciliation” with his brother Esau or the Palestinian Arabs, who at heart hold a murderous grudge against him and developed a bitter root (the seed of Islam) as witnessed in the whole after-history of this long-standing family feud (Ezek. 35:5; Obadiah).

Jacob has no hope – nor do the Arabs – under the terms of the O.T. because of his own and Israel’s unrighteousness.  Jacob’s hope – and of the Arabs – is the Hope of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.  God will fulfill His purposes, but in His way and in truth and righteousness.  As it is written in Rom. 11:25-32:    “From out of Zion shall come the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them – when I take away their sins,” and all Israel shall be saved. (Ezek 36:27)
And again, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD.”  And, “. . .They shall look on Me whom they have pierced.”  (Ps. 118:25-26; Zech. 12:10)

Jacob’s/Israel’s attitude as God’s chosen people towards Gentiles in general and towards Arabs and Palestinians in particular is similar to that often displayed by Christians and the Church toward Israel and Jews.  Both have presumed an unmerited arrogance or wisdom in themselves in a manner contrary to the truth and character of our God as revealed in the Scriptures (Rom. 11:25).  God loves all persons, desiring that none should perish but rather receive forgiveness of sins and inherit eternal life (Ezek. 18; John 3:16), and the Lord is also faithful to His covenant promises to and through Israel for all nations.  The Church’s pre-eminent place before God is not at the expense of His word and promises regarding Israel or the other nations.

We as believers ought to humbly marvel and worship God as we realize more and more Who and What He is!  As believers we are exhorted to examine and to judge ourselves, for those of the world – which today includes Israel and the Arab nations and peoples – are already condemned in their unbelief on the Name of the only-begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor. 11:28-32; 2Cor. 13:5).  To us has been given the message of reconciliation – the good news of God to all peoples and nations – until the Lord takes us up to Himself and He finishes the work of putting away evil and workers of iniquity through His righteous and true judgments upon the nations – including Israel and the harlot church – as mankind’s Redeemer (Is. 26:9-10; Rev. 19:2).

Let us seek God’s grace and mercy and long-suffering to remain faithful to our own election in Christ, maintaining the salt of the covenant, even as we carry the gospel of peace to the children of Jacob and of Esau.  The blood of Yeshua the Messiah, which He shed on the cross for our sins, is God the Father’s signature on His peace treaty.  Hallelu-Yah!  Amen.

SABBATH: THE 7TH DAY AND THE 1ST DAY OF THE WEEK – 25 Aug 1995

(Friday evening dinner teaching to Lutheran, Pentecostal, and Free Church Christians in Kangasala, Finland)

Revised 5 Mar 2017

Gen 1:1    In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.
       1:31  And God saw every thing that He had made, and , behold, it was very good.  And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Gen 2:1-3; Heb 4:10  Thus the Heavens and the Earth were finished, and all the hosts of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He ceased ( שבת) on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.  And God blessed the seventh day sanctified it because that in it He had ceased from all His work which God created and made.

Ex 20:9-11; 23;12  Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is the Sabbath of YHVH your God. . . . For in six days YHVH made Heaven and Earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and He rested (ינח) on the seventh day; wherefore YHVH blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it.
                We remember the Creator for His creation, and His rest.

Ex 31:12-17; Ezek 20:12,20  The Sabbath is a sign between YHVH and Israel to know that it is YHVH who sanctifies us; He ceased (שבת) and was refreshed (ינפש ) after His six days of creation.

Lev 23:1-3   And YHVH spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them concerning the appointed times of YHVH, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My appointed times (seasons; feasts). . . . The seventh day is the Sabbath of rest (cessation שבת )

       23:39   [Feast of Booths]. . . on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.
God begins and ends with rest (שבת ).

Dt 5:12-15   . . . and remember that thou was a slave in the land of Egypt, and that YHVH your God brought thee out from there by a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm; wherefore YHVH thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.
             We remember the Redeemer and Deliverer for our redemption, and our rest.

Is 58:13-14   the Sabbath to called a delight (עונג)

Heb 3:7 – 4:11  There remains therefore a rest (cessation) to the people of God:  the gospel message of rest to those who believe (Heb 4:2), as we cease from our own works as God did from His.

Mk 2:27-28   The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Shabbat; therefore, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath also.

Jn 4:34; 5:17-18; 9:4   Yeshua/Jesus answered them, My Father works till now, and I work.  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He had not only broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
God’s present on-going work is that of redemption and salvation.

Good works of grace (lovingkindness) and truth are lawful on/for/during the Sabbath, Shavuot (Weeks; Pentecostal present dispensation), Jubilee (the present acceptable year of YHVH which Yeshua the Messiah proclaimed, the Millennial Kingdom to come:

Mt 12:7,10,12   to show mercy; healing; to do well (good)
Mk 3:4   to do good; to save life
Lk 13:16   to circumcise
Jn 6:29; 7:23   to circumcise; the work of God is to believe on Jesus Christ, whom God sent  

Yeshua, the Son of God and the Son of Man, fulfills the Sabbath:  in Him God finds rest and refreshment, and in Christ believers enter into God’s rest and liberty. (Is 11:1-2; Mt 3:16-17; Jn 1:31-34; Is 28:11-12; Mt 11:27-30; Is 66:1-2; Act 7:49)  The Lord Yeshua was in the grave and Sheol (Hades) on the seventh day Sabbath between His crucifixion and His resurrection on the day after the Sabbath (the first day of the new week; the “eighth” day):  death to the self-life as representing Man and Mankind (“putting off the old man”); alive unto God through faith (“putting on the new man”). (Col 3:9-10; Rom 6; 1Cor 15:45)

This is the life and the way of the cross for the disciple of Jesus.  We are to bear our own burden of responsibility, and help others carry their over-burden, so fulfilling the Law of Messiah.  The Sabbath looks on to the Millennial Kingdom – the 7th 1000-year day with YHVH – when all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest, and when the Kingdom of God/Heaven rules over all the Earth – and throughout the Universe – never to be yielded up again forever! (Jer 31:33-34; Ps 8; 92)

Yet, the Shabbat itself requires consummation or fulfillment (filling full), an answer to sin and death, burial and hopelessness in man’s own experience and expectation apart from truly knowing and believing in the one true living God.  Praise God for the day YHVH has made:  the day Yeshua rose from among the dead on the day after Shabbat; the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first-fruits of believers; the first day of a new creation in the power of the God of resurrection; the day when God spoke, and there was Light and Life – even life after death! (Gen 1:3; 2Cor 4:6)

God is creating a new eternal day of the New Heavens and New Earth, where there is no darkness, no sin or suffering or curse or death; where, and when, all things are made new, and that which is perfect is come; the hope and promise of the new and better covenant in and by and through Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father!

When we are born-again we become children of the resurrection and children of light.  The Sabbath reminds us that God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh.  As we remember that, on the first day He formed the light to push back the darkness that He created.  He did not need to create light, for God is light!  Yeshua is the uncreated Light, and we are brought into God’s light.  The first day of the week (the “one of the week” in Hebrew and in Greek) is also holy!  Praise the Lord!

The Sabbath of the 7th day has abiding value through to the end of history and time. (Ezek 43:26-27)  The 8th day (the day after the 7th; the 8th year following the Sabbatical; the Jubilee after 7×7 years) is founded upon the fulfillment of the previous seven, and looks on prophetically for the believer to eternity, when time is no more, and God is all and in all. (1Cor 15:19-28; Rev 21 – 22) 

In the New Testament we read that the believers met on the first day of the week. (Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:1-2)  This is in fulfillment of the Word of YHVH through Moses to Israel. (Lev 23:11,15-16,36)  The Apostles to the Circumcision — Peter, John, and James — make no specific reference to the Sabbath Day.  Yeshua, in His letters to the churches through John in the Revelation, makes no reference to the Shabbat.  Let each of us be convinced in his own mind, and be servants for the gospel’s sake.  The Sabbath remains for now YHVH’s sign of the covenant with Israel; believers in Israel normally worship together on the Shabbat, since it naturally fits into the Israeli Jewish culture within which — and among whom — we live.  Yet the Shabbat cannot nullify the significance of the day after, nor can the first day of the week nullify the still on-going significance of the seventh-day Sabbath.  We are God’s witnesses to both! 

Hold fast to our inheritance and testimony, even while thanking and praising and worshipping our great God and Savior for the liberty He presently allows for in His wisdom when believers can assemble and worship together.  May the Holy Spirit enable us to worship God our Father, and the Lamb who sits upon the Throne, in Spirit and Truth.  Amen.

ISRAEL OF GOD AND COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL: NOT ALL ISRAEL IS ISRAEL; NEITHER IS THE CHURCH – 24 Aug 1995

(Message at Salaam Church to Friends of Israel in Forssa, Finland)

Gal 6:15-16  For in Messiah Yeshua neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but rather a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Eph 2:11-13  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by them who are called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth  of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; but now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah.

Rom 9:4-8  . . .Israelis, to whom pertain the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever.  Amen.  Not as though the Word of God has not taken effect, for they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:  but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but, rather, the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

The Jewish believers (Messianic Jews; Hebrew Christians, whatever) are presently the Israel of God, part of the whole Church of God, which includes Israelis and Gentiles from all time who have believed in the promises concerning God’s Son, the Savior of all persons, especially of those who believe in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Those who sincerely want to bless Israel as the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, can do this particularly by blessing Jewish Israeli believers – and especially those who walk by the rule set by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul.  But not Jewish believers only, but all genuine Christians through faith and new birth are called the seed of Abraham through his ultimate promised Seed, Yeshua the Messiah. 

The nation of Israel (the preserved remnant being the “seed bed”) will fulfill all YHVH God’s word regarding her during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ Jesus, following her national repentance (which includes both a new and different orientation, and also regret over sin) and conversion (transformation; transfiguration) at the coming and presence of the Lord of lords and King of kings to save the remnant, comprising “all Israel” – the Israel of God — and to judge the nations – preserving also the sheep among the Gentiles.

God has always considered Israel as a nation (Jer 31:35-36), even when we were scattered throughout the sea of nations of the world, away from the Promised Land.  The Church is not Israel, but rather a new creation, made up of blood-bought (redeemed) persons – both Jews and Gentiles – with saving and living faith from out of every nation, tribe, language, culture.  (YHVH God creates:  the present Universe Gen 1:1; Adam and Eve (man and woman) Gen 1:27; Israel, the people Is 43:15; the Church (Body of Messiah/Christ) Eph 4:24; the regenerated Millennial heavens and Earth Is 65:17; the new universe Rev 21:1)

There is only one God and Savior, and one Lord and Messiah; and only one Bible, which YHVH God the Holy Spirit has given to and through Israel to the whole world through the Church.

Through the Old and New Testament Scriptures, written primarily by Jewish prophets and apostles (not to mention the Lord Yeshua Himself), the Israel of God is presently a light to the Gentile peoples; and the Gentiles, through the spread of the gospel and the use of the Bible, are brought near to the Commonwealth of Israel by their relationship to the God of covenant, who is YHVH, God of Israel.  Gentile Christians, whether walking in faith or not, are brought to accountability before the God of the Bible – YHVH, God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; to the Messiah and King of the Jews – Yeshua the Nazarene; to the historic and traditional and prophetic ‘holidays’ spoken of by YHVH through Moses to Israel, including what is popularly called Easter (Firstfruits), and Pentecost/Shavuot, as well as Hanukkah, Purim, and Christmas (the birth of the Lord).  All of these were first celebrated by Israeli Jews in Israel who worshipped God, their Creator and Redeemer, in holiness and fear with a thankful heart.  Jewish believers are also brought back, and carried onward through faith, to all that the Lord has spoken regarding all things.

Gentile believers are told that they have a debt to Israel.  Jewish believers also have a debt to the historic Church – and even to barbarians! (Rom 1:14; 15:26-27; Acts 28:2)  We have all entered into the labor of others.  Those who sow and those who reap are one.  God is no respecter of persons.  He is on His own side, and is faithful to the finished work of His Son on the cross. (Josh 5:13-14)  The Holy Spirit fulfills the righteousness of the Law through the Body of Christ, and Jesus, whom the Spirit glorifies, is Head over all things to the Church, to the glory of the Father.

Israel is the most accountable nation  before God on the Earth, because of her special relationship and covenantal responsibilities with the Lord. (Amos 3:2)  To her belongs double honor, but also double judgment.  To the Church has been granted greater and fuller revelation and privileges by the grace and mercy of God, rather than by mere legal rights and obligations.  We have been bought by the precious blood of the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man, and our responsibility as a people is therefore greater thanIsrael’s at this time to show forth the wisdom and praises of God and of His Anointed One.  The love of God has been revealed to and bestowed upon us, that we are called sons of God!

Let us pray that the Lord would help us to maintain a faithful witness and testimony to the light of the New Covenant revelation, while recognizing both our link and relationship to Israel – because of our faithful God – and also our distinction and distinctiveness from Israel – because of Messiah our Passover.  We – both the present Israel of God and also the rest of the Body of Messiah – are justified through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the King of Israel.  Amen.

WHAT IS IN A NAME?: “[YESHUA] SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE”

(Updated 18 May 2017)

Ps. 138:1-6     “. . .for You have magnified Your word [saying] above all Your Name” (v. 2)
–recognition of God’s Name brings forth songs of praise (psalms included musical  instrumentation);
–songs of YHVH and of His ways;
–the names of God a progressive revelation of Himself to His people–in fact to the world–finding fulfillment under Heaven and in this present creation in the Name above all names, Yeshua (Jesus), our Savior God;
–names are significant throughout Bible, both prophetically and in reference to character of a person, sometimes becoming forever associated with good or with evil, e.g., Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Samuel, Daniel, Delilah, Jezebel
–in eternity, both the Lord Yeshua/Jesus and we will have new names–an eternal testimony from God our Father of  who and what we are (Rev. 2:17; 3:12; 19:12)
–The YHVH’s  name is praised for His lovingkindness (grace) and truth:  we come to know Him as He has revealed Himself through His names which He has made known to us, e.g., El Shaddai (God Almighty or Nurturer);     God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob; I AM; YEHOVAH; YHVH our Righteousness, our Healer, our Peace; YHVH of Hosts; Wonderful Counselor; Father of Eternity; Immanuel. . .
–We, as the people of the Living God, are called by His Name–that which gives us identity and identifies us with YEHOVAH GOD of Israel and with His Son Yeshua whom He sent.  (Num 6:23-27)
–the LORD tells Israel that He would call His servants by a new name (Is. 65:13-16; Jn 15:14-17; Gal 4:4-7)
–in the N.T. the Holy Spirit says that Yeshua would be called a Nazarene, according to the prophets  (Mt. 2:23)

Is. 11:1       (also read the added segment from Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage about the “shoot”, the netzer)
The netzer is specially chosen from among many offshoots from the roots of the olive tree.  It is by all appearances small and insignificant, yet, in truth, it is the one in which is contained the life and hope of future generations.  Yeshua is God’s Twig; He is the Netzer–the Nazarene.  God in His wisdom chose a small, lowly regarded town called Nazareth (נצרת ) as the place in which His Son would grow up “in order that” Yeshua  should be called “Notzri“.  Not Bethlehem, and so perhaps a Yehudi or Beitlachmi; not Jerusalem, and so Yerushalmi; but Nazareth and Notzri (“my netzer” / “נצר שלי”).

In the eyes of Israel, Jesus is insignificant, of low esteem, not the Hope of Israel in Whom is her life.  He is the Stone which the builders rejected, but whom the Father, the Husbandman and Vinedresser, has made the rock of offense and the head of the corner (cornerstone and foundation stone). (Ps 118:22-23; Is 8:14; 28:16; 1Pet 2:6-8)

God chooses the foolish and the weak things in the eyes of the world to confound the wise (Ps 119:141; 1 Cor. 1:23-31).  YHVH chose Isaac, and his half-brother Ishmael mocked him;  God chose the children of Israel, the fewest in number, because He loves them; God chose David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, but a man after God’s own heart; the LORD chose Jerusalem to be His city, yet it has no natural resources of the great capital cities of the world; Jesus emptied Himself of all glory to become not the rightful King, but rather the servant of servants — meek and lowly in heart.  The meek shall inherit the earth; those who fear God and do righteousness will see His favor.  To the world foolishness and weakness–“friars”; to God wisdom and salvation, life from death.

[Other examples of God’s foolishness being wiser than man’s wisdom are His choices of the Seed of the Woman; Jacob; Bethlehem; Ruth the Moabitess;  Solomon, the son of David and Batsheva; Mary; the Lamb.]

God will fulfill His Word.  In Mt. 2:23 the Word of God says that through the prophets (plural) Yeshua would be called a Nazarene (this is not the same word as nazirite).  Even today in Israel, the Jewish people call Yeshua/Jesus, “Yeshu haNotzri” (Jesus the Nazarene, in a completely derogatory sense), fulfilling the Word of God! (also fulfilling Is 8:20-21, giving deeper meaning to Yeshua telling His city and people that they will not see Him again until they bless Him and His name – Mt 23:37-39)

A few examples from the Scriptures of the use of the Hebrew word netzer and its root derivations are:
Ex. 34:6-7        in connection with the Name of God, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands
Deut. 33:9    Levites (esp. Pinhas) kept covenant with YHVH in preference over his family and kinsmen
Is. 49:6         the preserved of Israel by the Servant of YEHOVAH
Jer. 4:16       the watchers sent by God against Jerusalem and Judah
Ps. 25:10       the paths of YHVH are grace and truth for the keepers of the LORD’s covenant and testimonies
                      Ps. 119:2      blessedness ( inner-man happiness, satisfaction) of those who keep the LORD’s testimonies
                       Ps 119:22    supplicating God to remove reproach and despite on account of keeping His testimonies
                      Prov. 4:23    keeping of one’s heart essential to the issues of life

Yeshua fulfills all these, and we are called to do so as believers in Him; Israel is also called to be notzrim in truth, both morally and spiritually.  Yeshua is YHVH’s Tzemach (Branch; Plant; Sprout – Is 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12).

From the Greek texts, we find the following applications of the Messianic use of the name Notzri/Nazarene:
Lk. 18:37-38     Associated with the Son of David, Messiah
Lk. 24:19          Known by His disciples (on way to Emmaus after resurrection of Yeshua)
Rom. 2:28-3:4   An issue of the heart, both to be a Jew and a Christian (whether Jewish or Gentile by birth)
–seeking God’s approval
–suffering indignity for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ the Nazarene (not merely Jesus of/from Nazareth, though this has its own proper use as well) (Jn 1:45-46; Acts 5:41-42)
Mk. 16:6     The angels refer to Jesus the Nazarene as the One the women are seeking at His tomb
Acts 22:8   Yeshua calls Himself the Nazarene (הנצרי ) after His ascension when He appears to Saul (Paul) and identifies Himself to him.

The apostles and disciples are identified with Jesus as Christians (משיחיים ) or as of the Nazarenes (נצרים).
Acts 11:26        first called Christians (meaning belonging to Messiah/Christ, or followers of Messiah/Christ, whether Gentile of Jewish)
Acts 24:5          scornfully referred to as Nazarenes; Paul takes the opportunity to declare his faith and hope
Acts 26:28        Jewish King Agrippa referred to Paul’s persuasiveness to make him a Christian; Paul had borne testimony to the sufferings of Messiah and of His resurrection
1 Pet. 4:14-16   apostle to Jewish believers refers to suffering as Christians for the Name of Messiah (the Greek word for Christian which Peter used for the Messianic Jews is the same as used for the disciples in Antioch, and by King Agrippa — Christianos)
Acts 6:14           a name of contempt by false witnesses
Acts 3:6; 4:10    healings and miracles done in the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene (Yeshua ha-Mashiach ha-Notzri)
Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34  demons, evil and unclean spirits, knew Yeshua as the Nazarene, the Holy One of God

The devil always desires to make God’s people ashamed or afraid of being known by the names God uses.  Both Jews and Christians have done much which has brought reproach and dishonor to our own people and so to our God and Savior.  Yet if we pay notice only to the ways in which the seed of the serpent has abused the Name of YHVH or of His Anointed One, then we will not hear the voice of our Shepherd, whose Name is honorable to God, and He has placed His Name upon us.

Just as Jews in the diaspora often times want(ed) to dissociate themselves from their God-given identity (also oft used in derision), so many Christians do the same–some due to rebellious unbelief or to a bitter root, others due to a sense of shame or of guilt, still others from fear of ridicule or of disapproval.  Nonetheless, even as the name of Israel and of Jews remain to this day, so too has YHVH preserved the name (Hebraically- and English-wise today) of Notzri/Christian.  If we look to Yeshua/Jesus and suffer with Him for His Name’s sake, then we will be glorified together with Him.  The cross of our Lord does not permit us to find our comfort by seeking to save our own lives and names (reputations), but rather by losing our life for Yeshua’s  sake. (Heb 13:13-15)  Then His promise is that we will indeed find life.  We are hidden with Messiah in God.

As we see through faith God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals and enlightens through the Scriptures, then the sayings ( (אמרים of God–not His words (דברים) only, but what He is saying with His words — are magnified, enlarged, are seen more fully and clearly:  great is the glory of YHVH, our pride of self is exposed and abased — grace and truth come through Jesus Christ the Nazarene.  We have no boast but in the cross of our Lord.

Through believing on the Name of the Son of God, the Spirit of God opens up the whole of Scripture to lead us and confront us with liberating and sanctifying truth and love, as He magnifies all that comes forth from the mouth of God and fulfills in us and through us all that His Name means.  Do you know this in your own life, and do we know this together as a congregation gathered together in His Name?

I am a Jew who believes in Jesus.  After that, you can call me what you want.  To the Synagogue I am saying that I am still a Jew, even though I believe in Jesus.  To the Church I am saying that I am still a Jew, even though I believe in Jesus.  Being  a Messianic Jew, a Christian, or a traitor does not alter that declaration of identity.  The main thing is that I belong to and follow Jesus/Yeshua — both Lord and Messiah/Christ.

To whomever has an ear to hear, let him/her hear what the Spirit is saying.  God is faithful to His own Name (He is not unknown or anonymous, and it is our duty and our privilege to make known and honorable His Name–especially here in Israel where they have forgotten it or show their broken relationship with Him through much vain superstitions), and to the name He has sovereignly chosen to bestow upon His beloved Son – hated without cause — who died upon the cross for our sins (John 19:19):

                         Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews                   ישוע הנצרי המלך היהודים

 Netzer – נצר

(from Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage; pages 82-88; written by Nogah Hareuveni)

“Frequently the olive tree is surrounded by offshoots, the strongest of which are kept by the farmer for transplanting.  In this context it is easy to understand the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘And a shoot (hoter) shall grow out of the trunk of Jesse, and a twig (netzer) shall sprout from his roots.’  (Is. 11:1)

The offshoots that surround an olive tree grow both from the roots and the trunk of the tree.  When a trunk offshoot grows into a sturdy “branch”, it is sometimes cut out from the trunk, together with a thick knob at its head–the hoter, or shepherd’s staff.  It serves the shepherd both as a weapon and as a tool for directing the flock.

Unlike the hoter,  worked from the offshoot that grows from the trunk of the olive tree, the netzer is an offshoot that grows from the roots of the tree.  The olive grower destroys most of these offshoots, leaving only one or two of the sturdiest to develop into new saplings for transplant.  This is the guarded offshoot [the word netzer being derived from the Hebrew word natzor, to guard], selected from among all the others to propagate the new generation of olive trees. . . .

These characteristics of the olive offshoots help explain the words of Isaiah (in 11:1) which describe the Messiah, a descendant of David, son of Jesse, who will be a leader of his flock (represented by the hoter, the shepherd’s staff with which he leads his flock) and who will grow as the guarded sapling (the netzer) from the roots of the stock of Jesse.  Though that ancient stock was chopped down during the destruction of the Temple, the roots did not lose their ability to put forth the new growth of a fruitful tree. . . .  After being planted, the olive tree offshoot grows into an olive tree of great age. . . .

Moreover, the olive offshoot can survive for days after being severed from the parent tree, even without soil or water.”

“. . .מסביב לגזע הזית גרופיות-גרופיות, אשר החזקות בהן תישמרנה בידי האיכר כ”נצרים” לנטיעת עצים חדשים

 בקשר זה אפשר להבין את דברי הנביא:  “ויצא חוטר מגזע ישי ונצר משורשיו יפרה” (ישעיה י”א: א’).  הגרפיות, אשר מסביב לעץ זית, יוצאות בחלקן מן הגזע ואחרות עולות מן השורשים.  כאשר גדלה ומתעבה גרופית שצמיחתה מן הגזע, יש המנתקים אותה ממנו, עם האזור המעובה אשר במקום הניתוק.  לאחר מכן מחליקים אותה ומעבדים אותה למקל, אשר בראשו גולה, או “חוטרת”.  זהו מקל הרועים – החוטר – המשמש את הרועה ככלי נשק וגם ההנחיית העדר. . . .

 שלא כמו החוטר, המעובד מגרופית הגדלה מן הגזע, מתפתח הנצר מגרופית העולה מן השורשים.  הכורמים נוהגים להשמיד את מרבית הגרופיות הללו, ולהשאיר רק אחד או אחדות מהן ברצותם לטפח שתילים חדשים.  אלו הם הנצרים:  הגרופיות אשר נצרו אותן מבין כל אלה שהושמדו, כדי להעמיד מהן דור חדש של עצי זית. . . .

 בתכונות אלו של גרפיות הזית מוסברים יפה דברי ישעיה על המלך לעתיד-לבוא מבני בניו של דוד בן-ישי, שיהיו בו תכונות של מנהיג (המסומלות בחוטר, הוא מכשיר הנחיית העדר שבידי הרועה), ואשר יצמח כנצר

משורשי גזע-ישי, הוא הגזע העתיק שנכרת עם החורבן, אך שורשיו לא איבדו את חיוניותם להצמיח מחדש אילן פורה (“יפרה“). . .לאחר נטיעתה גרופית של זית, היא מצמיחה עץ רב-שנים.  יתר על כן:  גרופית הזית עשוייה לשמור על חיוניותה גם ימים רבים לאחר תלישתה מאילן האם – וזאת גם אם לא תינטע באדמה ואף לא תקבל אספקת מים . . . .”    (שיח ועץ במורשת ישראל, כתב: נגה בראובני, עמ’ 88-82)

T’S BAPTISM – 16 July 1993

It is with joy of a father and mother that we can witness and participate together in the baptism (immersion) of our first child, T.  We give thanks to God our Father that, by the Holy Spirit, Tamar has been drawn to Jesus His Son.  T has responded by asking Jesus into her heart even from the age of five and now, by obeying Him, to be baptized by faith in His Name.

Baptism is essentially a public act of acknowledgment that the one being baptized believes with all his or her heart that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and that He saves the believer from his sins.  When we are baptized we are agreeing with God that the Lord Jesus died for me and my sins on the cross in my place, and that I have died with Him.  And even as He rose from the dead, so will I be raised from death.  Baptism in water gives a vivid picture of our sins being washed away by God’s Word on the basis of Jesus’sacrifice.  When we are baptized we are saying that we want to be with Jesus and with His people.  We are saying that we need to be changed from the way we are and think and feel and do to the way God is and thinks and feels and does.  In other words, we need to die to ourselves so that we can live unto God in the power of His resurrection, because God loves you, T.

God your Father in Heaven, T, is very happy and pleased that today you are taking your first big step of faith – the faith of a child which is so special and precious to the Lord that He even tells big people that they must have the simple, trusting, dependent faith of a child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now that you are born again by God’s Word and Spirit through your believing God and His good news about Jesus Christ, your mother and I want to read to you from our announcement at your birth almost eight years ago our blessings and prayers for you then that we see God is wonderfully in grace and mercy bringing to pass:

Your name T means the date palm tree and the fruit.  The date palm tree symbolizes uprightness, righteousness, prosperity and fruitfulness; beauty; salvation and victory; kingly glory; constancy, perseverance.  We hope and pray that you will grow and develop in accord with your name and in the fear of the LORD.

לשמך תמר יש פרוש עץ תמר ופרי שלו, ויש לו סמלים יושר, צדקה, הצלחה, פוריות. הדר. ישועה ונצחון. כבוד מלכי. חזק, התמדה.  אנו מקווים ומתפללים שאת תגדלי באופי שלך לפי השם שלך וביראת יהוה.

 

Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God? . . . . yes
Do you believe that He suffered and died for — and because of — you and your sins? . . . . yes
Do you believe that God the Father and Jesus forgive you for all your sins? . . . . yes
Do you believe that Jesus is Lord and is now alive in Heaven and in your heart? . . .. . yes

Then in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ – I baptize you, T, into His death and into the newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit of God in you.  Praise the LORD!

CIRCUMCISION: A DEFENSE

Excerpt from a letter from me to a believer in Holland on 11 Jan 1993:

. . .Bless you, Brother, for taking the courage and being sincerely honest in asking why we circumcised our sons.  I have enclosed the content of words I spoke to both unbelievers and to believers who attended the circumcisions in our home.  I have also enclosed the word I spoke at E’s dedication before the congregation and before God.  I trust that these will both answer the question and help to give sufficient understanding that the Holy Spirit will give you peace regarding it.

I, too, struggled with the issue before God before E, our first son, was born.  I did not want to do anything that would compromise the cross or my walk as a Christian.  Prior to the birth and subsequent circumcision, the Lord gave me peace regarding it as a Jew descended in the flesh from the fathers, and as one born again in Christ confirming God’s promises to my people in the flesh.  E and T, as my sons, would be, apart from circumcision, unconnected to Israel and the Jewish people – simply Gentiles from American-born parents, or even within the State of Israel.

Rabbinically, they are not considered Jews since their mother is not Jewish.  My concern is not what the rabbis may approve, but rather what God approves.  As a Jew believing in Jesus, I have not become somehow a gentile (and therefore uncircumcised covenantly speaking) [1Cor 7:17-20]).  Taking the N.T. instructions as a whole on the subject, I have done this as a matter of faith – not regarding salvation, but regarding our identity in this body in the world with my people to whom God gave circumcision as a sign for both relationship and identity (Gen 17:14).

If what is written here together with the enclosed papers still does not help, please feel free to say so.  The main thing is not whether someone is Jewish or Gentile, but rather whether he/she is in Christ Jesus.  Praise God! . . . .

CIRCUMCISION OF T Shimon – 13 Oct 1992

Some of you were with us for E’s circumcision, and it is good to have another occasion to celebrate together the LORD our God, both during this week of Succot (the Feast of Booths, or of Ingathering), and also in remembering His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the circumcising of our second son, T Shimon.  (T’s means ‘dew’, and his middle name, Shimon, is a testimony of our faith that the promised inheritance to Simeon, Jacob’s son and the Tribe of Israel, will be fulfilled:  he will inherit Beer Sheva in the apportionment of the Land of Israel after Yeshua returns to set up His kingdom.  Our prayer is that T will have a better inheritance in Christ by being born-again before the Lord returns.)

The circumcision of the flesh of every male Jew is a symbol both of God’s covenant and also of His ways of fulfilling His promises and purposes for His treasured people Israel.  Succot is a testimony of a people at peace with their God – a people whose heart has been circumcised – whose soul has been afflicted, and then refreshed and revived through God’s gracious atonement for sin – and among whom YHVH is pleased to dwell in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Randi and I are circumcising T as his parents in willing obedience to the LORD and to His honor and glory.  But it will amount to nothing if either we or T should place any confidence in the flesh and unless T should circumcise himself to the only wise God and Savior through personal faith and in a spirit of meekness.

Jacob will know the blessings of the covenant when, as Israel, he becomes a true son of Abraham, being justified through personal faith in God Almighty, Who can raise the dead to life in order to fulfill His Word.  As it is written, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” (Gen 21:12; Rom 9:7)  “He (Jesus Christ) shall see His seed and the travail of His soul, and be satisfied.” (Is 53:10-11“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou will not despise.” (Ps 51:19 Heb.)

FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD/LORD’S SUPPER – 18 Apr 1992

Scripture Reading:  Ex. 12:14-20; 1Cor 5:6-8 [Lev. 18:3-4]   Purge out the old leaven!

In the Bible there is a vital connection between the past and the present as a preparer for the future.  The Word of God is prophetic.  The sacrifice of the Passover lamb was God’s provision for the redemption of His people Israel, who were slaves in Egypt and to the ways of the Egyptians; immediately, this redeemed people are told to have no leaven in their houses – put out the old; allow in no new.  Then following comes the offering of first-fruits in the promised land leading to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), with its new meal offering containing leaven, a great difference from what had gone on before (similar to the New Covenant, which is not like the Old Covenant).

Emerging from this, yet transcending it – for God has shown us a more excellent way! – is the Passover sacrifice of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, with His blood shed for redemption of all who believe that have been in bondage to the world and the sin of it; His burial removing the believer’s sins (leaven), and therefore the condemnation, and on account of this good news we confess and identify in baptism as having died to sin.  The thoughts and the lives of the redeemed disciples of the Messiah were forever changed after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus whom they loved because He loved them, even unto the death of the cross, but it was only knowing and believing that He rose from the dead that dispelled their fears and despair and doubts.  Their faith in the certainty of His being alive and firstfruits unto God led them on in joyful obedience and expectation to the fulfilling of the promise from God the Father through Yeshua the Son when the Holy Spirit filled the first 120 believers on Shavuot (Pentecost) as a new meal offering to God, made acceptable by faith in the blood of Jesus for redemption and salvation – both now and forever!

We live today in the light of God’s revelation when the end of the age is upon us and the coming of the Lord Jesus draws near.  The Lord’s Supper of which we partake reminds us to remember His death until He comes at the last trump!  Christ risen from the dead is our life, our righteousness, our hope.

What do the verses we have read regarding the leaven and the unleavened bread have to teach us in the context of the New Testament regarding our lives as redeemed people? Jews and Israel do it symbolically once a year for seven days throughout all generations; Christians  and the Church are to live in the reality and substance of it day-to-day throughout all our days and years:  purge out the leaven (the sin) from each our own hearts and life and from the congregation.  Get out of the world quickly – bring no leaven with you, the thoughts and ways from which you were delivered; find out the Lord’s will for your new life – do not just do what others have done (Lev. 18:3-4); do not put in new leaven of malice and wickedness, or of [religious] hypocrisy, [scientific] rationalism, or [political] worldliness, which all defile the person.  But rather, reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive unto God and righteousness; put off the old man and put on the new man in Christ Jesus throughout our lives!  Whoever is born of God does not nor cannot sin as a characteristic or fruit of his life. (1John 3:9; 5:18)

 The Lord redeemed us and brought us out of darkness and bondage in order that we should be holy, for He is holy, and that we should be His people and He would be our God – in fact more than this:  that we as the Body and Bride of Christ would be a people through whom God can manifest His glory in Heaven here on Earth.  We have a heavenly place and testimony to maintain, and to guard against Satan’s warfare against that truth and grace.

Why should we concern ourselves with what the only wise God and Savior obviously takes quite seriously?  Because we show that we love Him when we obey Him, and also because through faith in the blood of Jesus, God has made us both holy and righteous (unleavened) in His sight, and we honor the Lord and His cross by living a life of faith which testifies to what God has done for us and to what He has called us to be. 

 How do we show that we are purging out the old leaven?  How do we show that we are thankful for this great salvation and for YHVH who has done it?!  How do we show that we have the righteousness which is by faith, and that our faith in Jesus Christ and His blood keeps us in this righteousness of God?  What is the lesson of unleavened bread for us as Christians?

 The answer is that which governed Yeshua Himself when He walked through the Land to glorify His Father in Heaven:  to love and to do righteousness, and to hate and to stop sinning.  (Ps. 45:7; Lk 1:73-75; Heb. 1:8-9)
         –We are to be meek and lowly in heart.
         –We are to love the brethren, even love our enemies.
         –We are to overcome evil with good.
         –We are to be honest in word and deed.
         –We are to be compassionate towards the poor and needy amongst us.
         –We ought to walk in a manner worthy of our redemption, of being called children of the God of            glory, worthy of the sure hope we have as a promise from God. (Lev. 11:45; 19:35; 22:35-38; 26:13; Deut. 16:3; Lk 6:27-49)

This we can do only in the power of the Holy Spirit by forgetting ourselves and looking and thinking upon Him, who was crucified and is now risen in exaltation; by counting all things loss, not simply because of our deliverance, but because of the excellency of Him whom the Father has sent and received again, the Lord Jesus Christ!

He who knew no sin (unleavened bread) was made sin (leavened bread) for us that we should become the righteousness (unleavened bread) of God in Him!

Scripture Reading:  Rom. 12:1-2 [Mk. 9:49-50]  “Present ourselves as living sacrifices (whole burnt with new meal) to God. . . and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. . . .”

The appointed times of YHVH are fulfilled in Messiah, to be observed in reality throughout all generations.  Amen.

Feed on Messiah, the Lamb of God, slain for our redemption and for the glory of God!

BETROTHED TO YESHUA – 2 Mar 1991

2Cor 11:2   Engaged to the Lord
2Pt 1:4       Promises of God to escape worldly corruption and to partake of divine nature
Gen 24:50-58   Rebecca’s betrothal (engagement) to Isaac

When any person – whether Jew or Gentile – is born-again through repentance and faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he enters into a new, covenantal relationship with God as Father, who gives him/her the Holy Spirit, and the believer knows that he is joined to the Lord.

God gives us His great and precious promises not only to realize them in the world to come, but also to affect our lives here today:  that we would set them before us and allow the living hope of them to work in us to transform and cleanse our souls and our lives.  These promises are not for any particular individual alone, but rather to all members of the Church, the Body of Christ.

One of these wonderful promises God gives to those in Messiah is to become His Bride!  We become engaged to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, when we believe on Him as Savior and Lord.  This is a profound mystery:  the union of Messiah and the Church (all Christians collectively), of which Adam and Eve – the first man and wife (woman) – are a type.

I am convinced that one reason in God’s wisdom for leaving us in this world after we have believed the gospel and been saved is in order that our love for our Man, the Lord Jesus, becomes ‘hot’, so that on the wedding day we are truly prepared to be His holy bride and wife.  The Holy Spirit works in our lives that we would love Him whole-heartedly – He who is love and who is perfect.

Let’s consider briefly some pre-marital counseling.  (This same counsel will help also in our present relationships of husband and wife.):

As I already said, the Holy Spirit works with us so that we will be a suitable helpmate for our husband-to-be, the King, the Lord Jesus; in other words, He teaches us to be a good wife and worthy Queen!  Before our conversion, we did not appreciate nor love Jesus – nor, for that matter, God and His people.  Even afterwards, we may think and say and do things which indicate still a lack of proper honor or love towards Him.  But the Spirit works to increase our knowledge of Him so that we will be willing – no, yearning – to be with Him!  We must, therefore. . .

spend time together with Him who would be our husband during the period of engagement.
   –by reading the Scriptures, which all speak of Him and of His Kingdom, and by meditating on His word
   –through prayer, being in communion (fellowship) and communication with God for the glory of His Son Jesus
   —fellowship with others who know Him and love Him – with other family members and friends – this Man who takes common sinners and brings us into His royal house (Ps 45)

growing in personal knowledge of one another’s character traitsWe learn more of what God is like as we walk with Jesus, and we learn more about ourselves.  We learn what He likes and what He does not.  By taking hold of this great promise, we allow ourselves to become more and more the ‘woman’ He wants – even though He took us ‘as we were’.  The Man and His woman identify more with one another and become more compatible.  He has eyes for you only, and His bride has eyes and heart only for Him.

–the third aspect is that we recognize that there are mutual responsibilities in becoming the wife of the King of Glory.  He is the Head of the house, yet He gives us to manage many of His affairs – in accord with His will and pleasure (Pr 31).  He has so loved us and gives us so much about which to feel good and secure that we want to do only what pleases Him and what becomes Him (is worthy of Him).  It is in Him, my Husband, that I find my true and whole identity:  my whole self (1Cor 11:3).

God has created male and female together in His image and after His likeness, and it is in the marriage relationship – of the woman being [re]-joined to the man – that we become one flesh, and, in Christ, one spirit also.

When we agree to receive Christ as He is presented in the gospel, there are three results from these three aspects (spending time together; personal knowledge of one another; mutual responsibilities) of building and developing our personal relationship in preparation for a happy and enduring marriage:

  1. We must send away all other lovers who have any claims on us.  Our husband will have no other competitors or partners.  He is jealous for His holy name and for His bride.  The names of the “baalim” must be taken out of Israel’s mouth and then YHVH marries her (Hos 2:16-20 Eng; 18-22Heb).

Some will love father or mother or sons or daughters more than they will love their spouse; some love their work or their       ministry more than they love their spouse; some love their books or their sport or their food and drink more; some love themselves more than they love their spouse.  Yeshua loves His bride as He loves Himself.

The Holy Spirit works to bring us to where the first and great commandment will be true in us:  to love the Lord our God with  all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – and to where our heart’s desire is that our Lord, our Husband, should come for us quickly.

2.  We must like His law as well as His love.  Messiah will not be Husband where He will not also be Master or Lord.  We are to be as daughters of Sarah and know our husband as having authority over us in the Lord.  He (Jesus) is the perfect one, and as we give Him His place to rule over us, then our desire grows for Him, even as YHVH God spoke to Eve concerning her relationship with her    husband Adam.

3.  We must take our Christ/our husband for better and for worse – with His cross      and with His crown to suffer for Him as well as to reign with Him – to identify with Him in His shame as well as in His glory.

To summarize:  there are three aspects to building a marital relationship:
1.  shared time together
2.  personal knowledge of one another’s character traits
3.  mutual responsibilities.

From these will be three results to assure a good marriage and household peace:

      1.  We will allow no one and no thing to interfere with or separate us from or trouble us in our love and faithfulness towards our  spouse;
2.  We will accept his authority as well as His love;
3.  We accept and stand with him in good times and in bad, in prosperity and in hardship.

What response do we find in our own souls towards Messiah Yeshua when we hear of Him from God’s servants?  Is it ‘hot’ enough that we will do whatever He asks or requires of us?  Would we rather die for Him than live without Him?  Are we exhorting and encouraging one another in His claims upon us and and upon our lives?  Are we telling others of the glad tidings – of our Savior and Beloved Jesus who desires us with His whole heart?!

What is your reply to the telling of God’s Word concerning Christ by Hi servants to the question put to Rebecca, when she was asked concerning taking Isaac for a husband?:

Will you go with this man?” (Gen 24:58)

Blessed is the soul who believes the promise of God to take Messiah’s hand in marriage! (Ps 33:12):
   “Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance!”

SOVEREIGNTY AND WISDOM OF GOD – 8 Apr 1989

It is joy to speak of Him who is perfect and harmless, and also of His Kingdom.  It is amazing, given the state of the world, the rampant unbelief in any particular god (or belief in every kind of god), and the widespread rejection, in truth, of the LORD God and His Anointed, that most people, when asked, think that God is too good to send people to hell at all, not to mention forever!  So we heard last week from Olavi.  This only confirms the Scripture that says even God’s enemies will praise Him.  What sovereign wisdom He has o accomplish this!

As a Jew growing up, my own concept of God – if there were One – was that there was only one, and that He was (is) all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, and that He had to be good.  After coming to faith in the truth of Jesus Christ, I only began to see the truth and wonderfulness of these vague and abstract concepts, and also in learning repentance to see the wisdom of sin being sin – not only that God declares it sin or sinful, but also His wisdom as to why it is necessarily so.

We (speaking of my wife Randi and myself) have been astounded in our relatively brief Christian lives (which, until you enter into the Kingdom of God, one doesn’t even notice) at the number and variety of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, yet say and do things completely contrary to the teachings of Scripture concerning such faith.  We have met professing believers who say that they hate God, who place their circumstances outside the instruction and wisdom of Scripture, who question everything which the Bible teaches or which the Lord does, presuming themselves in His place and doing – can you hear the serpent? – things differently or better!  The antichrist spirit in the old nature is present in every fallen man, and except for God’s mercy and grace towards us who are redeemed in Christ, we would remain His adversaries.

Apart from knowing in both our minds and hearts that Jesus is not only the Savior, but that He is also the Son of God, THE Messiah or Christ (which is to say The Anointed Prophet, High Priest, and King, whom God the Father has appointed, that He is the LORD and Lord of lords, etc., then our commitment and devotion to Him will certainly be less than single-eyed.  God has called each one of us to be His witnesses of the risen Savior and Lord, who was crucified on account of our sin, and who is waiting to come back.  We proclaim this, in fact, every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper.  His word abides forever and all the promises of God – from both the Old and New Covenants – are “yea” and “amen” in Christ Jesus.  We are each charged by God to be ambassadors not of Israel or of the United States or of Rumania or even of any particular church affiliation, but rather to be ambassadors of Christ and of His Kingdom, which is both heavenly and earthly, and which is both present and future.

How can we be effective and faithful ambassadors and missionaries when so apparently uncertain about God’s sovereignty and wisdom in each and every matter of what we call life and living – whatever the pursuit or vocation or culture, and in the reconciliation God has made Jesus Christ to be in His death and resurrection between persons who are otherwise unlike or inconsistent?  Brothers, sisters, friends, we have a God who is worthy of the name!

I want us to consider several passages of the Bible concerning God’s sovereignty and wisdom in four particulars, and to briefly elaborate on them:

Prov. 3:19-20 – Creation and Nature
There is order, stability, harmony of nature when God gives even relative peace; but confusion, unpredictability, disruption as man destroys his environs and as God intervenes with advancing judgments.

God is the true ecologist:  no waste, all things purposeful, each in its place and time.

What a wonderful thing to anticipate that day when the sons of God will be revealed and when Israel will receive her King, the Lord Jesus Christ, for then the curse upon creation since the entry of sin will be removed, and we shall see this present earth respond to the presence of her Maker!  All that is called ‘nature’ – plants, animals, inanimate things, people, seasons, the land and waters – will, shall we say, break forth in praise!  How amazing and powerful and delicate we find creation now.  What truths are spoken – some expressly, others concealed – in Scripture about God’s handiworks; how scientists continue to find only more marvelous discoveries of the eternal power and Godhead.  The Godhead speaks of the triune God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; therefore how much God has communicated concerning Himself through His creation!  It is tragic that we have allowed what is called ‘science’ to separate true knowledge from the God of all truth.  No wonder the educational system has reached the low level of today, or that our children suffer so much from being obliged to pursue the things of this world – a world and an age (generation) which reject the Father and the Son and the Spirit of Holiness.

In Messiah Jesus and the New Covenant we are a new creation, and indeed look forward to the new heavens and new earth, the Kingdom of the Father, where God will be all and in all.  It is good to give thanks unto the LORD, the Creator and Redeemer, and for all the works of His Hands and of His Spirit – the God of resurrection.

Rom. 11:25-36 – Israel’s Salvation
The re-establishment of Israel is a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, as well as of soon-coming judgement and the return of the Lord.  What is occurring today in Israel is also in accord with the Scriptures, and a furthering of prophetic history leading to these events and the end of the age, when satan, man, and the world will have had their day ended, and the everlasting Kingdom of God will begin.

Historians, politicians, diplomats, academics are unable to understand Israel or the Jews (or the Arabs and Palestinians either) when it comes to grappling not only with the current situation but also historically.  This is to be expected by us whose minds have been renewed, since we are taught that the natural mind can not nor will not subject itself to the law of God and His sovereign authority and wisdom.

Paul the apostle, at the close of his teaching concerning the Jews and Israel in this portion of his letter to the Roman believers, breaks out into a burst of praise and adoration at the wisdom and knowledge of God—not only that God will use Israel for the benefit of the gospel amongst Gentiles, and in due time (even now) return His attention to the Jewish people, but also for the manner in which He is going to bring it about.  Again I say, we are to be ambassadors of Christ and of the New Covenant.  The love and righteousness of God will not permit us to take a simplistic position when God desires that all should repent and believe and so be saved.  He tells Israel that is not for their righteousness – in fact Israel is unrighteous – but rather for His holy Name’s sake that He will fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He says to the Palestinian, “Esau I have hated.”  The Word of the Lord has been spoken concerning each people, and He will fulfill it at the coming of Jesus in great power and glory.

This brings us to the Assembly (Church)—Eph. 3: 3-12.
God’s wisdom in dealing with earthly and national issues is beyond our capacity to comprehend, and this humbles us.  Yet the spiritual realm is even further beyond our capacity to lay hold of.  And that God can reconcile each as well as maintain their distinctions, who can not just fall down and worship Him and the Lamb!?

God’s eternal purpose through Christ Jesus our Lord is the Church, where He takes out from each nation an elect people and priesthood, and making them one body.  It is a high calling, and higher than Israel as Israel is seeking after.  It is the Church where we who are in Messiah have our position and responsibility and into which, through the preaching of the gospel, we seek to both bring in others through saving faith and baptism, and to build up one another in love.  While we maybe either Jew or Gentile, or male or female as God has sovereignly and naturally made us, yet the Assembly itself – which is both the Body of

Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb (combining both male and female aspects) – is neither Jewish nor Greek but rather a new and spiritual man, which we are commanded to put on, having taken off the old which is but natural and carnal.  Our relationship and unity are based upon who and what we are in Messiah, not on what or who we were before.

How could anyone think of anything more wise or wonderful?!  For gentiles are brought near to God in the Church and enter into New Covenant promises, which are better than those of the former covenant, which is passing away.  And Jews in Messiah are carried beyond O.T. promises to the remnant nation of Israel and also inherit New Covenant hopes and blessings – even now through the Spirit by faith.

1 Cor. 1: 17-25 – the Gospel
A brief illustration to show the simple purity of the wisdom of God which is to the world foolishness, but to us the power of God, that while the world continues to do what seems right in its own eyes, but whose ways lead to death, we continue to preach the good news of the crucified Son of God/ Son of Man, whom death could not hold and who therefore rose in power from among the dead, and whose Name is exalted above every name – both now and forever – in the heavens, on the earth, or in Sheol and Hell!:

The other day in Jerusalem we were in the Old City, and most of the Arab shops were closed on strike.  A few stood outside their closed doors and invited likely tourists inside and closed the door behind them.  This happened to us, and while I remained outside with Evan, I asked the assistant who stayed at the door about the strike and for how long he thought it would continue.  Then I asked if he was Muslim or Christian, and he answered Muslim.  I said that I was a Jew.  After a moment’s hesitation (I think due to surprise), he said “very nice to meet you”, and we shook hands.  Then I said that I am also a Christian.  He expressed the usual wonder and confusion as to how I could be both.  I said that I was born a Jew just as he was born an Arab.  But when I realized that Jesus is the Messiah after growing up being taught that He isn’t, then I became a Christian by faith.  I explained that Jesus is the One God sent for peace and that when He returns, then there will come peace here.  Then he asked if I didn’t believe in the current negotiations.  I said, “As a human being, I appreciate the need to consider each side.  But God has shown that Jesus is His Way to true peace, that anything else that may come out of these current negotiations will be temporary at most, a false peace, and will only bring judgment because God has given His covenant.”  The man responded that Muslims have another way.  I told him that Jesus is the Son, and no one greater is coming after Him.  God gave the Land of Israel (Canaan) to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to their descendants, but only when they accept Jesus will this be fulfilled.  To Ishmael and to Esau, the LORD gave a lot of other land, again to be fully realized only when they come to terms with the Lord.  But in the New Covenant through Jesus Christ, God has given me more than a piece of land, and to him, this Muslim Arab, God also offers much more than a small piece of this land – and forever.  I said that Yassir Arafat is not going to give his life for him, and Itzhak Shamir is not going to die for me, but that Jesus Christ has died for both him and me, and is risen from the dead, offering us eternal life through the forgiveness of sins.  God does not take a sword and hold it over someone’s head and say, “Believe or die!”  This is neither free will nor love.  When the time came to go, I told him to consider these things.

The sovereign and wise God has made peace through the blood of the everlasting covenant, the blood of the Son of God, even of God Himself.  This is true for the nation of Israel as it is for each one of us individually who has received that peace which is not as the world gives, but is that peace with God and of God which surpasses all understanding.

God is working to remove every doubt concerning Himself which allows sin to separate us from Him and from our fellow man.  This will end for us in Christ at the first resurrection and following the judgments of our works as believers.  He will continue this more fully with those who, in His mercy, enter the millenial kingdom on earth, in preparation for the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells.

Who has believed our report?  Remarkably few, when looked at in its totality however many uncountable multitudes there will be, praise the LORD!  Yet for that one pearl of great price, our Lord Jesus Christ became poor and bought us with a price, and has enriched us immeasurably.  He has become wisdom and the Sovereign Lord to us.