SOUL SECURITY: MILITARY SERVICE? – 12 Feb 2013

The Prime Minister-designate, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, is facing difficulties forming a new government coalition, partly over the issue of “sharing the burden”.  Sharing the burden here primarily refers to more equality in sharing the economic and military burdens of the country.  The political agenda of Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid (There is a Future), the party receiving the second largest number of votes in the recent elections last month, included in its platform making military service compulsory for most of the ultra-orthodox religious Jewish men who have been exempted in order to ‘study Torah’ (which is not really the Law of Moses or the Old Testament, but rather the Gemara, or commentaries on the Torah by Jewish sages of earlier centuries).  The dilemma is growing as the percent of the ‘haredi‘  population grows, putting a burden not only on the defense of the nation, but also on the cost of paying social welfare subsidies to more and more non-working adult males.

One of the fears of the ultra-orthodox haredi community is the rampant secularism of the military institution, which they fear will negatively impact those young men (and women) with respect to their religious convictions.  It is just on this matter that proclaims the weakness of their rabbinic religion and faith.  Even us among the Messianic community of believers in Yeshua/Jesus recognize the risks at this juncture in the life of our children who generally do go and serve in one of the branches of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces/Tzahal):  the years of military service of 18-21 year-olds is a proving ground and critical turning point in their lives regarding the choices they make for the way in which they will live.

We as believers in Messiah Yeshua are stereotypically accused of belonging to a cult, a deviant religious belief system outside the predominant religious culture, controlling and minutely regulating the lives of the adherents, and threatening to the ‘normative identification’.  In Israel’s case, the predominant religion and culture is Judaism, which denies and rejects the truth of Messiah being Jesus.  Yet, nearly all who identify themselves as of the Messianic Jewish/Christian faith (excluding Arab Christians) in Israel serve in the IDF, defending the country and its people — including the haredim and the Arabs —  as a necessary phase in their lives, not only as citizens, but also in submitting to the civil authority under which we live.

For those who believe in Yeshua, this is part of religious faith, too, in this present evil age, even while we much prefer peace to war, and look with expectation for the Lord’s return to transform this world.  The large majority of the believers in Yeshua here of working age also have jobs whose incomes are taxed by Israel.  We are not cloistered away, but are sent even as sheep among wolves.  (See earlier post on the topic of serving one’s country here:    http://streamsinthenegev.com/latest-news/serving-ones-country-4-july-2012/  )

The tension in Israeli society between the secular and the religious is not between the large majority of Israeli Jews and the small minority of believers in Yeshua, but between the vast majority of seculars who believe that they are just as Jewish as the growing minority of the ultra-religious who claim to be the guardians of Jewish identity.  Which is more the ‘cult’?  According the the Law of Moses, all have a role to play as one people and family to share the burden of hearing YHVH’s voice and doing His will.  Then, there will be an end to civil strife, military conflict, economic struggle . . . and the one true God will be glorified:  Israel will be His people, and He will be their God; and all the nations of the Earth will praise and glorify the God of Israel for what He has done!

BIRTH, DEATH, AND GOOD FRIDAY OF MESSIAH YESHUA THE LORD – 12 Dec 2012

I just did a quick count-down and count-up and came to this conclusion on this fourth day of Hanukkah:  if Jesus died in 30 AD (which is 40 years before the Temple’s destruction; mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 39b, and also referred to in the Jerusalem Talmud; see http://www3.telus.net/public/kstam/en/temple/details/evidence.htm  ), and was 33 1/2 yrs old (having begun His 3 1/2 yr public ministry when He was about 30 years old, then He was born in Dec., 5 B.C., by my reckoning. http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/  (If He were born in 2 B.C., because of Herod dying in 1 BC instead of in 4 BC before Passover, then His death would have been in 33 AD, which reduces the forty years from the rent veil till the Temple’s destruction).  The magi from the East could have seen His star up to a couple of years before they actually arrived in Bethlehem, Israel.

Yeshua, as the Passover Lamb, began His last week (Passion Week) in Jerusalem on Sunday, the first day of the week (the day after the Sabbath), which would have been the 10th day of the first month (Nisan) leading up to the Passover.  He was “examined” until the 14th of the month (Ex 12), and was found without spot or blemish by the people, by the Jewish rulers (they needed false witnesses in order to “make” Him guilty and condemn Him), and by Pilate and Herod.  He was crucified and died on the afternoon of the 14th of the month, Thursday.  This also fulfills the prophecy connected with Jonah, that Jesus would be in the heart of the Earth for three days and three nights, rising early on the first day of the week as the first-fruits from among the dead, the day after the Sabbath.

“Good Friday” would have been a Sabbath as being the first full day of Passover (Lev 23); and I believe it is called Good Friday because believers — after the fact (and the Holy Spirit from the beginning) — would have come to understand that what took place the day before was actually the greatest victory of all ages and the essence of the Good News and the New Covenant:  Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and to bury our sins with Him, fulfilling the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread at the appointed time of the 15th day of the first month!  HalleluYah!

The Hebrew/Jewish/Messianic roots of New Testament faith are found in the Word of God given to and through Israel.

TWO MIRACLES

Pentecost Sunday
   –Our life – the life of the Church – is based on the resurrection from the dead of Jesus
   –falls on day after the 7th Sabbath following the resurrection of the Lord on the day after the Sabbath during Passover

Miracle(s):  what only God can do, sovereignly and providentially
   –resurrection
   –Holy Spirit indwelling believers; and gift of other tongues given to many
   –God accomplishing His purposes despite satanic and demonic opposition and unbelief of people

 Is 11:1-5,10   ness(v 10) banner; flag; ensign; miracle  SPEAK ABOUT; LIFT UP; WAVE; IDENTITY
   —Messiah Yeshua/Jesus is the ness!
      —Lk 1:30-31   miraculous conception of Jesus
      —Acts 2:22-24   life of Jesus one of miracles, wonders, signs (Mt 11:5)
      —Is 53:7   death of Jesus; did not open His mouth, but led as a lamb to slaughter
         —Lk 23:39-47   spoke words of blessing on the cross; cried out with a loud voice
      —1Cor 15:20-21   resurrection of Jesus

Is 11:11-12   ness(v 12)
   —Regathered Israel to Promised Land is the ness!
      –We are proof that God exists and that this God is YHVH, God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob!
      —Jer 16:14-15   modern day Exodus from all the lands greater and more miraculous than all that took place in Egypt!
      —Ezek 36:36   YHVH has spoken and will do it!  To sanctify His holy name and His people.
      —Rom 13:1-6   Governments ordained by God, and make decisions according to their perceived best  interests.  God intervenes to further His interests!

Fear God and worship Him only!  He has given us two miracles/nessim to lift up, wave, speak about to draw attention and people to Himself:  Jesus and restored Israel.
   –The Jews irrationally hate Jesus/Yeshua, and want to blot out His name and memory.
   –The Gentile nations irrationally hate Israel, and want to blot her name out from being a nation anymore.
   –The Father loves both, and resurrects them from the dead, giving life to others! (Rom 11:15)

Yeshua proclaimed that if He be lifted up, He will draw all persons to Himself [and to the Father who sent Him]. (Jn 3:14-15; 12:32-33)

A GREAT AND CATASTROPHIC DAY

Tonight in Israel marks the beginning of Memorial Day, when the nation remembers those Jewish people who have fallen in battles or in terror attacks, going back to 1860.  Back then in the 19th century, Jewish people began to have their hearts and sights on the return to Zion, to the land from which they were exiled as a consequence of the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah, but which God had also promised a return.  A return to the land, yes; but, even more importantly, a return to Himself.  Just last week, Israel remembered the Holocaust — those who died; those who survived; and those ‘Righteous Gentiles’ who helped rescue and save some of the least of Jesus’ brethren (although Israel and the Jewish people do not yet acknowledge Him as their Brother).

Israel remembers and celebrates her 63rd Independence Day tomorrow night, immediately on the heels of appreciating those who have died on behalf of their nation and country.  The establishment of the State of Israel is not the fulfillment of prophecy, but a present fulfilling of God’s own promise and oath to the fathers of the Children of Israel.  It is still a work in progress:  not only to bring more Jewish people ‘back home’, but, again, also to bring the Chosen People back to their Father and King.  Israel’s true freedom will only be attained when she becomes dependent upon her Savior King.

For most Jewish Israeli people — and for discerning Christians — Israel’s re-establishment back in this land is a cause of celebration of what God is doing, as the day nears for the return of the Lord to restore the Kingdom of the Father back to Israel and to the whole world which He made.  It is a great day as we acknowledge the goodness of God to His people.  Most Israelis do not honor God for this miracle of not only her survival, but of her thriving in the face of much opposition.  Nor do they honor the Son, who said that He did not come to annul any of God’s promises, but to fulfill them.

For most Arabs and Palestinians, however, this same great day for the Jewish people is a day of catastrophe — Nakba — to them.  The establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people back in “Palestine” has been a source of great anguish and suffering both physically and emotionally for those who try to make a claim of “historical precedence” of dwelling in this embattled land.

In Gen. 18:17-19, YHVH God tells us that He chose Abraham to know Him, so that he would command his children and those who come after in the Way of YHVH.  For those who know Jesus as The Way, we also learn that His Way is the way of the cross — the way of suffering, of shame, of death, of rejection, of obedience to God the Father in order that His will is done, and that His purposes are accomplished.  All who believe in the God of Abraham have Abraham as their ’spiritual father’.  Are we his children, whose hopes are fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead?

The Passover night in Egypt was a cause of celebration and hope for the Israelis who were protected by the blood of the lamb on their doorposts.  It was surely a night of nakba for all those families in Egypt who lost a firstborn son that night, and whose lives were sorely disturbed by the God of the Hebrews.  Yet there were those Egyptians who also feared the true God, and placed themselves under His protection with His own people.

Israel’s entry and conquest of the Land of Canaan — the Promised Land — was a great day for those who had come through the tribulations of the wilderness experience.  The Canaanites had historical priority.  It was surely a nakba to them.  Yet Rahab, the harlot, had heard what a great God was YHVH as He brought His people out of Egypt, and led them in victory through the desert and against foes, to bring them into His land which He had chosen to give to them.  For choosing the Kingdom of God over her own people’s loss, she gained a name of honor and a shared inheritance with the LORD and His people.

The death of Yeshua, which the rulers and the nation of Israel thought would bring them peace with the worldly rulers, instead turned out to be their nakba, as it brought God’s righteous wrath against His own people, scattering us to the ends of the Earth.  This catastrophe for the Jewish people has been a great cause of celebration for many Gentiles, whose salvation has come through their present setting aside. (Rom 11:11-12)  Many of these Gentile Christians have taken Israel’s calamity as a ‘proof’ that God has finished with His people and all of His promises to the Father’s regarding them.  Praise the Lord that He is not like us:  He changes not, therefore Jacob is not consumed!

The Holocaust brought much joy and satisfaction to the enemies of YHVH and of His Christ, thinking that they had finally put an end to the people whom God had abandoned for a time, and so to all the hopes of the fathers in the Word of the Living God.  Their celebration over the nakba of European Jewry was the beginning of their undoing.  The God of the Living, who revives the near-dead, and resurrects the dead, once again turned His Father’s heart to His lost and rebellious children — and gave them strength beyond their own power to be victorious in war over their return to their own land.  What the ‘world’ had offered and then withdrew, the God of Truth brings His Word and promises to pass!

Israel’s sovereign presence in the present State of Israel by the will and power of the one true God is a nakba to all who persist in not seeing His hand in it.  Christians, who do not believe that Jesus is the Amen of God to fulfill all that the Father has promised Him for an inheritance, also suffer in their own souls and spirits for siding with the ‘victim’ rather than seeing the Way of YHVH.  He is no respector of persons; we are all offended at times by His way.  The cross is an offense, yet it is the only way to glory.  Jesus is in noboby’s camp, but we are called to outside the camp we have ’sided’ with, and join Him outside, bearing His reproach.

The Day of YHVH (the LORD) will be a great and terrible day:  great for those who have been justified by faith and for those upon whom God shows mercy and compassion; a terrible nakba for those who have resisted His grace.

As an unbelieving, God-fearing, and self-righteous Jew, Saul (meaning ‘asked for’) blamed and persecuted his fellow Jews who had repented and believed in Jesus, the Man who had brought trouble to their leaders and for the Romans.  After believing and obeying the revelation of the truth of who Yeshua really is, Paul (meaning ‘little’) was anguished in his soul over the punishment of his people and nation by the hand of God.  As much as he knew and identified with the ‘narrative’ of his people, he never withheld from them the righteousness of the Way of the LORD connected with their catastrophe, suffering, and perplexity.  The ways and thoughts of God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ are other than our own, and He has given us His Spirit to help us renew our minds and walk in His way.

The Lord of History is a great and awesome God.  Let all who believe in Him humbly bow down and worship Him with much thanksgiving for saving us by the great and terrible sacrifice of His beloved Son, Messiah Yeshua the Nazarene — King of Israel; King of the Jews; Savior of the world and all who truly believe.

“…when they had preached the gospel . . .and made many disciples, . . .strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God’.” (Acts 14:21-22)

IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH

Rom 8:3   For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin:  He condemned sin in the flesh.

1Tim 3:16   Great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh. . . .

We often think of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God, and as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  These are descriptions of Him which we have in the N.T., giving light to O.T. Scriptures.  We think of the lion as symbolic of kingly authority and as a mighty warrior.  The lamb depicts meekness, innocence, dependence upon a shepherd.

As we enter into the most holy of the holy-days within Israel’s religion which YHVH God gave her, what we have before us are two goats:  sacrificially clean animals; kosher for eating; but which have no place in the Kingdom of God (Mt 25:31-46).  Goats are too independent and selfish:  they do not feel any loyalty to their shepherd, but take advantage of the shepherd’s guidance, protection, and provision; goats will eat the food of the sheep and waste the time of the shepherd trying to bring them under discipline while also trying to take care of the sheep.

We could say that the Lion emptied Himself of His fierce countenance to come to us in the humility and utter dependency of a Lamb, but was willing to clothe Himself in the likeness of a Goat – in the likeness of sinful flesh.  In the eyes of those in religious and political power, the Messiah Yeshua did not entrust Himself to their authority and teaching:  He was one from among them, but as a goat in their judgment according to outward appearance.  But from God the Father’s righteous judgment, His Son was perfectly blameless:  the Lamb of God who came to take away sin and sins through being judged a criminal and a deceiver.

Lev 16:5-10   from the congregation of the children of Israel; two goats:  one unto YHVH as a sin offering; one presented alive before YHVH with all Israel’s sins to be a scapegoat

From God’s covenant perspective, Israel and the Jewish people are loved for the fathers’ sake. . .but they/we have acted contrary to His love – we have not been whole-heartedly faithful to Him.  At best, we have been as goats:  clean but sinful.

The Lord Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh – although the perfect Lamb – to condemn sin in the flesh.  No flesh shall glory before God and live!  Truly this is a mystery that is great!

Heb 10:19-39   Hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, in the love and in the fear of God, that we may receive the promise of the Lord’s coming and of the resurrection of our own mortal bodies.

THE MYSTERY OF ISRAEL

Rom 11:25  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

Is 25:7  And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.  

Rev 7  And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God:  and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,   Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 

And I heard the number of them which were sealed:  and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Asher were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Naphtali were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Manasseh were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.   Of the tribe of Zebulon were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.  And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,  Saying, Amen:  Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.  Amen. 

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes?  and whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.  And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters:  and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Rom 11:26  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Jer 31:7  For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O YHVH, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

Dan 12:1  And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Zec 12:10-14  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications:  and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.  And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;  The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;  All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.

OF GOD. . .OR OF MAN

Pr 21:30   There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against YHVH

Ps 51:4 (6 Heb)   Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight. . .that YOU may be found just when You speak, blameless when You judge.

Mk 11:25-33   –obligation to forgive
                     –by what authority do you do these things?
                        –by what authority does a government act? (Rom 13:1-7)
                        –by what authority do parents, church elders act?
–by what authority did Noah build the ark?
                     –by what authority was the baptism of John?  Of God, or of man?
                     –by what authority was/is the re-establishment of Israel as a nation in this land?
   —Of God, or of man?
                           –by the wisdom and understanding and sovereignty of YHVH God, both!
                              –God keeping covenant for His holy name’s sake
                              –Balfour Declaration in Nov 1917
                              –through a clear majority vote of the United Nations in Nov 1947

The sin of King David did not nullify YHVH’s covenant with him.

The sin of the Jewish people/Israel does not nullify God’s covenant with them. (Ezek 36; Rom 9 – 11)

The sin of human governments does not nullify their moral obligation to defend and protect its citizens.

Lk 7:28-30   the tax collectors justified God by being baptized by John, but the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by John.

Even though the religious leaders and theologians knew that the issue of Jesus was surrounded by the question, “of God, or of man”, so, too, today with the issue of Israel.  Are we fighting God, or justifying Him?

If we are not sure, then let the fear of God keep us from being too certain to take a position in our hearts which judges God and those who have acted with faith to support His plan for His Holy Name’s sake.

 If we think we are sure, let us humbly and patiently allow the Holy Spirit to bring repentance and freedom in those who are resisting the will of God for themselves.  Like David, God will also bring Israel to confess their sin against Him only, with all its consequences, and all Israel will be saved. (Lev 26:40-46; Ezek 20:39-44; 36:16-29; Zech 12:7-14; Rom 11:25-36)

THE UNCHANGING MESSAGE: REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED!

Acts 2:22-41   Men of Israel, hear these words: . . .  

The apostle Peter preached to the Jewish people/the children of Israel, in the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Shavuot/Pentecost, a message that has not changed.  It is still the essence of any evangelism to the Jews, despite the history of the last 2000 years.  I want to bring out a few salient features which can not be altered.  

v.22 – this message was preached firstly to the people of Israel, both those within the Land, and those of the dispersion who were here for the celebration of Shavuot
       –Yeshua ha-Notzri/Jesus the Nazarene:  spiritual significance to this name of Messiah; chosen by God, rejected by man (Is 53 [see article, “What’s In A Name?”  http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/what-is-in-a-name-yeshua-shall-be-called-a-nazarene/ ]

v. 23 – God’s plan from the creation to send Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to die for our sins – of Israel, of the nations, of all human beings
         –we Jewish people – as the ones whom God chose – just as He determined in advance to make Yeshua the ultimate and final sacrifice – are guilty of putting Messiah to death through lawless hands – both of Jews and of Romans/Gentiles  

v. 24 – But God raised up Yeshua from death, because death can not stop God from living, or from givng life to the Righteous One – and to those who are made righteous through faith in Him  

v. 32-33 – Peter and the other apostles, and 500 others, were eyewitnesses that truly Jesus rose from the dead, and that He ascended to Heaven to the right hand of God, from where He pours out and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers.  

v. 36Again, Peter, the apostle to the Israelis/Jews, declares plainly our responsibility and guilt for the crucifixion of this Yeshua, whom God has made both Lord and Messiah.
            –Yeshua is the netzer (the shoot from the root), chosen and precious to God, despised and rejected by Man
            –Yeshua is the one to whom the Throne of David belongs, and He is Lord of lords and King of kings; High Priest, who always lives to make intercession for us; the Prophet, who spoke and is the Word of God  

v. 37 – The preaching of the truth through Peter cut the hearers to the heart, and they said, “What must we do?!
           — It may be noteworthy that there is no altar call here, but rather that the Holy Spirit convicted the crowd of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to the point that they cried out and sought God’s mercy.   

v. 38Repent, and be baptized each one in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!
           –baptism in the name of the Lord, which is the example of all the baptisms in water recorded (Yeshua’s instructions to His disciples at the end of the gospel of Matthew does not refer to water baptism, but rather to discipleship into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – into the fullness of who the triune YHVH God is.)
           –our hearts convicted and broken, leading to repentance from our sin of unbelief and unfaithfulness to our God (Lev 26:38-42; Zech 12:10-14 

This message of grace and truth to the Jewish people still remains.  The righteousness of God and of His sovereign plan of salvation for all is still the issue for us all, for those who believe and to those who still do not.  We preach Christ Jesus, and not ourselves.  God indeed knows what is in our hearts.

THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST

1Thes 1:2-10   We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God our Fatherknowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.  Evidenced by their change of worldview and lifestyle; their endurance through suffering for the sake of faith in Jesus, with joy of the Holy Spirit; and their hopeful expectation of the return of the Lord to deliver them from the wrath of God to come.  

Heb 6:1-2   Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Messiah, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God; of the doctrine of baptisms; of laying on of hands; of resurrection of the dead; and of eternal judgment.
      –from being mere ‘children’ to becoming ‘sons’
      —Dan 12:2   And many of those who sleep in the dust shall awakesome to everlasting life; some to shame and everlasting contempt
      —1Cor 15:13-19; Jn 11:23-24   without the resurrection, our faith, teaching, and lives are vain, futile  

Acts 24:14-16; 23:6; 26:6-7   But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets.  I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust.  This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and man.
   –the hope of the resurrection is the promise of God to His people; at least as far back as Job we have a record of living hope in the resurrection
   –personal responsibility to live as a righteous person, to live in a manner that proves we believe in the resurrection of the just
   –God raised Jesus – not Moses, not Buddha, not Mohammed, not Gandhi – from among the dead (Mk 9:9-10)
      –proof of being the Son of God; of God’s satisfaction with Him; of His being the Just One
      –first-born of many brethren: in Him we, too, will be raised up from among the dead on the last day!
         –Do you believe the love of the truth 

2Tim 4:8   Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who love His appearing.
   –everlasting crown, not a temporary or fading one (‘icing on the cake’; ‘to top it all off’; ‘the best of it all’)
   –the resurrection of the just (Dan 12:2; Jn 5:26-29;Acts 24:15; Phlp 3:11; Rev 20:6)
   –if our conscience is clear, we are neither afraid or embarrassed to see someone who knows  us
   —1Jn 4:17-19   where there is love, there is no fear of judgment
      –The Holy Spirit works in us to prepare us for the Day of Judgment.  Part of the Lord’s prayer which He teaches us is that we be delivered from the evil (day; one).  

   –all the trials of life are intended to prove, strengthen, perfect our faith in Him who has demonstrated  his everlasting love for us.
   –humility: conformity to the image of the Son of God
      –the tension in life between the sovereignty of God and man’s free will
      –confidence in God; no confidence in the flesh, in me, in my credentials
         –I do not do very well in many things.  My faith, hope, and love are in Jesus, who died for sinners to make us righteous in God’s sight.  

2Tim 1:8-12   Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.  For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

OVERCOMING HATRED FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

(Delivered at NEM Conference at the Baptist Village in Israel, April 23, 2006)

Mt 5:9-11   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  

I tell people who ask me what it’s like to live as a believer in Israel that Israel is a great place to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, because it’s difficult to be lukewarm about our faith.  We have many first-hand experiences related to the passage we read from Matthew.  The Middle East provides us with many opportunities to be “blessed, happy, satisfied” if we are motivated by the love and purposes of God.  

Rom 12:17-21   There is no guarantee of success in our pursuit of peace or in our peace-making with others, but we are to live in the power of the Holy Spirit in us to demonstrate the truth – the reality – of our faith in Jesus and of His being our Savior and Lord.  

It is the peace of GOD that we have which we are to communicate and strive to obtain with others.  It is a peace which surpasses understanding.  Any other peace will be only temporary at best; only Jesus gives what is true peace:  it is a fruit of God’s righteousness; the price has been paid to secure it; it gives rest to the whole person, and nothing can take it away.  It begins when we return to God through the atonement of Jesus and know that our sins have been forgiven and we have received the Holy Spirit and eternal life.  

In our local congregation, Yeshua’s Inheritance/Nachalat Yeshua, we are each and all there because Jesus has placed us there.  We must learn to accept whom He has accepted, to love one another despite great differences of background and personalities; to forgive each other because we are disciples of Jesus.  In Israeli churches, we have a training ground to overcome natural prejudices towards other nations since so many of us have come from countries that were hostile or jealous of each other!  

The Christians – whether Jewish or gentile – live in not only a non-Christian country, but an anti-Christian country.  Both Judaism and Islam are opposed to the truth of Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God.  Even secularized Jews and Muslims are naturally inclined to resist the gospel.  Our congregation has twice been targets of angry irrational mobs, who were incited by false rumors started and spread by their religious leaders.  This is no different than in the days of Jesus, Stephen, Paul.  Jesus tell His disciples that if hate and persecute us, it is because they first did so to Him.  This is a proof that they do not know God the Father who sent Yeshua His only begotten Son.  To be anti-Semitic and anti-Christian is to be, first of all, anti-YHVH God and His sovereignty.  We are chosen and saved by His grace to glorify Him.  

A simple act of “giving a cup of cold water” to an enemy of the gospel can demonstrate our goodwill and desire to be at peace with him.  After all, Jesus commands us to even love our enemies, which we can only do for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  This is a clear demonstration that we are willing to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.  

In Jewish/Arab, Israeli/Palestinian, missionary ministries in the Middle East, which strive to reconcile people to God and to one another, it is the Word of God to which we must all be reconciled and bring forth with humility in our efforts to be right with God and to have His grace working through us.  In such a region of conflict, which is firstly spiritual in nature, we have a moral responsibility to be in agreement with God on any issue, and then humbly seek to persuade others of the righteousness of God.  This way results in joy in the Holy Spirit, when we acknowledge that it is God who has done it!

Questions:   

1.  How does our understanding of what the Bible teaches about the “end-times”, the “last days”, affect our ministry and message of reconciliation, of pursuing peace?  When is “in that day” referring to in Isaiah 19:23-25?  

2.  Does our expectation of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth make a difference in our efforts at peace-making?
   –What if the Master “delays” His coming?
   –What if nothing seems to indicate signs of His coming?
   –Do we believe and know that Jesus will come again?  

3.  If the Lord Jesus is coming to judge the nations, how does this affect our ministry?
   –Calling anyone and everyone to repentance and to believe the good news
   –Being light and salt  

4.  If believers are commanded to love one another as Jesus has loved us, how does this affect our relationships with believers from unfriendly or enemy nations or people groups?  

5.  Would having a personal experience of suffering hatred and persecution for our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ make a difference in our approach to unbelievers who oppose the gospel?  

6.  Jesus said that His peace is not like the peace which the world gives.  What are some of the differences?