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!

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 25 Dec 2012

As a Jew, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas when I became a believer, partly because it wasn’t “Jewish”, and partly because it was too paganized and commercialized. But the Lord began to show me that my reasons were not all correct. In my other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. The truth of God is not pagan, and it happened right here in Israel among Jewish people, as prophesied by the prophets of YHVH  long before.

Much of what people do with God’s holy things is to defile them, to paganize them, and Satan is the cheerleader in this, along with our own propensity to be drawn away by what seems ‘good in our eyes’, and to fit in with the surrounding unholy and unclean culture.  As a Jew, I have examined and judged myself and my people for FIRST doing what Christians also do; yet, we continue to keep the Passover (in the light of the New Covenant and greater Passover). We continue to acknowledge Purim and Hanukkah, even though, like Christmas, God did not ordain them, but believers did unto Him and for the people to celebrate God’s mighty acts on their behalf, in keeping with His covenantal promises, despite their own general and widespread unfaithfulness and tendency to heathen practices.  Purim especially has been paganized, and is more like Carnival and Halloween.  God has historically intervened in the lives of His people and of the rest of humanity, redeeming days, etc., so that these times become connected with His redemption, while remaining mere worldly, even pagan, occasions for those not in covenant relationship with Him

It is true, as the Lord spoke through Amos and others, that He hates our sacrifices and fasts and holidays: in other words, when we are doing them according to our own understanding and culture, and not for Him and His honor. That is what I am trying to express: that we should keep His celebrations as a freewill offering in a manner that does honor and please Him, and fills us with thanksgiving and joy in the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that there is much more evidence in Scripture to warrant Yeshua’s birth around this time (Haggai 2 refers several times to the 24th of the 9th [Hebrew Israeli] month Chislev, which corresponds with the first night of Hanukkah that occurred hundreds of years later and corresponds to the Western Christian calendar of the evening of 24th of December), but did not fulfill what the last verses speak of: Yeshua’s coming in the flesh at birth does begin that overthrow, first in our own hearts, and ultimately in all peoples and nations, including Israel. Mary’s new song in Luke 1 expresses her own understanding in faith and hope of what the Lord spoke through Haggai, and other prophets.  The true and brighter and eternal Light that shines in the darkness is not extinguished, and should be given much higher priority over celebrations of mere oil or candle lights that burn out.

The reason that Jewish people as a whole do not celebrate the Lord’s birth is because they do not believe in Jesus, even though the first ones who did celebrate with the angels were Israeli Jews! Neither do the Jewish people, along with many nominal Christians, celebrate His resurrection, also because of unbelief. But the Holy Spirit has brought Gentile Christians into the Commonwealth of Israel through their faith in the promised Messiah to Israel, and have celebrated His life, and His suffering and death, and His resurrection and ascension, and the hope of His coming again — whether with faith or without — for most of this age.

I have put together a timeline that brings together and reconciles all of the appointed/set times, and those which God accepted from His people, to show Yeshua’s birth:  http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Just as the second coming of the Lord will be at a time, and a day and an hour, not expected, well. . . it seems that so was His first coming!  The winter objection pre-supposes that the God of Nature can not do something extraordinary to declare His glory, just as I believe He did the night of the Lord’s betrayal, when it was so chilly on a Spring night (and it’s possible that Passover was a late date that year), that Peter and others kept themselves warm with a fire. And the sheep, as far as I have heard others say, were sacrificial sheep, and were handled differently, and were outside yearly. But since these things are not understood by ‘babes’ anyway, they are not central to resolving the controversy. That Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with us does not mean that He was therefore born at the Feast of Tabernacles, which actually is the Feast of Booths (succot). The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, and is more permanent than a temporary booth. And the priestly course of Abia (Aviyah) is not certain of its annual cycle, nor can we be sure of how the Jewish rulers at that time were regulating matters, since the whole system had become corrupt. But I have read sites that have decided to assume a particular cycle and time, but acknowledging that if another were taken, then it puts John’s father in the Holy Place at a time in a context that Yeshua would be born as tradition maintains. The whole counsel of God together unfolds His revelatory plan and purpose, and Scripture interprets Scripture, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.

Since YHVH is a Man of War and the God of Armies/Hosts, He is not going to reveal things before it’s necessary, because there is an enemy with certain liberty to do what he will in this world, who likes to pre-empt things to ‘muddy the waters’, like he has with the Queen of Heaven, and the whole saturnalia bit. Even if the date of Christmas is the same as saturnalia, the God of gods has come and taken the day for Himself! Passover is celebrated by the heathen and unbelieving Jews even as merely a Spring festival and celebration of freedom. But God’s freedom is for us to serve and worship Him, not to remain independent from Him nor to remain slaves to sin and unbelief.

Despite all, let us take a stand of faith for the name of Christ/Messiah, who is Jesus/Yeshua, our great God and Savior.

God bless you, and, yes, Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2013 in Messiah,
Howard

Under Law Contrasted to Under Grace: As a Candle to the Sun

1Tim 1:8-11

–The Law is good, if used lawfully.
–It is for sinners
   –No need for law until there is enough transgressions to warrant it to maintain order and promote the general welfare
        –e.g., increasing traffic safety regulations and automobile safety features
–It is useful when having to subdue evil or the causing of hurt to another.
   –e.g., speaking in unacceptable way that needlessly hurt or offend or panic other people  

2Cor 3:7-11
–The Law of Moses was glorious, but a passing glory when compared to the glory of the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
   –like a candle which gives way to electric light, and even more so to the sun
      –what was glorious and served its purpose adds nothing more once the more glorious has come
         –maintains its own glory, but does not compare to that which far surpasses it and which serves a far more greater purpose  

Rom 7:1-13
–The Law is our life:  any set of rules by which we live and has dominion over us; it rules us; it is like a husband, until he/it dies to us
   –establishing, for instance, one’s own kashrut laws for what you will or will not eat as a matter of righteousness
–The law brings a curse on us because we can not live up to it – and so we feel condemned, not free, not alive – nor can it make us righteous in God’s eyes.
   –putting ‘a fence’ around the law holds people’s consciences accountable to man’s customs or commandments, rather than to the Word or Teaching of God.
–The Law is what lets us know what sin is, and until the law comes in, we do not feel guilty.
   –e.g., cigarette smoking and labeling
–The law causes transgressions to increase and strengthen.
  –How do we normally react when required to submit to authority or required to serve others?
     –It is sin in me doing the transgression if I myself want to obey the law, but it shows how sinful sin is.
–Our deliverance from this cursedness is Messiah’s death and resurrection, and ultimately our own resurrection and clothing with a new body, freed from sin.  

Questions:

1.  What is the difference between ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’?
   –Mercy keeps us from deserved punishment/hell; Grace gets us to Heaven/far more than I deserve.
   –Mercy forgives someone for offenses and debts; Grace adds to that a ‘reward’ for believing, thanking, trusting the forgiver/deliverer/savior.
   –Mercy is necessary during this life only; Grace/Lovingkindness is for eternity for those who love God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
      –The grace of God imputes His righteousness to the forgiven sinner who believes.  This is the only righteousness which exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, and enables us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Mt 5:20) (The righteousness of the religious is not enough for salvation.)  

2.  Must believers in Jesus still obey the Law?
   —Rom 3:31 (Mt 5:17-19; 7:24-29; Dt 18:18-19)   We do not make void the Law, but rather establish it through faith
     –The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12)
       –it is needed both to keep the peace in any society, and to show the people that they are sinners
         –either by breaking good laws, even unintentionally
         –or, by refusing to accept and submit to the law:  lawlessness
           –for Jews and for Christians, we have greater responsibility to both submit to civil authorities, and to keep a higher standard
     –it will be all fulfilled
     –we must teach and do even the least of these commandments which Messiah has now brought in under the New Covenant/Testament, the grace of God producing righteous fruit (Ezek 36:27)  

3.  What about those who lived before the Torah, or who are without the Law?
   —Gen 9:3-7   food, sanctity of life, pro-creation and continuity of humanity
   —Rom 2:12-16   those without Law will die without Law; those with Law judged by the Law; for all  men the Judge is Jesus Christ
   –Remember Avimelech, the Philistine king(s) who made covenants of peace with Abraham and with Isaac.  To Avimelech, it was acceptable to murder a husband of a woman to take her for himself, but not to commit adultery with another man’s wife!
       –This was before the Law (Torah) was given by YHVH God to Israel
       –Gentiles have their own laws and rules by which they judge themselves
           –Hamurrabi’s Code — ~1760 BC, app. 650 after the Flood, and about 315 years before the Torah
           –even an organization like the Mafia has their own code of conduct
           –God will judge those without His law by a lower standard than those with His law. (Rom 2:24; Ezek 36:22)
              —Lk 10:8-16; 11:30-32; Jn 9:39-41
                 –to whom there is more light, there is more responsibility and greater judgment (Lk 12:47-48)
                    –God knows exactly how to judge righteously and without partiality:  ‘handicapping’
                    –Jews and Christians have more than others (Rom 2:5-12; Ezek 18:25-32 

1Pt 4:17-18; Prov 11:31   For the time is coming for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?  Now, “if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?!”   

Having a covenantal relationship with the one true God makes us more accountable, not less!  We are members of His family, and discipline and punishment begins there within before doing so without.
   –Israel most accountable nation
   –Christians most accountable persons
   —Jewish believers in Yeshua the most accountable of all  

Rom 5:13-14   Until the Law came, sin and death (sin’s consequence/wage) were in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
     –like a baby before being old enough to be able to know that ‘yes’ means yes, and ‘no’ means no
     –Adam transgressed God’s commandment to him, and so was punished more severely than Eve, who was deceived by the devil.  

The Holy Spirit has always been in the world (and will remain in this world until these heavens and earth pass away).  God gave certain rules and commandments to Noah after the flood to help sinful people live more peaceably together, and to fear God and His judgment.  These general guidelines have impacted every society since those days, as all people have descended from Noah’s three sons, and there is only one Sovereign God in the world who keeps a restraint on evil.  Although sin was not imputed before the Torah came, yet God judged the people for their wickedness, as He also did in Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Sodom will be less severely judged in the Day of Judgment than a city which has heard the gospel and seen the works of God, but refused to repent and receive the servants of God. (Lk 10:8-12)  Today, the Western nations are more accountable in God’s sight than others, for the “Judeo-Christian” civilization has developed and matured there. 

Being under the grace of God in Christ is a privilege requiring a greater response of thanksgiving and of responsibility than of those seeking still their own righteousness by works of law.  Praise God that Jesus is our Great High Priest interceding for us at the Father’s right hand!  As believers, we, by God’s grace and mercy, will not be judged for the sin of unbelief or hypocrisy, but will be judged for the works we have done in our bodies – whether good or bad. 

2Cor 5:7-11   For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.  Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. . . .

SEED OF ABRAHAM — PROPHECIES POINTING TO YESHUA – 27 Oct 2010

Matthew 1:1   The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Romans 4:16  Therefore [the promise] is of faith according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

Tenach
Gen 3:15
  And I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
Gen 9:26  And [Noah] said, “Blessed be YHVH, the God of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”
Gen 12:1-3  Now YHVH had said to Abram: . . .
Gen 17:1-11   . . .As for Me (YHVH), behold, My covenant is with you (Abram), and you shall be a father to many nations.  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. . . .
Gen 17:18-21   . . .Then God said, “But Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him”. . . .
Gen 25:21-26   . . .And YHVH said to [Rebecca], “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.”. . . .
Gen 28:10-15   . . .And behold, YHVH stood above [the ladder] and said [to Jacob], “I am YHVH, God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.  Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth. . . .Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Gen 49:10   The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.  And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Dt 18:18-19   I (YHVH) will raise up for them a Prophet like you (Moses) from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.  And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

1Sam 16:1,13   . . .I (YHVH) am sending you (Samuel) to Jesse the Bethlehemite.  For I have provided Myself a king among his sons. . . Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of YHVH came upon David from that day forward. . . .
2Sam 7:12-16   . . .I (YHVH) will set up your seed after you (David), who will come from your body. . . .and I will establish the throne of his kingdom foreverI will be his Father, and he shall be My son. . . .

Jer 23:5-8   Behold, days are coming, says YHVH, that I will raise up to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the Earth.  In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely.  Now this is His name by which He will be called:  YHVH our Righteousness.
Therefore, behold, days are coming, says YHVH, that they shall no longer say, ‘As YHVH lies who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As YHVH lives who brought up and led the descendants of the House of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’  And they shall dwell in their own land.

Jer 31:31-37 (30-36 Heb.)  Behold, days are coming, says YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them.  But this is the covenant that I will make. . . .For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. . . .

New Testament
Matthew 1:1   The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
John 1:45   . . .”We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law, and also the Prophets wroteYeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 5:39-40, 46-47   You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me (Yeshua/Jesus).  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. . . For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

Romans 4:16-18   Therefore it is of faith that is according to grace (lovingkindness), so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the Law (Torah), but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations’) in the presence of Him whom he believedGod, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as if they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’

SECRET THINGS WHICH BELONG TO GOD

In 1 Timothy, one of the qualifications for even a deacon is to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  That mystery is surely the knowledge of Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God – and the revelation of the triune God – the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit:  YHVH our God is one.

In Deuteronomy 29:29 (28 Heb), Moses tells Israel that “the secret things belong to YHVH our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Law.”

God revealed truth to Israel that was not given to other nations, and He called Israel to be a light and His witnesses to the Gentiles.  He gave them to know that He – YHVH – is the Creator; the truth about creation, the Flood, the ‘giants’.  He has revealed these things that we would obey Him with faith.

To Christians/the Church, God has given even more revelation.  Believers in Jesus are His witnesses, and are to make known the true knowledge of God and of His salvation of both Jews and Gentiles through faith in Him and His Word.

There are some things, however, which we CANNOT know now – things which are still secret with God.  The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy writes of the many false teachers and teachings which come into the church – often by those who claim to know what no one else does.

   –God has His time to make things known that can be known.  He does not do it all at once, nor necessarily until after Yeshua returns.  He is a Father and a Teacher.  The understanding of the mystery of the Church, with complete equality of Jews and Gentiles, was given primarily first to Paul.
–Satan wants to tempt and entice us to know things now, and be “like God”.
–Knowledge puffs up.
True knowledge comes only from YHVH.

THINGS WHICH ARE STILL UNKNOWN, UNREVEALED:
1. 
Mt 24:36   Of that day and hour [of Jesus’ return
] no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but My Father only.
–We should know the season, the times.
–the figtree blossoming; Israel’s re-establishment
–the falling away within the Church and the revelation of the anti-christ
–other signs given by Yeshua and the apostles pertaining to the last days
–If we, or the angels, could know, so could the Devil, but Jesus says the strongman will not know the  hour the thief
comes.
–We will know only after it happens at the precise time.

2.  Rom 11:33   How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
–God’s dealings with King Manasseh, the son of King Hezekiah
–not the fact of Israel’s salvation as a nation, but God’s judgments and ways of bringing it about
all are disobedient, so God can be merciful to all – both to Jews and to Gentiles
–it is taking longer than we would like for things to ‘be over’
much evil, with its suffering and unrighteousness, that God is allowing
–God does not explain to Job why ‘good’ people suffer bad things, but the inspired writer gives us a glimpse into the  possibilities.

–God wants to save many through His longsuffering

–We do, in Christ, have the mind of Christ. (1Cor 2:16)
–We can each know some things, in part, as through a cloudy glass, all contributing corporately to a greater knowledge of God.
–Some things we cannot know now, but that Day will come when we will know all that God will reveal, especially to those who love Him.

3.  2Cor 12:4   [Paul] was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which were not lawful for a man to  utter.
–after-death experiences are often subjective
–often no Scriptural proof of what many of them claim

4.  Rev 10:4   Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.

THE BRANCH/PLANT

Prov 25:2   It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to investigate a matter.
                 –The whole Bible is written about Yeshua/Jesus!
                 –Their heart burned within the two disciples as Jesus explained that the Bible is all about Him.  

Jer 23:5-6; 33:14-16   a righteous Branch/Plant (tzemach, a ‘living organism’) and KingYHVH our righteousness  

Zech 3:8   My Slave/Servant the Branch/Plant  

Zech 6:12   Behold, the Man whose name is the Branch/Plant     Humanity   

Is 4:2   The Branch/Plant YHVH                                                  Deity   

Messiah/Tzemach in the Four Gospels   

Mt 2:23; Is 11:1; Ps 2   KING: highest earthly position
                     –genealogy from Abraham and David (Abrahamic and Davidic roots as Hebrew/Israeli/Jew)
                     –Son of David/ royal lineage
                        –rejected by citizens and builders
                        –established by God
                     –King of Israel and of the Jews
                       –born to be King
                       –killed as King  

Mk 3:7-8; 6:1-6; 10:45; Phlp 2:5-8  SLAVE/SERVANT: lowest earthly position
                     –no genealogy; not necessary for a slave
                     –Servant of YHVH
                        –Jesus did many deeds and miracles, the works of His Father, God
                     –came to serve, not to be served
                     –He took upon Himself the form of a servant  

Lk 3:38; Ps 8   the ideal MAN IN GOD’S IMAGE
                     –genealogy back to Adam and to God
                        –the 2nd Adam
                     –Son of Man/Son of God:  the perfect Human Being  

Jn 1:29-34;3:13-18; 10:24-33; 12:39-41; 20:26-31  Son of GOD/ Son of Man
                     –Messiah is YHVH
                     –no genealogy; does not exist for God
                     –Yeshua and the Father are one:  Shema Israel, YHVH our God(s), YHVH is one!   

Jesus Christ is the Messiah (the Anointed MAN), the Son of God (GOD), who came in the flesh to redeem us, and who serves us as our Great High Priest.  

Upon this confession, Yeshua builds His church, which is His Body, His Bride.  

Yeshua/Jesus has received the name above all names – YHVH – and no other name is given under Heaven by which people may be saved, other than Yeshua/Jesus!   

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.

THE CROSS

Mt 5:4/Lk 6:21   “Blessed are they who mourn/weep now, for they shall be comforted/laugh.”

Within the past month, members of this congregation have experienced mourning and weeping.  With the death of two family members, loved ones and friends had a personal and family experience of weeping and mourning.  And now this week, we have joined with the nation that weeps for her children, the 73 young men – soldiers – who died without warning or expectation; not at the hand of their enemies, but in a collision of two helicopters of our own.

Who among us did not cry before the Lord when we heard the news?  Who did not feel the pain of the families and close friends?  Who among the children of God the Father in Heaven does not pray from his heart, “Until when LORD?!; Thy Kingdom come!; Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!; Come, Lord Jesus!”?

I heard that among some groups of the religious, there was rejoicing!  These are those who do not even recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel because their Messiah has not yet come.  YHVH’s Anointed One, Yeshua/Jesus, whom we know has come, and will come again, used the example of national tragedies to bring the people to repentance.  He proclaimed that those killed were not worse sinners than others, and that unless they repented, they, too, would likewise perish. (Lk 13:1-5)

Those who were rejoicing in their heart – whether they be Israelis or enemies of Israel – will not know the comfort which the Lord Jesus promises to those who mourn.  Let us look together at another passage from the prophet Ezekiel, and consider the mourning of which Messiah speaks:  Ezek 9:1-11 (esp. v. 4,9)  The city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel (Judah) are filled with blood, violence, iniquity because the people have no personal relationship with, nor faith in YHVH.  There is no genuine fear of God.  Instead, they say that the LORD has forsaken the land, and that He does not see.  Yet there were those within the city who sigh and groan over all the abominations done in Jerusalem, and by the religious priests in the sanctuary of YHVH.  Upon these mourners the Lord ordered His servants to write a  mark on their foreheads.

It is interesting that in ancient Hebrew the letter ת (tav) was written like a ‘t’.  The ‘mark‘ here in v. 4 is called a tav
(תו).  Brothers and Sisters, the mark of God, which He places on those whom He delivers and passes over from His wrath, is the cross!  It is at the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus/Yeshua that self is slain, and God alone is good and worthy.

The message of the cross is proof that the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek/Gentile:  The Jews do not accept it, and the Gentiles do not respect it. (1Cor 1:18-23)  Jewish people avoid any use of a cross design or symbol (even in arithmetic and at a cross-road intersection!), and Gentiles who know little or nothing of the true meaning of the cross have used it to terrorize Jews and others, and to blaspheme God and Christ.

The truth is that the cross, and its message of Messiah crucified, is, like the gospel, from God.  It is the New Covenant in Jesus which brings it to light.  Besides the ‘mark’ in Ezekiel, the cross appears in other significant places in Israel’s history by God’s plan and wisdom:
–the sprinkled blood on the door posts at the Passover in Egypt
–the formation of the tribes of Israel as they camped and moved on in the desert, with the Tabernacle in their midst at the center
–in the arrangement of the holy furnishings and vessels of the Tabernacle and the Temple, showing the way into God’s presence and glory

The cross is God’s mark upon His people, which represents the spiritual condition of the inner man.  To the carnal and unbelieving it is a mark of shame and dishonor; to the spiritual person in Christ, it is the mark of God’s glory in the person and character and atoning death of His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, and of God’s redeemed people, whose glory is our Head, even Christ Jesus Himself.  The cross is God’s mark to separate the world from His people, and His people from the world. (Gal 6:14), and it is by the shed blood of Yeshua on the cross, which we, as it were, sprinkle (1Pt 1:2) on our hearts and minds, that God will save us from the day of His judgment, which begins – today as in Ezekiel’s day – in the household of God. (1Pt 4:17)

The other night at the Bible study from the epistle to the Galatians, we discussed the matter of circumcision, which was and still is an issue in some groups, as a sign of keeping God’s covenant with Israel and with belonging to His people – even for Gentiles.  Foods also have an importance in similar arguments.  During the same time as our study, but without our knowledge, the helicopter collision occurred in which the 73 persons with names were killed without warning and, as far as we know, without Christ.  The nation mourns; we share in that grief.  God’s kingdom is not about circumcision and food (Heb 13:9), but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Peace is the fruit of righteousness, and especially that righteousness which comes from God.  Joy in the Kingdom of God is a holy joy, not a devilish delight in other people’s calamities or sin, but rather a joy in truth and righteousness and judgment (justice) and goodness.  Despite their significance, our righteousness before God does not depend upon such matters of circumcision and food, or even head coverings, and the Lord does not want contention (discord) and divisions over them, which can only quench and grieve the Holy Spirit.

A true Jew and a true Christian seeks God’s approval.  God approves of us when we believe in and obey His Son, our Lord Jesus.  Jesus acknowledges us as belonging to Him when we do the will of His Father in Heaven.  God is working both within Israel and within the Church to cleanse and to purify His people.  To be a disciple, Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  Both baptism in water and the cross speak the same message:  death to the self-life; alive unto God in the Spirit through faith. 

This way which we travel, and which Israel is being required by her God and Savior to travel, is long and hard and narrow.  It is a well-traveled road, and many more will yet know suffering on it.  Yeshua/Jesus, the King whom Jewish people say they do not want to rule over them, but whom YHVH God intends that they will have, has walked this same way – the way of the cross.  He exposed Himself to the condemnation of man, and became a curse for us under God’s own Law, in order that we could receive God’s approval.  If we follow Jesus and His lead on this path, we will arrive safely home – our conscience cleansed, and with love out of a purified heart perfected.  Despite the sentence of death in ourselves, we go on in victory in Christ because God has forgiven us of our sin and our sins.  Praise the LORD!  Yeshua is no longer on the cross!

The Lord is calling us to intercede in mercy  — as His priests — for the Jewish and Arab peoples to repent and to believe the gospel, for the Kingdom of God is near.  Until they do, there will continue to be much sorrow and mourning.  Until we let God’s spiritual mark distinguish us, then we, too, stand in danger of suffering from God’s righteous judgments upon the world. (1Cor 11:31-32)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  God intends to answer the prayer which the Lord has taught us to pray and which the Holy Spirit quickens as the birth pains increase.

Let’s be encouraged together, as we conclude from the truth of God’s prophetic word:  Rev 21:1-7; 22:1-9

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.