Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, and with Jewish believers in the Son of God. The Church — the Body of Christ/Messiah, the one new man, the Bride of the Lamb — is comprised of both these redeemed and born-again believers called out from every people group and nation. We all have a significant role to play through to the end of the age towards YHVH God’s salvation of His chosen people Israel, by which the whole world and creation will be blessed. Continue reading “The Church’s Role in The End-Times of The Last Days Towards Israel’s Salvation”
Mk 11:11-26 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the Temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
(12) And on the next day, they going out of Bethany, He was hungry. (13) And seeing a fig-tree with leaves afar off, He went to it, if perhaps He might find anything on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs. (14) And Jesus answered and said to it, No one shall eat fruit of you forever. And His disciples heard.
(15) And they came to Jerusalem. And entering into the temple, Jesus began to cast out those who bought and sold in the Temple. And He overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. (16) And He would not allow any to carry a vessel through the Temple. (17) And He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, “My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?” But you have made it a den of thieves. (18) And the scribes and the chief priests heard. And they sought how they might destroy Him. For they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine.
(19) And when evening came, He went out of the city. (20) And passing by that morning, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots. (21) And Peter, remembering, said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away.
(22) And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith of God. (23) For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said. (24) Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you.
(25) And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.
Yeshua has just made His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the common people acknowledging Him as the Son of David who they believed had come to be the King of Israel. But His time had not yet come for that. He left the city and the Temple, and went to Bethany, probably to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
We come now to the story about the fig tree that Yeshua cursed. I am sure that all of us have read this and been uncomfortable that He would curse a tree without fruit at a time when it was not the season for fruit. When we do this, it reveals again how our thoughts and ways are not the same as the Lord’s. In our discomfort at His act, we are judging Him for doing what we think is wrong or unfair, does not make sense.
Why did Jesus curse the fig tree for not having fruit before its season? This event occurred probably in April, whereas figs are a summer fruit, the first and best ripening happening around June. The fig tree is used in the Bible as one of the symbols for Israel, and in it are both good and bad figs. (Jer 24:5-10; Hos 9:10; Mk 13:28-31; Lk 13:6-9) Normally the fig tree begins to blossom before its leaves cover them, or there are hold-overs from the previous season. So, in the case of this particular fig tree on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem, it had leaves, and therefore it should also have had some blossoms of fruit before their full growth to maturity. However, Jesus found no fruit on it. In response, He said (cursed; judged) the tree: “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard Him.
Mark then goes on in his account to Yeshua and His disciples arriving in Jerusalem. Yeshua went into the Temple and began to drive out all those who bought and sold in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He also would not allow anyone to carry wares through the Temple. Then He taught, quoting from Isaiah and from Jeremiah the prophets: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? ‘But you have made it a ‘den of thieves’!”
For this “presumption”, the scribes and chief priests, who heard Him, sought how they might destroy Him (get rid of Him/finish Him off, and His doctrines). They were afraid of Him, because all the people were astonished at Yeshua’s teaching. At this point, Yeshua’s popularity was a protection, but it was only a matter of time before those in power would act anyway, as envy and hatred took control of their spirits. Here we see the beginning of Pharisaic/Talmudic/Rabbinic Judaism’s cursing of Yeshua – both His name and memory (Yeshu).
Then Mark goes back to say that that same morning, on the way up from Bethany to Jerusalem, the disciples and Jesus saw the fig tree that the Messiah had cursed dried up from its roots. This was obviously a result of the Lord’s judgment of the tree, and not a natural drying up of a dying tree, which would have taken much longer. The roots were still there in the ground. God has not finished with Israel! And we are witnesses to that certain hope today, here in Beer Sheva, Israel! (In ch. 13 of Mark, the Lord uses the same symbol of the fig tree again, this time in reference to Israel’s revival in the last days leading up to His return. The curse is still there, the fruit is still not satisfying to God, but redemption and the Redeemer is on the way!)
What do we learn from this fig tree and from the incident on the Temple Mount that Mark records? Yeshua was the central figure in both of them, and His acts greatly disturbed both His disciples in the one, and the religious leaders in the other.
Both acts were judgments from God on the fruitless life and the corrupted religion of His chosen people, whom He had chosen for His glory, and to be His light to the Gentiles, and to be a holy people for His name, and to bear much good fruit from all of His fatherly care for them. (Is 5) Instead they professed to be outwardly ‘good’, especially in comparison to the ‘Gentiles’ (the goyim), while inwardly and outwardly dishonoring their God and His house. In this passage of Jesus taking control over the Temple Mount complex, He calls the house, “My house” (Is 56:7; Jer 7:11), whereas in the account in John, He calls the Temple “My Father’s house”. (Jn 2:16-17; Ps 69:9) He and the Father are one.
The marketplace that the people had set up was on the holy site in the area called the Court of the Gentiles. The buying and selling desecrated it as a place of prayer for non-Jews, as a house of prayer for all nations. The public and merchants were using the Temple area as a ‘short-cut’ to carry their wares to the abused area. Doves were the sacrificial animals for the poor, and the greedy merchants were selling them, probably at high prices. Yeshua had come to preach good news to the poor, who were being oppressed and taken advantage of.
So, too, the fig tree with leaves but without fruit. The tree looked good on the outside, but there was no fruit on the inside. The leaves were a covering for their fruitlessness. Remember when Adam and Eve knew that they had done wrong, and wanted to cover their naked shame, they put fig leaves over their private parts. So, too, this tree, and Israel and the Jewish people – and by extension, the church and Christians (Rev 3:1-6; 14-22) – can look good to the eye of man, but cannot satisfy genuine [spiritual] hunger. Israel is blessing the world in amazing ways today, but good works can be “dead works”, and they do not save unbelievers; or they can be good works of believers, but motivated by wrong motives or done without love. (Heb 6:1; 9:14) Religious life without love, or without intention to honor the name of our Lord, is empty. As a prophetic and priestly nation, the Jewish people are not consciously drawing people to know the one true God. No one can eat from such a tree and be nourished with the life of God. The good works are a ‘fig leaf’, a cover-up for the lack of God’s righteousness and fruit. The God of Israel will not grant His people peace and tranquility as long as they/we continue to seek it, to buy it, apart from Him – apart from Yeshua.
God cannot, and will not, bless fruitlessness in those who are called by His name. (Jn 15:1-12) We cannot satisfy the need in others – whether believers or unbelievers – when our hearts of flesh become hearts of stone again. Praise to our God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: He is not finished yet, neither with Israel and the Jewish people, nor with those who profess to believe in the name of Yeshua/Jesus for salvation! Yeshua asked the Father — when He was nailed to the cross – to forgive that very people and nation, for they did not know what they were doing. He still calls His people to repentance, and to bear fruit of that return to HIM. This is especially regarding the state of our hearts towards God, and towards our fellow man. Israel, as represented by the fig tree, is also a sign of the last days that the end of the age is near, and that the Lord is coming again “soon”. (Mk 13:28-31; Mt 24:32-35; Lk 21:29-33) The same cursed fig tree is redemptively revived in the last days!
Yeshua took the opportunity of His disciples’ reaction to the cursed fig tree to teach them about believing prayer, but even more about the necessity and the power of forgiveness. (Mt 6:9-15) The Messiah, when He taught His disciples how to pray, told them and us that we must forgive others if we want our Father in Heaven to forgive us. To the measure that we forgive others, He will forgive us. Also in this passage from Mark, He says the same thing. We can pray with all faith to have God do miraculous things in our lives or for others – including the restoration and salvation of Israel – but if we are not forgiving someone – not loving Jesus above all, and others as ourselves — for what we think or know that he/she/they have done to me, I will have no peace with God my Father, and He will not be pleased with me, His son through Messiah. (It is very interesting that in the matter of divorce, which YHVH hates, Yeshua gave one exception for allowing it: adultery. But in the matter of forgiveness, there is no exception. A very challenging commandment and commitment!)
Brokenness – knowing how much we have been forgiven – produces the Holy Spirit fruit of love (God’s measure of love) towards others, especially towards those we think do not deserve it.
What then can we learn from this passage in the plan of God to redeem His people?
–The fruitless fig tree and the corrupted religious worship and ministry are indicative of the spiritual state of the Chosen People: there would be no more [godly] fruit from that again! Only when Israel repents and sees Jesus whom they pierced will that finally produce the broken heart and contrite spirit needed to produce fruit for YHVH their God. (Zech 12:10-14; Ps 51)
–This is also true of believers in Yeshua – of those who say we believe and follow Him. Some of us have let our own spirits push away the Holy Spirit, and we have let our new heart of flesh become like stone again. We then become hypocritical like the Pharisees: demanding of others what we ourselves will not do, nor help them to do. We separate ourselves in self-righteousness (which is the meaning of Pharisee), and do not love the brothers and sisters, and can oppress the poor. We look good on the outside – the leaves – but inside we are in rebellion against our holy and gracious Father and Savior.
–The Lord’s acts in this passage should put the fear of God in us, whom He has chosen to be the Lamb’s beloved Bride, obeying His commandments with thanksgiving, and loving one another as He has loved us.
Yeshua is our Judge and our Savior. Thank -you, God!
(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 2017) Rev: Mar 12, 2018
I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible. When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of: forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!
I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981. This was the blessed hope. Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth. But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture. Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD. I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride. This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.
My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years. According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope! They simply were not living at the right time! Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5) In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul: whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58) Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven: “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13) As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed! For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body. The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord. Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it. This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us. As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)
An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as ‘coming soon’). Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming. Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time. Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood: that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist. This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel). It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent. But even then, maybe not: remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11) Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’. The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out. The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption. But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)
The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b) Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe. God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both Jews and Christians. Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them. God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him. Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers: we will not suffer the wrath of God. This is good news! And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom! This is also good news! (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)
Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:
Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.
Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.
Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.
Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last; (26) and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God, (27) whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!
Heb 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, (18) of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called, (19) concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.
Jn 11:23-27 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. (24) Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (25) Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (27) She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.
Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?
Rom 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
1Co 15:16-20 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. (17) And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins. (18) Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.
Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.
Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
Mk 8:27-38 And Jesus and His disciples went out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. And in the way He asked His disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am? (28) And they answered, John the Baptist. But others say Elijah, and others say one of the prophets. (29) And He said to them, But who do you say that I am? And Peter answered and said to Him, You are the Messiah. (30) And He charged them that they should tell no one of Him. (31) And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (32) And He spoke that saying openly. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him. (33) But when He had turned around and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men. (34) And calling near the crowd with His disciples, He said to them, Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. (35) For whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, he shall save it. (36) For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (37) Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (38) Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
Just before this passage, Yeshua had seemingly experienced some failure in the healing of a blind man. The first act of giving the man sight resulted in him only seeing without clarity. The second time Yeshua put His hands on the man’s eyes resulted in him receiving full sight. This scene was not only a physical reality — a blind man was healed — but also a parable and a prophecy: even the disciples of the Lord were not seeing clearly who Jesus really was; and the Messiah is still at work to bring His identity into sharp focus for all – believer and unbeliever alike.
Up till now, Yeshua had performed many miracles and healings and signs among the people, yet His closest disciples still seemed to be uncertain who it was that they were walking with. Yeshua is now going to bring them to a ‘valley of decision’ – a moment of truth to choose to recognize and to accept, or to reject: a decision that determines destiny. (עמק החרוץ Joel 3:14)
Yeshua asked His disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” The answers were very interesting: Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptiser, one of the other prophets. (Mk 6:14-15; Mt 16:13-18) Did the apostles and the Jewish people believe in reincarnation!? (see Jn 9:1-2) But then Jesus said to them: “But you, who do you say that I am?” And Peter, always ready, answered, “You are the Messiah, [the Son of the living God].” Then Yeshua strictly charged the disciples not to tell anyone about Him! They still did not know what it meant that He was the Messiah. They were still not seeing clearly or understanding; but they knew now that He is the one of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote. The Son of God did not come to become famous or popular. Again we see that God’s ways are not like those of men or women who think more highly of themselves than is suitable. (Rom 12:2-3) In Matthew’s gospel, he adds that Yeshua told Simon Peter that his confession of the revelation of who Yeshua is did not come from flesh and blood, but from Yeshua’s Father in Heaven; that is, from God. This is the foundation upon which the Lord builds His household of faith, against which not even death can overcome the believers. (Mt 16:16-18; 1Jn 2:20-25)
Yeshua began to teach the apostles the truth about what it meant that He was Messiah. In Jewish teaching and expectation at that time, there were those who thought that the Messiah would come as a conquering King, the son of David. Others taught that the Messiah would come — not necessarily from David’s line (1Kg 12:16) — and overthrow the Roman enemy and occupiers, freeing Israel and the Jewish people from foreign domination to be a free people in their own land. The mystery of the cross and of the gospel was hidden from them, and now Yeshua had come — the truth, the life, and the way. Yeshua told them that being the Messiah meant, firstly, that He was going to “suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”. All of their prior understanding of the Messiah had been false or distorted. This is what gives rise to false Messiahs/Christs – being deceived about the truth of the Messiah/Christ being Yeshua/Jesus.
(Tonight is Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day of the counting of the sheaves of wheat between the Passover week and Shavuot/Pentecost. This day is a celebration of a false prophet and of a false Messiah. Rabbi Akiva claimed that Bar-Kochba was the Messiah, who was going to defeat the Romans and regain the holy city of Jerusalem. Yet the rabbi – who was burned at the stake — is still considered one of the sages of Judaism, and everyone knows now that Bar-Kochba was not the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism even forbids marriages during this period until after this truly pagan fire holiday!)
We know that these closest disciples never did “hear” the words, “and after three days rise again”, because until they actually saw Jesus after His resurrection, they had believed that His death brought an end to their hope that He was, in fact, the Redeemer. (Mt 28:17; Mk 16:11-14; Lk 24:13-32; Jn 20:24-25)
Peter, who had just been blessed for confessing the revelation from God the Father, was now speaking on behalf of Satan when he rebuked Yeshua, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Mt 16:22) Yeshua then rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men”. The devil was quick at work to try to steal the Word which Yeshua had sown into the heart of His dear followers. (Mk 4:14-15) It was God’s plan and good pleasure that His Son would be the sacrifice to atone for the sins of every man, woman, and child. (Is 53:10-12)
Jesus then spoke to all of the people there, with his disciples, and told them all what it would mean for all who confess in faith and become followers of Yeshua the Nazarene (not, the Nazirite); and He connects it with His second coming: we will have to deny ourselves and pick up our own crosses to follow Him; we will have to be willing to die for Him and for the gospel; the whole world is not the value of even one soul; we must not be ashamed or embarrassed about Jesus or of His words. (Lk 9:26; Rev 3:8) Remember that even many of His disciples had been offended and embarrassed by His hard sayings regarding eating His flesh and drinking His blood. (Jn 6:53-69) In today’s post-modern and post-Christian world, the Bible – God’s Word – is under attack; the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to God the Father is attacked; the truth that God remains faithful and committed to His covenant promises to Israel is attacked; the truth that homosexuality is still a sin is under attack. Believers are to stand with the Lord and His words in this “adulterous and sinful generation”.
What are some lessons for us in knowing who Yeshua is?:
–Before we became believers we did not understand what it means for someone to be the Messiah, especially that Jesus is the Messiah. He is not the Messiah that we expected. That being so, we bore false testimony against Him, simply by denying that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. (Ex 20:16; Dt 5:20)
–Yeshua told Peter that his clear acknowledgement of Him being the Messiah was a revelation from the Father. It was not something that was being taught; it was not something that could be simply intellectually figured out. The demons and the devil already knew who Yeshua was; they were not deceived like people are.
Each person needs this revelation of who Yeshua is. It is not enough to grow up hearing about Him, or even being taught. If that were all that was needed, then every person who has been brought up in a Christian or Messianic home or society would know that the Messiah/Christ is Yeshua/Jesus. But they do not. It requires a revelation from the Father. If any of you here do not yet see clearly who Jesus is, ask the Father to reveal Him to you. Ask the Lord to heal your spiritual blindness. It is essential if you are going to be capable of truly being His disciple and not ashamed of Him or His words. This gives confidence when He will come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
–There is unity among the believers who have this revelation. All of the apostles were brought to that point of certainty regarding who Yeshua was/is. Even Thomas; even Judas Ishcariot. Whatever each of the apostles and the people had understood before that ‘valley of decision’, the Good Shepherd was going on from there. They were going on together from there with the Lord breaking through before them. If they were to begin arguing or discussing things as they had previously understood them, the Lord was going on from there. He was not going back. This unified the disciples. It still did not guarantee covenant faithfulness to Yeshua or to His way. Sin is a dreadfully strong slave master!
It is my conviction that the Body of Messiah is in need of another such revelation from the Father that is going to bring unity to the disciples of Yeshua at this time. There are many differing and opposing interpretations of what is going on in these last days, and of Israel’s part, of believers in Jesus’ part, and of the abiding truth of the Word of YHVH God. Just as the truth of Messiah was written in the Scriptures – but not understood – so, too, is the truth of where God is now in His plan of redemption also written in the Old and the New Testaments – but divisively not agreed upon. We need a common, corporate, Holy Spirit revelatory moment to bring us together in His truth and love to enable us to do effectively what the Lord has called us to for His glory and purpose. There will still be Thomases and Judases among us (Lord, have mercy on me!), but the power needed to stand as one in this adulterous and sinful generation until the Day of Messiah necessitates such a revelation. Let us love one another in the hope we have in our God. And let us stand in the truth that we do know: Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God. Yeshua is LORD, to the glory of God the Father!
We were blind, but now we see. Praise God!
Mt 26:17-29 And on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You desire that we prepare for You to eat the Passover? (18) And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples. (19) And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them. And they made the Passover ready. (20) And when evening had come, He sat down with the Twelve. (21) And as they ate, He said, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me. (22) And grieving sorrowfully, they began to say, each one of them, Lord, not I am the one? (23) And He answered and said, He who dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. (24) The Son of Man goes, as it has been written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born. (25) And answering, the one betraying Him, Judas, said, Master, Not am I the one? He said to him, You said it. (26) And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is My body. (27) And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it. (28) For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (29) But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
Mt 28:1-9 But after the Sabbath, at the dawning into the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (2) And behold, a great earthquake occurred! For coming down from Heaven, an angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone from the door and was sitting on it. (3) His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. (4) And the keepers shook for fear of him and became like dead men. (5) And the angel answered and said to the women, Do not fear, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. (6) He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (7) And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. And, behold, He goes before you into Galilee. There you shall see Him. Lo, I have told you. (8) And they quickly departed from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. (9) But as they were going to report to His disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, Hail! And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
We have heard how that YHVH God, brought out the children of Israel from Egypt in order to make His name great, and to have Israel be His holy people, and He would be their God. He promised them to inherit the Land of Canaan. However, the people have been unfaithful to the LORD throughout most of their history. BUT, God has been faithful to His covenants and to the conditions and promises of them. Praise the Lord! And we today who have returned to live in this very land are part of His plan of redemption, and proof that the God of Israel is the true God, and God of gods.
In the passage from Mt 26, we see that Yeshua and His closest disciples kept the Passover, with the Messiah establishing a New Covenant with them, and with Israel. It is a covenant in which YHVH promises to forgive the Israeli people all of their sins. (Jer 31:31-37) For this the Savior’s name is Yeshua. (Mt 1:21) He still reaches out to them until today with this same offer of salvation that He began with them. Even among the apostles was one who was unfaithful to the Lord. Yeshua, at this last supper before His crucifixion as the Passover Lamb born to be the sacrifice to atone for our sins, institutes the Lord’s Supper of remembrance, which we are about to do ourselves.
In the passage from Mt 28, a new day has come – Sonday, the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:9-12)! It is the day of Firstfruits. A day of rejoicing instead of mourning! Victory over death, the devil, and sin! A new day in which the angels and Yeshua told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to go tell the others that Yeshua is risen from the dead! He is the firstfruits from among the dead. The harvest time is nearing in our generation. And they went from Jerusalem to meet Him in Galilee, as He had told them beforehand to do, and they ate together.
Now, all who confess with their mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, will be saved! And with this New Covenant that God offers not only to the Jewish people, but also to all Gentiles, YHVH also confirms that He will keep all of His covenant promises to Israel, including the inheritance of the land, and that they will be His people, and He will be their God. (Rom 15:8-13; 2Cor 1:20-22; Jer 31:33) Yeshua was born King of the Jews; Yeshua was crucified as King of the Jews; Yeshua will come again to be the King of the Jews! Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Let us fellowship together now in remembering the death of the Lord, and His burial and resurrection, until He comes.
As Yeshua continued to prove Himself to be the Messiah and the Son of God, we also see how the opposition to Yeshua strengthened as He became more threatening to the established order. Despite all of the signs and good works and healings that Jesus did, the flesh and the natural mind were warring against the Spirit and the wisdom of God. The will of men was resisting the will of God: without repentance from unbelief to faith, the natural mind can not and will not understand the things of God. (1Cor 2:14)
I saw a blog on the internet by someone who calls himself an atheist and a believer in natural law. He wrote against the Sermon on the Mount! Everything that Jesus strengthened concerning the Law of Moses was, to this man, against natural law; e.g., Jesus saying that hating someone is the same as murdering him;, or that a married man lusting after another woman is the same as adultery; we have to love our enemy. The true God calls His people to holiness – within, and without.
In the passage we have read in Mark, we see that those who have taken upon themselves to control others by their own interpretations, customs, and traditions – all in the name of keeping the Torah – find themselves fighting against the very One who does in truth keep the Law, and is the very one who came to save those who do not! This is the essence of what is called “Replacement Theology”: replacing God’s Word with someone else’s. Some examples are Adam and Eve believing what the serpent said rather than what God Himself had told them; Judaism placing the “Oral Law” – their own interpretations and judgments, now written in the Talmud – as an equal or higher authority over the written Law and interpretations given through the prophets and even the Messiah Himself; Christianity saying that God has finished with Israel and the Jewish people, and that the Church and Christians have replaced them as God’s people, rather than becoming also God’s people along with the Jews and Israel; Islam claiming that God has finished with both Jews, Israel, and Christians, and that now Muslims are the true believers. All of this “replacement theology” results from a lack of the fear of God and not believing in what the true God – YHVH – has actually said. In essence, we place ourselves equal to or above the Father and the Son in determining truth and our choice to obey or not, or to approve or disapprove!
This accusation of Yeshua against His own brothers and people is true not of them only, but of all people. Remember, Israel is given by God as an example to the church (1Cor 10:11) – made up of men and women from every nation and tribe. In this “replacement theology”, Jews are not different than Gentiles, and Gentiles are no different than Jewish people.
In this passage, it is the third time that the religious authorities confronted Jesus and His disciples regarding their non-compliance to keep the traditions and regulations of the ‘Oral Law’. In the first instance (Mk 2:18), they failed to fast as the Pharisees did; in the second (Mk 2:24), they did not keep the Sabbath as the elders taught. To the religious Jews, the Oral Law was also received by Moses from God at Mt. Sinai, and passed on to Joshua and the elders of Israel. By this assumption (which was not true), they gave equal – even more – weight to the traditions of the elders – which Jesus calls the traditions of men – than to the Law of Moses itself, claiming that the Oral Law is what helps a Jew keep the written Law. In other words, the traditions of the elders/of men becomes the halacha, or the way to walk the pious life, and find approval from men. The Pharisees called themselves disciples of Moses (Jn 9:28), and Jesus told them that Moses would judge them for not believing in Him and what He said. (Jn 5:44-46)
When the Pharisees challenged Yeshua as to why His disciples did not walk according to the traditions of the elders, Yeshua responded with the Word of God as written in the prophet Isaiah, and in Moses. They were breaking God’s commandments because their hearts were far from the LORD. Yeshua took the first commandment with a promise – intended for children of all ages, even as adults – that children are to honor their fathers and mothers (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16) – and told them that they were inventing ways to not honor their parents, and giving it religious authority as if it were from God, and as if they honored and loved God more than anyone else, even their own fathers and mothers. But they were actually guilty of cursing their fathers and mothers. (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9) This can sound very pious, and even like what Jesus Himself teaches: that we must love Him more than all, even more than our own parents. (Mt 10:34-39) Only by really loving the Lord, and paying attention to all that He says – to listen and understand (v. 14) — can we begin to understand how to obey Him in the right Spirit and without contradiction or hypocrisy. By our own traditions, we can become worthy of death under God’s law, all the while justifying ourselves as being righteous! This is a very strong deception!!
With respect to eating food with unwashed hands, the issue that the Pharisees brought up was not really about having clean (i.e., not dirty) hands before eating. They only did a religious ceremony of pouring water on their hands/fists, having little to do with making sure that their hands were clean before eating, but rather, by their custom, making their hands ritually clean and not defiled. Jesus did not accept this at all, principally because their inner heart relationship with God, and with their own mothers and fathers (and towards other people), was not pure.
Jesus said to the multitude of people that were listening that what goes into the mouth does not defile a person, but rather what comes out from the heart. Even the disciples did not understand. (v 15-18)
Now, Jesus took the opportunity to make a huge change in the Law of Moses, with respect to what is acceptable as food. Remember, the LORD told Jeremiah the prophet that the new covenant would not be like the former one given at Mt. Sinai. Being new, there would be some changes and differences. Remember, too, that God’s eternal plan is that Jew and Gentile would become socially equal before God. The whole issue of food is huge socially: can Jews and Gentiles – in particular co-believers in Jesus — eat the same food, and together at the same table?
The Law of Moses says that some animals are unclean to eat, and that it is an abomination for Jews to eat them, and that those who eat them become an abomination. (Lev 11:12, 20, 41, 43) YHVH gave these laws and regulations so that Israel would learn to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, for He is holy. (Lev 11:45-47)
But NOW, Yeshua is saying that putting any food in the mouth does not defile a person – does not make him unclean or abominable! What goes into the mouth goes out of the body after nourishing it. But what comes out of the heart of a person can defile him or her. By this word of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, He has made all foods clean (kosher), at least for the believer in what He said and meant. (v.19) Clean animals were already clean; He did not need to make them clean. Therefore it is the unclean foods which He has also declared as clean. To the Jewish people first of all, to whom the Law was given! Yeshua is our peace, and the middle wall of partition He has broken down between Jewish believers and Gentiles. Yeshua is able to send us to serve Him and the gospel among other people groups, and our conscience can be clean regarding the food we may need to eat for the sake of love and of the gospel.
If God can make me clean (and Gentiles, too!), He — the LORD and Messiah — can make unclean food clean that only goes in and out of me, and His word was reinforced by the experience and doctrines of the Apostles. (Mk 7:14-16; Acts 10:9-16; 11:1-10; Rom 14:2-3,14,20; Gal 2:11-14; 1Tim 4:1-5; Heb 13:9) What is OUR character?! Is it like one of the unclean animals and creatures? So we begin to learn in ourselves the difference between that which is acceptable to God and that which is not, sanctifying ourselves, purifying/cleansing our hearts, for our God and Lord and indwelling Spirit is holy and pure, and by faith we both establish the Law and fulfill its righteousness. (Rom 3:31; 8:4) When we speak of what is Biblically kosher regarding foods (including, of course, the man-made traditional ban on eating meat and dairy together), we must remember that the New Testament is part of the Bible! God is getting to the heart of the matter with us as His holy people and temple.
A Messianic Jew is not obligated to eat pork, for example — or, for that matter, a good kosher angus steak — but will he allow others to do so, or will he judge them for not being ‘good Jews’? Our own cultural and moral biases and sensitivities can keep separate what God has made possible to join together.
So, what do we learn from our passage in Mark: one lesson concerns external rituals. If people participate in congregational/synagogue/church services and follow all the rituals perfectly, they may have a heart after God’s, but may not. Unbelievers and nominal believers can have the appearance of being devout, but if there is not faith then their ritual will not help in worshiping God in spirit and truth. It is more important for people to get their hearts right with God than to ‘go through the motions’.
A second lesson is that there is a real danger in replacing the the word of God (the letter and the spirit of it) with our traditions. Traditions can be helpful (like a picture is worth a thousand words), but they have a way of pushing aside or replacing the basic commandments. We might also carry through what was appropriate for a ‘dispensation’ in life into a more mature stage where it becomes unsuitable for going on unto the fullness which is in the ‘seed’. The attitude of the “keepers of the law” in the passage also appears in many churches, even in Israel still! Many traditions have grown up over the centuries in different streams and denominations, and many of them have become “essential”. We can be more concerned that people might violate our man-made rules for leading and serving the congregation/church, the way we do baptism and communion, or the set of rules that our particular group follows in the name of holiness, than we are about mercy and humility. We can be more concerned about which way to take up the offerings than about meeting the needs of people in the community. If we are not careful, these traditions of ours can become ‘law’, and we might even forget what the Word of God actually says about some of those things we do, or do not do.
Then, when someone comes along – like Jesus and His disciples — who discerns the difference, we can become defensive, judging them while justifying ourselves. But then we remember the teaching of Yeshua that God is more concerned with what/who we actually are than what our outward religiosity looks like. There is a place for rituals and traditions, but they must retain their proper place in our faith-life.
A third lesson from our reading is that the New Covenant is just that – new. There are some things that continue from the old, but there also some changes and differences which promote and advance the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the truth of the one new man in Messiah Yeshua – affecting all believers, allowing for full social fellowship among and with all. In love, we do not make our liberty a cause of stumbling for another brother or sister. (Rom 14:13-23; 1Cor 8)
“Yeshua/Jesus Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition/separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity – the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Eph 2:14-16)
To obey the Lord is better than sacrifice. He wants a heart that is one with His. This will ensure that we are with Him and not against Him as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as the apostle Paul writes. (Phlp 2:12) We do not want to be judged as hypocrites, but as righteous, in the righteous judgment of God, who sees the heart.
1Pe 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you (5) by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time; (6) in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations; (7) so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (8) whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified, (9) obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Eph 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
Last week we heard an excellent teaching on the expectation we have of a new, eternal, heavenly body to replace our present, temporary, earthly bodies which are incapable of living the fullness of the life which is our inheritance in Christ. Our congregation is called Yeshua’s Inheritance, and it is the inheritance which gives meaning to every human life: whether that person will, or will not, inherit eternal life. The God who has created the heavens and the Earth has given two options: eternal existence separated from Him, in a place called hell; or eternal life with Him, in a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where love is perfect in all its aspects. The way to either place is determined by one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, by whom alone anyone can come to the Father.
The name, Yeshua’s Inheritance, for our congregation gives us an identity: we belong to Yeshua – both now and forever! This is the hope that we have along with all other believers – past, present, and future! The Hebrew word for inheritance (nachala נחלה) has the same root as for a stream or river (nachal נחל): the inheritance flows from its source like a river stream from generation to generation until it reaches its destination into the big, wide, deep ocean with all the other streams. YHVH God is our source, and His promises flow until they are fulfilled, to be inherited by all His holy ones. We are the inheritance of our God and Savior! What a treasure He has given us and promised us to inherit.
As was said last week, this inheritance comes into fullness only in the resurrection, when we receive our new bodies suited to the eternal life that we have also received as a free gift from God through our living faith in Yeshua as our Savior and Lord. This inheritance is not for one people or ethnic group alone, but for all who are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above. It is for the corporate one new man in Messiah, a new creation: new bodies, new heavens, new Earth, new names. Jesus makes all things new, perfect, eternal in the Kingdom of of God. (Rev 21:5) We have the promise and the down-payment now; we receive the fullness of it when God finishes His plan of redemption in this world. (Rom 8:23-25; Jn 17:3)
For now, what does it mean for us in this congregation? First of all, we have a common hope and calling. Our vision and hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and rapture of the righteous – of the saints – that are connected with that. Our bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies and we will forever be with the Lord, and will begin that ‘new life’ ruling and reigning with Him over redeemed Israel and the nations. This is Yeshua’s inheritance in the world to come, and ours with Him! (Is 19:25; Ps 2:8; Dan 7:13-14,18,27; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 11:15; 20:6) We will be ministers in His government, and priests as we rule and reign with Him as a kingdom of priests.
But brothers and sisters, if we do not love one another now, we risk inheriting nothing! As we heard last week, if our acts are not motivated by love for the Lord and towards others, our deeds or ministry or participation profit us nothing. They lack eternal value. Without unity bound by love, we have a weak testimony of the truth of who Yeshua is. We become a dysfunctional family that lacks order and peace. Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment by choice because we love. God has chosen to love us, especially those who love His beloved Son, Yeshua, and all that He does for us springs from His love, even though we clearly do not ‘deserve’ such attention and kindness (among other good things that is love). God suffers long in demonstrating His love for us, and we are called to do the same. Long-suffering is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. These things should weigh heavily upon us as we examine ourselves in relation to the reality of our faith and hope, and how it affects our part in this local congregation, and any other.
Under the Law of Moses, all of the tribes of Israel, except one, received an inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan, which YHVH promised to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, according to His covenant promise. This promise of an everlasting possession and inheritance still awaits fulfillment for the salvation of Israel as a nation. But the one tribe which did not receive any inheritance of land was the tribe of Levi, the priestly family. God determined that they would be scattered throughout the land to serve Him and the Temple and the people, and that their inheritance would be HIM. (Dt 10:8-9) All of the promised land to be inherited by the Children of Israel belongs to YHVH. Therefore, by having YHVH as their inheritance the priests inherited the whole land, although possessing none of it in their own right.
Our inheritance in Yeshua is greater than a particular land or country. This is our inheritance in Jesus: the whole Kingdom of God – the whole universe, which includes everything – because the Father has given it all to Him. (Heb 1:1-4; Rom 8:16-17) We have become God’s children in Christ, and co-heirs with Him. And Jesus says that all that is His is the Father’s, and all that is the Father’s is His. (Jn 17:9-10) And that especially means US, all who believe in God through Jesus, for whom He died to forgive us of our sin. All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life! (Jn 3:16-17) But those who refuse to honor Jesus condemn themselves to eternal spiritual darkness apart from the Light of Life. (Jn 3:18-21)
The inheritance: Yeshua/Jesus! And the whole Kingdom of God and eternal life with the Lord
The heirs: the righteous saints – all who put their trust and hope in Jesus for their salvation from sin and sins
Our present knowledge of our future hope: By the Word of God in the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers. Take hope, young and old! We have a glorious future after the suffering and tribulations of this life: we will inherit the everlasting life that is really life that God has planned for those who love Him. (Eph 1:18; 1Tim 6:19; 1Jn 2:25; 1Cor 2:9-10; Is 64:4; Rev 21:1-8)
Lk 12:22-34 And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on. (23) Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. (24) Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, having neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the birds? (25) And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? (26) If then you are not able to do even the least, why are you anxious about the rest? (27) Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not toil, they do not spin. And yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (28) If then God so clothes the grass (which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven) how much more will He clothe you, O little-faiths? (29) And do not seek what you shall eat, nor what you shall drink, and stop being in anxiety. (30) For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things. (31) But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (32) Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (33) Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts. (34) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Before I was saved, I was like most Jewish people: I did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or that He was God’s Son in any special way, or that He died on the cross for my sins; maybe He did for the Gentiles! I also did not believe in Him as the Messiah which Jewish people speak of and hope for: we say that if the Messiah comes, everyone will know, and there will be peace. Clearly, not everyone knows that Jesus is the Messiah, and there is not peace in the world, not even in Israel! Simple!
Thank God for His mercy and grace to me that He saved me, and opened up the Bible as His Word! When I began to read the Bible, it was living and all true and relevant for me living now. It is not just history; and the stories that I had heard about, but was now reading from the source, were more true than the stories about them I had heard! They are not fables, but truth; they are not legends, but real: God is letting His people know the truth of things that other people just know as fables and stories! The Everlasting God reveals things to us that only He could know, but also wants that we know – especially His chosen and elect people whom He has created and redeemed for His glory. That is how we can be His witnesses to tell others the truth of things, and not just rely on logic or human philosophy or religious tradition. (1Cor 2:14) But we have to not only believe in God, but also we must believe God. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son. He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son. (1Jn5:9-10)
There are two places in the Tanach (O.T.) that particularly spoke to me about the fact that there is not yet peace, even though the Messiah has already come: Dan 9:26-27, and Ps 110:1.
Dan 9:26-27 And after sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of the ruler who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end of it shall be with the flood, and ruins are determined, until the end shall be war. And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
Psa 110:1 A Psalm of David. Yehovah said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as Your footstool.
The Daniel passage says that after Messiah dies, there would be wars until the end: not peace yet! The passage in Psalm 110, written by David (Mt 22:41-46) says that until Yeshua comes again, He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and will do so until His enemies are made His footstool: not peace yet! Right there in our own “Jewish” Bible, in front of our eyes, and under our noses! God has spoken, and He has told us. . . at least twice. The main reason, of course, for there not yet being peace is because neither Israel nor the world has yet accepted and believed that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah of YHVH and the Son of God. (Ps 2) As we see developments around the world in ‘peace’ negotiations – in Israel, in Syria, among believers on different important issues – none of these has produced the true peace that we all long for: peace of mind; cessation of wars, hatred, envy; good health; righteousness; joy in the Holy Spirit. There is even war with mosquitoes! Anything that is called “peace” that is less than all of this together is not really the peace that God has planned for His people, and for the world-at-large that He created and made for His glory.
What are some other examples from the Old and the New Testaments that conflict and war are spoken of in the world – or a false peace — after the Messiah has come [His first time, and until He comes again]? This warfare and lack of peace – or a false security — can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual.
In the first passage that we will read, YHVH God is speaking directly to Gog, the ‘legendary’ ultimate enemy of the Jewish people. God tells him to prepare for war against a people who, at the least, think and feel that they are at peace:
—Eze 38:7-12 Be prepared; yea, prepare for yourself, you and all your assembly that are assembled to you, and be a guard to them. (8) After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you shall come into the land turned back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel, which have always been waste. (But he has been brought out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them.) (9) And you shall go up, coming like a storm. You shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all your bands, and many peoples with you. (10) So says the Lord Yehovah: And it shall be in that day that things shall come into your heart, and you shall devise an evil plan. (11) And you shall say, I will go up to the land of open spaces. I will go to those at ease, who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and there are no bars nor gates to them, (12) in order to take a spoil, and to steal a prize; to turn your hand on the inhabited waste places, and on the people gathered out of the nations, who have gotten cattle and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.
In this next passage from Daniel, it is written about one who we call now the Antichrist. (If you trace out this person described in v. 21 through the rest of the chapter, it is the same one.) He comes in and takes over deceitfully in order to destroy the people. Sadly, there are covenant-breakers among the Israelis who join him against their own people, land, and God. Although some of the details given in this chapter can be understood from the history of Alexander the Great and of Antiochus Epiphanes, the vision of Daniel is clearly said to be concerning the time of the end; that is, of the end-time of the last days leading up to and during the “70th week of Daniel.”
—Dan 11:21-24 And a despised one shall stand up in his place, and they shall not give to him the honor of the king; but he will enter while at ease and seize the kingdom by intrigues. (22) And the forces of the overflow will be swept from before him, and they will be broken, and also the ruler of a covenant. (23) And after they join him, he will practice deceit. For he will come and be strong with a few people. (24) He shall enter safely, even into the rich places of the province. And he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers. He shall plunder, and spoil, and scatter goods among them. And he shall devise his plots against the strongholds, even for a time.
The passage in Jeremiah about Jacob’s Trouble corresponds to what Daniel and Yeshua refer to as “a time of trouble/great tribulation”. This has not yet occurred, for Israel is not yet serving YHVH their God and David (Yeshua, the son of David) their King, whom YHVH raises up for them, both of which are the results of the time of unparalleled trouble. But Jeremiah explicitly prophesies concerning the whole House of Israel: Israel and Judah.
—Jer 30:1-9 The Word that came to Jeremiah from Yehovah, saying, (2) So speaks Yehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book. (3) For, lo, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel and Judah, says Yehovah. And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall possess it. (4) And these are the words that Yehovah spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. (5) For so says Yehovah, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. (6) Ask now, and see whether a man is giving birth? Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, like a woman in labor, and all faces are turned into paleness? (7) Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (8) For it shall be in that day, says Yehovah of Hosts, I will break his yoke from your neck and will burst your bonds. And strangers shall no longer enslave him, (9) but they shall serve Yehovah their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.
Let’s look at the New Testament. There are those who say that God is finished with the Jews, with Israel, with the land, this Earth now that Messiah has come. Then why should people (especially Jews and believers) still pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Of course, as we are seeing here, the peace that God is concerned with is not a ‘peace’ that the world would accomplish. His peace requires full acceptance of His beloved Son. The New Testament carries the same stream of prophecy as the Hebrew Scriptures, and gives us to know that their fulfillment comes with the coming again of Messiah the Lord. There is not peace yet!
—Mt 10:34-39 (Lk 2:34-35) Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household. (37) He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. (38) And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. (39) He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.
—1Th 5:1-11 But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. (2) For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the LORD comes like a thief in the night. (3) For when they shall say, Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail upon a woman with child. And they shall not escape. (4) But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief. (5) You are all the sons of light and the sons of the day. We are not of the night, or of darkness. (6) Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us watch and be calm. (7) For those sleeping sleep in the night, and those being drunken are drunken in the night. (8) But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet. (9) For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (10) who died for us, so that whether we watch or sleep we should live together with Him. (11) Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.
Our security is found through our faith in Yeshua/Jesus. But that faith which assures us a peace that surpasses all understanding is grounded in us believing what He says, keeping His word.
—Jn 14:23-29 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (24) He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (25) I have spoken these things to you, being present with you. (26) But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. (27) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (28) You have heard how I said to you, I go away and I am coming to you again. If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go to the Father, for My Father is greater than I. (29) And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens you might believe.
—Jn 16:33 I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.
Jesus promises peace with God and in the heart now to those who believe in Him, but a sword – war – to the “world” and to unbelievers. We may know a sword in our own families and among those who have been our friends. This peace with God now is a pledge of the peace that is to come in the world to come, and of the perfect righteousness and peace beyond that in the New Heavens and New Earth.
What am I saying in all this, and also in last week’s message from Ps 2? The Scriptures are relevant in our everyday life, and speak into all situations. They shape our world-view and inform our hopes and expectations. They give us answers for those asking good questions, and give us truth when science or culture and worldly wisdom contradict what God has said. This is the temptation that the serpent deceived Eve with: “Did God really say?!” We are salt and light in the world, which also means that we give true testimony according to the Word of God of His covenant loyalty: there is no lasting genuine peace possible as long as Satan is the prince of this world, and there is unbelief and rebellion among the people and nations, until the Lord Yeshua returns to imprison the devil and to judge the nations in righteousness.
We must read the Bible prayerfully as the living Word of the God of Truth, and meditate on it, thinking critically about how it applies to what “the world” says and thinks and acts, and how we are to understand and to live in the truth: we belong to God, and Jesus has come to die for our sins because of our rebellion against Him and His Word, and the Holy Spirit is going to fulfill the truth of all that YHVH has spoken regarding all things. Let us read the Scriptures for what they are, and give glory to the Lord for this treasure He has given us in His love! We are His witnesses; let us be found faithful and true, walking in the truth with faith and hope and love! Amen!
How good is our God! At the Passover, and for all those subsequent Passovers that the Israelis celebrated (in the past), many lambs were slain and blood shed in order for God to pass over the houses where He saw the blood, and in remembrance of that mighty initial act of salvation for His people, making His name great among the Jews and among the nations.
But poor lambs! They were offered in sacrifice that others could live, but they were killed and eaten! They could not enjoy the fruit of their sacrifice.
Praise the Lord! Messiah our Passover was slain for us, giving physical and spiritual salvation and deliverance to all who believe in who the Lamb of God is whose shed blood grants forgiveness and life! And not for us only, but Yeshua, the Lamb, rose from the dead and is alive, now seated in glory, interceding for us! He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied!
By His out-stretched arms, and with great judgments, we look for the blessed hope of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our own resurrection (or rapture), the redemption of our bodies to receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of God. May it be in our own day.
Remembering His death until He comes.
Redemption of Jewish Identity and Hope
Jer 29:11 For I know the purposes which I am purposing for you, says Yehovah; purposes of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Lk 2:34-35 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
My identity as a Jew was settled in June 1967, during the Six-Day War. I saw once again that the Gentiles wanted to kill us, and I didn’t know why; and I identified with my people and our land. Despite the Synagogue and the Church both historically telling me that a Jew cannot believe in Jesus, or that a Jew who believes in Jesus is no longer Jewish, the answer of the man whom God used in February 1981 to finally bring me back to Himself regarding the Jews and the Chosen People was good, it gave hope, and the Jewish people had a promising future.
–Judaism – Pharasaic, Talmudic, Rabbinic – rejects the Yeshua/Jesus of the Bible as being the Messiah.
–Juda-ism is self-oriented, culture-oriented (as is Christian-ity if separated from living faith and union with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ)
–Messianic Judaism does not mean only faith in Jesus/Yeshua as being Messiah, the Son of God; e.g., Chabad, Temple Mount Faithful, Bar Kochba, Shabbtai Tzvi
–YHVH God, though, gives hope to the Jewish people, and to “all Israel”
–He will be their God, and they will be His holy people
–the Land of Canaan/Israel as an everlasting possession and inheritance
–a rich heritage
–a kingdom of priests who will all know the LORD and serve Him faithfully, a blessing to other nations
–Yeshua came as the Seed of David, of the Tribe of Judah: Jesus came as a Jew, under the Law/Torah
–He fulfilled the Law perfectly, but also differently than other Children of Israel, in that Jesus never sinned, and had no sin. The Law is for sinners.
–the first believers and disciples of the Lord were Israeli Jews; until Cornelius, apparently all Gentile believers converted to some form of Judaism (Ex 12:43-49)
–app. 50 AD, the apostolic Jerusalem Council agreed with the Holy Spirit that Gentile believers in Yeshua could remain Gentile, but with some conditions regarding food and sex so as not to offend God or godly Jewish sensibilities (Acts 15)
–first Jewish believers were called Nazarenes (Notzrim) and Christians (Meshichi’im) (Acts 11:26; Acts 24:5)
–God gave a weaning period to the early Messianic Jewish believers to come to terms with the New Covenant (Letter to The Hebrews)
–first persecution of [Jewish] believers came from Jewish unbelievers
–the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but a direct revelation from Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12)
67-70AD Jewish revolt against Rome and the destruction of the 2nd Temple brought a definite separation between Jewish people who believed in Jesus and what He said, and between those who did not: the former fled Jerusalem when it was surrounded; the latter committed suicide on Masada
–in the New Testament, there was already an excommunication of Jewish believers in Yeshua from the synagogue (Jn 9:22; Jn 12:42; Jn 16:1-4)
132-135AD Final Jewish revolt against Rome, led by Rabbi Akiva and Simon Bar-Kochba: the former a false prophet; the latter a false Messiah
–both still celebrated today within mainstream Judaism at Lag B’Omer: fire; no Jewish weddings from that date until Shavuot/Pentecost
–final internal split between the Synagogue and Messianic Jews who believed in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior from sin(s), LORD, King of the Jews and of Israel
2nd CentAD more splits within the “Gentile” Church over Jewish practices, Passover/Easter, Sunday worship
3rd Cent the Synagogue codified directives in the Talmud against the minim (referring initially specifically towards Jewish believers in Jesus); http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0003_0_02999.html
4th Cent Constantine became a Christian and made Christianity the religion of the Empire
–Council of Nicea
–John Chrysostom: contempt and hatred towards Jews (Eight Homilies Against the Jews; http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.asp )
–Canons of The Apostles: legislated unbridled anti-Jewishness (see, for examples, Canons #65, 70, 71 http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/cannons_apostles_rudder.htm )
–the Roman Catholic Church becomes “Spiritual Israel”; the New Israel
1000 years of suppressed Jewish identity within the Church
632AD Islam further weakened Jewish identity (became dhimmis, as did Christians)
787 Second Nicene Council, 8th Canon: Jewish believers could no longer be Jews in any of their traditions; http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum07.htm
15th – 18th Cent
–the Marranos (“pigs”) and Christopher Columbus
–the new availability of vernacular Bible translations increased interest in Jewish-Christian links
–Martin Luther urges violent persecution of Jews, and proclaims Protestants to be “spiritual Israel”
19th C: Rebirth of Hebrew Christian/Messianic Jewish movements: intuitively connected with the return of the Jews to the Promised Land in preparation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ
—the desire and need to demonstrate and express God’s faithfulness to His chosen Jewish people, to covenant promises, to Jewish/Israeli aspirations and hopes as given through Moses and the Prophets, and through the Messiah Yeshua/Jesus and the Apostles
–1809 The London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews (CMJ today) founded by Joseph Frey
–1813 Benei Avraham formed in London by 41 Jewish believers
–1820’s Joseph Wolff pioneers Jewish evangelism to the Jews in Middle East and India
–1842 First Protestant (and Anglican) church – Christ Church – in the Middle East built in Jerusalem in Old City, with the first Bishop a Jewish believer, Rabbi Michael Solomon Alexander
–1866 Hebrew Christian Alliance forms in London
–1881 first Aliyah (wave of immigration of Jews) to Eretz Israel (Palestine then)
–1883 Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein of Tisza-Eszlar, Hungary, becomes believer in Jesus, and maintained his Jewish identity
–1884 indigenous Messianic Jewish congregation founded by Rabbi Joseph Rabbinowitz in Kishinev, Russia
–1885 first Hebrew Christian Church of America founded in New York by Jacob Freshman
–1894 Chosen People Ministries founded in Brooklyn, NY by Rabbi Leopold Cohn, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant
–1897 First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl in Basle, Switzerland, in face of severe European anti-Semitism; called for Jewish State to become a realty in Palestine
20th -21st C
–1904 second Aliyah to the Land
–1906 Azuza St. Pentecostal revival
–1915 Hebrew Christian Alliance of America established
–1917 Balfour Declaration proclaiming intent to reestablish Jewish homeland in Palestine
–large numbers of Jewish people come to faith in Europe by 1939; many die in Holocaust
–many Jewish young people come to faith during 1930’s
–effort to create Messianic Jewish identity
–1920’s and 1930’s short-lived attempt to establish Messianic Jewish fellowship in Palestine by Moshe Immanuel Ben-Meir and Hyman Jacobs, but many missions did not embrace the idea of a significant distinct Jewish identity outside of historical churches, which also did not understand the significance of maintaining an identity as Jew by Jewish believers in Yeshua
–1948 founding of modern State of Israel
–most Jewish believers left Israel during the War of Independence
–Moshe Ben-Meir, Abram Poljak, Haim Haimoff – who remained during the War of Independence — committed to Jewish identity
–began to promote term “Messianic Jew” (Yehudi Meshichi) rather than Christian (notzri)
–mostly non-rabbinic expression of pattern of life, but honoring Sabbath, Feasts, circumcision
–a Hebrew Catholic Movement was fostered by Fr. Daniel Rufeisen and Fr. Elias Friedman, Jewish believers who identified as Christians
–1967 a watershed year with the Six-Day War stimulating Jewish redemption and messianic expectations, with more Jewish people coming to faith in Jesus/Yeshua
–about 200 Jewish believers in Israel till then
–perhaps passing 1000 during the 70’s and 80’s
–large numbers of believers connected with huge wave of Russian-speaking immigration in 90’s
–today most evangelical believers in Israel have Russian as mother tongue
–between app. 10,000-15,000 believers today in Israel among Jews and those identifying with the Jewish people
–1972 Jews For Jesus (organization) founded by Moishe Rosen in San Francisco
Most of the Jewish believers today in Israel have come to faith outside of Israel, and are immigrants from many other countries on all the habitable continents. Most of the native-born Israeli Jews who are believers now are children born to immigrants. Native-born older generation Jewish believers are still a small minority.
Messianic congregations are mostly not connected with a mainstream denomination. Yet there is a sense of unity and mutual support – we are ‘family’! – despite great diversity of positions on important doctrinal and other issues.
There are still on-going efforts by some to shape and define what it is to be a Jewish believer in Yeshua/Jesus. In the U.S., some Messianic Jewish leaders estimate that there are 250,000 (?) Jewish believers in Jesus, and of those, only 22,000 (?) who belong to a Messianic congregation/synagogue.
Where does the NT truth of one new man in Christ Jesus come into all this?
When I first became a believer, I saw everything through Jewish eyes. I knew I was still Jewish, despite what the rabbis and preachers taught. I thought I should keep kosher, keep the Sabbath, and keep the Jewish holidays – now that I believed in the God of the Jews. The Holy Spirit said to me, “I didn’t tell you to do that.” This in no way diminished or weakened my identity as a Jew; in fact, the Word of the Lord also came to me to “go to Israel”, and He made it home on Earth. In Israel, of course, we are immersed in Jewish culture!
I thought that the Gentile Christians had stolen everything from us. Then the Lord opened my eyes and understanding and heart to the parable of the vineyard, where we killed the Son of the Owner, thinking to take the inheritance for ourselves without Him, and threw Him out of the vineyard. God took His kingdom [for a time] from the Jewish people, and gave it to believing Gentiles, most of whom have probably never met a Jewish person, know Jewish customs, or have any real sense of Israel as God’s chosen first-born nation! (Ex 4:22; Mt 21:33-45)
–God’s righteous judgment according to His covenantal conditions
–not many Jewish people for the small number of Jewish believers to fellowship with or to identify in a meaningful “Jewish” way
–the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, and the New Covenant has brought in changes and differences to the Sinai covenant, e.g., food, priesthood, Law, complete equality between Jews and Gentiles as born-again believers in Yeshua/Jesus. We are a new creation, and one new man corporately.
Most information gleaned from MJAA, UJMC, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Gershon Nerel, Dan Juster, TJCII, Kelvin Crombie