Dimona is a Negev city southeast of Beer Sheva, lying right between Abraham’s city and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in the Bible as belonging to the Tribe of Judah, near the edge of the territory. (Josh 15:21-22) It is a small city, and is also home to the Black Hebrews. It is probably most famous for the Israeli Negev Nuclear Research Center beyond the limits of the city on the SE side. Since the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and hostility towards Israel’s rebirth as a nation are related, so, too, is the Jewish Israeli people’s opposition to the gospel, since we are “miraculously” succeeding and thriving as a nation “without believing in Jesus”. Continue reading “Dimona Still in The Bible – 16 Jan 2018”
A couple of days ago the Jerusalem Post carried an interesting article on the plight of Jewish believers in Yeshua/Jesus:
This situation is nothing new, as the article makes clear. Before my wife and I got married (and before we were believers in Jesus) , we went to speak with a progressive rabbi — liberal beyond Reform Judaism (I was raised Conservative). She (who is not Jewish) asked him who is a Jew. He said that anyone that wanted to be a Jew could be one. She said that she didn’t believe that, but that a Jew is one who has the DNA: someone might convert to the Jewish religion, but that did not make him/her a Jew. The rabbi said that’s not so: “anyone could be a Jew that wanted to be, as Ben-Gurion said”! Then I asked about those Jews who believe in Jesus (such as the organization Jews For Jesus), and say that they are still Jews. His face changed…..and hardened: “You can not be a Jew and believe in Jesus Christ!”
The small city of Arad lays between Beer Sheva and the Dead Sea. It is situated for clean air, beautiful panoramic views of the Judean and Negev deserts, and cold winter winds. Arad was the first city in Canaan that the Israelis captured as they neared the Promised Land after the Exodus from Egypt. Yet, because the LORD had sentenced them to 40 years in the wilderness before they would enter the land, they did not continue from the south to capture the land, but wound up going back and around to the eastern side of the Jordan River to eventually capture Jericho and much (but not all) of the rest of the inheritance. (Num 21:1-5) Tel Arad, going back to at least the kings of Judah, has remains of a temple dedicated to both YHVH and to Asherah, paganizing the Jewish worship.
Today, and for many years, the Messianic believers in Yeshua in Arad have suffered much harassment and hardships from a group of non-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews, whose intent is to control the city. That harassment and intent has now extended to the secular residents and citizens of the city as well. The Canaanite spirit of religious idolatry and antagonism to YHVH’s people and to the faith in Him whose name is great, continues to this day.
Here is an interview with a couple of the Messianic leaders in Arad, conducted by Kehila News: http://kehilanews.com/2017/09/17/unholy-war-in-arad-violent-protests-in-israels-southern-city/
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!
Today in the Jerusalem District Court, the three judges in the case of “Jewish terrorist”, Jack Teitel, found him completely responsible for his “cold-blooded” acts of murder and of attempted murder. In the courtroom, when asked by reporters whether he had any regrets for what he had done, he said the he “has no regret nor is he sorry for what he did”, and that he would do it again if he had to. Teitel received two consecutive life sentences for the two murders he committed, plus 30 more years in jail for the other attempts he carried out. In addition, he was ordered to pay a total of 680,000 ILS ($190,000) to the various victims of his crimes.
The judges, in their sentencing, said that despite all the religious claims of the murderer, he had violated the values of the people and nation, and the commandment which states, “You shall not murder”.
The case was particularly of interest to the Messianic/Christian community in Israel, because one of the victims was Ami Ortiz, the teenaged (at that time in March, 2008, during Purim) son of David and Leah. He opened a supposed Purim gift box left at the front door of their apartment, and the bomb blast severely wounded and damaged Ami and the home. Till today, Ami suffers from shrapnel still in his body, loss of hearing, pains, loss of three toes. Yet with all that, thanks to God, he has recovered wonderfully in body and soul.
None of the Ortiz family expresses any hatred toward Teitel, yet were determined to see that justice was done to such a one that has expressed no remorse and showed no mercy.
Israeli law does not recognize Jewish terror against Israelis or other Jews, which means that the Ortiz family has received no compensation from the government as victims of a terrorist act; whereas the Arab Palestinians who were his victims have received compensation. The Ortizes and their lawyers hope that this case will spur the government to modify the law to recognize that even Jewish people can be victims of other Jews simply for ideological reasons.
Here is the translation of an exerpt of the judges’ opening remarks in the courtroom, which form the conclusion of their transcript, before declaring th sentence on Teitel:
“Before the end (when the sentencing will take place) we want to repeat and emphasize: it was proven before us that feelings of hatred and frustration were used by the defendant while committing criminal acts, while sacred values became dust at his feet. We know that life is sacred and to be respected in every way, but we did not find a sign or memory of that knowledge in the possession of the defendant. Our scriptures command us: “Thou shalt not murder”, but the defendant stopped up his ears and eyes, and murdered and attempted to murder in cold blood. Every crime that he committed, was saturated with the contamination of the hatred of his mind and heart….
His actions become more evident and obvious, the murders were committed only because of the Arab origins of his victims, who were unarmed, without any threat of visible weapons or intimidation on their part towards him. The rest of the offenses the defendant committed were ideologically motivated. This is not a one case incident or a mistake, what we have before us is – a phenomenon.
The democratic System of government is honorable and worthy, when it is established on an interaction between the different segments of the nations that dwell in the country, Jews and Arabs as one, and the state institutions, which should be accompanied by a sense of trust and general confidence that prevails for every citizen, regardless of origin, whose actions are not led by arbitrariness of the heart but by appropriate values which we all want to depend on.
The State of Israel is blessed in this regard with governmental institutions that operate according to law, in a legal constitutional environment where sacred values are used as candles for its feet and human dignity and freedom are the leading values. But this matter in question invaded to the depths of our consciousness – and indeed violated one of the basic premises which guides us on a daily basis. The ruling in this case leaves no room for doubt: the murders, the attempted murders and other crimes committed by the defendant were directed at the heart of this country’s values which were stated beforehand, but it should be emphasized – that these malicious intentions cannot be tolerated by a society that fights against those who would try to destroy it.
This is true all year round, but even more so during these days between Memorial Day, Holocaust Memorial Day, and Independence Day.”
The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim. This holiday is still being observed: it still has relevance for us today, even for Gentile believers in Jesus. Haman presents us with a type of the antichrist in his spirit, and a descendant of Agag, of Amalek, of Esau, the hostile fraternal twin brother of Jacob.
Today I want to look at just a couple of events in the book for us as believers to consider:
Es 2:5-18 Esther’s natural beauty; her humility and wisdom; the king’s servant, Hegai, the eunuch who took care of the women (virgins)
The believer and his/her lengthy preparation for spiritual beauty to appear before the King.
Eph 5:25-27 Messiah loves the Church that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
This gives us confidence to approach the King with reverence and hope, having done our all to please him.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Es 3:1-6 Mordecai would not bow down or worship Haman because Mordecai was a Jew; Haman, in his pride and wrath, sought to kill not only Mordecai, but all the Jews, the people of Mordecai (and of Esther).
Gen 3:15 enmity between the Seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent
Mt 4:8-10; Ex 20:3-5; Dt 6:4-5,13-14 The Jew and Christian are to worship YHVH God, and serve Him only. Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one! (Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God is one YHVH!)
Rom 2:29 He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and whose circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit and not in the letter, and whose praise is not from men, but from God.
We, too, are called to be discerning and bold to not worship or serve the god of this world, even as we give honor to kings and all in authority. The spirit of antichrist seeks to take the ultimate honor and worship for himself, depriving the sole privilege to Whom it rightly belongs: to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Esther – as the Bride – prepares herself not only to come before the King and find favor in his eyes, but also as one who honors him as a wife to her husband, she is in the right place at the right time to both understand and to intercede effectively for her people and for her own self and family as she accepts her true identity before him and in the face of the enemy.
The Holy Spirit is sanctifying us to prepare us for the spiritual warfare to come, and to make us ready for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is God and Deliverer of His people. He will defeat forever Amalek, and give rest to His people from all their enemies, so that we may worship Him in Spirit and truth.
Is 5:11-16, 21-24 Israel does not regard the activity of YHVH or the works of His hands. God’s people in captivity [physical and spiritual] because of lack of knowledge. YHVH of Hosts will be exalted in judgment, hallowed in righteousness. God’s people have rejected Law of YHVH of Hosts and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel.
Tomorrow night begins Holocaust Remembrance Day, the remembrance of the worst calamity so far upon the Jewish people/the children of Jacob in our history. The subject of the Holocaust always brings with it many questions: Where was God, whom Jews and Christians claim is everywhere, all-powerful, and all-knowing? Why did our God not intervene to stop or even prevent such unspeakable horror and sufferings and acts of wickedness? If Messiah has come, as Christians say, and He has not forsaken His covenanted people, how could so many – including children, nursing mothers, religious Jews – be killed? How could this happen in a “Christian” nation — Germany? What kind of God is this who could see and allow such a thing? Answers are not so easily offered.
Jewish persons and the people of Israel are witnesses of YHVH God, who created and chose us. (Is 43:10) We are witnesses of who He is, and we are witnesses of what man is. (1Cor 10:6-11) The lesson of Scripture is that a nation collectively, and individuals personally, are responsible before God for their own sin and consequent judgment, and for their own righteousness and consequent justification.(Ezek 18; Joel 3:5 Heb (2:32 Eng) ) The same God who made His Son Jesus a whole burnt offering for sin to die for our transgressions is the same God who brought a destruction upon His chosen people — whom He has called as a nation His first-born son — in judgment for our continuing unbelief and sin, in accord with the testimony of God’s covenants and written Word. Our God is a Jealous God, who knows what is wise and good!
YHVH is a God of covenant, and He is faithful. He does not change. The God of the Tenach (O.T.) is the same as the God of the N.T. The God of Israel is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us believe that the words and teaching of Yeshua recorded in Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21, Rev refer in large part to events still to take place – regarding Israel, the nations, and the Church – and that these things are not far off now. What is spoken of in these places is something not yet experienced in human history, and the only deliverance can come from God Himself: the God who has prophesied judgments is the God who promises deliverance and mercy to those who turn to Him for salvation.
When speaking about the Holocaust and its lessons, God is usually left out as being active in it. It is always good and edifying to read stories like Corrie Ten Boom’s, because we see the works and ways of God in mercies towards innocent victims, and towards those who repent of their sins. But even a Corrie Ten Boom needed to learn the ways of God in Messiah: to forgive those who did such despicable things, not only to Jews, but also to her own Dutch family who tried to save Jews from being sent to Germany. We Jews, who know that our own sins – both personal and as part of a nation – are forgiven, can offer comfort to Germans, especially to those who have saving faith in Jesus, to free them from a lingering sense of guilt and shame over their sins and those of their nation.
When we leave God out of the discussion as to what happened and why, it is further proof that we do not regard His Law, or His Word, or His acts and righteous judgments, the very things by which He can and will be known and sanctified! Those who would deny that God could allow such a thing become those who deny that He can send sinners, who refuse His terms of salvation, to hell forever. The passage we read from Isaiah is consistent with the Words of YHVH through Moses in chapters like Lev 26; Dt 28; 32.
Read them to know better the great God whom we serve and in whom we have entrusted our souls for life.
It is evident that Holocaust museums, education on racism and antisemitism will not be enough to prevent what is cried aloud, “Never again!” The same living Word of God written thousands of years ago still abides. Judgments against sin and sinners come from the Holy and Righteous Judge of the whole Earth, firstly against those of His own people who refuse to walk in His ways and so receive all His benefits.
Even today, when the gospel is going out in Israel and believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah and Lord are greater in number than ever before, our religious and political leaders still oppose the truth of God our Father in Heaven. The government is making its own plans for peace and security, refusing God’s, which is the only one which will succeed. The believers in Arad are suffering threats and curses from those who claim to know God, just as happened in the days of Jesus and the apostles.
How can we know God’s grace and mercy?: Through His judgments, just as Adam and Eve; just as we who know the reason why Jesus came to die on the cross; just as Israel and the nations will learn as God brings every knee to bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (YHVH). It is at the cross that we know God—both in His righteous judgment against all sin and sinners, and in His mercy and love for anyone who repents and believes in their heart that He is just in all His ways.
Jn 3:16-19 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
If we love our people, if we love the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, we will bring the truth of God and His Word to them, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin of unbelief, so that they might seek God for His mercy to forgive. As we remember the Holocaust, let us remember, too, the honor of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ whom He sent.
(C&MA Great Commission Fund tour from Feb 27 – Mar 10, 2004, in Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Richmond, Virginia)
Mk 10:28-31 (Mt 19:29; Lk 18:29-30) Then Peter began to say to [Jesus], ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’ So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’
Peter here is responding in amazement to what the Lord Jesus had just spoken before as to how difficult it is for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. Because rather than giving up all for the reality of God and His Kingdom, they are trusting in themselves and in their own wealth or wisdom or power. Jesus answers that anyone – not only the apostles, but anyone – who forsakes those things most valued in their lives or in the estimation of the world for His sake and the gospel’s will be rewarded both now and forever, with persecution between now and then along the way!
A missionary is a “sent out person”. Therefore, it is a calling; it is obedience to the Lord’s call upon your life to go wherever He chooses to send you. All believers are called to be witnesses of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but not all are sent out with the specific purpose of taking the gospel to people outside of our own lands and culture, and to establish in the faith those who obey the gospel. The answer of Jesus to His disciples gives equal status to anyone who forsakes home, family, or lands for the Kingdom of God’s sake. Leaving all does not necessarily imply rejection or condemnation by either side. Persecution, which all believers who live godly in Christ Jesus will experience, does mean being rejected, even hated and despised, because of believing in and belonging to Jesus the Messiah.
Still the challenge to take the gospel to all peoples remains: For whosoever shall call upon the name of [the Lord Jesus Christ] shall be saved. How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? (Rom 10:13-15a)
Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, is the penultimate “sent out one”: sent by God the Father (Is 48:16; Jn 17:23) to gather the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and whosoever else will repent and believe the good news. The first missionaries were Israelis and Jews – the apostles of the Lord Jesus sent out by Him. We could go even further back and say that Jonah the prophet was the first missionary, being sent by YHVH to Nineveh to call them to repentance from evil towards the true God, in order that they be blessed and not destroyed.
Being called by God – and that is really the essence of the matter – to go to other lands and peoples with HIS message of salvation is not a call to lukewarmness. The Christian life is grounded upon absolutes, upon truth. Who is Jesus Christ? We must know Him for who He is to bear God’s good news and to withstand the attacks of the enemy against the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He sent. It is a continual dying to self that we may live unto God –even more, that God would manifest His life in and through us. Is this not the exhortation to offer our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God? To be God’s person to go for Him to tell the people about His Son is a call to persevering faith. Therefore it must be obedience mixed with faith in GOD’s Word to you, or else the missionary will not endure the hardship associated with such a high calling away from his or her “safe” environment. Our Father in Heaven knows us, and will not give us more than we can bear, but He will mature us and perfect us through giving us more than what we thought we could do!
I want to use my wife and myself as examples to hopefully help some of you to understand what I’ve been saying here: As an unbelieving Jew, I went to Israel twice, but did not want to live there. I did not consider the State of Israel my home, despite its importance to me as a Jew. My first time I went as a tourist, and I liked the land and the history very much, but not the people! But these were my people anyway! The second time was in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, and I worked as a volunteer on a kibbutz. This time I lived and worked with Israelis. I began to understand why they were like they were, but I still could not condone what I considered a harsh approach to life. I was still very much an American in my upbringing!
When I was saved seven years later and became a believer in Jesus as Lord and Christ, God changed my heart and spirit. He TOLD me to go to Israel, and it immediately became home (on Earth). I could not wait to get there despite my previous misgivings. Everything had changed because of God and Jesus coming into my life and speaking His Word by the Holy Spirit. In other words, I (we) are not living in Israel simply because I am Jewish, but rather as one sent by God back to the land — which He promised to give to the fathers and to their descendants — with the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Randi, my wife, is not Jewish; had never been to Israel or studied the Hebrew language. She grew up in a church which relegates Israel to past history and Jewish people to Christ killers without hope of redemption, at least not as Jews. Yet when she recognized that what happened to me was truly of God, she obeyed by faith the will of God to not only commit herself to me as her husband, but to live in Israel. God also gave her to know that His purposes for me included her! She will be rewarded more than me, for she has given up for Christ’s sake more than me. At least I had a natural kinship with Israel and her people; whereas for her, it was completely foreign and strange.
Through obeying God, both Randi and I have been strengthened and encouraged by the Lord against the pulls of the natural bonds of family back here in the U.S. to tempt us to mind the things of man rather than of God. And Jesus has proven His word true for us: Randi’s oldest brother, a radiologist, disapproves of our living in Israel, where only the “bad Jews” live, and to demonstrate his disapproval, he once told her that he will not offer any financial assistance, as that would imply consenting to our decision. So God gave to Randi (and me) another brother, also a Dr. David, a radiologist – a Jewish believer from N.C., who built a house in Beer Sheva because, he told us after we first spoke with him, God told him to. We are living in it now for the past seven years at a very brotherly rate! Randi’s father has expressed his own dislike and disapproval of our life of faith, by taking the ultimate step just last month of disowning and disinheriting his only daughter because we allowed our oldest daughter to enter the Israeli army as a civic obligation. God, praise His Name, is our Father, and He does not forsake His children!
Giving up “all” for Jesus to be a missionary in a foreign land and culture, with foreign, strange, sometimes unfriendly and hostile people, in conflict zones, with antichristian religions and laws (e.g., against evangelism) is not an excuse for immoral living, as if the “going out” is sacrifice enough and outweighs every sin and shortcoming. Your going is supposedly an act of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore only doing one’s duty – not even something for which He has to thank you. Our lives as Christians, and so as witnesses of the Holy and Righteous Creator and Redeemer, is to grow and mature in that calling and setting God places us. We are not to carry His name in vain, but to reflect His beauty of holiness in our lifestyle and in attitudes and motives of our hearts.
Not all are called to be sent out, but all believers can be partners in the great commission, perhaps through prayer, free-will giving above and beyond tithing, “adopting” a family serving abroad, volunteering to spend time abroad to help a busy family with housework or child-care, etc. etc. Remember that King David established the custom in God’s army after the battle at Ziklag (1Sam 30:21-25): that all who participated in the time of the battle shared in the spoils of victory – combat soldiers, supply personnel, kitchen help. We, too, are in the Lord’s battle against Satan and evil. The victory is already won on the cross: Jesus is the Victor, and is willing to share all that is His with us who are joined with Him!
Some plant, others water, but God gives the increase and brings in the harvest by his holy angels. Pioneers labor and break new ground; others follow and enter into their labors; fullness is at a predetermined end, praise God! We are all one in Messiah Jesus, and the honor is His to receive. We can receive nothing except that it is given us from Heaven. Let us never forget and always remember that it is Jesus who is the Savior of all persons, especially of those who believe. Not only are we called to labor for His sake and the gospel’s until He comes, but also we will not accomplish the incredible command to take the gospel to all nations within the prescibed time. That does not phase God! He will even send out angels to proclaim the everlasting gospel to those who dwell on the Earth before the hour of judgment is come, so that as many as will will repent and believe unto salvation (Rev 14:6-7).
GOD WILL GET IT DONE! EVERY KNEE WILL BOW AND TONGUE CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, TO THE GLORY OF THE FATHER!
Lev. 26: 40-45 – Israel and Jewish people confessing personal and historic collective guilt for breaking YHVH’s covenants
There is a biblical principle whereby God holds the heads of a people accountable for the blessing or punishment of the people. We see this with Pharaoh and the Egyptians with respect to the children of Israel at the time of the Passover and Exodus from Egypt. We see it again with King David and his census of Israel, bringing the LORD’s judgment upon the people and the near destruction of Jerusalem (2Sam. 24).
The rulers of the people — whether kings or priests — represent the people before God, and by their example of faith and obedience — or the contrary — the nation is led. Today, does not a nation of people go to war or make peace based upon the determinations of their leader(s)? Are not nations judged in the eyes of others by their thoughts regarding the heads of government or of the religious authorities? Do not Jews today insist that Germans living today confess their nation’s and their parents’ guilt for the Holocaust — that Germans and Germany are primarily responsible and guilty because of their evil leader who governed and represented them?; or to put it another way, in Hitler, the Germans living today — whether or not they were personally and directly involved — are reckoned as guilty and defiled by the Jewish people, even more than are Austrians and Poles who also bear their own iniquity.
Other Biblical examples of this living principle of divine justice covering generations for nations, tribes, and peoples are:
1. in Adam, all have sinned and all human beings inherit condemnation and death;
2. in Abraham (Abram), Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, signifying the preeminence of the Priest Melchizedek over Aaron and the Levitical priesthood;
3. in the Passover, Jews remember that we were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD brought us out;
4. in Messiah, many are justified and made alive, inheriting righteousness and life.
There are both power in, and accountability for, our words which we speak or write, all the more so if we are in positions of authority (Mt. 12:36-37).
John 11:45-53 – Caiaphas the High Priest unknowingly prophesied that the one man Yeshua would die for the whole nation, and even for all the scattered children of God.
Mt. 27:25 – “all the people [of Israel] answered and said, ‘Let His [Yeshua’s] blood be on us and on our children’!
Primary responsibility, with its guilt and historic consequences, is upon the leaders and people of Israel (John 19:11; Lev. 4:1-3, 13, 14, 22, 23; Acts 2; 4) — both before God and by our own words and agreement with our “fathers” — for the betrayal and death of Messiah. Praise God that upon the cross, Yeshua/Jesus prayed that God His Father forgive us!
YEHOVAH is the God of covenant, to which He is always faithful to fulfill His part, which includes His promises to make the people of Israel a holy people for Himself. Therefore He is working to remove from His people transgressions, sin, iniquity, and uncleanness — guilt and shame – – and to bring in everlasting righteousness. The Holy Spirit is working to bring His people to an end of themselves, to stop trusting in themselves or in the arm of the flesh, so that they will call on the Name of Yeshua for salvation: Blessed is He who comes in the Name YEHOVAH! It is Yeshua whom God has given as a guilt offering (Is. 53:10), and His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness.
The Holocaust brings reproach to the Holy Name of the God of Israel and of the Lord Jesus Christ:
–“These are the people chosen by God?!”
–“Where was/is God?”
–“How can a ‘good’ God allow such atrocities?”
–“Maybe God is not strong enough to stop evil?!”
–“God has forsaken and cast away the Jews!”
Remember Messianic brothers and sisters, Yeshua died a criminal’s death because of — and to take away — that evil unbelief and rebellion, the sin of the world!
Do we trust and love our God and Savior to honor His holy name in the face of such unbelief and mocking? Many Christians risked, and even sacrificed their lives to save Jews from the death trains and camps. In the unknowable ways of God, just as the crucifixion was necessary, so too was the Holocaust. God’s judgments are past finding out!
As many as are Jewish believers, we need to accept the truth of our primary responsibility for our history. Let Gentile believers each examine and judge himself for their own personal and historic sins of your nations and churches against the Sovereign LORD and against the Jews and Christians. Offenses there must necessarily be, but woe to those through whom they come!
The Lord Jesus says that the truth sets free and sanctifies. Confession of our own and of our fathers’ sins is an act of humility, and it brings cleansing, freedom, blessedness — because by it we receive and know the righteousness of God who forgives us and accepts us.
The Lord promises to save His people from their sins. The true gospel includes the cross of the Messiah and God’s righteous judgments against Israel, not to the exclusion of the other nations. As has been spoken before, there is no glory for the Jewish people (or for any nominal Christian) apart from the faith in the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Hope of Israel. Let us who believe be sure of our own peace with God and acceptance of His ways and judgments so that we can speak the truth with love to the Jewish people, and to others.
2Cor. 5:11a, 18-21 – in the fear of God, be reconciled to Him and be ministers of reconciliation