REVIVAL AND UNITY IN THE CRUCIFIED ONE – 20 Sep 2008

(Message given at The Negev Conference in Beer Sheva)

1Cor 1:18, 23-25   For the word/message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . We preach Messiah crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Messiah the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Zech 12:10 – 13:1   And I (YHVH) will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  And they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.  On that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning  at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.  And the land shall mourn, every family by itself:  the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the  family of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of  Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
         On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness

When I was in the Israeli army, I was in a conversation with some other trainees, some religious and some not.  The discussion came around to how Israel would become a united country with so many Jews coming from so many different cultures and backgrounds.  I answered one of the religious young men that our unity would come from accepting the Passover lamb and it’s sacrificially shed blood as the basis for our becoming a people – the people of Israel.  If we could remember that – the sacrificed lamb — it would help us to become a united nation.

In less than three weeks we will remember the Day of Atonements, the prophetic set time of YHVH when Israel will eventually recognize that Yeshua is the Holy One of Israel, the Lord and Savior whom they pierced and crucified.  The Day of Atonements is the day (Lev 23:27-30) when God commanded the children of Israel to afflict (lit., torture)theirsouls over their sin against YHVH and His covenant.  Sin is refusing to believe in Jesus (Jn 16:9).  In sinning against Him, we have sinned against other people; in sinning against other people, we have sinned against God.  Each Israeli alone from each family alone – whether king or priest, politician or religious, or of the common people – every one who is still alive at that time will know that Yeshua, whom we crucified, is in fact the Lamb of God — YHVH our God.  All Israel will be saved, and they will become one people and Yeshua will be their glorious King!

Revival and unity both come through the Crucified One, through Yeshua the Messiah, Son of the Living God, and His cross.  What had been a stumbling block or foolishness will be seen to be wonderful in their  eyes!  Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given!

Have we – each one of us alone who are joined together into one spiritual Body of Messiah – experienced at the deepest level what the remnant of Israel will experience in that soon coming future day? 

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Yeshua the love and the righteousness of God?:  His love for me and for you?  His judgement against sin and sinfulness? 

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Jesus that I am fully forgiven and cleansed by the blood of God’s Son?  The blood of the Day of Atonements was effective to cleanse all Israel and all that pertained to the priesthood and Temple; the blood of Jesus is effective to cleanse the entire universe!

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Yeshua my own death – that I died – and am now born again a new creation of God our Creator and Redeemer? 

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Jesus the shame and indignity He was willing to suffer for me and for you and for us in order that we could see the glory of God in His cross!?

It is written that the Lamb was slain (lit., slaughtered) from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).  Therefore all God’s ways with mankind in general and with Israel and the Church in particulars . . .all His ways with us have been the way of the cross.  By the Word of God the world was created:  God spoke . . . and it was!  (That was the ‘big bang’!)  Part of what God spoke from the foundation of the world was that in the fullness of time, the Word would become flesh and be crucified to take away the sin of the world in the greatest display of love this world will ever know.

God chose Abraham because God knew that Abraham would command his children in the way of YHVH – the way of the cross:  dying willingly, sacrificially to the world and to self in great expectation and joy of the glory of God’s kingdom to come – in our own hearts and minds, and finally in the coming again in the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Abram knew something about sacrificially dying to personal interests when he willingly gave Lot the choice of where to live with his extensive flocks and herds and tents in the land which God had promised him.  Abraham learned more perfectly the way of the cross when God required of him to offer up his ‘only’ and beloved son Isaac, in and through whom all God’s promises were to become realized ; not merely being theoretically willing to offer up his son, but to actually go about doing it, fully expecting to carry it out, until the Angel of YHVH stopped him.  ‘Now’, the angel said to him, ‘I know that you fear God’, and Abraham’s faith was revealed as truly believing in the God who can raise the dead in order to fulfill His promises!  Are we sons of Abraham in the faith?!  Or are we looking for the fulfillment of the promises before the resurrection promised at the end of the age?  Not a mere theoretical resurrection, but the real thing!

We read in 1Corinthians about the offense of the cross to both Jews and Greeks.  Paul wrote this letter about 20 years after he was saved and began his ministry to preach the gospel.  After all those years he came to his evaluation of the message he was proclaiming.  For all that, he did not suggest nor recommend another way to bring sinners to repentance unto salvation!

Why was the cross such an offense to both religious people and to those filled and satisfied with worldly wisdom?  To the Jews, the very thought that our great God and King, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, should be revealed in the form of a mortal bondservant and allow Himself to be humiliated and accept punishment on the cursed tree (Dt 21:23) – the penalty given to slaves, to rebels, to blasphemers – and that we ourselves were instrumental in this murder by the hands of lawless men – is more than we can bear except the Spirit of grace and supplication of God’s love in Messiah breaks in on us.  We deny that Jesus is God in the flesh to ease our conscience.  Then we deny that He is the Son of God, but rather only a man to ease our feelings of guilt.  Isn’t this what the people and the leaders of Israel taunted Yeshua with while He was hanging on the cross?:

Mk 15:25-34   Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.  And the inscription of His accusation was written above:  THE KING OF THE JEWS.  With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right hand and the other on His left.  So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’  And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha!  You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’  Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save.  Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe!’  Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.  Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Yeshua cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?”, which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’

For the philosophers and pagans in the world, the idea that we would believe in a God who died on a cross, and that apart from belief in such a thing there is no salvation, is sheer folly, madness.  Isn’t this what Festus said in a loud voice to Paul after hearing Paul’s defense of his faith before King Agrippa?

(Acts 26:24-25)  “Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself!  Much learning is making you mad!’  But [Paul] said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.’”

I want to read a description (by Seneca; Crucifixion, p. 30-31, Martin Hengel) of the long process of dying of the victim of crucifixion:  ‘Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all?!  Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid long drawn-out agony?!  He would have many excuses for dying even before mounting the cross.’

A crucifixion is not something to make fun of, to make a joke about.  It doesn’t matter who it was or what he did or whether he ‘deserved’ it or not….death by crucifixion is not a subject of levity. . . especially when it touches the Holy One of God.  Yeshua has left us His supper to remember His death until He comes [again]. . . and He will come!

The ‘words of truth and reason’ which Paul proclaimed are that our Messianic faith and life centers on the Son of God who died a shameful, undignified, criminal’s death on the tree of shame. (Heb 12:2; Crucifixion, p.4)  The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek; the gospel is of God!  Neither paganism with its polytheism, nor Judaism with its monotheism, could or can comprehend the foolishness of God – which is actually made unto us wisdom once we repent from our own pride and intelligence to believe instead in the ‘word of the cross’.

We are here in the Negev together; we want revival and unity.  May God be merciful and give it, and let us see the glory of God in the death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our sin!  Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit, and know Messiah in the fellowship of His sufferings and in the power of His resurrection!  May we see many more people come to know God through our witness and testimony of the crucified and risen Savior, and have the inheritance of the righteous in the first resurrection from among the dead!

PRIESTS IN GOD’S TEMPLE

Rom 15:4; 1Cor 10:11  For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we, through the patience and the comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope; our example at the end of the age  

Last week we looked at an overview of the Temple, from the days of the Tabernacle in the wilderness through the two temples in Jerusalem,  on to the present time of the persons who are born-again and the Body of Messiah as being God’s Temple in the Spirit, and on into the Millennial Kingdom when the Scriptures seem to indicate that there will be another physical temple in Jerusalem, and ultimately into eternity when the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are seen as being the Temple.  The whole new creation and all that is in it will be holiness!  

God gives us these visions of the future – He gives us these prophecies – to encourage us and ‘push us’ into going on to attain the goal and obtain the prize.  For the Lord, our growth is measured spiritually.  The Word of God and the Holy Spirit do reprove and correct us in the light of the future, so that in the present we would sanctify ourselves by His truth and righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do good 

The last nine chapters of the book of Ezekiel describe in great detail what can only be understood as referring to the time when the Kingdom of God is restored to Israel once the Lord Jesus Christ has returned to save His people and to judge the nations.  In these chapters, there is also a section pertaining to the priesthood as YHVH God ordains it in accord with His righteousness and His grace.   

Ezek 44:10-14; 2Ki 23:8-9   And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity.  Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, gatekeepers of the house and ministers of the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them.  Because they ministered to them before their idols and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have raised My hand in an oath against them, says YHVH God, that they shall bear their iniquity.  And they shall not come near Me to minister to Me as priest, nor come near My holy things, nor into the Most Holy, but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committedBut I will let them keep charge of the temple, for all its service, and for all that has to be done in it.   

Ezek 44:15-16; 1Chr 29:22; 2Sam 8:17; 1Kg 1:34   But the priest, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood, says YHVH God.

We see here that the Levites, except for the family of Zadok, are appointed to keep guard and do the service of the Temple, but not to function as priests.  In God’s government, He has kept them out from this higher place because of their previous history, when they followed the people into idolatry, and were a stumbling block of iniquity instead of resisting the evil coming into the worship of the true God.  It had been their responsibility to instruct the people the laws of the covenant which established their relationship with YHVH.  God will take into account our past, and we will suffer loss if we depart from His revealed will, even though we are still personally safe in our salvation.  God’s grace does not set aside His righteousness and righteous judgment and evaluation of our spiritual character.  We reap what we sow.  

This lesson we see here in the case of the Levites.  They would ‘bear their iniquity and their shame’ as they fulfilled their service, and would be an example to the whole nation of their past sin, in which the Levites had participated.  At the same time, they would be thanking and praising the Lord for His grace and mercy shown to them!  Eli and King David examples:  to whom much is given, more is required.

This same principle of God’s righteous government is seen in the priests of Zadok’s descendants.  He (they) had remained faithful when Israel departed from YHVH, and now in the coming day of Messiah’s Kingdom, God gives them the nearest place.  Their past faithfulness receives its reward.  

The difference between the Levites and the Priests (Cohanim) is that the former stand before the people and minister to them under God’s authority, while the priests minister to YHVH, stand before Him, and enter the sanctuary.  This holy privilege of going into God’s presence and of fellowship with Him at His table is characteristic of the priestly role.  (In Israel, all cohanim are Levites; not all Levites are cohanim.  In Messiah, all are priests after the order of Melchizedek, not of Levi and Aaron.)  

The letters from the exalted and glorified Lord to His churches express the truth that believers will be judged for our works, whether good or evil.  Some use what talents and gifts God has given them more or less profitably than others.  Paul wrote to the Philippians that he wanted to so know Christ that he would have part in the [first] resurrection from among the dead.  Those who are ‘good and faithful servants’, like Zadok, serve in the presence of the Lord; those who are not, but are yet the Lord’s, will suffer loss of privilege.  

Ezek 44:20-31   God’s view of the priestly features during the Millennial Kingdom.  What do they have to do with us now as believers in Jesus and the New Covenant?  

Ezekiel was a priest, and also a prophet.  God gave Ezekiel to see all the sins and abominations which Israel – especially as represented by the priesthood – had committed against YHVH and His covenant.  Just as Paul wrote Timothy in order to bring correction and order into the local churches, so, too, did Ezekiel write to Israel and her leaders what the holy God requires and expects from His chosen people.  Both Israel and the Church are called to be a Kingdom of Priests.  

Habits and Relationships   

MODERATION regarding Hair

Ezek 44: 20; Ex 9:32 כסם spelt – wheat- with short ‘hair’; Lev 21:5; Dt 14:1; 2Sam 14:25-26 (Absalom); 2Kg 2:23 (Elisha);
Is 3:17,24; 15:2 (baldness a judgment upon women’s beauty; shame upon men); Num 6:5 (Nazirite); 1Cor 11:14-15;
1Pt 3:3-6; Rev 9:8a
‘They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.’  

I heard a radio interview recently with a famous hairdresser who was helping women who had lost their hair from chemotherapy recover their dignity and identity by making them wigs from real hair that people donated for the cause.  He said that a woman’s identity is in her hair.  I think if men are honest, we look in the mirror to see if our head/hair looks the way we want it, too!  

Hair has an important place in the Bible.  For one who was a Nazirite (not to be confused with Nazarene), his long hair signified lowly dependence upon God, which is the proper attitude of a ‘creature’, and separation and withdrawal from the things of the flesh and what stimulates it, such as wine. (Num 6)  Baldness was a sign of mourning the loss of a close relative, and also a form of judgment from God for sinfulness.  In the New Testament hair is used to show the relative place of man and woman in the divine order – the short hair of the man indicating his headship and responsibility to rule; the long hair of the woman that of her dependence, yet helpfulness, which completes the man.  So we can see that hair is a sign of separation in devotedness to God, a symbol that all that we are is brought into subjection to God’s will, and so of obedience to His order for us in whatever sphere of relation or influence we may be placed.  We know that there are examples of extreme asceticism, on the one hand, which dishonors the ‘creature’ of God, and, on the other hand, of turning the grace of God into being loose in morals, appearance, or behavior.  Neither of these extremes is of God.  This rule for the priests seems to be a guard to avoid these fleshly extremes.  (Grant/Bloor)
   –to look normal – not extreme; moderate, modest; male/masculine
   —not [intentionally] bald like pagan priests, such as in Buddhism, nor as an expression of mourning which would render the priest unclean to perform his priestly duties
   —not long, with pride in themselves, like Absalom, or like barbarians in war; neither as a vow that could prevent the priest from serving (a Nazirite vow was more severe than priestly restrictions)
   —Scriptures inspired by Holy Spiritcut the hair, not shave as is customary amongst mourners

*For sure, if the Holy Spirit says in the N.T. that long hair on a man is a dishonor to him, then those who would be priests/overseers – ‘nearest’ to God in service and held responsible for their spiritual faithfulness – would be instructed regarding their hair length and ‘style’.  It is also certain that neither would the Son of God have had ‘long hair’, for He always honored His Father and God.  

   WHY?
Lev 21:5-6   They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of YHVH made by fire, food of their God; therefore they shall be holy.
             –What MESSAGE do we give to those who ‘read’ us by our hair, face, clothing  

Heb 13:12-16   Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp [of any other religion or culture] bearing His reproach [of being despised and rejected, of being made a scapegoat].  For here [in the world] we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well  pleased.  

Rom 12:1-2   I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrificeholy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service;  to know God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will Paul is beseeching us by God’s mercies!  Do we realize the sinful condition not only out of which He saved us, but, with Israel as our example, the terrible state to which the Church has descended in maintaining God’s honor and His character that He wants in His people, and especially in those who are His priests, serving Him in His Temple?!  

Rom 11:33-36   God’s purpose for us is first this:  We are to glorify God by our faith and obedience to the Son of God, of whom and through whom and to whom are all things 

God’s thoughts are clearly not like ours!

What does our hair say about who we are in our relationship to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?

SOBRIETY

Ezek 44: 21; Lev 10:8-11; Eph 5:17-18; 1Tim 3:2-3; Tit 1:7
‘No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court.’
   –not to drink alcohol before performing service to God or to teach His statutes
   –to have control over one’s faculties to honor God and to know what is acceptable and what is not
   —priests are to exercise clear discernment of what is or is not according to the mind and nature of God
   –our judgment of things needs to be sobered by the reality of God’s holy sanctuary and not by what seems to determine success or suitability outside (Ps 73 

PURITY in Marriage

Ezek 44: 22; Lev 21:7-9, 13-15; Mal 2:16; 1Cor 7:8-16, 39; Mt 5:31-32; 19: 3-9; Mk 10:2-9; 1Tim 3:2-5; Tit 1:6
‘They shall not take as wife a widow or a divorced woman, but take virgins of the descendants of the house of Israel, or widows of priests.’
   –divorce a result of a hard heart, and God hates it, even if He ‘allows’ it
      –marry a believer (in Christ all are priests) and honor the Lord’s admonitions regarding divorce and remarriage
   –a guard for those who serve the Lord against giving in to mere passion or in being unconcerned in forming the most sacred and important of all human relationships
   –Children, honor your mother and your father by not having sexual relationships before marriage!
      –Our father’s reputation is affected
      –To be eligible under the Law and under the New Covenant Law for the Millennial, only virgin women are suitable for marriage to a priest
      —(Rev 14:3-4)  God is going to seal 144,000 virgin men, those who have not defiled themselves with women
   –Under the grace of the present age, if we have sinned in ignorance and afterwards confess the sin as sin, then God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us! (1Jn 1:9-10 

Those who grow up in a priestly family — that is, a household where especially both parents are believers in Yeshua as the Messiah and the Son of God – have a calling on their life from early on.  If it is in your heart to serve the one true God in truth, then you will take to heart His requirements of personal and practical holiness.  

Priests are to show by their habits and life a good witness for God on the basis of the holiness of the blood sacrifice which allows us access into His presence.  Having our own life ‘in order’, we are better equipped to fill our priestly responsibility of serving others in the work of teaching and judgment.  How can we be godly examples to the flock and have moral authority to instruct them in the holy things of God if we are like those described in Rom 1:28, 32?: 

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. . ., who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  

SERVICE TOWARDS THE PEOPLE FOR GOD: Teaching

Ezek 44: 23; Lev 10:3, 8-11; Neh 8:7-8; Mt 28: 18-20; Eph 4:11-15; Acts 17:11; Rev 3:8
‘And they shall teach My people between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to know between the unclean and the clean.’  Discipleship is bringing believers to know for themselves how to live in accordance with the teachings of the Lord and His apostles, given to us in the Scriptures.
   –doctrine and hypocrisy of the religious/political authorities:  Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Herodians
        Mt 16:1-12; 21 – 23; Mk 8:11-15; Lk 11:28-53; 12:1   have keys kingdom, but keep themselves and others out   

Judging, Oversight

v. 24; Ex 18:19-23; Dt 16:19; Ex 20:8-11; Lev 23; Mt 7:1-5; Jn 7:24; 1Cor 5:9-13; 6:1-6
‘In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge according to My judgments.  They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed times, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths.’
   —Judge with righteous judgment, not with partiality, nor taking a bribe to pervert justice, nor by appearances.   Judgment is to be based upon God’s authority:  His will be done.
   –who is competent/sufficient for these things! 2Cor 2:16
   —Observe and care for each of the appointed times with their own regulations to be followed for worship Lev 16; 23; Dt 12:12-15; 16:1-15
       –the Lord’s Supper (1Cor 11:23-32) – maintaining God’s holiness and the Father’s grace
   —the Sabbath a covenant sign between YHVH God and Israel (Ex 31:13-17)
       –the first day of the week/ the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:11,15; Mt 28:1; Mk 16:9; Jn 20:19-23; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2)

SEPARATION FROM DEFILEMENT as to the Dead, their Inheritance, their Food 

Ezek 44: 25-27; Lev 11:31; 21:1-4; Mt 22:9-13; Lk 10:30-32; 2Cor 6:14-18; 7:1; Gal 2:19; 1Pt 1:13-16; Rev 21:22-27
‘They shall not defile themselves by coming near a dead person.  Only for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister may they defile themselves.  After he is cleansed, they shall count seven days for him.  And on the day that he goes to the sanctuary to minister in the sanctuary, he must offer his sin offering in the inner court, says YHVH God.’

   –Even in cases where being connected with death was permitted, cleansing was required.  Death is the remedy for the defilement which death brings in as the penalty of sin!  The wages of sin is death.
     –The Law makes no one righteous: it only requires duty and condemns us for sin and for sins.  The Levite in the story of the ‘good Samaritan’ may have obeyed the letter of the Law for priests not to come near a [possibly] dead body, and so become defiled/unclean; but the Spirit of the Law is “love your neighbor as yourself”, and had the priest acted with that overriding concern, the Law provided a sacrifice to restore him to his holy and religious duties cleansed from his [potential] defilement.

   –We can only come into God’s presence with liferesurrection life after the accepted death of the acceptable sacrifice which paid the penalty for sin.
   –Be holy, for YHVH is holy!
   –do not be defiled by bonding with those – apart from close relatives – who are spiritually dead or unclean
     –a sister marries into the family of her husband (consider also Ps 45:10-11 [11-12 Heb])
   –No one and no thing that is defiled with death will enter the holy city of the New Jerusalem!   

GOD IS OUR INHERITANCE!

Ezek 44: 28-30; Gen 15:1; Lev 7:28-36; Num 18:8-14, 20-32; 1Cor 9:13-14; 1Tim 5:17-18
‘It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, I am their inheritance.  You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.  They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; every dedicated thing [to YHVH] in Israel shall be theirs.  The best of all firstfruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priests’; also you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house.’
   –the priests received the best of all things:  YHVH Himself and all that is His
   –those who minister the holy things of the Temple – those who preach the gospel – should live from the offerings of the people.  The laborer is worthy of his wages.
   –living by faith:  Yeshua is our portion and inheritance!  We are joint heirs together with Him!  

FOOD SANCTIFIED UNTO YHVH GOD

Ezek 44: 31; Lev 11:39-40; 17:15-16; 22:8; Acts 15:29; 1Tim 4:3-5
 ‘The priests shall not eat anything, bird or beast, that died naturally or was torn.’  
     —The Lord has sanctified us to keep His ordinances.  We are not to eat (also in spiritual sense) that which has no life – no freshness or which may carry disease or other decay – nor which has been mauled, or treated without dignity – its innards exposed and contaminated.
       –This applies to all of God’s people, not only to the Levites and Priests    

     –The food of the priests was that which was offered to YHVH by the people:  His portion became the priests.  The people were to give healthy animals for sacrifices to God, and the priests received their portion from this.  

     –Yeshua said that He is our food.  He is our Life.  

     –He was killed on the cross, but not left there to be torn by birds or beasts, and lovingly carried away to be buried in a clean place (a new grave).  

To love the Lord is to obey Him with a willing heart to honor HIM over receiving the approval of men.

PHINEAS, AND GOD’S COVENANT OF PEACE

YHVH God makes and keeps covenants.  He is righteous and faithful to keep them all until they be completely fulfilled.  This makes them everlasting:  until He fulfills them, no matter how long it takes; and, until the end of history.  It is the New Covenant – a better covenant – which not only finds fulfillment in time – through the coming Millenial Kingdom of Messiah – but, even more so, seals the promise of eternity, when time is no more, and will be the foundation of the new heavens and new Earth which God will create for all those who love the Father and His Son.

One of the most interesting covenants which YHVH has made is often overlooked.  He made it while Israel was still in the desert before they entered the promised land of Canaan, around 1400 BC.  This covenant preceded the Davidic covenant by several hundred years, yet is just as significant regarding the Levitical priesthood as David’s is pertaining to the throne. (Jer 33:19-22)

Num 25:1-13
Phineas (Pinchas in Hebrew), son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the High Priest, was zealous for the honor of YHVH his God at a time when Israel was unfaithful to God and His holiness.  This was reckoned to Pinchas as righteousness (Ps 106:28-31; Ja 2:14-24).  The LORD promised to Pinchas, and to his descendants after him, an everlasting priesthood – a covenant of peace, in which the one true God would forever show His favor upon the family line of Pinchas.  We see the beginning of this in Judges 20:27-28 where Pinchas is honored by serving God before the Ark of the Covenant in the Land of Israel (about 1380 BC).

Just as Israel’s history seemed to collapse, God knew His way to restore us as a nation and will fulfill all His covenantal promises to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob. . .and to Phineas.

Let’s trace this out:
1Sam 2:12, 34-35  Eli the priest had two corrupt sons who did not know YHVH; God will replace them with a faithful priest after His own heart and mind, and will walk before His anointed forever.

The rebellion against the heir of the throne of David, first by Absalom, then by Adonijah:
2Sam 15:24-36: 1Kg 2:26-27  Solomon removed Abiathar from being priest to YHVH in fulfillment of YHVH’s word concerning the house of Eli.

1Chr 29:22; 2Sam 8:17; 1Kg 1:34  Zadok was established instead of the son of Abiathar as priest to YHVH by Solomon when he became King of Israel, and Zadok was the priest who anointed Solomon as king after his father David.  

Who was Zadok?
1Chr 5:27-41 [6:1-15 Eng.]  Zadok was a descendant of Pinchas!

Who was Jozadak’s son?
Ezra 3:1-2  Jeshua (Yeshua in Heb.) the priest is Jozadak’s son, and is, therefore a descendant of Zadok and Phineas.

Who was Ezra?
Ezra 7:1-6,10  Ezra the priest, who loved the LORD and His Law, was a descendant of Zadok and of Phineas!

God was keeping His promise to Pinchas over 850 years later when some of the Jews returned to the Land of Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

Who is Jeshua (Joshua/Yeshua) the priest?
Zech 6:11-13 (Hag 1:1; 2:2)  The BRANCH (Tzemach in Heb.), who will build the Temple of YHVH and be a king and priest on YHVH’s throne! “And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

This is a clear reference to Yeshua the Messiah, whose right to the priesthood transcends the promise to Pinchas – fulfilling it and going beyond – and is fulfilling the promise of God to Messiah, Son of David, the Branch (netzer, shoot, from out of the roots of Jesse) (Is 4:2; Jer 23:5-6), that He would be a priest forever [not after Aaron and the tribe of Levi, but]according to the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 5 & 7), and also King on the throne of David, of the tribe of Judah.  This carries us beyond time and also manifests God’s kingdom of priests over Israel and the nations in time.  Yeshua is Lord of Heaven and Earth!

Ezek 37:21-28; 40:46; 44:15; 48:11-12 (2Sam 15:24-36; 1Kg 1:8,34)  during the Millennial Kingdom on this Earth – fulfilling the promises of God which He has made in His covenants for Israel, for the nations, for the animal kingdom, for all nature and the created order – it will be the sons of Zadok, the descendant of Phineas, who was a faithful priest to serve YHVH, who will have the honor of the priesthood.  Our God is faithful and able to fulfill His promise made over 3400 years ago to Pinchas, who acted with holy zeal for the glory and honor of his God.  God has staked His holy name and the entire created order on His promise and ability to faithfully fulfill to the family of David (the kingship) and to the family of Levi (the priesthood) His covenantal promises. (Jer 33:14-26)

God our Father knows each of us.  The lists of genealogies in the Bible prove His power and love and His personal interest in His people and His Kingdom.  They help us to know the history and to have confidence in God’s promises.  Even if we are unfaithful or unable, He is not.  YHVH our God knows how to fulfill His word to each of us, too, even when it seems all has collapsed or that others have somehow ‘gotten in the way’.

Through our faith in Jesus, we have each and all together received exceedingly great and precious promises, including God’s peace, a peace which surpasses understanding. 

2Pet 1:2-4  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Yeshua our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.     

We are called to be salt and light in the Earth.  There are times we must “confront the issues rather than adjust to them” (Francis Frangipane, 20.1.06), and to “care enough to act” with God’s jealousy, like Phineas, to put the fear of God in our society, and to protect and give the possibility of liberty to those under the influence of evil.  Jesus says He will be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father and the holy angels, of whoever is ashamed of Him and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation (Mk 8:38).

In Messiah, we have received even greater promises than Pinchas.  Let us, like him, be zealous for the Name of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who for the zeal of His Father’s house, died on the cross for God’s righteousness to make atonement for the sins of His people.

God honors those who honor Him.  (1Sam 2:30)

THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID

Amos 9:11-12   On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may inherit the remnant of Edom and all the gentiles who are called by My Name, sys YHVH who does this thing.  

Acts 15:16-17   After this I will return and will rebuild. . .so that the rest of mankind may seek YHVH. . ..  

2 Sam 23:34,37,39; 1 Chron 11:46   Tselek the Ammonite, Uriah the Hittite, Itmah the Moabite – some of the Gentiles with David — and also Eliam, the father of Batsheva and son of Ahitophel  

–one Shepherd, one King over Israel and the rest of the world
–those who gathered around David included gentiles – even those excluded from entering the assembly of YHVH (Dt 23:3) and from those whose territory would be conquered for Israel’s promised possession (Josh 1:4)
–These mighty men of David strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of YHVH concerning Israel (1Chron 11:10).
   –They loved David.
   –They knew that he was the one chosen by God for His purposes of establishing the Messianic Kingdom.
   –They were willing to sacrifice their own personal interests and security for the protection of David and his kingship.  They were personally committed and corporately committed (2Sam 21: 15-17; 23:13-17).  They helped to establish Israel under David’s rule, and to preserve his kingdom against those who sought to undermine it.  

–The restoration of the tabernacle of David – a unified kingdom in Israel of both native-born and the strangers who joined themselves to it – follows harsh trials and judgments upon Israel (Amos 9:8-10) and upon the House of David, and following the present age of the gospel to all peoples (Acts 15:16-17) 

–The ultimate fulfillment of all the “jots and tittles” in Amos and in Acts 15 will be only after the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom over all Israel, the remnant of Edom, and all the rest of mankind and the Earth.  

–With the establishment of God’s righteous kingdom, then serving and the worship of YHVH without fear (Lk 1:70-75) will be enjoyed by all those who have loved and trusted Him for salvation and for God’s purposes.

LIVING BREAD OF REDEMPTIVE PROGRESS

The distinctiveness of Israel, even of its 12 tribes  — 12 loaves of the showbread [Bread of the Faces/Presence] (Ex 25:30; Lev 24:5-9) —amongst the nations remains valid all the way through to the end of the coming millennial kingdom.  The last nine chapters of Ezekiel make this abundantly clear, as does chapter 7 of Revelation (not to mention the names of the gates of the New Jerusalem being the names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel).  God knows how to keep track of this somehow (reverently speaking, of course!).  Only priests could enter inside the Holy Place:  the priests were in Israel but not of Israel.  The showbread presented the face(s) of all God’s people represented in the whole House of Israel, the twelve tribes, and only the priests partook of the leavened loaves of the bread of God (Lev 21:6), as they represented all the Children of Israel to God, and were God’s mediators to the people.  God looked upon His people through the lens of the ultimate sacrifice by fire of His Son for them to dwell forever in His presence.

The distinction between Jews and Gentiles — 2 loaves (Lev 23:15-18) for a new meal offering containing leaven in each one initiated at Shavuot — remains valid throughout the same period, as Yeshua/Jesus will reign over Israel and the other nations during His Kingdom on Earth, and we will be reigning and ruling over them with Him.  It is important to remember that the Church was a mystery until the revelation through the gospel, especially to the apostle Paul. (Eph 3:3-11)  In God’s redemptive plan and purpose, all people everywhere stand equal in His sight – sinners all needing repentance unto salvation for whom Messiah died — Yeshua having broken down the middle wall of separation and enmity between the two (Eph 2:11-22).  The new grain/meal offering (Lev 23:15-21) of a new covenant is presented upon the foundation of the sinless Passover sacrifice – Who became sin for us on the cross, so fulfilling the sacrifice for the atonement of our souls (Lev 16; 2Cor 5:14-21).  The counting of the sheaves begins from the day of the first-fruits resurrection of Jesus from among the dead on the day after the Sabbath during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week (Lev 23:9-22; Mt 28:1-7; Acts 1:3-5; 2:1), and at the first-fruits harvest at Shavuot/Pentecost, , the new living sacrifice of sinners from all humanity is presented by the priests to God through Messiah, who died as the Savior of all, but especially of those who believe.  YHVH God, in His abundant lovingkindness/grace, makes room for the multitude of the nations to join with His chosen people (Ezek 47:21-23), and we remember Messiah’s death till He comes. (1Cor 11:26)  We who have been saved are now priests of God in Christ, and present ourselves a living sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth within us for His sake.  Not only of the Jews is He God, but also of the nations/Gentiles. (Rom 3:29)  At present there are three classes of people in the world — Jews, Greeks/Gentiles, and the Church/Kehila of God (1Cor 10:32).

It is this last designation that causes us the most difficulty grasping:  the kehila/church is made up of both Jews and Gentiles, while being neither Jewish nor Greek (Gal 3:26-29; 6:15-16).  It is evident that certain aspects of identity are not done away with as long as we are in this body, in this world, and as the Law and the Prophets are being full-filled through the sovereign wisdom of God (Mt 5:17-18).  The church  presents a “cloudy” picture of the truth of what the apostle Paul writes us concerning the resurrection body:  the seed sown is not quickened unless it die, and that which was sown is not that body which shall be….” (1Cor 15:35-49)  The natural seed of Abraham is in Isaac (Gen 21:12), by whom Abraham believed that God could and would raise the dead to fulfill His covenantal promises. (Heb 11:17-19)  This will be fulfilled when the full remnant that is “all Israel” is saved:  God will have virtually brought them back from death, even as He did Isaac.  The spiritual seed of Abraham are those who are in the Seed –the Son of Promise — who has the pre-eminence in all things:  Messiah, whose coming was foretold in the Garden of Eden.

But already now, believers are a new creation1 loaf as the Body of Messiah (1Cor 10:14-17; Eph 2:14-18; Col 3:9-11)– one new man in Messiah Yeshua (the heart and climax of the Lord’s High Priest prayer for our unity and love Jn 17:20-26 ) which we already are through saving faith in the Lord Yeshua and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us who are born-again.  Just as we already have eternal life now in Messiah, so, too, are we even now a new creation — in both cases waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Rom 8:18-23) at the resurrection or the rapture, whichever applies personally at the time. (1Thes 4:15-17)  We are already sons of God, but the resurrection brings in the reality, similar to the resurrection of Yeshua being the seal of God’s declaration in power that “today I have begotten You”. (Ps 2:7; Acts 13:32-33; Rom 1:4; 8:23-24; Heb 1:1-5)  The one new man will rule and reign with Messiah as His Bride and as priests together with Him on the throne over Israel and the nations for 1000 years. (Rev 20:6)  We who are in Christ are beneficiaries of a better covenant, with better promises and a better hope than what even Israel presently anticipates in fulfillment of her covenant promises and hopes. (Heb 7:19,22; 8:6The one bread leavened loaf of the communion in the Lord’s Supper presents the face of all God’s family in the Body of Christ through the finished work of His Son on the cross, and only priests/followers of Messiah Jesus partake of that one bread of God of the table of the Lord, which is us. (1Cor 10:16-17)

Jews are the natural branches and can trace their roots and heritage back through all this, but without being able to prove the specific tribal lineage.  Gentiles are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but without becoming Jews or Israelis.  (Eph 2:11-13 This is much like during the time of the British Empire, when Canadians, for example, received many privileges and benefits of being part of the Empire, but they didn’t become English or British.)  As believers in Yeshua and abiding in Him, God still makes use of our natural heritage and identities…they still exist and greatly influence our personalities and even worldview…but these things are passing away (not, have passed away)… while the high and upward calling  in Messiah Yeshua is set eternally before each and all of us who believe to become the focus for shaping our eternal identity (Philp 3).  This is a great mystery, but it concerns Messiah/Christ and the church. (Eph 5:32; Ps 45:10-11 Eng)

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!  ‘For who has known the mind of YHVH?  Or who has become His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’  For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever!” (Rom 11:33-36)

 

 

The Holocaust and Knowing God

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.

THE MARK OF GOD AND ISRAEL’S STUMBLING

(Israel Conference at Langensteinbacherhohe:  “The Redemption of Israel According to Ezekiel and Paul”, Jan 8-11, 2004)

Ezek 9:4  And YHVH said to him [, the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side], ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark (tav) on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’

Rev 7:3; 9:4; 14:1  the seal of God on the foreheads of His servants; 144,000 having the Father’s name on their foreheads.

Ex 12:23  For YHVH will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when He sees the blood on the lintel  and on the two doorposts, YHVH will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.

Mt 5:4     Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Hos 14:1 (2 Heb)   OIsrael, return to YHVH your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Rom 10:1-4  . . .For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own   righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

1Cor 1:17-25  . . .For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ (Is 29:14). . .For Jews require a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling blockand to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. . . .

Why are not more Israelis being saved?  God’s judgments begin in His own household and amongst those who have greater moral responsibility.  “Begin at My sanctuary.” (Ezek 9:6; 1Pet 4:17)  But pride causes those with greater privileges to think that they will be favored:  “Again the Word of YHVH came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your kinsmen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Get far away from the LORD; this land has been given to us as a possession’.  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Although I have cast them far off among the gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the Land of Israel. . .Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.  But as for those whose hearts walk after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads, says the Lord GOD’”. . . And the glory of the God of Israel went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain on the east side of the city. (Ezek 11:14-25)

God has cut a New Covenant with Israel; He has not simply renewed the former covenant which is passing away.  The Lord is not merely setting up again that from which the glory departed, but much more, better than the Garden of Eden even.  By the cross the Holy Spirit is going to make new the inner manby which the Jewish people will truly become the true seed of Abraham and the heirs of all that God promised him.  Neither the Law, nor all its sacrifices; nor wisdom, and all its value; nor good deeds, or prayers, or good intentions – none of these things can change a person from the inside, cleansing his conscience, converting the soul to love YHVH with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love his neighbor as himself; to live for God’s glory and not his own.  Only the blood of the cross, and those who come to God by that Way which Jesus is and made, can make a person a child of God and know Him as his Father.  Only this stumbling block can break a sinner’s heart and bring forth praise and thanksgiving to God, who is seeking those to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Only by the message of the cross can “self” be slain and God alone be known as good and worthy.  The message of the cross is proof that the gospel is neither Jewish nor Gentile:  the Jews do not accept it, and the gentiles do not respect or honor it.  It is from God; it is His mark, His seal.  It is brought to light through the reality of the New Covenant.  The cross is God’s mark upon His people, and represents the life of Messiah.  To the carnal and unbelieving it is a mark of shame and dishonor – or perhaps a decoration; to the spiritual person in Christ, it is the mark of God’s glory in the person and character and atoning death of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  The cross is God’s mark to separate the world from His people and His people from the world (Gal 6:14), and it is by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross which we, as it were, sprinkle (1Pet 1:2) on our hearts and minds, that God will save us from the day of His wrath.  His judgments begin today, as in Ezekiel’s time, in His own household. (1Pet 4:17)

A true Jew–and a true Christian–seeks God’s approval.  God approves of us when we believe in and obey His Son.  The Lord Jesus acknowledges us as being His when we do the will of His Father in Heaven.  God is working both withinIsraeland within the Church to cleanse and to purify His people.  To be a disciple Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  Both baptism in water and the cross speak the same message:  death to the self-life; alive unto God in the Spirit by faith.  The “sign” of the cross has been God’s secret way of power from before the beginning of time to save sinners who put their faith in Him:  the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.  It shows up again at the Passover with the sprinkled blood over the threshold to the house; it appears in the Tabernacle and theTemplearrangement of the approach into God’s presence and glory – and of His approach to us.

The road which we travel, and which Israelis being required by her God and Savior to travel, is long and hard and narrow.  It is a well-traveled way, and many more will yet know suffering on it.  Jesus, the King whom the Jews say they do not want to reign over them, but whom the LORD God intends that they will have, has walked this same way—this way of the cross.  He exposed Himself to the condemnation of man and became a curse for us under God’s own Law, in order that we could receive God’s approval and righteousness.  And for this Jesus has received from God the Name above every name.  The way home to peace and security and joy in the Father’s house is the cross of our Lord.  Despite the sentence of death in ourselves, we go on in victory in Messiah because God has forgiven us of our sin and our sins.  We are called to intercede in mercy as His priests for the Jewish people–and for the Gentiles—to repent and to believe the gospel, for the Kingdomof Godis near.  Until they do there will continue to be much sorrow and anguish.  Until we let God’s spiritual mark distinguish us, then we, too, stand in danger of suffering from God’s righteous judgments upon the world (1Cor 11:31-32).

The redemption of Israelis assured.  The full redemption of the Body of Messiah and of the whole creation is connected to Israel’s salvation.  YHVH God Himself will see to it.  He speaks through Ezekiel that He will require Israelto ask Him to accomplish what He so much wants to do to bless His people.(36:37)

The Lord Yeshua confirms this when He cries out to Jerusalem that her house is left desolate, and that she will not see Him any more until she says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH”. (Mt 23:37-39)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

PAUL: BELOVED FOR THE SAKE OF THE FATHERS

(Israel Conference at Langensteinbacherhohe:  “The Redemption of Israel According to Ezekiel and Paul”, Jan 8-11, 2004)

Gen 17:1-8      YHVH made an everlasting covenant to Abram (Abraham) and to his descendants for an everlasting possession of all the Land of Canaan.

Gen 26:1-5       YHVH reaffirms to Isaac the oath He swore to Abraham.

Gen 28:10-15  YHVH, God of Abraham and Isaac, confirmed the covenant promises to Jacob.

Dt 4:32-39      Because God loved their fathers, He wants Israel to know that YHVH Himself is God in Heaven above and on the Earth.  He is involved with things on Earth.

Rom 11:28-32  Concerning  the election, Israel is beloved for the fathers’ sake, that God may have mercy on all who were committed to disobedience – both among Jews/Israelis and among gentiles.  He has committed Himself to His promises to A, to I, to J, even though it brings reproach.

Rom 11:26-27  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:  The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins. (Is 59: 20-21)   

Is 4:2-3           In that day the Branch (Plant/Tzemach) of YHVH shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped.  And it shall come to pass that the one left in Zion and the one remaining in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.

Rom 9:6-7      But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect.  For they are not all Israel who are of  Israel, nor all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ (Gen 21:12)    

Is 1:9     Unless the LORD of Hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah.

Is 19:18-25      In that day, Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be saved and serve YHVH together as a blessing in the midst of the Earth.

Rev 7:2-8; 14:1-5  the sealed servants of God on their foreheads:  144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel. . . redeemed by Jesus from among men, first-fruits to God and to the Lamb

Ezek 47:13 – 48:35  the borders and division of the repossessed Land of Israel among the twelve tribes of Israel, for the native-born and for the strangers who sojourn among them and who bear children among them, during the millenial Kingdom of Messiah on and over the Earth

Rev 21:9-27   The bride, the Lamb’s wife, the new and holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God; the gates are named after the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; the foundations named after the twelve apostles.  Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life can enter the city.  Certainly an expression of everlasting love and honor to have the gates and foundations named for you!

Jn 3:3-21      Only those in Israel and from other nations who are born again from above can see or enter the Kingdom of God.  Life is given only to those who have living faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

In Adam all have sinned, yet God has His plan to redeem and to save all who hear, believe, and obey His way to repent/return to Him.  So Israel—a nation of “adams”—has sinned, and the same God over all has His plan to redeem and save a sinful nation personally chosen to be His inheritance.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Since Israel is given by God to be an example to the Church to learn from, it becomes evident that not all Germans, or Americans, or Egyptians will be saved, even though each nation has its own place and destiny in God’s purposes.

 If we are unfaithful to God, God remains faithful to Himself:  He cannot deny Himself.  Jesus’ death and resurrection secure for God everything that He has promised, both for blessing and for cursing; both for life and for death; both for justification of those who believe and for condemnation of those who do not.  This is all in accord with His word that He will be merciful to whom He will be merciful (Ex 33:19).

The gospel, of which the apostle Paul in particular received by revelation, is of grace, not of law; is received by faith, not by works or by wisdom.  The Lord Jesus commissioned Paul to speak to gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  Chapters 9-11 of Romans are the Isaiah 53 of the New Testament.  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said that every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled by Him.  Until so, the whole counsel of God—the whole of the Bible—is living and relevant.  The redemption and salvation of Israel AS ISRAEL is necessary for the sanctity of God’s Name—YHVH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.

Israel has a special calling and destiny, which has not been fulfilled.  That Messiah came through her was not the whole of the covenant promises spoken and given her.  But to her belong the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service, and the promises; of whom are the fathers, and through whom is the Messiah, according to the flesh.  Paul also states plainly that they are not all Israel who are of Israel; neither because they are Abraham’s seed are they all children.  It is according to promise, not merely natural considerations.  By analogy, not all who are called Christian are in Christ, but only those who have faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and know that their sins are forgiven. 

God is sovereign; no one can successfully oppose Him.  There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against YHVH (Prov 21:30).  We must all come to Him on His terms.  He came to us in His love to save all who would believe on the name of His only begotten Son Jesus, because no sinner can abide in His presence.  Yet this is God’s covenantal promise to Israel:  everlasting possession of the Land of Canaan, and an everlasting remembrance of the name Israel in the eternal Kingdom.  All the promises of God are “yes and amen” in Christ Jesus (2Cor 1:20).  No weapon formed against Israel will succeed, and as long as God controls the regularity of the solar system and universe, Israel will remain a nation before Him, and His covenant with David will remain in force.

But the promises are received through faith, and obedience with faith and thanksgiving.  It is all of grace—of a loving Father to His beloved child, of a loving husband to His beloved wife.  Israel has not believed this, but rather made the fact of being chosen its basis of righteousness, and of relegating the gentiles, whom the one true God also loves, to lesser status.  For even orthodox religious Jews do not obey all the requirements of the Law, so they begin to lower the standard or to rationalize and make relative their righteousness.  Self-righteousness is one of the worst sins.  Paul claimed himself blameless as touching the Law, but being so he persecuted the church and blasphemed the Lord Jesus, and so referred to himself as the chief of sinners.  But God justifies those who believe and trust Him for their worthiness, their significance, their identity.

The present election by grace of Jewish believers, and the present day return of Jewish people back to part of the very same Land of Israel—as the LORD spoke and promised through the prophet Ezekiel—is an on-going demonstration of God’s unchanging purposes.  Just as counting the sheaves each day between Passover and Shavuot was an indication of faith in the reality of the harvest to come – and as Jesus’ 40 days after His resurrection demonstrated that He was really alive and strengthened the faith of His disciples and of others — so God’s fairly recent intervention in the restoration of Israel as a nation gathered in its own land is an indication of the sure fulfillment to come.  Israel’s restoration is a sign to the world just as was the ark which Noah built:  the holy and righteous God is preparing to judge the world in righteousness and to save the remnant of His people and of the nations.   Again, not all Israelis/Jews will believe, but all Israel—the full remnant of Jacob’s descendants who turn from ungodliness —will be saved.  Like the apostle Thomas, these will believe the full love of the truth only after they have seen Him whom they pierced, and their individual and national soul will be afflicted, and God will fully cleanse and heal them from all their sin.

God’s wisdom deals with the pride of men and of nations, with envy and ridicule, with sin, righteousness, and judgment.  The gentiles have been brought in to God’s covenant relationship through Israel’s temporary fall and blindness.  But the promises of God remain sure for the sake of the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The root and tree are the Messianic promises and hope—realized in Messiah Jesus—which quickened the fathers Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and which their descendants are still learning through much struggle.  The good news rests in the goodness and faithfulness of God, and of His righteous ways.  As it is written, both gentiles and Israel have been disobedient so that salvation is of mercy to both Jew and non-Jew.  Israel’s salvation is assured, and her special calling to be forever memorialized in the new Jerusalem.  No other nation has such a promise which extends beyond time.  But Israel’s salvation and resurrection from the dead AS A NATION assures the CHURCH of her hopes and destiny, and assures Egypt and Assyria, for example, of theirs.

To Israel double judgment for all her sins as the first-born amongst the nations.  To Israel double honor as a holy kingdom of priests unto YHVH.  The name of Jerusalem shall be, YHVH our Righteousness is there!  

May it come speedily in our day!

Hallelu-Yah!  Amen.

ACCORDING TO THE LAW AND THE TESTIMONY – Isaiah 8:20

(Israel Conference at Langensteinbacherhohe:  “The Redemption of Israel According to Ezekiel and Paul”, Jan 8-11, 2004)

Mt 5:17-19     Jesus came not to cancel or to break the Law and the Prophets, but rather to fulfill every jot and tittle of them
Ex 25:21-22     the Ark of the Testimony was set in the Holy of Holies; the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the Ark as a witness to the hope of redemption from the holy and righteous demands of the Law of Moses
Acts 24:14-15  Paul’s testimony about the hope of the fathers, as written in the Law and the Prophets, for the resurrection
Rom 8:18-25    the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection

The word redemption in English means to buy (purchase) back and restore what is rightfully mine but legally lost through forfeit (loss of privilege or honor through disqualification by breaking the rules or law).  The word ransom means the payment of a price for deliverance from some evil.  It could be a prisoner of war, a hostage, a slave, or one’s own life (Ex 21:29-30).  In the Bible, redemption requires two things:  the legally qualified person, and the willingness and ability of that person to pay the required price to buy back what was given up.  The year of Jubilee is all about redemption and restoration, both of people and of property.  A redeemed person or possession is restored to his or its intended purpose.  His dignity is regained.  And the honor given him is greater than before the loss.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us be clear from the beginning of these messages that the redemption of Israel is assured by the fact—by the truth—that Jesus Himself is her Redeemer.  Not only does He deliver prisoners, slaves, debtors, but by His very name, Yeshua is the Savior and Redeemer of sinners. If Israel could redeem herself from her bondages, then certainly the Holocaust would seem to be sufficient payment of her own sons and daughters.  But it clearly has not been so.  God wants the loss of intimate relationship with Him restored, so that Israel–and the rest of the world– can have rest and peace and joy.  Messiah Jesus is the uniquely qualified person who willingly paid the necessary price to buy back His own people and kinsmen according to the flesh, and the Land of Canaan, which YHVH, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, promised with an oath to give to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to their descendants forever.

Since Israel asked for a king like the heathen nations have, YHVH has not been Israel’s God in practice from their point of view.  Jesus came—and was also rejected for Caesar!—to restore God the Father’s Kingdom both to Israel and to the whole world, the gentiles already rejecting Him in Noah’s day, both before and after the Flood.   

Adam and Eve, through deceit and disobedience, lost the paradise and the authority that God provided and gave to them.  Both the people of Israel and the Land of Israel were forfeited by Israel through their breaking God’s covenant with them.  But Jesus was sent by God the Father to redeem His people, His land, even the whole of humanity and the whole Earth, even more—the whole universe of this creation, which has all been corrupted through sin and subjected to vanity, futility.  Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and the Savior of all, but especially for those who believe, for by faith we are saved through grace, not by law or through works or without condition.  Abiding in Jesus is the key to our faith and our love.  The Messianic/Christian faith is a relationship with the Father and the Son and with others who are born of God.

Jesus says that the whole of the Book is written about Him, and that He has come to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets. He says that Heaven and Earth will pass away, but not before God has fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Word of God with respect to this creation, which is set and limited by time and seasons.  So as we look at the subject of Israel’s redemption as presented by the priest/prophet Ezekiel and by the priest/apostle Paul, we do so as recognizing that all Scripture is inspired by the Spirit of God, and is given for our learning to make us wise unto salvation.  By them we can know not only God’s statutes, but also His ways regarding His people and the world at large.  This being so, then there will be essential agreement between Ezekiel and Paul, for the redemption is by YHVH God, who is the God of both Ezekiel and Paul.

Israel’s redemption—both of people and land—gives hope and significance to other nations.  God is interested in nations of people, a corporate collection of individual persons bound together by a language, law, customs, culture, boundaries.  He has given each a destiny, and within each of the families of the Earth, the Father is seeking those who will love Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Christians are expected to be stewards of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  The Church—the Body of Christ—was a mystery which God revealed especially to Paul to explain.  And Paul also says that Israel’s salvation is a mystery, which again the Holy Spirit explains through Paul.  But without knowing the truth of who Jesus really is, we can not understand either the Church–which is a new creation not of this world–or Israel, which is distinguished from the other nations.   

YHVH is a covenant-making and -keeping God.  God is love, and so His covenants are expressions of His love and holiness.  Just as the Lord requires a husband and wife to remain faithful to each other, even more so is He faithful to His people—even His Bride—through the covenant relationship He has with us.  He cannot deny Himself.  Jesus’ death on the cross because of our sin–and His subsequent resurrection to justify Him in man’s sight, and to justify in God’s sight all who believe that God raised Him up from among the dead—is the costly ransom which God paid to redeem us from the “legal” claims of the devil—a price which Satan tried to subvert.  God is debtor to no one, and is not out to appease His enemy.  The New Covenant assures us that God will keep all His previous commitments, and on the basis of that ‘filling full’ of all His purposes regarding the world He made, He will create a new heavens and a new earth, also in accord with what is already written in the Holy Scriptures.

Therefore Israel’s redemption is assured, even though only a remnant from each of the tribes will be saved to constitute “all Israel”—those of Jacob who repent from ungodliness so that they can receive God’s forgiveness of all their sins, transgressions, and iniquity.  No weapon formed against Israel will succeed, just as the gates of Sheol will not prevail against the Church.  It is not by Israel’s or our own righteousness, but by God’s mercy we are saved through faith in Jesus, the beloved Son of God.  The redemption of both Israel and of the Church is connected with preaching the gospel to all nations—to the Jews and to the gentiles.  Israel’s partial blindness to the good news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is remaining until the fullness of the gentiles is brought in.  Gentile (i.e., non-Jewish) Christians have a calling and a responsibility to provoke Israel to jealousy over your own personal relationship with Israel’s own God and Father, while at the same time showing mercy to the Jewish people.  (It is evident that classic anti-semitism has no place in the heart and mind of a true Christian).  And just as God saves individuals through the forgiveness of sin by their repentance unto faith, so too with nations.  The same YHVH God, who speaks to Israel through His prophets whom He sent to them, also speaks to nations, not just about them, through these same prophets.

The whole of God’s purpose in creation and redemption is to make known that He alone is YHVH, the only true God, and that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of the Father.  God wants us to want Him to honor His holy name in the sight of all—even as Moses did when the Lord suggested wiping out the rebellious people whom He brought out of Egypt.  We, too, must call upon God to save His people Israel, for the sake of His own Name and His Word, and to establish His Kingdom of Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit on Earth, as it is in Heaven.  For as Paul says, How then shall they call on 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 unless they are sent?  ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ (Rom 10:14-15; Is 52:7; Eph 6:15)

God is working from both sides – Jewish and gentile – to fulfill His redemptive history and purposes.  He has given us an active part in that, once we have been joined to the Lord through new birth, we become co-laborers with one another as we serve Him.  But, thank God, He will do it!  That is our and Israel’s security and hope.  YHVH has done it!  Jesus lived and died and rose from the dead and lives forevermore.  Nothing is too great for Him to do!

The Holocaust and the Salvation of Israel: “Be Reconciled to YHVH GOD”

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

Amen!