Looking For The Blessed Hope

(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 2017) 

I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible.  When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of:  forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!

I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981.  This was the blessed hope.  Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth.  But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture.  Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD.  I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride.  This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.

My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years.  According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope!  They simply were not living at the right time!  Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5)  In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul:  whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58)  Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven:  “Write:  ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’  Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13)  As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed!  For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body.  The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord.  Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it.  This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us.  As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)

An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as  ‘coming soon’).  Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming.  Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time.  Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood:  that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist.  This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel).  It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent.  But even then, maybe not:  remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11)  Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’.  The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out.  The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption.  But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)

The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b)  Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe.  God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both  Jews and Christians.  Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them.  God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him.   Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers:  we will not suffer the wrath of God.  This is good news!  And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom!  This is also good news!  (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)

Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:

Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.

Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.

Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.

Job 19:25-27  For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last;   (26)  and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God,  (27)  whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!

Heb 11:17-19  By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son,  (18)  of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called,  (19)  concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.

Jn 11:23-27  Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.  (24)  Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  (25)  Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live.  (26)  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?  (27)  She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.

Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?

1Co 15:16-20  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.  (17)  And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.  (18)  Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.  (19)  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  (20)  But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.

Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.

Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Keeping Faith in Yeshua in a Hostile Environment

(Adapted for AMZI conference and ministry tour in Germany and Switzerland, June 9-14, 2016)

1Co 1:23-25  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness.  (24)  But to them, the called-out ones, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (25)  Because the foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and the weak thing of God is stronger than men.

1Jn 2:22-25  Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He who denies the Father and the Son is antichrist.  (23)  Everyone who denies the Son neither has the Father. The one confessing the Son also has the Father.  (24)  Therefore what you heard from the beginning, let it abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you will abide in both the Son and in the Father.  (25)  And this is the promise that He has promised us: everlasting life.

1Jn 5:19  We know that we are of God, and all the world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Ps 2:1-3  Why do the nations rage, and the peoples conspire a vain thing?  (2)  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against Jehovah and against His anointed, saying,  (3)  Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us.

Rom 11:28-32  Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.  (29)  For the free gifts and calling of God are without repentance.  (30)  For as you also then disbelieved God, but now have been shown mercy through their disbelief,  (31)  even so these also have not believed now, so that through your mercy they may also obtain mercy.  (32)  For God has shut up all in unbelief, so that He might show mercy to all.

The subject we have is going to be tested to the limits as the last days of the end-times draw nearer to a close.  The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and therefore the things written in them are for us living now, as much as, if not more in some things, than for those who lived at the time they were written. (Rom 15:4; 1Cor 10:11)

The name of our congregation, Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance) is itself a testimony to our Israeli Jewish society of our faith in Jesus.  We intentionally decided to include Yeshua’s name in our name, rather than use a more general term, such as “The LORD’s Inheritance”.   It better helps define who we are, and to be more open about it in discussions or conversations with unbelievers who inquire.

That we are here today with our friends from Beit Jala is also the fruit of building a relationship with our Arab Palestinian brothers and sisters – again, as a testimony to our peoples that the truth of God, and of His righteousness and peace, is found only through repentance and faith in the gospel.  When we share with Israeli unbelievers – and even with other believers – why we go to Bethlehem every Christmas time, and to a church that does not support the return of the Jewish people back to the land promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to their descendants – in these last days – it is to testify to the truth of the gospel of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us on the cross, and of His resurrection and ascension, as being greater than the disagreements we have on some important subjects.  Israel is unique in that it is the only Middle Eastern country native to Jews and to Arabs, where believers in Jesus of each people can live and meet together.  This cannot happen in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, or Iraq.

As a congregation, all of our local members send their children to public schools, rather than to Christian schools (which are not in Beer Sheva anyway) or homeschool.  It is certainly a challenge, and a struggle, and a matter of great concern, given the level of education these days.  The primary responsibility for children’s “education” lies with the parents, so we constantly monitored what was being taught to our children in subjects which could be problematic. (Gen 18:17-19; Dt 6:4-9)  We would instruct our children in truths, if the school was instructing them in lies, such as evolution, or that all religions and faiths are equal, and nowadays in matters of “sexual identity”.  We also taught our children not to be afraid or ashamed or embarrassed that our family believes in Jesus, even – and especially – in our Jewish society which rejects and hates Him.  It is like sending out our lambs among wolves, but it helped them all to be able to be open about their faith in their classrooms, with their unbelieving friends, in the army, in college, and in their workplaces.

Evangelistically, we encourage everyone to be willing and ready to share their faith, and the gospel, with others, as the Lord gives opportunity.  We have had some major public evangelism campaigns in Beer Sheva, and they have all generated a strong, negative reaction.  Yet we continue to preach the Word of God, confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and baptize new believers, whether Jewish or other.  But as light and salt in the world, each of us must be prepared to tell others the truth about the Son of God the Father, even though most of our people are religiously opposed to the only God and Savior.   And our good works must be towards believers and unbelievers, for our Father is good and merciful to all.  We want them to be saved just as we were:  by the grace of God through repentance and faith in the gospel.

For me, Israel is a great place to follow the Lord.  For one thing, there is nothing better anyway.  And, it is a place where you must learn to trust Him and obey in faith.  There is no Christian culture to support those who are disciples of the Lord Messiah, either culturally or in truth.  There is no softening of the blows; believers themselves must learn to stand against all that attacks the true faith, and the true Jesus – who is neither “Yeshu” nor “Isa”.   We need to help and support other brothers and sisters in this spiritual warzone.  Reading the whole Bible as God’s Word is of great importance to grow in the faith, and in the knowledge and ways of God.  In the Scriptures God has told us His plan, and the reasons for it, just as YHVH told Abraham why He was going to judge and destroy Sodom.   Jesus tells us as His friends what the Father has revealed, and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.   

Military service is a necessary part of being an Israeli citizen, especially for the Jewish people.  As believers, this can cause a conflict:  on the one hand, we must obey the civil authorities, and military service is part of the life in Israel; and Israel is surrounded by sworn enemies who seek her destruction.  On the other hand, the Lord tells us that our warfare is not carnal, but spiritual, and that we are to love our enemies.  How, as believers, can we live in this tension, and be overcomers?  Each one has to hear from God, and act in faith with a clear conscience.  In either case, we will be needing to explain ourselves to others, whether to our Arab brothers and sisters, or to our Jewish people among whom we live.  What is important for believers in the military is to demonstrate a different spirit – a different motivation and attitude  —  in them than in those who do not know the Lord Jesus as their own Savior from their own sins, and from the sins of their people.  Soldiers in Messiah will need to show their faith by their works, whether by sacrificially helping others, not complaining about their commanders and officers, not stealing, not falling to the temptations of sex or of other sins, but taking a stand for the righteousness of God.

The Bible makes a difference between killing, as in war or police actions, and in murder.  This is very important to all of us, for conscience sake, and in matters of justice.  As citizens who benefit from the security and well-being of the society, the fact that most of the believers are willing to sacrifice themselves — sometimes with their lives, and in other ways, such as delaying studies and careers – with others who are obligated to serve the country, helps to break down a barrier against Jewish believers in Jesus, which is that we are no longer Jews or have that we have joined the persecutors.  Now, the military echelon has come to respect the believers, and to make them officers and put them in charge of important positions.  This makes the testimony of faith more credible to them, and gives more respect for “Christians”, for those who do believe.

In the society, when we are known and respected, then opportunities are given us:  taking in Christian refugees from Sudan; cooperating with a city soup kitchen; assisting Holocaust survivors; working with the government Tourism ministry; being entrusted with police and court procedures, such as translating for those whose Hebrew is insufficient.

We are in the world, but not of the world.  We are the salt of the Earth.  Let your light so shine, that by your good works they glorify your Father in Heaven. (Jn 17:16-17; Mt 5:11-16)

 

The Message Has Not Changed, Whatever the Method

(“Devotional” presented at the LCJE Int’l Conference in Jerusalem, August 2015)

Act 2:36-40  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God made this same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (37)  And hearing this, they were pierced in the heart, and said to Peter and to the other apostles, Men, brothers, what shall we do? (38)  Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39)  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all those afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call. (40)  And with many other words he earnestly testified and exhorted, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation.

Every time I read these words in the Bible, they always sound as if they are as true today as they were almost 2000 years ago. The apostle to the Jews, Peter, is speaking to his own people about the truth of who the Messiah is, and our responsibility for His crucifixion, all in accord with the plan of God which He spoke through Moses and the Prophets.  Peter was clear, without fear of man but of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit confirmed the words he spoke by convicting the multitude of Jewish people there of their sin of unbelief and of rebellion against their own God, Yehovah, and HIS Messiah.  Those who received it were baptized, and also received the gift of the Holy Spirit as promised, and they knew that their sins had been forgiven.  Then they began to be discipled in the doctrines of the apostles whom Yeshua had chosen to teach those who would believe in Him.  Praise God!

When I first believed, I objectively knew that Jesus is the Messiah – that GOD is the Messiah! – and that He is the Savior and Lord, the Son of God, who died and rose again. And God gave me His Spirit and I knew. What I did not comprehend yet was that I was a sinner like sinners!  And, by the grace of God, I began to read the Bible as the Word of God.  I came to some verse – can’t remember which one – and it stopped me.  It was saying something about sin that I had not believed or accepted before.  So I said, “Okay, Lord, You are right.  Just show me why!”  And in His own marvelous way, He showed me not only that He is right, but that there is wisdom in His being right.  I still didn’t think that I was a sinner!  I believed in Jesus, and in the Bible, but I was still justifying myself in my own estimation, compared with sinners.  The next day, walking down the street with my wife, talking about these new developments in our lives, the Holy Spirit said, “Jesus died for you, and because of you and your sins, and has brought you home to your Father in Heaven!”   THAT broke me, and I began to weep right there on Randi’s shoulder.  Jesus became my Savior and my Lord!  What a difference!  The truth of external facts became internally real.  We were baptized at the end of that week, and came to Israel seven months later.

I call that powerful experience of personal conviction of sin and of being a sinner my Zechariah 12 experience, where we read of each and every family and person in Israel, those still alive, when they see Jesus whom they pierced, having their personal and national Day of Atonements, when their soul is afflicted for all their unfaithfulness and sin against the one they have cursed and hated, but who is the only one who has truly loved them and saves them. This will break their spirit, and will work in them a broken and contrite heart.  If we know God, then reconciliation will become a necessary outgrowth of our lives with other believers, especially among those with whom we know there have been problems between us before knowing God’s mercies towards us to save us. Whether it is between Jew and Gentile, or whites and blacks, or Jews and Arabs, or between certain streams within the Body of Messiah, it becomes a necessity for the sake of the gospel to come together in humility for the name of the Lord Jesus’ sake.

The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age. The generations have come and gone, but the Word of God is still living and active and true.  The Holy Spirit inspired the writers not only for what was relevant for those living at the time, but in a special way for us living at the time of the end, when Jewish people are back in this land, and the return of the Lord draws nigh.  In the fear of the LORD, we dare not add to or take away from what is written:  God’s Word will be fulfilled, but we would find ourselves working against Him.  We will be guilty of replacement theology, just as our fathers were:  replacing the Word of God with our tradition and doctrines of men, or by our politics or personal narratives.  We need to be awake and not let anyone deceive us, whether man or angels or demons.

The message of evangelism came to the Jew first, and then to the Gentiles. God has not changed His powerful way to save the Jews, but left it unchanged for Gentiles!  His controversy is first with us His people, to whom He gave the covenants and the Law, and the service, etc.  This all started before the Gentiles became the majority in the Church, the Body of Christ.  Gentile Christians can examine and judge themselves as to how they, or their churches, have done in fulfilling their calling to provoke Israel to jealousy, and to show them mercy; but God is using all this to show His mercy to all who have been disobedient, to those who come to repentance and receive His forgiveness.  To the Jew first!

We often hear this expression used in evangelism: “Jesus is standing at the door and knocking; invite Jesus into your heart.”  I believe this is a misuse of Scripture.  First of all, when Jesus is saying that He is standing at the door and knocking to come in, He is talking to a church!:  to people who say that they are believers, even though they have put out the Lord from their gatherings, and don’t even realize it.  Secondly, Jesus will not come into an old heart.  The New Covenant promise is that God creates in us a new heart, and gives us a new Spirit.  He will live within that new heart.  This message is to the Jew first.  It is our own Scripture that tells us the necessity of being a new creation!  When has this changed?  By what authority has this been done?

The gospel cuts through every culture, and as the apostle Paul wrote, “I am crucified to the world; and the world is crucified to me!” Yeshua came into a Jewish culture as a Jew in the flesh, and a perfect Jew in the inner man.  We threw Him out of the vineyard, and He is outside every camp!  If the gospel were Jewish, then many more Jews would have accepted it then, and now.  The gospel and the cross cut to the thoughts and intentions of the heart of every man – of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.  To whom much is given more is required.  Israel is held to a higher standard, because God has given us a higher standard than of the rest of the nations.  We want to be like the Gentiles because it is easier to live according to our lusts and not to be called to holiness.  Christians are held to an even higher standard, because the Holy Spirit is given to all who truly repent and believe the good news of God. Before I believed, the gospel seemed like bad news, especially for me as a Jew!  You must be born-again to see and to enter the Kingdom of God!

The challenges of taking the message of the saving power of God to the Jewish people face the same arguments and opposition as they did when the Messianic movement began to develop in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The return of the Jewish people back to this very land of promise is today facing the same arguments and opposition as they did when it began, whether from Muslims, from Christians, or from the Jewish people.  There is nothing new under the sun, and if not for Yehovah God and His plan of redemption, all is vanity, and vanity of vanities.

The mission for the salvation of the Jewish people, and of their return to this land, has always been connected with the return of the Lord. The Holy God of Israel will take away ungodliness from Jacob in order to save all Israel.  If His return is not in our sights, it is like having a text without a context as we try to interpret and understand the Scriptures and current events today.  God is moving on in the 21st Cent., just as He has been doing for the last 60 centuries.  Let us be found faithful to persevere, to keep His word, and to not deny His name, as we continue to press onward in the power and love of God dwelling within us.

SUBMIT TO GOD, RESIST THE DEVIL, FOR THE KINGDOM IS THE LORD’S- 10 Nov 2012

(Delivered in essence at The Negev Conference in Beer Sheva)

Ja 4:4-8   Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever desires to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us yearns to jealousy?  But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.  Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded ones.

Mt 6:31-34   Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?  For the nations seek after all these things.  For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things.  Sufficient to the day is the evil of it.

The United States just had elections for its leaders, and in a couple more months, Israel will do the same.  Each citizen in each country can choose who it is that they prefer to rule over them.  Each citizen can choose whom they prefer to serve.  At the end of the day, though, everyone – leaders and ruled alike – must choose if they will serve the Devil, the prince of this world (Jn 12:31) – or if they will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of this world, the Judge of this world, the Redeemer of this world, and King of kings and Lord of lords throughout the universe which He created and made – both in this world, and in the world to come. 

 Are we, who say we believe in Jesus (by the grace and mercies of God to forgive our sins),  actively submitting to God and resisting the devil, who hates YEHOVAH (who alone is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and us?  Are we seeking first GOD’s kingdom and HIS righteousness; or are we content with a ‘righteousness’ of the world or of our own, but which is nothing more than filthy rags to YHVH God? (Is 64:6 Eng)

Do we love our Lord above all else, above anyone else?  Are we confident of God’s love for us?  A ‘Yes’ answer to both of these questions is the key to our victory of the faith in our life.

Satan is running around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us, and, if possible, to deceive the elect. (1Pt 5:8; Mt 24:24)

The Holy Spirit is working to honor and to exalt the Name of God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (Jn 16:14-15)  The devil is doing all he can to dishonor the holy name of the Son of God, the King of Israel.  He started in the Garden of Eden, and succeeded to get Adam and Eve to submit to him and to do his will, not God’s.

Today, both the Holy Spirit and the enemy of God are still working in the hearts and minds of each human being, and the question of eternal destiny is, Who will we listen to and obey?

Just as the devil tempted our Lord and Savior in the desert when Yeshua was hungry and weak in His body, so now does Satan come at us when we are weak, and when we think we are strong.  

    –The devil tempts us with instant gratification, whether of appetite or of some sinful momentary pleasure.  Just as Esau gave up his birthright simply to eat some soup now, so can we lose much by giving in to carnal desire out of unbelief.  And, surely, he cunningly implies, we can give food to all who are hungry in the world, as any son of a loving God would do.

    –The devil tempts us to exercise our spiritual gifts and power to ‘prove’ we are children of God.  And, of course, we can change the world through hidden agendas or force to submit to God, when in fact, it is serving the enemy of the one true God.

    –The devil tempts us with wealth, possessions, and the power and fame it brings, if we will only serve under his authority in a desolate world under sin and judgment.  The Lord Jesus Christ has taught us that we can gain the whole world. . . but lose our souls. (Mt 16:26)

The apostle John writes (1Jn 2:15-17), Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.

There is a battle for the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life. (Tit 1:1-2; Rom 2:7)  The Word of God, which we have written to us in the Bible, is truth; Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Word of the Father made flesh. (Jn 17:17; 14:6; 1:14; Rev 19:11-16)  The truth sets us free, and when we live in the Spirit of Truth we are sanctified – drawn near to God and conformed more to His image.  This sanctification in the presence of the holy and everlasting God is an antidote to pride – the sin of the devil – for thinking that we know anything too well, or thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to. (1Cor 8:1-3; 2Cor 10:3-6; Rom 12:3)

The righteous lives according to what he believes.  The Word of God tells us not to be hearers of the word only, but doers.  Our works of the faith justify our faith in the sight of men.  If we say that we believe in something, or in Someone, but do not live in a manner consistent with our profession, then we are not ‘righteous’, but are judged as being insincere or hypocrites.  This certainly makes the adversary and deceiver glad, especially when Jews and Christians – the peoples upon whom God has put His name (Num 6:23-27; Mt 28:19; Jn 17: 6-12; Acts 11:26) – dishonor the name of YEHOVAH and of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah in this way.  It is leaven in our lives, rather than the righteousness of God, which is what we are to be seeking in our life.  We will find God’s righteousness to be wisdom when we submit to God as a living sacrifice with our whole heart, and stop giving place to the devil to lie to us and deceive us.  Jesus overcame by submitting to God His Father’s will:  the way of the cross as a true Son of God in this world.  The apostle Paul wrote that when our obedience is fulfilled, then all disobedience will be punished. (2Cor 10:6)

We began by reading from James 4:4-8.  The metaphor here (from which is taken the conference theme to “submit to God. . . .”) is faithfulness in covenant relationship.  Jesus was faithful in all things to His Father’s Name, to honor Him in all His character and will and purposeAdultery is betrayal of faithfulness, of trust, in the most holy and personal relationship between a man and a woman, especially in the covenant relationship of marriage

The Holy Spirit tells us through the Scriptures that the husband-wife relationship and union is a picture of Messiah/Christ and the Church/Body of Christ. (Eph 5:25-33)

Yeshua has testified that His Kingdom is not of this world – not of this world system which is opposed to Him and the Kingdom of Heaven.  Believers in Jesus are in a new blood-covenant relationship with Messiah and all that He is, all that His Name represents and symbolizes.  That is why we pray in His name, saying ‘Amen’ to what is in accord withthe will of God based on the death and resurrection of the Lord.  He has purchased us with a price, even the blood of the cross.  Whenever we take the Lord’s Supper, it should sober us regarding our faithfulness to the God and Man who has so loved us:  are we submitting to God, and resisting the devil?  It is for each one to examine and judge himself.

We are engaged to Christ for marriage.  If the world hates Him, as Yeshua says it does (Jn 15:18-25), then we can not be friends with the world, but rather cling to our Husband-to-be in devotion to Him for His honor.  The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 always desired the honor of her husband.

Yeshua says that whoever is ashamed of Him and His word in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man will also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mk 8:38)  This should put the fear of God in us!  If we really love the Lord as we profess, then we want His joy to be full in us, and ours in Him; that when we see Him there is nothing to fear in judgment because we have loved Him who first loved us. (1Jn 4:17-19)

Jesus speaks of our faithfulness to Him and to His word.  (Jn 14:23-24; Rev 3:10)  How many times do we say ourselves, or hear other believers say, “I believe in Jesus but I don’t think He really means this [. . .] for us, certainly not for today.”?

Lots of people who say they are Believers are sleeping with others without being married.  There are more and more divorces within the Body of Christ, even in Israel, for all sorts of reasons besides the only one which Yeshua gives.  More believers are accepting homosexuality as a choice to be made, or as a ‘choice’ made for them.  For all these things, the devil is lying to you in deceitful ways that weakens the truth and authority of what God has really said! (Gen 3:1)

If we find ourselves doing any of these things, then we need to submit to God and repent, and turn away from doing the devil’s will.  If we find ourselves being tempted to doing or approving of these things, again we need to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us – especially when he sees that we are serious in our commitment to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in our life.  God is for us, with us, and the Holy Spirit within us helps us to be obedient to what is good and right in the sight of God.  The power of the blood of Jesus to strengthen us to love Him above anything or anyone else will overcome the dark powers of Satan, the world, and our own flesh.

The demonic spirits fled from Paul because they knew him as one who served God with his whole heart, mind, being. (Acts 19:15)  When we put God’s kingdom first, we will know His joy and pleasure in a way of the love of a Bridegroom for His Bride-to-be!  Our moral authority as a kingdom of priests is based upon our obedience with faith and thanksgiving to the Lord.  We are engaged in a spiritual war concerning the one true God and His Word, which abides forever.  We are to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2Cor 10:5)

The day of the Lord’s coming again is nearer today than yesterday.  In His longsuffering and mercy, He desires more people to repent and be saved before He must carry out His righteous judgments. (2Pt 3:9-15)  God wants to wake up the Church, and the Jewish people, to turn back to Jesus with genuine repentance and even tears, loving the truth of His death, His resurrection, and His coming again to reign and rule. (Zech 12:10-14; Rom 13:11-13; Rev 3:14-22)

“Turn to [Jesus], all the Earth, and be saved; for He is God, and there is no other!” (Is 45:22)

Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph 6:10-13)

Let us fight the good fight of faith until the end to show that we love God for the everlasting love He has shown us.

King’s and Queen’s Seats: Way of Gentiles

(Delivered in Lusaka, Zambia, in Sept, 2012)

Mat 6:19-34 Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.  But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  The light of the body is the eye. Therefore if your eye is sound, your whole body shall be full of light.  But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  (There is a difference between having “an evil eye” and having “the evil eye”:  Having an ‘evil/bad eye’ עין רעה is to have a stingy, greedy, self-centered attitude, blind to the needs of those around you; Having ‘the evil eye’ עין הרע is a superstition that a person can cast a spell through an envious gaze.  Having “a good eye” is to look out for the needs of others and being generous in giving to the poor.)

No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are?  Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?  For the Gentiles seek after all these things.  For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.   Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things. Sufficient to the day is the evil of it.

Lk 22:24-32   And there was also a dispute among them as to which of them seems to be greater.  And He said to them, The kings of the nations exercise lordship over them. And they who exercise authority on them are called benefactors. But you shall not be so: but the greater among you, let him be as the lesser, and he who governs, as one who serves.  For which is the greater; he who reclines, or he who serves?  Is it not he who reclines?  But I am among you as He who serves.  You are those who have continued with Me in My trials.  And I appoint a kingdom to you, as My Father has appointed to Me,  that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.

Jn 21:15-19   Then when they broke fast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?  He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.  He said to him, Feed My lambs.  He said to him the second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?  He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.  He said to him, Feed My sheep.  He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?  Peter was grieved because He said to him a third time, Do you love Me?  And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.  Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep.  Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you wished.  But when you grow old, you shall stretch forth your hands and another shall gird you and carry you where  you do not wish.  He spoke this signifying by what death he should glorify God.  And when He had spoken this, He said to him, Follow Me.

Ps 82   A Psalm of Asaph. God stands in the congregation of the mighty; in the midst of the gods He judges. How long will you judge unjustly and lift up the faces of the wicked?  Selah.  Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; save them out of the hand of the wicked.  They neither know nor will understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.  I have said, You are gods; and all of you sons of the Most High.  But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit in all nations.

Who is Jesus?
–the Messiah:  anointed King, Prophet, High Priest
–King of the Jews/Israel at His birth and His death, and when He comes again to judge and rule
the Prophet like unto Moses, but greater
–our great High Priest who gave Himself a sacrifice, and now is seated at the right hand of  God, interceding for us
–the High Priest in Israel dressed simply before God, gloriously when serving the people
–Yeshua/Jesus was clothed in majesty with God, but simply when He came to serve  among us       (Jn 13:1-17)

Whose Temple was the one in Jerusalem?
Jn 2:20   Herod’s?
Mt 21:12-13   And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sold doves.  And He said to them, It is written, “My house shall be called the house of prayer”; but you have made it a den of thieves. (2Pt 2:1-3 the prosperity ‘gospel’)

What is a “King’s and Queen’s seat/throne”?
–In Hebrew the word for both is kis-seh כסא .
–A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary, especially the seat occupied by a sovereign on state occasions; or the seat occupied by a pope or bishop on ceremonial occasions.  ‘Throne’ in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, e.g., the Great White Throne
–In ancient Greek, a ‘thronos’ was a specific but ordinary type of chair with a footstool, a high status object but not necessarily with any connotations of power, e.g., the chair and footstool in Parliament House.       –Jesus sits on the Throne at the right hand of Power, and the Earth is His footstool.  (Big feet for us to sit at!) Mt 5:34-35
–The word ‘throne’ in English translations of the Bible describes Pharaoh as sitting on a throne, but mostly the term refers to the throne of the Kingdom of Israel, often described as the Throne of David, or of Solomon.  The king of Persia sat on a throne in the Scroll of Esther.

The God of Israel is frequently described as sitting on a throne in the Psalms, in Isaiah 6, and in Is 66. YHVH says of Himself that “The heavens are My Throne, and the Earth is My footstool.”
–In the New Testament, the angel Gabriel also refers to this Throne. Luke 1:32-33.
–Jesus promised His Apostles that they would sit upon twelve thrones. Mt 19:28
–John writes what he was given to see:  “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the Earth and the Heavens fled away.” Rev 20:11
–Bishops of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and other churches where episcopal offices exist, have been formally seated on a throne, called a cathedra (Gr. seat).  The seat or throne symbolizes the bishop’s authority to teach the faith and to govern his flock.

We who teach and lead the flock have a calling, a gifting, an appointment from God, the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the congregation.

Jesus had no place to lay His head: no home of His own

What did Jesus come to do?:  to serve, not to be served

Pastors are under-shepherds; Jesus is the Good and Chief Shepherd: we are under His authority

Thrones are for kings and gods, not for servants of the God Most High, Judge of all, who have been taught by the Apostle Peter and the Holy Spirit to lead by example. 1Pt 5:1-4

ISRAEL 2015: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE MESSIANIC BODY

(Shared at opening of new TOS church center in Tubingen, Germany, Sept 9, 2011)

It is difficult to know what will be tomorrow, so I will speak of what I believe to be God’s purpose as we look ahead to what will be four years from now within the Messianic Body in Israel.

1.  God, as a Father, is regathering His scattered children – both geographically and also spiritually.  He is bringing His dysfunctional family into order.  Jewish people are called Children of Israel; Israel is the first-born of nations; Abraham is the father of many nations, and of all who believe; we who believe in Yeshua are children of God through redemption, and Yeshua/Jesus is the first-born of many brothers and sisters. (Eph 3:14-15)  The Holy Spirit will be carrying this out through to the last trumpet.

2.  The Holy Spirit is fulfilling the Word of God, and will continue to do so through to the end, with 2015 falling somewhere in between.  This is extremely important to let sink well into our hearts and  minds.  We may have our own thoughts and ideas, but the Holy Spirit has completely the mind of God and of Christ/Messiah.  We know only in part, and that part as through a cloudy glass.

3.  The Holy Spirit will be working in the Messianic Body in Israel – and everywhere else, too, in the world – to bring not only more persons to repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, but also to bring the believers to full maturity – to the fullness of the reality of the one new man in Messiah, the image and likeness of the Son of God(Eph 4:11-16; Col 1:19-23; Gal 6:14-15; Eph 2:14-16)  We are a new creation, and are being sanctified and purified.

4.  God is not going back to the first century, but finishing what He has begun:  bringing to full maturity; bringing in the full harvest at the end of the age; preparing the Bride for the Lamb; preparing us to endure the sufferings and the shame of the cross; answering the prayer of Yeshua for full union and love within those who are hid with Messiah in God (Phlp 1:6; Col 1:28; Mt 13:39; Rev 19:6-9; 1Cor 1:23-25; Heb 13:13; Jn 17:20-26; Is 41:17-20; Col 3:3-4)  Our boast is to be in the cross of our Lord and Savior, not buying into the world’s ambitions.

5.  The Holy Spirit is preparing the believers and the people of Israel for the hope of the coming of Yeshua.
    –Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
    –Blessed is He who comes in the name of YEHOVAH!
       — Gentiles still treading down Jerusalem so that the Jews’ heart-cry and hope is only in Him who comes in the  name of YEHOVAH/Yeshua/Jesus to save them (Mt 23:37-39; Lk 21:24; Ps 137:4-6; Acts 4:10-12)
    — The whole creation is groaning for this:  are we groaning?!
    –God’s peace plan is the shed blood of His Son on the cross.

6.  Unity through tribulation, a purifying baptism of fire from the Lord (Acts 14:22; Phlp 3:8-15; Rev 3:18-22)
   –Troubles bring us together.
   –Endure to the end and overcome by faith.
   –The word for the ‘narrow’ road and  for ‘trouble/tribulation’ is the same in Hebrew:  tzara.  The Holy Spirit will bring us all into that narrow road that leads to life, and cause us to love one another through this unity of purpose.

SALVATION OF ISRAEL AND GREAT HARVEST OF GENTILES

(Korean Israel Conference, “The Kingdom of God”, October 6, 2010, in Seoul)

There is hope for the nations:  Jesus Christ is coming again!  This has been my hope ever since being saved, and over the years it has not only not diminished, it has intensified.  Praise God!

Acts 1:6-8   Therefore, when they had come together, [the apostles] asked [Jesus], saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?’  And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth.’  [The Triune God is fully involved in the Great Commission.]

Rom 11:25-29   For I do not desire, [Gentile] brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  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.’    [This full restoration of the full remnant from all the tribes that will be the ‘all Israel’ during the Millennial Kingdom of Messiah will be the reality of the Israel of God, a holy people for Himself as first-born among the nations chosen to glorify Him and to be a blessing to others. (Zech 12:10; Gal 6:16)]

There is a move of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Messiah to make the believers ready for the coming of the Lord.  The Bride is making herself ready, sanctifying and purifying herself, even as the Holy Spirit is sanctifying and purifying us by the Word of God in action.  We see in the New Testament that at the time of Jesus, there were movements of false messiahs whom some of the Israeli people accepted, because it was the time of the true Messiah to come.  So now, in these last days, there are increasing numbers of false messiahs/christs appearing and being proclaimed (Acts 5:36-37), as the devil tries to deceive even more people, and, if possible, even the elect. (Mt 24:4-5; Jn 5:43; 1Jn 2:18-19)

Do we really know and believe that the same Lord Jesus Christ who ascended to Heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, is going to return according to His promise, at a set time?!  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6)  ‘Hold fast what you have till I come.  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels – as I also have received from My Father. (Rev 2:25-27; Ps 2:7-9)  God is saving individuals from out of Israel and out from every nation now – as a royal priesthood and as a Bride for the Lamb – before He saves the full remnant of Israel as a nation, which gives hope also to other nations, including Korea, Ukraine, Zambia, Congo, Australia.  The devil seeks to discourage believers from thinking this will ever get done. (2Pt 3:1-5a)

A Remnant Will Be Saved
When Paul says in Romans 11 that “all Israel” will be saved, neither he nor the Spirit of God is saying that every Jew or every Israeli will be saved.  This is clear throughout all of the Bible that many Israelis and Jews have died in rebellion against the Lord, and Daniel speaks of the resurrection of shame and everlasting contempt for those not “written in the book”. (Dan 12:1-3)

YHVH speaks through the prophet Isaiah (1:9) that unless He “had left to us a very small remnant, would we have become like Sodom and Gomorrah”.

In the New Testament, we find also that Paul is quoting from Isaiah in Rom 9:27,29, when he writes that “though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved”. (Is 10:20,22)

It is important to remember that not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6).  Neither is all the Church the Church:  there are tares with the wheat (Mt 13:30)And there are sheep nations and goat nations (Mt 25:32-34,41; Joel 3:1-2 (4:1-2 Heb)).  The sheep nations will enter the Millennial Kingdom with all Israel that is saved.  But again, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection!”  God is dealing with both individuals and with nations.  The ways of the LORD are just, and He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Beer Sheva has a very significant history in the Bible.  First of all, Beer Sheva received its name from Abraham, and then confirmed by Isaac.  Jacob also lived there.  Hagar and Ishmael lived there, and YHVH God blessed them there, and gave them a hope in Him.  And there is more; but one thing which occurred in Beer Sheva has had negative repercussions until today.  In 1Sam 8, we read how the prophet and priest, Samuel, had two sons who were judges in Beer Sheva.  But they were corrupt in their character and in their duties.  The Israeli people at that time asked Samuel to give them a king like the Gentiles have!  YHVH, God of Israel, told Samuel that the people were not rejecting Samuel, but Him from being their King and Judge.  From that time, Israel as a nation has not accepted YHVH, who chose them for His own special people, to be either their King or God.  They have preferred to be like the Gentiles, the heathen; but praise the Lord, He will not let them be so completely! (Ezek 20:32)  When Jesus the Messiah came, He came to restore the Kingdom of God back to Israel – into their hearts — and to establish His kingdom over the other nations as well.  We learn from the New Testament, that the Jewish people (of whom I am also) did not want ‘this Man’ to rule over us. (Lk 19:14; Jn 19:15)  When Joshua told the people that he and his household would serve YHVH, the people said they would too.  But Joshua told them that they could not, because YHVH is a holy and jealous God, and the people still had their idols!

So until Jesus returns to forever establish God’s Kingdom over Israel and the nations, the Great Commission to take the gospel to all peoples and nations to make disciples of Jesus – to have the Kingdom of God in their hearts  — who already has all authority in Heaven and on Earth, remains in force.  This is the power which the Holy Spirit gives us, to be witnesses to Jesus (Acts 1:8; Rom 1:16); and God is so determined to save as many as possible, He has not left it to us – the Church – to finish the work (which we apparently cannot do), but He will also send out His angels to proclaim the everlasting gospel to all who dwell on the Earth before He pours out His wrath upon His enemies and those of His people. (Rev 14:6-7)

I want our confidence to be in the Word of God – in the Scriptures – and not in the wisdom of man, including my own, whatever I may have.  We will look at some passages from different books in the Bible which speak of Israel’s salvation and of the Gentile nations coming under the rule of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel.  It is your responsibility, if you have any uncertainties, to search the Scriptures yourselves to see if what I am saying – or how I am putting passages together – is true or not.

One of the main things that we want to pay attention to is that these things have not yet happened.  The Lord Jesus Christ has told us that He did not come to annul the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.  Heaven and Earth will not pass away until all is fulfilled, during the Millennial Kingdom! (Mt 5:17-18)

Is 11:1-13   the Son of David (the netzer) who will be Judge and King (Is 33:22) in Israel and over the nations; peace amongst the animals and between animals and humans; no more war as the Earth will be full of the knowledge of YHVH; Israel will have peace and become the head (first-born) nation under Messiah’s rule

Ezek 47:21-23   division of the inheritance in the land to the tribes, including non-Israelis (Gentiles) having an inheritance with the children of Israel

Zech 14:16-20   All nations will come up to worship YHVH in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles during the Millennial Kingdom, with punishment from Him for those who do not do so.  Even the most simple and ordinary things will be holiness to YHVH!

Rev 7   the sealing of the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel, plus an innumerable multitude from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues who have all come out of the great tribulation, who will be in God’s presence and serve the Lamb forever

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!

THE DESTINY OF NATIONS AND THE GOSPEL TO WHOMSOEVER

(Delivered at “The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder” conference in Canberra, Australia, July 23, 2010)

Acts 17:30-31   Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising [Jesus] from among the dead.

Some basic assumptions:

  –Jesus Christ is Lord/YHVH!
  –The whole of the Bible is the Word of GOD, and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  –The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age (end of the last days). 1Cor 10:11, Rom 15:4
  –Messiah came to fulfill all that is written in the O.T., not to annul them.  We are not to add to them nor take away  from them.  Mt 5:17-19
  –Each of us is responsible for searching the Scriptures if we are unsure about anything taught.  Acts 17:11
  –The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again!  Rev 22:7,12,20 

The prophets of Israel – or, better, the prophets of YHVH in Israel – spoke the Word of YHVH not only to the Israeli/Jewish people, but also to the nations round about the Land and People of Israel.  God chose Israel to be His first-born [nation], His son. (Ex 4:22-23a), but there were other nations already in existence before Israel:  Babylon, Egypt, Amalek (Gen 10:11; Num 24:20).  (Jesus is also the first-born, although He was not the first person who was born:  God has declared Him to be the first-born. Ps 2:7-8; 89:27; Rom 8:29; Col 1:15-18)

Christians from the nations that write off Israel – or ignore the many ways that God has given her as an example to the Church – write off their own people and nations (if it were possible), or at least misdirect them.

Rom 8:29   For whom [God] did foreknow He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  All IN Messiah are firstborn with Him.

Heb 12:22-23   But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn registered in Heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect

Heb 11:39-40   And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

1Cor 4:8,14   You are already full!  You are already rich!  You have reigned as kings without us – and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! . . .I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.

Before there was Israel, there were ‘only’ Gentiles, and we know some of them believed in YHVH God, even if they did not know Him by that name. (Ex 6:3)  For some examples, there are Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Amongst nations which God says that He will destroy, there are still individuals that the Bible mentions that we know He has shown mercy to and given them a place in His kingdom:  Rahab, the Canaanite; Uriah, the Hittite; Nebuchadnezer, the Babylonian.  Some nations about which it is written that they will come against Israel, for example Syria, but Elisha the prophet healed Naaman the leper (2Kg 5); Lebanon, and YHVH sent Elijah to the widow in Zarephat to give her hope in the one true God (1Kg 17:8-24);  Cush (Ethiopia/Sudan), yet we have the Ethiopian eunuch who was saved by the God of  Israel in the New Testament, plus the Ethiopian, Eved-Melech, who saved the prophet Jeremiah out of the pit (Jer 38:10; 39:15-18; Acts 8:26-39).  Of course, YHVH God blessed the father and mother of the Arab peoples – Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael – with a future and a hope, and many Arabs are also believers in Jesus, even though their nations are against God’s covenant with the Jewish/Israeli people. (Gen 17:20; Ps 83:6)

The classic beginning of God making  sovereign choices between nations is between Ishmael and Isaac (Gen 16:12; 17:19-20) and between Jacob and Esau, even while they were still in the womb of their common mother, Rebecca. (Gen 25:23)  There is a destiny of two nations given here which remains until the end, but for individuals within those nations, there is good news for whosover will hear, repent, and believe it for salvation.  Let us remember:  the Lord Jesus has said, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years”. (Rev 20:6)

Rom 11:25-27   All Israel shall be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

GOD IS PRESENTLY AT WORK THROUGH THE GREAT COMMISSION TO PUT A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT INTO INDIVIDUAL PERSONS – WHOSOEVERFROM ALL NATIONS, TRIBES, PEOPLES, AND TONGUES, RULING IN THEIR HEARTS THROUGH THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST CRUCIFIED, AND RISEN FROM THE DEAD. (Rev 5:8-10 for born-again individuals) 

THE TRUTH THAT YHVH GOD IS KEEPING HIS COVENANT PROMISES TO SAVE A REMNANT PEOPLE/NATION ISRAEL, WHOM HE HAS CHOSEN UNIQUELY FROM ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH (Am 3:1-3), GIVES SIGNIFICANCE AND HOPE TO ALL OTHER NATIONS.  Having a firstborn implies having others who will have been born (Rev 7:9-15 for sheep nations (?) Mt 25:31-46), coming out of the great tribulation. . . .

Is 19:23-25   Egypt, My people; Syria, the work of My hands; Israel, My inheritance

**The prophets of YHVH spoke about and to the nations round-about Israel:   

Jer 46:1   The Word of YHVH which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations (Paul is the apostle to/for the nations.):
   —46:25-26   Egypt, but with a hope
   —46:27-28   Jacob
   —47:1   against the Philistines in Gaza
   —48:1,47   against Moab (middle Jordan), with hope
   —49:1   against Ammon (northern Jordan)
   —49:7   against Edom (southern Jordan and part of the Negev)
   —49:34, 38-39   against Elam (part of present-day Iran and Iraq), but with a hope
   —50 – 51   against Babylon

Ezek 35; Obadiah   against Edom

Joel 3:1-2,12; Zech 12:2-9   All nations/ all surrounding nations YHVH will bring against Jerusalem, and He will judge them

Jonah   against Nineveh; Jonah was the first missionary, sent by YHVH, to Gentiles, who were also Israel’s enemies.  They repented at the word preached by Jonah, and he is the sign which Jesus gave the Jewish people, and in the synagogues every Day of Atonements, Jonah is read! (Mt 16:4)

**Where are we now in God’s plan to have His King on His holy hill of Zion?

The Holy Spirit is bringing to pass ALL that is written in the Law and the Prophets.  Not one word will fail!  The realization, the full-fillment of all this will be during the Millennial Kingdom.  For Israel the first-born, and so for all the other nations who will become God’s children.

Mt 10:34-36; Mic 7:6   Do not think that I (Jesus) came to bring peace on Earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a swordFor I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’, and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

1Pt 1:3-5,13-15   living hope for believers until the revelation of Jesus Christ:  ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’

Mt 28:18-20   the Great Commission is until the end of the age

Wherever we are, whatever we are. . .in the marketplace of the world (to use a current term), our message today is the same as that of the prophets and of the apostles:  repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!  God has not changed His ‘script’, and has already seen the end from the beginning.

God’s love and grace and mercies are all around in His longsuffering, but His righteousness will be revealed at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we all seek to identify with, and be a blessing to our nations, let us be careful not to be as Israel still is: an enemy of the good news. (Mt 2:4-6; Lk 19:45-48; Acts 5:34-40)

YESHUA ESTABLISHING HIS THRONE OVER ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS

(Kingdom of God conference, Canberra, Australia:  “The Government Shall Be On His Shoulder”, July, 2010)

Rom 3:29-30  YHVH God is the God of both Jews and Gentiles
Acts 1:6-7   God has His own appointed times to fulfill His covenantal promises

Mt 28:18-19   ALL authority has been given to Yeshua by God the Father, in Heaven and on Earth.
Eph 20-22   Jesus is currently sitting at the right-hand of the Father, interceding for us; the church (not the world at this time) is His body and the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  Jesus is far above the  creation He made.

1Sam 8   Israel, from Beer Sheva, asked for a king like the Gentiles have, rejecting YHVH God as their King.  (God gave them who/what they asked for in Shaul/Saul, whose Hebrew name means ‘asked for’.)
Mt 2:2; 27:37-42   Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and was already King of the Jews at His birth (and in His death on the cross).  Jesus came to restore the Kingdom of God to Israel.
Lk 19:14   “But His citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after Him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’”

Zechariah (520 BCE)
1:1-6   repent and believe the Word of YHVH; brings self-judgment of God’s righteousness

2:12-17 [8-13
Eng]   God’s judgment against nations who have plundered Israel will be evidence that 
YHVH of Hosts has sent YHVH of Hosts!; many gentiles will be joined to Him in that day; He will inherit Judah and Jerusalem, and come out from His holy dwelling. **The expression “in that day” is always in reference either to the Day of the LORD/YHVH or to the Millennial Kingdom.

3:1(Num 25:10-13)   Joshua the High Priest is a descendant of Phineas, with whom God covenanted an everlasting priesthood.
3:3(Jude 23)   Even the High Priest was clothed in filthy garments, whose iniquity needed to be purged and removed before pure garments could be placed upon him.
3:8-10   Joshua and his friends are a “sign of things to come”; YHVH says He will bring His servant, the Branch/Plant (tzemach), who will bring cleansing to the land in one day and bring peace and security under the vine and fig tree in that day.

4:1-3   lampstand:  seven lights, seven channels two olive trees
4:10(Rev 4:5; 5:6)   the eyes of YHVH which range throughout the Earth
4:11-14(Rev 11:4)   the two servants (witnesses) of the Lord of all the Earth

5:1-4(Jn 10:8; 1Cor 12:3; 16:22)   The Law (both tablets) will condemn all who oppose YHVH, and will root out lawlessness.     The Law both restrains and exposes sin and rebellion.
5:5-11(Rev 17:17-18; 2Thes 2:6-8)   lawlessness restrained until released and manifested in God’s time

6:1-5(ctr. Rev 2:1)   four chariots (four winds of heaven) of God’s judgment throughout the Earth
6:11-13(Jn 2:18-22; Gen 14:18; Ps 110:4; Ezek ch. 40 – ch. 44)    Yeshua (Ezra 2:2) the High Priest fulfills the covenant promise to Phineas and the sons of Zadok;  Jesus, the Man-Branch, is the fulfillment of the anointed Priest-King on the Throne of God, transcending both Aaron and David.

7:12(2Pt 1:21 – 2:3)   Israel would not heed the prophetic word of God and fell into apostasy, just as in the last days in which we live

8:19   fast days turned into occasions of joy and gladness after Messiah comes:  for us now; for Israel in the Millennial Kingdom.   (Messiah HAS already come, and has brought in a new reality for believers!)
8:20-23   Many nations, with the Jews, will seek YHVH in Jerusalem because He will be there!  Millennial blessings upon Jerusalem and her inhabitants

10:6-9   redemption and ingathering of the whole house of Israel

11:15-17   contemporary warning against apostasy with the false prophet of the future

12:3,4,6,8,9   on that dayArmageddon and salvation; YHVH is the God of Israel who strengthens His people
12:7   YHVH will save the dwelling of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be greater than that of Judah:  equality in the Father’s house; no place for pride of election
12:10-12 (Jn 19:37; Rom 11:26-27; Rev 1:7)   Israel looks upon YHVH whom they pierced, and will afflict their souls:  Israel’s national Day of Atonements; the full remnant of Israel (‘all Israel’) will be saved.

Ch. 13   encouragement of future repentance of Israel and their purification:  millennial kingdom will be established upon the blood of atonement, the finished and accepted sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua for Israel’s sin, both personal and as a people, as a nation

14:2-3   all nations to come against Jerusalem, and YHVH will fight them
14:5(Jude 14)   the Lord and all His holy ones will come to battle
14:6-7(Mt 24:36,42)   a unique day known only to YHVH
14:8(Ezek 47:9)   living waters flowing out from Jerusalem
14:9   YHVH will be King over the whole Earth; YHVH will be one and His Name one.
14:12   plague to destroy all those nations who fought against Jerusalem
14:16-19   All surviving nations must come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, YHVH of Hosts, to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  Any nation not doing so will be punished by YHVH.
14:20-21(Jn 2:16)   EVERYTHING will be HOLY TO YHVH in Jerusalem, in the land, in the House of YHVH of Hosts!

The sovereignty of God and the free will of Man will converge at YHVH God’s appointed time (for His will shall be done!) to bring these things to pass:  the revelation of Jesus Christ – no-one can know the day or the hour; no-one can change the set time which the Father has decreed.

–The Lord Jesus remains at the right-hand of God until:
Ezek 36:37   Thus says the Lord YHVH:  I will also let the House of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them:  to increase them like a flock of people.

Hos 5:15   I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense.  Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.  (also Lev 23:40-45)

Mic 5:3; 7:9   Therefore He shall give them up, until the time she who is labor has given birth.  Then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.  (1Thes 5:3; Rev 12:1-5; Mt 24:32)

Mt 23:39   for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!’

Acts 3:18-21   Repent . . and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. . .that [God] may send Jesus Christ, whom Heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by . . .all His holy prophets. . . .

1Cor 11:26   Believers take the Lord’s Supper until Yeshua comes again.

Lk 17:21   The Kingdom of God is within us now, and part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control to do God’s will.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

1Cor 4:8   the believers were already reigning, as if it were all about them, and not having a true Kingdom understanding

Heb 11:35-40   God has His own plan:  we (all believers from all times) will be perfected together, and reign together with Messiah Yeshua!  

TO THE JEW FIRST AND LAST

(Open doors to the Jewish Community conference at Deltona Alliance Church, Florida, 30-31 Jan 2010)

Jn 16:8-11  And when [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me:  of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The gospel is for sinners.  The Lord Jesus says here that [the] sin is not believing in Him.  Not believing in Him leads to lawlessness of all kinds.

The gospel was first brought from Messiah Yeshua to Israel and the Jewish people:  to His own.  This good news and its necessity to the Jewish people has never been changed . . . by God!  The cross is still a cause of stumbling to the Jewish person – the idea that our God would actually become a despised and rejected Man hanging on the cursed tree!  And even worse, that we insisted that He be killed in that way!!

The Holy Spirit in us who believe, whether we be Jews or not, bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God, and without the Holy Spirit no one can call Jesus for who/what He is:  LORD/YHVH.  How then is it that some today teach that the Jewish people do not necessarily have to believe in Jesus in order to be saved; that God has another way for them, or that because of wrongs done to them by the Christian church He has shown partiality to the Jewish people regarding salvation?  There is no other name under Heaven given to men by which they may be saved!  There is no way to the Father other than through His Son!  If we are uncertain in our own conscience about this mystery of the faith, then who will be convicted of the sin of unbelief through our evangelism?!

The gospel came first to the Jews, and praise God, He is faithful to keep His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and He is bringing it back to us!  Judgment is also to the Jews first; so is honor:  to whom much is given more is required; the first-born son has responsibilities greater than those less privileged.  This is not a post-missionary time for the Jewish people.  The Great Commission which the Lord Jesus Himself gave is until the end of the age, which has not yet arrived, but, thankfully, is getting nearer!  God is so much more concerned and able to accomplish what He has commanded us to do than we are, that He will even be sending out angels to finish the job of preaching the everlasting gospel. (Rev 14:6)  The glory will be His alone, who alone is the only wise God and Savior – both of the Jews and also of the Gentiles!

As God opens doors for you into your Jewish communities, if you are Gentiles (i.e., not Jewish), first of all, do not be embarrassed that you are not Jewish.  Secondly, the Lord has given you a special calling as Gentiles to provoke His people to jealousy by your knowledge of Him more than they have:  in Christ our relationship is personal, not distant.  At the same time, God has called you to have mercy upon His people, since by their being put aside for a time, He has done that in order to show mercy to you.  At the end of the day, we who have been saved will all know that we have all been disobedient, and have needed the mercies of God in order to be found worthy to stand by grace before the Son of Man when He judges the living and the dead.  Such is the wisdom of our God and Father!

For those of us who are Jews, we know that it is God who defines who and what a Jew truly is.  We can have a boldness such as Peter had after Pentecost when speaking with our own people.  Jews may not be that honest, but they want to see integrity in others.  Let them see it in us, that we fear God and not man, and we know who it is that we believe in, because Jesus is the one of whom Moses and the Prophets spoke and wrote.  He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Is 49:6   It is a light thing that Thou should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. . . .