God has always been Sovereign King – Sovereign Lord – over His creation, both in the Heavens and on the Earth. He made His plan for Creation and for Redemption before the beginning of time, space, and matter. All things that exist were created and made by YHVH God. Nothing exists apart from Him, and it is by Yeshua/Jesus, through Yeshua/Jesus, and for Yeshua/Jesus that all things were created, visible and invisible. (Col 1:15-17) And Yeshua/Jesus is the King that the Father has ordained to inherit and to rule over all that is. In other words, Yeshua/Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God; therefore, He will be the King of Israel, and the King of the nations, and the King of the angels. He is God of gods, King of kings, and Lord of lords! (Ps 136:1-3; Rev 15:3-4; Ps 2) Continue reading “The Kingdom of God Streaming Through History”
This Oct 31 marks the 100th anniversary of the heroic victorious charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade of between 500-800 horsemen against the entrenched Ottoman Turkish forces in Beer Sheva. The stakes were high: Continue reading “The ANZAC Beer Sheva Charge – Oct 31, 1917”
Do you read or listen to the news? Every day in Israel politicians and commentators are vying for power and influence, telling us who should be the Prime Minister, or what the PM should do. In the United States, there is an election process taking place, with each candidate saying that the other one is unfit to be President, the leader of the Free World. In Turkey and Iran, their leaders are threatening each other, and the rest of the world with terror, or support for terrorists. In Russia, their President is reasserting his country’s place as a serious threat to Western Powers. In the nearing future, the antichrist will arise, who will require all to submit to him as if he is above all gods and God. (Dan 11:36; 2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev 13:1-8)
What is also interesting in all this, is that each of these countries represents a different religious worldview, and how that affects their policies and geo-political decisions. They are peoples and nations who seem to agree on one thing: they want to determine and to rule their own destiny, and also the world’s.
What’s going on behind the scenes? What do the Scriptures say? What do they teach us? Let us look at a psalm of David (Acts 4:25), a psalm referenced several times in the New Testament:
Ps 2 Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate on a vain thing? (2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against Yehovah and against His Anointed: (3) Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us. (4) He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; Yehovah shall mock at them. (5) Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His fierce anger. (6) Yea, I have set My king on My holy mountain, on Zion. (7) I will declare the decree: Yehovah has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You. (8) Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the ends of the earth for Your possession. (9) You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (10) And now be wise, O kings; be instructed, O judges of the earth. (11) Serve Yehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling. (12) Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled in but a little while. Blessed are all who put their trust in Him.
The Holy Spirit through David tells us that the Gentiles and the Jews, with their leaders, are in a conspiracy against the one true God – against the Father and His Son, the Messiah Yeshua/Jesus. It is a vain thing that they do; it is destined to fail! You have probably all heard the saying that there is a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Well, it is actually God’s plan that a Jew will rule the world! Jesus is the King of the Jews and of the nations, and God has declared that His Son is the heir to the Throne of David to rule over Israel and the whole world. The conspiracy is actually by the devil and those of the world against the sovereign Creator and Redeemer.
What is it that the “world” wants? They want to be “free” from any accountability to a holy God, who is the righteous Judge of all the Earth. This conspiracy began in the heavenlies, when Lucifer rebelled against YHVH, and led other angels to follow him in the rebellion. Israel openly rebelled when she asked for a king like the Gentiles have, and then said that they did not want “this Man” Yeshua to rule over them. (1Sam 8:1-9; Lk 19:11-27) And the world Gentile powers have rebelled against the God of Israel, who gave them their authority, but they have all eventually caused distress for Jews and for Christians, the people of the true God.
What does it mean when they want to break the bands in two and cast away their cords from us? You remember that Isaac told Esau, when he spoke to him after giving the blessing to Jacob, that the day would come when Esau would break the yoke of Jacob his brother from off him. (Gen 27:40) We see this taking place today in the intifada, which is the Palestinian uprising against the rule of the children of Jacob over them here in Israel. But it represents something much bigger: it is the spiritual rebellion against the sovereignty of YHVH God, led by the spirit of a religious faith in another god. It is the world today rising up against the morality of YHVH, whose name is holy, saying, in effect: “Who is YHVH that we should serve Him?!” “Who says that He is God Most High?!” “Why should we submit to His authority and morality?!” “All religions are okay, and lead to something good. In fact, better in our own eyes than what the God of Israel wants!” So, in the end, it is more than seeking equality among the different religions and cultures and life-styles. It is a rebellion against YHVH even more than simply seeking “equality with Him”, which is itself rebellion. Tolerance is for anything other than truth. “What is truth?!”, Pilate asked Jesus. To the “world”, all is subjective relativism.
Some current examples that we see of trying to break God’s and His Son’s yoke, and their restrictions that make for civil society:
–requiring governments and people to accept homosexuality as normal and as a choice for each person to make regarding their own gender identity; in other words, not only to choose what sex to do, but what sex to be!;
–sex outside of marriage is accepted as normal and not sinful;
–not allowing in Israel and in Christianized countries, like the U.S., to use the Bible for explaining or instruction in righteousness in public institutions; or, to pray in the name of Jesus;
–being sued and denied a license for a bakery because of being owned and operated by believers in Yeshua;
–not allowing any Jews to enter some Muslim countries; not allowing any evangelism either;
–Israel makes it difficult for evangelical Christians to receive visas, or for Messianic Jews to immigrate;
–Russia just passed a law forbidding any evangelism outside of a recognized church building;
–no spanking of children in some ‘enlightened’ countries, as an overreaction to child abuse;
–not being able to teach Creation in schools, only Evolution: no sovereign, holy, uncreated God; no special uniqueness about this solar system or the Earth; no chosen land or people or city or unique and beloved Son of God;
–humanism, that man is basically good, is the dominant philosophy opposed to the Word of God saying that all are born in sin, and need to be given restrictions and boundaries to live socially, and that people need to be born-again by the Holy Spirit in order to have life.
These are just a few examples out of many, many more. The results and consequences of throwing off the yoke of the true God is to lack the fear of God, to be ignorant, to lack wisdom, to be not only immoral, but amoral, to lack purpose and goals, to be unable to think critically, and to lack discernment between good and evil. By all this, the devil deceives the people much more easily to side with him and his rebellion. If we are deceived, we do not know it, and it requires an intervention by God to bring us to our right senses! Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him, because they did not know what they were doing.
This Psalm 2 also tells us that God is actively working so that the people will know what they are doing, and that they must repent while there is time, if they want to be saved from His wrath. (2Cor 6:2; Is 61:1-2)
Though it is written that God laughs at this vain thing being planned, He is not amused: He holds them in derision. (Is 40:15-17) Since the death and resurrection of God’s anointed King, His Son, He is making it known everywhere, and calling all persons to repentance, because He has declared that His Son is going to be King in Zion, and He is the Judge of His people Israel, and of the Gentiles, and will rule over all. (Dan 2:44; Jn 3:14-21; Acts 17:30-31)
Although Jesus is already chosen and anointed to be the King of Israel and of the Nations, He is not yet reigning on David’s throne: He has not yet been accepted by His own people or by the Gentile nations. This is like when God chose David to be King instead of Saul, but David did not actually become the king until after Saul died, and after the people accepted him to be king. Yeshua is now reigning — at the right hand of the Father — over Heaven and Earth, but He is not yet accepted by the whole House of Israel to be their King as Heir to David, according to God’s covenantal promise. (Lk 1:26-33,67-75; 2Sam 7; Mt 23:37-39) Born-again believers already possess eternal life, but it is evident that we have not yet inherited it: it remains a living hope upon a sure promise. (Rom 8:23-25)
The Psalm also informs us that Yeshua/Jesus is the Son of God. The New Testament quotes this verse 7 in the psalm in the context of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:33; Rom 1:4): the proof that He is God’s Son, and by that He inherits not only Israel, but all the nations are His, and become accountable to Him. (Is 49:5-6) For this, the gospel is to go out to all peoples and nations, not only for individual salvation, but also for nations to be saved, like Israel and Egypt and Assyria. (Is 19:23-25; Dan 7:13-14) Part of our joy is knowing that we, too, will rule and reign with Messiah when He returns. He promises those in the church that those who overcome will rule the nations with a rod of iron to break the stubbornness of rebellion in the people. (Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:6) This is the inheritance of the saints, in fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham! (Dan 7:18,25-27; Gen 22:17; Rom 4:13)
David finishes his psalm by warning those who are in rebellion: they need to fear YHVH and to acknowledge His majesty and righteousness. And they must respect and honor God’s Son, for His favor is their salvation. (Rev 6:12-17; 19:15) Even believers in Jesus are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phlp 2:12-13) We should be concerned with offending God, and to recognize our weakness – our “trembling” — that we are wholly dependent upon Him for grace and mercies in our need for help in serving and living for His glory. His faithfulness and strength are our confidence and joy! “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
In this psalm we see already the suffering yet triumphant Messiah, Son of God, over His enemies. And we who follow the Lord will also suffer yet be triumphant by our living faith in Him. YHVH is sovereign over all and against all! The schemes of man and devil can not and will not succeed! Repent, and believe the gospel, and be saved from this perverse generation! (Acts 2:40; Rev 3:19-22)
—Pray for those in authority to repent and believe actively, that they be saved. (1Tim 2:1-6)
Redemption of Jewish Identity and Hope
Jer 29:11 For I know the purposes which I am purposing for you, says Yehovah; purposes of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Lk 2:34-35 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
My identity as a Jew was settled in June 1967, during the Six-Day War. I saw once again that the Gentiles wanted to kill us, and I didn’t know why; and I identified with my people and our land. Despite the Synagogue and the Church both historically telling me that a Jew cannot believe in Jesus, or that a Jew who believes in Jesus is no longer Jewish, the answer of the man whom God used in February 1981 to finally bring me back to Himself regarding the Jews and the Chosen People was good, it gave hope, and the Jewish people had a promising future.
–Judaism – Pharasaic, Talmudic, Rabbinic – rejects the Yeshua/Jesus of the Bible as being the Messiah.
–Juda-ism is self-oriented, culture-oriented (as is Christian-ity if separated from living faith and union with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ)
–Messianic Judaism does not mean only faith in Jesus/Yeshua as being Messiah, the Son of God; e.g., Chabad, Temple Mount Faithful, Bar Kochba, Shabbtai Tzvi
–YHVH God, though, gives hope to the Jewish people, and to “all Israel”
–He will be their God, and they will be His holy people
–the Land of Canaan/Israel as an everlasting possession and inheritance
–a rich heritage
–a kingdom of priests who will all know the LORD and serve Him faithfully, a blessing to other nations
–Yeshua came as the Seed of David, of the Tribe of Judah: Jesus came as a Jew, under the Law/Torah
–He fulfilled the Law perfectly, but also differently than other Children of Israel, in that Jesus never sinned, and had no sin. The Law is for sinners.
–the first believers and disciples of the Lord were Israeli Jews; until Cornelius, apparently all Gentile believers converted to some form of Judaism (Ex 12:43-49)
–app. 50 AD, the apostolic Jerusalem Council agreed with the Holy Spirit that Gentile believers in Yeshua could remain Gentile, but with some conditions regarding food and sex so as not to offend God or godly Jewish sensibilities (Acts 15)
–first Jewish believers were called Nazarenes (Notzrim) and Christians (Meshichi’im) (Acts 11:26; Acts 24:5)
–God gave a weaning period to the early Messianic Jewish believers to come to terms with the New Covenant (Letter to The Hebrews)
–first persecution of [Jewish] believers came from Jewish unbelievers
–the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but a direct revelation from Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12)
67-70AD Jewish revolt against Rome and the destruction of the 2nd Temple brought a definite separation between Jewish people who believed in Jesus and what He said, and between those who did not: the former fled Jerusalem when it was surrounded; the latter committed suicide on Masada
–in the New Testament, there was already an excommunication of Jewish believers in Yeshua from the synagogue (Jn 9:22; Jn 12:42; Jn 16:1-4)
132-135AD Final Jewish revolt against Rome, led by Rabbi Akiva and Simon Bar-Kochba: the former a false prophet; the latter a false Messiah
–both still celebrated today within mainstream Judaism at Lag B’Omer: fire; no Jewish weddings from that date until Shavuot/Pentecost
–final internal split between the Synagogue and Messianic Jews who believed in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior from sin(s), LORD, King of the Jews and of Israel
2nd CentAD more splits within the “Gentile” Church over Jewish practices, Passover/Easter, Sunday worship
3rd Cent the Synagogue codified directives in the Talmud against the minim (referring initially specifically towards Jewish believers in Jesus); http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0003_0_02999.html
4th Cent Constantine became a Christian and made Christianity the religion of the Empire
–Council of Nicea
–John Chrysostom: contempt and hatred towards Jews (Eight Homilies Against the Jews; http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.asp )
–Canons of The Apostles: legislated unbridled anti-Jewishness (see, for examples, Canons #65, 70, 71 http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/cannons_apostles_rudder.htm )
–the Roman Catholic Church becomes “Spiritual Israel”; the New Israel
1000 years of suppressed Jewish identity within the Church
632AD Islam further weakened Jewish identity (became dhimmis, as did Christians)
787 Second Nicene Council, 8th Canon: Jewish believers could no longer be Jews in any of their traditions; http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum07.htm
15th – 18th Cent
–the Marranos (“pigs”) and Christopher Columbus
–the new availability of vernacular Bible translations increased interest in Jewish-Christian links
–Martin Luther urges violent persecution of Jews, and proclaims Protestants to be “spiritual Israel”
19th C: Rebirth of Hebrew Christian/Messianic Jewish movements: intuitively connected with the return of the Jews to the Promised Land in preparation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ
—the desire and need to demonstrate and express God’s faithfulness to His chosen Jewish people, to covenant promises, to Jewish/Israeli aspirations and hopes as given through Moses and the Prophets, and through the Messiah Yeshua/Jesus and the Apostles
–1809 The London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews (CMJ today) founded by Joseph Frey
–1813 Benei Avraham formed in London by 41 Jewish believers
–1820’s Joseph Wolff pioneers Jewish evangelism to the Jews in Middle East and India
–1842 First Protestant (and Anglican) church – Christ Church – in the Middle East built in Jerusalem in Old City, with the first Bishop a Jewish believer, Rabbi Michael Solomon Alexander
–1866 Hebrew Christian Alliance forms in London
–1881 first Aliyah (wave of immigration of Jews) to Eretz Israel (Palestine then)
–1883 Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein of Tisza-Eszlar, Hungary, becomes believer in Jesus, and maintained his Jewish identity
–1884 indigenous Messianic Jewish congregation founded by Rabbi Joseph Rabbinowitz in Kishinev, Russia
–1885 first Hebrew Christian Church of America founded in New York by Jacob Freshman
–1894 Chosen People Ministries founded in Brooklyn, NY by Rabbi Leopold Cohn, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant
–1897 First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl in Basle, Switzerland, in face of severe European anti-Semitism; called for Jewish State to become a realty in Palestine
20th -21st C
–1904 second Aliyah to the Land
–1906 Azuza St. Pentecostal revival
–1915 Hebrew Christian Alliance of America established
–1917 Balfour Declaration proclaiming intent to reestablish Jewish homeland in Palestine
–large numbers of Jewish people come to faith in Europe by 1939; many die in Holocaust
–many Jewish young people come to faith during 1930’s
–effort to create Messianic Jewish identity
–1920’s and 1930’s short-lived attempt to establish Messianic Jewish fellowship in Palestine by Moshe Immanuel Ben-Meir and Hyman Jacobs, but many missions did not embrace the idea of a significant distinct Jewish identity outside of historical churches, which also did not understand the significance of maintaining an identity as Jew by Jewish believers in Yeshua
–1948 founding of modern State of Israel
–most Jewish believers left Israel during the War of Independence
–Moshe Ben-Meir, Abram Poljak, Haim Haimoff – who remained during the War of Independence — committed to Jewish identity
–began to promote term “Messianic Jew” (Yehudi Meshichi) rather than Christian (notzri)
–mostly non-rabbinic expression of pattern of life, but honoring Sabbath, Feasts, circumcision
–a Hebrew Catholic Movement was fostered by Fr. Daniel Rufeisen and Fr. Elias Friedman, Jewish believers who identified as Christians
–1967 a watershed year with the Six-Day War stimulating Jewish redemption and messianic expectations, with more Jewish people coming to faith in Jesus/Yeshua
–about 200 Jewish believers in Israel till then
–perhaps passing 1000 during the 70’s and 80’s
–large numbers of believers connected with huge wave of Russian-speaking immigration in 90’s
–today most evangelical believers in Israel have Russian as mother tongue
–between app. 10,000-15,000 believers today in Israel among Jews and those identifying with the Jewish people
–1972 Jews For Jesus (organization) founded by Moishe Rosen in San Francisco
Most of the Jewish believers today in Israel have come to faith outside of Israel, and are immigrants from many other countries on all the habitable continents. Most of the native-born Israeli Jews who are believers now are children born to immigrants. Native-born older generation Jewish believers are still a small minority.
Messianic congregations are mostly not connected with a mainstream denomination. Yet there is a sense of unity and mutual support – we are ‘family’! – despite great diversity of positions on important doctrinal and other issues.
There are still on-going efforts by some to shape and define what it is to be a Jewish believer in Yeshua/Jesus. In the U.S., some Messianic Jewish leaders estimate that there are 250,000 (?) Jewish believers in Jesus, and of those, only 22,000 (?) who belong to a Messianic congregation/synagogue.
Where does the NT truth of one new man in Christ Jesus come into all this?
When I first became a believer, I saw everything through Jewish eyes. I knew I was still Jewish, despite what the rabbis and preachers taught. I thought I should keep kosher, keep the Sabbath, and keep the Jewish holidays – now that I believed in the God of the Jews. The Holy Spirit said to me, “I didn’t tell you to do that.” This in no way diminished or weakened my identity as a Jew; in fact, the Word of the Lord also came to me to “go to Israel”, and He made it home on Earth. In Israel, of course, we are immersed in Jewish culture!
I thought that the Gentile Christians had stolen everything from us. Then the Lord opened my eyes and understanding and heart to the parable of the vineyard, where we killed the Son of the Owner, thinking to take the inheritance for ourselves without Him, and threw Him out of the vineyard. God took His kingdom [for a time] from the Jewish people, and gave it to believing Gentiles, most of whom have probably never met a Jewish person, know Jewish customs, or have any real sense of Israel as God’s chosen first-born nation! (Ex 4:22; Mt 21:33-45)
–God’s righteous judgment according to His covenantal conditions
–not many Jewish people for the small number of Jewish believers to fellowship with or to identify in a meaningful “Jewish” way
–the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, and the New Covenant has brought in changes and differences to the Sinai covenant, e.g., food, priesthood, Law, complete equality between Jews and Gentiles as born-again believers in Yeshua/Jesus. We are a new creation, and one new man corporately.
Most information gleaned from MJAA, UJMC, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Gershon Nerel, Dan Juster, TJCII, Kelvin Crombie
I remember that before I was a believer, I wondered and asked the question: Why do we have and remember New Year’s. I was particularly thinking about the Jewish “New Year” which had become one of the High Holy Days in the synagogue. The answer that I gave myself, and to my parents, was that there must be Someone who is keeping us (the Jewish people) alive for another year. It gives an opportunity to thank Him, and to also hope that He would do the same for the next year.
Now, I have what, for me, is a broader and a more personal understanding of the significance of New Years. YHVH God has given three opportunities to observe a New Year. He is the God of Creation and of Redemption. We are all born in the flesh; we must be born of the Spirit to inherit eternal life. We are individuals; Israel is a nation, whom God calls His first-born son. These New Years — new beginnings — are begun by God, and adopted by His people — whether Israeli Jews, or whether Christians.
YHVH told Israel that for them, the New Year would begin on the first day (the first day of the covered New Moon) of the month of Aviv/Nisan, the first full month of Spring of the Hebrew calendar for Israel. This New Year focuses on the death of the Lamb of God, who died at the Passover, which is the 14th of that month (a Full Moon). Israel does not perceive the resurrected sacrificial Lamb, but only the Passover sacrifice for deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah is the Lamb of God who died for the sin and sins of every person, both in Israel and for all humanity for all time. In His death, all died, for He is the representative Man in God’s ultimate plan of salvation, which He conceived before time began. This first New Year of God’s redemptive calendar is the foundation of the gospel: Messiah crucified, and risen from the dead on the day after the Sabbath of the Passover week. By grace Israel was delivered out of Egyptian bondage; by grace all who believe are saved from sin’s bondage.
At some point in her history, Israel began to observe the civil New Year on the first day (the first day of the covered New Moon) of the seventh month (Tishri/Etanim) on her calendar in the Autumn/Fall. This may seem strange, yet for Israel, each year they would be forgiven their sins, and God would dwell among them for the next year, which the Feast of Booths commemorates with joyful celebration, two full weeks after the beginning of the month, marked by the light of the Full Moon. And the Jubilee year is marked from the Day of Atonements, which falls on the 10th of the same month. Jubilee is a new beginning for slaves, prisoners, debtors and creditors, and land possessions. The Day of Atonements is the day of the LORD, in which those who accept YHVH God’s sacrifice for forgiveness of sins — both personal and corporate — are saved and justified; and those who refuse His sacrifice and way of righteousness are condemned for their unbelief and unthankfulness. For an individual — and for Israel as a nation — this experience of being born-again through faith in God’s good news of His Son, truly marks a New Year of a new life in everlasting restored fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It marks new birth, which is needed since we all died with Messiah in His death on the cross. This new beginning for Jews and for Gentiles upon whom the Lord bestows His mercy will be fully realized at the coming again of the Lord.
The time around the birth of this Son, this Lamb, who was born to die, and to live forevermore to provide for the full reality of the Kingdom of God over all, marks the celebration of the third New Year, and this for all who love Him for who He is and for what He has done, is doing, and will yet do. God so loved the world that He gave His only unique Son so that whosoever believes in His name should not perish but inherit eternal life. Yeshua was born near the end of the “world” calendar, in the first month of winter, Chislev/December, on both calendars (and the 9th month beginning with April/Aviv), and puts away the old that the new may come in. His birth marked a new beginning of God’s intervention in Israel’s and the Gentiles’ affairs in order to take back to Himself all that had been lost by Adam and Eve and subsequent humanity, and deceitfully stolen by the devil to oppose the Sovereign God and His plan that human beings created in His image and likeness would be joint heirs with God’s Son of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ circumcision on the 8th day marks the covenant faithfulness to God’s promises given to Abram/Abraham that Israel and the people of God would one day worship Him without fear of any enemies. We have all been God’s enemies, and the birth, death, and resurrection of the Lord Messiah takes away that enmity in us against Him, and we glorify Him, who is seated on the Throne!
So, to summarize:
All of the New Years have to do with Jesus Christ, and the celebration of Him by those who are God’s chosen and elect. They quicken an expectation of what God will do, based on what He has promised and has already done:
1. Yeshua’s Death and Resurrection: The Lamb of God was slain to redeem His people and set them free to serve YHVH God, and Him only. He was slain before the foundation of the world, according to the perfect plan of God. And this Lamb rose from among the dead to everlasting life to enjoy the fruit of His suffering and sacrifice! Israel’s calendar begins with YHVH God’s redeeming them from slavery that they may know and serve Him.
2. Yeshua’s Coming Again: All who are born-again through faith in the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus begin a new life unto God. Israel as a nation still has this promise before them when Yeshua returns to save “all Israel”, the preserved remnant from all the tribes who will see Him whom they pierced, and afflict their souls for all their unfaithfulness and unfounded hatred toward Him and the Father. And the Body of Messiah has the hope of the Lord’s return and the resurrection of their bodies, to rule and reign with Him during His kingdom on Earth.
3. Yeshua’s Birth: His coming into the world in the flesh, born in order to be our Redeemer – to be the Lamb of God — who died to declare God’s Sovereign righteousness regarding sin, and His grace toward human sinners. Peace on Earth, goodwill towards mankind!
These three New Years center around the birth, the death and resurrection, and the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the people of God, they mark natural birth, death, redemption by new birth through faith by the Holy Spirit, and the return of the Lord. These three events are each memorialized with a ‘new song’: the song of Moses, the song of Mary, and the song of the 144,000 redeemed from the Earth. They mark progressive time as the Sovereign Lord of history continues onward bringing to pass all that must be. Till now, the Holy Spirit is bringing all to pay homage to the Son, whether they realize it or not, and whether they rejoice in it or not in fellowship with other worshipers of God in spirit and truth!
Gal 3:15-25 Brothers, I speak according to man, a covenant having been ratified, even among mankind, no one sets aside or adds to it. (16) And to Abraham and to his Seed the promises were spoken. It does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, “And to your Seed,” which is Christ. (17) And I say this, A covenant having been ratified by God in Christ, the Law (coming into being four hundred and thirty years after) does not annul the promise, so as to abolish it. (18) For if the inheritance is of Law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by way of promise. (19) Why then the Law? It was added because of transgressions, until the Seed should come to those to whom it had been promised, being ordained through angels in the Mediator’s hand. (20) But a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. (21) Is the Law then against the promises of God? Let it not be said! For if a law had been given which could have given life, indeed righteousness would have been by the Law. (22) But the Scripture shut up all under sin, so that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept under Law, having been shut up to the faith about to be revealed. (24) So that the Law has become a tutor of us until Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But faith coming, we are no longer under a tutor.
The gospel is not of man; it is from God alone. (Gal 1:11-12) This means that the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek (Gentile) in its origin nor in its understanding. The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart of the gospel; and the Apostle writes in another letter that the cross is a cause of stumbling to the Jews, and is folly to the Greeks. If the gospel were natural to humans, whether Jewish or Gentile, then resistance to it would not be so strong among the Jewish people, or among nominal Christians who fear God and do righteousness, and think that they are good enough to inherit eternal life. Born-again believers need to renew their mind by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to know and to live by the will of God in light of the truth of the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ gives salvation to those who believe: it is the gift of God by grace to those who repent and believe the gospel for salvation from sin and its consequences. No person can earn salvation by good works, or by being a good person, but must be born-again by the Holy Spirit through faith in God’s way of salvation for both Jews and non-Jews. By such living faith, a person is justified by God and no longer under the condemnation of His Law (Torah). All have sinned, and need a Savior, and His name is Yeshua/Jesus. There will be no other Savior! (Acts 4:12)
The Law Unable To Annul The Promise v. 15-18
Belief in the gospel changes a person’s life and his world-view, and brings a unity among all who believe, from whatever people or tribe or tongue. The New Covenant brings significant changes from the Law of Moses, and therefore it requires Jewish people first to believe what the God of Israel spoke concerning these things, and also the Gentiles, for whom all of this was new, not having the covenants which God cut with the Jewish people and Israel. The gospel is God’s way of redeeming back to Himself those from all nations which He scattered after the sin of the Tower of Babel. This gospel He spoke already to Abraham – the father by supernatural intervention of the Jewish people in the flesh, and of “many nations” through the faith of Abraham –when YHVH said that through Abraham’s seed, all the families of the Earth (all the nations) would be blessed. (Gen 12:3; Gal 3:8) This seed is not only the Jewish people, but more specifically the Messiah, the Lord Yeshua, who became a man as an Israeli Jew. (Mic 5:2; Mt 2:1-6, 19-21)
What is the promise? The promise to those who believe as Abraham did – that YHVH God could, and would, raise the dead in order to fulfill His promise – is to be justified to inherit the world with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and to rule with Him over Israel and the nations and God’s creation in the world to come (the Millennial Kingdom), when the knowledge of the glory of YHVH fills the whole Earth . (Gen 1:26-28; Ps 8; Is 11 – 12; Rev 3:21-22; Rev 20:4-6) For this, we need to be conformed to the image of the Son of God in order to be suited to rule in a godly manner.
The Governmental Objective of the Law [given to Israel at Mt Sinai] v. 19-22
“So what purpose did/does the Law serve?” This is Paul’s question in v. 19 to lead into his answer as why the Law had a purpose even though it could not make anyone righteous, nor nullify the promise. He answers it: “The Law was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.” (Dt 33:1-4 esp the Sept; the visible YHVH; M. Heiser, The Unseen Realm, p. 166-169) We have already seen that individual humanity had greatly sinned before the flood (Gen 6:5-8); that the nations had sinned in Babylon with the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9); and the Children of Jacob/Israel were living like the Egyptians before they receive the Law at Mt. Sinai. YHVH God gave His holy, righteous, and good Law with its commandments to teach His people to live in a way which distinguished them from all other nations and people. (Dt 4:5-10) His people are to be holy, for He is holy, righteous, and good. (Rom 7:12) He is not like the other gods whom the Gentiles serve and worship.
“It was added.—It was not a part of the original scheme, but came in as a sort of marginal addition. It was, as it were, a parenthesis in the design of Providence. The direct line of God’s dealings with man ran through the promise and its fulfilment. The Law came in by the way.
“Because of transgressions.—It has been usual to give to this one of two opposite interpretations, to make it mean (1) to check or put down transgressions; (2) to multiply and increase transgressions, as in Romans 5:20. The expression seems wide enough to cover both ideas. The Law was given “because of transgressions:” i.e., it had its object in transgressions. Its original purpose was to make them known, and by imposing a penalty to check them; its real effect was to provoke and enhance them. The expression “because of transgressions” leaves it ambiguous which of these points is meant, or rather, it includes them all.” (Ellicott’s Commentary)
God wants us to know the sinfulness of sin in our very nature that is opposed to His perfectly holy and pure nature. All persons are found to be sinners: without Law, with Law, even with the Holy Spirit. We all, without exception, need God to save us from our sins, which He knew before He created the world. (Rev 13:8; Eph 1:4)
YHVH had chosen Israel as His first-born son as the means to draw all nations back to Him. Israel is intended to be a kingdom of priests, and a light to the nations. All nations are to be blessed through Abraham’s children in covenant with YHVH. Salvation is from the Jews, Jesus tells us. (Jn 4:22) But this salvation is not by obeying commandments and laws. Salvation – in both an Old Testament sense, and in the New – comes with loving the one true God and being loyal to Him. (Jer 7:22-23; Lk 10:25-28) The one true God is revealed to be YHVH God — the Father, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Spirit are invisible; Jesus came as the visible God.
Faith Having Come Fulfills the Purpose of The Law v. 23-25
One can keep laws and customs, while at the same time having a divided loyalty of heart to the one God. God demands whole-hearted faith and loyalty. This is demonstrated by loving Him above all, and giving thanks for who He is, and for what He has done for us. Jesus has fought the battle for us against sin – which the Law only brought out the more! – and YHVH alone has died for us and risen from the dead to defeat the enemy, and to deliver us from the penalty of eternal separation from God. We are all – those who believe in Him – His children, whether we are Jewish or are not.
People often say that King David sinned much more than King Saul, and don’t understand why God took His Spirit from Saul and cast him away, but not only promised David so much, but also is keeping His covenanted promises to him. The reason is what we have just said: Saul was not faithful to the Lord, and sought help from other sources, and persecuted the one whom God had chosen, the one whose heart was for the Lord. David, although he committed adultery and murder, never wavered in his heart commitment to YHVH his God, and he was miserable in his soul until he confessed his sins, and accepted the evil consequences of his sins for the rest of his life, even though God forgave him and reconfirmed His covenant with him.
When we ask why Saul was condemned and David was forgiven, we betray our own misunderstanding of the ways of God, who searches the thoughts and intentions of our hears. We judge [usually] by what a man does; God judges the heart, and for a repentant sinner, He has paid the price required due to our guilt.
So, now for us: we do fail in keeping the commandments of Jesus, but this does not separate us from Him. Apostasy and idolatry are still the two sins of a divided heart which would prove our disloyalty and unfaithfulness; in other words, our lack of love for Him as the only God and Savior, and for disobedience to His commandments to us who belong to Him. These two sins of the heart weaken the fear of the LORD in us, which is a key to living for the glory of God alone.
A major factor in why a believer would seek to keep laws and customs of what religion or culture he/she had before would be to find acceptance by those of our family, friends, society who do not want to believe in the one true God and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We want to avoid the “offense of the cross”, which separates light from darkness, and sin from righteousness, in order to still be accepted as “okay” to the world. But, beloved brothers and sisters, we are called outside the camp to bear the reproach of Christ with Him, even as we are in the world as His servants and ambassadors to preach the gospel that others may also be saved from their sins and eternal separation from God, who gave His Son a sacrifice that we might be His, to His everlasting glory and joy. (Is 53:10)
The Law is given as a tutor is to children, guarding them for their adulthood. God’s Law through angels to Moses for Israel was given to protect the chosen people from foreign gods, and to learn the holiness and righteousness of YHVH, God of Israel. Once faith in Messiah has come, we are no longer children under a tutor, but are being ‘graduated’ to adulthood and to sonship, with its privileges and freedoms. Yet this freedom carries with it greater responsibility and accountability than is the case for children, or for slaves. We grow unto full maturity; we do not return to childish immaturity. We focus on things of eternal value, not on those things which are already passing away. With faith in the promised Seed – Yeshua – the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the believer, and enables us to fulfill the righteousness of the Law. (Rom 8:3-4) We may feel, or know that we are inadequate, or that we did not excel at studies, but by faith in the grace of God we move on into the professional world.
Law brings us to know our need for a Savior, so that we can fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law – and of the Law of Christ. Faith does not mean that we no longer have to obey the Lord, or that we do not have a cultural way of life, but it does mean that we are to believe and to live in accord with the New Covenant which the truth of the gospel has revealed. There are some significant changes, as Jesus our peace has broken down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles, as well as the standard of perfection which kept all of us from personal relationship and fellowship with God! (Acts 15:10) God is now bringing into His family born-again believers from out of every nation – fulfilling the promise of God to Abraham — dwelling by His Spirit within each of us, so that we equally call Him Father: Christ in us, the hope of glory!
Mk 13:28-37 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
What time is it? (Does anybody really care?) This is a question many in Israel ask! What time is it? If we are speaking the answer to the one asking, we might say, for example, 11:30. And he/she would understand whether it was morning or night. But if, for another example, we sent out an invitation and said, ‘Let’s get together at 9:00’, someone might ask: ‘Do you mean in the morning, or in the evening?’ Had the invitation been for 21:00, it would have been understood here that it was for the evening. Or had it said, 9pm, it would also have been understood by those who received the invitation.
What day is it? I know that when we first immigrated to Israel, it took some time before Randi and I got used to Monday not being the first day of the week, i.e., Sonday! We often would think that Monday was Tuesday! We were confused for a while until we finally adjusted to Sonday being Sonday, the first day of the week, and also a work day. So, if we would say to someone in the U.S. that our services here are on the Sabbath, unless we explained, they thought we meant on Sonday, because in the West they made Sunday the Sabbath, moving back the proper seventh day Sabbath to being the sixth day of the week. The weekend was Saturday-Sunday. If someone writes a date like this: 7/12/15; does it mean July 12, 2015; or, Dec 7, 2015?
It seems as if the confusion of languages at Babel has also included the confusion of time!
Let us take this further: Israel changes its clock to ‘Summer Time’ (Daylight Saving Time) each year; but “the territories” do not. So Jerusalem has one time, and Bethlehem another, during the same time of year. In the United States, the country changes its clock for the Summer, but the state of Arizona does not. Yet within Arizona, an area for Indians does!
The Universal Coordinated Time (UCT) (which used to be called Greenwich Mean Time) is the Prime Meridian running through Greenwich, England, from which all other time zones on the globe are calculated. Israel is two hours in advance (UTC+2) of the UCT; the East Coast of the U.S. is five hours behind (UTC-5). South Africa, south of Israel, is in the same Time Zone as Israel. So Israel is 7 hours ahead in the day from the eastern U.S. However, depending on when each country changes its clock for the Summer, and then back again to Standard Time (which is based upon the position of the Sun relative to the Earth), Israel could be 8 hours ahead, or maybe 6 hours ahead. Australia’s western province is normally five hours ahead of Israel, and seven hours ahead of the UCT (UTC+7). All through the 24-hour day/night cycle, part of the Earth is in the evening, at midnight, at dawn, in the morning, or in the afternoon. Afternoon to me means after 12:00 noon. In Israel most veteran Israelis think that afternoon is from 4:00pm.
What if YHVH God has set His Prime Meridian to run through Israel as the standard for calculations? Does anybody know? Or do you think He is beholden to man’s arbitrary manipulations of the clock? Are you confused yet?!
What time is it!? Most countries set their clocks by the hour within which they fall in the Time Zones. But India, for example, changes her clock by ½ hour; Nepal changes theirs by ¼ hour! (Interesting and Confusing Facts about Time and Time Zones: http://www.worldtimezone.com/faq.html )
And you know that there is an International Date Line (IDL) that has been arbitrarily set which divides the calendar date between that which is east of this imaginary line from that which is west of the line. Even this legally recognized line has been altered by some governments and islands, so that their whole country remains on the same day together! Every day while some sleep and some are at work, there are two hours during which there are three different calendar days at the same time! Praise the Lord!
Here is an explanation of the IDL and the UTC from Wikipedia:
“The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates the change of one calendar day to the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but deviating to pass around some territories and island groups.
The IDL zigzags around the antimeridian, which is on the opposite side of the Earth to the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is used to define Universal Time and is the meridian from which all other time zones are calculated. Time zones to the east of the Prime Meridian are in advance of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (up to UTC+14); time zones to the west are behind UTC (to UTC-12). The IDL is the line between those highest (up to UTC+14) and those lowest (down to UTC−12) time zones.
The IDL and the moving point of midnight separate the two calendar days that are current somewhere on Earth. However, during a two-hour period between 10:00 (2200) and 11:59 (23:59) (UTC) each day, three different calendar days are in use. This is because of daylight saving in the UTC+12 zone and the use of additional date-shifted time zones in areas east of the 180th meridian. These additional time zones result in the standard time and date in some communities being 24 or 25 hours different from the standard time and date in others.
A traveler crossing the IDL eastbound subtracts one day, or 24 hours, so that the calendar date to the west of the line is repeated after the following midnight. Crossing the IDL westbound results in 24 hours being added, advancing the calendar date by one day. The IDL is necessary to have a fixed, albeit arbitrary, boundary on the globe where the calendar date advances in the westbound direction.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line) [bold emphases mine]
To add to the lack of clarity, I remember rooming with a man from Ethiopia who told me a story of how he missed his flight one time. The time on the ticket said 01:00, which to most of us means 1:00 at night on the next calendar day, even though the time would be 1:00am (“before noon”, “in the morning”).
Well, for this brother, he thought of 7:00 in the morning, according to his own nation’s custom and law. Of course he missed his flight!
When does a day begin? In the beginning, there was evening and the morning. Does the day begin at 6:00pm? In the New Testament, the wrath of God was upon Jesus on the cross from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, meaning, from 12:00 noon until 15:00 (3pm). Does the day begin at 6:00am? Yeshua did say that there are twelve hours in a day for man to work, and that the night is coming when no one can work. (Jn 9:4; 11:9) Has the day-time changed in the light of the coming of Messiah, the Light of the world? Today, with the IDL, the new day and date begins from 12:00 midnight, depending on which side of the “line” one is. When the antichrist has his power and authority, the Scriptures say that he will think to change times and laws. (Dan 7:25) Will he decree a new universal time and dating system?? The Word of God marks the beginning of each lunar month by the New Moon (darkened); Islam marks their months by the sighted ‘birth’ of the moon at the first sliver of light.
Does anybody know what hour it is, and what day it is? And does it really matter? It mostly does, I would say. We have seen how not knowing the time can cause confusion in schedules and in orientation and for documentation. On the other hand, the Lord lets us know in no uncertain terms that not only is it unnecessary, but it is impossible for any created thing to know exactly when He will come again. (Mk 13:32)
We have seen how that can be! The Lord did not say that we could not discern the time — the season — of His coming, but rather the precise day and hour. There are many Scriptures giving us signs and indications of His coming – such as the fig tree analogy in the passage we read from Mark 13 — but the precise set time is something that only the Father knows. Jesus has told us all things that He heard from His Father to make known to us; and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth of all that has been revealed. (Jn 15:15; 16:12-15) The Holy Spirit is not going to reveal what the Father did not even tell His Son (in the wondrous mystery that is the triune God)!
This is no small matter: Jesus rebuked the Jewish people during His first coming for not knowing the time of their visitation, with its subsequent severe judgment. (Lk 19:41-44) And terrible consequences have resulted from listening to those who have claimed to know precisely when the Lord will return, discrediting both the faith in the truth of His coming, and in preparing ourselves for His return.
Why is it important to God that we do not know precisely? Because if the Father would make it known at all, then Satan could also know – even quicker than we! Yeshua is coming as a thief into the master’s house. (Mt 24:42-46; 25:13; 1Thes 5:1-11) If it could be known when that would be, including a particular holy-day, then the devil would prepare for that time and day in a manner that it is not possible for him to do so now. If a military commander were to let his enemy know his plan of attack and the time of it, he would face fiercer opposition and greater possibility of defeat. Surely the LORD of Hosts (Armies) has carefully planned His surprise attack! And if we, the believers, were to know, then we would live our lives not by faith in God and His covenantal promises and in the absolute victory of Jesus by His death on the cross for us, but, rather, as is common to the sin still in us, we would only wait until just before that moment to “make ourselves ready”; or, else, we would wait and see if it really comes true. Neither of “our ways” submits to the “way of the LORD”.
Yet the Lord warns us not to let any one deceive us, and for us to be watchful and prayerful. This day will not come until sometime after the revelation of the antichrist. (2Thes 2:1-4) We will not watch and pray if we are not anticipating with expectation. In our love and hopeful expectation of the Lord’s return, the Holy Spirit will see to it that those who are faithful will not be like the five foolish virgins, but will be prepared like the five wise virgins.
As we learn to obey God with faith, walking in the Spirit, we will be transformed, and conformed more and more into the image of God’s Son. The Lord knows who His own are, and those who call on His name will depart from iniquity! As the blessed hope of His coming again to establish forever the Kingdom of God grows within us, we will purify ourselves, even as He is pure.
What time is it? What day is it? I don’t know; but even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Times and seasons have a way of stirring the memories, both personal and collective. Depending on what they may signify, the reactions and anticipations may vary among individuals or nations, or among those joined together through religion or faith. Below are some historical markers that are beginning to converge to draw attention to a watershed, perhaps. Both friend and foe are taking notice.
Oct 31, 1517 – Reformation Day, which gave the Bible back to the people that they may be saved by faith alone in God and His Word
1517 – Turkish Ottoman Muslim Empire begins rule in the Holy Land, the land of the God of the Bible
1882-1903 — First Aliyah (Immigration wave), following pogroms (riots) in Russia in 1881-1882
Aug 29, 1897 – First Zionist Congress in Basle, led by Theodor Herzl, who prophetically understood the times that the Jewish people needed to seek “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland”
June 28, 1914 – the assasination of Austrian arch-duke in Serbia, the catalyst for the declaration a month later of what became WW1, ending on Nov 11, 1918; “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…”
Oct 31, 1917 – ANZAC/Lighthorse Beer Sheva Charge victory over Ottomans in break-through victory towards return of Jewish people back to Land of Israel, and of ending 400 years of Ottoman rule in Holy Land, and 400 years to the day of the Reformation; British War Cabinet approves text of Balfour Declaration
Nov 2, 1917 – Balfour Declaration of intent of British government to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine; “It shall come to pass in that day that [YHVH God] shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left . . . . He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the Earth.”
(here is a site devoted to regretting the Balfour Declaration: http://www.balfourproject.org/ )
Dec 11, 1917 – Jerusalem surrendered to British General Edmund Allenby and the Allies from Turkish Ottoman control
Apr 25, 1920 – San Remo Resolution ratified by post-WW1 Allied Powers, legally sanctioning the establishment of the Jewish people back in the land of their fathers
Aug 12, 1922 – League of Nations establishes British Mandate in Palestine, authorized to carry out San Remo Resolution (which legally sanctioned the intent of the Balfour Declaration)
Sept 1, 1939 – Sept 2, 1945 – World War II
Nov 29, 1947 – UN Partition Plan for Palestine, offering both Jewish people and Arab Palestinians states. Israel accepted what for them constituted “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland”; the Arabs rejected, and prepared for war (Israel’s Independence War, 1948-49); 430 yrs since the restored promise of salvation and righteousness by faith in YHVH God and His Word, and of the Ottoman Islamic control of the Land of Israel
May 14, 1948 – State of Israel as the re-established homeland for the Jewish people proclaimed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in accord with the legal status conferred by both the League of Nations and the United Nations; the British Mandate ended day before
Jun 7, 1967 – Capture of Jerusalem in Six-Day War, unifying the city in Israeli Jewish hands (70 years after 1st Zionist Cong; 50 yrs Jubilee since Balfour Declaration)
Dec 9, 1987 – First Intifada (Arab uprising) begins, lasting seven years, leading to Oslo Accords between the State of Israel and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), signed on Sept 13, 1993
Sept 29, 2000 – Second Intifada begins, inconclusively ending in a truce on Feb 8, 2005, and leading to the Gaza disengagement on Sept 12, 2005
2014 — 100 years since start of WW1
2015 – 70 yrs since end of WW2
2017 — 500 yrs since the Reformation; 120 yrs since 1st Zionist Cong; 100 yrs (double Jubilee) since Beer Sheva Charge, the Balfour Declaration, and the capture of Jerusalem by Gentile Christians; 70 yrs since UN Partition Plan; 50 yrs Jubilee since capture of Jerusalem by Israeli Jews; 30 yrs since beginning of 1st Palestinian Intifada (“breaking the yoke; horse shaking off the rider”)
2018 – 100 yrs from end of WW1; 70 yrs of Israel’s re-established nation-state
2028 – 80 yrs since Israel’s re-establishment as homeland for the Jewish people
20?? – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
History — past, present, and future — is a witness to YHVH God’s faithfulness to His covenants, and to His sovereign power and will: not the will of man, nor of the devil, nor of the flesh, but the will of GOD! (Many more prophecies than given here as historical proofs.)
No expiration date usually given! Sometimes hundreds, even thousands of years transpire between the prophecy and its/their fulfillment(s).
If we do not believe, it will not prevent God from fulfilling His Word and purpose! (Rom 3:3-4)
Num 11:29 And Moses said to him, Are you jealous for my sake? Would God that all Yehovah’s people were prophets, that Yehovah would put His Spirit upon them! (Men of God honor prophets and prophecies of God, and also the great responsibility that carries with them.)
1Cor 14:1-5 Follow after charity and desire spiritual things, but rather that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. For no one hears, but in spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks to men for building up, and exhortation, and comfort. The one speaking in a tongue builds himself up, but he prophesying builds up a church. I wish all of you to speak in languages, but rather that you may prophesy; for greater is he prophesying than he speaking in tongues, unless he interpret so that the church may receive building up.
1Kg 13:2 (2Kg 21:24; 23:16) And he cried against the altar in the Word of Yehovah and said, O, altar, altar, so says Yehovah. Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and on you he shall offer the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you. ~945 BC – 647 BC = 298 yrs (from time of the prophecy until its fulfillment)
1Kg 14:5,15-16 (Dt: 28:63-64; 29:24-28; 2Kg 10:32; 15:29; Is 7:8) Ahijah, the old and blind prophet: For Yehovah shall strike Israel as the reed waves in the water, and He shall root up Israel out of this good land which He gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherahs, provoking Yehovah to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned, and that he made Israel to sin. ~1423 BC – 721 BC = 702 yrs / ~941 BC – 786 (= 155 yrs) -65 yrs = 721 BC = 220 yrs (Covenantal consequences for unfaithfulness to God and to His will.)
1Kg 16:34 (Josh 6:26) In his days Hiel the man of Bethel built Jericho. He laid the foundation of it in Abiram his first-born, and set up the gates of it in his youngest son Segub, according to the Word of Yehovah which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. ~1422 BC – 887 BC = 535 yrs
2Kg 10:10-11 (1Kg 21:17-29) Now know that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the Word of Yehovah , which Yehovah spoke concerning the house of Ahab. For Yehovah has done that which He spoke by His servant Elijah. And Jehu killed all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his familiar friends, and his priests, until he left him none remaining. ~871 BC – 852 BC = 19 yrs
2Kg 24:2 (2Kg 15:37; 17:23; 21:10-15) And Yehovah sent against him troops of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and troops of the Moabites, and troops of the Ammonites. And He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the Word of Yehovah which He spoke by His servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7 (Gen 18:17-19; Dt 29:29; Mk 13:3-4,23) For the Lord Yehovah will do nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. (God told Abraham about Sodom’s destruction; Yeshua told some of His apostles what the signs of His coming again to restore the Kingdom of God would be.)
Is 44:28 (Is 45:1-7; Ezra 1:1-4; Jer 25:11-12; Dan 9:2,25) So says Yehovah to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have made strong in order to humble nations before him. And I will loosen the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you, and make hills level. I will break in pieces the bronze gates, and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I am Yehovah, who calls you by your name, the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even entitled you. I have named you, though you have not known me. I am Yehovah, and there is none else, no God besides Me; I clothed you, though you have not known Me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and to the sunset, that there is none besides Me. I am Yehovah, and there is none else; forming the light and creating darkness; making peace and creating evil. I Yehovah do all these things. ~712 BC – 539 BC = 173 yrs
Is 11:10-12 And in that day there shall be the Root of Jesse standing for a banner of the people; to Him the nations shall seek; and His resting place shall be glorious. And it shall be in that day, the Lord shall again set His hand, the second time, to recover the remnant of His people that remains, from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Ethiopia, and from Persia, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the coasts of the sea. And He shall lift up a banner for the nations, and shall gather the outcasts of Israel and gather together the scattered ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
~713 BC – 1917 AD = 2629 yrs + 30 (1947) + 20 (1967) + 46 (2013+) = 2725 yrs +
Is 55:11 (Mt 5:17-18) so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do!
Mt 2:23 (Is 11:1; Mk 1:2; Lk 1:70; Jn 1:45) And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” ~713 BC – ~5 BC = 708 yrs
Ezek 38:17 So says the Lord Yehovah: Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days, by the hand of My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days and years that I would bring you against them? ~580 BC + 2013 AD + = 2592 yrs +
Jn 5:46-47 (Mt 5:17-18; 7:24-27) For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My Words?
Rev 22:6-9, 18-21 And he said to me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show to His servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the Words of the prophecy of this Book. And I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel showing me these things. Then he said to me, Behold! See, do not do it! For I am your fellow-servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book. Do worship to God.
For I testify together to everyone who hears the Words of the prophecy of this Book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add on him the plagues that have been written in this Book. And if anyone takes away from the Words of the Book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which have been written in this Book. He who testifies these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly, Amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.
Mt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!
Jn 10:35 If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken
Is 41:21-24 Bring near your cause, says Yehovah; bring out your strong reasons, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them out, and tell us what shall happen; let them reveal the former things, what they are, that we may look on them and know the final end of them; or declare to us things to come. Reveal the near things after this, so that we may know that you are gods. Yes, do good, or do evil, so that we may be amazed and see together. Behold, you are of nothing, and your work of nothing. He who chooses you is an abomination.
Zech 1:5-6 Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But My Words and My statutes which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? And they returned and said, As Yehovah of Hosts planned to do to us, according to our ways and according to our doings, so He has done with us.
Acts 3:18-21 But those things which God before had shown by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He fulfilled in this manner. Therefore repent and convert so that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was proclaimed to you, whom Heaven truly needs to receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began.
Heb 1:1-2 God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds . . .
2Pt 3:2-7 to remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of the Lord and Savior by us, the apostles. First, knowing this, that there will come in the last days scoffers walking according to their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this is hidden from them by their willing it, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of the water, and through water, being held together by the Word of God, through which the world that then was, being flooded by water, perished. But the present heavens and the earth being kept in store by the same Word, are being kept for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Rev 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he will begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He has declared to His servants the prophets. ~4000 BC + 2013 AD = 6012 yrs +
All these things must come to pass, and they surely will, for the mouth of YHVH has spoken! Amen.
(Updated on 11 Oct 2013; 31 May 2016)
Beginning with an unrelated e-mail from John D, and the link that he wanted me to read, we began a serious and edifying exchange of ideas, and of our own present understanding regarding the names and concepts of Israel, the Israel of God, the Commonwealth of Israel, and the Church of God. (Rom 9:6; 11:25-28; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:12; 1Cor 10:32). We agree on some issues, not on others. The discussion hinges on whether these names refer to only one entity by various names, or whether to two or three, or even to four distinct yet related entities. It connects with historic ‘theologies’ like replacement/fulfillment /divestment theology, expansion/enlargement theology, the two-house theory, and dominion theology as we seek together to understand that which is of the truth as we have more light.
If any of you readers have anything of substantive value to contribute to helping us all better understand who we are and what God is doing to fulfill His will and purpose, please add your comments for the building up of the Body of Messiah in love. The conclusion of the matter may just have to wait for a brighter day.
—- Original Message —-
To: Howard Bass
Sent: Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 19:45 PM
Subject: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013
I go by John, but I’ll answer to either one! Let me see what I can do to help out this situation. I do reiterate my request to you from yesterday. If I can help with the work there in Beersheva, please let me know.
It’s my belief that any group that comes in to help the work of God in an area, needs to first go through the established congregations in that area. I consider it a shame when people push for “reaching an area for Messiah” and bypass the people in that area that are already doing so. I pray that Abba will never allow me to become that presumptuous. It’s my desire to help support your existing work for the Kingdom in the Land, and to reach your unbelieving countrymen living around you. You know how best to do that. I just want to help.
But Adonai has also put something very specific on my heart for the Jewish people. And I hope that it bears witness with you. Would you be willing to read this link, and tell me your thoughts on the matter? I’d appreciate your feedback.
From: Howard Bass
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:25 AM
Subject: Re: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013
Praise God that you have an understanding of the ‘order of things’ to work with and through the local believers in an area. In Israel there are very many Christians who come that do not understand, and either do not have any personal relationships among the believers here, or else they do some event which is strictly ‘foreign’ without local knowledge.
I did read your letter regarding Israeli believers being a light to the nations. I think your heart is definitely in the right place, and you will see some good response. There are already many believers, including myself, who do get out to other countries, where believers or churches or Christian ministries have invited us to come to teach on some topic relevant to the significance of Israel to them as believers, and to their nations. I don’t know how many are sitting under a tree, but we have certainly been in areas that are not posh or very developed.
If I can say so, I would not say that Gentile believers are part of the Israel of God, for that would imply a merging of Israel with the Church. At least for the next 1000 years (a pretty long time), there is a distinction between the two. During the Millennial, Israel will be the Israel which God has created, redeemed, and called her to be in the fullest sense. Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but this does not make them Jews or Israelis, just as the British Commonwealth incorporated many other nations under its care, but they did not become English, even while they did enjoy many privileges of being in the Commonwealth. The Body of Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, will be ruling and reigning with Messiah OVER Israel and the nations. These are two different groupings of people. The born-again believer is a new creation now, which Israel is not. Anyway, it is still somewhat of a mystery that is discussed and debated, even here in Israel.
God bless you,
On April 5, 2013 22:08, Jonathan D wrote:
Please pardon the lengthy response to your email. I’ve responded to the gentile/Israel discussion. I’d love to gain more of your insights on this, as your time allows.
Thank you for your time Howard!
I’ve spent some time considering your comments about Gentiles not being a part of the Israel of God. Your thought on the Commonwealth of Israel was a new idea to me. I had never considered it in an Empirical sense before. My immediate reaction was to think that we simply had semantic differences, and with some defining boundaries, we’d recognize that fact. However, after having considered your words and re-reading them over and over, I began to see what you were saying more clearly. So permit me to lay out what I think you are saying.
1) Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.
2) Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but do not become Israelis or Jews.
3) The Body of Messiah (the Bride of the Lamb) is a separate entity from Israel and from the nations.
4) Israel is defined as the natural descendents of Abraham (most of which have not come to faith in Yeshua as Messiah).
I believe most of what I’ve distilled should be accurate, especially since most of them were quoted directly from your paragraph.
Allow me to respond. I’d like to say first that I, in no wise, am a believer of replacement theology. The idea that the ‘gentile church’ (which I don’t believe exists anyway) somehow takes the promises of Israel is ridiculous to me.
I also don’t believe, as many in the messianic movements do, that gentiles become ‘Jewish’ when they enter the fold. I believe that Gentiles remain gentiles, and they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God with open arms. I don’t believe that God views the term ‘gentile’ with vulgarity, as some in our messianic ranks apparently do.
However, I have to disagree with the idea that Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities. I believe they are one and the same. I’ll explain why I believe that shortly. I would like to point out, however, that I recognize in Paul a tendency to acknowledge ‘2’ Israels—“Israel, according to the flesh” (1 Cor. 10:18) and the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). I believe that Paul considered the believing remnant among Israel in his day to be the ‘true Israel’ of God. Peter, James, John, Simeon, himself of course, and “myriads and myriads” of other Jewish believers were considered to be not only a part of the Body of Messiah, but also the Israel to whom the promises would come upon.
Paul begins a discussion that informs our conversation in Romans 9-11. In chapter 9, He says:
“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelis; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Torah, and the service of God, and the promises; to whom belong the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Not as though the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall your seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom. 9:3-8)
In this passage, Paul is making a clean division between two Israels. He acknowledges “Israel, according to the flesh”, and even wishes that he could be accursed for their salvation; but he also recognizes another Israel, an Israel that the natural Israeli isn’t a part of. We both know Paul’s arguments well enough. Paul is using Abraham’s life as a metaphor. Abraham was given a promise for children. Abraham fathered Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the promised seed that Adonai had prophesied. Isaac, also a physical son of Abraham as Ishmael was, happened to also be the promised seed. Paul’s argument is the believing remnant of Israelis in his day were the promised seed of Abraham. And this promised seed was considered Israel, hence “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”.
Paul goes on to argue in Romans 9 that God’s election is based upon His sovereignty. In other words, God will have mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy. He uses the classic example of Jacob/Esau. God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they had done anything good or evil, or had even been born. In His sovereignty, God simply declared that the “elder shall serve the younger”. The point is implicit here and more explicit in Galatians, but the point is: Israel according to the flesh is the older, the believing remnant of Israel is the younger. The believing remnant is the Israel of the promise, whereas the non-believing Israel is not.
But Paul doesn’t end this discussion there. He uses another classic example, Pharaoh, to show that God’s choice is His alone (not ours). God chose to show mercy upon a remnant in Israel, for His own purposes. For those that had an issue with this, Paul’s goes ahead and asks their rhetorical questions: How can God find fault with those that resist His will? In other words, how can God judge unbelieving Israel, since Paul just argued that they had been ‘hardened’ by God. But Paul answered the question by saying that it’s God’s sovereign right to chose to do with His lump of clay what He wants. God will endure the hardened hearts of the unbelieving Israel in order to extend His kindness upon the believing remnant among Israel! But then Paul includes the gentiles in this believing remnant!
“What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory; even us, who He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom. 9:22-24)
Consider the flow of Paul’s argument. He’s been arguing the whole chapter that “not all Israel is Israel”. There are some that are the seed of promise, and others that are not. God’s mercy determines this, not man’s will or ability to run (vs. 16). Paul was saying that the believing remnant among Israel are the vessels of mercy. They have experienced God’s abundant grace in Messiah. They are the Israel of promise. But this Israel doesn’t only include the believing remnant of the descendants of Abraham, but also any gentiles that have taken hold and put their faith in Messiah! So this ‘believing Israel’ consists not only of Jews (Israelis), but also of Gentiles.
But as I said before, Paul does not consider the believing remnant to “replace” the non-believing Israelis, but rather acknowledges both groups as Israel—one of the flesh, and the other of the Spirit. After making his argument in chapter 9, Paul immediately jumps back to his heart for Israel, according to the flesh, in chapter 10.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” (Rom 10:1)
Paul goes on in chapter 10 to speak about the necessity of faith to produce the righteousness of God, and the fact that Israel, according to the flesh, is lacking this faith. Paul argues that Israel needs to hear the message of the gospel, so that they can understand the Torah’s message of faith that’s been in there all along. Paul ends the chapter by quoting from the TNK to answer key questions.
Have they not heard? Of course they have, the gospel is going throughout the whole earth.
But didn’t Israel know? Moses said that the Gentiles (who are coming to faith) will provoke Israel.
Isaiah was very clear by saying, “I was found by them that didn’t seek me (gentiles), but I have stretched out my hands all day long to a disobedient people” (Israel according to the flesh).
Hence, the chapter that speaks of the crux of the matter—chapter 11.
“I ask then, Has God cast off His people?—God forbid! I am also an Israeli, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people which He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)
Paul then uses Elijah to argue that there was a believing remnant in his day. Paul likens Elijah’s situation to his own day.
“Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (vs. 5)
Paul then argues that [natural] Israel has not obtained what it sought [righteousness], but the believing remnant among Israel did!
“What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (vs. 7)
It’s here that we surely agree. The election is the Body the Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, and Israel is seen as a separate entity. I agree with this emphatically. However, I also maintain that Paul see this “election” as Israel also. In fact, Paul’s next metaphor is quite telling.
In the Olive Tree metaphor, it is not the believing branches that are removed from Israel and made into a new creation—aka, the Body of Messiah. Rather, it is the unbelieving branches that are removed from the Olive Tree, which is faithful Israel.
Replacement theology says that the old olive tree is simply thrown out and replaced with a wild one! Ridiculous!
Dispensationalism says that God took some branches from Israel’s olive tree and some branches from the wild gentile olive tree, and grafted them both into a new, 3rd olive tree. But that’s not what Paul says.
Paul says that the believing Israelis stayed nice and cozy in their own tree. They were never moved! They have shown that they truly are the sons of Abraham! The Fathers were holy, through their faith in Adonai, and their ‘true descendants’ [believing Israelis] are also holy! This is why I believe that the faithful believing remnant among the Israelis are considered the “Israel of God”. They’re still in the cultivated Olive Tree.
But they’re not alone. God, in His sovereign mercy, has also grafted believing gentiles into this Olive Tree. So the gentiles who were “aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers of the Covenants of Promise” (Eph 2:12), are now “fellow citizens with the saints [holy ones, believing Israelis], and of the household of God” (vs. 19). Gentiles have now become a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, but not as a 2nd class citizen in that Commonwealth, like the Indians were to Britain, or the Israelis were to Rome. No, gentiles have been grafted in, and have become “fellow citizens with the saints”. Gentiles have citizenship that is equal to the saints’ citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel. This Greek term for fellow citizen is sympolitai—“co-citizenship”. This is exactly the picture Paul is describing in Romans 11. The gentile branches are grafted in with the believing Israeli branches, and they have become partakers together of the Covenants of the Promise.
Paul goes on in Romans 11 to address the status of the removed branches. Paul tells the gentiles that Israel (natural unbelieving Israelis, according to context) has been partially blinded, until the fullness of the gentiles come in. But this blindness will not last forever! God has promised that the Deliverer would come out of Zion and turn ungodliness away from Jacob. So all of Israel’s ungodliness has to be removed at some point, Paul is arguing.
Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for the sake of the believing remnant/believing gentiles. Why? Because they were persecuting the people of God (Gal 4:29). But concerning God’s election, they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob]. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29). Israel’s calling is to be a special people to Adonai, and a light to the nations! These are gifts given to Israel by God, and He will not remove them from Israel because of this partial blindness. These promises still stand!
Paul argues that unbelieving Israel will be grafted in again to their own Olive Tree, and all Israel will be saved!
So Howard, to me this seems to support the idea that there are two Israels acknowledged in the Apostolic Writings. One is the true Israel, which is the Body of Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb. The other is Israel according to the flesh, that has been removed from the Israeli Olive Tree, but is set aside carefully ready to be grafted in again as soon as faith comes!
The reason I think this is important, is because the promises given throughout the prophets will not come upon unbelieving Israel. God’s restoration that’s prophesied throughout Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. will come to Israel when they acknowledge that Yeshua is Messiah that has made atonement for them. When this occurs, they’ll be grafted back into the Israeli Olive Tree, and the blessing promised to “Israel” will at that time come upon them.
This is the amazing grace that has been granted to gentiles. Gentiles, who have never had these promises from the God of Israel, are granted access to the very fulfillment of these promises, not as a replacement of Israel, but as a fellow heir with the believing remnant of Israel!
This is what makes Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 so pivotal. Paul argues that “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal 3:16). What promises? The promise of the possession of the Land, the promise of a Redeemer, the promise of a New Covenant and true righteousness by the Spirit’s work! These promises were all made to Abraham’s seed. The New Covenant [the fulfillment of the promises] is made with Abraham’s seed. But Paul argues that the seed of Abraham was speaking of Messiah. So anyone among Israel that believed in Messiah, they were the true sons of Abraham.
“And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the Promise” (Gal 3:29).
So are gentiles “heirs according to the Promise”? I think emphatically, yes. Then we have to acknowledge that Paul considered Gentiles to be included in Abraham’s seed because of their faith in Messiah. Once again, Gentiles don’t replace Israelis as Abraham’s seed, they simply are grafted in among them, and will partake of the fulfillment of the promises just as the natural descendants do.
I feel this is so important for us to contend for. If Gentiles are considered only in Israel like the Indians or the South Africans were a part of Britain, then the gentiles will be seen, and see themselves as 2nd class citizens behind Israel. But this would bring dishonor to Adonai, who always envisioned bringing the nations in through Abraham’s seed.
I’m so saddened when Gentiles use replacement theology to teach that the “Church” [gentile people of God, as they see it] has replaced the promises to Israel. But I’m equally saddened when I see my Israeli brothers and sisters keep gentiles at arm’s length. It seems sometimes that maintaining identity as Israel is more important than fully embracing their brothers from among the nations that love them with deep passion.
I’m a congregational leader here at Beit Hallel in Tucson. Another congregational leader is Avi. Avi is Jewish; I’m gentile. We both love Adonai deeply. We both love each other deeply. We are the best of friends. Avi has promises from Adonai by birthright, as a part of Israel. I have inherited the same promises by grace, because of faith. Though we both fully acknowledge our respective pasts, we both see each other as part of the Israel of God.
Am I missing something here? Maybe a nuance of the dialogue that I don’t quite grasp?
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:42 AM
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel
Hi John. I appreciate very much your lengthy response, and it is the clearest explanation that I have heard. You have done an excellent work to explain how you understand it, and also how your conclusion would have you feel second class, and I am really sorry if my response before gave you reason to think that . Your full answer will help me better understand how I need to discuss this subject with others.
So, before I try to explain my view more fully, I want to say at the outset that born-again Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah are totally and completely equal, without any difference whatsoever before God and within the Body of Christ. That there are still differences that God may make use of now, or that we may have different nuances of understanding which should complement one another to see more fully the glorious truth of who our God and Savior are, does not in any way take away from the gospel truth that believers are one in Him without priority of one over the other: we are all first-born with Yeshua in God. Amazing, and true!
In our own congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, we have both Jewish and non-Jewish elders, deacons, teachers. While we may at times speak of those who are Jewish, and of those who have joined themselves to identify with the people of Israel and with the God of Israel, not all Christians feel a particular affinity for the Jewish people or for the nation of Israel; but as believers, we are all one in Christ. My Palestinian Arab brothers in Jesus who think that the ‘occupation’ began in 1948 are just as equal with me through our common salvation. The Holy Spirit will deal with us all on important matters which God knows are hindering us from moving on with the Lord into the reality of the one new man from the two — Jewish people and Gentiles.
With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after; for example, Egypt will also become YHVH’s people. (Is 19:25) And for Jewish people being the natural branches and those to whom were revealed the oracles of God, they will be judged more severely, and also enjoy a special acknowledgement. (Rom 2:5-11) Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all, I believe, because we are the first-born and natural branch, and have a more natural affinity for the Biblical history and family; and having been shown such mercy to be forgiven and restored to even greater blessings, are more expected to be merciful and long-suffering toward our Gentile Christian brothers and sisters whom our Father has brought into His family. (Rom 9:3-5; 11:21; Acts 15:7-9; Col 1:26-27)
There is discussion and debate within the Body of Messiah in Israel as to whether there is some special calling upon Jewish believers as compared with the Gentile believers. I am not comfortable with this differentiation. If anything, as I have said, then Jewish believers are called to be more humble and forgiving towards others and more thankful to God! Gentile believers could say the same thing, though, from the grace shown them by the God of Israel.
As I wrote in my first letter, this subject is on-going even here in Israel, and I am too often accused of being too ‘equal minded’, whereas I see too much of others making the Jewish believers superior in our particular calling and ministry over what the Lord has given to Gentile believers. Ironically, it is because they do tend to see the Israel of God as being the same as the Church, and the Commonwealth of Israel in the same vein. Some even see that in eternity, after the Millennial Kingdom, there will still be a distinction between Israel and the nations, which I do not, at least as of now, even with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles forever memorialized in the New Jerusalem. (Rev 21:12-14) (On [this] website, I have written at various times on the subject from a number of aspects; sometimes this might be under Reflecting Pool, other times under Latest News even, or under School of Fish.)
Just to be open about some of my own views connected with eschatology, which I believe influences anyone’s interpretation of these important issues:
1. Yeshua Himself is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, over the saved full remnant of the tribes of Israel and the [sheep] nations, for 1000 years;
2. The Church/Body of Messiah/the Bride of the Lamb will go through the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, being either resurrected (if any one in Christ has already died) or else raptured (if still alive in Messiah at that time). We are saved from God’s wrath, which I believe is limited to a relatively brief period of time, compared to the full seven-year period, prior to the coming again of the Lord;
3. The Church is made up of both Jewish people and Gentiles, but is neither Jewish nor Gentile/Greek;
4. The Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him over Israel and the nations for the 1000 years, already in glorified bodies, which Israel and the nations will not have during that time.
There are other points too, of course, but these should suffice to show what shapes my interpretation on these issues of the Israel of God and of the Commonwealth of Israel as I presently do.
You mention that the promises made to Abraham are to all his seed, including the promise of the Land. The promise of the Land of Canaan to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the children of Israel is specifically to that family line. There has always been room given by God for non-Israelis to partake of that promise, such as Ruth the Moabitess, and for all those mentioned in Ezekiel 47:21-23 during the Millennial Kingdom. It has never been a pure blood issue, but covenantal to and through a particular genealogy and people. Among David’s mighty men were Gentiles, such as Uriah the Hittite. Ruth gives us a good example of one who came into the Commonwealth of Israel — under the welfare of the God of Israel — entitled to all the benefits and privileges with the people, but did not become Jewish: she is always referred to as Ruth the Moabitess when referred to in the Tanach.
If all those today who are Abraham’s seed by faith, that is, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, thought themselves entitled to live in the modern State of Israel, it is clear that not only is there not room for that, but it would also take away the whole nature of the “homeland for the Jewish people”, since the vast multitude of Gentile Christians would be even more than all the Arabs who think that the Land belongs to them! So the land promise is specifically given to the children of Israel, but the promise which does involve ‘land’ (ארץ) which is applicable to all the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob by flesh and by faith is the whole ‘Earth’ (ארץ), which includes the Land of Canaan. The Millennial Kingdom will see the fulfillment of that as the whole Earth comes under the rule of Yeshua, with the full remnant of the whole House of Israel restored in the land as an everlasting possession as one nation with one King, and all the sheep nations in their borders who are shown mercy because they showed mercy to the least of Yeshua’s brethren (Mt 25:31-40)
But for those born-again believers out from every tribe and tongue and and people and nation who have the blessed and holy part in the first resurrection (Rev 5; 20), by being made a kingdom of priests to God with Messiah, we inherit the whole Earth in fulfillment of the greater promise given to Abraham. To redeemed and saved Israel, the Land of Canaan; to the resurrected and raptured Church, the whole Earth. In Hebrew, the same word is used for land and for Earth — eretz. In God’s wisdom, the land of Israel is a type of the whole in the battle between Satan and Jesus; and the people of Israel as a whole, and God’s dealings with them, is a type for all humanity, since Israel is given as an example to the Church, which includes people from all ethnicities and nations.
God began His ‘program of redemption’ on Earth through choosing Abram and cutting His covenant with him. As Paul writes, God chose Abraham while he was uncircumcised, so that the promise of the gospel and salvation would go to Gentiles as well as to Jews (who didn’t even exist then!) The covenant and promises and hope for believers in Yeshua are better than those given to Israel. (Heb 7:18-28; 8:6) There are presently in the world three types of people: Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God. All of the tribes of Israel (even if presently unable to trace) are incorporated into the term ‘Jews’ for now; all the other people groups are incorporated into the generic term ‘gentiles’; the Church of God is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
I agree with you that the present election of grace among the Jewish people is representative of the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14-16) But Paul is making it clear here, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this blessing of peace and mercy for all believers is particularly for those who walk by this rule: in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. It is a grievous thing not only to you, John, but also to God, when believers make too much of their natural heritage over and against the high calling in Messiah Yeshua of the new creation, one new man in Christ from the two (Jewish and Gentile).
The Millennial Kingdom will see the full-fillment of the Israel of God, when the “all Israel” that will see Yeshua whom they have pierced will enter the Kingdom to serve the YHVH their God in righteousness and truth, full of thanksgiving and praise. (Zech 12:10-14; Is 25:9) But I, part of a small remnant at present as a pledge for my people until that day, hope and believe in the grace of God to have part in that first resurrection as part of the Bride of the Lamb, a more wonderful and better adoption and redemption (Rom 8:18-25) than to simply have part as the Israel of God in the flesh for 1000 years. Standing on God’s promises for my people and their inheritance, we gave our second son the middle name of Shimon (Simeon) as a testimony to the faithfulness of God’s Word to give this son and tribe of Jacob/Israel his inheritance — which includes Beer Sheva — in the world to come at the coming of the Lord in great power and glory. Yet our son has a better inheritance through his faith in Yeshua than the tribe of Shimon does, at least for the next 1000 years.
Just as the Levitical priests had no possession or inheritance of the Land of Israel, but a better inheritance — Yehovah Himself, to whom was all the land — so, too, born-again priests of God in Messiah have no specific earthly inheritance, but rather the whole Kingdom of God, as Abraham believed (Mt 8:11):
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And, truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they were called out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly land. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a place for them.” (Heb 11:8-10,13-16)
May we see it in our day! This has also been lengthy, John, and I also hope helpful as we continue together to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
In Messiah with you,
On April 11, 2013 01:00, Jonathan wrote:
I’ve got to say from the forefront of this conversation that this is fun! I love to dialogue with men about the Word of God, and getting the privilege to discuss the Scripture with someone who obviously knows the Book well is such a delight. Thank you.
I’d also like to say that your letter did nothing to stir up feelings of inferiority. I love the spirit of your letters. I can sense your humility and genuine care, and that truly puts me at ease. Thank you again for offering an apology, though unnecessary.
If you’ll allow me, I’ll work through some things that struck me while I was reading your response. You mentioned in your letter:
With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after…
I absolutely agree with this! However, I see these other ‘nations’ entering into their sonship more directly at the outset of the Millennium. When Yeshua returns and judges the sheep and goat nations (Mt. 25), these nations, including Assyria and Egypt mentioned in Isaiah 19, will become the ‘other’ sons of Adonai. Though for now, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and all those who dwell in it” (Ps 24), the Jewish people are certainly singled out as having a special relationship with Adonai. They are His segulah (Ex. 19) and the only nation with which He has known (in a covenant sense), according to Amos 3.
You mentioned also that:
Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all…
I also agree that the Jewish believers are the most accountable of all. According to Romans 3:1-2, Jews have the advantage because of their Torah training; but that Torah training also holds them to a greater level of accountability (vs. 9).
“Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all.”(Rom 3:1-2, 9)
The background training in Torah would be advantageous to the Jewish man in his New Covenant walk because He wouldn’t have to learn the Torah from scratch, as the Gentile man would have to do; however, his Torah knowledge also held him to a higher level of accountability, so his advantage was lessened to that extent.
When Gentiles enter the faith, Acts 15 spells out some requirements to be maintained. These would help preserve table fellowship between the much-closer-quartered Jewish/Gentile believers of the 1st century. James gave his rationale for this judgment —
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)
The implication is that Gentiles, having accepted the initial requirements, would continue to learn the Torah in their local synagogues. As they did, their discipleship would mature and they’ll naturally take on more of the Torah. [The idea that Gentiles are simply to keep these 4 requirements is preposterous! There are much better requirements than these 4 to be kept if that was the intent of the chapter.] The Jewish believers, however, were already trained in Torah observance. There was no reason why they shouldn’t continue in their Torah walk in Messiah. This is their advantage.
[I’m getting ready to enter a bunny trail here.]
This also happens to be why my heart is to support my Jewish brothers. It’s your responsibility to teach the Torah to the nations. Yeshua didn’t just say to preach the gospel [the message of the remission of sins] to the nations; He also said to “make disciples, teaching ‘them’ [the nations] to observe all things I have taught ‘you’ [Jewish apostles].” He taught the Twelve how to walk out the Torah life in the original intent of the Torah. This is the message that was to be taken to the nations.
Our Gentile brothers have been indoctrinated in 1900 years of anti-nomian theology. They’ve been taught that he Torah is passed away instead of being taught that the Old Covenant is what’s passed away. Without proper teaching, they fail to distinguish the line between the Torah and a covenant (agreement/oath). They’re not taught that the New Covenant is a new agreement/new oath concerning the same immutable Torah! So since they’ve falsely learned doctrine in this area, they don’t understand passages about the New Covenant that teaches the Torah will be written upon our hearts. So they assign new definitions to the ‘Torah’, or they say well our heart is supposed to guide us now [according to Deuteronomy we are “NOT to follow after our heart, after which we stray”].
Gentiles need to understand that the Torah is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12), and that Torah observance is not a means of salvation, for either Jew or Gentile; but is rather a proper response to our free gift of salvation.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness [Torahlessness] and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works [commandments]. (Titus 2:11-14)
The New Covenant has put the love of Torah within the Gentile heart just as it was in the 1st century Gentile hearts [which love made the erroneous doctrine of the Circumcision Group all the more easy to spread], but the accessibility to understand the Torah is not available to the Gentiles today as it was then. Sure, it’s in all our Bibles, but is that available when our churches teach that everything left of Matthew is invalid for us? Your Gentile brothers need to hear that our Father’s Torah isn’t tyrannical and austere, but rather, it’s the loving instruction of a Father to His children. Who’s responsible to teach this to the Gentile believer? Well I certainly make every effort to make disciples that understand this, but it’s my belief that the lion’s share [pardon the pun] of the responsibility belongs to the native-born sons of Abraham!
I personally believe that in these last days before our Master’s return, the knowledge of Torah will increase exponentially among the whole Body of Messiah. And this knowledge should be exported from the Land to the nations.
[End of Bunny Trail]
I do appreciate your ‘equal-mindedness’ and it puts me at ease to know so. I still (at this point) see the Israel of God equivalent to the Church and the Commonwealth of Israel, but I don’t see how that makes Jewish believers superior in calling, as you mentioned some of your peers there do. I see Gentiles as having been made co-heirs with our Jewish brothers. [Incidentally, this idea caused Paul a lot of trouble with His Jewish peers too.] This is the mystery of the gospel—that the Gentiles are equal heirs with Israel through the gospel.
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:4-6)
Where we both see that as being equal within the Church, I see the Church as being equivalent with the Commonwealth of Israel. Ephesians 2, verses 12 and 19, just a few verses before and in the same passage as Ephesians 3 here, says:
“…remember that you were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”
Equality within the Church and equality within the Commonwealth of Israel are both spoken about in this passage. I believe we both actually agree on this. We differ on the whether ‘Israel’ is the same thing as the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ and ‘the Church’.
As far as your eschatology goes, I’m in complete agreement with you. I’d like to add (just for fun) that at Yeshua’s return, the Kingdom of God is restored and the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and His Messiah (Rev. 11:15). This is when a highway from Egypt and Assyria is made and they enter into relationship ‘nationally’ with the God of Israel (Isa. 19).
For clarity, we both see 3 groups of people. And practically speaking, there seems to be very little difference in how things play out between these groups. I think this comparison shows where we both stand:
1) The Church (consisting of Jews and Gentiles) Believing Israel (both Jews and Gentiles)
2) National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point) National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)
3) Nations Nations
I actually think we mostly agree here. We have no disagreement on group #3—the Nations.
We probably agree on group #2. I think we both see them as ‘national Israel’, the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham. This group on a national level has yet to come to faith, but they have a promise that they will come to faith on a national scale (Romans 11:25-26).
Group #1—again, practically speaking, we both agree here! Believing Israelis and the believing Gentiles make up this group. It seems that where we differ is in my placing the title “Israel of God” on this group.
I believe that you see this group as a separate entity that will remain as a separate entity throughout the 1000 years. I see this group as the ‘true Israel of God’—the faithful remnant among Israel.
Israel has always had a remnant within the national people. Take Paul’s mention of Elijah in Romans 11 for example. Elijah was lamenting that all of Israel had turned their backs on God, leaving him the only faithful one. But God revealed to Elijah that He had 7000 men of Israel who were faithful. Paul used that example to show that within national Israel there was a faithful remnant, chosen by grace (Rom 11:4-5). He said that national Israel failed to obtain righteousness (vs. 7); but the elect (the faithful remnant within ‘national Israel’) did obtain it.
Paul seems to be saying here that there is a national Israel, and within that people, there is a believing remnant called the elect. Paul speaks more directly about this in chapter 9 of Romans:
“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named’. This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the Promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom. 9:6-8)
Not all physical descendants from Jacob (Israel) are Israel. This means that Paul recognized an Israel that the physical descendants were not a part of. This Israel is the ‘Israel of God’ because it’s made up of the believing remnant that are considered the children of God. I believe this validates my referral of Group #1 as “Israel”. There is an “Israel” within national Israel that is considered the children of the Promise. Paul uses this analogy of Ishmael/Isaac in Galatians to further demonstrate this relationship between the two.
Ishmael and Isaac were both descendants of Abraham; but Isaac was the seed of promise. Within the natural children of Abraham, a smaller group was considered the chosen ones, the elect. Hence Romans 9:8—“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of Promise are counted as offspring.” In other words, the promises made to Israel in the TNK are not going to fall upon national Israel (the children of the flesh) until national Israel believes in Yeshua, and becomes the children of the promise!
This is what I believe is prophesied in Romans 11. When the fullness of the Gentiles come in, God will remove the partial blindness upon national Israel and they will come to faith in Messiah en masse! When that happens, there will no longer be a group #1 and #2—they will be one and the same! I believe the time of Jacob’s Trouble will prune those among national Israel that do not believe (Zech 13:8-9). I believe that entering into the Millennium, all the survivors among national Israel will be believers. This will be a far greater number than the messianic community in Israel today, because the partial blindness will have been removed! Israel, nationally, will see Yeshua, the One “Whom they pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech 12:10). All of remaining national Israel will be saved!
Since “all of Israel” will be saved, there’s no way to have the Body of Messiah (group #1) as separate from national Israel (group #2) entering the Millennium. There will only be Israel (including those gentiles from among the nations that are of faith) ruling over the nations (who do not have glorified bodies).
I agree also that the New Covenant is better than the old. The Sinaic Covenant was a 2-sided (bi-lateral) agreement, as seen in Exodus 24. Both parties were responsible for the upkeep of the covenant, not like Abraham and David’s covenants, where both of them would be helpless to see the fruition of their covenants. Abraham and David both experienced unilateral (1 sided) covenants that the God of Israel granted them. That’s why they’re referred to as Covenants of Promise. They were God-initiated, and God-guaranteed. The Sinaic Covenant has been broken and the curse of the Torah remains for all those still under it. National Israel (those not ‘in Messiah’) is under the Sinaic Covenant, and this covenant is a two-sided covenant. I personally believe the reasons that Israel (nationally) continues to experience the violence of their enemies is because the curse of the Torah is still intact for those not in Messiah. They simply cannot find rest from their enemies until they come to faith in Messiah. When they do come to faith in Messiah, at His return, they will immediately experience rest in the Land as God envisioned.
The New Covenant is a better covenant because it’s a unilateral (1 sided) covenant! We can’t mess this one up! God initiated it, cut the covenant Himself (through the hands of men), and promised to put His Spirit in us which would “cause us to keep His statutes and His judgments” (Ez. 36:27).
The writer of Hebrews is comparing the 2 covenants. Both are valid, but Sinai’s Covenant bears children to slavery (Gal 4:24), whereas the New Covenant bears free children. Not freedom from Torah—God forbid! [Haha!-had to get a little Pauline there] Rather, the New Covenant bears children free from sin! In the New Covenant, our fallen natures have been dealt with, and our former disposition to break God’s Torah has been replaced with a desire to keep His statutes and judgments. His Torah is upon our hearts! This inner regeneration wasn’t promised at Mt. Sinai, but it is in the New Covenant. This is why the New Covenant is better. But the New Covenant, this ‘better covenant’, is promised to the House of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34). And according to my understanding (at this point), this covenant will fall corporately upon national Israel at the beginning of the Millennium. All Israel will experience the New Covenant, and “they will all know Me (God) from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer 31:34).
This New Covenant is what’s prophesied in Hosea 2:14-23. Israel will sing in the wilderness again like she did when she came out of Egypt. She’ll call God—“My Husband”, and God will end war throughout the earth. God will marry Israel then.
So which Israel is He talking about? The Church (The Bride of Messiah) or national Israel? Both!! They’ll be one and the same at that time. All Israel will have come to faith at the return of Messiah and the New Covenant will find its ultimate expression then. God has only one Bride—Israel, His Bride, that He betrothed in the Wilderness of Sinai and will consummate at His return to the Earth.
Having said all this, I will see Israel, according to the flesh, as chosen and set apart. That’s because they’re destined to believe when the partial blindness is removed. And I don’t call myself a Jew (as some believing gentiles are known to do). I’m a gentile, and I’m actually proud of that. My Father chose me from among Gentiles to be grafted in with His People. Like Ruth and Uriah, I’m still a gentile, but I’ve been joined to the believing remnant of Israel, the Elect. I’m a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, the true Israel of God, because they (you) are the Israelis of Promise. And when the harvest of Gentiles is complete, I look forward to the rest of Israel coming to faith. In that Millennial Kingdom, I’ll partake of the same promises that you will—both spiritual and physical blessings.
Well Howard, my hands are tired. Haha! I’m gonna end this response here. Look forward to hearing from you!
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2013 17:33 PM
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel
John, we are both in agreement that the nations enter into their ‘sonship’ at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom, with Israel as the first-born and the sheep nations as other ‘brother’ (‘sister’ (?)) nations of God, the Father, with Yeshua as Lord of all and the Brother of all who do His Father’s will. The revelation of the sons of God will also not be until the First Resurrection, when all who have ever died, and those who are still alive, in Messiah will be changed in a twinkling of an eye. I also believe that this is inclusive of all who have believed the promises of YHVH God regarding the Promised Seed, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden; for surely those who are included in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” will not fall short of the blessed hope of those who were born later, so that together we may be made perfect. (Heb 11:40)
I think we also agree that each of our basic assumptions are determining the outcomes of our interpretation. While we both agree that the believers within Israel presently constitute the Israel of God, you say that all believers anywhere and everywhere constitute the Israel of God, and say that this is the Commonwealth of Israel and is the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church is found within every nation, but is not of any nation.
I would also say that the believers presently within the other nations constitute those who have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel. The believers within Israel and within the other nations are a pledge of God’s full intention at the coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His kingdom on Earth. All the nations during the 1000 years will be fully brought into the beneficent welfare of the Commonwealth of Israel under the Kingship of Yeshua, with “all Israel” that was saved, and brought into His kingdom and New Covenant, becoming the head nation as the firstborn in willful and glad submission to his Father God, and a blessing to the rest of his ‘brethren’. This Israel of God will be born in a day, which the modern State of Israel pre-figured in its re-establishment. The Israel of God, with Gentiles included within her borders and full partakers of the inheritance, remains distinct from each of the other Gentile sheep nations brought into the Kingdom at the outset of the Millennial. The Body of Messiah — the Bride of Christ — the Queen — will rule with her Husband, the Lord and King Yeshua over Israel and the nations: it is a distinct group from out of Israel and every other nation.
Our basic assumptions will also affect how we interpret and apply other Scriptures. This is seen in how we each understand the place of Torah (the Law of Moses in our discussion) and the Old Covenant. You have written that the Torah is a guide for the believers in Jesus, and that the Old Covenant has passed away. In the letter to the Hebrews (referring specifically to Jewish believers, but also for all who would be pilgrims and sojourners passing through this world), the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to say, “In that He says, ‘a new covenant’, He has made the first obsolescent (passing away). Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13) Most English translations say ‘obsolete’ instead of ‘obsolescent’, giving the impression that it is already passed away, rather than passing way, as the next sentence clearly states is the case. As for the Torah — the Law — Paul is inspired to write: “But when I saw that [Peter and Barnabas] were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews (for he had been eating whatever food was put before him with the Gentile believers), why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” We, Jews by nature and not sinners like the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we [Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners (because we do not and can not keep the Torah of Moses as written or interpreted), is Messiah therefore a minister of sin? God forbid! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Messiah died in vain.” (Gal 2:14-21)
“For the law of the Spirit of Life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
While there is most certainly an increasing lawlessness in the world and in the Church, the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit in the love and fear of God, will have the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us. (Rom 8:4)
Grace reigns through righteousness, and those who truly appreciate what the Lord Yeshua did for us on the cross will not take such a great salvation for granted and make faith or grace cheap. The four things which the Apostles agreed upon that was good to the Holy Spirit regarding the new influx of Gentile believers was a good starting point for their new life in Christ. We all begin as immature babes needing instruction, being brought to spiritual maturity as we are transformed/converted into the image of the Son of God over the course of the rest of our life and sojourn.
When we look at the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, which I believe describe the Millennial Kingdom to come, we can already notice modifications in some of the ordinances when compared with the Law given through Moses. When Yeshua began to speak out His teachings on the Mount of Olives, He did so in fulfillment of Dt 18:15-19, speaking with authority: “you have heard, but I say. . . ” He was not taking us back to the Law of Moses, but was taking us onward to maturity by teaching the Law of the Kingdom of God. The Law was until John (the Baptiser), but now is the Kingdom of God preached. All of the Ten Commandments are still in effect for believers, except for the Sabbath: for Yeshua is God’s rest, and has become ours — not just one day in a week, but each and every day. There is still the necessity of meeting together with other believers, but, depending on circumstances, it may not necessarily be on a Saturday, or even a Sunday. But knowing the Lord, and ceasing from our own works, is to live the crucified life in the power of the resurrection. Under the Law, even during the coming Kingdom, the people will be ruled with a rod of iron! This is not so for those whose hearts are being purified through faith! Knowing the Law, which is given for sinners and also for tutoring, should make us more sober in how we live in the liberty to which we have been called and freed. Those brought up under the teachings of the New Testament have much to teach and show by example to those who know only ‘self-righteousness’. But unless those taught under the N.T. are themselves born-again, and realize that not only has Christ died for them, but that they have died with Him, then they, too, will be no different than the Jewish people seeking their own righteousness, not knowing the righteousness of God. The Law is not God’s righteousness; Jesus is God’s righteousness: only He is perfect, and did not need to come under the Law, but did so in order to save us from it, with its curse and condemnation. Praise the Name of the Lord!
The priesthood has changed, therefore necessarily the Law has changed. Food regulations have been changed: Yeshua makes all foods clean. Clean meats were already clean, so it is unclean meat that he has cleansed and purified to break down a huge wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles who have together been brought into the priesthood of the New Covenant, sitting together as brothers and sisters at whatever table, and for the gospel’s sake and truth, giving thanks and glory to God. If He can make me clean, he can make the meat of an unclean animal — that goes in and out of my body when eaten — clean. I am free to eat; I am free not to eat; but if necessary, for love’s sake, I die to myself that I might live unto God for His name’s sake. There are new and different regulations regarding how husbands are to relate to their wives; there is a new commandment to love one another as Yeshua loves us. (This is a higher standard than loving our neighbor as ourselves, which we don’t live up to very well.) We are told to forgive our enemies, which is not ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘just’.
Believing on the name of the Son of God has brought us into a high calling, which the Law can never attain to. We are not to combine Yeshua with the Law, but are to live by the power of the Holy Spirit a higher, deeper, wider, longer life than Law can inspire. The love of God in sending His Son to die for us on a cross is our stimulus and motivation. I think, that by equating the Church with the Israel of God (and Israel’s Commonwealth), the tendency, then, would be to come under Israel’s Law, whether as given by Moses, or as we see described by YHVH through Ezekiel. But just as the Levites were under a different regime than the rest of their brethren in the other tribes, so are born-again believers in Yeshua a priesthood under a different regime than either Israel or some “Christianized/gospelized” nation. After Pentecost/Shavuot, we read that all the new believers (all Jewish) “were baptized . . ., and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done . . . .” (Acts 2:41-43) As usual, discussing things of the Kingdom of God and which concern the Lord Jesus Christ leads on and on and on and on . . . . There will always forever be more of Him to find out!
11 October 2013
A few more ‘bullets’ that come to mind:
–Israel is normally referred to as YHVH God’s people, and never called the Body of Messiah/Christ; the Church is not normally referred to as the People of God/YHVH, but is called the Body of Christ/Messiah.
–Yeshua/Jesus is never called the King of the Church, but Head of the Body of Messiah/Christ; He is the King of Israel and of the Jews.
–Every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled, much of which concerns Israel as a specific nation with identity and covenant obligations based on God’s promises to their fathers and natural descendants. These ‘jots and tittles’ include the restoration of ‘all Israel’ – all of the tribes, Ephraim and Judah – into “one stick”, a restored family and nation under one God and King. (This is a type for the corporate one new man in Messiah, but not the fullness of the new creation reality.) It will not be what we know today as ‘Jewish’ in a parochial sense, but ‘Israeli’, a whole redeemed nation holy unto the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel, as well as some “strangers” (Gentiles) who also live among the restored tribes with a full and equal inheritance. (Ezek 47:21-23)
The [English] verses in Hos 1:8-10 refer to the whole House of Israel; the application in Rom 9:23-26 is being applied to Gentiles. In Is 19:23-25, the LORD is calling the Gentile nation, Egypt, His people. There is not just ‘one people of God’! While it is true that some believers today may be ‘Israelis and not know it’, this only represents God’s intention to restore a united family and Kingdom, but does not mean that all saved people not identifiable as Jews are “Ephraimites”: God is also saving Gentiles, who remain such, even though they are to have a circumcised heart, just as Jewish believers are to have. (Rom 2:28-29)
–The Law of God in born-again believers’ hearts and minds, and in saved Israel, (Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12) will be the Law of the Kingdom on the basis of knowing who the Lord is, and not a return to the Law of Moses. The last nine chapters of Ezekiel speak of the future Millennial Kingdom when Messiah has returned and is received and accepted as the God and the King of Israel, and there are modifications to what had been the Mosaic Law, and also some things which remain for Israel, not for the Church of the Firstborn, who will be ruling and reigning with Christ over Israel and the nations in glorified bodies. (Rev 20:4-6; Rom 8:23)
–Believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are called sons of Abraham, the father of those who believe. While Jewish believers are also sons of Jacob in the flesh, Gentile believers are not. The Church is never spoken of as children of Jacob/Israel, nor of belonging to a tribe of Israel, but as called out ones from the different nations. Only Israel, God’s chosen first-born son as a nation, is spoken of with reference to its tribes and their fathers. Therefore, the Church is not Israel, and Israel is not the Church. But both are in covenantal relationship with the God of Israel, who is YEHOVAH, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Isaac, the son of promise, that Abraham’s seed would called: Jacob must come into the resurrection faith of Abraham and of Isaac to receive the promises as sons (not grandsons). The true Church is in Messiah/Christ, Yeshua/Jesus being the ultimate Son of the Promise; and every believer must believe in his/her heart that He is risen from among the dead to inherit all things.
31 May 2016
There is something to be said about the New Jerusalem having gates with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel, and with the foundations of those gates being the names of the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles. (Rev 21:12-14) It could be understood that the eternal home of New Jerusalem is “Israel”, in the sense that all her citizens will be those who in this life have struggled with God and prevailed — by YHVH’s grace — and rule and reign with Him; and who have also finally submitted to the reality that God rules. (Gen 32:28; Ezek 20:33; Rev 3:11-13) But I am not certain now that just because at that “time” all Israel will be all Israel, that that means that there will still be a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. (2Cor 5:16-17; Gal 3:26-29; Mt 22:30) Just as now a real Jew is not one who is one only outwardly in the flesh, but inwardly in the heart and the spirit, so, too, will that inward reality describe all whose praise will come from God, whether they were Jewish or Gentile. (Rom 2:28-29)
This is similar, to me, of Israel being called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, even though the priesthood was given only to the Levites, and especially to the family of Aaron through Eleazar. (Ex 19:6; Lev 3; 8) So all believers in Jesus are called a holy and royal priesthood, although most are not only not of Aaron’s family, but are Gentiles. (1Pt 2:9-10) (In any case, believers are not Levitical priests, but priests of a different, higher, and everlasting order: in Messiah/Christ — according to the order of Melchizedek.)