Not Peace Yet

Before I was saved, I was like most Jewish people:  I did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or that He was God’s Son in any special way, or that He died on the cross for my sins; maybe He did for the Gentiles!  I also did not believe in Him as the Messiah which Jewish people speak of and hope for:  we say that if the Messiah comes, everyone will know, and there will be peace.  Clearly, not everyone knows that Jesus is the Messiah, and there is not peace in the world, not even in Israel!  Simple!

Thank God for His mercy and grace to me that He saved me, and opened up the Bible as His Word!  When I began to read the Bible, it was living and all true and relevant for me living now.  It is not just history; and the stories that I had heard about, but was now reading from the source, were more true than the stories about them I had heard!  They are not fables, but truth; they are not legends, but real:  God is letting His people know the truth of things that other people just know as fables and stories!  The Everlasting God reveals things to us that only He could know, but also wants that we know – especially His chosen and elect people whom He has created and redeemed for His glory.  That is how we can be His witnesses to tell others the truth of things, and not just rely on logic or human philosophy or religious tradition. (1Cor 2:14)  But we have to not only believe in God, but also we must believe God.  If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son.  He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son. (1Jn5:9-10)

There are two places in the Tanach (O.T.) that particularly spoke to me about the fact that there is not yet peace, even though the Messiah has already come:  Dan 9:26-27, and Ps 110:1

Dan 9:26-27  And after sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of the ruler who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end of it shall be with the flood, and ruins are determined, until the end shall be war.  And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.

Psa 110:1  A Psalm of David. Yehovah said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as Your footstool.

The Daniel passage says that after Messiah dies, there would be wars until the end:  not peace yet!  The passage in Psalm 110, written by David (Mt 22:41-46) says that until Yeshua comes again, He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and will do so until His enemies are made His footstool:  not peace yet!  Right there in our own “Jewish” Bible, in front of our eyes, and under our noses!   God has spoken, and He has told us. . . at least twice.  The main reason, of course, for there not yet being peace is because neither Israel nor the world has yet accepted and believed that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah of YHVH and the Son of God. (Ps 2)  As we see developments around the world in ‘peace’ negotiations – in Israel, in Syria, among believers on different important issues – none of these has produced the true peace that we all long for:  peace of mind; cessation of wars, hatred, envy; good health; righteousness; joy in the Holy Spirit.  There is even war with mosquitoes!  Anything that is called “peace” that is less than all of this together is not really the peace that God has planned for His people, and for the world-at-large that He created and made for His glory.

What are some other examples from the Old and the New Testaments that conflict and war are spoken of in the world – or a false peace —  after the Messiah has come [His first time, and until He comes again]?  This warfare and lack of peace – or a false security — can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual.

In the first passage that we will read, YHVH God is speaking directly to Gog, the ‘legendary’ ultimate enemy of the Jewish people.  God tells him to prepare for war against a people who, at the least, think and feel that they are at peace:
Eze 38:7-12  Be prepared; yea, prepare for yourself, you and all your assembly that are assembled to you, and be a guard to them.  (8)  After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you shall come into the land turned back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel, which have always been waste. (But he has been brought out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them.)  (9)  And you shall go up, coming like a storm. You shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all your bands, and many peoples with you.  (10)  So says the Lord Yehovah: And it shall be in that day that things shall come into your heart, and you shall devise an evil plan.  (11)  And you shall say, I will go up to the land of open spaces. I will go to those at ease, who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and there are no bars nor gates to them,  (12)  in order to take a spoil, and to steal a prize; to turn your hand on the inhabited waste places, and on the people gathered out of the nations, who have gotten cattle and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.

In this next passage from Daniel, it is written about one who we call now the Antichrist.  (If you trace out this person described in v. 21 through the rest of the chapter, it is the same one.)  He comes in and takes over deceitfully in order to destroy the people.  Sadly, there are covenant-breakers among the Israelis who join him against their own people, land, and God.  Although some of the details given in this chapter can be understood from the history of Alexander the Great and of Antiochus Epiphanes, the vision of Daniel is clearly said to be concerning the time of the end; that is, of the end-time of the last days leading up to and during the “70th week of Daniel.”
Dan 11:21-24  And a despised one shall stand up in his place, and they shall not give to him the honor of the king; but he will enter while at ease and seize the kingdom by intrigues.  (22)  And the forces of the overflow will be swept from before him, and they will be broken, and also the ruler of a covenant.  (23)  And after they join him, he will practice deceit. For he will come and be strong with a few people.  (24)  He shall enter safely, even into the rich places of the province. And he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers. He shall plunder, and spoil, and scatter goods among them. And he shall devise his plots against the strongholds, even for a time.

The passage in Jeremiah about Jacob’s Trouble corresponds to what Daniel and Yeshua refer to as “a time of trouble/great tribulation”.  This has not yet occurred, for Israel is not yet serving YHVH their God and David (Yeshua, the son of David) their King, whom YHVH raises up for them, both of which are the results of the time of unparalleled trouble.  But Jeremiah explicitly prophesies concerning the whole House of Israel:  Israel and Judah.
Jer 30:1-9  The Word that came to Jeremiah from Yehovah, saying,  (2)  So speaks Yehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book.  (3)  For, lo, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel and Judah, says Yehovah. And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall possess it.  (4)  And these are the words that Yehovah spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah.  (5)  For so says Yehovah, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.  (6)  Ask now, and see whether a man is giving birth?  Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, like a woman in labor, and all faces are turned into paleness?  (7)  Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.  (8)  For it shall be in that day, says Yehovah of Hosts, I will break his yoke from your neck and will burst your bonds. And strangers shall no longer enslave him,  (9)  but they shall serve Yehovah their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.

Let’s look at the New Testament.  There are those who say that God is finished with the Jews, with Israel, with the land, this Earth now that Messiah has come.  Then why should people (especially Jews and believers) still pray for the peace of Jerusalem?  Of course, as we are seeing here, the peace that God is concerned with is not a ‘peace’ that the world would accomplish.  His peace requires full acceptance of His beloved Son.  The New Testament carries the same stream of prophecy as the Hebrew Scriptures, and gives us to know that their fulfillment comes with the coming again of Messiah the Lord.   There is not peace yet!
Mt 10:34-39 (Lk 2:34-35)  Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword.  (35)  For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  (36)  And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.  (37)  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  (38)  And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  (39)  He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.

1Th 5:1-11  But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you.  (2)  For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the LORD comes like a thief in the night.  (3)  For when they shall say, Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail upon a woman with child. And they shall not escape.  (4)  But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.  (5)  You are all the sons of light and the sons of the day. We are not of the night, or of darkness.  (6)  Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us watch and be calm.  (7)  For those sleeping sleep in the night, and those being drunken are drunken in the night.  (8)  But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet.  (9)  For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,  (10)  who died for us, so that whether we watch or sleep we should live together with Him.  (11)  Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

Our security is found through our faith in Yeshua/Jesus.  But that faith which assures us a peace that surpasses all understanding is grounded in us believing what He says, keeping His word.

Jn 14:23-29  Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  (24)  He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.  (25)  I have spoken these things to you, being present with you.  (26)  But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.  (27)  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (28)  You have heard how I said to you, I go away and I am coming to you again. If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go to the Father, for My Father is greater than I.  (29)  And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens you might believe.

Jn 16:33  I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.

Jesus promises peace with God and in the heart now to those who believe in Him, but a sword – war – to the “world” and to unbelievers.  We may know a sword in our own families and among those who have been our friends.  This peace with God now is a pledge of the peace that is to come in the world to come, and of the perfect righteousness and peace beyond that in the New Heavens and New Earth.

What am I saying in all this, and also in last week’s message from Ps 2?  The Scriptures are relevant in our everyday life, and speak into all situations.  They shape our world-view and inform our hopes and expectations.  They give us answers for those asking good questions, and give us truth when science or culture and worldly wisdom contradict what God has said.  This is the temptation that the serpent deceived Eve with:  “Did God really say?!”  We are salt and light in the world, which also means that we give true testimony according to the Word of God of His covenant loyalty:  there is no lasting genuine peace possible as long as Satan is the prince of this world, and there is unbelief and rebellion among the people and nations, until the Lord  Yeshua returns to imprison the devil and to judge the nations in righteousness. 

We must read the Bible prayerfully as the living Word of the God of Truth, and meditate on it, thinking critically about how it applies to what “the world” says and thinks and acts, and how we are to understand and to live in the truth:  we belong to God, and Jesus has come to die for our sins because of our rebellion against Him and His Word, and the Holy Spirit is going to fulfill the truth of all that YHVH has spoken regarding all things.  Let us read the Scriptures for what they are, and give glory to the Lord for this treasure He has given us in His love!  We are His witnesses; let us be found faithful and true, walking in the truth with faith and hope and love!  Amen!

What’s Going On Behind The Scenes of Current and Future News?

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)

What should we do?:
–In the face of this unholy and ungodly conspiracy, we can ask God for boldness to be witnesses of the King whom God has chosen and that we serve. (Acts 4:27-29; Rev 12:11)

Pray for those in authority to repent and believe actively, that they be saved. (1Tim 2:1-6)

Daniel’s Prayer

Dan 9:1-27

Daniel was burdened for the glory of his God, and the God of his people.  In our lives there are times when we are greatly burdened but do not really understand what to do about the matter that weighs on us so heavily. The apostle Paul writes that as believers serving the Lord, there are times and situations when we are “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair”. (2Cor 4:8) This is what Daniel was going through in his life serving YHVH his God in a foreign land, rising to power and influence with Gentile kings and their kingdoms. Daniel’s response to this was to humble himself with faith believing in the Most High God. (2Chr 7:14; Ja 1:5-8) Daniel is one of the great men of faith and wisdom in the Bible (Ezek 14:14,20; 28:3), and he set himself from his youth to be faithful to the God of Israel and to His covenants.

Daniel tells us the events of this chapter occur during the “first year of Darius.” This means that the Babylonian king Belshazzar has died in his punishment from God, the Babylonian empire has ended — both these events a time-marker by the Word of God to Jeremiah — and the Medo-Persian empire has now taken its place. (Dan 5:30; Jer 25:12-13; 29:10-14) Daniel was praying perhaps during the time of his prayers when his peers and rivals in the kingdom of Darius were scheming to catch him praying to any God other than to the King Darius, and so throw him into the lions’ den. His burden was both personal and national. This prayer follows chronologically the vision that Daniel had in chapter 8.

In this prayer of confession and petition by Daniel the prophet recorded for us in ch 9, we learn that at least part of the Bible (Tanach/O.T.) was already available to the Jewish people, and that Daniel read what he had. From the Law of Moses, YHVH had given His covenant with its commandments, its promises, its blessings and its curses, its judgments; and based upon the covenant, the people were in captivity in Babylon as a chastising punishment, and that the desolation of Jerusalem and of the Temple were all in accord with the Law of Moses and the words of the Prophets whom the LORD sent to His people. (Lev 25:3-5; 26:27-35; Num 14:20-24; Pr 3:11-12; Jer 44:4; also Mt 22:18; Lk 13:34-35) From the Word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel read and understood that God had sent His people into exile for a period of 70 years, and that now those years were completed. Daniel believed the Word of God, and sought God’s face and His righteousness. Daniel discerned the signs of his generation in which God was planning a great redemption.

God has always declares His historical actions and intentions before carrying them out. He knows the end from the beginning, and He includes His elect in His thinking and plans. What an amazing Father in Heaven we have! (Gen 18:17-19; Is 46:9-10; 62:6-7; Amos 3:7; Mt 16:1-3; Mt 24; Mk 13:23; Lk 19:44)

The beginning of Daniel’s prayer was to ascribe glory to God, and to praise God’s righteousness and covenant faithfulness. Daniel confessed both his and his people’s sins. This shows the genuine humility of Daniel’s heart and mind towards God and towards his own Jewish people: we read nothing of any sins in Daniel’s life, yet he identified with his sinful people before the Holy God. This is the same that the High Priest was to do on the Day of Atonements, and that Yeshua did for us in His baptism by John, and especially on the cross to bear the penalty for our sins in our place of guilt and shame.

While God acknowledged Daniel’s own righteousness before Him, yet God is still waiting upon Israel as a nation to confess her unfaithfulness and sins against Him and the covenant which He cut with them alone among all the nations of the Earth, in order that He can restore her and do for her all that He has purposed to do for the glory of His own name, and for the blessing to the ­­­in punishing the people for their sins, and that He alone is holy and righteous, but he and the people and the leaders of the people were shame-faced for all their sins and refusal to heed the Law and the words of the prophets whom God had sent them continually to call them to repentance. (Jer 44:4)

Notice here (vv 7,9) that Daniel is not only saying that the Lord is righteous, merciful, and forgiving, but these character attributes belong to Him. For us who believe in Yeshua and have received the Holy Spirit, these qualities become ours in Christ as we are conformed to the image of the Son of God, which is God’s will for us, often using persecution and tribulation to transform our character into more of His character for a testimony that we belong to Him.

Also notice (v 14) that Daniel knows that God’s Word stands, and even though hundreds or thousands of years may have passed, God would keep His Word to bring the disaster upon His people that the covenant demands. This is of great importance to us today, as God has spoken of the end-times and great tribulation that will come upon Israel and the nations, and upon the saints. (Dan 7:23-27; 8:18-26; Mt 5:17-18; Rev 12:13-17; 13:1-10) Time does not nullify God’s Word or His standard or His ways to accomplish His goal.

Having confessed his and his peoples sins, Daniel then goes on in his prayer to plead (supplicate) the Lord to turn away from His anger and fury from His city Jerusalem and His people and to act for the sake of His holy name to restore His people to their land which He promised to give them when He brought them out of Egypt. Daniel is asking God to extend mercy now, since the 70 years have ended, not because they deserve it for any righteous deeds they have done, but because of His great mercies. (Rom 11:28-36) Daniel is energized by the need for the Jews to get out of a foreign land and back to the land of their fathers, all for the sake of the holy name of YHVH, God of Israel, because His people and city are called by His name. Daniel knew that God’s Kingdom was connected with Israel back in the Land, with the Temple rebuilt, and that the honor of the Name of the one true God was at stake among the nations round-about.

What is striking about this Holy Spirit-led prayer (Jude 20-21) is that Daniel says not one word in his prayer against the people or the government where he is living and serving. He prays as a man of God concerning the righteousness of YHVH for the present suffering which he and the [chosen] people of God have been experiencing, and for God to act for His own holy name’s sake in mercy for His people and city and land.

As Daniel was still speaking, praying, petitioning the Lord, the ‘man’ Gabriel was sent to him to give him understanding about something beyond what Daniel had realized. It is written here that Daniel was greatly beloved. Gabriel revealed that God’s plan of redemption would span the rest of “this world’s” history, and that the present return to Judah and Jerusalem would not be the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, but that it would be at a set future time, and would be connected with the death of the Messiah, with wars to come until the end, the antichrist, the suffering of God’s people, and a final set of years. For those reading and studying Daniel, the vision of ch 8 that Daniel did not fully understand regarding the antichrist kingdom (Dan 8:22-27), Gabriel is now giving Daniel the ability to comprehend it better by telling Daniel that those events of the time of the end are connected with this prophecy in Dan 9:24-27. Daniel was blessed by God to hear the decree by Cyrus the King of Persia, which set in motion the first week of seven years.

While Daniel was primarily concerned with God keeping His promise to return the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, despite all her sins, but in accord with God’s righteousness and mercies, the answer he received went way beyond that “small matter” and heavy burden he was carrying. The prosperity connected with the return to the land would not mean that further chastising and judgments would not come. The whole issue of putting away sin, transgression, and iniquity is God’s purpose, not merely that we should confess that we do sin.

If we have a real interest in God’s interests, in our Father’s business, and how that is connected with Israel, and also for every individual person, and for the churches and the nations, we will actively read the Scriptures as being what they are – the Word of the Living God – and pray in accordance with what is written, and with the sanctification of the Name of our Father in Heaven a top priority as to why He should fulfill His promises and intentions.

As Daniel also understood the character of God that He had not forgotten the necessary judgments for breaking the covenant, so that is still true today. We can learn from Daniel the relevance and importance of praying and supplicating with understanding what God’s plan and will are, and that there is an appointed time, and that all is to be in accord with God’s righteousness, His mercies, and His holy Name. God is looking for individual persons to accept responsibility, as Daniel did, to show His favor upon, even while a nation remains under judgment and wrath of the holy God. There is a holy remnant within every nation and people group of those who serve the only true God and Savior.

Are we as awake to God’s Word as Daniel was? Do we recognize the signs of the times that we are living in, and knowing what the Body of Messiah should do? Are our prayers and affairs consistent with God’s revealed plan and purpose? Are we humbling ourselves and seeking God’s face, identifying with our brethren and our fathers in the sins against our great and awesome God, so that our Father in Heaven will hear our prayers in Yeshua’s name?

Yeshua Showed Himself Alive, and Is Coming Again!

Acts 1:1-11 (Lk 24:19-53; Mt 28:5-17; Mk 16; Jn 20:9-31; Jn 21:1-14; 1Cor 15:1-8; 1Jn 1:1-4)

Following the celebrations of the Passover and the Firstfruits – the death and the resurrection of the Messiah and Lord — believers all around the world are rejoicing in the risen Savior, having begun the 50-day (7-week) count till Shavuot/Pentecost. For many people then – 1985 years ago – and now, such a thing as the resurrection is only a rumor, or a myth, idle chatter, or impossible. Even for the closest disciples of Yeshua, the 11 apostles, it was “too good to be true”!

Jesus had told them that He would be crucified, put to death, and that He would rise again and meet them in Galilee. Yet when the event actually took place, their hearts were hardened and would not even believe the testimony of their own friends who had seen Him alive again, talked with Him, touched Him, eaten with Him! Even though He had told them all what was going to happen; even though it was written in the Tanach (Bible)!

Acts 1:1-11  Truly, O Theophilus, I made the first report as to all things that Jesus began both to do and teach (2) until the day He was taken up, having given directions to the apostles whom He chose, through the Holy Spirit; (3) to whom He also presented Himself living after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them through forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (4) And having met with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father which you heard from Me. (5) For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (6) Then, indeed, these coming together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, do You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (7) And He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority. (8) But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (9) And saying these things, as they watched, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. (10) And while they were looking intently into the heaven, He having gone, even behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, (11) who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven, will come in the way you have seen Him going into Heaven.

Jesus showed Himself alive to the 11 men whom He especially chose and sent (and afterward Saul/Paul) to be His witnesses to the Jewish people first, and also to the Gentiles. By proving day-by-day for 40 days that it was He Himself who had died and risen from the dead, then it was no longer just a rumor hard to believe. Just as the sheaves of wheat are counted each day from the day of Firstfruits until Shavuot/Pentecost as a “confidence builder” for the harvest, so Yeshua, until the day of His ascension, built in the certainty of the truth of His resurrection for the hope in God’s promise of life after death for believers in His Son. (Read the passages at the top of the page.) The good news brought unspeakable joy to their sad and hardened hearts, and prepared them to live and to die for the truth of the gospel in the face of fierce opposition, ridicule, and persecution. (Remember the Samaritan men who came out to see Jesus after the Samaritan woman at the well had gone back to tell them that she had met the Messiah: they went to Him, and heard and saw for themselves, saying, “Now we believe not only because you told us, but we have heard for ourselves.”)

Paul writes later that Jesus showed Himself alive to more than 500 people at one time together. In many ways the gospel writers wrote how the Lord clearly showed that He was indeed alive after having been dead and buried for three days. He had defeated the devil, sin, and death, and was indeed the Son of God who had come into the world to save His people from their sins. He is the King of Israel, Messiah, Son of David.

Do you believe? Do you know without doubt that Yeshua Messiah is alive – risen from the dead and now seated at the right hand of the Father – and that He is the Savior of the world, including being your own Savior from sin and death?

Have you believed what is written in the Scriptures, both the Tanach and the New Testament? Have you believed when your friends or family members told you that it is true?! At least one of Yeshua’s apostles doubted that the truth was true: Thomas was not with the other apostles when the Lord first appeared to them all, and he said that unless he actually saw Him and the nail prints in His hands, and put his finger into the print and into His side, then he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared again to all of the apostles, this time including Thomas. Jesus told him to do what he had said, and said to him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing”. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn 20:24-29)

For those of you who still are not certain and still unbelieving, is it because your heart is hardened to the Holy One of Israel to whom all must give an account on the day of judgment? Is it because He is holy, and requires that His people be holy?  Is it because you have too much love for this world?  Is God’s plan interfering with your own plans or ambitions?

For those of you who say you believe, can you testify of having seen God working in your life and in the life of others: answering prayers, healing sickness, giving hope and comfort through suffering and loss, protecting you  from harm, blessing you beyond all expectation and “worthiness”, forgiving you your sins and giving you power and faith to forgive others their sins?

Do you have living faith and hope that Jesus is coming again to put away evil from the world that He created and made? Do you love Him enough that you want Him to come again?

Why is this hope and expectation important for believers? In the passage we read in Acts, before Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, and before the disciples would receive the Holy Spirit, the seal of the New Covenant relationship, their first question to Him was concerning the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, the very thing that the Lord taught them (and us) regarding how to pray. It was also a very logical question by Israeli Jews, who were taught to expect that when the Messiah, Son of David, would come, He would bring YHVH God’s peace and righteous rule again to Israel.  When Jesus did go up in their sight into Heaven, the two men dressed in white standing by them said, “This same Jesus/Yeshua, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.” (v. 6,11)

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our resurrection or rapture (whichever applies personally at the time of the First Resurrection) is the hope and expectation of all true believers. The Lord’s Supper reminds us, as often as we take it, that Yeshua is coming again.  The whole life of Messiah and the gospel is summed up in the Communion:  for Yeshua to have died, He had to be born a human being; for Him to come again, He has to be alive by being raised from the dead; by coming again, He has to be ‘somewhere else’ now — in Heaven, the place from where He first came: God appeared in flesh and blood.  The last prayer of the Bible is, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”

Do you believe the Word of God concerning the things to come?  Will you be ready to endure to the end by faith that overcomes the world in the blood of the Lamb and our confession of Jesus as LORD/YHVH?

God has a plan for restoring His kingdom over Israel, and the whole Earth, even the universe. Yeshua is alive, and He is coming back in great power and glory! For this we are here: Yeshua’s witnesses to bring more people into His Kingdom; God’s sons and daughters to grow to full maturity in preparation for our Bridegroom’s return.

No One Knows The Day Or Hour – 27 Feb 2015

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!

Dates To Remember

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”
http://www.herzl.org/english/Article.aspx?Item=544

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
http://www.lighthorse.org.au/famous-battles/world-war-one/famous-battles-the-battle-at-beersheba

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.”
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/the%20balfour%20declaration.aspx
(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
http://www.colonialfilm.org.uk/node/6131

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
http://www.cfr.org/israel/san-remo-resolution/p15248

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)
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp

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
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/un%20general%20assembly%20resolution%20181.aspx

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
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/declaration%20of%20establishment%20of%20state%20of%20israel.aspx

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

2014100 years since start of WW1

201570 yrs since end of WW2

2017500 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”)

2018100 yrs from end of WW1; 70 yrs of Israel’s re-established nation-state

202880 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!

A SEASONAL WORD

In God’s prophetic and redemptive calendar given to Israel, the appointed times of the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, of the Day of Atonements, and of the Feast of Booths speak of the Ingathering of God’s people/harvest at the end of the age.  God knows His own, and those who call upon the name of the Lord will depart from iniquity.

One thing that God will not have in His people — whether Israel or the Church — is self-righteouness.  The cross slays all our own righteousness, and to be disciples of Jesus, we are to deny ourselves, pick up our own cross daily, and follow Him.  He is our righteousness.

One prayer that is sure to be answered by God is the one which His Son, the Lord Himself, prayed, which we read in John 17.  He prays for our love and unity within and among His own followers that is the same as the love and unity “within and among” the one, true, triune God.  The answer to His prayer will be supernatural, as none of us have any clue really to the utter reality of that sort of union and love.  Yet it is this Holy Spirit-produced life of Messiah formed in us that is at the heart of God’s dealings with us, constantly bringing us to recognize our dependence on Him, lest we exalt ourselves.  It will be this revelation of the sons of God — even if only momentarily this side of the resurrection — that will bear witness to the world that Yeshua was sent from the Father, and that the Father loves us as He loves Him.

It is to this that I want to give this word in this season.  The Lord Jesus told us that there would be wheat and tares until the end within God’s Kingdom at large, within Israel, within the Church.  He says in connection with this not to separate the two until the harvest, and then He would have angels do that work of separation — not us.  The apostle James warns us of being judges of the Law rather than doers of the Law. As in all things of God, the devil attacks Him and those things.  Our usual initial response to something of God is to question it or reject it, only afterwards to see and obey in accordance with God’s will, and even then not always discerning God’s purpose.  This should be proof enough for us to see that we are not “little Christs” or “little Gods”!

As the time of Yeshua’s crucifixion neared, despite having instructed His apostles (those closest to Him) of what was coming, they did not understand in their hearts or minds, and when the actual deed was accomplished they all thought their hope had been misplaced and was gone.  So, too, as the end of the age draws nearer, and the necessity of this spiritual unity and love to be manifested, the devil is attacking and doing his best to deceive the elect.  The result is not more unity and love being evident, but more judgmentalism and division in our own assessment of who is really a true believer and who not — before the time.  Some things are clear, and require righteous judgment within the household of God; other things require patience for the living Word of God to bring the hidden things to light.

Those who engage in self-righteous separation from the corporate whole place themselves in danger of sowing disunity rather than promoting the unity which is in Messiah/Christ.  And, of course, when we do such a ‘separation’, we always place ourselves ‘in’.  For those of us who support Israel in God’s purposes for the sake of His holy Name, we do not normally distinguish the true Israel from the false at this time; we simply refer to Israel, knowing that within this people and nation there are those who believe in Yeshua already; there are those who fear God and do righteousness, but do not yet know the Lord personally; and there are those who are simply uninterested in the covenantal relationship and destiny which YHVH God has established with and for them.  Not all Israel is Israel.

So, too, is it for that collective and corporate entity historically called the Church (in English):  we must not quibble over terminology, but simply acknowledge the same truth as it applies presently to Israel:  that there are true believers in Yeshua/Jesus; there are those who fear the Lord and do righteousness, but do not know Him personally/are not born-again; and there are those who have no interest in His covenantal ways in saving individuals and nations alike by His grace through repentance and faith in the gospel.  It is all based on HIS righteousness, not at all on any of ours, which are to Him, in any case, as filthy rags in comparison.

As this season of individual and national soul-searching and forgiveness for sins is again brought before God’s chosen people and nation, we pray for more to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  As the Holy Spirit is generating God’s move on a world-wide scale for more than a century already to bring the Bride of the Lamb to feel the need for the Lord’s personal return in great power and glory, when the Lord does break through to put all things in order, we may be surprised at the results.  Our hope and trust must be in the name of Jesus/Yeshua, and not on our own understanding, however much we may think we know.  It does not need to be said that we do not know anything as we ought to know, which helps keep pride covered and for us to boast only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, giving glory to YHVH God.

ISRAEL, THE ISRAEL OF GOD, THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL, THE CHURCH OF GOD

(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 —-

From: Jonathan
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.  

http://heartofgodisrael.org/messianic-messages/light-to-the-nations/

From: Howard Bass
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:25 AM
To: Jonathan
Subject: Re: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013  

Hi John,

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,
Howard


On April 5, 2013 22:08, Jonathan D wrote:

Howard,  

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?

From: Howard
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:42 AM
To: Jonathan
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,
Howard

On April 11, 2013 01:00, Jonathan wrote:

Howard,

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:

Howard                                                                                   John                                        

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!  

John D

From: Howard
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2013 17:33 PM
To: Jonathan
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!

Shabbat shalom,
Howard

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.)

The Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Day, mentioned by that term only in John’s vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ, is not to be confused with the Day of YHVH (Day of the LORD), mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. The former signifies a particular day of the week; the latter to the ultimate day of judgment, either for salvation and deliverance, or else for condemnation and cutting off.

Can we determine from the Bible which day the Apostle is referring to when he uses the name, the Lord’s Day?

The Sabbath Day in the Bible always refers to the Seventh Day, the last day of the week. (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15; Heb 4:4)  There are certain days occurring on the holidays given to Israel which are to be ‘sabbaths’, or days of rest and cessation from other work, but these are distinguished by the context from the regular weekly Sabbath.  There is a “day after the Sabbath”, sometimes referred to as the day after the Sabbath to present the first-fruits to God (Lev 23: 11,15-16; Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1-2); other times as the first day (“one”) of the week. (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2)  The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, and translated almost two centuries before Yeshua was born, translates “the day after the Sabbath” in Lev. 23 as protos (first), indicating the first day of the week.

There are only two possibilities for which day the Creator and Redeemer intended to be called the Lord’s Day: either the 7th day Sabbath, which is a weekly remembrance of YHVH as the Creator and the Savior, who rested and who gives His people rest; or, the 1st day/8th day-1st day of the week, the weekly celebration of the uncreated Light of the world and of His first-fruits resurrection from death and burial, who gives the children of light eternal life and rest.

What can we learn from God’s prophetic Word?

Ps 2:7; Acts 13:32-33 I will declare the decree: YHVH has said to Me, ‘You are My Son; today, I have begotten You’.

Ps 118:22-24; Acts 4:10-12  The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone. This was YHVH’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that YHVH has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!

Rom 1:1-4  Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Rev 1:9-11, 17-18  I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last’, and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia. . . And when I saw Him I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I AM He who lives, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore! Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’

The day after the Sabbath, the first day of a new week, and the one eternal day-light of an everlasting and new creation: this is the day of the Son of God; this is the Day that the LORD has made; it is the Lord’s Day, and we will rejoice and be glad in it! All who are born-again are sons of the resurrection and children of light, having been brought back into the glorious Light — the uncreated light of day one of creation — from out of the darkness of being outside of God, the darkness of evil and death.  Yeshua is the first-born of all creation, and the first-born of many brethren.  God is light, and has bought us with the blood of the redeeming death of Yeshua, His beloved Son, on the cross, that we may live in His eternal goodness and presence!

Let us give the Lord glory, and call His day SONday!

The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but brings both Jews and Gentiles into the new thing which God is doing.  We can see the roots of the faith in the Law and the Prophets, but the flower and fruit which it produces through the truth of the death and resurrection of Messiah is far more glorious as a new creation and as one new man in the risen and glorified Son of Man/Son of God.

JERUSALEM AT PEACE, AND A PRAISE IN THE EARTH

Ps 122:6-9 Prayerfully ask about the peace of Jerusalem; those who love you shall be blessed. Peace be within your walls, blessings within your palaces. For my brothers and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within you. Because of the house of Yehovah our God I will seek your good.

Is 62:1-7 For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until its righteousness goes out as brightness, and her salvation as a burning lamp. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of Yehovah will name. You also will be a crown of glory in the hand of Yehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You will no more be called Forsaken; nor will your land any more be called Desolate; but you will be called, My Delight is in her, and your land, Married; for Yehovah delights in you, and your land is married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so will your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who always all the day and all the night will not be silent; you who remember Yehovah, do not be silent. And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.