YEHOVAH, The Triune God and Father

Gen 1:1-2  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   And the earth was without form and empty. And darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.

Gen 2:4  These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that Yehovah God made the earth and the heavens.

Dt 6:4-5  Hear, O, Israel. Yehovah our God,  Yehovah is one. (5)  And you shall love Yehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Ex 4:22  And you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says Yehovah: Israel is My son, My first-born.

Isa 48:16  Come near to Me, hear this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning. From its being, I was there; and now the Lord Yehovah, and His Spirit, has sent Me.

Mat 12:31-32  Therefore I say to you, All kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. (32)  And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come.

Mat 28:19  Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Jn 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Rev 19:13  And He had been clothed in a garment dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Jn 14:6-11  Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me. (7)  If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. And from now on you know Him and have seen Him. (8)  Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. (9)  Jesus said to him, Have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father? (10)  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The Words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works. (11)  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the very works themselves.

Jn 17:3-6  And this is life eternal, that they might know You, [Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (4)  I have glorified You upon the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. (5)  And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (6)  I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave to Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

Eph 2:14-18  For He is our peace, He making us both one, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity (the Law of commandments contained in ordinances) so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, making peace between them; (16) and so that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself. (17) And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to those who were near. (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Col 1:15-18  He is the image of the invisible God, the First-born of all creation. (16)  For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him. (17)  And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. (18)  And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that He may be pre-eminent in all things.

1Th 5:23  And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blamelessly at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 2:8-11  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9)  Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and has given Him a name which is above every name, (10)  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and of earthly ones, and of ones under the earth; (11)  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

 

Belief in some Deity, or God, or gods, is found in every culture of people everywhere. (Today, largely through unfounded belief in evolution, there is a falling away from even this elementary belief.)  Which, or What that God (or those gods) is/are has been the primary reason for missionary efforts to take the truth of the one true God to those worshipping idols or, superstitiously, the ‘unknown God’.   YHVH God called Israel His witnesses to the Gentiles that they should know HIM, and come under His rule and authority.  Yehovah declares that He is the God over all – Heaven and Earth, the seas and all that is in them, the hills and the valleys, the seasons, all created things – living and dead (inanimate).  He is the God of gods, Lord of lords, King of kings!

For those who believe what Moses wrote, with help from the Holy Spirit, the knowledge of God was known from the beginning of human history, was brought into strong focus during and after the flood in Noah’s days to those who survived the judgment of the world at that time, and through the Jewish Israeli people, knowledge of the true God has been dispersed throughout the world until today. The creation itself bears witness to the truth of a Creator God – of a Father in Heaven – that is great, loving, caring, and protective of all that He has created and made, and who requires especially humans to willingly choose to acknowledge Him and rightly give Him praise and glory.

The idea of one God who is three could only be known by revelation from God Himself. The very first sentence in the Bible (in Hebrew it is especially clear) we have already a clue to something very unusual:  a plural God (Elohim) who singularly created (bara)!  We see the Jewish people, to whom He first revealed Himself through His covenant relationship with them, reject the belief of a ‘triune’ God who is one in order to “prove” by natural (with satanic help!) reasoning why Jesus cannot be truly God with us in the flesh – Immanuel.  In Islam, too, the other monotheistic world religion, the thought that God would ever humiliate Himself to become a mere Man or to need a son is blasphemy.  Praise God that as the Father He gives His inheritance to His first-born Son and the many brethren with Him!  Only true believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, hold to the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints.  It is the lying, antichrist spirit that rejects this supreme and profound truth, which YHVH God Himself has revealed about who He is:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Holy is His name!

I remember when I first got saved, I asked Dwight, who led me to the Lord: “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, where was the Father during those years while Jesus was here?”  Dwight answered simply by saying, “Someone had to take care of the universe.”

All relationships and communication begin in YHVH God, who speaks within/between/among Himself as a Father to a Son, and of the Holy Spirit equally active in God’s creation, in the resurrection of Yeshua, in the new birth of one who repents and believes the gospel. The one, true, living God sometimes refers to Himself in the singular, at other times in the plural, e.g., “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion. . . .”;  “ I am YHVH your God; you shall have no other gods before Me.”  All of human relationships in family and in society are founded in God Himself, who made us in His image and likeness.  He spoke to Adam as a father to a son to instruct him in boundaries of what is permitted and what is not.  He has given instructions on family, on government, on moral discipline, on judgment.  It all begins in and from Him.  YHVH is God to be feared and worshipped, King to be respected, Lord to be obeyed, Father to be honored and loved.

In YHVH is male and female, for He said, “So God created Man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God gave them dominion over the world He created; but He gave the man the rule over the woman, and over the household.  This is the picture of God as, first of all, the Source of all things, and with the male – the Father, the husband, the ‘man’ – having primary responsibility. For us who believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we understand things by first believing what He says of Himself, and of us, and of the world He created and made.

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to come to God as their Father, not as their Mother. Nor did He teach us to pray in a generic sense to “our God”, as if to include all the Trinity in that plural word, Elohim/Eloheinu.  As a son, Yeshua committed and subjected Himself to honor His Father in all things, which is the right attitude — humility — for all human beings, whether male or female, whom God created to enjoy Him and all that He has made.  It is the Father who is the provider and protector of the family, with the mother having her authority and freedom to act and to help by willingly agreeing and accepting the will of the Father and Husband (idealistically speaking).  When Jesus was told that His mother and brothers and sisters wanted to see Him, He answered that His mother and brothers and sisters were those who do His Father’s will.  The Holy Spirit lives in the born-again believer, and gives honor to the Father and the Son, not to Himself.  (Interestingly, in Hebrew the word for ‘spirit’ is feminine, but when referring directly to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, it is always in the masculine.)

From the moment that we are born-again, we receive the spirit of adoption, and so call God our Father, “Abba”. It is very interesting to me that many Israeli Jews, in times of stress, call out “Ima!”, Mother!  Yeshua told us that if we do not receive Him, we do not have the Father, either, and in this most fundamental relationship of God with His people, the sin of unbelief and subsequent disobedience to His Word has brought in this separation, which is only repaired and healed through knowing God the Father by knowing Yeshua/Jesus His Son, and ‘They’ give the Holy Spirit to live within the forgiven sinner!  By this, we know that we are children of God, and that we have become one spirit with Him. (1Cor 6:17)

There are many examples which God has given to show the possibility of “three being one”: as human beings, we are spirit, soul, and body, yet one person; Time is present, past, and future, all three ‘elements’ needed to be what we know as ‘time’; Water can be in the form of liquid, ice, or steam, yet they are each and all water, H2O.  The Holy of Holies, and the New Jerusalem, are perfect cubes, whose measurements of length, height, and width are equal.  These speak of where God dwells, in His Temple, in His House.  In the New Heavens and New Earth, God and His glory are said to be all and in all:  1x1x1=1.  There are many more examples which could be given, but these are enough to simply show that the idea of three being one is not strange to us, even if no example fully explains the mystery that is God.  We must believe what He has revealed about Himself; He can not be known by human wisdom or scientific research, yet He has placed it into us to seek for Him.

Why is it so important that we believe in the “Trinity”, and in God as Father?

First of all, it is because YHVH, the only true God worthy of the name, has described Himself in this way. God is spirit, and for us to worship the Father in spirit and truth, for us to approach Him without the idolatry of our own understanding as opposed to faith in His revelation, it is necessary that we learn what this great foundational truth of the mystery of God is. God is Light, whom no one can see; Jesus came in the form of man (even as a willing slave!) so that we could know God, know the Father. The Holy Spirit is given us that we can be true and faithful witnesses of the one true God and Savior, and to be conformed into His image and likeness, for the Spirit of God knows the things of God. (1Cor 10:10-12)

It is important so that we do not separate the God of the New Testament from the God of the Old Testament. All of the covenants given to Israel as a nation, or to individuals, such as Abraham, Aaron, and David, within the nation, are from the same God.  The New Covenant in Jesus Christ is first promised to Israel, and Jesus came in the flesh as the Son of YHVH God, the Creator and Redeemer of all.  Jesus is the Word of God, by Whom all things were created and for whom are all things. There is only one true God of the Bible – YEHOVAH, who was, and is, and is to come!

Relationally, as members of the Body of Messiah/Christ, we have a closer relationship with God than even Israel knows. All of the great prayers of the Tanach are addressed to the great God Yehovah, God of Israel, who keeps covenant.  In the New Testament, we see a change:  most of the prayers are addressed to the Father, in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of both Jewish and Gentile believers. If I speak of my father, I may tell you his name; but when I speak to my father, I call him ‘Dad’ or ‘Father’.  So, too, now with God:  He is no longer just YHVH, who is ‘the Father’ in a general way (the father of all flesh and of all spirit), but He has become my Father in Heaven because of the fellowship I can have with Him, and with the Son, by the Spirit of God dwelling in me through a personal faith in who Jesus Christ is:  my Lord and my God who has redeemed me and saves me from my sins.  Jesus came to reveal God as our Father.  Glory to God, and to the Lamb upon the Throne!  In both Judaism and in Islam, neither one ‘has the Father’ because of rejecting the Father’s love and choice of Jesus and of Israel as His unique Son and nation.  (Think of the brothers of Joseph and their relationship to their father in connection with their attitude and intentions towards the beloved son.)   In a spiritual sense today, both Muslims and unsaved Jews are “fatherless”, the former deliberately, by harboring a spirit of rejection nurturing a bitter root and a murderous grudge; the latter unwittingly, due to envy and hatred without a cause.  Both conspire and mingle together against Yehovah and His Anointed One.

Knowing God for who He is helps us in our own interpersonal relationships: love is the key, whether as a husband or a father, a wife or mother, a child, a steward for God over what He has given us responsibility for in the world that He made.  He sends us out to bring others into His household and family!  God the Father is the perfect father, and we must know Him and His ways as an antidote to the imperfections of our earthly fathers!

Heb 12:1-11  Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (2)  looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. (3)  For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds. (4)  You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (5)  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons,

“My son, despise not the chastening of YHVH, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him; (6)  for whom YHVH loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” (7)  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? (8)  But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (9)  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (10)  For truly they chastened us for a few days according to their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. (11)  Now chastening for the present does not seem to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised by it.

God is our Father, whom we know in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Yehovah is one, and His name one.

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.

Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, is YEHOVAH – 12 Dec 2014

We are in the season of remembering and celebrating the God who is Light. (Jn 8:12; 1Jn 1:5)   Both Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) and Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, are coming one after the other in the next two weeks.  It is often claimed that Yeshua never said that He was God, only the Son of God.  Let us look to see if the Holy Spirit did not inspire the writers of the New Testament to write what they did in a way to demonstrate that, in fact, Jesus is YEHOVAH God – Immanuel. (Is 7:14; Mt 1:22-23)

Jn 10: 22-42   “And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s Porch.  Then the Jews encircled Him and said to Him, How long do you make us doubt?  If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.

“Jesus answered them, I told you and you did not believe.  The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you did not believe because you are not of My sheep.  As I said to you,  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand.  My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. (Is 43:10-13I and the Father are one.

“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from My Father; for which of these do you stone Me?

“The Jews answered Him, saying, We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.

“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, “I said, You are gods?”  If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken,  do you say of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?  If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me.  But if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.  Then they again sought to seize Him, but He went forth out of their hand.

“And He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John baptized at the first, and He stayed there.  And many came to Him and said, John indeed did no miracle, but all things that John said concerning this One were true.  And many believed on Him there.”

During Hanukkah, the Jewish leaders and people were again challenging Jesus to declare if He is the Messiah.  Jesus says that He had told them, but that they did not believe.  He had just given a man born blind new eyes, and now he saw the light, and Jesus validated His grace by doing the work of power in His own authority. (Jn 9; Is 35:5-6) He goes on to say that the works that He did are the works of His Father, who is God.  The Jews understood this to mean that He was making Himself God by claiming He was the Son of God, doing what His Father does. (Jn 5:17-23)

What are some works of the Father that Jesus did which prove He is YEHOVAH God?  In the Tanach, YHVH God is normally understood as being God the Father (yet as believers, we know now that YHVH can refer to any of the triune God).

Let’s read Mk 2:1-12, and compare there what is written about God in the Tanach:

“And again He entered into Capernaum after some days.  And it was heard that He was in a house.  And immediately many were gathered, so that none any longer had room, even to the door.  And He proclaimed the Word to them.  Then they came to Him, bringing one who was paralyzed, who was carried by four.  When they could not come near to Him because of the crowd, they unroofed the roof where He was.  And digging through, they let down the cot on which the paralytic was lying.

“And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven to you.

” But some of the scribes were sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,  Why does this one speak such blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins except God only?!

” And instantly knowing in His spirit that they reasoned so within themselves, He said to them, Why do you reason these things in your heart?  Which is easier to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your cot and walk?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority upon earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, Arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house.  And immediately he arose and took up his cot and went out before all.  So that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!

In the Old Testament, we read in Ps 130:3-4 that only YHVH does forgive sins, so that He may be feared, exactly what we see Yeshua doing, and the people responding.

“If You will keep in mind iniquities, O Yehovah, who shall stand, O Lord?  But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”

Let’s read Mk 4:35-41:

“And evening having come, He said to them on that day, Let us pass over to the other side.   And when they had sent away the crowd, they took Him with them as He was in the boat.  And there were also other little boats with Him.  And there arose a windstorm, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was now full.  And He was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a headrest.  And they awakened Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we perish?!

” And He awakened and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace!  Be still!  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And He said to them, Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, Who is this man, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?!

In verse 39, Mark writes that Yeshua rebuked the wind, and the wind and the sea became calm.  This caused His disciples – who were still learning who it was that called them to follow Him – to be amazed, and to wonder who this Man could be that even the winds and the sea obeyed Him.  Do we find an answer to this in the Old Testament?

Let’s read Ps 106:9:

“And He (YHVH) rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.”

And Jonah 1:9-16:

“And he said to them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear Yehovah, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.

“Then the men were afraid with a great fear.  And they said to him, What is this you have done?  For the men knew that he was fleeing from before the face of Yehovah, because he had told them.  Then they said to him, What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?  For the sea was going on and being tempestuous.

“And he said to them, Take me up and throw me out into the sea.  And the sea shall be calm to you; for I know that this great tempest has come on you for my sake.

“But the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not, for the sea was going on and being more tempestuous against them.  And they cried to Yehovah and said, We beg You, O Yehovah, we beg You, let us not perish for this man’s life, and do not lay on us innocent blood.  For You, O Yehovah, have done as it pleased You.  And they lifted Jonah up and threw him out into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging.  Then the men feared Yehovah exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to Yehovah, and vowed vows.”

We see in the New Testament and in the Old that both pagans and Israelis were amazed when God rebuked the winds and the seas, and the winds and the seas obeyed Him and became calm.  It elicited a fear of God that they  glorified the Father and the Son as the light became brighter as to who the true God is by His mighty works.  There are many other examples in the Bible of what Jesus did which demonstrate that He and the Father are one. (Jn 21:25)

As the world pays attention to the holidays of Israel and the Church, we want to be confident in our own understanding of the mystery of the faith – God has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is YEHOVAH to the glory of God the Father.  Our response should be fear, honor, worship, and thanksgiving to the great God who does such mighty acts for His people and all the sons and daughters of Adam.  Jesus came into the world as the Light, to bring us back to God the Father, and have calm and peace in our soul and spirit.

Let’s close with Ps 107:21-32:

Let them praise Yehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man!  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing!

“They who go down to the sea in ships, who do business in great waters; these see the works of Yehovah and His wonders in the deep.

“For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up its waves.  They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble.

“They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and all their wisdom is swallowed up.  And they cry to Yehovah in their trouble, and He brings them out of their troubles.

He makes the storm a calm, so that its waves are still.  And they are glad because they are quiet; so He brings them to their desired haven.

Let them praise Jehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man!  And let them exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the gathering of the elders.

Holidays LIKE They Have in Judah – 5 June 2014

(11 June 2014 – For some comments and responses to this article, see http://www.kehila.com/articles/589-holidays-like-they-have-in-judah)

1Kg 12:32-33   And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar.  So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

 “So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”

When the Kingdom of “all Israel” was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel (Joseph/Ephraim), and the southern Kingdom of Judah (Judah/Judea), God left His place of worship in Jerusalem in the oversight of the Tribe of Levi and House of Aaron, under the sovereign control of the House of David, of the Tribe of Judah, the messianic family line for the Messiah, Son of David and Son of God.  YHVH gave the northern kingdom of Israel to be governed by Jeroboam, while the southern kingdom of Judah was left in the hands of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.

In order to prevent and discourage those under his rule from continuing to worship the LORD in the only place that He had established to place His name there, i.e., Jerusalem, King Jeroboam of Israel, as written in the Scripture quoted above, established feasts according to his own heart like those in Jerusalem, but not in Jerusalem, the center of worship for all the Children of Jacob/Israel.  This severed the unity of the nation even further, and instilled idolatry and unfaithfulness towards God and His instructions about His feasts/appointed times.

The Bible is written for us living at the end of the age, and for our instruction and admonition in learning from the examples given from Israel’s Holy Spirit-inspired written history. (1Cor 10:11)

I believe that we in the Messianic movement of God to restore all things to His people have allowed ourselves to do what Jeroboam did:  we have adopted some of the holidays of YHVH which He set times for, but for which those set times have been altered; we have also over emphasized some of the feasts of the LORD which He gave to Israel, while minimizing or ignoring others which He also gave; we have given too much weight to “Jewish thinking” as to what is important – even if in unbelief towards God the Father and His Son – rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to give us the mind of Christ/Messiah about these matters in the present dispensation.  (Yes, I do believe that there are dispensations, but am not a classic dispensationalist.)

We are not learning from the example of Jeroboam, but seem to be following his lead:  we are diverting attention from the centrality of the New Jerusalem above for our true and spiritual worship in these days prior to the return of the Lord (Jn 4:19-24), and from celebrating the open revelation of Yeshua/Jesus having already come in the flesh in fulfillment of those holidays which point to Him and to God’s redemption of His people, and which He has given to the whole Body of Messiah/Christ under His welfare in the Commonwealth of Israel.

I will give some examples:

Sabbath (Shabbat) (Gen 2:1-3; Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15)

The Sabbath is given to observe and to remember that YHVH God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh (the Sabbath); and, to remember that YHVH redeemed and delivered His people Israel out of hard labor and bondage in Egypt to give them rest in the promised Land.  This first of the appointed ‘Feasts of YHVH’ given to Israel (Lev 23) is a holy day to remember (and to act accordingly) our Creator and Redeemer, and the beginning of all that He created and made, and His mighty acts of redemption.  So, in remembering the beginnings, we are also brought to remember the first day of the creation week, when God called light to shine out of the darkness.

In the plan of God, the day after the Sabbath is the first day of the week, or Sunday/Sonday – the day of light.  As born-again new creation children of light and of the resurrection (1Thes 5:4-6; Lk 20:35-36), we have been redeemed, and reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, being brought back into the uncreated Light that is God:  Messiah Yeshua/Jesus is the uncreated Light of the world even before there was a sun.  The seventh-day Sabbath is not the end of God’s plan; the day after the Sabbath, the eternal day of no darkness is the new beginning of eternal life in the new creation that the Father is preparing for those who love Him and His Son.  The Sabbath day is a day to look back, in anticipation of the future judgment and the world to come.  Yeshua/Jesus is our Sabbath rest, in whom we cease from our own works to do the works of God. (Heb 4)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/sabbath-the-7th-day-and-the-1st-day-of-the-week-25-aug-1995/

First-fruits (Lev 23:9-11)

This holiday has to do with resurrection, the day after the Sabbath (Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; 1Cor 16:2); it has nothing special to do with the 1st day after Passover, nor with a particular date after the Passover.  The counting of the omer (sheaves of wheat) was to begin from this day:  the firstfruit of the harvest is showing itself, and is waved before God:  Yeshua is alive, first-fruits from the dead! (1Cor 15:20-23)  It is the Son‘s day!  This is the day that the LORD (YHVH) has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord and in His day! (Ps 118:15-29; Rev 1:10)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-lords-day/

Weeks (Shavuot)/Pentecost (50 Days) (Lev 23:15-17; Acts 2:1)

The Word of the LORD to Moses for Israel tells them to begin counting the appearance of the living wheat harvest from the day after the Sabbath which comes during the Passover week, regardless of what day Passover may  actually begin.  Seven complete Sabbaths, and 50 days from the day of first-fruits/resurrection, is to be celebrated as a presentation of a new grain offering unto YHVHtwo leavened loaves of bread. Shavuot/Pentecost should, therefore, always be celebrated on a Sonday, just as God commanded Israel.  This celebration is expressive of our unity in Messiah/Christ, all knowing that we are sinners for whom the Lord died.  The holiday displays the power of the life of God in the redeemed and forgiven believer in the gospel.  Yeshua is glorified, risen from the dead and seated in glory!  It is a time to rejoice together in Him by the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in us who are born-again from above!

Yet Israel has changed the day of beginning the count of the 50 days and the 7 weeks, by beginning the count from the day after Passover; that is, on the 16th of the first month, Nisan, on the Hebrew calendar.  Doing so brings them to celebrate Shavuot always on the 6th day of the third month, Sivan.  This is not what God instructed them through His Torah, and, by doing so, the Jewish people have been blinded to the clear connection with Jesus/Yeshua and with His resurrection.  This is not a disconnect caused by the “Gentile Church”, but by the Jewish Synagogue. (Some believers, who are caught up in turning away from all things ‘church’ and taking on all things ‘Jew-ish’, have begun the count on the 17th of Nisan, reckoning the three days and nights of Yeshua being in the grave from the 14th, as the starting point of counting.  But that date is neither the day after the Sabbath of the Passover day, the 15th, nor is it what God said and Moses wrote.  As the apostle Paul admonished, there are those who would be teachers of the Law, but do not know what they are talking about.) (1Tim 1:5-8)

The Holy Spirit is fulfilling the Word of God.  A serious problem has come because Christians have not been able to explain the fulfillment of these appointed holiday feasts from the Bible, often out of ignorance, but sometimes due to reliance on faulty Jewish custom and tradition; again, sometimes in ignorance, other times in rebellion, like Jeroboam.  Jewish people don’t know either.  But Messianic Jews, and Gentile believers in Jesus who connect with Israel and the Jewish people, should know, and act in humble and thankful obedience to God, who magnifies the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, and He has come!  We are His witnesses, and if we are going to celebrate holidays, then we should at least be able to say what and when they are, even if we are free, for the gospel’s sake, to celebrate, or not to celebrate – unto God — as situations present themselves. (Col 2:16-17)  There is a powerful testimony when believers across streams and cultures celebrate corporately as one body and family the mighty acts of the one true God!

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/the-feasts-of-yhvh-and-the-final-harvest/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/shavuotpentecost/evidence-of-holy-spirit-baptism/

New Moon

Many are following those who teach that the New Moon is a sighted crescent, rather than the two to three days of a darkened moon, which typifies the Biblical life which is by faith, and not by sight.  As all of YHVH’s appointed times, the New Moon also relates to Yeshua and also to Israel.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-new-moon-covered-or-revealed/

Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25)

The Jewish religious authorities added a day to Rosh HaShana, and call it the New Year rather than the 1st of the 7th month.  In adding a day, it puts hardship on poor people who are dependent on daily wages for work.  In emphasizing the Memorial of Trumpet Blasts as the beginning of the Jewish calendar year, it brings in confusion in the people’s mind regarding the redemptive plan of the God of Israel, and His time-table.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/blowing-of-trumpetsrosh-hashana/memorial-of-shouts/

Day of Atonements (Lev 16; 23:26-32; Is 53; Zec 12:10-14)

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion places its emphasis on this holiest day in God’s calendar for the people’s civil and religious life on bodily fasting from food for 25 hours, in the hope that their names will be inscribed favorably by God for the coming year, rather than on one’s genuine sorrow and regret for unbelief and disobedience against YHVH and His commandments. For those who are justified through faith in God and in His provision of the sacrificial atoning sacrifice by His Son for our sin, transgression, and iniquity, it is a new beginning, transformed by an affliction of soul to be converted, healed, and fully restored even beyond what we could have thought possible; and, as usual with God, it is all connected with Jesus! Jubilee! (Lev 25:8-12)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/day-of-atonementsyom-kippur/the-scapegoat-day-of-atonements/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/sabbathshabbat/jubilee-blessings-10-jan-2011/

Hanukkah/Birth of the Messiah the Lord (Jn 10; Is 9:6-7; Hag 2; Lk 2:4-20)

The true Light has come; all who came before must give honor and glory to the Lord of all.  Yeshua/Jesus must increase; they all must decrease. (Jn 3:30-31)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Lord’s Supper

There is the over-emphasis on the connection with the Jewish Passover (recipients of grace apart from sin) and not upon Yeshua’s death being also a sin and guilt offering, the atonement (all people, all sinners in need of a Savior), opening the way into God’s presence for both Jew and Gentile believers (Mt 27:51; Heb 10:15-25) There is no sound basis that the ‘Last Supper’ was a meal patterned after the modern Passover seder.  Yeshua was closing out one dispensation, while ushering in a new and better covenant for His disciples and spiritual family, and giving us a better inheritance than the Law can give hope for.

Both the Old and the New are at present in force, as God  works to fulfill every jot and tittle that is written in the Law and the Prophets, to be brought to completion during the Millennial Kingdom. (Mt 5:17-18)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/leavened-or-unleavened-bread-april-2012/

Other holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar, such as Tisha B’Av (Zec 7:1-13; 8:19) and Lag BaOmer, which have become more sacrosanct to the Israeli Jewish people than God’s own memorials; yet there are those within the Messianic movement who give even these credibility, despite their being instituted in direct opposition to the judgments of God against His own people for their unbelief, rebellion, and consequent gross idolatries. (Is 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-24; Rev 3:14-22)

We need to beware of the mote in our own eyes with respect to holidays before we think we can help others with specks in theirs.  Those who say that they see will be judged more severely than those who are blind. (Jn 9:39-41; Ja 3:1)  The devil is a liar, deceiver, murderer, and destroyer.  It is for us to honor the Lord, and bear witness of Jesus/Yeshua to His people – whether unsaved Jews, or whether misguided or unsaved Christians – as we celebrate our great God and Savior.

Jewish believers generally do not recognize or celebrate/observe Sonday/Sunday; First-fruits/Resurrection Day; Pentecost/Shavuot according to the Lord’s timing; the birth of the Messiah.  Shavuot as dated in Judaism is instead of Pentecost; Hanukkah is in competition with Christmas, and given meaning that seeks to decrease the greatness of the Lord’s coming in the flesh into the world; Saturday is considered as the Lord’s Day, and given prominence over the significance of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ prophetically of new birth and eternal life after death for the believer in Messiah.

The Hebraic and Jewish roots of the Messianic/Christian faith are found in the Word of God given to Israel and the Jewish people.  But the roots have produced a whole plant that looks much different than the seed that was planted to sprout those roots. (1Cor 15:35-49)  The flower and fruit are more interesting and glorious than the tangled roots, for all their fascination that God has created and made! God is calling out a people for Himself from every nation; the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but a new thing in the Earth which YHVH is creating in Christ/Messiah.  His appointed times which testify to Messiah having already come – and coming again — bring all believers from any and every nation outside of our camps to Yeshua, uniting us in His love as we suffer with Him and bear His reproach, hoping in His return and the resurrection. (Heb 13:12-16; Rom 8:18-24)  Neither Jewish believers nor Gentile believers are called to bring anyone into our purpose; but God is calling out one new man into His purpose, which He has planned before He created anything.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/new-testament-faith/the-gospel-the-new-covenant-and-the-messianic-faith-are-neither-jewish-nor-greek/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/messianic-judaism/the-faith-in-messiah-yeshua-different-from-all-others/

THE TRINITY

(In response to a couple of persons recently asking me to comment on my understanding of the Trinity, here is a fairly concise answer for those who already know that it is probably true, but are not intellectually confident as to how and why.)

As for the Trinity, I think your statement holds a clue to its truth:  “Adonai can not be limited by the human limits of understanding.”  Since the concept of God as a 3-in-1 is so outside of human understanding — and no normal person would think it up or expect others to go along with it — then it must be a revelation from the triune God, YHVH, Himself.  By faith we understand God’s Word to be true and truth, and God gives many examples in the world to fathom the possibility of its being so.  For instance, TIME is present, past, and future:  3 that is necessary for the 1 to be what TIME is.  Human beings, created in the image of God, are 3 — body, soul, and spirit — that is 1 whole person.  There are many such examples, which I am sure that you are also familiar with.  God, of course, is still ‘other’, and He, as a great mystery, came in the flesh by the conception of the Holy Spirit in the person of Jesus Christ, who did not pray to Himself, but to His Father in Heaven.  Therefore the need for a revelation of this holy and unique, one, true, living God which He has given to us that we might worship Him in spirit and truth.

When Abraham ate lunch with YHVH, he ate lunch with the Angel YHVH, who appeared in the likeness of human form, along with the other two angels.  These pre-incarnate appearances of the Lord were all angelic, even though He looked like a Man often times.  The conception and birth of the Lord through the virgin Mary is what gave Him the name Yeshua, which means that He is the Savior:  He will save His people from their sins.  For this He had to come as a flesh-and-blood human being, for angels, which are spirits, can not redeem humans.  The name of Yeshua/Jesus applies to the Son of God being also the Son of Man in His humanity.  Even He will receive a new name that we will know in the world to come.

The Hebrew word ‘echad‘ (אחד) does convey a plural unity.  The number ‘1’ is made up of numerous ‘fractions’, such as 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 = 1.  A cube is measured by its height, length, and width — and God being  ‘equal’ in His unity and Deity, we can consider that 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.  He is ONE, not three separate entities being added together to make 3.  The Hebrew word to denote ‘one only’, or ‘unique’, is yachid (יחיד).  This word is used to describe YHVH as the only true God; Isaac as Abraham’s ‘only’ son; Yeshua as God’s ‘only begotten Son’.   Each of these is unique in their ‘one onliness’.

One more example which has helped me understand by faith the truth of God’s revelation — even though its full comprehension remains beyond human capability — is the first Hebrew word for ‘God’ used in the first sentence of the Bible — Elohim (אלהים).  This word is plural, but the word for ‘created’ here in Genesis is singular, so already there is something unusual being expressed by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.  Linguistically, the specific form of plurality in this Hebrew word implies three or more; and we know that it is three in this case.  YHVH God NEVER uses plurality in some Gentile way of speaking ‘royally’; and even if He does somewhere that I have missed, for Him it is also true!  In most pagan religions, their gods are just that, plural in number — the gods.  In Islam, their God is never expressed as a plurality; they have made him only a singular, like the Hebrew words also used for God, such as El and Eloha (אל; אלוה).  That religion denies and rejects the love of the truth of the one, living, God; and, sadly, Rabbinic Judaism has done the same.

The Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer has given a revelation of monotheism that is not defined simply as the belief in one God:  the true one YHVH God — “Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God(s), YHVH is one.”  The true ‘one God’ is truly unique.  He is the God which both the Old and the New Testaments bear witness to.  It is the Spirit of YHVH that has inspired all the writers of the Holy Scriptures.  Yeshua/Jesus is YHVH/LORD, the Son of the Living God.  He and the Father are one in essence, and it is this unity of the Godhead that Yeshua prayed will be in those who are the Body of Messiah/Christ.  Amen, Amen.  Truly, there is none like Him! 

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.

THE NEW MOON: COVERED, OR REVEALED?

(Corrected and/or Revised on 10 Sept 2014; 4 Jan 2015; Mar 2015; June 2015; Aug 2015; Mar 2016; 31 Jan 2018; 30 Aug 2018)

Tonight (March 11, 2013), there is a New Moon.  Do you see it?  What is it that you saw?

This New Moon also marks the beginning of the first month in God’s redemptive calendar year given to Israel, leading up to the Passover on the Full Moon in two weeks. (Ex 12:2)

I am not going to give a teaching here on all that is written concerning the New Moon celebrations given by YHVH to Israel to commemorate, both under the Law of Moses and also in the future Millennial Kingdom (Lev 23:24; Num 10:10; Ezek 46:1-8)The New Testament tells those who are now believers in Yeshua/Jesus not to make too much of days, months, seasons, years, festivals, New Moons, Sabbaths – all of these things being shadows of things to come, but the substance is Messiah. (Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-17) 

The Lord has told us that all of the Scriptures are written about Him, and we know that all of the sacrifices and holidays/appointed times are also fulfilled by Jesus in the entirety of His first coming, and in the anticipation of His coming again to fulfill all that is written in the whole of the Bible, which still waits for the Kingdom of God to come. 

My main purpose here is to try to shed some light on a subject which seems to have been darkened by human reasoning, rather than understood by faith in God’s own Word. We believe by faith, not by sight.  (2Cor 5:7; Heb 11:2) 

In Scripture, we do have references indicating that the sun, the moon, and the stars symbolize the Son, Yeshua; Israel; and, born-again saints, respectively. (Gen 1:14-19; 37:9-11; Mal 4:2Eng; 1Cor 15:40-41; Rev 12:1-2) Yeshua is the glory both of Israel — His people — and of the Church — His Body and Bride. In Him, both find their true identity and fullness. (Is 49:3; Lk 2:32; 1Cor 11:7; Col 2:6-10) 

If we accept the truth that all things are created by God through Messiah Yeshua/Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1-3), and all in Christ find their true identity and purpose, then we can better understand that there is no Israel of God apart from Him; there is no true Church apart from Him.  Even the sun and moon exist only through His creation, but in the eternal New Heavens and New Earth there will be no need for the temporal sun and moon.  Again, these present things are but a shadow of the things to come, whose substance is Christ.  The Israel of God (the Millennial Israel, ultimately, I believe) and the Church of God (those in Christ, whether dead or still living) are identified with YHVH God and His Anointed Son – the Holy Spirit indwelling the born-again believersMessiah in us.

So, is the new moon covered over, that is, darkened?; or, is it a slim crescent, that is, partially revealed or exposed?  The Scriptures are not silent about this, since God commanded Israel to celebrate every New Moon, and to blow the trumpets on that occasion! (Num 10:10)  If Jesus does fulfill the meaning of the New Moon, and if the moon does symbolize Israel, then the answer to whether the New Moon is covered or partially revealed will be consistent with its symbolism.   When the Holy Spirit speaks through Scriptural authority, then it is other voices which need to be silenced, as we “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah…” (2Cor 10:5

There are three Bible references to the New Moon that can help us:
1Sam 20:5   “And David said to Jonathan, ‘Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the King to eat.  But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.'”

From this verse, we can see that David knew when there would be a New Moon, without there being any official ‘spotters’ to watch for it and inform all the others after they had seen it.  David also says that he will be hiding in the field.  How hiding?  Because there would be no light of the moon to help make him detectable in any night-time movements (he would have been hiding out during the day in any event), as he sought to protect himself from the king who sought his life.  (Were the New Moon the first crescent sliver, then each succeeding night the moon would have waxed larger and brighter, making hiding at night more difficult.)  How long did he plan to hide out in the field during the New Moon?  Until the third evening, which is about the length of time for the dark moon to wax as the moon moves from its final light phase to its next crescent moon.   

Amos 8:5   “. . . When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? . . . .”

The heartless people, who were only concerned with their own commercial interests at the expense of the poor and needy, were anxious to know when the beginning-of-the-month New Moon (and also the end-of-the-work-week Sabbath) would be over – and not, “when is it beginning?” — so that they could get back to business and oppress the poor and needy.  If the New Moon were a sliver of light (like the Islamic sign by sight!), there would be no need of the question!  But if the New Moon is darkened by being directly between the Earth and the Sun, it could take up to three days until the light that was hidden to unaided human sight appeared again.  (As an aside, an eclipse of the Sun can occur only at New Moon, while an eclipse of the Moon can occur only at Full Moon:  there is perfect symmetry in the moon’s phases.  And, exactly one half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun:  God always ‘sees’ a Full Moon!)  The oppressors wanted to know when they could again be ‘freed’ from the constraints of the Law of God in whatever way it restricted their greedy, self-serving thoughts and plans.  The commandment to sound the trumpet was for the New Moon beginning, and not for the New Moon ending.  Again, it is a new moon, not a renewed moon:  it is there, yet concealed, signifying the beginning of a new month, not a renewed month.  (Those who would make the first sliver of a crescent moon the New Moon are then putting the darkened phase at the end of the month rather than at the beginning.  This is akin to those who moved Sonday to be the last day of the week rather than the first.)

Montage by Connor Madison

Ps 81:3-4 (Eng)   “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon; at the covering, on our celebration day.  For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.” 

Verse 3 (4 in Hebrew) has been used by many to go through hoops not to accept it for what it plainly and simply says in Hebrew.  The two verses are in parallel.  Verse 4 (5 in Hebrew) says in parallel the same thing:  God gave His instruction to Israel – to Jacob – to celebrate the New Moon.  Verse 3 (4 in Hebrew) is describing when to blow the trumpet:  at the New Moon, which is described as being covered.  (See also Job 26:9, where the Hebrew word is the same; for some reason, all of the translations have either ‘full moon’, or ‘throne’.  The Hebrew word for ‘throne’ is spelled differently than for ‘cover’.  The parallel part of the verse is not describing the time, nor is the verse speaking of two different moon phases, just as the other verse is not speaking of two different peoples.  And, God did not command Israel to blow the trumpets on the Full Moons (which they could, though, when holidays fell on them; e.g., Passover, Feast of Booths, Purim).  The Hebrew word is bakasehכסה), which simply means ‘at the [whole] covering’If something is partially covered, it is not ‘covered’:  it is partly exposed.  We do not speak of ‘covering’ something in some measure of light, but we speak of covering something over.  Light reveals; darkness covers.  Yeshua spoke of letting our light shine, not being hidden under cover of a basket. (Mt 5:14-16)

Identification with, and being the representative Israel (Is 49:3; Gal 4:4-5; Heb 2:14-18), the Man Yeshua came stripped of His visible glory as the Son of God.  But the Sun of Righteousness died, went down in burial (hidden in the secret, dark, lower parts of the Earth), and rose again visibly and triumphantly as the Bright and Morning Star on the third day!  As the risen Savior King and Head of the Church, believers ‘see’ Him clothed in divine light and majesty with the glory that was His before He came to His own, and to the world that He made.  Israel has no glory of her own:  the moon has no light but that of the sun which it reflects.  YHVH called Israel to be a light to the nations, but without receiving her Source of Light, she is darkened until. . . – having an inherent hope of a restoration through the covenant promises of God to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their descendants.  Born-again Christians are a light.  Yeshua has said:  “You are the light of the world. . . . ”  Stars are lights of their own, each with its own glory, but none outshining the glory of the Sun. (1Cor 15:41)  Israel is still hidden from man’s view, as if away from the light of the Sun/Son, whom the nation still rejects because it prefers the darkness (Gen 3:7-10; Jn 3:19-21)  During the New Moon, the illuminated side of the Moon is then pointed away from Earth, but is full in God’s sight, who sees the end from the beginning! (Num 23:18-23)  The Church, through her historic replacement theology presuming that God is finished with Israel, also has consequently rejected the truth from God’s side that Israel’s future is assured. (Jer 31:35-37)  Israel began to be seen since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, and will be seen in her full [moon] glory when she rises up to remember the former glory that was given her by YHVH, and seeks with all her heart the true Son who has risen! (Hos 6:15; Rom 9:4); finally repenting, and accepting the Sun of Righteousness, Yeshua whom she pierced. (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39

The New Moon (which, technically, is only for a brief minute, but can seem to the natural naked eye to be extended over a period of some three days) occurs when the visible side is completely covered from the light of the sun (much like a blanket over us to keep out light) by being directly between it and the Earth.  It is the phase when the moon is ‘out of sight’, and the night, which the moon rules, is less lit.  Yet, the stars are more brilliant and so many more can be seen when there is a New Moon.  Spiritually, it is Israel’s phase of “being there”, but out-of-sight, and, for too many people, also out-of-mind.  The moon then waxes for 13-14 days to the Full Moon, then wanes for 13-14 days till the New Moon.  And, meanwhile, the born-again ‘star saints’ are given their opportunity to shine!  So God, in His infinite wisdom, gave Israel a statute to remember the New Moon.  The whole world — including Gentiles, angelic and demonic spirits, and the Body of Christ — are reminded of God’s New Moon which He gave for a sign and for seasons, and for days and for years:  every month (from the word, ‘moon’; in Hebrew חודש/chodesh, new month), begins with the new and unseen moon that is there!  It is a globally recurring heavenly sign from the Creator and Redeemer that He has thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give Israel a future and a hope. (Jer 11-14)  

The trumpets for the New Moon are for a memorial before YHVH.  The Memorial Feast of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:24), which marks the beginning of the seventh month in God’s redemptive calendar to Israel (the Jewish ‘New Year’ today), is basically a uniquely appointed New Moon prophetic wake-up BLAST! to Israel to gather together for preparing to meet her God on the Day of Atonements, either to have her sins forgiven and removed by calling on His Name on that Day (Num 10:9; Joel 2; Acts 4:8-12; Mt 23:37-39), or else to face His wrath like the rest of His enemies.  Those who are saved celebrate the Jubilee — truly a new beginning! — and as on all the celebratory days for His people, the trumpet is sounded. (Lev 25:8-10)  The historic steps towards the reestablishment of national Israel were the New Moon trumpet of God to the Church and the nations in these last days, to remember that the God of Israel keeps His covenant promises to the seed of Jacob.  Israel’s full glory – the Full Moon – will be manifested when the Lord returns to dwell in the midst of His completely restored people at the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths (which always begins at the Full Moon of the 7th month of the redemptive calendar) – the Millennial Kingdom.

Israel is Messiah’s treasure hidden in a field (Mt 13:44), to be uncovered on the third day (Hos 6:2) at the revelation of Jesus Christ (who is Himself now hidden from the world (Jn 16:10)), when the surviving remnant of Jacob shall see Him whom they pierced, repent with great affliction of soul, and all Israel will be saved. (Zech 12:10 – 13:2; Rom 11:25-27)

Yeshua fulfills the New Moon in His death, burial (covering and removing our sins out of sight), and resurrection to life everlasting.  Israel fulfills the New Moon, which symbolizes her as a continual reminder of God’s covenantal faithfulness — and of her hope in Him — that there is a day coming when her redemption will shine forth, the glory of the LORD will shine upon her, and all the nations will praise YHVH, God of Israel, and call her blessed when He cleanses her from all her sin against the Lord.  (Lev 26:40-45; Ps 117)  There is joy when a woman becomes aware that she is pregnant; there is greater joy when she has given birth. (Jn 16:21-22; Lk 15:7,10,32)  What began in secret in the dark inward parts, (even as in the womb at conception. ..Ps 139:11-15), will come to light and be seen by all in its full glory, that which was already conceived by the Holy Spirit for a new birth and the celebration of life (Is 66:5-14)!  Yeshua’s conception was not ‘light’; His birth brought to light the public knowledge of the promised Messiah and Lord.  Blessed is he who believes and has not seen!  Even the creation began with darkness, being outside of God, who is Light!  The heavens declare the glory of God! (Gen 1:2)

God is redeeming Israel today.  He is again returning His attention to Jerusalem.  He is calling His people to remember Him and to rejoice in His goodness and long-suffering, which lead to repentance unto salvation.  Let all who want God’s purposes to be fulfilled, who desire the peace of Jerusalem, not keep silent, but remind the Lord as workers with Him to make Jerusalem a praise in the Earth, with a highway of holiness and blessing between Egypt and Assyria, running through Israel.  YHVH God will remove unrighteousness from Jacob, and all Israel will be saved.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 25 Dec 2012

As a Jew, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas when I became a believer, partly because it wasn’t “Jewish”, and partly because it was too paganized and commercialized. But the Lord began to show me that my reasons were not all correct. In my other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. The truth of God is not pagan, and it happened right here in Israel among Jewish people, as prophesied by the prophets of YHVH  long before.

Much of what people do with God’s holy things is to defile them, to paganize them, and Satan is the cheerleader in this, along with our own propensity to be drawn away by what seems ‘good in our eyes’, and to fit in with the surrounding unholy and unclean culture.  As a Jew, I have examined and judged myself and my people for FIRST doing what Christians also do; yet, we continue to keep the Passover (in the light of the New Covenant and greater Passover). We continue to acknowledge Purim and Hanukkah, even though, like Christmas, God did not ordain them, but believers did unto Him and for the people to celebrate God’s mighty acts on their behalf, in keeping with His covenantal promises, despite their own general and widespread unfaithfulness and tendency to heathen practices.  Purim especially has been paganized, and is more like Carnival and Halloween.  God has historically intervened in the lives of His people and of the rest of humanity, redeeming days, etc., so that these times become connected with His redemption, while remaining mere worldly, even pagan, occasions for those not in covenant relationship with Him

It is true, as the Lord spoke through Amos and others, that He hates our sacrifices and fasts and holidays: in other words, when we are doing them according to our own understanding and culture, and not for Him and His honor. That is what I am trying to express: that we should keep His celebrations as a freewill offering in a manner that does honor and please Him, and fills us with thanksgiving and joy in the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that there is much more evidence in Scripture to warrant Yeshua’s birth around this time (Haggai 2 refers several times to the 24th of the 9th [Hebrew Israeli] month Chislev, which corresponds with the first night of Hanukkah that occurred hundreds of years later and corresponds to the Western Christian calendar of the evening of 24th of December), but did not fulfill what the last verses speak of: Yeshua’s coming in the flesh at birth does begin that overthrow, first in our own hearts, and ultimately in all peoples and nations, including Israel. Mary’s new song in Luke 1 expresses her own understanding in faith and hope of what the Lord spoke through Haggai, and other prophets.  The true and brighter and eternal Light that shines in the darkness is not extinguished, and should be given much higher priority over celebrations of mere oil or candle lights that burn out.

The reason that Jewish people as a whole do not celebrate the Lord’s birth is because they do not believe in Jesus, even though the first ones who did celebrate with the angels were Israeli Jews! Neither do the Jewish people, along with many nominal Christians, celebrate His resurrection, also because of unbelief. But the Holy Spirit has brought Gentile Christians into the Commonwealth of Israel through their faith in the promised Messiah to Israel, and have celebrated His life, and His suffering and death, and His resurrection and ascension, and the hope of His coming again — whether with faith or without — for most of this age.

I have put together a timeline that brings together and reconciles all of the appointed/set times, and those which God accepted from His people, to show Yeshua’s birth:  http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Just as the second coming of the Lord will be at a time, and a day and an hour, not expected, well. . . it seems that so was His first coming!  The winter objection pre-supposes that the God of Nature can not do something extraordinary to declare His glory, just as I believe He did the night of the Lord’s betrayal, when it was so chilly on a Spring night (and it’s possible that Passover was a late date that year), that Peter and others kept themselves warm with a fire. And the sheep, as far as I have heard others say, were sacrificial sheep, and were handled differently, and were outside yearly. But since these things are not understood by ‘babes’ anyway, they are not central to resolving the controversy. That Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with us does not mean that He was therefore born at the Feast of Tabernacles, which actually is the Feast of Booths (succot). The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, and is more permanent than a temporary booth. And the priestly course of Abia (Aviyah) is not certain of its annual cycle, nor can we be sure of how the Jewish rulers at that time were regulating matters, since the whole system had become corrupt. But I have read sites that have decided to assume a particular cycle and time, but acknowledging that if another were taken, then it puts John’s father in the Holy Place at a time in a context that Yeshua would be born as tradition maintains. The whole counsel of God together unfolds His revelatory plan and purpose, and Scripture interprets Scripture, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.

Since YHVH is a Man of War and the God of Armies/Hosts, He is not going to reveal things before it’s necessary, because there is an enemy with certain liberty to do what he will in this world, who likes to pre-empt things to ‘muddy the waters’, like he has with the Queen of Heaven, and the whole saturnalia bit. Even if the date of Christmas is the same as saturnalia, the God of gods has come and taken the day for Himself! Passover is celebrated by the heathen and unbelieving Jews even as merely a Spring festival and celebration of freedom. But God’s freedom is for us to serve and worship Him, not to remain independent from Him nor to remain slaves to sin and unbelief.

Despite all, let us take a stand of faith for the name of Christ/Messiah, who is Jesus/Yeshua, our great God and Savior.

God bless you, and, yes, Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2013 in Messiah,
Howard

LEAVENED OR UNLEAVENED BREAD? – April 2012

(Updated Feb 26, 2017)

—– Original Message —–
From: R
Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 22:00
Subject: GREAT TO SEE YOU BOTH!
To: Howard

Dear Howard,

It was good to catch up with you both so soon again – another of God’s ‘God-incidences’ I think!   You said something at one of our recent meetings that rang an immediate chord: that the Muslims have no father, whereas the father of the Arabs is Abraham/Ishmael.  I have always understood that every Arab is a Muslim, whereas not every Muslim is an Arab.  Could you enlighten me as to which nations are Arab (such as Egypt) as against those that are non-Arab Muslim (such as Iran)?

Finally, in the DVD of the Nachalat Yeshua fellowship that we saw at the Conference last month you mentioned that you use leavened bread at Communion to remind everyone that Jesus was our sin-bearer – our sin-offering.  As I come from another persuasion, I wonder whether you would be willing to have an email dialogue with me on this subject? (Iron sharpening iron always seems a good idea!).

Blessings in Messiah,
R

From: Howard and Randi Bass
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:31 PM
To: R
Subject: Re: GREAT TO SEE YOU BOTH!

Shalom R,

We’re glad you’re back safely.  We had another air raid this evening, even though there is supposed to be a cease fire.  It was very nice to see you and the others, and to spend some quality time with you all.

Here is a link to the Arabic nations:  http://www.arab.de/arabinfo/league.htm
Here is one to Muslim nations:  http://arabicpaper.tripod.com/country.html

Egypt is not actually an ‘Arab’ country, being descendant from Ham, but they are Arabized through language and culture, mostly Islamic.

I’ll try my best to dialogue with you over the leavened bread.  It’s really very interesting; I wish we could do it face-to-face.

Blessings,
Howard

At 03:29 PM 18-03-12 +0000, you wrote:

Dear Howard, many thanks for your prompt reply re: Arabs & Muslims.  As Muslims don’t appear to have Abraham as their father, who are their ancestors?

It’s a great pity we can’t meet face to face to have a discussion, but I guess that email is next most convenient!  Re: Using leavened bread for communion: I cannot see any Scriptural warrant for this anywhere, but I can think of a host of objections! – and I list them for your consideration:

— Jesus used unleavened bread at the Last Supper/first Communion; as Christians, surely we should follow His lead and His example

— Scripture never asks us to remember Jesus as a sin offering; rather, we are to remember Him (eg, Matthew 26 vv 26-29 & 1 Corinthians 11 vv 23-26)

— I can’t imagine a worse emblem to signify Christ’s sinless purity than leaven, which is always a symbol of pride and sin because it ‘puffs up.’

— This is like a parable of our times in Britain; almost all churches now use leavened bread for communion.  As you will be aware, there is an ‘echo’ of the 7 parables of Matthew13 inthe 7 letters of John, and in exactly the same order.  In parable number 4, the woman (false religion) mixes leaven (false teaching and hypocrisy) with the 3 bowls of meal (God’s word).  In the 4th letter of John, the woman (Jezebel) brings false teaching and sexual immorality (leaven) into the church.  Interestingly, the 3 bowls neatly represent the 3 strands of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism – and each contains leaven.

I’d be most interested in your comments,  Blessings to you all in Beersheva,  R.

From: Howard & Randi Bass
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:25 PM
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion

Dear R,

Thanks for your questions, which I also had to wrestle with for myself about 30 years ago regarding the Lord’s Supper.  But first of all, concerning the Muslims:  Islam is a faith, not a people, even though historically most of the Muslims have been Arabs, and most Arabs Muslims.  But we know that during the beginnings of the Church, there were Arabs who became Christian, and these are mentioned in the New Testament.  The Coptic Christians in Egypt were there long before the Islamic conquest.  Today, Islam is making great inroads into other people groups; so ancestrally, it depends on each person and their ethnicity.  In any case, Islam is not of the faith of Abraham, for nor is their God.  Even the demons know that there is one God, and they tremble at the truth of who He is.

As for the bread of communion, let me preface all this with a bit of personal testimony, and as I mentioned, this goes back to 1982 over this issue.  When I was first saved and born-again in Feb. 1981, my first reactions were as a Jewish person, seeing everything through ‘Jewish eyes’.  I thought that the Gentile Christians had taken things from us, or had done things ‘not Jewish’, and that this was why so many Jews felt that there was nothing of Christianity for us AS Jews.  Then the Lord began to open the eyes of my understanding that God is bigger than doing everything ‘Jewishly’.  In the parable of Jesus in Mt 21, He told the religious leaders that because we threw Him out of His own vineyard, God would give it to other vinedressers who would render to Him the fruits in their seasons.  In other words, the Gentiles would take on some major responsibility for the things of God, and, being from every nation and ethnic group, things would not ‘look’ Jewish, or even be Jewish.  The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but is something new — a mystery now revealed — for anyone and for all, from God, in Christ. Gentile believers are being brought not into the Law, but into the living hope of the New Covenant, which is not a renewed covenant, but a new and better one. (Heb 8:6)  “Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed  be Abram of God Most High, Possessor (Purchaser) of Heaven and Earth. . . .’” (Gen 14:18-19)

But when it comes to the communion, I thought, at least that is ‘ours‘:  it was instituted at a Passover; the bread, I was sure, was matza (unleavened); leaven represents sin, and Yeshua was the perfect, sinless Man and Lamb of God to be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin and sins.  I asked a Baptist missionary in Israel, why do some Christians use leavened bread?  His answer was simply that we are under grace, and that it doesn’t matter.  That may be true, as long as the substance is preached, but this answer does not satisfy someone seeking to know the why of the things of God, and of symbols He chooses to use. (Col 2:16-17) God does things for a reason, just as immersion better ‘tells the story’ of someone who has died, been buried, and rises from the dead with and in Messiah better than sprinkling does.  Symbols can provide great visual aids for our understanding, such as the bread and cup of Communion.  We really do have to be born-again by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the gospel, and continually learn what it is to reckon our old man as dead, and that we are alive unto God as a new creation.  As Paul said, the world is crucified to him, and he to the world.  This would also include his own culture if it conflicts with the newness of life, and our new identity that we are in Christ.   The Law and the Prophets point to something greater and better, not only in Christ Himself, but also through Him.

I know you know all these things, R; I just want you to know that I take these things seriously, too, and the Word and Holy Spirit of God together set me free by the truth of who Jesus Christ is, and now He has also set me free from ‘religion’, or from simply accepting traditions handed down by ‘the fathers’, sometimes without any understanding of what or why they might be.  On the other hand, something like Sunday worship, which I believe is of the Lord, is right, but, again, often without much understanding from the Law given to Israel why it is so for believers in Jesus! (Lev 23:9-14)  Whatever we believe must be shown from the written Word of God to be so.

I was reading a book that a brother in Beer Sheva gave me to read back in 1982, a book whose name I can not remember.  The reason he let me read this book was not for what I came away with.  In the book, the author was referencing ‘sources’ from the 1st century, according to him — both Jewish and Roman sources.  One of the things he mentioned was that part of the opposition to Jesus was that He taught His disciples to eat leavened bread on Passover.  I couldn’t believe it!  What I did, though, was ask the Lord if  this could possibly be!  Because as a Jew, this was the last vestige of something that was ours that the Gentiles couldn’t take away!  (As a sideline to this:  some years later, I was wanting to share this with another Jewish believer, who is a teacher and an influential person and one who is regarded as prophetic; but once I said that “I think the Lord has shown me . . .”, he did not want to hear anymore.  His reason?  How could the Jewish people accept the gospel if this were true?  That was a very revealing answer about his own way of understanding the implications of the gospel.  But what this shows is how something so simple can shake our very sense of truth or identity.  And that was what also prompted my reaction to what I had read, and of my inquiring cry to the Lord, and also of your own instinctive reaction.)

The answer I received from the Lord — and what justifies it all for me — was simply, “Check the Word”.  He turned me to the Scriptures, both Old and New.  And He opened up a whole new vista of ‘gospel truth’, and how it also affects the one new man reality, and the priesthood of all believers.  This remembrance ordinance which the Lord left us, and the symbols He chose to use, are radical and revolutionary on the one hand concerning the substance, and ‘don’t matter’ as to use,on the other.

Another interesting ‘happenstance’ occurred during my studies:  I happened to pick up a National Geographic magazine (not exactly a magazine with any vested interest in the truths of God), with an article about the historic split between the western Roman Catholic Church and the eastern Greek/Russian Orthodox Church back around the 5th century.  One of the reasons, apart from Papal authority, was over whether the Holy Spirit was given by the Father and the Son, or only by the Father.  (It’s pretty clear from the Scriptures, and, here, the RCC got that one right! Jn 14:16,26Another reason was over the bread of communion:  apparently leavened bread had been used, until the RCC decided and decreed that it must be unleavened.  It is interesting to note that the crucifix is the ‘symbol’ of the RCC — with Jesus still on the cross slain, not yet buried nor risen from the dead —  and, therefore, there is no justification for the ungodly sinner through faith in their system (much like rabbinic Judaism and every other religion), which is only so for those who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  He is no longer dead, but alive forevermore!  And so the sinner can be judicially acquitted of murdering or killing or of consenting to His death through faith in the good news!

A curious thing:  wine was used by the Lord at the Last Passover, and is considered acceptable doctrinally by many churches and Messianic congregations for the Lord’s Supper.  Grape juice is an alternative, being of the fruit of the vine.  At the first Passover, when the Israelis were delivered from hard slavery in Egypt, neither wine nor grape juice was part of that feast.  And, according to the instructions given us in Lev 23, with all of the appointed times/’holidays’ of YHVH, the emphasis is on eating unleavened bread (matza), but nothing about drinking wine.  Following the Passover, looking prophetically, once the first-fruits wave offering had been offered on the day after the Sabbath (i.e., Sonday, the first day of the week) after coming into the land which the Lord was giving to the children and people of Israel, then they could use wine and eat [regular bread] (lechem).  This was during the Passover week.  When Jesus was walking with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus after His resurrection (first-fruits from the dead) on the day after the Sabbath of that Passover week (i.e., Sonday), their eyes were opened when He blessed and broke bread (artos in Greek; lechem in all Hebrew translations normally used).  Then “they knew Him, and He vanished from their sight”. (Lk 24)  Wine is fermented; it is leavened.  Nothing leavened was permitted under the Law during the Passover and Unleavened Bread week.  (It is interesting that the same Greek word for bread is used in the account of the Last Supper, and in that of the meal with the two disciples in Emmaus.  Had the Last Supper been the night before Passover, as some believe — and therefore leavened bread would have been “permissible” — then surely we would think that the word used in the account of Emmaus would have specified unleavened bread, since it was during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week.)

The words for wine and for new wine/grape juice are different in both languages, just as in English.  The words for regular bread and for unleavened bread are, too.  It is here that my search in ‘checking the Word’ began:  what word was used for bread in the Greek in the New Testament wherever the Lord’s Supper was the subject, or the Passover week; when was the word for unleavened bread used, and in what context; how were these words translated into English and Hebrew; how were the Hebrew words for regular bread and for unleavened bread used in the Old Testament?  What I found was astounding, and full of grace and truth, and a proof to me of the verbal inspiration of “all Scripture”.  I already knew that the root word for bread/lechem in Hebrew has to do with warfare, conflict (lamed-chet-mem); what I found out is that the Greek word for bread, artos, means to expiate:  through the sacrificial atoning death of Jesus Christ for sin and our sins, God has removed/taken away/expiated the struggle for survival which every man since the Fall has inherited and come up against — only to die in defeat at the end — and has taken away the futility and vanity of life for the believer .  The first of the use of the word lechem in the Bible is found in Gen 3:19, in connection with God’s punishment for Adam’s disobedience:  he would have to struggle to eat bread (also used for food in general; see Mt 6:11).   Jesus, the second and the last Adam, fought the ultimate battle and struggle from the onslaught of the enemy, and when He knew that by being crucified for our sins, He would be separated from God, His Father, while bearing all of our guilt and punishment.  And by His obedience and His victory in this warfare, we receive living bread to eat, having received peace and acceptance with God!

He has given us justification and peace and the living hope of everlasting life through the victory on the cross by the Lord over sin, the devil, and death!  The inspired use of language in the New Testament fulfills the types and Messianic hopes of the Old!  (I am sure there is much more of such examples that the Holy Spirit has shown others.)  Unleavened bread in the Old Testament is called ‘bread of affliction‘ because of the haste of leaving Egypt (Dt 16:3)  There is no reference here to recall sin, but the haste of leaving, and of not having time for the dough to leaven. (Ex 12:34)  They were being delivered and driven out, and the affliction which they suffered as slaves was remembered as well as the affliction of not having tasty bread to eat!  Whereas in the New Testament, Yeshua has said that He is the Bread of Life, and the Living Bread that one may eat of and not die.  This living bread is His flesh, which He gives for the life of the world. (Jn 6:48-51)  People will wait hours in bread lines when they are hungry to receive some loaf of bread, which is not so for some unleavened bread:  Jesus is the Staff of Life, and we who know Him give thanks every time we eat bread.

Every Friday evening in Jewish homes around the world, there is the family meal ushering in the Sabbath.  On the table — which in Jewish tradition has become an altar, in the absence of the Templewith its Shewbread — is wine and two leavened loaves of challa, a special bread loaf especially for the Sabbath.  The loaves represent, in the Jewish understanding, the House of Israel and the House of Jacob, and replaces the Shewbread. (Lev 23:16-17)  There is also salt and two candle sticks.  The wife says a blessing to welcome the Sabbath Queen.  Who is the King/Lord of the Sabbath?  Who is His Queen, the Bride?  Yeshua tells His disciples — us — that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  He has personalized and internalized the symbols to Himself and to His Body, the Church.  Every week Jewish people, without knowing it, are remembering the Creator of the Universe, and the Savior, who gave Himself as the sacrifice for our redemption — none other than Jesus whom we pierced and who has left His Church the very emblems which, in the sovereignty of God, has been given as a witness to the whole House of Israel!  Jewish families are acting as if they are priests, eating the Shewbread, representing all the 12 tribes of Israel, each week; Christians are priests, and have the priestly privilege to eat the bread of the Presence/ the bread of the Faces/ the Bread of God, remembering Him who embodies Israel, and who gave Himself as the High Priest of a different order than under the Law once and for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself — for both Jews and Gentiles. (Heb 7 – 9)

From this basic and straight-forward beginning to ‘check the Word’, everything else began to open up, with much enlightenment and revelation with respect to what I had not seen before — partly due to ignorance, partly due to prejudice, and partly due to conditioning.  And I have to say, R, it was like being born-again again, it was so life-changing!  It set me free from thinking that some truth of God had to be Jewish in thinking, or that the traditions of the Church ought to all be Jewish if it were really based on the Torah that was ‘ours’; when, in truth, it is His, and He is moving on, and the Holy Spirit is leading us into all truth, all based upon the written Word of God, glorifying the Son and the Father.  Again, the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek:  “But I make known to you, Brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught, but [I received it] through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:11-12)  “Where is the wise?  Where the scribe?  Where the disputer of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks folly, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1Cor 20-25)

The Communion is for the Church during this present age:  we remember the Lord’s death until He comes, when He returns in great power and glory apart from sin.  Israel will not celebrate it during the Millennial Kingdom (but she will the Passover, with unleavened bread), nor will the saints in glory who are ruling and reigning with Christ.  It is all about remembering Jesus, and it focuses on His death, not His life.  (1Cor 11:23-26, 27-30)  In His death, He who knew no sin, had no sin, did no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  His death on the cross was the victory over Satan.  He bore the full punishment due us from the Father.  The remembrance of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper has everything to do with His death, for this is what brought to an end the power of the devil and of sin in any who believe, and ushered in a new covenant of God with Israel and any Gentile or Jewish person who comes to God now through repentance and faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior — the Messiah, Son of the Living God.

Appreciating the value of His death, we then stand in wonder at the life which He lived, how He came into the world through the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life proving that He is God with us, enduring every temptation known to man without ever falling to any, for there was nothing in Him which Satan could succeed in getting a hold.  He is the second Adam, and the last.  Being the perfect sinless Lamb of God, He alone is worthy and adequate to be the necessary perfect and all-encompassing sacrifice to put away sin and to redeem sinners.  Passover/Unleavened Bread being a seven-day feast, it is suggestive of the truth that the atoning death of Jesus was and is sufficient to cover all of history — before Christ, and after the Lord’s death and resurrection — for the salvation of sinners:  the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world.  Once a sinner (“leavened”) has been delivered from the sin of the world, he is to stop sinning — to cease from putting ‘more leaven’ into his life, and is to live a new life of righteousness (“unleavened”) unto God in the power of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor 5:6-8)

At the Lord’s Supper, in corporate communion with the blood and the body of Messiah, we remember and celebrate the blessedness of a finished work on the cross, which is the foundation and guarantee for the eternal purposes of God which He purposed before the foundation of the world, but only manifested it in the coming of the Lord into the world and in His victorious death and resurrection. (1Pt 1:18-21; Rev 13:8)  Such is the love of God!

Just as all of the appointed times of YHVH point to and are fulfilled in Jesus, so are all of the sacrifices required in the Law fulfilled in the crucifixion of the Lord:

–the whole burnt offering — Yeshua gave His whole being to God in sacrifice — both in His life and in His death on the cross — and was ‘burned up in full’ as He suffered the wrath of God and the separation from His Father when He bore our sins upon Himself on the cross;

–the meal/grain offering — Yeshua lived a pure, sinless, uncorrupted life; the only perfect Man.  No blood sacrifice was ever needed for Him.  No grain offering, or any offering by any Israeli under the Law could be offered with leaven or with honey. (Lev 2:11)  Yet, the Scriptures lead us onward, which we will see.;

–the sin offering — Jesus bore the sinfulness of our nature, and the sin of the whole world in its contrariness to God;

–the trespass/guilt offering — Jesus bore our guilt, uncleanness, and shame for our sins.    We are saved by grace, and are [justified] sinners till the end through faith.;

–the peace offering — On the basis of the other sacrifices — and on Jesus’ one comprehensive sacrificial death — we have peace with God, with ourselves, and with others.  Only of the peace offering could both the priest and the sinner eat, and if a thank offering, it also included leaven along with the unleavened bread. (Lev 7:11-14).  The Lord’s Supper is the remembrance of all that Jesus has accomplished unto God and for us in His sacrificial atoning death.  At the last supper, He, the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, shared with His sinful apostles in anticipation of the peace He was making for them, and leaving with them.  He gave them the bread and the wine, looking ahead to His death, and leaving His ‘flesh’ and His ‘blood’ which He, the Lamb of God, gave on the altar of sacrifice, and which the priests of the New Covenant — redeemed sinners — could share in, just as we can as priests share in what is also represented by the bread — the shewbread.

As mentioned, the Law permitted no leaven (or honey) to be burned in any offering to the LORD by fire.  However, in Lev 23:17, where YHVH is telling Moses about Shavuot/the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, He is requiring two loaves of fine flour, baked with leaven, as firstfruits to Him.  Many Christians have understood the two loaves as representing Israel and the Gentile nations.  We all have sin still in us; thus the leaven.  The sacrifice has been accepted, but as long as we are in this body in this creation, there is sin in every person, whether saved or not.  Pentecost marks the beginning of the “Church Age”, and God has brought as equals into His covenantal purposes both Jewish people and Gentiles from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  And He wants those who have accepted the Passover and entered into the good of it, and into the rest which God has given in bringing us into the “Promised Land”, to remember this with a new grain offering during this age until Christ comes again. (Lev 23:16We are the grain offering, as we offer our bodies a living sacrifice in a life consecrated to God, priests holy to the Lord.  In being brought out of Egypt with its sin (leaven) by the power of God on our behalf, and judgment against His and our enemies (Ex 6:6), we are to leave hastily, and not put any more of Egypt into us – nor go back there again (Num 14:3;Dt 17:16; Lk 9:62) — but rather live a new life of holiness and righteousness (unleavened) unto our Savior God. (Lev 18:3)

The Lord’s Supper is in fulfillment of this new meal offering, and is for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Passover, and as their Savior from inward sinfulness and outward sins.  We are saved by grace, but we must always recognize that we are sinners who, at the very least, fall short of the glory of God.  This will be so until the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection.  “Your glorying is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?!  Therefore purge out the old leaven (speaking of our sinfulness, not of bread), that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened (made righteous through faith in Him who became sin/leavened).  For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened (no word for bread here) of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor 5:6-8)

I pray and hope that this is helpful, R.  I apologize if I have gone on too long, or did not answer your questions in a direct manner.  If you have any more questions, or if I can maybe clarify something, please let me know.

God bless you,
Howard

At 09:53 PM 01-04-12 +0100, you wrote:

Dear Howard, Greetings in the lovely Name of Jesus!  Sorry to have taken so long getting back to you,.

Thank you the information on Islam very interesting and thank you for your trouble in explaining things in such a deep and comprehensive way.

I have a few thoughts from your email:

— I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that “Whatever we believe must be shown from the written word”.  However, despite your comprehensive study of this subject, I still cannot see from Scripture anywhere that tells us that communion is with leavened bread.

— You mentioned that one source suggested that Jesus used leavened bread at Passover; this surely is pure conjecture.  In addition, and if it were so, then Jesus would have broken the Law, since anyone eating unleavened bread at Passover/Feast of Unleavened bread would be cut off from Israel (Exodus 12 v 15).  Again, I see nothing in Scripture that suggests that the annual Passover celebrations were any different (in terms of unleavened bread) from the original Passover; and Jesus’ Last Passover Supper elements of bread and wine were the basis for His first communion service.

— You quote the RCC as a source of information; as an apostate church whose doctrines generally contradict Scripture (salvation by works, etc).  Personally, I would give no credence to the RCC.

— You state that wine is leavened and nothing leavened was permitted at Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.  However that’s not entirely correct; let me explain.  There are a small number of people who are allergic to leaven and cannot eat leavened bread or drink low alcohol drinks such as cider and beer, because of the traces of leaven.  Wine is of a totally different character, because wine contains no leaven; wine is of course made by adding leaven but, as the pure wine is formed, the much higher alcohol level destroys the leaven, which totally separates out and falls to the bottom as dregs.  When the pure wine is decanted, it contains not one cell of yeast, and can be safely drunk by those who are allergic to yeast.  In like manner to the pure wine, the blood of Jesus destroys every sin to which it is applied by confession and repentance.

— The Shavuot bread, as you pointed out, is with leaven, confirming that humankind is hard-wired with Adam’s DNA!  It is interesting that the 2 loaves represent the firstfruit of Jews and Gentiles in God’s kingdom.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum noted that, traditionally, these 2 loaves were even baked in separate ovens.  James (1 v 18) picks up on this when he says, “We are a kind of firstfruits.”  I was amazed to discover a type” of the Jew and Gentile entering God’s kingdom in the 2 from the original exodus that enteredCanaan: Joshua and Caleb; because although Joshua was a Jew, Caleb wasn’t: he was a Gentile.  His father, Jephunneh, was a Kennizite, and the Kennizites were a pagan Canaanite tribe; I was amazed to discover that Caleb is Hebrew for dog”, and dog” is a derogatory name for a Gentile.

Blessings to you, Randi & the family, and hope that our paths cross again; I rather think they will!

R

Shalom R,

It is the wisdom of God that two men who love Him and His Word can see it differently on a very relevant topic!  Praise the Lord that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by our own understanding!

Just to comment on your comments, since it helps me better cover the objections in any future use of what I believe to be correct, despite the difficulties:

1.  As I wrote, when I questioned the Lord about the matter that was actually shocking to my sensibilities, He told me to “check the Word”; that is, the Scriptures.  In first of all looking up all the uses in critical places where the Hebrew and Greek word for ‘unleavened bread’ was used, and all the uses in critical places where the original languages used common, or leavened bread, it was both eye-opening and convincing enough to go on from there in prayer and study.  The Holy Spirit is very precise in the choice of words and language.  Sometimes we ignore the significance; other times we simply do not know that it is significant.  In a similar vein, as you write in your excellent booklet, “You have to understand the type or symbol, otherwise the Scriptures remain opaque.”

2.  It may be ‘conjecture’ that suggested that Jesus used leavened bread at Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread.  But it was this very claim that startled me to ask the Lord if it could possibly be so, since it was so contrary to my preconceptions and understanding, not only of the Passover requirements, but of the symbol of leaven as ‘sin’.

As for being ‘cut off from Israel’ for eating leavened bread during Passover week (Ex 12:15), that is exactly what Israel has done to Jesus and to His disciples:  claim that we are no longer part of Israel.  The priests were the only ones who could eat the leavened Shewbread (and there is no basis for the claims of some that that bread was unleavened; see also 1Sam 21:6; Mt 12:3-4), and there is no stipulation in the Law that the Shewbread was to be made differently during Passover.  The tribe of Levi represented Israel, but were not reckoned in the census of Israel, for they belonged to YHVH God in a more personal and direct way. (Num 1:47-49; 2:33)

According to the New Testament, in the Letter to the Hebrews, the Law is necessarily changed because the priesthood has been changed.   Among other changes are those concerning clean and unclean meats.  According to the Law (Lev 11), to eat unclean food (not kosher) was an abomination, and made one abominable to YHVH, becoming unclean/defiled.  Yet in the Gospels, and further brought out in Acts and the Epistles, we are told that Jesus made all foods clean (Mk 7:14-20):  clean animal meat was already clean, needing no ‘cleansing or purifying’; therefore, it was the unclean food which He added to the liberty for the Jewish believer (and for the Gentile believers) to eat.  What a social barrier Jesus broke down which put enmity between the Jew and non-Jew!  The disciples of Jesus “turned the world upside down” — including the Jewish world!

3.  The RCC was not a source of information; simply that in a historical article in the National Geographic on the split between the Western and Eastern churches, the RCC began to use unleavened wafers after centuries of leavened bread traditionally used by Christians.  Besides that, God will even use unbelievers and apostates to unintentionally instruct us (although intentionally on God’s part):  it was an unclean bird, the raven, that brought food to Elijah while he rested in the desert of Beer Sheva on his flight from Jezebel.

4.  It is very interesting what you say about the wine:  just as Jesus became sin on the cross for us, yet that sin was completely removed from Him as the darkness again became light, and He cried out victorious with a loud voice, “It is finished!”  And the Lord will visibly return again a second time to those who eagerly wait for Him, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb 9:28)  From the human side, we leaven/ferment wine; it is made with leaven. We murdered the Righteous One, shedding innocent blood; it is God who removes our guilt and shame in His remarkable wisdom, again as a parable for us to learn from of His kingdom ways:  there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  The Lord has left us a witness that we must still admit that we have sin in us, and that we still sin, as we take the leavened bread in faith that Jesus’ death has ultimately removed sin from us completely, which will be realized only in the resurrection.

5.  We are a first-fruits, not only of the grace of God making Jew and Gentile equal in His sight; but even more so as the making of the one loaf (1Cor 10:17), representing the one new man in Christ, the one Body of Messiah, the new priesthood, the Bride of the Lamb.  Israel is never referred to as the Body of Messiah, nor is Yeshua ever called the King of the Church.  He is the King of Israel, but the Head of the Church, which is His body — a far more vital union than merely being His ‘people’.

Thank-you, R, for prompting these stimulating thoughts and discussions with you.  And I certainly look forward to being with you again.

All praise and glory to God, and to the Lamb upon the Throne!
Howard

Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 22:07:55 +0100
From: R
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion

Dear Howard, Greetings in the lovely Name of the Lord!  Thank you both for the speed and depth of your reply.  I see where you are coming from but don’t accept your position.  What is fantastic is that we both have that unity in Messiah; and although we may not agree each other’s positions, we can disagree without being disagreeable!  I look upon it as iron sharpening iron.  I’ve attached some notes I made about Passover recently and would be interested in your comments.

I asked K for his views on our discussion and will forward a copy to you as soon as I’ve sent this.  May the Lord richly bless you in His land.  Blessings, R

From: K
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2012 3:32 PM
To: R
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion

It is true that one of the more minor issues dividing Rome from Greek Othodoxy is that Rome uses unleavened & Greece uses leavened bread in their masses.  I do not know that from the Roman end it was due to a decree from theVatican, altho I do know that theVatican changed the decrees of the Council of Jerusalem to allow the eating of blood, whereas the Eastern Orthodox still keep that decree.
It is also true that artos (artoV) is the normal Gk word for bread.  There is also a word, azymos (azumoV) which means unleavened.  However I am not sure we should put too much weight on that.  I think it unlikely that Jesus would have used leavened bread at Passover, indeed I would doubt it profoundly.

However I remember hearing from a Jewish believer that the Friday night kiddush with challa (which is of course leavened) bread and wine is regarded as a weekly mini-passover, just as the Lord’s Day is a weekly reminder of the resurrection.  So they would be doing the mini-passover with leavened bread.

I can’t say that I would view the use of leavened bread as a liberation from the bondage of the Law.  It seems to me legalistic to insist that we must eat leavened bread at the Lord’s Supper.

Far be it from me to enter into an argument with Howard. However I do feel “at home” with the use of matzah at communion & to me it eloquently speaks of the sinlessness of Jesus.

Hope that is enough to be going on with.
K

5 Apr 2012   11:41am

Thanks, R and K, for this worthwhile discussion.  And to be sure, there is no legalism here:  I will use whatever is given.  I have met some who have refused to take communion over the choice of bread!  The last time that happened in another setting, the love of God had them change the bread so that the brother and sister would participate.  (Legalism is not gracious, from whichever side it comes.)

As I mentioned in the initial response, it is not the type that we focus on, but the substance, who is Christ.  The symbols mainly help us see and tell the story of the glory of the Lord!  It is not so much liberation from the bondage of the Law for me, but from the religion of rabbinic thought from which I came that conditions everyone to think ‘Jewishly’, just as Roman Catholics really think that all Christians need to return to their papal authority, despites its obvious fallibility.  I say sometimes that I was born Jew-ish, and born-again a Jew!
Blessings to you all as you celebrate Jesus in His death and resurrection.  The Living Bread of Life rose!
Howard

Dear K,

Your own comments do show that there is historic precedent for the leavened bread; and the Jewish witness on Friday nights is also something which I have paid attention to, looking to that day when their eyes will be open to see Who He Is of whom they celebrate each and every Sabbath evening!

As for “putting too much weight” on the inspired exactitude of Scriptural words for ‘leavened’ and ‘unleavened’:  does not Paul do that when writing of “seed” and not “seeds” to prove that it is Messiah/Christ who is the intended Inheritor, through Whom all who believe in Him will inherit all that God has promised?  Why do evangelicals emphasize ‘immersing’ rather than ‘sprinkling’ when we “baptize”?  Would that be considered legalistic?  Why do those who believe in God’s faithfulness to His covenants cut withIsraeland David insist that “Israel” meansIsrael, and not the Church?  We interpret these things this way because we do believe that the Word of God means what He says, and He says what He means!

The Lord’s Supper now of the New Covenant brings our focus and attention on our Redeemer and Savior in His sacrificial death to die in our place for our transgressions and our iniquities.  The perfect, sinless Creator came to us and identified Himself with us, taking on the likeness of sinful flesh – even to becoming sin for us on the cross, and an accursed scapegoat (as perhaps symbolized by the unleavened bread of affliction)!  This great humiliation and affliction to bear our guilt (Is 53:10), which is His ‘greatest’ glory, is what we will forever remember.  Perhaps in Melchizedek, and in the bread and wine which he served Abraham to celebrate the victory over his enemies with the help of God Most High, Yeshua referred to Abraham seeing His day, and rejoiced and was glad. (Jn 8:56)

The types and symbols of the bread and the wine are given to better see, but they are not the main thing, for theKingdomofGodis not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  It is Messiah/Christ, who is the substance of these ‘visual aids’, whom we honor and worship.  Yeshua/Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who manifested Himself as the meek and lowly Lamb of God who was slain (slaughtered), and rose from the dead, alive forevermore!  Amazing love!  How can it be?!

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you:  that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread (artos); and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you announce the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1Cor 11:23-26)

Enjoy celebrating the risen Lord in all His glory,
Howard