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.

Evidence of Holy Spirit Baptism

Last week I spoke about repentance which leads to conversion, to real change in our thinking and in our character.  And that this is not only for when we first became believers in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Some of us have had sudden and dramatic experiences and can give a definite testimony of being born-again, or of being filled with a life-changing revelation from the Word of God by the Spirit of God.  Others, especially those who have grown up in believing families and who have “always believed in God and Jesus” from a very early age, may not be able to pinpoint the day or situation where they knew something had ‘happened’ to them.  Yet without the Holy Spirit working in our life by the grace of God, we cannot do it or know it.  The good fruit of holiness and righteousness in our lives will prove our baptism in the Holy Spirit by the will of God.  So, how we can know if we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and born-again?

We believe that spiritual gifts do not guarantee spiritual maturity, or even salvation.  A tree or person is known by his fruit; ultimately the fruit of the Holy Spirit is what pleases our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to bring some Scriptures to help us know we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, that we are saved – whether we speak with other tongues or not.  It is important that we know with humble confidence and thanksgiving, and should anyone have any doubt, let him/her ask the Father in Jesus’ name to give His Spirit. (2Cor 13:5; 2Pt 1:10; Lk 11:13)  John the Baptizer came to baptize in water, but he said that Yeshua comes to baptize in the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Jn 16:14-15   He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will announce it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and will announce it to you.

Acts 1:8   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.

1Jn 4:1-3   Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God:  every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come/is coming in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come/is coming in the flesh is not of God.  And this is the antichrist you heard is coming, and even now is already in the world.

1Cor 12:3   Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus is a curse, and that no one can say that Jesus is LORD (YHVH), but by the Holy Spirit.

Phlp 2:9-11   Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and has given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and of earthly ones, and of ones under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (YHVH), to the glory of God the Father.

1Jn 2:12   I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

Rom 8:14-17   For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.  And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.

1Thes 4:3-8   For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;  that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,   not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;   that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.   For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.   Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

1Jn 4:10-13   In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

1Jn 5:9-13   If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.  For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son.  He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself.  He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son.  And this is the record, that God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I have written these things to you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have everlasting life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Rom 10:9-10   . . .if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Our positive response and attitude to these evidences will do much to strengthen the believer in his/her faith, and to rest in the knowledge of our Savior God. Why is this important? Because the righteous will live by [his] faith, and by faith. If we are not certain whether we are born-again – baptized in the Holy Spirit – we will live accordingly, whether with doubt, or with pride of not needing to be. But if we humbly but confidently know that the Holy Spirit dwells within us, then the righteous in Christ will live in the truth of the name of the Lord Jesus, and be faithful witnesses of God.

THE FEASTS OF YHVH AND THE FINAL HARVEST

The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross was the fulfillment of all the sacrifices:  sin, transgression (guilt), peace, etc.  His death in history fulfilled what God had already ‘done’ before time:  the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8)  Therefore, all of the sacrifices given to Israel in the Torah were based upon that eternally ‘efficacious’ once-for-all sacrifice to be.

Since our salvation is of grace through faith in that sacrifice of Yeshua (Lev 16:30; 23:28-29; Rom 5:1-11), so has this been the lesson to be learned by the Jewish people through the Law and the Prophets, and by Christians through the Gospels and Apostles. Passover was a ‘grace thing’.  NOTHING was spoken about sin.  It was simply a matter of believing and obeying YHVH God, trusting Him to carry out what He was saying to deliver them from a real and felt bondage.  All who simply repent and believe the gospel are saved:  it is all of grace.  Sinners are justified through faith in the Word of God concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The sacrifice of Jesus differs from, and is greater than, the Passover in that it was also a sin and trespass offering, thus fulfilling the Day of Atonements for all who believe.  The Passover occurs during the time of the barley harvest. (Ex 9:31-32)

After Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea, the Law of Moses was then given around Shavuot, the season of the wheat harvest (Ex 34:22).  The blood of the covenant was sprinkled upon the whole people, bringing them into their relationship with YHVH.  The law for sinners was given on external tablets of stone to bring us to know we are in need of God’s grace to forgive us if we are going to have rest and peace within ourselves, and to demonstrate this to others through love of God and of our fellow-man.

After the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was given to the born-again Jewish people at Shavuot/Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit filled and dwelled within the believers, bringing them/us into a more personal and intimate covenant relationship with God, as members of the Body of Messiah.  The law of Messiah on the ground of His death, and His resurrection from among the dead, becomes the basis for our living.

NOW (that is, after knowing the laws and regulations by which to live), Israeland the Church — have been given lots of time to figure out that they are not living up to the standard which we have been given, whether under the Old Covenant, or under the New.  We have all been disobedient, needing God’s mercies.  (Those outside God’s covenants are just that — outside — and are called to come inside.  This includes Jewish people too, since the New Covenant was, and still is, for them.  (Jer 31:31-37; Rom 9:4; 11:27) 

SO, what did the prophets do?  What did John the Baptizer do?  What did Yeshua do?  What do the apostles who wrote most of the N.T. still do, since the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age?  They called — and still call — firstly the people of God, i.e., Jewish people and Christians to repent – and come back home to the Father — for the Kingdom of God/Heaven is near — for the coming of the Lord [to judge and to establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth] is near!  Based on what? . . .on the Law and the Prophets; on the Sermon on the Mount and the Epistles.

The New Covenant, first offered to Israel, but rejected in the sovereign wisdom of God in order to take the offer to all peoples, brings both Jews and Gentiles to accountability to the one true living God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob/Israel, who is Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and the Redeemer through His Son, Yeshua the Nazarene.

Gentiles being brought into the Commonwealth of Israel through faith in the King of the Jews (but not becoming Jews or Israelis), both Israelis (Jewish people) and Christians (whether Jewish or Gentile) are being called to get ready through repentance and sanctification as the Memorial of the Blowing of Trumpets is nearing its fulfillment.  While God begins His judgment within His own household first, He is still working through the Great Commission to bring ever more people into His household.  Many more Gentiles will be saved before ‘all Israel’ will be. (Rom 11:25-27)                                                             

BEING SAVED BY GRACE (Passover) IS NOT TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.  THE LAW, THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE WHOLE WORD OF GOD, TELL US PLAINLY THAT WE ARE SINNERS WHO NEED TO EXPRESS HEART-FELT THANKS FOR SUCH GRACE AND MERCY (Day of Atonements), AND LIVE OUR LIVES OUT OF LOVE FOR GOD AND JESUS, AND BECAUSE OF THAT, WE LOVE THE BRETHREN ALSO, AND EVEN OUR ENEMIES. 

This being pretty difficult (understatement) to live out, Israel (and also the Church through a corresponding spiritual awakening) has the fulfillment of the Day of Atonements coming (Zech 12:10-14), when they deeply know and are afflicted in soul, both personally and collectively, for their sin and rebellion against YHVH God and against Jesus (Lev 26:40-43), against His commandments and judgments. (Rom 1:28,32; Jude; Rev 2:18 – 3:22, for some examples)

Yom Kippur is the conviction and the confession that we are sinners, that it is only the grace of God through His own righteousness, demonstrated by the foundational Passover sacrifice to bring us into that relationship with Him through faith expressed through obedience, which grants us forgiveness and life. 

There is only one atonement for all — accomplished on the cross — but God in His love and wisdom has worked out His redemptive plan to bring us humans into a knowledge — no longer innocence — of Him and His ways so that we mature into sons and daughters — and even to being the Bride of the Lamb for those who “overcome [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death”. (Rev 12:11)

On this ground of a cleansed and forgiven people — not only as a matter of doctrine or covenant promise, but of living faith in God’s provision of His blood sacrifice — YHVH, whose name is Holy, can dwell in the midst of His chosen people, and they will be then a blessing to the other nations, glorifying Him who has done it!  This is the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths (a temporary, semi-enclosed covering; not really ‘tabernacles’, which is another word, and carries a different connotation) for Israel as the Israel of God during the Millennial Kingdom yet to come.  This final feast/appointed time of YHVH for Israel celebrates the joy of all the harvests with the final fruit ingathering, and the prosperity which God supplies to and through His people. (Dt 16:13-15)

For the Church, the Bride of Christ, it is possible to say that we are already a ‘tabernacle’ of the Holy Spirit — an enclosed dwelling place for God — and those who have that blessedness to have part in the first resurrection will truly have the fullness of the Spirit (rather than ‘mere’ firstfruits Rom 8:23), and will rule and reign with Messiah over Israel and the nations during that final Sabbath Day of history and time, to bring everything to its culmination of the final harvest of souls, either to live forever with Yeshua in the New Heavens and New Earth, and New Jerusalem, in the abundant life God has planned for all who love Him (1Cor 2:9; Is 64:4; Jn 10:10); or else to exist forever separated from God in outer darkness, where the worm does not die, and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  These things I command you, that you love one another.” (Jn 15:16-17)

TWO MIRACLES

Pentecost Sunday
   –Our life – the life of the Church – is based on the resurrection from the dead of Jesus
   –falls on day after the 7th Sabbath following the resurrection of the Lord on the day after the Sabbath during Passover

Miracle(s):  what only God can do, sovereignly and providentially
   –resurrection
   –Holy Spirit indwelling believers; and gift of other tongues given to many
   –God accomplishing His purposes despite satanic and demonic opposition and unbelief of people

 Is 11:1-5,10   ness(v 10) banner; flag; ensign; miracle  SPEAK ABOUT; LIFT UP; WAVE; IDENTITY
   —Messiah Yeshua/Jesus is the ness!
      —Lk 1:30-31   miraculous conception of Jesus
      —Acts 2:22-24   life of Jesus one of miracles, wonders, signs (Mt 11:5)
      —Is 53:7   death of Jesus; did not open His mouth, but led as a lamb to slaughter
         —Lk 23:39-47   spoke words of blessing on the cross; cried out with a loud voice
      —1Cor 15:20-21   resurrection of Jesus

Is 11:11-12   ness(v 12)
   —Regathered Israel to Promised Land is the ness!
      –We are proof that God exists and that this God is YHVH, God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob!
      —Jer 16:14-15   modern day Exodus from all the lands greater and more miraculous than all that took place in Egypt!
      —Ezek 36:36   YHVH has spoken and will do it!  To sanctify His holy name and His people.
      —Rom 13:1-6   Governments ordained by God, and make decisions according to their perceived best  interests.  God intervenes to further His interests!

Fear God and worship Him only!  He has given us two miracles/nessim to lift up, wave, speak about to draw attention and people to Himself:  Jesus and restored Israel.
   –The Jews irrationally hate Jesus/Yeshua, and want to blot out His name and memory.
   –The Gentile nations irrationally hate Israel, and want to blot her name out from being a nation anymore.
   –The Father loves both, and resurrects them from the dead, giving life to others! (Rom 11:15)

Yeshua proclaimed that if He be lifted up, He will draw all persons to Himself [and to the Father who sent Him]. (Jn 3:14-15; 12:32-33)

No Confidence in the Flesh

Philp 3: 3-11 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in the Messiah Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so. . . .  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Messiah.  Yet indeed I also reckon all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ. . . .

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the 50th day of counting the sheaves of wheat, according to the Law of Moses, which Jesus came to fulfill.  The counting does not begin from the day after His death and burial – or even from the time He descended into the lower parts of the Earth to set free the captives – but rather from the day of His resurrection, from the day after the Sabbath.  We who believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah are a new creation.  We begin with resurrection life in Messiah and then begin to learn what it is to suffer for His sake, to die with Him to ourselves, to live our lives unto God and His will.

The gospel is not something Jewish, since the Law makes no one righteous, and we can not be justified by the works of the Law.  Neither is the gospel something Greek or gentile, because non-Jews were outside of God’s covenant with Israel, and, according to the Bible, the gentiles worshipped demons and not the one true God.  So we see that the gospel is neither religion nor philosophy, not man’s wisdom or knowledge, not of demons or angels.

If our fellowship with God the Father and His Son Yeshua and with other believers is based upon any of these things esteemed by the world, then this is what Paul calls “having confidence in the flesh”.  Yet Paul claims that to be a true Jew and a true Christian is just the opposite:  “to have no confidence in the flesh”, concerning which he writes that he had more to boast in than others.  Let’s look at his credentials from our passage and consider how they apply to our identity and hope as God’s children.

circumcised on the eighth day

of the race of Israel

of the tribe of Benjamin

a Hebrew of Hebrews

in regard to the Law, a Pharisee

 

as for zeal, persecuting the church

as for legalistic righteousness, blameless

Notice that all of Paul’s “confidence in the flesh” have to do with those things of natural birth, supposed keys to citizenship in God’s Kingdom either through no choice of their own, or either through confidence in choosing the right party.  Everything here takes pride in one’s self, status, giftings, intellect, or else in one’s “team”.

Paul learned that these outward endowments and benefits are not ultimately those which count for eternity, for God is no respecter of persons.  He is after people, like David, who have a heart for Him, whose relationship with Jesus is worth more than whatever else he or she thinks important, who live now with a vision of the everlasting Kingdom of God.  All that is of now, Paul counts as rubbish, and he looks for the glory to come, which is all of God.

Have we learned. . .are we learning. . . to reckon all that makes us feel proud to be but refuse compared to the matchless beauty of the meek and lowly Holy One of Israel?

Let’s close with Paul from v. 12-21 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but one thing:  forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.   Let us therefore, as many as be perfect , be thus minded; and if in any thing you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.   Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.   Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk according to the pattern we gave you. . . . For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of the humiliation, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working of His ability even to subject all things to Himself.

GOD’S PLANT: ONE NEW MAN IN MESSIAH

1Tim 1:1-7   not to allow another doctrine (torah; teaching) but gospel truth promoting love from a sincere   heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith

Shavuot is nearing, which marks the beginning of the new phase in God’s plan of redemption to bring the Gentiles into His covenant promises to Israel and the Jewish people.  It was difficult for the Israeli Jewish believers of the early church to accept that God wanted to — could! – relate to the non-Jews/Israelis in the same way as to them who also believed in Yeshua as the Christ, the Anointed One of YHVH.  Then, through the centuries, the situation became reversed:  the Gentile majority of the Body of Messiah could not understand how a Jewish believer in Jesus could be a Christian and still a Jew.  Praise God!  His foolishness is wiser than men!

Today – for some years already – there is movement, a tendency, on both “sides” to separate what God has united.  This is one – and a big one! – of those “other doctrines” which the Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy about, that such a teaching should not be embraced within the Kehila/Ekklesia/Church of God.

On the Jewish side there are those who teach that Messianic Jews should practice Orthodox Judaism in order to be ‘legitimate’ in our witness to our own people while yet believing in Yeshua as Messiah.  They forget or ignore that, despite the Apostle Paul’s orthodox credentials, he was still rejected by even those who had known his upbringing and way of life within Judaism.

On the Gentile side there are those whose sense of guilt for Gentile Christian anti-semitism over the generations brings them to teach that there is no credibility to evangelize the Jewish people anymore; God has His own separate plan for them.  These well-meaning people forget or ignore that this “separate” plan for the Jews is the same one God has preached to them, the Gentiles:  salvation is through no other name than through Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ.  Praise God for His power and grace towards all of us in His wisdom and love!

God planted the seed of faith into humanity when He said to the serpent devil –  with Adam and Eve as eye-witnesses who heard – that the Seed of the woman would defeat him and his seed.

Later YHVH God chose a man – Abram/Abraham – in whom to confirm this hope and promise, and who would become the father of all who would afterwards believe in the same word of life.  That seed sown into Abraham’s heart was tried and proven to where he believed that God would raise the dead in order to fulfill His promises.

The seed opened up in Isaac, who by faith passed on the glorious truth to his son Jacob.  The roots of this plant spread out in this soil of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.

At the Passover of YHVH, God gave His Son – the Seed of the woman, the seed of faith planted into mortal humanity in the Garden of Eden, who came to His people and to the world He had made…and the Seed died.  He was buried, and this “bread of affliction” was brought forth from the earth as Living Bread in resurrection power!  His roots are no longer in this ground of “Mother Earth” but rooted in Heaven, in the New Jerusalem, the mother of all those born-again from above.

Shavuot/Pentecost is a proclamation of this Seed, the Plant of God (Tzemach), the Bread of Life to all who are hungry and who hear and believe the promise of God – not for this life only, but also for the world to come.  The former promises remain, to be fulfilled in every detail.  They are sovereign choices which have necessarily brought conflict, affliction, separate entities.  The new proclamation – enclosed and embedded in the seed of the old – brings peace, joy, reconciliation of all things in a new and living way in Messiah:  the Root and Offspring of David; who before Abraham was, He Is; the Living Bread who gives eternal life to all who eat  it.

Both the Jewish people and the Gentiles stand before God equally, each with their own identities, each hearing the same good news.  Every believer, whether among the Jews or from the Gentiles, is called into a new and vital relationship – not merely a position of faith – with this one true God and with His Son, to become together one new man in Messiah.  This is the true unity for which Jesus prayed.  Whatever we were before our own death, burial, resurrection with Yeshua, that is, our “old plant”, is put off, and our “new plant” in Christ is put on:  a new creation with the word of God planted within us of the promise of the perfect new heavens and new Earth in which righteousness dwells.

Where are you?  Are we still focusing on that which is passing away, or in the vision of that which is eternal?  By the authority of the Lord Jesus the Messiah, the Apostle Paul through Timothy commands us to teach those things which are of faith for godly edification:  that we love from out of a pure heart, with a clear conscience, and true faith.  With God’s help, it is this we hope to do for we are His people, His flock, called to be Messiah’s Body, His Woman/Bride.

Blessed is the name of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unity Through Love – 26 May 2004

Jn 17: 11-26

The Scroll of Ruth is read in the synagogues this holiday.  It is a story of love and mercy:  of someone “outside” – even poor and a stranger (זר) – who was brought “inside”.  She was chosen, but she also chose:  to belong to the treasured people of YHVH God, and to place all her future and hopes in their God.  About 1970 years ago, more than 3000 persons who were separated from God because of their unbelief and sins were brought into His Kingdom of light and love.

Our being here today from around the Negev, and even including Jerusalem and Ashkelon, is no mere circumstance.  As believers in Yeshua we were born again when we repented and believed in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, now seated at the right hand of the Father.  We come into the faith of Messiah who has already come, and who will come again at the time God has set to fix and restore all things (Acts 3:21).  We are joined with those from nearly 2000 years ago – and even before – to God through Messiah.

Just as Jesus had to die, like a grain of wheat must in order not to be alone but to bear much fruit to bless many,  so too are we who believe and been baptized, baptized into His death so that we can walk in newness of life, being a blessing to many for the sake of the name of our Lord and Savior.  For this God has given us the Holy Spirit, who dwells within the church – the Body of Messiah:  you, me, all from out of every nation, tribe, language who have received the same precious faith by the righteousness of God.  Just as Yeshua rose from the dead, so we have this living hope, and it is the Spirit of Christ in us that is a baptism unto life eternal!  We join ourselves to all who are called by the name of Messiah and all our hopes are in Him who is Head over the church in all things and lives amongst us through His Spirit.

There is no Pentecost – and no Holy Spirit – no life in Messiah Jesus apart from faith in His death on the cross for our sins and in His resurrection.  By grace the Father has given us the Spirit to sanctify for His Son a beautiful, spotless, blameless Bride…full of love and peace and joy for our Lord and Husband. . .and full of love and peace and joy for each one whom Jesus chooses to be part of His body, His bride.

So we are here today, brothers and sisters in Messiah, to demonstrate our unity by our love.  Let Israelis know; let Palestinians know; let anyone/everyone else know that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God sent to us as Savior, He is Lord of lords and King of kings!

Let us pray for a fresh and double outpouring of the Holy Spirit now near the end of the age, as we humble ourselves and repent for all our sins which bring reproach to the Name of our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ.  As He Himself prayed, let us show our unity by love for each other, and so fulfill His joy and ours.

The Wall of Separation He’s Broken Down

Lev. 10:3 By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I must be honored.

Eph 2:11-12 As we continue to let the Tabernacle in the Desert instruct us of God’s pattern for us to approach Him in prayer, the passage from Ephesians notes “the middle wall of separation”, which separated Israel from the other nations.  God in His wisdom separated the people He had chosen and called to Himself from the surrounding heathen peoples of the world in which they lived.  In spiritual reality, the gentiles then were without Messiah, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  Israel/the Jewish people are in a similar spiritual condition as the gentiles then, but there is a difference:  Israel is still the nation chosen by God, even if there is a willful collective amnesia regarding that and its significance.

But we remember (Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets) that YHVH spoke the gospel to Abraham when He promised him that, through him, ALL the families of the Earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3).

v. 13-15   But NOW in Messiah Jesus, those who were once far off – spiritually and physically – have been brought near by the blood of  Messiah.  He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, having broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His FLESH the enmity, the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Him ONE NEW MAN from the two, making peace.

NOW, both Jews and all other peoples have access into the court of God’s people, since Jesus died for ALL, and God’s salvation through the forgiveness of sins is offered to ALL (Day of Atonements).

v. 16-17 Jesus came to die that He might reconcile them both to God in ONE BODY through the cross (the altar), thereby putting to death the enmity.  Jesus came and preached peace both to those far and near.

How can born-again redeemed Jews be hostile towards the gentiles when once we realize and appreciate that Messiah, the Son of God, died for my and our sins!     How can the gentile Christians remain hostile to Israel and the Jewish people when once they realize and appreciate that, in God’s sovereignty and grace, Israel’s promised Messiah has been shown to be the Savior of the whole world, and given gentiles access to the true living God!

v. 18-19 Through Jesus we both have access by one Spirit to the Father – both in our relationship as sons and daughters, and also in our prayers.  Both Jewish and gentile believers are fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom and members of His family, His household.  All persons, whether or not believers, have been redeemed to God by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and this speaks to the reality of the broken down wall of separation.

As we have noted before,  entry into the Holy of Holies –representing symbolically the spiritual reality of Heaven, God’s dwelling place – brings us to God the Father, which Jesus opened up for all believers through the veil, that is, His flesh – firstly by His birth, but foremost by His death on the cross.

v. 20-22 We are being built together as a holy temple in the Lord for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Inwardly, this speaks of the cross and the crucified life being grasped hold of in the life of the born-again believer, in the power of the resurrection, of an endless life unto God, who has cut for us each the New Covenant by forgiving us our sins.  In these things there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, free nor slave, rich nor poor, but rather a new creation.

1Cor 10:17 one bread; one body; priestly intercession for all the Body of Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile

Lev 23:17 two loaves; with leaven.   Shavuot (Weeks) looks ahead to the day when the middle wall of separation and the enmity between God and man, and between Israel and the nations, was broken down by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and God’s Spirit being given to all who believe on Him.