BECAUSE OF THE HOPE OF ISRAEL

Acts 28:17-29   . . .I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers. . .I have nothing of which to accuse my nation. . .[but] because of the hope of Israel I am bound [as a prisoner].

Acts 23:6   concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!

Acts 24:14-15; Dan 12:2   . . .according to the Way, which they call a cult, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.  I have hope in God,    which they also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

Acts 26:6-8, 21-23   . . .judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. . . .our twelve tribes hope to attain. . . .for this hope’s sake. . .I am accused by the Jews.

Some O.T. References quoted in the N.T. regarding the resurrection connected to Yeshua, and to those in Christ:
Is 25:8; Hos 13:14      1Cor 15:54-55; Rev 21:4   Death swallowed up in victory! Death, where your sting?! Hades, where your victory?!

Is 55:3; Ps 2:7; 16:10           Acts 13:30-35   You are My Son; today I have begotten You;
I will give You the sure mercies of David.  Your Holy One will not see corruption.

Ps 16:8-11                  Acts 2:22-33   My flesh will rest in hope; You will make me full of joy in Your presence!

Dan 12:2                    Acts 24:15   the resurrection of the just and of the unjust

The Apostle Paul did nothing against what was written in the Tanach – Moses and the Prophets.  All that became understood to prove that Yeshua was/is God’s Messiah is found in the Hebrew Scriptures.  This also includes, for example, that the “day after the Sabbath” – the first day of the week, or, Sunday —  would become an important day in the life and the testimony of believers in Him. (Lev 23:11,15-16)  The Book of Genesis, written by Moses, also is used to demonstrate why Gentile males do not need to become circumcised in order to be accepted by God. (Gen 15; Rom 4)

Moses and the Prophets write by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Gentiles (non-Israelis/Jews) have always been in God’s heart in His plan of redemption and salvation:  all those who lived before YHVH’s covenant with Abram/Abraham, such as Enoch, Noah, Job; all the families of the Earth would be blessed through God’s choice of Abram/Abraham (Gen 12:3); some Gentiles have a place and a full inheritance with the native Israelis in the Promised Land during the Millennial Kingdom (Ezek 47:21-23).

We today do not accuse our nation, but through the preaching of the gospel and being witnesses of the truth of the risen Lord and Savior, we hope to bring our nation Israel back into the good of the hope which God gave the patriarchs and which they believed.  The same opposition faced by the Lord Yeshua and by the apostles and other believers during those early years is the same which we are facing more and more in our own generation in these last days.  Yet, by the power and grace of God, though the darkness becomes night, the light is more bright!

The controversy is over who “that Man” JESUS/YESHUA is:  man condemned Him to death as a criminal, but He was justified in the Spirit by His resurrection from among the dead – the firstfruits of all who have fallen asleep (1Cor 15:20; Lev 23:9-11).  Our hope – and the hope of Israel – is in God who raised up Yeshua our Lord from among the dead, who was delivered up at Passover because of our offenses, and was raised, on the day after the Sabbath, because of our justification. (Rom 4:24-25; Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; Tit 2:13)

GOD HIDDEN UNTIL YESHUA REVEALED – 26 Mar 2005

Everyone knows that neither the word “God” nor His name YHVH appears in the scroll of Esther, which is read in the synagogues every Purim.  The story of God’s faithfulness and deliverance for His people, even when they (we) do not remember Him gives all of us hope.  It also reminds us that God is acting “behind the scenes”, not visibly.  Tomorrow is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by most of the Christian believers in the world, and most of Israel ignores that truth, and is busy celebrating Purim as if they still do not believe He is active in our affairs.

How many times do we ask or cry out, Where was/is God?!  During and since the Holocaust many Jews and Christians have asked and wondered, Where was God?  This, of course, brings reproach to Him in the eyes of the unbelievers when His own people do not believe that He is around and is very much aware of what is happening.  When we speak or agree with that, it is further evidence that we do not know Him or His Word as He would want us to.

Because God is not seen, the enemies of His people – the Amalekites, the Hamans of history — do not believe He even exists.  The Lord our God is looking for those who believe in Him without seeing, and who fear Him and do righteousness in the expectation of God’s judgment after our death. 

Don’t you long to see God!?  The Apostle Peter says that even though we don’t see Him, yet we love the Lord (1Pt 1:6-9,13-16).  How often do we cry out to God not to hide His face from us?  We want, we need to know He is with us and for us and mindful of us.  He has put it into the spirit of man – especially of us who have received God’s own Spirit – to want to be with Him.  God wants to be with us!  He walked in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were there.  Jesus is coming again to be with His people and the world He has made.

But in the meantime, He is hiding His face; He is keeping a low profile.  Let’s look together at some verses from both the O.T. and the N.T.:

Dt 31:16-18  God hides His face because of our evil deeds and idolatry against His covenant.
Is 53:3  It is Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus who hides His face from men, because people generally despise Him and hold Him in low esteem.
Ezek 39:21-29  God has hidden His face because of sin, but He will again shine His face upon Israel when He gives her His Spirit.
Ps 13   The believers can also experience feeling that God has left him, but yet He trusts in His lovingkindness and offers a sacrifice of praise to Him who has been so good to him.
Jn 7:2-5   the brothers of Jesus admitted that His works were not being done openly
Rev 6:12-17   In God’s day of vengeance and wrath, men will want God to hide His face from them.  God is Light, and the the darkness can not be in His Presence.

How many times did Jesus say to His disciples, or to those He healed or delivered, not to tell people who He was or what He did?  When Jesus was here, He said He came to do and say just as He saw His Father – God – do.  Jesus came as a bondservant, not as the Lord of Glory.  He hid Himself from a people whose hearts He knew did not want Him – the Holy One of Israel – because of their unbelief.  Even when Judas betrayed Him and came out with those to arrest Him, he had to identify Him with a kiss:  they did not know who Jesus was despite all His ministry and antagonism to Him!  Jesus says that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness in that He ascended back to the Father and the world does not see Him because of the sin of not believing in Him as the Son of God (Jn 16:5-11).  He further says to Israel that they will not see Him again until they say, Blessed is He who comes in the name YHVH (cp Hos 5:15). 

There is hope in the grace and truth of God which Jesus brought with Him.  There is the “until”; there is the time of repentance and restitution of all things by the grace of God ruling through His righteousness.   He is hidden, but we see His Hand throughout history and our own lives.  Each passing year reminds us that God is protecting and preserving us, even when we are not noticing and making His Name known.  God is waiting for His own people – Israel and the Church – to repent of our sins and self-righteousness so that Jesus can return in great power and glory.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring this about.

Meanwhile, the world is to see God in us, the Body of Messiah.  We are His face to the world today.  Who do they see?  What do they see?  What someone thinks of us will affect how and what they think about our God and our Lord.  There came a time when Queen Esther had to rise up and identify herself as one of God’s people – as a Jew – so that the God of Israel could act through her testimony and warning to bring deliverance to His people and to put the fear of God in others when He defeated those who opposed Him in His people.  We, too, as Messianic believers today may be called upon to rise up and speak up on behalf of our people, risking our own lives and position to do so for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We see Jesus by faith; we have received a measure of His Spirit.  We want to see His Face and touch Him.  He is coming again, never to leave again those who love Him and hope in Him.  Amalek will be forgotten; Haman will be forgotten.  But God our Father and the Lord Jesus will never again be forgotten by those whom He has created or by those whom He has chosen for Himself.

Jesus is risen and is Lord of all!

The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!

The Gospel, The New Covenant, and The Messianic Faith Are Neither Jewish Nor Greek – 19 Dec 1998

Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints
[Lk 22:19-20]; 1Cor 11:23-26 – remember Yeshua and His death until He comes again

The heart and foundation of the gospel and of the New Testament and of our faith as Christians is Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified, risen from the dead, ascended to glory, and coming again.  Our sins are forgiven through faith in the once-for-all sacrificial and atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  We have fellowship (communion) with God our Father and with His Son, and with one another through the Holy Spirit indwelling all who are born again by the Word and the Spirit of God.

Does this sound like the religious teaching of Judaism?  Does it sound like the wisdom of the world’s great thinkers and philosophers?  NO!  For the cross is an offence to the one born with natural honor and privilege before God, such as to the Jews being the chosen  people, and  a  rock of stumbling to our fleshly pride and ambitions.   For the wise of this world, the cross – the means of a sure and shameful death for the transgressor – is foolishness, simplistic.  Yet for the one who believes, whether Jew or Gentile, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is the power of God unto salvation!

The gospel breaks down the wall of hostility between God and mankind, and also between Jews and gentiles, men and women, free and slave – in such a new way that it was a mystery known only to God until He revealed it in His own time to the Apostle Paul, in particular, who then made it known to the gentiles (nations), to kings, and to the children of Israel.

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the LORD God promised a Deliverer – a Savior – from the devil and evil to humankind through the Seed of the woman.  We learn in Romans how this deliverance extends to the whole creation.  To Abram the gospel was preached in that God told him that through him all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  It is faith such as Abraham showed which characterizes the faith of the true Messianic:  he believed the LORD; he believed what God said; he believed and trusted in the LORD that God Almighty could and would fulfill His promises, even if He had to raise the dead to do it!  The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is the living God of the living, the God whose power raises the dead to life eternal!  The Creator of the heavens and the earth is the one God of both the Jews and the Gentiles!

Is this what Judaism or any other of the world’s religions teaches?  Yet it is this good news and covenant of grace through repentance and faith in God which Yeshua came to bring and to fulfill.  He came to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets; He came to fulfill the word of God His Father – not the words or interpretations of anyone else.  The Jews and the nation of Israel as a whole rejected Him; so have too the gentile nations and peoples once the gospel is brought to them.  For the gospel allows no flesh to glory in itself or to approach God and live:  we must all – both  Jews and  gentiles from whatever nation or culture – be born again.  When we are baptized, we acknowledge not only Jesus’ death for us and His resurrection, but also our own death in His death, and our own resurrection in His, that we may no longer live unto ourselves but rather unto God in holiness and righteousness.  Therefore, there is continuity with our past life as unbelievers in that the Law and the prophecies are still being worked out fully; yet there is discontinuity in that we are alive in the reality of resurrection life, eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit –no longer under law but under grace.  The Holy Spirit will fulfill in us the righteousness of the Law, which we establish by faith.

The gospel and new covenant are so contrary and transcendent  to the natural man’s religion and intellect.  Let’s consider just a few points regarding Israel, since God gave Israel as an example for the Church and to the world:

  1. The religious and political leaders (in whom the people were represented) claimed that Yeshua consistently  broke the Sabbath regulations, even as He was manifesting the grace and mercies and compassion of God the Father towards others .  (Mt 12:2,10; Mk 3:2; Lk 23:14; John 7:23; Is. 58)
  2. They claimed that He was demon-possessed and cast out demons by the power of Satan, even as He was bringing the reality of the Kingdom of God into their midst.  (Mt 12:24; John 7:20; 10:19-20)
  3. They called Jesus a blasphemer because He claimed to be  God’s Son, or that God was His Father, thus making  Himself equal with God;  they accused Him of blasphemy because He, as a man, forgave sins.  (Mk 2:7; John 5:28; 10:31-39;  cp. 1 Chron. 22:9-10)
  4. The meek shall inherit the earth, rather than the rich and mighty who trust in their wealth and power and wisdom.  (Mt 5:5; 19:23-26; Jer 9:23)
  5. Many of the disciples themselves stopped following (walking with) Jesus when He spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood – a thought contrary to Israel’s law received from God.  (John 6:66; Lev. 17:11-12; Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:18-20)
  6. The apostles themselves were scattered when the Shepherd was crucified.  (Mt 26:31; Zech 13:7)
  7. Before knowing the Lord, did we see any beauty in Him that we desired Him?  Did we not, each in our own way perhaps, despise and reject Him?  Did we not consent to His death, assuming that there must have been some justification for it because of some sin of His own rather than for ours?  Paul, as Saul, was a blasphemer and a persecutor of Yeshua (who was already exalted back in Heaven) through the believers, the Body of Messiah, while being himself a zealous and God-fearing  Israeli!  (Is 53; 1Tim 1:13; Gal 1:13; Acts 9:4-5)
  8. A new commandment has been given God’s elect:  to love on the level of God’s love to us as shown and demonstrated through Jesus.  (Mt 5:43-48; John 15:12)

Brothers and sisters, the Christian testimony of Jesus being the Messiah and the Son of God the Father is confessed by both Jews and Gentiles who have believed and obeyed this revelation.  The gospel crosses every nation, culture, and language; the gospel brings Heaven’s rule and authority into the midst of the rule of the prince of this world’s power.  Jesus came to bring a sword into the world and to give His peace to the believer.  The church of the first-born includes all from Adam and Eve onward who have put their faith for salvation in the Creator God Almighty, who later revealed Himself as YEHOVAH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and still later as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The equality of Jews and Gentiles before God under the New Covenant in Christ is still difficult for both to accept and be reconciled to.  The Jews wanted to stone Yeshua and, later, Paul  when they spoke of their mission including gentiles.  For about 15 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord and after Pentecost (Shavuot), the early church was Jewish in character.  The Jews thought that all gentile believers had to become Jewish.  The Holy Spirit and the council at Jerusalem declared otherwise in the wisdom of God.  Later in Church history the opposite occurred:  the non-Jewish believers thought that all Jewish believers had to become gentile, fitting the cultural norm wherever they were living.

The truth is that in Messiah God has made of the two one new man – one loaf representing Christ’s one body in unity.  Today there is still a spiritual battle being fought to bring the Body of Christ to full maturity of the faith of the Son of God – comprised of both Jews and Gentile believers, but not being either quite Jewish or ethnic in character.  Our unity in Messiah and our love for one another is our testimony in and to the world that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus and that God sent Him and loves us as our Father, even as He loved Jesus.

The gospel is God’s good news – offering peace on earth, goodwill towards mankind.  Give thanks and  praise His Name!