God has always been Sovereign King – Sovereign Lord – over His creation, both in the Heavens and on the Earth. He made His plan for Creation and for Redemption before the beginning of time, space, and matter. All things that exist were created and made by YHVH God. Nothing exists apart from Him, and it is by Yeshua/Jesus, through Yeshua/Jesus, and for Yeshua/Jesus that all things were created, visible and invisible. (Col 1:15-17) And Yeshua/Jesus is the King that the Father has ordained to inherit and to rule over all that is. In other words, Yeshua/Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God; therefore, He will be the King of Israel, and the King of the nations, and the King of the angels. He is God of gods, King of kings, and Lord of lords! (Ps 136:1-3; Rev 15:3-4; Ps 2) Continue reading “The Kingdom of God Streaming Through History”
In the passage just before ours here, Mary (Jn 12:3) is remembered for pouring very expensive oil on the head and feet of Jesus. The value of the oil was a year’s wage of a common laborer. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, was very bothered by this expensive waste (destruction) – in his estimation — saying that the oil could have been sold and the money given to the poor. But John tells us in his gospel account that Judas did not care about the poor, but that he was a thief who stole from offerings given to Jesus and those with Him. (Jn 12:6) Today we are going to remember Judas, for our learning and admonition. Continue reading “Sold His Soul For Price of A Killed Slave”
Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, and with Jewish believers in the Son of God. The Church — the Body of Christ/Messiah, the one new man, the Bride of the Lamb — is comprised of both these redeemed and born-again believers called out from every people group and nation. We all have a significant role to play through to the end of the age towards YHVH God’s salvation of His chosen people Israel, by which the whole world and creation will be blessed. Continue reading “The Church’s Role in The End-Times of The Last Days Towards Israel’s Salvation”
(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 2017)
I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible. When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of: forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!
I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981. This was the blessed hope. Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth. But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture. Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD. I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride. This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.
My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years. According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope! They simply were not living at the right time! Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5) In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul: whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58) Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven: “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13) As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed! For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body. The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord. Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it. This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us. As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)
An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as ‘coming soon’). Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming. Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time. Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood: that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist. This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel). It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent. But even then, maybe not: remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11) Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’. The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out. The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption. But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)
The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b) Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe. God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both Jews and Christians. Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them. God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him. Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers: we will not suffer the wrath of God. This is good news! And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom! This is also good news! (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)
Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:
Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.
Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.
Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.
Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last; (26) and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God, (27) whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!
Heb 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, (18) of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called, (19) concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.
Jn 11:23-27 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. (24) Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (25) Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (27) She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.
Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?
1Co 15:16-20 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. (17) And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins. (18) Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.
Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.
Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
Gen 32:24-28 (25-29 Heb) And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled there with him until the breaking of the day. (25) And when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh. And the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with Him. (26) And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let You go except You bless me. (27) And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. (28) And He said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for like a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed.
It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of YHVH that His will and purposes are accomplished. Jacob needed to learn this. So it must be with each of us, and with the nation as a whole. In his personal encounter and wrestling with the “Man”, he came out hampered but blessed! This is the conversion of Jacob to becoming Israel. It is the grace of God that allows us to overcome, and He alone is glorified! He qualifies us to rule with Him, but the Lord reigns! This is something we all must go through and learn in our conversion from our old man to becoming conformed to the image of the Son of God. Then, Jacob – as Israel – could face his estranged brother and be reconciled to God to go on to what God had called him for.
Yehovah, the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and also God the Father (as the Source and Originator of all things), has forever associated His name with being the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. (Mt 22:31-32) He is the God of Israel: the person and the people and the land. He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ex 3:13-15 And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the sons of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they shall say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them? (14) And God said to Moses, I AM Who I AM. And He said, So you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. (15) And God said to Moses again, You shall say this to the children of Israel, Yehovah, God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial from generation to generation.
Dt 7:6-10 For you are a holy people to Yehovah your God. Yehovah your God has chosen you to be a special people to Himself above all people that are upon the face of the Earth. (7) Yehovah did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all people. (8) But because Yehovah loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn to your fathers, Yehovah has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (9) Therefore, know that Yehovah your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations. (10) And He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slow to repay him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face.
Gen 28:10-15 And Jacob went out from Beer-Sheva, and went toward Haran. (11) And he came on a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took of the stones of that place, and placed them at his head. And he lay down in that place to sleep. (12) And he dreamed. And behold! A ladder was set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven! And behold! The angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (13) And behold! Yehovah stood above it, and said, I am Yehovah, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac! The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your seed. (14) And your seed shall be like the dust of the Earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in you and in your Seed shall all the families of the Earth be blessed. (15) And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.
Mt 2:19-21 But Herod having expired, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20) saying, Arise, and take the child and His mother. And go into the land of Israel. For the ones who sought the child’s life are dead. (21) And he arose and took the child and His mother and came into the land of Israel.
Ezek 37:11-12 And He said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, Our bones are dried and our hope is lost; we are cut off by ourselves. (12) Therefore prophesy and say to them, So says the Lord Yehovah: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, and will bring you into the land of Israel.
YHVH God promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and his descendants the Land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. YHVH promised to Jacob that He would not leave him until He had accomplished what He said. When the baby Jesus came back out of Egypt with His parents, the Holy Spirit had Matthew write that the family came back to the Land of Israel, whatever other names might have been used by the Romans. Yeshua was an Israeli Jew, whose coming was first of all in keeping God’s covenant promises to His people in the flesh. The LORD gave the prophet Ezekiel to see into the distant future — to our day – whereby God is restoring His wayward people back to the promised land, which He specifically calls the Land of Israel.
Mal 3:6 For I am Yehovah, I change not. Because of this you children of Jacob are not destroyed.
How does God demonstrate this?
Jer 31:31-37 (30-36 Heb) Behold, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah, (32) not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yehovah; (33) but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the House of Israel: After those days, says Yehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Yehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more. (35) So says Yehovah, who gives the sun for a light by day and the laws of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who divides the sea when its waves roar; Yehovah of Hosts is His name; (36) if those ordinances depart from Me, says Yehovah, the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. (37) So says Yehovah, If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be searched out, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says Yehovah.
Rom 11:25-32 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brethren, lest you should be wise within yourselves; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations has come in. (26) And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (27) For this is My covenant with them, when I have taken away their sins.” (28) Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (29) For the free gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (30) For as you also then disbelieved God, but now have been shown mercy through their disbelief, (31) even so these also have not believed now, so that through your mercy they may also obtain mercy. (32) For God has shut up all in unbelief, so that He might show mercy to all.
Israel’s salvation as a nation gives significance and hope to other nations. It gives hope to this Earth and world, and their hope lies in the same hope which God gave to Israel, and to believers in Jesus: the coming again of the Lord and the restoration of YHVH God’s kingdom over His entire universe. The resurrection of Jesus assures the promises made to the fathers [of Israel], and brings glory to God from the mouth of Gentiles for what He does for His people. (Rom 15:4-13)
Ps 2:6-8 Yea, I have set My king on My holy hill, on Zion. (7) I will declare the decree of Yehovah. He has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You. (8) Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the Earth for Your possession.
Zec 14:16-19 And it shall be, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Yehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (17) And it shall be, whoever will not come up from all the families of the Earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yehovah of Hosts, even on them shall be no rain. (18) And if the family of Egypt does not go up, nor come in, they shall have no rain, but the plague with which Yehovah shall strike the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (19) This shall be Egypt’s offense, and the offense of all the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
God created Jacob, and formed Israel (Is 43:1), a people whose mothers could not naturally give birth, but required God’s intervention. The Church, the Body of Messiah, is a new creation of individuals out from every nation, who are redeemed by the blood of the Messiah. Therefore, Israel is not the Church, nor is the Church Israel; but they are both related to the same one, true, living God!
Israel is a person, a people, a land; the covenants of YHVH are with the children of Israel for the land – and the possessed inheritance for those descendants of Jacob who turn from ungodliness — but the inheritance is to be shared also with strangers. (Dt 5:12-15; Ezek 47:21-23)
–Israel as a NATION gives significance and hope to all other nations, including the Arab nations (Is 19:23-25)
–in Adam all have sinned, yet God’s plan of redemption to save human beings is available to all through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
–Israel the nation is made up of many children of Adam and Eve, and has sinned against God, just as Adam and Eve did. Europe has sinned; the U.S. has sinned. The same God, who changes not, has the same plan of salvation to save a nation as He does for individuals: by grace, through genuine repentance and faith in Yeshua. Not every Jew/Israeli, nor every Arab or German.
–Each nation has its own particular calling and destiny in God’s purposes. Israel is unique among the nations even as Jesus is among the sons of Adam or the sons of God. (Ex 4:22; Dt 7:6; Am 3:2; Zech 2:8; Mt 3:16-17; Heb 1)
–Politically speaking, Israel has the anointed King in waiting who is presently rejected and despised, like David was during Saul’s reign.
—Identity: God has given a particular identity to a people whom He has created for His glory. Each of us has an identity in Christ with God our Father, and an everlasting destiny and inheritance connected with God’s unbreakable promises in the new and better covenant cut with the blood of the Son of God.
—Calling: God keeps His Word, His promises, His covenants: we are called to be witnesses of God and of His truth, and we are to be true to our word as children of God our Father.
—Vision and Mission Purpose: The whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YHVH; there is a purpose to be fulfilled for THIS world, this creation; hope for nations because Israel as a nation will be saved: evangelize, and look forward to coming again of the Lord
—Discipleship and Conformity to image of God’s Son: Man created in image of God according to His likeness in order to rule over God’s creation with the Lord (Gen 1:26; Ps 8); to be full-filled during the Millennial Kingdom, when the saints who have part in First Resurrection will rule and reign with Christ as a kingdom of priests (Dan 7:27; Rev 2:25-29; Rev 3:21; Rev 20:6): practice now to be faithful and trustworthy in what we do, with a heart for God and His interests; Israel will also fulfill her calling and mission when she returns to YHVH her God and cleansed from all her unfaithfulness against Him, and against Jesus, when she finally becomes the Israel of God (Gal 6:16)
—Worship: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! (34) For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? (35) Or who first gave to Him, and it will be repaid to him? (36) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things; to Him be glory forever! Amen. (Rom 11:33-36)
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.
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 43:10-13) I 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.“
History — past, present, and future — is a witness to YHVH God’s faithfulness to His covenants, and to His sovereign power and will: not the will of man, nor of the devil, nor of the flesh, but the will of GOD! (Many more prophecies than given here as historical proofs.)
No expiration date usually given! Sometimes hundreds, even thousands of years transpire between the prophecy and its/their fulfillment(s).
If we do not believe, it will not prevent God from fulfilling His Word and purpose! (Rom 3:3-4)
Num 11:29 And Moses said to him, Are you jealous for my sake? Would God that all Yehovah’s people were prophets, that Yehovah would put His Spirit upon them! (Men of God honor prophets and prophecies of God, and also the great responsibility that carries with them.)
1Cor 14:1-5 Follow after charity and desire spiritual things, but rather that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. For no one hears, but in spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks to men for building up, and exhortation, and comfort. The one speaking in a tongue builds himself up, but he prophesying builds up a church. I wish all of you to speak in languages, but rather that you may prophesy; for greater is he prophesying than he speaking in tongues, unless he interpret so that the church may receive building up.
1Kg 13:2 (2Kg 21:24; 23:16) And he cried against the altar in the Word of Yehovah and said, O, altar, altar, so says Yehovah. Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and on you he shall offer the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you. ~945 BC – 647 BC = 298 yrs (from time of the prophecy until its fulfillment)
1Kg 14:5,15-16 (Dt: 28:63-64; 29:24-28; 2Kg 10:32; 15:29; Is 7:8) Ahijah, the old and blind prophet: For Yehovah shall strike Israel as the reed waves in the water, and He shall root up Israel out of this good land which He gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherahs, provoking Yehovah to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned, and that he made Israel to sin. ~1423 BC – 721 BC = 702 yrs / ~941 BC – 786 (= 155 yrs) -65 yrs = 721 BC = 220 yrs (Covenantal consequences for unfaithfulness to God and to His will.)
1Kg 16:34 (Josh 6:26) In his days Hiel the man of Bethel built Jericho. He laid the foundation of it in Abiram his first-born, and set up the gates of it in his youngest son Segub, according to the Word of Yehovah which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. ~1422 BC – 887 BC = 535 yrs
2Kg 10:10-11 (1Kg 21:17-29) Now know that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the Word of Yehovah , which Yehovah spoke concerning the house of Ahab. For Yehovah has done that which He spoke by His servant Elijah. And Jehu killed all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his familiar friends, and his priests, until he left him none remaining. ~871 BC – 852 BC = 19 yrs
2Kg 24:2 (2Kg 15:37; 17:23; 21:10-15) And Yehovah sent against him troops of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and troops of the Moabites, and troops of the Ammonites. And He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the Word of Yehovah which He spoke by His servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7 (Gen 18:17-19; Dt 29:29; Mk 13:3-4,23) For the Lord Yehovah will do nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. (God told Abraham about Sodom’s destruction; Yeshua told some of His apostles what the signs of His coming again to restore the Kingdom of God would be.)
Is 44:28 (Is 45:1-7; Ezra 1:1-4; Jer 25:11-12; Dan 9:2,25) So says Yehovah to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have made strong in order to humble nations before him. And I will loosen the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you, and make hills level. I will break in pieces the bronze gates, and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I am Yehovah, who calls you by your name, the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even entitled you. I have named you, though you have not known me. I am Yehovah, and there is none else, no God besides Me; I clothed you, though you have not known Me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and to the sunset, that there is none besides Me. I am Yehovah, and there is none else; forming the light and creating darkness; making peace and creating evil. I Yehovah do all these things. ~712 BC – 539 BC = 173 yrs
Is 11:10-12 And in that day there shall be the Root of Jesse standing for a banner of the people; to Him the nations shall seek; and His resting place shall be glorious. And it shall be in that day, the Lord shall again set His hand, the second time, to recover the remnant of His people that remains, from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Ethiopia, and from Persia, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the coasts of the sea. And He shall lift up a banner for the nations, and shall gather the outcasts of Israel and gather together the scattered ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
~713 BC – 1917 AD = 2629 yrs + 30 (1947) + 20 (1967) + 46 (2013+) = 2725 yrs +
Is 55:11 (Mt 5:17-18) so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do!
Mt 2:23 (Is 11:1; Mk 1:2; Lk 1:70; Jn 1:45) And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” ~713 BC – ~5 BC = 708 yrs
Ezek 38:17 So says the Lord Yehovah: Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days, by the hand of My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days and years that I would bring you against them? ~580 BC + 2013 AD + = 2592 yrs +
Jn 5:46-47 (Mt 5:17-18; 7:24-27) For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My Words?
Rev 22:6-9, 18-21 And he said to me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show to His servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the Words of the prophecy of this Book. And I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel showing me these things. Then he said to me, Behold! See, do not do it! For I am your fellow-servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book. Do worship to God.
For I testify together to everyone who hears the Words of the prophecy of this Book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add on him the plagues that have been written in this Book. And if anyone takes away from the Words of the Book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which have been written in this Book. He who testifies these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly, Amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.
Mt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!
Jn 10:35 If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken
Is 41:21-24 Bring near your cause, says Yehovah; bring out your strong reasons, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them out, and tell us what shall happen; let them reveal the former things, what they are, that we may look on them and know the final end of them; or declare to us things to come. Reveal the near things after this, so that we may know that you are gods. Yes, do good, or do evil, so that we may be amazed and see together. Behold, you are of nothing, and your work of nothing. He who chooses you is an abomination.
Zech 1:5-6 Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But My Words and My statutes which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? And they returned and said, As Yehovah of Hosts planned to do to us, according to our ways and according to our doings, so He has done with us.
Acts 3:18-21 But those things which God before had shown by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He fulfilled in this manner. Therefore repent and convert so that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was proclaimed to you, whom Heaven truly needs to receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began.
Heb 1:1-2 God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds . . .
2Pt 3:2-7 to remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of the Lord and Savior by us, the apostles. First, knowing this, that there will come in the last days scoffers walking according to their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this is hidden from them by their willing it, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of the water, and through water, being held together by the Word of God, through which the world that then was, being flooded by water, perished. But the present heavens and the earth being kept in store by the same Word, are being kept for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Rev 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he will begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He has declared to His servants the prophets. ~4000 BC + 2013 AD = 6012 yrs +
All these things must come to pass, and they surely will, for the mouth of YHVH has spoken! Amen.
(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!
(Updated on 11 Oct 2013; 31 May 2016)
Beginning with an unrelated e-mail from John D, and the link that he wanted me to read, we began a serious and edifying exchange of ideas, and of our own present understanding regarding the names and concepts of Israel, the Israel of God, the Commonwealth of Israel, and the Church of God. (Rom 9:6; 11:25-28; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:12; 1Cor 10:32). We agree on some issues, not on others. The discussion hinges on whether these names refer to only one entity by various names, or whether to two or three, or even to four distinct yet related entities. It connects with historic ‘theologies’ like replacement/fulfillment /divestment theology, expansion/enlargement theology, the two-house theory, and dominion theology as we seek together to understand that which is of the truth as we have more light.
If any of you readers have anything of substantive value to contribute to helping us all better understand who we are and what God is doing to fulfill His will and purpose, please add your comments for the building up of the Body of Messiah in love. The conclusion of the matter may just have to wait for a brighter day.
—- Original Message —-
To: Howard Bass
Sent: Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 19:45 PM
Subject: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013
I go by John, but I’ll answer to either one! Let me see what I can do to help out this situation. I do reiterate my request to you from yesterday. If I can help with the work there in Beersheva, please let me know.
It’s my belief that any group that comes in to help the work of God in an area, needs to first go through the established congregations in that area. I consider it a shame when people push for “reaching an area for Messiah” and bypass the people in that area that are already doing so. I pray that Abba will never allow me to become that presumptuous. It’s my desire to help support your existing work for the Kingdom in the Land, and to reach your unbelieving countrymen living around you. You know how best to do that. I just want to help.
But Adonai has also put something very specific on my heart for the Jewish people. And I hope that it bears witness with you. Would you be willing to read this link, and tell me your thoughts on the matter? I’d appreciate your feedback.
From: Howard Bass
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:25 AM
Subject: Re: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013
Praise God that you have an understanding of the ‘order of things’ to work with and through the local believers in an area. In Israel there are very many Christians who come that do not understand, and either do not have any personal relationships among the believers here, or else they do some event which is strictly ‘foreign’ without local knowledge.
I did read your letter regarding Israeli believers being a light to the nations. I think your heart is definitely in the right place, and you will see some good response. There are already many believers, including myself, who do get out to other countries, where believers or churches or Christian ministries have invited us to come to teach on some topic relevant to the significance of Israel to them as believers, and to their nations. I don’t know how many are sitting under a tree, but we have certainly been in areas that are not posh or very developed.
If I can say so, I would not say that Gentile believers are part of the Israel of God, for that would imply a merging of Israel with the Church. At least for the next 1000 years (a pretty long time), there is a distinction between the two. During the Millennial, Israel will be the Israel which God has created, redeemed, and called her to be in the fullest sense. Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but this does not make them Jews or Israelis, just as the British Commonwealth incorporated many other nations under its care, but they did not become English, even while they did enjoy many privileges of being in the Commonwealth. The Body of Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, will be ruling and reigning with Messiah OVER Israel and the nations. These are two different groupings of people. The born-again believer is a new creation now, which Israel is not. Anyway, it is still somewhat of a mystery that is discussed and debated, even here in Israel.
God bless you,
On April 5, 2013 22:08, Jonathan D wrote:
Please pardon the lengthy response to your email. I’ve responded to the gentile/Israel discussion. I’d love to gain more of your insights on this, as your time allows.
Thank you for your time Howard!
I’ve spent some time considering your comments about Gentiles not being a part of the Israel of God. Your thought on the Commonwealth of Israel was a new idea to me. I had never considered it in an Empirical sense before. My immediate reaction was to think that we simply had semantic differences, and with some defining boundaries, we’d recognize that fact. However, after having considered your words and re-reading them over and over, I began to see what you were saying more clearly. So permit me to lay out what I think you are saying.
1) Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.
2) Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but do not become Israelis or Jews.
3) The Body of Messiah (the Bride of the Lamb) is a separate entity from Israel and from the nations.
4) Israel is defined as the natural descendents of Abraham (most of which have not come to faith in Yeshua as Messiah).
I believe most of what I’ve distilled should be accurate, especially since most of them were quoted directly from your paragraph.
Allow me to respond. I’d like to say first that I, in no wise, am a believer of replacement theology. The idea that the ‘gentile church’ (which I don’t believe exists anyway) somehow takes the promises of Israel is ridiculous to me.
I also don’t believe, as many in the messianic movements do, that gentiles become ‘Jewish’ when they enter the fold. I believe that Gentiles remain gentiles, and they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God with open arms. I don’t believe that God views the term ‘gentile’ with vulgarity, as some in our messianic ranks apparently do.
However, I have to disagree with the idea that Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities. I believe they are one and the same. I’ll explain why I believe that shortly. I would like to point out, however, that I recognize in Paul a tendency to acknowledge ‘2’ Israels—“Israel, according to the flesh” (1 Cor. 10:18) and the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). I believe that Paul considered the believing remnant among Israel in his day to be the ‘true Israel’ of God. Peter, James, John, Simeon, himself of course, and “myriads and myriads” of other Jewish believers were considered to be not only a part of the Body of Messiah, but also the Israel to whom the promises would come upon.
Paul begins a discussion that informs our conversation in Romans 9-11. In chapter 9, He says:
“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelis; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Torah, and the service of God, and the promises; to whom belong the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Not as though the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall your seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom. 9:3-8)
In this passage, Paul is making a clean division between two Israels. He acknowledges “Israel, according to the flesh”, and even wishes that he could be accursed for their salvation; but he also recognizes another Israel, an Israel that the natural Israeli isn’t a part of. We both know Paul’s arguments well enough. Paul is using Abraham’s life as a metaphor. Abraham was given a promise for children. Abraham fathered Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the promised seed that Adonai had prophesied. Isaac, also a physical son of Abraham as Ishmael was, happened to also be the promised seed. Paul’s argument is the believing remnant of Israelis in his day were the promised seed of Abraham. And this promised seed was considered Israel, hence “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”.
Paul goes on to argue in Romans 9 that God’s election is based upon His sovereignty. In other words, God will have mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy. He uses the classic example of Jacob/Esau. God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they had done anything good or evil, or had even been born. In His sovereignty, God simply declared that the “elder shall serve the younger”. The point is implicit here and more explicit in Galatians, but the point is: Israel according to the flesh is the older, the believing remnant of Israel is the younger. The believing remnant is the Israel of the promise, whereas the non-believing Israel is not.
But Paul doesn’t end this discussion there. He uses another classic example, Pharaoh, to show that God’s choice is His alone (not ours). God chose to show mercy upon a remnant in Israel, for His own purposes. For those that had an issue with this, Paul’s goes ahead and asks their rhetorical questions: How can God find fault with those that resist His will? In other words, how can God judge unbelieving Israel, since Paul just argued that they had been ‘hardened’ by God. But Paul answered the question by saying that it’s God’s sovereign right to chose to do with His lump of clay what He wants. God will endure the hardened hearts of the unbelieving Israel in order to extend His kindness upon the believing remnant among Israel! But then Paul includes the gentiles in this believing remnant!
“What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory; even us, who He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom. 9:22-24)
Consider the flow of Paul’s argument. He’s been arguing the whole chapter that “not all Israel is Israel”. There are some that are the seed of promise, and others that are not. God’s mercy determines this, not man’s will or ability to run (vs. 16). Paul was saying that the believing remnant among Israel are the vessels of mercy. They have experienced God’s abundant grace in Messiah. They are the Israel of promise. But this Israel doesn’t only include the believing remnant of the descendants of Abraham, but also any gentiles that have taken hold and put their faith in Messiah! So this ‘believing Israel’ consists not only of Jews (Israelis), but also of Gentiles.
But as I said before, Paul does not consider the believing remnant to “replace” the non-believing Israelis, but rather acknowledges both groups as Israel—one of the flesh, and the other of the Spirit. After making his argument in chapter 9, Paul immediately jumps back to his heart for Israel, according to the flesh, in chapter 10.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” (Rom 10:1)
Paul goes on in chapter 10 to speak about the necessity of faith to produce the righteousness of God, and the fact that Israel, according to the flesh, is lacking this faith. Paul argues that Israel needs to hear the message of the gospel, so that they can understand the Torah’s message of faith that’s been in there all along. Paul ends the chapter by quoting from the TNK to answer key questions.
Have they not heard? Of course they have, the gospel is going throughout the whole earth.
But didn’t Israel know? Moses said that the Gentiles (who are coming to faith) will provoke Israel.
Isaiah was very clear by saying, “I was found by them that didn’t seek me (gentiles), but I have stretched out my hands all day long to a disobedient people” (Israel according to the flesh).
Hence, the chapter that speaks of the crux of the matter—chapter 11.
“I ask then, Has God cast off His people?—God forbid! I am also an Israeli, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people which He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)
Paul then uses Elijah to argue that there was a believing remnant in his day. Paul likens Elijah’s situation to his own day.
“Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (vs. 5)
Paul then argues that [natural] Israel has not obtained what it sought [righteousness], but the believing remnant among Israel did!
“What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (vs. 7)
It’s here that we surely agree. The election is the Body the Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, and Israel is seen as a separate entity. I agree with this emphatically. However, I also maintain that Paul see this “election” as Israel also. In fact, Paul’s next metaphor is quite telling.
In the Olive Tree metaphor, it is not the believing branches that are removed from Israel and made into a new creation—aka, the Body of Messiah. Rather, it is the unbelieving branches that are removed from the Olive Tree, which is faithful Israel.
Replacement theology says that the old olive tree is simply thrown out and replaced with a wild one! Ridiculous!
Dispensationalism says that God took some branches from Israel’s olive tree and some branches from the wild gentile olive tree, and grafted them both into a new, 3rd olive tree. But that’s not what Paul says.
Paul says that the believing Israelis stayed nice and cozy in their own tree. They were never moved! They have shown that they truly are the sons of Abraham! The Fathers were holy, through their faith in Adonai, and their ‘true descendants’ [believing Israelis] are also holy! This is why I believe that the faithful believing remnant among the Israelis are considered the “Israel of God”. They’re still in the cultivated Olive Tree.
But they’re not alone. God, in His sovereign mercy, has also grafted believing gentiles into this Olive Tree. So the gentiles who were “aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers of the Covenants of Promise” (Eph 2:12), are now “fellow citizens with the saints [holy ones, believing Israelis], and of the household of God” (vs. 19). Gentiles have now become a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, but not as a 2nd class citizen in that Commonwealth, like the Indians were to Britain, or the Israelis were to Rome. No, gentiles have been grafted in, and have become “fellow citizens with the saints”. Gentiles have citizenship that is equal to the saints’ citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel. This Greek term for fellow citizen is sympolitai—“co-citizenship”. This is exactly the picture Paul is describing in Romans 11. The gentile branches are grafted in with the believing Israeli branches, and they have become partakers together of the Covenants of the Promise.
Paul goes on in Romans 11 to address the status of the removed branches. Paul tells the gentiles that Israel (natural unbelieving Israelis, according to context) has been partially blinded, until the fullness of the gentiles come in. But this blindness will not last forever! God has promised that the Deliverer would come out of Zion and turn ungodliness away from Jacob. So all of Israel’s ungodliness has to be removed at some point, Paul is arguing.
Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for the sake of the believing remnant/believing gentiles. Why? Because they were persecuting the people of God (Gal 4:29). But concerning God’s election, they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob]. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29). Israel’s calling is to be a special people to Adonai, and a light to the nations! These are gifts given to Israel by God, and He will not remove them from Israel because of this partial blindness. These promises still stand!
Paul argues that unbelieving Israel will be grafted in again to their own Olive Tree, and all Israel will be saved!
So Howard, to me this seems to support the idea that there are two Israels acknowledged in the Apostolic Writings. One is the true Israel, which is the Body of Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb. The other is Israel according to the flesh, that has been removed from the Israeli Olive Tree, but is set aside carefully ready to be grafted in again as soon as faith comes!
The reason I think this is important, is because the promises given throughout the prophets will not come upon unbelieving Israel. God’s restoration that’s prophesied throughout Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. will come to Israel when they acknowledge that Yeshua is Messiah that has made atonement for them. When this occurs, they’ll be grafted back into the Israeli Olive Tree, and the blessing promised to “Israel” will at that time come upon them.
This is the amazing grace that has been granted to gentiles. Gentiles, who have never had these promises from the God of Israel, are granted access to the very fulfillment of these promises, not as a replacement of Israel, but as a fellow heir with the believing remnant of Israel!
This is what makes Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 so pivotal. Paul argues that “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal 3:16). What promises? The promise of the possession of the Land, the promise of a Redeemer, the promise of a New Covenant and true righteousness by the Spirit’s work! These promises were all made to Abraham’s seed. The New Covenant [the fulfillment of the promises] is made with Abraham’s seed. But Paul argues that the seed of Abraham was speaking of Messiah. So anyone among Israel that believed in Messiah, they were the true sons of Abraham.
“And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the Promise” (Gal 3:29).
So are gentiles “heirs according to the Promise”? I think emphatically, yes. Then we have to acknowledge that Paul considered Gentiles to be included in Abraham’s seed because of their faith in Messiah. Once again, Gentiles don’t replace Israelis as Abraham’s seed, they simply are grafted in among them, and will partake of the fulfillment of the promises just as the natural descendants do.
I feel this is so important for us to contend for. If Gentiles are considered only in Israel like the Indians or the South Africans were a part of Britain, then the gentiles will be seen, and see themselves as 2nd class citizens behind Israel. But this would bring dishonor to Adonai, who always envisioned bringing the nations in through Abraham’s seed.
I’m so saddened when Gentiles use replacement theology to teach that the “Church” [gentile people of God, as they see it] has replaced the promises to Israel. But I’m equally saddened when I see my Israeli brothers and sisters keep gentiles at arm’s length. It seems sometimes that maintaining identity as Israel is more important than fully embracing their brothers from among the nations that love them with deep passion.
I’m a congregational leader here at Beit Hallel in Tucson. Another congregational leader is Avi. Avi is Jewish; I’m gentile. We both love Adonai deeply. We both love each other deeply. We are the best of friends. Avi has promises from Adonai by birthright, as a part of Israel. I have inherited the same promises by grace, because of faith. Though we both fully acknowledge our respective pasts, we both see each other as part of the Israel of God.
Am I missing something here? Maybe a nuance of the dialogue that I don’t quite grasp?
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:42 AM
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel
Hi John. I appreciate very much your lengthy response, and it is the clearest explanation that I have heard. You have done an excellent work to explain how you understand it, and also how your conclusion would have you feel second class, and I am really sorry if my response before gave you reason to think that . Your full answer will help me better understand how I need to discuss this subject with others.
So, before I try to explain my view more fully, I want to say at the outset that born-again Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah are totally and completely equal, without any difference whatsoever before God and within the Body of Christ. That there are still differences that God may make use of now, or that we may have different nuances of understanding which should complement one another to see more fully the glorious truth of who our God and Savior are, does not in any way take away from the gospel truth that believers are one in Him without priority of one over the other: we are all first-born with Yeshua in God. Amazing, and true!
In our own congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, we have both Jewish and non-Jewish elders, deacons, teachers. While we may at times speak of those who are Jewish, and of those who have joined themselves to identify with the people of Israel and with the God of Israel, not all Christians feel a particular affinity for the Jewish people or for the nation of Israel; but as believers, we are all one in Christ. My Palestinian Arab brothers in Jesus who think that the ‘occupation’ began in 1948 are just as equal with me through our common salvation. The Holy Spirit will deal with us all on important matters which God knows are hindering us from moving on with the Lord into the reality of the one new man from the two — Jewish people and Gentiles.
With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after; for example, Egypt will also become YHVH’s people. (Is 19:25) And for Jewish people being the natural branches and those to whom were revealed the oracles of God, they will be judged more severely, and also enjoy a special acknowledgement. (Rom 2:5-11) Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all, I believe, because we are the first-born and natural branch, and have a more natural affinity for the Biblical history and family; and having been shown such mercy to be forgiven and restored to even greater blessings, are more expected to be merciful and long-suffering toward our Gentile Christian brothers and sisters whom our Father has brought into His family. (Rom 9:3-5; 11:21; Acts 15:7-9; Col 1:26-27)
There is discussion and debate within the Body of Messiah in Israel as to whether there is some special calling upon Jewish believers as compared with the Gentile believers. I am not comfortable with this differentiation. If anything, as I have said, then Jewish believers are called to be more humble and forgiving towards others and more thankful to God! Gentile believers could say the same thing, though, from the grace shown them by the God of Israel.
As I wrote in my first letter, this subject is on-going even here in Israel, and I am too often accused of being too ‘equal minded’, whereas I see too much of others making the Jewish believers superior in our particular calling and ministry over what the Lord has given to Gentile believers. Ironically, it is because they do tend to see the Israel of God as being the same as the Church, and the Commonwealth of Israel in the same vein. Some even see that in eternity, after the Millennial Kingdom, there will still be a distinction between Israel and the nations, which I do not, at least as of now, even with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles forever memorialized in the New Jerusalem. (Rev 21:12-14) (On [this] website, I have written at various times on the subject from a number of aspects; sometimes this might be under Reflecting Pool, other times under Latest News even, or under School of Fish.)
Just to be open about some of my own views connected with eschatology, which I believe influences anyone’s interpretation of these important issues:
1. Yeshua Himself is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, over the saved full remnant of the tribes of Israel and the [sheep] nations, for 1000 years;
2. The Church/Body of Messiah/the Bride of the Lamb will go through the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, being either resurrected (if any one in Christ has already died) or else raptured (if still alive in Messiah at that time). We are saved from God’s wrath, which I believe is limited to a relatively brief period of time, compared to the full seven-year period, prior to the coming again of the Lord;
3. The Church is made up of both Jewish people and Gentiles, but is neither Jewish nor Gentile/Greek;
4. The Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him over Israel and the nations for the 1000 years, already in glorified bodies, which Israel and the nations will not have during that time.
There are other points too, of course, but these should suffice to show what shapes my interpretation on these issues of the Israel of God and of the Commonwealth of Israel as I presently do.
You mention that the promises made to Abraham are to all his seed, including the promise of the Land. The promise of the Land of Canaan to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the children of Israel is specifically to that family line. There has always been room given by God for non-Israelis to partake of that promise, such as Ruth the Moabitess, and for all those mentioned in Ezekiel 47:21-23 during the Millennial Kingdom. It has never been a pure blood issue, but covenantal to and through a particular genealogy and people. Among David’s mighty men were Gentiles, such as Uriah the Hittite. Ruth gives us a good example of one who came into the Commonwealth of Israel — under the welfare of the God of Israel — entitled to all the benefits and privileges with the people, but did not become Jewish: she is always referred to as Ruth the Moabitess when referred to in the Tanach.
If all those today who are Abraham’s seed by faith, that is, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, thought themselves entitled to live in the modern State of Israel, it is clear that not only is there not room for that, but it would also take away the whole nature of the “homeland for the Jewish people”, since the vast multitude of Gentile Christians would be even more than all the Arabs who think that the Land belongs to them! So the land promise is specifically given to the children of Israel, but the promise which does involve ‘land’ (ארץ) which is applicable to all the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob by flesh and by faith is the whole ‘Earth’ (ארץ), which includes the Land of Canaan. The Millennial Kingdom will see the fulfillment of that as the whole Earth comes under the rule of Yeshua, with the full remnant of the whole House of Israel restored in the land as an everlasting possession as one nation with one King, and all the sheep nations in their borders who are shown mercy because they showed mercy to the least of Yeshua’s brethren (Mt 25:31-40)
But for those born-again believers out from every tribe and tongue and and people and nation who have the blessed and holy part in the first resurrection (Rev 5; 20), by being made a kingdom of priests to God with Messiah, we inherit the whole Earth in fulfillment of the greater promise given to Abraham. To redeemed and saved Israel, the Land of Canaan; to the resurrected and raptured Church, the whole Earth. In Hebrew, the same word is used for land and for Earth — eretz. In God’s wisdom, the land of Israel is a type of the whole in the battle between Satan and Jesus; and the people of Israel as a whole, and God’s dealings with them, is a type for all humanity, since Israel is given as an example to the Church, which includes people from all ethnicities and nations.
God began His ‘program of redemption’ on Earth through choosing Abram and cutting His covenant with him. As Paul writes, God chose Abraham while he was uncircumcised, so that the promise of the gospel and salvation would go to Gentiles as well as to Jews (who didn’t even exist then!) The covenant and promises and hope for believers in Yeshua are better than those given to Israel. (Heb 7:18-28; 8:6) There are presently in the world three types of people: Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God. All of the tribes of Israel (even if presently unable to trace) are incorporated into the term ‘Jews’ for now; all the other people groups are incorporated into the generic term ‘gentiles’; the Church of God is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
I agree with you that the present election of grace among the Jewish people is representative of the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14-16) But Paul is making it clear here, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this blessing of peace and mercy for all believers is particularly for those who walk by this rule: in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. It is a grievous thing not only to you, John, but also to God, when believers make too much of their natural heritage over and against the high calling in Messiah Yeshua of the new creation, one new man in Christ from the two (Jewish and Gentile).
The Millennial Kingdom will see the full-fillment of the Israel of God, when the “all Israel” that will see Yeshua whom they have pierced will enter the Kingdom to serve the YHVH their God in righteousness and truth, full of thanksgiving and praise. (Zech 12:10-14; Is 25:9) But I, part of a small remnant at present as a pledge for my people until that day, hope and believe in the grace of God to have part in that first resurrection as part of the Bride of the Lamb, a more wonderful and better adoption and redemption (Rom 8:18-25) than to simply have part as the Israel of God in the flesh for 1000 years. Standing on God’s promises for my people and their inheritance, we gave our second son the middle name of Shimon (Simeon) as a testimony to the faithfulness of God’s Word to give this son and tribe of Jacob/Israel his inheritance — which includes Beer Sheva — in the world to come at the coming of the Lord in great power and glory. Yet our son has a better inheritance through his faith in Yeshua than the tribe of Shimon does, at least for the next 1000 years.
Just as the Levitical priests had no possession or inheritance of the Land of Israel, but a better inheritance — Yehovah Himself, to whom was all the land — so, too, born-again priests of God in Messiah have no specific earthly inheritance, but rather the whole Kingdom of God, as Abraham believed (Mt 8:11):
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And, truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they were called out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly land. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a place for them.” (Heb 11:8-10,13-16)
May we see it in our day! This has also been lengthy, John, and I also hope helpful as we continue together to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
In Messiah with you,
On April 11, 2013 01:00, Jonathan wrote:
I’ve got to say from the forefront of this conversation that this is fun! I love to dialogue with men about the Word of God, and getting the privilege to discuss the Scripture with someone who obviously knows the Book well is such a delight. Thank you.
I’d also like to say that your letter did nothing to stir up feelings of inferiority. I love the spirit of your letters. I can sense your humility and genuine care, and that truly puts me at ease. Thank you again for offering an apology, though unnecessary.
If you’ll allow me, I’ll work through some things that struck me while I was reading your response. You mentioned in your letter:
With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after…
I absolutely agree with this! However, I see these other ‘nations’ entering into their sonship more directly at the outset of the Millennium. When Yeshua returns and judges the sheep and goat nations (Mt. 25), these nations, including Assyria and Egypt mentioned in Isaiah 19, will become the ‘other’ sons of Adonai. Though for now, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and all those who dwell in it” (Ps 24), the Jewish people are certainly singled out as having a special relationship with Adonai. They are His segulah (Ex. 19) and the only nation with which He has known (in a covenant sense), according to Amos 3.
You mentioned also that:
Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all…
I also agree that the Jewish believers are the most accountable of all. According to Romans 3:1-2, Jews have the advantage because of their Torah training; but that Torah training also holds them to a greater level of accountability (vs. 9).
“Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all.”(Rom 3:1-2, 9)
The background training in Torah would be advantageous to the Jewish man in his New Covenant walk because He wouldn’t have to learn the Torah from scratch, as the Gentile man would have to do; however, his Torah knowledge also held him to a higher level of accountability, so his advantage was lessened to that extent.
When Gentiles enter the faith, Acts 15 spells out some requirements to be maintained. These would help preserve table fellowship between the much-closer-quartered Jewish/Gentile believers of the 1st century. James gave his rationale for this judgment —
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)
The implication is that Gentiles, having accepted the initial requirements, would continue to learn the Torah in their local synagogues. As they did, their discipleship would mature and they’ll naturally take on more of the Torah. [The idea that Gentiles are simply to keep these 4 requirements is preposterous! There are much better requirements than these 4 to be kept if that was the intent of the chapter.] The Jewish believers, however, were already trained in Torah observance. There was no reason why they shouldn’t continue in their Torah walk in Messiah. This is their advantage.
[I’m getting ready to enter a bunny trail here.]
This also happens to be why my heart is to support my Jewish brothers. It’s your responsibility to teach the Torah to the nations. Yeshua didn’t just say to preach the gospel [the message of the remission of sins] to the nations; He also said to “make disciples, teaching ‘them’ [the nations] to observe all things I have taught ‘you’ [Jewish apostles].” He taught the Twelve how to walk out the Torah life in the original intent of the Torah. This is the message that was to be taken to the nations.
Our Gentile brothers have been indoctrinated in 1900 years of anti-nomian theology. They’ve been taught that he Torah is passed away instead of being taught that the Old Covenant is what’s passed away. Without proper teaching, they fail to distinguish the line between the Torah and a covenant (agreement/oath). They’re not taught that the New Covenant is a new agreement/new oath concerning the same immutable Torah! So since they’ve falsely learned doctrine in this area, they don’t understand passages about the New Covenant that teaches the Torah will be written upon our hearts. So they assign new definitions to the ‘Torah’, or they say well our heart is supposed to guide us now [according to Deuteronomy we are “NOT to follow after our heart, after which we stray”].
Gentiles need to understand that the Torah is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12), and that Torah observance is not a means of salvation, for either Jew or Gentile; but is rather a proper response to our free gift of salvation.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness [Torahlessness] and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works [commandments]. (Titus 2:11-14)
The New Covenant has put the love of Torah within the Gentile heart just as it was in the 1st century Gentile hearts [which love made the erroneous doctrine of the Circumcision Group all the more easy to spread], but the accessibility to understand the Torah is not available to the Gentiles today as it was then. Sure, it’s in all our Bibles, but is that available when our churches teach that everything left of Matthew is invalid for us? Your Gentile brothers need to hear that our Father’s Torah isn’t tyrannical and austere, but rather, it’s the loving instruction of a Father to His children. Who’s responsible to teach this to the Gentile believer? Well I certainly make every effort to make disciples that understand this, but it’s my belief that the lion’s share [pardon the pun] of the responsibility belongs to the native-born sons of Abraham!
I personally believe that in these last days before our Master’s return, the knowledge of Torah will increase exponentially among the whole Body of Messiah. And this knowledge should be exported from the Land to the nations.
[End of Bunny Trail]
I do appreciate your ‘equal-mindedness’ and it puts me at ease to know so. I still (at this point) see the Israel of God equivalent to the Church and the Commonwealth of Israel, but I don’t see how that makes Jewish believers superior in calling, as you mentioned some of your peers there do. I see Gentiles as having been made co-heirs with our Jewish brothers. [Incidentally, this idea caused Paul a lot of trouble with His Jewish peers too.] This is the mystery of the gospel—that the Gentiles are equal heirs with Israel through the gospel.
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:4-6)
Where we both see that as being equal within the Church, I see the Church as being equivalent with the Commonwealth of Israel. Ephesians 2, verses 12 and 19, just a few verses before and in the same passage as Ephesians 3 here, says:
“…remember that you were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”
Equality within the Church and equality within the Commonwealth of Israel are both spoken about in this passage. I believe we both actually agree on this. We differ on the whether ‘Israel’ is the same thing as the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ and ‘the Church’.
As far as your eschatology goes, I’m in complete agreement with you. I’d like to add (just for fun) that at Yeshua’s return, the Kingdom of God is restored and the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and His Messiah (Rev. 11:15). This is when a highway from Egypt and Assyria is made and they enter into relationship ‘nationally’ with the God of Israel (Isa. 19).
For clarity, we both see 3 groups of people. And practically speaking, there seems to be very little difference in how things play out between these groups. I think this comparison shows where we both stand:
1) The Church (consisting of Jews and Gentiles) Believing Israel (both Jews and Gentiles)
2) National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point) National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)
3) Nations Nations
I actually think we mostly agree here. We have no disagreement on group #3—the Nations.
We probably agree on group #2. I think we both see them as ‘national Israel’, the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham. This group on a national level has yet to come to faith, but they have a promise that they will come to faith on a national scale (Romans 11:25-26).
Group #1—again, practically speaking, we both agree here! Believing Israelis and the believing Gentiles make up this group. It seems that where we differ is in my placing the title “Israel of God” on this group.
I believe that you see this group as a separate entity that will remain as a separate entity throughout the 1000 years. I see this group as the ‘true Israel of God’—the faithful remnant among Israel.
Israel has always had a remnant within the national people. Take Paul’s mention of Elijah in Romans 11 for example. Elijah was lamenting that all of Israel had turned their backs on God, leaving him the only faithful one. But God revealed to Elijah that He had 7000 men of Israel who were faithful. Paul used that example to show that within national Israel there was a faithful remnant, chosen by grace (Rom 11:4-5). He said that national Israel failed to obtain righteousness (vs. 7); but the elect (the faithful remnant within ‘national Israel’) did obtain it.
Paul seems to be saying here that there is a national Israel, and within that people, there is a believing remnant called the elect. Paul speaks more directly about this in chapter 9 of Romans:
“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named’. This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the Promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom. 9:6-8)
Not all physical descendants from Jacob (Israel) are Israel. This means that Paul recognized an Israel that the physical descendants were not a part of. This Israel is the ‘Israel of God’ because it’s made up of the believing remnant that are considered the children of God. I believe this validates my referral of Group #1 as “Israel”. There is an “Israel” within national Israel that is considered the children of the Promise. Paul uses this analogy of Ishmael/Isaac in Galatians to further demonstrate this relationship between the two.
Ishmael and Isaac were both descendants of Abraham; but Isaac was the seed of promise. Within the natural children of Abraham, a smaller group was considered the chosen ones, the elect. Hence Romans 9:8—“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of Promise are counted as offspring.” In other words, the promises made to Israel in the TNK are not going to fall upon national Israel (the children of the flesh) until national Israel believes in Yeshua, and becomes the children of the promise!
This is what I believe is prophesied in Romans 11. When the fullness of the Gentiles come in, God will remove the partial blindness upon national Israel and they will come to faith in Messiah en masse! When that happens, there will no longer be a group #1 and #2—they will be one and the same! I believe the time of Jacob’s Trouble will prune those among national Israel that do not believe (Zech 13:8-9). I believe that entering into the Millennium, all the survivors among national Israel will be believers. This will be a far greater number than the messianic community in Israel today, because the partial blindness will have been removed! Israel, nationally, will see Yeshua, the One “Whom they pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech 12:10). All of remaining national Israel will be saved!
Since “all of Israel” will be saved, there’s no way to have the Body of Messiah (group #1) as separate from national Israel (group #2) entering the Millennium. There will only be Israel (including those gentiles from among the nations that are of faith) ruling over the nations (who do not have glorified bodies).
I agree also that the New Covenant is better than the old. The Sinaic Covenant was a 2-sided (bi-lateral) agreement, as seen in Exodus 24. Both parties were responsible for the upkeep of the covenant, not like Abraham and David’s covenants, where both of them would be helpless to see the fruition of their covenants. Abraham and David both experienced unilateral (1 sided) covenants that the God of Israel granted them. That’s why they’re referred to as Covenants of Promise. They were God-initiated, and God-guaranteed. The Sinaic Covenant has been broken and the curse of the Torah remains for all those still under it. National Israel (those not ‘in Messiah’) is under the Sinaic Covenant, and this covenant is a two-sided covenant. I personally believe the reasons that Israel (nationally) continues to experience the violence of their enemies is because the curse of the Torah is still intact for those not in Messiah. They simply cannot find rest from their enemies until they come to faith in Messiah. When they do come to faith in Messiah, at His return, they will immediately experience rest in the Land as God envisioned.
The New Covenant is a better covenant because it’s a unilateral (1 sided) covenant! We can’t mess this one up! God initiated it, cut the covenant Himself (through the hands of men), and promised to put His Spirit in us which would “cause us to keep His statutes and His judgments” (Ez. 36:27).
The writer of Hebrews is comparing the 2 covenants. Both are valid, but Sinai’s Covenant bears children to slavery (Gal 4:24), whereas the New Covenant bears free children. Not freedom from Torah—God forbid! [Haha!-had to get a little Pauline there] Rather, the New Covenant bears children free from sin! In the New Covenant, our fallen natures have been dealt with, and our former disposition to break God’s Torah has been replaced with a desire to keep His statutes and judgments. His Torah is upon our hearts! This inner regeneration wasn’t promised at Mt. Sinai, but it is in the New Covenant. This is why the New Covenant is better. But the New Covenant, this ‘better covenant’, is promised to the House of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34). And according to my understanding (at this point), this covenant will fall corporately upon national Israel at the beginning of the Millennium. All Israel will experience the New Covenant, and “they will all know Me (God) from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer 31:34).
This New Covenant is what’s prophesied in Hosea 2:14-23. Israel will sing in the wilderness again like she did when she came out of Egypt. She’ll call God—“My Husband”, and God will end war throughout the earth. God will marry Israel then.
So which Israel is He talking about? The Church (The Bride of Messiah) or national Israel? Both!! They’ll be one and the same at that time. All Israel will have come to faith at the return of Messiah and the New Covenant will find its ultimate expression then. God has only one Bride—Israel, His Bride, that He betrothed in the Wilderness of Sinai and will consummate at His return to the Earth.
Having said all this, I will see Israel, according to the flesh, as chosen and set apart. That’s because they’re destined to believe when the partial blindness is removed. And I don’t call myself a Jew (as some believing gentiles are known to do). I’m a gentile, and I’m actually proud of that. My Father chose me from among Gentiles to be grafted in with His People. Like Ruth and Uriah, I’m still a gentile, but I’ve been joined to the believing remnant of Israel, the Elect. I’m a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, the true Israel of God, because they (you) are the Israelis of Promise. And when the harvest of Gentiles is complete, I look forward to the rest of Israel coming to faith. In that Millennial Kingdom, I’ll partake of the same promises that you will—both spiritual and physical blessings.
Well Howard, my hands are tired. Haha! I’m gonna end this response here. Look forward to hearing from you!
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2013 17:33 PM
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel
John, we are both in agreement that the nations enter into their ‘sonship’ at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom, with Israel as the first-born and the sheep nations as other ‘brother’ (‘sister’ (?)) nations of God, the Father, with Yeshua as Lord of all and the Brother of all who do His Father’s will. The revelation of the sons of God will also not be until the First Resurrection, when all who have ever died, and those who are still alive, in Messiah will be changed in a twinkling of an eye. I also believe that this is inclusive of all who have believed the promises of YHVH God regarding the Promised Seed, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden; for surely those who are included in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” will not fall short of the blessed hope of those who were born later, so that together we may be made perfect. (Heb 11:40)
I think we also agree that each of our basic assumptions are determining the outcomes of our interpretation. While we both agree that the believers within Israel presently constitute the Israel of God, you say that all believers anywhere and everywhere constitute the Israel of God, and say that this is the Commonwealth of Israel and is the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church is found within every nation, but is not of any nation.
I would also say that the believers presently within the other nations constitute those who have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel. The believers within Israel and within the other nations are a pledge of God’s full intention at the coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His kingdom on Earth. All the nations during the 1000 years will be fully brought into the beneficent welfare of the Commonwealth of Israel under the Kingship of Yeshua, with “all Israel” that was saved, and brought into His kingdom and New Covenant, becoming the head nation as the firstborn in willful and glad submission to his Father God, and a blessing to the rest of his ‘brethren’. This Israel of God will be born in a day, which the modern State of Israel pre-figured in its re-establishment. The Israel of God, with Gentiles included within her borders and full partakers of the inheritance, remains distinct from each of the other Gentile sheep nations brought into the Kingdom at the outset of the Millennial. The Body of Messiah — the Bride of Christ — the Queen — will rule with her Husband, the Lord and King Yeshua over Israel and the nations: it is a distinct group from out of Israel and every other nation.
Our basic assumptions will also affect how we interpret and apply other Scriptures. This is seen in how we each understand the place of Torah (the Law of Moses in our discussion) and the Old Covenant. You have written that the Torah is a guide for the believers in Jesus, and that the Old Covenant has passed away. In the letter to the Hebrews (referring specifically to Jewish believers, but also for all who would be pilgrims and sojourners passing through this world), the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to say, “In that He says, ‘a new covenant’, He has made the first obsolescent (passing away). Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13) Most English translations say ‘obsolete’ instead of ‘obsolescent’, giving the impression that it is already passed away, rather than passing way, as the next sentence clearly states is the case. As for the Torah — the Law — Paul is inspired to write: “But when I saw that [Peter and Barnabas] were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews (for he had been eating whatever food was put before him with the Gentile believers), why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” We, Jews by nature and not sinners like the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we [Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners (because we do not and can not keep the Torah of Moses as written or interpreted), is Messiah therefore a minister of sin? God forbid! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Messiah died in vain.” (Gal 2:14-21)
“For the law of the Spirit of Life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
While there is most certainly an increasing lawlessness in the world and in the Church, the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit in the love and fear of God, will have the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us. (Rom 8:4)
Grace reigns through righteousness, and those who truly appreciate what the Lord Yeshua did for us on the cross will not take such a great salvation for granted and make faith or grace cheap. The four things which the Apostles agreed upon that was good to the Holy Spirit regarding the new influx of Gentile believers was a good starting point for their new life in Christ. We all begin as immature babes needing instruction, being brought to spiritual maturity as we are transformed/converted into the image of the Son of God over the course of the rest of our life and sojourn.
When we look at the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, which I believe describe the Millennial Kingdom to come, we can already notice modifications in some of the ordinances when compared with the Law given through Moses. When Yeshua began to speak out His teachings on the Mount of Olives, He did so in fulfillment of Dt 18:15-19, speaking with authority: “you have heard, but I say. . . ” He was not taking us back to the Law of Moses, but was taking us onward to maturity by teaching the Law of the Kingdom of God. The Law was until John (the Baptiser), but now is the Kingdom of God preached. All of the Ten Commandments are still in effect for believers, except for the Sabbath: for Yeshua is God’s rest, and has become ours — not just one day in a week, but each and every day. There is still the necessity of meeting together with other believers, but, depending on circumstances, it may not necessarily be on a Saturday, or even a Sunday. But knowing the Lord, and ceasing from our own works, is to live the crucified life in the power of the resurrection. Under the Law, even during the coming Kingdom, the people will be ruled with a rod of iron! This is not so for those whose hearts are being purified through faith! Knowing the Law, which is given for sinners and also for tutoring, should make us more sober in how we live in the liberty to which we have been called and freed. Those brought up under the teachings of the New Testament have much to teach and show by example to those who know only ‘self-righteousness’. But unless those taught under the N.T. are themselves born-again, and realize that not only has Christ died for them, but that they have died with Him, then they, too, will be no different than the Jewish people seeking their own righteousness, not knowing the righteousness of God. The Law is not God’s righteousness; Jesus is God’s righteousness: only He is perfect, and did not need to come under the Law, but did so in order to save us from it, with its curse and condemnation. Praise the Name of the Lord!
The priesthood has changed, therefore necessarily the Law has changed. Food regulations have been changed: Yeshua makes all foods clean. Clean meats were already clean, so it is unclean meat that he has cleansed and purified to break down a huge wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles who have together been brought into the priesthood of the New Covenant, sitting together as brothers and sisters at whatever table, and for the gospel’s sake and truth, giving thanks and glory to God. If He can make me clean, he can make the meat of an unclean animal — that goes in and out of my body when eaten — clean. I am free to eat; I am free not to eat; but if necessary, for love’s sake, I die to myself that I might live unto God for His name’s sake. There are new and different regulations regarding how husbands are to relate to their wives; there is a new commandment to love one another as Yeshua loves us. (This is a higher standard than loving our neighbor as ourselves, which we don’t live up to very well.) We are told to forgive our enemies, which is not ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘just’.
Believing on the name of the Son of God has brought us into a high calling, which the Law can never attain to. We are not to combine Yeshua with the Law, but are to live by the power of the Holy Spirit a higher, deeper, wider, longer life than Law can inspire. The love of God in sending His Son to die for us on a cross is our stimulus and motivation. I think, that by equating the Church with the Israel of God (and Israel’s Commonwealth), the tendency, then, would be to come under Israel’s Law, whether as given by Moses, or as we see described by YHVH through Ezekiel. But just as the Levites were under a different regime than the rest of their brethren in the other tribes, so are born-again believers in Yeshua a priesthood under a different regime than either Israel or some “Christianized/gospelized” nation. After Pentecost/Shavuot, we read that all the new believers (all Jewish) “were baptized . . ., and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done . . . .” (Acts 2:41-43) As usual, discussing things of the Kingdom of God and which concern the Lord Jesus Christ leads on and on and on and on . . . . There will always forever be more of Him to find out!
11 October 2013
A few more ‘bullets’ that come to mind:
–Israel is normally referred to as YHVH God’s people, and never called the Body of Messiah/Christ; the Church is not normally referred to as the People of God/YHVH, but is called the Body of Christ/Messiah.
–Yeshua/Jesus is never called the King of the Church, but Head of the Body of Messiah/Christ; He is the King of Israel and of the Jews.
–Every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled, much of which concerns Israel as a specific nation with identity and covenant obligations based on God’s promises to their fathers and natural descendants. These ‘jots and tittles’ include the restoration of ‘all Israel’ – all of the tribes, Ephraim and Judah – into “one stick”, a restored family and nation under one God and King. (This is a type for the corporate one new man in Messiah, but not the fullness of the new creation reality.) It will not be what we know today as ‘Jewish’ in a parochial sense, but ‘Israeli’, a whole redeemed nation holy unto the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel, as well as some “strangers” (Gentiles) who also live among the restored tribes with a full and equal inheritance. (Ezek 47:21-23)
The [English] verses in Hos 1:8-10 refer to the whole House of Israel; the application in Rom 9:23-26 is being applied to Gentiles. In Is 19:23-25, the LORD is calling the Gentile nation, Egypt, His people. There is not just ‘one people of God’! While it is true that some believers today may be ‘Israelis and not know it’, this only represents God’s intention to restore a united family and Kingdom, but does not mean that all saved people not identifiable as Jews are “Ephraimites”: God is also saving Gentiles, who remain such, even though they are to have a circumcised heart, just as Jewish believers are to have. (Rom 2:28-29)
–The Law of God in born-again believers’ hearts and minds, and in saved Israel, (Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12) will be the Law of the Kingdom on the basis of knowing who the Lord is, and not a return to the Law of Moses. The last nine chapters of Ezekiel speak of the future Millennial Kingdom when Messiah has returned and is received and accepted as the God and the King of Israel, and there are modifications to what had been the Mosaic Law, and also some things which remain for Israel, not for the Church of the Firstborn, who will be ruling and reigning with Christ over Israel and the nations in glorified bodies. (Rev 20:4-6; Rom 8:23)
–Believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are called sons of Abraham, the father of those who believe. While Jewish believers are also sons of Jacob in the flesh, Gentile believers are not. The Church is never spoken of as children of Jacob/Israel, nor of belonging to a tribe of Israel, but as called out ones from the different nations. Only Israel, God’s chosen first-born son as a nation, is spoken of with reference to its tribes and their fathers. Therefore, the Church is not Israel, and Israel is not the Church. But both are in covenantal relationship with the God of Israel, who is YEHOVAH, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Isaac, the son of promise, that Abraham’s seed would called: Jacob must come into the resurrection faith of Abraham and of Isaac to receive the promises as sons (not grandsons). The true Church is in Messiah/Christ, Yeshua/Jesus being the ultimate Son of the Promise; and every believer must believe in his/her heart that He is risen from among the dead to inherit all things.
31 May 2016
There is something to be said about the New Jerusalem having gates with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel, and with the foundations of those gates being the names of the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles. (Rev 21:12-14) It could be understood that the eternal home of New Jerusalem is “Israel”, in the sense that all her citizens will be those who in this life have struggled with God and prevailed — by YHVH’s grace — and rule and reign with Him; and who have also finally submitted to the reality that God rules. (Gen 32:28; Ezek 20:33; Rev 3:11-13) But I am not certain now that just because at that “time” all Israel will be all Israel, that that means that there will still be a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. (2Cor 5:16-17; Gal 3:26-29; Mt 22:30) Just as now a real Jew is not one who is one only outwardly in the flesh, but inwardly in the heart and the spirit, so, too, will that inward reality describe all whose praise will come from God, whether they were Jewish or Gentile. (Rom 2:28-29)
This is similar, to me, of Israel being called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, even though the priesthood was given only to the Levites, and especially to the family of Aaron through Eleazar. (Ex 19:6; Lev 3; 8) So all believers in Jesus are called a holy and royal priesthood, although most are not only not of Aaron’s family, but are Gentiles. (1Pt 2:9-10) (In any case, believers are not Levitical priests, but priests of a different, higher, and everlasting order: in Messiah/Christ — according to the order of Melchizedek.)