As The LORD Spoke Through His Servants The Prophets

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 comeReveal 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 mannerTherefore 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.

THE TRINITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Updated on 11 Oct 2013; 31 May 2016)

Beginning with an unrelated e-mail from John D, and the link that  he wanted me to read, we began a serious and edifying exchange of ideas, and of our own present understanding regarding the names and concepts of Israel, the Israel of God, the Commonwealth of Israel, and the Church of God. (Rom 9:6; 11:25-28; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:12; 1Cor 10:32).   We agree on some issues, not on others.  The discussion hinges on whether these names refer to only one entity by various names, or whether to two or three, or even to four distinct yet related entities.   It connects with historic ‘theologies’ like replacement/fulfillment /divestment theology, expansion/enlargement theology, the two-house theory, and dominion theology as we seek together to understand that which is of the truth as we have more light.   

If any of you readers have anything of substantive value to contribute to helping us all better understand who we are and what God is doing to fulfill His will and purpose, please add your comments for the building up of the Body of Messiah in love.  The conclusion of the matter may just have to wait for a brighter day.

—- Original Message —-

From: Jonathan
To: Howard Bass
Sent: Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 19:45 PM
Subject: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013

I go by John, but I’ll answer to either one!  Let me see what I can do to help out this situation.  I do reiterate my request to you from yesterday.  If I can help with the work there in Beersheva, please let me know.  

It’s my belief that any group that comes in to help the work of God in an area, needs to first go through the established congregations in that area.  I consider it a shame when people push for “reaching an area for Messiah” and bypass the people in that area that are already doing so.  I pray that Abba will never allow me to become that presumptuous.  It’s my desire to help support your existing work for the Kingdom in the Land, and to reach your unbelieving countrymen living around you.  You know how best to do that.  I just want to help.  

But Adonai has also put something very specific on my heart for the Jewish people.  And I hope that it bears witness with you.  Would you be willing to read this link, and tell me your thoughts on the matter?  I’d appreciate your feedback.  

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

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

Hi John,

Praise God that you have an understanding of the ‘order of things’ to work with and through the local believers in an area.  In Israel there are very many Christians who come that do not understand, and either do not have any personal relationships among the believers here, or else they do some event which is strictly ‘foreign’ without local knowledge.  

I did read your letter regarding Israeli believers being a light to the nations.  I think your heart is definitely in the right place, and you will see some good response.  There are already many believers, including myself, who do get out to other countries, where believers or churches or Christian ministries have invited us to come to teach on some topic relevant to the significance of Israel to them as believers, and to their nations.  I don’t know how many are sitting under a tree, but we have certainly been in areas that are not posh or very developed.  

If I can say so, I would not say that Gentile believers are part of the Israel of God, for that would imply a merging of Israel with the Church.  At least for the next 1000 years (a pretty long time), there is a distinction between the two.  During the Millennial, Israel will be the Israel which God has created, redeemed, and called her to be in the fullest sense.  Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but this does not make them Jews or Israelis, just as the British Commonwealth incorporated many other nations under its care, but they  did not become English, even while they did enjoy many privileges of being in the Commonwealth.  The Body of Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, will be ruling and reigning with Messiah OVER Israel and the nations.  These are two different groupings of people.  The born-again believer is a new creation now, which Israel is not.  Anyway, it is still somewhat of a mystery that is discussed and debated, even here in Israel.  

God bless you,
Howard


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

Howard,  

Please pardon the lengthy response to your email.  I’ve responded to the gentile/Israel discussion.  I’d love to gain more of your insights on this, as your time allows.  

Thank you for your time Howard!  

I’ve spent some time considering your comments about Gentiles not being a part of the Israel of God.  Your thought on the Commonwealth of Israel was a new idea to me.  I had never considered it in an Empirical sense before.  My immediate reaction was to think that we simply had semantic differences, and with some defining boundaries, we’d recognize that fact.  However, after having considered your words and re-reading them over and over, I began to see what you were saying more clearly.  So permit me to lay out what I think you are saying.  

1)  Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.  

2)  Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but do not become Israelis or Jews.  

3)  The Body of Messiah (the Bride of the Lamb) is a separate entity from Israel and from the nations.  

4) Israel is defined as the natural descendents of Abraham (most of which have not come to faith in Yeshua as Messiah).  

I believe most of what I’ve distilled should be accurate, especially since most of them were quoted directly from your paragraph.  

Allow me to respond.  I’d like to say first that I, in no wise, am a believer of replacement theology.  The idea that the ‘gentile church’ (which I don’t believe exists anyway) somehow takes the promises of Israel is ridiculous to me.

I also don’t believe, as many in the messianic movements do, that gentiles become ‘Jewish’ when they enter the fold.  I believe that Gentiles remain gentiles, and they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God with open arms.  I don’t believe that God views the term ‘gentile’ with vulgarity, as some in our messianic ranks apparently do.  

However, I have to disagree with the idea that Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.  I believe they are one and the same.  I’ll explain why I believe that shortly.  I would like to point out, however, that I recognize in Paul a tendency to acknowledge ‘2’ Israels—“Israel, according to the flesh” (1 Cor. 10:18) and the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).  I believe that Paul considered the believing remnant among Israel in his day to be the ‘true Israel’ of God.  Peter, James, John, Simeon, himself of course, and “myriads and myriads” of other Jewish believers were considered to be not only a part of the Body of Messiah, but also the Israel to whom the promises would come upon.  

Paul begins a discussion that informs our conversation in Romans 9-11.  In chapter 9, He says: 

“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:  Who are Israelis; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Torah, and the service of God, and the promises; to whom belong the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed forever.  Amen.  Not as though the word of God has taken no effect.  For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:  but, in Isaac shall your seed be called.  That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:  but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom. 9:3-8)

In this passage, Paul is making a clean division between two Israels.  He acknowledges “Israel, according to the flesh”, and even wishes that he could be accursed for their salvation; but he also recognizes another Israel, an Israel that the natural Israeli isn’t a part of.  We both know Paul’s arguments well enough.  Paul is using Abraham’s life as a metaphor.  Abraham was given a promise for children.  Abraham fathered Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the promised seed that Adonai had prophesied.  Isaac, also a physical son of Abraham as Ishmael was, happened to also be the promised seed.  Paul’s argument is the believing remnant of Israelis in his day were the promised seed of Abraham.  And this promised seed was considered Israel, hence “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”.  

Paul goes on to argue in Romans 9 that God’s election is based upon His sovereignty.  In other words, God will have mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy.  He uses the classic example of Jacob/Esau.  God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they had done anything good or evil, or had even been born.  In His sovereignty, God simply declared that the “elder shall serve the younger”.  The point is implicit here and more explicit in Galatians, but the point is:  Israel according to the flesh is the older, the believing remnant of Israel is the younger.  The believing remnant is the Israel of the promise, whereas the non-believing Israel is not.

But Paul doesn’t end this discussion there.  He uses another classic example, Pharaoh, to show that God’s choice is His alone (not ours).  God chose to show mercy upon a remnant in Israel, for His own purposes.  For those that had an issue with this, Paul’s goes ahead and asks their rhetorical questions:  How can God find fault with those that resist His will?  In other words, how can God judge unbelieving Israel, since Paul just argued that they had been ‘hardened’ by God.  But Paul answered the question by saying that it’s God’s sovereign right to chose to do with His lump of clay what He wants.  God will endure the hardened hearts of the unbelieving Israel in order to extend His kindness upon the believing remnant among Israel!  But then Paul includes the gentiles in this believing remnant!

“What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory; even us, who He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom. 9:22-24)  

Consider the flow of Paul’s argument.  He’s been arguing the whole chapter that “not all Israel is Israel”.  There are some that are the seed of promise, and others that are not.  God’s mercy determines this, not man’s will or ability to run (vs. 16).  Paul was saying that the believing remnant among Israel are the vessels of mercy.  They have experienced God’s abundant grace in Messiah.  They are the Israel of promise.  But this Israel doesn’t only include the believing remnant of the descendants of Abraham, but also any gentiles that have taken hold and put their faith in Messiah!  So this ‘believing Israel’ consists not only of Jews (Israelis), but also of Gentiles.  

But as I said before, Paul does not consider the believing remnant to “replace” the non-believing Israelis, but rather acknowledges both groups as Israel—one of the flesh, and the other of the Spirit.  After making his argument in chapter 9, Paul immediately jumps back to his heart for Israel, according to the flesh, in chapter 10.  

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” (Rom 10:1)  

Paul goes on in chapter 10 to speak about the necessity of faith to produce the righteousness of God, and the fact that Israel, according to the flesh, is lacking this faith.  Paul argues that Israel needs to hear the message of the gospel, so that they can understand the Torah’s message of faith that’s been in there all along.  Paul ends the chapter by quoting from the TNK to answer key questions.  

Have they not heard?  Of course they have, the gospel is going throughout the whole earth.
But didn’t Israel know?  Moses said that the Gentiles (who are coming to faith) will provoke Israel.  

Isaiah was very clear by saying, “I was found by them that didn’t seek me (gentiles), but I have stretched out my hands all day long to a disobedient people” (Israel according to the flesh).  

Hence, the chapter that speaks of the crux of the matter—chapter 11.  

“I ask then, Has God cast off His people?—God forbid!  I am also an Israeli, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not cast away His people which He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)

Paul then uses Elijah to argue that there was a believing remnant in his day.  Paul likens Elijah’s situation to his own day.  

“Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (vs. 5)

Paul then argues that [natural] Israel has not obtained what it sought [righteousness], but the believing remnant among Israel did!  

“What then?  Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (vs. 7)  

It’s here that we surely agree.  The election is the Body the Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, and Israel is seen as a separate entity.  I agree with this emphatically.  However, I also maintain that Paul see this “election” as Israel also.  In fact, Paul’s next metaphor is quite telling.  

In the Olive Tree metaphor, it is not the believing branches that are removed from Israel and made into a new creation—aka, the Body of Messiah.  Rather, it is the unbelieving branches that are removed from the Olive Tree, which is faithful Israel.  

Replacement theology says that the old olive tree is simply thrown out and replaced with a wild one!  Ridiculous!  

Dispensationalism says that God took some branches from Israel’s olive tree and some branches from the wild gentile olive tree, and grafted them both into a new, 3rd olive tree.  But that’s not what Paul says.  

Paul says that the believing Israelis stayed nice and cozy in their own tree.  They were never moved!  They have shown that they truly are the sons of Abraham!  The Fathers were holy, through their faith in Adonai, and their ‘true descendants’ [believing Israelis] are also holy!  This is why I believe that the faithful believing remnant among the Israelis are considered the “Israel of God”.  They’re still in the cultivated Olive Tree.

But they’re not alone.  God, in His sovereign mercy, has also grafted believing gentiles into this Olive Tree.  So the gentiles who were “aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers of the Covenants of Promise” (Eph 2:12), are now “fellow citizens with the saints [holy ones, believing Israelis], and of the household of God” (vs. 19).  Gentiles have now become a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, but not as a 2nd class citizen in that Commonwealth, like the Indians were to Britain, or the Israelis were to Rome.  No, gentiles have been grafted in, and have become “fellow citizens with the saints”.  Gentiles have citizenship that is equal to the saints’ citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel.  This Greek term for fellow citizen is sympolitai—“co-citizenship”.  This is exactly the picture Paul is describing in Romans 11.  The gentile branches are grafted in with the believing Israeli branches, and they have become partakers together of the Covenants of the Promise.  

Paul goes on in Romans 11 to address the status of the removed branches.  Paul tells the gentiles that Israel (natural unbelieving Israelis, according to context) has been partially blinded, until the fullness of the gentiles come in.  But this blindness will not last forever!  God has promised that the Deliverer would come out of Zion and turn ungodliness away from Jacob.  So all of Israel’s ungodliness has to be removed at some point, Paul is arguing.  

Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for the sake of the believing remnant/believing gentiles.  Why?  Because they were persecuting the people of God (Gal 4:29).  But concerning God’s election, they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob].  “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29).  Israel’s calling is to be a special people to Adonai, and a light to the nations!  These are gifts given to Israel by God, and He will not remove them from Israel because of this partial blindness.  These promises still stand!  

Paul argues that unbelieving Israel will be grafted in again to their own Olive Tree, and all Israel will be saved!  

So Howard, to me this seems to support the idea that there are two Israels acknowledged in the Apostolic Writings.  One is the true Israel, which is the Body of Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb.  The other is Israel according to the flesh, that has been removed from the Israeli Olive Tree, but is set aside carefully ready to be grafted in again as soon as faith comes!  

The reason I think this is important, is because the promises given throughout the prophets will not come upon unbelieving Israel.  God’s restoration that’s prophesied throughout Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. will come to Israel when they acknowledge that Yeshua is Messiah that has made atonement for them.  When this occurs, they’ll be grafted back into the Israeli Olive Tree, and the blessing promised to “Israel” will at that time come upon them.  

This is the amazing grace that has been granted to gentiles.  Gentiles, who have never had these promises from the God of Israel, are granted access to the very fulfillment of these promises, not as a replacement of Israel, but as a fellow heir with the believing remnant of Israel!  

This is what makes Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 so pivotal.  Paul argues that “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal 3:16).  What promises?  The promise of the possession of the Land, the promise of a Redeemer, the promise of a New Covenant and true righteousness by the Spirit’s work!  These promises were all made to Abraham’s seed.  The New Covenant [the fulfillment of the promises] is made with Abraham’s seed.  But Paul argues that the seed of Abraham was speaking of Messiah.  So anyone among Israel that believed in Messiah, they were the true sons of Abraham.  

“And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the Promise” (Gal 3:29).

So are gentiles “heirs according to the Promise”?  I think emphatically, yes.  Then we have to acknowledge that Paul considered Gentiles to be included in Abraham’s seed because of their faith in Messiah.  Once again, Gentiles don’t replace Israelis as Abraham’s seed, they simply are grafted in among them, and will partake of the fulfillment of the promises just as the natural descendants do.

I feel this is so important for us to contend for.  If Gentiles are considered only in Israel like the Indians or the South Africans were a part of Britain, then the gentiles will be seen, and see themselves as 2nd class citizens behind Israel.  But this would bring dishonor to Adonai, who always envisioned bringing the nations in through Abraham’s seed.  

I’m so saddened when Gentiles use replacement theology to teach that the “Church” [gentile people of God, as they see it] has replaced the promises to Israel.  But I’m equally saddened when I see my Israeli brothers and sisters keep gentiles at arm’s length.  It seems sometimes that maintaining identity as Israel is more important than fully embracing their brothers from among the nations that love them with deep passion.  

I’m a congregational leader here at Beit Hallel in Tucson.  Another congregational leader is Avi.  Avi is Jewish; I’m gentile.  We both love Adonai deeply.  We both love each other deeply.  We are the best of friends.  Avi has promises from Adonai by birthright, as a part of Israel.  I have inherited the same promises by grace, because of faith.  Though we both fully acknowledge our respective pasts, we both see each other as part of the Israel of God.  

Am I missing something here?  Maybe a nuance of the dialogue that I don’t quite grasp?

From: Howard
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:42 AM
To: Jonathan
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel  

Hi John.  I appreciate very much your lengthy response, and it is the clearest explanation that I have heard.  You have done an excellent work to explain how you understand it, and also how your conclusion would have you feel second class, and I am really sorry if my response before gave you reason to think that .  Your full answer will help me better understand how I need to discuss this subject with others.

So, before I try to explain my view more fully, I want to say at the outset that born-again Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah are totally and completely equal, without any difference whatsoever before God and within the Body of Christ.  That there are still differences that God may make use of now, or that we may have different nuances of understanding which should complement one another to see more fully the glorious truth of who our God and Savior are, does not in any way take away from the gospel truth that believers are one in Him without priority of one over the other:  we are all first-born with Yeshua in God.  Amazing, and true!

In our own congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, we have both Jewish and non-Jewish elders, deacons, teachers.  While we may at times speak of those who are Jewish, and of those who have joined themselves to identify with the people of Israel and with the God of Israel, not all Christians feel a particular affinity for the Jewish people or for the nation of Israel; but as believers, we are all one in Christ.  My Palestinian Arab brothers in Jesus who think that the ‘occupation’ began in 1948 are just as equal with me through our common salvation.  The Holy Spirit will deal with us all on important matters which God knows are hindering us from moving on with the Lord into the reality of the one new man from the two — Jewish people and Gentiles.

With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2)  Being the first-born implies others born after; for example, Egypt will also become YHVH’s people.  (Is 19:25)  And for Jewish people being the natural branches and those to whom were revealed the oracles of God, they will be judged more severely, and also enjoy a special acknowledgement. (Rom 2:5-11)  Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all, I believe, because we are the first-born and natural branch, and have a more natural affinity for the Biblical history and family; and having been shown such mercy to be forgiven and restored to even greater blessings, are more expected to be merciful and long-suffering toward our Gentile Christian brothers and sisters whom our Father has brought into His family. (Rom 9:3-5; 11:21; Acts 15:7-9; Col 1:26-27)

There is discussion and debate within the Body of Messiah in Israel as to whether there is some special calling upon Jewish believers as compared with the Gentile believers.  I am not comfortable with this differentiation.  If anything, as I have said, then Jewish believers are called to be more humble and forgiving towards others and more thankful to God!  Gentile believers could say the same thing, though, from the grace shown them by the God of Israel.

As I wrote in my first letter, this subject is on-going even here in Israel, and I am too often accused of being too ‘equal minded’, whereas I see too much of others making the Jewish believers superior in our particular calling and ministry over what the Lord has given to Gentile believers.  Ironically, it is because they do tend to see the Israel of God as being the same as the Church, and the Commonwealth of Israel in the same vein.  Some even see that in eternity, after the Millennial Kingdom, there will still be a distinction between Israel and the nations, which I do not, at least as of now, even with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles forever memorialized in the New Jerusalem. (Rev 21:12-14)  (On [this] website, I have written at various times on the subject from a number of aspects; sometimes this might be under Reflecting Pool, other times under Latest News even, or under School of Fish.)

Just to be open about some of my own views connected with eschatology, which I believe influences anyone’s interpretation of these important issues:

1.  Yeshua Himself is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, over the saved full remnant of the tribes of Israel and the [sheep] nations, for 1000 years;

2.  The Church/Body of Messiah/the Bride of the Lamb will go through the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, being either resurrected (if any one in Christ has already died) or else raptured (if still alive in Messiah at that time).  We are saved from God’s wrath, which I believe is limited to a relatively brief period of time, compared to the full seven-year period, prior to the coming again of the Lord;

3.  The Church is made up of both Jewish people and Gentiles, but is neither Jewish nor Gentile/Greek;

4.  The Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him over Israel and the nations for the 1000 years, already in glorified bodies, which Israel and the nations will not have during that time.

There are other points too, of course, but these should suffice to show what shapes my interpretation on these issues of the Israel of God and of the Commonwealth of Israel as I presently do.

You mention that the promises made to Abraham are to all his seed, including the promise of the Land.  The promise of the Land of Canaan to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the children of Israel is specifically to that family line.  There has always been room given by God for non-Israelis to partake of that promise, such as Ruth the Moabitess, and for all those mentioned in Ezekiel 47:21-23 during the Millennial Kingdom.  It has never been a pure blood issue, but covenantal to and through a particular genealogy and people.  Among David’s mighty men were Gentiles, such as Uriah the Hittite.  Ruth gives us a good example of one who came into the Commonwealth of Israel — under the welfare of the God of Israel — entitled to all the benefits and privileges with the people, but did not become Jewish:  she is always referred to as Ruth the Moabitess when referred to in the Tanach.

If all those today who are Abraham’s seed by faith, that is, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, thought themselves entitled to live in the modern State of Israel, it is clear that not only is there not room for that, but it would also take away the whole nature of the “homeland for the Jewish people”, since the vast multitude of Gentile Christians would be even more than all the Arabs who think that the Land belongs to them!  So the land promise is specifically given to the children of Israel, but the promise which does  involve ‘land’ (ארץ) which is applicable to all the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob by flesh and by faith is the whole ‘Earth’ (ארץ), which includes the Land of Canaan.  The Millennial Kingdom will see the fulfillment of that as the whole Earth comes under the rule of Yeshua, with the full remnant of the whole House of Israel restored in the land as an everlasting possession as one nation with one King, and all the sheep nations in their borders who are shown mercy because they showed mercy to the least of Yeshua’s brethren (Mt 25:31-40)

But for those born-again believers out from every tribe and tongue and and people and nation who have the blessed and holy part in the first resurrection (Rev 5;  20), by being made a kingdom of priests to God with Messiah, we inherit the whole Earth in fulfillment of the greater promise given to Abraham.  To redeemed and saved Israel, the Land of Canaan; to the resurrected and raptured Church, the whole Earth.  In Hebrew, the same word is used for land and for Earth — eretz.   In God’s wisdom, the land of Israel is a type of the whole in the battle between Satan and Jesus; and the people of Israel as a whole, and God’s dealings with them, is a type for all humanity, since Israel is given as an example to the Church, which includes people from all ethnicities and nations.

God began His ‘program of redemption’ on Earth through choosing Abram and cutting His covenant with him.  As Paul writes, God chose Abraham while he was uncircumcised, so that the promise of the gospel and salvation would go to Gentiles as well as to Jews (who didn’t even exist then!)  The covenant and promises and hope for believers in Yeshua are better than those given to Israel. (Heb 7:18-28; 8:6)  There are presently in the world three types of people:  Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God.  All of the tribes of Israel (even if presently unable to trace) are incorporated into the term ‘Jews’ for now; all the other people groups are incorporated into the generic term ‘gentiles’; the Church of God is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

I agree with you that the present election of grace among the Jewish people is representative of the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14-16)  But Paul is making it clear here, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this blessing of peace and mercy for all believers is particularly for those who walk by this rule: in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  It is a grievous thing not only to you, John, but also to God,  when believers make too much of their natural heritage over and against the high calling in Messiah Yeshua of the new creation, one new man in Christ from the two (Jewish and Gentile).

The Millennial Kingdom will see the full-fillment of the Israel of God, when the “all Israel” that will see Yeshua whom they have pierced will enter the Kingdom to serve the YHVH their God in righteousness and truth, full of thanksgiving and praise. (Zech 12:10-14; Is 25:9)  But I, part of a small remnant at present as a pledge for my people until that day, hope and believe in the grace of God to have part in that first resurrection as part of the Bride of the Lamb, a more wonderful and better adoption and redemption (Rom 8:18-25) than to simply have part as the Israel of God in the flesh for 1000 years.  Standing on God’s promises for my people and their inheritance, we gave our second son the middle name of Shimon (Simeon) as a testimony to the faithfulness of God’s Word to give this son and tribe of Jacob/Israel his inheritance — which includes Beer Sheva  — in the world to come at the coming of the Lord in great power and glory.  Yet our son has a better inheritance through his faith in Yeshua than the tribe of Shimon does, at least for the next 1000 years.

Just as the Levitical priests had no possession or inheritance of the Land of Israel, but a better inheritance — Yehovah Himself, to whom was all the land — so, too, born-again priests of God in Messiah have no specific earthly inheritance, but rather the whole Kingdom of God, as Abraham believed (Mt 8:11): 

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And, truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they were called out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly land.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a place for them.” (Heb 11:8-10,13-16)

May we see it in our day!  This has also been lengthy, John, and I also hope helpful as we continue together to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. 

In Messiah with you,
Howard

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

Howard,

I’ve got to say from the forefront of this conversation that this is fun!  I love to dialogue with men about the Word of God, and getting the privilege to discuss the Scripture with someone who obviously knows the Book well is such a delight.  Thank you.

I’d also like to say that your letter did nothing to stir up feelings of inferiority.  I love the spirit of your letters.  I can sense your humility and genuine care, and that truly puts me at ease.  Thank you again for offering an apology, though unnecessary.

If you’ll allow me, I’ll work through some things that struck me while I was reading your response.  You mentioned in your letter:   

With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after… 

I absolutely agree with this!  However, I see these other ‘nations’ entering into their sonship more directly at the outset of the Millennium.  When Yeshua returns and judges the sheep and goat nations (Mt. 25), these nations, including Assyria and Egypt mentioned in Isaiah 19, will become the ‘other’ sons of Adonai.  Though for now, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and all those who dwell in it” (Ps 24), the Jewish people are certainly singled out as having a special relationship with Adonai.  They are His segulah (Ex. 19) and the only nation with which He has known (in a covenant sense), according to Amos 3.  

You mentioned also that:  

Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all…  

I also agree that the Jewish believers are the most accountable of all.  According to Romans 3:1-2, Jews have the advantage because of their Torah training; but that Torah training also holds them to a greater level of accountability (vs. 9).

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all.”(Rom 3:1-2, 9)

The background training in Torah would be advantageous to the Jewish man in his New Covenant walk because He wouldn’t have to learn the Torah from scratch, as the Gentile man would have to do; however, his Torah knowledge also held him to a higher level of accountability, so his advantage was lessened to that extent.  

When Gentiles enter the faith, Acts 15 spells out some requirements to be maintained.  These would help preserve table fellowship between the much-closer-quartered Jewish/Gentile believers of the 1st century.  James gave his rationale for this judgment —  

“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.  For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)

The implication is that Gentiles, having accepted the initial requirements, would continue to learn the Torah in their local synagogues.  As they did, their discipleship would mature and they’ll naturally take on more of the Torah.  [The idea that Gentiles are simply to keep these 4 requirements is preposterous!  There are much better requirements than these 4 to be kept if that was the intent of the chapter.]  The Jewish believers, however, were already trained in Torah observance.  There was no reason why they shouldn’t continue in their Torah walk in Messiah.  This is their advantage.

[I’m getting ready to enter a bunny trail here.] 

This also happens to be why my heart is to support my Jewish brothers.  It’s your responsibility to teach the Torah to the nations.  Yeshua didn’t just say to preach the gospel [the message of the remission of sins] to the nations; He also said to “make disciples, teaching ‘them’ [the nations] to observe all things I have taught ‘you’ [Jewish apostles].”  He taught the Twelve how to walk out the Torah life in the original intent of the Torah.  This is the message that was to be taken to the nations.

Our Gentile brothers have been indoctrinated in 1900 years of anti-nomian theology.  They’ve been taught that he Torah is passed away instead of being taught that the Old Covenant is what’s passed away.  Without proper teaching, they fail to distinguish the line between the Torah and a covenant (agreement/oath).  They’re not taught that the New Covenant is a new agreement/new oath concerning the same immutable Torah!  So since they’ve falsely learned doctrine in this area, they don’t understand passages about the New Covenant that teaches the Torah will be written upon our hearts.  So they assign new definitions to the ‘Torah’, or they say well our heart is supposed to guide us now [according to Deuteronomy we are “NOT to follow after our heart, after which we stray”].  

Gentiles need to understand that the Torah is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12), and that Torah observance is not a means of salvation, for either Jew or Gentile; but is rather a proper response to our free gift of salvation.  

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness [Torahlessness] and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works [commandments]. (Titus 2:11-14)

The New Covenant has put the love of Torah within the Gentile heart just as it was in the 1st century Gentile hearts [which love made the erroneous doctrine of the Circumcision Group all the more easy to spread], but the accessibility to understand the Torah is not available to the Gentiles today as it was then.  Sure, it’s in all our Bibles, but is that available when our churches teach that everything left of Matthew is invalid for us?  Your Gentile brothers need to hear that our Father’s Torah isn’t tyrannical and austere, but rather, it’s the loving instruction of a Father to His children.  Who’s responsible to teach this to the Gentile believer?  Well I certainly make every effort to make disciples that understand this, but it’s my belief that the lion’s share [pardon the pun] of the responsibility belongs to the native-born sons of Abraham!  

I personally believe that in these last days before our Master’s return, the knowledge of Torah will increase exponentially among the whole Body of Messiah.  And this knowledge should be exported from the Land to the nations.

[End of Bunny Trail] 

I do appreciate your ‘equal-mindedness’ and it puts me at ease to know so.  I still (at this point) see the Israel of God equivalent to the Church and the Commonwealth of Israel, but I don’t see how that makes Jewish believers superior in calling, as you mentioned some of your peers there do.  I see Gentiles as having been made co-heirs with our Jewish brothers. [Incidentally, this idea caused Paul a lot of trouble with His Jewish peers too.]  This is the mystery of the gospel—that the Gentiles are equal heirs with Israel through the gospel.

“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:4-6)

Where we both see that as being equal within the Church, I see the Church as being equivalent with the Commonwealth of Israel.  Ephesians 2, verses 12 and 19, just a few verses before and in the same passage as Ephesians 3 here, says:

“…remember that you were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”

Equality within the Church and equality within the Commonwealth of Israel are both spoken about in this passage.  I believe we both actually agree on this.  We differ on the whether ‘Israel’ is the same thing as the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ and ‘the Church’. 

As far as your eschatology goes, I’m in complete agreement with you.  I’d like to add (just for fun) that at Yeshua’s return, the Kingdom of God is restored and the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and His Messiah (Rev. 11:15).  This is when a highway from Egypt and Assyria is made and they enter into relationship ‘nationally’ with the God of Israel (Isa. 19).

For clarity, we both see 3 groups of people.  And practically speaking, there seems to be very little difference in how things play out between these groups.  I think this comparison shows where we both stand:

Howard                                                                                   John                                        

1)  The Church (consisting of Jews and Gentiles)                   Believing Israel (both Jews and Gentiles)

2)  National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)              National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)

3)  Nations                                                                                Nations

I actually think we mostly agree here.  We have no disagreement on group #3—the Nations.

We probably agree on group #2.  I think we both see them as ‘national Israel’, the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham.  This group on a national level has yet to come to faith, but they have a promise that they will come to faith on a national scale (Romans 11:25-26).  

Group #1—again, practically speaking, we both agree here!  Believing Israelis and the believing Gentiles make up this group.  It seems that where we differ is in my placing the title “Israel of God” on this group.  

I believe that you see this group as a separate entity that will remain as a separate entity throughout the 1000 years.  I see this group as the ‘true Israel of God’—the faithful remnant among Israel.

Israel has always had a remnant within the national people.  Take Paul’s mention of Elijah in Romans 11 for example.  Elijah was lamenting that all of Israel had turned their backs on God, leaving him the only faithful one.  But God revealed to Elijah that He had 7000 men of Israel who were faithful.  Paul used that example to show that within national Israel there was a faithful remnant, chosen by grace (Rom 11:4-5).  He said that national Israel failed to obtain righteousness (vs. 7); but the elect (the faithful remnant within ‘national Israel’) did obtain it.  

Paul seems to be saying here that there is a national Israel, and within that people, there is a believing remnant called the elect.  Paul speaks more directly about this in chapter 9 of Romans: 

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named’.  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the Promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom. 9:6-8)

Not all physical descendants from Jacob (Israel) are Israel.  This means that Paul recognized an Israel that the physical descendants were not a part of.  This Israel is the ‘Israel of God’ because it’s made up of the believing remnant that are considered the children of God.  I believe this validates my referral of Group #1 as “Israel”.  There is an “Israel” within national Israel that is considered the children of the Promise.  Paul uses this analogy of Ishmael/Isaac in Galatians to further demonstrate this relationship between the two.  

Ishmael and Isaac were both descendants of Abraham; but Isaac was the seed of promise.  Within the natural children of Abraham, a smaller group was considered the chosen ones, the elect.  Hence Romans 9:8—“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of Promise are counted as offspring.”  In other words, the promises made to Israel in the TNK are not going to fall upon national Israel (the children of the flesh) until national Israel believes in Yeshua, and becomes the children of the promise!   

This is what I believe is prophesied in Romans 11.  When the fullness of the Gentiles come in, God will remove the partial blindness upon national Israel and they will come to faith in Messiah en masse!  When that happens, there will no longer be a group #1 and #2—they will be one and the same!  I believe the time of Jacob’s Trouble will prune those among national Israel that do not believe (Zech 13:8-9).  I believe that entering into the Millennium, all the survivors among national Israel will be believers.  This will be a far greater number than the messianic community in Israel today, because the partial blindness will have been removed!  Israel, nationally, will see Yeshua, the One “Whom they pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech 12:10).  All of remaining national Israel will be saved! 

Since “all of Israel” will be saved, there’s no way to have the Body of Messiah (group #1) as separate from national Israel (group #2) entering the Millennium.  There will only be Israel (including those gentiles from among the nations that are of faith) ruling over the nations (who do not have glorified bodies).  

I agree also that the New Covenant is better than the old.  The Sinaic Covenant was a 2-sided (bi-lateral) agreement, as seen in Exodus 24.  Both parties were responsible for the upkeep of the covenant, not like Abraham and David’s covenants, where both of them would be helpless to see the fruition of their covenants.  Abraham and David both experienced unilateral (1 sided) covenants that the God of Israel granted them.  That’s why they’re referred to as Covenants of Promise.  They were God-initiated, and God-guaranteed.  The Sinaic Covenant has been broken and the curse of the Torah remains for all those still under it.  National Israel  (those not ‘in Messiah’) is under the Sinaic Covenant, and this covenant is a two-sided covenant.  I personally believe the reasons that Israel (nationally) continues to experience the violence of their enemies is because the curse of the Torah is still intact for those not in Messiah.  They simply cannot find rest from their enemies until they come to faith in Messiah.  When they do come to faith in Messiah, at His return, they will immediately experience rest in the Land as God envisioned.

The New Covenant is a better covenant because it’s a unilateral (1 sided) covenant!  We can’t mess this one up!  God initiated it, cut the covenant Himself (through the hands of men), and promised to put His Spirit in us which would “cause us to keep His statutes and His judgments” (Ez. 36:27).  

The writer of Hebrews is comparing the 2 covenants.  Both are valid, but Sinai’s Covenant bears children to slavery (Gal 4:24), whereas the New Covenant bears free children.  Not freedom from Torah—God forbid!  [Haha!-had to get a little Pauline there]  Rather, the New Covenant bears children free from sin!  In the New Covenant, our fallen natures have been dealt with, and our former disposition to break God’s Torah has been replaced with a desire to keep His statutes and judgments.  His Torah is upon our hearts!  This inner regeneration wasn’t promised at Mt. Sinai, but it is in the New Covenant. This is why the New Covenant is better.  But the New Covenant, this ‘better covenant’, is promised to the House of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34).  And according to my understanding (at this point), this covenant will fall corporately upon national Israel at the beginning of the Millennium.  All Israel will experience the New Covenant, and “they will all know Me (God) from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer 31:34).

This New Covenant is what’s prophesied in Hosea 2:14-23.  Israel will sing in the wilderness again like she did when she came out of Egypt.  She’ll call God—“My Husband”, and God will end war throughout the earth.  God will marry Israel then.   

So which Israel is He talking about?  The Church (The Bride of Messiah) or national Israel?  Both!!  They’ll be one and the same at that time.  All Israel will have come to faith at the return of Messiah and the New Covenant will find its ultimate expression then.  God has only one Bride—Israel, His Bride, that He betrothed in the Wilderness of Sinai and will consummate at His return to the Earth.   

Having said all this, I will see Israel, according to the flesh, as chosen and set apart.  That’s because they’re destined to believe when the partial blindness is removed.  And I don’t call myself a Jew (as some believing gentiles are known to do).  I’m a gentile, and I’m actually proud of that.  My Father chose me from among Gentiles to be grafted in with His People.  Like Ruth and Uriah, I’m still a gentile, but I’ve been joined to the believing remnant of Israel, the Elect.  I’m a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, the true Israel of God, because they (you) are the Israelis of Promise.  And when the harvest of Gentiles is complete, I look forward to the rest of Israel coming to faith.  In that Millennial Kingdom, I’ll partake of the same promises that you will—both spiritual and physical blessings.  

Well Howard, my hands are tired.  Haha!  I’m gonna end this response here.  Look forward to hearing from you!  

John D

From: Howard
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2013 17:33 PM
To: Jonathan
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel

John, we are both in agreement that the nations enter into their ‘sonship’ at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom, with Israel as the first-born and the sheep nations as other ‘brother’ (‘sister’ (?)) nations of God, the Father, with Yeshua as Lord of all and the Brother of all who do His Father’s will.  The revelation of the sons of God will also not be until the First Resurrection, when all who have ever died, and those who are still alive, in Messiah will be changed in a twinkling of an eye.  I also believe that this is inclusive of all who have believed the promises of YHVH God regarding the Promised Seed, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden; for surely those who are included in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” will not fall short of the blessed hope of those who were born later, so that together we may be made perfect. (Heb 11:40)

I think we also agree that each of our basic assumptions are determining the outcomes of our interpretation.   While we both agree that the believers within Israel presently constitute the Israel of God, you say that all believers anywhere and everywhere constitute the Israel of God, and say that this is the Commonwealth of Israel and is the Church, the Body of Christ.  The Church is found within every nation, but is not of any nation.

I would also say that the believers presently within the other nations constitute those who have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel.  The believers within Israel and within the other nations are a pledge of God’s full intention at the coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His kingdom on Earth.  All the nations during the 1000 years will be fully brought into the beneficent welfare of the Commonwealth of Israel under the Kingship of Yeshua, with “all Israel” that was saved, and brought into His kingdom and New Covenant, becoming the head nation as the firstborn in willful and glad submission to his Father God, and a blessing to the rest of his ‘brethren’.   This Israel of God will be born in a day, which the modern State of Israel pre-figured in its re-establishment.  The Israel of God, with Gentiles included within her borders and full partakers of the inheritance, remains distinct from each of the other Gentile sheep nations brought into the Kingdom at the outset of the Millennial.  The Body of Messiah — the Bride of Christ — the Queen — will rule with her Husband, the Lord and King Yeshua over Israel and the nations:  it is a distinct group from out of Israel and every other nation.

Our basic assumptions will also affect how we interpret and apply other Scriptures.  This is seen in how we each understand the place of Torah (the Law of Moses in our discussion) and the Old Covenant.  You have written that the Torah is a guide for the believers in Jesus, and that the Old Covenant has passed away.  In the letter to the Hebrews (referring specifically to Jewish believers, but also for all who would be pilgrims and sojourners passing through this world), the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to say, “In that He says, ‘a new covenant’, He has made the first obsolescent (passing away).  Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13)  Most English translations say ‘obsolete’ instead of ‘obsolescent’, giving the impression that it is already passed away, rather than passing way, as the next sentence clearly states is the case.  As for the Torah — the Law — Paul is inspired to write:  “But when I saw that [Peter and Barnabas] were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews (for he had been eating whatever food was put before him with the Gentile believers), why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”  We, Jews by nature and not sinners like the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we [Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners (because we do not and can not keep the Torah of Moses as written or interpreted), is Messiah therefore a minister of sin?  God forbid!  For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Messiah died in vain.” (Gal 2:14-21

“For the law of the Spirit of Life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)

While there is most certainly an increasing lawlessness in the world and in the Church, the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit in the love and fear of God, will have the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us. (Rom 8:4

Grace reigns through righteousness, and those who truly appreciate what the Lord Yeshua did for us on the cross will not take such a great salvation for granted and make faith or grace cheap.  The four things which the Apostles agreed upon that was good to the Holy Spirit regarding the new influx of Gentile believers was a good starting point for their new life in Christ.  We all begin as immature babes needing instruction, being brought to spiritual maturity as we are transformed/converted into the image of the Son of God over the course of the rest of our life and sojourn.

When we look at the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, which I believe describe the Millennial Kingdom to come, we can already notice modifications in some of the ordinances when compared with the Law given through Moses.  When Yeshua began to speak out His teachings on the Mount of Olives, He did so in fulfillment of Dt 18:15-19, speaking with authority:  “you have heard, but I say. . . ”  He was not taking us back to the Law of Moses, but was taking us onward to maturity by teaching the Law of the Kingdom of God.  The Law was until John (the Baptiser), but now is the Kingdom of God preached.  All of the Ten Commandments are still in effect for believers, except for the Sabbath:  for Yeshua is God’s rest, and has become ours — not just one day in a week, but each and every day.  There is still the necessity of meeting together with other believers, but, depending on circumstances, it may not necessarily be on a Saturday, or even a Sunday.  But knowing the Lord, and ceasing from our own works, is to live the crucified life in the power of the resurrection.  Under the Law, even during the coming Kingdom, the people will be ruled with a rod of iron!  This is not so for those whose hearts are being purified through faith!  Knowing the Law, which is given for sinners and also for tutoring, should make us more sober in how we live in the liberty to which we have been called and freed.  Those brought up under the teachings of the New Testament have much to teach and show by example to those who know only ‘self-righteousness’.  But unless those taught under the N.T. are themselves born-again, and realize that not only has Christ died for them, but that they have died with Him, then they, too, will be no different than the Jewish people seeking their own righteousness, not knowing the righteousness of God.  The Law is not God’s righteousness; Jesus is God’s righteousness:  only He is perfect, and did not need to come under the Law, but did so in order to save us from it, with its curse and condemnation.  Praise the Name of the Lord!

The priesthood has changed, therefore necessarily the Law has changed.  Food regulations have been changed:  Yeshua makes all foods clean.  Clean meats were already clean, so it is unclean meat that he has cleansed and purified to break down a huge wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles who have together been brought into the priesthood of the New Covenant, sitting together as brothers and sisters at whatever table, and for the gospel’s sake and truth, giving thanks and glory to God.  If He can make me clean, he can make the meat of an unclean animal — that goes in and out of my body when eaten — clean.  I am free to eat; I am free not to eat; but if necessary, for love’s sake, I die to myself that I might live unto God for His name’s sake.  There are new and different regulations regarding how husbands are to relate to their wives; there is a new commandment to love one another as Yeshua loves us.  (This is a higher standard than loving our neighbor as ourselves, which we don’t live up to very well.)  We are told to forgive our enemies, which is not ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘just’. 

Believing on the name of the Son of God has brought us into a high calling, which the Law can never attain to.  We are not to combine Yeshua with the Law, but are to live by the power of the Holy Spirit a higher, deeper, wider, longer life than Law can inspire.  The love of God in sending His Son to die for us on a cross is our stimulus and motivation.  I think, that by equating the Church with the Israel of God (and Israel’s Commonwealth), the tendency, then, would be to come under Israel’s Law, whether as given by Moses, or as we see described by YHVH through Ezekiel.  But just as the Levites were under a different regime than the rest of their brethren in the other tribes, so are born-again believers in Yeshua a priesthood under a different regime than either Israel or some “Christianized/gospelized” nation.   After Pentecost/Shavuot, we read that all the new believers (all Jewish) “were baptized . . ., and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done . . . .” (Acts 2:41-43)  As usual, discussing things of the Kingdom of God and which concern the Lord Jesus Christ leads on and on and on and on . . . .  There will always forever be more of Him to find out!

Shabbat shalom,
Howard

11 October 2013

A few more ‘bullets’ that come to mind:

–Israel is normally referred to as YHVH God’s people, and never called the Body of Messiah/Christ; the Church is not normally referred to as the People of God/YHVH, but is called the Body of Christ/Messiah.

–Yeshua/Jesus is never called the King of the Church, but Head of the Body of Messiah/Christ; He is the King of Israel and of the Jews.

–Every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled, much of which concerns Israel as a specific nation with identity and covenant obligations based on God’s promises to their fathers and natural descendants.  These ‘jots and tittles’ include the restoration of ‘all Israel’ – all of the tribes, Ephraim and Judah – into “one stick”, a restored family and nation under one God and King.  (This is a type for the corporate one new man in Messiah, but not the fullness of the new creation reality.)  It will not be what we know today as ‘Jewish’ in a parochial sense, but ‘Israeli’, a whole redeemed nation holy unto the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel, as well as some “strangers” (Gentiles) who also live among the restored tribes with a full and equal inheritance. (Ezek 47:21-23)

The [English] verses in Hos 1:8-10 refer to the whole House of Israel; the application in Rom 9:23-26 is being applied to Gentiles.  In Is 19:23-25, the LORD is calling the Gentile nation, Egypt, His people.  There is not just ‘one people of God’!  While it is true that some believers today may be ‘Israelis and not know it’, this only represents God’s intention to restore a united family and Kingdom, but does not mean that all saved people not identifiable as Jews are “Ephraimites”:  God is also saving Gentiles, who remain such, even though they are to have a circumcised heart, just as Jewish believers are to have. (Rom 2:28-29)

–The Law of God in born-again believers’ hearts and minds, and in saved Israel, (Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12) will be the Law of the Kingdom on the basis of knowing who the Lord is, and not a return to the Law of Moses.  The last nine chapters of Ezekiel speak of the future Millennial Kingdom when Messiah has returned and is received and accepted as the God and the King of Israel, and there are modifications to what had been the Mosaic Law, and also some things which remain for Israel, not for the Church of the Firstborn, who will be ruling and reigning with Christ over Israel and the nations in glorified bodies. (Rev 20:4-6; Rom 8:23)

–Believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are called sons of Abraham, the father of those who believe.  While Jewish believers are also sons of Jacob in the flesh, Gentile believers are not.  The Church is never spoken of as children of Jacob/Israel, nor of belonging to a tribe of Israel, but as called out ones from the different nations.  Only Israel, God’s chosen first-born son as a nation, is spoken of with reference to its tribes and their fathers.   Therefore, the Church is not Israel, and Israel is not the Church.  But both are in covenantal relationship with the God of Israel, who is YEHOVAH, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is in Isaac, the son of promise, that Abraham’s seed would called:  Jacob must come into the resurrection faith of Abraham and of Isaac to receive the promises as sons (not grandsons).  The true Church is in Messiah/Christ, Yeshua/Jesus being the ultimate Son of the Promise; and every believer must believe in his/her heart that He is risen from among the dead to inherit all things.

31 May 2016

There is something to be said about the New Jerusalem having gates with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel, and with  the foundations of those gates being the names of the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles. (Rev 21:12-14)  It could be understood that the eternal home of New Jerusalem is “Israel”, in the sense that all her citizens will be those who in this life have struggled with God and prevailed — by YHVH’s grace — and rule and reign with Him; and who have also finally submitted to the reality that God rules. (Gen 32:28; Ezek 20:33; Rev 3:11-13)   But I am not certain now that just because at that “time” all Israel will be all Israel, that that means that there will still be a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. (2Cor 5:16-17; Gal 3:26-29; Mt 22:30)  Just as now a real Jew is not one who is one only outwardly in the flesh, but inwardly in the heart and the spirit, so, too, will that inward reality describe all whose praise will come from God, whether they  were Jewish or Gentile. (Rom 2:28-29)

This is similar, to me, of Israel being called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, even though the priesthood was given only to the Levites, and especially to the family of Aaron through Eleazar. (Ex 19:6; Lev 3; 8)  So all believers in Jesus are called a holy and royal priesthood, although most are not only not of Aaron’s family, but are Gentiles. (1Pt 2:9-10)   (In any case, believers are not Levitical priests, but priests of a different, higher, and everlasting order:  in Messiah/Christ — according to the order of Melchizedek.)

PRAISE TO HIM WHO SITS UPON THE THRONE, AND TO THE LAMB!

Gen 3:15   And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

Ex 12:1-7   And Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be to you the beginning of months/new things.  It shall be the first month of the year to you.  Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb for a father’s house, a lamb for a house.  And if the household is too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take according to the number of the souls, each one, according to the eating of his mouth, you shall count concerning the lambYour lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.  You shall take from the sheep or from the goats.  And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month.  And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slaughter it in the evening.  And they shall take some of the blood and strike on the two side posts and upon the upper door post of the houses in which they shall eat it. Continue reading “PRAISE TO HIM WHO SITS UPON THE THRONE, AND TO THE LAMB!”

THE NEW MOON: COVERED, OR REVEALED?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montage by Connor Madison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 25 Dec 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TWO MIRACLES

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

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

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

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

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

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

A GREAT AND CATASTROPHIC DAY

Tonight in Israel marks the beginning of Memorial Day, when the nation remembers those Jewish people who have fallen in battles or in terror attacks, going back to 1860.  Back then in the 19th century, Jewish people began to have their hearts and sights on the return to Zion, to the land from which they were exiled as a consequence of the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah, but which God had also promised a return.  A return to the land, yes; but, even more importantly, a return to Himself.  Just last week, Israel remembered the Holocaust — those who died; those who survived; and those ‘Righteous Gentiles’ who helped rescue and save some of the least of Jesus’ brethren (although Israel and the Jewish people do not yet acknowledge Him as their Brother).

Israel remembers and celebrates her 63rd Independence Day tomorrow night, immediately on the heels of appreciating those who have died on behalf of their nation and country.  The establishment of the State of Israel is not the fulfillment of prophecy, but a present fulfilling of God’s own promise and oath to the fathers of the Children of Israel.  It is still a work in progress:  not only to bring more Jewish people ‘back home’, but, again, also to bring the Chosen People back to their Father and King.  Israel’s true freedom will only be attained when she becomes dependent upon her Savior King.

For most Jewish Israeli people — and for discerning Christians — Israel’s re-establishment back in this land is a cause of celebration of what God is doing, as the day nears for the return of the Lord to restore the Kingdom of the Father back to Israel and to the whole world which He made.  It is a great day as we acknowledge the goodness of God to His people.  Most Israelis do not honor God for this miracle of not only her survival, but of her thriving in the face of much opposition.  Nor do they honor the Son, who said that He did not come to annul any of God’s promises, but to fulfill them.

For most Arabs and Palestinians, however, this same great day for the Jewish people is a day of catastrophe — Nakba — to them.  The establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people back in “Palestine” has been a source of great anguish and suffering both physically and emotionally for those who try to make a claim of “historical precedence” of dwelling in this embattled land.

In Gen. 18:17-19, YHVH God tells us that He chose Abraham to know Him, so that he would command his children and those who come after in the Way of YHVH.  For those who know Jesus as The Way, we also learn that His Way is the way of the cross — the way of suffering, of shame, of death, of rejection, of obedience to God the Father in order that His will is done, and that His purposes are accomplished.  All who believe in the God of Abraham have Abraham as their ’spiritual father’.  Are we his children, whose hopes are fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead?

The Passover night in Egypt was a cause of celebration and hope for the Israelis who were protected by the blood of the lamb on their doorposts.  It was surely a night of nakba for all those families in Egypt who lost a firstborn son that night, and whose lives were sorely disturbed by the God of the Hebrews.  Yet there were those Egyptians who also feared the true God, and placed themselves under His protection with His own people.

Israel’s entry and conquest of the Land of Canaan — the Promised Land — was a great day for those who had come through the tribulations of the wilderness experience.  The Canaanites had historical priority.  It was surely a nakba to them.  Yet Rahab, the harlot, had heard what a great God was YHVH as He brought His people out of Egypt, and led them in victory through the desert and against foes, to bring them into His land which He had chosen to give to them.  For choosing the Kingdom of God over her own people’s loss, she gained a name of honor and a shared inheritance with the LORD and His people.

The death of Yeshua, which the rulers and the nation of Israel thought would bring them peace with the worldly rulers, instead turned out to be their nakba, as it brought God’s righteous wrath against His own people, scattering us to the ends of the Earth.  This catastrophe for the Jewish people has been a great cause of celebration for many Gentiles, whose salvation has come through their present setting aside. (Rom 11:11-12)  Many of these Gentile Christians have taken Israel’s calamity as a ‘proof’ that God has finished with His people and all of His promises to the Father’s regarding them.  Praise the Lord that He is not like us:  He changes not, therefore Jacob is not consumed!

The Holocaust brought much joy and satisfaction to the enemies of YHVH and of His Christ, thinking that they had finally put an end to the people whom God had abandoned for a time, and so to all the hopes of the fathers in the Word of the Living God.  Their celebration over the nakba of European Jewry was the beginning of their undoing.  The God of the Living, who revives the near-dead, and resurrects the dead, once again turned His Father’s heart to His lost and rebellious children — and gave them strength beyond their own power to be victorious in war over their return to their own land.  What the ‘world’ had offered and then withdrew, the God of Truth brings His Word and promises to pass!

Israel’s sovereign presence in the present State of Israel by the will and power of the one true God is a nakba to all who persist in not seeing His hand in it.  Christians, who do not believe that Jesus is the Amen of God to fulfill all that the Father has promised Him for an inheritance, also suffer in their own souls and spirits for siding with the ‘victim’ rather than seeing the Way of YHVH.  He is no respector of persons; we are all offended at times by His way.  The cross is an offense, yet it is the only way to glory.  Jesus is in noboby’s camp, but we are called to outside the camp we have ’sided’ with, and join Him outside, bearing His reproach.

The Day of YHVH (the LORD) will be a great and terrible day:  great for those who have been justified by faith and for those upon whom God shows mercy and compassion; a terrible nakba for those who have resisted His grace.

As an unbelieving, God-fearing, and self-righteous Jew, Saul (meaning ‘asked for’) blamed and persecuted his fellow Jews who had repented and believed in Jesus, the Man who had brought trouble to their leaders and for the Romans.  After believing and obeying the revelation of the truth of who Yeshua really is, Paul (meaning ‘little’) was anguished in his soul over the punishment of his people and nation by the hand of God.  As much as he knew and identified with the ‘narrative’ of his people, he never withheld from them the righteousness of the Way of the LORD connected with their catastrophe, suffering, and perplexity.  The ways and thoughts of God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ are other than our own, and He has given us His Spirit to help us renew our minds and walk in His way.

The Lord of History is a great and awesome God.  Let all who believe in Him humbly bow down and worship Him with much thanksgiving for saving us by the great and terrible sacrifice of His beloved Son, Messiah Yeshua the Nazarene — King of Israel; King of the Jews; Savior of the world and all who truly believe.

“…when they had preached the gospel . . .and made many disciples, . . .strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God’.” (Acts 14:21-22)

MYSTERY OF THE SEVEN STARS AND LAMPSTANDS

Rev 1:12-20   Then I (John) turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lampstandsand in the midst of the seven golden lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden sash.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters.  He had in right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore!  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden stands:  The seven stars are the angels (mal’achim) of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”   

      –Yeshua is the High Priest of God’s Kingdom, our mediator as the Son of Man over His churches.
      –Full of glory (Mt 17:2; ctr Phlp 2:5-11)
      –Yeshua speaks the Word of God.  (Heb 4:12-13)
      –He is holy, and is in the midst of His churches.
      –He is the Living One; the Victorious One
      –There is an angel (messenger) over each of the churches under the authority of Jesus.

Ex 25:31-32, 40   You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work.  Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.  And six branches shall come out of its sides:  three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.    And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.
      –pure gold, symbolizing divinity; base (foundation) and shaft (trunk) with its branches (the lampstand is in the design of an almond tree, a  plant/tzemach); all of one piece (union/unity);
      — made according to heavenly pattern shown to Moses on Mt. Sinai

Ex 27:20-21   And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the light to burn continuallyIn the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before YHVH.  It is a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.
      –The High Priest and his sons (the other priests) were to keep the lights burning through the night, as a lasting ordinance (the Church is  within the Commonwealth of Israel) inside the Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle).

Ex 29:42-43   This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting before YHVH, where I (YHVH) will meet you to speak with  you.  And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.
      –The Tabernacle of Meeting is where God would meet with His people at His appointed times, and Israel’s glory would be the presence of  the glory of YHVH God with them. (1Cor 14:24-25)

Mal 2:5-7   My covenant was with him (Levi), of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he fear Me; and he feared Me, and was reverent before My name.  The Law of Truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips.  He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.  For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger (mal’ach) of YHVH of Hosts.
      –covenant of life and peace with Levi (priestly family); responsible for faithfully representing YHVH God of Hosts to the people and of  maintaining their own holiness
      –the priest is the messenger/angel of the LORD of Hosts (Jn 12:41)

The Church (with each believer) is now the active light in the world – the golden lampstand – while Israel has been temporarily removed, while still passively a light.  (Her lampstand has been removed like the church of Ephesus was warned about.)  While under the Law only the Levites of the children of Israel had access – with both privileges and responsibilities — to the Menorah (Lampstand) in the Holy Place, now the seven golden lampstands are the churches!  In Messiah, the veil has been torn and all believers have been made priests unto God, and we have access – with privileges and responsibilities – into His presence.  God meets with us when we assemble together in holiness and truth under the Lordship of our Great High Priest Yeshua.

The churches maintain a perpetual light for the truth of Yeshua – the testimony of Jesus.  The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.  The symbolism of the lampstand perpetually burning through the night – whether as the moon (Israel) or as stars (believers) – also gives us to understand that these seven letters to the churches are written not only for/to them who lived at that time almost 2000 years ago, but also for us living today near the end of the age.  The words of Jesus to them He is still speaking to churches today.

It is the testimony of JesusWho/What He Is – that He is maintaining in and through His churches – His Body, and calling His ‘angels’ (priests) to uphold – among ourselves and also to the world, as we hope-fully anticipate the revelation of Jesus Christ at His coming again!

Remember that the Menorah is of one piece – Yeshua the Head and central Light, joined to His people, lights in the world who are to shine upon Him:  the glory of God is given to His people, and our glory is to give Him glory!

Next week, people around the world – believers and unbelievers alike – within the Church and without (the fishing net and the mustard tree) – will celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah.  It is for us to proclaim the testimony of Jesus as light in the world:
   –Son of God
   –Son of Man
   –Son of David
   –King of kings
   –Lord of lords
   –Savior
   –Messiah (Prophet, High Priest, King)
   –The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God
   –Victor/Overcomer over the works of the devil, of the world, and over sin, death, and hell

Rev 1:9-11   I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches. . . .”

PARABLE OF THE NET (AND OF THE INSTRUCTED SCRIBE)

Updated Mar 9, 2018

Mt 13:47-52  “ Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.  So it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Yeshua said to [His disciples], ‘Have you understood all these things?’  They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’
Then He said to them, ‘Therefore, every scribe instructed concerning the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure new and old.’

Heb 5:12 – 6:2   For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes of milk is unskilled in the word of righteouness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Messiah (the ‘old’), let us go on to perfection (the ‘new’), not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

The fire in the Carmel Forest presented a vivid reminder of the first parable of the Sower:  some trees survived while others around them were destroyed.  There would be three primary reasons why the trees were burned up:  1) all  things/people can die from such disasters; 2) some of the trees were not well-rooted, and so fell in the heat of the fire; 3) some looked well on the outside, but inwardly were rotten—had no inner strength to survive.  Those trees which withstood the blaze while all around others burned up obviously had much strength of ‘character’ that enabled them – by the grace and sovereignty of God – to stand victorious in the day of evil.  Some have no ‘fruit’ left on them after the testing by fire, while others are still capable of producing more.

This last parable of the net (and of the learned teacher of the law) is similar to the second parable of the tares, in that Messiah teaches that in God’s Kingdom now, there will be a final separation of the bad from the good, and this will be done by angels at the end of the age.

In this final parable of this series which Yeshua taught to instruct His disciples in the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven/God, all kinds of fish from the sea – different people from every nation  –  the composite pearl – are gathered in by fishermen by the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God and of His salvation.  Yet, there are good fish, and also bad fish brought into the full fishing dragnet.  These are all brought in through the influence of the gospel on their lives; the good and the bad fish in this parable are both inside the same fishing net!  (Mt 7:21-23) (This differs from the parable of the wheat and the tares, which represent believers and unbelievers in the world at large.)  Not until the end of the age will the final separation in both situations take place, and this will not be done by us, but by the angels of God

When Yeshua had finished these parables, He asks His disciples if they understood everything.  They, like us often times, said ‘Yes’, when they should have said more honestly and humbly, “Not really, Lord”.  But taking them at their word, He says “therefore”, if you do understand these teachings of God’s ways and of righteousness, you should be able to discuss things both old and new, as an owner of treasure in your own house.  Brethren, the Son of God has brought us into His Father’s house, which is also ours through Him!  I could ask a little like Jesus did:  “Do we really understand this?!”

What an honor and a privilege it is to be called children of God!  What a responsibility we have as stewards of the mysteries and of His Kingdom!  What a treasure we have – the Bible!  Where our treasure is, there will our heart be.  Is our treasure in this world, or is it in Messiah and the world to come?  

In the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer exhorts us to grow up in our knowledge of the true faith.  He speaks of principle things and of going on to new things.  One of the elementary things of the faith, which this parable of the net and the parable of the tares make clear, is that there is a final judgment at the end of the age, and the wicked or bad will be separated forever from the righteous or good.  There is everlasting judgment – whether to be with God, or whether to be cast out from His presence forever.  To teach otherwise is not to be instructed concerning the Kingdom of Heaven/God, and/or to be immature in our faith. 

The major responsibility of a pastor and teacher, according to the Word of God through the apostle Paul in the letter to the believers in Ephesus, is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head – Messiah – from whom the whole body . . .causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”.

It is my strong hope and prayer that some of you, at least, are benefitting from these teachings – as well as others – and that you can apply them in your own life as a believer generally, and as being able to help others know the thoughts and ways of our Lord and God, and not merely know laws and commandments, or stories.  We want to know God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth.  Yet we must always remember that we are saved by grace through faith, and love covers a multitude of sins.

What are some lessons to learn from these parables of Jesus about God’s Kingdom on Earth at the present time?:
–The Father loves us.  Jesus loves us.  He tells us all things that the Father wants us to know, and gave His Spirit to teach us.  We are His children; we are His friends; we are His brothers and sisters.

–With that secure love, the Lord wants us to fear God and not to take His love for granted.  We show our faith and love for Him by obeying Him willingly out of a humble and thankful heart.

–These parables help keep us on the narrow road which leads to life, and to guard ourselves from certain doctrines which sound good, but are not necessarily so:
   –once-saved-always-saved as a cliché  (the Sower)
   –Mankind in general, and Christians in particular, can succeed to make the world better before — or without — Jesus coming again. (Tares; Mustard seed; Leaven; Net)
   –that the believers – the ‘wheat’, the ‘good seed’, the ‘good fish’ – will be taken before the end of the age (Tares; Net)
   –universalism:  everyone is eventually ‘saved’ (Sower; Tares; Net)
   –There is no hell, no eternal conscious judgment. (Tares; Net)
   –Every person is inherently ‘good’. (Tares)
   –Where God is ruling, evil can not be there, whether in the world or within the church. (Tares; Mustard Tree; Net)
   –We were saved because we looked for Jesus, and so earned God’s favor for our salvation. (Hidden Treasure; Pearl of great price)
   –that God has ‘finished’ with Israel, His treasured people (Hidden Treasure)
   –that somehow God has ‘lost control’ and is not able to ‘get it back’ (all of the parables)

–As we study and learn the truths that we have in the Scriptures, we will be able to bring out of such wealth which our Father has given us in Christ, things from the Old Testament and from the New.  As Jesus told the apostle John in the Revelation, we can speak of things which were, which are, and which shall be.  It is all about Jesus – the King of the Kingdom of God!