The Inheritance of Yeshua – 28 Oct 2016

1Pe 1:3-9  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you  (5)  by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;  (6)  in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations;  (7)  so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  (8)  whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified,  (9)  obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Eph 1:18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints

Last week we heard an excellent teaching on the expectation we have of a new, eternal, heavenly body to replace our present, temporary, earthly bodies which are incapable of living the fullness of the life which is our inheritance in Christ.  Our congregation is called Yeshua’s Inheritance, and it is the inheritance which gives meaning to every human life:  whether that person will, or will not, inherit eternal life.  The God who has created the heavens and the Earth has given two options:  eternal existence separated from Him, in a place called hell; or eternal life with Him, in a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where love is perfect in all its aspects.  The way to either place is determined by one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, by whom alone anyone can come to the Father.

The name, Yeshua’s Inheritance, for our congregation gives us an identity:  we belong to Yeshua – both now and forever!  This is the hope that we have along with all other believers – past, present, and future!  The Hebrew word for inheritance (nachala נחלה) has the same root as for a stream or river (nachal נחל):  the inheritance flows from its source like a river stream from generation to generation until it reaches its destination into the big, wide, deep ocean with all the other streams.  YHVH God is our source, and His promises flow until they are fulfilled, to be inherited by all His holy ones.  We are the inheritance of our God and Savior!  What a treasure He has given us and promised us to inherit.

As was said last week, this inheritance comes into fullness only in the resurrection, when we receive our new bodies suited to the eternal life that we have also received as a free gift from God through our living faith in Yeshua as our Savior and Lord.  This inheritance is not for one people or ethnic group alone, but for all who are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above.  It is for the corporate one new man in Messiah, a new creation:  new bodies, new heavens, new Earth, new names.  Jesus makes all things new, perfect, eternal in the Kingdom of of God. (Rev 21:5)  We have the promise and the down-payment now; we receive the fullness of it when God finishes His plan of redemption in this world. (Rom 8:23-25; Jn 17:3)

For now, what does it mean for us in this congregation?  First of all, we have a common hope and calling.  Our vision and hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and rapture of the righteous – of the saints – that are connected with that.  Our bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies and we will forever be with the Lord, and will begin that ‘new life’ ruling and reigning with Him over redeemed Israel and the nations.  This is Yeshua’s inheritance in the world to come, and ours with Him! (Is 19:25; Ps 2:8; Dan 7:13-14,18,27; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 11:15; 20:6)   We will be ministers in His government, and priests as we rule and reign with Him as a kingdom of priests.

But brothers and sisters, if we do not love one another now, we risk inheriting nothing!  As we heard last week, if our acts are not motivated by love for the Lord and towards others, our deeds or ministry or participation profit us nothing.  They lack eternal value.  Without unity bound by love, we have a weak testimony of the truth of who Yeshua is.  We become a dysfunctional family that lacks order and peace.  Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment by choice because we love.  God has chosen to love us, especially those who love His beloved Son, Yeshua, and all that He does for us springs from His love, even though we clearly do not ‘deserve’ such attention and kindness (among other good things that is love).  God suffers long in demonstrating His love for us, and we are called to do the same.  Long-suffering is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit.  These things should weigh heavily upon us as we examine ourselves in relation to the reality of our faith and hope, and how it affects our part in this local congregation, and any other.   

Under the Law of Moses, all of the tribes of Israel, except one, received an inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan, which YHVH promised to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, according to His covenant promise.  This promise of an everlasting possession and inheritance still awaits fulfillment for the salvation of Israel as a nation.  But the one tribe which did not receive any inheritance of land was the tribe of Levi, the priestly family.  God determined that they would be scattered throughout the land to serve Him and the Temple and the people, and that their inheritance would be HIM. (Dt 10:8-9)  All of the promised land to be inherited by the Children of Israel belongs to YHVH.  Therefore, by having YHVH as their inheritance the priests inherited the whole land, although possessing none of it in their own right. 

Our inheritance in Yeshua is greater than a particular land or country.  This is our inheritance in Jesus:  the whole Kingdom of God – the whole universe, which includes everything – because the Father has given it all to Him. (Heb 1:1-4; Rom 8:16-17)  We have become God’s children in Christ, and co-heirs with Him.  And Jesus says that all that is His is the Father’s, and all that is the Father’s is His. (Jn 17:9-10)  And that especially means US, all who believe in God through Jesus, for whom He died to forgive us of our sin.  All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life! (Jn 3:16-17)   But those who refuse to honor Jesus condemn themselves to eternal spiritual darkness apart from the Light of Life. (Jn 3:18-21) 

The inheritance:  Yeshua/Jesus! And the whole Kingdom of God and eternal life with the Lord
The heirs:  the righteous saints – all who put their trust and hope in Jesus for their salvation from sin and sins
Our present knowledge of our future hope:  By the Word of God in the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers.  Take hope, young and old!  We have a glorious future after the suffering and tribulations of this life:  we will inherit the everlasting life that is really life that God has planned for those who love Him. (Eph 1:18; 1Tim 6:19; 1Jn 2:25; 1Cor 2:9-10; Is 64:4; Rev 21:1-8)   

Lk 12:22-34  And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on.  (23)  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  (24)  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, having neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the birds?  (25)  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?  (26)  If then you are not able to do even the least, why are you anxious about the rest?  (27)  Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not toil, they do not spin. And yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (28)  If then God so clothes the grass (which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven) how much more will He clothe you, O little-faiths?  (29)  And do not seek what you shall eat, nor what you shall drink, and stop being in anxiety.  (30)  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things.  (31)  But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  (32)  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  (33)  Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts.  (34)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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

(Updated on 11 Oct 2013; 31 May 2016)

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

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

—- Original Message —-

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi John,

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

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

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

God bless you,
Howard


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

Howard,  

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

Thank you for your time Howard!  

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

1)  Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Messiah with you,
Howard

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

Howard,

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

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

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

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

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

You mentioned also that:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[End of Bunny Trail] 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Howard                                                                                   John                                        

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

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

3)  Nations                                                                                Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shabbat shalom,
Howard

11 October 2013

A few more ‘bullets’ that come to mind:

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 May 2016

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

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

The Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Day, mentioned by that term only in John’s vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ, is not to be confused with the Day of YHVH (Day of the LORD), mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. The former signifies a particular day of the week; the latter to the ultimate day of judgment, either for salvation and deliverance, or else for condemnation and cutting off.

Can we determine from the Bible which day the Apostle is referring to when he uses the name, the Lord’s Day?

The Sabbath Day in the Bible always refers to the Seventh Day, the last day of the week. (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15; Heb 4:4)  There are certain days occurring on the holidays given to Israel which are to be ‘sabbaths’, or days of rest and cessation from other work, but these are distinguished by the context from the regular weekly Sabbath.  There is a “day after the Sabbath”, sometimes referred to as the day after the Sabbath to present the first-fruits to God (Lev 23: 11,15-16; Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1-2); other times as the first day (“one”) of the week. (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2)  The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, and translated almost two centuries before Yeshua was born, translates “the day after the Sabbath” in Lev. 23 as protos (first), indicating the first day of the week.

There are only two possibilities for which day the Creator and Redeemer intended to be called the Lord’s Day: either the 7th day Sabbath, which is a weekly remembrance of YHVH as the Creator and the Savior, who rested and who gives His people rest; or, the 1st day/8th day-1st day of the week, the weekly celebration of the uncreated Light of the world and of His first-fruits resurrection from death and burial, who gives the children of light eternal life and rest.

What can we learn from God’s prophetic Word?

Ps 2:7  I will declare the decree: YHVH has said to Me, ‘You are My Son; today, I have begotten You’.

Ps 118:22-24; Acts 4:10-12  The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone. This was YHVH’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that YHVH has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!

Rom 1:1-4  Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Rev 1:9-11, 17-18  I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last’, and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia. . . And when I saw Him I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I AM He who lives, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore! Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’

The day after the Sabbath, the first day of a new week, and the one eternal day-light of an everlasting and new creation: this is the day of the Son of God; this is the Day that the LORD has made; it is the Lord’s Day, and we will rejoice and be glad in it! All who are born-again are sons of the resurrection and children of light, having been brought back into the glorious Light — the uncreated light of day one of creation — from out of the darkness of being outside of God, the darkness of evil and death.  Yeshua is the first-born of all creation, and the first-born of many brethren.  God is light, and has bought us with the blood of the redeeming death of Yeshua, His beloved Son, on the cross, that we may live in His eternal goodness and presence!

Let us give the Lord glory, and call His day SONday!

The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but brings both Jews and Gentiles into the new thing which God is doing.  We can see the roots of the faith in the Law and the Prophets, but the flower and fruit which it produces through the truth of the death and resurrection of Messiah is far more glorious as a new creation and as one new man in the risen and glorified Son of Man/Son of God.

LEAVENED OR UNLEAVENED BREAD? – April 2012

(Updated Feb 26, 2017)

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

Dear Howard,

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

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

Blessings in Messiah,
R

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

Shalom R,

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Howard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear R,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you,
Howard

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

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

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

I have a few thoughts from your email:

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

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

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

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

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

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

R

Shalom R,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope that is enough to be going on with.
K

5 Apr 2012   11:41am

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

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

Dear K,

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy celebrating the risen Lord in all His glory,
Howard

VISION AND MATURITY: ONE NEW MAN IN MESSIAH TO THE GLORY OF GOD – 19 Nov 2011

Many believers – especially Jewish – seem to have an identity crisis.  Are we Jewish?  Are we Christian?  Are we neither, or both?  This confusion is seen already in the New Testament, and some strong words are written for our admonition and encouragement.

Is 41:17-20   The poor and needy seek water, and there is none; their tongue fails for thirst, I Yehovah will hear them, I the God of Israel will not leave them.  I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  I will plant the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree. I will set the fir tree in the desert, and the pine, and the box tree together;  so that they may see, and know, and look on, and understand together, that the hand of Yehovah has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Gal 6:13-15   But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any strength, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God.

Eph 2:14-16   For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting death the enmity.

Phlp 3:14-16   I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as are mature, be of this mind. And if in anything you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you.  Yet, as to what we have already attained, let us walk in the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Jn 17:20-23   And I do not pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word,  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one;  I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

THE DESTINY OF NATIONS AND THE GOSPEL TO WHOMSOEVER

(Delivered at “The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder” conference in Canberra, Australia, July 23, 2010)

Acts 17:30-31   Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising [Jesus] from among the dead.

Some basic assumptions:

  –Jesus Christ is Lord/YHVH!
  –The whole of the Bible is the Word of GOD, and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  –The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age (end of the last days). 1Cor 10:11, Rom 15:4
  –Messiah came to fulfill all that is written in the O.T., not to annul them.  We are not to add to them nor take away  from them.  Mt 5:17-19
  –Each of us is responsible for searching the Scriptures if we are unsure about anything taught.  Acts 17:11
  –The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again!  Rev 22:7,12,20 

The prophets of Israel – or, better, the prophets of YHVH in Israel – spoke the Word of YHVH not only to the Israeli/Jewish people, but also to the nations round about the Land and People of Israel.  God chose Israel to be His first-born [nation], His son. (Ex 4:22-23a), but there were other nations already in existence before Israel:  Babylon, Egypt, Amalek (Gen 10:11; Num 24:20).  (Jesus is also the first-born, although He was not the first person who was born:  God has declared Him to be the first-born. Ps 2:7-8; 89:27; Rom 8:29; Col 1:15-18)

Christians from the nations that write off Israel – or ignore the many ways that God has given her as an example to the Church – write off their own people and nations (if it were possible), or at least misdirect them.

Rom 8:29   For whom [God] did foreknow He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  All IN Messiah are firstborn with Him.

Heb 12:22-23   But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn registered in Heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect

Heb 11:39-40   And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

1Cor 4:8,14   You are already full!  You are already rich!  You have reigned as kings without us – and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! . . .I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.

Before there was Israel, there were ‘only’ Gentiles, and we know some of them believed in YHVH God, even if they did not know Him by that name. (Ex 6:3)  For some examples, there are Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Amongst nations which God says that He will destroy, there are still individuals that the Bible mentions that we know He has shown mercy to and given them a place in His kingdom:  Rahab, the Canaanite; Uriah, the Hittite; Nebuchadnezer, the Babylonian.  Some nations about which it is written that they will come against Israel, for example Syria, but Elisha the prophet healed Naaman the leper (2Kg 5); Lebanon, and YHVH sent Elijah to the widow in Zarephat to give her hope in the one true God (1Kg 17:8-24);  Cush (Ethiopia/Sudan), yet we have the Ethiopian eunuch who was saved by the God of  Israel in the New Testament, plus the Ethiopian, Eved-Melech, who saved the prophet Jeremiah out of the pit (Jer 38:10; 39:15-18; Acts 8:26-39).  Of course, YHVH God blessed the father and mother of the Arab peoples – Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael – with a future and a hope, and many Arabs are also believers in Jesus, even though their nations are against God’s covenant with the Jewish/Israeli people. (Gen 17:20; Ps 83:6)

The classic beginning of God making  sovereign choices between nations is between Ishmael and Isaac (Gen 16:12; 17:19-20) and between Jacob and Esau, even while they were still in the womb of their common mother, Rebecca. (Gen 25:23)  There is a destiny of two nations given here which remains until the end, but for individuals within those nations, there is good news for whosover will hear, repent, and believe it for salvation.  Let us remember:  the Lord Jesus has said, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years”. (Rev 20:6)

Rom 11:25-27   All Israel shall be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

GOD IS PRESENTLY AT WORK THROUGH THE GREAT COMMISSION TO PUT A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT INTO INDIVIDUAL PERSONS – WHOSOEVERFROM ALL NATIONS, TRIBES, PEOPLES, AND TONGUES, RULING IN THEIR HEARTS THROUGH THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST CRUCIFIED, AND RISEN FROM THE DEAD. (Rev 5:8-10 for born-again individuals) 

THE TRUTH THAT YHVH GOD IS KEEPING HIS COVENANT PROMISES TO SAVE A REMNANT PEOPLE/NATION ISRAEL, WHOM HE HAS CHOSEN UNIQUELY FROM ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH (Am 3:1-3), GIVES SIGNIFICANCE AND HOPE TO ALL OTHER NATIONS.  Having a firstborn implies having others who will have been born (Rev 7:9-15 for sheep nations (?) Mt 25:31-46), coming out of the great tribulation. . . .

Is 19:23-25   Egypt, My people; Syria, the work of My hands; Israel, My inheritance

**The prophets of YHVH spoke about and to the nations round-about Israel:   

Jer 46:1   The Word of YHVH which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations (Paul is the apostle to/for the nations.):
   —46:25-26   Egypt, but with a hope
   —46:27-28   Jacob
   —47:1   against the Philistines in Gaza
   —48:1,47   against Moab (middle Jordan), with hope
   —49:1   against Ammon (northern Jordan)
   —49:7   against Edom (southern Jordan and part of the Negev)
   —49:34, 38-39   against Elam (part of present-day Iran and Iraq), but with a hope
   —50 – 51   against Babylon

Ezek 35; Obadiah   against Edom

Joel 3:1-2,12; Zech 12:2-9   All nations/ all surrounding nations YHVH will bring against Jerusalem, and He will judge them

Jonah   against Nineveh; Jonah was the first missionary, sent by YHVH, to Gentiles, who were also Israel’s enemies.  They repented at the word preached by Jonah, and he is the sign which Jesus gave the Jewish people, and in the synagogues every Day of Atonements, Jonah is read! (Mt 16:4)

**Where are we now in God’s plan to have His King on His holy hill of Zion?

The Holy Spirit is bringing to pass ALL that is written in the Law and the Prophets.  Not one word will fail!  The realization, the full-fillment of all this will be during the Millennial Kingdom.  For Israel the first-born, and so for all the other nations who will become God’s children.

Mt 10:34-36; Mic 7:6   Do not think that I (Jesus) came to bring peace on Earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a swordFor I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’, and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

1Pt 1:3-5,13-15   living hope for believers until the revelation of Jesus Christ:  ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’

Mt 28:18-20   the Great Commission is until the end of the age

Wherever we are, whatever we are. . .in the marketplace of the world (to use a current term), our message today is the same as that of the prophets and of the apostles:  repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!  God has not changed His ‘script’, and has already seen the end from the beginning.

God’s love and grace and mercies are all around in His longsuffering, but His righteousness will be revealed at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we all seek to identify with, and be a blessing to our nations, let us be careful not to be as Israel still is: an enemy of the good news. (Mt 2:4-6; Lk 19:45-48; Acts 5:34-40)

DEITY vs DIVINITY: JESUS AND US

I received a question, which perhaps others of you have, about the distinction between ‘divinity’ and ‘deity’.  Even a good dictionary does not always make a clear distinction.

For me, it is understood like this:
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Gen 1:27  So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Ja 3:9       With [the tongue] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the image of God.

2Pt 1:4     by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature . . .

Jn 12:34-41; Is 6    The Son of Man, Messiah Yeshua, is YHVH Tzva’ot (LORD of Hosts)!  Men and angels worship Him!  Hallelu-Yah!

Phlp 2:5-11   . . .that at the name of Yeshua/Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on Earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Yeshua the Messiah is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

Col 2:9   For in [Yeshua] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Rev 1:8   ‘I am the Aleph and the Tav, the Beginning and End’, says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty!’

From the first three examples, Man was created with a certain measure of divinity, being uniquely created and made in the image of God.  According to James (Jacob), this is still true for unsaved humans.

Peter tells us that we have become partakers of the divine nature if we are born-again by the Holy Spirit.  God’s Spirit is in those who are saved; in fact, we are a new creation; and, I would say, we have a greater measure of divinity now in Messiah than when we were only in Adam.  (The Dalai Lama can claim divinity if he wants to, as any other man!)

We who are born-again can claim divinity, too, if it is important for us to do so to counter evolutionist implications.  (In any case, all born-again believers are saints, even if not quite living up to the call of holiness required of us.  See 1Cor 1:2)

Yeshua, though, is not only divine, but also deity (Deity).  He is the Son of God, equal as God, and can be worshipped.  He is not created, but rather came to us and had a body prepared for Him.

For all our divinity and divine nature as born-again believers, we are not God  (even though Ps 82 and Yeshua refer to religious-political-judicial leaders in Israel as ‘gods’, for the Word of God was given to them to teach, govern, and judge), and we are not to be worshipped!  We did not create anything, nor can we redeem and save anyone, not to mention much else that only the one, true, living God is and does.

I hope this helps, not only in grasping the uniqueness of who Yeshua is, but also why only the Scriptures, which are inspired by the Holy Spirit (and our God has graciously given them into all of our hands) must be the authoritative source for our faith and our life, and brotherly love and unity.

Howard
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12 Dec 2008

Dear Howard,

In your email below you make a statement that Yeshua “is the Son of God, equal as God”. This is partly true as a general statement. I would agree as far as power but not in authority. Please see John 14:28 in which Yeshua says “…the Father is greater than I”.  I think this point needs to be brought too.   Have a peaceful Shabbath,

C
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

12 Dec 2008  

Hi C,

There are several verses indicating the Yeshua is submitted to the Father, not only Jn 14:28.  As I mentioned already, He prayed to the Father.  He also only said and did what the Father gave Him to say and do.  Phlp 2:6-8  makes it very clear that this was a willing emptying and humbling of the Son to God the Father; He ‘could have’ come and said that He was equal with God. . .because He is.  At the end of the Millennial Kingdom, He will deliver the Kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power, so that God will be all and in all.  Love will be ‘the law’, and there will be no sin and no need to rule over anyone.

The Word was with God and the Word was God!  God is [invisible] spirit; He spoke, which was the Word that came out from Him, who ultimately became flesh in the person of the Son of God/Son of Man — the Lord Yeshua the Messiah!  The Word (the Son and express image of the invisible God) is subject to the One who spoke it.  This great mystery of Godliness is a one-triune-YHVH God thing!

I hope this further helps to clarify what is obviously too great for us, but enough is revealed to be believed on as the truth, without falling into otherwise idolatrous and blasphemous retreats of the natural mind.  It is a revelation which we must believe in order to begin to grow in the understanding of what otherwise is unknowable.  God is light!

Shabbat shalom, C,

Howard
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

12 Dec 2008

Thanks Howard. I hope the whole Body of Messiah will believe in this truth.

C

TO BE A JEW – 7 Dec 2008

I was born to a Jewish father and a Jewish mother.  They were each born to a Jewish father and mother.  They brought us up with a Jewish identity through circumcision, observance of Jewish holy-days, Bar-Mitzva (‘Son of Commandment’).  We lived with an awareness of being Jewish in a Gentile society, and an even larger world.  We sought our acceptance by the Gentile Christians, hoping to prove ourselves worthy in their eyes, while also considering ourselves as much Jewish in our identity as Conservative Jews in comparison to Orthodox Judaism, and more Jewish in our identity and practice (praxis) in contrast to Reform Jews.  We are God’sChosen and Peculiar People, even if we did not personally know Him who chose us, nor understand why.  We are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel was our special nation and land, even if we did not want to live there.

I was born Jew-ish; I was born-again a Jew!

When I was saved by the grace of God – repenting, and believing in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God who died and rose from the dead – I immediately and instinctively wanted to begin keeping the Sabbath (Saturday), observing the Jewish holidays, and keeping ‘kosher’ (adhering to the Jewish dietary regulations).  I reacted to coming to believe in God by thinking it natural and right to live as a Jew who would be ‘religious’ from a [Conservative] Jewish point of view.  I heard the voice of God say to me, “I didn’t tell you to do that.”  And so I didn’t, and I haven’t – at least not in the way of the Jewish religion.  My approval of being a ‘good Jew’ is no longer determined by men, but from the very Creator and Redeemer God who chose us for Himself!

The Lord and Messiah Jesus Himself, and His apostles to whom He gave authority to write the New Testament by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, all spoke plainly regarding our true identity and expression as born-again believers.  The Jewish or Hebraic roots of the Messianic/Christian faith are found in the Word of God – the Bible – not in commentaries, nor in the teachings and doctrines of men (or of demons); not in the wisdom of Jewish sages, nor of Church fathers.  Jesus/Yeshua is the Root and Offspring of David, and before Abraham was, HE IS!  The olive tree which grows out from God’s chosen shoot (the netzer) – who is the Son of David, the Lord Jesus – is a qualitatively different tree than the natural tree whose trunk is Israel and whose roots are located in this land (of Israel) and in the earth.  The new tree, which is all of Messiah – taken out from among His humanly natural Israeli Jewish heritage root – includes all born-again Jews grafted in again for what is a natural ‘transplant’, and also born-again Gentiles grafted in contrary to nature.  The older tree continues by God’s sovereign power and grace, but the new tree lives uniquely as a testimony of God’s eternal redemption through a better covenant, based upon a better sacrifice, with greater promises, and a better hope.  This tree is rooted in Heaven as an anchor for our soul, being a so much greater and pre-eminent plant (tzemach) which the Father has ordained.

That Gentile Christian forms and expressions of the faith will not be overtly Jewish is evident when we consider the implications of Yeshua speaking in parable to tell the Jewish Israeli religious and political leaders that He would take the Kingdomof Godaway from them and give it to a nation bearing the fruits of it.  This judgment falls upon Israel and the natural Jewish custodians of God’s purposes as a consequence of their mistreating all of the servants God sent to them, including, and especially, the very Heir, the Son of the Owner of the vineyard, which is the whole House of Israel.  We, the Jewish people, chosen of God, have thrown Yeshua out of His vineyard, and He is still outside the camp, bearing the reproach of the people as the Scapegoat for all our sins, transgressions, and iniquities, and for their consequences to ourselves and others.  He is calling a mixed multitude of people out to Himself there, who are willing to identify with Him in His current rejection, patiently obeying Him with faith until the set time for His Kingdom comes.  The tabernacle of David is being re-built as we go out to Yeshua – YHVH’s anointed King — and leave ‘Saul’ – the king like those of the gentiles, whomIsrael prefers.

Gentiles were not brought up with the Law and the Prophets.  They are not natural branches; yet God would take them and purify their hearts through faith from their idolatries.  Most of what the Gentile church has done historically has not ‘looked or sounded Jewish’; yet all the while, the Holy Spirit is fulfilling what YHVH spoke through Moses and the Prophets and the Writings.  Thus the apostle Paul could honestly write that he did nothing against Moses and the traditions of the fathers, for the things pertaining to Jewish people under the New Covenant in the blood of Messiah were written beforehand for our (believers’) learning and admonition.

The Gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek.  The Gentiles would be brought into the tents of Shem through faith in the truth of the one true God; and born-again Jews would be enlarged in their understanding of YHVH God of Shem as they paid attention and appreciated His work of salvation amongst the Gentiles.  The good news of God in sending His only-begotten Son to die for sinners is unnatural to the mindset of both Jew and Greek:  the gospel is entirely from God in Heaven in Christ.  No flesh will glory in His holy presence!  Pride, which sets itself against the goodness and grace of God, will be abased!  The meek and humble will be exalted!  The world has been turned upside down!

The New Testament is written by Israeli Jews, with the exception of Luke.  Similarly, the Old Testament (which will not pass away until every jot and tittle are fulfilled, and which can only be so with the literal restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel and the world during the Millennial Kingdom upon Yeshua’s return) is written by Israelis, with the exception of Job.  Why is it that we who are Jewish believers in Yeshua have such difficulty with what the New Testament says about the very things which we consider so Jewish?  It is proof that the gospel is not Jewish and does not appeal to the Jewish mind or flesh!  The glad tidings come out of a thoroughly Israeli, Jewish, monotheistic grounding, but the revelation of the mystery waited for the appointed time.  We find ourselves resisting the Holy Spirit even now as our forefathers did before us!  

Of course, also in accord with the New Testament, we have liberty to worship on a day most suitable for the people we live among; we have liberty not to eat certain meats; we are always at liberty to love our brethren, so as not to be a cause of stumbling to them, by willingly and humbly giving up our freedoms for the sake of the gospel and the well-being of a “weaker” brother.  But we do not have the liberty to use these liberties at the expense of the truth of what the gospel has accomplished.  We are not free to forbid what God has [now] allowed, nor to teach or speak against what He now says is revealed truth.

We have been called to be witnesses of the risen Lord and Savior, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  Messiah has come, and the apostles teach, reprove, correct, and instruct us in the way of righteousness in light of this reality.  There are changes and differences in the New Covenant, which is not like the Old.  The new brings us to maturity, and is written to the royal priesthood whom God is preparing to rule in the world to come with Messiah.  Moses is no longer ‘our Rabbi’.  The one of whom he prophesied has come, and we are to listen to Him.  Moses was a faithful servant in the house, but the Son is the builder of the house!  We are called out by Yeshua to become His disciples.

All born-again believers in Yeshua/Jesus are priests unto God.  It is no longer only for the family of Levi and Aaron; nor is it for men only.  Our priesthood in Messiah transcends the Levitical priesthood.  That is temporal, and will eventually come to an end at the close of theMillennialKingdom.  Our priesthood in Christ is an everlasting one, after the order of Melchizedek.  The Bride of Messiah will rule and reign with King Yeshua overIsrael and the nations, rather than be ruled over during His reign on Earth.  We already now as priests have the privilege of eating the “Showbread”/the Lord’s Supper; we work on the Sabbath in God’s on-going work of redemption.  These are privileges and services not allowed to others of our nation who do not now know their Savior God.  Just as God separated the tribe of Levi out from their brethren, not reckoning them in their number or inheritance of land even though being their mediators, so now are we who are priests in Messiah are not reckoned with those whose inheritance is anything less than the Lord Yeshua Himself.

There are numerous passages which show that Biblical kashrut has been altered so as to enable us to eat not only with our Gentile brothers and sisters in the Lord, but also what they eat to whom we may be sent to carry the glad tidings from Zion!  If God can make a sinner such as me kosher by the blood of the Lamb, He can certainly declare foods clean which had previously been labeled as unclean.  After all, they go in and out of the body, but what is in our hearts may be wholly unaffected.  Keeping “Biblically kosher” includes what is taught in that part of the Bible called the New Testament!

Marriage under the Torah was to have been not only between Israelis, but preferably even within each tribe.  Priests could marry only daughters of other priests.  These laws helped ensure the preservation of the Jewish people and nation, even while in exile, but most importantly they were intended to strengthen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

the faithfulness of the covenantal relationship to YHVH God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob within  Israel.  YHVH always made room for the Ruths, who joined herself to both the people and the God of

Israel; yet she was always referred to afterwards as Ruth the Moabitess.  The New Testament teaching goes back to these same roots:  marriage is a covenant relationship, and believers are to marry those whose faith is in the same God and Father, and in His Messiah.  The key issue is [new] covenantal faithfulness to Him, not to traditions of man, nor to those things from the Law of Moses which have already now been superseded by the grace and truth through Yeshua Messiah.  This includes not only marriage and foods, but also to the priesthood.

Moses wrote of Sunday – the day after the Sabbath – in two significant passages when he is given the order and description of YHVH God’s appointed feast times.  These two places correspond to the first of the First Fruits/Resurrection Day of Messiah, and to Shavuot/Pentecost, when God called for a new thing in Israel:  a meal offering containing leaven in two loaves of bread, signifying that God had opened the way to Him for both Jews and Gentiles equally through the death and resurrection of His Son.  This marked a new day which YHVH had made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

The prophet Isaiah received a word from YHVH God that He would call His servants by another name, implying that the term ‘Jew’ or ‘Israeli’ would no longer be enough to describe who His true servants were.  We see in the New Testament that those who walked in The Way – firstly being Jews – were called Nazarenes (Notzrim) after the name applied to Yeshua, the Nazarene (the Messianic netzer of God from the root of Jesse, father of King David, and also the notzer brit, covenant-keeper), and they were called Christians (Meshichi’im) – whether Jew or Gentile believers in the Christ/Messiah/Anointed One.  The Lord calls to all of us to be His disciples by denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily, and following Him.  Just as YHVH placed His name upon the children ofIsrael through the Aaronic blessing, so now He has placed the name of Messiah/Christ upon those who are in New Covenant relationship with God the Father through His Son.  What love that we should be called the children of God!

God has broken down the wall of enmity within the Law of commandments which separated the Children of Israel from Gentiles.  This separation will continue to be somewhat evident during the 1000-year Kingdom of God on this Earth when the full remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel will receive the inheritance promised them with an oath by God for an everlasting (till the end of time) possession, along with other non-Israelis dwelling among them.  The center of Messiah’s kingdom will be inIsraelas He rules over His chosen people and over the remnant of the other sheep nations fromJerusalem.  The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YHVH as the waters cover the seas!  Rabbinic Judaism will not be the religion of the Messianic Kingdom, but rather the faith and religion which honors the Son of God, the King of [all] Israel, who was crucified for them.

But now, in Messiah, God has completely broken down the middle wall of separation between born-again believers from among the children ofIsrael and from among the Gentile nations.  Through the cross God has reconciled us to Himself and made of us two people groups one new man, into one body, thus making peace.  We are called to be reconciled to God on matters which offend us in the way of truth.

As a Jew, my destiny and identity is hid with Messiah in God.  The New Testament scriptures tell me both what it is, and how, to be a Jew.  There is an honor attached to being a Jew in the flesh.  But there is a greater honor to be also a Jew whose heart has been circumcised and whose past life has been forgiven.  I have received far more as a Ben-Hesed (‘Son of Grace’) who believes the truth of the New Testament for us who believe now in Yeshua/Jesus, and my conscience is clear before God and man.  You can call me by whatever name you want, as long as you mean that I believe in, belong to, and follow Messiah the Lord, Yeshua/Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.  By God’s power and grace, may I give the good confession, give thanks to my Lord and Savior, and forever praise Him who has had such mercy on me.

Let us fear God and keep our proper domain as New Testament believers, not shrinking back to a pre-born-again position.  Let us love the brethren.  Let us love the Lord Yeshua with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, living for Him who died for us and rose again!

GOD’S PLANT: ONE NEW MAN IN MESSIAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIVING BREAD OF REDEMPTIVE PROGRESS

The distinctiveness of Israel, even of its 12 tribes  — 12 loaves of the showbread [Bread of the Faces/Presence] (Ex 25:30; Lev 24:5-9) —amongst the nations remains valid all the way through to the end of the coming millennial kingdom.  The last nine chapters of Ezekiel make this abundantly clear, as does chapter 7 of Revelation (not to mention the names of the gates of the New Jerusalem being the names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel).  God knows how to keep track of this somehow (reverently speaking, of course!).  Only priests could enter inside the Holy Place:  the priests were in Israel but not of Israel.  The showbread presented the face(s) of all God’s people represented in the whole House of Israel, the twelve tribes, and only the priests partook of the leavened loaves of the bread of God (Lev 21:6), as they represented all the Children of Israel to God, and were God’s mediators to the people.  God looked upon His people through the lens of the ultimate sacrifice by fire of His Son for them to dwell forever in His presence.

The distinction between Jews and Gentiles — 2 loaves (Lev 23:15-18) for a new meal offering containing leaven in each one initiated at Shavuot — remains valid throughout the same period, as Yeshua/Jesus will reign over Israel and the other nations during His Kingdom on Earth, and we will be reigning and ruling over them with Him.  It is important to remember that the Church was a mystery until the revelation through the gospel, especially to the apostle Paul. (Eph 3:3-11)  In God’s redemptive plan and purpose, all people everywhere stand equal in His sight – sinners all needing repentance unto salvation for whom Messiah died — Yeshua having broken down the middle wall of separation and enmity between the two (Eph 2:11-22).  The new grain/meal offering (Lev 23:15-21) of a new covenant is presented upon the foundation of the sinless Passover sacrifice – Who became sin for us on the cross, so fulfilling the sacrifice for the atonement of our souls (Lev 16; 2Cor 5:14-21).  The counting of the sheaves begins from the day of the first-fruits resurrection of Jesus from among the dead on the day after the Sabbath during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week (Lev 23:9-22; Mt 28:1-7; Acts 1:3-5; 2:1), and at the first-fruits harvest at Shavuot/Pentecost, , the new living sacrifice of sinners from all humanity is presented by the priests to God through Messiah, who died as the Savior of all, but especially of those who believe.  YHVH God, in His abundant lovingkindness/grace, makes room for the multitude of the nations to join with His chosen people (Ezek 47:21-23), and we remember Messiah’s death till He comes. (1Cor 11:26)  We who have been saved are now priests of God in Christ, and present ourselves a living sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth within us for His sake.  Not only of the Jews is He God, but also of the nations/Gentiles. (Rom 3:29)  At present there are three classes of people in the world — Jews, Greeks/Gentiles, and the Church/Kehila of God (1Cor 10:32).

It is this last designation that causes us the most difficulty grasping:  the kehila/church is made up of both Jews and Gentiles, while being neither Jewish nor Greek (Gal 3:26-29; 6:15-16).  It is evident that certain aspects of identity are not done away with as long as we are in this body, in this world, and as the Law and the Prophets are being full-filled through the sovereign wisdom of God (Mt 5:17-18).  The church  presents a “cloudy” picture of the truth of what the apostle Paul writes us concerning the resurrection body:  the seed sown is not quickened unless it die, and that which was sown is not that body which shall be….” (1Cor 15:35-49)  The natural seed of Abraham is in Isaac (Gen 21:12), by whom Abraham believed that God could and would raise the dead to fulfill His covenantal promises. (Heb 11:17-19)  This will be fulfilled when the full remnant that is “all Israel” is saved:  God will have virtually brought them back from death, even as He did Isaac.  The spiritual seed of Abraham are those who are in the Seed –the Son of Promise — who has the pre-eminence in all things:  Messiah, whose coming was foretold in the Garden of Eden.

But already now, believers are a new creation1 loaf as the Body of Messiah (1Cor 10:14-17; Eph 2:14-18; Col 3:9-11)– one new man in Messiah Yeshua (the heart and climax of the Lord’s High Priest prayer for our unity and love Jn 17:20-26 ) which we already are through saving faith in the Lord Yeshua and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us who are born-again.  Just as we already have eternal life now in Messiah, so, too, are we even now a new creation — in both cases waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Rom 8:18-23) at the resurrection or the rapture, whichever applies personally at the time. (1Thes 4:15-17)  We are already sons of God, but the resurrection brings in the reality, similar to the resurrection of Yeshua being the seal of God’s declaration in power that “today I have begotten You”. (Ps 2:7; Acts 13:32-33; Rom 1:4; 8:23-24; Heb 1:1-5)  The one new man will rule and reign with Messiah as His Bride and as priests together with Him on the throne over Israel and the nations for 1000 years. (Rev 20:6)  We who are in Christ are beneficiaries of a better covenant, with better promises and a better hope than what even Israel presently anticipates in fulfillment of her covenant promises and hopes. (Heb 7:19,22; 8:6The one bread leavened loaf of the communion in the Lord’s Supper presents the face of all God’s family in the Body of Christ through the finished work of His Son on the cross, and only priests/followers of Messiah Jesus partake of that one bread of God of the table of the Lord, which is us. (1Cor 10:16-17)

Jews are the natural branches and can trace their roots and heritage back through all this, but without being able to prove the specific tribal lineage.  Gentiles are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but without becoming Jews or Israelis.  (Eph 2:11-13 This is much like during the time of the British Empire, when Canadians, for example, received many privileges and benefits of being part of the Empire, but they didn’t become English or British.)  As believers in Yeshua and abiding in Him, God still makes use of our natural heritage and identities…they still exist and greatly influence our personalities and even worldview…but these things are passing away (not, have passed away)… while the high and upward calling  in Messiah Yeshua is set eternally before each and all of us who believe to become the focus for shaping our eternal identity (Philp 3).  This is a great mystery, but it concerns Messiah/Christ and the church. (Eph 5:32; Ps 45:10-11 Eng)

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!  ‘For who has known the mind of YHVH?  Or who has become His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’  For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever!” (Rom 11:33-36)