WAR – 3 Jan 2009

(Also printed as article in www.comeandsee.com 8 July 2011 under Opinions)

One of the names of the God of Heaven and Earth is YHVH of Hosts (Armies).  When the apostle John wrote (Jn 12:37-41) to us what Isaiah saw (Is 6), he reveals to us the Messiah – Yeshua/Yasu/Jesus – is YHVH of Hosts!  Our God has not changed, and continues to wage war, both in the heavenlies and on the Earth, at least until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to reign with righteousness and justice.

God has given responsibility and authority to human governments – even to unbelievers – to protect the innocent and punish the evil-doer.

Rom 12:17-21 – 13:7   Neither our own past personal or national sins cancels out or disqualifies the present duty and responsibility of governments – which the Spirit tells us God Himself has ordained – to protect the general welfare of a people against internal criminals and against external enemies.

It is wrong to execute personal vengeance.  God has established civil government to act against evil-doers in such a way as to deter future acts of evil.

It is not a sin, then, in this present evil world, for governments or its citizens to engage in war, but, in fact, may actually be an act of righteousness and love to protect the people.

1Tim 2:1-6   God recognizes that most leaders in authority are not born-again, and so commands believers to pray for all men, for kings and all who in authority. . .that they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

Even born-again leaders are in a dilemma:  how to govern a worldly nation according to the teachings of Messiah and the cross, when all the kingdoms of this world are opposed to the Kingdom of God?  The believer in prayer is also in somewhat of a dilemma:  not only may we suffer for righteousness’ sake, even though praying for our leaders and living godly lives, but the wisdom for our leaders, even if they are believers, may still fall far short of accomplishing a ‘good’ solution, no matter the outcome of war.

Believing and unbelieving leaders have been given by God a moral responsibility before God and for their nation to protect and defend its legitimate interests.  It is true that not all leaders ‘love’ their own people or their enemies.  Not all wars are justified by those who strike first.  God will judge, and He knows how and when to defeat a nation, and to raise one up victoriously.

All killing is not murder in God’s view, and godly people are sometimes in a situation requiring them to kill and to be killed in war – even innocent civilians are killed.  It is the intent and purpose of the killing that God will judge as merely killing or whether as murder.  Although very grievous, it is not sin in war when non-combatants or otherwise innocent people are killed if there was no deliberate intent or act to kill them without regard.  The Sixth Commandment, which Yeshua/Jesus confirms in His Sermon on the Mount, is “You shall not murder” (Lo tirtzach).

The use of force is sometimes necessary to achieve desired righteous results, and even to express love.  Parents are instructed by God to use the rod to chasten their children if they love them and if ‘talking’ was not enough. (Pr 13:24; 22:15)  Abraham, surely a man of peace, and called a friend of God, knew how to wage war to rescue his ‘brother’ Lot. (Gen 13)  God Himself, the perfect Father, must at times use strong measures when we who are His children do not properly respond to His grace.  He will also need to use strong and terrible judgments to teach the inhabitants of the world [His] righteousness. (Is 26:9)

When criminals and enemies transgress the accepted law beyond what is tolerable, civil governments have God’s delegated authority and approval – they are His ministers – to take up arms and to even kill.

If we who are born-again and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us do not always use peaceable means to settle conflicts between believers, what should we expect from those who do not know the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?!

War is a terrible reality of the present ages.  Yeshua won the war on the cross; most people have either not yet heard or believed the report.  More people have died since the ‘peace treaty’ was signed by God through their continued unbelief and open rebellion.  May many amongst the Arabs and the Jews come to know the love of the truth as it is in Jesus.

May He return in our own days, and cause war to cease!  Amen.

_ _ _

Afterword:   For the record, I myself refused to take up arms when I had to serve in the IDF, as I believed that was God’s will for me. Israel didn’t understand, of course, and neither did many of the believers.

But, despite my own responsibility before God on the matter, it doesn’t allow me to impose my own personal experience or application upon the Scriptures (including NT) for everyone else, when the Word of God seems to allow for other responses.

LIGHT DISPELS DARKNESS – 21 Dec 2007

This Sunday some of us are going to Bethlehem to worship with Arab brothers and sisters in the joy of our God.  Next weekend our congregation (actually the Lord Yeshua’s congregation) will be host to over 40 teenagers from that same area.  Today happens to be the shortest day of the year, when the light of day in the darkest of seasons is at its briefest in this part of the globe.  A little light can dispel even more darkness; how much more the sun the blackness of night; how much more even does the Light which is the Word of God, and who is Himself the Lord Jesus Christ, dispel the darkness of lies!

Recently, at this very time of year when Jesus Christ is remembered by nearly the entire world, there has been an exposure of some rather remarkable indications of a falling away from the truth which has been entrusted to those who say they know God – or rather that they are known by God:  a book by the well-known preacher and Israel supporter, John Hagee, with the strange view that Yeshua did not come to be Israel’s Messiah and therefore was not rejected as Messiah by them!; we’ve already had those even within the Messianic community deny the deity of Yeshua, or that Jews do not necessarily have to believe in Jesus in order to be saved.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, the supposed spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, went on record just this week on a BBC radio interview that downplayed the importance of believing that Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin.  Besides undermining the veracity of the written word as given us in the Scriptures, it also, of course, raises the question:  who then was the father of Jesus.  If not God, then there is another Jesus the right reverend (or, maybe, wrong reverend, or simply not reverent) archbishop must be referring to!

I don’t know how many of you have seen the recent documents put out by Muslim leaders from around the Islamic world, and the response by Christian leaders.  The Muslim letter is called, “A Common Word Between Us and You” (http://www.acommonword.com ), and the Christian response is titled, “Loving God and Neighbor Together” (http://www.yale.edu/faith/abou-commonword.htm).

The resolution of conflict in areas of mutual social welfare is not and can not be treated as being of the same kind alongside with “theologically based” peace.  Our relationship and fellowship through the blood of Yeshua and our common salvation in Him are essential factors as a basis for other areas of reconciliation amongst believers.   The Holy Spirit is speaking plainly when the Scripture says that  between unbelievers and believers (with respect to the true God)  there can be no genuine reconciliation between nations or peoples!  (2Cor 6:14-18).  

To seek to be at peace, as far as possible, with all persons is one thing, but quite another to do this in such a way which compromises in any way the confession of who the one true God is.   To the Muslims, the name Allah is not the same one God as YHVH God, who has revealed Himself especially to and through the Jews – even if Arab Christians use that term with their own tacit understanding of it.  So those who are blessed as peacemakers or pursuers of peace in being called “sons of God” will be those who pursue and make peace based on YHVH GOD’S covenantal truth regarding peace. As it is written, even the demons know that there is one God . . . and tremble.  When Muslims hear and say “Allah” they are not referring to YHVH God, the Father God who revealed himself through His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, who is one with the Father. (Ps 83:16-18 Eng)  The Jews, Christians, and Muslims do not all share the faith of Abraham, for they do not all believe in the God of Abraham!  (Dec 31:  Check this current extremely relevant story for an Islamic view on the use of the name ‘Allah.  Is Allah a personal name?http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071228/30662_Malaysia_Christians_Challenge_Ban_on_’Allah’.htm )

By the way, YHVH/Yehovah/Yahweh does not mean ‘God’ or ‘LORD’, but is the Name by which He will be known forever, the Everlasting God, the One who was, and is, and is to come – and who came to us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name alone is given under Heaven for salvation unto eternal life.  YHVH is the Most High God — God of gods, and Lord of lords (Ps 136:1-3) — over the god of the Muslims,  the Hindus, the humanists, even of the atheists!  There is no God like YHVH our God, and no other is to be compared with Him.

The document, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ “, which in fact was a Muslim initiative to “define peace and hope in this world only, presents a position, with its language of accommodation, that gives the implicit impression that the God of the Bible is the same as that of the Koran.  Concurrently it then implies that Jesus Christ is no different, higher, or greater than Mohammed, and that reconciliation between the two faith communities is essential for world peace.

The following quote is taken from the “Christian Response”:

“What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each.  It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both:  love of God and love of neighbor.  Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam, as well. That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together.  That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities.”

Neither Judaism nor Islam accepts that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  Yet it is precisely upon this confession that He builds His church, of which we profess to be.  Islam teaches that their God is not a father, and therefore, he has no need of a son, which expressly refers to Jesus, but also includes Israel as first-born son amongst the nations by YHVH’s own declaration.  The Muslim nations’ hope lies in being reconciled to THIS God and to HIS Word, which is no different than that to Israel and the Jews, or to any other people. Peace in this world is of HIM and not of ourselves, however well-meaning.

In the Christian response to the Muslim leaders , the one true God is blurred and too much is left to each person and side to define for themselves what the different terms refer to.  This, of course, will never succeed to accomplish anything genuine, and is clearly the wiles of the devil who is seeking to deceive even the elect, if he can.

The Lord Jesus says that we are the light of the world, and that our light is to shine so before men that they may see our good works done in His Name and glorify our Father in Heaven.  To the Muslim, this makes no sense, since they do not believe in the same Lord and Savior as we do; nor is our Father in Heaven theirs.  We are called to be stewards of the mysteries of the Kingdomof God and of the uniqueness of our God, of His Son, and of the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Some say that speaking of Yeshua’s life and teaching is understood to include also that He died and rose again.  By whom?  The Muslims do not believe that He died, and therefore He did not rise again.  The Jews believe that He died, and no more than that.  As believers our salt will become more tasteless and less effective if we allow ourselves to be brought down to the lowest common denominator in the pursuit to find ‘common ground’, which will be found to be nothing but sinking sand!

The “Christian Response” to the Muslim appeal promotes neither inner nor political peace, not now nor for eternity.  Yes, we all would like to see even temporary relief from all the suffering and injustices we face in the world, just as from headaches and other illnesses.  But our actual calling is to bring those in darkness into the Light where there is true and lasting hope, not for this age only (which is in any case subjected to futility), but especially for the world to come.

At the very time and season that many believers around the world are celebrating the birth of Him who is the true Light who came into the world, His enemy is at work to bring in confusion, and using those called by the name of the Lord and of His Christ to either show themselves to be hypocrites who don’t really believe what they have written, or else afraid through unbelief in the love of the truth.  “By this we know love, because [Yeshua] laid down His life for us.”

We live in sobering times, and are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.  The time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?!  May God our Father have mercy on all His children.

ISSUE OF THE HEART: ” As if”

Have you ever listened to Israelis speaking in Hebrew and noticed that some of them us the word k’ilu”?  It’s become a word that is used so much as just a ‘filler’ that it is difficult to know when the speaker really means “as if” or not.  

As I prepared my lesson for our house group a few weeks ago, I came upon the Hebrew word l’kachesh that is found in Dt 33:29; 2Sam 2:45; Ps 66:3; 81:15 (16 Heb), for examples.  The word kechash means deceiver or liar.  Kakhashoot is similar to kafira and effikoresoot:  someone who is unfaithful to the truth, especially with respect to God and the principles of the faith; an infidel.  L’kachesh suggests someone or a group or a nation which pretends or feigns submission or obedience or loyalty to God or to a faith or to a nation or to an agreement, but in their heart they are not sincere or truthful.  I was reminded just this morning that nations will be making a covenant with Israel – and vice versa – as IF they accept her, but then Gog and Magog will attack a people at rest in unwalled villages, but. . .Israel will prevail by the power and grace of the faithful and true God and Savior.  Hallelu-Yah!  

As IF/K’ilu 

Mt 23:27-28   religious leaders and teachers who give the impression outwardly of holiness and godliness, but inwardly are dead in their trespasses and sin.  They say one thing but do another.  They are hypocrites and haters of the liberty in Messiah, and make all kinds of rules which bring people into bondage to them or to demons.  

Let’s remember that the Pharisees began as a movement or stream within Judaism before Jesus was born.  They opposed all of the Greek (Hellenistic) influence upon the religion of the Jews, and they sought to preserve the integrity and character of Jewishness within Israel and the Dispersion.  In other words, they began well, but afterwards began to control the people and government through all kinds of religious regulations which controlled the conscience, and these became the traditions and Oral Law. 

With this they made void God’s Word and His commandments, yet presumed themselves to be the guardians of the faith.  In Mt 23, Jesus exposes their lie and says in fact that they are hypocrites and lawless!  

The apostle Paul warns us in the church of God of similar reality in our own days (1Tim 4:1-3), as well as does the Lord Himself in His letter to the church of Laodicea, of those who seem to be true believers but in their heart they are not.  

Mt 7: 15; 24: 4-5   as if sheep but actually wolves: false prophets who draw disciples for themselves rather than to Jesus.  They bring in their own teachings rather than keeping the Word of God.  They are unfaithful to the New Covenant of God through Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the cross.  

In His letter to the church of Thyatira, Jesus warns of Jezebel as a false prophet within the church who leads people against the holiness and purity of God and of those who say they believe in the Lord Jesus.

The Scriptures are clear that those who practice such things, and do not repent, will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  

Lk 11:5-8   friendship has its limits with us.  We can and do disappoint our friends, and if we are honest, we also feel as if even the Lord lets us down even if by faith we know that is not actually true.  Jesus says that there is no greater love than someone giving his life for his friends.

What are we talking about with all this issue of the heart?  The Holy Spirit is working in us to make our crooked ways straight, our hard hearts of stone to be soft hearts of flesh.  He wants us to be “yes and amen” in our faith and relationships, and not “as IF”, not hypocrites.  If our heart and thoughts are not holy on the inside, then the Word of God judges us as He does the Pharisee and Scribe:  our outward appearance may deceive us or others, but not the Lord to whom every man must give an account.   

Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, whether that knee or tongue belongs to a true believer or to one who was an open hater and enemy or to one who k’ilu believed but was exposed as false.  It is an amazing truth that even after 1000 years of the righteous rule of Messiah, there will still be a rebellion at the end!  The reality of our faith and relationship with God the Father and His Son is an issue of our hearts.  

Let us guard our hearts:  a king in Israel is himself subject to God’s Law.  He could not justly use the Law against others without himself being subject to the same Law, whether as citizen or as king.  An elder in the congregation can not use the teachings of the NT to control the flock of Jesus without subjecting himself to the same teachings.  A husband can not use the Word of God as a sword against his wife without allowing that same Word of God be a sword of the Holy Spirit in his own life as well.  An old person can not use the truth of God against the bad behavior of young people without also applying that same truth to himself as it speaks also to older people.  

So, to be overcomers and victors in this battle for our hearts and souls, and for the integrity of our testimony:
–let each person daily examine and judge him/herself with respect to the personal relationship and fellowship with the Lord and with the other brothers and sisters in the faith;  

–let us desire to know God and His Word, and let Him bring conviction of our sin in the light of His perfection, and allow the Holy Spirit to change us by His power and grace into the likeness of the Son of God, resulting in our praise to such a holy and loving Father;  

–let us deny ourselves, pick up our own cross daily, and follow the Lamb, our Lord Jesus, wherever He leads uf;  

–let us learn to love the Lord Jesus more than anything or anyone else, and obey Him willingly – not “as if” – a living sacrifice.  Let His will be done in our life, not our will; let His will be done in the Church, in Israel, in the nations, not our will.  

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

THE DISCIPLINE AND ENDURANCE FOR THE PRIZE

1 Cor 9:24-27   Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus:  not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight:  not as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
                          –What value do we place upon our prize – our crown?  What are we willing to do in order to obtain it?
                          –Paul was certain about his salvation, and because he knew God’s forgiveness, Paul loved Him greatly.
                          –temperate (moderate) in food, drink, bodily exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling one’s eyes and tongue  

2 Tim 4:7-8   I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
                          –Paul had been serving the Lord as an apostle for about 30 years
                             –remember Daniel, taken to Babylon as a teen, and thrown into lions’ den around age 80, still known as being a man in whom the Spirit of the Holy God dwelt
                          —the good fight; finished the race; kept the faith
                             –there is a beginning, a starting point in our life as a believer; there is an end to the trials of life
                          –expectation of return of Messiah Jesus
                             –“Our Father in Heaven, Thy Kingdom come!”; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!”; “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
                          –crown of righteousness (whatever tangible thing it may also be) is the resurrection of the righteous (Dan 12:2-3; Jn 5:21-30; Rev 20:6)
                             –it could be likened to the “icing on the cake”; “to top it all off”; “the best of it all”
                             –in any case, we lay it at the feet of Yeshua, who alone is truly worthy and without whom we would have nothing (Rev 4:9-11

2Tim 2:3-7   You must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  And also, if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.  The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.  Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things 

Do these verses trouble you, that we need to endure, to persevere in our life as a believer?  I believe that they should trouble us!  The fear of God is necessary for our spiritual health.  God is always urging us on to more and greater things than we ever thought possible in our struggles and challenges in life to attain the approval of a job well done, of a life well-lived for His sake.  A true believer will show that he/she is by persevering through to the end in the faith, in Messiah Jesus, no matter what happens during our life.  We will even sin, but a true believer will repent and return to righteousness, which is of faith in the salvation of God given through believing in Jesus who has loved us.  

Is 66:1-2   YHVH God looks upon him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at His word.
                          –Being a soldier, knowing that war is always possible and a reality, is a hard life.  He must know who the enemy is and why he is risking his life to fight and to defeat him.
                            –consider Hezbollah fighters and their single-mindedness to destroy Israel
                            –are we as aware of the enemy of Christ and of our souls and our call to overcome him by faith in the finished work of Messiah on the cross?
                            –to endure requires exercise and training, physically and mentally and emotionally
                          –A good soldier can not be distracted by the ordinary things of life, which could weaken his readiness as a loyal and and good soldier.
                            –reservists must be prepared for call-ups, even unexpected and on short notice
                             –even sexual abstinence required under the Law before going to war
                               –Uriah the Hittite refused King David’s efforts to have him have sex with Batsheva, his own wife
                               –contrast behavior of famous Brazilian soccer player whose girlfriend boasted about their sex life during the World Cup, in which he played poorly

                            –What choices do we make, and what do we believe God for in matters such as:
                              –jobs, and their days and hours
                                –do we ask God – and our bosses – for conditions which will enable us to be free to serve the Lord in the context of the local congregation:  to be free to attend essential meetings and services; to be available for ministry and for helping
                            –Are we exercising our conscience to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong?  

                          –Being a God of righteousness, only those who compete by the rules are honored and rewarded.  No believer in Jesus can expect honor from our Father if we have added to or taken away from His Word regarding our conduct in life – from start to finish, as in a race.  We must remain in our (His) lane, and be found blameless in our training and in our competing.  (Our sin will surely find us out; witness the Italian soccer clubs being demoted because of attempts to influence matches.)  

                          –laziness is never rewarded, but the diligent and hardworking servant is entitled to enjoy the fruit of his/her labors
                            –Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!  

Remember, we are being conformed to the image of the Son of God.  Sonship indicates maturity, and participation in — with the Lord Jesus, our older Brother — in our Father’s plan and purpose. 

OVERCOMING HATRED FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

(Delivered at NEM Conference at the Baptist Village in Israel, April 23, 2006)

Mt 5:9-11   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  

I tell people who ask me what it’s like to live as a believer in Israel that Israel is a great place to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, because it’s difficult to be lukewarm about our faith.  We have many first-hand experiences related to the passage we read from Matthew.  The Middle East provides us with many opportunities to be “blessed, happy, satisfied” if we are motivated by the love and purposes of God.  

Rom 12:17-21   There is no guarantee of success in our pursuit of peace or in our peace-making with others, but we are to live in the power of the Holy Spirit in us to demonstrate the truth – the reality – of our faith in Jesus and of His being our Savior and Lord.  

It is the peace of GOD that we have which we are to communicate and strive to obtain with others.  It is a peace which surpasses understanding.  Any other peace will be only temporary at best; only Jesus gives what is true peace:  it is a fruit of God’s righteousness; the price has been paid to secure it; it gives rest to the whole person, and nothing can take it away.  It begins when we return to God through the atonement of Jesus and know that our sins have been forgiven and we have received the Holy Spirit and eternal life.  

In our local congregation, Yeshua’s Inheritance/Nachalat Yeshua, we are each and all there because Jesus has placed us there.  We must learn to accept whom He has accepted, to love one another despite great differences of background and personalities; to forgive each other because we are disciples of Jesus.  In Israeli churches, we have a training ground to overcome natural prejudices towards other nations since so many of us have come from countries that were hostile or jealous of each other!  

The Christians – whether Jewish or gentile – live in not only a non-Christian country, but an anti-Christian country.  Both Judaism and Islam are opposed to the truth of Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God.  Even secularized Jews and Muslims are naturally inclined to resist the gospel.  Our congregation has twice been targets of angry irrational mobs, who were incited by false rumors started and spread by their religious leaders.  This is no different than in the days of Jesus, Stephen, Paul.  Jesus tell His disciples that if hate and persecute us, it is because they first did so to Him.  This is a proof that they do not know God the Father who sent Yeshua His only begotten Son.  To be anti-Semitic and anti-Christian is to be, first of all, anti-YHVH God and His sovereignty.  We are chosen and saved by His grace to glorify Him.  

A simple act of “giving a cup of cold water” to an enemy of the gospel can demonstrate our goodwill and desire to be at peace with him.  After all, Jesus commands us to even love our enemies, which we can only do for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  This is a clear demonstration that we are willing to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.  

In Jewish/Arab, Israeli/Palestinian, missionary ministries in the Middle East, which strive to reconcile people to God and to one another, it is the Word of God to which we must all be reconciled and bring forth with humility in our efforts to be right with God and to have His grace working through us.  In such a region of conflict, which is firstly spiritual in nature, we have a moral responsibility to be in agreement with God on any issue, and then humbly seek to persuade others of the righteousness of God.  This way results in joy in the Holy Spirit, when we acknowledge that it is God who has done it!

Questions:   

1.  How does our understanding of what the Bible teaches about the “end-times”, the “last days”, affect our ministry and message of reconciliation, of pursuing peace?  When is “in that day” referring to in Isaiah 19:23-25?  

2.  Does our expectation of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth make a difference in our efforts at peace-making?
   –What if the Master “delays” His coming?
   –What if nothing seems to indicate signs of His coming?
   –Do we believe and know that Jesus will come again?  

3.  If the Lord Jesus is coming to judge the nations, how does this affect our ministry?
   –Calling anyone and everyone to repentance and to believe the good news
   –Being light and salt  

4.  If believers are commanded to love one another as Jesus has loved us, how does this affect our relationships with believers from unfriendly or enemy nations or people groups?  

5.  Would having a personal experience of suffering hatred and persecution for our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ make a difference in our approach to unbelievers who oppose the gospel?  

6.  Jesus said that His peace is not like the peace which the world gives.  What are some of the differences? 

HATED FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE

We previously looked at striving together in prayer for the sake of the gospel; zeal for the sake of God’s covenant; regathering and salvation of Israel for the sake of YHVH’s holy name 

Mt 5:11-12   Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven; for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.     WITHIN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

Mt 10:21-22   Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.  And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.     WITHIN FAMILY; CIVIL WAR

Jn 15:18-21   If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake because they do not know Him who sent Me.   WORLD-AT-LARGE AND ALSO AMONGST PEOPLE OF GOD  

I tell people who ask me what it’s like to  live as a believer in Israel that Israel is a great place to follow the Lord Jesus Christ because it’s difficult to be lukewarm about our faith here.  We have many experiences and opportunities to know and live in the reality of the truth of what we have read in the above passages!  Believers who live in “Christian” countries do not normally consider these verses relevant, and certainly do not understand the truth of them.  We can be “blessed, happy, satisfied” if we are motivated by the love and purposes of God to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus in our life.  

And as Jesus speaks to His disciples that this hatred and persecution will be on account of His Name, this is also to place Him in a position equal to God, since it is for YHVH God that we are to live and die and give glory.  Moses and the other prophets never said to Israel that they would suffer on account of their names.  

We need to understand that, based on the Law, false prophets were to be killed (Dt 13:5,9-10; 18:20)The Lord Himself tells us (Jn 16:1-4) that there will be those who think that by killing us, they are doing God a work of faith, since Jesus is considered by the authorities of the Jewish religion a false prophet:  one who leads the people away from the God of their own understanding.  Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, was like that.  

It requires a revelation from God the Father that Jesus is Himself YHVH to understand the extent of our sin against Him and those who believe in Him.  Only in this way can we with a good conscience be willing to suffer for the sake of the Name of Jesus and not feel that we are offending the one true God of Israel.  The prophets who suffered for the sake of their testimony of YHVH did so by their own people, that is, by Israelis and Jews.  So we, who are witnesses of the risen and exalted Messiah, are not to be surprised by such hatred toward us without a cause.  And we certainly do not want to give them any other cause!  Let their accusations against us be false, like against Daniel in Babylon, and against Jesus and Stephen and Paul.  They do these things because they do not know God the Father nor the Lord Jesus, even while they profess to be serving God.  

We speak at Passover about the importance and necessity of bitter herbs in our life.  Bearing our cross daily for the sake of Jesus is such a bitter herb in our life; listening and seeing our people or our families be against us simply because we know and believe the truth about Messiah is a bitter herb; to be killed without justice is a bitter herb.  But the promise of Jesus – who has authority to make and to keep such promises – the promise of reward in the Kingdom of Heaven, this gives incentive and power and hope and love to endure to the end. 

All of us, let us keep our eyes upon Jesus and the glory that is His already – and ready to be revealed.
1Pt 4:12-19   

PURIM: SOME LESSONS FOR US

The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim.  This holiday is still being observed:  it still has relevance for us today, even for Gentile believers in Jesus.  Haman presents us with a type of the antichrist in his spirit, and a descendant of Agag, of Amalek, of Esau, the hostile fraternal twin brother of Jacob.

Today I want to look at just a couple of events in the book for us as believers to consider:
Es 2:5-18   Esther’s natural beauty; her humility and wisdom; the king’s servant, Hegai, the eunuch who took care of the women (virgins)   

The believer and his/her lengthy preparation for spiritual beauty to appear before the King.

Eph 5:25-27   Messiah loves the Church that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

This gives us confidence to approach the King with reverence and hope, having done our all to please him.

Heb 4:16   Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Es 3:1-6   Mordecai would not bow down or worship Haman because Mordecai was a Jew; Haman, in his pride and wrath, sought to kill not only Mordecai, but all the Jews, the people of Mordecai (and of Esther).
      Gen 3:15   enmity between the Seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent
      Mt 4:8-10; Ex 20:3-5; Dt 6:4-5,13-14   The Jew and Christian are to worship YHVH God, and serve Him only.  Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one!  (Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God is one YHVH!)
      Rom 2:29   He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and whose circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit and not in the letter, and whose praise is not from men, but from God.

We, too, are called to be discerning and bold to not worship or serve the god of this world, even as we give honor to kings and all in authority.  The spirit of antichrist seeks to take the ultimate honor and worship for himself, depriving the sole privilege to Whom it rightly belongs:  to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Esther – as the Bride – prepares herself not only to come before the King and find favor in his eyes, but also as one who honors him as a wife to her husband, she is in the right place at the right time to both understand and to intercede effectively for her people and for her own self and family as she accepts her true identity before him and in the face of the enemy.   

The Holy Spirit is sanctifying us to prepare us for the spiritual warfare to come, and to make us ready for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is God and Deliverer of His people.  He will defeat forever Amalek, and give rest to His people from all their enemies, so that we may worship Him in Spirit and truth.  

The Holocaust and Knowing God

Is 5:11-16, 21-24  Israel does not regard the activity of YHVH or the works of His hands.  God’s people in captivity [physical and spiritual] because of  lack of knowledge.  YHVH of Hosts will be exalted in judgment, hallowed in righteousness.  God’s people have rejected Law of YHVH of Hosts and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel.

Tomorrow night begins Holocaust Remembrance Day, the remembrance of the worst calamity so far upon the Jewish people/the children of Jacob in our history.  The subject of the Holocaust always brings with it many questions:  Where was God, whom Jews and Christians claim is everywhere, all-powerful, and all-knowing?    Why did our God not intervene to stop or even prevent such unspeakable horror and sufferings and acts of wickedness?    If Messiah has come, as Christians say, and He has not forsaken His covenanted people, how could so many – including children, nursing mothers, religious Jews – be killed?    How could this happen in a “Christian” nation — Germany?    What kind of God is this who could see and allow such a thing?    Answers are not so easily offered.

Jewish persons and the people of Israel are witnesses of YHVH God, who created and chose us. (Is 43:10)  We are witnesses of who He is, and we are witnesses of what man is. (1Cor 10:6-11)  The lesson of Scripture is that a nation collectively, and individuals personally, are responsible before God for their own sin and consequent judgment, and for their own righteousness and consequent justification.(Ezek 18; Joel 3:5 Heb (2:32 Eng) )  The same God who made His Son Jesus a whole burnt offering for sin to die for our transgressions is the same God who brought a destruction upon His chosen people — whom He has called as a nation His first-born son — in judgment for our continuing unbelief and sin, in accord with the testimony of God’s covenants and written Word.  Our God is a Jealous God, who knows what is wise and good!

YHVH is a God of covenant, and He is faithful.  He does not change.  The God of the Tenach (O.T.) is the same as the God of the N.T.  The God of Israel is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Many of us believe that the words and teaching of Yeshua recorded in Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21, Rev refer in large part to events still to take place – regarding Israel, the nations, and the Church – and that these things are not far off now.  What is spoken of in these places is something not yet experienced in human history, and the only deliverance can come from God Himself:  the God who has prophesied judgments is the God who promises deliverance and mercy to those who turn to Him for salvation.

When speaking about the Holocaust and its lessons, God is usually left out as being active in it.  It is always good and edifying to read stories like Corrie Ten Boom’s, because we see the works and ways of God in mercies towards innocent victims, and towards those who repent of their sins.  But even a Corrie Ten Boom needed to learn the ways of God in Messiah:  to forgive those who did such despicable things, not only to Jews, but also to her own Dutch family who tried to save Jews from being sent to Germany.  We Jews, who know that our own sins – both personal and as part of a nation – are forgiven, can offer comfort to Germans, especially to those who have saving faith in Jesus, to free them from a lingering sense of guilt and shame over their sins and those of their nation. 

When we leave God out of the discussion as to what happened and why, it is further proof that we do not regard His Law, or His Word, or His acts and righteous judgments, the very things by which He can and will be known and sanctified!  Those who would deny that God could allow such a thing become those who deny that He can send sinners, who refuse His terms of salvation, to hell forever.  The passage we read from Isaiah is consistent with the Words of YHVH through Moses in chapters like Lev 26; Dt 28; 32.

Read them to know better the great God whom we serve and in whom we have entrusted our souls for life.

It is evident that Holocaust museums, education on racism and antisemitism will not be enough to prevent what is cried aloud, “Never again!”  The same living Word of God written thousands of years ago still abides.  Judgments against sin and sinners come from the Holy and Righteous Judge of the whole Earth, firstly against those of His own people who refuse to walk in His ways and so receive all His benefits.

Even today, when the gospel is going out in Israel and believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah and Lord are greater in number than ever before, our religious and political leaders still oppose the truth of God our Father in Heaven.  The government is making its own plans for peace and security, refusing God’s, which is the only one which will succeed.  The believers in Arad are suffering threats and curses from those who claim to know God, just as happened in the days of Jesus and the apostles. 

How can we know God’s grace and mercy?:  Through His judgments, just as Adam and Eve; just as we who know the reason why Jesus came to die on the cross; just as Israel and the nations will learn as God brings every knee to bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (YHVH).  It is at the cross that we know God—both in His righteous judgment against all sin and sinners, and in His mercy and love for anyone who repents and believes in their heart that He is just in all His ways.

Jn 3:16-19  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

If we love our people, if we love the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, we will bring the truth of God and His Word to them, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin of unbelief, so that they might seek God for His mercy to forgive.  As we remember the Holocaust, let us remember, too, the honor of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ whom He sent.

Worship God in Spirit and Truth – 20 Dec 2003

(Modified Dec 15, 2017)

Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints
Mt 5:14-16  we are light to be seen, and to honor the true Light source
–light to be seen publicly
–draws attention for friend and foe

The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) reminds us of the battle within Israel amongst the Jewish people over the worship of God in the Temple.  This was about 160 years before Jesus was born.  The LORD helped the Maccabees win the victory to re-establish the worship of God according to the truth as understood under the Law and the Prophets.  And the LORD was with them in the victory!  But the Maccabees, too, were but men like us, and before long, the decline reached to the point of no return.  There remained a remnant that sought true freedom, not only from the Roman powers which the Maccabees invited into Israel, but freedom to worship God with all their hearts, soul, mind, and strength, and to see Israel redeemed from all her unrighteousness.

A greater than the Maccabees has come, and He is also greater than the Temple.  Jesus came into Israel, and into the world which He made, in order to re-dedicate the true worship of the one true God, and to establish the Kingdom of God in the hearts of any who would believe.  It required His death and resurrection and ascension to make this reality in those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit.  Yet the same battle rages today within the Church, the Body of Messiah, as in the days of the Maccabees.

Jesus confessed before Pilate that He was indeed a king — the King of a kingdom not of this world.  And Jesus said that for this He came into the world — to bear witness to the truth.  Pilate did not believe in absolute truth. (Jn 18:36-38)  As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we are to be faithful witnesses of our King — both in speaking of Him and in our life for Him.

This year we continue to experience an assault on essential truths of the faith which we have received through the Scriptures.  Our Father in Heaven is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth, and the enemy is seeking to deceive believers – the elect – if it were possible.

I want to look at a few of the issues that we must earnestly contend for in faithfulness to the New Covenant and the revelation of Jesus Christ:

Ex 20:6; Mt 10:37-39; 22:36-40 the Deity of Jesus: we must love Him with all our heart; He is LORD
Rom 10:13-14; Mt 10:28-33 Evangelism:  we must confess His holy and blessed name to others that they may be saved
Mt 16:15-17; 1Jn 2:20-26,28 Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God
1Jn 4:1-6; Jn 5:18-20; Lk 3:38; Mt 1:1 ; Jn 5:22-27  Jesus Christ came in the flesh: He is the Son of God; He is the Son of Man:  He is the Judge (God is the Judge)
Acts 1:9-11; Lk 9:26 The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again in the body
Jn 14:6; 1Jn 5: 4-5,9-13 Jesus is the only way to God the Father
Heb 6:2; Rev 20:10-15; Mt 25:41-46; Mk 9:42-48; Dan 12:1-2; Is 66:22-24 Everlasting judgment and condemnation for those who will not to believe

To love God is to honor and obey Him as our Father.  To love others is to keep the commandments of God.  For us to worship God the Father in spirit and truth, and to love others as we love ourselves, we must uphold these truths of the faith once delivered unto the saints.  The Lord’s Supper is a constant reminder of the shed blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins until He comes again.

The Holocaust and the Salvation of Israel: “Be Reconciled to YHVH GOD”

Lev. 26: 40-45   Israel and Jewish people confessing personal and historic collective guilt for breaking YHVH’s covenants

There is a biblical principle whereby God holds the heads of a people accountable for the blessing or punishment of the people.  We see this with Pharaoh and the Egyptians with respect to the children of Israel at the time of the Passover and Exodus from Egypt.  We see it again with King David and his census of Israel, bringing the LORD’s judgment upon the people and the near destruction of Jerusalem (2Sam. 24).

The rulers of the people — whether kings or priests — represent the people before God, and by their example of faith and obedience — or the contrary — the nation is led.  Today, does not a nation of people go to war or make peace based upon the determinations of their leader(s)?  Are not nations judged in the eyes of others by their thoughts regarding the heads of government or of the religious authorities?  Do not Jews today insist that Germans living today confess their nation’s and their parents’ guilt for the Holocaust — that Germans and Germany are primarily responsible and guilty because of their evil leader who governed and represented them?; or to put it another way, in Hitler, the Germans living today — whether or not they were personally and directly involved — are reckoned as guilty and defiled by the Jewish people, even more than are Austrians and Poles who also bear their own iniquity.

Other Biblical examples of this living principle of divine justice covering generations for nations, tribes, and  peoples are:
1.      in Adam, all have sinned and all human beings inherit condemnation and death;

2.      in Abraham (Abram), Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, signifying the preeminence of  the Priest Melchizedek over Aaron and the Levitical priesthood;

3.      in the Passover, Jews remember that we were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD brought us out;

4.      in Messiah, many are justified and made alive, inheriting righteousness and life.

 There are both  power in, and accountability for, our words which we speak or write, all the more so if we are in positions of authority (Mt. 12:36-37).

John 11:45-53    – Caiaphas the High Priest unknowingly prophesied that the one man Yeshua would die for the whole nation, and even for all the scattered children of God.

Mt. 27:25    – “all the people [of Israel] answered and said, ‘Let His [Yeshua’s] blood be on us and on our children’!

 Primary responsibility, with its guilt and historic consequences, is upon the leaders and people of Israel (John 19:11; Lev. 4:1-3, 13, 14, 22, 23; Acts 2; 4) — both before God and by our own words and agreement with our “fathers” — for the betrayal and death of Messiah.  Praise God that upon the cross, Yeshua/Jesus prayed that God His Father forgive us!

 YEHOVAH is the God of covenant, to which He is always faithful to fulfill His part, which includes His  promises to make the people of Israel a holy people for Himself.  Therefore He is working to remove from His people transgressions, sin, iniquity, and uncleanness — guilt and shame – – and to bring in everlasting righteousness.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring His people to an end of themselves, to stop trusting in themselves or in the arm of the flesh, so that they will call on the Name of Yeshua for salvation:  Blessed is He who comes in the Name YEHOVAH!  It is Yeshua whom God has given as a guilt offering (Is. 53:10), and His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness.

The Holocaust brings reproach to the Holy Name of the God of Israel and of the Lord Jesus Christ:
          –“These are the people chosen by God?!”

          –“Where was/is God?”

          –“How can a ‘good’ God allow such atrocities?”

          –“Maybe God is not strong enough to stop evil?!”

          –“God has forsaken and cast away the Jews!”

Remember Messianic brothers and sisters, Yeshua died a criminal’s death because of — and 
to take away — that evil unbelief and rebellion, the sin of the world!

Do we trust and love our God and Savior to honor His holy name in the face of such unbelief and mocking?  Many Christians risked, and even sacrificed their lives to save Jews from the death trains and camps.  In the unknowable ways of God, just as the crucifixion was necessary, so too was the Holocaust.  God’s judgments are past finding out!

 As many as are Jewish believers, we need to accept the truth of our primary responsibility for our history.  Let Gentile believers each examine and judge himself for their own personal and historic sins of your nations and churches against the Sovereign LORD and against the Jews and Christians.  Offenses there must necessarily be, but woe to those through whom they come!

The Lord Jesus says that the truth sets free and sanctifies.  Confession of our own and of our fathers’ sins is an act of humility, and it brings cleansing, freedom, blessedness — because by it we receive and know the righteousness of God who forgives us and accepts us.

The Lord promises to save His people from their sins.  The true gospel includes the cross of the Messiah and God’s righteous judgments against Israel, not to the exclusion of the other nations.  As has been spoken before, there is no glory for the Jewish people (or for any nominal Christian) apart from the faith in the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Hope of Israel.  Let us who believe be sure of our own peace with God and acceptance of His ways and judgments so that we can speak the truth with love to the Jewish people, and to others.

2Cor. 5:11a, 18-21    in the fear of God, be reconciled to Him and be ministers of reconciliation

Amen!