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.

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!

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                            

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR GUILT OFFERING

Recently I was walking down the street and singing the chorus to the song, “Peace Like A River” – ‘it is well with my soul’ – and the Lord by His Spirit had me rejoicing in my spirit and giving thanks to God that it is true:  it is well with my soul!  And yet, I considered how annoyed and impatient I can be; how I am not considered by others for good works particularly; how I have to fight so many unclean thoughts.  So what is it then that I can be singing in truth that it is well with my soul?!  It is because Jesus is my guilt (trespass) offering, and I have peace and security in my relationship to God as my Father through Messiah.  And if I know that I have acceptance with my Creator and Redeemer, then I can also relate to my brothers and sisters in the Lord, as well as to people still of this world, on the basis of that reality.  When my heart condemns me – which it does at times for those very things mentioned above – God is greater than my heart.

The sin offering is primarily for what I am:  a sinner by nature, and the Lamb of God has come to take away the sin of the world.  The guilt offering is primarily for what I do:  I sin and trespass; and the Son of God’s name is Yeshua, who will save His people from their sins.

The Son of God has set us free:  free to acknowledge our sins and confess them to God, and at times to one another, because He forgives us – and we are to do likewise to others.  There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1,33)  We are free to love others, to do unto them what we would like them to do unto us, even if they do not demonstrate that they love us!  If I know in my own spirit that I desire to love God and to be faithful to the New Covenant in Jesus, then my conscience is clear before both God and man, even though Satan accuses me, my wife and friends misunderstand me, and I myself wonder at the grace of God to die for someone as useless as me! (1Jn 3:18-24) 

Is there guilt then in the believer’s life?  Of course! – whenever we sin knowingly, or whenever the Holy Spirit shows us or reminds us of something we had done unknowingly or unintentionally which was, in fact, a sin – either against our relationship with the Lord directly, or indirectly through another person.  If we do not address the matter and either ask forgiveness, or perhaps grant forgiveness to another, then we honestly do our part to accept our responsibility as those who would be in Christ and walking by the Spirit, and not in the flesh.

Last week Lisa was baptized, which is the answer of a good conscience towards God (1Pet 3:21), in that it testifies to the personal belief that Jesus Christ died, and rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven, where He is both Lord over all and makes intercession for us as our great High Priest.  When we truly believe this and walk in this truth, we know that God has justified us through faith and by His Spirit.  Guilt and the bondage to fear of judgment are removed, and instead love is perfected. (1Jn 4:17-19)

At the Lord’s Supper we are each to examine and to judge ourselves.  If our participation depended on satisfying the demands of someone else’s conscience, or of keeping the commandments of Jesus as if we ourselves were Jesus, then no one could eat God’s own covenant meal that He has Himself invited us to!  But when our communion is in the holy and righteous and blessed truth that Jesus is Himself my guilt offering – and when I maintain my relationship with God and my brethren on that basis – then I can rejoice in His joy over someone like me, or like you.  Did you know that bread in Hebrew (lechem) has to do with warfare – a conflict and battle for survival, for justification in the eyes of others, for victory over our enemies – real or imagined?  In Greek the word for bread (artos) contains the thought of expiation — to lift off and to remove.  Is not this the truth of the New Testament fulfilling the hope and promise and struggle of the Old Testament?  Jesus has come to give peace  to all who put their trust in Him as having been sent from God the Father.  He removes the heavy load of our guilt before God and before our fellow man.  The victory is His on the cross; it is ours as we, too, deny ourselves each day, take up our cross which He has given to each of us, and follow Him.  Allow Him to righteously take away your guilt, and believe God when He says He has!

In Jesus we are NOT GUILTY, but FREE to live for Him!

Make Jesus your guilt offering (Is 53:10-12), and rejoice in the goodness of the LORD!  Amen.

PEACE AND RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE NATIONS OF JACOB AND ESAU – Aug 1995

(Delivered in Lempala, Finland, at Israel Conference)

Summarize:
Gen. 25:21-34    birth of Esau and Jacob, fathers of two nations; birthright sold by Esau to Jacob; Isaac loved Esau (Edom); Rebecca loved Jacob
27:1,20-22   Isaac’s poor eyesight in his old age; voice of Jacob vs. hands of Esau; Isaac’s carnal love for Esau
27:28-41    the blessings; the deceit of Jacob; the hatred (grudge) of Esau
32:28   Jacob’s name changed to Israel by God, indicating new character (person) and position (status)
33:1-20   unresolved reconciliation between Jacob/Israel and Esau/Edom over the issue of the land

1Cor. 10:11    the Bible and its examples written for us living at the end of the age
Read:   Col. 1:19-23    Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness, is our peace

The Bible is very clear that the covenant of God with Abraham (Abram) extended through Isaac and to Jacob and his descendants.  Under the Old Covenant, YHVH was in personal relationship with the people of Israel as a nation, excluding the gentile nations.  Individually, the Lord has always had His witnesses amongst all peoples.  (Eph. 2:12; Amos 3:2; Deut. 4:32-39; Acts 14:17)

Esau and Jacob were born to the same father and mother – in fact were fraternal twins – yet one is the father of Israel and is thought of as “Jewish”, while the other is not in covenant relationship to the LORD, and so is considered not Jewish, but rather, in other words, gentile. (1Cor. 10:32)

From God’s viewpoint, the Land of Canaan was to belong to Israel.  The Arabs and other Gentiles have had no sovereign claim to it once God gave it to the children of Israel through the leadership of Joshua.  Gentiles, including Arabs – both Ishmaelites and Edomites – could live in the land but not possess it.  The LORD conditioned Israel’s possession upon their faith and obedience to Him and His law, which, as we know, they failed to do, as would any other people in the same position as God’s chosen people (Acts 15:10).  All blessing to Israel has been ultimately connected to the promised Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, whom God would bring into the world through the Jewish people, but who was to be the same promised Seed of the woman that was to deliver all humanity from the seed of the serpent.  God is faithful to His Word even if we are not, and He is presently dealing with the Jewish people (and with all the tribes of Israel which He alone can recognize) back again in the land which He promised and which He refers to still as the Land of Israel, despite peoples’ uncertainty regarding the name, and their rebellion against YHVH and His Anointed. (2Tim. 2:13; Josh. 5:13-15; Ezek. 36–39; Ps. 2; 83; Mt 2:20-21)

Under the New Covenant, which Israel as a nation has not yet accepted or entered into, although it was first (and still) offered to her, God is offering to both Jews/Israelis and Arabs/Palestinians far more than what they each are struggling over now:  eternal life with the Lord Himself in the New Heavens and New Earth He will create, rather than a portion of land which is not even all that was promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  When Yeshua returns, He will bring to fulfillment His word and promises regarding the land, its boundaries, and where the different peoples will live during the millenial kingdom.  Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus will bring righteousness and peace – even to the animals!

So until then, what do Isaac’s prophetic blessings to his sons, and the characters of and relationship between Jacob and Esau have to instruct us as Christians in the Church of God?  (Heb. 11:20)  Let’s look together at. . .
Gen. 27:28-29,33   blessing to Jacob in disguise. . .and he shall be blessed (much as Balaam had to concede hundreds of years later)
Rom. 9:7-8; Gal. 4:28   Isaac as child of promise (grace vs. works of flesh, custom, or law) a picture of believers and the Church
Gen. 27:39-40   “blessing” to Esau, but without fruitfulness and divine presence and protection
Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2-3; Heb. 12:14-17   character of Esau, and God’s attitude and sovereign election
cp. Mt. 10:37   love for Jesus vs. love of family and self

         Gen. 27:40   “intifada”:  shaking off (uprising), growing restless, gaining dominion (upper hand); the undoing of Jacob’s security and assurance

Much of the Body of Messiah today is similar to Isaac and Rebecca in their attitudes and action towards both the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs:  whether as pictured in Isaac or in Rebecca, God’s ways and will are being distorted.   Jacob’s hope is not in his father Isaac, who in his rightful annoyance at being deceived – though a consequence of his own paternal carnal love (Praise God for it though!) for Esau – undid Jacob’s confidence by giving to Esau the hope of “getting even”; Jacob’s hope is not in himself nor in Israel the people, nor in Christians and the Church; Jacob’s hope is not in an unresolved “reconciliation” with his brother Esau or the Palestinian Arabs, who at heart hold a murderous grudge against him and developed a bitter root (the seed of Islam) as witnessed in the whole after-history of this long-standing family feud (Ezek. 35:5; Obadiah).

Jacob has no hope – nor do the Arabs – under the terms of the O.T. because of his own and Israel’s unrighteousness.  Jacob’s hope – and of the Arabs – is the Hope of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.  God will fulfill His purposes, but in His way and in truth and righteousness.  As it is written in Rom. 11:25-32:    “From out of Zion shall come the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them – when I take away their sins,” and all Israel shall be saved. (Ezek 36:27)
And again, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD.”  And, “. . .They shall look on Me whom they have pierced.”  (Ps. 118:25-26; Zech. 12:10)

Jacob’s/Israel’s attitude as God’s chosen people towards Gentiles in general and towards Arabs and Palestinians in particular is similar to that often displayed by Christians and the Church toward Israel and Jews.  Both have presumed an unmerited arrogance or wisdom in themselves in a manner contrary to the truth and character of our God as revealed in the Scriptures (Rom. 11:25).  God loves all persons, desiring that none should perish but rather receive forgiveness of sins and inherit eternal life (Ezek. 18; John 3:16), and the Lord is also faithful to His covenant promises to and through Israel for all nations.  The Church’s pre-eminent place before God is not at the expense of His word and promises regarding Israel or the other nations.

We as believers ought to humbly marvel and worship God as we realize more and more Who and What He is!  As believers we are exhorted to examine and to judge ourselves, for those of the world – which today includes Israel and the Arab nations and peoples – are already condemned in their unbelief on the Name of the only-begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor. 11:28-32; 2Cor. 13:5).  To us has been given the message of reconciliation – the good news of God to all peoples and nations – until the Lord takes us up to Himself and He finishes the work of putting away evil and workers of iniquity through His righteous and true judgments upon the nations – including Israel and the harlot church – as mankind’s Redeemer (Is. 26:9-10; Rev. 19:2).

Let us seek God’s grace and mercy and long-suffering to remain faithful to our own election in Christ, maintaining the salt of the covenant, even as we carry the gospel of peace to the children of Jacob and of Esau.  The blood of Yeshua the Messiah, which He shed on the cross for our sins, is God the Father’s signature on His peace treaty.  Hallelu-Yah!  Amen.