Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, and with Jewish believers in the Son of God. The Church — the Body of Christ/Messiah, the one new man, the Bride of the Lamb — is comprised of both these redeemed and born-again believers called out from every people group and nation. We all have a significant role to play through to the end of the age towards YHVH God’s salvation of His chosen people Israel, by which the whole world and creation will be blessed. Continue reading “The Church’s Role in The End-Times of The Last Days Towards Israel’s Salvation”
Mar 11:11-26 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the Temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
(12) And on the next day, they going out of Bethany, He was hungry. (13) And seeing a fig-tree with leaves afar off, He went to it, if perhaps He might find anything on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs. (14) And Jesus answered and said to it, No one shall eat fruit of you forever. And His disciples heard.
(15) And they came to Jerusalem. And entering into the temple, Jesus began to cast out those who bought and sold in the Temple. And He overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. (16) And He would not allow any to carry a vessel through the Temple. (17) And He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, “My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?” But you have made it a den of thieves. (18) And the scribes and the chief priests heard. And they sought how they might destroy Him. For they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine.
(19) And when evening came, He went out of the city. (20) And passing by that morning, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots. (21) And Peter, remembering, said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away.
(22) And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith of God. (23) For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said. (24) Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you.
(25) And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.
Yeshua has just made His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the common people acknowledging Him as the Son of David who they believed had come to be the King of Israel. But His time had not yet come for that. He left the city and the Temple, and went to Bethany, probably to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
We come now to the story about the fig tree that Yeshua cursed. I am sure that all of us have read this and been uncomfortable that He would curse a tree without fruit at a time when it was not the season for fruit. When we do this, it reveals again how our thoughts and ways are not the same as the Lord’s. In our discomfort at His act, we are judging Him for doing what we think is wrong or unfair, does not make sense.
Why did Jesus curse the fig tree for not having fruit before its season? This event occurred probably in April, whereas figs are a summer fruit, the first and best ripening happening around June. The fig tree is used in the Bible as one of the symbols for Israel, and in it are both good and bad figs. (Jer 24:5-10; Hos 9:10; Mk 13:28-31) Normally the fig tree begins to blossom before its leaves cover them, or there are hold-overs from the previous season. So, in the case of this particular fig tree on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem, it had leaves, and therefore it should also have had some blossoms of fruit before their full growth to maturity. However, Jesus found no fruit on it. In response, He said (cursed; judged) the tree: “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard Him.
Mark then goes on in his account to Yeshua and His disciples arriving in Jerusalem. Yeshua went into the Temple and began to drive out all those who bought and sold in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He also would not allow anyone to carry wares through the Temple. Then He taught, quoting from Isaiah and from Jeremiah the prophets: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? ‘But you have made it a ‘den of thieves’!”
For this “presumption”, the scribes and chief priests, who heard Him, sought how they might destroy Him (get rid of Him/finish Him off, and His doctrines). They were afraid of Him, because all the people were astonished at Yeshua’s teaching. At this point, Yeshua’s popularity was a protection, but it was only a matter of time before those in power would act anyway, as envy and hatred took control of their spirits. Here we see the beginning of Pharisaic/Talmudic/Rabbinic Judaism’s cursing of Yeshua – both His name and memory (Yeshu).
Then Mark goes back to say that that same morning, on the way up from Bethany to Jerusalem, the disciples and Jesus saw the fig tree that the Messiah had cursed dried up from its roots. This was obviously a result of the Lord’s judgment of the tree, and not a natural drying up of a dying tree, which would have taken much longer. The roots were still there in the ground. God has not finished with Israel! And we are witnesses to that certain hope today, here in Beer Sheva, Israel! (In ch. 13 of Mark, the Lord uses the same symbol of the fig tree again, this time in reference to Israel’s revival in the last days leading up to His return. The curse is still there, the fruit is still not satisfying to God, but redemption and the Redeemer is on the way!)
What do we learn from this fig tree and from the incident on the Temple Mount that Mark records? Yeshua was the central figure in both of them, and His acts greatly disturbed both His disciples in the one, and the religious leaders in the other.
Both acts were judgments from God on the fruitless life and the corrupted religion of His chosen people, whom He had chosen for His glory, and to be His light to the Gentiles, and to be a holy people for His name, and to bear much good fruit from all of His fatherly care for them. (Is 5) Instead they professed to be outwardly ‘good’, especially in comparison to the ‘Gentiles’ (the goyim), while inwardly and outwardly dishonoring their God and His house. In this passage of Jesus taking control over the Temple Mount complex, He calls the house, “My house” (Is 56:7; Jer 7:11), whereas in the account in John, He calls the Temple “My Father’s house”. (Jn 2:16-17; Ps 69:9) He and the Father are one.
The marketplace that the people had set up was on the holy site in the area called the Court of the Gentiles. The buying and selling desecrated it as a place of prayer for non-Jews, as a house of prayer for all nations. The public and merchants were using the Temple area as a ‘short-cut’ to carry their wares to the abused area. Doves were the sacrificial animals for the poor, and the greedy merchants were selling them, probably at high prices. Yeshua had come to preach good news to the poor, who were being oppressed and taken advantage of.
So, too, the fig tree with leaves but without fruit. The tree looked good on the outside, but there was no fruit on the inside. The leaves were a covering for their fruitlessness. Remember when Adam and Eve knew that they had done wrong, and wanted to cover their naked shame, they put fig leaves over their private parts. So, too, this tree, and Israel and the Jewish people – and by extension, the church and Christians (Rev 3:1-6; 14-22) – can look good to the eye of man, but cannot satisfy genuine [spiritual] hunger. Israel is blessing the world in amazing ways today, but good works can be “dead works”, and they do not save unbelievers; or they can be good works of believers, but motivated by wrong motives or done without love. (Heb 6:1; 9:14) Religious life without love, or without intention to honor the name of our Lord, is empty. As a prophetic and priestly nation, the Jewish people are not consciously drawing people to know the one true God. No one can eat from such a tree and be nourished with the life of God. The good works are a ‘fig leaf’, a cover-up for the lack of God’s righteousness and fruit. The God of Israel will not grant His people peace and tranquility as long as they/we continue to seek it, to buy it, apart from Him – apart from Yeshua.
God cannot, and will not, bless fruitlessness in those who are called by His name. (Jn 15:1-12) We cannot satisfy the need in others – whether believers or unbelievers – when our hearts of flesh become hearts of stone again. Praise to our God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: He is not finished yet, neither with Israel and the Jewish people, nor with those who profess to believe in the name of Yeshua/Jesus for salvation! Yeshua asked the Father — when He was nailed to the cross – to forgive that very people and nation, for they did not know what they were doing. He still calls His people to repentance, and to bear fruit of that return to HIM. This is especially regarding the state of our hearts towards God, and towards our fellow man. Israel, as represented by the fig tree, is also a sign of the last days that the end of the age is near, and that the Lord is coming again “soon”. (Mk 13:28-31; Mt 24:32-35; Lk 21:29-33) The same cursed fig tree is redemptively revived in the last days!
Yeshua took the opportunity of His disciples’ reaction to the cursed fig tree to teach them about believing prayer, but even more about the necessity and the power of forgiveness. (Mt 6:9-15) The Messiah, when He taught His disciples how to pray, told them and us that we must forgive others if we want our Father in Heaven to forgive us. To the measure that we forgive others, He will forgive us. Also in this passage from Mark, He says the same thing. We can pray with all faith to have God do miraculous things in our lives or for others – including the restoration and salvation of Israel – but if we are not forgiving someone – not loving Jesus above all, and others as ourselves — for what we think or know that he/she/they have done to me, I will have no peace with God my Father, and He will not be pleased with me, His son through Messiah. (It is very interesting that in the matter of divorce, which YHVH hates, Yeshua gave one exception for allowing it: adultery. But in the matter of forgiveness, there is no exception. A very challenging commandment and commitment!)
Brokenness – knowing how much we have been forgiven – produces the Holy Spirit fruit of love (God’s measure of love) towards others, especially towards those we think do not deserve it.
What then can we learn from this passage in the plan of God to redeem His people?
–The fruitless fig tree and the corrupted religious worship and ministry are indicative of the spiritual state of the Chosen People: there would be no more [godly] fruit from that again! Only when Israel repents and sees Jesus whom they pierced will that finally produce the broken heart and contrite spirit needed to produce fruit for YHVH their God. (Zech 12:10-14; Ps 51)
–This is also true of believers in Yeshua – of those who say we believe and follow Him. Some of us have let our own spirits push away the Holy Spirit, and we have let our new heart of flesh become like stone again. We then become hypocritical like the Pharisees: demanding of others what we ourselves will not do, nor help them to do. We separate ourselves in self-righteousness (which is the meaning of Pharisee), and do not love the brothers and sisters, and can oppress the poor. We look good on the outside – the leaves – but inside we are in rebellion against our holy and gracious Father and Savior.
–The Lord’s acts in this passage should put the fear of God in us, whom He has chosen to be the Lamb’s beloved Bride, obeying His commandments with thanksgiving, and loving one another as He has loved us.
Yeshua is our Judge and our Savior. Thank -you, God!
Recently, the verses at the end of Jeremiah ch 31 and 33 came to me in a new way. Those verses speak of YHVH having control of the solar system and of the universe, and that as long as He does, Israel will remain His people and His covenants with David and with Levi will be fully kept. Usually these verses are used by believers in God’s faithfulness and power to fulfill His covenant promises and to emphasize that Israel has not been replaced by another people. BUT, SHOULD GOD LOSE CONTROL OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM AND THE UNIVERSE, WHAT BECOMES OF ENGLAND, OR THE U.S., OR TO THE ARAB NATIONS, OR EVERY OTHER CREATED THING?! The LORD has bound up EVERYTHING in His promises to His chosen people. It is not about Israel only; and it all about Israel. No one has anything unless Israel gets hers; no one can live should the Lord ever lose control of His created system and order. Israel is God’s surety of life, and as is written in Rom 11, the return and salvation of the Jewish people/Israel back to YHVH their God [through repentance and faith in Yeshua following Jacob’s Trouble/Great Tribulation] will be life from the dead for the world!
As the world continues to show its irrational opposition to Israel, as witnessed once again by UNESCO voting that a historically and religiously important site to the Jewish people and to Israel long before Islam and Christianity came forth belongs to the Palestinian Muslim heritage, the prophetic Word of God continues towards fulfillment. This time, UNESCO and the Muslims say that the burial place in Hebron, which Abraham purchased at full price in order to bury Sara (Gen 23), and where also Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are buried — the fathers and mothers (including Rachel) of the people of Israel — is actually a Muslim holy site! God will judge the nations for their refusal to accept His sovereign choice of Isaac and of Jacob and of Jerusalem in the Land of Canaan, as He will also continue to press His own chosen people Israel over their refusal to accept His Son, Yeshua, as the Lord and Messiah. PRAY FOR ALL THESE THINGS FOR THE SAKE OF THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE LORD YESHUA THE MESSIAH/JESUS CHRIST. HIS NAME WILL BE SANCTIFIED AND GLORIFIED!
(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 2017)
I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible. When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of: forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!
I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981. This was the blessed hope. Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth. But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture. Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD. I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride. This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.
My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years. According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope! They simply were not living at the right time! Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5) In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul: whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58) Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven: “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13) As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed! For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body. The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord. Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it. This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us. As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)
An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as ‘coming soon’). Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming. Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time. Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood: that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist. This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel). It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent. But even then, maybe not: remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11) Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’. The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out. The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption. But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)
The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b) Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe. God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both Jews and Christians. Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them. God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him. Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers: we will not suffer the wrath of God. This is good news! And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom! This is also good news! (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)
Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:
Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.
Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.
Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.
Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last; (26) and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God, (27) whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!
Heb 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, (18) of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called, (19) concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.
Jn 11:23-27 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. (24) Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (25) Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (27) She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.
Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?
1Co 15:16-20 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. (17) And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins. (18) Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.
Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.
Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
It has been 50 years (May 24 this year according to the Hebrew calendar) since Israel captured Jerusalem in the Six-Day War in June, 1967. It is clear now for many years already that this did not bring the “times of the Gentiles” to fulfillment. (Lk 21:24) Jerusalem is still being trampled under foot by the Gentile powers, and East Jerusalem — the Biblical Jerusalem, where the Old City and Temple Mount are located — is still being offered as the capital of some potential Palestinian state. Jerusalem’s peace will only come with the return of the rightful Heir to the throne of David. Until then, there is still much unrest and trouble. Keep Jerusalem in your hearts and prayers, for the sake of the name of the Lord, who has chosen that city as His — the city of the great King! For now, she has the spirit of Sodom and Egypt (Rev 11:8), and awaits her full redemption.
President Trump is scheduled to arrive tomorrow for a brief and historic visit. He wants to make peace between the three major religions. Such attempts should be wake-up bells for real believers in Jesus that we are nearing some extremely significant ‘signs of the times’, and cause us to increase our alertness in watching and praying as we carry on our Lord’s business. The religious and political kingdoms of this world are opposed to the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world (Ps 2; Jn 18:36) — but the Day is nearing when it will come! Praise the Lord!!
Mk 8:27-38 And Jesus and His disciples went out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. And in the way He asked His disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am? (28) And they answered, John the Baptist. But others say Elijah, and others say one of the prophets. (29) And He said to them, But who do you say that I am? And Peter answered and said to Him, You are the Messiah. (30) And He charged them that they should tell no one of Him. (31) And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (32) And He spoke that saying openly. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him. (33) But when He had turned around and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men. (34) And calling near the crowd with His disciples, He said to them, Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. (35) For whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, he shall save it. (36) For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (37) Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (38) Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
Just before this passage, Yeshua had seemingly experienced some failure in the healing of a blind man. The first act of giving the man sight resulted in him only seeing without clarity. The second time Yeshua put His hands on the man’s eyes resulted in him receiving full sight. This scene was not only a physical reality — a blind man was healed — but also a parable and a prophecy: even the disciples of the Lord were not seeing clearly who Jesus really was; and the Messiah is still at work to bring His identity into sharp focus for all – believer and unbeliever alike.
Up till now, Yeshua had performed many miracles and healings and signs among the people, yet His closest disciples still seemed to be uncertain who it was that they were walking with. Yeshua is now going to bring them to a ‘valley of decision’ – a moment of truth to choose to recognize and to accept, or to reject: a decision that determines destiny. (עמק החרוץ Joel 3:14)
Yeshua asked His disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” The answers were very interesting: Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptiser, one of the other prophets. (Mk 6:14-15; Mt 16:13-18) Did the apostles and the Jewish people believe in reincarnation!? (see Jn 9:1-2) But then Jesus said to them: “But you, who do you say that I am?” And Peter, always ready, answered, “You are the Messiah, [the Son of the living God].” Then Yeshua strictly charged the disciples not to tell anyone about Him! They still did not know what it meant that He was the Messiah. They were still not seeing clearly or understanding; but they knew now that He is the one of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote. The Son of God did not come to become famous or popular. Again we see that God’s ways are not like those of men or women who think more highly of themselves than is suitable. (Rom 12:2-3) In Matthew’s gospel, he adds that Yeshua told Simon Peter that his confession of the revelation of who Yeshua is did not come from flesh and blood, but from Yeshua’s Father in Heaven; that is, from God. This is the foundation upon which the Lord builds His household of faith, against which not even death can overcome the believers. (Mt 16:16-18; 1Jn 2:20-25)
Yeshua began to teach the apostles the truth about what it meant that He was Messiah. In Jewish teaching and expectation at that time, there were those who thought that the Messiah would come as a conquering King, the son of David. Others taught that the Messiah would come — not necessarily from David’s line (1Kg 12:16) — and overthrow the Roman enemy and occupiers, freeing Israel and the Jewish people from foreign domination to be a free people in their own land. The mystery of the cross and of the gospel was hidden from them, and now Yeshua had come — the truth, the life, and the way. Yeshua told them that being the Messiah meant, firstly, that He was going to “suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”. All of their prior understanding of the Messiah had been false or distorted. This is what gives rise to false Messiahs/Christs – being deceived about the truth of the Messiah/Christ being Yeshua/Jesus.
(Tonight is Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day of the counting of the sheaves of wheat between the Passover week and Shavuot/Pentecost. This day is a celebration of a false prophet and of a false Messiah. Rabbi Akiva claimed that Bar-Kochba was the Messiah, who was going to defeat the Romans and regain the holy city of Jerusalem. Yet the rabbi – who was burned at the stake — is still considered one of the sages of Judaism, and everyone knows now that Bar-Kochba was not the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism even forbids marriages during this period until after this truly pagan fire holiday!)
We know that these closest disciples never did “hear” the words, “and after three days rise again”, because until they actually saw Jesus after His resurrection, they had believed that His death brought an end to their hope that He was, in fact, the Redeemer. (Mt 28:17; Mk 16:11-14; Lk 24:13-32; Jn 20:24-25)
Peter, who had just been blessed for confessing the revelation from God the Father, was now speaking on behalf of Satan when he rebuked Yeshua, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Mt 16:22) Yeshua then rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men”. The devil was quick at work to try to steal the Word which Yeshua had sown into the heart of His dear followers. (Mk 4:14-15) It was God’s plan and good pleasure that His Son would be the sacrifice to atone for the sins of every man, woman, and child. (Is 53:10-12)
Jesus then spoke to all of the people there, with his disciples, and told them all what it would mean for all who confess in faith and become followers of Yeshua the Nazarene (not, the Nazirite); and He connects it with His second coming: we will have to deny ourselves and pick up our own crosses to follow Him; we will have to be willing to die for Him and for the gospel; the whole world is not the value of even one soul; we must not be ashamed or embarrassed about Jesus or of His words. (Lk 9:26; Rev 3:8) Remember that even many of His disciples had been offended and embarrassed by His hard sayings regarding eating His flesh and drinking His blood. (Jn 6:53-69) In today’s post-modern and post-Christian world, the Bible – God’s Word – is under attack; the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to God the Father is attacked; the truth that God remains faithful and committed to His covenant promises to Israel is attacked; the truth that homosexuality is still a sin is under attack. Believers are to stand with the Lord and His words in this “adulterous and sinful generation”.
What are some lessons for us in knowing who Yeshua is?:
–Before we became believers we did not understand what it means for someone to be the Messiah, especially that Jesus is the Messiah. He is not the Messiah that we expected. That being so, we bore false testimony against Him, simply by denying that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. (Ex 20:16; Dt 5:20)
–Yeshua told Peter that his clear acknowledgement of Him being the Messiah was a revelation from the Father. It was not something that was being taught; it was not something that could be simply intellectually figured out. The demons and the devil already knew who Yeshua was; they were not deceived like people are.
Each person needs this revelation of who Yeshua is. It is not enough to grow up hearing about Him, or even being taught. If that were all that was needed, then every person who has been brought up in a Christian or Messianic home or society would know that the Messiah/Christ is Yeshua/Jesus. But they do not. It requires a revelation from the Father. If any of you here do not yet see clearly who Jesus is, ask the Father to reveal Him to you. Ask the Lord to heal your spiritual blindness. It is essential if you are going to be capable of truly being His disciple and not ashamed of Him or His words. This gives confidence when He will come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
–There is unity among the believers who have this revelation. All of the apostles were brought to that point of certainty regarding who Yeshua was/is. Even Thomas; even Judas Ishcariot. Whatever each of the apostles and the people had understood before that ‘valley of decision’, the Good Shepherd was going on from there. They were going on together from there with the Lord breaking through before them. If they were to begin arguing or discussing things as they had previously understood them, the Lord was going on from there. He was not going back. This unified the disciples. It still did not guarantee covenant faithfulness to Yeshua or to His way. Sin is a dreadfully strong slave master!
It is my conviction that the Body of Messiah is in need of another such revelation from the Father that is going to bring unity to the disciples of Yeshua at this time. There are many differing and opposing interpretations of what is going on in these last days, and of Israel’s part, of believers in Jesus’ part, and of the abiding truth of the Word of YHVH God. Just as the truth of Messiah was written in the Scriptures – but not understood – so, too, is the truth of where God is now in His plan of redemption also written in the Old and the New Testaments – but divisively not agreed upon. We need a common, corporate, Holy Spirit revelatory moment to bring us together in His truth and love to enable us to do effectively what the Lord has called us to for His glory and purpose. There will still be Thomases and Judases among us (Lord, have mercy on me!), but the power needed to stand as one in this adulterous and sinful generation until the Day of Messiah necessitates such a revelation. Let us love one another in the hope we have in our God. And let us stand in the truth that we do know: Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God. Yeshua is LORD, to the glory of God the Father!
We were blind, but now we see. Praise God!
Israel celebrates her 69th Day of Independence this Monday and Tuesday. Most of Israel’s Arab population knows it as their Day of Catastrophe (nakba). Neither one yet fears YHVH. The one, true, living God of Heaven and Earth is fulfilling His Word and plan for His holy name’s sake, and against all opposition to Him — including unbelief. He cannot, and will not, be stopped! Praise be to His name!
The Israeli Jewish people celebrate their military strength and prowess; the Arab Palestinian people refuse to accept that the land was covenanted to Jacob for an everlasting possession, yet to be realized. The Holy Spirit is working to turn away ungodliness from Jacob so that all Israel (the full remnant from all the tribes) will be saved. The Arabs hope is to be found in Israel’s hope: Yeshua/Yasua/Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, Son of David.
Israel’s leadership and people feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is that the Jewish people must protect themselves by themselves. The Arab world feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is unjust and not fair. Neither fear the LORD.
Most of the Jewish people are relying on “a god of fortresses” — self-determined that they must be masters of their own destiny — rather than trust in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who alone can guarantee them life that is really life. Most of the Arab peoples are relying on a god of vengeance, nurtured by a bitter root and an ancient hatred towards their brothers and cousins. Neither line of Abraham’s family fears the God of their father in truth.
The Jewish people have only recently celebrated the Passover, glorying in their deliverance by YHVH from Egyptian slavery. On the heels of that joyful celebration and hope, we solemnly and gravely remembered the worst calamity yet to come upon our people — the Holocaust. The night preceding Independence Day we again remember all those Jewish people [in particular] who have sacrificed their lives in the many wars and conflicts connected with being a sovereign people in our own land. There is the constant reminder to abide in the faith, for through much suffering and tribulation we enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22) Yet our people still have not repented and believed the gospel, confessing their unfaithfulness to our God, that they would know their sins are forgiven through the sacrifice and shed blood of Yeshua, whom God raised from the dead. (Lev 26:40-45) For the Father was well-pleased with His beloved Son!
For us who have received our peace with God through saving faith in His Son, our Savior, our battle is not waged against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.
Today’s Israel is a miracle/banner (nes) for the nations/Gentiles. God has intervened in history again to repossess HIS land for His people. The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise is a proof that YHVH is the true God. It is a huge sign of the end-times of the last days — not unlike the ark in Noah’s days. Against all odds, the LORD is doing a greater thing than what He did to bring us out of Egypt, or out of Babylon. (Is 11:12; Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8). Jacob’s Trouble is coming, but Israel will be saved out of it. (Jer 30:7) The Lord’s return cannot be far behind! Even so, Come, Lord Jesus! Then Jerusalem will have God’s peace.
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 2:32) 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. We all believe—I think—that the words and teaching of Jesus 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.
Lev. 26: 40-45 – Israel and Jewish people confessing personal and historic collective guilt for breaking the LORD’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; 1Cor 2:7-8; Lk 23:34) — 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! They did not know what they were doing; and neither did we until we repented and believed the truth of who Yeshua/Jesus is.
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?”
–“There is no 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
Mt 26:17-29 And on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You desire that we prepare for You to eat the Passover? (18) And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples. (19) And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them. And they made the Passover ready. (20) And when evening had come, He sat down with the Twelve. (21) And as they ate, He said, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me. (22) And grieving sorrowfully, they began to say, each one of them, Lord, not I am the one? (23) And He answered and said, He who dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. (24) The Son of Man goes, as it has been written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born. (25) And answering, the one betraying Him, Judas, said, Master, Not am I the one? He said to him, You said it. (26) And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is My body. (27) And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it. (28) For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (29) But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
Mt 28:1-9 But after the Sabbath, at the dawning into the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (2) And behold, a great earthquake occurred! For coming down from Heaven, an angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone from the door and was sitting on it. (3) His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. (4) And the keepers shook for fear of him and became like dead men. (5) And the angel answered and said to the women, Do not fear, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. (6) He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (7) And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. And, behold, He goes before you into Galilee. There you shall see Him. Lo, I have told you. (8) And they quickly departed from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. (9) But as they were going to report to His disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, Hail! And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
We have heard how that YHVH God, brought out the children of Israel from Egypt in order to make His name great, and to have Israel be His holy people, and He would be their God. He promised them to inherit the Land of Canaan. However, the people have been unfaithful to the LORD throughout most of their history. BUT, God has been faithful to His covenants and to the conditions and promises of them. Praise the Lord! And we today who have returned to live in this very land are part of His plan of redemption, and proof that the God of Israel is the true God, and God of gods.
In the passage from Mt 26, we see that Yeshua and His closest disciples kept the Passover, with the Messiah establishing a New Covenant with them, and with Israel. It is a covenant in which YHVH promises to forgive the Israeli people all of their sins. (Jer 31:31-37) For this the Savior’s name is Yeshua. (Mt 1:21) He still reaches out to them until today with this same offer of salvation that He began with them. Even among the apostles was one who was unfaithful to the Lord. Yeshua, at this last supper before His crucifixion as the Passover Lamb born to be the sacrifice to atone for our sins, institutes the Lord’s Supper of remembrance, which we are about to do ourselves.
In the passage from Mt 28, a new day has come – Sonday, the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:9-12)! It is the day of Firstfruits. A day of rejoicing instead of mourning! Victory over death, the devil, and sin! A new day in which the angels and Yeshua told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to go tell the others that Yeshua is risen from the dead! He is the firstfruits from among the dead. The harvest time is nearing in our generation. And they went from Jerusalem to meet Him in Galilee, as He had told them beforehand to do, and they ate together.
Now, all who confess with their mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, will be saved! And with this New Covenant that God offers not only to the Jewish people, but also to all Gentiles, YHVH also confirms that He will keep all of His covenant promises to Israel, including the inheritance of the land, and that they will be His people, and He will be their God. (Rom 15:8-13; 2Cor 1:20-22; Jer 31:33) Yeshua was born King of the Jews; Yeshua was crucified as King of the Jews; Yeshua will come again to be the King of the Jews! Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Let us fellowship together now in remembering the death of the Lord, and His burial and resurrection, until He comes.