8 Feb 2009
Shalom from a very dry Negev (which means ‘dry land’).
Despite the extremely dry weather for winter — the driest on record — the flu has been going around. It got to me, so I was laid up in bed for a few days a couple of weeks ago. I also have what must be a pinched nerve in my neck for about a 1/2 year now. For the last couple of months, I’ve been getting some physical therapy, but it hasn’t really released the pinch. I did it to myself while doing some exercises (at the loving concern of my family). Hoping it would go away by itself, I didn’t do anything about it for a couple of months, before going finally for an x-ray. It took more than another month to start some treatment. Anyway, the body ages, while the inner man is renewed day-by-day! Praise the Lord!
The last-days weather patterns are certainly less predictable than just a few years ago. God’s covenant blessings of the right amount of rain at the right times were based on Israel’s obedience with faith in Him. Since this is still not the case, and since the times are nearing for God’s interventions in righteous judgments, then the lack of ‘good’ rain is a means by which He would want His people to repent and return to Him. (Dt 28:12, 23-24) Yet God has promised since the Flood that as long as this Earth remains, there would still be the four seasons (Gen 8:22). And He has further promised that as long as He is in control of our unique solar system within His universe, and that the size of the universe can not be determined, Israel would remain a nation before Him, and His covenants with David and with the Levites would not be broken (Jer 31:33-37; 33:19-26). So we can be assured that Yeshua is going to return at the appointed time to regenerate this Creation and make the Earth a very habitable place during His reign! (Ps 96; Mt 24:32-39; Rom 8:18-25)
Israel once again goes to national elections for Prime Minister and for Knesset (Parliament) seats. Once again, the elections are critical. It seems that every election here is a ‘fateful’ one. The security of the nation and its integrity is once again the major issue. The economy, which is also adversely affected along with the rest of the world’s countries, has not been discussed very much publicly, yet obviously will have a major impact on our lives. Two of the major candidates, Bibi Netanyahu (Likud) and Ehud Barak (Labor), have been PM before, and each had a major negative impact on the nation. Tzipi Livni, currently Foreign Minister, has risen to prominence through her earlier connection with Ariel Sharon and the formation of the new political party, Kadima. That party was formed out from the more right-wing party Likud, and with a platform to divide the country into two. A fourth major candidate this time is Avigdor Liberman (Israel Beiteinu – Israel Our Home) is running on a platform which essentially requires citizens to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel if they want to partake of its privileges. The Likud and all of the nationalist parties promote with worldly reason the necessity of Israel being a Jewish and ‘democratic’ country.
This sounds reasonable, but has been and will be used against Jews and Christians in other countries. When a Jew is required to pledge more loyalty to his ‘home’ country over Israel, what will he answer? (Ps 137:1-6) When a Christian is required to pledge more allegiance to his ‘home’ country over the Kingdom of God, what will you answer? (Acts 17:7; Jn 18:36; Ps 2; Rev 11:15-18) Will believers in Jesus also be required in Israel to pledge greater allegiance to a Jewish state — that is, a state where Judaism is the supreme religion — over the truth of Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of God, which Judaism rejects? Are we prepared for such a time as that?
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 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 rightly 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 3:5Heb(2:32Eng) ) The same God who made His Son Jesus a whole burnt offering (a holocaust) for sin to die for our transgressions is the same God who brought a destruction upon His chosen people (whom He has called His first-born as a nation ) in judgment for our continuing unbelief and sin, in accord with the testimony of God’s 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 and awesome God whom we serve and in whom we have entrusted our souls for life.
It is evident that Holocaust museums, education on racism and anti-semitism 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 by which we receive all His benefits.
Even today, when the gospel is going out in Israel and believers in 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 Yeshua 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 grace 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 sin 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 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