THE MARK OF GOD AND ISRAEL’S STUMBLING

(Israel Conference at Langensteinbacherhohe:  “The Redemption of Israel According to Ezekiel and Paul”, Jan 8-11, 2004)

Ezek 9:4  And YHVH said to him [, the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side], ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark (tav) on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’

Rev 7:3; 9:4; 14:1  the seal of God on the foreheads of His servants; 144,000 having the Father’s name on their foreheads.

Ex 12:23  For YHVH will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when He sees the blood on the lintel  and on the two doorposts, YHVH will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.

Mt 5:4     Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Hos 14:1 (2 Heb)   OIsrael, return to YHVH your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Rom 10:1-4  . . .For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own   righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

1Cor 1:17-25  . . .For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ (Is 29:14). . .For Jews require a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling blockand to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. . . .

Why are not more Israelis being saved?  God’s judgments begin in His own household and amongst those who have greater moral responsibility.  “Begin at My sanctuary.” (Ezek 9:6; 1Pet 4:17)  But pride causes those with greater privileges to think that they will be favored:  “Again the Word of YHVH came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your kinsmen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Get far away from the LORD; this land has been given to us as a possession’.  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Although I have cast them far off among the gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the Land of Israel. . .Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.  But as for those whose hearts walk after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads, says the Lord GOD’”. . . And the glory of the God of Israel went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain on the east side of the city. (Ezek 11:14-25)

God has cut a New Covenant with Israel; He has not simply renewed the former covenant which is passing away.  The Lord is not merely setting up again that from which the glory departed, but much more, better than the Garden of Eden even.  By the cross the Holy Spirit is going to make new the inner manby which the Jewish people will truly become the true seed of Abraham and the heirs of all that God promised him.  Neither the Law, nor all its sacrifices; nor wisdom, and all its value; nor good deeds, or prayers, or good intentions – none of these things can change a person from the inside, cleansing his conscience, converting the soul to love YHVH with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love his neighbor as himself; to live for God’s glory and not his own.  Only the blood of the cross, and those who come to God by that Way which Jesus is and made, can make a person a child of God and know Him as his Father.  Only this stumbling block can break a sinner’s heart and bring forth praise and thanksgiving to God, who is seeking those to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Only by the message of the cross can “self” be slain and God alone be known as good and worthy.  The message of the cross is proof that the gospel is neither Jewish nor Gentile:  the Jews do not accept it, and the gentiles do not respect or honor it.  It is from God; it is His mark, His seal.  It is brought to light through the reality of the New Covenant.  The cross is God’s mark upon His people, and represents the life of Messiah.  To the carnal and unbelieving it is a mark of shame and dishonor – or perhaps a decoration; to the spiritual person in Christ, it is the mark of God’s glory in the person and character and atoning death of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  The cross is God’s mark to separate the world from His people and His people from the world (Gal 6:14), and it is by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross which we, as it were, sprinkle (1Pet 1:2) on our hearts and minds, that God will save us from the day of His wrath.  His judgments begin today, as in Ezekiel’s time, in His own household. (1Pet 4:17)

A true Jew–and a true Christian–seeks God’s approval.  God approves of us when we believe in and obey His Son.  The Lord Jesus acknowledges us as being His when we do the will of His Father in Heaven.  God is working both withinIsraeland within the Church to cleanse and to purify His people.  To be a disciple Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  Both baptism in water and the cross speak the same message:  death to the self-life; alive unto God in the Spirit by faith.  The “sign” of the cross has been God’s secret way of power from before the beginning of time to save sinners who put their faith in Him:  the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.  It shows up again at the Passover with the sprinkled blood over the threshold to the house; it appears in the Tabernacle and theTemplearrangement of the approach into God’s presence and glory – and of His approach to us.

The road which we travel, and which Israelis being required by her God and Savior to travel, is long and hard and narrow.  It is a well-traveled way, and many more will yet know suffering on it.  Jesus, the King whom the Jews say they do not want to reign over them, but whom the LORD God intends that they will have, has walked this same way—this way of the cross.  He exposed Himself to the condemnation of man and became a curse for us under God’s own Law, in order that we could receive God’s approval and righteousness.  And for this Jesus has received from God the Name above every name.  The way home to peace and security and joy in the Father’s house is the cross of our Lord.  Despite the sentence of death in ourselves, we go on in victory in Messiah because God has forgiven us of our sin and our sins.  We are called to intercede in mercy as His priests for the Jewish people–and for the Gentiles—to repent and to believe the gospel, for the Kingdomof Godis near.  Until they do there will continue to be much sorrow and anguish.  Until we let God’s spiritual mark distinguish us, then we, too, stand in danger of suffering from God’s righteous judgments upon the world (1Cor 11:31-32).

The redemption of Israelis assured.  The full redemption of the Body of Messiah and of the whole creation is connected to Israel’s salvation.  YHVH God Himself will see to it.  He speaks through Ezekiel that He will require Israelto ask Him to accomplish what He so much wants to do to bless His people.(36:37)

The Lord Yeshua confirms this when He cries out to Jerusalem that her house is left desolate, and that she will not see Him any more until she says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH”. (Mt 23:37-39)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

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