JACOB BECOMING THE ISRAEL OF GOD – 29 Feb 2012

Today, Israel is acting like Jacob — caring for the things of God, but seeking them by their own abilities in their own strength, rather than by the Spirit of YHVH, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac. (Gen 31:42; Zech 4:6)

Jacob received his new and spiritual name, Israel, only after he had struggled with the Man all night, the night before he would meet again his brother Esau after deceitfully obtaining the birthright and blessing from their father Isaac. (Gen 32)  Jacob knew from early on in his life that the covenant of God with his father and grandfather was something of great value.  Esau did not care for such things of future destiny.  He cared only about the present moment. 

Jacob had struggled with his uncle Laban; with the knowledge that his brother wanted to kill him and deprive him of the inheritance which he himself (Esau/Edom) would never inherit.  Now Jacob, hoping to find favor in Esau’s eyes — hoping that he might not kill him, and allow him to live peaceably — was rightly fearful. (Gen 33)

Jacob met ‘the Man’ — who was Peniel/The Face of God — and struggled with Him all night.  Jacob would not let Him go until He blessed him.  The Man, whose name is Wonderful, gave Jacob — who acknowledged his name as such — a new name:  Israel, meaning “He will reign with God”, or, “God will reign”. (Gen 32:28;and reminded again at Gen 35:9-12

Israel will reign with the God who reigns after he has persevered in the continuing struggle with man and God . . . and prevails when she at last sees Him whom they have pierced, and all their sins are forgiven and put away.  (Zech 12:10-14; Rom 11:25-36)  Then, the natural strength of Jacob will be forever broken — as typified when The Man merely touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, laming him for the rest of his life as a reminder — and in their weakness and dependence upon their God, Israel will know His mighty ability and strength, who could have overwhelmed him. (2Cor 11:22-30; 12:7-10; Mt 26:30-35,69-75)  Both Peter and Paul are given to us to learn the way of the cross as we follow the Lamb.  Thank God for His grace!

Israel has been given as an example to the Church.  The God of Jacob (Gen 3:13-15; Acts 3:12-13) works His redeeming glory in Christians just as He does in the Jewish people.  Not all Israel is Israel; not all the Church is the Church — but those, like Jacob, who overcome — by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.  Not by ability, nor by power, but by the grace of our God.  And we will rule and reign with Messiah Yeshua! (Rev 12:10-11; 2:24-28; 3:19-22)

Our struggle and tribulation with man, with nations, within families, with history, with God will go on until the end, just as Israel’s and the Jewish people. (Mt 24:9-14)  Let us press on in faith in the goodness of our Father, and His exceedingly great and precious promises which He has given us through Jesus, enduring, so that after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise of the resurrection and eternal life. (2Pt 1:1-4; Heb 10:3239

Psalm 129:1-5  A song of ascents

‘ “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”, let Israel now say — “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me!   “The plowers plowed my back; they made their furrows long.”

YHVH is righteous; He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.  Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. . . .’

Praise the Lord!

OF BREAKING OF COVENANTS AND TREATIES – 1 Sep 2011

Israel and her supporters will be disappointed with the results of the vote in the United Nations scheduled for September 20 regarding either a mere upgrade of Palestinian status at the UN, or else the recognition of an independent Palestinian state.  This vote is despite, and in spite of, all international agreements previous regarding rules of war and of guarantees for a sovereign Jewish nation.  It will mark a significant retreat of human support for Israel.

Should believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Lord, Messiah, Son of God, Savior be disappointed . . . or should the state of affairs be a wake-up call.  In Hebrew, the word for someone ‘waking up’ is the same word for ‘revival’:  revival is for those who are alive, but drowsy or sleeping.  Are we alert to the times in which we are living, or are we just as uncertain as those in whom the Spirit of God is not dwelling?

When Yeshua was asked to state plainly by what authority He was doing what He was, He asked those who should have known by then to answer Him first:  ‘The baptism of John, where was it from?  Was it from Heaven, or from men?’ (Mt 21:25) This is the question that needs to be answered also concerning Israel today.  The viewpoint one takes on this issue will obviously greatly affect how we relate to her.  Jesus would wish that we were hot or cold, and not sit on the fence. (Rev 3:14-15)  When Jesus was being crucified, the rulers and leaders of the nation mocked Him, saying, “. . .He trusted in God; let Him deliver him now, if He will have him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”. . .  “The rest said, ‘Leave him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save him!’” (Mt 27:41-49)

Israel claims to be the chosen people and nation of God, and many nations and peoples are watching and observing to see whether or not this is true.

God has given Israel as an example to the Church, and what happens towardsIsraelwill also happen towards the Church:  first the natural; then the spiritual.  If people want to makeIsraelthe scapegoat for all the world’s troubles, they will also make Christians scapegoats.  And they will be ‘justified’ by the false teaching that if only believers would pray and intercede more; engage in more effective spiritual warfare; take over the reigns of society, then the world would be a better place.  Yet it is clear that the world is becoming increasingly lawless, stressful, and nervous.

A ‘Pharoah spirit’ is rising.  One that does not know Yeshua nor the Father.  And it is making life more arduous for those who fear YHVH and for those who know Him personally.  This anti-christ spirit attacks all who are called by the name of God – whether they be Jewish or Christian.  Judgments from God will come, and He will save and deliver His people.  YHVH cuts (makes) and keeps His covenants, and He is a Savior to those whose trust is whole-heartedly in Him.  Our hearts deceive us, and He gives us a new heart as a promise of the New Covenant in the blood of His Son, which we are to guard. (Jer 17:9-10; 31:33; Ezek 36:26; Mt 15:18-19)  According to God’s covenants, He will bless those who bless the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and He will curse him who makes light of them.  This also would apply to how Jewish people (the House of Jacob) consider especially Christian believers, who are also of the seed of Abraham through faith.

The UN vote on Sept. 20 will be used by God towards bringingIsraeland the Jewish people to call upon Him, leading more to repentance towards God.  And further, to bring more Jewish people and others who are genuinely concerned for their well-being to the redemption through the Redeemer, the Lamb of God who died – was slaughtered – to confirm YHVH God’s promises to the fathers and to their descendants, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. (Rom 15:8-9)

If Israel has broken God’s covenants, why should it be a wonder that the nations will break their human treaties and agreements concerning Israel?!

As the nations seem more and more willing to sacrifice one nation so that not all the nations should perish from religious and nationalistic terrorists, and from others ‘doing what is right in their own eyes’, Bible-believing Christians should show mercy, and stand with the beloved enemy Israel for Jesus’ sake, as a nation back in [part of] the land promised to be an everlasting possession from YHVH, whose land it is, as is the whole Earth. (Rom 11:25-36)

FOR SO THEY DID UNTO THE PROPHETS BEFORE US

Feb 2011

Published in Messianic Times June/July 2011 Issue 

Persecution of believers in Yeshua as Lord and Messiah, the Son of God, is not a new thing in Israel.  Rather, it is a phenomenon that has returned to Israel, for opposition to the gospel and persecution against those who believe the good news began in Israel already from the days since Yeshua was born.  (Mt 2)  Following this attempt to destroy the messianic hope in Israel at its inception, it surfaced again during the days of Yeshua’s ministry, threatening to excommunicate from the Jewish community (the synagogue) all those who would follow the Lamb of God. (Jn 9:22)  This persecution of the saints continued after the Holy Spirit was given to the first church. (Acts 4:17; 7:51-60)

As Stephen agreed with the words of Yeshua in that this opposition and irrational hatred began long before against the Holy Spirit, yet Stephen’s words as he was being stoned to death also demonstrate the power and the love of God within those who are so badly treated:  “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

Throughout the last four decades, attempts by Jewish believers in Yeshua have failed to convince the “guardians of the religious identity of Israel” that one can believe in Yeshua, the Son of David, Son of Abraham, and still remain a Jew.  Jewishness has become defined as accepting historical rabbinic Judaism as the essence of what makes one ‘Jewish’.  Several court cases have been fought at the Supreme Court level, and never yet has a Jewish person (born of a Jewish mother) won a case for identity as it relates to Israel’s Law of Return for Jewish people to immigrate to Israel and receive entitlements as a Jew.

More recently, a case has been adjudicated by an Israeli Jewish believer, Penina Conforti, seeking a kosher certificate for operating a food business in Ashdod.  Although initially won at the Supreme Court level, the rabbinic authorities vehemently protested, saying that the issue is a religious matter and not one to be decided by civil authorities.  The Supreme Court then refused to grant the license unless the believer complied with regulations set by the rabbis.  This is fair enough, but the requirements placed on this believer in Yeshua to operate her bakery were more stringent than those applied elsewhere, thus not making one law for all.

Another recent case involved Nachalat Yeshua Messianic congregation in Beer Sheva, which sought a measure of legal justice in a civil court against the Chief Rabbi of their city, and against the national antimessianic organization, Yad L’Achim, which has set itself up as a vigilante protector of Jewishness.  The two defendants were involved in organizing a demonstration against the congregation – the second time such a large-scale protest had taken place against this group of believers by these same two parties.  The illegal demonstration of about 600 religious Jews resulted in a riot and aggravated trespass against the privately owned Christian property and against the believers there who had gathered for their regular worship service.  The civil court and secular judge ruled against the believers, stating that the two defendants acted responsibly to exercise their right and responsibility to protect Jewish souls (pikuach nefesh), and that neither was responsible for any of the illegal acts that occurred.  The congregation was ordered to pay the defendants a heavy penalty for having brought them to court.

There is still, at this time, the criminal case pending from an attempted murder in 2008 of a family of believers in Ariel.  Their teenage son, Ami, was very seriously injured from a bomb placed in what had looked like a Purim gift package left at their front door.  As of this writing, the courts have not determined whether the “Jewish terrorist”, as he has been described by the Israeli media, is mentally fit to stand trial and be held responsible for his crimes, despite his own admission of carrying out the murder attempt, plus other murders of two Palestinians that he did accomplish over the previous 12 years.  He claims that “God is pleased with what I have done”, as he acts out of his own worldview of what a Jewish Zionist state should be.  (Jn 16:2-4)  Democracy, in its normal understanding, is not a part of that vision, and neither are Palestinians or faith in Yeshua.

In Arad, the community of believers there have undergone seven years of constant harassment and trouble, with the help of the police and the mayors during those years.  Despite many totally false or exaggerated claims against the believers, the authorities continue to allow the sect of religious Jews, again assisted by Yad L’Achim, to persecute the believers in Yeshua.  (It is important to remember that scripturally, persecution begins with prejudiced antagonism against those who trust in the one true God.)

In nearly every case, media coverage of the Messianic faith and community is always mixed in the presentation of facts, and not necessarily representative of most of the Body of Messiah.  This need not be too surprising, since most of these journalists and reporters are not interested in making the faith in Yeshua attractive for Jewish people to seriously consider.

These are just a few samples of many instances to hinder the freedom of believers in Yeshua in Israel, along with many others denying or restricting visas to evangelical volunteers; turning back certain black-listed Jewish believers from entering the country; vandalizing property of believers and churches, even to the extent of burning and destroying; refusing to rent apartments to certain believers or to hire them for jobs.

A few points to keep in mind with respect to Jewish opposition to Yeshua and those who love Him:

1.  “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for [the Gentiles] sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). (Rom 11:28)  This remains true, and Israel demonstrates this in many ways, and, thankfully, so does God.

2.  Some of the persecution against the believers is done by God-fearing Jews (such as Saul/Paul was), and whether consciously or not, they are acting in accord with Dt 13, which speaks of how to treat  those who would lead Israelis away from YHVH God.  Since Yeshua was accused and crucified on the false charges that He was a false prophet and a blasphemer, then any of us who believe in and follow Him are worthy of condemnation as well, in their understanding.  It is a case of calling good evil; holy profane; the truth a lie.

3.  Denying a kashrut certificate to a believer is similar to forbidding a Gentile from coming into contact    with grapes once they are in the process of being made into wine.  This Talmudic/Rabbinic law would be based on Hag 2:13-14, which, in their determination is also applied to any Gentile or to an apostate from Judaism:  any [food] handled would be unclean and not considered acceptable (kosher).

4.  The two legislative restrictions regarding evangelism are reasonable:  no targeting of persons under the age of 18 (I would not want my own children targeted by what I perceived to be a false religion orcult.); no offering of material benefits for listening to or accepting the gospel message.  The efforts by extremists to forbid all forms of evangelism through legislation would be bad law, especially in what is supposed to be a democratic society.

5.  The Scriptures seem to clearly indicate that persecution will increase as the Day of the LORD nears. (Mt 24:9-14)

There is not one ‘opinion’ among the believers in Israel as to how best to react and respond to varying levels of persecution.  Each situation presents its own need to seek God’s will, for it is the honor of the name of Yeshua that is truly at stake. (Mt 5:11)  Yeshua is a  “sanctuary, but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel”, and is still “destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against.”  (Is 8:14; Lk 2:34)

But an attack on one part of the body is an attack on all.  How are we as members of that one body to respond to the suffering of another?  When is action (Acts 24:10-21; 25:9-12) called for, and when is it only a matter of praise and prayer for the faith and boldness to continue in the face of all of the risks and threats? (Acts 4:17-31)  Peter also warns us not to “suffer as a . . .meddler in other people’s matters.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God!” (1Pt 4:15-17)

Many still do not know what they are doing, and the heart of the Father continually cries out through us:  “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom 10:1-2)

HIDING PRIDE FROM MAN: MANY FIRST SHALL BE LAST – 16 May 1998

Ezek. 11: 14-16  –  pride of circumstances
Zech.  12: 7 – pride of election
Rom. 11: 25-32  – pride of man

God works in mysterious ways, but always with wisdom and perfect understanding in all things.  He has a plan which He conceived before time began, and He will fully display its perfection when time is no more.  Meanwhile, a major objective of all His activities is to resist the pride which is in man and in nations, and to bring forth in His children the choice fruit of the Holy Spirit:  a holy man and people, who have learned from the Messiah Jesus to be meek and lowly in heart.  To whom much is given much is required.  To whom has more been given than to Israel and to the Church?

With this in mind, I want to share about a subject that many of us pray about, even worry over.  Over the years, many people have complained to the congregational leadership and even blamed us regarding this matter.  As one who also is deeply interested in the same, I have sought the LORD about it, and not too long ago I believe that He has given me His answer.  The subject is:  Why aren’t more Israelis repenting and believing in Yeshua, and why doesn’t our kehila do something to make the services more Jewish or Israeli in order to be more effective in this regard?

In the beginning the first believers were Jews and the church had a heavily Jewish flavor.  Because the nation of  Israel did not accept or receive her long-promised Redeemer-King, then afterwards, in fulfillment of the Word of the Lord, God took away the privileges belonging to Israel as first-born among the nations unto God, and He gave them to the Gentiles in order to obtain His fruit (Mt. 21:40-46).  (This follows a consistent Biblical pattern of the first-born losing the presumed birthright and blessing, even if only for a time.)  From then until now the Body of Messiah has been heavily un-Jewish in outward personality and style.  The relatively few Jews who have been born- again have had effectually little impact.  Even in Israel today it is no easy matter to define or determine Jewishness or Israeliness.

The answer to the subject lies in the necessity of God to cause His people to humble themselves—each one and all together—in order to know the glory of God in His wisdom to build up (edify) the weak and despised, even His Church.  Many who are first shall be last.

Let us look together at three passages from the O.T. and N.T., from which I believe the Holy Spirit opened my understanding to see their relevance to our own day and time:

  1. Ezek. 11:14-17 (Deut. 8:10-18) – Those living in Jerusalem, the beloved city of the Great King, believed that they were special because they lived in Jerusalem and in the Land of Israel.  They disdained in their hearts those Jews who were living in the dispersion, saying, “Get you far from YHVH;  this land is given to us as a possession!”  But God comforted those in captivity outside the land and said that he would be for them a little sanctuary.  The Good Shepherd cares for those who are dismissed in the eyes of the so-called privileged, and He brings us home according to His promise!

Brothers and sisters, most Jews who are saved today live in the diaspora and not in  Israel.  In Israel the Jewish leaders presume to themselves the determination of who/what is a Jew while remaining indifferent or hostile to the claims of Jesus.  But the LORD has been faithful to many Jewish people not living in Israel today.  There is no place for pride before God!  It doesn’t “cut it” with Him.

2.   Zech. 12:7 (Dt 17:20) –  In  order to subdue pride in the chosen  House of David to whom belonged the  ruling authority, YHVH would save others from the House of Judah first.  Today, most of the Israeli Jews who do believe in Yeshua are immigrants like most of us here.  Very few are native-born (“sabras”).  Think what it is like when local people or an influential family controls a situation.  It becomes very difficult for an outsider or a newcomer to fit in.  The locals have the language, the culture, the contacts, the power.  They think, “This is how it’s done here, and we know how to do it!”

God in His sovereign grace and wisdom is giving those with less status and natural privileges an opportunity to grow and develop confidence.  He wants all His people to be kings and priests.  Likewise is our Father in Heaven subduing the pride of the Israeli by showing His love for us all who live here in the Land of the Covenant.  He has something for all His family members.  The personal relationship of each of us with Father is of great importance and value.

3.    Rom. 11:25-32 (Deut. 32:21) – God is still saving Gentiles and is using them to provoke Israel to jealousy, and even to anger.  Look at how many foreign workers are being brought into the Kingdom of God right under our Jewish noses right here in Israel and Beer Sheva!  Still the Jewish people are partially blinded and will be until the fullness of the Gentiles is completed.  Meanwhile God is requiring Israeli believers here to accept their Gentile brethren fully and equally, just as we have wanted them to accept us fully and equally in Messiah.  It is in mercy that any of us are saved by God.

The prayers of the Lord Yeshua and of all the saints throughout the generations have been accumulating until today for the Kingdom of God the Father to come and for Israel to be restored and saved.  We are entering into the labors of others also working by the Spirit of Messiah, and the time is near when God is going to answer all these prayers.  We can be thankful for all of the Jewish people being saved today.  Much opposition to the truth of God still reflects the great pride in man.  We want to see more “real” Israelis repent and believe the truth of Messiah in Jesus.

Peter, the apostle to the Jews, was a typical Israeli.  The lesson he had to learn is one we must all learn:  to accept God’s way of doing things.  The Holy Spirit will glorify the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and not ourselves or our culture.

Let us remain obedient with faith in what we have been given to do and God will take care of the consequences.  Praise the LORD!  Amen.

Rom. 11:33-36