GOD’S TEMPLE IN MESSIAH: A DAY OF JOY

Zech 8:18-19   Then the word of YHVH of Hosts came to me, saying, ‘Thus says YHVH of Hosts:  the fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall become joy and gladness and good times for the House of Judah.  And the truth and the peace you will love.’  

The 9th of Av (the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar given to Israel) is one of Judaism’s saddest days as it remembers with fasting and weeping the destruction of both the first and second Temples which were in Jerusalem, and of other tragedies in Jewish history.  Orthodox Judaism believes that when Messiah comes, he will change this time of mourning into times of rejoicing.  The religious Jews believe that the Messiah will build the new Temple of God 

The Tabernacle in the wilderness which Moses built after the Israelis went out from Egypt was built according to the heavenly pattern which God showed him on the mount.  This tabernacle was used in Israel for about 480 years before Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem.  This temple remained in service for about 400 years until 586 B.C.  After the return from Babylonian exile, the returning Jews built the second temple in Jerusalem, which King Herod later expanded.  This temple was destroyed after about 520 years.  

The prophecy of Zechariah for  believers is fulfilled:  according to the New Testament, the Messiah has come – and this in accordance with the prophecies of the Old Testament – and He is building His Temple, but not with hands, and He has turned our mourning into joy!:  

This new Temple is spoken of in this manner:
Jn 2:14-22   And [Jesus] found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.  When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.  And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away!  Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’  Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up!’  So the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do you show to us, since you do these things?’  Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!’; but He was speaking of the temple of His body.  Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they  believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.  

Paul explains this concept further:
Eph 2:19-22   Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.   

What we see here is a radical change revealed by the Lord Jesus that the human body is to be God’s Temple and dwelling place, and that each born-again believer is a living stone used for the building up of the whole House and Temple of God – God’s dwelling place and the place of worshipping Him 

Should our discovery that we who are Messiah’s – whether Jew of Gentile – be a cause of fasting and mourning for God’s righteous judgments over His people’s sins – of God the Father’s chastening of His children for the purpose of bringing them to repentance and restored fellowship with Him?  Or has He not turned what was sad and painful into times of joy and gladness and full of hope!?   

We have a good word for those who have not received the grace of God about the hope that is in us for having received His chastening.  God is moving on from the works of Man’s hands to that which they only pointed to – a heavenly and spiritual reality of being truly children of God in the fullness of His image and glory in Christ!

The Word of God carries us on towards the New Creation of a new Heavens and new Earth, where it speaks of the ultimate Temple like this:  

Rev 21:1-4, 22-27   Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God!  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be nor more pain, for the former things have passed away.’   

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple!   The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).  And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  

The whole universe of the new creation will be God’s House and Temple!  

The Temple is the means by which God approached man from Heaven to Earth by sending His Son Yeshua to dwell among us and offer up a blood sacrifice by which those who come to God through Him come through the Temple from the opposite direction:  from Earth to Heaven.  The essential difference between the temples made by men from God and that Temple which the Holy Spirit is building in the hearts and lives of believers in Jesus is this:  rather than dwelling merely among His people as under the Law, God is now dwelling in His people in Christ.  This is a huge distinction, which sets us apart – sanctifies us – unto God in a way that is unknown by any other people now.  God is building an eternal temple and dwelling place in us; even the physical temple described by Ezekiel which will stand for 1000 years will, nonetheless, pass away 

The prophetic word we have in the Bible not only tells us things that will happen in the future, but is also to help us take God’s thoughts and plans into account in our own lives now, today.  Since God created the body of Man to be a temple for Him – holy and undefiled – it is clear, then, that we could make our bodies a temple of some other god, or filled with some other spirit other than the Holy Spirit, or just empty.  The apostles continually teach and warn about what we do with and in our present bodies, and with the members of our bodies.  

That is why we purpose to live as a HOLY TEMPLE unto God!  

Are we living as a HOLY Temple unto God, or are we bringing into God’s Temple pagan thoughts and actions?  Remember that Jesus overthrew the tables of those who mis-used His house as a marketplace and for dishonor to God His Father.   

Is it our prayer and intent to be a HOLY dwelling place for God in the Spirit; are we a place where He can find rest because of the inner life we have, and for the outer life we lead?   

Why do we have so many instructions about how to conduct ourselves?  It is because we are a living Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor 6:19-20)  “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  So honor God with your body.”   

  1Cor 3:16-17  Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.  For the Temple of God is holy, which you are.  

The Temple is a place where the Holy Spirit dwells, so we are told to rejoice always, forgive always, love God and each other, balance faith with works, avoid immoral acts, esteem others better than yourself, pray and be filled daily with the Holy Spirit, worship and praise, confess your sins.

Do we honor God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives and worship, or are we perhaps like the Samaritans, and don’t know what or who we worship really?  

For those who know that their sins are forgiven, and the more this is realized the more we love Jesus, God has given us the oil of gladness in place of our mourning because we are His living Temple and His presence is with us 

We close being assured of these precious promises:  

Heb 3:4, 6   For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God….Messiah [is] faithful as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end 

2Cor 6:16-18   For you are the Temple of the living God!  As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’  Therefore, ‘Come out from among from them and be separate’, says YHVH.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters’, says YHVH Almighty.    

ADAM: HIS FALL AND RISING

I’ve heard some Christian preachers say they are going to show their sore displeasure to Adam when they see him because he did not obey God in the Garden of Eden and so brought suffering and death into the world for all the rest of mankind. (Rom 5:12-19; 1Cor 15:22)  This attitude does not at all understand that whoever Adam would have been, he would have done the same thing:  God already planned before the creation that the Son of God – the Word become flesh – would come into the world in the fullness of time to redeem every person, for all have sinned. . . .there is none righteous. . . .except for God Himself.  In Adam all die; in Messiah all live.

Adam is the human father of us all:  we are all children of Adam (bnei Adam).  It will help us to know him better so that we can identify with him rather than condemn him.  He is one of the great cloud of witnesses whom God has given us in the Bible to encourage us in our faith and in our works of faith.

YHVH God created Adam as an adult male who was nonetheless at a maturity level of ‘innocence’. (Gen 1:26-27; 2:7-8; Is 7:16)  He didn’t really know a whole lot spiritually, but somehow he could give names to all the animals from the information His Creator put into him;  There was no one else to talk to or to ask questions.  Only God was there to let the man know anything.  Remember that God has subjected the creation to futility (Rom 8:20), and here at the very beginning we see and hear God commanding the man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a tree with fruit that was very appealing, lest he die. (Gen 2:9, 15-18; 3:6)

Why not? (in the light of Messiah and God’s full revelation)
      –Our Father in Heaven knows the consequences of sin, and wants to cut it off at the root.
      –To obey God’s voice, to trust Him completely to do His will, is our security and peace in life.
      –God the Father knew that Adam and Eve, in their innocence, would not know what to do with the knowledge of    good and evil (Gen 3:5,22).  Even the devil knows that there is good and evil.  God is good.  Maturity is knowing to discern good and evil, and to choose the good. (Heb 5:14)  This qualifies us to train others in godliness.
   –In disobeying God, Adam proved that he was not in perfect relationship within himself or with God.
Very good is not perfect!
   –In the wisdom of God, man through wisdom can not know God.
   –‘Lead us not unto temptation, but deliver us from evil’:  we can not be confident in our own capacity to stand  victorious in the face of temptation; therefore, we do not pray or ask God to lead us into situations where we would be tempted into sinning, but rather into ways of peace.

Gen 3:6-10   transgression of God’s command (Job 31:33) and consequent guilt, shame, and fear:  separation from fellowship

Was this a lack of proper faith, or simply a lack of comprehension?  What made it sin?

   –Disobedience:  Adam did not understand what it meant when God told him “You will surely die!”, but he did know that God had commanded him not to eat from that tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Sin is not believing and not obeying the Word of YHVH God, the Creator of all.

   –He listened to the voice of his wife (3:17) – who listened to the devil and not to her husband – rather than to God the Creator.

   –As a consequence of Adam’s sin, all are born in sin (we have inherited sin as human beings), and die.  In this willful and knowledgeable disobedience, Adam is not a type of Christ, but of the antichrist! (Rom 5:12-19; 1Jn 3:4; 1Tim 2:14; Hos 6:7)

Knowing good and evil is not wrong or evil; in fact, it is necessary for those created in God’s image and likeness.  Disbelieving and disobeying God is wrong and evil, and disobeying those who have godly authority over us is not good.  If we are deceived, we can be led into transgression.
–It is better to obey than to sacrifice.
–This is a very basic principle that, if learned, produces good fruit in life and society and in personal relationships (Heb 12:7-13)

Gen 3:11-19   confession mixed with self-defense (Job 31:33), self-justification; and the consequences to the serpent, the man and the woman, and to the ground (Gen 5:28-29)
      –Our sins are not private and personal only; they can have devastating and long-lasting effects upon others, especially our families and those over whom we have authority and influence
       –Until we confess our sin/s against God without excuse or rationalization, we are still not fully aware of what sin is, of what holiness is, of what humility is, of what God’s love is, of what perfect is….    

Along with the chastening and the punishment, YHVH God gave the Word of promise, which gave (and still gives) hope and a sanctifying effect upon the life (2Pt 1:3-4)
            –to know God, both His goodness and severity (Rom 11:22)
            –to be correctable, teachable
            –to learn righteousness and to discern good from evil

Gen 3:20; 4:1,2,25; 5:4   Adam called his wife’s name Eve, and they had sons and daughters, even in the face of death and disappointment.
      –Cain, Abel, Seth, other sons and daughters   

Adam and Eve now believed God and the Word of Promise from Him, and acted with faith, hope, and love.

In Christ Jesus — the Seed of the woman and the Son of Man — all humans (sons and daughters of Adam and Eve) have the hope of YHVH’s promise, through the forgiveness of sins, transgressions, and iniquity.

Israel as a nation (and similarly a remnant from every people group on Earth) has been given the same promise and hope of God’s redeeming love in holiness and truth. (Ex 34:5-8; Hos 6:7; Rom 11:25-36)

Do you think it ‘unfair’ that we should all be made to suffer and die because of one man’s sin?  Does this seem harsh?

Is it ‘fair’ that because of one Man’s righteousness all who believe in Him should have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life?  The goodness of God leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4), to turn from our selfish and sinful ways to Him who loves us with such a love to pay the price for our sin.  He died to deliver the children of Adam and Eve from death and to enable all who believe in Jesus to become sons and daughters of God.

Lk 2:33-35   The second and last Adam (Man) was born destined for the fall and rising of many in Israeland for a sign spoken against.  

Fear YHVH, who alone forgives sin.

CONVERSION FOR ALL IN MESSIAH

Passover reminds us who are children of Israel that YHVH God – the Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer of His creation – brought us out of bondage in Egypt into freedom to serve and worship Him, the one true God.  This historic event, which resonates down through the generations until today and on into the future (Ezek 45: 21-24), stamped upon the Jewish people the reality of being the Chosen People, and Egypt and all the nations knew, by means of the plagues upon Egypt and the Egyptians and the deliverance of the Israelis from the rule of Pharoah, that YHVH is God, and the God of gods. (Ex 7:5; 9:14, 16, 27; 10:2; 12:12; 14:18, 31; 15:14-18; Josh 2: 8-11)

Conversion is defined by Webster’s On-line Dictionary in these ways which are relevant to this brief study:
1. An event that results in a transformation.
4. A spiritual enlightenment causing a person to lead a new life.
7. Act of exchanging one type of money or security for another.
8. The act of changing from one use or function or purpose to another.

Conversion the turning of a sinner to God (Acts 15:3). In a general sense the heathen are said to be “converted” when they abandon heathenism and embrace the Christian faith; and in a more special sense men are converted when, by the influence of divine grace in their souls, their whole life is changed, old things pass away, and all things become new (Acts 26:18). Thus we speak of the conversion of the Philippian jailer (16:19-34), of Paul (9:1-22), of the Ethiopian treasurer (8:26-40), of Cornelius (10), of Lydia (16:13-15), and others.

 Passover was an event in the life of the Israeli people which resulted in a [potential] transformation:  we were no longer slaves to earthly rulers, but free to serve and worship the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth! 

YHVH is the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.  Jacob, as we all know too well, has a rather mixed reputation.  Although he appreciated the spiritual realities which the God of his fathers promised, yet he sought them in a way not acceptable to God:  Jacob sought them in his own way, and not by faith in the righteousness of God. (Rom 10: 1-4)  Jacob had to come to the end of himself as Jacob through the sovereign wisdom and providences of God’s grace and mercies before he was desperate enough to cling to the Man he wrestled with for His blessing:  you are no longer Jacob, but your name is Israel, a new man with a new and changed perspective on all things (Gen 28: 20-22; 32: 22-30; 35:9-15; 46:1-4; 47:9-10: 49:1, 28-30) 

Jacob was converted from being a God-fearing conniver who was very clever and competent to succeed in the affairs of this world (while at the same time making his name a stink to those too closely affected by him) to becoming a prince with God who recognized his complete dependence upon Him, and by whose grace alone He could obtain the great and precious promises and attain the character suitable for the Holy One of Israel.  By faith, Jacob blessed Pharoah; by faith, Jacob blessed his sons concerning the latter days; by faith, Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons, and worshipped the God who had made him lame.  Jacob had become spiritually enlightened, which radically changed and affected his “religion”:  an inward transformation of spiritual character and motivations affecting the way he lived based upon what he professed to believe.

All who have been born-again have exchanged their currency of value from their good works, or racial or national heritage, or material or intellectual riches as an indication of blessedness.  In place of any of these, we conduct ourselves throughout the time of our sojourn in fear [of God], knowing that we were not redeemed with corruptible things … from our aimless conduct that we inherited from our fathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot! (1Pt 1: 17-19; Peter being, of course, the apostle to the Jews)  We no longer need to ‘prove ourselves’ to hope to ‘earn’ our way into the world to come, but we by faith receive the free gift of God’s grace and love through the sacrifice of His Son to give us the inheritance of being called the children of God.  God is become our Father, and it is His approval that we desire. (Rom 2:17-29; 4: 13-25; Mt 19: 16-30)

Both Jews and Gentiles have followed idols and become idolaters, which is false religion in whatever guise. (James 2:18-20; Jer 2:4-9; 16: 17-20; Is 41: 21-24; 1Thes 1: 6-10)  Being born-again from above by the Holy Spirit, we no longer serve our many idols which we have made for ourselves – including our own stubbornness and covetousness – and which both the prophets and the apostles railed against.  Now we serve the living and true God to glorify Him and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  We subject the members of our body, and, with the help and power of the indwelling Spirit of Messiah, we now serve righteousness rather than sin; we sanctify ourselves rather than adding more guilt and shame upon ourselves as we once did in our sinful lives apart from repentance and faith in God’s good news to forgive us our sins and to take away all our ungodly conduct of living. (Is 1:9-17)  As He has done for us as individuals in Messiah, so, too, will God do for His full remnant nation of Israel when Yeshua returns to save His people. (Rom 11: 25-27

“Thus says YHVH:  ‘Let not the wise glory in his/her wisdom; let not the mighty glory in his/her might; nor let the rich glory in his/her riches.  But let the person who glories glory in this:  that he/she understands and knows Me, that I am YHVH, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the Earth; for in these I delight’, says YHVH.”     “Behold, the days are coming,” says YHVH, “that I will punish all the circumcised with the uncircumcised . . . .for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the House of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jer 9: 23-26 Eng; 1Cor 1:18-31)

Our whole purpose in life has been transformed to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, rather than our own selfish personal and/or national interests based upon our own understanding.  Rather than trusting in our ‘relative’ goodness or good intentions or even chosenness – whether as Jews or as believers in Yeshua — we trust the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross in His death for our sins and sinfulness, and in Him who raises the dead to life to fulfill all His eternal counsels!  Praise the LORD!  God has become our Father through our believing in and loving His beloved Son.  Is this not a major overhaul!?  A genuine conversion of heart and soul and mind and thoughts and intentions has taken place and is continuing on to fullness which has brought us to love Jesus Christ/Yeshua Messiah, rather than despise and reject Him!  Not only that, we groan within ourselves to be manifested in His likeness, and for the resurrection which will eventually accomplish it!  We must all be changed – converted – whether Jew or Gentile.  It is not an issue of the flesh – of what nation or race I belong to; of course that has not changed nor does it in this world.  But yet, the world is crucified to me and I am crucified to the world!  Our boast is to be in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Gal 6: 14; Paul, of course, was as Jewish as any of us could possibly think to be, and he was the apostle to the Gentiles, who also speaks to the Jewish children of Israel:  Acts 9:15)  We no longer need fight for survival, but can rest in the peace and approval of God which He has given to us instead, and which He alone can bring to the world at large, when the King of kings and Lord of lords shall come out of Zion to Zion to establish righteousness and peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, as God’s kingdom is restored over His people and all of the world which He created and made for His glory and pleasure.

Truly believing in the name of Yeshua/Jesus for all that He Is requires a conversion for all, to the Jew first and also for the Greeks.  We are a new creation in Messiah; we have eternal life through Him who conquered death and the wages of sin on our behalf; we have passed from death to life:  truly the ultimate Passover and exodus!  Our whole manner of life is transformed:  it is not the old religion, but a new and living Way into the very Presence of God.

Every one who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

IN THE LOVE OF THE FATHER

Mt 6:9-13   Our FATHER, who art in Heaven. . ..  

Jesus begins to teach us about God our Father in the Sermon on the Mount.  He speaks to us as if we are to know already or to begin to realize that we are to relate to God as our Father – not a distant Master, but a close and personal Father.  The tone in which the Son of God speaks of His Father to us is of one who loves His father, and who knows that His father loves him.  “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased!”  We come to God in prayer, and we come to Him as our Father in Heaven, as His child.  

This relationship and fellowship between a father and his son is the most basic of all human and divine satisfaction.  Do you remember what the apostle Philip said to Jesus as the Lord was explaining to His companions — His brethren! – that He was going back to His Father?  “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us!”  This relationship of KNOWING our Father, and of having His approval, His acceptance, meets the deepest need within every human being since the beginning of the creation, when God, as a Father, created Adam in His image and in His likeness – a son of God.  Then sin came in and people began to be sons of Man, of Adam.  It requires the new birth through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to become new creations and to have the Spirit of GOD dwell within us, by which we call God our Father.  Jesus brings us home.  

Look at how the devil and the world attack true fatherhood. . . through adultery, divorce, wives who do not respect their husbands, fathers who will not provide for their families, fathers who do not trust God and so work too much to have any personal relationship and fellowship with their children – not to mention with their wives and the mother of the children.  Leaders like Hitler and the leader of North Korea become so-called ‘fathers’ to their nations, and pervert the true image of fatherhood.  People in the church become ‘fathers’ to their disciples – their ‘children’, so that you have some who say they follow Luther, others say they follow the Pope, others who follow Darby, others who say ____.  The Lord told us to consider no one ‘Father’ is this manner, or to close ourselves off to the whole of those whom He has given to the church to build us up and to bring us to maturity.  Messiah is not divided, and we are one body with one ‘Great Teacher’ (Rabbi) and one Father, our God in Heaven.  Paul calls such divisions carnal and not spiritual; childish and not mature.  These things only bring strife within the family rather than unity and love and thankfulness to the praise of the glory of God.  

God, our perfect Father, morally disciplines us in order that we partake of His holiness, that we become more like His beloved Son, who always honored His Father and gave joy to Him through His willing obedience to His will.  There is a time when we must leave our natural father’s house and have our own personal relationship with God as our Father, so that we are led by the Spirit and not by the ‘traditions of the fathers’.  If we are led by God’s Spirit, we are called sons of God, and He will always have us honor our fathers and mothers, even as we go forward into the fullness that God has purposed for us as a mature one new man corporately in Christ.  The Holy Spirit leads us into all the truth, which requires us to continue to let Him teach us and lead us from generation to generation as He progresses in the revelation of God’s purpose.  

Rom 5:1-11   There is FULL ACCEPTANCE by God the Father for those who believe in and love His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He knows what we are like!  We rejoice in the hope of the glory of GOD.  

God is now your Father and mine; He accepts us fully, and expects us – requires us – to love one another.  If we are truly FAMILY, we will love one another for our Father’s sake, and for the sake of Christ who died for you and for me, and for the sake of the gospel so that others can see the truth of Jesus in us.  Jesus left us a memorial to remember how it is that each of us is accepted by God:  we remember that Yeshua died for our sins and God has justified us through faith in that.  What a truth that sets us free and sanctifies us when we really know it and believe it!  It is a table to which the brethren sit together in unity with deep appreciation and worship of our great God and Savior, who has shown us such love that He calls us sons and daughters!  

Our primary relationship to each other in Christ is as brothers and sisters.  This is a family which God is creating for Himself.  Jesus says that those who do His Father’s will are His mother and brothers and sisters.  It is not based on our spiritual gifts, positions of ministry within the congregation, our language or culture, our education.  It is not based on our knowledge of the Bible or of what kind of soldier or fisher or farmer we are in God’s order of things.  

Our conduct towards one another must be first and foremost based on our being in God’s family together.  We are to show respect to one another even as we want to be respected; we must love one another even as we want – need – to be loved.  For those who do have more responsibility in overseeing and in serving the church, all the more are to realize this fundamental relationship we have with each other if we are to have the peace and joy within us.  Family members sometimes – even many times – quarrel or disagree.  But if we truly love our Father and know His heart, His love, for each of us, then we will work things through, we will not allow the devil or ourselves to be causes of stumbling to others.  

Brothers and sisters, we are entering a time in which our Father is calling His elect from whatever stream they may be in to come unto Him.  Let us have the love of the Father in us so that we will demonstrate to one another that we accept each other even as He does.  Yes, He will chasten us; yes, we will have our disagreements; but we come together to please our Father and our Lord.  

Let us understand the Word of God to us and know our Father’s heart.  Be strong in the joy of Yeshua, who showed us God’s love for sinners like His disciples and like us. . .and He is not ashamed to call us brethren.  God’s banner over us is love.

ISSUE OF THE HEART: COVETOUSNESS

Dt 5:21[18 Heb]; Ex 20:17 [14 Heb]  Thou shalt not covet anything that is someone else’s
Col 3:5; 1Tim 6:6-10   covetousness is idolatry; with godliness, be content with what you have
Mt 19:16-23   covetousness and the deceitfulness of riches makes it hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven
1Cor 12:31   covet earnestly the greater gifts  

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Why would we want to be rich after hearing Jesus tell us that it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom?

We’ve been speaking about “k’ilu”, “as IF”, between true and false obedience to the Word and Spirit of God.  We have seen that it is an issue of the heart, of the inner man.  Outwardly, all may seem okay, but inwardly, there is unbelief, insincerity, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, all manner of evil thoughts and intentions.  

Have we seen HIM – the Son of God – whom we have pierced?  Are we sensitive to the sin within us, still too much of our character and personality?  The New Covenant promise is that God has forgiven us of our sins, which Jesus took away through His sacrificial death for us on the cross, and we have been born again through our faith in Him.  God has given us a new heart and a new Spirit within us.  Obviously, the original ones were sick and dead regarding God and His Kingdom.  He has not just fixed or healed or even revived the old, but rather has given us new ones!  This truth alone tells us that it is not true evangelization to tell a sinner to “just ask or receive Jesus into your heart and be saved and born again”.  God does not want to enter our old heart, but wants us to realize that we need a new one.  

Yet we still find ourselves struggling in this body and in the flesh against the Spirit of God within us, who is working to conform us to the image of God’s Son.  The fear of YHVH, who is our Judge and always with us wherever we may go, is KEY to our sensitivity to the great difference between God’s holiness and our version of it in our own lives!  

Let’s look at the 10th commandment:  Thou shalt not covet. . . .What does this mean in our daily life?  It forbids us to envy or to regret the prosperity of our neighbor (read, fellowman), nor are we to want anything improper from him/her.  It also requires that we are satisfied with our own material possessions or status when good things come to our fellowman.  

The commandment, “Do not covet anything that belongs to our neighbor”, does not bother us so much if we think and feel that things are going well with us, and something of ‘lesser’ value comes into our neighbor’s life.  But this commandment applies at all times.  If our ‘neighbor’ gets a job and you don’t, are you happy for him or her?  If your neighbor gets a new car, and you can’t even sell your old one, do you envy them?  If your  husband or wife has a bad temper, and your friend’s wife or husband is kind, do you feel bitter?     Do you remember the story of wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel regarding the vineyard of Naboth their neighbor?  Because Naboth would neither trade his vineyard for a ‘better’ one nor sell it, since it was his family inheritance (1Kg 21), Jezebel had him murdered and Ahab took the vineyard for himself.  Covetousness led Ahab to depression and to accept murder of an innocent man, and he still took the vineyard!  

Are you feeling a bit like Paul did when the commandment came to him, and caused him all kinds of evil desire once he knew from the Law what covetousness was? (Rom 7:7-12 

The 10th commandment gets to the heart of the matter:  sin dwells within us, within the core of our being, and without knowing and living the truth of that, we will try to ‘save ourselves’; we will try all kinds of ways to ‘just do better, try harder’.  The remedy is not in ourselves, but in Jesus, who died on the cross, and with Him, so did we.  Our old man is crucified with Messiah.  In the present battle, we must “guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of our life.” (Prov 4:23)

It is Christ alone who can solve our heart problems.  Covetousness is a heart problem.  If Jesus were truly our all-in-all; if we were truly content with what we have from God; if we truly believed in Jesus’s sovereignty and of God’s perfect love for us as our Father; if we truly loved our neighbor as ourself, then we would overcome the sin in us to covet what another person, or even another nation, has.  

Remember that the general call in our lives as believers is to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.  Unless we recognize and confess our own deep sinfulness, we will not be asking the Lord or others for forgiveness or for God’s righteousness in our lives.  Without the fear of the Lord we will not obey God from the heart with thanksgiving.  If we as children and young men and women do not honor our mother and father even when we are not with them, then we are not living in the fear of God.  When we do not believe that there is a higher authority over us for GOOD, our hearts will act evilly:  what is the standard for morality?; who sets that standard?; who says so!?  Everyone will do what is right in his own eyes under the circumstances, and much evil will occur.  Jesus asks if He will find the faith on the Earth when He returns.  He asks if He will find people still praying and crying out to God for His righteous judgments and for His salvation and deliverance.  He tells us that, except that He does return, no one would be left alive on the Earth.  Such is the deceit and evil of our hearts!  

Only Christ can cure the new heart which we have received when we were born again.  We must learn each day to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus.  As we keep our heart and focus on Him, and know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, our lustful desires will lose their power in our lives.  Our treasure will be in Heaven, and so will our heart.

THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST

1Thes 1:2-10   We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God our Fatherknowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.  Evidenced by their change of worldview and lifestyle; their endurance through suffering for the sake of faith in Jesus, with joy of the Holy Spirit; and their hopeful expectation of the return of the Lord to deliver them from the wrath of God to come.  

Heb 6:1-2   Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Messiah, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God; of the doctrine of baptisms; of laying on of hands; of resurrection of the dead; and of eternal judgment.
      –from being mere ‘children’ to becoming ‘sons’
      —Dan 12:2   And many of those who sleep in the dust shall awakesome to everlasting life; some to shame and everlasting contempt
      —1Cor 15:13-19; Jn 11:23-24   without the resurrection, our faith, teaching, and lives are vain, futile  

Acts 24:14-16; 23:6; 26:6-7   But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets.  I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust.  This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and man.
   –the hope of the resurrection is the promise of God to His people; at least as far back as Job we have a record of living hope in the resurrection
   –personal responsibility to live as a righteous person, to live in a manner that proves we believe in the resurrection of the just
   –God raised Jesus – not Moses, not Buddha, not Mohammed, not Gandhi – from among the dead (Mk 9:9-10)
      –proof of being the Son of God; of God’s satisfaction with Him; of His being the Just One
      –first-born of many brethren: in Him we, too, will be raised up from among the dead on the last day!
         –Do you believe the love of the truth 

2Tim 4:8   Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who love His appearing.
   –everlasting crown, not a temporary or fading one (‘icing on the cake’; ‘to top it all off’; ‘the best of it all’)
   –the resurrection of the just (Dan 12:2; Jn 5:26-29;Acts 24:15; Phlp 3:11; Rev 20:6)
   –if our conscience is clear, we are neither afraid or embarrassed to see someone who knows  us
   —1Jn 4:17-19   where there is love, there is no fear of judgment
      –The Holy Spirit works in us to prepare us for the Day of Judgment.  Part of the Lord’s prayer which He teaches us is that we be delivered from the evil (day; one).  

   –all the trials of life are intended to prove, strengthen, perfect our faith in Him who has demonstrated  his everlasting love for us.
   –humility: conformity to the image of the Son of God
      –the tension in life between the sovereignty of God and man’s free will
      –confidence in God; no confidence in the flesh, in me, in my credentials
         –I do not do very well in many things.  My faith, hope, and love are in Jesus, who died for sinners to make us righteous in God’s sight.  

2Tim 1:8-12   Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.  For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

OVERCOMING HATRED FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

(Delivered at NEM Conference at the Baptist Village in Israel, April 23, 2006)

Mt 5:9-11   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  

I tell people who ask me what it’s like to live as a believer in Israel that Israel is a great place to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, because it’s difficult to be lukewarm about our faith.  We have many first-hand experiences related to the passage we read from Matthew.  The Middle East provides us with many opportunities to be “blessed, happy, satisfied” if we are motivated by the love and purposes of God.  

Rom 12:17-21   There is no guarantee of success in our pursuit of peace or in our peace-making with others, but we are to live in the power of the Holy Spirit in us to demonstrate the truth – the reality – of our faith in Jesus and of His being our Savior and Lord.  

It is the peace of GOD that we have which we are to communicate and strive to obtain with others.  It is a peace which surpasses understanding.  Any other peace will be only temporary at best; only Jesus gives what is true peace:  it is a fruit of God’s righteousness; the price has been paid to secure it; it gives rest to the whole person, and nothing can take it away.  It begins when we return to God through the atonement of Jesus and know that our sins have been forgiven and we have received the Holy Spirit and eternal life.  

In our local congregation, Yeshua’s Inheritance/Nachalat Yeshua, we are each and all there because Jesus has placed us there.  We must learn to accept whom He has accepted, to love one another despite great differences of background and personalities; to forgive each other because we are disciples of Jesus.  In Israeli churches, we have a training ground to overcome natural prejudices towards other nations since so many of us have come from countries that were hostile or jealous of each other!  

The Christians – whether Jewish or gentile – live in not only a non-Christian country, but an anti-Christian country.  Both Judaism and Islam are opposed to the truth of Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God.  Even secularized Jews and Muslims are naturally inclined to resist the gospel.  Our congregation has twice been targets of angry irrational mobs, who were incited by false rumors started and spread by their religious leaders.  This is no different than in the days of Jesus, Stephen, Paul.  Jesus tell His disciples that if hate and persecute us, it is because they first did so to Him.  This is a proof that they do not know God the Father who sent Yeshua His only begotten Son.  To be anti-Semitic and anti-Christian is to be, first of all, anti-YHVH God and His sovereignty.  We are chosen and saved by His grace to glorify Him.  

A simple act of “giving a cup of cold water” to an enemy of the gospel can demonstrate our goodwill and desire to be at peace with him.  After all, Jesus commands us to even love our enemies, which we can only do for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  This is a clear demonstration that we are willing to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.  

In Jewish/Arab, Israeli/Palestinian, missionary ministries in the Middle East, which strive to reconcile people to God and to one another, it is the Word of God to which we must all be reconciled and bring forth with humility in our efforts to be right with God and to have His grace working through us.  In such a region of conflict, which is firstly spiritual in nature, we have a moral responsibility to be in agreement with God on any issue, and then humbly seek to persuade others of the righteousness of God.  This way results in joy in the Holy Spirit, when we acknowledge that it is God who has done it!

Questions:   

1.  How does our understanding of what the Bible teaches about the “end-times”, the “last days”, affect our ministry and message of reconciliation, of pursuing peace?  When is “in that day” referring to in Isaiah 19:23-25?  

2.  Does our expectation of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth make a difference in our efforts at peace-making?
   –What if the Master “delays” His coming?
   –What if nothing seems to indicate signs of His coming?
   –Do we believe and know that Jesus will come again?  

3.  If the Lord Jesus is coming to judge the nations, how does this affect our ministry?
   –Calling anyone and everyone to repentance and to believe the good news
   –Being light and salt  

4.  If believers are commanded to love one another as Jesus has loved us, how does this affect our relationships with believers from unfriendly or enemy nations or people groups?  

5.  Would having a personal experience of suffering hatred and persecution for our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ make a difference in our approach to unbelievers who oppose the gospel?  

6.  Jesus said that His peace is not like the peace which the world gives.  What are some of the differences? 

PURIM: SOME LESSONS FOR US

The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim.  This holiday is still being observed:  it still has relevance for us today, even for Gentile believers in Jesus.  Haman presents us with a type of the antichrist in his spirit, and a descendant of Agag, of Amalek, of Esau, the hostile fraternal twin brother of Jacob.

Today I want to look at just a couple of events in the book for us as believers to consider:
Es 2:5-18   Esther’s natural beauty; her humility and wisdom; the king’s servant, Hegai, the eunuch who took care of the women (virgins)   

The believer and his/her lengthy preparation for spiritual beauty to appear before the King.

Eph 5:25-27   Messiah loves the Church that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

This gives us confidence to approach the King with reverence and hope, having done our all to please him.

Heb 4:16   Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Es 3:1-6   Mordecai would not bow down or worship Haman because Mordecai was a Jew; Haman, in his pride and wrath, sought to kill not only Mordecai, but all the Jews, the people of Mordecai (and of Esther).
      Gen 3:15   enmity between the Seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent
      Mt 4:8-10; Ex 20:3-5; Dt 6:4-5,13-14   The Jew and Christian are to worship YHVH God, and serve Him only.  Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one!  (Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God is one YHVH!)
      Rom 2:29   He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and whose circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit and not in the letter, and whose praise is not from men, but from God.

We, too, are called to be discerning and bold to not worship or serve the god of this world, even as we give honor to kings and all in authority.  The spirit of antichrist seeks to take the ultimate honor and worship for himself, depriving the sole privilege to Whom it rightly belongs:  to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Esther – as the Bride – prepares herself not only to come before the King and find favor in his eyes, but also as one who honors him as a wife to her husband, she is in the right place at the right time to both understand and to intercede effectively for her people and for her own self and family as she accepts her true identity before him and in the face of the enemy.   

The Holy Spirit is sanctifying us to prepare us for the spiritual warfare to come, and to make us ready for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is God and Deliverer of His people.  He will defeat forever Amalek, and give rest to His people from all their enemies, so that we may worship Him in Spirit and truth.  

EZEKIEL: A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT TO KNOW YHVH

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

Ezek 20:41-44   I [YHVH] will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the gentiles.  Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I bring you into the Land of Israel, into the country which I raised my right hand in an oath to give to your fathers.  And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils which you have committed.  Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O House of Israel, says the Lord GOD.

Twice in these four verses, we read and heard by the Spirit of God that the Word of YHVH says, ‘You shall know that I am YHVH’.  This expression occurs 61 times through 24 chapters, half of the book of Ezekiel! 

Ex 3:14-15  And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’.  And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.  Moreover God said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, YHVH God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.  This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.    Ex 6:3-4  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name YHVH I was not known to them.  I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the Land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers.    Ex 34:6-7,14  And YHVH passed before him and proclaimed, YHVH, YHVH God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the childrens’ children to the third and fourth generations, for you shall worship no other god, for YHVH, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous GodRev 4:8  Holy, Holy, Holy, YHVH God of Hosts, who was, is, and coming.

YHVH is the one true God. He is the Living One.   From the Old and the New Testament scriptures, it is evident to those who are born again from above that the one true God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It is also evident by revelation from the Father that Jesus Christ is LORD: He is YHVH.  Jesus is the Savior God of Israel, just as He is for you and for me.  We come to God our Father only through Jesus His Son, and this only by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us personally.  This is the redemption which God is going to accomplish for His inheritance, Israel, His priestly nation.

It is by God’s mercy, and not due to Israel’s initiative to repent and return back to Him.  God’s sovereign love will bring Israel back to Him, even as He has now been bringing Jewish people back to the land for over 120 years, in accord with His promises, despite Israel’s continuing unbelief and lack of repentance.  Thank God for the love of the Father! 

Ezekiel is God’s servant to bring forcefully Israel’s sin, and God’s necessary judgments, to the people.  The sin and uncleanness of Israel will be fully exposed in order for complete cleansing and healing.  Each person has to bear his own responsibility (Ezek 18).  This prepares the way for the glad tidings of restoration and forgiveness, and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of God to Israel.  (Remember the disciples’ question to Jesus?)  The gospel, too, must include the experience of the truth of judgment and repentance in order to receive the grace of forgiveness and restoration.  YHVH is God and does not change; it is we who must change, and be changed.  Both Ezekiel and Paul, with the other prophets, make it clear that only a remnant of the people will be saved.  Even should Noah, Daniel, and Job all pray and intercede, they could not change God’s righteous judgments against the nation (14:12-23).  God’s judgments cause suffering for both the wicked and the righteous:  for the wicked it is only judgment; for the righteous it is a refining fire (ch.21).

For this, God must give Israel—as to each of us—a new heart and a new spirit.  We need to be made new in order to see how unrighteous and unclean we have been in the sight of the Holy One of Israel.  To have everlasting possession of God’s blessings and promises we must first be restored to Him personally.  It is in the light of His glory that we see ourselves, and so can receive more fully the abundant grace and mercy of His forgiveness for ourselves and for our sins.  The New Covenant promise to the House of Israel of a new heart and a new spirit—God’s Spirit—is to enable us to keep His commandments:  LOVE of YHVH God with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength; to love others as we love ourselves; to love fellow redeemed brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved each of us.  Love is keeping the commandments of God in Christ.  Israel and the redeemed of the nations will all know the LORD, from the least to the greatest.  The Creator who has not been recognized or accepted will be known by all through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the express image of the invisible God.

God has His appointed King—a Priest-King whom He has chosen and anointed to receive the Throne in Israel. (Ezek 21:25-27; Gen 49:10; Zech 6:12-13; Ps 2; Mt 23:37-39)  Until that day, God will overthrow every false ruler (Jn 10:7-16) until He comes whose right it is, and the Father will give it to His Son Jesus, the Son of David.

For Israel, as for Christians, to receive what God has promised to give, the people must come to God on His terms by His way.  Only by seeing her true condition and calling upon the Name of YHVH (Ezek 36:37will Israel receive all that she truly seeks for—and far more than she can even think or imagine (v.11).  Israel wants peace and security, to live life without fear of enemies.  God alone can provide that , but it is grounded in worshiping Him in spirit and truth.  God brought Israel out of Egypt by Moses to serve Him and so be free.  The present immigration from all the nations in which we were scattered, as Ezekiel was given to prophesy, is a greater exodus than that from out of Egypt (Jer 23:7-8)God makes it very clear (v.22-23) that it is not for Israel’s sake that He does this, but for the sake of His holy name.  He sill sanctify His great name, which we have profaned.  And the nations, Israel, and God’s enemies will all know that He is YHVH God, the Holy One of Israel.

When Jesus taught us how to pray, the first thought is the sanctification of the Father’s name.  God Himself says that the sanctity of His great name is connected with Israel’s redemption and His dwelling place being established in her midst in the Land of Israel, as promised to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to their descendants.  For this to happen Israel must be cleansed from all her uncleanness and ungodliness.  God can not dwell in the midst of a sinful and rebellious nation.  To help serve this purpose, YHVH God will stir up Israel’s lovers—those nations with whom she has prostituted herself unfaithfully against her God and husband—that they will turn against her, leaving her rejected and desperate (ch. 23). 

According to Ezekiel, Jesus, Paul, there will be much tribulation for Israel in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  Wars will come, but the victory is the LORD’s!  The coming of the Kingdom of God always implies destruction—condemnation and death–to His and His people’s enemies, including the antichrist, who is probably identified here as Gog (Ezek 38-39).  We see this at Sodom and Gomorrah, yet God knew how to save righteous Lot.  We have the examples of Pharoah and Egypt, when the true living God defeated all their gods, but He delivered the households marked with the blood of the lamb.  We see the same thing even within Israel after the incident of the golden calf, but the tribe of Levi was rewarded.  Again, when the Israelis entered the promised land, Jericho and all that it contained was destroyed, except for Rahab and her family.  In the New Testament we have Ananias and Saphira being judged and killed on the spot for lying and deceit soon after the Holy Spirit was given to the first believers.  At the end of the age, when Jesus comes to establish the Kingdom, we see the separation of the goats from the sheep.  And we see when the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed One, He destroys those who destroyed the Earth.

God’s purposes for Israel include reconciling Ephraim and Judah (37:16-22).  Israel will be Israel and Israeli, not “Jewish” as we now think of it, but the Israel of God whose culture is reflective of that unity of all the tribes in a restored relation of brotherly love honoring to God their Father and to the King of Israel, Yeshua, the Son of God.  Israel’s salvation and redemption allowing her to enter her inheritance and destiny as a priestly nation is ultimately dependent upon the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to save His people from Gog and the nations—Turkey, Iran, Sudan, and Libya–joined together with him against Israel.  Jesus will then establish the Messianic Kingdom on Earth, with the full remnant of each of the tribes of Israel inheriting their allotment in the Land which God promised on oath to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob/Israel and their descendants.  All the other surviving nations will also inherit their lands whose boundaries have been set by YHVH God (Dt 32:8).  The name of the holy city Jerusalem will be from that day, YHVH Is There! (48:35)

Israel will no longer have malicious neighbors (28:24).  As both Mary and Simeon exclaimed and proclaimed surrounding the conception and birth of the Messiah Yeshua, God will scatter and put down the proud, and exalt the lowly; He will deliver Israel from the hand of our enemies that she will serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him forever. 

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Summary of Ezekiel:  Ch. 1-32: Judgment and Horror; Ch. 33-48: Hope and Restoration

Ch. 1-3     Ezekiel sees the glory of YHVH and receives his call to the children of Israel, a rebellious nation

Ch. 4-24  Judgment upon Israel precedes that of other nations (cp. 1Pet 4:17-18).  Israel made the first-born from among the nations by the sovereign will of God, and to whom much is given more is required.
            –YHVH is departed! (11:33)

Ch. 25-32  Judgment of nations in near proximity who oppose Israel and her God.  Vessels of dishonor, of wrath, reserved for God’s righteous judgment for refusing the light of His covenant relations with Israel (and with the Church, for there is only one Mediator and one Savior).

Ch. 33   The Watchman for the House of Israel to warn them from the LORD
             –Jerusalem has been taken (v. 21)

Ch. 34   The false shepherds versus the true Shepherd

Ch. 35    The judgment upon Mount Seir and Edom because of their everlasting hatred against Israel

Ch. 36   –The land claimed by YHVH and given back to Israel
               –A new heart and new spirit given with increase, fruitfulness, prosperity
            –Israel will loathe herself (as did Job and Isaiah) when she sees herself in the reality of YHVH’s goodness and  holiness

Ch. 37   New and resurrection life given to body and nation.  Ephraim and Judah restored:  one nation/one people/one  family

Ch. 38-39  Overthrow of last enemy, Gog (overthrow of antichrist – Dan 11:21;2Thes 2:8)
                   –YHVH is glorified, and His name is hallowed

Ch. 40-48  –God’s Kingdom restored forevermore in Israel and the world:  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as in Heaven
                —44:15-16 Israel’s establishment as a priestly kingdom:  blessed and sanctified; millennial Sabbath rest for  God’s creation
                –differences from Law of Moses, including “holidays”
                –YHVH is there! 

ACCORDING TO THE LAW AND THE TESTIMONY – Isaiah 8:20

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

Mt 5:17-19     Jesus came not to cancel or to break the Law and the Prophets, but rather to fulfill every jot and tittle of them
Ex 25:21-22     the Ark of the Testimony was set in the Holy of Holies; the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the Ark as a witness to the hope of redemption from the holy and righteous demands of the Law of Moses
Acts 24:14-15  Paul’s testimony about the hope of the fathers, as written in the Law and the Prophets, for the resurrection
Rom 8:18-25    the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection

The word redemption in English means to buy (purchase) back and restore what is rightfully mine but legally lost through forfeit (loss of privilege or honor through disqualification by breaking the rules or law).  The word ransom means the payment of a price for deliverance from some evil.  It could be a prisoner of war, a hostage, a slave, or one’s own life (Ex 21:29-30).  In the Bible, redemption requires two things:  the legally qualified person, and the willingness and ability of that person to pay the required price to buy back what was given up.  The year of Jubilee is all about redemption and restoration, both of people and of property.  A redeemed person or possession is restored to his or its intended purpose.  His dignity is regained.  And the honor given him is greater than before the loss.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us be clear from the beginning of these messages that the redemption of Israel is assured by the fact—by the truth—that Jesus Himself is her Redeemer.  Not only does He deliver prisoners, slaves, debtors, but by His very name, Yeshua is the Savior and Redeemer of sinners. If Israel could redeem herself from her bondages, then certainly the Holocaust would seem to be sufficient payment of her own sons and daughters.  But it clearly has not been so.  God wants the loss of intimate relationship with Him restored, so that Israel–and the rest of the world– can have rest and peace and joy.  Messiah Jesus is the uniquely qualified person who willingly paid the necessary price to buy back His own people and kinsmen according to the flesh, and the Land of Canaan, which YHVH, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, promised with an oath to give to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to their descendants forever.

Since Israel asked for a king like the heathen nations have, YHVH has not been Israel’s God in practice from their point of view.  Jesus came—and was also rejected for Caesar!—to restore God the Father’s Kingdom both to Israel and to the whole world, the gentiles already rejecting Him in Noah’s day, both before and after the Flood.   

Adam and Eve, through deceit and disobedience, lost the paradise and the authority that God provided and gave to them.  Both the people of Israel and the Land of Israel were forfeited by Israel through their breaking God’s covenant with them.  But Jesus was sent by God the Father to redeem His people, His land, even the whole of humanity and the whole Earth, even more—the whole universe of this creation, which has all been corrupted through sin and subjected to vanity, futility.  Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and the Savior of all, but especially for those who believe, for by faith we are saved through grace, not by law or through works or without condition.  Abiding in Jesus is the key to our faith and our love.  The Messianic/Christian faith is a relationship with the Father and the Son and with others who are born of God.

Jesus says that the whole of the Book is written about Him, and that He has come to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets. He says that Heaven and Earth will pass away, but not before God has fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Word of God with respect to this creation, which is set and limited by time and seasons.  So as we look at the subject of Israel’s redemption as presented by the priest/prophet Ezekiel and by the priest/apostle Paul, we do so as recognizing that all Scripture is inspired by the Spirit of God, and is given for our learning to make us wise unto salvation.  By them we can know not only God’s statutes, but also His ways regarding His people and the world at large.  This being so, then there will be essential agreement between Ezekiel and Paul, for the redemption is by YHVH God, who is the God of both Ezekiel and Paul.

Israel’s redemption—both of people and land—gives hope and significance to other nations.  God is interested in nations of people, a corporate collection of individual persons bound together by a language, law, customs, culture, boundaries.  He has given each a destiny, and within each of the families of the Earth, the Father is seeking those who will love Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Christians are expected to be stewards of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  The Church—the Body of Christ—was a mystery which God revealed especially to Paul to explain.  And Paul also says that Israel’s salvation is a mystery, which again the Holy Spirit explains through Paul.  But without knowing the truth of who Jesus really is, we can not understand either the Church–which is a new creation not of this world–or Israel, which is distinguished from the other nations.   

YHVH is a covenant-making and -keeping God.  God is love, and so His covenants are expressions of His love and holiness.  Just as the Lord requires a husband and wife to remain faithful to each other, even more so is He faithful to His people—even His Bride—through the covenant relationship He has with us.  He cannot deny Himself.  Jesus’ death on the cross because of our sin–and His subsequent resurrection to justify Him in man’s sight, and to justify in God’s sight all who believe that God raised Him up from among the dead—is the costly ransom which God paid to redeem us from the “legal” claims of the devil—a price which Satan tried to subvert.  God is debtor to no one, and is not out to appease His enemy.  The New Covenant assures us that God will keep all His previous commitments, and on the basis of that ‘filling full’ of all His purposes regarding the world He made, He will create a new heavens and a new earth, also in accord with what is already written in the Holy Scriptures.

Therefore Israel’s redemption is assured, even though only a remnant from each of the tribes will be saved to constitute “all Israel”—those of Jacob who repent from ungodliness so that they can receive God’s forgiveness of all their sins, transgressions, and iniquity.  No weapon formed against Israel will succeed, just as the gates of Sheol will not prevail against the Church.  It is not by Israel’s or our own righteousness, but by God’s mercy we are saved through faith in Jesus, the beloved Son of God.  The redemption of both Israel and of the Church is connected with preaching the gospel to all nations—to the Jews and to the gentiles.  Israel’s partial blindness to the good news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is remaining until the fullness of the gentiles is brought in.  Gentile (i.e., non-Jewish) Christians have a calling and a responsibility to provoke Israel to jealousy over your own personal relationship with Israel’s own God and Father, while at the same time showing mercy to the Jewish people.  (It is evident that classic anti-semitism has no place in the heart and mind of a true Christian).  And just as God saves individuals through the forgiveness of sin by their repentance unto faith, so too with nations.  The same YHVH God, who speaks to Israel through His prophets whom He sent to them, also speaks to nations, not just about them, through these same prophets.

The whole of God’s purpose in creation and redemption is to make known that He alone is YHVH, the only true God, and that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of the Father.  God wants us to want Him to honor His holy name in the sight of all—even as Moses did when the Lord suggested wiping out the rebellious people whom He brought out of Egypt.  We, too, must call upon God to save His people Israel, for the sake of His own Name and His Word, and to establish His Kingdom of Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit on Earth, as it is in Heaven.  For as Paul says, How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ (Rom 10:14-15; Is 52:7; Eph 6:15)

God is working from both sides – Jewish and gentile – to fulfill His redemptive history and purposes.  He has given us an active part in that, once we have been joined to the Lord through new birth, we become co-laborers with one another as we serve Him.  But, thank God, He will do it!  That is our and Israel’s security and hope.  YHVH has done it!  Jesus lived and died and rose from the dead and lives forevermore.  Nothing is too great for Him to do!