Who Is Yeshua?

Mk 8:27-38  And Jesus and His disciples went out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. And in the way He asked His disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am?  (28)  And they answered, John the Baptist. But others say Elijah, and others say one of the prophets.  (29)  And He said to them, But who do you say that I am? And Peter answered and said to Him, You are the Messiah.  (30)  And He charged them that they should tell no one of Him.  (31)  And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  (32)  And He spoke that saying openly. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him.  (33)  But when He had turned around and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men.  (34)  And calling near the crowd with His disciples, He said to them, Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  (35)  For whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, he shall save it.  (36)  For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?  (37)  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  (38)  Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Just before this passage, Yeshua had seemingly experienced some failure in the healing of a blind man. The first act of giving the man sight resulted in him only seeing without clarity.  The second time Yeshua put His hands on the man’s eyes resulted in him receiving full sight.  This scene was not only a physical reality — a blind man was healed — but also a parable and a prophecy:  even the disciples of the Lord were not seeing clearly who Jesus really was; and the Messiah is still at work to bring His identity into sharp focus for all – believer and unbeliever alike. 

Up till now, Yeshua had performed many miracles and healings and signs among the people, yet His closest disciples still seemed to be uncertain who it was that they were walking with.  Yeshua is now going to bring them to a ‘valley of decision’ – a moment of truth to choose to recognize and to accept, or to reject:  a decision that determines destiny. (עמק החרוץ Joel 3:14) 

Yeshua asked His disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?”  The answers were very interesting: Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptiser, one of the other prophets. (Mk 6:14-15; Mt 16:13-18)  Did the apostles and the Jewish people believe in reincarnation!?  (see Jn 9:1-2)  But then Jesus said to them:  “But you, who do you say that I am?”  And Peter, always ready, answered, “You are the Messiah, [the Son of the living God].”  Then Yeshua strictly charged the disciples not to tell anyone about Him!  They still did not know what it meant that He was the Messiah.  They were still not seeing clearly or understanding; but they knew now that He is the one of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote.    The Son of God did not come to become famous or popular.  Again we see that God’s ways are not like those of men or women who think more highly of themselves than is suitable. (Rom 12:2-3)  In Matthew’s gospel, he adds that Yeshua told Simon Peter that his confession of the revelation of who Yeshua is did not come from flesh and blood, but from Yeshua’s Father in Heaven; that is, from God.  This is the foundation upon which the Lord builds His household of faith, against which not even death can overcome the believers. (Mt 16:16-181Jn 2:20-25)

Yeshua began to teach the apostles the truth about what it meant that He was Messiah.  In Jewish teaching and expectation at that time, there were those who thought that the Messiah would come as a conquering King, the son of David.  Others taught that the Messiah would come — not necessarily from David’s line (1Kg 12:16) — and overthrow the Roman enemy and occupiers, freeing Israel and the Jewish people from foreign domination to be a free people in their own land.  The mystery of the cross and of the gospel was hidden from them, and now Yeshua had come — the truth, the life, and the way.  Yeshua told them that being the Messiah meant, firstly, that He was going to “suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”.  All of their prior understanding of the Messiah had been false or distorted.  This is what gives rise to false Messiahs/Christs – being deceived about the truth of the Messiah/Christ being Yeshua/Jesus.

(Tonight is Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day of the counting of the sheaves of wheat between the Passover week and Shavuot/Pentecost.  This day is a celebration of a false prophet and of a false Messiah.  Rabbi Akiva claimed that Bar-Kochba was the Messiah, who was going to defeat the Romans and regain the holy city of Jerusalem.  Yet the rabbi – who was burned at the stake —  is still considered one of the sages of Judaism, and everyone knows now that Bar-Kochba was not the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism even forbids marriages during this period until after this truly pagan fire holiday!)

We know that these closest disciples never did “hear” the words, “and after three days rise again”, because until they actually saw Jesus after His resurrection, they had believed that His death brought an end to their hope that He was, in fact, the Redeemer. (Mt 28:17; Mk 16:11-14; Lk 24:13-32; Jn 20:24-25)

Peter, who had just been blessed for confessing the revelation from God the Father, was now speaking on behalf of Satan when he rebuked Yeshua, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Mt 16:22)  Yeshua then rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men”.  The devil was quick at work to try to steal the Word which Yeshua had sown into the heart of His dear followers. (Mk 4:14-15)   It was God’s plan and good pleasure that His Son would be the sacrifice to atone for the sins of every man, woman, and child. (Is 53:10-12)

Jesus then spoke to all of the people there, with his disciples, and told them all what it would mean for all who confess in faith and become followers of Yeshua the Nazarene (not, the Nazirite); and He connects it with His second coming:  we will have to deny ourselves and pick up our own crosses to follow Him; we will have to be willing to die for Him and for the gospel; the whole world is not the value of even one soul; we must not be ashamed or embarrassed about Jesus or of His words. (Lk 9:26; Rev 3:8)  Remember that even many of His disciples had been offended and embarrassed by His hard sayings regarding eating His flesh and drinking His blood. (Jn 6:53-69)  In today’s post-modern and post-Christian world, the Bible – God’s Word – is under attack; the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to God the Father is attacked; the truth that God remains faithful and committed to His covenant promises to Israel is attacked; the truth that homosexuality is still a sin is under attack.  Believers are to stand with the Lord and His words in this “adulterous and sinful generation”.

What are some lessons for us in knowing who Yeshua is?:
–Before we became believers we did not understand what it means for someone to be the Messiah, especially that Jesus is the Messiah.  He is not the Messiah that we expected.  That being so, we bore false testimony against Him, simply by denying that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. (Ex 20:16; Dt 5:20)

–Yeshua told Peter that his clear acknowledgement of Him being the Messiah was a revelation from the Father.  It was not something that was being taught; it was not something that could be simply intellectually figured out.  The demons and the devil already knew who Yeshua was; they were not deceived like people are.

Each person needs this revelation of who Yeshua is.  It is not enough to grow up hearing about Him, or even being taught.  If that were all that was needed, then every person who has been brought up in a Christian or Messianic home or society would know that the Messiah/Christ is Yeshua/Jesus.  But they do not.  It requires a revelation from the Father.  If any of you here do not yet see clearly who Jesus is, ask the Father to reveal Him to you.  Ask the Lord to heal your spiritual blindness.  It is essential if you are going to be capable of truly being His disciple and not ashamed of Him or His words.  This gives confidence when He will come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

–There is unity among the believers who have this revelation.  All of the apostles were brought to that point of certainty regarding who Yeshua was/is.  Even Thomas; even Judas Ishcariot.  Whatever each of the apostles and the people had understood before that ‘valley of decision’, the Good Shepherd was going on from there.  They were going on together from there with the Lord breaking through before them.  If they were to begin arguing or discussing things as they had previously understood them, the Lord was going on from there.  He was not going back.  This unified the disciples.  It still did not guarantee covenant faithfulness to Yeshua or to His way.  Sin is a dreadfully strong slave master!

It is my conviction that the Body of Messiah is in need of another such revelation from the Father that is going to bring unity to the disciples of Yeshua at this time.  There are many differing and opposing interpretations of what is going on in these last days, and of Israel’s part, of believers in Jesus’ part, and of the abiding truth of the Word of YHVH God.  Just as the truth of Messiah was written in the Scriptures – but not understood – so, too, is the truth of where God is now in His plan of redemption also written in the Old and the New Testaments – but divisively not agreed upon.  We need a common, corporate, Holy Spirit revelatory moment to bring us together in His truth and love to enable us to do effectively what the Lord has called us to for His glory and purpose.  There will still be Thomases and Judases among us (Lord, have mercy on me!), but the power needed to stand  as one in this adulterous and sinful generation until the Day of Messiah necessitates such a revelation.  Let us love one another in the hope we have in our God.  And let us stand in the truth that we do know:  Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God.  Yeshua is LORD, to the glory of God the Father!

We were blind, but now we see.  Praise God!

The Inheritance of Yeshua – 28 Oct 2016

1Pe 1:3-9  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you  (5)  by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;  (6)  in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations;  (7)  so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  (8)  whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified,  (9)  obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Eph 1:18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints

Last week we heard an excellent teaching on the expectation we have of a new, eternal, heavenly body to replace our present, temporary, earthly bodies which are incapable of living the fullness of the life which is our inheritance in Christ.  Our congregation is called Yeshua’s Inheritance, and it is the inheritance which gives meaning to every human life:  whether that person will, or will not, inherit eternal life.  The God who has created the heavens and the Earth has given two options:  eternal existence separated from Him, in a place called hell; or eternal life with Him, in a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where love is perfect in all its aspects.  The way to either place is determined by one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, by whom alone anyone can come to the Father.

The name, Yeshua’s Inheritance, for our congregation gives us an identity:  we belong to Yeshua – both now and forever!  This is the hope that we have along with all other believers – past, present, and future!  The Hebrew word for inheritance (nachala נחלה) has the same root as for a stream or river (nachal נחל):  the inheritance flows from its source like a river stream from generation to generation until it reaches its destination into the big, wide, deep ocean with all the other streams.  YHVH God is our source, and His promises flow until they are fulfilled, to be inherited by all His holy ones.  We are the inheritance of our God and Savior!  What a treasure He has given us and promised us to inherit.

As was said last week, this inheritance comes into fullness only in the resurrection, when we receive our new bodies suited to the eternal life that we have also received as a free gift from God through our living faith in Yeshua as our Savior and Lord.  This inheritance is not for one people or ethnic group alone, but for all who are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above.  It is for the corporate one new man in Messiah, a new creation:  new bodies, new heavens, new Earth, new names.  Jesus makes all things new, perfect, eternal in the Kingdom of of God. (Rev 21:5)  We have the promise and the down-payment now; we receive the fullness of it when God finishes His plan of redemption in this world. (Rom 8:23-25; Jn 17:3)

For now, what does it mean for us in this congregation?  First of all, we have a common hope and calling.  Our vision and hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and rapture of the righteous – of the saints – that are connected with that.  Our bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies and we will forever be with the Lord, and will begin that ‘new life’ ruling and reigning with Him over redeemed Israel and the nations.  This is Yeshua’s inheritance in the world to come, and ours with Him! (Is 19:25; Ps 2:8; Dan 7:13-14,18,27; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 11:15; 20:6)   We will be ministers in His government, and priests as we rule and reign with Him as a kingdom of priests.

But brothers and sisters, if we do not love one another now, we risk inheriting nothing!  As we heard last week, if our acts are not motivated by love for the Lord and towards others, our deeds or ministry or participation profit us nothing.  They lack eternal value.  Without unity bound by love, we have a weak testimony of the truth of who Yeshua is.  We become a dysfunctional family that lacks order and peace.  Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment by choice because we love.  God has chosen to love us, especially those who love His beloved Son, Yeshua, and all that He does for us springs from His love, even though we clearly do not ‘deserve’ such attention and kindness (among other good things that is love).  God suffers long in demonstrating His love for us, and we are called to do the same.  Long-suffering is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit.  These things should weigh heavily upon us as we examine ourselves in relation to the reality of our faith and hope, and how it affects our part in this local congregation, and any other.   

Under the Law of Moses, all of the tribes of Israel, except one, received an inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan, which YHVH promised to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, according to His covenant promise.  This promise of an everlasting possession and inheritance still awaits fulfillment for the salvation of Israel as a nation.  But the one tribe which did not receive any inheritance of land was the tribe of Levi, the priestly family.  God determined that they would be scattered throughout the land to serve Him and the Temple and the people, and that their inheritance would be HIM. (Dt 10:8-9)  All of the promised land to be inherited by the Children of Israel belongs to YHVH.  Therefore, by having YHVH as their inheritance the priests inherited the whole land, although possessing none of it in their own right. 

Our inheritance in Yeshua is greater than a particular land or country.  This is our inheritance in Jesus:  the whole Kingdom of God – the whole universe, which includes everything – because the Father has given it all to Him. (Heb 1:1-4; Rom 8:16-17)  We have become God’s children in Christ, and co-heirs with Him.  And Jesus says that all that is His is the Father’s, and all that is the Father’s is His. (Jn 17:9-10)  And that especially means US, all who believe in God through Jesus, for whom He died to forgive us of our sin.  All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life! (Jn 3:16-17)   But those who refuse to honor Jesus condemn themselves to eternal spiritual darkness apart from the Light of Life. (Jn 3:18-21) 

The inheritance:  Yeshua/Jesus! And the whole Kingdom of God and eternal life with the Lord
The heirs:  the righteous saints – all who put their trust and hope in Jesus for their salvation from sin and sins
Our present knowledge of our future hope:  By the Word of God in the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers.  Take hope, young and old!  We have a glorious future after the suffering and tribulations of this life:  we will inherit the everlasting life that is really life that God has planned for those who love Him. (Eph 1:18; 1Tim 6:19; 1Jn 2:25; 1Cor 2:9-10; Is 64:4; Rev 21:1-8)   

Lk 12:22-34  And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on.  (23)  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  (24)  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, having neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the birds?  (25)  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?  (26)  If then you are not able to do even the least, why are you anxious about the rest?  (27)  Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not toil, they do not spin. And yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (28)  If then God so clothes the grass (which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven) how much more will He clothe you, O little-faiths?  (29)  And do not seek what you shall eat, nor what you shall drink, and stop being in anxiety.  (30)  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things.  (31)  But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  (32)  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  (33)  Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts.  (34)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Prayer of God’s Family and Yeshua’s Disciples

Prayer might be the only thing many believers can do; and prayer might be the only thing on which many believers across the denominational streams agree. Therefore, even here, the enemy comes in to bring inaction or disunity!

Let’s pray now together the prayer, commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer”, but which is better described as the prayer pattern which Jesus taught His disciples and brothers to pray. Yeshua’s prayer in John 17 is definitely the Lord’s prayer!  (Even now He intercedes for us!)

Mt 6:9-13 . . . Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, (10) Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread; (12) and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Prayer is the life-breath of a believer in the living God. It is natural communication with God, our Father in Heaven. Prayer indicates a close, personal, loving, free relationship and fellowship between Him and the believer in Him through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. In the short epistle of Jude, it is written that we should pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). And this is in the context of the end-times. All of the prayers that we have in the Scriptures are prayers in the Holy Spirit: they are according to the mind and heart of YHVH God, according to the circumstances and covenantal responsibilities and expectations. (Heb 12:22-24) So surely the manner of prayer which the Lord Yeshua teaches His disciples is one in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit does not only mean to pray in tongues, but is for every believer.

Mt 6:5-15 And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. (6) But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly. (7) But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles. For they think that in their many words they shall be heard. (8) Therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him. (9) Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. (10) Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread; (12) and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (14) For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; (15) but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Yeshua begins by telling us how not to pray! First of all, He says not to be like hypocrites who only want to impress others with their public prayers; but their private prayer life may be non-existent; or else, they want to impress people with their religious piety. God is not impressed in any positive way by this! Most of our prayer life will be in secret. After all, the apostle Paul writes that we should pray at all times. There is a place and time for corporate prayer, and we have examples of that, too, in the Bible. Both are appropriate; but mostly we need to develop our communication with God our Father in our private time and place, and this will rightly influence our public prayers, as well.

Yeshua also tells us not to simply repeat the same prayers or words over-and-over again, like some mantra or magic, as if this will cause God to answer us like we want. Every human wants basic necessities, such as food and clothing. Our Father in Heaven knows that also includes us! If we seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, we will not be worrying about our basic needs like unbelievers do; and the Lord tells us that our Father will provide these things to us as we seek first His interests and His ways. (Mt 6:31-34; cp Gen 28:20-21) We are to pray with faith, and with understanding of God’s will.

We are praying to a personal God (Hos 2:16), who is living and hears our prayers, and loves and cares about us as a Father. Through the gospel, God has become our Father in a personal way. In Judaism, they acknowledge God is a Father to Israel, and we see this through the Old Testament (e.g. Ex 4:22; Dt 32:6; Jer 31:9; Jn 8:41-42). Through the gospel and the New Testament, each believer has received the spirit of adoption to call God, “Abba, Father”. (Rom 8:14-17) The veil has been rent through Yeshua’s sacrificial death, and we have direct and open access to the Throne of God, Maker of Heaven and Earth!

In this prayer for disciples and God’s family, the Lord teaches us to focus on our Father and His interests. As children of God, we are to honor Him, and to desire that His will be done, not what seems necessarily right to us. We humble ourselves before Him, being under His authority. It is an occasion of self-judgment, acknowledging our need for forgiveness of our own sins, and our obligation to be merciful and forgive others who have sinned against us.

In other religions, their gods can be anything and anywhere. The God of Israel is in Heaven! In other religions, even those who claim to worship a god in Heaven, they do not relate to Him as to a Father: there is no personal relationship, no knowledge of a Person – whether unto God, or whether Him unto us/me. Jesus teaches us to pray to our Father in Heaven.  Even Messiah prayed to God His Father n Heaven, and not to Himself, although He is God in the flesh, and the fullness of the Godhead was in Him.  Also notice, we come to God our Father as part of a larger family: we pray to our Father, recognizing that we are not alone to know Him as the Father, and we seek His interests and our needs collectively, and not selfishly. Our Father in Heaven loves each and all of us, and we are to love one another with His love.

The very first matter of prayerful priority is that our Father’s name be sanctified. As His children, our lifestyle and choices should demonstrate that it matters to us how we conduct our lives, how we dress and speak and eat, how others would think of our Father’s good name by the way they perceive us. We should take an active interest in His business. (Lk 2:49; Jn 5:16-19; Jn 6:29) This is one way we show that this element of Holy Spirit prayer matters to us as far as I have a part in it. We are not to carry His name in vain.

Another way that our Father’s name is sanctified we learn from the Scriptures by what He Himself has told us:

Eze 36:17-28 Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings, even as the defilement of woman’s impurity, their way was before Me. (18) So I poured My fury on them, because of the blood that they had shed on the land, and for their idols by which they defiled it. (19) And I scattered them among the nations, and they were scattered through the lands. I judged them according to their way and according to their doings. (20) And when they entered the nations where they went, they even profaned My holy name by saying to them, These are the people of Yehovah, and they are gone out of His land. (21) But I had pity for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. (22) Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord Yehovah: I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. (23) And I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. And the nations shall know that I am Yehovah, says the Lord Yehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. (24) For I will take you from among the nations and gather you out of all lands, and will gather you into your own land. (25) And I will sprinkle clean waters on you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. (26) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them. (28) And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers. And you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Eze 38:14-17  So, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord Yehovah: In that day when My people of Israel dwells securely, shall you not know it? (15) And you shall come from your place out of the recesses of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. (16) And you shall come up on My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It shall be in the last days, and I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes. (17) Thus says the Lord Yehovah: Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days, by the hand of My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days and years that I would bring you against them?

Eze 38:23 So I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself. And I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am Yehovah.

Eze 39:6-8 And I will send a fire on Magog, and on the secure inhabitants of the coasts. And they shall know that I am Yehovah. (7) And I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel. And I will not let them profane My holy name any more. And the nations shall know that I am Yehovah, the Holy One in Israel. (8)  Behold, it is coming, and it will be done, says the Lord Yehovah. This is the day of which I have spoken.

Eze 39:25-29 Therefore thus says the Lord Yehovah: And I will return the captivity of Jacob, and will have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for My holy name; (26) after they have borne their shame and all their sins by which they have sinned against Me, when they dwell securely in their land and no one terrifies; (27) when I have brought them again from the peoples, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; (28)  then they shall know that I am Yehovah their God who exiled them among the nations, but I have gathered them to their own land, and have not left any of them there. (29) Nor will I hide My face from them any more, for I have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord Yehovah.

Yehovah God has told us that His name will be hallowed/sanctified when His people Israel is saved and no longer profaning His Holy name, and they are dwelling safely and permanently in the Land of Israel, which He promised to give them, and when their enemies are defeated who had thought that He is less than the God Most High that He is, and YHVH is still the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob! This is written in the context of the last days. The sanctification of God our Father’s name is of the highest priority with Jesus. Is it with us? Do we know and understand the will and the plan of our God? (I thank Keith Parker for this insight.)

Yeshua goes on to teach us to pray for the Father’s kingdom to come, and for His will to be done on Earth as in Heaven. This is connected with the sanctification of His name, when He finally restores the Kingdom to Israel and over all the nations. The whole creation is waiting for this! (Acts 1:6-8; Rom 8:19-23; Rev 11:15) Although we have tasted of the Kingdom of God when we are born-again and baptized with the Holy Spirit, and we are being sanctified through our faith in Yeshua, the Church is not the Kingdom of God, and we know that God’s will is not being done even within ourselves as it ought, nor is our Father’s and His Son’s name being hallowed as He deserves and requires. The reality of the Kingdom awaits the return of the Lord to establish it — what is called the Millennial Kingdom — and His kingdom will never pass away.

The Lord then, after setting the highest priority, teaches us that we can ask our Father for our daily bread – physical and spiritual. Again, it is a request with the interest of our other brothers and sisters in mind, as well as our own need.   So, too, is the request for forgiveness: most of us need to be forgiven, and we are to care for one another’s peace and blessing from our heavenly Father.

But, now, there is a condition placed on this request for forgiveness: it is dependent on our forgiving others, whether financial debts or any other form of offense. This is the righteousness of God, and a condition for our fellowship with Him to be full. It is also identifying with Jesus in His sufferings for our redemption and salvation, who asked His Father to forgive us for all of our iniquity and transgressions and sin against Him. Although I do not believe this is an issue of salvation for the believer, nonetheless our fellowship with the Father and with the Son, and with one another, will not be healthy, nor will it contribute to the honor and holiness of our Father’s name. This is a great challenge for us, and also a cause of stumbling to others – even for unbelievers — when we do not forgive.  It is a condition on the unconditional grace which we have received for the price paid for our adoption.  It should of great concern to any child of God, and our own spiritual fruitfulness is dependent upon it. (Mt 18:21-35)

Next, Jesus would have us know that there is danger in the world, and that we are able to get into trouble, and to become captive to evil, including to the evil one, the devil and the antichrist. By asking our Father not to lead us into temptation, we acknowledge that there is danger, and we want Him to protect us from deception; yet we bear a personal responsibility, as well, to keep ourselves from evil in the fear of the Lord.

Lastly, the Lord closes with a ‘statement of faith’ for us to proclaim: the kingdom is not the evil one’s, but our Father’s and of His Son! And to Him is the power and the glory forever! While we are praying for His Kingdom to come, we also declare now by faith that it is already in His hands, despite what we see or feel or need now.

Let us pray again this form of prayer which our Lord has taught us, and being more mindful of the content and the intent of what we pray: our focus in the Holy Spirit is God-centered, on our Father’s holy name which is currently being profaned by His own people – both Jews and Christians – and by the Gentiles and His enemies; our vision is to be the coming again of Jesus to establish God’s kingdom back to Israel and over all the Earth; God is our primary Provider, being our Father; the absolute necessity to forgive others; protection from being led astray by deceitful temptations; the proclamation and praise of the truth that our God reigns! HalleluYah!

Israel: A Man, A People, and A Land

Gen 32:24-28 (25-29 Heb) And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled there with him until the breaking of the day. (25)  And when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh. And the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with Him. (26)  And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let You go except You bless me. (27)  And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. (28)  And He said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for like a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed.

It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of YHVH that His will and purposes are accomplished. Jacob needed to learn this. So it must be with each of us, and with the nation as a whole. In his personal encounter and wrestling with the “Man”, he came out hampered but blessed! This is the conversion of Jacob to becoming Israel. It is the grace of God that allows us to overcome, and He alone is glorified!  He qualifies us to rule with Him, but the Lord reigns!  This is something we all must go through and learn in our conversion from our old man to becoming conformed to the image of the Son of God. Then, Jacob – as Israel – could face his estranged brother and be reconciled to God to go on to what God had called him for.

Yehovah, the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and also God the Father (as the Source and Originator of all things), has forever associated His name with being the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. (Mt 22:31-32)  He is the God of Israel: the person and the people and the land. He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ex 3:13-15  And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the sons of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they shall say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?  (14)  And God said to Moses, I AM Who I AM. And He said, So you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. (15)  And God said to Moses again, You shall say this to the children of Israel, Yehovah, 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 from generation to generation.

Dt 7:6-10  For you are a holy people to Yehovah your God. Yehovah your God has chosen you to be a special people to Himself above all people that are upon the face of the Earth. (7)  Yehovah did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all people. (8)  But because Yehovah loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn to your fathers, Yehovah has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (9)  Therefore, know that Yehovah your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations. (10)  And He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slow to repay him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face.

Gen 28:10-15  And Jacob went out from Beer-Sheva, and went toward Haran. (11)  And he came on a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took of the stones of that place, and placed them at his head. And he lay down in that place to sleep. (12)  And he dreamed. And behold! A ladder was set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven! And behold! The angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (13)  And behold! Yehovah stood above it, and said, I am Yehovah, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac! The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your seed. (14)  And your seed shall be like the dust of the Earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in you and in your Seed shall all the families of the Earth be blessed. (15)  And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.

Mt 2:19-21  But Herod having expired, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20)  saying, Arise, and take the child and His mother. And go into the land of Israel. For the ones who sought the child’s life are dead. (21)  And he arose and took the child and His mother and came into the land of Israel.

Ezek 37:11-12  And He said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, Our bones are dried and our hope is lost; we are cut off by ourselves. (12)  Therefore prophesy and say to them, So says the Lord Yehovah: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, and will bring you into the land of Israel.

YHVH God promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and his descendants the Land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. YHVH promised to Jacob that He would not leave him until He had accomplished what He said. When the baby Jesus came back out of Egypt with His parents, the Holy Spirit had Matthew write that the family came back to the Land of Israel, whatever other names might have been used by the Romans. Yeshua was an Israeli Jew, whose coming was first of all in keeping God’s covenant promises to His people in the flesh. The LORD gave the prophet Ezekiel to see into the distant future — to our day – whereby God is restoring His wayward people back to the promised land, which He specifically calls the Land of Israel.

Mal 3:6  For I am Yehovah, I change not. Because of this you children of Jacob are not destroyed.

How does God demonstrate this?

Jer 31:31-37 (30-36 Heb) Behold, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah, (32)  not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yehovah; (33)  but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the House of Israel: After those days, says Yehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34)  And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Yehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more. (35)  So says Yehovah, who gives the sun for a light by day and the laws of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who divides the sea when its waves roar; Yehovah of Hosts is His name; (36)  if those ordinances depart from Me, says Yehovah, the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. (37)  So says Yehovah, If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be searched out, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says Yehovah.

Rom 11:25-32 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brethren, lest you should be wise within yourselves; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations has come in. (26)  And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (27)  For this is My covenant with them, when I have taken away their sins.” (28)  Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (29)  For the free gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (30)  For as you also then disbelieved God, but now have been shown mercy through their disbelief, (31)  even so these also have not believed now, so that through your mercy they may also obtain mercy. (32)  For God has shut up all in unbelief, so that He might show mercy to all.

Israel’s salvation as a nation gives significance and hope to other nations. It gives hope to this Earth and world, and their hope lies in the same hope which God gave to Israel, and to believers in Jesus: the coming again of the Lord and the restoration of YHVH God’s kingdom over His entire universe. The resurrection of Jesus assures the promises made to the fathers [of Israel], and brings glory to God from the mouth of Gentiles for what He does for His people. (Rom 15:4-13)

Ps 2:6-8  Yea, I have set My king on My holy hill, on Zion. (7)  I will declare the decree of Yehovah. He has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You. (8)  Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the Earth for Your possession.

Zec 14:16-19  And it shall be, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Yehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (17)  And it shall be, whoever will not come up from all the families of the Earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yehovah of Hosts, even on them shall be no rain. (18)  And if the family of Egypt does not go up, nor come in, they shall have no rain, but the plague with which Yehovah shall strike the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (19)  This shall be Egypt’s offense, and the offense of all the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

God created Jacob, and formed Israel (Is 43:1), a people whose mothers could not naturally give birth, but required God’s intervention. The Church, the Body of Messiah, is a new creation of individuals out from every nation, who are redeemed by the blood of the Messiah. Therefore, Israel is not the Church, nor is the Church Israel; but they are both related to the same one, true, living God!

Israel is a person, a people, a land; the covenants of YHVH are with the children of Israel for the land – and the possessed inheritance for those descendants of Jacob who turn from ungodliness — but the inheritance is to be shared also with strangers. (Dt 5:12-15; Ezek 47:21-23)

Not every Jew or Israeli is saved, only a believing remnant from all the tribes of Israel. (Is 1:9; Rom 11:26)

–Israel as a NATION gives significance and hope to all other nations, including the Arab nations (Is 19:23-25)

–in Adam all have sinned, yet God’s plan of redemption to save human beings is available to all through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

–Israel the nation is made up of many children of Adam and Eve, and has sinned against God, just as Adam and Eve did.  Europe has sinned; the U.S. has sinned.  The same God, who changes not, has the same plan of salvation to save a nation as He does for individuals:  by grace, through genuine repentance and faith in Yeshua.    Not every Jew/Israeli, nor every Arab or German.

–Each nation has its own particular calling and destiny in God’s purposes.  Israel is unique among the nations even as Jesus is among the sons of Adam or the sons of God. (Ex 4:22; Dt 7:6; Am 3:2; Zech 2:8; Mt 3:16-17; Heb 1)

–Politically speaking, Israel has the anointed King in waiting who is presently rejected and despised, like David was during Saul’s reign.

Application:

Identity: God has given a particular identity to a people whom He has created for His glory.  Each of us has an identity in Christ with God our Father, and an everlasting destiny and inheritance connected with God’s unbreakable promises in the new and better covenant cut with the blood of the Son of God.

Calling: God keeps His Word, His promises, His covenants:  we are called to be witnesses of God and of His truth, and we are to be true to our word as children of God our Father.

Vision and Mission Purpose: The whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YHVH; there is a purpose to be fulfilled for THIS world, this creation; hope for nations because Israel as a nation will be saved:  evangelize, and look forward to coming again of the Lord

Discipleship and Conformity to image of God’s Son: Man created in image of God according to His likeness in order to rule over God’s creation with the Lord (Gen 1:26; Ps 8); to be full-filled during the Millennial Kingdom, when the saints who have part in First Resurrection will rule and reign with Christ as a kingdom of priests (Dan 7:27; Rev 2:25-29; Rev 3:21; Rev 20:6): practice now to be faithful and trustworthy in what we do, with a heart for God and His interests; Israel will also fulfill her calling and mission when she returns to YHVH her God and cleansed from all her unfaithfulness against Him, and against Jesus, when she finally becomes the Israel of God (Gal 6:16)

Worship:   O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!  (34)  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  (35)  Or who first gave to Him, and it will be repaid to him?  (36)  For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things; to Him be glory forever! Amen. (Rom 11:33-36)

YEHOVAH, The Triune God and Father

Gen 1:1-2  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   And the earth was without form and empty. And darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.

Gen 2:4  These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that Yehovah God made the earth and the heavens.

Dt 6:4-5  Hear, O, Israel. Yehovah our God,  Yehovah is one. (5)  And you shall love Yehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Ex 4:22  And you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says Yehovah: Israel is My son, My first-born.

Isa 48:16  Come near to Me, hear this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning. From its being, I was there; and now the Lord Yehovah, and His Spirit, has sent Me.

Mat 12:31-32  Therefore I say to you, All kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. (32)  And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come.

Mat 28:19  Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Jn 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Rev 19:13  And He had been clothed in a garment dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Jn 14:6-11  Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me. (7)  If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. And from now on you know Him and have seen Him. (8)  Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. (9)  Jesus said to him, Have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father? (10)  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The Words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works. (11)  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the very works themselves.

Jn 17:3-6  And this is life eternal, that they might know You, [Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (4)  I have glorified You upon the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. (5)  And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (6)  I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave to Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

Eph 2:14-18  For He is our peace, He making us both one, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity (the Law of commandments contained in ordinances) so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, making peace between them; (16) and so that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself. (17) And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to those who were near. (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Col 1:15-18  He is the image of the invisible God, the First-born of all creation. (16)  For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him. (17)  And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. (18)  And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that He may be pre-eminent in all things.

1Th 5:23  And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blamelessly at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 2:8-11  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9)  Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and has given Him a name which is above every name, (10)  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and of earthly ones, and of ones under the earth; (11)  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

 

Belief in some Deity, or God, or gods, is found in every culture of people everywhere. (Today, largely through unfounded belief in evolution, there is a falling away from even this elementary belief.)  Which, or What that God (or those gods) is/are has been the primary reason for missionary efforts to take the truth of the one true God to those worshipping idols or, superstitiously, the ‘unknown God’.   YHVH God called Israel His witnesses to the Gentiles that they should know HIM, and come under His rule and authority.  Yehovah declares that He is the God over all – Heaven and Earth, the seas and all that is in them, the hills and the valleys, the seasons, all created things – living and dead (inanimate).  He is the God of gods, Lord of lords, King of kings!

For those who believe what Moses wrote, with help from the Holy Spirit, the knowledge of God was known from the beginning of human history, was brought into strong focus during and after the flood in Noah’s days to those who survived the judgment of the world at that time, and through the Jewish Israeli people, knowledge of the true God has been dispersed throughout the world until today. The creation itself bears witness to the truth of a Creator God – of a Father in Heaven – that is great, loving, caring, and protective of all that He has created and made, and who requires especially humans to willingly choose to acknowledge Him and rightly give Him praise and glory.

The idea of one God who is three could only be known by revelation from God Himself. The very first sentence in the Bible (in Hebrew it is especially clear) we have already a clue to something very unusual:  a plural God (Elohim) who singularly created (bara)!  We see the Jewish people, to whom He first revealed Himself through His covenant relationship with them, reject the belief of a ‘triune’ God who is one in order to “prove” by natural (with satanic help!) reasoning why Jesus cannot be truly God with us in the flesh – Immanuel.  In Islam, too, the other monotheistic world religion, the thought that God would ever humiliate Himself to become a mere Man or to need a son is blasphemy.  Praise God that as the Father He gives His inheritance to His first-born Son and the many brethren with Him!  Only true believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, hold to the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints.  It is the lying, antichrist spirit that rejects this supreme and profound truth, which YHVH God Himself has revealed about who He is:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Holy is His name!

I remember when I first got saved, I asked Dwight, who led me to the Lord: “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, where was the Father during those years while Jesus was here?”  Dwight answered simply by saying, “Someone had to take care of the universe.”

All relationships and communication begin in YHVH God, who speaks within/between/among Himself as a Father to a Son, and of the Holy Spirit equally active in God’s creation, in the resurrection of Yeshua, in the new birth of one who repents and believes the gospel. The one, true, living God sometimes refers to Himself in the singular, at other times in the plural, e.g., “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion. . . .”;  “ I am YHVH your God; you shall have no other gods before Me.”  All of human relationships in family and in society are founded in God Himself, who made us in His image and likeness.  He spoke to Adam as a father to a son to instruct him in boundaries of what is permitted and what is not.  He has given instructions on family, on government, on moral discipline, on judgment.  It all begins in and from Him.  YHVH is God to be feared and worshipped, King to be respected, Lord to be obeyed, Father to be honored and loved.

In YHVH is male and female, for He said, “So God created Man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God gave them dominion over the world He created; but He gave the man the rule over the woman, and over the household.  This is the picture of God as, first of all, the Source of all things, and with the male – the Father, the husband, the ‘man’ – having primary responsibility. For us who believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we understand things by first believing what He says of Himself, and of us, and of the world He created and made.

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to come to God as their Father, not as their Mother. Nor did He teach us to pray in a generic sense to “our God”, as if to include all the Trinity in that plural word, Elohim/Eloheinu.  As a son, Yeshua committed and subjected Himself to honor His Father in all things, which is the right attitude — humility — for all human beings, whether male or female, whom God created to enjoy Him and all that He has made.  It is the Father who is the provider and protector of the family, with the mother having her authority and freedom to act and to help by willingly agreeing and accepting the will of the Father and Husband (idealistically speaking).  When Jesus was told that His mother and brothers and sisters wanted to see Him, He answered that His mother and brothers and sisters were those who do His Father’s will.  The Holy Spirit lives in the born-again believer, and gives honor to the Father and the Son, not to Himself.  (Interestingly, in Hebrew the word for ‘spirit’ is feminine, but when referring directly to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, it is always in the masculine.)

From the moment that we are born-again, we receive the spirit of adoption, and so call God our Father, “Abba”. It is very interesting to me that many Israeli Jews, in times of stress, call out “Ima!”, Mother!  Yeshua told us that if we do not receive Him, we do not have the Father, either, and in this most fundamental relationship of God with His people, the sin of unbelief and subsequent disobedience to His Word has brought in this separation, which is only repaired and healed through knowing God the Father by knowing Yeshua/Jesus His Son, and ‘They’ give the Holy Spirit to live within the forgiven sinner!  By this, we know that we are children of God, and that we have become one spirit with Him. (1Cor 6:17)

There are many examples which God has given to show the possibility of “three being one”: as human beings, we are spirit, soul, and body, yet one person; Time is present, past, and future, all three ‘elements’ needed to be what we know as ‘time’; Water can be in the form of liquid, ice, or steam, yet they are each and all water, H2O.  The Holy of Holies, and the New Jerusalem, are perfect cubes, whose measurements of length, height, and width are equal.  These speak of where God dwells, in His Temple, in His House.  In the New Heavens and New Earth, God and His glory are said to be all and in all:  1x1x1=1.  There are many more examples which could be given, but these are enough to simply show that the idea of three being one is not strange to us, even if no example fully explains the mystery that is God.  We must believe what He has revealed about Himself; He can not be known by human wisdom or scientific research, yet He has placed it into us to seek for Him.

Why is it so important that we believe in the “Trinity”, and in God as Father?

First of all, it is because YHVH, the only true God worthy of the name, has described Himself in this way. God is spirit, and for us to worship the Father in spirit and truth, for us to approach Him without the idolatry of our own understanding as opposed to faith in His revelation, it is necessary that we learn what this great foundational truth of the mystery of God is. God is Light, whom no one can see; Jesus came in the form of man (even as a willing slave!) so that we could know God, know the Father. The Holy Spirit is given us that we can be true and faithful witnesses of the one true God and Savior, and to be conformed into His image and likeness, for the Spirit of God knows the things of God. (1Cor 10:10-12)

It is important so that we do not separate the God of the New Testament from the God of the Old Testament. All of the covenants given to Israel as a nation, or to individuals, such as Abraham, Aaron, and David, within the nation, are from the same God.  The New Covenant in Jesus Christ is first promised to Israel, and Jesus came in the flesh as the Son of YHVH God, the Creator and Redeemer of all.  Jesus is the Word of God, by Whom all things were created and for whom are all things. There is only one true God of the Bible – YEHOVAH, who was, and is, and is to come!

Relationally, as members of the Body of Messiah/Christ, we have a closer relationship with God than even Israel knows. All of the great prayers of the Tanach are addressed to the great God Yehovah, God of Israel, who keeps covenant.  In the New Testament, we see a change:  most of the prayers are addressed to the Father, in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of both Jewish and Gentile believers. If I speak of my father, I may tell you his name; but when I speak to my father, I call him ‘Dad’ or ‘Father’.  So, too, now with God:  He is no longer just YHVH, who is ‘the Father’ in a general way (the father of all flesh and of all spirit), but He has become my Father in Heaven because of the fellowship I can have with Him, and with the Son, by the Spirit of God dwelling in me through a personal faith in who Jesus Christ is:  my Lord and my God who has redeemed me and saves me from my sins.  Jesus came to reveal God as our Father.  Glory to God, and to the Lamb upon the Throne!  In both Judaism and in Islam, neither one ‘has the Father’ because of rejecting the Father’s love and choice of Jesus and of Israel as His unique Son and nation.  (Think of the brothers of Joseph and their relationship to their father in connection with their attitude and intentions towards the beloved son.)   In a spiritual sense today, both Muslims and unsaved Jews are “fatherless”, the former deliberately, by harboring a spirit of rejection nurturing a bitter root and a murderous grudge; the latter unwittingly, due to envy and hatred without a cause.  Both conspire and mingle together against Yehovah and His Anointed One.

Knowing God for who He is helps us in our own interpersonal relationships: love is the key, whether as a husband or a father, a wife or mother, a child, a steward for God over what He has given us responsibility for in the world that He made.  He sends us out to bring others into His household and family!  God the Father is the perfect father, and we must know Him and His ways as an antidote to the imperfections of our earthly fathers!

Heb 12:1-11  Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (2)  looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. (3)  For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds. (4)  You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (5)  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons,

“My son, despise not the chastening of YHVH, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him; (6)  for whom YHVH loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” (7)  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? (8)  But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (9)  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (10)  For truly they chastened us for a few days according to their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. (11)  Now chastening for the present does not seem to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised by it.

God is our Father, whom we know in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Yehovah is one, and His name one.

Yeshua Showed Himself Alive, and Is Coming Again!

Acts 1:1-11 (Lk 24:19-53; Mt 28:5-17; Mk 16; Jn 20:9-31; Jn 21:1-14; 1Cor 15:1-8; 1Jn 1:1-4)

Following the celebrations of the Passover and the Firstfruits – the death and the resurrection of the Messiah and Lord — believers all around the world are rejoicing in the risen Savior, having begun the 50-day (7-week) count till Shavuot/Pentecost. For many people then – 1985 years ago – and now, such a thing as the resurrection is only a rumor, or a myth, idle chatter, or impossible. Even for the closest disciples of Yeshua, the 11 apostles, it was “too good to be true”!

Jesus had told them that He would be crucified, put to death, and that He would rise again and meet them in Galilee. Yet when the event actually took place, their hearts were hardened and would not even believe the testimony of their own friends who had seen Him alive again, talked with Him, touched Him, eaten with Him! Even though He had told them all what was going to happen; even though it was written in the Tanach (Bible)!

Acts 1:1-11  Truly, O Theophilus, I made the first report as to all things that Jesus began both to do and teach (2) until the day He was taken up, having given directions to the apostles whom He chose, through the Holy Spirit; (3) to whom He also presented Himself living after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them through forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (4) And having met with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father which you heard from Me. (5) For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (6) Then, indeed, these coming together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, do You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (7) And He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority. (8) But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (9) And saying these things, as they watched, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. (10) And while they were looking intently into the heaven, He having gone, even behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, (11) who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven, will come in the way you have seen Him going into Heaven.

Jesus showed Himself alive to the 11 men whom He especially chose and sent (and afterward Saul/Paul) to be His witnesses to the Jewish people first, and also to the Gentiles. By proving day-by-day for 40 days that it was He Himself who had died and risen from the dead, then it was no longer just a rumor hard to believe. Just as the sheaves of wheat are counted each day from the day of Firstfruits until Shavuot/Pentecost as a “confidence builder” for the harvest, so Yeshua, until the day of His ascension, built in the certainty of the truth of His resurrection for the hope in God’s promise of life after death for believers in His Son. (Read the passages at the top of the page.) The good news brought unspeakable joy to their sad and hardened hearts, and prepared them to live and to die for the truth of the gospel in the face of fierce opposition, ridicule, and persecution. (Remember the Samaritan men who came out to see Jesus after the Samaritan woman at the well had gone back to tell them that she had met the Messiah: they went to Him, and heard and saw for themselves, saying, “Now we believe not only because you told us, but we have heard for ourselves.”)

Paul writes later that Jesus showed Himself alive to more than 500 people at one time together. In many ways the gospel writers wrote how the Lord clearly showed that He was indeed alive after having been dead and buried for three days. He had defeated the devil, sin, and death, and was indeed the Son of God who had come into the world to save His people from their sins. He is the King of Israel, Messiah, Son of David.

Do you believe? Do you know without doubt that Yeshua Messiah is alive – risen from the dead and now seated at the right hand of the Father – and that He is the Savior of the world, including being your own Savior from sin and death?

Have you believed what is written in the Scriptures, both the Tanach and the New Testament? Have you believed when your friends or family members told you that it is true?! At least one of Yeshua’s apostles doubted that the truth was true: Thomas was not with the other apostles when the Lord first appeared to them all, and he said that unless he actually saw Him and the nail prints in His hands, and put his finger into the print and into His side, then he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared again to all of the apostles, this time including Thomas. Jesus told him to do what he had said, and said to him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing”. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn 20:24-29)

For those of you who still are not certain and still unbelieving, is it because your heart is hardened to the Holy One of Israel to whom all must give an account on the day of judgment? Is it because He is holy, and requires that His people be holy?  Is it because you have too much love for this world?  Is God’s plan interfering with your own plans or ambitions?

For those of you who say you believe, can you testify of having seen God working in your life and in the life of others: answering prayers, healing sickness, giving hope and comfort through suffering and loss, protecting you  from harm, blessing you beyond all expectation and “worthiness”, forgiving you your sins and giving you power and faith to forgive others their sins?

Do you have living faith and hope that Jesus is coming again to put away evil from the world that He created and made? Do you love Him enough that you want Him to come again?

Why is this hope and expectation important for believers? In the passage we read in Acts, before Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, and before the disciples would receive the Holy Spirit, the seal of the New Covenant relationship, their first question to Him was concerning the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, the very thing that the Lord taught them (and us) regarding how to pray. It was also a very logical question by Israeli Jews, who were taught to expect that when the Messiah, Son of David, would come, He would bring YHVH God’s peace and righteous rule again to Israel.  When Jesus did go up in their sight into Heaven, the two men dressed in white standing by them said, “This same Jesus/Yeshua, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.” (v. 6,11)

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our resurrection or rapture (whichever applies personally at the time of the First Resurrection) is the hope and expectation of all true believers. The Lord’s Supper reminds us, as often as we take it, that Yeshua is coming again.  The whole life of Messiah and the gospel is summed up in the Communion:  for Yeshua to have died, He had to be born a human being; for Him to come again, He has to be alive by being raised from the dead; by coming again, He has to be ‘somewhere else’ now — in Heaven, the place from where He first came: God appeared in flesh and blood.  The last prayer of the Bible is, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”

Do you believe the Word of God concerning the things to come?  Will you be ready to endure to the end by faith that overcomes the world in the blood of the Lamb and our confession of Jesus as LORD/YHVH?

God has a plan for restoring His kingdom over Israel, and the whole Earth, even the universe. Yeshua is alive, and He is coming back in great power and glory! For this we are here: Yeshua’s witnesses to bring more people into His Kingdom; God’s sons and daughters to grow to full maturity in preparation for our Bridegroom’s return.

Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, is YEHOVAH – 12 Dec 2014

We are in the season of remembering and celebrating the God who is Light. (Jn 8:12; 1Jn 1:5)   Both Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) and Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, are coming one after the other in the next two weeks.  It is often claimed that Yeshua never said that He was God, only the Son of God.  Let us look to see if the Holy Spirit did not inspire the writers of the New Testament to write what they did in a way to demonstrate that, in fact, Jesus is YEHOVAH God – Immanuel. (Is 7:14; Mt 1:22-23)

Jn 10: 22-42   “And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s Porch.  Then the Jews encircled Him and said to Him, How long do you make us doubt?  If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.

“Jesus answered them, I told you and you did not believe.  The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you did not believe because you are not of My sheep.  As I said to you,  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand.  My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. (Is 43:10-13I and the Father are one.

“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from My Father; for which of these do you stone Me?

“The Jews answered Him, saying, We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.

“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, “I said, You are gods?”  If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken,  do you say of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?  If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me.  But if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.  Then they again sought to seize Him, but He went forth out of their hand.

“And He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John baptized at the first, and He stayed there.  And many came to Him and said, John indeed did no miracle, but all things that John said concerning this One were true.  And many believed on Him there.”

During Hanukkah, the Jewish leaders and people were again challenging Jesus to declare if He is the Messiah.  Jesus says that He had told them, but that they did not believe.  He had just given a man born blind new eyes, and now he saw the light, and Jesus validated His grace by doing the work of power in His own authority. (Jn 9; Is 35:5-6) He goes on to say that the works that He did are the works of His Father, who is God.  The Jews understood this to mean that He was making Himself God by claiming He was the Son of God, doing what His Father does. (Jn 5:17-23)

What are some works of the Father that Jesus did which prove He is YEHOVAH God?  In the Tanach, YHVH God is normally understood as being God the Father (yet as believers, we know now that YHVH can refer to any of the triune God).

Let’s read Mk 2:1-12, and compare there what is written about God in the Tanach:

“And again He entered into Capernaum after some days.  And it was heard that He was in a house.  And immediately many were gathered, so that none any longer had room, even to the door.  And He proclaimed the Word to them.  Then they came to Him, bringing one who was paralyzed, who was carried by four.  When they could not come near to Him because of the crowd, they unroofed the roof where He was.  And digging through, they let down the cot on which the paralytic was lying.

“And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven to you.

” But some of the scribes were sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,  Why does this one speak such blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins except God only?!

” And instantly knowing in His spirit that they reasoned so within themselves, He said to them, Why do you reason these things in your heart?  Which is easier to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your cot and walk?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority upon earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, Arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house.  And immediately he arose and took up his cot and went out before all.  So that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!

In the Old Testament, we read in Ps 130:3-4 that only YHVH does forgive sins, so that He may be feared, exactly what we see Yeshua doing, and the people responding.

“If You will keep in mind iniquities, O Yehovah, who shall stand, O Lord?  But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”

Let’s read Mk 4:35-41:

“And evening having come, He said to them on that day, Let us pass over to the other side.   And when they had sent away the crowd, they took Him with them as He was in the boat.  And there were also other little boats with Him.  And there arose a windstorm, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was now full.  And He was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a headrest.  And they awakened Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we perish?!

” And He awakened and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace!  Be still!  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And He said to them, Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, Who is this man, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?!

In verse 39, Mark writes that Yeshua rebuked the wind, and the wind and the sea became calm.  This caused His disciples – who were still learning who it was that called them to follow Him – to be amazed, and to wonder who this Man could be that even the winds and the sea obeyed Him.  Do we find an answer to this in the Old Testament?

Let’s read Ps 106:9:

“And He (YHVH) rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.”

And Jonah 1:9-16:

“And he said to them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear Yehovah, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.

“Then the men were afraid with a great fear.  And they said to him, What is this you have done?  For the men knew that he was fleeing from before the face of Yehovah, because he had told them.  Then they said to him, What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?  For the sea was going on and being tempestuous.

“And he said to them, Take me up and throw me out into the sea.  And the sea shall be calm to you; for I know that this great tempest has come on you for my sake.

“But the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not, for the sea was going on and being more tempestuous against them.  And they cried to Yehovah and said, We beg You, O Yehovah, we beg You, let us not perish for this man’s life, and do not lay on us innocent blood.  For You, O Yehovah, have done as it pleased You.  And they lifted Jonah up and threw him out into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging.  Then the men feared Yehovah exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to Yehovah, and vowed vows.”

We see in the New Testament and in the Old that both pagans and Israelis were amazed when God rebuked the winds and the seas, and the winds and the seas obeyed Him and became calm.  It elicited a fear of God that they  glorified the Father and the Son as the light became brighter as to who the true God is by His mighty works.  There are many other examples in the Bible of what Jesus did which demonstrate that He and the Father are one. (Jn 21:25)

As the world pays attention to the holidays of Israel and the Church, we want to be confident in our own understanding of the mystery of the faith – God has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is YEHOVAH to the glory of God the Father.  Our response should be fear, honor, worship, and thanksgiving to the great God who does such mighty acts for His people and all the sons and daughters of Adam.  Jesus came into the world as the Light, to bring us back to God the Father, and have calm and peace in our soul and spirit.

Let’s close with Ps 107:21-32:

Let them praise Yehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man!  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing!

“They who go down to the sea in ships, who do business in great waters; these see the works of Yehovah and His wonders in the deep.

“For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up its waves.  They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble.

“They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and all their wisdom is swallowed up.  And they cry to Yehovah in their trouble, and He brings them out of their troubles.

He makes the storm a calm, so that its waves are still.  And they are glad because they are quiet; so He brings them to their desired haven.

Let them praise Jehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man!  And let them exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the gathering of the elders.

Holidays LIKE They Have in Judah – 5 June 2014

(11 June 2014 – For some comments and responses to this article, see http://www.kehila.com/articles/589-holidays-like-they-have-in-judah)

1Kg 12:32-33   And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar.  So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

 “So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”

When the Kingdom of “all Israel” was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel (Joseph/Ephraim), and the southern Kingdom of Judah (Judah/Judea), God left His place of worship in Jerusalem in the oversight of the Tribe of Levi and House of Aaron, under the sovereign control of the House of David, of the Tribe of Judah, the messianic family line for the Messiah, Son of David and Son of God.  YHVH gave the northern kingdom of Israel to be governed by Jeroboam, while the southern kingdom of Judah was left in the hands of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.

In order to prevent and discourage those under his rule from continuing to worship the LORD in the only place that He had established to place His name there, i.e., Jerusalem, King Jeroboam of Israel, as written in the Scripture quoted above, established feasts according to his own heart like those in Jerusalem, but not in Jerusalem, the center of worship for all the Children of Jacob/Israel.  This severed the unity of the nation even further, and instilled idolatry and unfaithfulness towards God and His instructions about His feasts/appointed times.

The Bible is written for us living at the end of the age, and for our instruction and admonition in learning from the examples given from Israel’s Holy Spirit-inspired written history. (1Cor 10:11)

I believe that we in the Messianic movement of God to restore all things to His people have allowed ourselves to do what Jeroboam did:  we have adopted some of the holidays of YHVH which He set times for, but for which those set times have been altered; we have also over emphasized some of the feasts of the LORD which He gave to Israel, while minimizing or ignoring others which He also gave; we have given too much weight to “Jewish thinking” as to what is important – even if in unbelief towards God the Father and His Son – rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to give us the mind of Christ/Messiah about these matters in the present dispensation.  (Yes, I do believe that there are dispensations, but am not a classic dispensationalist.)

We are not learning from the example of Jeroboam, but seem to be following his lead:  we are diverting attention from the centrality of the New Jerusalem above for our true and spiritual worship in these days prior to the return of the Lord (Jn 4:19-24), and from celebrating the open revelation of Yeshua/Jesus having already come in the flesh in fulfillment of those holidays which point to Him and to God’s redemption of His people, and which He has given to the whole Body of Messiah/Christ under His welfare in the Commonwealth of Israel.

I will give some examples:

Sabbath (Shabbat) (Gen 2:1-3; Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15)

The Sabbath is given to observe and to remember that YHVH God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh (the Sabbath); and, to remember that YHVH redeemed and delivered His people Israel out of hard labor and bondage in Egypt to give them rest in the promised Land.  This first of the appointed ‘Feasts of YHVH’ given to Israel (Lev 23) is a holy day to remember (and to act accordingly) our Creator and Redeemer, and the beginning of all that He created and made, and His mighty acts of redemption.  So, in remembering the beginnings, we are also brought to remember the first day of the creation week, when God called light to shine out of the darkness.

In the plan of God, the day after the Sabbath is the first day of the week, or Sunday/Sonday – the day of light.  As born-again new creation children of light and of the resurrection (1Thes 5:4-6; Lk 20:35-36), we have been redeemed, and reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, being brought back into the uncreated Light that is God:  Messiah Yeshua/Jesus is the uncreated Light of the world even before there was a sun.  The seventh-day Sabbath is not the end of God’s plan; the day after the Sabbath, the eternal day of no darkness is the new beginning of eternal life in the new creation that the Father is preparing for those who love Him and His Son.  The Sabbath day is a day to look back, in anticipation of the future judgment and the world to come.  Yeshua/Jesus is our Sabbath rest, in whom we cease from our own works to do the works of God. (Heb 4)

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/sabbath-the-7th-day-and-the-1st-day-of-the-week-25-aug-1995/

First-fruits (Lev 23:9-11)

This holiday has to do with resurrection, the day after the Sabbath (Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; 1Cor 16:2); it has nothing special to do with the 1st day after Passover, nor with a particular date after the Passover.  The counting of the omer (sheaves of wheat) was to begin from this day:  the firstfruit of the harvest is showing itself, and is waved before God:  Yeshua is alive, first-fruits from the dead! (1Cor 15:20-23)  It is the Son‘s day!  This is the day that the LORD (YHVH) has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord and in His day! (Ps 118:15-29; Rev 1:10)

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-lords-day/

Weeks (Shavuot)/Pentecost (50 Days) (Lev 23:15-17; Acts 2:1)

The Word of the LORD to Moses for Israel tells them to begin counting the appearance of the living wheat harvest from the day after the Sabbath which comes during the Passover week, regardless of what day Passover may  actually begin.  Seven complete Sabbaths, and 50 days from the day of first-fruits/resurrection, is to be celebrated as a presentation of a new grain offering unto YHVHtwo leavened loaves of bread. Shavuot/Pentecost should, therefore, always be celebrated on a Sonday, just as God commanded Israel.  This celebration is expressive of our unity in Messiah/Christ, all knowing that we are sinners for whom the Lord died.  The holiday displays the power of the life of God in the redeemed and forgiven believer in the gospel.  Yeshua is glorified, risen from the dead and seated in glory!  It is a time to rejoice together in Him by the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in us who are born-again from above!

Yet Israel has changed the day of beginning the count of the 50 days and the 7 weeks, by beginning the count from the day after Passover; that is, on the 16th of the first month, Nisan, on the Hebrew calendar.  Doing so brings them to celebrate Shavuot always on the 6th day of the third month, Sivan.  This is not what God instructed them through His Torah, and, by doing so, the Jewish people have been blinded to the clear connection with Jesus/Yeshua and with His resurrection.  This is not a disconnect caused by the “Gentile Church”, but by the Jewish Synagogue. (Some believers, who are caught up in turning away from all things ‘church’ and taking on all things ‘Jew-ish’, have begun the count on the 17th of Nisan, reckoning the three days and nights of Yeshua being in the grave from the 14th, as the starting point of counting.  But that date is neither the day after the Sabbath of the Passover day, the 15th, nor is it what God said and Moses wrote.  As the apostle Paul admonished, there are those who would be teachers of the Law, but do not know what they are talking about.) (1Tim 1:5-8)

The Holy Spirit is fulfilling the Word of God.  A serious problem has come because Christians have not been able to explain the fulfillment of these appointed holiday feasts from the Bible, often out of ignorance, but sometimes due to reliance on faulty Jewish custom and tradition; again, sometimes in ignorance, other times in rebellion, like Jeroboam.  Jewish people don’t know either.  But Messianic Jews, and Gentile believers in Jesus who connect with Israel and the Jewish people, should know, and act in humble and thankful obedience to God, who magnifies the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, and He has come!  We are His witnesses, and if we are going to celebrate holidays, then we should at least be able to say what and when they are, even if we are free, for the gospel’s sake, to celebrate, or not to celebrate – unto God — as situations present themselves. (Col 2:16-17)  There is a powerful testimony when believers across streams and cultures celebrate corporately as one body and family the mighty acts of the one true God!

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/the-feasts-of-yhvh-and-the-final-harvest/

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/shavuotpentecost/evidence-of-holy-spirit-baptism/

New Moon

Many are following those who teach that the New Moon is a sighted crescent, rather than the two to three days of a darkened moon, which typifies the Biblical life which is by faith, and not by sight.  As all of YHVH’s appointed times, the New Moon also relates to Yeshua and also to Israel.

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-new-moon-covered-or-revealed/

Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25)

The Jewish religious authorities added a day to Rosh HaShana, and call it the New Year rather than the 1st of the 7th month.  In adding a day, it puts hardship on poor people who are dependent on daily wages for work.  In emphasizing the Memorial of Trumpet Blasts as the beginning of the Jewish calendar year, it brings in confusion in the people’s mind regarding the redemptive plan of the God of Israel, and His time-table.

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/blowing-of-trumpetsrosh-hashana/memorial-of-shouts/

Day of Atonements (Lev 16; 23:26-32; Is 53; Zec 12:10-14)

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion places its emphasis on this holiest day in God’s calendar for the people’s civil and religious life on bodily fasting from food for 25 hours, in the hope that their names will be inscribed favorably by God for the coming year, rather than on one’s genuine sorrow and regret for unbelief and disobedience against YHVH and His commandments. For those who are justified through faith in God and in His provision of the sacrificial atoning sacrifice by His Son for our sin, transgression, and iniquity, it is a new beginning, transformed by an affliction of soul to be converted, healed, and fully restored even beyond what we could have thought possible; and, as usual with God, it is all connected with Jesus! Jubilee! (Lev 25:8-12)

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/day-of-atonementsyom-kippur/the-scapegoat-day-of-atonements/

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/sabbathshabbat/jubilee-blessings-10-jan-2011/

Hanukkah/Birth of the Messiah the Lord (Jn 10; Is 9:6-7; Hag 2; Lk 2:4-20)

The true Light has come; all who came before must give honor and glory to the Lord of all.  Yeshua/Jesus must increase; they all must decrease. (Jn 3:30-31)

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Lord’s Supper

There is the over-emphasis on the connection with the Jewish Passover (recipients of grace apart from sin) and not upon Yeshua’s death being also a sin and guilt offering, the atonement (all people, all sinners in need of a Savior), opening the way into God’s presence for both Jew and Gentile believers (Mt 27:51; Heb 10:15-25) There is no sound basis that the ‘Last Supper’ was a meal patterned after the modern Passover seder.  Yeshua was closing out one dispensation, while ushering in a new and better covenant for His disciples and spiritual family, and giving us a better inheritance than the Law can give hope for.

Both the Old and the New are at present in force, as God  works to fulfill every jot and tittle that is written in the Law and the Prophets, to be brought to completion during the Millennial Kingdom. (Mt 5:17-18)

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/leavened-or-unleavened-bread-april-2012/

Other holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar, such as Tisha B’Av (Zec 7:1-13; 8:19) and Lag BaOmer, which have become more sacrosanct to the Israeli Jewish people than God’s own memorials; yet there are those within the Messianic movement who give even these credibility, despite their being instituted in direct opposition to the judgments of God against His own people for their unbelief, rebellion, and consequent gross idolatries. (Is 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-24; Rev 3:14-22)

We need to beware of the mote in our own eyes with respect to holidays before we think we can help others with specks in theirs.  Those who say that they see will be judged more severely than those who are blind. (Jn 9:39-41; Ja 3:1)  The devil is a liar, deceiver, murderer, and destroyer.  It is for us to honor the Lord, and bear witness of Jesus/Yeshua to His people – whether unsaved Jews, or whether misguided or unsaved Christians – as we celebrate our great God and Savior.

Jewish believers generally do not recognize or celebrate/observe Sonday/Sunday; First-fruits/Resurrection Day; Pentecost/Shavuot according to the Lord’s timing; the birth of the Messiah.  Shavuot as dated in Judaism is instead of Pentecost; Hanukkah is in competition with Christmas, and given meaning that seeks to decrease the greatness of the Lord’s coming in the flesh into the world; Saturday is considered as the Lord’s Day, and given prominence over the significance of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ prophetically of new birth and eternal life after death for the believer in Messiah.

The Hebraic and Jewish roots of the Messianic/Christian faith are found in the Word of God given to Israel and the Jewish people.  But the roots have produced a whole plant that looks much different than the seed that was planted to sprout those roots. (1Cor 15:35-49)  The flower and fruit are more interesting and glorious than the tangled roots, for all their fascination that God has created and made! God is calling out a people for Himself from every nation; the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but a new thing in the Earth which YHVH is creating in Christ/Messiah.  His appointed times which testify to Messiah having already come – and coming again — bring all believers from any and every nation outside of our camps to Yeshua, uniting us in His love as we suffer with Him and bear His reproach, hoping in His return and the resurrection. (Heb 13:12-16; Rom 8:18-24)  Neither Jewish believers nor Gentile believers are called to bring anyone into our purpose; but God is calling out one new man into His purpose, which He has planned before He created anything.

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/new-testament-faith/the-gospel-the-new-covenant-and-the-messianic-faith-are-neither-jewish-nor-greek/

https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/messianic-judaism/the-faith-in-messiah-yeshua-different-from-all-others/

THE TRINITY

(In response to a couple of persons recently asking me to comment on my understanding of the Trinity, here is a fairly concise answer for those who already know that it is probably true, but are not intellectually confident as to how and why.)

As for the Trinity, I think your statement holds a clue to its truth:  “Adonai can not be limited by the human limits of understanding.”  Since the concept of God as a 3-in-1 is so outside of human understanding — and no normal person would think it up or expect others to go along with it — then it must be a revelation from the triune God, YHVH, Himself.  By faith we understand God’s Word to be true and truth, and God gives many examples in the world to fathom the possibility of its being so.  For instance, TIME is present, past, and future:  3 that is necessary for the 1 to be what TIME is.  Human beings, created in the image of God, are 3 — body, soul, and spirit — that is 1 whole person.  There are many such examples, which I am sure that you are also familiar with.  God, of course, is still ‘other’, and He, as a great mystery, came in the flesh by the conception of the Holy Spirit in the person of Jesus Christ, who did not pray to Himself, but to His Father in Heaven.  Therefore the need for a revelation of this holy and unique, one, true, living God which He has given to us that we might worship Him in spirit and truth.

When Abraham ate lunch with YHVH, he ate lunch with the Angel YHVH, who appeared in the likeness of human form, along with the other two angels.  These pre-incarnate appearances of the Lord were all angelic, even though He looked like a Man often times.  The conception and birth of the Lord through the virgin Mary is what gave Him the name Yeshua, which means that He is the Savior:  He will save His people from their sins.  For this He had to come as a flesh-and-blood human being, for angels, which are spirits, can not redeem humans.  The name of Yeshua/Jesus applies to the Son of God being also the Son of Man in His humanity.  Even He will receive a new name that we will know in the world to come.

The Hebrew word ‘echad‘ (אחד) does convey a plural unity.  The number ‘1’ is made up of numerous ‘fractions’, such as 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 = 1.  A cube is measured by its height, length, and width — and God being  ‘equal’ in His unity and Deity, we can consider that 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.  He is ONE, not three separate entities being added together to make 3.  The Hebrew word to denote ‘one only’, or ‘unique’, is yachid (יחיד).  This word is used to describe YHVH as the only true God; Isaac as Abraham’s ‘only’ son; Yeshua as God’s ‘only begotten Son’.   Each of these is unique in their ‘one onliness’.

One more example which has helped me understand by faith the truth of God’s revelation — even though its full comprehension remains beyond human capability — is the first Hebrew word for ‘God’ used in the first sentence of the Bible — Elohim (אלהים).  This word is plural, but the word for ‘created’ here in Genesis is singular, so already there is something unusual being expressed by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.  Linguistically, the specific form of plurality in this Hebrew word implies three or more; and we know that it is three in this case.  YHVH God NEVER uses plurality in some Gentile way of speaking ‘royally’; and even if He does somewhere that I have missed, for Him it is also true!  In most pagan religions, their gods are just that, plural in number — the gods.  In Islam, their God is never expressed as a plurality; they have made him only a singular, like the Hebrew words also used for God, such as El and Eloha (אל; אלוה).  That religion denies and rejects the love of the truth of the one, living, God; and, sadly, Rabbinic Judaism has done the same.

The Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer has given a revelation of monotheism that is not defined simply as the belief in one God:  the true one YHVH God — “Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God(s), YHVH is one.”  The true ‘one God’ is truly unique.  He is the God which both the Old and the New Testaments bear witness to.  It is the Spirit of YHVH that has inspired all the writers of the Holy Scriptures.  Yeshua/Jesus is YHVH/LORD, the Son of the Living God.  He and the Father are one in essence, and it is this unity of the Godhead that Yeshua prayed will be in those who are the Body of Messiah/Christ.  Amen, Amen.  Truly, there is none like Him! 

ISRAEL, THE ISRAEL OF GOD, THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL, THE CHURCH OF GOD

(Updated on 11 Oct 2013; 31 May 2016)

Beginning with an unrelated e-mail from John D, and the link that  he wanted me to read, we began a serious and edifying exchange of ideas, and of our own present understanding regarding the names and concepts of Israel, the Israel of God, the Commonwealth of Israel, and the Church of God. (Rom 9:6; 11:25-28; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:12; 1Cor 10:32).   We agree on some issues, not on others.  The discussion hinges on whether these names refer to only one entity by various names, or whether to two or three, or even to four distinct yet related entities.   It connects with historic ‘theologies’ like replacement/fulfillment /divestment theology, expansion/enlargement theology, the two-house theory, and dominion theology as we seek together to understand that which is of the truth as we have more light.   

If any of you readers have anything of substantive value to contribute to helping us all better understand who we are and what God is doing to fulfill His will and purpose, please add your comments for the building up of the Body of Messiah in love.  The conclusion of the matter may just have to wait for a brighter day.

—- Original Message —-

From: Jonathan
To: Howard Bass
Sent: Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 19:45 PM
Subject: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013

I go by John, but I’ll answer to either one!  Let me see what I can do to help out this situation.  I do reiterate my request to you from yesterday.  If I can help with the work there in Beersheva, please let me know.  

It’s my belief that any group that comes in to help the work of God in an area, needs to first go through the established congregations in that area.  I consider it a shame when people push for “reaching an area for Messiah” and bypass the people in that area that are already doing so.  I pray that Abba will never allow me to become that presumptuous.  It’s my desire to help support your existing work for the Kingdom in the Land, and to reach your unbelieving countrymen living around you.  You know how best to do that.  I just want to help.  

But Adonai has also put something very specific on my heart for the Jewish people.  And I hope that it bears witness with you.  Would you be willing to read this link, and tell me your thoughts on the matter?  I’d appreciate your feedback.  

http://heartofgodisrael.org/messianic-messages/light-to-the-nations/

From: Howard Bass
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:25 AM
To: Jonathan
Subject: Re: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013  

Hi John,

Praise God that you have an understanding of the ‘order of things’ to work with and through the local believers in an area.  In Israel there are very many Christians who come that do not understand, and either do not have any personal relationships among the believers here, or else they do some event which is strictly ‘foreign’ without local knowledge.  

I did read your letter regarding Israeli believers being a light to the nations.  I think your heart is definitely in the right place, and you will see some good response.  There are already many believers, including myself, who do get out to other countries, where believers or churches or Christian ministries have invited us to come to teach on some topic relevant to the significance of Israel to them as believers, and to their nations.  I don’t know how many are sitting under a tree, but we have certainly been in areas that are not posh or very developed.  

If I can say so, I would not say that Gentile believers are part of the Israel of God, for that would imply a merging of Israel with the Church.  At least for the next 1000 years (a pretty long time), there is a distinction between the two.  During the Millennial, Israel will be the Israel which God has created, redeemed, and called her to be in the fullest sense.  Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but this does not make them Jews or Israelis, just as the British Commonwealth incorporated many other nations under its care, but they  did not become English, even while they did enjoy many privileges of being in the Commonwealth.  The Body of Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, will be ruling and reigning with Messiah OVER Israel and the nations.  These are two different groupings of people.  The born-again believer is a new creation now, which Israel is not.  Anyway, it is still somewhat of a mystery that is discussed and debated, even here in Israel.  

God bless you,
Howard


On April 5, 2013 22:08, Jonathan D wrote:

Howard,  

Please pardon the lengthy response to your email.  I’ve responded to the gentile/Israel discussion.  I’d love to gain more of your insights on this, as your time allows.  

Thank you for your time Howard!  

I’ve spent some time considering your comments about Gentiles not being a part of the Israel of God.  Your thought on the Commonwealth of Israel was a new idea to me.  I had never considered it in an Empirical sense before.  My immediate reaction was to think that we simply had semantic differences, and with some defining boundaries, we’d recognize that fact.  However, after having considered your words and re-reading them over and over, I began to see what you were saying more clearly.  So permit me to lay out what I think you are saying.  

1)  Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.  

2)  Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but do not become Israelis or Jews.  

3)  The Body of Messiah (the Bride of the Lamb) is a separate entity from Israel and from the nations.  

4) Israel is defined as the natural descendents of Abraham (most of which have not come to faith in Yeshua as Messiah).  

I believe most of what I’ve distilled should be accurate, especially since most of them were quoted directly from your paragraph.  

Allow me to respond.  I’d like to say first that I, in no wise, am a believer of replacement theology.  The idea that the ‘gentile church’ (which I don’t believe exists anyway) somehow takes the promises of Israel is ridiculous to me.

I also don’t believe, as many in the messianic movements do, that gentiles become ‘Jewish’ when they enter the fold.  I believe that Gentiles remain gentiles, and they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God with open arms.  I don’t believe that God views the term ‘gentile’ with vulgarity, as some in our messianic ranks apparently do.  

However, I have to disagree with the idea that Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.  I believe they are one and the same.  I’ll explain why I believe that shortly.  I would like to point out, however, that I recognize in Paul a tendency to acknowledge ‘2’ Israels—“Israel, according to the flesh” (1 Cor. 10:18) and the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).  I believe that Paul considered the believing remnant among Israel in his day to be the ‘true Israel’ of God.  Peter, James, John, Simeon, himself of course, and “myriads and myriads” of other Jewish believers were considered to be not only a part of the Body of Messiah, but also the Israel to whom the promises would come upon.  

Paul begins a discussion that informs our conversation in Romans 9-11.  In chapter 9, He says: 

“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:  Who are Israelis; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Torah, and the service of God, and the promises; to whom belong the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed forever.  Amen.  Not as though the word of God has taken no effect.  For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:  but, in Isaac shall your seed be called.  That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:  but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom. 9:3-8)

In this passage, Paul is making a clean division between two Israels.  He acknowledges “Israel, according to the flesh”, and even wishes that he could be accursed for their salvation; but he also recognizes another Israel, an Israel that the natural Israeli isn’t a part of.  We both know Paul’s arguments well enough.  Paul is using Abraham’s life as a metaphor.  Abraham was given a promise for children.  Abraham fathered Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the promised seed that Adonai had prophesied.  Isaac, also a physical son of Abraham as Ishmael was, happened to also be the promised seed.  Paul’s argument is the believing remnant of Israelis in his day were the promised seed of Abraham.  And this promised seed was considered Israel, hence “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”.  

Paul goes on to argue in Romans 9 that God’s election is based upon His sovereignty.  In other words, God will have mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy.  He uses the classic example of Jacob/Esau.  God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they had done anything good or evil, or had even been born.  In His sovereignty, God simply declared that the “elder shall serve the younger”.  The point is implicit here and more explicit in Galatians, but the point is:  Israel according to the flesh is the older, the believing remnant of Israel is the younger.  The believing remnant is the Israel of the promise, whereas the non-believing Israel is not.

But Paul doesn’t end this discussion there.  He uses another classic example, Pharaoh, to show that God’s choice is His alone (not ours).  God chose to show mercy upon a remnant in Israel, for His own purposes.  For those that had an issue with this, Paul’s goes ahead and asks their rhetorical questions:  How can God find fault with those that resist His will?  In other words, how can God judge unbelieving Israel, since Paul just argued that they had been ‘hardened’ by God.  But Paul answered the question by saying that it’s God’s sovereign right to chose to do with His lump of clay what He wants.  God will endure the hardened hearts of the unbelieving Israel in order to extend His kindness upon the believing remnant among Israel!  But then Paul includes the gentiles in this believing remnant!

“What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory; even us, who He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom. 9:22-24)  

Consider the flow of Paul’s argument.  He’s been arguing the whole chapter that “not all Israel is Israel”.  There are some that are the seed of promise, and others that are not.  God’s mercy determines this, not man’s will or ability to run (vs. 16).  Paul was saying that the believing remnant among Israel are the vessels of mercy.  They have experienced God’s abundant grace in Messiah.  They are the Israel of promise.  But this Israel doesn’t only include the believing remnant of the descendants of Abraham, but also any gentiles that have taken hold and put their faith in Messiah!  So this ‘believing Israel’ consists not only of Jews (Israelis), but also of Gentiles.  

But as I said before, Paul does not consider the believing remnant to “replace” the non-believing Israelis, but rather acknowledges both groups as Israel—one of the flesh, and the other of the Spirit.  After making his argument in chapter 9, Paul immediately jumps back to his heart for Israel, according to the flesh, in chapter 10.  

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” (Rom 10:1)  

Paul goes on in chapter 10 to speak about the necessity of faith to produce the righteousness of God, and the fact that Israel, according to the flesh, is lacking this faith.  Paul argues that Israel needs to hear the message of the gospel, so that they can understand the Torah’s message of faith that’s been in there all along.  Paul ends the chapter by quoting from the TNK to answer key questions.  

Have they not heard?  Of course they have, the gospel is going throughout the whole earth.
But didn’t Israel know?  Moses said that the Gentiles (who are coming to faith) will provoke Israel.  

Isaiah was very clear by saying, “I was found by them that didn’t seek me (gentiles), but I have stretched out my hands all day long to a disobedient people” (Israel according to the flesh).  

Hence, the chapter that speaks of the crux of the matter—chapter 11.  

“I ask then, Has God cast off His people?—God forbid!  I am also an Israeli, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not cast away His people which He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)

Paul then uses Elijah to argue that there was a believing remnant in his day.  Paul likens Elijah’s situation to his own day.  

“Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (vs. 5)

Paul then argues that [natural] Israel has not obtained what it sought [righteousness], but the believing remnant among Israel did!  

“What then?  Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (vs. 7)  

It’s here that we surely agree.  The election is the Body the Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, and Israel is seen as a separate entity.  I agree with this emphatically.  However, I also maintain that Paul see this “election” as Israel also.  In fact, Paul’s next metaphor is quite telling.  

In the Olive Tree metaphor, it is not the believing branches that are removed from Israel and made into a new creation—aka, the Body of Messiah.  Rather, it is the unbelieving branches that are removed from the Olive Tree, which is faithful Israel.  

Replacement theology says that the old olive tree is simply thrown out and replaced with a wild one!  Ridiculous!  

Dispensationalism says that God took some branches from Israel’s olive tree and some branches from the wild gentile olive tree, and grafted them both into a new, 3rd olive tree.  But that’s not what Paul says.  

Paul says that the believing Israelis stayed nice and cozy in their own tree.  They were never moved!  They have shown that they truly are the sons of Abraham!  The Fathers were holy, through their faith in Adonai, and their ‘true descendants’ [believing Israelis] are also holy!  This is why I believe that the faithful believing remnant among the Israelis are considered the “Israel of God”.  They’re still in the cultivated Olive Tree.

But they’re not alone.  God, in His sovereign mercy, has also grafted believing gentiles into this Olive Tree.  So the gentiles who were “aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers of the Covenants of Promise” (Eph 2:12), are now “fellow citizens with the saints [holy ones, believing Israelis], and of the household of God” (vs. 19).  Gentiles have now become a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, but not as a 2nd class citizen in that Commonwealth, like the Indians were to Britain, or the Israelis were to Rome.  No, gentiles have been grafted in, and have become “fellow citizens with the saints”.  Gentiles have citizenship that is equal to the saints’ citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel.  This Greek term for fellow citizen is sympolitai—“co-citizenship”.  This is exactly the picture Paul is describing in Romans 11.  The gentile branches are grafted in with the believing Israeli branches, and they have become partakers together of the Covenants of the Promise.  

Paul goes on in Romans 11 to address the status of the removed branches.  Paul tells the gentiles that Israel (natural unbelieving Israelis, according to context) has been partially blinded, until the fullness of the gentiles come in.  But this blindness will not last forever!  God has promised that the Deliverer would come out of Zion and turn ungodliness away from Jacob.  So all of Israel’s ungodliness has to be removed at some point, Paul is arguing.  

Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for the sake of the believing remnant/believing gentiles.  Why?  Because they were persecuting the people of God (Gal 4:29).  But concerning God’s election, they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob].  “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29).  Israel’s calling is to be a special people to Adonai, and a light to the nations!  These are gifts given to Israel by God, and He will not remove them from Israel because of this partial blindness.  These promises still stand!  

Paul argues that unbelieving Israel will be grafted in again to their own Olive Tree, and all Israel will be saved!  

So Howard, to me this seems to support the idea that there are two Israels acknowledged in the Apostolic Writings.  One is the true Israel, which is the Body of Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb.  The other is Israel according to the flesh, that has been removed from the Israeli Olive Tree, but is set aside carefully ready to be grafted in again as soon as faith comes!  

The reason I think this is important, is because the promises given throughout the prophets will not come upon unbelieving Israel.  God’s restoration that’s prophesied throughout Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. will come to Israel when they acknowledge that Yeshua is Messiah that has made atonement for them.  When this occurs, they’ll be grafted back into the Israeli Olive Tree, and the blessing promised to “Israel” will at that time come upon them.  

This is the amazing grace that has been granted to gentiles.  Gentiles, who have never had these promises from the God of Israel, are granted access to the very fulfillment of these promises, not as a replacement of Israel, but as a fellow heir with the believing remnant of Israel!  

This is what makes Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 so pivotal.  Paul argues that “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal 3:16).  What promises?  The promise of the possession of the Land, the promise of a Redeemer, the promise of a New Covenant and true righteousness by the Spirit’s work!  These promises were all made to Abraham’s seed.  The New Covenant [the fulfillment of the promises] is made with Abraham’s seed.  But Paul argues that the seed of Abraham was speaking of Messiah.  So anyone among Israel that believed in Messiah, they were the true sons of Abraham.  

“And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the Promise” (Gal 3:29).

So are gentiles “heirs according to the Promise”?  I think emphatically, yes.  Then we have to acknowledge that Paul considered Gentiles to be included in Abraham’s seed because of their faith in Messiah.  Once again, Gentiles don’t replace Israelis as Abraham’s seed, they simply are grafted in among them, and will partake of the fulfillment of the promises just as the natural descendants do.

I feel this is so important for us to contend for.  If Gentiles are considered only in Israel like the Indians or the South Africans were a part of Britain, then the gentiles will be seen, and see themselves as 2nd class citizens behind Israel.  But this would bring dishonor to Adonai, who always envisioned bringing the nations in through Abraham’s seed.  

I’m so saddened when Gentiles use replacement theology to teach that the “Church” [gentile people of God, as they see it] has replaced the promises to Israel.  But I’m equally saddened when I see my Israeli brothers and sisters keep gentiles at arm’s length.  It seems sometimes that maintaining identity as Israel is more important than fully embracing their brothers from among the nations that love them with deep passion.  

I’m a congregational leader here at Beit Hallel in Tucson.  Another congregational leader is Avi.  Avi is Jewish; I’m gentile.  We both love Adonai deeply.  We both love each other deeply.  We are the best of friends.  Avi has promises from Adonai by birthright, as a part of Israel.  I have inherited the same promises by grace, because of faith.  Though we both fully acknowledge our respective pasts, we both see each other as part of the Israel of God.  

Am I missing something here?  Maybe a nuance of the dialogue that I don’t quite grasp?

From: Howard
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:42 AM
To: Jonathan
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel  

Hi John.  I appreciate very much your lengthy response, and it is the clearest explanation that I have heard.  You have done an excellent work to explain how you understand it, and also how your conclusion would have you feel second class, and I am really sorry if my response before gave you reason to think that .  Your full answer will help me better understand how I need to discuss this subject with others.

So, before I try to explain my view more fully, I want to say at the outset that born-again Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah are totally and completely equal, without any difference whatsoever before God and within the Body of Christ.  That there are still differences that God may make use of now, or that we may have different nuances of understanding which should complement one another to see more fully the glorious truth of who our God and Savior are, does not in any way take away from the gospel truth that believers are one in Him without priority of one over the other:  we are all first-born with Yeshua in God.  Amazing, and true!

In our own congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, we have both Jewish and non-Jewish elders, deacons, teachers.  While we may at times speak of those who are Jewish, and of those who have joined themselves to identify with the people of Israel and with the God of Israel, not all Christians feel a particular affinity for the Jewish people or for the nation of Israel; but as believers, we are all one in Christ.  My Palestinian Arab brothers in Jesus who think that the ‘occupation’ began in 1948 are just as equal with me through our common salvation.  The Holy Spirit will deal with us all on important matters which God knows are hindering us from moving on with the Lord into the reality of the one new man from the two — Jewish people and Gentiles.

With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2)  Being the first-born implies others born after; for example, Egypt will also become YHVH’s people.  (Is 19:25)  And for Jewish people being the natural branches and those to whom were revealed the oracles of God, they will be judged more severely, and also enjoy a special acknowledgement. (Rom 2:5-11)  Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all, I believe, because we are the first-born and natural branch, and have a more natural affinity for the Biblical history and family; and having been shown such mercy to be forgiven and restored to even greater blessings, are more expected to be merciful and long-suffering toward our Gentile Christian brothers and sisters whom our Father has brought into His family. (Rom 9:3-5; 11:21; Acts 15:7-9; Col 1:26-27)

There is discussion and debate within the Body of Messiah in Israel as to whether there is some special calling upon Jewish believers as compared with the Gentile believers.  I am not comfortable with this differentiation.  If anything, as I have said, then Jewish believers are called to be more humble and forgiving towards others and more thankful to God!  Gentile believers could say the same thing, though, from the grace shown them by the God of Israel.

As I wrote in my first letter, this subject is on-going even here in Israel, and I am too often accused of being too ‘equal minded’, whereas I see too much of others making the Jewish believers superior in our particular calling and ministry over what the Lord has given to Gentile believers.  Ironically, it is because they do tend to see the Israel of God as being the same as the Church, and the Commonwealth of Israel in the same vein.  Some even see that in eternity, after the Millennial Kingdom, there will still be a distinction between Israel and the nations, which I do not, at least as of now, even with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles forever memorialized in the New Jerusalem. (Rev 21:12-14)  (On [this] website, I have written at various times on the subject from a number of aspects; sometimes this might be under Reflecting Pool, other times under Latest News even, or under School of Fish.)

Just to be open about some of my own views connected with eschatology, which I believe influences anyone’s interpretation of these important issues:

1.  Yeshua Himself is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, over the saved full remnant of the tribes of Israel and the [sheep] nations, for 1000 years;

2.  The Church/Body of Messiah/the Bride of the Lamb will go through the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, being either resurrected (if any one in Christ has already died) or else raptured (if still alive in Messiah at that time).  We are saved from God’s wrath, which I believe is limited to a relatively brief period of time, compared to the full seven-year period, prior to the coming again of the Lord;

3.  The Church is made up of both Jewish people and Gentiles, but is neither Jewish nor Gentile/Greek;

4.  The Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him over Israel and the nations for the 1000 years, already in glorified bodies, which Israel and the nations will not have during that time.

There are other points too, of course, but these should suffice to show what shapes my interpretation on these issues of the Israel of God and of the Commonwealth of Israel as I presently do.

You mention that the promises made to Abraham are to all his seed, including the promise of the Land.  The promise of the Land of Canaan to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the children of Israel is specifically to that family line.  There has always been room given by God for non-Israelis to partake of that promise, such as Ruth the Moabitess, and for all those mentioned in Ezekiel 47:21-23 during the Millennial Kingdom.  It has never been a pure blood issue, but covenantal to and through a particular genealogy and people.  Among David’s mighty men were Gentiles, such as Uriah the Hittite.  Ruth gives us a good example of one who came into the Commonwealth of Israel — under the welfare of the God of Israel — entitled to all the benefits and privileges with the people, but did not become Jewish:  she is always referred to as Ruth the Moabitess when referred to in the Tanach.

If all those today who are Abraham’s seed by faith, that is, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, thought themselves entitled to live in the modern State of Israel, it is clear that not only is there not room for that, but it would also take away the whole nature of the “homeland for the Jewish people”, since the vast multitude of Gentile Christians would be even more than all the Arabs who think that the Land belongs to them!  So the land promise is specifically given to the children of Israel, but the promise which does  involve ‘land’ (ארץ) which is applicable to all the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob by flesh and by faith is the whole ‘Earth’ (ארץ), which includes the Land of Canaan.  The Millennial Kingdom will see the fulfillment of that as the whole Earth comes under the rule of Yeshua, with the full remnant of the whole House of Israel restored in the land as an everlasting possession as one nation with one King, and all the sheep nations in their borders who are shown mercy because they showed mercy to the least of Yeshua’s brethren (Mt 25:31-40)

But for those born-again believers out from every tribe and tongue and and people and nation who have the blessed and holy part in the first resurrection (Rev 5;  20), by being made a kingdom of priests to God with Messiah, we inherit the whole Earth in fulfillment of the greater promise given to Abraham.  To redeemed and saved Israel, the Land of Canaan; to the resurrected and raptured Church, the whole Earth.  In Hebrew, the same word is used for land and for Earth — eretz.   In God’s wisdom, the land of Israel is a type of the whole in the battle between Satan and Jesus; and the people of Israel as a whole, and God’s dealings with them, is a type for all humanity, since Israel is given as an example to the Church, which includes people from all ethnicities and nations.

God began His ‘program of redemption’ on Earth through choosing Abram and cutting His covenant with him.  As Paul writes, God chose Abraham while he was uncircumcised, so that the promise of the gospel and salvation would go to Gentiles as well as to Jews (who didn’t even exist then!)  The covenant and promises and hope for believers in Yeshua are better than those given to Israel. (Heb 7:18-28; 8:6)  There are presently in the world three types of people:  Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God.  All of the tribes of Israel (even if presently unable to trace) are incorporated into the term ‘Jews’ for now; all the other people groups are incorporated into the generic term ‘gentiles’; the Church of God is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

I agree with you that the present election of grace among the Jewish people is representative of the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14-16)  But Paul is making it clear here, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this blessing of peace and mercy for all believers is particularly for those who walk by this rule: in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  It is a grievous thing not only to you, John, but also to God,  when believers make too much of their natural heritage over and against the high calling in Messiah Yeshua of the new creation, one new man in Christ from the two (Jewish and Gentile).

The Millennial Kingdom will see the full-fillment of the Israel of God, when the “all Israel” that will see Yeshua whom they have pierced will enter the Kingdom to serve the YHVH their God in righteousness and truth, full of thanksgiving and praise. (Zech 12:10-14; Is 25:9)  But I, part of a small remnant at present as a pledge for my people until that day, hope and believe in the grace of God to have part in that first resurrection as part of the Bride of the Lamb, a more wonderful and better adoption and redemption (Rom 8:18-25) than to simply have part as the Israel of God in the flesh for 1000 years.  Standing on God’s promises for my people and their inheritance, we gave our second son the middle name of Shimon (Simeon) as a testimony to the faithfulness of God’s Word to give this son and tribe of Jacob/Israel his inheritance — which includes Beer Sheva  — in the world to come at the coming of the Lord in great power and glory.  Yet our son has a better inheritance through his faith in Yeshua than the tribe of Shimon does, at least for the next 1000 years.

Just as the Levitical priests had no possession or inheritance of the Land of Israel, but a better inheritance — Yehovah Himself, to whom was all the land — so, too, born-again priests of God in Messiah have no specific earthly inheritance, but rather the whole Kingdom of God, as Abraham believed (Mt 8:11): 

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And, truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they were called out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly land.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a place for them.” (Heb 11:8-10,13-16)

May we see it in our day!  This has also been lengthy, John, and I also hope helpful as we continue together to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. 

In Messiah with you,
Howard

On April 11, 2013 01:00, Jonathan wrote:

Howard,

I’ve got to say from the forefront of this conversation that this is fun!  I love to dialogue with men about the Word of God, and getting the privilege to discuss the Scripture with someone who obviously knows the Book well is such a delight.  Thank you.

I’d also like to say that your letter did nothing to stir up feelings of inferiority.  I love the spirit of your letters.  I can sense your humility and genuine care, and that truly puts me at ease.  Thank you again for offering an apology, though unnecessary.

If you’ll allow me, I’ll work through some things that struck me while I was reading your response.  You mentioned in your letter:   

With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after… 

I absolutely agree with this!  However, I see these other ‘nations’ entering into their sonship more directly at the outset of the Millennium.  When Yeshua returns and judges the sheep and goat nations (Mt. 25), these nations, including Assyria and Egypt mentioned in Isaiah 19, will become the ‘other’ sons of Adonai.  Though for now, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and all those who dwell in it” (Ps 24), the Jewish people are certainly singled out as having a special relationship with Adonai.  They are His segulah (Ex. 19) and the only nation with which He has known (in a covenant sense), according to Amos 3.  

You mentioned also that:  

Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all…  

I also agree that the Jewish believers are the most accountable of all.  According to Romans 3:1-2, Jews have the advantage because of their Torah training; but that Torah training also holds them to a greater level of accountability (vs. 9).

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all.”(Rom 3:1-2, 9)

The background training in Torah would be advantageous to the Jewish man in his New Covenant walk because He wouldn’t have to learn the Torah from scratch, as the Gentile man would have to do; however, his Torah knowledge also held him to a higher level of accountability, so his advantage was lessened to that extent.  

When Gentiles enter the faith, Acts 15 spells out some requirements to be maintained.  These would help preserve table fellowship between the much-closer-quartered Jewish/Gentile believers of the 1st century.  James gave his rationale for this judgment —  

“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.  For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)

The implication is that Gentiles, having accepted the initial requirements, would continue to learn the Torah in their local synagogues.  As they did, their discipleship would mature and they’ll naturally take on more of the Torah.  [The idea that Gentiles are simply to keep these 4 requirements is preposterous!  There are much better requirements than these 4 to be kept if that was the intent of the chapter.]  The Jewish believers, however, were already trained in Torah observance.  There was no reason why they shouldn’t continue in their Torah walk in Messiah.  This is their advantage.

[I’m getting ready to enter a bunny trail here.] 

This also happens to be why my heart is to support my Jewish brothers.  It’s your responsibility to teach the Torah to the nations.  Yeshua didn’t just say to preach the gospel [the message of the remission of sins] to the nations; He also said to “make disciples, teaching ‘them’ [the nations] to observe all things I have taught ‘you’ [Jewish apostles].”  He taught the Twelve how to walk out the Torah life in the original intent of the Torah.  This is the message that was to be taken to the nations.

Our Gentile brothers have been indoctrinated in 1900 years of anti-nomian theology.  They’ve been taught that he Torah is passed away instead of being taught that the Old Covenant is what’s passed away.  Without proper teaching, they fail to distinguish the line between the Torah and a covenant (agreement/oath).  They’re not taught that the New Covenant is a new agreement/new oath concerning the same immutable Torah!  So since they’ve falsely learned doctrine in this area, they don’t understand passages about the New Covenant that teaches the Torah will be written upon our hearts.  So they assign new definitions to the ‘Torah’, or they say well our heart is supposed to guide us now [according to Deuteronomy we are “NOT to follow after our heart, after which we stray”].  

Gentiles need to understand that the Torah is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12), and that Torah observance is not a means of salvation, for either Jew or Gentile; but is rather a proper response to our free gift of salvation.  

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness [Torahlessness] and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works [commandments]. (Titus 2:11-14)

The New Covenant has put the love of Torah within the Gentile heart just as it was in the 1st century Gentile hearts [which love made the erroneous doctrine of the Circumcision Group all the more easy to spread], but the accessibility to understand the Torah is not available to the Gentiles today as it was then.  Sure, it’s in all our Bibles, but is that available when our churches teach that everything left of Matthew is invalid for us?  Your Gentile brothers need to hear that our Father’s Torah isn’t tyrannical and austere, but rather, it’s the loving instruction of a Father to His children.  Who’s responsible to teach this to the Gentile believer?  Well I certainly make every effort to make disciples that understand this, but it’s my belief that the lion’s share [pardon the pun] of the responsibility belongs to the native-born sons of Abraham!  

I personally believe that in these last days before our Master’s return, the knowledge of Torah will increase exponentially among the whole Body of Messiah.  And this knowledge should be exported from the Land to the nations.

[End of Bunny Trail] 

I do appreciate your ‘equal-mindedness’ and it puts me at ease to know so.  I still (at this point) see the Israel of God equivalent to the Church and the Commonwealth of Israel, but I don’t see how that makes Jewish believers superior in calling, as you mentioned some of your peers there do.  I see Gentiles as having been made co-heirs with our Jewish brothers. [Incidentally, this idea caused Paul a lot of trouble with His Jewish peers too.]  This is the mystery of the gospel—that the Gentiles are equal heirs with Israel through the gospel.

“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:4-6)

Where we both see that as being equal within the Church, I see the Church as being equivalent with the Commonwealth of Israel.  Ephesians 2, verses 12 and 19, just a few verses before and in the same passage as Ephesians 3 here, says:

“…remember that you were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”

Equality within the Church and equality within the Commonwealth of Israel are both spoken about in this passage.  I believe we both actually agree on this.  We differ on the whether ‘Israel’ is the same thing as the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ and ‘the Church’. 

As far as your eschatology goes, I’m in complete agreement with you.  I’d like to add (just for fun) that at Yeshua’s return, the Kingdom of God is restored and the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and His Messiah (Rev. 11:15).  This is when a highway from Egypt and Assyria is made and they enter into relationship ‘nationally’ with the God of Israel (Isa. 19).

For clarity, we both see 3 groups of people.  And practically speaking, there seems to be very little difference in how things play out between these groups.  I think this comparison shows where we both stand:

Howard                                                                                   John                                        

1)  The Church (consisting of Jews and Gentiles)                   Believing Israel (both Jews and Gentiles)

2)  National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)              National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)

3)  Nations                                                                                Nations

I actually think we mostly agree here.  We have no disagreement on group #3—the Nations.

We probably agree on group #2.  I think we both see them as ‘national Israel’, the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham.  This group on a national level has yet to come to faith, but they have a promise that they will come to faith on a national scale (Romans 11:25-26).  

Group #1—again, practically speaking, we both agree here!  Believing Israelis and the believing Gentiles make up this group.  It seems that where we differ is in my placing the title “Israel of God” on this group.  

I believe that you see this group as a separate entity that will remain as a separate entity throughout the 1000 years.  I see this group as the ‘true Israel of God’—the faithful remnant among Israel.

Israel has always had a remnant within the national people.  Take Paul’s mention of Elijah in Romans 11 for example.  Elijah was lamenting that all of Israel had turned their backs on God, leaving him the only faithful one.  But God revealed to Elijah that He had 7000 men of Israel who were faithful.  Paul used that example to show that within national Israel there was a faithful remnant, chosen by grace (Rom 11:4-5).  He said that national Israel failed to obtain righteousness (vs. 7); but the elect (the faithful remnant within ‘national Israel’) did obtain it.  

Paul seems to be saying here that there is a national Israel, and within that people, there is a believing remnant called the elect.  Paul speaks more directly about this in chapter 9 of Romans: 

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named’.  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the Promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom. 9:6-8)

Not all physical descendants from Jacob (Israel) are Israel.  This means that Paul recognized an Israel that the physical descendants were not a part of.  This Israel is the ‘Israel of God’ because it’s made up of the believing remnant that are considered the children of God.  I believe this validates my referral of Group #1 as “Israel”.  There is an “Israel” within national Israel that is considered the children of the Promise.  Paul uses this analogy of Ishmael/Isaac in Galatians to further demonstrate this relationship between the two.  

Ishmael and Isaac were both descendants of Abraham; but Isaac was the seed of promise.  Within the natural children of Abraham, a smaller group was considered the chosen ones, the elect.  Hence Romans 9:8—“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of Promise are counted as offspring.”  In other words, the promises made to Israel in the TNK are not going to fall upon national Israel (the children of the flesh) until national Israel believes in Yeshua, and becomes the children of the promise!   

This is what I believe is prophesied in Romans 11.  When the fullness of the Gentiles come in, God will remove the partial blindness upon national Israel and they will come to faith in Messiah en masse!  When that happens, there will no longer be a group #1 and #2—they will be one and the same!  I believe the time of Jacob’s Trouble will prune those among national Israel that do not believe (Zech 13:8-9).  I believe that entering into the Millennium, all the survivors among national Israel will be believers.  This will be a far greater number than the messianic community in Israel today, because the partial blindness will have been removed!  Israel, nationally, will see Yeshua, the One “Whom they pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech 12:10).  All of remaining national Israel will be saved! 

Since “all of Israel” will be saved, there’s no way to have the Body of Messiah (group #1) as separate from national Israel (group #2) entering the Millennium.  There will only be Israel (including those gentiles from among the nations that are of faith) ruling over the nations (who do not have glorified bodies).  

I agree also that the New Covenant is better than the old.  The Sinaic Covenant was a 2-sided (bi-lateral) agreement, as seen in Exodus 24.  Both parties were responsible for the upkeep of the covenant, not like Abraham and David’s covenants, where both of them would be helpless to see the fruition of their covenants.  Abraham and David both experienced unilateral (1 sided) covenants that the God of Israel granted them.  That’s why they’re referred to as Covenants of Promise.  They were God-initiated, and God-guaranteed.  The Sinaic Covenant has been broken and the curse of the Torah remains for all those still under it.  National Israel  (those not ‘in Messiah’) is under the Sinaic Covenant, and this covenant is a two-sided covenant.  I personally believe the reasons that Israel (nationally) continues to experience the violence of their enemies is because the curse of the Torah is still intact for those not in Messiah.  They simply cannot find rest from their enemies until they come to faith in Messiah.  When they do come to faith in Messiah, at His return, they will immediately experience rest in the Land as God envisioned.

The New Covenant is a better covenant because it’s a unilateral (1 sided) covenant!  We can’t mess this one up!  God initiated it, cut the covenant Himself (through the hands of men), and promised to put His Spirit in us which would “cause us to keep His statutes and His judgments” (Ez. 36:27).  

The writer of Hebrews is comparing the 2 covenants.  Both are valid, but Sinai’s Covenant bears children to slavery (Gal 4:24), whereas the New Covenant bears free children.  Not freedom from Torah—God forbid!  [Haha!-had to get a little Pauline there]  Rather, the New Covenant bears children free from sin!  In the New Covenant, our fallen natures have been dealt with, and our former disposition to break God’s Torah has been replaced with a desire to keep His statutes and judgments.  His Torah is upon our hearts!  This inner regeneration wasn’t promised at Mt. Sinai, but it is in the New Covenant. This is why the New Covenant is better.  But the New Covenant, this ‘better covenant’, is promised to the House of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34).  And according to my understanding (at this point), this covenant will fall corporately upon national Israel at the beginning of the Millennium.  All Israel will experience the New Covenant, and “they will all know Me (God) from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer 31:34).

This New Covenant is what’s prophesied in Hosea 2:14-23.  Israel will sing in the wilderness again like she did when she came out of Egypt.  She’ll call God—“My Husband”, and God will end war throughout the earth.  God will marry Israel then.   

So which Israel is He talking about?  The Church (The Bride of Messiah) or national Israel?  Both!!  They’ll be one and the same at that time.  All Israel will have come to faith at the return of Messiah and the New Covenant will find its ultimate expression then.  God has only one Bride—Israel, His Bride, that He betrothed in the Wilderness of Sinai and will consummate at His return to the Earth.   

Having said all this, I will see Israel, according to the flesh, as chosen and set apart.  That’s because they’re destined to believe when the partial blindness is removed.  And I don’t call myself a Jew (as some believing gentiles are known to do).  I’m a gentile, and I’m actually proud of that.  My Father chose me from among Gentiles to be grafted in with His People.  Like Ruth and Uriah, I’m still a gentile, but I’ve been joined to the believing remnant of Israel, the Elect.  I’m a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, the true Israel of God, because they (you) are the Israelis of Promise.  And when the harvest of Gentiles is complete, I look forward to the rest of Israel coming to faith.  In that Millennial Kingdom, I’ll partake of the same promises that you will—both spiritual and physical blessings.  

Well Howard, my hands are tired.  Haha!  I’m gonna end this response here.  Look forward to hearing from you!  

John D

From: Howard
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2013 17:33 PM
To: Jonathan
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel

John, we are both in agreement that the nations enter into their ‘sonship’ at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom, with Israel as the first-born and the sheep nations as other ‘brother’ (‘sister’ (?)) nations of God, the Father, with Yeshua as Lord of all and the Brother of all who do His Father’s will.  The revelation of the sons of God will also not be until the First Resurrection, when all who have ever died, and those who are still alive, in Messiah will be changed in a twinkling of an eye.  I also believe that this is inclusive of all who have believed the promises of YHVH God regarding the Promised Seed, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden; for surely those who are included in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” will not fall short of the blessed hope of those who were born later, so that together we may be made perfect. (Heb 11:40)

I think we also agree that each of our basic assumptions are determining the outcomes of our interpretation.   While we both agree that the believers within Israel presently constitute the Israel of God, you say that all believers anywhere and everywhere constitute the Israel of God, and say that this is the Commonwealth of Israel and is the Church, the Body of Christ.  The Church is found within every nation, but is not of any nation.

I would also say that the believers presently within the other nations constitute those who have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel.  The believers within Israel and within the other nations are a pledge of God’s full intention at the coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His kingdom on Earth.  All the nations during the 1000 years will be fully brought into the beneficent welfare of the Commonwealth of Israel under the Kingship of Yeshua, with “all Israel” that was saved, and brought into His kingdom and New Covenant, becoming the head nation as the firstborn in willful and glad submission to his Father God, and a blessing to the rest of his ‘brethren’.   This Israel of God will be born in a day, which the modern State of Israel pre-figured in its re-establishment.  The Israel of God, with Gentiles included within her borders and full partakers of the inheritance, remains distinct from each of the other Gentile sheep nations brought into the Kingdom at the outset of the Millennial.  The Body of Messiah — the Bride of Christ — the Queen — will rule with her Husband, the Lord and King Yeshua over Israel and the nations:  it is a distinct group from out of Israel and every other nation.

Our basic assumptions will also affect how we interpret and apply other Scriptures.  This is seen in how we each understand the place of Torah (the Law of Moses in our discussion) and the Old Covenant.  You have written that the Torah is a guide for the believers in Jesus, and that the Old Covenant has passed away.  In the letter to the Hebrews (referring specifically to Jewish believers, but also for all who would be pilgrims and sojourners passing through this world), the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to say, “In that He says, ‘a new covenant’, He has made the first obsolescent (passing away).  Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13)  Most English translations say ‘obsolete’ instead of ‘obsolescent’, giving the impression that it is already passed away, rather than passing way, as the next sentence clearly states is the case.  As for the Torah — the Law — Paul is inspired to write:  “But when I saw that [Peter and Barnabas] were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews (for he had been eating whatever food was put before him with the Gentile believers), why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”  We, Jews by nature and not sinners like the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we [Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners (because we do not and can not keep the Torah of Moses as written or interpreted), is Messiah therefore a minister of sin?  God forbid!  For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Messiah died in vain.” (Gal 2:14-21

“For the law of the Spirit of Life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)

While there is most certainly an increasing lawlessness in the world and in the Church, the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit in the love and fear of God, will have the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us. (Rom 8:4

Grace reigns through righteousness, and those who truly appreciate what the Lord Yeshua did for us on the cross will not take such a great salvation for granted and make faith or grace cheap.  The four things which the Apostles agreed upon that was good to the Holy Spirit regarding the new influx of Gentile believers was a good starting point for their new life in Christ.  We all begin as immature babes needing instruction, being brought to spiritual maturity as we are transformed/converted into the image of the Son of God over the course of the rest of our life and sojourn.

When we look at the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, which I believe describe the Millennial Kingdom to come, we can already notice modifications in some of the ordinances when compared with the Law given through Moses.  When Yeshua began to speak out His teachings on the Mount of Olives, He did so in fulfillment of Dt 18:15-19, speaking with authority:  “you have heard, but I say. . . ”  He was not taking us back to the Law of Moses, but was taking us onward to maturity by teaching the Law of the Kingdom of God.  The Law was until John (the Baptiser), but now is the Kingdom of God preached.  All of the Ten Commandments are still in effect for believers, except for the Sabbath:  for Yeshua is God’s rest, and has become ours — not just one day in a week, but each and every day.  There is still the necessity of meeting together with other believers, but, depending on circumstances, it may not necessarily be on a Saturday, or even a Sunday.  But knowing the Lord, and ceasing from our own works, is to live the crucified life in the power of the resurrection.  Under the Law, even during the coming Kingdom, the people will be ruled with a rod of iron!  This is not so for those whose hearts are being purified through faith!  Knowing the Law, which is given for sinners and also for tutoring, should make us more sober in how we live in the liberty to which we have been called and freed.  Those brought up under the teachings of the New Testament have much to teach and show by example to those who know only ‘self-righteousness’.  But unless those taught under the N.T. are themselves born-again, and realize that not only has Christ died for them, but that they have died with Him, then they, too, will be no different than the Jewish people seeking their own righteousness, not knowing the righteousness of God.  The Law is not God’s righteousness; Jesus is God’s righteousness:  only He is perfect, and did not need to come under the Law, but did so in order to save us from it, with its curse and condemnation.  Praise the Name of the Lord!

The priesthood has changed, therefore necessarily the Law has changed.  Food regulations have been changed:  Yeshua makes all foods clean.  Clean meats were already clean, so it is unclean meat that he has cleansed and purified to break down a huge wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles who have together been brought into the priesthood of the New Covenant, sitting together as brothers and sisters at whatever table, and for the gospel’s sake and truth, giving thanks and glory to God.  If He can make me clean, he can make the meat of an unclean animal — that goes in and out of my body when eaten — clean.  I am free to eat; I am free not to eat; but if necessary, for love’s sake, I die to myself that I might live unto God for His name’s sake.  There are new and different regulations regarding how husbands are to relate to their wives; there is a new commandment to love one another as Yeshua loves us.  (This is a higher standard than loving our neighbor as ourselves, which we don’t live up to very well.)  We are told to forgive our enemies, which is not ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘just’. 

Believing on the name of the Son of God has brought us into a high calling, which the Law can never attain to.  We are not to combine Yeshua with the Law, but are to live by the power of the Holy Spirit a higher, deeper, wider, longer life than Law can inspire.  The love of God in sending His Son to die for us on a cross is our stimulus and motivation.  I think, that by equating the Church with the Israel of God (and Israel’s Commonwealth), the tendency, then, would be to come under Israel’s Law, whether as given by Moses, or as we see described by YHVH through Ezekiel.  But just as the Levites were under a different regime than the rest of their brethren in the other tribes, so are born-again believers in Yeshua a priesthood under a different regime than either Israel or some “Christianized/gospelized” nation.   After Pentecost/Shavuot, we read that all the new believers (all Jewish) “were baptized . . ., and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done . . . .” (Acts 2:41-43)  As usual, discussing things of the Kingdom of God and which concern the Lord Jesus Christ leads on and on and on and on . . . .  There will always forever be more of Him to find out!

Shabbat shalom,
Howard

11 October 2013

A few more ‘bullets’ that come to mind:

–Israel is normally referred to as YHVH God’s people, and never called the Body of Messiah/Christ; the Church is not normally referred to as the People of God/YHVH, but is called the Body of Christ/Messiah.

–Yeshua/Jesus is never called the King of the Church, but Head of the Body of Messiah/Christ; He is the King of Israel and of the Jews.

–Every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled, much of which concerns Israel as a specific nation with identity and covenant obligations based on God’s promises to their fathers and natural descendants.  These ‘jots and tittles’ include the restoration of ‘all Israel’ – all of the tribes, Ephraim and Judah – into “one stick”, a restored family and nation under one God and King.  (This is a type for the corporate one new man in Messiah, but not the fullness of the new creation reality.)  It will not be what we know today as ‘Jewish’ in a parochial sense, but ‘Israeli’, a whole redeemed nation holy unto the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel, as well as some “strangers” (Gentiles) who also live among the restored tribes with a full and equal inheritance. (Ezek 47:21-23)

The [English] verses in Hos 1:8-10 refer to the whole House of Israel; the application in Rom 9:23-26 is being applied to Gentiles.  In Is 19:23-25, the LORD is calling the Gentile nation, Egypt, His people.  There is not just ‘one people of God’!  While it is true that some believers today may be ‘Israelis and not know it’, this only represents God’s intention to restore a united family and Kingdom, but does not mean that all saved people not identifiable as Jews are “Ephraimites”:  God is also saving Gentiles, who remain such, even though they are to have a circumcised heart, just as Jewish believers are to have. (Rom 2:28-29)

–The Law of God in born-again believers’ hearts and minds, and in saved Israel, (Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12) will be the Law of the Kingdom on the basis of knowing who the Lord is, and not a return to the Law of Moses.  The last nine chapters of Ezekiel speak of the future Millennial Kingdom when Messiah has returned and is received and accepted as the God and the King of Israel, and there are modifications to what had been the Mosaic Law, and also some things which remain for Israel, not for the Church of the Firstborn, who will be ruling and reigning with Christ over Israel and the nations in glorified bodies. (Rev 20:4-6; Rom 8:23)

–Believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are called sons of Abraham, the father of those who believe.  While Jewish believers are also sons of Jacob in the flesh, Gentile believers are not.  The Church is never spoken of as children of Jacob/Israel, nor of belonging to a tribe of Israel, but as called out ones from the different nations.  Only Israel, God’s chosen first-born son as a nation, is spoken of with reference to its tribes and their fathers.   Therefore, the Church is not Israel, and Israel is not the Church.  But both are in covenantal relationship with the God of Israel, who is YEHOVAH, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is in Isaac, the son of promise, that Abraham’s seed would called:  Jacob must come into the resurrection faith of Abraham and of Isaac to receive the promises as sons (not grandsons).  The true Church is in Messiah/Christ, Yeshua/Jesus being the ultimate Son of the Promise; and every believer must believe in his/her heart that He is risen from among the dead to inherit all things.

31 May 2016

There is something to be said about the New Jerusalem having gates with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel, and with  the foundations of those gates being the names of the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles. (Rev 21:12-14)  It could be understood that the eternal home of New Jerusalem is “Israel”, in the sense that all her citizens will be those who in this life have struggled with God and prevailed — by YHVH’s grace — and rule and reign with Him; and who have also finally submitted to the reality that God rules. (Gen 32:28; Ezek 20:33; Rev 3:11-13)   But I am not certain now that just because at that “time” all Israel will be all Israel, that that means that there will still be a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. (2Cor 5:16-17; Gal 3:26-29; Mt 22:30)  Just as now a real Jew is not one who is one only outwardly in the flesh, but inwardly in the heart and the spirit, so, too, will that inward reality describe all whose praise will come from God, whether they  were Jewish or Gentile. (Rom 2:28-29)

This is similar, to me, of Israel being called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, even though the priesthood was given only to the Levites, and especially to the family of Aaron through Eleazar. (Ex 19:6; Lev 3; 8)  So all believers in Jesus are called a holy and royal priesthood, although most are not only not of Aaron’s family, but are Gentiles. (1Pt 2:9-10)   (In any case, believers are not Levitical priests, but priests of a different, higher, and everlasting order:  in Messiah/Christ — according to the order of Melchizedek.)