A BETTER INHERITANCE IN MESSIAH – 29 Apr 2005

(Delivered at Hephzibah Meeting in Marlow, Bucks, England)

When I first became a believer in Jesus as Messiah, the Son of the Living God, my immediate instinct was that the Gentile believers had taken away everything from its Jewish beginnings and, in doing so, caused most Jews to disregard the claims of the Christian faith and religion.  Then, as I began to read the whole Bible myself, the Holy Spirit began to show me that there was much truth in what Christians claimed, but there was little understanding to explain it in a manner that put it in perspective.  Of course, we Jews were guilty of the same things that we accused Christians of being and doing!

A couple of passages early on grabbed my attention, one to open my eyes and mind to the sovereign ways of God in His dealings between the Jews and Christians; and the other as a warning to believers from falling in a similar fashion as Israel, angels, and ordinary people have done long before and all along the way.      Mt 21:33-45       Jude 5-7

Then, of course, we have the letters to the Galatians and to the Hebrews – the Jewish believers — which plainly say that with the change of priesthood there is necessarily a change in the Law.  In other words, my own natural perception – even after becoming a believer and being baptized in the Holy Spirit – was skewed and self-justifying, but God’s Word justifies God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Even in the O.T. YHVH God says through Jeremiah that the New Covenant would not be like the old, implying something different and changed.

It is my concern that believers hold fast to what we have so that no one can take whatever crown or any other thing which God wants to give those who love Him and so abide in Jesus.  Pharaoh wanted Moses and Israel to leave things behind rather than giving all to God.  Moses understood that it would be YHVH – not His adversary — who would direct Israel regarding what to give up for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

There are roots to our faith, and they are Christ, Messiah.  Jesus Himself claims to be the Root and the Offspring of David (Is 11:1; Rev 22:16).  He also says that before Abraham was, He Is – I Am (Jn 8:58).  The seed of the covenant was planted in the soil of the Promised Land when YHVH God justified Abra[ha]m by faith, but that faith was in YHVH God and His Word.  The Israeli and Jewish people have been brought up in the hope of those promises, but it is the believer in that Seed – whether Jewish or Gentile – who is the benefactor of even greater promises and hope than the Jewish people andIsrael have at this time.

For you here tonight, your witness and testimony to man, and your prayers to God will be the more effective as there is the salt of the covenant seasoned into them.  So as to not fall from or leave our proper domain, let us consider some distinctives of New Testament faith and teaching that distinguish us as believers in Jesus from Israel – to whom Yeshua declared that all that is written in the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled, every jot and tittle.  These are to be realities, verities, so that we will remain in the faith delivered once for all to the saints.

The Church cp To Israel:

Gal 1:12; 1Cor 1:18-23   gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but rather a revelation from God in Heaven
Acts 17:6   the world turned upside down
Heb 9:11-15   redeemed by the precious blood of Messiah, of far greater worth than the blood of countless animals
Jer 31:31-32; 1Pt 1:4   New Covenant not like the Old; it is better by far
Rom 3:19-31   by faith we are saved, not by works of law for righteousness
Col 1:27; Jn 14:23; Rev 3:20   God is in us, not only for us or with us
Acts 2:16-18   Holy Spirit given to all believers, not only to prophets, priests, and kings; not only to Israelis or only to males
Jn 20:17   God is our Father through redemption, not only as Creator of all flesh and spirits, or of only the Jewish nation
Jn 15:14-15; Gen 18:17-19   we are sons and daughters and friends of God, not merely slaves or servants
Mk 7:18-19   food barriers are broken down; Jesus made unclean foods clean

1Pt 2:9   priesthood of all believers now
    —Heb 7   Melchizedek vs Aaronic priesthood
superior and transcending:  Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham
Ezek 44:9-10; Mal 3:3   Aaronic priesthood – an everlasting covenant of peace given to Phineas — fulfilledduring the Millenial Kingdom
Eph 2:11-22; Is 56:6; Lev 21:18   priesthood in Messiah now and then from any family, Jewish or gentile, male and female, and we will rule with Him on His throne
Is 56:4-5; Dt 23:2(3 Heb);  Lev 21:17-23       in Messiah, those physically impaired (flat noses) accepted, as well as eunuchs and illegitimate children through redemption and justification

2Cor 5:16-18   new creation vs this present creation
–sins forgiven and we re justified (redeemed and saved)
–indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Rev 20:6   blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection:  no fear of second death
2Pt 3:10-13   we look beyond the 1000 year kingdom to a new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells, not only reigns as it will during the Messianic Kingdom of God on this present Earth
Ezek 43 – 44   finished sacrifice of Jesus final for Christians, even during Millenial,  vs  continuing sacrifices forIsrael, even during Millenial
–there is no more sacrifice for sin for the Church
–no more need for those in Christ of a temple made with hands
Eph 1:22-23   Body of Messiah, who is Head of all things to the Church
–a vital union – head and body; husband and wife – in Christ
              versus –Mt 2:2; Jn 1:49; 19:19-21   King of the Jews, King ofIsrael
Rev 20:6; Mt 19:28   we will rule and judge with Messiah for 1000 years overIsrael and the other nations
Ex 19:5-6; Rom 9:4-8  Israel’s call and destiny is to be a special treasure to YHVH, a priestly nation under the Lord Yeshua, serving in His greatness rather than failing without Him being her King
Rev 7:4-8; Ezek 47:21 – 48:35   covenantal faithfulness

Lev 23:11,15-16; Mt 28:1; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2   day after the Sabbath, i.e., the first day of the week (Sunday)
 Gal 2:19   For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live unto God.
–Jesus was killed (offering Himself a sacrifice), being falsely accused under the Law, as a blasphemer  and Sabbath-breaker
–The Law can make no one righteous; we all need God’s righteousness.

1Cor 11:26; Ezek 45:21-25   The Lord’s Supper is only for the Church, and this until He comes again; it is not forIsrael, even during the Millennial Kingdom.

NACHALAT YESHUA/YESHUA’S INHERITANCE CONGREGATION – 16 Oct 2004

Ex 34:9  . . .pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance 

Is 53:10-11  Yet it pleased YHVH to crush Him, putting Him to grief.  If You would make His soul a guilt offering, He shall see seed; He will prolong days, and the good pleasure of YHVH shall prosper in His hand.  He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied.  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.

1Pet 2:9-10  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

The Lord Jesus Christ gave his life unto death on the cross and rose again from among the dead in order that we who believe could receive the forgiveness of our sins and become righteous in God’s sight.  With this great love, we can live forever in His presence as His children and not die.  This was God’s plan and purpose from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-14).  Yeshua told His disciples that all things that the Father has are His (Jn 16:15), including us whom He also received from God His Father (Jn 17:3).  In other words, we are Yeshua’s Inheritance according to the will and testament of God (Heb 9:15).

Yeshua is heir of all things, and the whole Earth and universe have been given Him by the Father.  All the nations are His.  We who have been saved from death in order to be His Bride have a special place in His heart.  It is for us He came into the world He made and died on the cross.  We are created in God’s image, and Messiah redeemed us with His own blood to serve Him with all our hearts in love.  You remember that YHVH God separated the tribe of Levi to be priests and to bless the people of Israel.  The LORD did not give them any portion of the Promised Land for an inheritance, but rather He Himself is to be their inheritance (Dt 10:8-9).  Levi was scattered throughout all the land and among each of the other tribes.  In this way, God made them, as a tribe, inheritors of the whole land and not of only a portion like the rest of the people!

How much more then have we, as priests to God in Messiah, received for an inheritance than the Levites even hope for at the present?!  Believers in Yeshua as Lord and Messiah have inherited eternal life in the new heavens and new earth which God will create at the end of time!  For now, we are God’s field and His building (1Cor 3:9).  Yeshua told the parable of buying the field with treasure, and then of even selling the treasure in order to have the one pearl of great price (Mt 13:44-46).  This is who we are in His sight to the point of giving up all that was His by rights so that we would know His everlasting love for us!  Consider, too, that God has made our bodies a holy temple – a house —  for His dwelling place.  The Holy Spirit lives in us (1Cor 6:19-20).  God has given our entire being as an inheritance to Yeshua, and the Church is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  What a prize we have in the high calling of God in Messiah Jesus! (Phlp 3:12-14)  If we would apprehend with our hearts and our minds our identity and destiny as Christians – whether Jew or gentile – our whole disposition would be changed and we would bear much good fruit as we abide in the true vine.

As we have spoken here many times, we come from different streams of life, and from different streams within the Body of Messiah.  Yet it is the prayer of our Lord and Great High Priest that we should be united with Him and with each other even as He is with the Father.  He has reconciled us all to God in one body through the cross, making peace where naturally there is not (Eph 2:16).  We are His inheritance to the praise of His glory, and out from us are to flow rivers of living water to bless His land and His people.  With such a great and precious promise and future of inheriting all things together with the Lord, let this revive our faith, hope, and love to live up to such a joyful expectation already now, and at the last day and the resurrection. 

We are Nachalat Yeshua/ Yeshua’s Inheritance!  Let God be glorified in the joy of the Lord!

RECONCILIATION: SEEING GOD’S FACE IN THE SON OF MAN – 25 Aug 2003

(Taught at Musalaha Youth Leaders’ Conference in Odenwald, Germany)

Gen 49:18  I wait with hope for Your salvation, YHVH! יהוה לישועתך קיויתי

The key to reconciliation between those who have beforehand been at enmity – at least in thought or perception if not in deed – is the same for youth (and their leaders) as it is for any other age or group of contemporaries:  knowing and being thankful that God has reconciled Himself to you personally and to your own people on the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1-11).  As believers in Messiah, we are to relate to other believers not according to the flesh – be it nationality, race, color, etc. – but as a new creation, redeemed by the blood of the Son of God.

Yeshua teaches us that the pure in heart will see God.  Without exception, I am certain that all of us want to see God’s face.  We see God in the face of Jesus, and the day is coming when we shall see Him as He is and be changed into His likeness, according to God’s eternal purposes.  But there is another dimension ממד to seeing God.  It is written for our instruction that Jacob, after he received his new name, Israel, saw God in the face of his brother Esau (Gen 33:10).  As you remember, they were brothers, but not friends.  Neither trusted the other, and one had wanted to kill the other.  But Jacob acknowledged YHVH God as the one who had blessed him with all that he had, and the grace of God enabled Jacob to see in Esau – his estranged brother – a man in the image of God.  God used Esau to conform Israel to the likeness of His God.  Remember:  we become like our God! (Ps 135:18)

Jesus came as the Son of Man – as an Israeli, as a Jew, as a servant – and we all refused to see the reality of God in Him until we repented and believed the gospel.  I am convinced that the Jewish and Arab believers will not come to agree with each other on some very important matters to each of us, but when God does a miracle in us to make us one even as He is one – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – we will all be in agreement with Him on these issues!  The children of Jacob/Israel are representatives of mankind at large.  I say this because Israel is an example for the Church, which is made up of all kinds of people from every tribe and nation, and we all come to the same book and to the same God, YHVH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.

For Israeli and Palestinian youth, the personalities and character of Jacob’s children can be seen today in our own peoples and history.  They were intended to be one family and nation with YHVH as their God, even as we believers in Jesus as Lord and Messiah are to be one body with Yeshua as Head.  They were striving with each other and plotting against those specially chosen or loved, even as today we participate in similar things.  They committed violence against each other, seeking to gain the upperhand, or to prevent the other from having what was rightfully his.  The Israeli disciples and apostles of Jesus were similar, as you look at their personalities and character.

In all this, the ultimate key for the children of Israel to be reconciled to each other, and to have guilt and shame removed, and for peace to come within and amongst them, was/is to accept the sovereign will of God the Father, acknowledging the Son of His love, whether Joseph to Jacob, or Jesus to God.  Our reconciliation with each other – and what our youth need to understand – is not based on who we were – or who our people still are – but on our personal relationship and fellowship with God the Father and His son Jesus Christ.  We are to learn to live in the reality of our salvation (which we have received!) through the forgiveness of sins.

It is written that God is creating a generation to praise Him.  Let the Palestinian and Israeli youth be among that generation and turn the hearts of the fathers upon them.  This display of love and unity will be the most effective evidence of reconciliation which comes only through faith in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

The Gospel, The New Covenant, and The Messianic Faith Are Neither Jewish Nor Greek – 19 Dec 1998

Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints
[Lk 22:19-20]; 1Cor 11:23-26 – remember Yeshua and His death until He comes again

The heart and foundation of the gospel and of the New Testament and of our faith as Christians is Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified, risen from the dead, ascended to glory, and coming again.  Our sins are forgiven through faith in the once-for-all sacrificial and atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  We have fellowship (communion) with God our Father and with His Son, and with one another through the Holy Spirit indwelling all who are born again by the Word and the Spirit of God.

Does this sound like the religious teaching of Judaism?  Does it sound like the wisdom of the world’s great thinkers and philosophers?  NO!  For the cross is an offence to the one born with natural honor and privilege before God, such as to the Jews being the chosen  people, and  a  rock of stumbling to our fleshly pride and ambitions.   For the wise of this world, the cross – the means of a sure and shameful death for the transgressor – is foolishness, simplistic.  Yet for the one who believes, whether Jew or Gentile, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is the power of God unto salvation!

The gospel breaks down the wall of hostility between God and mankind, and also between Jews and gentiles, men and women, free and slave – in such a new way that it was a mystery known only to God until He revealed it in His own time to the Apostle Paul, in particular, who then made it known to the gentiles (nations), to kings, and to the children of Israel.

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the LORD God promised a Deliverer – a Savior – from the devil and evil to humankind through the Seed of the woman.  We learn in Romans how this deliverance extends to the whole creation.  To Abram the gospel was preached in that God told him that through him all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  It is faith such as Abraham showed which characterizes the faith of the true Messianic:  he believed the LORD; he believed what God said; he believed and trusted in the LORD that God Almighty could and would fulfill His promises, even if He had to raise the dead to do it!  The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is the living God of the living, the God whose power raises the dead to life eternal!  The Creator of the heavens and the earth is the one God of both the Jews and the Gentiles!

Is this what Judaism or any other of the world’s religions teaches?  Yet it is this good news and covenant of grace through repentance and faith in God which Yeshua came to bring and to fulfill.  He came to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets; He came to fulfill the word of God His Father – not the words or interpretations of anyone else.  The Jews and the nation of Israel as a whole rejected Him; so have too the gentile nations and peoples once the gospel is brought to them.  For the gospel allows no flesh to glory in itself or to approach God and live:  we must all – both  Jews and  gentiles from whatever nation or culture – be born again.  When we are baptized, we acknowledge not only Jesus’ death for us and His resurrection, but also our own death in His death, and our own resurrection in His, that we may no longer live unto ourselves but rather unto God in holiness and righteousness.  Therefore, there is continuity with our past life as unbelievers in that the Law and the prophecies are still being worked out fully; yet there is discontinuity in that we are alive in the reality of resurrection life, eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit –no longer under law but under grace.  The Holy Spirit will fulfill in us the righteousness of the Law, which we establish by faith.

The gospel and new covenant are so contrary and transcendent  to the natural man’s religion and intellect.  Let’s consider just a few points regarding Israel, since God gave Israel as an example for the Church and to the world:

  1. The religious and political leaders (in whom the people were represented) claimed that Yeshua consistently  broke the Sabbath regulations, even as He was manifesting the grace and mercies and compassion of God the Father towards others .  (Mt 12:2,10; Mk 3:2; Lk 23:14; John 7:23; Is. 58)
  2. They claimed that He was demon-possessed and cast out demons by the power of Satan, even as He was bringing the reality of the Kingdom of God into their midst.  (Mt 12:24; John 7:20; 10:19-20)
  3. They called Jesus a blasphemer because He claimed to be  God’s Son, or that God was His Father, thus making  Himself equal with God;  they accused Him of blasphemy because He, as a man, forgave sins.  (Mk 2:7; John 5:28; 10:31-39;  cp. 1 Chron. 22:9-10)
  4. The meek shall inherit the earth, rather than the rich and mighty who trust in their wealth and power and wisdom.  (Mt 5:5; 19:23-26; Jer 9:23)
  5. Many of the disciples themselves stopped following (walking with) Jesus when He spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood – a thought contrary to Israel’s law received from God.  (John 6:66; Lev. 17:11-12; Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:18-20)
  6. The apostles themselves were scattered when the Shepherd was crucified.  (Mt 26:31; Zech 13:7)
  7. Before knowing the Lord, did we see any beauty in Him that we desired Him?  Did we not, each in our own way perhaps, despise and reject Him?  Did we not consent to His death, assuming that there must have been some justification for it because of some sin of His own rather than for ours?  Paul, as Saul, was a blasphemer and a persecutor of Yeshua (who was already exalted back in Heaven) through the believers, the Body of Messiah, while being himself a zealous and God-fearing  Israeli!  (Is 53; 1Tim 1:13; Gal 1:13; Acts 9:4-5)
  8. A new commandment has been given God’s elect:  to love on the level of God’s love to us as shown and demonstrated through Jesus.  (Mt 5:43-48; John 15:12)

Brothers and sisters, the Christian testimony of Jesus being the Messiah and the Son of God the Father is confessed by both Jews and Gentiles who have believed and obeyed this revelation.  The gospel crosses every nation, culture, and language; the gospel brings Heaven’s rule and authority into the midst of the rule of the prince of this world’s power.  Jesus came to bring a sword into the world and to give His peace to the believer.  The church of the first-born includes all from Adam and Eve onward who have put their faith for salvation in the Creator God Almighty, who later revealed Himself as YEHOVAH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and still later as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The equality of Jews and Gentiles before God under the New Covenant in Christ is still difficult for both to accept and be reconciled to.  The Jews wanted to stone Yeshua and, later, Paul  when they spoke of their mission including gentiles.  For about 15 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord and after Pentecost (Shavuot), the early church was Jewish in character.  The Jews thought that all gentile believers had to become Jewish.  The Holy Spirit and the council at Jerusalem declared otherwise in the wisdom of God.  Later in Church history the opposite occurred:  the non-Jewish believers thought that all Jewish believers had to become gentile, fitting the cultural norm wherever they were living.

The truth is that in Messiah God has made of the two one new man – one loaf representing Christ’s one body in unity.  Today there is still a spiritual battle being fought to bring the Body of Christ to full maturity of the faith of the Son of God – comprised of both Jews and Gentile believers, but not being either quite Jewish or ethnic in character.  Our unity in Messiah and our love for one another is our testimony in and to the world that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus and that God sent Him and loves us as our Father, even as He loved Jesus.

The gospel is God’s good news – offering peace on earth, goodwill towards mankind.  Give thanks and  praise His Name!

THE CROSS

Mt 5:4/Lk 6:21   “Blessed are they who mourn/weep now, for they shall be comforted/laugh.”

Within the past month, members of this congregation have experienced mourning and weeping.  With the death of two family members, loved ones and friends had a personal and family experience of weeping and mourning.  And now this week, we have joined with the nation that weeps for her children, the 73 young men – soldiers – who died without warning or expectation; not at the hand of their enemies, but in a collision of two helicopters of our own.

Who among us did not cry before the Lord when we heard the news?  Who did not feel the pain of the families and close friends?  Who among the children of God the Father in Heaven does not pray from his heart, “Until when LORD?!; Thy Kingdom come!; Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!; Come, Lord Jesus!”?

I heard that among some groups of the religious, there was rejoicing!  These are those who do not even recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel because their Messiah has not yet come.  YHVH’s Anointed One, Yeshua/Jesus, whom we know has come, and will come again, used the example of national tragedies to bring the people to repentance.  He proclaimed that those killed were not worse sinners than others, and that unless they repented, they, too, would likewise perish. (Lk 13:1-5)

Those who were rejoicing in their heart – whether they be Israelis or enemies of Israel – will not know the comfort which the Lord Jesus promises to those who mourn.  Let us look together at another passage from the prophet Ezekiel, and consider the mourning of which Messiah speaks:  Ezek 9:1-11 (esp. v. 4,9)  The city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel (Judah) are filled with blood, violence, iniquity because the people have no personal relationship with, nor faith in YHVH.  There is no genuine fear of God.  Instead, they say that the LORD has forsaken the land, and that He does not see.  Yet there were those within the city who sigh and groan over all the abominations done in Jerusalem, and by the religious priests in the sanctuary of YHVH.  Upon these mourners the Lord ordered His servants to write a  mark on their foreheads.

It is interesting that in ancient Hebrew the letter ת (tav) was written like a ‘t’.  The ‘mark‘ here in v. 4 is called a tav
(תו).  Brothers and Sisters, the mark of God, which He places on those whom He delivers and passes over from His wrath, is the cross!  It is at the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus/Yeshua that self is slain, and God alone is good and worthy.

The message of the cross is proof that the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek/Gentile:  The Jews do not accept it, and the Gentiles do not respect it. (1Cor 1:18-23)  Jewish people avoid any use of a cross design or symbol (even in arithmetic and at a cross-road intersection!), and Gentiles who know little or nothing of the true meaning of the cross have used it to terrorize Jews and others, and to blaspheme God and Christ.

The truth is that the cross, and its message of Messiah crucified, is, like the gospel, from God.  It is the New Covenant in Jesus which brings it to light.  Besides the ‘mark’ in Ezekiel, the cross appears in other significant places in Israel’s history by God’s plan and wisdom:
–the sprinkled blood on the door posts at the Passover in Egypt
–the formation of the tribes of Israel as they camped and moved on in the desert, with the Tabernacle in their midst at the center
–in the arrangement of the holy furnishings and vessels of the Tabernacle and the Temple, showing the way into God’s presence and glory

The cross is God’s mark upon His people, which represents the spiritual condition of the inner man.  To the carnal and unbelieving it is a mark of shame and dishonor; to the spiritual person in Christ, it is the mark of God’s glory in the person and character and atoning death of His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, and of God’s redeemed people, whose glory is our Head, even Christ Jesus Himself.  The cross is God’s mark to separate the world from His people, and His people from the world. (Gal 6:14), and it is by the shed blood of Yeshua on the cross, which we, as it were, sprinkle (1Pt 1:2) on our hearts and minds, that God will save us from the day of His judgment, which begins – today as in Ezekiel’s day – in the household of God. (1Pt 4:17)

The other night at the Bible study from the epistle to the Galatians, we discussed the matter of circumcision, which was and still is an issue in some groups, as a sign of keeping God’s covenant with Israel and with belonging to His people – even for Gentiles.  Foods also have an importance in similar arguments.  During the same time as our study, but without our knowledge, the helicopter collision occurred in which the 73 persons with names were killed without warning and, as far as we know, without Christ.  The nation mourns; we share in that grief.  God’s kingdom is not about circumcision and food (Heb 13:9), but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Peace is the fruit of righteousness, and especially that righteousness which comes from God.  Joy in the Kingdom of God is a holy joy, not a devilish delight in other people’s calamities or sin, but rather a joy in truth and righteousness and judgment (justice) and goodness.  Despite their significance, our righteousness before God does not depend upon such matters of circumcision and food, or even head coverings, and the Lord does not want contention (discord) and divisions over them, which can only quench and grieve the Holy Spirit.

A true Jew and a true Christian seeks God’s approval.  God approves of us when we believe in and obey His Son, our Lord Jesus.  Jesus acknowledges us as belonging to Him when we do the will of His Father in Heaven.  God is working both within Israel and within the Church to cleanse and to purify His people.  To be a disciple, Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  Both baptism in water and the cross speak the same message:  death to the self-life; alive unto God in the Spirit through faith. 

This way which we travel, and which Israel is being required by her God and Savior to travel, is long and hard and narrow.  It is a well-traveled road, and many more will yet know suffering on it.  Yeshua/Jesus, the King whom Jewish people say they do not want to rule over them, but whom YHVH God intends that they will have, has walked this same way – the way of the cross.  He exposed Himself to the condemnation of man, and became a curse for us under God’s own Law, in order that we could receive God’s approval.  If we follow Jesus and His lead on this path, we will arrive safely home – our conscience cleansed, and with love out of a purified heart perfected.  Despite the sentence of death in ourselves, we go on in victory in Christ because God has forgiven us of our sin and our sins.  Praise the LORD!  Yeshua is no longer on the cross!

The Lord is calling us to intercede in mercy  — as His priests — for the Jewish and Arab peoples to repent and to believe the gospel, for the Kingdom of God is near.  Until they do, there will continue to be much sorrow and mourning.  Until we let God’s spiritual mark distinguish us, then we, too, stand in danger of suffering from God’s righteous judgments upon the world. (1Cor 11:31-32)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  God intends to answer the prayer which the Lord has taught us to pray and which the Holy Spirit quickens as the birth pains increase.

Let’s be encouraged together, as we conclude from the truth of God’s prophetic word:  Rev 21:1-7; 22:1-9

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.

WHAT IS IN A NAME?: “[YESHUA] SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE”

(Updated 18 May 2017)

Ps. 138:1-6     “. . .for You have magnified Your word [saying] above all Your Name” (v. 2)
–recognition of God’s Name brings forth songs of praise (psalms included musical  instrumentation);
–songs of YHVH and of His ways;
–the names of God a progressive revelation of Himself to His people–in fact to the world–finding fulfillment under Heaven and in this present creation in the Name above all names, Yeshua (Jesus), our Savior God;
–names are significant throughout Bible, both prophetically and in reference to character of a person, sometimes becoming forever associated with good or with evil, e.g., Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Samuel, Daniel, Delilah, Jezebel
–in eternity, both the Lord Yeshua/Jesus and we will have new names–an eternal testimony from God our Father of  who and what we are (Rev. 2:17; 3:12; 19:12)
–The YHVH’s  name is praised for His lovingkindness (grace) and truth:  we come to know Him as He has revealed Himself through His names which He has made known to us, e.g., El Shaddai (God Almighty or Nurturer);     God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob; I AM; YEHOVAH; YHVH our Righteousness, our Healer, our Peace; YHVH of Hosts; Wonderful Counselor; Father of Eternity; Immanuel. . .
–We, as the people of the Living God, are called by His Name–that which gives us identity and identifies us with YEHOVAH GOD of Israel and with His Son Yeshua whom He sent.  (Num 6:23-27)
–the LORD tells Israel that He would call His servants by a new name (Is. 65:13-16; Jn 15:14-17; Gal 4:4-7)
–in the N.T. the Holy Spirit says that Yeshua would be called a Nazarene, according to the prophets  (Mt. 2:23)

Is. 11:1       (also read the added segment from Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage about the “shoot”, the netzer)
The netzer is specially chosen from among many offshoots from the roots of the olive tree.  It is by all appearances small and insignificant, yet, in truth, it is the one in which is contained the life and hope of future generations.  Yeshua is God’s Twig; He is the Netzer–the Nazarene.  God in His wisdom chose a small, lowly regarded town called Nazareth (נצרת ) as the place in which His Son would grow up “in order that” Yeshua  should be called “Notzri“.  Not Bethlehem, and so perhaps a Yehudi or Beitlachmi; not Jerusalem, and so Yerushalmi; but Nazareth and Notzri (“my netzer” / “נצר שלי”).

In the eyes of Israel, Jesus is insignificant, of low esteem, not the Hope of Israel in Whom is her life.  He is the Stone which the builders rejected, but whom the Father, the Husbandman and Vinedresser, has made the rock of offense and the head of the corner (cornerstone and foundation stone). (Ps 118:22-23; Is 8:14; 28:16; 1Pet 2:6-8)

God chooses the foolish and the weak things in the eyes of the world to confound the wise (Ps 119:141; 1 Cor. 1:23-31).  YHVH chose Isaac, and his half-brother Ishmael mocked him;  God chose the children of Israel, the fewest in number, because He loves them; God chose David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, but a man after God’s own heart; the LORD chose Jerusalem to be His city, yet it has no natural resources of the great capital cities of the world; Jesus emptied Himself of all glory to become not the rightful King, but rather the servant of servants — meek and lowly in heart.  The meek shall inherit the earth; those who fear God and do righteousness will see His favor.  To the world foolishness and weakness–“friars”; to God wisdom and salvation, life from death.

[Other examples of God’s foolishness being wiser than man’s wisdom are His choices of the Seed of the Woman; Jacob; Bethlehem; Ruth the Moabitess;  Solomon, the son of David and Batsheva; Mary; the Lamb.]

God will fulfill His Word.  In Mt. 2:23 the Word of God says that through the prophets (plural) Yeshua would be called a Nazarene (this is not the same word as nazirite).  Even today in Israel, the Jewish people call Yeshua/Jesus, “Yeshu haNotzri” (Jesus the Nazarene, in a completely derogatory sense), fulfilling the Word of God! (also fulfilling Is 8:20-21, giving deeper meaning to Yeshua telling His city and people that they will not see Him again until they bless Him and His name – Mt 23:37-39)

A few examples from the Scriptures of the use of the Hebrew word netzer and its root derivations are:
Ex. 34:6-7        in connection with the Name of God, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands
Deut. 33:9    Levites (esp. Pinhas) kept covenant with YHVH in preference over his family and kinsmen
Is. 49:6         the preserved of Israel by the Servant of YEHOVAH
Jer. 4:16       the watchers sent by God against Jerusalem and Judah
Ps. 25:10       the paths of YHVH are grace and truth for the keepers of the LORD’s covenant and testimonies
                      Ps. 119:2      blessedness ( inner-man happiness, satisfaction) of those who keep the LORD’s testimonies
                       Ps 119:22    supplicating God to remove reproach and despite on account of keeping His testimonies
                      Prov. 4:23    keeping of one’s heart essential to the issues of life

Yeshua fulfills all these, and we are called to do so as believers in Him; Israel is also called to be notzrim in truth, both morally and spiritually.  Yeshua is YHVH’s Tzemach (Branch; Plant; Sprout – Is 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12).

From the Greek texts, we find the following applications of the Messianic use of the name Notzri/Nazarene:
Lk. 18:37-38     Associated with the Son of David, Messiah
Lk. 24:19          Known by His disciples (on way to Emmaus after resurrection of Yeshua)
Rom. 2:28-3:4   An issue of the heart, both to be a Jew and a Christian (whether Jewish or Gentile by birth)
–seeking God’s approval
–suffering indignity for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ the Nazarene (not merely Jesus of/from Nazareth, though this has its own proper use as well) (Jn 1:45-46; Acts 5:41-42)
Mk. 16:6     The angels refer to Jesus the Nazarene as the One the women are seeking at His tomb
Acts 22:8   Yeshua calls Himself the Nazarene (הנצרי ) after His ascension when He appears to Saul (Paul) and identifies Himself to him.

The apostles and disciples are identified with Jesus as Christians (משיחיים ) or as of the Nazarenes (נצרים).
Acts 11:26        first called Christians (meaning belonging to Messiah/Christ, or followers of Messiah/Christ, whether Gentile of Jewish)
Acts 24:5          scornfully referred to as Nazarenes; Paul takes the opportunity to declare his faith and hope
Acts 26:28        Jewish King Agrippa referred to Paul’s persuasiveness to make him a Christian; Paul had borne testimony to the sufferings of Messiah and of His resurrection
1 Pet. 4:14-16   apostle to Jewish believers refers to suffering as Christians for the Name of Messiah (the Greek word for Christian which Peter used for the Messianic Jews is the same as used for the disciples in Antioch, and by King Agrippa — Christianos)
Acts 6:14           a name of contempt by false witnesses
Acts 3:6; 4:10    healings and miracles done in the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene (Yeshua ha-Mashiach ha-Notzri)
Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34  demons, evil and unclean spirits, knew Yeshua as the Nazarene, the Holy One of God

The devil always desires to make God’s people ashamed or afraid of being known by the names God uses.  Both Jews and Christians have done much which has brought reproach and dishonor to our own people and so to our God and Savior.  Yet if we pay notice only to the ways in which the seed of the serpent has abused the Name of YHVH or of His Anointed One, then we will not hear the voice of our Shepherd, whose Name is honorable to God, and He has placed His Name upon us.

Just as Jews in the diaspora often times want(ed) to dissociate themselves from their God-given identity (also oft used in derision), so many Christians do the same–some due to rebellious unbelief or to a bitter root, others due to a sense of shame or of guilt, still others from fear of ridicule or of disapproval.  Nonetheless, even as the name of Israel and of Jews remain to this day, so too has YHVH preserved the name (Hebraically- and English-wise today) of Notzri/Christian.  If we look to Yeshua/Jesus and suffer with Him for His Name’s sake, then we will be glorified together with Him.  The cross of our Lord does not permit us to find our comfort by seeking to save our own lives and names (reputations), but rather by losing our life for Yeshua’s  sake. (Heb 13:13-15)  Then His promise is that we will indeed find life.  We are hidden with Messiah in God.

As we see through faith God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals and enlightens through the Scriptures, then the sayings ( (אמרים of God–not His words (דברים) only, but what He is saying with His words — are magnified, enlarged, are seen more fully and clearly:  great is the glory of YHVH, our pride of self is exposed and abased — grace and truth come through Jesus Christ the Nazarene.  We have no boast but in the cross of our Lord.

Through believing on the Name of the Son of God, the Spirit of God opens up the whole of Scripture to lead us and confront us with liberating and sanctifying truth and love, as He magnifies all that comes forth from the mouth of God and fulfills in us and through us all that His Name means.  Do you know this in your own life, and do we know this together as a congregation gathered together in His Name?

I am a Jew who believes in Jesus.  After that, you can call me what you want.  To the Synagogue I am saying that I am still a Jew, even though I believe in Jesus.  To the Church I am saying that I am still a Jew, even though I believe in Jesus.  Being  a Messianic Jew, a Christian, or a traitor does not alter that declaration of identity.  The main thing is that I belong to and follow Jesus/Yeshua — both Lord and Messiah/Christ.

To whomever has an ear to hear, let him/her hear what the Spirit is saying.  God is faithful to His own Name (He is not unknown or anonymous, and it is our duty and our privilege to make known and honorable His Name–especially here in Israel where they have forgotten it or show their broken relationship with Him through much vain superstitions), and to the name He has sovereignly chosen to bestow upon His beloved Son – hated without cause — who died upon the cross for our sins (John 19:19):

                         Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews                   ישוע הנצרי המלך היהודים

 Netzer – נצר

(from Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage; pages 82-88; written by Nogah Hareuveni)

“Frequently the olive tree is surrounded by offshoots, the strongest of which are kept by the farmer for transplanting.  In this context it is easy to understand the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘And a shoot (hoter) shall grow out of the trunk of Jesse, and a twig (netzer) shall sprout from his roots.’  (Is. 11:1)

The offshoots that surround an olive tree grow both from the roots and the trunk of the tree.  When a trunk offshoot grows into a sturdy “branch”, it is sometimes cut out from the trunk, together with a thick knob at its head–the hoter, or shepherd’s staff.  It serves the shepherd both as a weapon and as a tool for directing the flock.

Unlike the hoter,  worked from the offshoot that grows from the trunk of the olive tree, the netzer is an offshoot that grows from the roots of the tree.  The olive grower destroys most of these offshoots, leaving only one or two of the sturdiest to develop into new saplings for transplant.  This is the guarded offshoot [the word netzer being derived from the Hebrew word natzor, to guard], selected from among all the others to propagate the new generation of olive trees. . . .

These characteristics of the olive offshoots help explain the words of Isaiah (in 11:1) which describe the Messiah, a descendant of David, son of Jesse, who will be a leader of his flock (represented by the hoter, the shepherd’s staff with which he leads his flock) and who will grow as the guarded sapling (the netzer) from the roots of the stock of Jesse.  Though that ancient stock was chopped down during the destruction of the Temple, the roots did not lose their ability to put forth the new growth of a fruitful tree. . . .  After being planted, the olive tree offshoot grows into an olive tree of great age. . . .

Moreover, the olive offshoot can survive for days after being severed from the parent tree, even without soil or water.”

“. . .מסביב לגזע הזית גרופיות-גרופיות, אשר החזקות בהן תישמרנה בידי האיכר כ”נצרים” לנטיעת עצים חדשים

 בקשר זה אפשר להבין את דברי הנביא:  “ויצא חוטר מגזע ישי ונצר משורשיו יפרה” (ישעיה י”א: א’).  הגרפיות, אשר מסביב לעץ זית, יוצאות בחלקן מן הגזע ואחרות עולות מן השורשים.  כאשר גדלה ומתעבה גרופית שצמיחתה מן הגזע, יש המנתקים אותה ממנו, עם האזור המעובה אשר במקום הניתוק.  לאחר מכן מחליקים אותה ומעבדים אותה למקל, אשר בראשו גולה, או “חוטרת”.  זהו מקל הרועים – החוטר – המשמש את הרועה ככלי נשק וגם ההנחיית העדר. . . .

 שלא כמו החוטר, המעובד מגרופית הגדלה מן הגזע, מתפתח הנצר מגרופית העולה מן השורשים.  הכורמים נוהגים להשמיד את מרבית הגרופיות הללו, ולהשאיר רק אחד או אחדות מהן ברצותם לטפח שתילים חדשים.  אלו הם הנצרים:  הגרופיות אשר נצרו אותן מבין כל אלה שהושמדו, כדי להעמיד מהן דור חדש של עצי זית. . . .

 בתכונות אלו של גרפיות הזית מוסברים יפה דברי ישעיה על המלך לעתיד-לבוא מבני בניו של דוד בן-ישי, שיהיו בו תכונות של מנהיג (המסומלות בחוטר, הוא מכשיר הנחיית העדר שבידי הרועה), ואשר יצמח כנצר

משורשי גזע-ישי, הוא הגזע העתיק שנכרת עם החורבן, אך שורשיו לא איבדו את חיוניותם להצמיח מחדש אילן פורה (“יפרה“). . .לאחר נטיעתה גרופית של זית, היא מצמיחה עץ רב-שנים.  יתר על כן:  גרופית הזית עשוייה לשמור על חיוניותה גם ימים רבים לאחר תלישתה מאילן האם – וזאת גם אם לא תינטע באדמה ואף לא תקבל אספקת מים . . . .”    (שיח ועץ במורשת ישראל, כתב: נגה בראובני, עמ’ 88-82)

BETROTHED TO YESHUA – 2 Mar 1991

2Cor 11:2   Engaged to the Lord
2Pt 1:4       Promises of God to escape worldly corruption and to partake of divine nature
Gen 24:50-58   Rebecca’s betrothal (engagement) to Isaac

When any person – whether Jew or Gentile – is born-again through repentance and faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he enters into a new, covenantal relationship with God as Father, who gives him/her the Holy Spirit, and the believer knows that he is joined to the Lord.

God gives us His great and precious promises not only to realize them in the world to come, but also to affect our lives here today:  that we would set them before us and allow the living hope of them to work in us to transform and cleanse our souls and our lives.  These promises are not for any particular individual alone, but rather to all members of the Church, the Body of Christ.

One of these wonderful promises God gives to those in Messiah is to become His Bride!  We become engaged to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, when we believe on Him as Savior and Lord.  This is a profound mystery:  the union of Messiah and the Church (all Christians collectively), of which Adam and Eve – the first man and wife (woman) – are a type.

I am convinced that one reason in God’s wisdom for leaving us in this world after we have believed the gospel and been saved is in order that our love for our Man, the Lord Jesus, becomes ‘hot’, so that on the wedding day we are truly prepared to be His holy bride and wife.  The Holy Spirit works in our lives that we would love Him whole-heartedly – He who is love and who is perfect.

Let’s consider briefly some pre-marital counseling.  (This same counsel will help also in our present relationships of husband and wife.):

As I already said, the Holy Spirit works with us so that we will be a suitable helpmate for our husband-to-be, the King, the Lord Jesus; in other words, He teaches us to be a good wife and worthy Queen!  Before our conversion, we did not appreciate nor love Jesus – nor, for that matter, God and His people.  Even afterwards, we may think and say and do things which indicate still a lack of proper honor or love towards Him.  But the Spirit works to increase our knowledge of Him so that we will be willing – no, yearning – to be with Him!  We must, therefore. . .

spend time together with Him who would be our husband during the period of engagement.
   –by reading the Scriptures, which all speak of Him and of His Kingdom, and by meditating on His word
   –through prayer, being in communion (fellowship) and communication with God for the glory of His Son Jesus
   —fellowship with others who know Him and love Him – with other family members and friends – this Man who takes common sinners and brings us into His royal house (Ps 45)

growing in personal knowledge of one another’s character traitsWe learn more of what God is like as we walk with Jesus, and we learn more about ourselves.  We learn what He likes and what He does not.  By taking hold of this great promise, we allow ourselves to become more and more the ‘woman’ He wants – even though He took us ‘as we were’.  The Man and His woman identify more with one another and become more compatible.  He has eyes for you only, and His bride has eyes and heart only for Him.

–the third aspect is that we recognize that there are mutual responsibilities in becoming the wife of the King of Glory.  He is the Head of the house, yet He gives us to manage many of His affairs – in accord with His will and pleasure (Pr 31).  He has so loved us and gives us so much about which to feel good and secure that we want to do only what pleases Him and what becomes Him (is worthy of Him).  It is in Him, my Husband, that I find my true and whole identity:  my whole self (1Cor 11:3).

God has created male and female together in His image and after His likeness, and it is in the marriage relationship – of the woman being [re]-joined to the man – that we become one flesh, and, in Christ, one spirit also.

When we agree to receive Christ as He is presented in the gospel, there are three results from these three aspects (spending time together; personal knowledge of one another; mutual responsibilities) of building and developing our personal relationship in preparation for a happy and enduring marriage:

  1. We must send away all other lovers who have any claims on us.  Our husband will have no other competitors or partners.  He is jealous for His holy name and for His bride.  The names of the “baalim” must be taken out of Israel’s mouth and then YHVH marries her (Hos 2:16-20 Eng; 18-22Heb).

Some will love father or mother or sons or daughters more than they will love their spouse; some love their work or their       ministry more than they love their spouse; some love their books or their sport or their food and drink more; some love themselves more than they love their spouse.  Yeshua loves His bride as He loves Himself.

The Holy Spirit works to bring us to where the first and great commandment will be true in us:  to love the Lord our God with  all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – and to where our heart’s desire is that our Lord, our Husband, should come for us quickly.

2.  We must like His law as well as His love.  Messiah will not be Husband where He will not also be Master or Lord.  We are to be as daughters of Sarah and know our husband as having authority over us in the Lord.  He (Jesus) is the perfect one, and as we give Him His place to rule over us, then our desire grows for Him, even as YHVH God spoke to Eve concerning her relationship with her    husband Adam.

3.  We must take our Christ/our husband for better and for worse – with His cross      and with His crown to suffer for Him as well as to reign with Him – to identify with Him in His shame as well as in His glory.

To summarize:  there are three aspects to building a marital relationship:
1.  shared time together
2.  personal knowledge of one another’s character traits
3.  mutual responsibilities.

From these will be three results to assure a good marriage and household peace:

      1.  We will allow no one and no thing to interfere with or separate us from or trouble us in our love and faithfulness towards our  spouse;
2.  We will accept his authority as well as His love;
3.  We accept and stand with him in good times and in bad, in prosperity and in hardship.

What response do we find in our own souls towards Messiah Yeshua when we hear of Him from God’s servants?  Is it ‘hot’ enough that we will do whatever He asks or requires of us?  Would we rather die for Him than live without Him?  Are we exhorting and encouraging one another in His claims upon us and and upon our lives?  Are we telling others of the glad tidings – of our Savior and Beloved Jesus who desires us with His whole heart?!

What is your reply to the telling of God’s Word concerning Christ by Hi servants to the question put to Rebecca, when she was asked concerning taking Isaac for a husband?:

Will you go with this man?” (Gen 24:58)

Blessed is the soul who believes the promise of God to take Messiah’s hand in marriage! (Ps 33:12):
   “Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance!”