Sunday, November 16, 2014

Returning to our National Consciousness

As we approach Yom Kippur, our thoughts are directed toward the biblical and traditional meaning of this day.  There is no lack of material on the subject, articulated from the perspective of teachers in the Hebrew roots movements, from the Jewish Sages and many others.  At this time, however, the essence of this day may be taking on an additional significance, as during the next twelve months three blood moons are supposed to be seen and all of them on YHVH’s Feast days.

Probable scriptural interpretations, along with current world conditions are such that, tribulation like the world has never seen could be just around the corner.  Yet in spite of these, there is another aspect to this looming scenario, one which we should not ignore.  Thus the words of Jeremiah 30:7 could become most relevant for this season: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.”  Yes, trouble could be in the offing, but the latter part of our verse is loaded with great meaning: “He [Jacob] shall be saved out of it.” Does this mean that a rapture will take place and Jacob will be caught up into the air and disappear?  Or is the prophet pointing to something even more significant?  Let us go back and read the introduction to this chapter: “’For behold, the days are coming,' says YHVH, 'that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,' says YHVH; 'And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it’” (Jeremiah 30:3 emphasis added).   For those who choose not to accept the biblical division within the House of Jacob this prophecy may seem “generic,” as the prophet’s declaration are viewed as if already fulfilled when the Jews returned to the land after the Babylonian exile, or upon the return of the Jews to the land of Israel in modern times.  Many view the House of Jacob as being the Jewish nation only, with many still residing in the nations. 

However, the return of the Jews to the land, and the future return of many more of them, is only a partial fulfillment of this prophecy.  It does, however, indicate the fulfillment of the gathering of the first stick/nation of Ezekiel 37:16. Yet Judah’s return does not fulfill the prophetic destiny of the stick/nation of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim (v.16).

YHVH pledged to bring back Israel (both houses) to the land that He promised and gave to the forefathers.  The land at this point in time is far from being occupied and settled in all its entirety by the whole house of Israel. If we check the relevant scriptures, the land promised is from the River Euphrates to the border of Egypt (see Genesis 15:8; Deuteronomy 1:7).  Then “all the land of the Hittites” is also part of the promise, a land which is in present day Turkey (ref. Joshua 1:4).  Another point to note about the timing of the return to what rightfully belongs to YHVH’s people, is the sequence of what takes place in the 49th Shmittah and 50th Jubilee year. 

In all Shmittah years debts are forgiven, but in the 49th year, at Yom Kippur a “great shofar” is blown, consecrating and heralding the coming of the Jubilee year when the inheritance is to be reclaimed and all debts are forgiven.  If we are in the year of Sh’mittah, then we should be preparing to receive all that YHVH provides at such a time; that is the double portion of supply.  The parable of the Ten Virgins makes for a good illustration of this point (ref. Matthew 25:1-12), keeping in mind the following verse: "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).  Since no one knows for sure whether any of the calendars that we use today are accurate, we have to be on ‘our spiritual toes.’

Back to Jacob’s salvation from the great tribulation. In bringing Judah back to the land, YHVH has made them a nation and a mighty horse in battle (ref. Zechariah 10: 3-4).  Their return is a sign that He is going to save the house of Joseph (ref. Zechariah 10: 6), and that He will whistle for them and gather them (ref. Zechariah 10:8). The question is, gather into what?  Are they all to be gathered into Judah’s nation at that point?  Or are they to first discover their own prophetic destiny as the second stick/nation of the House of Joseph/Ephraim?

The house of Israel/Ephraim has lost its national identity as Elohim’s people and as a nation which is distinct from Judah.  Hosea, who was a prophet to Israel/Ephraim, declared that Ephraim/Israel would be “swallowed up”:  “Israel is swallowed up; now they are among the Gentiles like a vessel in which is no pleasure” (Hosea 8:8).  We, like our brothers the Jews in the course of their history, must return to the Zionistic ideal of national identity.   YHVH was faithful to gather Judah and restore them to the land.  How much more so will He do for the “nation/stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions”? (Ezekiel 37:16).  Remember He takes no pleasure in us in the lands that will come under judgment for having swallowed us up (and for their many iniquities): “Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey” (Jeremiah 30:16).

“Vindicate us, YHVH our Elohim according to Your righteousness; and let not the nations rejoice [gloat] over us.  Let them not say in their hearts, ‘Ah, so we would have it!’ Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up’” (Psalm 35:24-25). 

“’Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,' says YHVH, 'nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid.  For I am with you,' says YHVH, 'to save you’” (Jeremiah 30:10-11).  

During Yom Kippur may the Holy One of Israel establish you/us in your/our true national identity, and prepare our hearts for the day of our return to our forefathers’ inheritance. This is what the Jubilee is all about and we should have a passion for it, even as great as for the return of our Messiah Son of David: “They/we shall serve YHVH their/our Elohim, and David their/our king, whom I will raise up for them/us” (Jeremiah 30:9). 

Please read Jeremiah 30 during Yom Kippur, as you also go through the traditional reading of the book of Jonah (who, like some of us, tried to escape his prophetic destiny…).

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