Friday, June 3, 2016

Covenant of Peace

In last week’s article we examined the importance of Pesach.  As of this writing, we are now ten days before Shavuot, which was the time when the disciples gathered together with Yeshua on the Mount of Olives.  The question that still raged through the minds of the Messiah’s followers was about “the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel” (see Acts 1:6; also A Shavuot Story).  The disciples all knew that the true Messiah came to restore the lost tribes of Israel and bring the house of Judah back together again with the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 36 and 37).  As for us, I think we have all worn out the texts surrounding Ezekiel 37, but here again is a quote from the last 3 verses of that chapter:   "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary (Mikdash) in their midst forevermore.  My tabernacle (Mishkan) also shall be with them; indeed I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.  The nations also will know that I, YHVH, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary (Mikdash) is in their midst forevermore" (Ezekiel 37:26-28 emphasis added).  
This splendid promise of an everlasting covenant of peace, between YHVH and His people, was fulfilled two thousand years ago when Messiah Yeshua gave His life on that execution stake:  “For it pleased the Father that in Him (Yeshua) all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.  And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:19-22 emphasis added).  This covenant of peace was made with Israel at Pesach (Passover), which made way for the Spirit of YHVH to indwell the heart of the redeemed, especially those who were once called “not my people” (Hosea 1:9).  

As mentioned in last week’s letter, the blood flowing down the body of Yeshua, as he hung dying on the execution stake, cleansed and purged the defiled life of Adam, which the Father placed in the flesh of His Son.  Elohim carried out the death sentence against Adam through the death of Yeshua.   Even though all men died when Yeshua died, the Father purchased all of humanity in order to take out His treasured firstborn nation Israel (see parable of the hidden treasure or pearl).  If we do not grasp the significance of what YHVH did at Pesach, Shavuot will be just a meaningless celebration.  The waving of the first harvested barley sheaves, the “beginning of the Omer” (re’sheet) as epitomized by Yeshua during the Pesach season, was for our acceptance. This was followed by Shavuot, which is the Feast of Firstfruit (see Leviticus 23:27) and epitomized by the firstfruit of those that have been raised from the dead.  “But Elohim, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua”  (Ephesians 2:4-6). If then you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of Elohim” (Colossians 3:1).   If we have died together in Messiah, raised together in Messiah, made alive together in Messiah and now sit together in Messiah, how is it that we cannot get along together here on earth (“shevet achim”) when we claim to be in Messiah and have His Spirit in us?  

Shavuot, therefore, is the fulfilment of what was prophesied in Ezekiel 37, namely that His Sanctuary would be in them/us (~k'AtB. yviD"q.mi-ta,),  in this way becoming a Mishkan of His presence - a nation in the wilderness of the nations, a colony of heaven, so that the nations will know that YHVH has sanctified Israel in their sight.  Israel is called and chosen to be a corporate expression of His will and purpose for all humanity.  It is not only a mixture of people groups claiming to be Israel, but a “royal priesthood”, a Mishkan, a Mik’dash of His presence, “presenting (their) bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim, which is their reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). 

Addressing the tribes of Israel James (Yaacov) writes: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).  All living things that were given to Adam to rule over are still travailing under the curse, waiting for the firstfruit sons in Messiah Yeshua to be revealed in order to redeem the rest of creation.  Shavuot is the beginning of this revelation.