Friday, May 22, 2020

Through the Strainer 2

Four times today the Spirit brought to our attention the calling that is upon the remnant, redeemed in this generation of the seed of the forefathers.  This calling takes us back to the womb of Rebekah, when YHVH chose Jacob to be His nation/goy, eventually to become a kingdom of priests unto Himself.  Yeshua gave up His life so that we could ‘return to the womb’ of our foremothers.  These mothers gave birth in pain, none more so than Rachel, who died in the process.  She, above all the other mothers, was left weeping for her children as YHVH had hidden them from her, at least until He inaugurated the New Covenant through the blood of Yeshua.

In Zechariah chapter 10, we get a glimpse into the restoration of both Judah and Joseph/Ephraim.  The house of Judah’s return to nationhood came in 1948 when ‘she’ was “born in a day”, through a vote in the United Nations.  At the same time, another phenomenon began taking place in the valley of dry bones; the house of Joseph started to feel the breath of YAH coming into them and the sound of rattling and babbling resonated in many Christian denominations. 
Thus, Ezekiel chapter 37 began to throb in the hearts of many who were believing that Yeshua/Jesus, was the Messiah of Israel, who came as a kinsman redeemer to bring Jacob back to the Father.  The breath of Yah brought new life into their Abrahamic bone marrow, being awakened to their identity as the second stick/nation of Joseph/Ephraim.  But as time moved on and the call to holiness through obedience fell on deaf ears, many just chose to continue to walk in the pleasures and riches of this world.  Unfortunately, along with that, the vision of being the second nation/stick started declining; complacency and acquiescing to the spiritual, or non-spiritual, life among the nations set in.  Because the imminent return to the land is not a viable option at present, Ephraim’s reconstitution of his nationhood and zeal for Zion gave way to re-evaluating the possibilities of returning to the Promised Land, accompanied by a sense of weariness and hopelessness.

Even more tragic, if this kind of apathy continues, the children who are born into ‘Hebrew roots’ families will not know that they too have a very important role to play in their generation of Israel’s progeny. In addition, the wide-spread spiritualization of the seed of Jacob has taken hold even in Israelite families.  The parents are playing right into the hands of those who are advocating replacement theology.  This state of affairs, or the possibility of such demise, if contrasted with the lofty calling of a “segula” nation, which is supposed to function as the firstborn royal priesthood makes for a very dire conclusion. It makes for an affront to the faithfulness of the covenant keeping Elohim of our natural forefathers and mothers, especially in this very day in which we are living, as rapid changes are being introduced into this world. Therefore watch and pray, stay alert to the enemy’s subtle tactics to draw us away from the vision that is set before us. Yeshua’s work is to reconstitute our former foreign/gentile identity, back into our national identity as a royal priesthood and holy nation - “Israel” - through the indwelling kingdom by His Spirit.    

Friday, May 15, 2020

Through the Strainer (1)

Why does YHVH state very clearly that the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel belongs to Him?  He declares and claims over and over that they are His people. As a matter of fact, they are defined as His inheritance: “For YHVH's portion is His people; Jacob is the place/allotment of His inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:9).  ).  No less than 17 times in the book of Exodus does YHVH claim these Hebrew people for Himself.  In the rest of the Tenach “My people Israel” is mentioned over 30 times.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.  What then shall we say to these things? If Elohim is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:29-31). It is no small matter in YHVH’s eyes for us to be cognizant that we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.   “I say then, has Elohim cast away His people? Certainly not…  Elohim has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:1-2 emphases added).   
One might ask then, ‘so what about the ten tribes of Israel whom He called “not MY PEOPLE”? (ref. Hosea 1:9).  On top of that, YHVH also declared that He was “not their Elohim” and that He would scatter them, like seed, among ALL the Nations/Goyim. According to His Word, they were destined to become estranged from their ancestry and foreigners to their heritage, yet at the same time He makes reference to “the day of Jezreel” – Yah’s sowing (Hos. 1:11).

YHVH continues to watch over the seed He has sown, and has this to say about it: “For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground (Amos 9:9 emphasis added).  Before the farmer scatters or sows seed in his field, he examines the grain by sifting it, making sure that there are no seeds of different species among the specific type that he intends to sow.  Likewise, YHVH says very clearly: “You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed” (Leviticus 19:19), and He of course does not violate His own law.  Yeshua left us with a parable that explains the enemy’s on-going attempts to disrupt YHVH’s eternal order: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way” (Matthew 13:24-25).  YHVH has chosen Jacob as His very peculiar seed/life that would bear His name and bring glory to Him by predestinating this progeny to be “conform to the image of His Son”.  This is why in the final restoration the proclamation will resound throughout the entire creation: “Great is the day of Jezreel”!! 

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' there it shall be said to them, 'You are sons of the living Elohim.'  Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel (Hosea 1:10 - 2:1 emphasis).
 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my Elohim!'" (Hosea 2:23).

"I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; They shall live, together with their children, and they shall return (Zechariah 10:9 emphases added). 

Let me make a “what if” statement.  YHVH’s Word promises Abraham and Sarah multitudes of natural seed-decedents, like the dust of the earth, stars of heaven and sand of the sea” (Genesis 13:16; 22:17). He said that He would sow this covenanted seed into all the goyim/nations/ethnos/ gentiles, and that they would be so numerous that they would make up the majority of the population in some of the lands of their scatterings (ref. Genesis 48:19).

What if” in order for the rest of humanity and for creation itself to recognize YHVH’s faithfulness to His Word, He will have to harvest the very seed that He planted?  Could it be that the ones responding to the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom in the field of this world, are of the seed that YHVH sowed?  Perhaps a non-Jewish person, who has been ‘harvested’, should be told that he or she are a testimony, or an ensign, of Elohim’s faithfulness to those whom He foreknew.  He called this seed “Israel” and He is therefore compelled to harvest “Israel”.  Yeshua taught His disciples that people are known “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), through their natural and spiritual characteristics. Obviously a specific seed will bear the fruit that is identical to the species sown, and in this case IT IS the seed that came from the loins of Abraham and the womb of Sarah.  (ref. Romans 9:6-9).

A very common obstacle in the restoration of the identity of the natural seed of Abraham, is naming Abraham and the other forefathers “Jewish”.  I’m not saying that the Jews are not of the seed of those fathers. It’s just that Abram was from the linage of Shem and Ever, where the name Hebrew actually comes from (ref. Genesis 14:13), while in Hebrew “Jew” is “Yehudi”, meaning “Judean”, and began to be in common use during the Babylonian exile of the tribe of Judah in 556 BCE.  Joseph, for example, was recognized as a Hebrew slave in Egypt (ref. Geneses 39:14), and later when his family joined him they too were called Hebrews by their task masters.  But, it is noteworthy and worthwhile to be aware of what YHVH called them: “And YHVH said, ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows’” (Exodus 3:7 emphasis added).

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Through the Strainer

Lately I have been talking to a friend and fellow Israelite about the dispensational doctrine which, according to what I had heard in the past, typically sections biblical history into periods of ‘divine’ ages (while including, of course, the so-called rapture of the ‘church’ before the great tribulation). Other than these points, I didn’t know much more about this doctrine and its views of Scripture at large.  Probing a little deeper, and reading on “dispensationalism” and its definition, I found that its main tenant is a literal approach to Scripture.  Here is a quote: “Dispensationalism has two primary distinctives: 1) a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Bible prophecy, and 2) a view of the uniqueness of Israel as separate from the Church in God’s program.  Classical dispensationalism identifies seven dispensations in God’s plan for humanity”.

The separation mentioned above puzzled me.  If in accordance with this view, Biblical prophecy is treated literally, like Jeremiah 31:31: "Behold, the days are coming, says YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” – how can there be a disconnection or variance regarding what is actually being said?   The new covenant spoken of by the prophet and its literal inauguration, took place when Israel’s Redeemer, the Messiah of Israel, came to establish and confirm it by shedding His blood (see Hebrews 9).  The Father then raised Yeshua back into His glory, in order that He could restore the house of Jacob and set up the everlasting kingdom (ref. Luke 1: 31-33).   The uniting of the two houses of Israel (ref. Isaiah 8:14) is at the very heart of the new covenant.  Is this not “the hope of Israel” that the apostle spoke about in Acts 28:20?

The dispensationalists, it seems, are of the opinion that the words of the prophets of old regarding the Messiah’s coming, His suffering, death and the shedding of His blood in order to establish the new covenant (see 1 Cor. 11:25), are quite literal. Therefore, how can there be a “separation” placed between the recipients of the message, when the Messiah of Israel had an actual down to earth, physical, coming to and for a real physical people who are the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”?  In Yeshua’s own words: "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24).  One has to conclude that Jeremiah 31:31’s new covenant pertains specifically and literally to the houses of Jacob/Israel.  "My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6, see also Ezekiel 34). There has to be a consistency and a literal connectedness between the Tanach and the books of the Brit Chadasha, otherwise YHVH’s Word (Yeshua) is not “the same yesterday, today and forever” (ref. Hebrews 13:8).  Are His people ‘of the Tanach’ no longer the same as those ‘of the New Covenant’?

Yeshua pointed out that the problem was not with the lost sheep, but with the shepherds who have been leading them astray.  He also made it very clear as to Who He was, and as to why He came: "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have [Israel/Ephraim] which are not of this fold [Judah]; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).  These statements echo very clearly Ezekiel 34 and 37.

When the time came for the message of this new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah to go out from Jerusalem into the nations, Yeshua commanded His called-out ones to "…go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matthew 10:6-7).  The apostles knew exactly what message to bring to the nations, and whom they were anointed to call out of darkness into His (Yeshua’s) marvelous light.  It is no wonder, therefore, that the gospel which they taught was from the Torah of Moses and the Prophets (Acts 28:23).  

According to YHVH’s point of view, His two flocks were in desperate need of a Savior, especially from the Lion (world’s religious system epitomized by Babylon), the Bear (prowess of man, symbolized by the Median and Persian powerful armies), and the Leopard (embodied by the Greek-Hellenistic philosophies and mindset).

Israel and Judah were both steeped in idolatry and adultery, all the while Israel/Ephraim wandered among the nations where they became, literally, one with the heathens.   So much so, that they completely lost their identity as YHVH’s fold. They truly fit the lost sheep stereotype.  But through their shame, disgrace and dishonor YHVH was going to reveal His grace and honor, by keeping His covenants and promises. Ezekiel 34 culminates with the Shepherd of Israel’s summation:   "I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, YHVH their Elohim, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,’ says Adonai Elohim.  You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your Elohim,’ says Adonai Elohim” (Ezekiel 34:30-31). YHVH is looking at these sheep as those who are of the natural seed of the forefathers.  As we know from the prophet Hosea, He called the house of Israel/Ephraim “Not my People”. But while mixed in the nations, they became speckled sheep so that, like Jacob’s spotted sheep, they could be separated out by Him when the time comes.  (to be continued)