Friday, March 26, 2021

Identity Revealed at Pesach


We often tend to see our redemption at Pesach, when we were set free from the slavery to sin and death, on an individual basis.  But is that what YHVH meant when He said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him… let MY people go”?  Obviously YHVH did not only have in mind random individuals, but an entire nation of His called out and chosen sons of Jacob.  YHVH was specifically setting this seed of Abraham on a historic journey into a future that will glorify Him, to the point that not only Israel will know that He is Elohim, but all the nations of this world. 

Thus, one of the most important aspects of the feast of Pesach is “identity”. Prior to that ‘first Pesach’ Elohim revealed Himself as “YHVH Elohim”, and then Israel was revealed as “His people”.  It was also the time when YHVH first introduced Himself to the enslaved nation:  “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am YHVH; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments’” (Exodus 6:7).  This message that Elohim sent via Moses, was entirely foreign to those Hebrew slaves and idol worshipers (ref. Joshua 24:14; Ezeliel 20:8).  Pharaoh was not the only one who could not relate to the name “YHVH”, this blindness was also true of “My People”.  Hence without this season being marked by the restoration and re-identification of “His people”, now as it was also then, there is no true witness of Him being the great “I Am” of Israel.  

In Ezekiel 37 the whole house of Israel is pictured in a condition not unlike the slavery of their ancestors in Egypt.   The lifeless bones which the prophet was shown needed Divine intervention, and so it came, via the “four winds”. “Thus says Adoni YHVH: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live’” (Ezekiel 37:9: Mark 13:27).   In this vision the whole house of Israel is seen crying out, regarding their hopeless and helpless condition: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (ver. 11).  Another description of “My people” is found in Ezekiel 34. This time as His sheep - sick, diseased, broken, bound, and lost (especially to their identity), as the false shepherds and leaders have dominated and forced them into submission (see verse 4). 

Fast forward to today, the majority of Israelites are still in the above-described conditions, but unlike their predecessors in Egypt, who at least “sighed because of the bondage” (Exodus 2:23), most of our contemporaries are unaware of their predicament.  Yet the promise still stands; “Adoni YHVH [says]: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your grave … Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves’” (Ezekiel 37: 12-13). One more difference which characterizes our times is that, a remnant has been brought up out of those graves. When and how did that occur?  Paul points to the glorious day when the Heavenly Father raised the Redeemer Shepherd of Israel from His grave.  Since we were united to Him on the execution stake, having died (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and buried with Him, we also “… were raised with Him through faith in the working of Elohim, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). This resurrection out of the grave is a testimony of the above-cited Ezekiel verses and is, at the same time, also what restored our identity as “His people Israel”. What’s more, being raised with Messiah we were granted eternal life (see Romans 6:23)! 

Echoing Isaiah’s prophecy of a covenant with Israel’s redeemed (59:20-21), Ezekiel prophesies: “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, YHVH, have spoken it and performed it,’ says YHVH” (Ezekiel 37:14). Once the “Spirit/breath” of life revives the body/nation amazing things start happening - we not only live, but we also stand upon our feet as an “exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). 

Therefore, not unlike the identity of our ancestors of old, our identity and the identity of our Elohim are intricately woven together throughout the tapestry of history, commemorated especially at Pesach time.  So as we celebrate this year’s Seder, and hear those famous words “let My people go”, let us hold on to the vision that is cast before us, as we walk into the future following our Redeemer King.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Yeshua’s Testimony


In Revelation 19:10 John the apostle is told the following words, uttered by an “undefined” entity: “I am your fellow bond servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Yeshua. Worship Elohim! For the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy”.  One of first statements in this book of end-time revelation is: “the Word of Elohim and the testimony of Yeshua” (1:2).  If there is one thing that sparks the anger of the dragon, it is those “who hold to this testimony of Yeshua” (ref. 12:17). But what constitutes this “testimony of Yeshua”?  

No doubt a book could be written about this, if it has not already been written.  Yes, Yeshua is the “Spirit/Word of Elohim”, and thus all prophecies through Moses and all the prophets of old, was given to them by the One who is “the Spirit of prophecy”.  Shortly before His crucifixion Yeshua disclosed to His disciples what was about to take place, saying:  “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you”““However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13, 7). What were those “things to come”? What did Yeshua mean by that? Was He referring to what has been spoken by the prophets of old, prophecies that were yet to be fulfilled? 

The necessity for the fulfilment of these words is the reason why Yeshua is still seated in Heavenly places, and will only return when He has accomplished the will of His Father by revealing Himself in the fulfillment of all those prophecies (see Acts 3: 19-21).  “Then I said, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O Elohim” (Hebrews 10:7; Psalm 40:7).

One major aspect of the Father’s will, for sending His Son Yeshua, was the redemption and restoration of the Kingdom to Israel and in order for Yeshua to ultimately sit on the throne of David (ref. Luke 1: 32-33).  By saying, “I only came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Mathew 15:24), Yeshua was underscoring His coming to the family of Jacob as a kinsman redeemer. The Hebrew meaning of “redeemer” – go’el - always implies a family relative.  Thus, if we acknowledge that Yeshua is our redeemer, we would have to accept the truth that we are and always have been of the same family.   

Yeshua, being “the Spirit of prophecy” cannot deny Himself. Therefore every word, whether in covenants, promises or prophecies when coming to pass, is the reality of His testimony.   This is what those bond servants of YHVH, whose presence was implied in the above-cited Revelation 19:10, were clinging to, as they, especially John, saw the future fulfilment and recorded it in the final manuscript of “Revelation”.

 “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion an everlasting joy shall be upon their heads…” (Isaiah 51:11). 

Sometime after Yeshua’s resurrection, in one of His appearances before the disciples, He told them: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me’” (Luke 24:44).  If this is true about His death, burial and resurrection how much more so the rest of all that has been written in the “Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me”!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Israel's Rise - Babylon's Demise


In order for YHVH to reveal Himself to humanity/the nations, He must of necessity be faithful to His covenants and promises to Israel and Judah. He states over and over in Scripture that, He is the Elohim of the forefathers whose progeny makes up the nation of Israel in its entirety.  Thus, the restoration and re-union of the two houses of Israel, in the last days, as we have noted in last week’s article “A Debt Repaid”, is one of Yah’s final acts in the great drama of His grand finale. This scene must be acted out before Yeshua’s return to rule and reign over the House of Jacob (see Luke 1:32-33; Acts 3:19-21).

The amazing connection of Israel’s restoration to the end time fall of the “daughter of Babylon” and her world dominion, as seen in Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51 (and Revelation 18), will be the last phase of the restoration of the Divine order in the family of Noah.  Ham and Japheth must come to live and serve in the tent of YHVH’s firstborn Shem (ref. Genesis 9: 26-27), who (when alive) was the “Melchizedec” in Noah’s family, having had a two-fold duty in his service to YHVH.   As we know, Yah’s kingdom order was challenged in the third generation by a Hamite, Nimrod, who set up another kingdom in Babel in the land of Shinar (ref. Genesis 10:9-10).  Thus, began the conflict between the two kingdoms up to this very generation.  A single ruler remained in position until YHVH expanded the “Melchizedec” rule from an individual to a (Shemite) nation - Jacob/Israel.

If we follow the history of YHVH’s chosen “Melchizedec” nation, we see a very interesting pattern.  All the nations that are associated with the Babylonian kingdom will always attempt to subject, even to enslave, Yah’s chosen nation and people.  The first example of that was the Hamite nation of Egypt. Thus for YHVH to preserve and continue His divine order, He had no other choice but to sovereignly intervene and bring Israel out from under that Babylonian-like government and authority.  At the same time, notice what happened to that kingdom and nation when YHVH delivered Israel.  This was to be the pattern from now on through all generations.  There are many good examples of this in the book of Judges, when from time to time Elohim allowed another nation to defeat Israel and rule over them as a result of Israel’s idolatry and adultery.  However, because of His divine order, YHVH could not permit or tolerate such a subjugation to continue, and that brings us to Jeremiah 50 and 51, when through the new covenant’s restoration and union of Israel and Judah YHVH will again, as He did in Egypt, bring Israel and Judah out of the present Babylonian world order.  But in the process, through the authority of His kingdom established in the hearts of His remnant, will do the following, as recorded in Jeremiah 51:19-23:   “The Portion of Jacob is not like them [Babylonians].  For He [YHVH] is the Maker of all things; and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. YHVH of hosts is His name.  2" You [Israel] are My battle-ax and weapons of war: For with you I will break the nation in pieces; With you I will destroy kingdoms; With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider; With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider;  With you also I will break in pieces man and woman; With you I will break in pieces old and young; With you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden;  With you also I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock; With you I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen; And with you I will break in pieces governors and rulers”.  Notice it does not say “because of you” but, “with you”.  

We see hints of this end time army in the restoration of the dry bones of Ezekiel 37: “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (ver 10).  In Jeremiah 51:19 YHVH is referred to as “the LORD of the Armies”. In Zechariah 9:13 YHVH states that He “made you [Israel and Judah] like the sword of a mighty man” (one sword).

YHVH will not leave Israel as the tail resulting from the curse of lawlessness (Deuteronomy 28:44), but will raise up a remnant of both houses of Israel into the head, as under the provisions of the Renewed Covenant He will enable us to, “listen to the commandments of YHVH our Elohim… to carefully observe them” (Deuteronomy 28:13), and “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah” (Ephesians 4:15).  We need to pray that all who have had their identity restored to them, will not grow weary and slide back to another national identity.  Also, that we do not become complacent regarding the future return to all the lands promised to our forefathers. We are YHVH’s witnesses at this time in the nations as to who He is.   Be encouraged and press on to the goals that YHVH has set before us!