Thursday, December 19, 2013

BE THEREFORE PERFECT

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we see that the body of Messiah has been given workers “for the perfecting [Strongs 2677
kat-ar-tis-mos -  perfecting, complete furnishing, thoroughly completing or maturing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [teleios: perfect, of full age, completeness] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah” (4:12-13).  Just as a side note, the word “katartismos” is sometimes translated as “equip”, which is interpreted by some to mean a method or a technique on “how to do” this, that or the other, depending on what method they devised. These ‘methods’ will not necessarily mature the disciple unto full stature.   

Yeshua also spoke about the “perfect man”:  “Be therefore perfect [5046 teleios - tel'-i-os -  perfect, of full age, completeness, fully mature], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect [teleios] (Matt. 5:48).

Recently I have been challenged to believe what Yeshua and the Apostles all taught about the saints (the set apart ones) maturation and ability to express the Father’s life and nature in its fullest sense, measure or stature in this lifetime.  Almost everyone, including myself, has been led to believe that the power of sin is a permanent feature and more influential, powerful or higher ranking than the Spirit of Holiness.  “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9-10).

Paul was emphatic that our victory over the power of sin, the devil, the flesh and the world was only “through” Yeshua our Messiah and Lord (ref Rom. 7:25). The Greek word for lord/master is “kurios” and means “supreme authority or controller”.  Those of us who have lived within a democratic system are under the impression that we have the freedom to decide, “what is right in our own eyes”.  This predisposition got our ancestors into a lot of trouble, as it bred rebellion against the Creator and His Word/Torah.  Satan’s lies and deception led us to believe that we are our own gods and are lords over our life.  By using this little trick Satan actually set himself up on the throne, and we gullibly left him there thus making him our lord or master.   When we cooperate with sin, or anything that is not a part of our new creation life in Messiah, we come under the principalities and powers of Satan’s kingdom, despising the grace of our Heavenly Father and His way of redemption through His Son.
 
Forty years ago, after being filled with the Spirit, I had gone through a seminar called  “Life in the Spirit”. In that teaching we were admonished to “get off the throne of our life” and to “allow Jesus (Yeshua) to get on it”.  This teaching made most of my spiritual walk into an exercise of an “on again/off again” game of proverbial musical chairs with Yeshua, as it implied that I was actually lord over my life. Since I did not succeed in getting off the throne permanently, I had to give up and compromise by “letting” Yeshua become my helper to get me through life’s problems.  He could be Lord when I needed Him, but when things smoothed out a bit I could take over again. 

These past years I found out (not that I wasn’t told at the beginning of my spiritual birth), that when I became a believer in my salvation and redemption, and embraced Yeshua’s death (the cross), I actually died.  If that is the case, then how could I be on any throne ruling over my life?  With a little more teaching from the Holy Spirit and the Word, I found out that there is another spiritual kingdom, rule and authority that are operating in me and making their nature known through my ignorance of the truth of the apostolic Gospel.  If those spirits can make me believe lies or doubt the scriptures, or who I am in Messiah Yeshua, they will sit on the throne of my life and govern my thoughts, words and deeds.  In other words, they will have a ready channel to express the nature of their spiritual kingdom, and because they had a good start before I became a believer (through the “flesh”), it will not be hard for them to continue, as they have already worked their evil nature into my soul.  But there is a way out of this mess.  As stated above, we can be delivered by the power of the Spirit of Holiness as we embrace Yeshua’s authority/Lordship through the obedience to faith. The Word tells us that “anything that is not of faith is sin” (Rom 14:23), which is a pretty sobering statement.   “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).


In Hebrew the word for spirit (“ru’ach”) is masculine and for soul (“nefesh”) feminine. As we know from nature, the male provides the potency for life and the female takes it into herself, giving birth to the nature of that which came in from the male.  There are only two spiritual seeds/sperms that impregnate the soul of man, as is seen with Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac and Esau and Jacob. Paul tells us to cast out the bondwoman and her son. In other words, deliverance must be an integral part of our spiritual walk. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother” (1 John 3:10).  We are a new creation being, and as such any residue of the old nature inherited from Satan’s spirit sperm/nature must be sent away. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting [epiteleo: perfecting, accomplishing, executing, performing] holiness in the fear of the supreme authority of our Heavenly Father”  (2 Cor 7:1).  We must work out our salvation by cleansing ourselves.  He has already put into us everything pertaining to life and godliness, as well as the power of His Spirit in order to accomplish His purposes, thus we have no excuse except to plead guilty of ignorance from lack of knowledge. The scriptures warn us that, “My people perish” or “are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Isa. 5:13; Hos 4:6).  This cleansing is necessary so that the bride (soul) will be without spot or wrinkle and can be fully merged with the New Spirit Man (Yeshua), who is wooing the soul into a divine love affair with Himself.  He is impregnating my soul with His fruit/nature: “The fruit [“karpos” -fruit of ones’s loins, i.e.his progeny, his posterity] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance” (Gal. 5:22).

In calling Him Father/Abba we are proclaiming that we are His offspring and are just like Him. “We know that whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not” (1 John 5:18).

“He is the Rock, His work is “tamiym” [perfect, without blemish, upright, without spot]; for all his ways are judgment; an Elohim of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He” (Deut 32:4).

Ephraim

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Galilean Tapestry



Galilean Tapestry
Isaiah 9:1: “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations.  Galilee - “Galil” – province, region or district in Hebrew. The “province or district of the nations” has truly lived up to its name. Being Israel’s northernmost region, throughout history it has seen many civilizations come and go. Being a region of varied topography it has also drawn people of various interests for multiple reasons who were engaged in many types of occupations. During this past week’s visit to that colorful region, a window was opened so that we could gaze into the rich tapestry formed by time, people and place.  The Galilee was certainly the bedrock upon which the modern restoration of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel was established. This intricate process, which is by no means over, is commemorated and demonstrated in multiple ways in the Galilee’s towns and villages.
The Galilee’s western border is formed by the shore line of the Mediterranean Sea. Between Acre, an ancient port city that has seen Muslim and Crusader conquerors with memories even of Napoleon Bonaparte, and Nahariya, a seventy year old town that was founded by mostly German Jews, is the living monument to the European Holocaust – Kibbutz Lohamey Ha’geta’ot – “Ghetto Fighters” Kibbutz. The kibbutz type of settlement was the Jewish pioneers’ answer to millennia of oppression and repression of various forms. Agricultural communities of mutual help, accountability and egalitarianism of and for all of its members, was the new lifestyle envisioned by the young men and women who resolved to shake off the dust of exile and Diaspora. In the Ghetto Fighters’ kibbutz this takes on a far greater meaning. The founders of this kibbutz (in 1949), survivors and ghetto fighters, did not only shake off the dust of Diaspora, they were literally reborn from the ashes of the inferno of the crematoriums and burning ghettos and themselves became living monuments to a Jewry that perished in the Holocaust. In a totally new and vigorous lifestyle they, by their own admittance, “raised to the burning ghetto a monument of life… a life that will never cease…”   It was in the museum and study center which they established for the purpose of documenting the atrocities, the culture that was lost, the victims, the resistance fighters, the acts of heroism and yes… even the hopes, that we began our Galilee exploration experience. These salvaged firebrands themselves stocked the fires of life in order to enable others to participate in the life kindling, albeit tragic, memories.
On one of the walls, next to some poignant drawings and paintings, we read the following poem. It deals with Joseph’s counterpart, if you will, whose cry for redemption is still resounding:
The Coat of the Prison Camper
And his brethren envied him not
For the many-tracks* coat
With which they too were clad
When from the (train) tracks they were dragged.
And he did not dream, nor offer wise talk,
And there was no one to arise from the stalk 1.
And it was not a goat
That in blood was soaked.
Neither was it recognized by their father the sage
For many were the children of his old age,
And he only murmured, “A savage beast!”
And he never laid eyes on them again as long as he lived.
                                       (Translated from a poem by Avner Trainin)
* In Hebrew the coat is of “many stripes/tracks”, same word as the tracks of a train.
1 In Joseph's dream he saw himself as a stalk of wheat rising above 11 other stalks, which represented his brothers.
 Aside from the many exhibits dedicated to the Holocaust, there is an entire floor in which are depicted pre-Second World War Zionist activities among Jewish youth around the world. Tens of different Jewish youth movements existed from the end of the 19th century all the way to and through the Second World War, each with its own political slant, yet all focused on the need for the sons of Judah to unite as a viable entity and to act together. By far the majority of them set their goal on “aliya” (immigration to the Land of Israel), and on building a healthy, prosperous new life here. For that purpose they went into rigorous training in their homelands. They not only had to adjust to a new life style, but they also saw the need to adjust to a different mentality of the “new Jew”. They had to ward off objections from the older generation, from religious authorities and community leaders and sometimes from their own peers, not to speak of physical, financial and cultural challenges that their aspirations presented them with. And so, in order to take a journey into the Galilee, we had to go back to a past which nurtured the resettlement of this region in our times.
We then crisscrossed the central Galilee in order to get to our destination, which was the north-western shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), bird’s eye views of colorful valleys availed themselves to us. On one of the bare hilltops that we frequented lay the remains of Yodfat, a Galilean town which took part in the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 66 A.D. In the year 67 the town fell after 47 days of heroic resistance. The leader of the revolt was captured in the town, and was one of the few not to be put to death. His name was Josephus, who became the historian of these battles whose writings are almost commonplace, even in our own day and age.
Traveling through the winding roads of Arab and Druze (a Middle-Eastern sect, the Druze are not regarded as Muslims by other Muslims, but they regard themselves as such, having no national aspirations they are generally loyal to their host countries) villages which pepper the Galilean hills, we finally ‘landed’ by the green and lush shores of the Sea of Galilee, in a guest house located on Kibbutz Ginosar. This Kibbutz is named after the biblical Gennesareth (Mat. 14:34). The Valley of Gennesareth (or Ginosar in Hebrew), and its fertility, is also mentioned in the Mishna part of the Talmud.
One of Kibbutz Ginosar’s founders, who was also at the helm of the battle for independence and one of the leaders of Israel’s Labor movement, was Yig’al Alon. Ginosar’s museum is named after him, and is a real open window into life in the Galilee, past and present. Although a military genius, Yig’al Alon’s vision and faith were focused on interrelationships with the Arab population, and thus the museum portrays not only the Jewish settlements in the Galilee, but also Arab life; both in the villages and in the towns; the Bedouin shepherd’s nomadic lifestyle against the artisans and merchants and their traditions. In fact, along the shoreline, at the back of the edifice, are placed environmental sculptures which are the result of a joint effort of Galilee Jews and Arabs.
Jewish life in the Galilee during the Mishnaic and Talmudic times is also introduced, as after the first and second Jewish revolts and the sacking of Jerusalem (first and second centuries A.D.), the Galilee became the center of Jewish religion and learning for those Jews that still remained in the Land. In the museum we learned about the (late) 19th and (early to middle) 20th centuries settlers’ dual role of building homes and farmsteads in desolate and unfriendly physical conditions, while having to deal with frequent Arab rioting and foreign overlords’ hostility (first the Turks and then the British). The difficult decision making in many an instance, where life threatening situations presented themselves to young and inexperienced leaders who shouldered heavy moral responsibilities, is featured prominently among the museum’s inter-active exhibits. Some of these documentations present a very different picture from the way life is experienced and understood in present day Israel, whereas in other cases, these past episodes are still lived and relived daily in this country.  The figure of Yig’al Alon embodies the character etched by the Father in the young leadership which was emerging in the nascent state. The crucial and critical actions taken by these pioneers were marked by not loving their lives even when faced by death, but rather by being each others' keepers and servants (to quote Alon himself).  They had preferred one another and were willing to take responsibility not only for successes but also for failures, all the way down from the commander to the last soldier. Whether or not they knew it, they were fulfilling Godly principles and so were able to stand up to the tasks placed before them.
Just as the present is supported by past centuries whose stories are told in the museum, so are the building’s four stories supported by the ground floor where a two thousand year old boat finds its resting place. This vessel was discovered in the 1980’s by two of Ginosar’s members, fishermen and armature archaeologists. After a fourteen year old treatment, designed to preserve its rotting wood, the boat was finally put on display, ‘flaunting’ all of its humble beauty. And whereas it was constructed mainly of one type of wood, eleven other trees were used to patch it up (when it was in use, two millennia ago). Thus the lumber of a dozen indigenous trees was needed in order to make this ancient boat workable!
The Valley of Jezreel, Israel’s bread basket, was also one of the main sites for many historical episodes. Situated just below the Lower Galilee, we made our way home through some of its interesting villages and towns. Our journey took us to Bethlehem of Galilee, mentioned in Joshua as being part of Zebulon’s inheritance. Among the many groups and individuals who had  Messianic aspirations and visions concerning the “Holy Land”, there was also a group of Germans known as the “Templers” who began to make their way here in the middle of the 19th century. These new comers engaged mostly in agricultural exploits and did very well for themselves. They withstood the many difficulties which the land presented at that time. Settling in various parts of the country, it seems that the Jezreel Valley was one that they particularly favored. When the British expelled them from the Land, during the Second World War (fearing Nazi sympathies on their part), Jewish settlers took over their villages. Bethlehem of Galilee is a beautiful agricultural village whose German stone houses, which retain their old charm, are still in use.
Aside from the kibbutzim, the pioneers founded another form of settlement, the moshav, which combines cooperation of assets, finances and produce, but maintains the privacy of family life. The first moshav, Nahalal (a name found in Zebulon’s biblical territory), was established during the first decade of the 20th century, and has become synonymous with agricultural ventures as  well as with security of the country. One of Israel's military chiefs, Moshe Dayan, hailed from Nahal. During the British Mandatory era, the Jewish defense arms were stockpiling ammunition and weapons for their defense needs in face of constant Arab threats and under the watchful eyes of the British, who forbade both Jew and Arab to own weapons.  These secret weapons caches were named “sliqs”.
The Nahalal sliq is a unique family museum which tells stories inextricably connected with the establishment and security of the State of Israel. The old sliq is situated on the family farm. Members of the third and fourth generation tell fascinating family tales, especially the story of the cache which was built under the guise of a pit for collecting cow urine for fertilizing purposes, making the story as humorous as it is fascinating. Israel’s formative history, with its various facets is well represented by this one family’s story. And as things are in this small country, while the story unfolded it was not without some very close family connections.  These caches, scattered throughout the country and especially in some of the leftist kibbutzim, apparently gave rise (in the first years of the independent state) to ideas among some malcontents, or those who subscribed to certain unsound ideals. This phenomenon, of course, had to be dealt with, or else it would have posed a danger to the security of the fledgling state. We thus found out some surprising facts about Rimona’s father’s tasks, while he served in those days in Israel's General Security Service.
Our visit to the Jezreel Valley was concluded by a trip to the local cemetery, where Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, was laid to rest after the failed shuttle mission of the Columbia. The crew at large, made up of members of the "nations”, is also commemorated on his tombstone set on a hill that commands the valley which spreads below, ready, as always, for further fulfillments of what it's Creator has destined it for.

Shabbat Shalom
Rimona
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Overcoming Sin

                                                 

In most of the apostles’ writings, or teachings on faith, the latter is presented as an active part of life. Faith must be exercised in order for us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of the Father (ref. 2 Pet. 3:18).  James says: “Faith without works is dead”  (James 2:17,20). This is especially true when it comes to sanctification.  Nothing is going to happen in this area unless we actively participate with the Spirit of Holiness.  Unfortunately, we, along with many others, have been ignorant of this fact and as a result ended up in the condition described by the prophet: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure” (Isa 5:13:14).   

What do we do when sin has become so ingrained into our being, that it is even reflected in our personality and seems to be a permanent part of our make up?  We have heard it quoted many times that we must “cast down every imagination, or reasoning that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Cor 10:5).  But if we are deficient in our knowledge of Truth, that is the knowledge of who the Father is in His Son, we can be very easily fooled into believing lies, particularly those that masquerade as truth.  Scriptures do tell us that Satan can act like an angel of light and his ministers (demons) may be transformed into ministers of righteousness (ref 2 Cor 11:14-15).  Thus, if we have been saved out of the ignorance of this world’s wisdom, it behooves us to seek first YHVH’s kingdom, His righteousness and the wisdom that is from above from the Father of light.  We also must renew our minds by the revelation knowledge of our new creation life in Messiah Yeshua.

A question that I have been pondering at various times, after falling prey to the enemy, was: how do we permanently get rid of the power of sin? How do we renew our minds so that it no longer thinks any other thoughts except in accordance with the mind of Messiah?  The apostle Paul faced a very similar problem when he confessed through his letter to the believers in Rome: “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom 7:19-20).

I think most of us can relate to that statement of Paul’s, as there are those things that work in us that we know to be sin but just can’t seem to get rid of.  So how does Paul deal with this problem?  He has a wonderful excuse. He maintains that it is no longer he who was performing these activities, but the power of sin that was “working in his members”.  Well, I to could say that the devil made me do it (and as a matter of fact that may not be so far from the truth). Indeed, Satan was the originator of it all. However, Paul does say that it is possible to overcome this wretched part called the “power of sin working in our members”“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God -- through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord!” (Rom 7:26-27).  That is a great answer, but what does it mean?  Is it practical advice? What exactly does he have in mind by this phrase “through Yeshua Messiah our Lord”? 

Through” -  dia (dee-ah'),  a primary preposition denoting the  channel of an act; by,  through,  for,  for this cause,  because,  by the  means of, the ground or  reason by which something is or is not  done; by reason of; on account  of;  because of for this reason;  therefore; on this account.
 
When we call upon Yeshua, yielding to His righteousness, which releases the flow of His life and nature in us, the power of sin will weaken and ultimately will diminish to nothingness in our life.  Therefore we must willfully stop identifying and participating with sin. There is a fundamental faith factor here that must come into the equation for overcoming sin forever. It will take an actual intermingling of the waters of the Spirit of Holiness with the waters of our life, by living our life from Yeshua’s source, that is the Spirit of the Father.  He must become “LORD” that is supreme ruler

Also the word “through” means the finished work, act, labor of faith and willing obedience, which was exercised by our Redeemer when He gave up His life on the execution stake/tree.  The world of sin, Satan and his kingdom were overcome once and for all when Yeshua the perfect man died.  This was the Father’s righteous judgment upon the son of disobedience (Adam).  But the good news is that Yeshua was not only a man, He had another life in Him, the indestructible, eternal Life of His Heavenly Father. That power raised Him from the dead and transferred Him into a realm of glory so high that He now rules over all principalities and powers in the heavens and on earth.  If the rulers of this age had known that this would be the outcome of the crucifixion, they would have never done it (ref. 1 Cor 2:8).  They were defeated and all humanity was reconciled to the Father, as He (the Father) through the blood (life) of His Son opened the gate of fellowship that man once had in the garden with Him.

We, who are of the first fruit of the risen life, contain within us the same life and power that raised Yeshua from the dead and defeated every attempt of the enemy to get Yeshua to fail and to fall. The Word tells us that we are seated with Yeshua in heavenly places and that we have the same authority over all these rulers and powers, but not in ourselves; only “through” the lordship, rulership, kingdom authority of the Only Begotten Son of the Father -“Yeshua”.  There is no other provision made to come out from under and have victory over the powers of sin and darkness.  We cannot do it through righteous deeds or dead works.   The apostle says “through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah”. 

Whether we are looking to overcome sin in the form of its temptations, lusts, pride, personality characteristics, or of its programming that is engrained in our minds, it is possible to defeat it through active obedience.  Loving YHVH with all our heart, mind and strength binds us to Him in such a way that it releases His life and nature into ours. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.   

Not only do we have to come to the knowledge of who He is, but also to become aware of that which He is not.  We have to take the responsibility to repent when we participate with that foreign nature of sin, resist temptation, work out and practice the divine nature that is now in us, as the Spirit has given to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.  Our true nature in Him is listed as: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).   The body of Messiah has been given workers “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah” (Eph. 4:12-13).  Yeshua also said that it is possible to become a perfect man:  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).


But thanks be to God [our Heavenly Father], who gives us the victorythrough” our Lord Yeshua our Messiah (1 Cor. 15:57).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Father's love

Most of us have never heard our earthly father say, “I love you”, or “this is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased”.  Can you imagine how Yeshua felt when His Father said those words to Him?  I think every son or daughter would give every thing they have just to hear an “I love you,” said by their father.  But because we have a spiritual enemy, that steals, kills and destroys, our fathers are (or were) in no condition to respond to us in a Godly manner. As a result many of us have been robbed of one of life’s greatest treasures, the love of a father.  This has created a great void in the heart, and has often precluded us from giving and receiving love.  Have you heard the voice of our Heavenly Father say to your heart "I love you".  

After having our heavenly Father’s love ministered to me, my eyes were open to how many times the apostles pointed to our “Father”.  When Yeshua taught his disciples to pray he said, “our Father”(Math 6:8), and he continued to refer, many times, to His Father and their Father.  In his writings, Paul also keeps reminding the believers of their relationship with the Father.  “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’" (Gal. 4:6). “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’"  (Rom. 8:15).  Many times the apostles begin their letters to the congregations of believers with this greeting:  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah”. 

I began to wonder why we would want to address our Heavenly Father in any other way but “Abba”.  In the scriptures YHVH is known by many names, and when examined they all speak of fulfilling some need in one’s life, especially in the one area that we spoke about above that we long for the most, and that is the Father’s love.  If we looked at His role as a loving Father, all His names or attributes would be included in that one relationship.  So why do we not just call Him with the most endearing of all names (which also helps us set our own identity in order)?   

I can honestly say that I did not know His love for me, even after 30 years of being a believer.  I knew Him as a good provider, very similar to my earthly father, but something was always missing.  Was it a lack of spiritual maturity, or did it have something to do with obedience unto sanctification?  I had to seriously consider the latter, because it wasn’t until receiving teaching on this subject that His Father’s heart began to be revealed to me. 

There were many spiritual blocks in my life that the enemy had set up over the years, blocks which had to be removed. But first I had to recognize and admit to their existence, take responsibility for cooperating with them and then repent and renounce each one of them individually.  Amazingly, after they were cast out or down, that which remained in me was… His presence.  Thus I am getting to know my Father as that perfect love, and because I have been created in His likeness, I also get to know who I am as a new creation in Messiah with exactly the same nature.  

In the first letter of the Apostle John, he writes: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).

In this verse we can see the connection between purifying ourselves and seeing the Father.  The Greek word for “revealed” is from Strong’s 5319: fanero, phaneroo {fan-er-o'-o} “to make manifest, appear, be manifest”, from the root “to enlighten”.  We can never know who we are as His progeny, unless we come to the revelation knowledge of who He is as revealed in His Son.  Our new life as children of a loving heavenly Father should bear the same nature as the Father, and thus anything that is not of Him is also not of us.  So how do we proceed when we realize that there are things in us which are a far cry from the Father’s expression?  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1).  It cannot be clearer! We must take the responsibility to “cleanse [or purify] ourselves” from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. We will not be able to do this if we are ignorant of the spiritual realm and the truths of sanctification. Most of the problems in the Body of Messiah could be resolved if we were rid of many of the spiritual influences that come from the power of sin working in the flesh.  Thus, if we see ourselves as children of the same Father and having this same nature, we will easily recognize one another.   John puts it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God [our heavenly Father] and everyone who loves is born of God [the Father] and knows God [the Father].  No one has seen God [the Father] at any time. If we love one another, God [the Father] abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  God [the Father] is love, and he who abides in love abides in Him [the Father] and God [the Father] in him” (1 John 4:7; 12-13; 16).  Thus we have fellowship with one another and our joy can be made full.

Ephraim


Friday, October 18, 2013

1 + 1 = You


In one of the recent letters (“the Birthmark), reference was made to Paul’s emphatic statement about Abraham being the father of “all who are of the Law [the Jews]”, and all those who are not “of the Law” (non-Jews), but are of the “faith”. For those who are not of Jewish descent, but yet have an affiliation with the Jews, the Land and the forefathers, these words confirm that what they know or feel is not some extra-biblical fantasy, but is indeed deeply rooted in the Word.

The scriptures sometime make things as simple as one (“faith”) plus one (“promise”) equals two, but until the Spirit illuminates the full equation we may miss it.  In this letter let us take a look at the other “one” in the equation, making the equation look something like this: “Faith” plus the “Promise of the Spirit” (that is, the other “one”) = YOU” - a progeny of Abraham and Sarah.  

If YHVH, by His Spirit, sowed the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into many peoples and nations, how are we to know who they are, except by the characteristics that mark them?  Thus the Apostle adds the second witness to our true identity, when he confirms the words of YHVH through His prophets from of old.      

“I will pour My Spirit on your descendants [referring to Jacob)”, (Isaiah 44:3).

"I will put My Spirit within you [Israel]” (Ezekiel 36:27).

“And I will put My Spirit in you [the whole House of Israel], and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:14).

“’I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says YHVH Elohim"
(Ezekiel 39:29).

In the letter to the Galatian believers, Paul asks a very important question: “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith [the faith of Abraham your father]?” (Gal. 3:2). He then reiterates, “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3:5).  In these two scriptures Paul is connecting the equation: faith plus the receiving of the Spirit equals the identity of the natural seed of Abraham. “And if you be Christ's [that is anointed with His Spirit], then you are from Abraham's sperm [life], and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29).  If you have received the anointing of the Spirit of Holiness, you are a fulfillment of the above prophecies which were spoken to Jacob/Israel.  Thus, all those who have the faith of Abraham, whether Jews or those who are (or were) lost to their natural heritage and have became Greeks, whom YHVH scattered into all nations, slave or free, male or female are one in the same Spirit of Holiness, and have the same natural father – Abraham. Again, one (Spirit) + one (faith) = you (or, if you will “ewe”, one of the sheep).

"Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes…” are all mentioned in Acts 2:9-10, and by now it could be any one on the face of the earth. The promises were given to Isaac, and that includes the promise of the indwelling Spirit (see Romans 9:6-9). YHVH has not abandoned His word to those forefathers.  If He did, we are all in big trouble.

Many who are into replacement theology, will interpret that Galatians scripture to mean that “being in Christ Jesus makes you the seed of Abraham by some kind of adoption or spiritual transfer”. However, the above quoted verses do not say that. Those who hold to that idea, are the same ones who claim that we do not need the Torah and diminish the importance of the Tanach (Old testament), because “Jesus” established a whole new covenant that really does not have anything to do with the natural seed of Abraham.  It is for this reason that those espousing the above- mentioned doctrine have no attraction to the Land, or to the plight of the Jews living in the Land.  As a matter of fact, most of them believe that the Palestinians have just as much right to the Land of “Palestine” as do the Jews, and even more so (especially when the gas prices go up).  If YHVH commenced His work only two thousand years ago, then the writings of the Apostles would suffice. But what about all the many references in the New Covenant books to the Torah and to the books of the prophets, and to the “called”, “chosen” and “predestined” (that is, those who are to inherit that which according to Scripture rightly belongs to them because it was given to their ancestors)? 

I hope we will always remember Yeshua’s words to His disciples when they asked Him “when are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:16).  There is no doubt in my mind that by “Israel” they were referring to the natural descendants of Jacob/Israel.  Yeshua’s answer is confirming what was promised to the forefathers and to their seed: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Witness to what?  To the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, because when they received the promise of the Spirit (through the faith that is in them from their fathers), they also received the kingdom.  What is the kingdom of Elohim?  “For the kingdom of Elohim is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).

Let us celebrate and worship in Spirit and in truth and declare with the prophets:
“Therefore thus says YHVH, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine’" (Isaiah 29:22-24).

Shabbat Shalom
Ephraim                                                                                                       

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Preparation for War

We all are familiar with the (biblical) saying “time for peace and a time for war”.   As of late we have been hearing of wars and rumors of wars.  However, the present war that we are in, the terrorism war, has really never been fought before, and at the same time we hear “peace, peace when there is no peace.  What is all this confusion about?   Is this happening for the purpose of bringing together some one-world system?  Is it so that Islam will become the only legitimate religion in the world?  Is it to restore and bring back the tribes of Israel to their homeland?  Or is the Creator judging iniquity and sin? Whatever the reason might be, we who have been taken out of this world’s system and order, and have been transferred into the kingdom of YHVH’s beloved Son, need to focus on what the Word of YHVH says, just in case we should find ourselves in a grip of an even fiercer war.

With this in mind, let us take a look at how one of the kings of Judah faced his nation’s war-woes.  It was during the reign of King Jehoshaphat that some of the surrounding nations, Ammon, Moab, Syria and Mount Seir (Esau) were gathered together as “a great assembly” (2 Chron. 20:2) to destroy Judah/Israel.  When Jehoshaphat first heard the news of this mighty army he “feared”.  Is inflicting fear not the motivation of the terrorist packs nowadays?  We can see just how sinister this spirit is, as was illustrated this week in a mall in Kenya. None of the victims were wearing military uniforms.  With this kind of demonic mayhem, is it any wonder that the nations are spending more on protecting themselves from these religious fanatics than on any other military objective? 

What did Jehoshaphat do when he faced the same threat of annihilation from his neighbors?  Scripture records that he”set ‘natan pa’neem’ himself to seek ‘drash’ YHVH”.  “Natan pa’neem” means to give oneself, set or put oneself in a position before the face of YHVH in order to “drash”, to inquire advice of YHVH  (ref. 2 Ch. 20:3-4). Then he proclaimed a fast throughout Judea.  The Judeans gathered from many places to seek  - “baqesh” - or simply ask for divine protection.  Notice the difference between what the king did in turning to God, and the people.  As a leader, he set himself before the face of YHVH and inquired for YHVH’s counsel and wisdom.  But before he begins to make his requests, he acknowledges the Elohim whom he is addressing.  He then reminds YHVH, by way of questions, as to who He is: “YHVH, Elohim of our fathers, are You not Elohim in the heavens? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in Your hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand You? Art You not our Elohim, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham Your friend for ever?” (2 Chr 20:6-7).   Why did the king address YHVH in this way?  Was he himself in doubt as to who He was and what He could do?  Did the Almighty need someone to remind Him of His position and duties?  In the following statement we can see what Jehoshaphat was driving at.  Those questions came from one who knew and feared (revered) the Elohim of Abraham, and knew that what He was and what He did was all for one purpose, to glorify His name: “And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for Your name sake” (v. 8).

The king understood that if YHVH were going to move to deliver him and His people, it would not be because of their worthiness or their righteousness, as the mere fact that those nations were ‘knocking at their door’ meant that YHVH was not pleased with Judah. Listen to the following statements of the king:  “If, when evil comes upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for Your name is in this house,) and cry unto You in our affliction, then You will hear and help” (v. 9).  This is the prayer of a very wise man, who knew how to get the Elohim of the heavens to respond to his plight and the fears of the people.  This confession, and the following conclusion, demonstrated humility and complete dependence on YHVH’s sovereignty, not only over Judah, but also over those kingdoms of the enemies that were about to attack the nation (see v.6).

Here is Jehoshaphat’s concluding prayer   “O our Elohim, will You not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that comes against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon You” (v. 12).  The king, along with the men, women and children were not looking at their own chariots and horses, at their strong men with their bows, arrows and spears, neither for the shrewdness of their politicians and generals.  Their eyes were upon YHVH Elohim alone; He was their only Savior and Deliverer.  It was only then that the Spirit came to a priest/prophet and delivered YHVH’s response to their supplication, consecration and prayer. 

Jahaziel (“God will cause to see”) came to deliver the message: “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but Elohim's.
Tomorrow go down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and you shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. You shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of YHVH with you” (v.15-17).  What wonderful words! Now they knew exactly where the enemy will be the following day, and what they (Judah) were to do.  But even better news were encapsulated by the statement: “the battle is not yours, but the Almighty’s”. 

This, however, is not the end. Even though they had this wonderful word from YHVH they still had to go to bed that night and wake up to a very unpredictable future.  They had to face their enemy, which is something we too must do. As believers, our enemies are principalities and powers in heavenly places; they come to us in the form of evil thoughts and intentions. At that time the only thing the Judeans had to stand and act upon was YHVH’s word. So too today - we must face our enemy with faith and trust in the truth of YHVH’s word.  

The following day, the king, knowing the doubts and fears of his people, encouraged them with these words:  “Believe in YHVH your Elohim, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper” (20).  The Hebrew word for “established” is “te’am’nu”  - of the root a.m.n, which is “to believe”. Thus Jehoshapat addressed the nation with a play on words: “ha’aminu, ve-te’amnu”: “Believe and be established, confirmed, strong” and in particular “become credible”. In other words, by believing, trusting, giving credit to and having faith in YHVH, they themselves were becoming not only strong and established, but also “credible”.

“Praise YHVH; for his mercy endures for ever” (V.21).
Ephraim                                                                                                            

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gog and Magog war

In the past few months, with the current situation in Israel, some have written, asking if we thought that this was the beginning of the Gog and Magog War. While anything is possible with YHVH, and He will ultimately fulfill His word in His way and in His time, we, who have the Holy Spirit and the scriptures, try as best we can to discern the time and season in which we are living. So with that in mind, let us take a stab at what is happening and attempt to come to some (subject to change) conclusion.

I personally do not believe that this is the time of the Gog and Magog ‘scenario’ for the following reasons: According to Ezekiel 38, which describes the times of YHVH's judgment upon Gog and Magog, that war takes place at a season in which Israel is "dwelling securely" (verses 8,10, 14).  The root for the word “securely” here is “ba’to’ach” (b.t.ch), meaning security, quietness, trusting, confidence, while in Aramaic it means to throw one down upon his face. Based on this definition, Israel of the pre-Gog and Magog days will have been humbled by YHVH and will come to trust Him fully. In verse 8 we read that the war takes place at the time during which the land is restored from the sword (war) and a remnant of Israelites, who have been gathered from the nations, are living on the mountains of Israel (Judea and Samaria) in a state of trust and confidence in YHVH. It seems that this condition can only come to pass after the prophetic fulfillment of Ezekiel 34-37. This is one of the main reasons for this sequel of chapters (that is, events), which climaxes in chapter 38.

Chapter 34 focuses on the condition of the lost sheep of the House of Israel.  The shepherds, or leaders, of the political and religious systems are seen as “feeding themselves” (v.2), and “eating the fat and clothing themselves with the wool” (v.3.). They dominate the flock with harshness, manipulating and controlling them for their own purposes.  They do not strengthen the sick, nor do they bind up the wounded. They do not protect those under their charge from the beasts of the field (which could mean demons), but leave them to run wild over the mountains fleeing to the high places, and do not even bother to look for them, and when they do happen to find any, they pen them up in their earthly institutions for the purpose of serving their own interests.  This seems to be the condition of the lost sheep of Israel today.  However, there is a remnant that the Shepherd of Israel, Yeshua, is calling out. This remnant He will bring back to the land and to the mountains of Israel to graze in good pastures (v.13-14).

Chapters 35 and 36 describe Israel as having some problems with Esau from Mount Seir (see Ez 35:2,12; 36:2).  The latter, together with some of his sons and cousins from the surrounding nations, are allying themselves (see Ps. 83), planning to stake a claim upon the mountains of Judea and Samaria and proclaim ownership over them (35:10). Thus, they are ridiculing Israel, saying: “Aha, the everlasting heights belong to us and have become our possession” (36:2).  But YHVH will speak in His jealousy and in His wrath against all the surrounding nations (36:5). He will gather them together, and will have them pound their agricultural equipment into military hardware. Then He will bring them down to the Valley of Jehosaphat (meaning, “His judgment”), and there He will judge them for dividing up His land and for the violence done to the sons of Judah (Jews; ref. Joel 3:2, 9-12,19).

At about this time period YHVH will lift up His standard, and recover a second time the banished ones of Ephraim and the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Ephraim’s jealousy towards Judah will depart, and Judah’s enemies will be cut off, as together they will swoop down on the slopes of the ‘Philistines’ and plunder the sons of the east (Edom and Moab), and even the tongue of Egypt will be destroyed (Is.11:11-15). As mentioned above, the prophet Joel, who also foresaw this, concludes that the destruction resulting from this war of YHVH’s judgments will fall on the surrounding nations.

Because the Ephraimites help Judah during this war with the surrounding nations, they will possess and return to portions of Samaria, Lebanon and Gilead (Zech.10:7-10), and the nations all around will be subject to them. There will even be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His flock (Isa. 11:16). YHVH will establish the throne of David over the united Israel, and Yeshua their Shepherd and Messiah will rule over them and prove Himself holy in them. He will make a covenant of peace with them and pour clean water upon them. YHVH will also give them His Spirit, so that they will walk in His ordinances and keep His statues and observe them (Ez. 37:21-28). They will live securely for a thousand years, as Yeshua will rule the nations with a rod of iron through this royal priesthood and holy nation. Thus, all the nations will know that YHVH is the one who sanctified Israel, when His dwelling place is in their midst, for they will be living securely and no one will make them afraid. (Ez. 34:28).

It is at the end of this period that YHVH causes Gog and Magog to take note of His people, who are living securely. Now let us pick up the narrative from Revelation 20:7-8: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle.” What thousand years is John speaking about?  Is he not referring directly to the chapter that precedes Ezekiel 38, the chapter that deals with the two trees, Israel and Judah, who are living securely under one kingdom authority of YHVH their God, and Messiah Son of David, as one nation in a land that was given to their forefathers, and are now no longer at strife with the surrounding nations?

The big question that is usually asked at this time goes something like this: “Is the Messiah physically present during the thousand years, or is His presence the indwelling of the Spirit of Holiness, ruling in and through His redeemed people?”

 Because I see through a smoky class, my understanding of this could change in light of progressive revelation or reality.
Ephraim

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity…

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Birthmark


What is it that identifies us as being of the progeny of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?  Surely there must be some birthmark that the scriptures point to, that reveals this biblical God-given relationship between this generation and the lives of the forefathers of 4,000 years ago!  The covenants that YHVH made with our natural forbearers is that they would have multitudes of descendents like the sand of the sea, dust of the earth and the stars of heaven, too numerous to number.  The prophets reiterated these promises of the multiplicity. How will we ever know how “great the day of Jezreel” (Yah’s sowing, Hos. 1:10), if the descendents are only a handful of Jews, in this generation, who are easily countable?  Will there always be a suppressed doubt in the back of bible believers’ minds that YHVH was not true to His word and faithful to the covenant of multiplicity? Or will His Word be regarded simply as containing numerous figures of speech?  These questions, although not at the hub of this letter, do raise another: who are to inherit all the blessings and promises that were given to these natural forefathers and to their offspring?  The Abrahamic seed, that is Israel (both houses), has an inheritance to claim, and other promises from YHVH that specifically belong to them.  But if we have lost our ancestral line, how are we going to claim those promises? What proof do we (Jews or Ephraimites) have that will allow us to possess the inheritance, especially at a time when there are other people groups who are contesting our rights vis-√†-vis that inheritance?   

The apostle Paul warns us that we are not going to be able to trace our ancestry through a biological tree of the generations, and if we try it will only result in strife and contention: “…nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is by faith” (1 Tim 1:4). And again,  “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9).  Is there any one on this earth who can trace their genealogy back 150 generations?  There may be a handful of Jews today who can possibly go back 2,000 years or 50 generations, but still that is no proof.  Of course an easy way out of this would be to just blurt, “God knows”, which is true - yet the ones who really need to know are the rightful inheritors themselves.

Let us see if we can find some scriptural ‘identification papers’ that are necessary to stake a claim on the inheritance, or the riches of the promises. The above quote from Timothy already gave us a clue.

What was inherent in the forefathers that marked them and set them apart, and made them special in the eyes of their Covenant Maker?  They all seemed to have one thing in common - they believed YHVH, utilizing the ability that was in them called “faith”.  However, even though this characteristic was in the life of the father (Abraham), it was not going to be made fully manifest in his offspring until after the redemption.  “For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel [Judah-Israel], until the fullness of the Gentiles/nations [Ephraim-Israel] (Gen 48:19) be come in.  And so all Israel [both houses] shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer [Yeshua], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:25-26).

YHVH said, “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, for, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, yet shall not the least part [“tz’ror”] fall upon the earth” (Amos 9:9).  In other words, they (Israel) will be well mixed into the nations but YHVH will not lose track of any one “segment” or “part” (which is what that Hebrew word means in this context).  YHVH was saying, then, that even though Israel will lose its identity and will be scattered in the nations, through divine providence they would somehow continue to remain in groupings of their own kin (as depicted by the popular clich√©, “birds of a feather flock together”). Isaiah also prophesied that YHVH would  “cause them that come of Jacob to take root” and that,Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6).
“And he [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all those who have the faith, though they be not circumcised” (Rom 4:11). We know from biblical history that the ten tribes of the northern kingdom did not keep Torah and consequently were not circumcised.  But yet the promises remain to all the seed, “for the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom 4:13)Active faith, like that of Abraham’s, seems to be the birthmark that we are looking for in order to identify the inheritors of the promises.

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed [sperm], not only to those who are of the law [the Jews, who have the faith, but in some, as is true of all Israel, it is still hidden], but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Rom. 4:16). “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7).  “And if you are Christ’s [in other words, have the anointing of the Spirit of God], then are you [recognized as] Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29). Being anointed with the Spirit does not make you one of his natural offspring, because that interpretation would eliminate and make of non-effect all the prophecies and blessings from the Tanach.  The Apostle, in writing to the Galatians, was not contradicting himself, but in fact was staying consistent with what he had written to the believers in Rome. His writings line up with many Old Testament prophecies about the Spirit of God anointing the Abrahamic seed. “Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon your offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses”  (Isa. 44:2-4) Here we see that the Spirit that was promised in the new covenant to the two houses of Israel (Judah and Ephraim), is given as an anointing (“Christ”) to the believers, through the same faith that was in their forefather Abraham. This anointing is another of the identifying marks, or second witness if you will, to being of the Abrahamic seed. 

Scriptures show that faith was always evident to some degree in the progeny (see Hebrews 11), but remained mostly dormant. It was not seen in the multitudes until after the redemption, at which time it came to the fore through the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom and Yeshua as Messiah. But before faith came or appeared, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed [meaning, the unveiling of its hidden presence]” (Gal. 3:23).  The full potential of the seed is already inherent within it, but it has to “fall into the ground” and to receive a scent of water, before it can shoot forth.  Faith was already in Abraham and his progeny, but it had to wait until YHVH would send His Son with His faith to accomplish redemption for His kinsmen from the Abrahamic family.  Only after the faith of Yeshua was made manifest to His brethren, could the faith that was in them become evident so that they could receive the promises, especially of the Spirit.    

Moreover whom he did predestinate [sperm of Abraham], them he also called [Isaac/Jacob], and whom he called, them he also justified [those who have the faith of Abraham]: and whom he justified, them he also glorified [Israel] (Rom 8:30).  Sing, O you heavens; for YHVH has done it: shout, you lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for YHVH has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel(Isa. 44:23).

Our father Abraham “did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom 4:20-21).

I pray that we, like our forefather, will not stumble nor stagger in unbelief, but be strong in the faith, especially now that we have been “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [or down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession [all Israel], unto the praise of His [YHVH’s Son] glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).

Ephraim


Friday, June 14, 2013

Restoration of YHVH's Inheritance

According to Scripture, the “Two Houses of Israel” are two separate and distinct entities. Each of them has its own specific prophetic destiny.  But even though two, they are still bound to the calling which they have inherited from their forefather Jacob - that is, to be one chosen nation of kings and priests.  However, in the course of their history YHVH divided the nation into two nation/kingdoms for His purposes and plans that are directly related to the covenant that He swore to Abraham. 

Isaiah 8:14 presents the ‘Two House truth’: “He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to BOTH the houses of Israel (emphasis added). As long as these two continue to stumble and take offense over the One who is their Rock they will remain two distinct entities. 

Many like to define the two groups as ‘Christians’ (Israel/Ephraim), and ‘Jews’ (Judah), as if they are made up of two religious sects. In spite of that we must realize that all tribes are represented in both houses, and that together they constitute multitudes of peoples, which make up many ethnic and religious groups.  But for our purpose here, let us relate to them as nations. We have, then, the nation of Judah/Israel today, being made up mostly of Jews from Judah. On the other hand, because YHVH is true to His word, there is also the other house (Joseph/Ephraim), which YHVH has sown or mixed into many peoples in literally all nations: "Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples” (Hos. 2:8), being the “fullness of the nations” (Genesis 48:19), even though most of them are unaware of their identity. The influence of the multitudes of Ephraim, on some of these nations, brought about blessings of multiplicity, military prowess and economic wealth (see Genesis 49:22-26).  In the blessing to Joseph, through his son Menasseh, Jacob pronounced that they would become a great people. However, as a great people the descendants of the northern kingdom would not be able to connect their greatness to the fulfillment of the prophecies, as YHVH was going to blind them and cause them to forget their identity (which is indicated by the meaning of the very name “Menasseh”). 

Judah never lost its identity

One of the keys to understanding the end time scriptures is to watch for Judah’s lead.  The Jews have never lost their identity, but have been preserved by the Almighty: Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, I will save them by YHVH their Elohim, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen" (Hosea 1:7).  And:He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts [or rejected ones] of Israel [Joseph/Ephraim], and gather together the dispersed [but preserved and recognizable] of Judah from the four corners of the earth(Isaiah 11:12).    

In Ezekiel 37 we see that Judah’s stick (nation) is gathered first (and indeed it was restored in 1948) and is also being ‘written upon’ (v. 16).  Then, during the times of the “latter rain”, Judah is called as a nation to be “a mighty war horse in battle (Zechariah 10:1,3). In the course of those days Jerusalem is restored to Judah (which was fulfilled in 1967), who is called to prepare for war against its surrounding nations (see Joel 3:1-2,11).  In these self-same days the stick of Joseph/Ephraim is also to be gathered and to be ‘written upon’ (Ezekiel 37:16). Sometime later the two are to join together in the war with the surrounding nations (ref. Isaiah 11:13-15, Zechariah 9:13).  These are but a few of the scriptural descriptions and references that have been and are yet to be fulfilled, in what are called the ‘latter days’. 

Our day and age

The nations surrounding Judah and Jerusalem are hostile and belligerent at present. Their hostility extends not only toward Judah/Israel also toward some of the Ephraimite peoples who are supportive of the Jews, and who are aligned with them economically and militarily (such as the United States).  With impending war and other potentially catastrophic world events, it is necessary to gain an understanding of the prophetic perspective.  When we know that all of this has been predicted beforehand, and that in YHVH’s strategy it is as good as having taken place already, we can rejoice, for our full redemption is drawing closer.

According to the prophets of old these days are marked with wars and great turmoil. Yeshua’s words about these days also reiterate the same thoughts: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, `I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many, and you will hear of wars and rumors of wars’” (Matthew 24:4-6). Most us don’t have any problems relating today’s world situations to what Yeshua or the prophets said on the topic.  YHVH has given us the scriptures, His Spirit and this wonderful world of communication as a tool to reveal to us the truths of His Word.

So why are the kingdoms of this world being shaken? Is it because YHVH so hates the world that He is bent on destroying it?  That is far from being His motivation.  YHVH’s true motive is always based on His nature, which is, of course, unconditional love, righteousness/justice and faithfulness.  All that YHVH does revolves around possessing His inheritance, and establishing His kingdom here on earth. “YHVH’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deut. 32:9).  YHVH sent His Son (Yeshua) to restore the House of Jacob (both houses) and set up His everlasting kingdom in and through them (Luke 1:31-33).

What then are these ‘heavy-duty’ judgments all about?   Could He be acting now in the same manner that He did in the days when His people, our forefathers, dwelt in Egypt? At that time too YHVH wasn’t just being vindictive, when He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. He was not looking for a pretext in order to harm the land and people of Egypt. Neither was He trying to convince them that they had to repent from their ways and turn to Him (at least not directly).  He was motivated by faithfulness to His word and compassion toward His people.  He wanted to establish them and His kingdom according to His pre-ordained plan, so that Egypt and the rest of the nations would know that He was the Elohim of His people Israel.  He never once called Himself the God of Egypt, or the God of Amalek, but He did say repeatedly that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

YHVH says about Himself that He changes not.  He is the God of Israel (both houses) and we still belong to Him, just as did our forefathers.  We, who have come into the revelation understanding of our true identity, must face up to our history as His covenant people, His inheritance and to our relationship with Him, especially now that He has raised us from the dead spiritually and restored our lost national (natural) identity through the new covenant.  One scripture that we have quoted over the years, along with other Two House teachers, is Acts 3:19-21:
 
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Yeshua the Messiah, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which Elohim has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

Ephraim                                                                                              16/04/04

Friday, June 7, 2013

From Shadows into the Light


 “In Your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9). 

One of the most troubling scriptures for Christians who are having their Hebraic roots exposed by the Spirit, is Paul’s admonition to the Colossians:  “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Messiah” (Col 2:16-17).  There are many who perceive these words to mean a renunciation of the Feasts and Sabbaths. A more careful reading, however, reveals that Paul is simply stating that these are shadows of things yet to come; in other words, these special days have a prophetic significance.   But, now, as believers, we are actually stepping out of the shadows and are moving into the reality of the true meaning of these special days.  “For it is YHVH who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Yeshua the Messiah” (2 Cor. 4:6). This is why Paul says that no one can be our judge in regards to these “shadows”, but the body of Messiah, for we have His light (Spirit) which shines into these Torah scriptures eliminating the shifting shadows.  Paul was not telling us to break the Father’s commandments, but rather to keep them in the light of their true meaning. 

Those of us who are believers and are honoring this Feast, should ask the Spirit to unveil to us the truth of the apostle John’s words: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua the Messiah His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  Please note, it does not say from “some sin”, but from “all sin”!   Sin is the leaven that leavened our lump of life, but after the sacrifice of the Lamb and the shedding of His blood, celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread (e.g.) is quite clear and natural.  In order to be freed from the contamination of the power of sin that can still work in our members, we must, by faith (which means to walk in the light), be identified to that sacrifice.  Paul plainly states that, “if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:14-16).  "I have been crucified with Messiah; it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”  (Gal 2:20). “For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God” (Col 3:3).  That is why the day after the Lord’s Passover (the 15th of Nissan or Aviv) is a “Shabbaton”, that is, a Shabbat-like day, a celebration, because of the removal of the body of sin on the previous day.


Paul’s passion was to present us blameless (without leaven) before our heavenly Father through the preaching of Messiah Yeshua, and Him crucified.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Yeshua the Messiah, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Messiah reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Messiah, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Messiah's behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:17-20). 

The above words reveal Paul’s understanding of the revelation that was given to him on the road to Damascus.  Later he put that faith into action, when he wrote:  
“For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom 7:15-17).  Paul was able to separate himself from sin because he knew the truth of the Passover and of the Feast of Unleavened bread.  It was no longer a shadow, but a living reality in his very being.  

If the body of Messiah is to judge these matters (Col 2:16-17), then we should no longer be in the shadows when celebrating these feast days and Shabbats, but truly be in the light as He is in the light, which means to walk in the Spirit for we “are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)” (Eph 5:8-9).  “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness” (1 Thes 5:5).

“For with You [YHVH] is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light (Ps. 36:9).

Ephraim


Friday, May 31, 2013

Our Inheritance (part 2)

To continue looking at our inheritance, we first must define two words that are translated “world”, the reason being is that Abraham our father and we his seed, or sperm, have a promise from YHVH to inherit the world; howbeit, not through trying to keep the law, but through faith.  Of the patriarch it was written,the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.  For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world [kosmos], was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith”   (Rom. 4:12-13).   The word used here for “world”, in the Greek, is from Strong’s 2889 - ko,smoj kosmos {kos'-mos}, described as: “An apt and harmonious  arrangement or constitution, order,  government.”  The Apostle John gives a glimpse into what constitutes this present “kosmos”: “For all that is in the kosmos, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the kosmos.  And the kosmos passes away, and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:16-17).  Is this the kosmos that Abraham was promised, or is there another, that will not pass away, that was preserved in heaven but has now come to us through the Spirit of Holiness (ref. Col 1:5-6)?

The other word that is translated world is aivw,n aion {ahee-ohn'}, described as: evermore, age,  eternal, period of time, a fixed order of time.  This is the world that according to Paul we have been transferred out of:  “…Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world [age], according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1:4). 

In order to understand what makes up this kosmos, we have to return to the garden of man’s delight - Eden.  Man was created with an inherent weakness (see 1 Cor. 15: 42-49).  Unlike the reptiles, animals and birds, to which YHVH gave natural instincts, smells and colors to govern them and attract like-life forms in order to perpetuate their respective species, man was given faith, a will and an attribute of the heart called desire. He was given these in order to enable him to have a relationship with his Creator, himself, and others of his own order as well as with the creation. Adam/man was to grow into the same likeness and nature as Elohim.  The Creator also declared that he was to have dominion and rule over all living things.  To the first humans it was given to establish the first “kosmos”, as they walked by faith with their Creator.  Adam and Eve were to serve and to channel Spirit-life and light that they received from this divine relationship, to the kosmos of the creation. That was to be the first expression of the Kingdom of YHVH on earth.  However, we know that in the Garden there was another tree, which contained a potential spiritual influence over man’s faith, will and desire.  Let us remember who placed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden in the first place. And let us also bear in mind that YHVH already had a signed and sealed document called the scroll of redemption.  In other words, He was taking full responsibility for His plan. 

Satan was well aware of Adam and Eve’s inherent weakness, of which he was about to take full advantage.  He knew that they had the potential to believe a lie, and once their faith was diverted from looking toward their relationship with their Creator, he could tempt them through desire (lust), and cause their will to choose his kingdom and express his nature.  So when Eve looked at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil she saw that the “tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3: 6).  However, the fruit was not congruent with her (and Adam’s) well-being. Instead of eternal life coursing through their being, death began to reign in and through them, consequently affecting the rest of Creation.   This may sound tragic, but it was all in YHVH’s plan (see Rom 8:20).

Adam and Eve still had dominion over a now groaning creation, but they were being governed by another spiritual kingdom; Satan became their lord, king and constant companion.  Satan’s corporate servant called “Adam” became his channel of expression through the demonic forces that could now influence, inhabit and give expression to their nature through the usage of lusts.  Adam’s kosmos was thus being manifested through the lust of flesh (“good for food”), the lust of the eyes (“pleasant to the eyes”), and the pride of life (“to make one wise”), and consequently man was trapped in his own prison house; the principalities and powers of this evil spiritual kosmos were now in charge.  Humanity was thrown into a realm of spiritual darkness so deep that they believed themselves to be like Elohim.  Satan’s nature of disobedience, rebellion and the pride of life, self-preservation and self-centeredness occupied the heart and mind of man.  Deception engulfed him to such an extend that he now believed that the knowledge of good and evil would enable him to take charge of his life and become like God, and that he therefore no longer needed his Creator. 

Satan now had a body, which Paul defines as the “body of sin” (ref. Rom 6:6), through which he could express his fallen nature.  However, there was a mystery that still smoldered like a spark in the heart of man; a mystery which YHVH, in His wisdom, kept hidden in the depths of His own Spirit-life.  It was like an embryo that would have to wait until the seed (the flesh of man) could fall to the ground and die. This happened when Yeshua went to the stake and gave up His life.  From YHVH’s standpoint, through His Son all of humanity received the penalty for sin, that is death (ref 2 Cor. 5:14-16).  Adam the seed, (1 Cor 15: 44) was now planted into the ground with Yeshua, (Rom 6:4) but as Paul relates, it will be raised but each man in his own order. (1Cor 15:23).

As for us, who have been raised in Messiah in order to receive the promise that our forefather Abraham was given, we must now live in this faith reality of life in Messiah Yeshua.  We can only be in Messiah by faith, and it is only faith which will allow us to continue living in this truth.  “I am crucified with Messiah: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Messiah lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by [or because of] the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”  (Gal. 2:20).
Paul says that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”  (Rom. 14:23). “Let us [therefore]           
lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with        
patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Yeshua the author and finisher of     
our faith”,  so that we of the Abrahamic seed might receive the promise of our   
inheritance. 


      Ephraim