Friday, April 26, 2013

Order in Redemption I

When the angel Gabriel, who had been sent to earth by YHVH, arrived in a little Galilaean town called Nazareth he announced to a young girl that she was to conceive a son by Divine intervention. This young maiden was to name her baby Yeshua (salvation).  Keep in mind that this was not the first time that YHVH intervened in a woman's womb so as to bring forth life for His purposes.

Isaac's was another miraculous birth, as his mother and father were too old to have children. Not only was his mother too old, but she had also been barren all of her life.  Jacob's mother, Rebecca, was also barren, and in need of the touch of the Spirit of the Father.  And of course Jacob's beloved Rachel, who became the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, needed that divine healing touch as well.

However, the situation was a little more dramatic in Miriam's case, as she had not had sexual relationships with a man.  Today we do not think much of the status of a virgin, but in those days a maiden could forfeit her life by stoning, if her husband found her to be without blood on the wedding day. In the case before us, YHVH Himself was to supply the life force that would become His only begotten Son. He therefore sent a messenger to announce the purpose for bringing forth this son at that time.

"You shall call his name Yeshua, which means salvation, and He would be great, and He will be called the Son of the Most High God, He will be given the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).

It is not the promise that Yeshua would succeed to the throne of David which is puzzling, but rather the wording: "throne of His father David," is what makes this announcement somewhat curious. How could Yeshua be David's son, when we know that He was not of the sperm of natural man?  His mother, who was Jewish, had relatives connected to the priesthood, which most likely made her a Levite (see Luke 1:36).  Joseph, the man she was betrothed to, was of the seed of David (Luke 1:27). However, as you know, he had a bit of a problem with this bride of his, who (just happened) to be pregnant before their marriage was consummated. Being a righteous man, Joseph was ready to take the necessary steps and have her put away according to the Torah if it were not for another angelic visitation, in which he was told to take Miriam as his wife.  By doing so he in essence adopted the child that she was carrying, as his own.  Thus, through adoption, Yeshua entered the lineage of David, who, in a very real and legal sense became his (fore)father, just as we, who are sons of Abraham, become sons of God through adoption (see Rom 8:15, 9:4; Gal. 4:5).

Why was it so important that Joseph adopt this child?  Couldn't redemption have been accomplished anyway through a Levite, or a Benjamite or for that matter through a Syrian? As we know, Yeshua came as a kinsman redeemer to redeem a lost inheritance. Whose inheritance? His Father's! What or who belonged to His Father and had gotten lost, so as to be in need of redemption? Apparently at some time or another YHVH must have owned something that had ‘gotten lost’. The principle that all first fruit belong to Him is very evident in Torah (see Ex. 22:29-30, 23:16-19; Deu. 26:2 and many more).  Because these first fruit belong to YHVH He places His name on them, marking them "for His name sake", thus claiming rightful ownership of them.

The following scriptures indicate that the entire nation of Israel was and is YHVH's possession and inheritance. "But YHVH has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance as you are this day," (Deut. 4:20). "Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm," (Deut. 9:29). Not only were the people His inheritance, but so was a place called Mount Zion. "You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O YHVH, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O YHVH, which Your hands have established" (Ex. 15;17).

In order for Yeshua to become the redeemer of YHVH's inheritance, in this case Israel, He would have had to have a very specific legal status in the family. He could not be a son randomly chosen, from 'any old' family in humanity because YHVH is a law-giver, and everything that has been created in the heavens and the earth is governed by His laws. This is especially true concerning the laws of redemption. Regarding our justification we are not under Law, (that is laws of sin and death) yet Elohim’s Law should be under us, as it were, giving us a firm foundation!

In the book of Revelation we see YHVH the Mighty One sitting on His throne with a scroll in His hand (Rev. 5:1).  It says about this scroll that it was inscribed on both sides and was sealed with seven seals. What was this seven-sealed document? It must have been extremely important, as the legal qualifications to open it were so high that no one could be found, in heaven or on earth, worthy of taking it and of opening its seals (ref. Rev 5:3). The thought of no one qualifying was so grave, that it caused the prophet to weep uncontrollably.  Most scholars agree that this scroll was the scroll of redemption. Such a scroll was seen when Jeremiah redeemed a piece of property by purchasing it (Jer. 32).  A scroll of redemption was usually written on both sides; the one side had the title deed to the property and the other, the qualifying requirements of its redeemer. Please notice that the Father had the scroll in His hand, as a judicial guardian over the inheritance, until the one qualified would come and take the scroll.

What was written on that scroll? What were the regulations that qualified the Redeemer to take the scroll and open its seals? What does all of this have to do with us?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Establishing Order (part two)

Jacob, as he lay upon the bed of his departure from this life heard the announcement: “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you” (Gen. 48:2). There probably was not a more comforting, nor a sweeter word that Jacob could have heard than those spoken by that faithful servant attending him on that final day.  With those words, heralding the arrival of his beloved son, he gathered up whatever strength he had left, for he knew he had one last task to perform.  But just before doing that, he recalled to Joseph the covenant promise that he had received from Elohom Almighty in Luz (Bet El). “Behold, I will make you
fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession” (Gen. 48:3-4).  Jacob was not just telling Joseph this for the purpose of reminiscing.  He wanted his son to know that the birthright included the land of Canaan and the covenant of fruitfulness.  But please keep in mind that Jacob left out one little part of this covenant reminder, “and kings shall come out of your loins” (Gen. 35:11).

Everything that was happening in those moments was under the guiding hand of YHVH. Jacob’s prophetic anointing was working with keen clarity. It was not because of old age that he forgot this portion of the verse. He knew and understood the statutes and ordinances of YHVH’s kingdom government, suggesting that to him the term “kings” was not referring to the kingdoms of men, but to the kings after the order of Melchizedek.

Leaving out that portion of the blessing, he now concentrates on the prophetic destiny and significance of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. Because Israel’s eyes were so dim from age, he apparently was not aware that they were present with Joseph; although, he did speak to Joseph very directly about them saying:   "And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuven and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Gen. 48:5). Notice Joseph did not argue this point with his father, as he knew the old patriarch had the right to adopt his sons.. “May they be like Reuven and Simeon”, Jacob declared. It was no coincidence that Jacob put Ephraim’s name before Menashe’s, even though Menashe was the firstborn. Thus in the positioning of the lads, he compared Ephraim to Reuven Leah’s firstborn and not Menashe. Joseph was totally unaware of what was happening, as later he questioned the way Jacob placed his hands upon their heads.

Why was Jacob so interested in Ephraim and Menashe?  Let us go back to when their names are given. “And Joseph called the name of the first-born Manashe: 'for Elohim has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.'  And the name of the second he called Ephraim: 'for Elohim has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction'” (Gen. 41:51-52).  Hidden in these two names is Elohim’s prophetic plan to bless and multiply while in a state of forgetfulness. Elohim intended to bless all the families of the earth through the Abrahamic covenant.  Thus YHVH, being faithful to His word, laid the foundations for the fulfillment of this part of the plan of redemption, in (and through) the House of Joseph.

Jacob now gets down to his prophetic ‘business’, and so does the Elohim of Abraham.  “And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said: 'Who are these?'” (Gen. 48: 8). Now why would Israel be asking Joseph that question when he had just proclaimed them to be his own, unless he was testing Joseph?  Well, if he was, Joseph failed the test by still declaring that those two little ones belonged to him. There is another interesting point in the above scripture. Looking closely we find a very interesting switch.  It does not say “Jacob beheld”, but “Israel”. >From now on, throughout these next couple of chapters, when Jacob blesses, he does so in his Elohim-given name of Israel.

The above question seems to be eternally on the heart of Jacob, as even later the prophet Isaiah says of him (Israel) that he doesn’t recognize his own children (see Isa. 63:16). Again in another scripture: “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’" (Isa. 29:22-24).

If we gain an understanding of what is going on here, in the tent of Jacob, so many years ago, we will not err nor complain about Elohim’s order or instructions. Maybe we should hear again the voice of our father when he says: "Assemble yourselves, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days. Gather together and hear (from the root “sh’ma”), you sons of Jacob, and listen (also from the root “sh’ma”) to Israel your father” (Gen. 49:1-2)!!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Establishing Order (part one)

 The last four chapters of the book of Genesis are some of the most prophetically loaded scriptures in the entire Bible, and quite appropriately ends the book of Bereshit  (Genesis). The title itself describes Elohim’s sovereign intentions regarding the fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Thus, not only did they live, but also became fruitful and multiplied:  “and they (Israel) had possessions there (in Egypt) and were fruitful (from the same root as the name “Ephraim”) and multiplied exceedingly” (Gen. 47:27). Many years later Moses, observing the multitude, exclaimed: “YHVH your Elohim has multiplied you, and here you are today as the stars of heaven in multitude. May YHWH Elohim of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you!” (Deut. 1:10-11).  One of the interesting things to note about the fruitfulness of Elohim’s chosen nation was that it always took place outside the land of Israel.  Jacob propagated his family (Goy-nation) (all except for Benjamin) while in Haran.  In Egypt he became as numerous as the “stars of heaven”, and of course later, being dispersed into all the nations and lands on the face of the earth, became “as the sand of the sea” or the “fullness of the nations”.  A simple mathematical equation would be as follows: Israel came out of Egypt somewhere between 1.5 million and 3 million souls, multiplied by a thousand yields the figure 1.5 to 3 billion souls. Who knows how many out of  7 billion people living on the earth today are a fulfillment of that prophecy?!   As we know, “with Elohim everything is possible”, especially when it comes to keeping the covenant that He swore to the patriarchs.

Elohim’s plan of fruitfulness or multiplicity is laid out prophetically in this parasha. Right from its beginning verses we see a Torah, or life, principle in action. Laying on his deathbed Jacob calls for Joseph. The meaning of the root of the name Joseph is “to add to,” in accordance with his mother’s prayer at his birth (to have another son).  Joseph’s presences alongside of his dying father is a foreshadowing of the promise “to add to”, or to multiply the life of the one dying (Jacob-Israel). Thus, even under these natural conditions it may be said:  "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (Hos.13:14).  Our Messiah also said: “Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:24). Wheat was one of the biblical symbols that described the House of Joseph.

The years of Jacob’s troubles and sorrows were over. Only the memory of a blood stained garment of his beloved son would linger, as a prophetic picture of what price it would cost the Heavenly Father to redeem these sons of promise (Israel). In those few fleeting moments of Jacob’s life he approached Joseph with reverence and honor as the government of the entire world of Egypt was upon Joseph’s shoulders (“shechem) but yet he was not the king.

Joseph was known as a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams.  But far surpassing these attributes was Joseph’s understanding of the faithfulness of the Elohim of his fathers through the very situations of his life. The Torah was being written on Joseph’s heart through his tribulations. The testing of his faith produced wisdom, humility and compassion which then qualifying him to hold the position that he was now in. His life exemplified the prophetic destiny of his entire household. For as a people they were to pass under the rod of YHVH’s judgments, which afterwards would prepare them for their irrevocable call to become a part of a nation of kings and priests.

When Jacob knew he was drawing nigh to death, his first line of business was to strike up his final deal by making Joseph swear to bury him with his fathers. The transaction was for Joseph to put his hand under his (Jacob’s) thigh, just like Eliezer did to Abraham when sealing the oath. This meant that the strength and power of life represented by the thigh, will find expression through the hand of another, who swore or promised to be faithful to the oath.  Israel then bowed at the head of his bed, signifying, as it were, having completed the work that Elohim had sent him to do. However, there was still one more thing left for this chosen servant of Elohim, and that was to pass on, by the laying on of his right hand, the most coveted of all blessings that are recorded in the Scripture.  This blessing was reserved for a son, a son who has shown himself faithful and trustworthy in the eyes of his father. The son who would now step into the role of his father, and take upon his shoulders (shechem) the right to be the redeemer in the family. In order to have the means to redeem, this son would receive a double portion of the inheritance. However, that was not all that was to be passed on in that solemn moment in history. Jacob, holding the positions of a prophet and a king-priest after the order of Melchizedek in YHVH’s kingdom on the earth, was now obligated to pass on this highest of all positions to his beloved; the right to govern, with the dual role, or the authority of a king-priest. But is that what happened?  To be continued. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Resistance (anti-Semitism)

In the past we have written much about the national identity of the second stick Joseph/Ephraim, which has stirred up an ancient spirit that despises and loathes the national identity of the (whole) House of Jacob.  Even though YHVH divided the Israelite nation into two nations (ref. Ezekiel 37:22), His prophetic intent had always been to restore and bring those two nations back together again.  We hear a lot about anti-Semitism, which is directed at our brother Judah and the present State of Israel, but now that the second stick, or nation, of Ephraim is being restored and exposed we should expect that that same hate-filled spirit would also try to assault the Ephraimite camp.   We have several good examples of this spirit of hatred manifesting in the family of Isaac: Jacob’s brother, Esau, wanted to kill him over the birthright.  Joseph’s brothers wanted to annihilate him over the same issue. The Israelite nation, making its way out from the house of bondage, was accosted by the Amalekites (descendants of the firstborn of Esau’s family), who tried to exterminate them.

In the Psalms, King David points out that there are ten nations (all descendants of firstborn) who are trying to prevent Israel from becoming a nation: “For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more" (Psalm 83:2-4).

Why would these nations want to keep Israel from becoming a single nation, or at least (to begin with), two nations?  The answer is evident from the above-mentioned examples; they are jealous over a position that YHVH has conferred upon His chosen firstborn. This status has to do with His kingdom-order in the family of Noah, called the “Melchizedec office” of King and Priest.  It is a position that was held by twenty three Elders from Adam to Jacob, while in the generation of Abraham YHVH made an adjustment in the position, granting it to a nation rather than to an individual (as it had been hitherto).  YHVH made a covenant with His servant Abraham, that out of his sperm, through his wife Sarah, the Patriarch would father a chosen nation.  This chosen nation would be the firstborn nation amongst all the nations of humanity. 

Even before Abram (as he was called then), we see this plan already intact, as in the days of Paleg (another firstborn whose name means “to divide”) YHVH divided the nations according to the twelve tribes of Israel: “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam [which would have been during the days of Peleg], He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.  For YHVH's portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance” (Deut. 32:8-9). Today we cannot afford to ignore YHVH’s plan for the redemption of creation, and the fact that we have a very active spiritual enemy who does not want this to come to pass.  Remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Each time YHVH set off a restoration work in the People of Israel, the enemy immediately stepped in and tried to hinder the work. Daniel for example, knew the times of the restoration and proceeded to intercede and repent, but was opposed by the Prince of Persia and the Prince of Greece (two of Satan’s most powerful princes, who help him govern the dual religious and political system of his kingdom).

In the days of Ezra the enemies’ tactics were to try and join forces with the Jews, hoping in this manner to confuse and keep the workers from succeeding in carrying out their task. When Ezra declined their proposal, they made an attempt to get the authorities to bring the work to a halt.  In the days of Nehemiah, for instance, the king gave permission and sent letters to the governors of the province authorizing Nehemiah to come and seek the wellbeing of the Children of Israel, and to restore Jerusalem.   However,  “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel” (Nehemiah 2:10).  Why were they “deeply disturbed”?  Why, when the king gives permission to restore YHVH’s dwelling place, does this attitude flare up in the hearts of these two men? 

Let’s watch the progression of the attitude and activity of Sanballat, and of others who were spurred by the enemy through pride and jealousy, to stop the work.  “But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?" (Nehemiah 2:19).  Notice how the word is spreading to others, and in spite of being aware of the king’s injunctions they lie in order to discourage the workers. Their attitude has now progressed from jealousy to lying, and then to laugher and malice. Incidentally, these attitudes are not only directed toward Nehemiah and the workers, but indirectly also toward the king.

The attacks, however, only helped Nehemiah and the laborers to organize themselves and work more cooperatively, and so did the enemies’ tactics and attitudes change also. “But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.  And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish -- stones that are burned?’ Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall’" (Nehemiah 4:1-3).

Since Sanballat wasn’t getting his way, he had become furious and indignant and continued mocking the Jews.  He also began to gather up an army of people around him in order to carry out his sinister plan. The workmen, however, through prayer and keeping a watchful eye on the enemy, managed to press on with the work.

“Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion” (Nehemiah. 4:7-8).

Things are getting progressively worse, as more are added to the ranks of the enemy, and are being filled with fierce anger toward what YHVH is doing in the restoration of the City of the King, His dwelling place.   The development from jealousy to hatred is short only of murder.   Up to this point the enemies have not succeeded to stop the work, but now they must come and create fear and confusion amongst the workers: “And our adversaries said, ‘They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease’" (Nehemiah 4:11).  In order to move right into the camp the wolves are now going to cover themselves in sheep’s’ clothing, this being the most dangerous of all of the enemy’s tactics.  They will call you brother and say that they are standing with you in the work, but this is just a cover up for the jealousy, hatred and eventual murder, which they are harboring in their hearts.

Do study how Nehemiah and the others responded to each progressive attack of the enemy, as there is much to be learnt from this on how to proceed in the work of the restoration of the two nations/sticks and the whole House of Israel.   Warn those who are cooperating with the enemy of a faithful covenant-keeping Elohim, that it might be wise to take the advice of the great sage Gamaliel, whose attitude was summed up in the following words:  "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it -- lest you even be found to fight against God" (Acts 5:38-39).