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).