Yom Hashoah

tatoo

Chip owned the local deli in my neighborhood. He made the best sandwiches. Sometimes he would even slip in a piece of bacon. When he layered on the condiments you might catch a glimpse of the mark upon his left arm. As he rang up the sale and bagged your order it was clearly visible. It would never go away — nor the memories that haunted him night and day.

Auschwitz was the only concentration camp where prisoners received a tattoo. So many thousands died there that it became impossible to maintain identification records. The SS began tattooing prisoners in 1941 except those who were sent directly to the gas chambers.

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) falls on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. That corresponds to Monday, April 24, 2017.

Please take a moment to remember.

[Yad Vashem –The World Holocaust Remembrance Center]

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Not a Christmas Message

Editor: If Christians were Christians there would still be anti-Semitism, but point taken.

On Christmas Eve last year, David Lazarus posted an article at Israel Today regarding a declaration from 25 Orthodox Rabbis “welcoming the carpenter from Nazareth back into the Jewish fold”.

What these esteemed religious teachers had to say is very encouraging. Interestingly, the Pharisees accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the Law of Moses (specifically, observing the Sabbath). This makes the following statement even more significant:

Jesus brought a double goodness to the world. On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically … and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah (and) he removed idols from the nations.

After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox Rabbis who lead communities, institutions and seminaries in Israel, the United States and Europe … seek to do the will of our Father in Heaven by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters.

As did Maimonides and Yehudah Halevi, we acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations. In separating Judaism and Christianity, G-d willed a separation between partners with significant theological differences, not a separation between enemies.

What we understand about the complex relationship between Jews and Gentiles with regards to the person of Jesus Christ is that religious Israel never denied Jesus, in the sense of his personage, but only questioned his authority:

After their return to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking in the temple courts, and the chief priests, scribes, and elders came up to Him asking, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You the authority to do them?” Mark 11:27-28

The religious leaders did not even deny the miracles that Jesus performed, but blasphemed the Holy Spirit by saying that it was not by the power of G-d’s spirit that Jesus cast out demons, but by the will of Beelzebul (Matthew 12:23-24).

The most rabid atheists I know do not deny the person of Jesus Christ. Some will even say he was a wise man but, like Israel, they reject any claims of his Divine nature. Oh, how many times have I heard it said that Jesus is the G-d of the Gentiles?

No prophet is accepted in his own country (Luke 4:24).

So, this statement by 25 Orthodox Rabbis is quite revealing of how G-d’s spirit is moving over the land of Israel. In his article, Lazarus quoted Rabbi Eugene Korn ( Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation):

This proclamation’s breakthrough is that influential Orthodox rabbis across all centers of Jewish life have finally acknowledged that … Christianity and Judaism have much in common spiritually and practically. Given our toxic history, this is unprecedented in Orthodoxy.

Last Christmas, Rabbi David Wolpe wrote an article for Time magazine. Titled, A Jewish View of Christmas, Wolpe reminisced about his mentor Elieser Slomovic who lost many family members in the Holocaust.

Slomovic was able to escape the horror of WWII, and made his way to America where he thought he might be killed for being a Jew. Christians need to understand the historical fear and suspicion that the Jewish people feel towards them. It is a difficult hurdle to cross when, for 2000 years, and with the blessing of the Church, Jews have been condemned as being the killers of Jesus.

Who killed Jesus?

No man takes (my life) from me; I am laying it down of my own will, for I am authorized to lay it down, and I am authorized to receive it again; this commandment I have received from my Father (John 10:18).

Rabbi Slomovic, haunted by fear and the horrors of anti-Semitism, was somewhat reluctant to accept an invitation to an inter-faith dinner. When he arrived at the affair, Wolpe recalled that Slomovic tried to keep a low profile, but the Rabbi cried when the host pastor delivered the blessing:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.

Wolpe commented:

Elieser got tears in his eyes. That a Christian would pay tribute to Jesus’ Jewish origins and begin with a Hebrew blessing was something he never thought to hear in his lifetime. America really was different.

In closing, the 25 Rabbis noted the G-d willed separation between Jews and Christians. From Paul’s letter to the Romans we learn there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, but that Israel has been hardened until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.

The Rabbis’ declaration is a sign from G-d that the Holy Spirit is softening the heart of Israel — that the redemptive hand of the LORD is moving over His people. With regard to the fullness of the Gentiles I would only recite Paul’s warning that you not be conceited for Jesus is the root, Israel is the tree, and you are a grafted branch.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz. Blessed are you O Lord our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

G-d’s will be done until that glorious day when all of Israel shall be saved. That is a joyful message for any season.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Rosh Hashanah

Pomegranate_Image

As you read this understand that the LORD, blessed be His name, loves Israel. And I love Israel — enough to speak the truth and overturn some carts.

Three things struck me this day that have churned my soul, and I must write about them as the LORD has so inspired. (This will stub some people’s toes, but it must be shared.)

I was reading the Jewish Press — an article by Yoram Ettinger — about Rosh Hashanah (Hag Sameach). Though not mentioned in the Torah it is a celebration of the Jewish New Year (5776).

There were some interesting bites of information. For example: Why is the pomegranate — engraved on the Ark and sewn on the coat of the High Priest — a featured item at the Holiday meal?

There are 613 genetic seeds in a pomegranate reflecting the 613 statutes of the ceremonial Law, and a customary blessing is typically recited over the meal:

May you be credited with as many rewards as the seeds of the pomegranate.

Comments are welcomed at the end of the JP article with the exception of those that promote foreign religions, gods or messiahs. More on that later.

Having read the article I then climbed aboard the Bible Bus for my daily study with J. Vernon McGee. He began the session by saying that the Abrahamic Covenant has not yet been fulfilled. McGee is at odds with many Dispensationalists who see, at least, a partial fulfillment in 1948 when Israel became a state.

Later, I was watching Greg Laurie, and he carried on with the theme that God’s promise to Abraham has not been fulfilled. What was the promise God made to Abram?

In Genesis 15 the LORD promised Abram an heir (Isaac), and that his seed will possess the land. Abram offered a sacrifice unto God, and while he slept the LORD passed between the carcasses thus affirming His covenant.

In ancient days, two men would validate a mutual agreement by walking between the halves of a slain animal. The LORD put Abram into a deep sleep, and He walked alone between the pieces thus suggesting that the covenant was unilateral, irrevocable and everlasting.

Dispensationalism teaches that the land promise will not be fulfilled until the Messiah returns to establish the Millennial kingdom and reign upon the earthly throne of David in Jerusalem — a fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (Jeremiah 33:17). 

Okay, take a deep breath because what I am about to say will cause some to throw stones. Please hear me out because this is historic Christianity — not revisionist evangelicalism.

I believe the land covenant was fulfilled in the days of Joshua (3500 years ago), and that the Messiah is now reigning on the throne of David.

Jesus Christ said that He came to fulfill the Law and Prophets (Matthew 5:17). All of Jewish history pointed to a singular culmination — the coming of Mashiach. Like the Christians, Jews believe in two comings, but it gets complicated. Mashiach ben Yosef is a descendant of Joseph who will prepare the way for Mashiach ben David who will then reign eternally upon the throne of King David.

The zealots — even some of the disciples — thought that Jesus had come to restore the kingdom to Israel even though He said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

This is the stumbling block for Jews. Christ came the first time, but was rejected by His people. He will come again in great glory taking vengeance on those who know Him not (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Understand what I am saying. All has been fulfilled except the Second Coming of Christ which, according to Jesus, will be on the last day — not pre, mid or post but, as Peter wrote, the day of the Lord which will come like a thief in the night to destroy the heavens and earth with fire. All will be removed (you can call it raptured) — some to eternal life and the rest to eternal judgement. Then the new heavens and earth will descend and the saints will live forevermore in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Blessed be His name. (John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:44, John 6:54, and 2 Peter 3:10).

What about the land promise? Written between 1400 and 1370 B.C. we find the answer in the Old Testament book of Joshua:

So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it (Joshua 21:43).

You know the history. The Jews are in bondage in Egypt … Moses leads them through the wilderness for forty years … and Joshua provides the details of their conquest and possession of the Promised Land.

Dispensationalists will say that the Jews did not physically occupy all of the land therefore God’s promise to Abraham has not been fulfilled. When the LORD promised to return the captives of Babylonian exile only a remnant came home. Many were comfortable with their adapted lives and chose to remain in Babylon.

No. You can’t be a literalist and then deny a matter-of-fact declaration. Consider this scenario: A father promises his son that when he turns sixteen he will give him the family sedan. The son turns sixteen and his father transfers title, but the son — for whatever reason — doesn’t take possession of the vehicle. Has the father fulfilled the promise he made to his son? Certainly.

I will not split hairs over the meaning of take and possess, (Heb. lakad, yarash). Judah fared well in taking and possessing their inheritance while the northern tribes had difficulty with the Jebusites who were quite tenacious.

In any case, Jesus Christ has fulfilled both the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. Don’t believe me? Would you believe Luke and Peter?

Read Peter’s sermon as recorded by Luke in Acts 2.

It is the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has been poured out which Peter cites, by the way, as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:16) — you know, the one about blood moons, a darkened sun, signs and wonders (Joel 2:28-32) — the prophecy that, according to Dispensationalists, has yet to be fulfilled. Hagee and Cahn are making lots of money selling books on this false teaching.

Joel was using symbolic imagery to convey a prophetic word from God. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Revelation utilize the same customary style. For example, in describing the destruction of Babylon, Isaiah wrote:

For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light (Isaiah 13:10).

The heavenly imagery depicts cataclysmic events, or prophetic fulfillment upon the earth, and is the literary style of ancient Hebrew text.

Peter then addresses the Jews who believed that King David would return to sit on his throne in Jerusalem. They glean this from Psalm 16:10 where David says that the LORD will not abandon his soul in Hades nor allow His Holy One to undergo decay — an unmistakable reference to Jesus Christ.

David died, was buried and his tomb, said Peter, is with us to this day (Acts 2:29). David isn’t coming back to reign for the prophesy was not about him but the resurrected Son of God.

When David speaks in Psalm 110:1 about the LORD saying to my Lord, sit at My right hand, he is speaking not of himself, said Peter, but of the Mashiach.

Peter was making the case that Jesus Christ is sitting on the throne of David:

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36). 

As Peter revealed that Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, Paul declared that the promise made by God to Abraham had been fulfilled in this same Jesus:

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (Galatians 3:16). 

Paul explains that God’s promise to Abram came 430 years before the Law was delivered to Moses. The Law does not nullify the promise which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Because Abram was deemed righteous through faith so are Jews and Gentiles counted righteous — not by the Law which came later — but by their faith in the One who fulfilled the Law, that is, Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Galatians 3).

Brethren, we have a problem. I have dared to speak so boldly of Christ at this time of holiday because Israel needs to hear the Gospel that would otherwise be censured.

Citing the aforementioned Jewish Press, understand that Israel (the Jewish people) have rejected Jesus Christ and His atonement. They are in rebellion against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The olive tree and grape-vine (symbolic of the nation of Israel) are presented afresh in the B’rit Chadasha:

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree — some of the people of Israel — have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree ((Romans 11:17 — NLT).

With regards to Israel being the vine, Jesus said, I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser (John 15:1). 

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it (Matthew 21:43). 

McGee and Laurie deride this as Replacement Theology — that the ‘church’ has replaced Israel in God’s plan of redemption. Reformers (such as myself) refer to it as Covenant Theology, that is, Old Testament promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ just as the LORD revealed through His prophet (Jeremiah 31:31). Conversely, some evangelicals teach a two-step plan of redemption — one for Gentiles, another for Israel. No, there is only one plan of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

The problem is that Dispensationalism has embraced an almost idolatrous love affair with Israel. How did Paul define Israel?

… they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants … (Romans 9:6-7).

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter (Law); and his praise is not from men, but from God (Romans 2:28-29).

If you, who are Gentile, have been grafted in then you are a Jew, a descendant of Abraham — a High Priest and a Holy nation, God’s very own possession (1 Peter 2:9).

True Israel — the vine being Jesus Christ — consists of believing Jews and Gentiles who have been declared righteous by their faith in Yeshua HaMashiach …

… and in this way all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

Stop watching the fig tree and blood moons for your salvation, and keep your eyes on the Lord.

Okay, you can breathe now.

Suggested Reading:

Want to know more about Dispensational Theology? Read our series beginning with the 70 Weeks of Daniel.

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