Reaching out to the Jewish People

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Prophesies for Matthew Part 1

In Matthew 1 we see the genealogy of Yeshua on display. In that account it takes Yeshua’s genealogy through David and back to Abraham. This is vital when speaking to our Jewish friends who do not know Yeshua yet. So, we will spend some time looking at Matthew’s words to his people, the Jews.

In showing Yeshua’s genealogy back through David and Abraham Matthew is showing the legitimacy of His claim as the Messiah. Then throughout the rest of Matthew he continues to show prophecy after prophecy being fulfilled and we will go through some of these in the coming days.

Yes, it is true that Yeshua did not fulfill every prophecy in the Torah, Prophets and Writings, but He did speak of returning and fulfilling the rest. Interestingly, what Jews and Christians expect the Messiah to fulfill when He comes to claim His Kingdom is the same. The issue is that in Yeshua’s first coming many Jews were expecting those prophecies to be fulfilled then (for Him to be the Messiah Ben David) and yet the prophecies about the Messiah redeeming His people from their sins (Messiah Ben Yoseph – the prophecies that Matthew primarily deals with) have not been dealt with very much in the Jewish community even today.

However, before the King can sit on His throne and rule His people He needed a people who were redeemed, holy and righteous. 

Then in verses 18-25 we are faced with the fulfillment of another prophecy. Matthew hits it home hard and fast as to who Yeshua truly is. He tells us that He was born of a virgin who was espoused to a man from the House of David, Yoseph/Joseph. This fact is the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore Adonai Himself will give you a sign, the virgin will conceive, have a son and name him Immanuel.”

Interestingly, this prophecy in verse 13 of Isaiah 7 was specifically addressed to the house of David. The angel in Matthew 1 makes sure to reference Joseph as being a son of David. He also tells Joseph that he is to call the child Yeshua and tells him why. Yeshua, which means salvation, would save His people from their sins (He would be Messiah ben Joseph).

What is amazing about the fact that He was born in Bethlehem is that it was the home of the house of David. Therefore, the first ones to see Him were of the house of David, again this sign was given to the house of David.

In Yeshua’s day there was a debate occurring about whether there would be one Messiah who would fulfill both roles of Savior (Messiah ben Yoseph) and Lord (Messiah ben David) or if it would be two different people. Here in this passage of Matthew we see both addressed. There would be one Messiah and He would fulfill both roles. He would save the people from their sins (Messiah ben Yoseph), but He would also be King as the heir of David and as Immanuel, God with us (Messiah ben David).

Yeshua came to save His people, the whole house of Israel, from their sins. He will return again as Messiah King, son of David, to be Immanuel, God with us!

Who We Are To Be Part 9 – Knowing Our Faith

Mark 12:28-34 discusses the first and second greatest commandment. Mark who is writing to a primarily Gentile audience is the only one of the Gospel writers who at the front end of His quote of the greatest commandment includes verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 in his answer. It states, “Hear/shema, O Israel, the Lord/Adonai our God/Elohenu, the Lord/Adonai is one/echad.”

This part of the greatest commandment is quoted regularly by Jews who take their faith seriously. The Gospel of Matthew which was primarily written to a Jewish audience does not include this portion. So why would Mark include it?

Mark is wanting his Gentile audience to become familiar with this piece of liturgy, which the Jews would have already been very familiar with. It was and is quoted regularly in any synagogue.

The Jews did not need to grow accustomed to hearing this spoken, but the new Gentile believers who were now attending synagogue to hear Moses and the prophets read and learn about their new faith needed to know and become comfortable with it. They needed to know that what they were hearing on a weekly basis was not of human origin but comes straight from the Scriptures.

We need to know why we do things even still today. We need to make sure that we are not doing what we do just for the sake of doing or holding to a man made tradition, but because it is part of our Faith and from Scripture.

Three basic questions we should ask are:  1) Do we do what we do because we have always done it that way or because we see it being done in the pages of Scripture?  2) If we are doing things that are not in Scripture, why are we and when and how did we start?  3) If we are not doing things in Scripture why aren’t we and when and how did we stop?

1 John 2:3-6 states, “Now we know that we have come to know Him by this–if we keep (obey) His commandments.  The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep (obey) His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps (obeys) His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect.  We know that we are in Him by this–whoever claims to abide in Him must walk (live) just as He walked (lived).”  Yeshua, the perfect Son of God in whom the love of God was perfect, is our role model on how to live this life. He always obeyed the Father and never broke one of His Father’s commandments.  He never broke the Law of the Kingdom.  Therefore, He practiced the Shabbat, the Feasts (Moed), the New Moons and all the commands of His Father that applied to Him as a man of Israel.  He was not a priest, farmer or women so none of those laws applied to Him. 

If He is our perfect example on how to live the life of a citizen of the Kingdom then shouldn’t we live as He lived, in perfect obedience to the Father?

Mark wanted His readers to understand that their salvation/Faith is from the Jews.  Even Yeshua said to the women at the well that “salvation is of the Jews”.  After all, in the first century we were first known as The Way, a sect of Judaism.  Mark wanted them to understand their new Faith and not reinvent it to look more like the pagan world they were familiar with.  Unfortunately, much of that was done and now we find ourselves having to ask the three basic questions given above. 

Who We Are To Be Part 8 – The Feasts of The Lord

Today I want to discuss the Feast Days/Moedim in Leviticus 23. When we practice these Moedim, including Shabbat, we are remembering what God has done and what He will do.

These are our God’s Moedim or appointed times. They are appointed times for us to hold holy convocations or assemblies. These assemblies are really meant to be holy called out dress rehearsals for what is to come (the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘mikra’). They are dress rehearsals in the same way a wedding rehearsal is a practice for the wedding party of the event to come, the wedding.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:16-17 that, “All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (doing what is right according to Torah/The Law), so that the man of Elohim may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

In other words, the Moedim are part of the way God trains or prepares us for the main events still to come, so that we will be ready when they arrive, when God fulfills His Word.

They also give us hope as we remember what He already has done. If He will do those things than He will surely see all of His Word fulfilled. Halleluyah!

Who We Are To Be Part 7 – The Light of Dawn

Isaiah 8:13-16 says, “ADONAI/The LORD Shaddai is the only one you are to regard as holy, He alone are you to fear, He alone are you to dread, and He will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.  And for the people of Jerusalem He will be a trap and a snare.  Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.  Bind up the testimony and seal up the law/Torah among my disciples.”

In Romans 9:33 Paul says that the stone that makes men stumble is Yeshua and in 1 Timothy 2:6 he calls Yeshua the testimony that was given in its time.  So, Yeshua is the stumbling block and the testimony.

Historically, Christians have held tight to the testimony of Jesus and the Jews have held tight to the Torah. However, as we see in the Isaiah passage it is about both.

Revelation 12:17 lets us know it is the ones who hold to the testimony of Yeshua and keep the commandments of God that the dragon goes after. Both are important!

Finally, we see this in Isaiah 8:20, “To the Law/Torah and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they will have no dawn.”

Is it any wonder that the enemy wants us to keep these two, the testimony (Yeshua) and the Torah, apart?  It is that all too familiar strategy of divide and conquer. Let’s not give him that satisfaction!  Let us hold to the testimony, Yeshua, and the Torah!

Now, as we begin to witness to our older brother, the Jews, we need to be honest with ourselves and them.  We have presented in the past a Messiah they could not recognize.  Not only have we presented a Gentile looking Messiah devoid of His Jewishness, but we have also said that because He fulfilled the Torah/Law that we don’t have to obey it.  That is and has been a big turn off to the Jewish people and rightly so.

We have essentially said to them, “believe in Jesus to come to God, but don’t serve and obey God.”  That is essentially what they hear.  And it is and has been a huge clue to them that the one we are presenting to them, at least the way we have presented Him, sounds and looks more like a false prophet than the real Messiah written about in the Tanakh (what we call the Old Testament).  Let me explain this statement.

Deuteronomy 13 says that even if someone prophesies and it comes true or does signs and wonders (miracles), but they lead you away from your God and from serving Him they are a false prophet.  Since to serve Him means to obey Him the false prophet is encouraging you to disobey the one you claim to serve. 

Even Yeshua when speaking of those who come to Him and say, “Lord, Lord didn’t we do things in Your Name,” he said to them, “Go away from me you workers of Lawlessness, I never knew you.”(Matthew 7:22-23)  This comment of Yeshua takes place in the context of a discussion about false prophets.  This should be very sobering to us.  We need to be very careful about how we present our Messiah.

Yeshua was a Jew and practiced the Torah.  If He did not He would have been a sinner and not an acceptable sacrifice.  He not only practiced the Torah, He also taught the Torah.  If He didn’t He would have been coming against the teachings of His Father.  He Himself said that His words were the words of His Father (John 8:28, 14:24).  Remember, He is the Living Torah, which also means He would have been coming against Himself.  He would have also, at the least, been calling Himself the least in the Kingdom according to His own words (Matthew 5:17-20).

Yeshua is the Living Torah, He practiced the Torah, He taught the Torah and promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who would also teach us the Torah (John 14:26 & 16:13-15, Romans 8).

My point is this:  Let’s be honest about our mistakes of the past and seek to rectify them with truth and grace.  Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.  

I also want to say I am not passing judgement on those who have taught this.  I believe those who have come before us have done the best that they knew to do from what was taught to them. It is not about them, but about us and how we present Yeshua now and in the future, now that the LORD has opened our eyes.

“To the Law/Torah and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they will have no dawn.”

Who We Are To Be Part 6

1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “I appeal to you brothers in the name of our Adonai Yeshua the Messiah, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no schisms among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same opinion.

Notice what this passage is saying, that we are to be one, with no schisms. That our words are to be the same and that being the same (one/echad) in mind and opinion makes us complete. Therefore, we are not complete as long as as we are not one/echad, as long as there are schisms between us.

I have heard others over the years speak of unity not meaning uniformity, and in terms of our gifts and talents they would be correct, however this verse seems to be saying that in terms of our faith they are not. Then there is this verse, Ephesians 4:13, that speaks of the Messiah giving different gifts so that His body may be built up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God and become complete (echad), attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah.”  The oneness of the body seems to be the final step to the bride of Messiah making herself ready (Revelation 10:7).

Also, the body of Messiah keeping Torah, in other words, obeying the commandments is also definitely coupled with belief in Yeshua before His return (Revelation 12:17 – “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her seed—those who keep Elohim’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Yeshua.”).

So the question is are we there? No we are not. So what does that mean? It means we still have a ways to go. The prayer and hope is that we are on the road and not resisting the work of the Spirit in our lives and the life of the body. Remember the work of the Spirit according to Ezekiel 36:27 is to help us obey the decrees and laws of Elohim and do them. Also, according to Jeremiah 31:33 the New Covenant is the placing of the Law/Torah of God on our minds and hearts.

Therefore, the Reformation is not yet complete until these things are true of us. God is still working among His people and He is preparing us for His Kingdom. So we pray, “Your Kingdom come Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

So why is it important that even the Gentile believer obeys the Law of God/Torah. It is not only our obligation of living in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8), not only how we express our love for our Messiah (John14), but it is also how we make Judah jealous (Romans 11).

We are called to make the Jews jealous and even angry that we have something that they understand is theirs (Romans 10:19 and Deuteronomy 32:21). When we practice the Torah/Law of Moses/Law of God, when they see us practicing Torah it arouses in them a jealousy and in some cases even anger because they think we are hijacking what is theirs. However, Scripture itself tells us that the same law is for the foreigner and the native born (Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:15-16, 29;Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14 and Deuteronomy 1:16). It is for all those who choose to follow Elohim and be a part of His Kingdom.

At this point it is not just about our Discipleship in the Kingdom but it also becomes about Evangelism of the Jews. Paul in Romans 11:13b-14 puts it like this, “I make much of my ministry (to the Gentiles) in the hope that I can somehow arouse my own people (the Jews) to jealousy and save some of them. This jealousy is in the hope of their salvation.

So when we live out the Kingdom life it is as if we are Joseph saying to his brother Judah, “I am Joseph (Ephraim) a son of Israel and I bring you my brother good news of life, the Messiah, the true bread of Heaven, has come and He is Yeshua of Nazareth, Yeshua the Netser, Yeshua the Branch.”

Couple these two things, belief in Yeshua our Messiah and obedience to the commands of His Father and we have God’s recipe for His people becoming one/echad.  Whether Jew or Gentile, we are called to be one/echad in Messiah and all those who follow Yeshua the Messiah and love Him will obey Him.  We willingly become the bondservant of our Master to serve Him faithfully all our days. 

What would the body look like if we did this instead of causing division and strife in the House He is building?  Things would all come into place and the tabernacle of David would be echad!  It would be ready for the glory of Elohim.

Who We Are To Be Part 5

In John 17 Yeshua prayed that His followers would be one as He and the Father are one. I used to think I knew what that meant, that there would no longer be any denominations among the church. However, God has shown me that His ways are higher than our ways. He has a much bigger plan in mind.

His plan is to make the Jew and Gentile one. This is what Paul refers to as the mystery of God/Elohim in the book of Ephesians. Then in Revelation 10:7 John tells us that before the seventh trumpet blows that the mystery of God will be completed. So before the last trump blows we will truly be one.

We see this, as John mentions in this verse (Revelation 10:7), foretold by the prophets.  So where do we see the idea of God’s people being made one in the prophets? We see it in Ezekiel 37 when Elohim tells the prophet to take two sticks. One is named for the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim and all the tribes associated with him and the other is named for Judah and all the tribes associated with him.

We know who Judah is, they are the Jews. But who is the tribe of Ephraim and how did that get associated with the Gentiles? When Elohim dispersed the northern tribes of Israel He dispersed them into the nations and they have not yet returned. They went out into the nations and began to live as the nations, as the Gentiles. So much so that they don’t even know they are descended from the northern tribes of Israel. These are the lost tribes of Israel that Yeshua speaks of coming for.

But again how does that correlate to the Gentiles? We find this in the book of Genesis chapter 48 when Jacob adopts Joseph’s sons Manassah and Ephraim. I know you remember that Jacob crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of the younger, Ephraim. In doing so he put Ephraim ahead of Manassah.

Jacob then blessed Ephraim and said that he would be the fullness of the nations (gentiles). That should sound familiar from the writing of Paul. In Romans 11:25 Paul mentions the fullness of the Gentiles coming about and that until that happens there would be a hardening of Israel (the Jews). He even calls this a mystery.

When the fullness of the Gentiles (Ephraim) occurs the unhardening of the Jews will happen at the same time and so all of Israel, both Ephraim (Gentiles) and Judah (Jews) will be saved.

Interestingly enough, we are seeing more Jews coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua now than since the first century and at the same time the Gentiles are coming into their fullness, they are becoming complete and beginning to understand the importance of obedience to the Word of God (Torah). Again, these things are happening at the same time.

It is time for the bringing together of the two sticks! We are to be one as Yeshua prayed for and as Ezekiel puts it in 37:21-28, “then say to them this is what ADONAI Elohim says, ‘Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, where they have gone. I will gather them from every side and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be king to them all. They will no longer be two nations and never again be divided into two kingdoms. They will never again be defiled with their idols, their detestable things or with any of their transgressions. I will save them out of all their dwellings in which they sinned. I will purify them. Then they will be My people and I will be their Elohim. My servant David will be king over them. They will all have One Shepherd. They will walk in My ordinances and observe My rulings and do them. They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your ancestors lived. They will live there – they, their children and their children’s children, forever, and My servant David will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace (shalom) with them – it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will give to them and multiply them. I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be over them. I will be their God and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.”

Remember Yeshua when He was praying in John 17 said that the oneness of His people would be what let the world know that Elohim sent His Son. Let’s be more mindful of what His goal is for us and head in His direction, not our own anymore.

So how does this happen?  Zechariah 8:23 says, “Thus says the LORD of Hosts, In that day 10 men from all nations will take hold of the wing/tzitzit of one Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard the LORD is with you.'”

This verse is saying that in the last days the Gentiles from all nations (Ephraim and those who come with him) will take hold of the wing on one Jew wanting to go with him because it is obvious that Elohim is with them. We are seeing this beginning to happen in our day.

Many are going to the believing Jews and asking them to teach them of the ways of Adonai. They are in essence taking a hold of the tzitzit or tassels of a Jew and asking to go with them. I say tzitzit because the word for wing here is the word that describes the corner of the garment (wing) that the tzitzit is to be attached to.

To see Gentile believers interested in what the Messianic Jew has to teach is Biblical. It was prophesied about in this passage. They are asking to be discipled by those who keep Torah as a means of showing their love to our Creator.

Again, this is about Discipleship, not Salvation. It is a desire to learn the ways of our King so that we may please Him, just as Moses prayed in Exodus 33:13. Moses asked this for the purpose of knowing Elohim better, not knowing Him in the first place.

Remember, the goal ahead of us is YHWH making us one and the mystery being fulfilled. So let us learn!