Why Should Christians Consider the Messianic Life?

It is often asked by our fellow Christians, “Are you trying to be a Jew?”  Or they might say something like this, “I am a Baptist, not a Jew.”  Both the question and the statement are misunderstandings of the issue. 

I am a Baptist pastor’s wife whose family has adopted the Messianic lifestyle.  I am not a Jew, nor do I think that I can become one physically.  However, I am a disciple of a Jew.  His name is Yeshua/Jesus.  This is an important distinction that must be made.  As a believer in Yeshua I have been filled with the Holy Spirit/ Ruach HaKodesh and it is His job to transform my life into the image of Yeshua, the Son. 

In Matthew 28 the disciples were told to make disciples.  This term is very specific.  A disciple is a student of a teacher/rabbi.  The student or disciple seeks to pattern his life after his rabbi.  In 1 John 2:6 we are told to walk as our rabbi walked if we are going to abide in Him.  A disciple desires to place each step in the step of his rabbi and not veer off the path of his master.  The disciple should end up looking exactly like his rabbi so that he teaches what his rabbi taught and lives as his rabbi lived.  This is the call of the disciple.

Earlier in my walk with the Lord I often wondered if our faith really looked like His life.  I wanted so much to look like Him, but there seemed to be a disconnect from what I read about His life to the way I lived out my faith.  He lived as a Jew, completely submitted to the Torah or instructions/teachings of His Father.  Yet we are often told in the church that the teachings of the Father are not for us today.  Yeshua fulfilled them so we do not have to.  So, let me get this straight.  Yeshua obeyed and lived out the teachings of His Father so we would not have to obey and live out those teachings. 

If that is the case than our lives do not look like our rabbi and never will.  In fact, our lives would be the exact opposite.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that Christians love the Father very much and want to please Him and for the most part they obey much of His Torah. 

However, there seems to be an attitude of not wanting to look like a Jew.  Many will say, “I am a Gentile”.  While this may be true of our physical heritage, it is not true of our spiritual heritage.  We have been adopted into the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the blood of Yeshua.  We have been grafted into the tree of Israel.  We have been made citizens of God’s household, Israel.  We may have been far away but now in Yeshua we have been brought near.

To make it clear, we are not to steal the identity of the Jewish people.  We do not replace them in any way.  We do, however, enlarge them.  The God of Israel takes us gentiles and enlarges His people and makes us one.  We are now one people, believing Jew and Gentile.  All those who come under the banner of Adonai through Yeshua are one people.

But what does this have to do with being a disciple?  It is not my goal or aim to live like a Jew, but I do seek to live like a particular Jew, Yeshua.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Messiah.”(TLV)  Paul, a Jewish disciple of the Jewish Messiah, is telling gentiles to follow his example in their walk as believers. 

James in Acts 15:21 makes it clear that he fully expects the gentile believers to be going to their local synagogue each Shabbat to hear Moses read.  He expects them to learn from Moses and so follow the example of their fellow Jewish believers in how to live this life. 

The disciples were Jewish believers and never once intended for the faith to be disconnected from their Jewish way of life.  After all it was God Himself that had instructed the redeemed of Israel on how to live.  That is right, the instructions of the Father were given to a redeemed people.  They had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.   Then they were taken to the mountain and taught how to live, how to love God and their neighbor.

To be sure this is not a matter of justification, but sanctification.  We are saved only by the blood of Yeshua.  I do not seek to make a Gentile a Jew or a Baptist a Jew, I am merely pointing out that we follow a Jew.  And, once we are saved, we must learn to live the life of a disciple to a Jew, and not just any Jew, but the King of the Jews.   

Yeshua was not a Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic or any other denomination.  He was a Jew who lived a Jewish lifestyle.  To separate our faith from this way of life is to, in part, separate ourselves from who He was and is.  I know that is not the intention, but it is the result.  If we truly want to be transformed into the image of Yeshua/Jesus than we need to walk in His footsteps so that we can completely look like our master.  Or to say it another way, we need to be totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit/Ruach HaKodesh in being transformed into His image, the image of the Son.

Yeshua is our Rabbi, He is our example.  The ONLY perfect example of how to live a life that pleases the Father.  Therefore, if we seek to please the Father than we must live as Yeshua lived.

So, I ask the question to anyone who seeks to be transformed into the image of Yeshua.  What is keeping you from living the life of a Messianic Believer and following in the steps of your Rabbi? 

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Evangelism vs. Discipleship

             For the most part over the last two thousand years the church has done a fairly decent job of evangelism.  Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that on this topic the church has had a unified message, Jesus died for our sins, was buried and three days later rose again.  This message has been communicated fairly well. 

However, that cannot be said of discipleship in the church for the last two thousand years.  Discipleship seems to be the church’s area of weakness.  We have all been in an interview where the perspective employer asks us to state our strength and weakness.  Well for the church its strength is evangelism and its weakness is discipleship.  In this area the church cannot find its unified message and when part of the church seems to find a message it cannot seem to stay on message for very long.  Why is this?

How many times has someone received Christ and went to their pastor and asked the question, “OK, now what?  Now that I am saved how do I live this life?” and the pastor literally stumbles over what to say.  That same pastor spoke with great conviction and assurance when it came to the salvation message, but now seems to not know exactly what to say when it comes to instructing one who has believed on how to live out this life. 

The most common answers from the church are to read your Bible, pray and maybe join a Bible study group.  With all respect to pastors, that answer just doesn’t cut it.  It doesn’t tell someone who truly wants to know, how to live out their Christian faith on a day to day basis.  Does God tell us how to do this or did He leave us hanging to figure it out ourselves as we flounder through this thing called life? 

To be completely honest if we only rely on the New Testament to help us figure this out, we will be left with a lot more questions than answers.  Especially, if we have to wade through the theological hoops our pastors send us through.  What do I mean by that?  Simple, John in 1 John 2:3-6 tells us to live or walk as Jesus walked, but our pastors tell us that Jesus only lived that way because it was cultural to His time and place and we don’t really have to live like He did and by all means don’t go back and read the Old Testament and start asking the question, “Does this still apply to me today?”

Please understand I am not trying to be harsh or critical toward pastors, I am married to one.  What I do want us to understand is that we in the church have put theological blinders on ourselves and allowed the enemy to convince us of certain things concerning Scripture and the nature of the Christian life.  Yes, we as Christians have to be willing to take an honest look at our historical and current understanding of how we are to follow our Messiah.  We can no longer just put our hands over our eyes and hears and refuse to see and hear the truth, we are running out of time and we all know it.

So again, why is the area of discipleship such a problem?  First there is the Biblical reason.  God did leave us with instructions on how to live life as His child and we have refused to see it as such.  The short answer is that the Torah/Law of God is His instruction manual to this life as His child.  The longer answer is that the word “torah” itself means instruction and that its root word is actually an archery term meaning “to hit the mark”.  That becomes even more interesting when one realizes that the word for sin is also an archery term that means “to miss the mark”. 

Let that sink in, ‘sin’ is to miss the mark and the root word of torah is to hit the mark, while the word ‘torah’ itself means instruction.  Instruction for what?  Torah is our God given instruction manual on how to hit the mark of righteousness and live a holy or set apart life before God.  It really is that simple.  The Torah is God’s discipleship program.

So, the reason why Discipleship in the church is such a weakness is that it has refused to recognize God’s Discipleship program and has constantly tried to come up with its own, with a manmade system of discipleship.  God has never allowed those things to work and never will, especially in a lasting sense.

The historical reason for our discipleship problem is much more complicated and even evil.  The church rather early on started purposely pulling away from anything that looked Jewish.  These were decisions made by gentiles and based on antisemitism. 

The church councils, for example, told the people it was illegal to Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but instead must work on that day.  The exact opposite of the Father’s instructions for His people.  They wanted a clear break and difference between them and the Jews.  This difference came from their own imaginations and not from Scripture. 

Sadly, we have been living with those decisions for nearly two thousand years and have been convinced that they are somehow Biblical when that is not the case at all.  Even the Roman Catholic church admits that they changed the day of worship from Saturday (the seventh day) to Sunday (the first day) on their own authority and not that of Scripture. 

I want to go back to Scripture and see just what did the New Testament writers say.  Let’s go back to John in 1 John 3:4 where he states that sin is the breaking of the Law (God’s Law/Torah).  John also states in 1 John 1:9, that if we sin, we can confess our sin and that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin. 

Yet we are told that the Law of God/Torah is not for us or that it has been superseded.  Do you see the problem?  If the Law/Torah no longer applies then we do not sin and therefore we have no need of confession.  Yet John also says that if we say we have no sin than we make God out to be a liar 1 John 1:10).  He also goes on to say that if we are born of God then we will not live in a lifestyle of sin (1 John 3:6-9).  In other words, we will want to live righteously before God and get rid of all sin in our lives through confession and turning away from sin. 

So how does that Bible define righteousness and truth?  We can find both of these and much more in Psalm 119.  This is not only the longest chapter in the Bible, but it is also a loving description of the Torah/Law/Commands of God/The Word of God.  His Torah is truth, it is the way, the life (according to Deuteronomy 30), the restorer of our life, righteous(ness), freedom, eternal and so much more. 

Speaking of Deuteronomy 30 Moses also says in that chapter that God’s Torah is not too difficult for the people of God and strangely enough John reiterates this idea in 1 John 5:3.

So, what’s the deal?  Is the Torah done away with for the life of the believer or not?   I would definitely say, “No”! 

Notice I am speaking in terms of the life of one who is already a Believer in Yeshua/Jesus.  The Torah/Law of God was never a means to salvation, it was always the way in which His people who already believe live, love Him and each other. 

In this perspective the giving of the Torah/Law was an act of grace.  It is not Law vs. Grace.  The Law is part of the grace of God toward His people.  He did not leave us to figure this walk out on our own.  He was gracious to us and told us how to live through Moses and then showed us through His Son, Yeshua/Jesus and finally gives us the power to live it through His Holy Spirit/Ruach HaKodesh. 

Jesus showed us how to live a perfect, holy, set apart life.  It was not a cultural life, it was a Biblical life, a life pleasing to His Father.  He loved His Father the way His Father asked to be loved.  He loved others the way His Father told Him to love them.  He was a perfectly obedient Son.  Why would we not want to follow Him in His example?  How can we follow Him if we insist on living and walking in a different way?

Is evangelism important?  Of course, it is!  We need to tell others about what God did for them through His Son.  The world needs to know that God loved them so much that He sent His Son.  Only through the blood of the Lamb Yeshua are we saved, but is that the be all end all of discipleship?  No, it is not!  The believer needs to know how to please the One in whom they believe.  We need to know what our obligations are toward our Father now that we are part of His family. 

That is what the Torah is, it is the rules of the family and one must be part of the family first for them to apply.  One does not become adopted into a family by obeying the rules of the family, but is adopted first and then taught the rules of the family so that the family can function as one unit.  Was that not the prayer of our Savior?  Doesn’t He want us to be one with each other and with Him and the Father? Yes, He does!  How can that happen if we are all going in different directions when it comes to discipleship?

Then there is the issue of the Great Commission where we are told by Yeshua in Matthew 28 to make disciples, not just converts.  How does He tell us to make disciples?  We are to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and to teach them to observe all things that He taught. 

What did He teach?  He taught the teachings of His Father, The Torah.  How many times in the Gospel of John does Jesus say that His words are not His own, but His Fathers?  Many. 

Moses even stated in Deuteronomy 18, when describing the prophet to come (ie. The Messiah), that he would have the words of God in his mouth and Moses was not talking about different words from what the Father had given him. 

So, does the Word of God change?  No, according to Scripture itself in Isaiah 40:8 the Word of God stands forever, as does 1 Peter 1:25.  It does not change, it stands!  Why would God change His word if it stands forever?  He would not!  He is unchanging and His Word stands forever!

           

Who We Are To Be Part 4

Today I want to look at some passages from Isaiah and to look at some of the things God says to His people in preparing them for the last days and the great harvest.

In Isaiah 51 He begins by telling His people to listen to Him and for those who seek Him and His righteousness to look from the rock from which they were cut namely Abraham and Sarah who obeyed Torah (Genesis 26:4-5). We are to listen and hear Him, we are to shema for His Law comes out from Him and is a light to the nations.

Now that we are listening He calls His people to Awake, Awake three time in chapters 51 and 52. Awake, Awake to clothe with strength and be awake as in days of old. Awake, Awake to why the God sends His wrath on His people and that He is the only One who can comfort and place His wrath on their tormentors. Awake, Awake to clothe with strength again and put on the garments of splendor as God raises you up, you who were redeemed. He gives the place of honor.

God/Elohim wants His people to be awake in these day and how many times have we heard comments about the body of Yeshua being asleep. He does not want us to be asleep, but awake. We will have to be awake if we are to truly seek Him and spread His message of peace, good tidings, and salvation.

So let us awaken and remember where we come from, remember our fathers and those who went before us. Remember what our Father has called us to, to Himself. He wants a people who can be His ambassadors and send forth the message of His Kingdom. However, that is a job for those who are awake, not for those who are asleep.

Awake, Awake people of God and see His righteousness, justice, and salvation go forth to the nations!  Awake, Awake to see revival among His people!

But what does true revival look like? If revival begins with the people of Elohim and the job of the Holy Spirit is to transform us into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29), as well as, to help us obey the commands of God (Ezekiel 36:27) then what kind of life is He leading us, the redeemed, to live?

In 1 John 2:4-6 Scripture says, “Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not obey His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever obeys His word, in him truly the love of God is made perfect. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way that He/Yeshua walked.

So if we are to walk as Yeshua walked and the Spirit’s job is to transform us to be like Yeshua and the means by which He does that is to help us obey the commands of God, then the question still stands, what does that look like?

To most of the body of Christ/Messiah you might say that looks quite Jewish. Why? Because Yeshua was a Jew and when He returns He will be a Jew, in fact He is the King of the Jews, King of Israel! Therefore, He lived as a Jew and was obedient to the Law/Torah of God, His Father. So if we are to be like Him won’t our life look like His and won’t we do what He did? Yes!

It is interesting to note, that while to Gentile believers it may appear Jewish, to a Jew it may, at first, seem quite Gentile.  Just in accepting Yeshua/Jesus as their Savior to begin with could appear Gentile to their fellow Jews, not to mention leaving behind some or many of the Rabbinical teachings (the tradition of the elders/oral law). 

So let’s keep in mind the truth of this life is not to be more Jewish or to be more Gentile, depending on your perspective, but to be more Biblical.

As Paul said at the end of chapter 3 of Romans we do not annul the Law/Torah of God by grace, rather we uphold that same Law/Torah.  We obey the commands of Elohim/God.  We obey the Bible!

Therefore, true revival is one being redeemed by the Lamb and then living obedient to the Law/Torah of God (living as Jesus/Yeshua lived) by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8). It is about a transformed life!

The Wedding Part 2

If you remember from last time we discussed the Wedding up to the Seven Blessings.  Blessings are very important in Jewish life and they are very significant in Scripture.  If stands to reason that the Wedding ceremony would include a complete number of Blessings.  The themes of the Blessings include: Creation, Eden, Zion, Redemption, Bridegroom, and Jerusalem.

They are:

The first Blessing: Blessed are you, Adonai or God, King of the Universe who created the fruit of the vine. (The fruit of the vine represents the blood of Christ, the blood of the Lamb, the blood of redemption. The redemption cup was planned before Creation.)

The second Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who created everything for Your glory. (Creation! The idea of the blood came first, then the creation.)

The third Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, shaper of humanity. (Basically we have here the creation of humanity with the first wedding because you can’t have humanity with just the man, you have to have the wife too.)

The forth Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has shaped humanity in Your image, patterned after Your image and likeness, and enabled them to perpetuate this image out of their own being. Blessed are You, Adonai, shaper of humanity. (Again we see the creation of humanity, but this time specifically spoken of in terms of being created in His image. That image is still within us today. Only it’s been twisted and marred. Therefore, we need a Kiddushin, we need sanctification, we need to be made holy and set apart because our sin has corrupted the image. You see that sanctification puts us back into the likeness of the Son, unmarres that image. Isn’t that a beautiful picture, unmarres that image, until we become more and more, with ever increasing glory, more and more like our Husband.)

The fifth Blessing: May the barren one exult and be glad as her children are joyfully gathered to her. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden Zion with her children. (This comes right out of Isaiah 54 through 56. It’s the future glory of Zion with many children. Does Zion have many children? Does Israel have many children? We a members of the nation of Israel. We are her children.  Then one day the borders of Zion will expand to cover the whole earth.)

The sixth Blessing: Grant great joy to these loving companions as You once gladdened your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden the bridegroom and the bride. (The final wedding leads to the wedding feast.  It leads to the ultimate wedding celebration.)

The seventh Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, merriment, song, dance and delight, love and harmony, peace and companionship. Adonai our God, may there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the rapturous voices of the wedded from their bridal chambers, and of young people feasting and singing. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden the bridegroom together with the bride.

The blessings begin and end with the wine. You see it is at this point in a Jewish wedding once the blessings are spoken that the wine is taken in. Remember this is the cup of the wedding, not the Kiddushin.  Remember at the Passover meal He said to His disciples that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until when? Until it finds fulfillment in His Father’s Kingdom.  The next cup is the cup of Praise. The Blessings begin and end with the wine, which represents the blood of Christ.

It says in Isaiah 62:1-5 & 11-12, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.  The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.  You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.  But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.  As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you…The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth:  Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes!  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’  They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”(NIV)

Along with the bride, the body, and the temple there is also the picture of the bride as the New Jerusalem or Zion. When you got married did you get a new name? I did. When you get married you get a new name. Now my NIV translates that word “Builder” as “sons”, “builder” comes from the text note. But it makes much more sense because the “young man” is the “builder” and the “young man” whose the “builder” is the “bridegroom” and the “young man” whose the “builder” whose the “bridegroom” is “God” the Son. You see this is Jewish poetry and they do not rhyme there poetry by sound, but with thought.  Because of that I think it is appropriate to use the word ‘builder”.   Is the redeemed of the earth not us? Jerusalem’s builder will marry her, Israel’s builder will marry her.  He will give His Son in marriage to the one He has prepared for Him, the pure spotless Bride.

Then comes the time of the Yichud, it is the time of isolation. That time when traditionally bride and bridegroom spend some time alone together for the first time as husband and wife. This is just my opinion, but I truly believe this is when the Day of Atonement begins. Because it is going to begin with us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Remember the wedding is the Feast of Trumpets. Next comes the Day of Atonement when the judgements are meeted out and I do believe it will begin with us at the Judgment Seat of Christ when all is laid bare between us, everything. And nothing ever again will divide us. We have to go to that Judgment Seat of Christ, don’t we? It must be. We must see what acts were righteous and what acts burn away. When all is laid bare, when we have that time, just us, as husband and wife. That time of consummation. Consummation means bringing to completion. We will be made complete.  We will then return with Him dressed in white linen robes.  Only righteousness is left.

Yichud is when the symbolic act of Huppah is brought to completion. We cannot side step the Judgment Seat of Christ and then, of course, there is the rest of the Day of Atonement and the rest is called Armaggeden when God judges this world, when Christ comes and judges this world. When judgment is made and judgment is passed and the books are closed, that is the Day of Atonement.  That old Jewish question of why do the wicked prosper will be answered on that day. Scripture also calls it the Day of the Lord, when all is made right. Then we get to start our Wedding Feast.

We have been to the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Day of Atonement has come, judgment has been passed and the Feast begins. The Feast of Tabernacles is the Wedding Feast. It is also known as the Feast of Ingathering, Feast of Booths, or simply The Feast. Now if you and I were asked which is the most significant feast on the Jewish calendar we who come from a Christian background would probably say the Feast of Passover. Not so. The largest feast on the Jewish calendar is the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s the final harvest. It’s their time of Thanksgiving that’s why it’s known as “The Feast”. That’s what they call it, “The Feast”.  In Deuteronomy 16:13-15 13 “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress.  Be joyful at your Feast–you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.  For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”(NIV)

Did you catch it that the final harvest is that of the threshing floor and the winepress. That is the wedding feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, the time when our joy is made complete after the final ingathering of the threshing floor and the winepress and, of course, you know what that represents, the wine and the bread or the blood and body of Christ. We are that harvest. And at the celebration of that harvest our joy will be made complete. Now you may say to yourself, “Now Vicky, how do you know this is the final feast?” Look at Zechariah 14:16-19, “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain.  If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.”(NIV)

This is when Christ is on His thrown on this planet. It is the millennial reign of Christ. Do you get the feeling that the Feast of Tabernacles is important. Do you get the feeling that we should know a little bit about this Feast because it’s coming, right at us. We are running smack into it. Nice to know it’s coming. Yes, this is the wedding feast. This is the time when our joy will be made complete.

After the wedding feast comes the New Heaven, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem, adorned as a bride for her Husband. That’s our new home. We mentioned the intention of a husband and wife to have a new home and life together. The new Heaven and New Earth, the New Jerusalem, that is our new home. And we will dwell together with our Husband as Husband and wife with our God. He will be the Temple. God Almighty and the Lamb will be the Temple. And we will be at His right Hand (Psalm 45), His wife. He will be our God and we will be His people.

God set out to make Himself a people, but not just a people, He wanted a wife for His Son. Us in Christ, Christ in God, the covenant of peace, the covenant of oneness, the everlasting covenant. And so we shall ever be with the Lord.  There will be oneness in that garden, in that city for eternity. That oneness ended in the first garden because of sin. It will never end in the final garden. From wedding to wedding that is our story.  I don’t know of a greater story God could tell to the heart of a believer. One day we will all stand together at the right side of our Husband and we will be made one and our joy will be made complete.  We will be His people and He will be our God!

Longing for “The Feast”, Longing for our Husband,

Even So, Come Lord Jesus Come!

Vicky

What Does Unity Look Like? Part 2

There is another symbol in Scripture for the bride, we have already talked about it some, and that’s the Temple.  Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”(NIV) 

Jesus is our chief cornerstone, that first stone, the main stone, without that stone there would be no foundation.  The temple raising up off the chief cornerstone and the foundation of the apostles and prophets. 

How many temples is He making?  One.  Only One.  Not the Baptist Temple, not the Methodist Temple, Not the Presbyterian or Luthern Temple or the Church of Christ Temple or the Catholic Temple or the Messianic Temple, I don’t care what you call it, there’s just one.  One Temple and that is all.

I Peter 2:4-10 states, “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”  They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”(NIV)

We have received mercy, but when we argue with our brothers and sisters in Christ, even over doctrine we are not giving them mercy.  We are a precious, precious Temple to Him.  In Solomon’s Temple there were walls, doors, courtyard, and pillars, yet only one Temple.  If we were to pull out a pillar and let it stand by itself it could not be the Temple, instead we would call that a ruin.  We need each other.  We have to have each other because we are one Temple and we must all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.

Here is my next question.  Do you believe the time is coming near for our husband, our bridegroom to return for His bride?  Do you believe that?  We are built on the cornerstone and foundation and if He is about to come that means He is about to put in the final piece.  He is the final piece.  He is not only the cornerstone, but also the capstone.  The capstone was the final piece that held the arch in place.  He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.  So if we are close to being done shouldn’t it be obvious as to what we are?  Shouldn’t it be more and more obvious as to what we are? Or are we still a wall over here and a pillar over there and you can’t really tell what it is yet?  But if we are getting close to being done shouldn’t it be obvious as to what we are?

Let’s go back to I Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-23 where is says,  “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ…  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written:  “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”  So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”(NIV) 

From God the Father, to God the Son, to His precious Bride.  All are yours. 

I think we are seeing some improvement in the body of Christ in the sense that we don’t mind getting together with other believers from other denominations as much as we did 30, 40, or 50 years ago.  We are also seeing more and more Jews believing in Messiah and therefore more believers are coming to understand the Jewish Roots of the faith.  But there is still need for improvement, isn’t there?  We have come far, but we must keep pressing on. 

In II Corinthians 6:16b Paul says, “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”(NIV)  He so desires to be our God and for us to be His people, for us to be able to walk hand and hand with His beloved Son.  However, we can’t do that if we don’t even take the hand of one another, across whatever lines you want to draw within orthodoxy.  We must realize that all are ours. 

You see my Methodist sisters, you’re my sisters.  My Presbyterian sisters, you’re my sisters.  My Lutheran sisters, you’re my sisters.  My Catholic sisters, you’re my sisters. My Messianic sisters, you’re my sisters.  We are supposed to be one together.  Even in thought.  Isn’t that what Paul says in verse one of I Corinthians?  “Perfectly united in mind and thought.”(NIV) Hard words to hear since we have become so divided and comfortable in that division. Again, we have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

But let’s face it we have to have walls, we have to have pillars. Each part has to do it’s work. I did not come to Christ in the Southern Baptist Convention. God brought me into this convention to use me where He wants me in the time He wants me here.  Period.  Nothing else matters except living the life He has called me to live.  Living the life He has called each and every one of us to live.  This is our period of sanctification when we must completely set ourselves apart. 

I have another question for you.  What is the single most said complaint by people outside the church about the church?  Too many hypocrites in the church, I don’t want to go there. They’re no different from me.  What do they have that I don’t?  That’s what they see, isn’t it?  Because unfortunately, we talk the oneness talk, but we don’t live the oneness life.  Yet our unity would speak volumes to the world that is lost apart from our beloved Bridegroom. 

Our next post will be about how we become one.  It really isn’t as hard as our minds try to make it.  Remember we are not to think and act as mere men, but as His Bride!  In the mean time, let’s be more mindful of building up each others walls as part of the one temple rather than tearing them down.

Your Sister in Messiah,

Vicky

The Heart of God

This is where we live.  This chapter is all about today.  Not about what He did 2000 years ago. Not what we accepted when we came to Christ, but how we live in Christ today.  Because, obviously, He did not take us home when we said, “I do”.  So He expects some things out of us during this period of sanctification, during our period of Kiddushin, He expects some things out of us. 

This is where we are and so it is a matter of upmost importance.  This is the very heart of God for His wife, for His people, for His temple today.  I want to start by looking at a passage out of Ezekiel 37:15-28:

“The word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, `Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, `Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’  Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.  When your countrymen ask you, `Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph–which is in Ephraim’s hand–and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’  Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.  I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.  I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  `My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.  They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.  I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.  I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”(NIV)

The nations will know.  I will make the two one, I will make a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant with them.  This is what I believe is the very heart of God, oneness with His people.  He wants to be our God and for us to be His people and He accomplishes that through the marriage of His Son to His people. 

As we start to look in the New Testament and our early church history, we see that the church was first thought of as a Jewish sect.  That’s what we were.  Most believers in that early first century were Jewish, they were Jews who recognized their Melech Yeshuah H’Messhia, their King Jesus the Messiah.  So in that first century as Gentile believers started coming into the nation there had to be discussion about Jew and Gentile and so that is where we are going to start. 

Ephesians 2:11-19 says, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”(NIV)

Members of God’s people, of God’s household.  Church hear me, the word ‘church’, the Greek word for ‘church’ in the Greek Septuegant, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is used in talking about the congregation of Israel.  It is not exclusively a New Testament term.  The church is the congregation or assembly of Israel.  God seeks to make all His children, whether Jew or Gentile, one.  That is His purpose, to create in Himself one man out of the two.

I want to say very clearly at this point, I know there is a lot of talk out there in theological circles about replacement theology, which says that the church replaces Israel.  That is NOT what I am talking about.  I want to make that very, very clear.  The church did not replace Israel.  We have the awesome privilege of being brought into citizenship in Israel and to share in their covenant promises. 

Romans 9:6b states, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”(NIV)  What Paul means by that is that just because one has the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob does not make them a member of the Spiritual nation of Israel.  Because only in Christ, only in Messiah, does that happen.  Even Jews must recognize their Melech Yeshuah H’Messhia, they must recognize their Messiah.

Romans 10:11-13 reiterates this, “As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””(NIV)  He takes the two and makes them one.  Remember we are talking about the heart of God and what God desires for His own people.  This is God’s desire for us as we live out this life of following Him and awaiting Him.

We then find in Romans 11:12 & 15-21 & 23-26a, “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!… For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,  do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”  Granted, but they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either…. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!  I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved”.

All Israel, the holy assembly of God’s people whether Jew or Gentile will be saved.  The heart of God, oneness among His people.  We have to be careful, the church has become awefully Gentile in the last 2000 years.  True?  True!  But we must not forget our roots, remember it was already mentioned that in the first century we were Jewish.  The church was Jewish.  The Apostles kept going to the Temple, they continued to celebrate the Feasts.  However as we became more and more Gentile we lost connection to the root.  We must remember and not stand on arrogance that we are the Church.  But remember that we stand on a root and they are our root and one day those branches that were broken off will be grafted back in.  You see there are not two trees of the church and Israel.  There is but one tree.  And we will all stand together in that oneness and in His covenant of  peace before God Almighty and marry His Son, those who have called on the Name of the LORD.   

Later in that Romans 11 in verses 30-32 we find, “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”(NIV)  Jew, Gentile it doesn’t matter.  We all broke the first covenant.  We are all in need of a new covenant, every one of us.

A Citizen of Israel,

Vicky

The Seal and The Name

To accept His pursuit and His Mohar is to call on the Name of the Lord and, of course, everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.  When we believe and confess and call on His Name He gives us His promised Holy Spirit, the promised seal.  Again, let’s look at Ephesians 1:13-14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”(NIV)

II Corinthians 5:5 puts it this way, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”(NIV)  What is to come?  There is more yet to come.  He is not done with us yet.  Our seal, the Holy Spirit, is our deposit guaranteeing what is to come.

There is something else that is important for us to see.  His seal is connected to His Name.  We see in I Kings 8:10-11 when the ark of the covenant was brought into Solomon’s Temple it says, “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.”(NIV)  Now let’s look at I Kings 9:3  where the Lord is responding to the prayer of Solomon dedicating the Temple, “The LORD said to him:  “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”(NIV)  Where did He put His Name?  On the Temple!

In I Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”(NIV)  That cloud was God’s presence that filled the Temple. Yes, His Spirit filled the Temple.  He made it Holy and placed His Name upon it.  Again, later in the book Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”(NIV)

Your not your own, you’ve been bought with a price and your very body is a temple.  II Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”(NIV)  What did He fill the Temple with?  His Spirit.  It was called His Glory in I Kings.  The Glory that comes from the Spirit, which is in us, and He is giving us an ever increasing Glory, He continues to fill us with His Glory.  With ever increasing Glory, that’s what He’s doing in us.  If that doesn’t excite you I don’t know what will. So be filled with the Spirit.

Alright, Revelation 2:17 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”(NIV)  What might that white stone be?  A seal.  We receive that name.  He is going to give to us a new stone, a white stone, a pure stone, with a name on it.  When we receive Him,  when we receive His Holy Spirit He literally marks us with His Name, the Name upon which we call upon.  He Marks us with His Name. 

And of course, that Spirit according to II Thessalonians 2:13 sets us apart for Him, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”(NIV)   The Spirit continues to sanctify, it continues to set us apart. 

Remember our Kiddushin, it is a ceremony and period of sanctification.  He sanctifies.  We who are believers in Yeshua the Messiah are living our lives in a period of sanctification.  That is where we are at, we are being set apart for that awesome day.  That day when our faith is made sight and we see face to face our beloved Bridegroom.

So let’s recap this amazing segment.  When we accept His pursuit and His Mohar He seals us with His Holy Spirit and His Name so that our future is guaranteed.  That future is with our Beloved Bridegroom forever and we will forever bare His Name.

In His Blessed Name,

Vicky