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biblical teaching

Children of Jacob/Israel, where is your heart?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Ps 137  (mostly NKJV)
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors requested of us songs,
And our tormentors, jubilation, saying,
“Sing for us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing YHVH’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
May my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Remember, Lord, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Those who said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare
To its foundation!”
Daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
Blessed will be one who repays you
With the retribution with which you have repaid us.
Blessed will be one who seizes and dashes your children
Against the rock. 

(For those who are naturally and understandably uncomfortable with the last two verses of the psalm read a New Testament application in Revelation 18:1-24 – 19:1-8)

The openly declared war of jihadi Islam against Jews, Israel, Christians, and Judeo-Christian Western civilization leaves no one with excuse to be ignorant of that. Christians are most accountable for that, since for believers in Jesus/Yeshua the whole of the Bible is available to read, especially in Western, gospelized, Christianized nations. Jewish believers/Messianic Jews, the natural branches grafted back into our own olive tree, are even more accountable, since to the Jews was given the status of “children,” to us the glory, the covenants, the Torah, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers, and from whom, according to the flesh, Messiah came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. (Rom 9:4-5) Through the Jews, salvation has come to whomsoever calls upon the name of the LORD: YHVH/Yeshua/Jesus/Yasua. Neither can unbelieving Jewish people plead ignorance, nor Muslims from any stream of Islam. 

What may have been hidden in the darkness has been brought to light, so that the evil deeds can be exposed. No nation can plead ignorance, since the Islamic nations have been given equal standing among the nations of the world and within the leading institutions of Gentile powers and kingdoms. All this, whether or not any one has saving faith in YHVH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel; the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah/Yasua Al Maseeh. The fear of YHVH  gives us enough discernment to judge these things, between good and evil.

Israel’s God – the Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer – is calling His chosen people to come back home: To Him, the Father of Israel. Most of the Jewish people alive today do not live in the land promised as our homeland – and are considered by God to be in exile/galut, and not only in the physical diaspora/dispersion; for the vast majority of them are still in spiritual unrepentant unbelief with respect to their relationship and fellowship with Him. All, except for a very small remnant, at this present time of those who do live in the current State of Israel are in spiritual exile from the God of our fathers. Without faith in the unique and beloved Son of God, neither is there a reconciled relationship with our Father in Heaven — whether for Jews or for non-Jews. 

Our unsaved brethren according to the flesh are estranged from the household of faith, living as if having no hope and without God in the world, the condition of the Gentiles without Messiah/Christ which the apostle Paul described. They trust in their own ability and strength, and the self-righteousness of our being the Chosen People, but the hearts are not for Him who chose us to glorify His holy Name and to be a praise to Him. Ever since we asked for a king like every [Gentile] nation has, we have rejected the holy and righteous and loving YHVH and Messiah from ruling over us. (1Sam 8:1-9Lk 19:11-27

The faithful believing remnant of the Jewish people in Babylon between 530-600 years before Messiah/Christ was born felt the pangs of exile and the longing of being back home. Their hearts and yearnings were in Jerusalem, in the city and land that our God promised as His dwelling place and seat of His worship and dominion, and as an inheritance and everlasting possession as home on Earth. The Gentile captors were taunting them to sing the songs they had known back home…but how could they sing with fullness of joy the songs of YHVH, and the songs of Zion, in a foreign land. It would ring hollow, and only remind them all that they were but strangers and slaves in a land and to a people that did not truly welcome them or respect them for who they were/and still are!  “You are Jews, who serve another God and King!” 

The Jewish people will always remain strangers in this present world system because God has connected His name and His plans of salvation to them. In this they are related — and vice versa — to the Body of Messiah/Christ from the nations, who are also strangers in the world for the sake of the Messiah. Whoever from the people of Israel (and of the Church) identifies with the world, and turns away from the God who created and made us — and from His Messiah Savior — will share their fate and the judgment that will come upon the world, perishing with those of the world. (Is 43:145:11-12; Num 6:22-271Pt 4:12-16Num 23:5-10Jn 18:36Ps 2Is 65:1-12Rev 18:4Ja 4:4-5

It may well be, as we often hear, that for many unbelieving and believing Jews they do believe that their lives and works are more effective and fruitful where they live outside of Israel. And for those who do believe in Yeshua, that that is where God wants them. But where is your heart, children of Jacob and of Israel, and children of God? Do you identify more with your country of residence in exile, or with Israel as the home of the Jewish people? Are you afraid of being accused of double loyalty? If so, then you are regarded as a stranger in a foreign land. And the fact that many of the accusers are themselves aliens (antagonistic to that land, yet demanding all the benefits) just proves the spiritual reality: Jewish people become openly envied and hated just for being Jews, the Chosen People. Most people have no idea of what that means, including the Jews.  

Remember Lot: I do not know how many years that he lived in Sodom, but long enough to be seated at the gates of the city, the place for the leaders and influencers. He had become a respected and politically active “citizen of Sodom,” the city he had chosen to live in when offered by his uncle Abraham to choose any place in the promised land of Canaan to go to and build his life. He was a respected and assimilated man of the sinful city, until. Until what/when? Until he told them that what they were doing was not right when they wanted to “know” his angelic visitors; and suddenly they accused him of being only a stranger, so who was he to judge their lives and behavior?! “This one came to live here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal with you worse than with them!” (Gen 19:9)  And that very night he and part of his family had to flee, with the help of YHVH’s accompanying angels. The rest of his family that did not recognize and feel the real decadent state of affairs perished with the “good citizens of Sodom.” And his wife looked back at what she was being rescued from, and perished “on the way out” as an everlasting reminder.  

When King Cyrus gave the decree and permission for the Jewish people to return to Judah to rebuild the Temple and city of Jerusalem, most of them did not return, but preferred to remain in Babylon. They could feel good in their conscience by aiding those who did return to rebuild and remain in Judah, as Cyrus encouraged them to do so. (We have personally been very blessed in this way, for which we are forever grateful.) Nonetheless, this exposed them to the genocidal threat by Haman (descendant of Esau/Edom, Amalek, and Agag) in the Persian Empire only 50-60 years later. Mordecai and Queen Esther, with God’s providential interventions, brought the King Ahasuerus to see how he had been manipulated by the Jew-hater Haman, and gave the Jewish people permission to defend themselves, and then also to attack those who sought their destruction.

We are living in the end-times (for when and whom the Scriptures were written), and the “good ol’ days” are gone. We are entering a new phase into an unprecedented chapter of history. The 48 minutes of the seventh and final game of the basketball championship series are at the 45th minute. If the game is close – with both teams believing that they have a chance to defeat or else be defeated — the impending two-minute warning is going to see a change in strategy and tactics to win in the final and climactic end-game allotted time to “regather” towards victory. Both the “favored” home team and the “hated” visiting team are going to show their true colors.

There are some who think that for the Jewish people living outside of Israel the war in Israel has nothing to do with them, or that they have nothing to do with Israel’s war; that the antisemitic Jew-hatred towards them is misguided and disconnected. This is a grave mistake: The enemy has made it very much clearer than ever that not only is their war of destruction and annihilation against the State of Israel and the Jewish people there, but is against Jews everywhere. Our God has called us as a people, and as a family: some of the family is at home, and much of the family are still not. But we are one family and one people in YHVH’s eyes and heart. They hate us because they hate Him. 

The Jewish people are the “Children of Jacob/Israel:” 12 tribes joined in covenant with each other by the God who cut covenants with our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; as well as with the tribe of Levi, and Aaron and Phineas; and with David. (Gen 17:1-819-2226:1-528:1-15Ex 28:129:43-46Num 8:13-1925:10-13Dt 10:6-918:1-22Sam 7Jer 33:14-26Ezek 44:15-31) Three times a year the LORD required [at least] representatives from all the families and tribes of the people to go up to Jerusalem to worship Him. Even at Shavuot/Pentecost after Yeshua ascended back to His glory in Heaven and now reigns at the Father’s right side, there were Jews living then outside the land who went up to Jerusalem for the appointed celebration. This helped to unite the various and different tribes, some with their own customs and speech accents.

YHVH our God promised according to His covenantal terms to return His people back to this land, not because we were/are righteous, but for His own holy name’s sake. We have actually brought reproach to His holy name in the dispersion. Once this “return to Zion” became clearer, the Islamists fought against it, at least as far back after the Balfour Declaration made the intention a matter of international support and law. And the bitter root which Islam feeds on has brought many to join their cause, defiling them all in the process.

Are your hearts and minds with Abraham’s God — the God of Isaac, and the God of Israel — and with the prophets of YHVH whom He sent to speak His call of repentance to His lukewarm people (“You praise Me with your lips, but your hearts are far from Me.”) to return to Him, and He will return to us? (Is 48:1-2) Is being a Jew primary to your being, for example, American. We are not speaking here of dual loyalty, but of the calling, identity, and purpose of our God for us His people — His witnesses in the world — for His holy name’s sake. As His firstborn son and priestly nation He wants to bless the world through us – not for our sakes and honor alone, but for all the peoples; for He is the God not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles. (Ex 4:22-2319:3-6Rom 3:21-3111:11-15

Are you an American who happens to be Jewish, or are you a Jew in America? Are the Jews in Israel “your people,” or are they just Israelis. Is the State of Israel in this promised covenanted land the nation of our people, or is it just an experiment of “self-determination” that may not prove itself? Do you see yourself as part of the whole House of Jacob/Israel? 

YHVH our God spoke of the Day when He would restore His people to their land which He Himself had chosen for the descendants of Jacob; and we are living in that generation. (Ezek 36) The move began to give hope with the first aliyah wave in 1882. The first Zionist conference in Basel in 1897 gave an increased sense of hope and urgency. Yet the redemption is not complete, for His people are not yet loving Him above all, or their neighbors as themselves. Most Jewish people are still separated from their God, and from His chosen land. They are still trying to presume their salvation, or else seeking to earn it by their own merits and works, if they have any faith at all in “salvation.” Yet, it is a gift of God through repentance from our unbelief to belief in the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God: It is God who rules, and we will rule with Him, under His authority, after we accept that reality. Those who turn from ungodliness in Jacob will become Israel. (Rom 11:26

Faith in Jesus/Yeshua/Yasua does not make void the Law, but establishes the Law: God will fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets, just as the Messiah/Christ said! Are you standing with the Lord that He should accomplish His sovereign will regarding the people and the land of Israel — and the whole world — for His holy Name’s sake? Jerusalem is to become a praise in the whole Earth, and Yeshua/Jesus will rule for 1000 years as promised, sitting on the throne of glory, the throne of David. Or are you replacing that high priority of His with your own understanding and subjective “feelings,” or entangling circumstances? (Is 62:1-7

You may never actually immigrate to Israel (but you can be preparing and collecting the necessary documents while you can, just in case), or remain here if you do (or, you may be an Israeli citizen who has left for various reasons), but is your heart here on Earth for the sanctification of our Father’s Name and of our King Messiah? Are you encouraging, or discouraging, others from making aliyah, or simply remaining silent? 

Big trouble is coming to the children of Jacob in Israel; and persecution of Jewish believers by Jewish unbelievers, just as it was in the beginning of The Way. But that seems preferable than to be brutally treated by those who hate us without knowing why among whom we have assimilated. Yeshua told His disciples among His own Jewish people that when they revile and persecute us, and say all kinds of evil against us for His sake, that we should rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is our reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before us. (Mt 5:11-12) YHVH is acting in accord with His covenantal conditions in His severity and goodness towards His specially chosen people whom He knows. All the chastenings, and evil and suffering that we have faced, and will yet face, have been spoken and written for us in advance.

If we are disciples of Yeshua/Jesus, our “song” and hope and hearts are to be in our far greater and heavenly inheritance and home, yet we should want that God also fulfills everything that He has sovereignly promised regarding this Earth and Creation, to vindicate His holy and righteous Name. The 1000-year reign of Messiah with His saints will accomplish this. After this will be the final perfect (not just perfectly “very good”) new heavens and new Earth for eternity with the Lord, when there will be no sinfulness, no sin, no sinners, nothing that offends! Praise God for such a glorious expectation! 

We are His witnesses to the nations and to the world-at-large, and the Holy Spirit is leading us into all the truth! It is God’s grace that gives us the courage, and makes a way, when we obey Him with faith to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 

Read more: EDU CLUSTER

Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.

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