Rabbi’s Reflections – Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Today we begin an analysis of the 7 affirmations of Toward Jerusalem Council II, TJCII. TJCII started with a desire to have 7 non-Jewish church leaders and 7 Messianic Jewish movement leaders come together and pray. Since that first meeting, they have prayed all over the world for the last 25 years, going to places where errors were made in Jewish/Christian relations, places where crusades, the Inquisition, pogroms, and even the Holocaust took place.
They gathered, they prayed, they did battle in the spirit, to pull down strongholds of anti-Semitism, persecution, and abuse, all of which took place in the name of Christ, historically and even until today. The goal is The Second Jerusalem Council. (Hence the name of the 14 member council, “Toward” Jerusalem Council II….) The first Jerusalem council is reported in Acts 15. The plan is to have a meeting of worldwide church leaders who will affirm that Gentile believers will not reach their God-given destiny without Jewish believers being included, and Jewish believers will not reach their God-given destiny without Gentile believers being included. We must answer the prayer of Yeshua. John 17:21 that they all may be one. Just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, so also may they be one in Us, so the world may believe that You sent Me. Yes, this will lead to worldwide revival.
You might think these “affirmations” are unnecessary, but I want to assure you they are very important. My purpose is to illustrate the biblical validity of each one. The systemic persecution of Jews throughout Christian history has always involved the misunderstanding of Scripture. These affirmations are an attempt to enlighten and correct previous errors. While the statements are correct, there is not a lot of Scriptural evidence provided. My desire to provide it. Here is the first affirmation. (I could write a book about just this one.)
- We affirm the election of Israel, its irrevocable nature and God’s unfinished work with the Jewish people regarding salvation and the role of Israel as a blessing to the nations.
Regarding the election of Israel… consider the message given to Moses and recorded in the Torah. Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a holy people to Adonai your God—from all the peoples on the face of the earth, Adonai your God has chosen you to be His treasured people. 7 “It is not because you are more numerous than all the peoples that Adonai set His love on you and chose you—for you are the least of all peoples…. 9 “Know therefore that Adonai your God, He is God—the faithful God who keeps covenant kindness for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His mitzvot,
But, you might say, Israel has sinned and not kept Torah or obeyed God. So I ask you today, is Israel’s election based on works or grace? Let me paraphrase what you just read… “God has chosen you children of Israel… not because of you, He set His love on you and chose you, not because of you, but because He is God, the faithful God Who keeps covenant for 1,000 generations with those who love Him. Abraham received God’s favor by grace, and not by works.
Rabbi Trail: I could write much more about this, and probably will. End RT.
Regarding the irrevocable nature of that election… could it be more obvious? Read Romans 11; can we come to any other conclusion? Romans 11:26 and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer shall come out of Zion. He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” 28 Concerning the Good News, they are hostile for your sake; but concerning chosenness, they are loved on account of the fathers— 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Two more things about this passage… At the end of verse 28 we read, ”They are loved on account of the fathers.” Paul writes this based on the passage from Deuteronomy 7 quoted above. (The whole Bible fits together as one narrative from beginning to end.).
Secondly, the opening phrase of verse 26 seems to be dropped in from mid-thought. “And in this way all Israel will be saved.” Begs the question, “In what way?” How will ALL Israel be saved? The answer must be in the previous verse. Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. This is not plain speech, it’s even called a mystery. “Partial hardening,” what’s that? It is that hard “stony” heart, which is contrasted with that heart of flesh promised by several of the prophets. Jeremiah even calls it “a new covenant.” Jeremiah 29:30 “Behold, days are coming” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” And Ezekiel makes it clear… Ezekiel 36:26 Moreover I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
But we have not dealt fully with the question. It says “partial” hardening. Is each heart partially hardened, or are some hearts hardened and some softened? I think the latter. Paul acknowledges that some of Israel have come to faith and some have not. Romans 3:1 Then what is the advantage of being Jewish? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2a Much in every way…. 3 So what if some did not trust? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4a May it never be!
But that “partial hardening” doesn’t last, but only “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” That “fullness” is something Don Finto spoke to me about 15 years ago. The original Greek word translated as “fullness” is “Pleroma” (pronounced play-roma), which according to Zodhiates Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament can mean “reaching the intended goal.” As in Ephesians 4:13 This will continue until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Ben-Elohim—to mature adulthood, to the measure of the stature of Messiah’s fullness.
So the “fullness” is not necessarily a number, but a maturity. And now we propose that maturity is a recognition and acceptance of the mystery that God has a future plan for Israel that includes salvation. This brings to mind the parable of the workers found in Matthew 20. Those “hired” last were paid the same as those who worked all day. There will be a “last minute” harvest of Jewish souls, and Gentile believers will participate in that harvest.
I’ve got more to write about this first affirmation, so let’s carry this over until tomorrow. Blessings my friends.
Memory Verse: Zephaniah 3:17 Adonai your God is in your midst— a mighty Savior! He will delight over you with joy. He will quiet you with His love. He will dance for joy over you with singing.’
131 6/29 Monday: Zechariah 1:1-6; 2; 12
* 132 6/30 Tuesday: Ezra 7-8
133 7/1 Wednesday Ezra 9-10
134 7/2 Thursday: Esther 1-2
135 7/3 Friday: Esther 3-4
Question of the day: What were some of the good habits of Ezra?
Answer: From today’s reading, I found two scriptures to help answer this question of the day, one in chapter 7 and one in chapter 8.
Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to seek the Torah of Adonai, to observe and to teach its statues and ordinances in Israel.
We would do well to model Ezra. Do we want to hear the call of God on our lives? Sure we do. Why not start with what He has already called us to? We are called to “seek the Torah of Adonai.” But, what does that mean? The rest of the verse explains it, “to observe and to teach.”
That’s right, we are called to do what God said. But, why should I? Hear the words of Moses… Deuteronomy 4:40 “You must keep His statutes and His mitzvot, which I am commanding you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and so that you may prolong your days in the land that Adonai your God is giving you for all time.”
And not just for ourselves, but part of our calling is to teach others? Yes! We have a bottomless treasure and the command to all of us includes the duty to share it. This is the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is just feeling sorry for someone and their sad situation. Empathy is identification with someone’s suffering, but then helping them to see the path of escape provided by God. We have found the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Messiah Yeshua. It is selfish and cruel to have these keys and then not share them with a sick and dying world.
The second verse is from chapter 8. Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and sought our God about this, and He responded to our plea. That’s right, another good habit of Ezra is to fast and to seek God (pray). Many books have been written about fasting and even more about prayer. I will not do either of these disciplines justice in the next few paragraphs, but I have to write something.
Fasting is a denial of earthly urges and fleshly demands in favor of divine and spiritual nourishment. We decide to focus on God and not on the needs of this body. God then responds to our intentionality. Joel 2:12 “Yet even now” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and lamenting.”
“Ani Mit-kaven,” means “I really mean it” in Hebrew. By fasting (the Bible calls it humbling ourselves), we are demonstrating intentionality with God. We pursue Him instead of food that lasts only for a few hours before we need to be fed again. God has food that lasts. John 6:27 Don’t work for food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him, God the Father has put the seal of approval.”
But wait, there’s more, just look back a few chapters with me.… John 4:32 But He (Yeshua) said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” …34 Yeshua (then) tells them, “My food is to do the will of the One who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
So we’re back to that? No matter how we try, we just can’t escape the value of doing the will of God. God, our good Father in heaven, both wants us and expects us to obey Him. Some might say, “Why obey when we have grace?” But I would say, “By grace God enables us to obey.” (Romans 8:4)
Ezra had some good habits. We should learn from his example.