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I have two big brothers. They are eight and nine years older than me so ‘sibling rivalry’ was never an issue as it is with children closer in age. Growing up I adored them. I looked to them for help when I was faced with a task I couldn’t do myself… I looked to them for protection when I felt afraid… and I looked to them for a hug or a joke when I felt sad. And I always looked to them for affirmation. If one of them offered to throw the football with me or take me to get ice cream I was in heaven!
Sometimes my big brothers would allow me the ‘honor’ of ironing their shirts …or the ‘privilege’ of washing their cars (things that as jaded adults we look back on as extortion). But when I look back on those days… it is with tenderness that only a poem could describe. I was their little sister and the actions that reflected my love were clear. I recognized their authority, I welcomed their instruction and I sought to please them. I relished the comfort, security and happiness that they offered.
We who consider ourselves part of the family of Adonai have big brothers too: The Jews. How’s that relationship going?
When you read from the New Covenant writings do you make the connection that some words are for the Jews, some for the Gentiles and some for both? Paul’s letter to the Hebrews was addressed to the Jews. Peter’s 1st letter is to the Jews…his second letter is to the Gentiles. The beginning of the book of Romans…to the Jews, the second part…to the Gentiles. It is fundamental to understand this if you are going to understand the writings!
In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 5, he writes:
“For indeed because of the time you are due to be teachers, you need to have someone to teach you again the rudiments of the beginning of the oracles of God,”
Who was it that were due to be teachers? Not the people of the Nations. It was the Jews. Paul is speaking to a group who already knew HaShem. He is speaking to a group who already knew Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They knew Moses and the judges and King David and the Prophets and the stories and lessons in Scripture. They were waiting for Messiah while the nations around them were worshiping idols, drinking blood and engaging in sexual immorality as a way of life! The Jews celebrated Adonai’s appointed feasts, followed the law and performed the required sacrifices. And despite those who may have wandered from the flock; their culture…their lives…their very existence…were shaped by Torah.
They were due to be teachers because the truth and knowledge Adonai entrusted them with was realized in Messiah’s coming! But our Father had another plan in the works: A plan set forth in Torah to bring in the nations while keeping a remnant of the Jews on hand to see His purposes fulfilled.
When I would see my big brothers make a decision that brought wrath and discipline from my parents…I had two choices. Remember what they did…and don’t repeat it…or scoff at them for what they did… learning no lesson at all and making the same mistake when it was my turn.
Conversely, when I would see them make a decision that brought smiles and acceptance from my parents…I had two choices as well. Remember what they did…and repeat it…or envy what they did learning no lesson at all and trying to undermine their deeds.
My big brothers paved the way for me and it was up to me to make the right choices based upon what I saw and heard.
Why are those of the nations who are blessed to be partakers of the promises of Adonai… so quick to judge their older brothers? Why are they so quick to write their brothers off as ‘lost souls’? So quick to refute and replace them as G-d’s chosen people? So quick to take the blessings for themselves…assuming the curses are left for the Jews?
Is it just human pride in general that keeps us from accepting that as Gentiles we are not G-d’s elect? Is it the word chosen that stings the nerves? Is it some self-delusional opinion that we would have done a better job if He had chosen one of us to make a nation out of? We can look at the condition of the world that has been left to the Church and see the falsehood of that claim. But the shape of the world, as disheartening as it is, shouldn’t be a surprise if we understand the Scriptures.
“Adonai has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” Romans 11:32
Aside from the countless other verses that warn us not to judge…that remind us that we do not know the mind of HaShem…this one…all on its own… should leave no man room to boast!
I can only speak from personal observation when I address this issue and hopefully my words will make an impression on Jew and Gentile alike. Because, you see, I consider myself both. Why? Because I didn’t learn that I was Jewish until I met my biological father when I was 21 years old.
This fact alone could be the start to a lot of conversations (which it has)…but I will neither address the Rabbinical stance that ‘Jewishness’ comes from the mother nor the stance of the sect of Gentiles who lay claim to being a lost tribe. Others can wage a war of debate on those man-made declarations if they so desire.
And I certainly have no intention of revealing any soap-opera details surrounding my reunion with my Father other than to say it was a gift from G-d. The only information that is relevant is that unlike Gentile Christians who feel the yanking on their heart to pursue the “Jewish Roots” of their faith… being faced with the reality of my physical Jewish roots forced me to pursue them. I grew up believing I was a potpourri of English, French, Dutch and Irish… and lo and behold “knock-knock, you’re Jewish.” And the journey commenced. A back door entry, if you will.
I just want to clarify two things: 1) I don’t have a ‘salvation date’ like so many do…I’ve known my Heavenly Father my entire life; and 2) I had no true understanding of what a relationship with Him or Messiah really meant until I met my earthly father and became exposed to the culture of G-d’s elect… the Jews.
Why do I share all of this? Because hopefully, for those discerning enough to understand, you will believe that I don’t look upon Scripture with a slanted opinion in either direction. I am a Jew. I am a Gentile.
I take everything I read regarding both the Jews AND the nations personally. I can’t take sides when reading Scripture. I can’t have any personal agendas when reading Scripture. It’s like a built in ‘can’t have any pride’ mechanism…and I am so thankful for it because ideally, that’s how we all should be whether Jew OR Gentile.
Those who were born and raised Jewish…in a Jewish home…in a synagogue…growing up with the customs and statutes of G-d in a real and true sense and then carrying them out into the world….they have all my respect and admiration. Not because I think they have it all right. They don’t. None of us do. It’s because they have lived it. They have lived the life as ‘chosen people’ and being chosen includes not only the promises of the elect made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the gifts given to them in the Wilderness; but it also includes the spiritual ‘bull’s eye’ that makes them a target.
I mentioned some time ago a saying among the Jewish people… secular in origin…that jokingly asks “Why didn’t He choose someone else?” Whether you take a purely historical trip back…or a theological trip back over the centuries…the reality that the Jewish people have been victimized solely because they are chosen cannot be denied.
It is the hope of the enemy to get rid of them because the enemy knows that they are still, to this day, even after Messiah’s first coming, the key. And every generation has faced the reality of men (and women) who are all too willing to march to the enemy’s drum. The truth is the truth.
This persecution is one of the ‘honors’ and ‘privileges’ of being chosen. It’s a package deal. (The suffering many times spoken about in Scripture is not talking about bruised feelings.) I can recall like it was yesterday my father watching television with my children when a cartoon came on. The characters of this cartoon were Jewish and they were celebrating Passover. A very popular cartoon aired on a very popular children’s network…and the characters were not only Jewish but they were telling the story of Passover?
My father literally had to wipe a tear from his eye because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Born in 1922 and serving in WWII, my father had experienced his share of how the world viewed Jews. He was so utterly amazed at hearing the blessings, in Hebrew, on national TV, that he cried.
I haven’t lived that life. And if you are a Christian, living in the United States today, you haven’t either. And if you are a Gentile trying to claim that you are somehow from a ‘lost tribe’… you haven’t either. At best you have just received ridicule among the mainstream Christian community and while in centuries past…that would definitely have meant torture or imprisonment to some degree… that’s not the case now.
Christians today, in this country, have not lived a life of persecution based upon their beliefs. I stress this fact because it doesn’t seem that very many of them take the time to really think about what suffering is.
Oh, I know about the stories of people so distraught over not being able to display a nativity scene in their neighborhood that they sue the Homeowner’s Association….and I know about all those people upset because they can’t hang a crucifix or a picture of ‘Jesus’ in their cubicle at work. And then there are the groups who “give that which is holy to the dogs” and “throw their pearls before the pigs” even though Yeshua declares NOT TO in Matthew 7. These are the ones who try to convert at the water-cooler or by rapping on an unsuspecting door and then feel as if they have suffered because their words fall on deaf ears.
And boy did it get heated last month over “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”! And the enemy just sits back and smiles. He certainly knows how to keep our eyes off the bigger picture…..
When I hear these complaints…I feel numb. And I wonder how vocal these different people would be (will be perhaps) about their ‘rights’ if it would jeapordize their life. When you have the comfort of a document granting free speech and freedom of religion to fall back on, it’s easy to feel self-righteous. In my personal walk, I’ve learned that as soon as I start feeling righteous… I have a problem and need His mercy even more as I shift my focus to getting back in line. Because the bigger picture is this:
“The instant I speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, or to break down, or to destroy; if that nation against whom I have spoken will turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to it.” Jeremiah 18
I’m not quite sure, but I don’t think whining about emblems in a front yard or a cubicle…will lead this nation to repent. And I’m pretty sure that allowing that which is holy to be trampled on doesn’t either. I am, however, certain of one thing we are encouraged to do that may bring about repentance in others…be an example:
“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, always ready to give an answer to everyone asking you a reason concerning the hope in you, with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15
“Walk worthily of the calling in which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, He above all and in you all.” Ephesians 4:1
“Let your word be always with grace, seasoned with salt, to know how you ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6
My heart goes out to Christians in those countries where Christianity is not welcome (regardless of whether or not they fully understand their Jewish roots) and yet they live in defiance of true and tangible fear…. standing firm.
My heart goes out to our big brothers in Israel and throughout the world (regardless of their beliefs) where the very fact that they are Jewish is not welcome and yet they live in defiance of true and tangible fear, not assimilating but standing firm in their identity.
My heart goes out to the Muslim community where anyone who questions or disagrees with Islam faces true and tangible fear…and yet they stand defiant…pursuing the truth.
My heart goes out to the Messianic Jews and the Believing Gentiles who recognize their individual callings, keeping their eyes fixed on Israel and engrossing themselves in G-d’s intended truth for all mankind… defiantly standing firm in whatever obstacle they are called to face.
Now these groups above are the ones that set an example…these are the ones that personify a united, spiritual Israel…
GOD IS OUR SOVERIEGNTY! Not a man-made constitutional document. Not a church doctrine. Sovereignty means absolute and autonomous. Its very definition rules out any man because flesh is temporary. Sovereignty doesn’t exist among men! If you take the typical political approach to the word… it still doesn’t exist! If you take it as ‘supreme authority,’ dictatorships and monarchies eventually fall. If you take it to mean ‘right to self-govern,’ elected officials are temporary and the rules change based upon the elected! And if you take it to mean ‘a politically independent state,’ you’re only as independent as the next war says you are….
“I am the LORD, who has made all things, stretching out the heavens; I alone spreading out the earth.” Isaiah 44
We cannot deny the Jewish people as our big brothers just because it doesn’t make us feel important enough. If we are to be humble and meek and in obedient service to Him (anav, remember?)…our importance in our own eyes is insignificant.
When I hear preachers daring to teach from the Old Testament (I say daring because most stick to the New) they tend to remark on how much the Israelites messed up. And this is true. The Tanakh is the ongoing story of G-d and His people. A people who, like all humans, gave in to pride and self-serving ideals at different points along the way. Big brothers, who, like all big brothers, choose poorly sometimes and suffer the consequences.
But instead of the message taught being “learn from your big brothers,” the message tilts towards “look at those people who lost their place in the Kingdom.” Scripture assures, however, this is not true.
In Jeremiah 16, Adonai tells Jeremiah that the people will question what they did to deserve such a penalty. They will question “what sin or what perversity did we commit?” Pretty self-righteous don’t you think? They obviously thought they had it all figured out and were doing just fine. Just like the Church today. And Adonai’s response?
“Because your fathers have forsaken Me and have walked after other gods, and have served them and have worshiped them and have not kept My law. And you have done more evil than your fathers. For behold, you each one walk after the stubbornness of his evil heart, without listening to Me.”
That sounds like a pretty important lesson to me.
If G-d chose the Jewish people to be His people… if G-d chose them to give His Word to… if He chose them to bring the truth of salvation to the world…if He chose them to be examples to the rest of the nations (good examples and bad examples)…and if their unique identity has lasted for thousands of years through no other explanation other than “Adonai is with them”….then why wouldn’t we embrace them and love them for the lessons taught to us through their choices and situations over centuries past?
GOD INSTRUCTS THE NATIONS TO BLESS THEM! He doesn’t say “Just bless the ones who believe in Yeshua” or “just bless the ones who have a nice personality” or “just bless the ones who don’t rattle your sensibilities”…HE SAYS BLESS THEM. Period.
In other words, let Him do HIS WORK and you just be willing to obey and receive the blessing of Him working through you Why would we disgrace our Father, ourselves and our big brothers by thinking that we have a better view on things?
“For as you (Gentiles) also then disobeyed G-d, but now have obtained mercy by the disobedience of these (the Jews); so also these now have disobeyed, so that they may obtain mercy by your mercy.”
The pattern of the Exodus from Egypt into the Promised Land is the pattern for the coming of Messiah in the first century. Just as Moses spoke to the Israelites in Deuteronomy…Paul speaks about the Jews of his day in the same fashion when writing to the Gentiles in Rome.
Moses to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 29:
“The LORD has not given to you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear until this very day……you are standing today, all of you, before the LORD your God; your rulers, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every man of Israel; your little ones, your wives and your alien who is in the midst of your camps…….so that you should enter into the covenant of the LORD your God and into His oath, which He is making with you today; so that He may establish you today for a people to Himself, and He Himself be your God, as He has spoken to you….and I am not making this covenant and this oath with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD your God”
Paul to the Roman Gentiles in Romans 11:
“The rest (the Jews) were hardened even as it has been written, ‘God gave to them a spirit of slumber, eyes not seeing and ears not hearing until this day.’.”
“For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be wise within yourselves; that hardness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the nations comes in; and so all Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:25-26
And that is the point of everything…that ALL ISRAEL, THE SONS OF JACOB AND THOSE JOINED WITH THEM, MIGHT BE SAVED!
We find in Scripture this idea of ‘fullness of the nations” in one other place.
Yeshua’s words in Luke 21:
“And they (the Jews) will fall by the mouth of the sword, and will be led captive to all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trodden down by nations until the times of the nations are fulfilled.”
Two signs are given for the ‘times of the nations to be fulfilled’. Jerusalem will no longer belong to the Gentiles (Hmmm-1967? Six day war?) and the hardness will be removed from the Jewish people (Hmmm- Did very many people know what a Messianic Synagogue was 40 years ago? And now there are hundreds, maybe thousands, all over the world?)
This all suggests that our big brothers are taking the place G-d intended for them from the beginning. Elected by G-d “as beloved for the sake of the Fathers” (Romans 11:28) they will be a source of instruction, comfort, security and happiness for the world and the coming Kingdom.
What wonderful and amazing and challenging times we are living in! And if I’ve rattled any cages (perhaps I used too much seasoning) just remember:
“Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of Adonai! How unsearchable His judgments and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to G-d that G-d should repay Him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:33-36 (taken from Isaiah 40 and Job 41)
I will second that with another amen.