[Editor’s note: Did you know that there are people in Israel right now who know that they are living out the fulfillment of prophecy? The world calls them Jewish settlers in the “occupied territories of the West Bank. They do not see things in the same way. What they see is that the so-called West Bank of the Jordan River is the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, and that the God of Israel has made promises to restore His people to those lands. Promises like this one:
“From afar Adonai appeared to me.” “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you, so you will be rebuilt, virgin Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines as ornaments, and go out to dances of merrymakers. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria—planters will plant and use them. For there will be a day when watchmen will call out in the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Arise, let us go up to Zion, to Adonai our God.’” (Jeremiah 31:2-5 TLV)
That is why Jews have answered the Lord’s call to move into Judea and Samaria to rebuild the ancient towns and bring the land back to life. What they have done is astounding, as you will see when you go there. What you should remember when you see it is that these Jewish pioneers have walked out their faith by taking God at His word and partnering with Him in fulfilling prophecy..
This is the same challenge to our faith that Angus Wootten issued in this article, first published in October 1997. In essence the question is, if we believe what the Bible says about the restoration of all Israel, and of the identity of Yeshua’s followers as part of that restored covenant nation, what do we do to walk out that belief? Our answer may determine how soon the world sees this Divine Promise come to pass.]
Our Hope of Glory and the Mystery of the Gentiles
By Angus Wootten – October 1997
The Declaration of Independence of the United States, made in 1776, gives us the hope of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All of which we receive by being a citizen of the United States.
Comparatively, Yahveh our God gives us the Hope of Glory: the hope of eternal life, liberty, and happiness – a promise made before the foundation of the world. And we receive these hopes by being a citizen of His Commonwealth of Israel.
What is hope?
It is a feeling, a desire that what is wanted or expected, will happen. And we all want life, liberty, and happiness. The question is: How do we realize those hopes, both in this world and in the world to come?
For our answer we look to the Apostle Paul’s response to life’s most important question:
Brethren, it is by understanding the mystery of the Gentiles, which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, and which has now being manifested to His saints, that you will understand that it is Yeshua in you, that is your hope of glory. . . However, to realize the hope that Yeshua has given you, you must be a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel and a partaker of the covenants of promise. (Colossians 1:25-28; Ephesians 2:12, Author’s Personal Paraphrase)
Salvation: Being born again, accepting Christ, being saved, call it what you may. It is this crucial message of personal salvation that the Church has heralded to the remotest comers of the earth for two millennia. Undeniably, it is the greatest, and most important message anyone could ever hear because – it gives one the hope of glory!
The Church started with the right message: personal salvation. However, they did not go far enough. Thus they lost sight of the solution to the mystery of the Gentiles, and consequently lost sight of their own ultimate mission: that of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel.
Make no mistake, it is the resolution of this mystery that will equip the elect to understand, and thus to complete the mission that will ultimately tum our hope into glory!
The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes a requirement for both individual and national relationships. For Paul says, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Yeshua, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)
Paul gives three reasons why the Ephesians previously had been without hope, and without God in the world:
- They were separated from Yeshua: They were not saved. However, while we all can agree that not having obtained individual salvation is any individual’s greatest problem, it was, according to Paul, not their only problem.
- They were excluded, or alienated, from the commonwealth of Israel. In other words, in addition to not having individual salvation they did not have national salvation. They were not part of a people set apart for the Holy One of Israel.
- They were strangers to the covenants of promise. Paul speaks of the covenants that will one day culminate in the fulfillment of the Messianic Promise – which is the hope of glory, that the fulness of our eternal inheritance will be consummated at Yeshua’s promised coming.
Before we make a more detailed examination of Paul’s three points, we first need to go back in history to determine why the Ephesians had been without hope and without God in this world. For, we need to know the root cause of a problem if we are to solve it. Further, if we will not learn from the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. And history reveals that we have not learned. For generation after generation, and even in our generation, the majority of the people in the world have continued to be without hope and without God.
Why do the problems of hopelessness and Godlessness continue to plague the world? Prior generations of Believers have run their lap of the race with limited success, while in effect passing on this problem to the next set of runners. Now, we have been given the baton, and it is our tum to run. The question is, will we pass the baton in the same way as did our forefathers? Or, do we have a unique opportunity to actually finish the race?
Could we be the forerunners that cross the finish line? The signs of the times say yes – the signs being fulfilled Biblical prophecy in this century (Matthew 16:3).
Yes, we are being given the extraordinary opportunity to serve as vessels of mercy – vessels the Holy Spirit can use to help gather the lost sheep of Israel to the Shepherd of Israel – thus giving them the hope of glory (Romans 9:23). And in this way, these found sheep will no longer be excluded, or alienated, from the commonwealth of Israel. Rather than being strangers to the covenants of promises, they will partake of the eternal pledges of assurance, which will give them the everlasting glory – Which is the realization of their hope.
How Can We Meet This Challenge?
If ours is the last leg of the race, what are we to do? To best answer this question, we first need to answer two basic questions: Who are we? And why are we here?
Who Are We?
Hopefully our answer to this question will not be like that of the pessimistic philosopher Schopenhauer, who, sitting all disheveled on a park bench, when asked who he was, said to the attendant, “I wish to God I knew.”
This answer, along with one that is an even more pitiful cry, haunts all humanity. The other is a cry that is uttered by all who have lost their way, and it is, “I wish I knew God.”
Why would any man question who he is? And why do they question who is God?
Why? Because the modern world with all its advancements in science, technology, and philosophy, seems in many ways to have done away with a need for both God and man. Newton dismissed God by his theory of a mechanical universe. Darwin, by his view of evolution, dismisses man. Freud dismissed a reasoning mind by his insistence that man was but an animal, motivated not by reason but by hidden unconscious animal drives and instincts.
In the past century, we have quarreled, not over whether man is an animal, but as to what type of animal. Is he motivated by his collective ancestral impulses and manners (Darwin), by economic necessity and his stomach (Marx), or by his libido (Freud)?
Modern man, being told on one hand that he is but an animal, and on the other hand that he is a god, does not have a satisfying answer to the questions of what, where, and why. By his own confession, he is lost in a meaningless and hopeless moment between two eternities. He is lost and hopeless because the enlightenment from these great advancements in science, technology, and philosophy has led him to see his origins as being the chance multiplication of amoebas. His destiny is but to return to cosmic dust.
Those who reject the modern meaninglessness of a life without hope have turned, as man has done throughout history, to an ideology: a system of beliefs that provide the social needs and aspirations for an individual, a group, a culture, a people. And, the key to every ideology depends upon its genesis (beginning or origin). In other words, every system of thought that attempts to explain the origins and destiny of man is dependent upon an original conviction regarding the nature of man. And, whether or not the system has any hope of being correct, first and foremost, depends on whether the original assumption is correct. Therefore, the continued failure of modern ideologies, and of many ideologies of the past, can undoubtedly be attributed to wrong assumptions as to man’s genesis.
The Judeo-Christian ideology of man’s genesis has him being created in the image of the One God of Israel, and, he is created with the hope of eternal life.
Yet, the proliferation of theology, doctrines, denominations and cults to which these ideologies have given birth all serve to bear witness to the confusion that still exists regarding who we are, and where we are going!
The Truth Is . . .
We have all questioned the theologies and doctrines with which we were nurtured. Further, on a daily basis, we make decisions based on our current ideology. And these decisions have eternal consequences. So, we need to cut through the mass of divergent denominational and cultic theology and doctrines that represent “Christian” thought today, and we need to get to the truth. Especially, we need to get to the truth of who we are!
What is Truth?
Truth is Yahveh’s reality behind our perception.
Further, the truth may frequently seem unreasonable; it may at times be depressing; sometimes it may appear to be wrong; but it has an eternal advantage: it is Yahveh’s reality. And, what is built on His truth neither brings, nor yields to, confusion.
As stated in a previous House of David Herald article, “We must be concerned about the consequences of being deceived by errors and misconceptions, for lies bring captivity and death, while truth brings freedom and life (John 8:21,32,44; 2 Timothy 2:26). Thus, with such high stakes riding on what we believe, we must ask ourselves: Is what we believe true? Is the foundation on which we are building our understanding of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going, one of truthfulness?”
This edition of the Herald also pointed out that the post-16th-century philosophers who were responsible for the development of modern secular thought devised new kinds of wisdom. And then, with their innovations began to build on faulty structures. Thus they made a disastrous mistake. For, they did not tear down their faulty structures to the point of a solid foundation; they did not go all the way down to ancient and original truths!
Even so, Christian theologians of the reformation, in their attempts to correct errors made by the early Roman Church, suffered from the same disastrous mistake: Instead of retracing the faulty steps all the way back to a solid foundation of original truth, modern theologians have tried in other ways to circumvent the result of the initial errors. And thus, they often compound their difficulties rather than overcome them.
It is because they have not dug down far enough that the church has yet to recover from many of its early doctrinal divisions and theological mistakes. Especially crippling are the mistakes made over the identity of Israel. For they blind us to a full understanding of Yahveh’s plan for the whole house of Israel, of which “whole” we are a part.
The truth is, initially, all of Messiah’s followers were physical Israelites who belonged to a sect of Judaism (Acts 28:32). Undoubtedly, these Israelites had children. But somehow, somewhere along the way, the Church ceased to consider their physical descendants as physical Israelites. Then, she further distanced herself from unbelieving Judah when she began to admit “Gentiles,” who in turn were not seen as being physical Israelites (Acts 21:28-30). Ultimately, the ties between the two were completely broken, and the followers of Yeshua became a “Gentile Church.” And now, we forerunners, those who have been commissioned to pick up the pieces and to put Israel back together again, we are faced with an age-old question: “Who is Israel?”
Am I An Israelite?
An even more pressing question that each of us should answer is: “Am I an Israelite?”
These questions, Who is Israel? Who is an Israelite?, have been asked for thousands of years without a definitive answer. Since the exodus of a mixed multitude from Egypt, Israel has harbored the simultaneous convictions that: first, Israel was an entirely unique and separate community – a peculiar people – being descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and secondly, Israel is a people, linked by faith in a common ideology. And, both of these convictions have one commonality, they both require that Israel had to be set apart from the world, and yet, they were to remain in the world, both at one and the same time.
Like our forefathers, we continue to be faced with the apparent hopeless dilemma of two contradictory opposites. The solution, which the Church, Judaism, and Messianic Judaism, have bought, and which they in turn attempt to sell, is to see these two convictions as the coexistence of two complementary, incompatible viewpoints – which can be successfully harmonized and united.
And, if this solution does not leave you confused, then you don’t understand the situation.
Admittedly, we do not have all the answers today. “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries,” and He promised to reveal them in the latter days (Daniel 2:28). Even so, the Father has begun to remove the blindness to the mystery concerning the identity of Israel – as well as the mystery surrounding the Gentiles. On a one by one basis, He is revealing to non-Jews that they are Israelites: descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, it is a conviction, a knowing that we know, that is not unlike the conviction and knowing we each have concerning our personal salvation.
What About The Others?
What about those who have not been convicted of the truth regarding their salvation? Most will answer: “I know I am saved, and I pray that my witness will lead others to salvation.”
What about those who have yet to see the truth about our heritage?
Our answer should be: I know who I am, and I pray that my witness will bring others to a knowledge of their heritage.
What about those who do not see us as we see ourselves?
We need to know in our hearts that the Holy One of Israel sees us as a full-fledged member of His people Israel, even though the Church at large, and many of our brothers and sisters in Messianic Judaism, do not recognize us as such. Instead, in their eyes we are “adopted Gentiles” who in some mysterious way have become “Spiritual Israelites.” However, their misunderstanding should not dictate our image of ourselves, nor should it shake our faith in the fact that we are who Yahveh says we are! Remember, “If you belong to Yeshua, then you are Abraham’s offspring (sperm), heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29).
Just as Yahveh saw Levi in the loins of his father Abraham, He also saw us in our father Abraham’s loins!! For when the God who foreknew us before the foundation of the world said to Abraham that his seed would be as the stars of heaven, the sand by the seashore, and the dust of the earth, He was not speaking of a future event, but rather of an event that had taken place before the foundation of the world! (Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3, Genesis 15:5, 22:17, 26:4, 28:14, 32:12).
A People For His Own Possession
This world is not the result of chance. Rather, it was deliberately created by Yahveh for His good pleasure, which was, and is, to have a people for His own possession (Isaiah 46:10; Deuteronomy 4:20, 7:6, 14:2; Titus 2: 14;1 Peter 2:9). His desire was, and is, that these people, whom He would call, would of their own free will, choose Him to be their God, and they would choose to be His people!
But, there is a difference between choosing Yahveh to be our God, and choosing to be His people.
The Church has placed emphasis on their choosing of God, meaning on individual salvation, but they have put little or no emphasis on choosing to be His people, or on national salvation. For the most part, the Church has taken the attitude that all, even if they might be descendants of generations of Believers, everyone starts at ground zero in their relationship with Yahveh. No. It does not even occur to them that they may be descended from those who have been in the Olive Tree of Israel for generation upon generation.
On the other hand, the Jewish people have placed their emphasis on national salvation – on being God’s chosen people. And, it is this attitude that flames the fires of jealousy in the non-Jew – Ephraim. However, rather than be jealous, Ephraim needs to get with the program. He needs to realize that he will only attain the fulness of his hope when he recognizes that he too is an integral “part of” the Kingdom of Israel. (To be “part of” does not mean to be “all,” nor does it mean to “replace” those of Judah.)
We need to understand that our names are not added to the Book of Life, rather, names are erased from the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28; Revelation 13:8, 17:8). Moreover, branches are broken off the Olive Tree of Israel for unbelief. And, those who are “(re)grafted” into the root that is Messiah are “olive” branches that became “wild.” However, they are nonetheless “olive” branches, and “Israel” is the “olive tree” (Jeremiah 11:10,16; 2:18,21; Romans 11:17-24).
No Hope And Without God In The World
Let us now look in greater detail at the message the Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, gave to the Ephesians. For Paul’s message emphasizes the requirement for both individual and national relationships:
Remember that you were at that time separate from Yeshua, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2: 12)
Paul gives three reasons why the Ephesians previously had no hope and had been without God in the world. Let us again look at the first two reasons:
1. Separated From Yeshua. They were separated from Yeshua: They were not saved. Again, we can all agree that not having obtained individual salvation is any individual’s greatest problem. But, it was, according to Paul, not their only problem.
2. Alienated From The Commonwealth of Israel. They were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel. The King James translates this as being aliens rather than excluded from. However, Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament says, apallotriow (ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o), rather than being translated alien, would be better translated if given the force of the verb alienated; as if they had once been otherwise. They were once in a condition other than that of being alienated or being aliens.
If we use alienated rather than excluded, the verse reads: “Remember that you were at the time (prior to having hoped in Yeshua) separate from Yeshua, alienated (withdrawn or detached) from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
Truly, the translation of one word can make a profound difference in our belief structure.
The Mystery Is Solved! We Are A “Returning” People!
Another example of how mistranslation of one word can make a profound difference in what we believe is found in the Greek word epistrepho, which word James uses when delivering the conclusions of the only recorded meeting of the Jerusalem council: “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are epistrepho to Yahveh from among the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:15-19)
Most translate this Word as “turning,” which translation indicates a process, rather than an accomplished fact.
James is referring to Gentiles who are in the process of epistrepho to Yahveh. The King James translate this as, are turned, which indicates an accomplished fact rather than a process. However, epistrepho, could just as well be translated returning, or returned! Strong defines “epistrepho (ep-ee-stref’-o) as “to revert (lit., ﬁg. or mor.): – come (go) again, convert, (re-) tum (about, again).”
What a difference between turning, turned, and returning! Surely it would rock the doctrines of Christianity if they accepted the translation, “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are returning to Yahveh from among the Gentiles.” Then they would see that through James the Holy Spirit is solving the “mystery of the Gentiles.”
Another Scriptural nail that can be used to hammer home the truth that these so called Gentiles were descendants of those who formerly were members of the commonwealth of Israel and were thus returning is found in Romans Chapter Eleven, which deals with the retrieval of branches from the Olive Tree of Israel that had become wild, but were being grafted back into the cultivated tree.
For Paul, speaking to these formerly wild branches, recalls Isaiah’s prophecy, foretelling the day when Yahveh would deliver Israel and forgive Jacob’s iniquity (Isaiah 27:1-9; Romans 11:27). Then Paul says the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable, and that, even though you wild branches were once disobedient to God, you are now being shown mercy (Romans 11:29-30).
If Paul lumps the Wild, or formerly disobedient branches, and the cultivated, branches together as being those on whom the Father is having mercy, then he is in fact saying they all are part of Israel. After all, to be disobedient to Yahveh one had to have known, at some time in the past, His standards – which standards they were expected to obey.
Who better fits this bill than the lost, dispersed sheep of Ephraim, those once alienated from the commonwealth by being swallowed up among the nations, and yet in Paul’s day were being regathered – returning to Yahveh from among the Gentiles (Hosea 8:8; Amos.9:9; Acts 15: 15-19; Ephesians 2: 12). Who better fits this description than Ephraim, the “fulness of Gentiles” (Genesis 48: 19)?
So why has the church missed the truth of the mystery of the Gentiles and the importance of being part of the Commonwealth of Israel?
Ephraim’s Lo Ammi Punishment
Because these returning so-ca1led Gentiles were being punished! And their punishment was: “You are not My people and I am not your God”(Hosea 1:9). Yet the day would come when He would end their punishment and would once again consider them as His people and He would be their God (Hosea 1:10).
To understand the importance and difference between a corporate relationship and an individual relationship with Yahveh, we briefly recount His relationship with Abraham’s descendants. For, from Abraham’s descendants He choose Isaac, and from Isaac’s descendants Jacob was chosen, then Jacob had twelve sons whom Yahveh called Israel (2 Kings 17:34). These twelve tribes served as the physically identifiable presence of Yahveh’s corporate people on earth until the seventh century B.C. In that fateful century, ten of the tribes were slowly absorbed into the nations and were no longer physically identifiable as part of the corporate people of the God of Israel. Then the fifth century drew to a close, the Southern Kingdom, Judah, was scattered among the nations; but a remnant of Judah maintained their identity during their seventy year exile in Babylon, and they have been known as Jews to this day.
However, these few Jews are not all Israel! Even today, with the establishment of a secular Jewish state, we do not have the promised restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. Having the tents of Judah go up first is the beginning, but not the end of the restoration process (Zechariah 12:7)! The fulness of the restoration will only be experienced when all Israel is once again physically identifiable, and physically occupying the land promised to the Patriarchs. It will be fulfilled only when all Israel is ruled by the King of Kings.
When did Ephraim’s punishment start? No later then 722 B.C., which year marked the final fall of the last physical vestige of the Northern Kingdom. When will it end? When the descendants of those lost ten tribes are no longer lost, but are once again recognizable as the people of Israel!
Understand that this punishment meted out to the Northern Kingdom was a corporate punishment. Scripture records that Yahveh came to a point that His corporate relationship with the Northern Kingdom of Israel was such that, for a period of time, He would not recognize them as His people, and He would not be their God. They would be alienated from the commonwealth of Israel for a season. And, until our generation, the day when Yahveh would end this corporate punishment was future.
Fortunately, we have the unmerited opportunity to be living in the day when Messianic Israel – the restored Davidic Kingdom – is being formed. Daily, the numbers of Believers, many of whom themselves, or their forefathers, returned to Yahveh from among the Gentiles, are now understanding their heritage in ever growing numbers. And they are seeing themselves as: “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Yahveh’s own possession, that will proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (l Peter 2:9)
Strangers to the Covenants of Promise
Let us now examine Paul’s third reason why the Ephesians previously had possessed no hope, and had been without God in the world:
3. Strangers to the Covenants of Promise. They were strangers to the covenants of promise. Fortunately, there seems to be universal agreement that the Covenants of Promise are the several renewals of Yahveh’s covenant with the Patriarchs, which covenant will culminate in the fulfillment of the Messianic Promise, which is the basis of all the covenants. For, receiving the manifestation of Yeshua in our lives is not the fulness of our hope of Glory! Rather, His presence gives us the hope that one day we will realize the fulness of our inheritance, which will be consummated at His promised coming.
It is to this divine Messianic perfection of all things that we look for fulfillment of our hope. For, at Yeshua’s return, the prophecy He gave Ezekiel so long ago will no longer look to a future event. Rather it will be a record of an accomplished fact:
“Behold, I have taken the sons of Israel from among the nations where they had gone, and I have gathered them from every side and brought them into their own land; and they are now one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king is king for all of them; and they are no longer two nations, and they are no longer divided into two kingdoms. And they no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I have delivered them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and I have cleansed them. And they are My people, and I Am their God. And My servant David is King over them, and they have One Shepherd; and they walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. And they live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which their fathers lived; and they will continue to live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant is their prince forever And I have made a covenant of peace with them; it is an everlasting covenant with them. And I have placed them and multiplied them and have set My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (Fulfilled rendering of Ezekiel 37 21-27)
Obtaining Our Messianic Hope
At this juncture in history what can we forerunners reasonably expect that the Church, and the Jewish people, will do to hasten Yeshua’s return and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel? The Church at large doesn’t see the restoration of a Davidic Kingdom as their goal. They are headed for a Kingdom in heaven, and not to one that will be established on this earth. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people do not envision a Messiah who is the Son of God. So, an intelligent answer to the question of what we can reasonably expect the parties to do to advance the cause of restoring the Kingdom to Israel, is: Without the injection of dramatic change – not much.
Yet it is the Church and the Jewish people whose ranks contain the remnant of Israel, the remnant whom Yahveh is once again placing in the Promised Land.
As Forerunner We Face . . .
By default, the ball is in our court.
What are we to do with it? What are we forerunners who have been given the Hope of Messianic Israel – the reunion of Ephraim and Judah and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel – to do? What can we realistically accomplish toward these age ending goals? After all, we are pitifully few in number, financially challenged [poor], already overworked and over-committed, and, our vision is rejected by “the Church,” Judaism, and by most Messianic Jews – who should be our co-workers in this restoration process.
Let’s face it, there are giants in the land, and we are but grasshoppers in their sight. But most unfortunately, we are grasshoppers in our own sight.
Maybe we should go back to Egypt?
Does this account sound familiar? Is not our problem the same one our fathers faced in the desert when Yahveh placed before them the promised land?
Giants In The Land!!!
You remember the story.
Yahveh said to Moses, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes. . . .”
So, Moses sent a representative from each tribe to spy out their destination, the promised land of Canaan. Unfortunately, ten spies came back with a bad report:
“We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey…Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.”
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”
So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size . . . and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! And why is Yahveh bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If Yahveh is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us – a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against Yahveh; and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and Yahveh is with us; do not fear them.”
But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of Yahveh appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. And Yahveh said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.”
Fortunately, Yahveh honored Moses’ intercession for the people and did not destroy them; however, He would punish them, for He said to Moses, “I have pardoned them according to your word . . . Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”
So Yahveh meted out two fates to Israel. For those who had grumbled against Him . . . “your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you . . . Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey – I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they shall suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years . . . I, Yahveh, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they shall die.” (Numbers 13:l-14-35)
Yahveh told our forefathers that He would give them the land of Canaan. The problem was the bad report of 10 men – which bad report caused 599,988 men of Israel to lose faith and not believe in His promises! The solution to the problem was – 2 men of Israel did believe Him! The 10, plus the 599,988, or 599,998 unbelievers, died in the wilderness. The 2 believers entered the promised land!
Grasshoppers Or Good Witnesses?
Yahveh has promised that He will restore the Kingdom to Israel. “They were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority”’ (Acts 1:6-7).
It has been almost two thousand years since Yeshua spoke these words of promise, and, millions of Israelites have walked this earth and have died in the wilderness. Now it is our turn to walk this earth. The question is, will we too die in the wilderness? Our only hope to avoid this fate is the hope that we are the generation that has been foreordained to receive the restored Kingdom.
Admittedly, we do not know whether or not we are that generation. However, we have, as did our forefathers in the wilderness, a freewill choice to make:
We can believe or not believe our Father’s promises! We can be grasshoppers or good witnesses!
Yes. We can elect to live our lives as if we are that chosen generation that will see the return of the Greater Son of David and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. And, if our lamps are filled with oil, and it turns out that we have labored to accomplish the right tasks in the wrong generation, we are far better off than having labored to accomplish the wrong tasks in the right generation.
By laboring to accomplish those tasks, which Scripture requires be completed prior to the Messiah’s return and establishment of His kingdom, we will, at the very least have been an example. We will have been an example that will help prepare the next generation to be on the alert and ready for the return of the Bridegroom. But, if our lamps are not filled, and the Bridegroom returns, we, like our forefathers who did not believe, will die in the wilderness.
We’ve Circled The Mountain Long Enough
After forty years in the wilderness, a time came when Yahveh said to Moses: “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3)
We too have circled our mountain long enough. It is time to turn east, time to answer the Father’s whistle as He calls Ephraim to come trembling from the west. It is time to return to the land promised to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isaiah 11:11; Hosea 11:11; Zechariah 10:7-10).
How do we answer the whistle? Obviously, at this time we can’t climb on a plane and in a mass move to Israel. For the most part, we can’t afford such a move, and we wouldn’t be welcomed in Israel. But, these obstacles are the giants that Yahveh will overcome at the appointed time. Our job is to prepare for our appointed time. How do we do that?
Many of you will undoubtedly remember Operation Solomon from a few years ago. In it, the Israelis, ahead of a rebel horde marching on Addis Abba (the capital of Ethiopia), airlifted out some 15,000 Falashas (Black Jews) in thirty-six hours. Quite a feat. But an even greater feat was having 15,000 Falashas at the airport. Where did they come from? Why were they there? How did they get there?
In the early sixties, two Israelis (shades of Joshua and Caleb – two witnesses) were sent on a mission to Ethiopia to investigate the Falashas, who claimed to be descendants of King Solomon. Why? Because if they were Jews, then they should have the opportunity to return to the land of Israel.
These two witnesses were the initial link in a chain that, over thirty years later, would have 15,000 Falashas at the Addis Abba airport, who would in turn be airlifted out in an astounding thirty-six hours.
What did these two witnesses do? They instructed the Falashas as to their true identity, and they informed them about their inheritance: they planted a seed.
The Forerunner’s Mission
As forerunners, we too are links in the chain the Father is forging that He might deliver Ephraim from the nations and reunite him with Judah. So, let each of us be a strong link in that chain, and let us link-up with others. Let us begin to instruct other Ephraimites as to their true identity, and to inform them of their inheritance. For, in this manner, we will help fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the instruction of Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:19). Or at least, we will plant a seed.
Admittedly the task of instructing Ephraim holds the hope of advancing the future goal of Kingdom restoration. And, many have a problem of relating a future goal to everyday life and with the ever-present goal to love one another as Yeshua has loved us (1 John 4:10-19). So they concentrate their efforts and resources on the present, often at the expense of the future. Yet the day will come when the future becomes our present.
Can we at the same time pursue our present and future goals? Are these two goals compatible?
Yes we can. Yes they are. Indisputably, the solution to all this world’s ills is for the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdom of Our Messiah! Therefore, any and all efforts to further the cause of Kingdom restoration can surely be counted as acts of loving one another.
For example, in France it is a crime not to help someone you see in distress. Without a doubt Yahveh’s compassion exceeds that of the French. And surely He expects us to help those we see in need and distress. For this is the theme of the parable of the judgment of the sheep and goats, and it is the very heart of love (Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 13).
There is no shortage of those in need and distress. Daily we see a lost and hopeless world, suffering from the ravages of depraved men, groaning in futility under the sting of death (Romans 2, 8; I Corinthians 15:55-56). What can we do to help? What does Our Father expect from we forerunners?
A lot! Why? Because we have been given the key: That key being the key of David. For it is the return the Greater Son of David, of He who holds that key, of He who will, at His return to a united people of Israel, reveal His sons, and thereby deliver creation from its futility, and destroy our final enemy – which is death – and thus, He will restore the Kingdom to Israel (Romans 8:18-20; I Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 3:7-8; Ezekiel 37:22-28).
Admittedly the task of uniting Israel is by our standards an impossible task. Which, according to Watchman Nee assures us that it is a task from Yahveh, based on the fact that we cannot accomplish it without Him. What is our part? What is Yahveh’s part? And, how do we tell the difference?
One well known evangelist gave a good answer to these questions when he said, “The more l show my faith by my works the more I see the works of God accomplished.” This should not surprise us. because Yahveh has a track record of working through men.
Passive or Involved?
Again the question: What can we do to help? We can be passive, and limit our involvement to prayer, and let the Holy Spirit accomplish the actual instruction of those Ephraimites that He wants returned to an understanding of their heritage and purpose. Or, we can pray and get involved. If we do get involved, we will find, that the more we witness, the more people will be led by the Holy Spirit into an understanding of their heritage and purpose.
We can try. Therefore, let us take full advantage of every opportunity to help restore the Kingdom. At the very least, let us put as much of our energies and resources in attempting to attain our goals as did those who had a part in the building of great cathedrals and halls of learning, placing a church on every corner, and carrying the Gospel of personal salvation throughout the earth. After all, can we be critical of them and accomplish less?
If You Had A Million Dollars
One last thought. If you had a million dollars, and a whole year completely free to devote to Yahveh’s purposes, what would you do with your time and money?
OK, you don’t have a million dollars and a year. But you do have a dollar and an hour. And, Yahveh’s rewards are not based on what we have, but rather on what we do with what we have (Matthew 25: 14-30).