Recently, while listening to a new interview by Hanoch Young and Ken Rank (previously introduced here) one of the two made a significant statement that struck a deep chord within me. As they are traveling and sharing with Ephraim, they are in a position to have a really good snapshot of where we are and what some of the remedies might be.
In the interview I heard the other evening, one of them said, ‘The problem with Messianics is that they view themselves as a religion (or religious group) rather than as a nation. The Torah is for a nation and God is in the process of restoring a nation.’
Lights and bells went off!
Why had I not realized the deeper implications of this? We’ve talked about the surface points, but it had not really settled into me until that moment. Let’s look at some Scripture and get a better handle on this…
Yahweh’s promise to Abraham, stated in Genesis 12:2 says, “I will make you a great nation…” The promise was confirmed to Israel through Moshe on Mt. Sinai as recorded in Exodus 19:5-6,
5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My [a]own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
Peter confirms this in 1 Peter 2:9-10,
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Peter’s letter, decidedly penned to the ‘aliens and strangers’ (See verse 11 in above quote among other references throughout the book) echoes other things we’ve seen in Acts and the Apostolic writings!
From Acts 1:6, the Disciples asked the risen Lord, ‘Is it at this time You are restoring Kingdom Israel?’ They expected Israel to be physically restored! James confirms this understanding in Acts 15:15-18 when he quotes the prophesy from Amos 9:11-12 concerning the restoration of the tent of David, the rebuilding of the ancient ruins, the restoration of the kingdom.
I believe all of that! It is apparent from so many passages of Scripture, the most obvious of which is the Ezekiel 37 two stick prophecy and the verses following speaking of the kingdom that would be established. In fact, Hanoch, speaking of the return of Ephraim to the people, contends that it is the most prophesied event in the Tanak. (Certainly, I think the plethora of Messianic prophesies, many fulfilled, but many yet to be fulfilled would rival the restored Kingdom and Ephramite return, but the two are inextricably linked.)
So why was did this quote about how we view ourselves strike a chord?
I know the Torah Commandments function as a Constitution and will be the Law that goes forth from Tziyon (Isaiah 2:1-5), but I guess I had not really stopped and pondered some of the differences of viewing myself as being a displaced citizen of another nation!
What are the implications? How do we better move toward unity when we view ourselves as one people? What does this change in my physical existence and reality?
Like most Christian believers, I was raised to see the Kingdom as spiritual, something we do not really attain to in this life, but the looking forward to the Eighth Day and the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22. However, I am suddenly realizing that there is an intermediate stage that we seldom really wrestle with and its implications on our lives. Do we act as a displaced people? Do we long for home? In the here/now physical sense?
While I am not sure that Hanoch and I would agree on what this next stage looks like, I believe the current nation Israel is not the final look of the kingdom we are grafted into, but it is definitely a step into the right direction. My opinion at this stage is that Messiah will set up His kingdom, the restored Tent of David, in the land given to Abraham, using the many parts He is drawing now from both Judah and Ephraim.
But how are we to be acting right now? Here are a few thoughts, but this is the fresh stuff rolling around in my head… Something for us to discuss.
As a citizen of the US, I get along with most everyone and enjoy our points of agreement while discussing in mostly friendly terms the points of disagreement in politics of religion, but there is little strife or rudeness while we enjoy real camaraderie. Why in the Messianic do we not treat each other with the same level of acceptance and brotherhood while working out differences? Our differences are actually considerably less when we accept and abide by a very specific Torah that defines right worship and action. I.e., we don’t have different religious groups as in the US, or radically different political leanings.
If the Torah is our Constitution, and there is much support for this supposition, why do we act like a bunch of attorneys splitting hairs and looking for cases against our brother, rather than learning to be a people who abide by the Constitution and allow the Judge to make corrections.
Other practical matters include group identity. A displaced or exiled people will have and maintain their own communities and group identity. Just as Judah could still be identified 70 years after exile, because many refused assimilation, we should build and maintain community such that we strengthen our group identity. Admittedly, this is far more challenging because we have to disconnect from the comforts of the cultures we were raised in, and we have many generations of divisive anti-group behaviors to overcome.
What we must pray is that Abba work in us the promise of Isaiah 11:12-13,
And He will lift up a standard for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
13 Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart,
And those who harass Judah will be cut off;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
And Judah will not harass Ephraim.
We need jealousies and envy removed. As this happens we should find ourselves comfortable not just knowing and appreciating each other, regardless of differences, but we should begin to support, defend, help and generally encourage each other.
I have many other thoughts, but want to open for discussion and input… What are your thoughts on the need of the Messianic community to think not just in spiritual terms as that is a MAJOR component, but also in physical national identity?
Love, love, love this. Thank you for sharing the thoughts that roll around in your head, brother 🙂
It’s a real eye opener is it not? 30 years ago I realized the truth you just laid out. The implications are profound and dare I say dangerous. I am convinced that your above truths are the reason we do not know who wrote the book of Hebrews. If you read the first two chapters they seem like they belong to a nice Greek/Roman type religion but if you know the underlying passages from the Tanakh they are subversive to Roman rule. Early believers put themselves off as religious to the powers, while in fact regathering the nation. Whoever it was who wrote the book of Hebrews, did not want his name on it, but he did want the information out there for those who had ears to hear.
I enjoy your work.
Keep it up,
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Certainly, the post can sound subversive, and may explain as this the regathering gains momentum why the nations rise against in even greater wrath than currently displayed… In the end, Ps 2 says HIS King will rule with a rod of iron on HIS holy mountain…
Shalom and thank you!!
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Well said, Pete. The picture is Ezekiel 37 – the dry bones part. There’s also the picture of the first Exodus. All that mixed multitude that came out of Egypt had to start thinking of themselves as a nation, and much of what happened in the desert gives us a glimpse of how uncomfortable that process was. As for subversive, well, why do you suppose Pharaoh didn’t want the people to leave? If they are thinking of themselves as slaves, they have no other identity than whatever their masters give them. But if they start to think of themselves as a people, then there’s a threat to the existing order. (This is how my mind works; it’s the result of being a historian and political scientist.)
Apparently I had a similar ping on my paradigm shift this morning. The group with whom we’ll be celebrating Pesach has been using a “homemade” hagadah which we tweak each year. This morning it occurred to me that the story would be even more personal to us of Ephraim if we looked at it through a tribal lens. My suggestion was to include something like this:
“”When YHVH brought our ancestors out of Egypt, He did not leave any behind. Those who became the Jews were there: the royal tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the priestly tribe of Levi. Also with them were the House of Israel: the birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the firstborn tribes of Reuben and Simeon, Leah’s youngest sons Issachar and Zebulun, Bilhah’s sons Dan and Naphtali, and Zilpah’s sons Gad and Asher. And with Israel was a great multitude of Egyptians, Libyans, Sudanese, Canaanites, Greeks, and other peoples who put their trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and were grafted into the tribes. We, their descendants, join with them by celebrating YHVH’s salvation and deliverance.”
That’s just a first draft, but it conveys the thought process.
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Nice! I like that! Of course, every year we focus on the spiritual aspect of our delivery (from sin) but don’t really take time to identify with the physical aspect, our connection with the story, even if only because of grafting in.
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Another thought occurred to me this morning. (Maybe not a new thought, but one of those, “Oh, that’s what that means!” thoughts). The land was not given to the Jews. It was given to our father Abraham and his seed, of which the Jews are a critical portion. We who are grafted in to Abraham’s seed (Israel) have that same promised inheritance along with our Jewish brethren. This is an identity thing; we won’t come completely into our godly destiny until we all start thinking like Israelites and claim, not only the promises given to our father Abraham, but the responsibilities as well. Which means we should start praying and thinking about how to be good stewards of Eretz Yisrael right now.
OK, there’s the beginning of another blog post. 😉
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The piece often missed here is that Hosea in chapter one tells Ephraim that he will no longer be shown mercy but Judah will be shown mercy. therefore Ephraim becomes pagan, not my people,
Persona non grate. Therefore his only way back is to join Judah, grafted in if you will.
But remember all the lost things of Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. To be found for the first time is discovered, not recovery of the lost. To be lost means you where once in the flock, in the purse in the house.
Those grafted in are lost or wild olive branches, not newly discovered peach limbs.
What Hanoch is saying is that you belong here with us. You are sheep from this fold, you are coins from this purse. you are a son from this house.
Way too often grafted in was a way of saying as the prodigal did “only make me a servant” but the father insists that you are a son. Now get some training and learn your role in the house.
Grafted in should mean you are now ready to learn from the tribe given the leadership role by Jacob in Genesis 49 and fully expressed in the house of David 3,000 years ago.
But your role oh Joseph is not the same as Judah your role is wealth and multitudes.
The wealthy one with big numbers of votes “Joseph” will have accept leadership from his poorer less populace brother who has been given the right to rule “Judah”
Its going to take great humility all around…
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Thank you so much for your comments. I agree completely. We each have a role to play and we need the humility to do our own job and help the other as we come together.
Judah does have the scepter… And, ten men of the nations will grab the hem of a Jew… (And that means more than just grabbing the hem of Yeshua… He is the Lion of the Tribe of Jew-d’uh!)
There is a place in the story of Joseph where Judah steps forward and assumes responsibility. I believe that is happening today.
I bless you and I thank Judah as a whole for being faithful these past millennia, even when the whole world, chirsitan and all, stood against you! You have and will always have a special place!
Shalom and thank you!
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Good points here because if the Scripture is the “Constitution” of the Hebrew man obeying God and keeping God’s commandments, then the thought that comes next is that the Hebrew man, although he may be in the country called “USA” the Hebrew is not actually a member of the “USA” club otherwise known as a “citizen”. Because “citizen’s” have “rights” granted by the state, but the Hebrew man, or the Hebrew woman has a completly different status in relation to the state because the Hebrew is a son or a daughter of the true King, God Almighty. The status change is critcal because hebrews don’t use the state for anything. We, speaking of myself and the few I know that have asseverated and recinded contracts with the state, don’t use the legal system at all as per First Corinthians chapter six, not just because it is God’s Law, but because hebrews don’t have the status to stand in a heathen court nor it is desired to have status in the pagan/heathen court system.
Any pleading that a heathen would take to the civil court system is decided by a man. Hebrews don’t look to the civil court system for their defense. The benefit package of that God has offered, located in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 far out weighs any benfits the State god offers. The Blessing of Yhwh it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it. But the blessing of the state maketh enslaved and poor.
The “highest court in the Universe” is the court I appeal to. I plead to the Creator of the Universe to God Almighty’s court where the Messiah sits on the right hand of the Father.
Using the words “Citizen of (you name the country)” is in effect asseverating from the logos who said: (John 18:36) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
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At the risk of sounding subversive, hubby and I relinquished (in spirit) our USA citizenship a number of years ago. We try to live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and the nation of Israel. We take no part in the political process of the USA, for example. Since it is not our country, we believe that we have no right to enter our votes on its issues, nor do we desire to be identified with its choices, which are increasingly anti-Torah. We speak only when a moral issue is involved, offering for consideration a Torah-based understanding of the issue, then leaving it to Americans to consider and make their choices. We are told that we should USE the vote we have to influence the USA for YHVH. However, we must all make choices – we can’t have it both ways. We have chosen Israel/Ephraim/Messiah’s Kingdom. We trust Him to deal with the USA on His own terms without our help, while we go about His business.
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