Recently, while having a conversation with Al McCarn about the sequence and timing of the return of the exiles, we turned to Ezekiel 36. As I read the middle verses in that chapter something leapt off of the page and smacked me in the head! I suddenly had new clarity!!
The Messianic and Hebrew roots communities have a great deal of division that stem from several specific items. While I won’t discuss the sin of Jeroboam and our penchant for division as a root curse, I do want to share what I saw that significantly altered my understanding of Yah’s timing in cleaning us up and bringing us home.
Within the Messianic and Hebrew roots communities there is a significant amount of division. A significant portion of those divisions come from differences of understanding or practice of minor theological points. We divide over the calendar, how to observe feasts, how much credence to give the rabbis, how little credence to give church fathers, degrees of kosher, etc. A lot of these are quite stupid reasons to divide, particularly if the division is acrimonious.
Many of the reasons we divide stem from our rebellious spirit and that is wrong and not within the scope of this discussion, but there is another reason many divide. Many pursue Torah as if pursuing perfection according to their own definition or understanding and disassociate with any who may not fit their very narrow understanding of Scripture or practice.
But, what if we do not have to be perfect? (Yes, we have the righteousness of Yeshua, but still strive to walk rightly…) What if we get to return to the Land even if we are far from perfect? Actually, this is exactly what Scripture says. Let’s look at part of Ezekiel 36 and consider how it applies to learning to walk in unity, compassion and love.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
For starters, notice this passage is specifically written to the house of Israel. If you do not understand this term, you may want to read 7 Scriptural Proofs for Two House (Theology). Further, notice it is the Father who does the acting. We do respond to His call and Spirit, but the focus is not on our own ability to see how perfectly we can obey.
23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.
Here is where I saw a couple verses leap off the page…
24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
He tells us He will bring us into the Land THEN He will sprinkle clean water on us and make us clean. Did you get that? The presupposition is that we are NOT clean when we go into the Land. In fact, Al and I agreed that we are looking at a three stage process, but I am getting ahead of the story.
26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
No heart of flesh, and therefore no new covenant until we are in the Land and made clean by Abba.
27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
This sounds exactly like Ezekiel 37: 24-28! But, of course!
28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not [j]bring a famine on you. 30 I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”
Many will point to Deuteronomy 30:1ff to counter,
30 “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you [a]call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and [b]obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore [c]you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the [d]sky (cf. Matt 24:29-31), from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will [e]bring you back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
This passage doesn’t say we have to follow perfectly, it just says with our whole heart! In other words, we have to desire obedience and have to be pursuing it, but it nowhere says we actually have to be perfect, else it would contradict Ezekiel 36. But, there is more… Ezekiel 20, n a passage written directly to the House of Israel, He says,
33 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; 35 and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. 37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the [u]land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.
Clearly, these are ones who heard the call and went into the wilderness. They followed Torah enough to be taken into the wilderness, then, like Israel at Mt. Sinai, there will be rebels exposed and purged.
This is a three step process.
- Pursuing the Father in the nations and learning to keep Torah, though imperfectly.
- Challenges in the wilderness expose the imposters and rebels
- THEN taken into the Land before being given a new heart of flesh and being caused to walk in the statutes and the ordinances.
Here are the CliffsNotes: You ain’t gonna be perfect before the wilderness, you best not be a rebel or divisive (Korach) in the wilderness, and He’ll clean you up AFTER you get in the Land. The key right now is to seek Him with your whole heart and learn humility. love, compassion, faith, etc as you learn the Torah basics. Especially, practice unity.
Yeshua’s prayer with His talmidim was that they be one and that they love each other. Somehow, Messianics forget this and divide over minor doctrinal points while breeding animosity. Brothers, NONE of us have it right now and NONE of us will have it right in the wilderness. In fact, news flash, NONE of us will have it perfect IN the Land until AFTER HE sprinkles clean water on us and gives us a heart of flesh and HE causes us to walk rightly.
Why do we divide over calendar? Or, Name pronunciation? Or, new moon v. conjunction? Or, 42 other dumb reasons that nobody can prove with certainty??
What we should be focused on with deliberate intent is learning to love each other in spite of our differences. We should be learning to walk at peace with those of differing understanding because we are going to be together in the wilderness. Get the rough edges and pride off now to make that transition a lot smoother.
Regardless of this warning, there will still be Korachs in the wilderness. While a sad fact, it is simple reasoning from the Scriptures and the state of man’s stony heart! Let that not be us. May we be a people who walk in peace and seek the unity and compassion of a Body that is focused on the King instead of ourselves or each other. He can handle steering each of us toward the fulness o His truth, rather than our own truths.
[All that being said, there is a time that we need to correct and address directly obvious errors, but we must always do so in love and then let the King handle it.]