Posts tagged ‘Jew’

Are You A Replacement?

There is a common belief among Christians today that the Church has replaced the Jewish people as God’s chosen people.  Another equally confused belief is that the New Testament Covenant was meant only for the Church, and not the Jews.  Whereas the Old Testament Covenant was meant only for the Jews, and not the Church.  Both of these beliefs are misguided and wrong.

For some time now I have felt God’s leading as He has pulled me closer to the Jewish people.  Funny thing is that I don’t believe I know a single person of Jewish descent.  It really began when I was studying the book of Romans.  Paul states fervently in chapter 11 that it is the duty of the Gentile believer to materially support the Jewish people because it is through them that we are spiritually blessed.  It is in this discussion that Paul points out that the Gentile believers are grafted into the Olive Tree which is Israel.  He never states that the Olive Tree was uprooted and a new tree was planted in its place.  Once a person becomes a believer and receives salvation through Jesus Christ, Yeshua, he is grafted into the base tree, Israel.  In essence, the spiritual roots of the believer, Gentile or Jew, are Jewish.  God grafts us together and we become one spiritual family.  I have come to consider myself a spiritual Jew or Israelite; a spiritual descendant of Abraham.

I have been studying the Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament, often called the Books of Moses, or the Books of the Law), from the perspective of Messianic (Christian) Jews.  There is such a rich understanding of the Torah through the eyes of their culture!  It is an understanding I can’t possibly come to with my own genealogical background and culture in which I grew up.  I have learned so much, and look forward to learning much, much more as I continue the study.  I wish I could sit for hours each day to pour over it, but unfortunately I don’t have that kind of time.  To be sure, there is a lot of legalism within the Orthodox Jewish religion.  But that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about Jews who have come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who was promised to them as their Savior.  When they study the Old Testament with their background in the culture it was written in, and in light of the New Testament (and the New Testament in light of the Old)…WOW!!!

Oh, and yes, I absolutely believe that the Old Testament Covenant is every bit as much for me as a Gentile as it is for the Jew.  And vise verse.  The  New Testament Covenant is not just for the Church, but for the Jews as well…those who believe in Jesus as Messiah.  This goes to the earlier comment about the Dual Covenant.  The belief that the Old Testament is for the Jews.  The New Testament is for the Church.  If we are indeed grafted into the Jewish people, their spiritual roots, then the Old Testament Covenant is just as much for us as it is for them.  That includes the laws and the festivals.  There are very specific meanings behind the festivals…and direct connections to the fulfillment of prophesy.  There is meaning there that we can never know without rejoining to our spiritual roots in the Messianic Jewish community.

The Old Testament Covenant did not end with Jesus.  He said, “Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”  (Matthew 5:17-18).  Jesus did not abolish the Old Testament Law or Covenant.  It is still in effect today, and prophecies connected to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham are being fulfilled even now.

As for the New Testament or New Covenant, let me ask you this.  Who was Jesus speaking to when He said the following:  “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”  (Luke 22:20).  He was speaking to His disciples…Jews.  Jesus made the new covenant with Jews first.  Not the Gentile church.  Is it for the Church?  Absolutely!  But it does not exclude the Jewish believer.  So, the new covenant is for the Church, Gentile and Jew alike.  And the Old Testament Covenant is for the Jew and the Church alike, as people who share the same spiritual roots.

Finally, I go all the way back to Genesis 12:3 when God made His covenant with Abraham.  “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”  And I tie this verse in with Romans 11:16-18 –

16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

How can we bless Israel if we boast against her?  If we view ourselves as her replacement, and look down our noses on the people from whom our Messiah, and theirs, came?  And how can we be blessed with the insight and knowledge they offer as the people and culture through which God gave His Word, the Bible?  Do not curse Israel.  They remain God’s chosen people, and as a believer, you are a spiritual member with them.  Bless them.  Come alongside them.  Support them.  Learn from them.  And be blessed.

The Secret Is…Plan B is really Plan A!

In my previous posts, “The Replacements” and “Sharing the Blessings,”  I encouraged you to support the Jewish people today because there is a clear distinction made (in Romans) between the believers and God’s chosen people, the Jews.  It is only by the grace of God that we, as believers, are allowed to receive the blessings that rightfully belong to the Jewish people.  In gratitude for that grace, we should financially support the Jews.  But there is more to this, and I don’t want to leave the topic until I make it clear that we are not Plan B.

I know, I know.  It sure can seem that way.  God hand-picked the Jewish people to be His own.  He cleared city after city of other people just so that His people could have the best land, the Promised Land, filled with milk and honey.  He promised to be with them, fight for them, protect them, and bless them.  For a long time I had a difficult time reading the promises of the Old Testament (like Jeremiah 29:11 – “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you.”)  I did not believe they were for me.  God spoke them to His chosen people.  Even though I am a believer in Christ, I did not believe that the promises for the Jews were the same for me.  It would be really easy to read Romans 11 and 12 and use it to support this notion.  The problem is that this notion is not true!

Even though the Jewish people are God’s chosen people.  And even though we as believers receive the blessings of salvation only because God graciously extended that to us through Christ.  We are not Plan B.  God did not decide that the Jews had turned their back on Him for the last time.  He did not wash His hands of them and turn to us as His second best choice.  We were never the understudies who were there just in case things didn’t work out for the stars of the show.  WE ARE PLAN A!!!  It was always God’s plan to open up the doors to the blessings given to the Jews for all  people.  From the very beginning, He intended to offer salvation through Christ to the Jews and the Gentiles.  We are meant to stand on equal footing with the Jews, as adopted children of God, not to be loved less, or blessed less, but equally.  We are joined together with them to be one family of God.

Ephesians 3:8-9 (NCV) – “I am the least important of all God’s people, but God gave me this gift–to tell those who are not Jews the Good News about the riches of Christ, which are too great to understand fully.  And God gave me the work of telling all people about the plan for His secret, which has been hidden in Him since the beginning of time.”

Step back to Ephesians 3:6 – “This is that secret:  that through the Good News those who are not Jews will share with the Jews in God’s blessing.  They belong to the same body, and they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus.”

Do not misunderstand.  This is not a backtrack of my support of the Jewish people!  That is something we must do out of gratitude for God’s grace, and respect for His chosen people.  But I do want to assure you that God loves you as much as He loves the Jews, and all of His blessings are for you.  So when you read these words from the Lord, believe them!  They are for you!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NCV) – “I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord.  “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you.  I will give you hope and a good future.  Then you will call my name.  You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will search for me.  And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!”

Sharing The Blessings

English: "A symbol that Messianic Jews be...

English: “A symbol that Messianic Jews believe was used to identify the first Messianic congregation, led by Yeshua (Jesus)’s brother Jacob in Jerusalem” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last post, THE REPLACEMENTS, I looked at Romans 11 and 12.  My intention was to remind those of us who are believers that we share in the blessings of God’s people only by His grace.  We are not His chosen people.  The Jewish people are God’s chosen people.  They were the ones who received God’s blessings from the time of Abraham.  And it was through them that Christ was born into this world in human form.  Because God intended to make the Jewish people jealous, He offered the salvation through Christ to us, the Gentiles, and gave us the opportunity to become sons of God.  How grateful and humble we should be to acknowledge the God of the Jews as our Father!!!!

Today I come to you with an extension to that post.  In Romans 15: 25-27 (NCV) Paul says this to the believers in Rome:  “Now I am going to Jerusalem to help God’s people.  The believers in Macedonia and Southern Greece were happy to give their money to help the poor among God’s people at Jerusalem.  They were happy to do this, and really they owe it to them.  These who are not Jews have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, so they should use their material possessions to help the Jews.”

Did you notice the distinction between the two groups of people?  God’s people and the believers.  The Jewish people had rejected the Messiah, but they were still (and are still) God’s people, God’s chosen people.  We are the side-liners who reap the benefits of being in their shadow.  If you are standing on the street corner in a downpour, and the person next to you allows you to stand under their umbrella with them, you show gratitude.  You smile, and say thank you, at the very least.  You owe them that much.  In the same way, Paul tells us that, as believers we owe a debt of gratitude to God’s people for the spiritual blessings that we receive because of them.  Obviously, the shared umbrella and the spiritual blessings don’t exactly match up.  God’s people didn’t offer to share their blessings, but it is still through them that we are blessed.  So our gratitude is not directed toward the Jewish people, but toward God.  He is the source of the blessings, and it is His grace that extends those blessings to all people.

How do we express our gratitude to God for this grace?  We can start with the obvious, praise and thanksgiving.  But Paul goes further.  He tells us that we should gladly give of our material possessions to help the Jews.  Anyone who follows the news or is a student of world history knows that the Jewish people have always seemed to struggle in some way, shape, or form.  There is no end of opportunities to show support for them.

When I read Romans 15: 25-27, I felt an immediate call to step up to the plate in demonstrating my gratitude to God.  I began searching for ways to give to God’s chosen people.  It is important, of course, to be careful when choosing a charity.  I watched for a couple of good indicators.  One was the BBB, Better Business Bureau.  The other is the ECFA symbol.  ECFA is a Christian organization “committed to helping Christ-centered organizations earn the public trust through developing and maintaining standards of accountability that convey God-honoring ethical practices.”  Basically, the Christian version of the BBB.  I found several organizations that are either Christian, Christian-Jewish, or Christian and Jewish together in its base, and backed by either the BBB or the ECFA or both.  I will list several of the ones I found below.  I encourage you to pray about what you can do to support God’s people.  Check out some of these organizations, or do your own search.  But please use caution when donating, do the research and make sure you are working with a legitimate group.  My husband and I will be doing the same.  May God bless you for blessing His people!

Genesis 12: 3 – “I will bless those who bless you, and I will place a curse on those who harm you.  And all the people on earth will be blessed through you.”

1.  International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
http://www.ifcj.org/

2.  CJF Ministries
http://www.cjfm.org/

3.  Ebenezer Operation Exodus
http://www.ebenezerusa.org/

4.  Messianic Jewish Israel Fund
http://www.mjif.org/

5.  Jews For Jesus
http://www.jewsforjesus.org/

6.  Chosen People Ministries
http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/

ADDED NOTE:

 At the bottom of the list of curses promised to the Israelites if they disobey God’s commands is the following verse:  Deuteronomy 28: 48 – “…You will be hungrythirsty, naked, and poor….”  Does this ring any bells for you?  Jump to Matthew 25: 44-45 where Jesus is talking about the time of judgement.  “Then those people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or alone and away from home or without clothes or sick or in prison?  When did we see these things and not help you?’  Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you refused to do for even the least of my people here, you refused to do for me.'”

THE REPLACEMENTS

English: Olive Tree from Greece, Sithonia Бълг...

English: Olive Tree from Greece, Sithonia Български: Маслиново дърво от Ситония, Гърция (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day there was a father who wanted to take his son fishing.  It was not just a fishing trip, but the fishing trip of a lifetime.  They would travel across country to join some of the most renown fishermen of all time.  They were to be supplied with the absolute best fishing gear that was available, and fish from the top-of-the-line fishing boat of that time.  More than that, they would fish in a location where they were guaranteed to catch the biggest and best fish with each and every cast.  They would stay in a room that was designed for the comfort of kings, and eat food they could not even dream of at home.  

 

The boy was told that all he had to do to go on this trip was complete his chores.  But the boy refused.  He had all the details ahead of time, knew exactly what he would be missing out on, but he wanted to do what he wanted to do before they left.  He didn’t want to carry out the garbage and sweep the basement floor.  He did want to play on his computer game.  Finally, after repeated warnings, his father gave up.  Instead of taking his son on this fantastic trip, he took a poor, destitute little boy from the other side of the tracks.  The father and this boy had a wonderful time!!  They caught fish after fish after fish, and ate food that was to die for.  As a bonus for his willingness to go along, the boy received an extra special reward when they returned home…something the son had wanted badly for a very long time, a new bike.  The shiniest, most expensive, with all the latest features, new bike.  The little boy was brought into the father’s home to live, and was even given the son’s bedroom.  The son was told to sleep in the loft of the garage.  Now the son was jealous.  Now he wanted to go fishing, but it was too late.  The trip was over.  He would have to wait for a very long time to have this opportunity again.

 

This post has a few more verses than normal, so I won’t write them all out.  I encourage you to pull out your Bible and read the following on your own before continuing with the post.

 

 Romans 11:4-7; 11:12; 11:13; 11:17-26; Romans 12:1: Romans 12:11.

 

Paul begins chapter 11 by talking directly to the Jewish people.  The gist is that the Jews are God’s people.  But they disobeyed God.  They tried to make themselves right with God by their actions, by obeying the Law.  They were unable to do this because only faith can accomplish that.  When Jesus came, they were given the opportunity to be made right by faith, but they rejected the opportunity.  So God made their hearts hard and stubborn.  But not all of them.  A remnant was chosen to believe and receive, and share the Good News.  As a result, the world (the Gentiles) received a rich blessing because God turned His attention towards us.

 

In chapter 11:13 Paul changes his focus.  Okay, now for you Gentiles, here is what I have to say.  He talks about Israel being an Olive tree…not just any olive tree.  A good one.  One that had been planted, nourished, cared for.  It was strong and healthy.  But some branches were broken off.  Those Jews who’s hearts had been hardened were removed from the base tree.  They no longer received the benefits of the caretaker.  Instead, branches from a wild olive tree (the Gentiles), that just happened to grow where a seed had fallen, were grafted into the good tree.  These new wild branches began to receive the care and nourishment that originally belonged to the broken branches.  It was accepted as part of the tree.  This was done to make the broken branches jealous and create a desire to return to the tree (vs. 14).  The grafted Gentile branches can stay as long as they remain faithful to the tree’s caretaker.  If not, they will be broken off.  The broken Jewish branches can be returned to the tree if they become faithful to the caretaker once again.

 

In English:-)  As Gentiles, we are receiving the blessings of God as replacements for His chosen people, the Jews.  We know that already.  A couple of things that stand out.

   1.  God has used us to make the Jewish people jealous in order to illicit a change of heart on their part.  (Don’t worry, He still loves us, and has adopted us as His own.)

   2.  Just as the Jewish people (as a nation) were cut off from God because of their disobedience and hardened, stubborn hearts, so the Gentiles can, and will be, cut off for the same reasons.

 

Now, what God has revealed to me in this.

   1.  The Jewish people are not jealous now.  They continue to be blinded and not see the blessings that we receive in their stead.

   2.  The Gentiles, as a people, are moving further and further away from God.  Their hearts are being hardened and made stubborn.  And God will break them off from Him.  But just as God chose a remnant of Jews to remain faithful, God has chosen a remnant of Gentiles who will be faithful and obedient to Him.

   3.  When Christ returns to rapture His church, the remnant of faithful Gentiles, they will receive the reward that was once intended for the Jews…and the Jews’ eyes will be opened.  Then the Jews will be jealous and will turn their hearts back to God, and God will save them with Jesus’ second coming to earth, and the establishment of His kingdom.

 

Final thoughts.  We, as Gentiles, the adopted, the replacements, receive God’s love and blessings only by His infinite grace!  As a result, our gratitude should be intense!  We have no right to be here, in His shadow.  This place does not belong to us, but we are here because He took mercy on us and has given us beggars the king’s portion.  When Paul says in chapter 12:1 that we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices, and be pleasing to God, and in 12:11 that we should not be lazy, but work hard and serve God with all our hearts, he wasn’t speaking lightly.  Our gratitude should pour out in everything we do, think, say, are.  How deep is the grace of the God of the Jews, who lifted us out of the filthy streets to give us a home in His kingdom!  Do NOT take that for granted!  Do not judge the Jewish people, and think we are better than they, because it is only by God’s grace that we are here at all.  Thank you Gracious God!!!  May our hearts remain true to You forever and ever!!!!

walking on the narrow path.

walking on the narrow path with Jesus

hisimagenme

It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightest weapons. ~ William Gurnall

Grace Transforms

The abundant life is the abandoned life.

The Basket Foot

The latest news and opinions on football, basketball, and soccer!

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Tracking events and trends in Israel, the U.S., Russia and throughout the Epicenter (the Middle East & North Africa)

Limbiley's Blog

Life&Love Trials&Tribulations Faith&Fortitude Redemption&Restoration.

Messianic Sabbath

A daily break to celebrate our salvation in Yeshua (Jesus) and our abundant life through the Torah

Living in the Kingdom of God---Diana Symons

A Daily Devotional | Walking with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit

These Christian Times

Prophecy, bible, entertainment and current events from a Christian perspective

Aglow International North Central Region

Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Aglow

Local Meetings, Events, Bible Study and Prayer Groups

A DEVOTED LIFE

Practical Daily Devotions for the Real World

sarsrose

Sometimes faith. Sometimes life. Always whatever's in my head.

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

WANDERING IN HOPE

"all fear is but the notion that God's love ends" - ann voskamp

Jason B. Ladd

Author | Apologist | Entrepreneur

Faith Community Church

Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

A Tenacious Joy

Letting joy triumph over trauma, loss, sorrow, and the messiness of life.

%d bloggers like this: