Posts tagged ‘Old Testament’

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.

A Priest Like Melchizedek: What is God saying??

During the school year, when I am driving from school to school to school, over miles and miles of land, I like to listen to Christian radio.  Music until I drive out of range of that station.  Then it is a mix of radio teachers/preachers and music, until I drive back into the music range.  There is one pastor in particular that I like to listen to.  Yesterday he spoke about Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God Most High, who blessed Abram after he rescued Lot from captivity.  I was extra tired that morning as I drove, and very little of the message made sense to me.  I really didn’t give it much thought, but I did catch that this was a priest about whom we are given very little information, including no genealogical information (odd, coming from the Old Testament).  Yet, from the 3 verses where he interacts with Abram (Genesis 14:18-20) he is linked to Jesus Christ.  There is one other verse that mentions Melchizedek in the Old Testament, Psalm 110:4.  There was a thousand years in between.  Then another thousand years passed, and lo and behold, the king-priest was mentioned again, and in reference to Jesus.  The author of Hebrews, in fact, gives him quite a bit of time.  He is mentioned in chapter 5, then briefly at the end of chapter 6, and totally compared to Jesus throughout chapter 7.  But aside from all of this, I really could not process the purpose of this message.

Three hours after this radio message, I arrived at my second school.  As I sat in the car writing down my mileage, the Christian radio station I had been playing was fazing in and out to another Christian radio station.  Weird, I know.  Weirder still?  Another radio pastor or speaker on the station that was breaking in was talking about guess who.  Yes.  Melchizedek!  What are the chances?  Obviously this was a God-thing because there is no such thing as coincidence, only God-incidence.  I knew instantly that God had a message for me in this.  I just needed the time to pray, search His Word, and allow Him to reveal it to me.  The rest of my day was completely planned out until I hit the pillow, though.  It was all I could do to keep from cancelling students and sit with my Bible.  I even pulled out the little pocket Bible I carry with me, but couldn’t bring myself to read and drive:-)  Here I am, finally, this afternoon, with a message to share with you.

Four times, that I caught, the phrase, “a priest like Melchizedek” is used in reference to Jesus (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:10, Hebrews 6:20, and Hebrews 7:17).  This drove me nuts, I confess!  How is Jesus a priest like Melchizedek?  Is it in his name?  Melchizedek means “king of goodness.”  Is it in is title?  Melchizedek was the king of Salem.  Salem means “king of peace.”  Melchizedek had no genealogy listed in the Bible.  Jesus did, He was from Joseph and Mary, a descendant of King David.  His entire genealogy is listed in Matthew all the way back to Abraham!  That couldn’t be the connection.  Melchizedek was obviously human, even though we don’t know when and where he was born, or when he died.  So what was it????  Why did God say the following about Jesus in Psalm 110:4b, “You are a priest forever, a priest like Melchizedek.”  I studied all morning.  And I prayed.  When I finally quit trying to be the research student, and opened up my heart and mind for God to show me the answers, He did.  Go figure!

Melchizedek and Jesus were priests (of course, Jesus still is) who book-ended the Old Testament agreement/covenant between God and the Israelites–the time of the Law of Moses, when the people could not approach God directly, but through a priest from the line of Levi.  A human, sinful priest who had to sacrifice for his own sins before he could sacrifice for the sins of the people.  The time of priests who’s genealogy could be traced to a line of mortal people.  When one died, another was appointed in his place.  The turnover rate was that of the average life span.  The people came to God for cleansing through a weak, sinful, fallible representative.  It would be like taking a mud bath to clean yourself.  It worked only because God determined that would be the only way until another, better way was provided.

Melchizedek was a priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18-20).  He was not a Levite.  Couldn’t have been.  Levi was Abraham’s great-grandson who was a long way from being born when Melchizedek blessed Abram.  He was before the Law of Moses began.  Because his genealogy is never listed, and his birth and death are unknown, his legacy as a priest lives forever.  Jesus is the Holy Priest who is, at the same time, God.  He is at the END of the Law of Moses.  The law that required sacrifices for sins and “muddy baths” through sinful priests in order to approach God Almighty was ended at the cross.  Jesus was not a Levite either.  He was from the tribe of Judah.  Yet He became the High Priest forever (Hebrews 6:20).  Jesus was perfectly obedient to God.  THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS ENDED THE TIME OF THE PRIESTS, FOREVER.

Jesus spoke many times of being the source of living water, water that would quench the thirst of the Spirit.  In other words, He is the only One who can satisfy the soul.  We are also commanded to be baptized in water, a sort of washing away of the old self.  Approaching God through the High Priest who is forever, Jesus, is approaching God through the blood of Jesus, the Living Water.  Instead of taking a “muddy bath” by approaching God through a sinful priest, we now approach God by bathing in the purity of the Living Water, Jesus.  This high priest who defeated both sin and death; who lived, and lives in perfect obedience to God; who will never die and pass down His post to another; who will never have to make a sacrifice for His own sin before bringing our petitions to God.  Jesus is the Living Water that we bath in, and then can approach the throne of God, clean, pure, righteous in His sight.

We no longer need an imperfect human to represent us before God, or to seek forgiveness of our sins.  We have the perfect Son of God now.  And I don’t know about you, but I would much, much rather trust my representation to Jesus than to someone who is as sinful as I.

Thank you, Jesus, for being my direct lifeline to God, my Creator!!

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!”

Moses Died and HE Buried Him: What can you take away from Moses’ death?

English: Moses views the Promised Land, by Lor...

English: Moses views the Promised Land, by Lord Frederic Leighton, relief print from Illustrations for “Dalziel’s Bible Gallery”, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers and published 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are so many prophets in the Bible.  Good ones.  Lots of good ones.  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea…the names of the books of the Old Testament is a litany of prophets.  They were God’s messengers to His people.  It was what they asked for.  When God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, God was present there.  The Bible says there was thunder, a trumpet, lightening, and smoke rising from the mountain.  The people of Israel were terrified!  “They shook with fear and stood far away from the mountain” (Ex. 20:18).

Deuteronomy 5: 4-5; 23-28 (NCV) – “The Lord spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain.  (At that time I [Moses] stood between you and the Lord in order to tell you what the Lord said; you were afraid of the fire, so you would not go up on the mountain.) …. When you heard the voice from the darkness, as the mountain was blazing with fire, all your older leaders and leaders of your tribes came to me.  And you said, ‘The Lord our God has shown us his glory and majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire.  Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks to him.  But now, we will die!  This great fire will burn us up, and we will die if we hear the Lord our God speak anymore.  No human being has ever heard the living God speaking from a fire and still lived, but we have.  Moses, you go near and listen to everything the Lord our God says.  Then you tell us what the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and obey.’  The Lord heard what you said to me, and he said to me, ‘I have heard what the people said to you.  Everything they said was good.'”

The people of Israel didn’t want to speak with God face to face, out of fear and reverence.  So God spoke to Moses instead.  Every message He had for them came through Moses.  It was an amazing time!  God was physically present with them day and night!  He was in the pillar of cloud traveling before them during the day.  He was in the pillar of flame traveling before them at night (Ex. 13:21).  When Moses met with God in the Meeting Tent, God was present in a cloud that lowered over the tent (Ex. 40:34-35).  Moses was not un-effected by this.  Remember how we are told that his face shown so brightly after talking with God that he covered it when he wasn’t speaking with God, or sharing God’s message with the people (Ex. 34: 33-35).

Moses had a relationship with God that fills me with awe and wonder!  While God spoke to other prophets through dreams and visions, He spoke face to face with Moses.  He didn’t show Moses visions that needed to be interpreted, He spoke clearly, straight forward, with no hidden meanings (see Numbers 12: 6-8).  God said exactly what He meant to say, and there was no mistaking the message.  God trusted Moses to lead Israel.  God even allowed Moses to see His glory (Exodus 33: 18-23).

But Moses disobeyed God.  Exodus 20: 6-12 tells us that Moses was told to speak to a rock and water would come out for the people.  But Moses was angry with the people for their complaining, and he struck the rock, not once, but twice.  Moses’ punishment for this sin was that he would not be allowed to cross over into the Promised Land.  God told him the punishment was because he didn’t believe God, and because he didn’t honor Him before the people.

Eventually the people of Israel arrived at the Jordan River.  All the laws had been given.  Those who had not believed in God in the first place had died.  Their children were going to inherit the Promised Land, and they were poised and ready to go.  God called Moses up to the top of Mount Pisgah in the land of Moab.  There he was allowed to see all of the Promised Land, the richness, the beauty.  But there he would die, held back from ever entering what he spent his life working toward.  It must be noted that Moses did not die of old age, even though he was old (120 years).  Deuteronomy 34: 7 tells us that his eyes weren’t weak, and he was still strong.  He didn’t die of a sickness.  He just died.  But he didn’t die alone, either.  God was with him.  Only God.  When it was time for Moses to leave this earth, even though his untimely death was a direct result of his disobedience to God, God was there with him.  God loved Moses so much that He took him in an intimate and personal way, known only to the two of them.  They had shared so many of these face to face times throughout Moses’ life, this must have been the most natural and fitting end.  I wonder how God took Moses’ life.  I can’t see Him striking Moses with a bolt of lighting, or burning him with flames.  Maybe it was just a touch, and He caught Moses’ body in His arms as he fell.  Or maybe God did what he wouldn’t do earlier.  Maybe He showed Moses His glory, and he died struck by the very sight of Holy God.  God Himself lovingly buried Moses there in the valley opposite Beth Peor (Deut. 34: 6).  Perhaps one of the most touching scenes in the Bible, when we see played out before us, the love of God for just one man.  I admit I cried when I read it.  But what are we supposed to take from this?  Is it just another story in the Bible?  Is there a lesson to be learned?  I don’t know.  I am left with this, though, an intense longing to have that kind of relationship with God.  To have His trust.  To speak to Him face to face.  To see His glory.  I want my face to shine from being in His presence!!  What about you?  What has God put in your heart today?

May the God of Moses show you His glory today!

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