I feel like I am walking along the rim of the Grand Canyon, at risk of falling over the edge at every step. Or perhaps a more apt metaphor would be, walking through a mine field. While I am trying to make a particular point, other major points arise to distract me! Or better yet: ever heard of Hogan’s Alley? I am trying to get us to a particular interim destination, but other considerations emerge suddenly that I cannot just ignore, or at least not for long. So, it has taken me a while to hone this particular blog entry, because I kept stepping up to related topics that beg to be explored, but had to stay as focused as possible. I hope the result is a cogent read.
Previous entries showed how Scripture informs us that all who love YHVH are Israel. Truth is, there are many more passages that demonstrate this truth, more than the few I shared. Over and again, scripture shows “the nations” being joined to Israel when they (foreigners, sojourners) choose to love YHVH. The entire story of Ruth is particularly about a Moabite woman uniting with Israel, initially with her mother-in-law Naomi; then more fully with her husband, Boaz. Among other declarations of loyalty, Ruth said, “…your people will be my people; and your God will be my God.” That is a powerful expression of commitment.
I think there are two main reasons it sounds strange to some of us to say, “We are Israel.” One, because we have grown up with the word “Israel” meaning an actual, physical country in the Eastern Mediterranean, of which we are not natural citizens. We are not Israel in that sense (at least most of us are not, at the moment). Two, we have been taught that “Israel” equals “Jews.” Nothing anti-Semitic intended in that statement. It’s just that, as Christians, we learned that we are not Jews; that Judaism and Christianity are two separate religions. In our heads we know they are based on faith in the same One True Almighty God; but when we read or hear the phrase “We are Israel,” we see/hear “We are Jewish.” A lot of us are not ethnically Jewish, as far as we know, so that does not seem quite right to us.
We have to get past this. According to scripture, Israel, aka seed of Abraham, consists of all people who love YHVH. Israel is not “the Jews.” Israel is YHVH’s family. Now, of course, there are many Jews who are part of YHVH’s family. But there are also many non-Jews who are part of his family, too. One family, called Israel. And, by the way, being ethnically Jewish does not, in itself, cause one to be part of YHVH’s family (in my current opinion, based on how I understand scripture).
Possibly, at this point, for most readers who also happen to be believers in Yeshua as Messiah, there may have arisen an elephant in the room. Why am I not talking about trusting in Yeshua? Why am I just referring to those who “love YHVH”? Let me just say right here that I am NOT saying that what Yeshua did is of no merit or power. The reality of his existence, who he is, and what he did are the central truths of human history and eternal life. However, there is much more to be said about this, and this blog entry is not yet the time for that discussion.
Nevertheless, for this entry: If we accept that we are brought into YHVH’s family, and that his family is Israel, what does that matter to us in these days?
Here is a bold statement: I have exchanged “church” glasses for “Hebrew” glasses. I know, to many that sounds ridiculous, scary, heretical, and blasphemous, because I just admitted that I have set my “church” glasses aside. I have NOT set Scripture aside. I have NOT set Yeshua aside. I have NOT set the Holy Spirit aside. I have not set TRUTH aside. But I HAVE begun to see all of these things and more with a fresh (to me) Hebrew sensitivity that makes an enormous difference in how I understand my relationship with Almighty God. Actually, in my opinion, these are not so much Hebrew glasses as they are Kingdom glasses; it’s just that the Kingdom is Hebrew.
Recognizing my identity in Israel has led me to view life in YHVH from a Hebrew perspective, which in many ways is significantly different from what I had learned as a church-centered Christian. For example, I know that a more or less universally accepted interpretation of certain verses of scripture underpins the teaching that Torah has been superseded by the work of Yeshua. Later entries will take a much closer look at this, but in a nutshell, that interpretation is precisely the opposite of what I believe scripture is telling us. We are free from the CURSE of the Law, but Yeshua himself said he did not come to abolish the Law, Paul taught that Torah is still in effect, Torah itself says nothing shall be added or subtracted, and Torah also often uses phrases such as “let this be a permanent regulation through all of your generations.”
I used the phrase “in these days” earlier. I have little doubt that we are living today in what is commonly called “the end times.” In other words, the culmination of world history is about to happen, with the coming of Yeshua ha’Mashiach. Again, this is not the subject of this blog entry, but the alignment of prophecy in scripture with current world events is exciting and compelling.
I have to say, though, even if I did not think we are in the last days, I believe it is important every day to be found walking in the path YHVH has prepared for us and called us to follow. Knowing I am in his family, which is Israel, causes me to see things differently. I am convinced that the difference provides fuller insight and understanding, which I believe is confirmed by the witness of the Spirit and by seeing similar awakening in other believers.
I am only professing what I am experiencing. I cannot speak to what YHVH is doing in other peoples’ lives. Only he knows where he wants each of us to be. Be who he is calling you to be. If the message I am sharing causes a stirring in your heart, seek him for what that means. In our fellowship we are always encouraging each other to “do the homework.” Don’t just take my word. Search it out for yourself, seeking guidance by the Holy Spirit.