Sanctification & the Food Laws: Is God King of My Food? (Pt. 1/5)

Food is an intricate part of everyone’s life.  We all have foods that we like or don’t like, as well as foods that reflect our cultural backgrounds.  But have you ever wondered about the purpose for the various food laws, or dietary laws, in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:3-21?  I would like to begin a five part series dealing with the one thing we all enjoy: FOOD.

In part 1, I want to lay the foundation of this study, and then in part 2, get into the actual food laws, and then in parts 3-5 look at those passages in the New Testament that seem to contradict these laws.  But what I find interesting about these two chapters is that they provoke some rather interesting questions: “Why is it important to God what we eat or don’t eat?” and “How can food ‘defile us’ or make us ‘unclean’?” In this article, I would like to lay the foundation for this study by discussing FIVE reasons for the food laws given in Scripture.

REASON #1 – THE KINGSHIP OF GOD

One reason, I believe,  for the food laws has to do with God’s kingship in our lives.  God wants to be King in every area of our life, not just spiritually.  Therefore, an important question that these two chapters raise is, “Is God King when it comes to the foods we eat?”  And unfortunately, the answer for most Christians is “No, He’s not King, they are,”  since they choose to eat what they want, regardless of what the Scriptures teach.  And I do believe this is the reason many of us get sick or get the diseases that we do because we disregard God’s instructions in this area of our lives.

For example, I may like Dr. Pepper, and because I like it, then I believe that my car will also like it.  So I begin to put Dr. Pepper in my gas tank.  After awhile, my car breaks down.  Now is it the manufacturers fault that my car broke down?  No, of course not, it is mine because I didn’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  In the same way, when we don’t follow our King’s instructions, we also break down and have problems for the same reason: we didn’t follow the manufacturer’s (God’s) instructions.

And we do this because we have been erroneously taught that Yeshua (Jesus) did away with the food laws; however, as I am going to show in parts 3-5 of this series, this is not true at all.  For example, the food being discussed in Matthew 15:1-20 and Mark 7:1-23 were plants which are all “clean foods.”  So the discussion had absolutely nothing to do with “unclean food” at all, but it was about the ritual hand washing laws taught by the Oral Traditions of the Pharisees, not the food laws given by God.  In fact, Yeshua (Jesus) specifically says this in Matthew 15:20.

REASON #2 – THE FOOD LAWS ARE FOR OUR PHYSICAL HEATH

There are many people who see the food laws to be simply a health issue, and there’s some warrant to this, but I believe the health benefits are a side issue, they are not the primary reasons for them.  But if you are interested, there are two good books I want to recommend if you are interested in studying this aspect of the food laws.  Both books are written by Gordon S. Tessler, Ph.D., called Did God Change His Mind (TLC Associates, 1991) and The Genesis Diet (Be Well Publications, 1996).  Dr. Tessler is “a widely regarded author, lecturer, and consultant in the fields of clinical nutrition and biblical health.”

REASON #3 – SANCTIFICATION & HOLINESS

Another reason that repeated over and over again for the food laws has to do with sanctification and holiness.  For example, throughout the Scriptures, we are taught that we are to be holy because God is holy.  But, of course, this provokes the question, “What is Holiness?” HOLINESS does not refer to “MORAL PURITY” or “MORAL PERFECTION,” but to “BEING DISTINCT, SEPARATE, AND OTHER THAN” THE WORLD.  In essence, to be an imitator of God.  Throughout the Bible, God calls His people to walk in holiness: “be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 8, 26; I Thessalonians 4:7; and I Peter 1:15, 16).

THE LAW – A DESCRIPTION OF HIS WAYS

And because God wants us to imitate Him, He gave us a description of “His ways” or “His way of life” in and through His commandments, and with them He gives us do-able, concrete ways to do this, to imitate Him, and one of those ways He does this is with our food.  For example, in the book of Leviticus, we read,

You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps, neither shall you make yourselves UNCLEAN with them, that you should be DEFILED thereby.  For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore SANCTIFY yourselves, and you shall be HOLY; for I am holy: neither shall you DEFILE yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. (Leviticus 11:42-43)

According to God’s Word, we can make ourselves “unclean” and “defile” our own holiness by the things that we eat.  Therefore, God says if we “sanctify” ourselves, then we “shall be holy.” But isn’t this a complete contradiction to the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus) in the New Testament?

In Matthew 15 and Mark 7, while Yeshua (Jesus) and His disciples are out in a field, a group of Pharisees from Jerusalem approach them, and they ask, “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?  for they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (Matthew 15:2).  In this account, the topic under discussion has nothing to do with food, since the food the disciples were eating was “clean food,” not “unclean food.”  The actual conversation had to do with the oral tradition of the Pharisees, not God’s commandments at all.

The ritual purity laws of the Pharisees taught that to remain ritually pure, they had to wash their hands several times before eating.  Mark’s version tells us a little more:

For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.  And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not.  And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. (Mark 7:3-4)

They believed if their hands were dirty (ritually unclean), then when they touched the food,  it became ritually unclean.  And then, when they ate it, the food made them ritually unclean.   Yeshua (Jesus) was not contradicting the food laws of His Father, but this man-made tradition of the Pharisees.  In fact, He says in Matthew,

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: BUT TO EAT WITH UNWASHED HANDS DEFILES NOT A MAN. (Matthew 15:18-20)

When we make the decision to eat what we want to eat, rather than what God wants us to eat, then this proceeds from our own evil thoughts within us.  And as Yeshua (Jesus) says here, sin begins in the heart, and eventually, that sin works itself out in our behavior, even in the disobedience of eating what God has told us not to eat.  And in so doing, those evil thoughts that began in our hearts defile us.

WE HAVE A ROLE IN OUR SANCTIFICATION PROCESS

Therefore, by seeking to walk in obedience to God by keeping His commandments through the empowering of God’s Spirit, we sanctify ourselves, and in so doing, with the Holy Spirit’s help, make ourselves holy.  In fact, Paul teaches us that we do have a role in our own sanctification process.  For example, let’s look at I Corinthians 6,

For ye are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, be separate, says the Lord, and touch not THE UNCLEAN THING; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (I Corinthians 6:16-18; Emphasis Mine)

In these verses, Paul is combining Exodus 29:45, Leviticus 26:12, and Isaiah 52:11.  In this epistle, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, and he is telling this congregation there that they, the group, the congregation, “are the temple of the living God.”  In fact, this is what the pronoun “ye” means.  It refers to a group.  If Paul were saying this about them as individuals, he would have used the pronouns, “thou, thee, thy, or thine,” which always indicates an individual.  For example, in the Ten Commandments, even though God is addressing them as a nation, He does not say, “Ye shall not steal,” referring to them as a whole, as a group, but “Thou shalt not steal,” meaning that each individual was not to steal.

Likewise, Paul is telling them and us, that our congregations are all part of the temple of the living God.  But what we need to realize is that our God is holy, and because He’s holy, He needs a holy environment for Him to dwell and operate in.  God cannot dwell in an unholy temple.  In the prophets, we read how God put up with Israel defiling His temple for awhile, but there came a point when God finally left it.  He would not put up with it any more, and in the same way, I believe that the reason God’s Presence is not felt in many churches, and even in the lives of many people, is because they do not live holy lives; therefore, they do not provide God with a holy environment for Him.

THE LAWS PURPOSE – IT WAS NEVER GIVEN TO REDEEM US?

There are so many things about God’s law we don’t understand because of how we’ve been taught to view it.  For example, the purpose of the law was not to bring us into a relationship with God, or even to redeem us.  For example, in the footnote for Exodus 20:1-17, in The Apologetics Study Bible, it says,

 God and Moses perceived obedience to the laws, not as a way of or precondition to salvation, but as the grateful response of those who had already been saved.  God did not reveal the law to the Israelites in Egypt and then tell them that as soon as they had measured up to this standard He would rescue them.  On the contrary, BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH they crossed the Red Sea to freedom.  All that was required was belief in God’s promise that He would hold up the walls of water on either side and see them safely through to the other shore….Obedience to the Decalogue [“Ten Commandments”] or any other law has never been intended as the way of salvation but as the appropriate response to salvation already received. (115; Emphasis Mine)

Consequently, then, the whole argument that God’s law teaches “works righteousness” or salvation by works is completely bogus.  Our obedience to His commandments is how we are to respond to His salvation; I obey God because I am saved, not so that I can get saved.

Let me give you a modern day analogy.  Suppose someone from another country comes to the United States.  If he obeys all of our laws, will that make him a citizen of the United States?  No, it won’t.  In order to become a citizen of the United States, he has to go through a special process, called “naturalization.”  And then, once he becomes a U.S. citizen, we still expect him to keep all of our laws.  In the same way, if we obey all of God’s laws, this does not make us a citizen of God’s Kingdom.  Instead, if we want to become a Kingdom citizen, then we have to go through a special process, which the Bible calls “salvation.”

TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING

And even after getting saved, we are still expected to walk in obedience to God’s commandments, so that the Holy Spirit can work through our obedience to sanctify us.  Notice that Paul quotes Isaiah 52:11, which says that if we come out of the world, “the nations,” and “touch NOT the UNCLEAN THING,” God says, “I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.”  And based on this passage, Paul writes,

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, LET US CLEANSE OURSELVES from all filthiness (or defilement) of the FLESH AND SPIRIT, perfecting HOLINESS in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1; Emphasis Mine)

We do have a role to play in our sanctification, as Paul clearly teaches here.  And notice, we are to “cleanse ourselves” from all “filthiness (or defilement) of the flesh and spirit,” so that we may “perfect holiness in the fear of God.” The word “perfecting” is the English translation of the Greek compound word, epiteleo, which means “to finish, complete, perfect.”  This last line in the verse could then be translated as “finishing, completing holiness in the fear of God.”

This idea that we work in partnership with God in our sanctification can also be seen, or derived, from Leviticus 20:

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.  And you shall keep My statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctifies you.  (Leviticus 20:7-8)

Notice again, we are being commanded to “SANCTIFY YOURSELVES” and to “BE HOLY.”  God’s command for us to SANCTIFY ourselves and to BE HOLY has not changed.  He expected it of the Israelites and the mixed multitude of Gentiles (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4) that traveled with them, and He expects it of us today.   To “sanctify,” or sanctification, is the process of making us holy; in fact, the word “saints” literally means “holy ones.”  And this process of sanctification is extremely important in our relationship with God.  For even in Hebrews 12:14, God’s word says that “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”

PAUL NEVER ARGUES AGAINST THE LAW FOR OUR SANCTIFICATION

And what many people may not think about is that although Paul argues over and over against using the Law for the purpose of JUSTIFICATION, as I mentioned earlier, but did you know that there’s NOT a single verse in the whole New Testament where Paul argues against the use the Law for the purpose of SANCTIFICATION.  In fact, 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 would clearly seem to argue the fact that he supported the use of the law for the purpose of SANCTIFICATION.  So how do we “sanctify ourselves”?  By keeping God’s commandments, and as we keep them, the Lord sanctifies us, as the verse above in Leviticus 20:7-8 suggests.  God and His Spirit work together with us to bring about our SANCTIFICATION and to make us more like Him.  And this process of sanctification even includes the foods that we eat.  For example, at the end of Leviticus 11, God says,

For I am the LORD your God.  SANCTIFY YOURSELVES therefore, and BE HOLY; for I AM HOLY.  And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.  For I am the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; and thus YOU SHALL BE HOLY for I AM HOLY.  (Leviticus 11:44-45; Emphasis mine)

Holiness is who God is and what we are to be, and since the primary purpose of the Torah is to teach us who God is, what He is like and what He is not like, and what He expects of us as His people, then the purpose of the food laws is to do the same, as these verses makes clear.

REASON #4 – TO SHOW WE BELONG TO HIM AND ARE PART OF HIS KINGDOM

This third reason is interlinked with the previous reason.   Many times when people go to other countries, one of the things they like to try are the different foods that are eaten and enjoyed in those areas.  The various foods are part of the culture of that particular country or group of people.  So why is it, then, that when it comes to the foods that are prescribed for those within God’s Kingdom, they are not likewise seen as part of the custom of His “Kingdom Culture”?  So by following His laws in regard to what we are to eat or not eat, we are are in a physical way participating in God’s “Kingdom culture,” and showing that we belong to Him and are a part of His Kingdom.  For example, in Leviticus 20:24-26, God says,

I am the LORD your God, which have SEPARATED YOU from other people.  You shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls [birds] and unclean: and you shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any such manner of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I HAVE SEPARATED FROM YOU as unclean.  And you shall be holy unto Me: for I the LORD am holy, and HAVE SEVERED YOU from other people, that you should be Mine.

It is the LORD who has SEPARATED and SEVERED us from other people, so that we would belong to HIM and BE HOLY.  And part of the way we demonstrate that we are His holy, set apart, and severed people is by the things that we eat and by the things that we do not eat.  God is the One who SEPARATED us, and He has also SEPARATED from us certain animals or meats that He has declared to be UNCLEAN to us, which means we are NOT to eat it or even to touch it.   He is LORD, which means “He is the MASTER,” and as MASTER, He has the right to determine what foods we can eat, and what foods we are not to eat.  And to reject these food laws is, in fact, to reject His rule and reign over that area of our lives.

I have heard many Christians say that it is impossible for us to obey God’s commandments.  However, the problem is their understanding of the Law, not the Law itself.  For example, when God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of only one tree in the Garden, when there were many other trees with fruit on them, was His instructions “too difficult” or “too hard” for them to do?  No.  Well, what about when God gave the children of Israel the double portion of Manna on the 6th day on their way to Mt. Sinai, and then told them not to go collecting food on the 7th day, but to stay home and relax.  Was that “too difficult” or “too hard” to do?  No, it was something they could do.  And the same is true of the other food laws (or “dietary laws”) as well.

REASON #5 – THE FOOD LAWS TEACH US ABOUT GOD AND ABOUT OURSELVES

God wants us to be imitators of Him, and in His commandments, He has given us concrete ways for us to do this.  In fact, God is so concerned about teaching us about Himself in every possible way, that He even uses food to try and get us to understand Him.  He wants us to understand not only what foods we are to eat and not to eat, but He wants to challenge us to think about —

  • WHY are we to eat it or not eat it?
  • WHAT do the foods I can eat teach me about God and me?
  • WHAT do these foods teach me about holiness?
  • WHAT do the foods I am not to eat teach me about what God is NOT like or that I am NOT to be like?
  • WHAT do these foods teach me about unholiness?

These are definitely not questions most people stop to consider when thinking about their food, but God wants us to think about it.  He wants to provoke our critical thinking skills and our imaginations.

For example, God says the pig or swine is “unclean” and we are not to eat it or even to touch its carcass (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8).  So what does a pig or swine teach us about what God is NOT like, or what characteristic does the pig exhibit that we are not to follow?

Well, even though people say a pig is intelligent, it is also undiscerning.  It eats whatever comes across its pathway.  It’s like a living garbage can.  However, over and over in His Word, God tells us that we are to be discerning; for example, the Levitical priests in the Temple were to make a distinction between “the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean” (Leviticus 10:10).  And they were to teach us, the people, “to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten” (Leviticus 11:47).  But if we act like the pig, and we are not discerning in our lives, indulging in whatever comes along, then, like the pig, we too are seen by Him as being “unclean.”

TEACH MY PEOPLE THE DIFFERENCES

However, did you now when the Lord comes back, the prophets tell us that God is going to give the Levites a good verbal chewing out for allowing “uncircumcised men” into His Temple, and one of the things He’s going to do is assign the priests the following tasks:

Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.  And in a dispute they [the Levitical priests] shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances.  They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts, and sanctify My sabbaths.  (Ezekiel 44:23-24)

If God truly did away with His laws and statutes as Christians teach, then why when God has everything the way that He wants – He is in control, Yeshua (Jesus) is ruling on earth, satan and his demons are bound for a thousand years – does He bring the law, the Temple, the Levitical priesthood, the animal sacrifices, the biblical feasts, including the new moon and weekly sabbaths all back?  Maybe, the truth is that we’ve totally misunderstood the writings of Paul and these things never left.

Also, did you know at the end of Isaiah, there is the scene of the Second Coming of Messiah, where in the description of those who will be killed as part of God’s judgment, God includes the fact that they eat “swine’s flesh”?

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.  They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, says the LORD.  (Isaiah 66:15-17)

If the food laws ended at the cross, ask yourself why God is still using them to describe those who are living in rebellion to Him at His return?  I think there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that we need to rethink our whole view of the Old Testament Scriptures, particularly God’s law, including His food laws.  Are we recognizing His Kingship in our lives by eating what He has commanded us to eat?  Are we seeking to perfect holiness in our lives by living in obedience to Him?  And are we letting others know we belong to Him by reflecting His Kingdom customs and culture?

Please come back and join me for part 2 of this series, as we get into the food laws themselves.  Peace and grace.

 

Return to the top

“Why God Opposes Christmas, and Why You Should Too”

The very title of this blog post may surprise many Christians, but God is, in fact, against the very celebration of Christmas.  Obviously, the question that this statement provokes is “Why would He be against it since it’s a celebration of Christ’s birth?”  I find it telling that many people will argue why they think it is right or wrong, but what we fail to ask is the question, “What does God think and feel about what we do?  Does He approve?”

CHRISTMAS DIDN’T ORIGINATE WITH GOD

In the Gospels, Yeshua (Jesus) teaches, “Every plant, which My heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13), and Christmas is an example of something in the church that’s “a plant” that the Father “has not planted.”  And God’s desire is that this “plant” “be rooted up” and removed from His people.

CHRISTMAS – A “CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE”?

The origin of Christmas predates the time of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) life and ministry.  It did not begin with Him.   There’s all kind of evidence that the main elements of Christmas – the tree, the yule log, the presents, the caroling, the partying, even people going out and getting drunk, etc. – all find their origin in paganism, specifically, the Roman Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra, the sun god, which was December 25.  It doesn’t take that much research to discover this.  Up through the 4th century, A.D., people were leaving the church to go celebrate the Roman Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra, so in the 4th century, the Roman Catholic Church created a “Christian alternative” to the Saturnalia and Mithra to keep people in the church, and they did this by creating a mass for Christ or “Christ mass,” which is where we get the name “Christmas.”  Modern churches are doing the same thing with Halloween today.

HAVE WE EVER ASKED GOD HIS OPINION?

But the one question that we never ask is, “Should we have done it?”  I’ve seen many different arguments for and against the celebration of Christmas, but it seems we’re more engrossed in what we feel about the whole thing than we are about what God feels about it.  After all, when have we ever stopped and asked the question, “What does God feel about what we do?  Is He happy about it, or does He not approve?”

GOD GIVES US HIS OPINION

On August 17, 2019, God spoke the following prophetic message to my wife about His feelings concerning Christmas, and He wanted us to share His Word to the church at large in America and around the world:

This Christmas Spirit you have associated with Me is not of Me, says the Lord God of Israel this very day here where you are located.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  I AM, I WAS and I AM coming again.  Will you be ready or will you be doing life on your own accord and worshiping some other deity/god that isn’t Me at all?

I told you in My Words who I am and what I like and don’t like.  Why is it people who say you love Me don’t even understand Me your HOLY GOD?  Could it be that you haven’t read My Words for yourselves, or is it that you care more about worshiping the erected Christmas Tree and arraying and decking it out with all of the trimmings instead. 

Woe unto you who are doing this and saying you love Me.  Woe unto you who do the things that My Word/Scriptures speak against.  No where does My Word tell you to worship Me as a baby in a manger or to take of the pagans ways or to pick up and worship some Christmas Spirit for the whole month. Nonsense Church People – This is your doings to please and make happy yourselves and your families. (“God’s Warning to His Church: Quit Celebrating this Pagan Day!”)

As we can see, God is not at all please with His people participating and celebrating Christmas at all.  In fact, as God sees it, this celebration has absolutely nothing to do with Him at all; instead, the true focus of this celebration is on making ourselves and our families happy.

In fact, God told us through the writings of Moses that we are not to take things from the pagans and use them with Him.

Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them [pagan nations], after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods?  even so will I do likewise.  YOU SHALL NOT DO SO unto the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which He hates, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.  (Deuteronomy 12:30-32; Emphasis Mine)

How can we say that we are honoring God when we are directly disobeying God by the very thing that we are doing?  Christianity tries to rationalize its annual disobedience to God by saying that God’s Law or, even, the whole Old Testament, has been “done away with;” however, God has shared with us numerous times, this is nonsense.  It is the words of men, it is not His Word.  God’s law has not changed, and God’s prohibition against using pagan things with Him has, likewise, not changed.

And as far as God is concerned, Christmas is a clear violation of this command given to us by Him.  We are clearly taking something that the pagans used in the worship and celebration of their god, and we have “Christianized” it and brought it into the church and have been using it with Him, and He’s not pleased about it at all.  In fact, in this same message, God said,

I have told and taught you in My Word how to train up your children in the ways of Me and My Father in Heaven, but you throw that aside/away to teach them how to worship this pagan deity of Christmas and what you want it to bring and to comfort you with this warm fussy feeling of the Spirit of Christmas.  You say it brings love, joy, peace and kindness which are all of the fruits that I have given in My Words, but this pagan practice only is loving greed, selfishness, pride, arrogance, ungratefulness, as well as unthankfulness to say the least.  All of these are from the devil and his follies/imps.

[…] Stop profaning My name and stop doing what dishonors Us, for We do not approve or appreciate that you are prostituting yourselves out to other gods and saying it is I/US that you are worshiping. […] It’s time to wake up and stop lying to yourselves that what you’re doing is okay with Me/Us because it is not and has never been so. 

My First Commandment says to have only ONE GOD and to worship Him and No one else.  This god that you say is Me is not Me and has never been Me or My Father God/Elohim.  I AM THE ONLY GOD that you are to be serving and worshiping in your Synagogues/ Congregations and Churches this day and for always.  (“God’s Warning to His Church: Quit Celebrating this Pagan Day!”)

Obviously, here, God still views Christmas as a pagan practice that’s tied to the celebration and worship of another deity, Mithra.  There are many people who have been deceived into believing that by celebrating Christmas, they are celebrating Christ, but God says that the “god you say is Me is not Me and has never been Me or My Father God/Elohim.”  God is not “the Christmas Spirit.”  It is another Spirit that we see at this time of the year and in the Christian churches.

And not only does He see it as a continuation of idolatry, but He is appalled and disgusted by it all.  In fact, more recently, on December 5, 2019, the Lord had the following to say about Christmas:

These trees and such, that you call the christmas spirit, is not of Me, nor ever has been apart of Me, says the Lord Most High of Heaven and Earth, this day.  Put aside every idol, and every mention and thing of the ABOMINATIONS that you have taken up and put My Holy name to it. 

I AM APPALLED and I AM DISGUSTED with you who call Me Lord/Savior and continue to try and please your own deceitful hearts into believing I’m okay with this pollution that is in your everyday midst in the stories, houses, communities and even the houses of prayer where you say that I am at. (“Such Arrogance My People / Church Have Today?”)

I can imagine many Christians are probably shocked by God’s response to Christmas, but this is not news to my wife or me.  In fact, the first time that God ever spoke to her about this was back on October 31, 2015.  And this is what He said to her to share with me, and then for us to tell the American church and the church around the world:

I do not want My people to be dabbling in the things which I have said were unclean and unholy.  How can I, a holy God, be among the things that are unholy?  My people, you are profaning My name and causing Me to want to take you and remove you from My Holy Presence.  I cannot and will NOT, I say, keep dwelling among a people who do NOT covet the same holy things that I covet. (“God Says: ‘My People are Profaning My Name'”)

God has called us to be His holy people, “a holy nation.”  But instead of striving to be holy, we are acting in unholy ways by embracing these pagan practices.  In fact, God little later in the message continued His thought regarding our “Christian holidays”:

These wicked holidays that you are claiming to be yours are detestable in My eyes, says God Almighty.  How can you not see this in the Word of God that I have given you as a manual to understand the very heart of Me, says God.  I DO NOT WISH for anyone of My children to have anything to do with the things of this world.  I will go farther than this, I can’t continue in a relationship with you because you are grieving the very Holy Spirit that has come to be your Helper and to be your Guide.

Don’t profane My name and say you are trying to take something bad and turn it into something good for the sake of the church.  That is not true.  You are doing it because you don’t care about hurting Me, says God.  If you cared about Me, you would see that I detest all the things that you’re trying to push Me into.  I do NOT accept what you have done, and I don’t want any more to be involved in or have you put My name to anything that is unholy and unacceptable to what My Word teaches. (“God Says: My People are Profaning My Name”)

As we can see, God does not want anything to do with any of the pagan “Christianized” holidays that we have brought into the church, and this would most definitely include Christmas. Therefore, by continuing to celebrate Christmas, we are offending God by connecting Him to paganism, which He finds horribly offensive and to be a violation of His Word.

Now I can imagine some might wonder why God feels so strongly about our celebration of Christmas, or some might not believe that God actually said this to my wife, Karen.  So let me show from the Bible why God feels Christmas is so offensive to Him.

CHRISTMAS VIOLATES THE CHARACTER AND NATURE OF GOD.

There are many sources out there, Christian and non-Christian alike, who openly admit that Christmas has pagan elements and roots.  In fact, there are many deities who were born on December 25th, and they were worshiped on this day.  But the one most similar to our Christmas celebration is the Roman Saturnalia which led up to the birthday of Mithra, the sun god, which was December 25.  The Roman Catholic Church openly admits to taking this pagan celebration, “Christianizing it,” and bringing it into the church.  They will not argue this point at all.

CHRISTMAS – A DECEPTIVE LIE?

But when we go around proclaiming that Christmas is Yeshua’s (Jesus’) birthday, or that it began with Him, we are, in fact, spreading a deceptive lie.  Christmas was created to keep people in the church, so they would not leave the church to go and celebrate a pagan feast and be involved in worshiping another god.  Therefore, for us to go around proclaiming that “Christmas is about Christ” or “Keep Christ in Christmas” when He was never in it to begin with is, again, to promote a deception and a lie.  And deception or lies are completely against the character and nature of God.  God does not lie, nor does He endorse lying.  And yet every year parents lie to their children about Christmas being about Jesus’ birth and about Santa Claus.

Parents will say, “but Christmas is fun for the kids.”  Of course, it is.  That’s how Satan draws people into things.  He doesn’t use their evil side, but their good side, their fun side.  But think about it.  Are we legitimizing our lying to our children by saying it’s okay to lie as long as it’s fun for our children?  I mean, as long as you are having a good time, is it okay to lie and violate the character and nature of God, as well as violate His Scriptures?  Have we deceived ourselves into believing that by telling this lie,  we are really teaching them about God and what He is like?  I mean, think about it, if Yeshua (Himself) was standing right beside you, do you think that He would endorse your lying about Him when He, Himself, said, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life” (John 14:6; Emphasis Mine)?

No, this is not teaching our children about the true God of the Bible, nor is it teaching them about the true biblical Yeshua (Jesus), but God said when we teach and participate in the Christmas season, we are teaching them about another god, another Jesus, and we are not teaching people about Him at all.  You see, the biblical God and the biblical Yeshua (Jesus) are holy, and when we attach Yeshua (Jesus), our holy Lord, to a deceptive lie, we create confusion, and “God is not the author of confusion” (I Corinthians 14:33).  Therefore, again, the celebration of Christmas violates the character and nature of God.  And just because Christmas is “fun” and has become a “Christian tradition” does not make it right.

CHRISTMAS – PROFANES THE HOLINESS OF GOD?

And as God said to Karen, my wife, Christmas violates and profanes His holiness. Throughout Scripture, we are told by God that He is holy and, therefore, we are to be holy, for example,

For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7)

And you shall be holy unto Me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be Mine.  (Leviticus 20:26)

For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (I Thessalonians 4:7)

But as He which has called us is holy, so be ye holy in ALL manner of conversation [i.e., conduct, behavior]; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy. (I Peter 1:15-16)

God’s standard for holiness is seen throughout the Scriptures.  He has not changed (Malachi 3:6), nor has His standards changed.  He expects holiness of Israel, and He expects holiness of us.  And by bringing this pagan celebration into the church, we are not being holy, but we are, instead, profaning the name and the holiness of God.

Bring Christmas into the church is no different than what the Israelites did at the foot of Mt. Sinai with their golden calf, or what later Israelites did by bringing false idols into the Temple.  In all three cases, we, like they, are attempting to mix God with paganism.  God’s Holiness does not sanctify the pagan images, symbols, and rituals, so we are not “redeeming a pagan day or feast,” but we are, instead, profaning the holiness of God.  And every time that a Christian celebrates Christmas, they are not honoring God, but they are, instead, profaning Him.

CHRISTMAS FEEDS THE FLESH.

And not only does Christmas violate the name and holiness of God, but it is a pagan celebration that feeds the flesh as God said.  We are commanded to walk after the Spirit and to crucify the flesh, but instead, in this pagan “Christianized” celebration, we are doing the exact opposite.  We are feeding the flesh.  How?  By the following:

  • IT PROMOTES COVETING.  We can tell ourselves that Christmas is about Yeshua (Jesus), but this is a lie.  It’s not.  Ask any child if they are excited about Christmas, and they will tell you “Yes!” And if you ask why, they will tell you about all the presents that they are expecting from Santa Claus.  I remember as a child creating my lists of presents that I wanted, and I would spend hours going through the catalogues looking for what I wanted.  Did I think about Yeshua (Jesus) at those moments?  Absolutely not!  Christmas, to me, and to the majority of children, if we are at all honest, is about the presents and what they are going to get.

Consequently, Christmas does not naturally promote Yeshua (Jesus).  He is not the first thing that comes to mind when you mention “Christmas” to children.  Instead, if anything, Christmas promotes coveting, desiring and wanting things that people do not possess.  And in the Scriptures, we are commanded “You shall not covet” people or things that other people have (Exodus 20: 17; Deuteronomy 5:21).  And the reason most people want the things that they do is because they see other people have it, and then they want it too.

IT PROMOTES MATERIALISM AND GREED.  All anyone has to do is to go shopping and see what kinds of things are being promoted and advertised for people to buy for Christmas to see that this is true.  In fact, many people complain about the fact that Christmas promotes materialism and greed, but if you go back to the Roman Saturnalia and Mithra, you will find the same thing.  Materialism and greed is a natural part of the spirit of this pagan feast, so even if you call that spirit, “the Christmas Spirit,” it will always find its way out and express itself.

IT PROMOTES SELFISHNESS.  Finally, the focus of Christmas is not about “giving,” but about what they will be “getting.”  In fact, if most people do not receive anything for Christmas, particularly children, they feel hurt.  Parents and others will say that they give to their children or other family members, but children and family are physical extensions of ourselves, so to give to them is, in fact, a way of giving to ourselves.  And also, many people give with the expectation that they will get something in return.  Many people even pay tithes with this same motivation.  Consequently, then Christmas is a holiday that actually promotes selfishness.

CHRISTMAS VIOLATES SCRIPTURE.

In addition, Christmas violates Scripture.  For example, in Deuteronomy 12, God says,

Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them [pagan nations], after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods?  even so will I do likewise.  YOU SHALL NOT DO SO unto the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which He hates, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.  (Deuteronomy 12:30-32; Emphasis Mine)

Christmas is a clear violation of this command given to us by God.  We are clearly taking something that the pagans used in the worship and celebration of their god, and we have “Christianized” it and brought it into the church.

WHY CHRISTIANS CONTINUE TO DO THIS?

So if the evidence is clear that Christmas is a violation of the character and nature of God, it promotes the flesh, and it violates Scripture, then why do Christians continue to do it?  When I have asked pastors this question, I have gotten one of two different responses:

GOD KNOWS WHAT’S IN MY HEART.

One response I often hear is that “God knows what’s in my heart.”  Yes, God knows the human heart very well.  In His Word, this is what He has to say about it:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART was ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY. (Genesis 6:5; Emphasis Mine)

The IMAGINATION of man’s heart is EVIL from his youth. (Genesis 8:21; Emphasis Mine)

The heart is DECEITFUL above all things, and DESPERATELY WICKED: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9; Emphasis Mine)

Is this the heart that God knows?  Yes, He knows how corrupt our hearts are, and that they are so deceitful that they will even deceive us into believing we are doing something good when we are not.  This is why we need to place our trust in God and His Word, and not in our heart.

PEOPLE ARE GETTING SAVED.

The other response I often hear is that “people are getting saved.”  They believe that as long as people are “getting saved,” then that is all that matters.  However, what this implies, is the belief that “the end justifies the means.”  And God does not support this man-made philosophy.  Instead God is holy, and for God, not only the end needs to be holy, but so does the means.  God will not endorse unholy “means,” regardless of the outcome.  God cannot, nor will He, violate His holiness, nor will He okay us to do so in His name.

In fact, in the same August 17, 2019, message, God said this in regard to this idea:

Stop forcing Me into your pagan celebrations to bring in people to have them come to Me.  My Father and I don’t need your help in this.  My Father and My Holy Spirit will draw them unto Me in the right timing, not yours, My people, who say that you love Me and want to do good, not bad.  (“God’s Warning to His Church: Quit Celebrating this Pagan Day!”)

Many times, people get emotionally stirred up and we get them to come forward to give their lives to Yeshua (Jesus).  However, oftentimes, when the emotions subside, so does the commitment to follow Yeshua (Jesus).  Rather than continuing to follow Him, they now have this “belief” that because they went forward, they now have this “automatic ticket to heaven,” even if they never go back to church, read their Bible, or pray.  We need to do things God’s way, not trying to replace His ways with our own.

CONCLUSION

Christmas is not of God.  It is a man-made celebration that was created to keep Christians in the church, but in doing so, they brought these pagan elements into the church as well.  And one must wonder, “Why do we feel we have the need to create holidays and feasts when God gave us a bunch of them?  Why do we throw His feasts out the window, and then replace them with feasts of our own making that are deeply rooted in paganism and idolatry?”  What we are doing is not honoring to God, but we are profaning Him each and every year.

We have a choice.  We can either listen to God and His Word, and be obedient to Him, or we can ignore God and what He says in His Word, and continue to do what we are doing, and be in disobedience and rebellion.  Obedience to God and His Word brings blessings into our lives, but disobedience and rebellion only result in cursings and death.

My wife and I, as well as this ministry, Following Messiah, have made our decision.  We will no longer celebrate, support, or advocate Christmas for any reason.  As far as we are concerned, this pagan holiday will not be a part of our lives or our ministry, regardless of the cost.  It is our prayer, and God’s desire, that you will follow our example and do likewise.

Choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

 

 

Return to the top

Who is “Israel”? What Jews and Christians Need to Know (Part 1)

WHO IS “ISRAEL”?  This is not just a random, general question for me, but it lies at the very heart of the calling that God has placed upon my life.  By the time you finish this article, I think you will know what I mean.  I have a personal stake in fully understanding this question as I will explain.  But it’s not only important to me, it should be important to every Jew and Christian in the world since it lies at the heart of who we are, our identities in God.

MY OWN PERSONAL STRUGGLE

I did not grow up a Torah-centered life, nor did I grow up in a Jewish home, but in a very conservative Christian home.  I grew up attending a small Pentecostal church on the south side of Lansing, Michigan, and then when I was twelve, my parents began attending an Assemblies of God church close to our home.  However, over the years, the Lord has called my wife and I to an “Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.” Except for our belief in Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah, by all outward evidence, we are living a Jewish life, at least to the best of our knowledge.  There are many things we still need to learn, particularly about being “Orthodox,” but these are things that God has called us to learn, and so we continue to strive to learn them.

But growing up, I remember the more I studied the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the more I loved it.  I actually got into an argument many years ago with someone in our Sunday School class, because he tried to argue that people could not keep God’s commandments, and I disagreed with him.  I told him we could keep them, but most of the time, we choose not to do it.  I also absolutely disagree with Christians who say that God gave us His commandments just to “show us what horrible, sinful people we really are,” I don’t know what Bible they are reading, but I sure don’t see that taught or indicated in the first five books, or even in the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures.  I also was asked to leave one church, because I had just started wearing my prayer shawl that I had just bought from the Israel Connection, a Jewish bookstore, when it was still open in Scottsdale, Arizona. The pastor told me that if I wanted to wear it, I should go to the synagogue or a Messianic service, but I was not allowed to wear it there at his church.  My wife and I did not return.

God’s law is also an act of love and grace.  He did it because He wanted us to know who He was, what He is like, what He’s not like, and how we are to interact with Him and with one anther.  And nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures do we get any indication of God’s Word being “bondage,” “legalism,” or that it has been “annulled,” “set aside,” or been completely fulfilled so that we no longer have to obey it.  Yeshua (Jesus) has been the One who has called my wife and I to this life, and He is the One who is directing us to walk “the ancient paths” of His Kingdom ways, as He invited Israel to do through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:16).  Now having laid out my general background and reason why this study is so important to me, let me ask the question.

WHO IS “ISRAEL”?

This seems like it should be an easy question to answer, doesn’t it, but it’s really not since there are many different groups, other than the Jewish people, who are claiming to be “the true Israel.”  However, my only question is, “How does God define ISRAEL?”  Many people are not aware that God Himself defined “ISRAEL” in His own word; consequently, the only definition that matters is His.

WHEN DID ISRAEL BEGIN?

First of all, I think it is important for us to remember when Israel began.  Although God called Abraham into covenant with Him, and then his son, Isaac, He laid the foundation for what Israel was to become through their lives.   Technically, though, we would have to agree that there couldn’t have been any such thing as “Israel” until God actually renamed Jacob as “Israel” (Genesis 32).   In chapter 32, Jacob was really nervous about meeting his brother Esau again, because he hadn’t seen him since he pretended to be Esau and tricked his father into giving him his older brother’s blessing (Genesis 27:1-40), rather than it going to Esau.  And he was really nervous when his servants told him that Esau was coming towards him with 400 men (Genesis 32:6), so he divided his family into two companies, hoping that one of them would at least survive (Genesis 32:7-8).

Jacob then spends some time in prayer to God, asking Him to deliver him from the hand of his brother Esau (Genesis 32:9-12).  Then he selected a large number of animals, and he divided them up into at least three groups, and to each group, he gave to a servant.  He told the servants to take the animals as a present and to give them to Esau, and by doing so, he was hoping to appease him.  He also made sure to tell the servants not to go together, but to have a large space between them (Genesis 32:13-20).

JACOB WRESTLES ALL NIGHT WITH GOD

That night, as he was on guard alone, in case one of Esau’s men would try to sneak into the camp, he ends up wrestling with someone in the dark until the breaking of the day.  And when the stranger saw that he was not prevailing against Jacob at all, the Scriptures say he touched the hollow of his thigh, and by doing so, he was able to put it out of joint (Genesis 32:24-25).  Obviously, this was not any ordinary man since he was able to do this by simply touching his thigh.  At this point, the man says to let him go, but Jacob responds, “I will not let you go, except you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).  The man then asks him his name, and then when Jacob tells him, the man says,

Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed.  (Genesis 32:28)

When Jacob asked him his name, he would not tell him, but he blessed Jacob there.  This scene is where Jacob is renamed as “Israel.”  From this scene, I think we can logically infer the following about Israel:

  • Although Jacob had done some unscrupulous things in his past, he had repented and he is trying to reconcile with his brother by making amends;
  • During this process of repentance, Jacob wrestles with a stranger and is given a new identity as “Israel.”  “The man” says Israel is “as a prince” has “power with God and with men,” and he has “prevailed.”

In Hosea 12, there seems to indicate that the man was God, but then there’s the indication that it was an angel:

In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God.  Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed: He wept and sought His favor.  He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us.  (Hosea 12:3-4)

Consequently, based on this account, Israel is “one who wrestles with God.”  And how many of us like Jacob also wrestle with God in one way or another.

GOD CREATES ISRAEL

Then in Genesis 35, we have what seems to be God renaming Jacob as Israel all over again for a second time, but there’s more to it here than merely a renaming.  When Jacob came out of Padan-aram, God again appeared to Jacob and blessed him. (Genesis 35:9)  And God said to him:

Your name is Jacob: Your name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name:

“and He called his name Israel.  And God said to him,”

I am God Almighty (Heb. El Shaddai): be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of you, and kings shall come out of your loins; and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to you I will give it, and to your seed after you will I give the land.  (Genesis 35:10-12)

First of all, in looking at what God told him after renaming him “Israel”:

  1.  God identified Himself as “El Shaddai” (God Almighty) or “the God who is more
    than enough.”
  2.  God told him to “be fruitful and multiply.”  This indicates that this is not just a renaming, but a creation account since the only two times prior to this that this phrase was used was during the initial creation account in Genesis 1 (Genesis 1:22, 28), and after Noah, his family, and all the animals came off the ark, indicating a new creation after the flood (Genesis 8:17; 9:7).

In the book of Isaiah, God says to the people and nation of Israel:

But now thus says the LORD that created you, O Jacob, and He that formed you, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  (Isaiah 43: 1)

During the biblical period, the act of naming something or giving it a new name was an act of showing one’s ownership of that thing or person.  For instance, when Adam gave “Woman” the name Chavah (trans. as “Eve” in English), he was showing his ownership of her since she was his wife.  When God renames Abram into Abraham, and Sarai into Sarah, He is showing His ownership of them.  They now belonged to Him, and the same is true of Jacob here into “Israel.”

We even see this in the New Testament, when Yeshua (Jesus) renames Simon into “Peter,” He is showing His ownership of Peter as belonging to Him, and the same is true of us as modern believers, since in the epistles we are told that Yeshua (Jesus) purchased us with His blood (I Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1), and therefore, He is going to show His ownership of us by giving us a “new name” (Revelation 2:17), as well as give us three other names: “the name of My God,” “the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem,” and “My new name” (Revelation 3:12).  Notice that although Yeshua (Jesus) and the Father are One (John 10:30), Yeshua (Jesus) refers to Him after His resurrection as “My Father and your Father, and to My God and Your God” (John 20:17), and here in this passage, He also refers to Him as “My God,” and He’s even been given “a new name” by God, demonstrating God’s ownership of Him.  And these three names will also be given to those who overcome.

ANALYZING GOD’S DEFINITION OF ISRAEL

  • After giving him the name “Israel,” God then defines “ISRAEL” as “A NATION and A COMPANY OF NATIONS shall be of you.”  ISRAEL is then defined as –
    • A NATION (Heb. goy; Gk. ethne).  One of the interesting things I noticed when comparing the Hebrew with the Greek is that the Hebrew word goy is in the singular, and it means “a nation,” but the Greek word ethne is in the plural and means “nations,” and it’s where we get the English words “ethnic” and “ethnicity.”    This word, though, refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  However, in defining Israel, God doesn’t just stop there, but He adds to the definition the following element.
    • A COMPANY OF NATIONS” (Heb. q’hal goyim; Gk. sunagogai ethnon) And like the word “nation,” the Hebrew word q’hal is in the singular, and the Greek word sunagogai is in the plural.  Again, I wonder why the change from the singular to the plural.

In Hebrew, the word q’hal [H6951] can be translated to mean “assembly, company, congregation, or multitude.”  The most popular translation for this word is the word “congregation” since it is translated that way 86 times.  Now in all the online sources that I found available, the Greek word sunagogai [G4864] was translated “gatherings,” and it is the source from which we get the word “Synagogue.”

The next word is the Hebrew word “goyim” or the Greek ethnon, and in both languages, it is plural and means “nations” or “gentiles.”  Both translations are equally valid.  So then this phrase q’hal goyim in the Hebrew or sunagogai ethnon in the Greek could be translated as any of the following:

      • An assembly of nations (or gentiles);
      • a company of nations (or gentiles);
      • a congregation of nations (or gentiles);
      • a multitude of nations (or gentiles); or
      • gatherings of nations (or gentiles).

Obviously, which of these is chosen depends on the preference of the translator since any one of these could be argued as a valid choice.  What I do find interesting is that even though the Greek word sunagogai is in the plural, most English translations seem to follow the Hebrew instead, which is singular.

  • ISRAEL – A COVENANT PEOPLE WITH GOD

Throughout the Scriptures, Israel is seen as a people who are to live their lives in accordance to the covenants that God had made with them.  For example, there was the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15, 17); the Sinai covenant (Exodus 12 – Deuteronomy); the Levitic /Priesthood covenant (Numbers 25:11-13); the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16; I Chronicles 17:7-14); the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34); and the coming covenant of peace (Ezekiel 34:22-31; 37:15-28).  The whole history of Israel is of them being a covenant people.  And just as God has called Israel to be His covenant people, He has also called me to live my life in accordance to His covenants as well.

  • ISRAEL – GOD’S SERVANT, HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE

In the book of Isaiah, we learn the following about Israel from God:

But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham, My friend…you are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. (Isaiah 41:8, 9b)

Israel is God’s chosen servant, who began as we saw with Jacob, whom the LORD Himself had chosen.  Israel is the descendant of Abraham, “My friend,” a covenantal term, demonstrating that Israel are God’s covenantal people.

  • ISRAEL – GOD’S FIRSTBORN SON?

Another interesting thing about “ISRAEL” is that God identifies ISRAEL as “My son, even My firstborn son.”  God is giving Moses instructions on what He is to say to the Pharaoh when he meets him, and He says,

And the LORD said unto Moses, When you go to return to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in your hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.  And you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the LORD, Israel is My son, even My firstborn.  (Exodus 4:21)

Now Moses has not even seen the Pharaoh yet, and here God is identifying Israel as His “son, even [His] firstborn son.”  Obviously, if God is identifying Israel as His son, then God already has an on-going relationship with Israel right here.  Then how could the covenant at Mt. Sinai be the relationship covenant since God is already in a relationship with them before Moses even goes to see the Pharaoh or before any of the plagues or before the Exodus from Egypt has even begun?

But isn’t it rather interesting that when it came time for Israel to leave Egypt under Moses’ leadership that Israel was comprised not only of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but there was also a “mixed multitude” of Gentiles that came out with them:

And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.  And a MIXED MULTITUDE went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. (Exodus 12:37-38)

Notice that Israel did not leave Egypt alone.  They left Egypt comprised of both the physical descendants of Israel AND the “mixed multitude” of Gentiles, just as God defined Israel in Genesis 35: “a nation and a multitude of nations.”  And after they cross the Jordan River, they continued to grow in the amount of “mixed multitude” of Gentiles that were part of Israel; for example, with Rahab and her family, Ruth, Doeg the Edomite, etc.  And more recently, me and my wife.

ISRAEL – THOSE WHOM GOD HAS CREATED, FORMED AND REDEEMED

Just as we read earlier, God created a whole new being called “Israel.”  Before God created him, Israel did not exist.  But He also formed him in that he made him from someone who already existed, Jacob.  So Israel was both “created” and “formed.” God refers to this in this verse.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1)

Here we learn that God not only redeemed Israel, but he was called by name.  Israel belongs to God; they are His people.  But not only did God call “Israel” by name, but I believe this implies that everyone who will comprise His people, Israel, He will also call by name.  We speaks more about this six verses later:

Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.  (Isaiah 43:7)

And then, in the next chapter, we learn,

But now listen, O Jacob, My servant; And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; and you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.  (Isaiah 44:1-2)

Again we learn that Israel is God’s servant, they have been personally chosen by God.  He made and formed each one of them, as He has the rest of us, but we should remember Paul’s description of the “unsaved Gentile world,”

remember that you were at that time separate from Christ [Messiah], excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  (Ephesians 2:12)

ISRAEL – GOD’S COVENANT PEOPLE

Throughout the Scriptures, Israel is seen as a people who are to live their lives in accordance to the covenants that God had made with them.  Each of these covenants build on one another, they do not replace any of the earlier covenants as Christianity teaches.  For example, there’s the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15, 17); the Sinai covenant (Exodus 12 – Deuteronomy); the Levitic /Priesthood covenant (Numbers 25:11-13); the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16; I Chronicles 17:7-14); the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34); and the coming covenant of peace (Ezekiel 34:22-31; 37:15-28).  The whole history of Israel is of them being a covenant people. And each of us, who are in Messiah, are also called to be His covenant people.  We do not keep one covenant, but in some way, we keep them all.

ISRAEL – GOD’S SERVANT, HIS CHOSEN WITNESSES

Another thing that God says about Israel is that they are God’s servant, His chosen witnesses.  “You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory” (Isaiah 49:3).  Six chapters earlier, God describes Israel as His witnesses:

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen.  In order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.  Before Me there was no God formed, and there be none after Me.  I, even I, am the LORD; and there is no savior besides Me.  It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, and there was no strange god among you.  So you are My witnesses,” declares the LORD.  (Isaiah 43:10-12)

God has chosen Israel to be His witnesses of who He is, what He is like, what He’s not like, and what He has required of us.  As Micah writes,

He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8)

There is so much about God and His Word we would not know, if not for Israel and the Jewish people.

WHAT GOD HAS SAID ABOUT YOU & ME

And the same callings, responsibilities and privileges that God has given to Israel, He gives to all those who are His, because He makes us all a part of Israel.  Now does that mean I believe that the believer in Messiah has in some way replaced the Jewish people? (Replacement Theology) Absolutely not!  Nor do I believe that God has placed Israel on the “back burner,” and that God is only working through “the church,” referring to some religious entity that is different than Israel (Dispensationalism).

Instead, I believe that we are engrafted into Israel, that we are to be One (Heb. echad) like God Himself.  We are to be One (‘echad) with Him, and we are to be One (‘echad) with one another, just as Yeshua (Jesus) prayed the night before His crucifixion (John 17:22-23).  And not only is God’s desire for us all, Jew and Christian, to be One, but that  we who are not of Jewish descent partake with them (the Jewish people), as Paul wrote in Romans 11,

And if some of the branches [Jews] are broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, was GRAFTED IN AMONG THEM, and WITH THEM partake of the root and fatness of the Olive Tree [Israel].  (Romans 11:17)

ISRAEL” is the name of God’s Kingdom that He began with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God’s intention is that we would all be part of ONE FAMILY, just as Rahab and Ruth, two Gentile women, became a part of the family of ISRAEL.   Now does that mean that I completely endorse everything that the present state of Israel does?  No, but by the same taken, I also don’t endorse everything that my own country, the United States, does either.  But we need to understand what God wants ISRAEL to be, and I believe when the Messiah returns, ISRAEL will become all that He wants them – and us – to become.

WHAT GOD HAS SAID TO MY WIFE AND I

When my wife and I went to ISRAEL, and are planning on going again, we want to learn from the people there, to be their friends, just as we hope that they will also learn from us, and want to be our friends as well.  But this is our attitude not only when we go to ISRAEL, but wherever we go.  But God has told us in prayer and in revelations to us over the years that there are certain things that He expects of us.  The following is a list of many of those things of where we are now, but He didn’t with all of this.  It has accumulated over the years.

  • He has chosen us and called us by name;
  • It was He who created us and formed us;
  • It was His plan from the very beginning that we should get married to one another;
  • He was the One who called us to be His witnesses to the nations;
  • He is the One who has given us the insights and revelations about Him and His Kingdom;
  • He has saved us, redeemed us, and kept us safe many different times;
  • He told us that He wants and longs for a relationship with us to be a holy one, because He can’t live in an unholy Temple.  It is detestable to Him, and He will puke us out;
  • He told us that Paul remained a believing Pharisee all of his life, and that there’s many things that Paul has written that Christians do not properly understand because of many different things;
  • He told us that He does not believe that many Christians love Him because they do not talk about Him with others, they are more passionate about football and sports than they are about Him, and they do not keep His commandments;
  • He has told us that we are not to celebrate Christmas, Easter, Lent, or Halloween.  These were never His holidays at all;
  • He has told us that we are to observe His Shabbat;
  • He has told us that we are to observe all of His feasts;
  • He has told us to keep the purity laws;
  • He has told us that we are to eat only kosher, those foods that He said in His word His people are to eat, and we are not to eat anything that He has called unclean;
  • He told me in prayer that I am to live as closely to the life of an Orthodox Jewish man as possible without violating His Scriptures;
  • He has told me to wear tzitzit, to pray wearing a prayer shawl, and to wear a kippah;
  • He has called me ben Torah, the son of His Torah, and my wife bat Torah, the daughter of His Torah;
  • He is calling my wife and I to Israel; and
  • He has told us that we are to teach all people, Jew and non-Jew alike, to believe in Yeshua (Jesus) and to be baptized (or immersed) in water for the remission of sins, AND we are also to teach them to obey the Torah, the writings of Moses, and the rest of the Bible as well.

Many Christians have questioned whether I’ve really heard from God, but it was the LORD Yeshua (Jesus) Himself who audibly spoke to me in my bedroom early one morning.  It was He who has called us to do these things.  Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that the Lord audibly spoke to me, but it is true, and I know it is true.  So if we were not to do what He has told us to do, then we would be breaking His commands to us, and it would be sin to us.  Of that, I have no doubt.

I am also sure that Christianity is wrong when it comes to the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, and many of Paul’s ideas about the law.  God’s desire is that we would be filled with His Spirit, and that we would love living out His Torah, keeping the Sabbath and His feasts, and all of His other commandments, and that His Word, including all of His commandments, would reside within our minds and in our hearts.  He wants His words in the inside of us, in our guts.  He does not want His word sitting on a shelf collecting dust, as it does in many homes today of people.

But we are all ISRAEL, if we are physically descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or whether we have been engrafted into ISRAEL when we put our faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah.  All of us in ISRAEL have the privilege and the responsibility to love God; to love His word, the Torah; and to love one another.  If a Jew, Paul says, does not obey God and listen to the prophet “like unto Moses” (i.e., the Messiah Yeshua), then he is in violation of the Torah.  And like the Jew, if the Christian, or any other person, does not obey God’s word, including the commandments that He gave to Moses, then he too is in violation of God’s Word.

The division we see between ISRAEL and the Church isn’t really there.  It is a man-made division.  There have always been those who said they were God’s people, but they did not live their life in obedience to Him.  This is true of people in ISRAEL and it is true of those who identify themselves as being in the church.  They didn’t love God and they didn’t keep the Torah as God instructed them to do.

WE NEED TO GET READY FOR THE COMING OF MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM

But if we are going to be ready for the return of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, and the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth, we need to begin living in obedience to all of God’s word, not just some parts we happen to decide that we like.  If we don’t, we won’t make it.

There are many people in our churches today who think that when they die or when the Lord returns that they will be going to heaven, but they are going to be sadly shocked and surprised when they discover too late that they will not be going to heaven at all, but they will be spending eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone.  The time is quickly coming to an end, and just as God shut the door of the Ark, and then destruction fell upon the earth, so the door of salvation is about to be closed, and soon, the time will come when it will be too late, and the door will be closed.  And once closed, it will not be re-opened.  Sudden destruction will fall, as it did the days of Noah and in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all who didn’t make it will be destroyed.

Think about it and make the right choice.  We know what God has called upon our lives, and we are not going to stop now.  We will continue.  We can only ask that you think about it, seek God, ask Him what you should do, and follow His directions.  If you hear a voice that directs you to violate His commandments or to go against His Word, please know that this voice that you hear is not God’s voice since God does not violate or oppose His Word.

Blessings and Shalom be to all of you.

 

 

Return to the top