BIBLICAL TEACHINGS OF THE “ORIGINAL GOSPEL”
What Scriptures teach “the gospel of the kingdom”? One place we find it is in the book of Ezekiel. For example, we read,
The word of the LORD came again to me saying, “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Then join them for yourself one to another into ONE STICK, that they may become ONE in your hand. And when the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean be these?” (Ezekiel 37:15-18)
Here we can see God telling Ezekiel to carve into each stick the name of the kingdom of Judah, and then in the other stick, the name of the kingdom of Israel – the TWO HOUSES of ISRAEL – and then he was to make them ONE in his hand. This would become an illustrative message to the people. God is about to tell Ezekiel what he is to tell the people.
say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions [the Northern Kingdom of Israel], and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah [the Southern Kingdom of Judah], and make them ONE stick, and they will be ONE in My hand.”‘ And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. (Ezekiel 37;19-20)
Yeshua (Jesus) came to lay the groundwork of Israel’s redemption and to initiate the process of Israel’s restoration. This is what Yeshua’s ministry and death were all about. Another passage which sums up His life and ministry that is seen from the Tanakh [aka, “Old Testament”] would be this passage from the book of Isaiah,
And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength), He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations [i.e., “world”] so that My salvation may reach the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:-6)
Isn’t the statement, “My salvation may reach the end of the earth,” the essence of what is called “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20)? Yeshua (Jesus) even instructs His disciples,
Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10: 5-6)
I can imagine many of you thinking, “So did Yeshua (Jesus) only come to save the Jewish people?” Any Gentile (non-Jew) who have attached themselves to Israel and the God of Israel have always been considered to be a part of Israel. I will prove this to you in part 2 of this study. But right now, let me give you a passage from the book of Isaiah to prove my point:
Let not the foreigner [Gentile; non-Jew] who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from His people, [Israel]”…Also the foreigners [non-Jews] who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, EVERY ONE WHO KEEPS THE SABBATH, AND HOLDS FAST TO MY COVENANT; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar. For My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples. The Lord GOD, who gathers THE DISPERSED OF ISRAEL, declares, YET OTHERS I WILL GATHER TO THEM, to those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56: 3, 6-8)
God’s plan and definition of Israel has always been a combination of native Israelites (i.e., “Jews”) and Gentiles [non-Jews]. God did not change His program, contrary to what I have heard many Christians teach.
Once Ezekiel shows the people the sticks and tells them about God’s plan to re-unite them into ONE PEOPLE, ONE COMMUNITY, ONE KINGDOM, He then tells Ezekiel to tell the people the following,
And say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them ONE NATION in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and ONE KING will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be TWO NATIONS, and they will no longer be divided into TWO KINGDOMS. And they will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will DELIVER them from all their dwelling places in which they have SINNED, and will CLEANSE them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. And My servant David [symbol of Messiah] will be king over them, and they will all have ONE SHEPHERD; and they will all walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them. (Ezekiel 37: 21-24)
Right here, we have “the gospel of the kingdom” that was proclaimed and taught by Yochanan the Immerser (aka, “John the Baptist”) and Yeshua, His eighty-two disciples, and also Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) as well. Notice that the forgiveness of sins and cleansing them is a PART of “the gospel,” but it is NOT the “whole gospel.” We also find “the gospel” taught in the marriage of Hosea and Gomer.
Yeshua’s Parable: “The Prodigal Son”
Now some may try to argue this and say that Yeshua (Jesus) never taught this, but they would be wrong. He did teach this, and so did Rav Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) in both the book of Romans and in Ephesians. If we understood the Tanakh [aka, “Old Testament”] the way that we should, we would know that the prophets teach about a number of TWO’s:
- TWO Families (Jeremiah 33:24)
- TWO Sisters (Ezekiel 23:2-4)
- TWO Branches (Zechariah 4:11-14)
- TWO Sticks (Ezekiel 37:15-38)
- TWO Winesses (Revelation 11:3-4)
- TWO Lampstands (Revelation 11:3-4)
- TWO Leavened Loaves (Leviticus 23:17)
So what does Yeshua (Jesus) do but tell us His renowned parable about “a father with two sons,” which Christianity calls “The Prodigal Son:”
Then Yeshua said, “A certain man had two sons, and the younger of them said to the Father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that comes to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered everything and traveled to a far country, and there he squandered his inheritance on wild living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine came against that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to fill up on the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one was giving him any.”
Here we can see, a Father, who represents God, and two sons: the older son, who represents the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and the younger son, who represents the Northern Kingdom of Isra’el, who is also called Ephraim in the Prophets. The Northern Kingdom had been taken away into exile by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and the Southern Kingdom was taken away into exile by the Babylonians for 70 years in 586 B.C. He goes on to say,
But when he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired workers have food overflowing, but here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up and go to my father, and I’ll say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your presence. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.'” And he got up and went to his own father. But while he was still far away, his father saw him and felt compassion. He ran and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your presence. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
But the father said to his slaves, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let’s celebrate with a feast! For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life – he was lost and is found!” Then they began to celebrate.
Yeshua (Jesus) was telling the religious leaders that He was going to bring the descendants of the Northern Kingdom back. It is not just about a “prodigal son” coming back to God, like Christianity teaches, since they have taken Yeshua (Jesus) and His teachings of their historical, cultural, religious, and Scriptural contexts of the whole Bible, they do not see these connections between the historical events and what Yeshua (Jesus) is teaching here in this parable. If we continue with His parable, He says,
Now his older son was out in the field. And as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called out to one of the servants and began to ask what these things could be. The servant said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he got him back safe and sound.”
But the older son was angry. and didn’t want to go in. So his father came outside and pleaded with him. But he answered and said to him, “Look, so many years I’ve slaved away for you – not once did I ignore your order. Yet you’ve never given me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came – the one who has squandered your wealth with prostitutes – for him you kill the fattened calf!”
Here we can see, the attitude of the religious leaders was being described here. But Yeshua (Jesus) is telling these religious leaders of the Southern Kingdom of Judea (i.e., Jews) that He is going to bring the “younger son” (the Northern Kingdom of Isra’el) back, but the religious leaders, who represent the Southern Kingdom of Judah, are not happy. He then tells them,
Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and everything that is mine is yours. But it is right to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life! He was lost, but is found.” (Luke 15: 11-32, TLV)
We never hear the “older son’s” reponse. Yeshua (Jesus) leaves “the ball” in their court. And who does God and Yeshua (Jesus) send out to the Gentile nations to look for the descendants of the Northern Kingdom of Isra’el (or Ephraim)? It was the Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul), who wrote much of the “New Testament.” When Christians tell this parable, they explain that God is the “father,” and that we all are the “younger son,” i.e., the “prodigal son,” but they never identify the “older son.”
Sha’ul Paulus’ (Paul’s) Teaching – Four Missing Letters?
The Restoration of Isra’el was also taught by the Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul), in his letter to the congregation in Ephesus. This letter that we have is actually the second letter to the Ephesians, since we are missing his first letter to them. He makes reference to the first letter, which we do not have, in Ephesians 3:
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (AS I WROTE AFORE in few words, Whereby, when ye read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ (Messiah). (Ephesians 3:3-4, KJV; emphasis added)
So why do we have this letter, which would have been II Ephesians and we are missing I Ephesians, I don’t know, but all I know is that we are missing a total of four (4) of his letters.
Paul’s Teaching – The Restoration of Isra’el?
Sha’ul Paulus’ (Paul’s) teaching here in Ephesians 2 is about the restoration of Isra’el here as well. Some now refer to this teaching about “the One New Man.” He writes,
Wherefore remember, that you were in times past Gentiles in the flesh [i.e., Israelites who have lost their heritage and distinctions], who were CALLED Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time you were without Christ [the Messiah], being aliens from the commonwealth of Isra’el, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus [Messiah Yeshua] you who were sometimes far off [the Assyrians had taken them afar off] are made nigh by the blood of Christ [Messiah]. For He is our peace, who has made both one [the bringing together of the two kingdoms]. and has broken down the middle way of partition between us [which kept us separate from one another]; Having abolished in His flesh, even the law of commandments [which they broke and violated] contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of two [the two kingdoms] ONE NEW MAN, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in ONE BODY by the cross, having slain the enmity [their violations of the commandments] thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off [the Northern Kingdom of Isra’el, Ephraim], and to them that were nigh [the Southern Kingdom of Judea, the Jews]. (Ephesians 2:11-17)
Here we can see that the ones who were “afar off” is a reference to the descendants of the Northern Kingdom of Isra’el, and those who were “nigh” refers to the Southern Kingdom of Judea, or “the Jews.” But then, the Jewish Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) tells them,
For through Him we both [the Whole House of Isra’el, Both Kingdoms Re-United] have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners (your exile from God is over), but fellowcitizens with the saints (the Southern Kingdom, the Jews) and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles [emissaries] and PROPHETS, Jesus Christ [Heb. Yeshua HaMashiach] himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building [the Whole House of Isra’el] fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 3:18-22)
Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) here is not speaking of a whole new entity called “the church,” that is something that is not part of Judaism, but this is in keeping with what God has taught in His Written Torah. This fulfills part of what God expressed in Exodus 25,
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it. (Exodus 25:8-9)
The word “among” here is English translation of the Hebrew word tavek [H8432], which can mean “among, in, midst, through, and within.” Consequently, what we see happening through the events of the “New Testament,” God is fulfilling a part of His desire that He expressed here in Exodus 25.
The New Testament & Gospel – Back in Context?
But when we place the writings of the disciples, whom Christians call the “New Testament” back into its proper contexts, we discover that the focus of the “original gospel” was on the passion and love of God for His one and only bride, Isra’el. This may surprise many people to discover, but God only has ONE BRIDE. He has never turned His back on her, nor has He ever abandoned her. His passion and love for her continues to this day, and it has never wavered. But what seemed to get lost in translation from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English is that the Bride of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and the Bride of God are the SAME BRIDE. They are not two different Brides as many Christian denominations teach, nor has the Bride of Messiah, which Christians call “the Church,” REPLACED God’s Bride, Israel, nor is it a completely separate Bride, a totally separate Community as I was taught growing up in the church, but there has only been, and will always be, only ONE BRIDE – ISRA’EL.