By sharing the good news of the kingdom of God with Gentiles who were formerly foreigners to Israel, Paul intended to arouse the natural descendants of Israel to envy. God gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus and who submit to him in humility.
“This is the [new] covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time [as per the first coming of Jesus the Messiah],” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people (Jeremiah 31:33).
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear [as it indeed did become obsolete and disappear through the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the cessation of the sacrifices and priesthood] (Hebrews 8:13).
By receiving the promised Holy Spirit, God now writes his law on our hearts by pouring out his love into our hearts. Our new covenant faith in Jesus the Messiah expresses itself through love, love even towards our perceived enemies (Romans 5:5 & Galatians 5:6).
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them (1 John 2:3-11).
Long before, but also particularly during the Reformation, there have always been arguments and debates over New Covenant doctrine which defines a Christian. Do we confess and believe the orthodox creeds concerning Jesus as the Messiah? Doctrine is indeed very important. But if we do not express our faith through love, then even right doctrine is inadequate and ineffective – as was the case with the church at Ephesus (see quotation below).
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry (2 Timothy 4:2-5).
The itching ears of many false believers want the assurance that they are guaranteed a place in heaven and in the world to come, even if they do not demonstrate genuine faith expressing itself in love.
If we hold to sound doctrine and are given wisdom, insight and understanding through the Holy Spirit, we should also be moved by the love of God in everything that we do. However, even if were are absolutely correct in our doctrine, but are not moved by the love of God, we will not have God’s approval and will be in serious danger of being cut off. Those who are self-righteous, proud, selfish, arrogant, and conceited are not justified, because genuine faith always expresses itself in love.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres 1 Corinthians 1:1-7).
Jesus said, “These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).
There is much debate, which provokes envy, when it is suggested that natural descendants of Israel have been cut off from Israel while they persist in their rebellion against Jesus the Messiah. People protest against the “red-herring” which they call, “replacement theology” which they misleadingly suggest is a teaching which claims that the church has replaced Israel as God’s holy nation.
The church is the faithful assembly of Israel, it has always included a remnant from the natural descendants of Israel. Paul, when affirming that God had not completely rejected Israel, proved his point by saying that he was an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin. However, those who claim to be Israel, but who reject the Messiah, are cut off from Israel while they persist in their unbelief. Furthermore, Gentiles who have been born again of the Spirit are now counted as if they were born in Zion.
Glorious things are said of you, city of God: “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre , along with Cush— and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’” Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you” (Psalm 87:3-7).
Believing Gentiles who are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit through their faith in Jesus, have indeed replaced that part of Israel which persists in rejecting Jesus the Messiah. They have been grafted in with believing Jews and are one body and heirs with Abraham of all the promises. Korah led a rebellious assembly of Israelites against Moses and that assembly who followed Korah, were completely cut off from the faithful assembly of Israel who submitted to Moses and Aaron.
How much more so, do you think God will judge the assembly of Israel, who claim to be holy and who are taking possession of the Land, but who rebel against Jesus the Messiah? As it was with Korah’s rebellion, we must indeed separate ourselves from the rebellious assembly who reject Jesus the King. In the time of Moses and Korah, the contention was not over who was a descendant of Israel, but rather who were of the faithful assembly who had God’s approval and who were cut off on account of their rebellion.
Korah’s argument was that they were all Israelites, they were all called to be holy, i.e. a separate nation from the other nations, but he also argued, why then should they submit to Moses and Aaron?
Those who claim to be Israel, but who refuse to believe in Jesus and they refuse to faithfully submit to him as the Anointed King of kings, are effectively following Korah’s rebellion. If they do not repent, they will remain cut off and die in their sins and incur God’s fiery wrath. The faithful assembly must separate themselves from “Korah’s rebellion” even if that means suffering outside the camp in “disgrace” because they are joined to the Messiah who was crucified in the earthly city of Jerusalem.
Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram , sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (Number 16:1-3).
When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once” (Numbers 16:19-21).
Contrary to many accusations of us being Anti-Semites, we do not oppose Zionism because we hate Jewish people and want to deny them the right to a safe haven in the Middle East. We oppose Zionism because it indeed represents a rebellion against Jesus the Messiah and his purpose to expand Israel beyond racial distinction and beyond national geographical borders. Furthermore, we are exhorted to wait patiently in the exile and bear the disgrace Jesus bore, so that we may be exalted by Jesus the King when he appears in his majestic glory.
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.
The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased (Hebrews 13:916).
We join the faithful assembly outside the camp – [i.e. outside of what was once the holy city, i.e. in the diaspora]. We separate ourselves from the Zionist rebellion which tries to take hold of the inheritance in their rebellion against the Anointed King. This, the greater assembly in Jesus the Messiah, are the faithful and righteous ones of Israel. It is through faith that we will be justified when Jesus comes in power with all the righteous ones who have gone before us.
In previous blogs I have stated that I stand opposed to Zionism. I have set forth my reasons in that the founding of Jewish State is opposed to God’s universal purpose for all of humanity, which is to create one new humanity in which there is no longer any distinction between Jew or Gentile. According to this reason given for being Anti-Zionism, the same would apply for any state built upon any racial classification of human beings. For example, to “make America great again” is a nationally focused ambition, but as Christians we are focused on one church submitted to God in one Spirit as the new humanity without national borders.
Having said this, let us consider what national pride and patriotism lead to. It may unite humans according to their national allegiance and not according to their faithfulness to Jesus. As Paul asked, “What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What fellowship is there between those who are called into the light and those who still stumble about in darkness? Nothing.
So, I suggest that devoted patriotism is divisive – and that hostility between nations and political differences may be expressed through self-interest and selfish goals which may cloud our unity with Christians living in other countries. For example, imposing sanctions towards another nation is not expressing loving-kindness even to our perceived enemies, but will also impact on our brothers and sisters in the Lord who live in other nations. God causes the sun to shine upon all humanity and we are called to love even our enemies. We may oppose Zionism, for example, or Islam, or freedom fighters who resort to terrorism and other acts of violence, but we are called to love them and not to return evil with evil.
We do not share solidarity with any worldly organisation with their political ideologies. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and we have God’s love, mercy and approval only while we continue in his loving kindness.
Anything motivated by hatred, jealousy, suspicion, hostility, aggression, selfishness, division, patriotism, false religion etc. and not according to God’s loving kindness will not have God’s blessing and approval.
There is now only one commandment for God’s holy nation scattered through every country in the world – and that to love one another as Christ has loved us.
If any professing Christian becomes self righteous, proud boastful condemning others, in other words, who are drawn into any form of aggression and hostility motivated not by God’s loving kindness, they are in serious danger of being cut off from God’s holy, redeemed people. I draw your attention to Jesus’ warning to the church at Ephesus. They were discerning and exposed false apostles, they believed in Jesus, they held to sound doctrine etc., but they had lost their first love.
Jesus called them to repent lest he remove their good, pleasing and acceptable testimony to the truth. If professing Christians judge others to condemn them and not to urge them to respond to God’s grace which grants repentance, then they do not have God’s blessing or approval.
Through opposing the rebellion of Zionism, we may suffer shame and humiliation outside of the earthly city while we wait patiently for Jesus to appear. However, we will be vindicated through our faithfulness to Jesus, provided that we continue in his loving-kindness. If we resort to unkindness, hatred or violence of any kind whatsoever, we may stand in danger of also being cut off. We cannot boast then against the cut off branch nor should we be provoked to any form of aggression or spitefulness as we stand in faithfulness against the rebellion. According to my faith and understanding of Jesus’ teaching, it means that we should not try to coerce people to change their ways by imposing any form of sanctions upon them. On the contrary, we must show them love and kindness. We should not support sanctions against the Jewish state of Israel, even if it represents a rebellion against Jesus, but neither, therefore, should we support sanctions upon the enemies of the Jewish state, including all Arab and Perisan nations, Egypt, Libia, Iran, Iraq or Saudi Arabia.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
If the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts and we are moved by the Holy Spirit, then…: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you (Proverbs 25:21-22).
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).
If people are arrogant, boastful, unkind, selfish, indignant and harsh towards towards unbelievers, while themselves professing to follow Jesus, they are self-deceived.
Well known Bible teacher, John MacArhur, has written the following in his book, “The Return and Reign of Jesus Christ” [page 38], which is his (misleading) exposition of Zechariah chapters 9-14, “One of the most wonderful things we can tell Jewish people is that there’s a great future ahead for Israel – God is going to redeem the nation. America’s Christian heritage is one of the reasons she has been such a great friend to Israel. The Israelis know that many Americans, especially evangelical Christian, believe in the restoration of Israel.”
John MacArthur has also suggested, (I still need to find the actual reference), something along the following lines: If the church is expecting God’s mercy and unconditional grace, then Christians ought not to suppose that God will withhold his mercy and grace from Israel in the future.
However, this type of argument fails to recognise that there are two assemblies of Israel. [The word “church” actually means “assembly”]. There is the assembly of the faithful and redeemed of Israel which includes many who were formerly Gentiles, who are obedient to Jesus the Messiah. Then, there is an assembly of unbelieving Israel (Jews according to the flesh) and apostate, professing Christians who join the rebellion of Zionism.
We do not – and ought not to assume to believe that we have God’s unmerited mercy and grace if we do not also continue in his loving kindness as we are moved by the Holy Spirit.
It is only through Jesus the Messiah that the faithful assembly receive God’s mercy. It is through continuing in the rebellion against Jesus the Messiah, that many professing Jews still remain hostile towards God and under his wrath even while pretending to worship him.
“I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense, ” declares the Lord.
The Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favours to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord. “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband” (Jeremiah 3:8-14).
There is only one way to receive God’s mercy and be reconciled to him in faithfulness – and of course, that is through believing in Jesus the Messiah.
It is not unloving or unkind, to speak the truth. It is unloving to offer false hope of redemption apart from faith in Jesus – now, in the day of salvation.
Jesus referred to the assembly of Jews who reject him, that although they claim to be Jews according to their natural line of descent, (or even through conversion to Judaism), that they are not Jews, but a “synagogue of Satan”.
Does that mean that because we believe Jesus and quote him, that we hate unbelieving Jews? Absolutely not, we appeal to them and to all people alike, to repent, believe in Jesus, be reconciled to God and receive mercy in his name and through the obedience that comes from faith. Genuine faith expresses itself through love of Jesus and of all humanity, including our perceived enemies (Romans 1:5 & 16:26).
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them (John 3:36).
I will re-quote from Paul’s teaching and the warning of Jesus:
You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again (Romans 11:19-23).
Jesus said, “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:2-5) .
Our testimony of faith and our hope of salvation in Jesus the Messiah is completely dependant upon us continuing in God’s loving-kindness by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 13:3 &14:1).
These are the words of him who is holy and true (Jesus), who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:7-10).