October 2011 Yavoh

When God called Abraham and directed him to leave his father’s house and land, He set about to form a new family in a new land. We know that God chose Abraham to be the father of this new family with the ultimate goal that through Abraham God’s blessing would extend to “all the families of the earth.” We also know that the land promised to Abraham and his descendants is the land of Israel. Just as Abraham’s family, though small, was the beginning for “all the families of the earth,” so we have learned that the “promised land of Israel” was only the down payment for God to own the whole earth.

As the Psalmist King David has said,

(A Psalm of David.) The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. PSA 24:1

This is God’s stated goal; however, there are those who oppose this goal. There have been many enemies of Abraham’s family and his descendants. The Bible is filled with battles and struggles detailing Satan’s effort to come against God and His plan. Satan’s tactics are simple: Either kill Abraham’s descendants outright or cause his descendants to turn away from God and His plan. Sadly, many of Abraham’s descendants have done exactly that – turned away from their heritage and pursued vain things.

This is why the Apostle Paul offers his own lost life if his physical kinsmen could be saved.

I am telling the truth in Messiah, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, ROM 9:1-4a

Paul understood that not all of the physical descendants of Abraham would become the family that God was planning. Instead, he understood that to be a member of God’s family is based on holding to God’s promises made to Abraham. He also knew that others, not physically born in the family, would become part of that family through adoption.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. ROM 9:6-8

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Yeshua the Messiah to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, EPH 1:5

This is how God’s promise through Abraham could reach “all the families of the earth.” If you remember the story of Abraham, he went through an interesting transition himself. First, his name was Abram, which was later changed to Abraham. He was married to Sarah, who was barren until she was beyond the years of bearing a child. When God promised Abram a son, Sarah and Abram concluded that another woman would bear the child; therefore, Sarah offered Hagar, her handmaid, to accomplish the deed. Ishmael was born and Abram loved him as his son. However, this was not God’s plan. God then said that Sarah would bear the son He had promised.

Of course Sarah laughed because having a child in old age wasn’t logical; but God used even her laugh to bring forth Isaac (he laughs). Ishmael was a physical descendant; Isaac was a physical descendant; but Isaac was the one promised by God. He was the Remnant seed of God’s plan.

We see the plan carried even further through Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah but has no child. Finally, Rebekah conceives and has twins. Because of trouble in her pregnancy, Rebekah is told that the first child will not be the promised seed after Isaac. Instead, the second born will rule over the firstborn.

Esau was born first and then Jacob came forth. When the time for blessing came, Jacob received the blessing in place of Esau, at the urging of Rebekah, according to God’s prophetic word. Therefore, the Remnant was determined by God’s choice, not physical descent.

This is what Paul is teaching about the Remnant of Israel.

For this is a word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works [physical descent], but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” ROM 9:9-13

If you study out the whole plan of God looking for the Remnant (God’s choice), you will discover that Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn physically, was not the choice for leadership of the tribes. Instead, Jacob’s clear choice was Joseph. Then with Joseph’s children, Manasseh and Ephraim, Jacob chose Ephraim over his brother. Ultimately, the firstborn of all Israel (those delivered at the Passover) were not chosen by God. Instead, God chose the tribe of Levi to be the Lord’s portion. What does all of this mean?

The answer is that everyone in God’s kingdom is here by God’s gracious choice. No one is here based on any other merit. Therefore, salvation is by grace working through our faith (believing the promises) in God.

Not all of physically born Israel are Israel (the Israel that God is purposing). Instead, Abraham’s true descendants are children of promise by God’s gracious choice. We are called the Remnant!

There are those within Christianity who still do not understand the Remnant. They insist that God has rejected Israel and all of Abraham’s physical descendants. This is commonly referred to as “replacement theology.” They believe that the Messiah changed everything, but they are very mistaken. The Messiah is part of this very plan. The Messiah came through the line of Judah according to God’s plan and we are of the seed of Abraham if we believe in the promise of the Messiah.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, the Messiah. GAL 3:16

Moses prophesied that God would surely judge Israel (scattering us to the other nations) but he also prophesied that despite that judgment God would never break the covenant nor reject His people.
 
Yet in spite of this, when they [Israel] are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord. LEV 26:44-45

The Apostle Paul also argued that in his day the Remnant still remained, citing the example of Elijah.

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, they have torn down Thine altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice. ROM 11:1-5

God’s plan for the Remnant begins with Abraham and extends to this day. God’s plan for the Remnant involved many things given earlier to Israel and the Messiah Himself. The Apostle Paul taught these things specifically.

...who [Remnant Israel] are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. ROM 9:4-5

Let’s summarize. Paul said that the Remnant of Israel owns seven things: the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the temple service, the promises, and the Messiah.

Replacement theology teaches that the previous covenants, the Torah, the temple, and promises of the fathers are done away with. They have discarded them to the historical past and do not regard them as relevant today. All they want is the status of being the sons of God, the glory, and the Messiah. They are mistaken; they have defined themselves outside of God’s Remnant.

Let’s examine each of these items a bit further and why they are of such great value to the Remnant of Israel.

The Adoption as Sons

When a child is adopted into a family, it is not by biological means, it is completely different from natural birth. It is a decision; the decision is made by the father of the adopting house. This is how a wild branch can join natural branches in the same tree. The choice is made to intentionally graft in a new element. It does not happen naturally.

Now if those physically born of Israel were just joined by others adopted by the Father into the same house you would better understand how God was reaching the whole world. But Israel’s sin prohibited that from happening. You see, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Instead, all of the Remnant shares this in common – we are all broken branches. Jeremiah, a prophet to Judah, explained how all of Israel like the nations are broken branches from a vine separated from God.

“Go up through her vine rows and destroy, but do not execute a complete destruction; strip away her branches, for they are not the Lord's. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me,” declares the Lord. JER 5:10-11

The Apostle Paul uses this same picture to explain how Jews and Gentiles can be members of the same house in Messiah. We are all adopted in God’s family – both natural and wild branches are grafted in. Paul’s explanation of the natural branches is those of physical descendants of Israel and the wild branches are those of Gentiles. Both are grafted in; both are adopted and chosen by the Father to be called the Remnant. This is the Olive Tree called Israel – the Kingdom. Paul explains further that God will be faithful to the physical descendants calling them back at the end of the ages.

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” ROM 11:25-27

By the way, when you graft another branch into a tree, you set it in a splice, bind it, and wait three days. The tissues from the host tree and the grafted branch begin to adhere together. It is then called a “Zion.” Zion in the Scripture is referring to the grafted-in Remnant of Israel hosted by the original Olive Tree and adopted (chosen) by the Father.

The Glory

The Glory is not some nebulous phenomenon or enlightened emotion of faith. It is the very presence of God. In the Hebrew, glory is the Shekinah. This is the same glory (essence of God) that filled the temple in the Holy of Holies and the same glory (power) that was on Messiah. This is the same glory that is the Holy Spirit upon every believer.

The Messiah has constructed a temple for Himself in the heart of every believer and He has filled that temple with the Glory of God – His indwelling Spirit. The very same Holy Spirit leads us to all truth and righteousness. Without it we could not possibly be the Remnant; we would be as others in the world – devoid of His Spirit.

The Covenants

Many Christians have been taught there are only two covenants: the Old and the New. However, Scripture tells a much different story. There are not two covenants, there are seven. Only the book of Hebrews and Christians lump the first four together and call them “old.” Let’s review those covenants. God made His first covenant with Adam. He would have to labor by sweat and his wife would bear children in travail. The world we live in today is the same that was for Adam and Eve with sweat and travail. This covenant remains to this day.

God made a covenant with Noah at the conclusion of the great flood. God judged the world by water then, but He promised Noah that He would never judge the world by water again. To seal this covenant, God placed a bow in the sky for everyone to see. We call it a rainbow. To this day, a rainbow means exactly as it did when God showed it to Noah for the first time. God is still promising not to judge the world by water. The Remnant today is reminded of God’s promise every time they see it as well. This covenant remains to this day.

God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This covenant included the promise of a kingdom. The kingdom is defined by three things: the land of the kingdom, the servants of the kingdom, and the King of the kingdom. Abraham was shown the land of the kingdom, the land of Israel. Abraham was promised a son. Isaac was the first of those promised sons.  Finally, Abraham himself promised the “Lamb of God” who would be the king. This is the same place that Abraham offered Isaac, where God placed His name—Mount Moriah at Jerusalem. You cannot be the Remnant of Israel unless you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as your fathers and yourself as their promised descendant. This covenant remains to this day.

God made a covenant with Moses and the children of Israel when they left Egypt. This covenant was made at Mount Sinai where God gave His commandments. This is when He made the Sabbath to be a sign between the children of Israel and Himself. God defined this covenant as eternal extending to all generations. The Remnant of Israel may be small at times, but they remain to this day. This covenant also remains to this day.

God made a covenant with King David. It involved the city of Jerusalem, the temple mount, and the permanent altar where the temple was built. While David did not build the temple, he was responsible to acquire the land and the materials. David was also promised that a son from him would be the Messiah. It was the “son of David” Solomon who actually constructed the temple in Jerusalem. In the same way, it was the “Son of David” the Messiah who built the temple of God in believers’ hearts. The Remnant of Israel must hold to the city of Jerusalem and God’s promise to King David. The city of Jerusalem still remains and this covenant still remains to this day.

The Messiah brought us the New Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31. The redemptive work of the Messiah is the fulfillment of the PROMISES God made to those previous including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and King David. But the fulfillment in no way renders the promise null and void. Nor does the “New” covenant replace an “Old” covenant. There is no “Old” covenant to replace. Instead, the Messiah made the PROMISES even greater. On those promises our faith in the Messiah is established which leads to forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life. Without the promises there would be no Messiah. Without the Messiah there is no forgiveness or hope of eternal life. The Remnant of Israel believes in those promises and in the deeds of the Messiah. Therefore, their faith is counted for righteousness just like Abraham and everyone following his example. To this day, men are acquiring this same faith in God’s promises, coming to know the Messiah, and proclaiming His work of redemption and hope for the kingdom. Therefore, this covenant remains to this day.

There is a final covenant promised by God that has not yet been revealed. It is called the Covenant of Peace. According to the prophets, the Covenant of Peace will be part of the Messiah’s earthly kingdom upon His return. This promise still remains to this day. The Remnant still believes in the promises of God, the ones of the past, the present, and the ones yet future. This future covenant still awaits us according to God’s plan.

The Giving of the Law

The first five books of Moses are called the Torah (the teaching). They are instructions in righteousness, telling about where we came from as a people, how God has watched over us, and His plan for us in the future. The Torah is also called “The Law of Moses.” Moses is the one who brought forth the first Scripture, the beginning of the Bible.

God’s commandments were not only given to Moses to begin writing Scripture,. God also spoke His Ten Commandments (the basis for all commandments) by His own voice. Moses also taught that “hearing the voice” was essential to learning and keeping His commandments. While that generation which heard the voice is no longer alive as mortals today, we are still expected to be able to hear that voice. This is the basis of a very powerful instruction in the Torah called the Shema.

“Hear O’ Israel. The Lord is our God. The Lord is One!” DEU 6:4

We are also instructed that faith comes by hearing, not by sight. When someone says that he believes in God (has faith in Him) he is saying that he has heard God and believes what He says. It is not possible to dismiss what God said at Mount Sinai and the instructions given to Moses in the Torah and say that you believe in God. You may believe in another god, but you cannot believe in the God of Israel unless you hear His voice from Mount Sinai.

Some Christians have argued that the Torah was only given to Israel (the Jews). They are mistaken. The assembly at the base of Mount Sinai with Moses was not just Hebrews. It was a mixed multitude according to Scripture. There were native born direct descendants from Jacob and there were others who were aliens and sojourners. Some were Egyptians who believed in the God of Israel. Some were from other nations who believed in the God of Israel and who had been enslaved by the Egyptians. They all escaped from Egypt with the hope of the promised land.

The Torah itself says that its instructions are for any person (native or alien) who wants to believe in the God of Israel. It emphatically states that there will only be One Law in the Kingdom.

There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you. NUM 15:16

When God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, He gave it to all of those who would believe in Him both native and alien. It is only the Pharisees of Judaism and the church fathers of Christianity who have taught differently from what the Scripture says. Judaism did so out of bigotry (building the middle wall of partition in the temple), separating themselves from believing Gentiles. The church fathers perpetuated the idea since they wanted to be separate from the Jews as well.

But the Truth remains despite the religions of men. The commandments of God (the Torah) belong to all those who believe in the God of Israel whether they are native or alien born. And God’s Law is perfect, settled in heaven, beyond the theology of any religion that would teach otherwise. Therefore, the Torah belongs to the Remnant of Israel. They love, keep, and cling to the Torah just as Moses instructed.

You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. DEU 13:4

The Temple Service

The temple service was first initiated by the instructions of Moses to Aaron and his sons. Aaron’s sons were the priests of Israel and they were charged with conducting the temple service. This included the presentation of all sacrifices on the fire altar, the lamps of the menorah, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense. The service also included the one day when only the High Priest would go into the final chamber before the Ark of the Covenant. The Levites—the tribe of Moses and Aaron— helped transport the temple and its furnishings in the wilderness.

In the days of King Solomon, a permanent location was established in Jerusalem and the temple structure itself was constructed. Again, the sons of Aaron, the Cohen (priests) were charged with the temple service. So powerful was the charge upon the priests for the service that unless a priest certified one’s sacrifice as acceptable, it was not accepted by God Himself.

Therefore, it was of profound significance when the early disciples heard John the Baptist speak to Yeshua of Nazareth, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

John the Baptist was a Levite priest! His pronouncement was the first step in the Messiah presenting Himself as our redemption. The very temple service that God instituted with Moses and Aaron was and still is essential to our redemption in Messiah Yeshua.

It is sad when I hear churchmen say that the temple service, the priests, and the altar in the temple are of no more value. It is clear to me that they neither know the instructions of God nor understand correctly the redemptive work of the Messiah. Their obstinacy blocks them from maturing in their faith and understanding how they are part of the Remnant of Israel, just as the disciples were. The Remnant of Israel knows that Messiah Yeshua is the Son of David, the King of Israel, a Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek and that the Levitical priests will serve Him again in His kingdom.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she shall be called: the Lord is our righteousness.” For thus says the Lord, “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to prepare sacrifices continually. JER 33:14-18

Not only is the book of Hebrews in error characterizing the covenants of God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David as “old,” it has also incorrectly concluded that the temple service and the Levitical priests are “useless” and of no further value. In this passage Jeremiah refutes that premise. I can assure you that no one disputes the words of Jeremiah as being the word of God. Furthermore, the Remnant of Israel believes in the value of the Levitical priests. The declaration of John the Baptist is still heralded to this day.

The Promises of the Fathers

We mentioned the promises God gave to Abraham earlier. This is the Biblical definition of faith. When we hear those promises, just as he did, and believe in them, just as he did, our faith is then counted for righteousness. This is not self-righteousness. This is the righteousness of God based on what God has said, not on what men have said.

God promised Abraham, our father, that he would have many descendants. God has fulfilled His good word. To this very day, we proclaim that God’s promises are true just by standing up and believing in what God promised to Abraham and the fathers. Our very existence is confirming existence of the Truth.

Not only has God promised to Abraham certain things, but He has promised that we will receive the same things, not the least of which is the kingdom. The promised land is for all descendants of Abraham that are the “children of promise.” The promised land belongs to the Remnant of Israel. But there is another element besides descendants and land that constitute God’s promise of a kingdom. You must have a King to have a kingdom, but the King promised by our fathers is a very special king, different from other kings. We have been promised a king who offered Himself as a sin sacrifice for His people as their Savior.

And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” GEN 22:8

While this promise was given directly to Isaac, it belongs to every descendant of Abraham spoken personally to each of us.

For Thy salvation I wait, O Lord. GEN 49:18

The Hebrew for salvation in this verse is “Yeshua,” the very name of the Messiah. It was spoken by Jacob as he gave his final blessings upon his sons. Those blessings extend to all of the Remnant of Israel.

The Messiah

Today, we have seen the promises of a Messiah to come, to first be raised up among us, rejected by men, and offered up as the redemption and salvation we desperately need. We believe that Yeshua of Nazareth is that promised Messiah by comparing the prophecies of the Messiah and works of God from Yeshua. The evidence of Yeshua and His messiahship is overwhelming and conclusive to and including His power of life over death.

The Messiah is the King of kings. He is the King of Israel. He is the Son of the Living God. The Remnant of Israel believes in Him and they are the servants of the Messiah. The Remnant today believes in the Messiah just like Abraham and Moses did. They believed in God’s promise that He would come and do great things. Just like them, we believe the Messiah will come and do great things in His kingdom.

Let us conclude our definition of the Remnant of Israel.

The Remnant of Israel has existed since the fathers and are pictured in the fathers. They were the children that entered the promised land after the exodus. They were there in the time of the judges, inhabiting the land. They were there in the times of the kings, including Kings David and Solomon. They were there in the times of the prophets; the prophets were the Remnant. In Isaiah’s day he lamented that the Remnant was small. The Remnant was there when Mary and Joseph took Yeshua to the temple the first time to meet Simeon and Anna. The Remnant was there in the disciples of Yeshua growing to the office of Apostles. Those who first believed in Messiah Yeshua were the Remnant. The Apostle Paul referred to them directly as those who were adopted into the Messiah from other lands. Prophetically, the Remnant will be the Tribulation Saints and include the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses.

Today the Remnant of Israel is still scattered throughout many lands but some have returned to the land of Israel. God’s goal is to one day gather the entire Remnant by way of the resurrection to Jerusalem and the promised land of Israel. We will all welcome Messiah King together when He touches down on the Mount of Olives (the Mountain of the Messiah). In that day, we will not answer who we are by a tribe, people, or tongue. Instead, we will say that we are descendants of Abraham and the sons of the Living God. We are the “Remnant of Israel.”

Tabernacles 2011 hosted by Lion and Lamb Ministries is scheduled to teach the theme The Return of the Remnant. This article serves as an introduction to the teaching that will be given there. Even if you are not able to join us at this year’s festival, I pray that your curiosity and the Spirit of the Lord will cause you to want to learn more about the Remnant and who you are in the Lord. The truth is for all end-time believers; the tribulation saints, the 144,000, and the two witnesses will come from the ranks of the Remnant of Israel. Our return is prophesied to coincide with the return of the Messiah.