I heard it though the grapevine that I should teach about what’s really important about our vision (as well as what is less important and potentially distracting).
So, why is Messianic Jewish restoration really important? Here’s one really important reason:
1) God’s plan for saving the world depends on the restoration of the Good News for Jewish people. How many of you that’s really important… saving Jews, saving the world?
Here’s another reason why many people think Messianic restoration is important:
2) The roots of biblical faith are inextricably Hebrew. That sounds important, too, doesn’t it? But as your shepherd, I must warn you about door #2. Jewish roots, fascinating as they are, are really not as important as the salvation of Jewish people. I’m not saying that Jewish roots are totally unimportant. But let’s first bear in mind the priorities of the Kingdom of God. V’eemru? (And let us say?)
Let’s first affirm the Good News: Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel and the hope of all people. V’eemru? Yeshua accomplished our salvation through His suffering and death, as foretold in Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and foreshadowed in the binding of Isaac, the rejection and imprisonment of Joseph.So the Good News of salvation the Messiah’s death has been proclaimed, first in Jerusalem, then Samaria, then to the ends of the earth. Glory to God! V’eemru?
In Acts 3:21, Peter told fellows Jews that Messiah Yeshua has to remain in heaven “until the time of the restoration of all the things that God spoke about long ago through the mouth of His holy prophets.”
Stop and think about Peter was declaring: Ever since Yeshua accomplished His work on the cross, He is now sitting at the right hand of God in heaven, where He will remain …” and has remained… How long, Yeshua, will you remain in heaven? When will you come are restore all things?
Or as it says in the K’doosha prayer of the Amidah, “When will you reign in Zion?” Or as Jews pray in every synagogue in the Torah service, When will the Torah go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem? When will you establish the Messianic Kingdom of God on earth?
Peter tells us: “until the time of the restoration of all the things God spoke about long ago through the prophets.”
How many would agree that this Messianic restoration of all things is really important? When you consider the destruction of millions of unborn babies and extinction of 100’s of species, when you consider massacres in Syria or the thousands of missiles assembled on the borders of Israel,when you consider missiles being prepared for nuclear strikes in North Korea and Iran, not to mention Russia.. I didn’t mention Russia, did I? Oy gevolt…. How many of you are wondering, when will the Messiah come? When will he reign in Zion?
But we haven’t even mentioned the most important reason to long for the restoration to be complete: There are billions of souls who are perishing, without the hope of Messiah to save them from something worse than all the evils on the surface of the planet….. V’eemru?
So what is this restoration of all things that God spoke through the prophets? So many prophecies! Let’s look at Ezekiel 36. God commands Ezekiel (1), “Prophesy to the mountains of Israel.” Though the hills were lovely in the days of Solomon, over the centuries they got into really bad shape.
(3) “The nations “made you desolate & crushed you from every side.” The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Moslems, the Turks systematically devastated the land of Israel until the mountains had become completely barren and treeless … desolate.
(8) “But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come.” Brothers and sisters, we live in the day of the restoration of the land of Israel. Our recent travelers to Israel, like the ancient scouts, have reported to you about its delicious fruit, and returned with many pictures of its beautiful flowers—and it was just the first week of March! You haven’t seen anything yet! The restoration of the land comes with the restoration of the people.
(10) “I will multiply your population…” Just before last Rosh Hashanah, the population of Israel grew past 8 million, including 6 million Jews. Hope you catch the importance of 6 million Jews? The rate of population growth of Jews in Israel is greater than almost anywhere on earth. About time! God promised Abraham that his seed would be as the stars in the heavens. How many Jews would there have been already if they hadn’t been exiled from the land and persecuted and even slaughtered by the nations?
(24), ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” Miss Israel is Ethiopian. Messianic Jews in Israel come from Russia and Ukraine, Ethiopia and Morocco, France and Iran, Argentina and even the USA—just like in Acts. But this restoration of a people from all over the planet to this one place is unprecedented in history.
But there is more… (26), “will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Not only does the Lord prophecy a physical restoration but a spiritual restoration. Not only will the barren mountain bear new fruit, but the stony hearts will receive a new spirit.
If that isn’t a vivid enough picture of physical and then spiritual restoration, the book of Ezekiel follows it up with the vision of the valley of dry bones. When first the dry bones are reassembled, the Spirit of God causes them to live again, and cry out to God, we are cut off! Restore us!
How many of you are seeing these things happening in our day? How many of you want more? More, Lord! Come, Messiah Yeshua, come! Renew the face of the whole earth, pour out your Spirit! With the restoration of the land and the salvation of the people of Israel comes salvation for the world As Romans 11:15 says, “For if their rejection [of Messiah] leads to the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance [of Him] be but life from the dead?” According to this verse, what must precede the resurrection of the dead and the restoration of all things? Before reading on, read this verse again. It’s huge.
The nation of Israel must trust in Yeshua as Messiah. Humanly, it sounds impossible. How many Jews have said, “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus!”? Yet with God, nothing is impossible. For He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. So in Romans 11:26, Paul concludes, “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.’” Yeshua wants to save the whole world! It begins and ends with the salvation of Israel. V’eemru? He longs to return to the earth. defeat the enemies of Israel, and set up the Kingdom upon the earth as it is in Heaven. V’eemru? Hallelujah! Yet Yeshua Himself also laid down a condition for this restoration, in Matthew 23:39, “For I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say, ‘Baruch ha-ba b’shem ADONAI. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” First, all Israel must welcome Him back as our Messiah and Lord–and be saved. Who else, if not His own people?
Now there is so much I could say about the Messianic Jewish restoration of all things, but today I just want you to see why it’s really important. Got it? It’s God’s prophetic plan for the restoration and salvation of the world through Messiah. V’eemru?
Now, there is another vision swirling around the Messianic Jewish movement. It emphasizes Hebraic roots of the faith and declares there is is one law for all people.
Let me be clear. We affirm that the Torah is the foundation layer of Scripture. We affirm that all believers in Messiah are strengthened in their faith when they study all Scripture. We affirm that all the gospels, the prophets, the apostles and the Messiah Himself are all Jewish, The New Covenant is grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures and Israel…. Just look at all the footnotes! We affirm that all believers in Messiah are enriched when they remember Yeshua in the Passover Seder, or when the look forward to His return as our Judge and King with the sound of the shofar. We affirm that all believers are called to participate in the spread of the Good News, first to the Jew, and also to the Gentile. So understanding and embracing the Biblically Jewish roots of our faith is good and commendable. Yet our priority is not to convert church-goers to Torah-observance, but proclaiming the Good News of salvation through Messiah Yeshua, first to the Jew, and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). V’eemru? We must be careful not replace the Good News with Hebrew Roots. We must be careful not to prioritize Jewish roots over Jewish people.
The Hebraic Roots movement often calls itself Messianic, but it’s really something else. In Galatians 1:7, Paul warned his flock, “There are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Messiah,” so I must warn you about “another gospel” that distorts the true gospel.
This “Hebrew Roots” gospel advocates “One Law” for all people—i.e., the Torah given at Sinai was for the whole world, not just Israel. Never mind that many commandments in the Torah that could only apply to the nation of Israel dwelling in the land before the coming of Messiah, such as the laws of the priesthood and sacrifices for atonement, the laws of cities of refuge, the laws of slavery, etc.
Never mind that the law of physical circumcision—Paul insisted that circumcision of the flesh is unnecessary for non-Jews, since God has provided circumcision of the heart (as foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 30:6) through trusting in Messiah Yeshua. V’eemru?
In Acts 15, the elders of the Jerusalem council ruled that Gentiles need no be troubled about such things. Nevertheless, “Hebrew Roots” teachers claim that Gentiles who don’t worship on Shabbat or Levitical festivals, who don’t keep kosher and other laws of Israel, are really “pagans.” They also teach that those who do keep these laws are the true Israel—or at least the true Ephraim. Supposedly, Jews are just descended from the tribe of Judah. Never mind that Aaron Levy, David Levine and Joe Lieberman are descended from the tribe of Levi. Not to mention Anna who prophesied over the infant Yeshua in the Temple was of the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36).
Let’s be clear: Jews today are descended from all 12 tribes… that’s why the country is called Israel. But the “Hebrew Roots/One Law/Two House/Ephraimite/Nazarene teachers claim that the true believers (i.e., those who follow their legalistic teachings) are the true Israel. Brothers and sisters, please, stay far away from this mishigosh (craziness)! As Alexander Pope wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing!” Please use the web and watch TV with discernment. Paul warned against it in Titus 3:9, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Torah, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Nevertheless, people keep getting involved in foolish controversies, so let’s re-read that verse prayerfully.
For more details about the confusion of the so-called “Hebrew Roots/One Law/Two House” teaching, I refer you to a position paper that the IAMCS recently published, called “One Law, Two Sticks: A Critical Look at the Hebrew Roots Movement.” You can find it at IAMCS.org under the tab “Position papers.” Highly recommended! It does a good job tracing the history of the deceptive teachings back to Sabbatarian movements of the 19th century that gave rise to “every wind of doctrine” that has been blowing around every since. It also lists some of the teachers that you really should avoid (though promote themselves on the web and their own conferences that sound vaguely Messianic). Not everything on the web that purports to be biblical teaching is biblical, let alone Jewish. V’eemru? Indeed, not everything that claims to be Messianic is Messianic.
If it claims to be Messianic, you should check out: does it emphasize the Good News of our Messiah? Or something else? Does it emphasize reaching Jews with the Good News of Messiah Yeshua? Or something else? If it’s something else, it’s another gospel. Stay away from another gospel!
Good news: when confronted with the truth in love, some will repent: for example, First Fruit of Zion, which had advocated the One Law doctrine, recanted of it in 2009. (Here’s an FFOZ blog article.)
As Dan Juster has said, “Messianic Judaism is a restoration movement of congregations of Jews and Gentiles who worship Yeshua, Israel’s Messiah, maintaining Jewish lifestyle and identity.” V’eemru? HaSatan doesn’t like this restoration movement, so he seeks to distort and distract with another gospel.
Brothers and sisters, let’s be faithful to true Good News, so that we may advance the kingdom of God, and hasten the restoration of Israel, the salvation of the world, and Messiah’s reign from Zion. V’eemru?
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