Within the past number of days, after our family’s relocation back to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, I was able to take Margaret and John to an annual fundraising banquet, for a two-year long prayer partner and younger friend (who is around John’s age), who oversees a Christian evangelistic ministry with an outreach to various cities in the United States. While there is no doubt that this young man has a call and anointing to preach the gospel to the places where he and his group are led, there were some very disconcerting statements which came forth during the evening presentation and appeal for funding, before the 500 or so Christian attendees, who sincerely desire the good news of salvation available in Jesus Christ to be proclaimed to one and all. In discovering that this sincere evangelist had substantial post-graduate degrees from two highly regarded seminaries, perhaps one of the most concerning aspects, among many, of his “new vision and detailed organizational plan” for evangelization, was the premise that it was “Scripturally and finally” time for the “Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy” (cf. Romans 10:19, 11:11). So, as some of us sat there, grimacing over the cursory Scriptural reasons for his ministry, our collective thoughts could not help but ponder how desperately he, and those gathered in the auditorium, needed a more basic understanding of the Hebraic Roots of our faith, and theological and spiritual heritage in Judaism.
On our way home from the banquet, our somewhat befuddled discussion was punctuated with amazement tempered with sadness, as we know from years of study and examination that a great deal of modern, Western, Christian culture has helped to promote concepts of the Lord Jesus which are not only non-Biblical, but which allow for a great number of less-than-Scriptural practices and customs to abound in most Believers’ traditional activities. The Jewish Yeshua of Nazareth is a widely different person to many of today’s contemporary Christians. And, many contemporary concepts of Jesus—while not only casting aside imperative moral and ethical statues decreed in the Torah of Moses, to Christianity’s detriment—have also certainly not helped provoke the Jewish people to jealousy for faith in Him. Yet, at this fundraiser, it was declared quite profoundly that after the good news was proclaimed to fifty key cities in all of the fifty states of America—it would then be taken to Jerusalem, and “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25) would be able to lead some kind of mass group of Jews to faith in Christ, before His return. While looking and sounding good on paper—there were many holes that Margaret, John, and I could easily spot, for a family which is several decades “ahead of the curve.”
But perhaps what was one of the most subtle and disturbing motivations for this apparent, “new and improved vision and mission” for this evangelical outreach—to me, at least—was this individual’s confession that he was basing his dramatic change in the emphasis of his ministry, because of two different and unique “confirming anointings” that he had received over the years. The first came eleven years ago when he was twenty-two as the owner of a “coffee” shop, when he told a patron that all he wanted to do was “preach the gospel,” which apparently sent the young woman into a forty-five minute prayer for him. Within a few minutes, another young man entering the shop was told the same thing, which also prompted him to join the young lady in prayer. Then after the two arose from prayer, they were led to take the soul-searching budding evangelist upstairs from the coffee shop, where she anointed him with oil, after which he claims to have had a two-and-a-half-hour session with the Lord, where he believed he was commissioned to preach the gospel full time. Having been raised in a Christian home, and having gone to a Christian college, this inspirational anointing set him along the way to eventually relocate and continue his religious education at two seminaries. Subsequently, as he has been led to minister, this heart-stirred evangelist has been used to present his understanding of the good news and has witnessed to many to understand the forgiveness of sin provided by the blood of Christ.
But then he shared what he termed, a confirming “second anointing,” which occurred in the past year, that has essentially been the catalyst used to launch his newly-announced direction for ministry. This time, after achieving a level of success evangelizing in Asheville, NC, he was on a follow-up trip, when he went into a local coffee shop (note the similarity from eleven years earlier), where he ran into a man who had been impressed by the success of his ministry’s recent outreach there. The older man turned to the young evangelist, and handed him a piece of paper with a “formula” for evangelism scribbled down on it. According to this admirer’s calculations, the way to reach a community for Jesus Christ is simply finding one percent of the square root of the communities’ population, and then using them to reach the lost.
Apparently, the young evangelist was impressed, because he knew from his studies about the remnant of Believers he was trying to reach, in order to use them in expanding his local outreaches. So, he pondered the calculation, and stated that since there were approximately 15,000 people in the Galilee area during Jesus’ time of ministry (an estimate at best), and one percent of the square root of that number was close to twelve, he thought the formula was from God. I was pretty disturbed that he did not follow the Biblical principle (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16, 20), that by the testimony of two or three witnesses, facts are confirmed. Instead, since the calculation seemed plausible, it was instrumental in having him leave a very successful, award-winning radio outreach ministry, and establish his new direction—with a “formula” for reaching forty-five cities for Jesus over the next twelve years, at the cost of only $15 million.
As you can imagine, with our ministry having spent the past ten years working through an immense selection of the issues and topics of importance—principally by circumstance and need, for non-Jewish Believers seeking to be enriched by the Hebraic Roots of their faith and entering into the Messianic movement—the evangelist’s appeal was a bit mind-boggling. We would never dream of asking any group of people for $15 million! Yet, there was a degree of positive encouragement detectable in what we saw, because we were exposed to a group of sincere Christians, who absolutely wanted to please the Lord, through whatever efforts they were asked to support. Perhaps in time, as our family has some useful moments of being able to share with persons such as this young evangelist, some of the further understanding they might receive through just reading some of our publications, will be used by the Lord to fine-tune some of his efforts. This is exciting for me to consider, as I know that all of my previous twenty-two years living in Dallas (1976-1998), and in 2011 interacting with and getting to know some of the key Christian influencers, will perhaps be used by the Lord to introduce them and their diverse ministries, to the Hebraic Roots of their faith, the validity of God’s Torah for all of His people, and the message of a greater restoration of Israel.
The next morning, arising early for some time of prayer and writing, I was led to consider the theme of the previous night’s banquet as it regarded “provoking the Jews to jealousy.” I was directed to take a closer look at Romans chs. 3-8, in order to better understand what the disconnect was with modern Christianity—and to a certain extent, even many of those in the Messianic community of faith, with all of its internal challenges. Two questioning thoughts reverberated in my mind: (1) How is the “standard Christian” Jesus going to provoke the Jews to jealousy? (2) What about the manifestation of the children/sons and daughters of God, for which the Creation urgently longs (cf. Romans 8:29)?
For whatever reasons, the first Scripture passages I was led to consider were actually two Psalms of David. These basically state the same thing about human beings’ predisposition to believe that there is no God, but with the caveat that in His time, there will be a full restoration of Israel to Zion in the future:
“For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all the workers of wickedness not know, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great dread, for God is with the righteous generation. You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, but the Lord is his refuge. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad” (Psalm 14:1-7).
“For the choir director; according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David. The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’ they are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; there is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up My people as though they ate bread and have not called upon God? There they were in great fear where no fear had been; For God scattered the bones of him who encamped against you; You put them to shame, because God had rejected them. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores His captive people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad” (Psalm 53:1-6).
After spending some time contemplating the basic state of lost humanity, getting into Romans sent me on a search through the Scriptures for references to the sons/children of God. One illuminating and impactful place is found in the prophecy of Hosea, when he was addressing the Northern Kingdom of Israel prior to its judgment by the Assyrians. It is here that the noted compassion of God will be demonstrated toward those of both Israel and Judah, they will acknowledge the Messiah as their leader, and they will be gathered back to the Promised Land subsequent to the Messianic Age:
“The word of the Lord which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.’ So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, ‘Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.’ Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to him, ‘Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.’ When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said, ‘Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.’ Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ It will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, And they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel”(Hosea 1:1-11).
Considering the sons/children of God further, the words of Yeshua found in His Sermon on the Mount blessed me, considering the fact that He equates those who make peace to be the children of God:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9, TNIV).
One of our ministry’s efforts is to surely be focused on bringing peace and unity to those willing to be true followers of the Messiah, no matter what their ethnic background or limited understanding of what the Father is doing with His people at this point in time may be. This means that love-centered wisdom is required, not only when to speak or who to speak with, but to be confident and assured that it is the Spirit of the Most High leading the conversation when delicate discussions about the nuances of theology arise. Learning to love all—no matter where they are on the theological spectrum, praying that they have the same Holy Spirit of God guiding and instructing them—is one key to help advance God’s Kingdom on Earth at this point in time. It is a great blessing to know that in seeking, and hopefully becoming “peacemakers” among many different people who serve our Heavenly Father—that one has the endorsement and blessing of Yeshua the Messiah, with the potential to be called a true child of God!
Further study on the sons/children of God, led me to Paul’s letters to the Galatians and Romans, where some of the most profound statements about the saints, who have salvation in Yeshua, is found. Here, we see that Believers are to become children of God via saving faith in the Messiah, no matter what their ethnic background, gender, or economic circumstances may be. In fact, through adoption as sons or daughters, one is to be regarded as Abraham’s “seed,” and a joint heir with the Messiah:
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua. For all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Galatians 3:26-4:9).
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:14-21).
Taking these various passages, and the thoughts provoked by simply one evening’s encounter with a group of sincere Believers—and a number of additional interactions with many of my “Christian” and “Messianic” friends—reminds me that there continues to be much work and hard labor to be conducted. There is not enough peace among those who claim to be followers of the Messiah. If, as a ministry, Outreach Israel and TNN Online can encourage Believers to keep their eyes fixed on Yeshua, walking in and being led by the Holy Spirit, as the manifestation of the children of God becomes apparent through the unity desired by the Holy One—then in His time, a definite provocation of the Jewish people to jealousy will take place. The author of Hebrews explained much of this goal, with the reminder that a great cloud of witnesses is surrounding the saints, and God will discipline His children whom He loves:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives’ [Proverbs 3:11-12]. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:1-14).
Because the unification desired by the Holy One is not evident on a greater scale, right now, among those who claim to be His—it just might be time for some (heavy) discipline to be issued from Him, especially in light of the lack of peace between many of the different factions which constitute the Judeo-Christian religious world. Only time will tell when and how God will mete out such discipline. But hopefully as it comes, His sons and daughters, His children—who should be found in the Messianic community of faith because of a more complete understanding of His Word and how He wants us to live—will be prepared to strengthen and encourage those enduring the discipline.
We believe that today’s Christians should not only know more about their Hebraic Roots and walk accordingly, but those within the contemporary Messianic movement should be demonstrating a much better example of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)—and certainly more wisdom and discernment—as the Lord sovereignly moves on the hearts of many of our evangelical Christian brothers and sisters. This will be certainly needed if the prophecies about the nations coming to Zion to be taught God’s Torah (Micah 4:1-3; Isaiah 2:2-4) occur simultaneously with a massive salvation of the Jewish people (Romans 11:12). Needless to say, God has a lot of work to do. He is fervently searching for vessels exhibiting the peaceful fruit of righteousness, to carry forth His message to the nations, and then to the Jewish people.
May we be among those so called! May we complete His mission as the sons and daughters He wants to use, for the weeks, months, and years ahead. May we eagerly advance His Kingdom, until the restoration of all things…
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