Israel at 70: A View from the Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and a Jewish Author

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At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference in Washington DC, we were privileged to hear from Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, Yaron Gamburg, gave an exciting speech about the history of Israel.  In regard to Israel today, he mentioned three key things of which everyone should know:

  • Land – As we know, God’s covenant with Abraham promised Israel a land.  (See Genesis 12 and 15, as well as other references.)  When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He referenced a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3, Ezekiel 20).  Yet, when Israel was reborn in 1948, Israel was far from a land flowing with milk and honey.  Yet, Isaiah 35:1-2 tells us that the desert will blossom.  That is happening!  You see, the land blossoms only when Jews are in it!  God keeps His promises to His people.
  • People – God’s covenant with Abraham also involved people.  Abraham would be the father of the Jewish people.  Since Israel’s rebirth, 3.5 million Jews have made aliyah (return to the homeland)!  Israel has now overtaken the United States as the most Jewish-populated country in the world…as they should be!  God is bringing His people back to their land, just as He promised.
  • Purpose – The Jewish people have a purpose: to make the world a better place.  Avi Jorisch, author of Thou Shalt Innovate, also spoke at the conference, concurring that tikkun olam (making the world a better place) is part of the Jewish DNA.  It is ingrained.  Ganburg referred to the Jews as “lights unto the world,” and strive to leave a positive impact.

Jorisch spent considerable time describing innovation in Israel, including all the ways in which inventions are helping people all around the world.  We previewed CBN’s latest release entitled, To Life, which documents the worldwide relief work done by Israelis.

It is so important that we share the truth about Israel.  Here’s a great way to learn (then tell) about Israel’s efforts to be “lights unto the world.”  To see To Life for free, click the link.  Check it out, then spread the word!

Similarities of Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Welcome back friends!  Yesterday we discovered that the Jewish observance of Passover coincides with the Christian observances of Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  Indeed, the Christian and Jewish events share some similarities, though it is rare that the holidays are observed simultaneously.

Let’s consider some similarities.  The very essence of the Christian celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Day are deeply rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover, so let’s start there.

Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23:5-14 actually lay out the requirements of the 8-day Jewish commemoration of Passover (which also includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits).  However, the Passover account played out as the Israelites escaped bondage from Egypt.  Moses was sent by God to deliver the people, but the Egyptian pharaoh did not heed Moses’ appeal.  Thus, God took action on behalf of His people!

A plague would descend upon Egypt that would take the lives of every first born unless families sacrificed an unblemished lamb and smeared blood on their doorposts.  Hebrew families complied with God’s command and thus, their first borns were spared.

Ultimately, the pharaoh relented, the Israelites were set free, and annually Jews the world over celebrate that release from bondage as prescribed in Leviticus 23.  Passover commemorates their release, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds them they had no time to allow their bread to rise prior to escaping Egyptian bondage, and the Feast of First Fruits celebrates giving the first fruits of the harvest as an offering of thanks to the Lord.

In the Christian narrative, Jesus Himself fulfills each of those Jewish feasts!  Jesus was the Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for your sins and mine.  (John 1:29)  It was the blood of the lamb that caused the angel of death to “passover” their house on that fateful night in Egypt.  It is the blood of the Lamb of God that causes Him to “passover” (forgive) our sins.  Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was crucified on Good Friday, which we commemorate tomorrow.

Jesus also fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  When leaving Egypt, there was no time for the yeast to cause bread to rise, so they were commanded to remove the leaven (yeast).  Throughout Scripture, leaven is representative of sin.  We are to “leave out” the sin in our lives, and fortunately, that is what Jesus’ forgiveness does for us!  It removes sin as far as the east is from the west!  (Psalm 103:12)  Jesus fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread on our behalf!

Finally, Jesus also fulfills the Feast of First Fruits.  The Israelites presented the first of their harvest as an offering of thanks to God.  Miraculously, the resurrection of Jesus makes Him the first fruit of those who will ultimately be resurrected:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
~1 Corinthians 15:20

That is our guarantee that, as believers, we will follow our First Fruit (Jesus) in resurrection.  We will be raised from the dead to live with Him forever!

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.
~1 Corinthians 15:21-23

Indeed, Jesus is our Passover Lamb, our Unleavened Bread and our First Fruits!  All that, we celebrate in the coming week, beginning tomorrow!  Meanwhile, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people, as it was through them that Jesus was revealed to us!  As you celebrate, why not thank the Lord for His people and ask special blessings upon them as they celebrate their feasts!

Jewish Feasts: God’s Calendar of End Time Events

Hi friends and study partners!  On Sunday we began studying the timing of the King’s return.  We know that spiritual Israel and natural Israel have two different finish lines.  Spiritual Israel (which we defined earlier as believers in Jesus as Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile) look to the rapture, while natural Israel awaits the glorious appearing (following the tribulation, when Jesus actually steps foot on the earth to fulfill the Davidic Covenant).

Please note: the church is not the “new Israel,” and I am not suggesting that the covenant promises to Israel have been transferred to the church.  That is the premise of Replacement Theology, and it is false teaching.  Please study the previous lesson on natural/spiritual Israel to understand the context used here.

So, as we gather once again around the study table, let’s focus on the timing of the King’s return. Scripture gives us many clues regarding His return, but the seven Biblical Jewish feasts lay out God’s calendar and help us understand the timing of end time events.

Interestingly, there are no Jewish feasts to celebrate creation, Noah’s flood, or even the Abrahamic Covenant. While those are certainly important events, God’s calendar for the world was not revealed in any of those.  The feasts point back to what Jews see as the most significant time in their history: the exodus from Egypt.  (Leviticus 23 provides details of each feast.)  Indeed, God revealed His calendar when He instituted the Jewish feasts.

However, regarding feasts, festivals, and Sabbaths, the apostle Paul had this to say:

These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
~Colossians 2:17 [Emphasis mine]

The Jewish feasts are a shadow of what is to come, while Christ is the fulfillment of every feast!  In fulfilling the feasts, God provides a timeline.  Here are the 7 major Biblical feasts of Israel:

  • Feast of Passover
    • Shadow: Jews view Passover as the celebration of freedom.  While captive in Egypt, those who put blood on the doorpost were “passed over” by the angel of death.  (Exodus 12:5-7)
    • Substance: Jesus is our Passover Lamb!  The apostle John declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (See John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7b)
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread
    • Shadow: Jews were forced to flee Egypt quickly, leaving no time for yeast to rise. Thus, they ate unleavened bread. In Scripture, leaven is also symbolic of sin. Therefore, this feast is a time of spiritual cleansing for Jews.

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      Matzo (unleavened bread)

    • Substance: By the crucifixion of Jesus we are cleansed!  According to Isaiah 53:5, Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed.  Incredibly, we see piercing, bruising and stripes pictured in matzo (unleavened bread).  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  • Feast of Firstfruits
    • Shadow: For Jews, this feast represents the beginning of the harvest and an offering to the Lord of the firstfruits thereof.
    • Substance: Jesus rose from the grave…the first fruit that opened the door for us!  1 Corinthians 15:20 confirms that Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep! Death will not defeat us!
  • Feast of Pentecost
    • Shadow: Jews celebrate the Feast of Pentecost as the giving of the law (Torah) to Moses on Mt Sinai.
    • Substance: After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, He promised us the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church!

Do you see a timeline forming?  Jesus became our Passover Lamb, He was crucified (becoming the fulfillment of Unleavened Bread), then His resurrection is symbolized in the Feast of First Fruits.  Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit was given!  God’s calendar is taking shape.  But there are three more feasts:

  • Feast of Trumpets
    • Shadow: The Feast of Trumpets is Rosh HaShanah in Hebrew…the civil new year.  It is a time of self examination…similar to our worldly tradition of setting new year’s resolutions.  It is an annual new beginning for the Jewish people. In addition, Numbers 10:1-10 describes 2 silver trumpets associated with this feast that are used to assemble the people and direct the movement of the camp.
    • Substance: 2 silver trumpets hold significant meaning.  Why silver?  Precious metal, though not perfect.  Why two?  Could it be that God intended two trumpets to call together the entire world?  Could it be the two trumpets represent Israel and the church (precious, but not perfect)?  Israel, first, because they are the vehicle of world redemption.  They are calling us to assemble together (though, in general, they don’t recognize who we assemble around).  Secondly, the church is called to “trumpet” the gospel…to spread the good news!  1 Corinthians 14:8 warns: …for if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?  We must sound a clear, sure sound…the Gospel of Jesus! Otherwise, who will be prepared?  But just as importantly, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tells us that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST trumpet, we will all be changed.  Friends, that is the rapture!  It is next on the calendar!  The feasts give us a chronology of end time events.  Still, there are two more feasts to follow!
  • Day of Atonement
    • Shadow: The Day of Atonement is the most solemn, somber day on the Hebrew calendar.  It is a setting aside of all profane works, and even today, Jews fast during the Day of Atonement.
    • Substance: The Day of Atonement represents Israel’s national salvation…still to come!  We know that as the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and the launch of the Millennial Age.  Zechariah 12:10 says: Then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son.  This event is still ahead on God’s calendar.
  • Feast of Tabernacles  (Our study points to this!)
    • Shadow: To commemorate the wilderness wandering, Jews celebrate Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) by building and living in small, temporary shelters.  It is also a celebration of the harvest ingathering and giving of thanks.
    • Substance: Zechariah 14:16-21 tells us that everyone from every nation who came up against Israel will go up to Jerusalem every year to worship the King!  (He must return in order for that to happen!)  This gathering will be the Feast of Tabernacles!  Think of it: national Israel will finally be saved, and the “ingathering” of believers from around the world will take place at this great harvest of souls!  This is the Millennial Kingdom…fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

Friends, the King is coming and we have much for which to look forward!  The feasts serve as a calendar of the end times.  In the Passover, Jesus came to be the sacrificial lamb.  Then He gave His life (fulfillment of Unleavened Bread), and rose again (fulfillment of Firstfruits).  Pentecost came and He sent the Holy Spirit and birthed the church.  The next calendar event is the Feast of Trumpets…the rapture.  That will be followed by Israel’s national salvation (Day of Atonement) and finally the Millennial Kingdom (Feast of Tabernacles).

Are you ready for the King’s return?  For believers in Jesus the Messiah, the rapture is our coronation day!  Lord, come quickly!

God’s Covenant with Moses

Sometimes I jump right out of my skin studying God’s Word, don’t you!?!  I love the covenants and God’s ingenious ways of revealing Himself and making His grace known to us through them.  I hope we are fostering a degree of excitement around the study table as we fellowship together in God’s Word!

Over the past two days we examined the Abrahamic Covenant (here and here) and discovered it to be a covenant of DECISION…God’s decision to call Israel as the vehicle of world redemption, and to bless every family on earth through it.  We know that, “those of faith” are Abraham’s offspring, and that God preached the Gospel first to Abraham so that he and his descendants could bless the whole earth.  (Galatians 3:7-9)

Despite all that, though, God’s decision to use Israel to save the whole world was not enough.  (God is not lacking here…we are!)  Thus, he made another great covenant with Moses.

You see, the world has never been convinced it needs salvation.  How many people do you know who think they will enter God’s presence by “being good?”  How many do you know who refuse to believe God exists?  How many do you know just simply want to live life according to their own standards?  To get even more personal, how many times do we go off doing our own thing without regard for what God has to say about it?  (We’re all guilty!)

Friends, we live in a sin-cursed world that impacts even those of us who know Jesus Christ personally.  God saw the damage sin would do and He set about to instruct us about sin.  Thus, God gave to Moses the Mosaic Covenant, which refers to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

Gang, we need more than a covenant of DECISION (Abrahamic Covenant).  We also need a covenant of INSTRUCTION…the Mosaic Covenant.  We need a covenant that reveals our need of redemption.  We must be convinced of our need…and that we can’t achieve it on our own.  That is what the Mosaic Covenant is about!

In Exodus 19:5-6, God instructed Moses:

“‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Moses came down from Mount Sinai with “God’s Top Ten” laws…otherwise known as the 10 Commandments!  However, there were actually 613 laws the Israelites were commanded to obey, concerning everything from what they wore to what they ate and how they conducted themselves.  They very quickly found that they could not even get the “top 10” accomplished…much less the other 600 or so!

God said, “…IF you obey my voice and keep my covenants” they would be His treasured possession.  Oh boy…that spells trouble, because keeping the law was absolutely impossible!  What is one to do?

Let’s go back to a favored passage once more to glean hope:

Why the law then? It was added because of transgression…Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
~Galatians 3:19, 24 (NASB)

The law, represented by the Mosaic Covenant, was added because of transgression!  It was sin that created a need for this covenant.  But notice that the law was not given for condemnation, but to be our tutor.  It was to lead us to Christ!  It was to justify us by faith (not following the law!)  We can’t be “good enough” to enter God’s presence.  We can’t set our own laws and enter God’s presence.  We can’t ignore God and enter His presence.  The purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ!

We need instruction about what sin is and how to come to know God.  Whereas the Abrahamic Covenant was the covenant of DECISION, the Mosaic Covenant is the covenant of INSTRUCTION.

The Gospel was proclaimed to Abraham, but people were not convinced (and still aren’t) that there is a need for salvation.  The Mosaic Covenant gives us knowledge of our sin and becomes our tutor/mentor to lead us to Christ!

Awesome…but there is more!  Tomorrow we’re digging deeper into Galatians 3 to reveal the connection between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.  We’ll also find that it points us toward a third covenant.  Take a sneak peek at Galatians 3, then come back tomorrow.  We’re on a roll!