Our Part in the Kingdom of God?
by Mati Shoshani, , Revive Israel
"Recently, my wife and I went out on a date to visit a local vineyard in the hills of Judea. I looked at the beautiful terraces filled with rows of vines. The guide told us that 100 years ago there was nothing here but thorns and weeds. I thought of the prophecy:
"I will restore the captivity of My people Israel and they will build the desolate cities and dwell in them, and they will plant vineyards and drink their wine ..." (Amos 9:14).
I realized we are living out a partial fulfillment of the vision that Amos had described almost 3,000 years ago, when he saw a vision of the future - that surrounds us today. Everything around us is a miracle. Everything about life in Israel is part of prophecy being fulfilled. Everything is a stage for the coming of the kingdom of God, and we have a part to play in the kingdom in our generation.
How does the Kingdom of God work?
1. Yeshua is the King.
2. The kingdom is two-dimensional, both heaven and earth.
3. It is gradual, increasing in stages over thousands of years.
4. Everything in this world can be part of the kingdom if we dedicate it to serve God.
5. We as followers of Yeshua are the citizens or "children" of the kingdom.
6. We have ownership and authority in that kingdom.
7. We therefore have responsibility to promote and usher in Yeshua's kingdom.
The kingdom started before Yeshua was born. We are part of the process of that kingdom gradually taking dominion over planet earth. The last stage of that process will be:
"The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah" (Revelation 11:15).
We have a part to play in that kingdom both individually and collectively. The kingdom of God is not separate from the things of this world. If Yeshua lives inside us, then His kingdom is inside us. We "stand in the gap" to influence this world and to bring Yeshua's dominion into the world through everything we do in every sphere of life.
Our Part in the Kingdom of God?
by Ariel Blumenthal, , Revive Israel
In last month's Jewish Roots article we examined the root that Paul described in Romans 11, and proposed this definition of the root in that passage:
"The faithful remnant of Israel, especially the Apostolic Jerusalem ekklesia, who carried the full deposit of God's holy covenants/promises to the rest of Israel, and who held a position in God's family (the olive tree) of precedence, in that they came first - before the Gentiles."
An Application for Today
Honor your roots! Honor those who have preceded you and brought you the Gospel!
In many places the Bible teaches us to honor those who have gone before us in the faith, those who stood for the truth - and suffered - for their testimony. Hebrews 11, starting with righteous Abel, speaks of a "cloud of witnesses" - a long list of Old Covenant "saints" whose testimonies and memories we are to learn from and honor. The Ten Commandments teaches us the importance of honoring our mother and father.
In Romans 11, Paul is more specific: the Gentile, Roman Christians were to honor the Jews among them, as those who represented the Biblical heritage of Israel and who represented the Jerusalem ekklesia with the first apostles, through whom they had received faith in Messiah.
But if Paul were alive today would he write the same thing? After a long hiatus of about 1600 years, there is once again a recognizable Jewish "remnant" in the Body of Christ. According to the olive tree metaphor of Romans 11, there are now (in increasing numbers!) Jewish branches that have been graciously "re-grafted" into our own olive tree (11:23). And what's more, many of us live in a renewed, independent nation called "Israel" in the Land promised to our Biblical patriarchs, thereby representing the fulfillment of many Biblical prophecies. But do we share the same closeness to the root as those Jewish "branches" in the first century? Does the warning of the Apostle "ring" the same way today? Yes and no.
First the "yes": in concluding the teaching of Romans 11, the apostle declared of the physical descendants of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, etc.), "for the gifts and call of God are irrevocable" (v. 29). We Jewish branches are still those descendants. Therefore, whatever irrevocable gift and call, whatever "rootedness" was represented by the identity of the Jewish believers of the first century, can still be claimed by Messianic Jews today. In our bodies, in the Land, and in the fullness of Messianic faith, we represent a continuity of, and proximity to, the full range of Biblical promises and covenants.
However, there is also a "no" here, a situation which is very different, even inverse from the first century. Then, Paul warned the Gentiles by saying: "Don't forget your indebtedness to the Jews, and to the Jerusalem church - you received the Gospel from them!" But over the last few generations of Messianic Jewish revival, the vast majority of Jewish believers were loved, witnessed to, discipled and trained by Gentile Christians and their churches. We might say: two thousand years ago Israel gave birth to the church, but today the church has given birth to a renewed Israel!
I believe that if the Apostle were writing today, in addition to exhorting the Gentile Christians to honor the Jewish root, he might warn us Messianic Jews about a kind of arrogance towards the church. This arrogance says, "We're the native branches, closest to the root; even though I came to faith in a Christian setting, now I know better, now I can find my identity as a Messianic Jew without reference to the church!"
I say this because there has emerged a tendency among some Messianic Jews to insulate themselves from identifying in any way with "Christianity" or the "church." Some even speak of a "dual ecclesiology" as if there were two olive trees, or two wholly distinct parts of the Body of Christ - one Jewish and the other Gentile. Because of the anti-Jewish sentiments and doctrines of the historic church, it is easy to understand and even sympathize with this tendency. But we must resist any efforts to legitimize, or institutionalize, this attitude. Our Messiah, King, and Savior is a Jew. The Jewish apostles gave birth to the early expression of the body of the Messiah, which is one whole, organic olive tree continuing to grow and spread its branches among the nations. While we strongly believe in the existence of Messianic Jewish congregations, I believe the warning of the apostle would speak to us, pleading with us to stay connected and honor those Gentiles - and their churches - through whom we received the Christian/Messianic faith in our day.
So, as Jew and Gentile together in Messiah, we must both take the warning against pride very seriously! Romans 11:11-15 makes it clear that our restoration to the olive tree, likened to a resurrection from the dead (v. 15), is to be a great blessing of Gospel riches and reconciliation for all the nations!
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