Having walked this path of faith for several decades, I have come to understand that the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob does not require His people to do anything that He Himself is not prepared to demonstrate by example. In other words, whatever requirements He places on us in the form of commandments will have some corresponding requirement He has placed on Himself. For example, in the famous Akedah, the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), YHVH calls on Abraham to take his only son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham obeys, and on the way to the place Isaac asks him where the lamb for the burnt offering is. Abraham answers, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8). Many centuries later, we find that Messiah Yeshua fulfills that role of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29-36, Revelation 5:1-14), just as prophesied in Isaiah 53. The holy example is that God Himself gave the His very own Son, withholding nothing to redeem mankind, and therefore demonstrating that those who choose to follow Him must hold nothing back in their obedience to His will.
If this principle of “heavenly reciprocity” is true, then there should be some equivalent to the Lord’s requirement of His people to love Him and love one another. Yeshua identified these as the two greatest commandments, and the authorities who questioned Him had no disagreement on that point:
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34 NASB)
It would seem that the Almighty might have some trouble demonstrating how to perform the second of these commandments since there is no god beside Him (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 45:5). Who could be considered His neighbor? Who indeed but Himself? If He can swear to a covenant by no higher authority than His own (Genesis 22:15-17; Hebrews 6:13-14), then surely He could fulfill the role of neighbor to Himself. That, in fact, is what we infer from Yeshua’s final counsel to His disciples on the night of His arrest, and from His prayer to the Father on their behalf (John 15:9-13, 17:22-26).
And what of that first commandment? If YHVH requires His people to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength, to what has He committed His heart, soul, and strength?
The answer to that may be a surprise. It comes from the prophet Jeremiah, in a word spoken on the eve of the Babylonian conquest of Judah and the eradication of the last bit of Israelite sovereignty over the Promised Land. It is best to read this word in full context to understand the magnitude of it:
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will take it. The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city will enter and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses where people have offered incense to Baal on their roofs and poured out drink offerings to other gods to provoke Me to anger. Indeed the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah have been doing only evil in My sight from their youth; for the sons of Israel have been only provoking Me to anger by the work of their hands,” declares the Lord. “Indeed this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My wrath from the day that they built it, even to this day, so that it should be removed from before My face, because of all the evil of the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah which they have done to provoke Me to anger—they, their kings, their leaders, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction. But they put their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. Now therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.’ Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. For thus says the Lord, ‘Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.’” (Jeremiah 32:26-41 NASB, emphasis added)
This is the most interesting thing I have learned this month. I had known that YHVH’s promises to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are eternal, and that He would bring all of Israel and Judah back to the Promised Land for His own Name’s sake (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 9:5-6; Ezekiel 36:22-32). What I did not know was that this is the highest priority the Almighty has in His work on this planet. Think of it: not only is His very reputation as Sovereign of the Universe at stake, but it is something He wants to do with supreme joy, with everything in His being.
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom, the good news which Messiah Yeshua proclaimed, and which is to be preached in the entire world before the end of this age (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 16:16). It is also the New Covenant, the application of a new, circumcised heart in the people of the Living God. The details of this covenant appear one page earlier in Jeremiah’s prophecies (Jeremiah 31:31-37; Hebrews 8:8-12). What has been hidden from our understanding for too long is that Jeremiah proclaimed this New Covenant in the context of the restoration of all Israel, both the northern non-Jewish kingdom (known as the House of Israel, House of Joseph, and House of Ephraim), as well as the southern Jewish kingdom (known as the House of Judah). Salvation to the world comes through this Kingdom of Israel, which is nothing less than the Kingdom of Heaven. Why then should we doubt that the entire nation, all Twelve Tribes, will be restored to the Land under the reign of Messiah Son of David? The restoration of the Jewish tribes has been in progress for well over a century, and two years from now the world will mark the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel. The next step is the awakening of the rest of the nation, those “Lost Tribes” of Northern Israel. That awakening is happening even now, just as the Lord has promised.
There is much to say about this restoration, and if you have about six hours you can hear some of it in the following podcasts on Hebrew Nation Radio. The first two links are from The Three Wise Guys, the Tuesday edition of the Hebrew Nation Morning Show. Hosts Gus, Rick, and Rollyn invited me to join them on November 10th and 17th to talk about this restoration of the Kingdom, and about the question of Ephraimite identity – meaning the identity of Messiah Yeshua’s followers as Israelites according to the Covenant. This is not a form of Replacement Theology, for we “new” Israelites in no way replace our Jewish brethren who are the core of the Israelite nation. The Covenant calls for the restoration of us all by faith in YHVH, and any gospel which does not embrace that entire picture is one which falls short of the glory of His great Name.
Evidence of this work of the Lord is the subject of the third podcast. On November 23rd our guest on The Remnant Road was Margot Crossing, a remarkable Australian who has a calling to the Lost Tribes. She relates her experience among the Mizo people of India and Myanmar who have awakened to their identity as descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, as well as her research and visits with other peoples of Asia who also claim Israelite identity. There is more information on Margot’s blog at this link: https://losttribesfoundblog.wordpress.com/.
If this truly is the work of the Lord in fulfillment of His covenant promises, then you can expect to hear much more about this subject in the days to come.
To access the podcasts, please click on the links below:
- The Three Wise Guys, 11/10/2015: Al McCarn and Ephraimite Identity, part 1
- The Three Wise Guys, 11/17/2015: Al McCarn and Ephraimite Identity, part 2
- The Remnant Road, 11/23/2015: Margot Crossing and the Lost Tribes of South Asia