[Editor’s note: Is the Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth, or is the Creator bringing all His people to Heaven? If we accept the testimony of John the Apostle, it would seen Heaven comes to earth:
“Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3 TLV)
If that is the case, then what does the Kingdom of Heaven on earth look like? How does it arrive? What, if anything, can we humans do to hasten its coming?
These are questions Angus Wootten pondered for much of his life. His conclusion was that the Kingdom of Israel, composed of the Jewish part (Judah) and the non-Jewish part (Ephraim) would be restored, with both houses reunited under the reign of Messiah Son of David.
In this article, first published in January 1996, Angus offered his observations on the process of Israel’s restoration. His assessment of contemporary developments gave him cause for concern, but also great reason to hope and work for the ultimate fulfillment of the Almighty’s promises. As for how God’s people can participate in the process, Angus offers a frank analysis and a practical challenge. How have things changed in the intervening 25 years? Perhaps this article will give you a lens through which to assess our present circumstances.]
A Messianic Vision
By Angus Wootten – January 1996
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Adonai [Lord], and of his Mashiach [Anointed One]; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
How does the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, plan to accomplish this age ending event? How will He realize His Messianic Vision of manifesting His presence – in His earthly Kingdom – in the midst of a united people? To reach this goal it is obvious that one of His larger challenges is “uniting His people Israel.”
Let us examine this challenge as it currently exists. First and foremost we have the almost three-thousand year old division between the two houses of Israel: Judah and Ephraim, originally the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel. This division is manifested in our day by the division between the Jewish people and Christians, or the Church.Additionally, we have the divisions that exist among each of the houses.
On one hand we have the Church divided by laws and opinions into a multitude of denominations and cults with a vast smorgasbord of theology and doctrines. These divisions are a result of generation after generation of forefathers, to some extent, forsaking the covenants of Yahveh, and following after other gods – the gods often being themselves or other men. For this reason, we have a multitude of divisions among a people who are blinded to their heritage and destiny.
On the other hand, we have the divisions among the Jewish people who are blinded to the identity of the Messiah of Israel. While their divisions are not as numerous as those among Ephraim, they currently tend to be deeper. The deepest rift is currently being manifested in the land of Israel between those who are supportive of the government policy of trading land for peace, and those who are adamantly against this sellout of their inheritance for what they see as a vain hope of a fragile and temporary peace.
We need museums to teach us what we do not know and to reveal to us what we should have known. The Virginia War Museum in Newport News did that for me. This institution exists to educate the public about the American military experience and to honor those who have borne the burdens of it. Its exhibits cover every phase of my birth nation’s conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism, but as one might expect, many of those exhibits are devoted to the Second World War.
The disturbing thing about all wars, including World War II, is that they never bring permanent solutions to anything. The same evils overcome in one generation take shape again in the next, requiring renewed effort to keep them at bay. The evils overcome in the Great Patriotic War, as our erstwhile Soviet allies called it, were not foreign to us. They were, and remain, an integral part of the civilization the Allies struggled to preserve.
One exhibit made that abundantly clear to me. In a well-illuminated display case there hung the tunic of a German soldier. The buckle of the belt fastened around the tunic depicted an eagle of the Third Reich grasping in its claws the swastika of Hitler’s National Socialist Party. That was not surprising, but the inscription above the eagle was a surprise. In capital letters it proclaimed boldly –
GOTT MIT UNS
“Gott mit uns” means “God with us.” German soldiers have worn it on their uniforms for three centuries, long before the Prussian kings began uniting the separate German states into the cohesive empire that eventually became the instrument of Nazi aggression. The Third Reich had ample reason to continue the tradition, not only for many of its soldiers, but also for certain civil servants. Adolf Hitler, after all, believed he was doing the work of God in creating space for God’s “master race” to rule the world. Such work required the enslavement or elimination of all those who were considered lesser beings according to Hitler’s ideology: Communists, homosexuals, Gypsies, Slavs. . .
. . . and especially Jews.
Jews of Germany understood the inscription on the belts of police officers who enforced the decrees that robbed them of life, liberty, and property. Jews of Poland and Russia had no trouble deciphering Gott mit uns on the belts of soldiers who rounded them up and marched them away to an uncertain fate. Jews of France, Holland, Greece, and Italy would have recognized the message as Wehrmacht soldiers handed them off to SS Totenkopf (Death Head) units that staffed the camps where their lives became solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
What would those Jews have been thinking? Some surely wondered which god these Nazis thought was with them. That this was a Christian God seemed to be certain. The Germans were, after all, Christians. Protestants and Catholics alike embraced Nazism. Many of those same soldiers and policemen who efficiently eliminated 6,000,000 Jews faithfully attended church and chapel services, and almost all of them enjoyed the festivities of Christmas. The Christian God, then, was the one served by those who sought to make themselves masters of the earth over the bones of Jews and other supposedly lesser beings.
Why do we wonder that Jews have a hard time accepting the Christian message? If Christians – even nominal or cultural Christians – like the soldiers of the Third Reich did what they did in the belief that their crimes faithfully served their God, why would any Jew want to have anything to do with that God? If the experience of the Shoa (Holocaust) was the only evidence they had, then it follows that Jews might perceive the Jesus those German soldiers praised on Sunday must be a cruel god indeed, or perhaps a demon from hell.
Gott mit uns. God with us.
How arrogant. How dare they believe God would sanction such crimes? Surely the Nazi era was an anomaly. No other Christian nation would do such things. Surely none would believe that God’s chosen people, the Jews, would be so deserving of His anger that they should be eliminated from the face of the earth. Surely the Germans were led astray. It could never happen to anyone else. Or could it? The sad truth is that the same refrain, “God with us,” echoes through the corridors of history.
God with us –
– on the lips of Crusaders marching under the banner of the cross, ravaging Jewish communities across Europe long before they ever set eyes on the Holy Land.
God with us –
– in the minds of Inquisition agents searching for Jewish houses in the cities of Spain. It was easy. Since the Torah prohibited Jews from kindling a flame on the Sabbath, all they had to do was wait until Saturday and look for the smokeless chimneys. Once identified, the Jews were given opportunity to embrace the Savior. If they refused, the best fate they might hope for would be deportation. Even descendants of Jews who converted were not immune. Those who aspired to a privileged position in society required a certificate of limpieza de sangre (purity of blood) to prove several generations of Christian heritage. Unwary applicants might find, to their horror, that they had a Jewish grandfather, making them subject to the mercies of the Inquisition courts.
God with us –
– in the decrees of Christian kings across Europe as they expelled Jews from their realms. Spain, England, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Lithuania, Holland, Portugal, and the German states all did so. After, of course, expropriating whatever Jewish wealth might be available to aid the crown in its “divine work.”
God with us –
– moving the hands of Russian Orthodox magistrates as they authorized pogroms that made the Motherland uninhabitable for the Czar’s Jewish subjects.
God with us –
– in the hearts of American Protestants as they excluded Jews from their professional organizations and social clubs, insulted them with derisive jokes and demeaning names, and complained fearfully about Jewish bankers who supposedly controlled the world’s wealth. It’s not that these American Christians objected to the blessings of Jewish achievements. They appreciated the financial innovations of Marcus Goldman and Samuel Sachs, the scientific advances of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the creativity of George Gershwin and Leonard Nimoy. It wasn’t so bad that they were Jewish, but it would have been better if they could have been Jewish somewhere else.
Come to think of it, the German Nazi experience was not so unique after all. We might think of it more correctly as the culmination of two millennia of Christian holy arrogance. Such arrogance seems to have overlooked the solemn word of God:
“If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:37 NASB)
If God can break His promises to the Jewish people, and to the rest of scattered Israel, then what prevents Him from breaking His promises to Christians? How, then, do we dare presume that we act for God by relegating Jews to the status of lesser human beings?
Or what do we make of these words of our Savior, the Messiah of Israel?
They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. (John 16:2-3 NASB)
It is customary to consider this as a prophecy of persecutions coming upon Christians, but we rarely consider that these words were spoken by a Jew to His Jewish disciples. Did He, perhaps, have in mind the persecutions that would happen to all His Father’s covenant people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike?
Do we truly desire to heal this breach between Christians and Jews? If so, the first thing we should do is to let our Heavenly Father restructure our thinking. It is, after all, His Kingdom we profess to serve. Perhaps He should have the last word about who is in it.
Repentance prayer ~ Our Father and our King, truly the revelation of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is an awesome gift You have given. Your prophet Isaiah identifies Him as Immanuel, God With Us (Isaiah 7:14). The redemption of all Israel and the world through Him is the greatest message of life. Yet we who profess His Name have all too often turned the message of “God with us” into an authorization to persecute those we should be embracing and honoring. Forgive us, Father, for our arrogance. We do not understand how Your mercy and grace work with our Jewish brethren, but the testimony of history demonstrates that You are not finished with them. Judgment belongs only to You. We want to leave it in Your hands, and instead be Your instruments of peace and reconciliation. Help us, Father. We ask in the Name of Yeshua, Amen.
[Editor’s note: Scripture explains that the Almighty’s judgment of ancient Israel came after considerable warning. Here is one example:
“Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” (2 Kings 17:13 NASB)
To this day, the Lord continues to exhort His people to return to Him and obey His commandments.
Angus Wootten took that exhortation to heart. He was among the pioneers of today’s elders in the faith who call for the people of God to learn the entire Word of God (Genesis to Revelation) and live by it daily. That is the point in this article he published in the May 1993 edition of the House of David Herald.]
The question that is ever before us is: “How do we walk in a manner that will please our God?” This question becomes even more significant for those who have seen their Ephraimite heritage. For them, the question focuses on how do we, as Ephraimites, walk in a manner that gives the Holy One of Israel pleasure?
On the surface, the answer to the last question appears relatively simple: We walk under the leadership of the Spirit, following in the footsteps of Messiah. For He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). By walking as Messiah walked, Ephraim will establish the oneness with God that Yeshua prayed for: “That they may all be one, even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us” (John 17:21).
To be acceptable to God, and to determine His will and direction for our lives, we must hear His voice (Romans 12:1-2). Furthermore, each one of us must learn to hear God’s voice for ourselves – without a man in the middle: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Messiah Yeshua” (1 Timothy 3:5). This means we need to restore the relationship Adam had with God, while in the garden.
From the very beginning God has been speaking to man, and man has heard His voice. Throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, God made His voice known to His people – to Adam, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, etc. In the books of the Prophets, we see this phrase repeated time after time: “And God said. . .” God’s voice was heard, known and understood.
Yeshua confirmed this concept in the New Covenant, using the example of the Good Shepherd:
“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out, When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but they will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:3-5).
Sheep know the voice of their shepherd.
While the answers to the “how do we please God” question may seem simple, hearing from God and making a Spirit-led way of life an integral part of our life is anything but simple. In fact, it seems almost unobtainable in this world – for, many voices clamor for our attention. When we seek to hear and know God’s voice, it is absolutely imperative that we are able to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of our own flesh, and from the voices of other men. We must be sure it is the Spirit of God speaking, and not the voice of a tempting spirit. For our adversary, the devil, is prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
However, we can and should take solace, and assurance, in knowing that we can walk as Yeshua walked. Because, Yeshua would not have prayed that we attain to a relationship that is unattainable; and, John would not have instructed us to walk as Yeshua walked, if it were impossible for us to do so (1 John 2:6). Yet, even knowing all this, we, like Paul, must question whether we are running this race of life in a manner that will reap an imperishable reward (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Revelation 22:12).
To successfully run that race, we must know and hear God’s voice. And, Yeshua’s discourse with Pilate gives us the key to success: When being questioned by Pilate, Yeshua answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate then asked Him, “What is truth”‘ (John 18:36-37)?
Knowing, or having, the truth insures that one is hearing God’s voice. Therefore, we likewise need an answer to Pilate’s question: “What is truth?” The answer will put us well on the way to running a successful race. It will help us know which way, and how, to run, to win the prize of imperishable life.
Webster defines truth as: “Being in conformity with the facts or with reality, and in agreement with a correct and accurate standard or rule.” More importantly, Scripture defines truth as the “Word of God!” It further states that, “the Word is God, and the Word, as Yeshua, became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1; 1:14).
Yeshua, when He was praying in the garden, asked the Father to, “Sanctify them in truth.” He also said, “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17). In other words, “Sanctify them with Thy Word which is truth.” The “them” in this prayer is “us.” Even though Yeshua was talking about His initial band of disciples, He expanded His prayer to include all who will believe in Him through their word.
So our answer to “What is truth?” is: Being sanctified in the truth by our relationship with The Truth, who is Yeshua. We simply appropriate the facts and reality of the Word of God, and make it our foundation. Then, we can rely upon the Spirit of God to guide us in the way in which we should walk. For the Word of God will give us a correct and accurate standard to know when we are hearing from God, and when we are not hearing from God.
No Ifs, Ands, Or Buts! We Need To Know The Word Of God!
We can see that the answer to our question is simple, but here is the rub: We need to know the Word of God! No ifs, ands, or buts! We need to know the Word of God!
We cannot build upon something we do not know. We make it very difficult for the Spirit of God to guide us by recalling to our mind a Word which is not part of us. Also, if we do not know the Word we do not have an accurate standard to guard against deception and false teaching.
Unfortunately Hosea’s prophecy, to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), still rings true in our day:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because ,you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6).
We are the children of those to whom Hosea prophesied. We too have rejected knowledge, and followed in the sinful footsteps of Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom. Jeroboam craftily introduced an idolatrous religious system into his kingdom, and it hinders Ephraimites to this day. As Brian Hennessy pointed out in his article in last month’s Herald, It’s Time To Bury Jeroboam: “We are guilty of the same sin in that we continually put our religion, or the traditions and practices of Westernized Christianity, before Yeshua’s truth.”
We are guilty of walking in the sins of Jeroboam insofar as we choose to be obedient to the dictates of man, and the man-made traditions of Christianity, over the voice of Messiah – as expressed in Scripture. Each of us is responsible to establish and nurture a direct relationship with the Lord. Quite naturally, there are people, organizations, books, tapes, videos, etc., that can help us build and nurture that relationship. However, there also are people, organizations, books, tapes, videos, etc. that can hinder us. They can even destroy us. The recent disaster in Waco, Texas is a dramatic example of how a false prophet and deceptive doctrine can destroy a flock of ignorant sheep. Unfortunately, false prophets and deceptive doctrines are not always so obvious.
We each have the personal responsibility to know the truth. Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of the truth is no excuse. Further, refusing to receive the truth is an intentional sin! Paul makes this fact abundantly clear in his letter to the Romans:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20).
We will not be able to plead ignorance or offer any excuses on the day when the righteous judgment of God renders to every man according to his deeds (Romans 2:5-6). Thus, it behooves us to follow the advice Paul gave Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth, From childhood you [Timothy] have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yeshua, For all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate. equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15-17).
We Have Fallen Short Of Having The Knowledge Of Scripture We Are Capable Of Having
It is fair to say, “We have fallen short in our knowledge of Scripture.” We all need to know more of it; especially in the difficult times of these last days (2 Timothy 3:1). What do we do to remedy our lack of Scriptural knowledge? We must take advantage of the promise that Yeshua made: “That He would put His instructions into our mind and write them on our heart” (Hebrews 8:10). How will He do it? He will not wave a magic wand over us, thus enlightening our minds. He will not give us a Scripture “knowledge pill.” Rather, the Word will be written on our hearts when, we read the word, we listen to the word, we watch the word, we meditate on the word, and we discuss the word.
The first Psalm, together with the first few chapters of Proverbs, give excellent guidance on some of the things we can do to become a workman able to accurately handle the word of truth. At the very least, when we stand before our Maker, who is the Author of our operating manual, we should be able to say: “Lord, I read Your Book.” Reading a Chapter of Scripture daily, which would take five to ten minutes, allows one to read the entire Bible in a little over three years. Two chapters a day cuts the time in half, and three chapters – twenty to thirty minutes daily – takes one through the Bible in a year. And/or you can listen to the Bible on cassette in about sixty hours.
The Truth Shall Make You Free
“If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32).
Let us not harden our hearts, as our forefathers did when they followed after Jeroboam’s idolatrous religious system. Thus compiling for themselves a record of three hundred and ninety years of iniquity (Hebrews 3:7-8; 4-2; Ezekiel 4:5). For, their iniquity resulted in Ephraim/Israel receiving a national punishment of being swallowed up among the nations. They became a people who were no longer the people of God.
The Lord said they would remain in this state for many days (years), However, He also said, in the last days, the sons of Ephraim/Israel will come trembling from the west, and they will seek the Lord their God and David their King (Hosea 1:9; 2:23; 3;4,5; 8:8; 11:10; Amos 9:9). For, the Lord promised: “Yet the number of the sons of Israel/Ephraim will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; And it will come about that, in the place where it is 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 1:10-11).
We are the “sons of the living God.” These are the “last days.” And, we have an obligation to become a people who know the Word of Truth. We must know how to hear from our Father! We cannot continue walking in the footsteps of Jeroboam. We must walk as Messiah walked.
The workman that we will be tomorrow, depends on what we do today. Starting today, which is the first day of the rest of our lives, we can rearrange our priorities, to allow us more time, opportunity, and resources to increase our knowledge of the truth, and our ability to hear from God. We are the generation that is being offered the opportunity to be used by God to recover the house of Ephraim – to unite with the house of Judah – and thus to restore the kingdom to Israel.
No ifs, ands, or buts! No excuses! No pleas of ignorance! Those who would take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity, and walk this exciting walk with God must know the Word of God!
What is the big deal about Israel, and why should Christians care? Those are questions this new series seeks to address. In this opening episode, we take a brief look at what the Bible says. This is more than an issue of supporting the Jewish people and the state of Israel; it’s actually a question of identity.