Walking In The Truth, Which Includes Love, Is Necessary
March 10, 2017
My intention in emailing Mike was not to divide or to try to convince anyone of anything to do with Israel. That last post of mine about Israel was actually a copy of an email I sent to a friend who brought up the subject to me recently. It is interesting that the Lord had me post it and to do so right before my first email to Mike when I did not know it would be a point of contention.
Anyway, I understand your desire to hold to Mike’s teaching on it as you further his legacy. Even so, the last link I sent to you was not to attempt to convince you but to show you that I have studied the Israel subject from God’s Word extensively so that you do not bother trying to convert me to your view.
I emailed Mike (thus you, his present spokesman) in true sincerity, thanking him for his messages about the necessity of being purged of sin and walking obedient to Christ. Mike teaches, such as here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9xBDCjRpco, as I do concerning repentance, obedience, and freedom from sin, and wide disagreement concerning these is what creates, I understand, the “great divide” that he talks about. Instead of encouragement, though, I received a slight from you due to my teaching regarding Israel. I hope you do not do similar to other genuine followers of Christ. No one has perfect knowledge on every subject and I am convinced that the Lord allows this so that we do not follow any man, but only Him. As He taught us, “You are not to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” (Mt. 23:10)
Since you have made God’s promises to Israel an issue of division, I encourage you as well, to study, without bias, those promises found abundantly throughout Scripture. Truly, I cannot see how anyone can deny what God is saying to and about Israel. Rom. 11:25-29, along with its context, is just one passage that is unmistakably speaking of the race of Israel as opposed to the Gentiles. As it speaks of their present hardening, the patriarchs, and God’s irrevocable gifts and calling, the Israelite race is undeniably the focus of discussion there.
It is difficult to understand how any Bible believer could write off what God states in so many passages within His Word regarding the Israelite nation. For example, God devotes several chapters in Ezekiel (chapters 36-48) to reveal His plans about the future nation and temple and land of Israel. When we read the precise measurements which God told Ezekiel to write down concerning the land partitions and the temple construction, how can teachers write that off as figurative? –Or having been fulfilled in Nehemiah’s time, when it wasn’t?
No, there is no way to legitimately view these chapters as written to anyone other than the tribes of Joseph and Judah (Ezek. 37:19) of whom the Lord says, “I will bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.” (v. 21,22) To believe that this refers to the church is to disbelieve God’s clear words. God goes on about this joined nation: “I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them… They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived.” (v. 23,25a) This cleansing has not yet happened to Israel and to deny that this refers to the literal land and nation of Israel is to disbelieve God’s words. “They… will live there forever, and David My servant will be their Prince forever.” (v. 25b) Was God being disingenuous with the Israelites through the prophet Ezekiel, and not really planning to fulfill this promise? Was God promising the Israelites these things when He really meant He would give the church this land and that it would actually turn into a figurative land? Was God not making a distinction between nations when He said, “Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when My sanctuary is among them forever.”–? (v. 28)
In Ezekiel chapter 39 God is talking about literal “mountains of Israel” (v. 4), a literal war, a literal valley, and literal animals. We cannot read God’s words, “…when the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to Me” (v. 23) and still insist that God is not referring to the Israelites. We cannot read God’s words, “…for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (v. 28,29) The church (Christ-followers) are not the ones who were sent into exile because of unfaithfulness to God. It was Israel. These chapters are about Israel and her future –when God cleanses them and comes to live among them forever. How can He stress it any more clearly?
Thus Paul says in Rom. 11:1,2, “I ask then, Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject His people, whom He foreknew.” Paul is taking about a tribe, a bloodline, and the Israelite race here, not the church. He is reminding his readers that the Israelites are God’s chosen people and that God has not rejected them, while in verses 12 and 15 he says that their return to God and His acceptance of them will bring greater blessing to the world than that which their temporary hardening brought. “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'” (v. 26) This promise is reiterated numerous times in the Old Testament, including in Ezekiel 36:24-32 and in 37:14, the latter verse being where God promises, “I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.” This promise is to “the whole house of Israel.” (v. 11) God is making promises to His chosen, elect nation descended from Jacob (Rom. 9:1-13); not to the church.
Jesus is of the Jewish physical bloodline (Rom. 9:5 & 15:12) and the Jews are God’s chosen people with whom all Christ-followers can participate with –in the blessings of salvation and knowing God. (11:17,18) This is why it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people” (15:10), which makes a distinction between Jews –the chosen race, and Gentiles. We can see that regardless of there being one people (Body) unified in Christ (1 Cor. ch. 12), God still recognizes separate nations. As Rom. 15:12 says, “The root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.” And as Rev. 21:24 says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it [into the New Jerusalem].”
After the earth is laid bare and the new heavens and earth come (2 Pe. 3:7,10,13 // Rev. 21:1), there will no longer be a temple building in Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:22) However, before that there will be another temple, as the book of Ezekiel illustrates. There, while describing the new temple in detail as well as commands for the priests, God says, “This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile My holy name.” (Ezek. 43:7) In verse 10, God orders of Ezekiel, “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins.” These chapters were written for and to Israel, the nation.
In speaking of the boundaries of the land, God says, “These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph.” (Ezek. 47:13) To teach that this directive is to an imaginary twelve tribes of the church would be ludicrous. Verse 14 makes it doubly clear who the subjects of the promise are as God continues, “You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance.” The forefathers God swore to give the land to were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and God swore to them that He would also give the land to their descendants (Gen. 13:15 & 35:12) “as an everlasting possession.” (17:8) God emphasized that these descendants were to come from their own bodies / be their physical offspring (15:4), “the children of the promise” (Rom. 9:8), and that Jacob’s descendants would, as a nation, repent. (Isa. 59:20,21 // Zech. 12:10-13:2 // Luke 1:67-75 // Rom. 11:25-27 // Heb. 8:8-12)
Chapter 48 of Ezekiel (the last chapter of the book) are directives from God about the exact divisions of the land for each tribe, specific geographical locations included therein, as well as the measurements of the city. The locations and names of the gates of the city are described in verses 30-34, and verse 31 says that “the gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel.” Revelation chapter 21, which describes the New Jerusalem, mentions the same in verse 12 saying, “On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.” Ezekiel 48:35a gives the distance all around the city, while the rest of this verse declares, “And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.” (v. 35b)
For anyone reading these things it should be plain that Ezekiel chapters 36-48 are referring to that which is still to happen concerning the literal nation, land, temple, and city, for no, these promises, along with the measurements and specifications God gave, were not fulfilled in Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s time, nor when Herod rebuilt the temple. Teaching otherwise is a denial of much of God’s Word.
So, in spite of our disagreement on these things, ____, I do still appreciate Mike’s messages against sinfulness in those who claim to belong to Jesus. Regardless of the fact that all teachers I know teach differently than I do in at least one small (or big) area, I am able to sift through and glean from (some of) them so that I learn, even as I constantly compare what they say with Scripture. I do find many of Mike’s messages to be a proclamation of the Truth, and therefore beneficial, particularly in how well he explains what salvation is, does, and looks like. I am glad I found his videos last month and I plan to continue to listen to them. I also found a couple of your videos this week and I appreciate your stand, as well, for purity and holy conduct in believers.
However, being that I do not believe that you have responded to me as Christ would have, I encourage you to remember Jesus’ teaching that all His Truth hangs upon the Law of Love –to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. (Mt. 22:37-40 // Mark 12:30,31) I encourage you to teach and to model Jesus’ command, “In everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Mt. 7:12)
You want others to genuinely consider your teachings and reexamine their own. Do the same for others. As Jesus taught, “All men will know that you are My disciples IF you love one another.” (John 13:35) If Bible teachers act so elitist that they cannot fellowship with anyone who does not believe exactly as they do on every matter, there is cause to wonder if that person is like the ones spoken of in 1 Cor. 13:1-3 who can fathom all mysteries, surrender their body to the flames, etc., but who, nevertheless, gain nothing because they don’t have love.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Rom. 15:7) “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (14:4) “Why do you look down on your brother?” (v. 10) “Stop passing judgement on one another.” (v. 13) There ARE disputable matters (v. 1), and even if the other person’s faith seems weak (or their beliefs wrong) to us, we are not to shun the weak (same verse) “brother for whom Christ died.” (v. 15) Everyone who serves Christ in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit is pleasing to God. (v. 17,18) “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (v. 19) And, “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (15:2) I caution you to be more careful with people whom God brings across your path so that you do not neglect obedience to these commands.
Truly, “If we love each other, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12) If we do not love each other, we are not of God. (3:10) You and Mike teach that right, holy living in Christ is necessary for salvation, and this is good. But, let’s not forget that along with the commands to be holy, we are commanded, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men” (Heb. 12:14) and, “in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) “Be imitators of God, therefore… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” (Eph. 5:1,2) Yes, faith, hope, knowledge, Truth, –these are highly important (1 Cor. 13:1-13)– but as that last verse tells us, “the greatest of these is love.” In fact, as both Rom. 13:9 and Gal. 5:14 inform us, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Consequently, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (Ja. 2:8) Yet if we stumble at just one point, and this would include at that of love, we become guilty of breaking all of it. (v. 10) I caution you to have love and prove it through your words and actions. (1 John 3:16-18) As Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) So, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (1 Cor. 10:24) Indeed, it is only faith working through love that contains the power. (Gal. 5:6) Thus love in action cannot be separated from holiness if someone is really walking in the Truth of Salvation.
I pray that the Lord will further His Truth through your ministry, through Mike’s, through mine, and through everyone else’s who walks in the Light of God’s Love.