I do not mean to compare myself to someone of such stature, but I too, have a dream. It is a hope that is ever-stirring in my heart. It has to do with Jacob’s people, who are my people; and it has to do with Israel’s full restoration. My hope, my dream, my vision for Israel begins with Ephraim’s realization of the truth of who he is called to be in Messiah.
I hope for this realization because, in jest I often call myself a “Jewish evangelist in disguise.” I say this because I have an abiding love and deep respect for my Jewish brothers – but I do not necessarily feel led to “preach the gospel to them.” Instead, I understand their hurts and long to see great change come to the people of Ephraim – so that they can, in turn, be a blessing to Judah.
With all of my heart I want to see Ephraim once again become a mighty man – to become sons of Israel who truly are a great help to their brother. I long to see Ephraim come into the “fullness/pléróma” promised to him in Romans 11:25 – and to realize that this promise speaks of more than just numbers. This same Greek word is used to speak of a fullness/pléróma that is destined to come to Judah (Romans 11:12), and, it is used in Colossians 1:19 to speak of the Messiah: “God was pleased to have all his fullness/pléróma dwell in Him.” Pléróma means, “what fills up, or completes anything.”
Rather than only seeing Ephraim’s pléróma promise as possibly being a matter of “numbers,” we need to see it in light of him being filled up and growing up in Messiah, and thus, empowered to help complete the process of Jacob’s dream. We need to see that this promise has to do with Ephraim’s maturation.
We are told how this maturation will happen in the last days. In Jeremiah, Ephraim says of himself, “After I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth” (Jeremiah 31:19). When Ephraim is instructed about his own Israelite roots, or, as Darby says, after he comes to “know” himself, great changes occur in Ephraim.
Change needs to occur because Ephraim is called to walk in a powerful way that causes Judah to see him as a very helpful brother. When Ephraim grasps the full meaning of his call, he will begin to walk in a Torah-honoring-Holy-Spirit-led-manner. But, he cannot do this apart from being empowered from on High by the Ruach HaKodesh: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6; 10:7). We must have the Holy Spirit. This fact cannot be compromised. Ephraim must cling to, and be empowered by the Spirit – because – the Ruach is getting ready to work wonders among His people.
When Judah sees Ephraim walking in the wonder-working power of the God of Israel, Judah will be drawn closer (1 Corinthians 1:22). Judah will at last see that Ephraim has something that he wants, and then, our family will be reunited. And, that is my dream. When we are reunited, then I will be able to laugh and weep and shout and rejoice forever. I will be happy because my whole family will be together. And, that is why I want to “fix” Ephraim.
YHVH gave Ephraim a divine mandate, it being to walk in a way that makes Judah jealous (Romans 11:25). But, Ephraim is instead often jealous of Judah. Jealousy is good when it is protective, but when it takes on the character of envy, it is bad. Even as Judah’s enemies need to be cut off, so Ephraim needs to be delivered of his envious jealousy of Judah. Ephraim must not harbor any negative feelings toward Judah, but must instead truly love him and be jealous only for his well-being. When Ephraim manages to accomplish this, then Judah will cease to vex him (Isaiah 11:13). To do this, Ephraim desperately needs to know who he is in and to the Messiah, because, when he feels inferior or superior to Judah, he does not properly walk in his call. To bring about this change, according to Scripture, Ephraim first needs to be instructed about his own Israelite roots. Then, when he sees that he is part of Israel (and not a replacement), that will encourage him to repent of the lawless deeds of his youth (Jeremiah 29:11; Hosea 4:6; 5:11-6:3).
YHVH calls Ephraim His “delightful child” and promises to have mercy on him. He calls him to be a mighty man, a watchman and prophet for YHVH (Jeremiah 29:18-19; 31:6; Hosea 9:8). Watchmen warn their people of danger. Prophets point them toward the Holy One of Israel. Some things that Ephraim needs to understand, and even point all Israel toward, are:
* Ephraim needs to see Israel’s restoration in all of its intended glory – and to understand how the Father wants to use him in the last days. Because, Ephraim is destined to play a key role in the reconciliation of the whole house of Israel. This role will call for him to walk in “true love,” which demands that we walk in truth and speak the truth. But, Ephraim is sometimes misguided in his love for Judah and walks in a compromise of the truth. Some, in their desire to be reunited with Judah have denied Messiah Yeshua’s deity – so they end up with a form of godliness but have denied the power thereof (Matthew 24:30; 2 Timothy 3:5; Hebrews 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3,16). Only Elohim/God has the power to deliver a man from Sheol. Mortal men cannot do that. Messiah Yeshua is our divine Redeemer and there can only be “one” Redeemer. He is our Redeemer, and He is “One” with the Father. We must not compromise this truth. All Israel needs to see it and be redeemed by Moshiach (Psalm 49-10-15; John 10:30; Romans 3:23).
* It has been decreed that Israel’s reunion and full restoration will not happen by the power or might of men, but by His Holy Spirit, by His Ruach HaKodesh (Zechariah 4:1-14). Yet, some have resisted the Spirit rather than embrace Him and His awe-inspiring works. We need to instead have our senses trained by the Spirit, and thus learn how to separate the bogus from the genuine (Hebrews 5:14). We must not throw out the Spirit because of the counterfeit claims of some. It is our job to sort through the mess and begin to walk in the powerful truth of the Ruach. Then we will begin to see Messiah-like miracles in our lives. Then sinners will be converted to Him. It is the power of the Spirit that will empower all Israel.
* In the parable of the Prodigal Son we see a wayward son returning to his merciful father – who has a celebration in his honor. It is through celebration, or, making merry with the father, that the older son is provoked to jealousy. But, rather than follow this inspired plan, some put all of their focus on the study of Hebraic minutiae. Some have become legalistic in presenting their knowledge and have even become “Torah-Terrorizers.” We need to study and show ourselves to be workmen who accurately divide/discern the Word of truth, but, a head-knowledge based study of minutia is not the way to provoke people to jealousy. All of us instead need to see the Almighty at work in our lives in personal ways – and we will see Him work His miracles when we learn to listen to His voice. When we know Him, when others see His Holy Spirit at work in our Torah-based lives, then they will want what we have.
* We are told to return to the ancient paths of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are also told that the feasts are eternal, so, we want to celebrate them. But, we need to realize that, just as Ephraim got sidetracked by Rome, so Judah began to miss the mark in Babylon. And that leaves us with the question, “How should we celebrate the feasts in our day?”
The feasts of Israel are alive with meaning that speaks of the restoration of the whole house of Israel. We need to study them, to especially take a fresh look at them, and allow our Messiah-based celebrations to sing with meaning for the whole house. Messiah Yeshua is the focus of Israel’s feasts. He is the reason why we celebrate. We have new, eternal life in Him. In Him, the feasts take on new meaning. For example, Passover is about our deliverance based on the death of the lamb. And, the Day of the Wave Sheaf, the Day of the First of the Firstfruits, is about the Resurrection of the Lamb of God. They are different days, different feasts, and they have different meanings. Ephraim needs to bring these, and many other life-changing truths to Israel’s festal table.
As we seek Israel’s restoration, we will have to deal with people who have added their own celebrations, as well as those who have misunderstood the Father’s celebrations. James says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). Our God did not shift away from His command for us to honor His feasts. He did, however, modify how they are to be celebrated. This truth is self-evident in that we can no longer celebrate the feasts exactly as He prescribed in Scripture – because He allowed His Temple to be destroyed and its priesthood to be scattered. But, He did not turn away from His feasts – and neither should we. The problem is, due to Israel’s sins, different dispersions, and destruction of the Temple, feast celebrations were either disregarded or changed. And, as Ephraim returns to the truth of his Israelite roots, he needs to be careful about embracing traditions that are less than what the Father wants for us at this time.
With the coming of Messiah Yeshua, with His death and resurrection, whether Israel realized it or not, a paradigm shift occurred. Israel’s shadowy feasts should have come into sharp focus at that time, concentration should have moved to Messiah Yeshua, for, He is what the feasting is all about. However, both Ephraim and Judah either forgot about the feasts or did not really understand their true meaning. So to speak, all of Israel has failed the “feast test” in different ways and to different degrees. The good news is that now is the time of our restoration. Now is the time for Israel to learn to celebrate anew the ancient feasts of Israel. But once again, the question is, how do we now celebrate?
To this end, and in hopes of encouraging us in our reunification, I wrote a book called, “Israel’s Feasts and their Fullness”. With all of my heart, I believe there is not another feast book like it on the market. Not only does it give an overview of Jewish traditions, it is filled with new insights into the feasts that speak of Israel’s restoration. It is a paradigm-shifting book that is based on Scriptural definitions of the feasts. I don’t meant to “toot my own horn,” but to be candid, I wish everyone had a copy of it on their reference shelf. I want that because I know that Jacob had a dream – and his dream inspires me in my dream about Israel’s reunion. However, fulfillment of Jacob’s dream demands that Ephraim enter into his “fullness” and becomes a source of loving inspiration to brother Judah. Taking a fresh look at our Father’s feasts will help us to do just that.
May all of your feast celebrations be blessed!
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