This follows the Report, “Lord, Is It Now…?” It is Part 2 of a series.
We need to more fully understand the expectations our Father has for us. He has plans for our welfare and not for calamity, plans that will give us a future and a hope as we move into our destiny (Jer 29:10-14).
Imagine for a moment that you are standing on the Mount of Olives, gazing up at Yeshua ascending into the heavens and disappearing out of your sight. You remember His final words to you: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).
Your first reaction might be, a witness to what? To whom am I to be a witness? What is the purpose of my witness?
Your mind flashes back to the time when Yeshua sent you and the other disciples out. He instructed you to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as you went, you were instructed to exhort them saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 10:6-7)!
You say to yourself, “That makes sense. I know Yeshua’s mission is to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth by restoring the kingdom to Israel. Every kingdom requires three basic elements: a king, a people and a territory. Therefore, the restored Davidic kingdom will have Yeshua, the greater Son of David, as its King (Eze 37:25). The people will be the twelve tribes of Israel and their companions (Eze 37:15-21). The land will be the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
It now becomes clear to you why the kingdom is not being restored at this time. You realize that a lot of work needs to be done to gather Israel’s lost sheep. After all, they were scattered into every nation, tribe, tongue and kindred (Rev 14:6). In order for the kingdom to be reunited and restored they must become “found sheep.” They must be brought back to their own soil (Jer 23:8). You realize that some of the sheep are lost because they do not understand that Yeshua is Israel’s Messiah. On the other hand, there are many sheep who are oblivious to their heritage as being part of the people of Israel.
You say to yourself, “It could take generations to get this job done. There is a lot of land to posses and it will take a lot of people to fill it. I need help! We need help! What is expected of us? What do we do now?” You call out to Peter “What do think Yeshua’s expectations are for each of us in restoring the Kingdom to Israel?”
Peter answered, “We must encourage the lost sheep to repent and return, so that their sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of YHVH, the Lord their God; and that He may send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for them, whom heaven has received until the period of restoration of all things about which YHVH spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:19-21).
In other words, Yeshua has ascended into heaven, is seated at the right of the Father, and He is not coming back until all the prophecies in the First Covenant have been fulfilled (Eph 1:20). There are some 520 prophecies that have not been fulfilled and they primarily have to do with the regathering of Israel’s lost sheep and returning them to their own soil (Jer 23:1-8). Who is going to fulfill them? Yeshua said in His final report to the Father, “I have finished the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). And on the cross, He said, “It is finished” ( John 19:30).
So who is going to gather the lost sheep? Do we have a part to play in the regathering? And if we do, what is our part? Looking back we can see the many astounding miracles surrounding the first return (exodus from Egypt). And we have seen many miracles “as the tents of Judah and his companions have come up first” in the second return, which is currently in progress (Zec 12:7). However, it will take many more miracles to “bring up the tents of Joseph and his companions” (Eze 37:19-25).
The challenge in gathering Israel’s lost sheep is to find them, help then to discern what they use to possess which they have lost, but must find again so they are not lost!
Yeshua, speaking to a group of Pharisees, said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (John 10:14-16).
There are two key phrases in the preceding sentence. Both phrases are future tense: “They will hear My voice,” and “They will become one flock.” So when Yeshua ascended into heaven He anticipated a future time when those other sheep of another fold would hear His voice and become one flock. Even today YHVH’s people anticipate the two folds becoming one flock, with one shepherd.
Obviously the Pharisees were His sheep, and yet they were sheep that were lost—lost to the fact that He was the Messiah. Yeshua said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 15:24). So when Yeshua send out His twelve disciples He instructed them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”(Mat 10:5-6). Initially the primary task of the disciples was to go to lost sheep who understood their heritage but did not realize that He was the Messiah. As they made headway in this area, their scope expanded and they, and especially the Apostle Paul began to witness to non-Jews (people who felt drawn to Yeshua, Judaism and Israel but yet did not see themselves as Jews).
The biggest change over the past two thousand years has not been in the basic challenge of restoring kingdom elements. The change has been in numbers. Today we have a lot more of Israel’s lost sheep who do not understand who the Messiah is, and a lot more that do not realize their heritage as being part of the people of Israel.
The Apostle John further expands on this concept of Yeshua gathering His sheep into one flock when he relates the prophecy made by Caiaphas, “who did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:47-53).
Why would Yeshua have two flocks? In His earthly ministry we find Yeshua dwelling with the flock composed of the people of Judah and his companions. So, who is the other flock? After the death of King Solomon the Kingdom of Israel was divided. They had become two flocks, Judah the Southern Kingdom of Israel, and Ephraim the Northern Kingdom of Israel. That division was further amplified in 70 AD, after the destruction of the temple, the end of the animal sacrificial system and of a Levitical priesthood. During this period many of the first century Jews who refused to acknowledge that Yeshua was Israel’s Messiah, founded Rabbinical Judaism. At the same time those Jews who had accepted Yeshua as their Messiah founded “The Way,” which eventually became known as Christianity.
Over the past two thousand years there have been many millions who have heard Yeshua’s voice. But, we still have two folds. They must become one flock if we are to fulfill the desires of the Father’s heart and have one united people living in the Promised Land. For this to be accomplished the divided Kingdom of Israel must be reunited. There is a good reason why there has only recently been progress made towards this goal by sheep who are lost to their heritage. Because of disobedience, Ephraim was sentenced to the loss of his identity as a people (Hosea 1:2-10). The duration of this punishment was initially 390 years, however, because Ephraim would not repent and turn back to YHVH, He multiplied Ephraim’s punishment sevenfold, for a period of 2,730 years (Lev 26:18,21,24,28; Eze 4:4-5).
When did the punishment start? While the city of Samaria was destroyed in 722 B.C., the majority of the Northern Kingdom had become a vassal state of Assyria by 734 B.C. Using the year of 734 B.C., as a starting point means that the punishment would have been completed in 1996, which is also the beginning of the fiftieth (Jubilee) generation from Yeshua. That year each of Israel’s Feasts was marked with a blood red moon. Using the latest realistic starting point of 722 BC, the punishment would have ended in 2008 (For a complete discussion of the punishment of Ephraim and Judah see the book Restoring Israel’s Kingdom Chapter 11.)!
The great news for our generation is, the awful sentence of a complete loss of identity as God’s chosen people is over for Ephraim! The people of Ephraim, once a people who were not a people are now recognized as sons of the living God! “For the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It will be 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 go up from the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:9-11).
Jezreel is the name of Hosea’s first child, and it means “judgement.” Initially this referred to the judgement poured out on the Northern Kingdom, but the day will come when judgement is poured out on Israel’s enemies, and the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will together defeat their enemies, once again taking possession of their land (Isa 11:11-14).
For the great day of Jezreel to take place we need the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel to come together, defeat their enemies, and occupy the land. Obviously to accomplish this monumental task we need adequate numbers of the sons of Judah and sons of Israel. I believe we can all agree that the recognizable sons of Judah today are the Jewish people. However, who are the sons of Israel? Probably the answer which would best receive general agreement is that they are Israel’s lost sheep, sheep that are lost to the fact that they are actually sons of Israel.
How could that have happened and what can be done to enable the lost sheep to become found?
Let us revisit those two key phrases which were mentioned earlier: “They will hear My voice,” and “They will become one flock.” Let’s give them descriptive names. “They will hear My voice” we will name Individual and “They will become one flock we will name People.
Yeshua tells us that each sheep knows his Shepherd’s voice, and you could say has a personal relationship with its Shepherd However the sheep may not understand its relationship to the flock. For example if you ask a Christian to explain their relationship with the God of Israel the answer will normally be, “I have a personal relationship with Him through His Son. It doesn’t matter who my ancestors were; what matters is my personal relationship with Jesus.”
On the other hand you ask a Rabbinic Jew the same question, and you will get a completely different answer, “I am part of the people of Israel.” So we have the sons of Judah basing their relationship with the God of Israel based on being members of His flock, and the sons of Israel basing their relationship on hearing His Son’s voice and having a personal relationship with Him.
We are not only facing the challenge of putting the divided kingdom back together, but also the seeming discrepancy between enjoying a personal relationship with the God of Israel, and yet realizing ourselves as part of a grand, eternal plan. For Moses tells us, “The LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deu 13:3-4). Passing this test requires having a personal relationship with Him, but it also requires that we understand that we are a part of His people. Time after time in Scripture YHVH recounts His desire to have a people for His own possession, also He makes it clear that we are part of a people.
It is imperative we first understand and then take the Gospel of the Kingdom message to the lost sheep—having a personal relationship with Yeshua means you are a full and equal citizen of the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 11-20; Gal 3:29). This is an exciting life changing message not only for Ephraim but also for Judah. For as Ephraim realizes he is part of the people of Israel it will open Judah’s eyes to realizing that Yeshua is Israel’s Messiah.
We are engaged in a task in which numbers are important. The fulfillment of the prophecies ‘to prepare the way for the return of Yeshua’ requires that the blindness (Greek: porosis, stupidity, callousness, or blindness, or hardness) is removed from Israel and the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25 NIV). Then Paul tells us, “and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘the Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob'” (Rom 11:26 NIV).
We Messianic Forerunners have a mission [great commission] to execute! We are to be “more than conquerors, through Him who saved us” (Rom.8:37), ministering the truth and realities of His redemption in the earth. We are His means [instrument] to bring the truth, healing, and life to the nations. Redeemed Israel, composed of many peoples, will act and minister as Yeshua Himself in refreshing the nations. Israel will be a mighty power, a warrior nation in the earth, invincible and full of power!
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