By: Dennis Northington
To better understand our call as part of Israel we should consider how it happened that Jacob’s name was changed.
It is not just a story (Genesis 32:24; Hosea 12:4).
After his family “crossed over” the river ahead of him Jacob “wrestled” with The Angel (Messenger) of YHVH. Do you remember what happened at the end of Jacob’s struggle in the darkness?
The Angel (who came in the flesh as ‘The One’ annointed in the Spirit of YHVH as Messiah Yeshua) touched him and He altered Jacob’s stride, his “walk” was changed permanently and he was given a new name “Israel” (Genesis 32:28).
Can’t you just imagine the conversations he had for the rest of his life whenever he met someone new on his life journey?
I think that there’s a really good chance that whenever anyone met him for the first time and saw his distinctive walk, they probably asked, “Wow… What happened to you?” I can just imagine the gist of his reply…
My “walk” was changed by YHVH’s hand. I was wrestling with Him and He gave me this walk that you see. But then I told Him I would not “let go”, not stop struggling until He blessed me, so He gave me my name, it is Israel, it means God Prevails. After I received my new name from God I was able to “cross over”. It was in the beautiful dawn of the morning light that I “walked” into the promised land. The different way that you see me walk today is the way I will always walk.
Can’t you also imagine that whenever anyone that knew him saw him coming, before they could see his face they just knew by his walk – who he was, and his story.
“Israel”… it is our Name and Our Mission!!
Today, “all Israel” both native and stranger must know their identity because understanding Israel is part of our mission, our goal is Israel’s full restoration, and it’s ALL about ONE House.. it is about the identity of the people God calls to Himself. After all, “Israel” literally means God Prevails!
As we know, Paul told the Ephesians “gentiles”… you once were separate, excluded strangers from Messiah and the identity of none other than… Israel!
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles… remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11-12).
God recruits, He calls people into His commonwealth Kingdom under the name He chose to give Jacob for His chosen. He calls all beleivers, all that follow him“Israel” — they are His chosen, both native and stranger! And Israel has a servant duty to be priests to all nations. To spread the good news of His plan of redemption to all mankind.
But “Israel” has an identity crisis:
Many that call themselves Christians do not know the word, the Torah, and many that call themselves Jews do not know Messiah. Indeed, neither fully know the Messiah in the Torah. But that day of blindness is ending, praise YHVH.
Think about it, In God’s words we are not called Christians and Jews really, these are the assumed names of tradition, and of religion. If we look into the plain Word, we are the name He chooses for us, we are Ephraim and Judah, but together in Messiah’s Spirit and in His Teaching we are all His children, we are “Israel”.
It is the very identity message that the angel, the One that is Messiah gave to Jacob as his blessing! This event occurred during Jacob’s journey back to the Promised Land.
Israel means ‘God Prevails’. May we receive it and understand why God renamed Jacob. God does not want us to be known as “Jacob”. After all, Jacob is one who grasps at the heel, struggles with “the walk”. Everywhere you look, it seems Christians are learning to return their Hebrew roots, they are returning to Torah. Jews are returning to Messiah. The two camps are becoming one… “Israel”.
God wants us to know that when He speaks of “Israel” throughout His word, He speaks of all Israel and not just Judah. Otherwise, we are still somehow divided and avoiding each other as brothers in one family of God!
The so-called Old Testament, the Tanach is full of the promise of the restoration of all Israel – as is the New Testament. It is His word Aleph to Tav. The promises to enter into the Kingdom land are not just for one tribe (Judah), but for all twelve tribes, as well as the strangers who sojourn with them. Together we are men of faith and His redemption. Once we are both in His camp and in sight of His Shekinah Glory, there is but one name for all. It is Israel.
The apostles understood that this needed to happen. We see these truths in these verses:
“The God of our fathers raised up Yeshua, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and [so is] also the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:30-32).
“Of this man’s seed hath God according to [his] promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Yeshua: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not [he]. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of [his] feet I am not worthy to loose. Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent” (Acts 13:23-26).
We need to understand the following verse and realize know that Paul was not giving a teaching to those in Rome about “Jews” not following Messiah. For 30 years or more, when this letter was written to the Romans, “Judah and Benjamin” the Jews of the day were on literally on fire in the spirit!!! They were the so-called “Christians” spreading the good news of Messiah across the land for over 15 years, until Cornelius the Italian centurion, a just man was called by the Angel of YHVH to go to Peter in Joppa. There he received the Holy Spirit and was baptized after Peter proclaimed: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10).
Paul also wrote: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:26).
Moses also recorded that the people Israel, and not just Judah would be blind, not just to Messiah but also Torah until the fullness of nations. Paul said, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Hum, the fullness of the nations, full of the hidden, dispersed Israel as Hosea’s teaching tells us.
Paul was not telling the gentiles of Ephesus that they were separate in God’s word from Israel, but that the promise throughout the Tanach are about them…. they needed to know their identity, Paul knew that in his heart so he told them that. That is Paul’s consistent message – who you are in Messiah and of course His totally misunderstood teaching on God’s Torah for living in His love. To those in Rome he said:
“That at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers [unknown identity] from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Messiah Yeshua you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah” (Ephesians 2:12-13).
This promise is for the Jew first but not for the Jew alone…The Father says, “This [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days…I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know YHVH: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:10 -11).
In the latter days of the scattering among the nations, the identity of Israel is restored, why else would we read:
“And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed a hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4).
“And [the city] had a wall great and high, [and it] had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 21:12).
Paul taught there is only one body, one identity, it is “Israel” and we too need to understand like he did that there is not “the Church” and “Israel”.
Paul was teaching the Gentiles that they were coming into the family of God and thus were part of Israel. Paul was not trying to start a new religion.
For, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). There is really no difference between believers that are “saved” and true “Israel” according to Scripture. There is just one Identity given to God’s people.
“Jesus” whose real Hebrew identity is “Yeshua” is the Creator and the firstborn of resurrection into life as Messiah. He is the head of His family – His children, the House of Israel. Because of His life, His authority, those that follow Him as the faithful are a part of His people, His congregation, a people He has always called Israel. As a Believer, the entire Bible is your story too, you must know your Identity, the one given to you by God, it too is Hebrew so…
Don’t be a victim of Identity Theft.
Learn more about your Identity as a member of God’s family. Throughout the Bible God (YHVH) changed the names of faithful people after a meeting with God in which their heart was changed by an act of faith and obedience to God’s word. Jacob became Israel. Do you know who have you become? God does.
Members of the family of God are called Israel and your identity is shown throughout all of Scripture. You are not a Gentile, you are not a Jew, you are one new Hebrew man – know who you are, you are Israel.
Please consider reading the longer the new, pointed but brief book, Who is Israel – Redeemed Israel – A Primer. Study the Scriptures offered so you can find yourself in them and begin your “set-apart” walk as you live out the Bible.
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