Years of Jewish rebellion against Rome came to an end in 70 A.D., less than forty years after the death and resurrection of Yeshua our Messiah. In that year Rome presided over the destruction of the Temple, razed the city of Jerusalem, and banished all Jews from the desolate rubble.
Until that moment the followers of Yeshua were as secure in their Jewishness as were the many who still rejected him. The followers of Yeshua had simply become a cult-like minority within Israel, the few who had the vision to recognize Yeshua as the long-awaited Messiah.
With the destruction of the Temple, the rites of Temple sacrifice were no longer possible and those who rejected Yeshua and still awaited the hand of God’s redemption were forced to return to the Scriptures and probe for a reconfiguration of the road to God’s mercy.
Those who followed Yeshua were not so bereaved. In Yeshua sacrifice was brought to an end. They who loved him saw their redemption now accomplished in the sacrifice of their king at the cross — the king standing in for his people and achieving that protection foretold since the blood of lambs was symbolically painted above the doorways in Egypt.
Nevertheless, the loss of the city, of the Temple, and of the glory of Israel was to lay a price at the feet of the followers of Yeshua. The newly re-engineered Israel of God was now clearly a promise of an eternal country for every person on earth with eyes to recognize and own the royal claims of the anointed king of Israel. But how to share the glory of this revelation in the wake of the devastation of Jerusalem?! How to share the news of the transcendent kingdom as glorious hope when the city of hope had just been laid in ruins, the Temple of the God of Israel now in ashes?!
The prevailing tendency, then, was for the followers of the Way to identify themselves as “Christians” while identifying the Jerusalem tragedy with those Jews who had stubbornly resisted Rome and had stubbornly resisted Yeshua. The followers of Yeshua had little reason to connect him with the recent tragedies in the life of the nation state. They increasingly identified themselves and their king with a heavenly Jerusalem and a transcendent kingdom.
In fact, the new rule of Yeshua in the hearts of his subjects was a rule achieved through the powerful cords of Spirit stretching throughout the earth into the hearts of his people, and this kingdom was not dependent upon the dust of Jerusalem for its survival.
But it would be a great failure of vision to imagine that Yeshua had turned his back on Jerusalem or that he cared not for his role as Messiah of Israel, or that his real spiritual power was in any way compromised by the reduction of suitable architecture in the capital city, or that he was somehow relegated to the role of generic royalty confined to the mists of the heavenly aether. Yeshua is, in this time, in all his being, bound to Jerusalem, and he is the Messiah [anointed king] of the eternal Israel of God — that being the fair name of the polity of those who render him fealty, the people of God. And now, on a day which fast approaches, his feet will once again be heard in the streets of Jerusalem.
In the two thousand years since 70 A.D., the Catholic institution won for itself a place of power within the common culture, and crafted for itself mastery over the public worship of Yeshua, literally hunting and expelling those who dared to serve Yeshua without recognizing the authority of the ecclesiastical institution. Further installation of claims of priestly control over the absolution of sin and claims of a priestly power to invoke the very presence and being of God in the bread and wine of the “eucharist” – such “sacraments” were used by the church to cynically insert themselves as mediating power between the person of the individual and the person of God.
Furthermore, beginning with Constantine in the 4th Century, the Sabbath of Yeshua, by ecclesiastical fiat, was abandoned for the sake of the already culturally favored “day of the Sun” observance. And the feasts of Israel, commanded by God for eternity, were abandoned in favor of the fabrications of Easter and Christmas.
In all, the power of the church to establish human traditions was enthroned over the word of God in Scripture. And so, not only was the primacy of God’s word ridiculed, but also the vision of the Israel of God was obscured. Yeshua came to earth to satisfy centuries of expectation directed to the advent of the Messiah of Israel. The crucifixion was the victory of the love of Yeshua and the fundamental event in the history of the new Israel. But the church through the centuries increasingly ignored its roots in Israel. The church became the handmaiden of Gentile temporal power and facilitated a marriage [or at least a tawdry intimacy] between church and state, for the sake of which the cultural relics of Judaism needed to be suppressed.
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Now, in this day, we are witnessing the total degradation of national culture. Common standards of morality can no longer be applied to our leaders because of their success in claiming dishonesty and extreme decadence as prerogatives of power. The will of our people is not to invade the nations of the earth or to ignore the needs of the oppressed, but the leaders of the nation and the powers which control them are devoted to a propaganda campaign which paints the Russians, the Chinese, and Muslimms as our mortal enemies. To “protect” us they are determined to spend unprecedented fortunes on plentiful and sophisticated weapons, and to send our armies into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and even to surround Russia and China with our missiles. Our leaders are demons hunting for chaos. They betray us. We find ourselves without a country.
Now more than ever is the time for us to remember that we who belong to Yeshua belong to a real country, the Israel of promise, the mystical country where the Spirit of Yeshua reigns in our hearts with more power than the threats or rewards of any emperor can inspire. We await the return of our king to this earth, to the dust of Jerusalem. We await the restoration of Jerusalem in bricks and mortar – not as the fulfillment of dreams based on genetic privilege, but as the fulfillment of our dreams of living in the full presence of our king. We await the full measure of his love for us his people, the fullness of justice for the oppressed of the earth, and justice for the destroyers of the earth.
We await the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham – that we will live together in peace under the rule of our divine king in the land of promise. This is our real hope. It shall be ours at the end of this era in history – in the coming of the millennium in which Yeshua shall rule the earth from Jerusalem and every nation of the earth bring him honor and worship.
I encourage you to undertake the work of restoration, of sorting between the man-made traditions of the church and the genuine voice of Yeshua our king in Scripture. Renounce the apostasy of the churches. We must be like King Josiah when he discovered the Scriptures buried in the wall, unknown to the people for centuries: he brought the people together to hear the words of God and to celebrate Passover. We must look to the Scriptures and immerse ourselves in the culture which God Himself fashioned under the direction of his prophets and kings – a culture which at its core leads always to Yeshua Messiah.
This is the one honest goal of all culture, of all religion, and of all life – the collision of the individual with the person of Yeshua, to be followed by the love and the work of living within the constant counsel and sustained guidance of Yeshua, he resident in the soul, Lord over every room in the complex chambers of the heart.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with me. And the conqueror shall sit beside me on my throne, as I myself have conquered and sat down beside my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3.19,20
Lawrence S. Jones