Messianic Vision

Intro -- Vision

I see our faith as one that is still growing. We have come a long way. Christianity instilled the Gospel message in us and preserved for us the Scriptures. The first generation of Messianics were the pioneers, leading us into Torah. I believe my generation is ready to take the next step, building upon the foundation set by our fathers. The question is, Where do we go? What is our vision?

About a year ago, I was reading a book by Stephen Covey where he talked about how our lives our directed by where we place our focus. That it is all about perspective. Gain the right perspective and your life will line up--have the wrong perspective and things will fall apart (including the very thing you were focusing on).

I think Covey was on to something. Yeshua said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness" (Matt. 6:22-23). Your eye or your focus is the lamp for the rest of your life.

Without vision, I fear our movement will become just another withering tradition. Indeed, we already see that in some places. With this absence of vision, many have turned to end times teaching, allowing fear to drive their lives. Isolationism has crept in cutting us off from any sense of purpose in the world, causing us to stagnate. Many have forgotten their roots and left the Gospel by the wayside. Without a unifying vision we turn to fighting and bickering among ourselves instead of building the Kingdom.

I believe that my generation is ready to move past these things and take up the banner so that our faith may go forward, so that the message of the Kingdom of Heaven may go forward. The things I am going to share with you here have been on my heart and I've seen them on the hearts of many of our youth.

All I'm trying to do here is get the conversation started. As you read through my words here, ask yourself the question, What is the vision of the Messianic Movement?


I want to start with the issue of holiness because I believe this is where the strongest connection between the two generations lies. It's best to start on common ground, I think. I have found both among the adults and youth of our movement a strong commitment to maintaining a holy set apart lifestyle. Keeping the Sabbath. Maintaining a kosher diet. Staying away from the things of this world. We recognize that these things are vitally important to our identity and our relationship with God.

However, in our movement's initial separation from the church, I believe we may have gotten a little overzealous in our pursuit of holiness and some of us have instead promoted a standard of isolationism. We all know that unity has been a persistent problem in this movement, though we have been steadily moving in that direction. The youth, I believe, have already gotten this concept down. Camp Yeshua is the proof. Messianic youth from all different backgrounds come together to worship, to study, to play as one. And it's not just the campers--it's the Christian staff too. In fact, I know a camper who has gone back to serve with the Oakridge staff through the rest of summer. This is unity. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I believe that we need to take another look at how we define holiness. Being set apart does not mean isolating ourselves from the world. That stems from pride and fear and bitterness and is more correctly called religiosity. Religiosity divides, holiness restores.

As an example, consider a hospital with doctors and patients. It is essential for the doctors to maintain a sort of "holiness" in order to keep from getting sick. But that is not the end goal. If that were the case, they could simply stay away from the hospital. The end goal is the healing of the patients. The doctors maintain their holiness so that they may be well equipped to bring healing to the world. It is the same with Biblical holiness.

Sabbath is a perfect illustration. It is interesting to note that God did not make every day Sabbath. If it was His intention that we live in the Sabbath, then He would have done so (remember, this all happened before the fall). Rather, He divided the week into six days of work and one day of rest. Six common days and one holy day. Why? So that the holiness of Sabbath could overflow into our mundane working lives and touch every corner of creation. We rest on Sabbath so that we may be restored in order to carry out the work of the Kingdom the other six days. Of course, this process works like a cycle where the other six days serve as preparation for the Sabbath as well, but we cannot forget the other half.

The same concept applies to our Festivals, to our diet, to our homes, to our good deeds. We set apart time, place, and our walk in order that holiness may overflow into the rest of our lives and into creation. Isolationism undermines this cycle and results in a stagnant holiness. Like living water, holiness must flow or it will become as the Dead Sea.

With this in mind, I believe it is important for us to establish standards of holiness--halachah if you will. We need to know where we stand, what we are willing to compromise on and what is unbending. We must be careful not to make our standards so strict that they become a burden nor so loose that they are ineffective. It's a hard balance to find and it will be a growing process with mistakes along the way. But I believe if we keep the purpose of holiness in mind--so that we may be a light unto the world--I think that will help guide us.


I started talking about unity in the last section and I mentioned how I believe the youth understand this concept. I've seen them put it into practice. We're ready to move on to the next step and that is community.

As much as unity has been a problem, community has been more so. It strikes me as odd that we rarely seem to connect the two. We usually blame our circumstances, saying that it is because we are so scattered that there is no community. Blaming our circumstances is convenient and easy to do. We are in exile after all.

I am beginning to believe that our lack of community is not a fault of circumstance, but rather of our pride, fear, and bitterness. There is community all around us--whether it be in a Messianic congregation we condemned as heretical or the church that we left behind. How can we come to God asking Him to bring us together when we don't even accept what He has already given us?

Consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. If you remember the story, there were three men each entrusted with a number of talents. The first two (with 10 and 2 talents, respectively) invested what they had and returned with more. The third, who only had one talent, hid his in the ground. No doubt he probably mumbled to himself, "What can I do with just one measly talent?" He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. He who is unfaithful in little will be unfaithful in much. This same concept applies to community.

I'm talking about local community. Just using Norman as an example--there is Monte's congregation. Granted, it is hard for a quiet person like me to break into that congregation, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't try. Sometimes we have to be the ones to step up and say "hello" to someone, to get the conversation rolling.

There's a Church of Christ just down the street from where I live. If there are no Messie congregations around, find a good church. They're everywhere. Even if you are attending a Messianic congregation, encourage cooperation with churches for the betterment of the community.

Which brings me to the local mission. There's a food pantry in Norman run by a Christian ministry. Yeah, they serve pork. So what? You're not eating it. Find ways to serve in your community. Work with Christians because we're all in this together. Why let the Kingdom suffer because of "theological differences"?

Community isn't so much about finding people you can get along with--it's about learning to get along with the people around you. It's about coming together around a common mission and building the Kingdom together despite our differences. It's about building relationships with people so that we can support one another--encouraging and challenging each other in our walks. As it says in Hebrews,

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
 -- Hebrews 10:24-25

End Days

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one. I know I and many of my friends are tired of hearing the majority of Messianic teaching being focused on end times. Yes, it is a fun topic to study, and yes it is relevant, but there comes a point when it's just too much. When end times teachings dominate our study, that's too much. What about living today?

It's not that end times teaching is necessarily bad, it's that everything else is neglected. How do we live a life of holiness? How do we grow our relationships with others and learn to treat each other with love and respect? How do we deal with our day to day struggles?

My friend Shawn Loftus once made the comment to me that the Messianic movement was essentially built on end times prophecy. Whether or not it began like that is debatable, but I think it is pretty clear that today the driving force behind our movement is end times teaching. I'm reminded of the Seventh Day Adventists who had essentially the same type of foundation (that's where the "advent" part of their name comes from). They were all looking for the coming of Christ on a certain date. When their prophecy failed, the movement stagnated. They became nothing more than another denomination among the rest. I fear the same for the Messianic movement. If we are to move forward, we need a vision that can carry us forward.

Bill Cloud wrote an excellent article on the end times scare called "Servant or Survivor" (look it up). In his article he compares our present situation to that of Israel on the edge of Canaan. We our getting back reports of the future based on the signs we see, but what kind of reports are we getting? What I hear mostly is "There are giants in the land, run!" We need to focus not on the giants, but on the promise of God so that we may boldly move forward and accomplish the mission that God has called us to. The question we need to be asking ourselves is not how do we survive, but what of what we are doing today will survive into the Kingdom?

I believe that the focus of end times teaching needs to turn more toward the coming Kingdom and the hope that we have--the restoration of all Creation. We need to talk about why this hope is relevant to our lives today and how we can take part in the firstfruits of this restoration. You see, the problem I have with a lot of end times teaching is that it is focused on the isolationist culture we have cultivated within our movement. It's all about survival and judgment with little talk of how we can impact the world around us. We are not here for ourselves--we're here for a purpose, a mission. And that mission is building the Kingdom, regardless of the cost.

The Gospel

I saved the subject of the Gospel for last because it is going to lead right into the subject of the Kingdom. Hopefully by now, you've already seen a glimpse of what this Kingdom is and our role in it. More on that later. One of the things that I believe is in the future of the Messianic Movement is a return to a Gospel centric faith. A lot of us (including myself) in our zeal for the Torah kinda left the Gospel by the wayside. Sometimes to the point of idolizing the Torah. We have forgotten what Yeshua, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews have all tried to tell us--Messiah is greater than Moses. The Gospel is greater than Torah.

To be clear, I do not mean that we should drop all that we've learned in exchanged for a "simpler faith." We have grown a lot and I believe what we have gained through our study of Torah and Hebrew roots can give us a fuller understanding of the Gospel. Though, I want to be careful when saying this--a fuller understanding is not a totally different understanding where we exchange a Gospel of grace for one of works. I've seen some in the Messianic movement try to do this. So, let's define the Gospel.

In the book of Matthew, the Gospel message is frequently called the "Gospel of the Kingdom" or the "Good News of the Kingdom." Everything that you've been studying about the promises made to Abraham--that's part of the Gospel. The restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. The return of the exiles and the freeing of every captive--that's part of the Gospel. Go and read Isaiah 61-62. The passage begins talking about the "good news" i.e. the Gospel. But all of this is only hinting at the fuller picture--The Restoration of all Creation.

How is this accomplished? Through Messiah. Through His death and resurrection. You see all of creation was put into bondage, subjected to death and decay through Adam's sin. But Messiah came down and entered our sin cursed world in order to redeem it submitting even to death on the cross. Through His death we are justified, through His resurrection we are redeemed. Through His death, He provided us with the example for denying ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom. Through His resurrection, He proved not only that He had power over death, but that the resurrection had infiltrated our present world. Restoration has already begun. The firstfruits are here now with the hope of complete redemption when He returns in the future. 1 Corinthians 15 explains the importance of this event--the resurrection of Messiah--in detail.

Simply put, the Gospel is the good news that through the work of Messiah everything that is broken will be restored.

A little bit different than you may remember from Sunday school, but faith and grace play no less a part of it. It is still entirely the work of God, not of ourselves. Forgiveness is no less powerful. We should never forget that God chose us sinners out of His infinite mercy to be adopted as sons. But the story goes on. As Ephesians says, we were created unto good works. We have a part to play in the restoration of the Kingdom, the redemption of all creation.

The Kingdom

I think you're going to like this next part cause this is where we dig down into the sod level of Genesis 1-2. Ok, maybe not that deep. But I do believe these first few chapters are the key to understanding the Kingdom of heaven, the purpose of man, and the mission of Israel.

The things we are going to talk about in this section are a bit farther off, I think. Forming a foundation of holiness and community and day to day living is a prerequisite to realizing the vision of the Kingdom. But I believe we should know what we are working toward. So, let's talk about the Messianic vision--the Kingdom of Heaven.

A Kingdom is composed of four parts. A King, a law, a land, and a people. There is also a fifth part, but we'll get to that later. For now let's just look at the Kingdom of Israel. They have a King--Messiah, son of David. The have a law--the Torah. They have a land--Canaan, the land promised to Abraham. They have a people--Israel, the children of Abraham. This is all pretty simple and you all know most of this. This is an eternal Kingdom as decreed by God and we must not lose sight of this truth. However, I want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There is a Kingdom which encompasses all of creation.

Sovereignty of Creator God (King)

The very first thing that we learn about God in Scripture is that He is the Creator.  Too often, I think we take this fact for granted. Consider the fact that God created the universe--every galaxy, every star, every soul.

Consider the wonder of light. Pure energy moving at half a billion miles per hour. Reflecting, refracting--white light becomes a rainbow when seen through a rain drop. Color, vibrant color painting the world in beauty. The greens of the leaves and grass, the browns of earth and sand, the blues of the sky and ocean. God took one oscillating wave and weaved it into this wonderful tapestry of glory.

Now think about this--the same God who created light created you. Your bones, your muscles, the color of your skin. The way your brain works and the way your emotions sometimes take you on a roller coaster--it's all a part of the design. God didn't make any mistakes. You are the beautiful life that He created you to be.

Now take a step back and put your life into the context of the universe. David says in Psalm 8,

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Who are you that God should take an interest in your life? Six thousand years of human history and you think God has to help you with your problems? Francis Chan described our place in the universe like being an extra in a movie for two fifths of a second. And we demand the Director's attention to help us with our small part. He is the King of the Universe! Who am I that I should approach Him? Some more reading material: Job 38-41 and Psalm 90 to really put your life into context.

God is sovereign. He doesn't need you. He doesn't need your faith or your obedience or your service. We often act like we are doing God a favor by asking what His purpose for our lives is. Is it not an act of grace to even have purpose? Does God owe us that much? We act like every commandment we keep is something we give to God, but is it not something God gives to us? To allow us to do what pleases Him?

If we are dust then what can we do to add or subtract from the Almighty's plan? Can we add one soul to the Kingdom by worrying if we are doing it right or whether we've found our life purpose? Is not every soul in His hands?

And yet He regards you as His child! He cares about you and wants to spend time with you. He even knows the number of hairs on your head (have you ever tried to count them?). He has asked you to play a part in the glory and holiness of His unfolding story. That's grace.

The glorious majesty of our God should inspire awe and reverence in us for Him. When we realize that we truly are dust, it becomes a little bit easier to put our ego aside. The LORD laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the work of His hands. They will perish, but He will remain. They all wear out like a garment, but you, O LORD, stay the same. Your years will have no end (Heb. 1:10-12). Colossians 1 says that all things, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through Him and for Him and in Him are all things held together.

The Fear (or Awe) of Elohim is the beginning of wisdom. We must never let our minds become so dull, our hearts so numb as to forget the majesty, the awe, the creativity, the grace of our God. Everything revolves around this truth.
This is the beginning of wisdom. This is the beginning of life.

Scriptures: Job 38-41, Psalm 8, 90, Heb. 1:10-12, Col. 1:16-17

The Fixed Order of Creation (Law)

From verse 2 onward, God begins to describe the rest of creation. Everything began formless--empty and void. There was no light, there was no order. Then God spoke. And order came to be.

Have you ever wondered why God created the universe so big? Or made cells and molecules with such intricacy? Why flowers bloom where no one lives and every sunset is unique? And yet, we find ourselves doing the same mundane things in the same place day after day after day, oblivious to the wonder around us.

Psalm 19 is an interesting passage because it takes the wonder of creation and puts it side by side with the Torah of Moses. Creation is fixed according to a hidden Torah. Gravity, magnetism, chemistry, biology, physics--all operate according to laws that the Creator put into place and these laws point to the character of our Creator.

Genesis 1 tells us that we are called to fill the earth and subdue it. God called us on the adventure of a lifetime. He created a world full of beauty and wonder beyond imagination and said "It's yours." We should be like little kids running out to explore the vastness of the universe, never ceasing to be amazed (Did not Yeshua say we must enter the Kingdom like children?).

I'm a Doctor Who fan. If you haven't seen the show, it's basically about a time traveler who takes people on adventures through time and space. One of the reasons I love the show so much is because it reminds me of the adventure God has invited us on. Stretching out His hand, He says to His bride, "Come with me and I'll show you my glory." This is the Divine Romance He has called us to.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. 
 -- Psalms 19:1-6

What is our reaction to this incredible world our God has created? It should be to ask, "Who is the one who created all this?" I mean we know who He is in name. But who is He really? The Psalm quoted above continues:

The instruction of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 
 -- Psalms 19:7-10

According to Jewish commentators, "after recounting the wonders of creation, the Psalmist says that all of this is merely an example of the greatness of Torah--the blueprint that enables man to understand God's will and fulfill it." Torah tells us who God is. All of creation speaks of its Creator, each a unique strand in His grand story. But when we move from admiring creation for its own sake to seeking to know the one who created it--that is when we begin to understand what it means to love God.

Scriptures: Psalm 19

The Image of God (People)

After God created light and land and trees and stars and birds and fish, we move on to the centerpiece of God's creation--man. Genesis says that we are made in the image and likeness of God. Actually, it says that twice. What does this mean and why is it so important?

Consider a painter who paints paintings or a musician who writes music (or something similar that you can relate to). When a musician writes a song, each song is unique. But each one also has a piece of the author in it. The words, the melody, the paint strokes, the colors--all reflect what is in the artist's heart. In the same way we are the creation of the Most High--each one unique, but all bearing the fingerprints of our Maker, the signature of our Creator.

Think about that. Our lives are a shadow of the Most High. His breath lives in us. His heart was poured into our making. We are His children. We are defined by our Heavenly Father. Not by our friends, our clothes, our money, our knowledge, or our skills. Our breath, our life, our name, comes from our Creator. It is He who molds our character. It is He who gives us our vision. And it is in Him that we find acceptance.

Being made in God's image has two big implications. First, it tells us about who we are. We are His children, He is our father. We have His breath. There is a beauty within us, placed there by God Himself. We are special in God's eyes. It is as if, at our core God's name is written on us. God's name deserves respect.

In fact being made in God's image is the foundation for loving for one another. God told Noah for this reason a man shall not slay another man--because every man is made in God's image. When you dishonor another human being, you are dishonoring God. Even in punishing the wicked, great care must be taken to do it in a way that still shows respect for the image that they bear.

We live in a fallen world. The paintings of our lives get dust and scratches and crayon markings. This brings us to the second implication--who we should be. God is in the business of restoring His works. We must allow His hand to mold us into who He wants us to be. We must let His name shine through us so that people can see and give glory to the one that made us.

Don't let the impossibility of the task hinder you. Being God's creation means you don't own yourself. God owns you. Therefore it is our duty to live out our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him. And when we fail, He is merciful. He is our Father. He will pick us back up and dust us off, and we must march on in His strength.

Our goal is to conform to His image--to be who He made us to be. It's not something that occurs all at one time. It is a day by day struggle. It is a process of growing. Like a tree, it takes time before the fruit that reveals our identity matures. But who we are started with the seed that God planted.

When God declared His name for all generations He said, "I am who I am." He is not someone else. He will never be someone else. He will always be true to who He is. We must always be true to who we are. And that is first and foremost a child of the Most High God, created in His image, and restored by His love.

Scriptures:  Isa. 45:18, Gen. 9:6, Matt. 7:12

The Purpose of Man (Land)

Being made in God's image has another implication for us. We are created in the image of the Creator as co-creators. Now, this may seem like a strange concept to some of you, but let me set forth the evidence.

The first command given to man is: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28). There are a couple of parts to this and I believe they all point to our role as co-creators.

First of all, "Be fruitful and multiply." When Adam fathered Seth, Scripture says that Seth was born in the image of Adam. This parallels how Adam was created in the image of God. By raising children we are continuing the work of creation. What God started as one man and one woman He turned over to us to multiply into billions of human beings. Not that we did it on our own, of course--we are still each hand stitched by God. But He allowed us to play a role in the process of bringing forth life and shaping those lives after our own image.

Secondly, He says "Subdue the earth and have dominion." The Hebrew word for subdue is Kavash and it means to tread or trample under one's feet. This is the word used when God speaks of "subduing" Israel's enemies. It's also used in reference to servitude. The word for dominion is Radah and it means to tread down or rule over. Usually it's used in context of a ruler or king. In a sense, God created us as kings and queens over creation and tasked us with expanding the realm.

Moving on, we come to chapter 2 where Scripture explains that no plant had yet come up out of the ground because there was no man to till it. God's plants seeds and causes growth, but we are tasked with the work that brings forth fruit. Similar to bearing children, we are charged with making sure creation continues from one generation to the next, bearing fruit and filling the earth.

All of these passages hint at our task of taking the soil from which we were created and continuing the work that God started. This is our realm to rule over, to cause to flourish, to protect. What does this look like?

Abraham Heschel talks about the idea of subduing creation in his book Sabbath. "Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth," transforming creation for our own purposes. We see this in the molding of clay into pots, the working of metal into tools and architecture and microchips, the tilling of the ground to produce fruit. This is how we continue the work of creation.

There is an element of creativity involved too. Tolkien wrote that when he formed worlds of fiction, he considered himself performing the role of sub-creator, mimicking God's initial act of creation. Think about the creativity that God invested into His work, the many colors, the smells, the patterns--and He did it from nothing! As His image-bearers, should not we too strive to create something beautiful? Whether it be art or dance or writing or athletics or music or architecture or whatever--God has given us each talents. He has put within each of us a sense of imagination so that we might continue the work of creation.

There is the aspect of protection. We are the caretakers of this earth. It is our job to maintain and care for it. When God finished creation, He said it was all very good. Should we not treat it as such? In our industrial age, we have done an incredible job of subduing the earth and transforming it. But in our zeal, some have forgotten that this earth belongs to God and we have become tyrants. Our job is to build up creation, not run it down. We are to care for it as God cares for us.

Finally and most importantly, as mentioned earlier, is raising families. Bearing children and raising them up to be servants of the Most High, continuing the work He assigned to us. Bringing forth another life into the world who bears the signature of divine. Our faith is a generational faith. The last several years (decades) we have spent trying to reconnect with the patriarchs of our faith. Now that we have begun to rediscover our roots, it's time to start bearing fruit. To raise up our children so that coming generations would not simply continue the faith, but allow it to grow and blossom.

There is one more thing to mention before leaving this section and that is the Sabbath. Abraham Heschel writes of the Sabbath: "There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern...Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else."

Scriptures: Psalm 8

The Mission of Israel (Message)

We've talked about the sovereignty of our King, His character revealed through the Laws of creation, His signature on His people, and our rule over the Land. There's one more element to God's Kingdom, not so readily apparent but at the heart of everything we have been talking about thus far: the Message. Actually, you can see this in part in the etymology of the Hebrew word for Kingdom. Malchut (or Kingdom) comes from the word Malak meaning "to rule." If you insert an aleph into this word you get Mal'ak meaning "messenger."

After God created man, He placed man in the Garden of Eden. Genesis then proceeds to give us a pretty detailed description (comparatively speaking) of the garden. We learn that there is a river that flows from it out into the nations. We learn that there is within it the tree of life. Later we see it guarded by cherubim. Each of these things echoes later descriptions of the Temple and Jerusalem in Exodus, Ezekiel, and Revelation. Furthermore, the words used to describe Adam's duties in the garden (Avad and Shamar--serve and protect) are the exact same words used to describe the duties of the priests in Numbers 18:7. What I am trying to show is this: Adam was made the first priest--a priest between God and creation. This is the role of Israel in the world, as it is written: "You shall be for me a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation" (Exo. 19:6).

What exactly does this mean? Our job is to bring the message of redemption to the world and to bring all of creation near to God. We do this through:

  • Teaching--Just as the Levites were instructed to teach the commandments to Israel, it is our job to instruct the world in the ways of God.
  • Justice--The priests of Israel also served as judges. It is our job to bring God's light into the world physically by feeding the hungry, standing for the oppressed, upholding the cause of widow and orphan, showing kindness to the stranger. This is justice as taught by the Prophets.
  • Worship--The priests and the Levites were at the center of Temple worship. While we do not serve in the Temple, we can still lift up creation to God and lead the world in the worship of our King.
  • Holiness--The priests maintained a strict code of holiness so that their holiness might overflow throughout the rest of Israel. We in turn take that holiness and guard it so that it may overflow into the world.

If you take the two words I mentioned earlier (Malak and Mal'ak) and cut them down further, you are left with Lak, which Jeff Benner defines as the root word "to walk." The Kingdom is not just something we do on the side. It is our walk. It is our life. The message of the Kingdom is our calling, the one thing we stand for. It is the Gospel message which Yeshua preached, which He commanded His disciples to preach.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.  -- Luke 24:45-49

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. -- Matthew 28:18-20

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. -- Romans 8:18-25

Scriptures: Luke 24:45-49, Matt. 28:18-20, Rom. 8:18-25

Conclusion -- Where do we go from here?

We started out talking about how the eye is the lamp of the body. Further down in that same passage is a verse I'm sure we are all familiar with: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

The Kingdom of God--that is where I believe our eyes need to be focused. That is what I believe is the Messianic vision. But as I said before, I'm just trying to get the conversation started. So, talk about this question with your family and your community. Feel free to share your thoughts here. And ask yourself the question: "Where do we go from here?"

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Matthew, for beginning this long needed conversation.
    I agree with your prioritizing holiness, and in those opening remarks you also mention "community". There is a connection. Some years ago I heard teaching that you really can't keep Torah apart from community. This puzzled me, and I didn't really believe it. Since then I've grown, and have come to understand that the greatest summary of Torah, loving God with everything, and loving your neighbor as yourself, cannot be done in isolation. The reason we would not be able to love our neighbor in isolation is obvious. It took me longer to realize that we also cannot love God by declaring His holiness to others in isolation. And, intermittent fellowship where we can leave when we get out of our comfort zone doesn't spur us on to our highest potential of these areas of love.
    Not only that, but God has so chosen to use "iron sharpens iron" of other believers, to bring us into the image of Messiah. Sure, a lot of that process happens in time in His Word, and personal devotion, but we can still have a bunch of "rough edges". Another thing is the Father's declared purpose for us generationally. Most people pick their fellowship based on their own desires or needs, and not necessarily because of the future of their children.
    I'd like to encourage you to read an article that was reformational in our family's perspective on purpose for gathering as believers.
    And I'd be interested to see feedback about it, as I think it is central to this "conversation" Matthew has begun.

    I'm not "Anonymous", just posting that way because I'm having trouble logging in to Wordpress. This is Lois Morgan