Israel as a blessing, benefit and a light to the Nations

 

Overview

 

The people of Israel are called to be a light to the world; we are also called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. I want us, as Followers of the Way of YHVH, to look at these two aspects of the ongoing mission of the House of Israel.

 

We are called to be a light to the nations. We are not a light so that the nations praise us and look to us, but so that the nations are enabled to see what is good in God, and in what God has made.

 

The light of YHVH

 

I want to tell you a true story. There was a Jewish man who was a builder and carpenter. He was called to a job where a house wall had collapsed, and the owner of the house wanted a quote so that he could claim the money back off his insurance. The owner told the Jewish builder, “Estimate what the work will cost, and then double it. Do this, and I will give you half of the profit I receive.” But the Jewish man said, “I’m sorry, but I cannot do that.” The house-owner asked him, “Why can’t you do this?” And the builder said, “Because the God I worship would not accept any part of it as a tithe, because I would have obtained it dishonestly.” So the owner said, “All right then, give me a double quote, and I will keep all the profit myself!” But the builder said to him a second time, “I’m sorry, but I still cannot do that.” And the owner said, “Why can’t you do even that?” And the builder said, “Because the God whom I worship would not allow me to encourage another man into sin.” At this, the house-owner angrily dismissed the builder, and arranged for another builder who was willing to do exactly as he asked. Some time later, the Jewish builder got a call from the house-owner. He said to him, “I had the work done by a builder who was willing to do what I asked, but he didn’t do a good job. Now the wall has collapsed again. I would very much like you to come back and do the work for me, and this time, I want you to make out an honest quote for the work.” Then he added, “And when you have finished, I want you to tell me about this God that you worship.”

 

Now, I'd like you to notice what this man said. He didn’t say, “I want to know more about YOU.” Nor did he say, “I want to know more about your PEOPLE.” No. He said, “I want to know more about the GOD whom you worship.”

 

The honoured place of Israel as a witness to the nations for YHVH

 

God intended us to be a light to the nations, and Torah was God’s way of showing us how to become that light. God promised that Torah would cause the nations to hold us in respect and honour, as it is written:

 

“And YHVH has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to YHVH your God, as he promised.” Deut 26:18-19

 

“YHVH will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of YHVH your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by YHVH’s name, and they will have an awesome respect for you.” Deut 28:9-10

 

God gave Torah to us, a numerically insignificant people, to enable us to be free of persecution and hatred – God promised it on oath. But what did the Pharisees and then the Rabbanites do? They built a fence around Torah – the Oral Law. They built an impenetrable fence, so that the nations could not see God’s light. The nations were not able to see the light that was to bring us ‘respect, praise, fame and honour high above all the nations’.

 

God promised that those who bless us will in turn themselves be blessed (Gen 12:3). But how can others bless us, when they do not know us? How can they bless us when they have no knowledge or reason to?

 

Yeshua` prophesied against the Oral Law, because he knew how dangerous it would be. He knew it would hide Israel’s light; he knew that it would deny us the respect that God promised His people. Yeshua` told us that a light is not hidden under a bushel or a basket, but put on a stand, so that everyone could see that light. What the Pharisees and the Rabbanites did, was to put the light – which is God’s shining Torah – underneath a basket – which is the Oral Law – and as a result, the nations were not able to see the light that was to bring us respect and peace, and freedom from persecution and fear.

 

In ancient times, Gentiles were able to see how our ancestors took delight in God’s appointed customs. The Gentiles who were able to see our ways, and were awed by the God of Israel – so much so that a steady stream of foreigners converted and became one with the House of Israel. Those who chose not to convert still held us in high esteem.

 

But the Pharisees, then the Rabbanites made it a virtue to hide Torah with the Oral Law. Yeshua` constantly criticised the Oral Law. Yeshua` saw the Oral Law as a burden, and an obstacle. The day that the fence of the Oral Law is breached, the light of Torah will begin to shine through once more. The nations will once more be able to see the awesome God that we follow. I believe that the nations will increasingly respect us, and the unjustified hatred they have towards us will decrease.

 

The Mission of Israel

 

To be an Israelite, a Follower of YHVH, means to take up a great mission. God has a wondrous purpose not only for the Houses of Israel and Judah, but for the whole world. God selected a small, insignificant people to help Him in this mission - the decendants of Jacob. To be chosen by God, does not mean to be high and mighty above all the nations, but to be called to be servants of God in nothing short of the grandest and noblest enterprise in human history – the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom.

 

These then are things an Israelite/Jew is called to:

 

To be a light to the nations

To further God’s kingdom

To be a servant of YHVH

To be a witness to what YHVH has done

To be a kingdom of priests

To be holy

To imitate God in His ways

 

In detail:

 

To be a light to the nations

The light we shine is not supposed to make the nations look at us. This illuminating light enables Gentiles to see what is good and decent in their own cultures and beliefs, so that they too can live moral and decent lives. We are not a light so that the nations praise us and look to us, but so that the nations are enabled to see what is good in God, and in what God has made. Once the nations see the light we shine, the intent is then that they should turn and praise YHVH, and be inspired to live His ways.

 

To further God’s kingdom

              God needs all of us to work for God’s kingdom, but it is doubly the responsibility of Israelites to work for God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is with us today, here and now; it is in us and around us. But it also has the potential to be something greater and more powerful and more wondrous in the future. Just as a tiny bit of yeast can leaven a great amount of dough, and just as the tiniest seed can become the mightiest tree, so also the tiniest word or action done for the glory of God has the potential to bring about the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom.

 

To be a servant of YHVH

Israel is God’s favourite servant. We serve YHVH by obeying His will. We do it with calm humility and respect. We must always remember that our God is not like any human master, for God is just, considerate, slow to anger, quick to praise, and rewards His faithful servants with high honour.

 

To be a witness to what YHVH has done

We witness to what God has done by acknowledging it. This is manifested magnificently in the practice of saying blessings. When we see a plant of intricate beauty, we can say, “Blessed be YHVH, who has created things of such intricate beauty!” When we see someone who has been terribly injured, we should say, “Blessed be YHVH, who is the consoler and comforter of the sick!” When we experience good fortune in our lives, we can say, “Blessed be YHVH, whose generous bounty has blest us!” By acknowledging God in this way, we make witness that God is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives and of the world around us.

 

To be a kingdom of priests

We are called to be a kingdom of priests. We are called to serve God in the lives that we live, but we forget that a priest has other functions. A priest is not only called to minister to God, but also to God’s sons and daughters. The people of Israel are meant to be priests, not just to God, but to the nations. We are meant to bring God’s ways to the nations, to minister in a way that enables the nations to know the goodness, the holiness and love of God.

 

To be holy – to be special and distinctive

The people of Israel are called to be a holy people. That means that, in how we live, how we behave and in how we think, we should not be like other peoples. We are called to be special and distinctive. If the way we lived and thought and behaved were like anybody else, we would be lost in the crowd of peoples, nations and languages. Only by being holy and distinctive can people know about us, in order that they should then turn and inquire about the Holy God we worship.

 

To imitate God in His ways

We imitate God by trying to do what God does. We achieve this by following God’s ways. God has promised us that if we follow His ways, He will “set [us] in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations he has made and that [we] will be a people holy to YHVH [our] God, as He promised.” (Deut 26:19) God has further promised, “All the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by YHVH’s name, and they will have an awesome respect for you.” Deut 28:10. By imitating God, we will be respected, not persecuted.

 

Summary

 

If we aspire to be followers of YHVH, then these are the aspects of the mission that God has called us to work for. It is a cherished mission. A Follower of the Way should not take this mission lightly. Devoted Talmidis should remember them always, and keep them close to their heart, remind our fellow Jews of them, and teach them to Godfearers and indeed all those who love YHVH. None of it is for the standing of Israel, but rather for the glory of YHVH.


   
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