Every child dreams of discovering a pot of treasure at the end of the proverbial rainbow – a heavy iron chest overflowing with rubies, diamonds, emeralds and sapphires, and bursting at the seams with gold coins. Visitors to the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London marvel at rich beauty, the flashing reflections glinting off the purple velvet and ermine-trimmed diadems. When mankind wants to describe something of exquisite value, they turn to gold and precious jewels as the touchstone of value.
The Bible’s richest king, Solomon son of David, proclaimed concerning his wealth which was to be used in building the Temple: “Now with all my ability I have provided for the House of my God the gold … and the silver … and the bronze … the iron … and wood …, onyx stones and inlaid stones, stones of antimony and stones of various colors, and all kinds of precious stones and alabaster in abundance” (1 Chronicles 29:2).
More precious than jewels
Some things are considered of higher value than diamonds. The king makes a stunning declaration in Proverbs 31:10, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels!”
Solomon, who knew a thing or two about precious metals and stones, hands us a few golden nuggets of wisdom: “There is gold, and an abundance of jewels, but the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing” (Proverbs 20:15). “For wisdom is better than jewels, and all desirable things cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).
The God of Jacob describes His great regathering of the Jewish people from their worldwide Exile to Israel. YHVH speaks directly to Jewish Jerusalem and says, “Lift up your eyes and look around. All of them gather together, they come to you. As I live, declares YHVH, you will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride” (Isaiah 49:18).
Isaiah prophesies that the God of Isaac will wrap His people in salvation and righteousness the way a newlywed wraps herself in a bridal gown and decks herself out with jewels: “I will rejoice greatly in YHVH, My soul will exult in my God! For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
Moses instructed Bezalel to craft a fabulously expensive ephod (vest) for the High Priest to wear upon entering the Holy of Holies where he would come face to face with the God of Jacob. The golden vest was embroidered with gold filigree, and the pièce de résistance was two onyx stones engraved like a signet ring with the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. These two gold-encrusted jewels were to represent the Jewish people as the High Priest made intercession, atonement and petition for the sons and daughters of Israel:
- You shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, according to their birth. As a jeweler engraves a signet, you shall engrave the two stones according to the names of the sons of Israel; you shall set them in filigree settings of gold. You shall put the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron shall bear their names before YHVH on his two shoulders for a memorial (Exodus 28:9-12)
In an earthshaking prophecy regarding God’s loving restoration of Israel, YHVH declares: “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted – behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones” (Isaiah 54:11-12).
God’s gemstone carver
When the God of Israel commissioned artisans to beautify the Tabernacle in the desert, YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:1-5)
The care and skill required to create great art was a foundational requirement for all artisans tasked with fashioning God’s House. Both the Tent of Meeting and the Temple called out the best that Israel’s master craftsmen could give.
In a similar way, the Apostle Paul calls on Timothy (his son in the faith) to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Hebrew concept lying behind the word for workman (’ām·mān coming from the root AMN) is connected to being reliable, unshakeable, dependable, trustworthy. It is used in our English word ‘amen’ where it has the sense of ‘may this be established!’ A trusted nanny is an ‘omenet’ and an artisan whose work is totally trustworthy is an ‘oman.’
The apostolic calling on all those who use the Scriptures for study, teaching and spiritual ministry involves using them with credibility, reliability, accuracy and trustworthiness. This also applies to those who are called to bring out prophetic applications from the Bible.
Cutting it close
We who believe today are part of a family of faithful people that goes back millennia. Some of our models of faithfulness and accuracy include:
- Abraham – “You are YHVH God, who chose Abram and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanite” (Nehemiah 9:7-9)
- Moses – “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household” (Numbers 12:7)
- Samuel – “But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul. And I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always” (1 Samuel 2:35)
- David – “Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, ‘And who among all your servants is as faithful as David’”? (1 Samuel 22:14)
The Hebrew word ‘faithful’ (used both for ‘artist’ and ‘following instructions faithfully’) is ne’emán, based on the Hebrew root AMN. Its Greek equivalent in the Septuagint is pistós, the same word Paul uses to describe teaching the Scriptures accurately: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Messiah Yeshua. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Messiah Yeshua” (2 Timothy 2:1-3).
Paul sets out standards for spiritual leadership in the Body of Messiah, calling them elders and overseers. In Titus 1:9 he stresses that such a one needs to hold “fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
Spiritual authority is earned
There are some today who describe themselves as apostles or prophets or anointed teachers (see Ephesians 4:11). The spiritual prerequisites here are foundationally similar to what Paul says are needed to be an elder or an overseer. The bar is high. Not everyone can jump over it. Aspiring to or reaching for (1 Timothy 3:1; the Greek verb orégomai means ‘reach for’ or ‘aspire to’) a spiritually responsible calling requires (at a minimum) using the Scriptures in an accurate and faithful manner. It is disconcerting to discover that some self-styled apostles, prophets and anointed teachers fail to make the bar on this matter.
When biblical foundation stones are missing, the wonderfully designed body that Yeshua gave us doesn’t run as smoothly as planned. However, when spiritual leaders bring solid and faithfully accurate teaching, the result is amazing:
- “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah.As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:12-16)
Tweaking the waxen nose
Martin Luther once remarked that some theologians treat some scripture passages “like a nose of wax” – something to be twisted to suit their own theological purposes: “So we see how neatly they (ed.) deal with the Scripture, making of it just what they want, as if it were a wax nose, that one can pull this way and that” (“Also sehen wir wie fein die mit der Schrifft handeln, machen drans was sie nur wöllen, als were sie ein wechsern nasen, die man hin und her zihen möcht”; Luthers Werke 1.343.28; 1520).
Though these waxy methods can be found among many different streams, I would like to mention a few examples which touch on the Jewish people. When biblical teaching and prophecy about the Jewish people is twisted, the result is a fast-moving rocket exploding into space – but a few degrees off. The target God intended will not be hit. The power of the promises over Israel will be adulterated. The result will be a subtle growth of unhealthy spiritual fungus.
Four areas (of many) where accurate care needs to be taken when teaching about the Jewish people and their prophetic promises:
- Approximately 92% of the Bible gives prophetic promises about the Jewish people. These promises need to be taught ‘as is’ before one makes spiritual applications to any other subject or people
- God’s choosing of the Jewish people to be His covenant people is a stumbling block to some. Don’t twist the choosing of Jacob and morph it like wax into a covenantal choosing of anyone who lives in the Middle East.
- God’s prophecies in Isaiah 19 speak of harsh future judgment on Egypt as well as Israeli victories and priority being the key to peace in the Middle East. Don’t twist that passage like wax in order to proclaim misleading prophetic statements about a fuzzy ‘developing’ peace while downplaying or sidestepping Israel’s priority covenantal calling
- The Hebrew prophets speak of multifaceted Last Days events for the Jewish people – a second regathering to Israel (Isaiah 11:11-16; Jeremiah 16:14-15; 30:1-4, 8-11), Israel as God’s mighty army (Ezekiel 37:9-11), and great shakings for the Jewish people worldwide (Ezekiel 20:33-38; Jeremiah 30:4-7). Keep these events in tension and don’t get caught in the trap of declaring that the Jewish state will be totally destroyed
How should we then pray?
- Pray for a revelation of clarity and respectful honor to come to believers as they study the Scriptures concerning Israel
- Pray for a breakthrough of clarity for those teaching distorted things about the Jewish people, their calling and their promises
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
Donations can be sent to:
FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES
BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA
Donations can also be made on-line (by PayPal or credit card) through: www.davidstent.org