In the Marx Brothers’ 1935 smash hit “A Night at the Opera,” Fiorello (Chico) and Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho) are in the thick of a business transaction regarding an opera singer’s contract. Fiorello points to a line in the contract and asks “Hey, wait, wait! What does this say here, this thing here?” Driftwood answers, “Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause that’s in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown to be not in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.” Fiorello balks, “Well, I don’t know . . . ” Driftwood immediately responds: “It’s alright. That’s, that’s in every contract, That’s, that’s what they call a sanity clause.” Fiorello barks with laughter, “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause!”
Chanukah is fast approaching, with Christmas close behind. Many young folks still gaze with wide-eyed wonder on the yuletide tinsel and the white-bearded Santa Claus. At the same time, political, economic and military events seem to be going topsy-turvy. It’s a good time to take a deeper look at God’s ‘Sanity Clause’ – His Jewish strategic focus – an important divine key to help bring balance, clarity and light to help drive away the surrounding confusion during these days.
At their wit’s end
The Psalmist describes times which try men’s souls: “They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region . . . hungry and thirsty . . . Their souls felt weak within them” (Psalm 107:4-5). He adds that “their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken person, and were at their wits’ end” (verses 26-27). “There were those who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains,” he writes. The Psalmist explains to us some of the reasons for these hard times. Sometimes it was due to issues beyond people’s control (like storms or drought – verses 23-25, 4). At other times it was because people “had rebelled against the words of God and rejected the plan of the Most High . . . They were afflicted because of their rebellious way and because of their guilty deeds” (verses 10-11, 17).
Grading on a curve?
Some high school teachers grade on a curve, and many of us do it ourselves. We measure our own sins against our neighbors who may even be ‘worse offenders.’ Then we conclude that in comparison we are ‘relatively not that bad.’ But the real benchmark is not relative; its measurements have been set by the God of the Hebrews: “For it is not the one who commends himself that is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:18). It is not elections or public opinion polls which determine the ultimate benchmark, but Messiah Yeshua Himself. “Wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of human hearts. And then praise will come to each person from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
The benchmark for each and every one of us is found in the words of Yeshua and the words of Moses. As Messiah said, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have put your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:45-47).
When mankind abandons the words of Yeshua and the words of Moses, when nations and governments lead according to what is wise in their own eyes, the courts of Heaven are not panicked, hastily scrambling about to tweak divine law codes. On the contrary! “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and are clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21; see also Judges 17:6; 21;25). Isaiah declares, “Should a people not consult their God? To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak in accordance with this word, it is because they have no dawn!” (Isaiah 8:19-20).
Paul explains that the large majority of mankind “did not honor God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). It looks like humanity is blindly marching closer to the edge of the cliff and the abyss. So it should not surprise us to behold multitudes (and their leaders) who “do not see fit to acknowledge God” (Romans 1:28) and His ways. Scripture sadly declares that the justice of God gives these men and women up “to a depraved mind” (1:28).
- It may surprise some of us to realize that this same dynamic of darkness has already exercised a powerful influence on the Church throughout history, both organizationally and theologically.
Side-stepping the apostolic warning
Paul cautions the Gentile believers in Rome who live at the very heart of the empire. He extends to them a key which will guide them through all the tumultuous events about to crash down on the Jewish nation and on the Roman Republic. The key to biblical sanity in days of trial is keep our eyes on the prize, to stay on target, to remember that YHVH is adamantly determined to restore the Jewish people and to use them to bring light to the nations: “Do not be arrogant toward the (ed. natural Jewish) branches. But if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in’ . . . Do not be conceited but fear!” (Romans 11:18-20).
The apostolic warning was prophetic. Within 200 years theological arrogance toward the Jewish people received patristic imprimatur. Replacement Theology hijacked the entire Bible, stealing all the prophecies about the Jewish people. Instead of clearly trumpeting God’s love and heart for Israel and preaching His plan to bring restoration and salvation to Jacob’s children, the theologians of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant streams for the most part twisted the clear words of Scripture, turning the Bible and its prophecies exclusively into devotional applications focused on Gentile Christians alone.
This theological theft has brought the curse of Genesis 12:3 down on many in the Body of Christ. YHVH promised Abraham that “the one who despises/sneers at/ condemns/treats with contempt/dishonors” the Jewish people will himself be cursed. Two different Hebrew verbs are used in this phrase. The first verb (meqalelecha) has all the shades of meaning explained above, while the second verb (a’or) clearly refers to negative spiritual cursing. When Christian theologians overwhelmingly embraced that spiritual theft known as Replacement Theology, they activated the cursing principles in God’s covenant with Abraham. Wearing a cross around one’s neck will not protect one from this Abrahamic curse. Rather, true and biblically-based obedience to Yeshua in these matters is seen when Gentile Christians and theologians bless, honor and protect the Jewish people, their land and their destiny.
The sanity clause and the Jewish problem
The majority of Christians in the world are still walking in ancient yet toxic spiritual footsteps as they continue their wholesale embrace of Replacement Theology. The door to spiritual malaise has been left ajar, and a mutant form of spiritual insanity (denying God’s word and His heart concerning Israel) has seized a foothold.
Here’s a helpful mini-test, a spiritual ‘COVID-19 nose swab’ to help diagnose this virus. When you listen to teaching, preaching and worship, and when you hear scriptures being taught which talk about the Jewish people, their history, their future, their spiritual destiny – are they being used to refer instead to the Church? Are God’s enscripturated promises to the sons and daughters of Jacob being twisted to the point of leaving the Jewish people in the dust while applying those verses to Gentile Christians instead? The vast majority of Christian preachers in nearly every denomination, stream and movement have side-stepped Paul’s warning. The result is that their spiritual understanding of God’s word has been darkened. It is difficult for them to understand what the Scriptures teach concerning God’s heart for the Jewish people and the priority nature of His promises to Israel. This is a form of spiritual insanity which has laid hold of many in the Body of Messiah. What began as a clear violation of apostolic teaching has become the ‘new normal.’
My goal here is not to point out case-by-case infractions – neither to ‘name names’ nor hand out ‘spiritual reckless driving tickets.’ But this is nevertheless a warning – an apostolic warning based on the apostolic words of Paul: such theological misuse and spiritual theft must stop. The Judge is at the door. “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep. For now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12).
- Let’s commit ourselves to honesty, accuracy and bravery in our use of the Scriptures. When the promises are given to the Jewish people, preach what is written and make the biblical priority about Israel your priority as well. Do not treat the Jewish people or their Scriptures as wet clay that can be shaped into whatever you think your audience wants or needs to hear.
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will … pay attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons . . . In pointing out these things to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Messiah Yeshua, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have been following” (1 Timothy 4:1-6).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for believers to receive divine revelation about the importance of accurately following God’s original intent in understanding and teaching His word about Israel
- Pray for the healing and sanity of Yeshua’s light to transform hearts and minds on this matter in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:14-16)
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
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,
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