When the thief meets the Judge

“No reason to get excited,” the thief he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that and this is not our fate.
So let us not talk falsely, now. The hour is getting late.”

                (Bob Dylan, “All Along The Watchtower”, Dwarf Music © 1968, 1996)

In Malachi 3:8 the God of Israel thunders, “Will a man rob God?”… Man’s defiant response is “How have we robbed You?” This verbal interchange reminds us of the Garden of Eden, when the approach of God in the cool of the day caused mankind to run for cover. But fig leaves don’t do a good job of concealing sin and shame – never have, never will.

The Apostle Paul rang out a warning to Gentile believers in Romans 11:18, “Do not boast against the (Jewish) branches!” Yet for nearly two millennia many Gentiles in Messiah’s body have often responded with defiance, “How have we boasted against the Jewish branches?”

The robbery of the Jewish people by the nations can be distilled and defined into just a few words:

Raiding and pillaging the irrevocable gifts and callings given by YHVH to the Jewish people (see Romans 11:28-29; 3:1-2). This robbery is both physical and spiritual. It manifests in the following areas:

  •  Stealing the Land of Israel (which was given as an eternal inheritance to Jacob’s children) and claiming it for anyone else except the Jews
  • Stealing the priority status of the Jewish people as God’s first-born son and claiming it for one’s own community (whether that community be Samaritan, Christian or Islamic)
  • Violating the prophetic Scriptures’ overwhelming focus (more than 90%) on the sons and daughters of Jacob, and instead ignoring and twisting the clear teachings of the Bible in order to make them supposedly more ‘Gentile-friendly’

Stealing the Jewish homeland

The Samaritans were the first to occupy Jewish territory and claim that they were the true inheritors of the Land of Israel (see John 4:12, 20). Standing next to Samaria’s largest city, Yeshua re-affirmed the priority of Jewish calling and rejected Samaritan claims as false (John 4:21-22).

The Roman Empire conquered Judea and captured Jerusalem in 63 BC. After the Empire became officially Christian (between 313-380 A.D.), Byzantine theology and Imperial politics embraced, declaring that the Land of Israel now belonged to the Gentile-led Christian church (see Jeremiah 30:16-17).

When Islamic jihadi forces conquered Israel circa 638 A.D., the Land was declared waqf – belonging in perpetuity to Islam. This, by the way, is the spiritual root hiding behind Palestinian claims of heritage and ownership over the entire land of Israel.

The modern political momentum of the United Nations to recognize and establish a Palestinian-Islamist state on the ashes of the Jewish state is a partly secular hybrid offspring of these prior movements. UNESCO’s recent declarations that Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Hebron’s Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs are of exclusively Palestinian heritage are the latest chess moves in a prophetic Last Days struggle.

Stealing the Jewish people’s priority status

The Samaritan Church Father Justin Martyr was one of the first to declare that God preferred Gentile worship to Jewish worship, and that the gift of the Scriptures was now transferred from the Jewish people to Gentile Christians. Saint Augustine declared that the Jewish people were indeed chosen, but he defined that chosenness as negative – chosen to be an ongoing witness people who exemplify disobedience and God’s resulting judgment. The Islamic Quran and Hadith retroactively declare that all the Jewish Patriarchs and prophets were really pre-Quranic Muslims. Even the majority of the Protestant Reformation’s leaders denied the continuity of God’s gifts and calling on the Jewish nation.

Robbing the Scriptures of their Jewish emphasis

In 70 A.D. the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. The Hebrew nation was scattered in Exile. The majority of the Jewish people still did not accept Yeshua’s Messiahship and atonement. Within a few short centuries Gentile Christian theologians completed a ‘cut and paste’ identity theft on the Jewish Scriptures. All positive prophecies of Jewish restoration, salvation and future prominence were now to be re-interpreted as meaning ‘the Gentile church.’ Only the prophecies describing divine judgment on the Jewish people were still interpreted as applying to the Jewish nation.

This Replacement Theology perspective is the presuppositional foundation for most preaching and teaching in the worldwide Body of Messiah – whether the streams be Catholic, Protestant or Charismatic.

There is a widespread and stubborn refusal in many streams of the body of Messiah to teach what the Bible says about Israel and about the Jewish role at the End of Days. Instead, a default setting is at work, one which interprets the Scriptures allegorically as applying only to the Church. Most preachers and teachers today want to comfort their people (which is a very good thing) but they achieve this for the most part through robbing the Jewish people of their place in the Scriptures. This thievery robs the Jewish people not only of their calling and gifts in the past and present; they are also pillaged of their amazing prophetic destiny.

But there is better way to interpret the Jewish Scriptures, one which is more balanced and accurate as well. One can teach the Bible, explaining how its words apply originally and contextually to the Jewish people. Then one can explain how Jewish and Gentile believers today both serve this same God of the Jews. Because of who this God is and because of how His covenant faithfulness and justice have been proved time and again throughout Jewish history, nations and individuals can totally trust Him today.

  • Robbery of the Jewish people is not a necessary prerequisite to bless one’s own congregation, and patent-infringement against the Jewish people is still a violation of God’s covenant heart (see Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 63:9a; Romans 3:1-2)

Some spiritual leaders are afraid to teach what the Scriptures say about Israel’s calling, gifts and restoration. They are worried that their own congregants might reject their leadership or accuse them of taking a politically incorrect stand. One day, these leaders say, they will get around to teaching about these matters more openly. But in the meantime they believe that it is too dangerous to clearly teach what the Scriptures actually say about the Jewish people’s calling and restoration.

Yeshua has called His followers to embrace the way of the cross, and that path has no shortcuts. Let those who want to follow Yeshua pick up their cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

“They have pulled Deep Heaven on their heads”

In the last volume of C.S. Lewis’ science-fiction Perelandra trilogy, evil men are described as breaking down society’s God-ordained walls of protection. As a result divine judgment is about to descend on them. Satan’s rebellious strategies (from the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 to the present) are termed ‘that hideous strength’ (that is also the name of Lewis’ book). In chapter 13 the hero Ransom declares, “The Hideous Strength holds all this Earth in its fist. If of their own evil will they had not broken the frontier…this would be their moment of victory. Their own strength has betrayed them. They have …pulled down Deep Heaven on their heads. Therefore they will die.”

Moses describes a similar dynamic in Exodus 15:7, 11 where the judgment of Deep Heaven descends onto the heads of God’s enemies: “In the greatness of Your majesty You overthrow Your adversaries. You send out Your fury; it consumes them like stubble…Who is like You, YHVH, among the gods? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

The judgment of YHVH on the nations who boast against the Jewish people has been a long time coming. Whether these attacks involve sidestepping or denying the calling of Israel in the Scriptures, Islamist terror attempts to exile the Jewish people from their homeland or simply to destroy them, or UNESCO and UN legal warfare (‘lawfare’) against the Jewish state, the divine verdict is on its way. The God of Deep Heaven is about to come down with ‘garments of vengeance’ and will repay His enemies with fury and anger (see Isaiah 59:15-20; 63:2-6; Psalm 83:2-4, 9-18).

Pitying the Nazis in the Day of God’s wrath

Corrie ten Boom, the brave Netherlands believer whose family sheltered Jews from the Nazis, describes an event in Occupied Haarlem during World War II. She and her father Caspar were returning from a walk, and “found the Grote Markt cordoned off by a double ring of police and soldiers. A truck was parked in front of the fish mart; into the back were climbing (Jewish) men, women, and children, all wearing the yellow star.” Corrie cried out in horror. Then “she saw that her father was looking at the soldiers now forming into ranks to march away. ‘I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God’s eye’” (The Hiding Place, page 64).

Caspar ten Boom was reflecting on the words of the prophet Zechariah who had proclaimed God’s judgment over Babylon, “This is what YHVH of armies says, He sent Me for the purpose of glory against the Gentiles who plunder you all. For the one who lays his hand on you lays his hand on the apple of His eye. For I will wave My hand against them, and they will become plunder for their slaves. And you all will know that YHVH of armies has sent Me” (Zechariah 2:8-9).

The UN, UNESCO, advocates of Replacement Theology and BDS (anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state) and all those who work for and call for Israel’s weakening and destruction – these people not only need to be opposed. They also need to be pitied, for they are calling down the fiery judgment of Deep Heaven upon themselves.

How should we then pray?

  • Pray for those who rob both the Jewish people and the God of Israel, to receive a revelation of their sinful deeds and the gift of repentance which leads to everlasting life (see 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Timothy 2:25; Acts 26:20)
  • Pray for believing teachers and preachers worldwide to receive a revelation of what the Bible actually teaches about Israel, as well as an anointing of courage to preach what is written (see Ephesians 6:19-20)
  • Pray specifically for Arabic-speaking believers across the Islamic world to receive Biblical revelation about Israel, as well as bravery to declare that message clearly and unapologetically
  • Pray for world leaders to receive a spirit of revelation and repentance about these matters, that they might come into alignment with God’s word and heart (see Ephesians 3:14-19)

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,

Avner Boskey

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