by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
"Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My Covenant (commandments), then you shall be My own possession. among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Exodus 19:5-6
Yeshua entered Jericho and was passing through when a man named Zacchaeus appeared - he was the chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Yeshua was, but on account of the crowd he could not because he was shorter than the rest. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Yeshua, for He was about to pass that way. When Yeshua came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus climbed down as fast as he could and welcomed Yeshua joyfully. Everyone who saw it began muttering, "He has gone to be the house-guest of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood and said to Yeshua, "Behold, Master, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Yeshua said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham - for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:1-10
For most of us, this passage from Luke is remembered as a cute little story traditionally taught in elementary Christian Sunday school classes where Zacchaeus is portrayed as a poor waif (perhaps even someone akin to a simpleton) whose energetic effort of scrambling up a tree just to catch a glimpse of "Jesus" (click on highlighted words to view content) is rewarded by his house being selected to accommodate the Master. Indeed, even today, an image search of Zacchaeus mostly returns coloring pages for children. The truth in this story, however, is that everything Yeshua said and did was meant to point to the Plans and Purposes of the Father Who had sent Him (see the One Covenant series for an explanation).
In the opening sentences of this passage, we find that Zacchaeus was not just some poor simpleton, but the chief tax collector of Jericho - a position that would have required not only mental mastery and management abilities of under-collectors, but political savvy as well. As such, he was a highly recognizable figure throughout the region of Jericho, probably someone Yeshua was already familiar with to be able to call him by name. He was looked down upon by the citizenry primarily because he was rich - which meant (at least in the minds of those he was collecting from) he must be corrupt. No, Zacchaeus was not some poor waif off the street to have compassion on - this was a person of stature in the community. Diminishing this accounting through caricature as a "simple" tale causes us to miss the more vibrant issues addressed by Yeshua to this throng of Hebrews pressing about Him.
Words mean things. When you change the words, you alter their meaning contextually (as in changing "Messiah" to "Christ" - "Kinsman Redeemer" becomes "anointed one"). To see these words of scripture through the eyes of the Hebrews who wrote them, from a Hebrew mindset, out of a Hebrew culture and addressed to a Hebrew audience changes the meaning and the impact these words have from what we have been traditionally taught. The only thing Yeshua ever pointed to that could render the Word of YHVH of "none effect" was the "tradition of men" (Mark 7:13). To properly understand the meaning of the Son's words and actions from a Hebrew perspective requires of us to first lay aside the filters set in front of our eyes that are pre-disposed to what the words actually say and mean - the idolatry of our own determination as shown in Ezekiel 14:1-5. What is sobering about this passage in Ezekiel is, because YHVH says He will speak through the idols, the possibility of hearing His Voice still remains but, since being filtered, by the time the words actually reach our ears they will have been altered from their original intent and meaning.
The first article of this series, Establishing the Signet, established who the family of YHVH is - Israel. The second article the Inheritance, established the legality of the firstborn of the family of Israel to co-ownership of the family (the Kingdom of YHVH), the legal obligation of co-owners to abide by the actions of the other and the subsequent right of inheritance. The third article, the Need for Atonement, dealt with the necessity of redeeming the inheritance forfeited by the first Son, Adam, to restore it to the rightful heirs, the family of Israel, and how that redemption was accomplished. This article will define what it means to inhabit the inheritance restored by the Kinsman Redeemer.
In the light of what has been presented through this series about the Kinsman Redeemer, the words of this tale about Zacchaeus take on fresh meaning. Herein, we find Yeshua making a proclamation of what His Purpose was for being sent (to restore the inheritance of the Kingdom of YHVH that had been lost to the House of Israel, Matthew 15:24), who those rightful inheritors of the Kingdom are (the Sons of Abraham), and how one is considered to be a Son of Abraham (being obedient to the Words of YHVH). Scholars often study the verses that come next as a separate occurrence, but Yeshua expands on His last statement by "adding" the parable of the ten servants to those watching the event unfolding before them (Luke 19:11-27). The content of that parable has to do with how the Kingdom is inhabited - how life is lived in the Kingdom and the obligations of those inhabitants to carry out the Words of instruction given by the Owner of the Kingdom. Who owns the Kingdom? YHVH. How does a family member become a participant in the affairs of the Kingdom? He does so by becoming a servant to the instructions, the Words, of the Father
|"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Matthew 7:21|
So, how can "salvation" come to the house of Zakkai when Yeshua had yet to hang on the stake and be resurrected? This is challenging if we attempt to view this concept through the filtered eyes of religious tradition which says that salvation comes simply from a verbal and mental acknowledgement of Yeshua's sacrifice. The Hebrew concept of salvation is a conformity of behavior to the Words of Life that allows one to stand in the Presence of the Source of Life, Who is Pure Light, without being consumed by the Brilliance of that Light. Not verbal expressions of a moralistic religion, but an obedience to the Words of Life from the One Who Is LIFE - YaHoVeH. The definition of "salvation" in both the Hebrew and the Greek contains the word "deliverance". We are delivered from the kingdom of death and darkness by inhabiting the Kingdom of Life and Light (see Salvation and Eternal Life for an expanded explanation).
|And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Rabbi, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And Yeshua said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One Who is good. If you would enter Life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:17|
"WHAT??!!? I thought Jesus Christ shed His Blood for "my" sins so that "I" could go to heaven! I thought that through the shed blood of Christ and my acceptance and belief of him I am holy and righteous. I realize that my obedience to his word both spoken and written is beneficial, but I am righteous because of Christ - not my obedience" (actual question submitted by a reader). While this statement has become the traditional underpinning of the Roman "Christian" religion involving the Latin/Greek "Jesus Christ", as popular and pervasive as it is - if we look at the entirety of the words presented by the Hebrews who wrote them, that concept is not found in the words of scripture (see Who's Name Is It? and the Word). If we are to be honest with the words written within the pages of the Book, the context they were placed in and the actual meaning of the words used - the record clearly speaks otherwise (see Who's Word?). The Hebrew Messiah, Yeshua, was not sent to establish a "new religion" but to restore the Kingdom of YHVH to the rightful heirs - the family of Israel (see Establishing the Signet).
Everyone wants to be saved. But, to say that salvation is not subject to the Words of the Creator of Life (what has come to be known as "the commandments") is as absurd as saying we are not subject to the law of Light and darkness. Whether we acknowledge their existence or not has absolutely no bearing on their governance over our lives. Words mean things and, if we are to abide in the Kingdom of Life, our behavior must conform to the meaning of His Words given to us as instruction on how to live in the Presence of LIFE. (see the Law of Grace).
Participation in any family means adhering to the standards of that family in behavior. Conforming behavior to the standards of the family is what grants legal status to be called a family member (whether naturally born into the family or adopted) and to participate in all the privileges afforded the family. Those of you who manage households are familiar with this concept. The manner by which standards established within the framework of that family are upheld is through obedience to the words of the principal owner of the inherited rights of that family, usually the Father. This is called righteousness - right standing behavior acceptable to the Father whose right it is to establish that behavior (see What Is Sin?). Since the Father of the family of Israel is eternal, the Son established His right of co-ownership through the legitimate purchase price of His Pure Blood atonement - because He bought it, He now owns it. But it is not solely His - it is co-owned with the Father, not replaced (1Corinthians 15:27, see the Need for Atonement).
Scripture tells us that the God of Israel "is not a man that He should lie, neither the Son of man that He should repent of His Promise" (Numbers 23:19). The darkness of sin is a contradiction to the Essence of YHVH's Nature and Character of Light and He will never, cannot, "deny Himself" (2Timothy 2:13). No one would argue this point outright. Apparently, however, there are a lot of people (beginning with the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD) who would argue that for God to break His promise to Israel is not considered sin. These are called replacement theologists and their theology has crept into every aspect of "Christendom" to bolster and support this argument. They don"t see their position as logically or ethically ambiguous, so they claim God can change His mind and do something He promises not to do even though the ninth Word of the Ten describing His Essence is to "not bear false witness" - plainly contradicting that assumption (Exodus 20:16). This is a dilemma we are thrust into whenever we disregard the Ten Words that define His Nature (Words that Yeshua upheld in Luke 18:18-20) and try to explain away Who YHVH says He Is because it does not fit into our pre-determined idea of who we want Him to be. Hosea 11:8 is another scripture that plainly speaks about YHVH's love, care and promise to Israel. "How shall I give you up?" He says it is simply inconceivable that He will give up on Israel. He will never break His promise and abandon His Family - no matter what the people do. The Hebrew adverb translated "how" (eyk). anticipates the answer, "Impossible!" There is no other grammatical way to understand this question.
The Hebrew word translated as "words" in (Exodus 20:1) (describing what we have been told are "commandments") is da'bar and means "of speech". This is the same definition for the Greek word logos translated as "Word" in John 1:1. What has come to be viewed traditionally as the "Ten Commandments" are more accurately presented in scripture as "Ten Words" declared or coming from the mouth of YHVH that were in the beginning with YHVH. Incidentally, this Hebrew word "da'bar" is also the same word used in 1Kings 8:56 and translated as "promise". How interesting is that?
|"For all the promises of YHVH in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of YHVH through us"" "who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of YHVH, and the promises " (the apostle Paul in 2Corinthians 1;20 and Romans 9:4).|
To agree with this unchanging and uncompromising aspect of YHVH's Nature forces a conclusion many will find startling, perhaps even uncomfortable. Israel, like Zacchaeus, is not just some poor waif who lost her way and that, in the end, YHVH will have compassion on simply because of her energetic attempts to find Him. On the contrary, YHVH deals with all people via Israel. What YHVH does with Israel has consequence for everyone else. Every person's relationship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (who was re-named Israel) is affected by their relationship to His Family, Israel, and it is that relationship that defines how YHVH interacts with both Jews and Gentiles. YHVH's first love is Israel (Deuteronomy 32:9-10, Zechariah 2:8). YHVH's pre-determined plan of redemption comes by way of Israel. Let's put this as clearly as possible. The God of Hebrew scripture is not your God - He is the God of Israel. Israel is His people. If you are not related in some way to Israel, then Israel's God is not your God. To make Him your God is to follow the example of the non-Hebrew born Ruth - "Your people will be my people and your God will be my God" (Ruth 1:16). We can't go around Israel to get to the only One True God of Israel. If YHVH can break His Promise to Israel - what comfort can there be found in any of His Words for any of us? This is a fundamental concept in understanding the Nature of YHVH (Titus 1:16, see the Glory).
|...the Apple of YHVH's Eye|
Yeshua tells us that deliverance comes through Israel (John 4:22). He tells us "first to the Jews, then to the Greeks" (Matthew 10:5). Sha"ul (the apostle Paul) reminds us that it is the Gentiles who are grafted into Israel - Israel is not grafted out (Romans 11:17-18). Nowhere in scripture can there be found any proclamation that anyone supersedes Israel. Nowhere in scripture is there found any suggestion that anyone replaces Israel. YHVH's covenant with Israel is as permanent as a father's genealogical connection to his son. There is no possibility of a replacement. Even if someone else is adopted as a son, the blood relation to the progeny of the father cannot be erased. Everything depends on Israel, including our relationship with the Father of Israel (Ezekiel 47:23). Gentiles are not born Jewish but they can become adopted family members, citizens of His Hebrew Kingdom IF they behave as Zacchaeus - doing the will of the Father contained in His Words. To believe otherwise is to ignore and, thereby, reject the Words of both the Father, YHVH, and the Son, Yeshua (John 15:10, Exodus 20:1-17, see the Gospel).
|"Whom YHVH has set forth to be an atonement through faith in His blood , to declare His Righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the Mercy of YHVH; to declare, I say, at this time His Righteousness: that He might be Just, and the Justifier of him who believes in Yeshua as the Promised Messiah of Israel ." Romans 3:25-26|
Believing is doing - what we serve is what we worship (Deuteronomy 11:16 and upheld by Yeshua in Luke 4:8). To those who become a family member of Israel by embracing the standards of that family, there is a promise of an inheritance in the Kingdom of YHVH. But, inheritance can be forfeited or relinquished by not adhering to the Words of the Father. The Exodus Generation was promised an inheritance, but even though forgiven, they failed to obtain it at Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 14:20-24). The family of Israel was the inheritor of the Land of Canaan, yet only 2 of over 2 million took possession of their inheritance - even Moses was excluded due to his disobedience. Inheritance of a Hebrew family tribe came to the status normally afforded the firstborn son. Whether he actually secured it depended upon his obedience and the father's choice. Inheritance has always been subject to condition and obedience. The Abrahamic Inheritance was based on Divine Oath and conditioned on obedience (Genesis 22:15-18 and Genesis 26:4-5). Adam's act of disobedience as the first son of the family of Israel set the entire family at variance with the Source of Life, separating them from echad, the shared image and caused them to be estranged, necessitating the need for a Kinsman Redeemer to reconcile, to atone for, that separation or estrangement.
In order for an inheritance to be lost, ownership must be relinquished - mere possession of an inheritance is not ownership. Inheritance is relinquished or forfeited when it becomes compromised. Inheritance becomes compromised by the pursuit of our own idolatry of self-determination - personal desire. Once it is compromised, even though sought after with bitter tears of repentance - it is gone forever. Superficially, things might seem as though little or nothing has changed - for a while. After a time, however, what has been mingled in the spirit becomes manifest in the flesh. For example, the consequence of Esau's relinquishment did not surface until he sought it again at the death of his father, Isaac. There are some things that remain eternal. What is interesting to note is that, in the eyes of Esau, he did not consider his actions to be of any consequence until after the realization came that his inheritance was lost. The bitter savors these examples of scripture illustrate cause most not to think about the implications they may have for their own life today. The responsibility incurred by what it means to become a "co-heir" in the Kingdom of Faith of the Father, however, is a serious matter (see what it means to be a Gatekeeper).
What causes compromise and, thus, separation from the Source of Life? Desire - the desire of self-determination. The desire to pursue our own way in the immediacy of the moment without regard to the eternality of the consequence produces compromise. Compromise comes from a lack of appreciation of the ramifications produced by our choices in the moment. The compromise made with desire occurs because of a perception to an apparent right of entitlement. It is the willingness to justify and excuse the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life that causes someone to capitulate over what is known to be Truth to pursue their own way. The Greek word for "lust" in 1John 2:16, epithymia, is the same Greek word Yeshua uses in Luke 22:15, and is translated as "desire". This same Greek word is also used in James 1:14-15, causing that verse to take on a much fuller, richer meaning when we see lust as a natural desire that is enticed. "Did God say?" then takes on enormous importance in the midst of the conflict of circumstance. A spirit cultivated in waiting, holding action in the face of desire, until the Voice of YHVH has been clearly heard will inherit the Kingdom (Romans 14:17, Hebrews 6:11-20).
Doing the Words Yeshua speaks makes us clean and those Words are the Words of the Father (John 15:3-10). The Greek word used for "clean" in John 15:3 is katharos and is the same Greek word used in Matthew 5:8 translated as "pure" - the meaning of the Hebrew name, Zakkai (Zacchaeus). How does one inhabit, occupy and take possession of an inheritance in the Kingdom of YHVH, the only One True God of Israel? - by doing the will of the Father of the family of Israel as prescribed by His Words of Life. While there is forgiveness for instances of waywardness, the continued embrace of a wayward life is not the Way of a true citizen of the Kingdom. Aberrant behavior is not the normal constitution of a believer. Once cleaned by His Word, we are not expected to return to the mud hole to play in it. The authority given to family members of the Kingdom by the Kinsman Redeemer is the Greek word ecksousia and means - "power of choice". (see Authority for a full explanation). 1Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that these deliberate behaviors will NOT inherit the Kingdom of YHVH. Citizens of the Kingdom of Life are expected to lead a pure life without sin here on this earth (1John 4:17). It is what sets them apart (the definition of holy in the lead verse of this article) from the behavior of the rest of the world (see what it means To Be Made Manifest).
"...how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house." Matthew 12:29
"If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of YHVH." 1John 2:29