Remember Israel as you give thanks to the Lord Jesus today. He is jealous for them even today when the gentile world celebrates the Messiah’s coming into the world, and Israel thinks the gentiles are silly pagans. Be like your elder brother, the Jew from Benjamin whom the Lord gave to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous for Yahweh:
“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” (Rom. 9:1-5)
And the same man, our brother, writing under the power, direction, and inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, also says:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” (Rom. 10:1)
And this Apostle to us, the gentiles, in another place reminds us that God chose to save us to know Him through what He had revealed to His people Israel:
“remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:12-13)
Continuing in his prayer and remembrance of Israel (he wrote this for our sake and zeal, not his own), our brother writes to explain why God brought us into the flock of God:
“I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they?
May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.
Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles.
Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.” (Rom. 11:11-16)
So we ought to wonder how to respond to this gracious calling of God for “those who are not My people ” whom God has chosen to proclaim “those who are not My people shall be called ‘My people'” (Rom. 9:25-26). God, speaking through our Apostle (for we are gentiles), says:
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the 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.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith.
Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Rom. 11:17-22)
And to what end does the Jew who was formerly called ‘Saul’ (“desired”) and is now, alive to this day with the Lord, is called ‘Paul’ (“small,” “little”), what does our brother Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, say concerning the conclusion of his ministry (the fullness of the gentiles)? He says:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery (so that you will NOT be wise in your own estimation):
that a partial hardening has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so ALL Israel WILL be saved; just as it is written:
⁃ “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”
⁃ “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.”
From the standpoint of the gospel they ARE enemies FOR your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they ARE beloved FOR the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God ARE irrevocable.
For just as YOU once were disobedient to God, but NOW have been shown mercy BECAUSE of their disobedience, so these also NOW have been disobedient, that because of the mercy SHOWN to you they also may NOW be SHOWN mercy.
For God has shut up all in disobedience SO THAT He may show mercy to all.” (Rom. 11:25-32, formatting adjusted for emphasis)
You, as gentiles with me, have been shown mercy for the sake of Israel, the ethically Jewish people, the people God set apart for Himself. Our same Apostle tells us in another letter:
“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified:
⁃ to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
⁃ but to those who are the called (both Jews and Greeks) Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:21-25, formatting changed for emphasis)
So, we gentiles received mercy as a sign to the Jewish people from God. And, as a sign, the Lord made us a sign that the Jewish people who know what the oracles of God says concerning the sacrifices in the temple. The Lord made us a sign to point to what Yahweh accepts, which is an abomination to those who do not know God or His Word. Our brother, the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles, reveals of his ministry through us (gentiles):
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. 2:14-17)
Long before the giving of the Law to the Hebrew people, before He set Israel apart for Himself, when all people were, in essence, gentile people, the Lord revealed that certain sacrifices are pleasing to Him. Sacrifices which speak of thanksgiving on the other end of judgement, offered by those whom the Lord preserved alive, saved from His wrath by virtue of His choice and His mercy, offered by those who understand that only God can save from the judgement coming into the world.
“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself:
“I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.” (Gen. 8:20-21)
But God, even at that time, set the rule concerning global judgement:
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22)
He said this when the only men on the Earth were the few He preserved so that it would be clear to all that when He chooses to end the seasons and days and nights as they were on that day, when He does that then the end will come and everyone born out of those eight people would see the judgement. And, in that time of judgement, only those who offered a pleasing aroma before God would be those chosen by God to escape His wrath.
So now, we gentiles have escaped the wrath of God through the pleasing sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master and King. He, that is, God, has made us gentiles a pleasing aroma before Him to stoke the memories and hearts of Israel who cannot make offerings in their temple because the temple made by human hands is no more. They should understand that the pleasing aroma before God is by God’s determination–it is the Lord who chooses the sacrifice and what pleases Him:
“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them:
‘When any man of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” (Lev. 1:2-4)
The offering is chosen by God, the manner of its sacrifice is chosen by God, the place the Lord leads His people to is chosen by God, and the accomplished purpose of the sacrifice is chosen by God. So what is the conclusion of the sacrificial offering?:
“And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.” (Lev. 1:9)
This “soothing aroma to Yahweh” is the same which Noah revealed to the entire world at the end of the time of judgement in that it pleased the Lord that Noah was thankful for salvation from God’s own wrath.
But we wonder about the judgement because God told Noah that He would never destroy all living beings again unless the seasons change and day and night change. This promise, which God made to the whole world through the eight He chose to save from judgement, is in effect until the seasons and day and night change which only God can do. His word to the nation of Israel reveals that God will indeed do such a thing:
“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:30-32)
And for we gentiles, we know this time of judgement is drawing near because the Lord inaugurated it in the very first sermon of the very first pastor of the church who spoke to the Jews in that sermon. He gave the sermon to the Jewish nation at the dawn of the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit amidst the sign to unbelievers, who would soon be chosen to make Israel jealous for Yahweh. The sign was tongues, and the Lord gave it at the birth of the church that His purposes of making the gentiles into a sign for Israel would be clear. The Apostle (sent one) Peter spoke to his fellow Jews (and to the gentiles standing near at hand):
“But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:
“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
‘ AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
(And they shall prophesy).’
AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. ‘ THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.
‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’
Men of Israel, listen to these words:
Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:14-24)
Read the sermon for yourself to see what the Lord said through the mouth of the Jewish man, Cephas, who became a shepherd to the Jewish people who received the promise of the Messiah! Nothing prevents you from seeing the Word of God in His glory except that you do not receive Him at His Word. Hear His voice as Jesus makes Him known to you. See His face as Jesus ministers to you through His word.
And we gentiles will pray for you to see Him in His glory and not shrink away in fear:
“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command:
“IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.”
And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said:
“I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.”
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.
For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying:
“YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”
This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Letter to the Hebrews 12:18-29)
And the author of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit of God, says to the Jewish people:
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant (even Jesus our Lord) equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Letter from God to you. Hebrews 13:20-22)
He, the Spirit of God, has written that letter to you Hebrews briefly, but He has written to you extensively in other places (the whole counsel of God). Take up the Word of Christ and read for yourselves what God has done for you, Israel His elect. The prophets you know say these same things to you, do they not? Are you His people? Is He not your God? Is Yahweh not your deliverer and He who brought you out of Egypt with His Angel guiding you through the wilderness?
See what your prophet speaks to you, even today, even to you, even in this exact moment:
“For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other:
The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.
Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?'”
Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
“Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, and you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.
It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host.
I have aroused him in righteousness And I will make all his ways smooth; He will build My city and will let My exiles go free, without any payment or reward,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 45:4-13)
The Lord here speaks to Israel of delivering Israel from exile in Babylon, in giving them a new shepherd from the world they were scattered to. In referencing this shepherd, Yahweh alludes to the time of the end when He says that He is the one who controls day and night, darkness and light, and He is the one who sends rain and causes it to come in the seasons He gives. And this prophecy is connected to your temple, Jewish friend, because the shepherd the prophet speaks about in this prophecy is one who gave you the means to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
So, you know that when you are given the means to build the temple yet again, you will remember that the Lord is Lord over day and night, and over the seasons. When you remember that He is Lord over all the Earth, remember that He promised to the whole Earth that He will again judge the world when He Himself changes day and night and seasons. If you have your temple, you will rejoice; but know that when the man who is not of your people gives you the means to build your temple, the end draws near.
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves
He said: “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written:
“ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”
The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
(But He was speaking of the temple of His body.)
So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.” (The Jewish Apostle John’s account of the Good News from God, chapter 2, verses 13-23)
For the gentiles, of whom I am one, on Christmas:
If you don’t know what to pray, let Jeremiah remind you of the restoration of Israel at the end of Babylon’s reign over the world, for a day yet to come:
‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD; ‘for I am a master to you, and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.’
‘Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.
It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the LORD, “they will no longer say: ‘the ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again.
At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.
“Then I said, ‘How I would set you among My sons And give you a pleasant land, The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!’
And I said, ‘You shall call Me, My Father, And not turn away from following Me.’ (Jer. 3:14-19)
Pray for Israel’s return from Babylon. To return from the world to the flock of God. For their Messiah, our Lord and Master and King, says:
“I am the Good Shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me:
because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. (John 10:14-19)
And hear again the Word of God from that ancient prophet to the Jewish people in their exile (their banishment from the place where Yahweh would dwell in their midst, while one day in Jerusalem in a physical sense, He sends His Holy Spirit to dwell with His people today; so the “exile” is wherever one is which is not where they ought to be or where they desire to be according to the promise):
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
“As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”‘”
For thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.
I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land.
I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.
I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord GOD.
I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy.
I will feed them with judgment.
As for you, My flock, thus says the Lord GOD:
‘Behold, I will judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats.
Is it too slight a thing for you that you should feed in the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures? Or that you should drink of the clear waters, that you must foul the rest with your feet?
As for My flock, they must eat what you tread down with your feet and drink what you foul with your feet!'”
Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them:
“Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.
Then I will set over them one shepherd: My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.
I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.
I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing.
And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land.
Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid.
I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore.
Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares the Lord GOD.
“As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 34:7-31)