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The Persecuted Church


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The gospel to the Jews-to the Gentiles and then to the Jews

Before Jesus entered Jerusalem He instructed his disciples to find the man with a colt and bring it to him.

Matt 21:1-6 “They came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. "And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them. "All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.

He is going to ride in to Jerusalem on a colt fulfilling Zech.9:9. (Mt.21:4-7) Here is colt that has never been used, is to carry salvation into Jerusalem. A colt is a legitimate offspring of its parent; it carries a load for the first time. In other words, your king the Son of David comes riding into His Holy City humbly on a colt. Most kings used white horses to ride and conquer- this is what Jesus will ride when He comes back (Rev 19:11).

It was the Passover week and the crowds gathered. Matt 21:9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" Singing psalm 118 (the Scripture specifically concentrates on .26). Luke 19:38 adds this: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” So they called him the king Just as Zechariah’s passage says. But he was not to function in his Kingly position- yet.

There are only two times Jesus is said to have wept in the Scripture. Once being informed that Lazarus was dead (John 11:35), the other is this account when He approached Jerusalem at the end of his ministry.

Luke 19:37-44 “Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: " 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."

Jesus wept over Lazarus’ death (known as the shortest verse in the Bible) and now over the city of God. Because He knows what is to take place- their acceptance that day is only temporary as later they will reject Him. So, he prophesies of 70 AD- The Roman invasion lead by Titus that will destroy this temple and ransack the city dispersing God’s people throughout the world because they did not believe. This is a promise from the Old Testament . (Lev 26:32-33 I will bring your land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste”(Lev 26:39-42)

Three of these Jewish feasts, Passover, Weeks, and Booths were known as pilgrim feasts. Jews were required to come from all over to assemble in Jerusalem. The Levites would lead the people in a procession over the Mt. of Olives across the Kidron and through the eastern gate. And they would know how close they were to Jerusalem by singing the songs of ascent from the chorus. The chorus - the Hillel Rabah is found in ps.118. So they sang-Psalm 118:21-29 "I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it." "O' lord do save we beseech thee," Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; you are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

That word save in Hebrew and Aramaic is hoshanna. (the church says hosanna) Look at vs.25 carefully “O’ lord do send prosperity, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord we bless you from the house of the Lord. They then sing about His sacrifice and call Him God and conclude-- give thanks to the Lord He is good his loving kindness is forever.

Mark 11:15. Each day of that week Jesus made a beeline to inspect the temple. He sees what is going on and calls it a den of thieves. This is not the first time Jesus came to the temple and upset the programs going on there. Jn.2:13 - John 2:17 quoting Ps.69:9 “zeal for Your house has eaten me up.” Jesus first cleansed the temple in the beginning of His ministry, 3 years later the second time was more severe, it became personal.

Mark 11:16-17 no one is to even carry any goods or vessels into the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

The religious leaders were profiteering and exploiting the people. That’s what is taking place at the temple. The common people brought the lambs or doves as their first fruits but the Pharisees would tell the people their offering or sacrifice was not good enough; they would belittle the people’s sacrifice; they would find something wrong with it, even if it was not there. They would then take their sacrifice off their hands and sell them another sacrificial animal to them at a higher price. They were selling doves are a poor persons for the sacrificial system at exorbitant prices. The Lord hates people taking advantage of the poor.  Jesus shows His anger by turning over the tables, dumps their money on the ground (John 2:13-16) and drove the moneychangers off God’s property to protect the sheep. The Jews were to represent God to the nations with the law. It is not a house of prayer- but instead a den of thieves.

Mt.21:14 While he is there he heals the blind and lame on the premises. This takes place in the temple premises, the priests and scribes see what he has done, and this is their reaction: Matt 21:15-16 “But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Calling him the king- the very title that will eventually be put over his head) they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise'?"

This is now the second time this week they are calling out Hoshanna to him- The day before as he entered the city and now in the temple. Calling him the Son of David, recognizing he is their king.

“They were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" The word indignant-Gr- aganakteo- to be moved with indignation, to be very displeased.

Jesus first scolds their insolence for the last time and gives the religious leaders 7 woes. Matt 23:31

"Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

v.36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

He warns them of repercussions because of their rejection of Him and then shows them the heart of God…

Mt. 23:37-39 “"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! "See! Your house is left to you desolate; "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

Jesus said you will not see me until they call upon Him specifically again which can only mean for Him to come back. Not as they greeted him the first time coming into Jerusalem, hoping he would overthrow the Romans but the second time will be a genuine repentance.

Israel killed her own messiah by handing him over to Rome as it was foreordained- Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”

Nonetheless God holds them responsible for their willful part in it.

Paul, who was one of the strongest opponents to this new movement was zealous to uphold the Judaism of the day against this new sect that was following Him as the Messiah. Several years have passed since Pentecost and Stephen is given a chance to remind the religious leaders to their faces their own history. He finalizes his fate when he says to them “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52). Reminiscent of Peters statement in Acts 3:14-15.

This of course does not sit well and not wanting to go through governmental channels as they did with Jesus they pick up stones to relieve Stephen of his speech. “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:55-58)

No doubt that these were seeds planted in Saul's life. A few years later Saul is reaching his zenith of hatred and willing to go anywhere to rid these messiah worshipper off the face of the earth. On the way to his next extermination He is supernaturally saved (Acts 9). Ananias is told to go to him and questions the Lords instructions because of Saul's reputation. “But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

Israel listened to their religious leaders who did not teach the way of Moses but their own doctrines and were mislead. They are still being misled today by the books they study instead of their Bible.

The Gospel to the Gentiles

Isa 42:6-9 “I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

Luke 2:30-32 For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."

We are fore told Matt 12:20-21 A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

In God’s sovereign plan He sent His ONLY Son to His own (Israel) first. They in turn were to bring the gospel news to the Gentiles. Jesus instructed his disciple "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (ethnos), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).

After Peter brings the first fruits of the Gentiles into the body of Christ in Acts 10 Peter recalls at the church council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:7) And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.”

The ministry of the apostles were forever changed as this now became a necessary part of their evangelistic effort.

The gentiles are grafted into the covenant God had made with Israel back in Genesis 12, just as God promised. They in turn are to now go to the Jews who have rejected the Messiah and bring the good news to them. Rom.10:18-19 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."

This group of people that are God' s sheep (Jn.10:16) are part of the unified entity the church (Eph.2:11-15) and are now commission to return the favor.

Rom 11:7: What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Vv:11-14 “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.”

The gentiles being grafted into the covenant of Israel have the purpose to elicit jealousy of the Jews. Israel is to be one of the main focuses of the church, evangelism of gentile believers. God will use them to make the Jew’s jealous by their claiming that they know the Jewish messiah and prove it by the Old Testament.

Romans 11:25-32: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.”

But the church has neglected the one group of people that God has said is essential to believe for Jesus to come again. They are to call upon him in repentance to receive Him and the promises God has given in his covenants.

Paul's policy of evangelism was the same as Jesus'- to the Jews as a priority (Mt. 15:24; Lk.15:4,19:9-10; Acts 5:31; Rom.10:21).

Rom. 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Though Paul was specifically called to the Gentiles he made it his point to first seek out a congregation of the Jews in every city he went to evangelize in (Acts 13:14; 17:1-2; 18:19).

Why -to the Jew first, because of Israel’s covenant relationship with God. And it was the only nation which is a covenanted nation with God. But Israel must repent for its unbelief in their Messiah and the gentiles can have a great part in this event by concentrating on getting the message to the Jewish people.

In Acts 18 did Paul stop witnessing to the Jews and only go to the Gentiles? Acts 18:5-6: “ When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles”

Acts 18:11 continued with them for 1 ˝ years. But in  v. 19 he went to the Jews again:

“And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.Paul's main focus was to the gentiles who have not heard of God, but he never stopped going to his own brethren.

Now that the Gentiles are the majority in the church, it should be part of their mission to bring the gospel to those who once brought the gospel to their ancestors. That we can see a re-grafting of Israel back into the tree according to Romans 11:25-32, a future restoration of the people, the land and all the promises in the covenant are all dependent on Israel repenting and calling out to the Messiah.

I would strongly encourage you to learn the prophecies from the Old Testament to witness to a Jew about their own Messiah.


For more on this subject read - Replacing what God has NOT!

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