May this teaching open your eyes to God's view of Jewish and Gentile Christians working and serving together.
(1) The ‘ONE NEW MAN’
The context: of the apostle Paul’s New Testament letter to the Ephesian Church was that it was written to Roman, Greek & Jewish believers in Christ in the Church at Ephesus, encouraging uniting together in God’s purposes, because they were already in spirit united in Christ. We will look at the relevant verses (Ephesians 2v11-22) shortly.
Historical: For the first century after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of ‘One New Man’, both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ being one in Him, was taught in churches all over Asia, but then gradually lost as a teaching. Rituals took over from the centrality of the Bible, the word of God. But God is now restoring this teaching of the ‘One New Man’ in these End Days, as well as a greater understanding & experience of the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, the word of God.
Jews are Jesus’ brothers after the flesh. However, the influence of a third century church father, John Chrysholm, who stated: ‘I hate the Jews – all Christians should.’…led to centuries of church persecution of Jews including torture and massacres. As a Christian in the 21st Century, I am ashamed as I read what the so-called Christians did to the Jews in earlier centuries. For instance, in the 11th Century in the UK, the Norwich ‘Blood libel’ (lie) swept Europe and Russia, with the declaration, ’Kill the Jews’. The Crusaders used to declare, ‘Kill the Jews and save your soul.’ One Crusader group in Jerusalem took all the Jews from Jerusalem and locked them in a synagogue and burned them to death, meanwhile singing, ‘Christ we adore Thee.’ How the Lord must have grieved for His own people.
In our day, Jewish children learn this above history in their schools. They learn how in the last century Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox ‘Christians’ destroyed Jewish homes and synagogues, denied them jobs, and kept Jews in ghettos. Even Martin Luther, although a great reformer stated: ‘Next to Satan, the Jews are our enemy. No wonder the Lutheran Church he established was anti-Jewish. Hitler quoted Luther as he set up the gas chambers!
Restoration: However, there are many and increasing testimonies in Israel of Jewish & Arab believers relating together in love. Recently 260 Jewish & Arab pastors & ministry leaders met together, which is unprecedented. The teaching of Ephesians chapter 2 is being lived out in Israel, and the teaching is being restored to the experience of Christians from other nations in relation to Israel. We Gentile Christians have a great debt to the Jews for being God’s vehicle in the early days of the Church, for the Gospel to touch the world. Many Gentile Christians, churches and ministries are now relating to our brothers and sisters in Israel, the Messianic body of Christ, i.e. Jewish believers.
Biblical: Ephesians 2v11-22: Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away (GENTILES) and peace to those who were near (JEWS). 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Why is God restoring this teaching and these relationships now, in our day? See the second article, below.
(2) THE TWO OLIVE TREES
What are the two olive trees referred to in the Old Testament book of Zechariah chapter 4 (and referred to elsewhere in the Bible)? I once saw an artist’s impression of the two olive trees of Zechariah’s vision, each either side of the Menorah which was in the foreground. Also the feeders from each olive tree to the menorah reservoir were to be seen. The Menorah often represents the revelation and presence of God amongst His people.
The Context: of Zechariah 4 was that some 47000 Jews had returned from exile in Babylon, but Jerusalem’s temple restoration was still not complete. So, Zechariah the prophet was stirred by a vision from God, and then used by God to stir up others:
Zechariah 4v1-14: Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. 2 He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. 3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." 4 I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" 5 He answered, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I replied. 6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. 7 "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' "
8 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. 10 "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb-line in the hand of Zerubbabel. "(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)" 11 Then I asked the angel, "What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?" 12 Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?" 13 He replied, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I said. 14 So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."
Zechariah prophesied to the leader of the Jewish temple restoration community, ‘Zerubabbel’ ( this name means, ‘out of Babylon’ ...come out of her.) that God would enable the work to be completed, rather than man’s own efforts. Zechariah 4 verse 6: ‘Not by might...by My Spirit.’ Only GOD can graft the Jews back to their own olive tree. Then in v7 he spoke of God removing mountains, huge obstacles. Zerubabbel would finish the work, but needed to be out of the flesh, out of man’s way of accomplishing it, out of Babylon. In v10 he was told not to despise their small beginnings, and in v11 the explanation of the two olive trees, the two branches, the one menorah unfolded. In v14: “These are the ‘two anointed’ “ (an alternative translation is “two ‘sons of fresh oil’ “). Fresh oil meant virgin, beautiful oil.
So, what are these two olive trees? There is a phrase, ‘THE BEST COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE IS THE BIBLE’ because if you want understanding of a passage in the Bible, then refer to other passages of the Bible on the same theme for enlightenment.
The first olive tree is ISRAEL, a ‘cultivated’ olive tree:
Jeremiah 11v16a: The LORD called you a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form. Romans 11v24: After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
The second olive tree is the GENTILE CHURCH, a ‘wild’ olive tree:
Romans 11v17-18: If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
Israel is called ‘cultivated’ because it had the roots of the word back to Abraham, and the fertiliser of the word of God through Israel’s history. (In nature, you can graft a wild olive shoot into a cultivated olive tree. BOTH olive trees are ‘sons of fresh oil’ standing with & serving the Lord of the whole earth. The Gentile Church needs to share oil with the Jewish Church, and vice-versa. The Gentile debt to the Jews is that the Jewish nation is the custodian of the oracles of God. Jesus is the root and offspring of David (Revelation 22v16). As both groups represented by the two olive trees minister in the power of the Holy Spirit, the light of the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. Luke 2v30-32: For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
What does the menorah represent? Remember, ‘THE BEST COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE IS THE BIBLE’
Revelation 1v19-20 (whole passage v10-20) "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jesus was walking amidst the lampstands, (Revelation 1v13). They represent His Church. JESUS speaks of it is His Church in Revelation 1. It is both a Jewish & Gentile Church together...as one new man in Christ. The Menorah is full of oil, as will be the Church in the end days, full of the Holy Spirit and revealing Christ to the world. It will be costly to stand with Israel, hence the ’pressed’ oil, which releases pure oil. Jesus was stretched out and ‘pressed’ on the Mount of Olives, in the garden of olives, of Gethsemane. He was crushed for our sins. We are to be the sons and daughters of ‘fresh oil’, spending time with Jesus every day.
Revelation chapter 11 which adds even more to the picture: The unfolding revelation from Zechariah, who saw the two olive trees, yet also two olive branches, dovetails into Romans 11 the wild olive branch (Gentile Church) being grafted into the cultivated olive tree (Israel, and out of Israel the Jewish Church.) So the two olive trees / branches are the two witnesses to the nations of the Jewish and the Gentile churches ministering together in the power of the Holy Spirit as gospel witnesses to the world. As ‘one new man’ they stand together in Christ. Furthermore, remembering that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible, we find another reference to the olive trees in the book of Revelation, Revelation 11v3-4: And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
So the two witnesses represent two olive trees and two lampstands…the Jewish and Gentile Church. With all this in mind, it may well be that God chooses as the two witnesses of Revelation 11, two people who represent this…one would be a Jewish believer, the other a Gentile believer, both with power from God to do incredible things as a witness to the nations that God IS.
The New Jerusalem with the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 12 apostles of the Lamb. Israel and the Church are represented here. Revelation 21v12-14: It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Food for thought! DH