Ponder & Pray | Zechariah 8

Zechariah 8 is a short and sweet chapter telling the people of Israel (and readers), one fine day, God will dwell in Jerusalem. At that time, He will end antisemitism and instead, not only bless the reunited 12 twelve tribes of Israel (House of Judah and House of Israel), but vindicate them. There are many chapters in the Hebrew Bible that describe a miraculous regathering or reuniting of the scattered Israelites across the globe, both the living and the dead, bringing them all to heaven on earth being Jerusalem (such as Ezekiel 36-37; Jeremiah 29-31). Also, notice the section of Zechariah 8:16, a prophecy about the very end of time as we know it. Right after the LORD describes and promises Israel’s future literal salvation, what does He instruct the must the Jews/Israel do in the meantime? Believe in the Messiah? Believe in God’s Son yet to be born (at the time this chapter of Zechariah was written)? Believe in Jesus? No, essentially, live righteously – obey the principles of Torah. Shouldn’t the concept of believing in Jesus to pay for your sins or even just stating “Believe in The Messiah” be inserted in this epic moment leading up to their salvation? I encourage you to pray and ponder as to why there is nothing like that mentioned in the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and yet, Amos 3:7 says the Lord does nothing without revealing it to His prophets first. Moreover, always get in God’s word for yourself and ask Abba Father (Jeremiah 3:19) lots of questions. He will show you things you did not know (Jeremiah 33:3) as He does with me and many others.

Ask yourself and Abba Father (Jeremiah 3:19), why after He dwells on earth in Jerusalem described in Zechariah 8, the entire globe is seeking not just God in Jerusalem, but clinging to Jews, specifically their tallits, which are the garments with tzits-tzits attached (see Zechariah 8:23 below)? These are commanded by God to be worn and are symbols to help them remember the importance of obeying God’s commands (see Numbers 15:37-41).

Think about the connection –> At this future moment, people will be clinging to the Jews realizing God is with them. Notice the verse of Zechariah 8:23 specifically state people will be grabbing onto the Jew’s garment corners as if the prophecy is telling us people will cling to Jews and God’s Torah, which has already started to manifest today. God’s ways are found in His commands, His Torah, His instructions for living, which not only is His will, but they are the light (Psalm 119:105-106, Proverbs 6:23) and the Jews/Israel are called to be the light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). Hence, what they are chosen to do: Be the light – lead in love as they live by Torah.

Why doesn’t the prophet Zechariah describe the New heavens and New earth or New Jerusalem or New Covenant era (notice all the “NEW”s -pun intended) as…”And in that day the Christians will be the light of the world teaching people how to decorate Christmas trees, how to have successful Easter egg hunts and stand in line for the best Heavenly Ham, how to plan a great turn-out for Trunk or Treats, or teaching them about communion, how to successfully and secretly slip up that repentant hand and inwardly profess the sinner’s prayers without anyone knowing then or later, or how to memorize the Lord’s prayer, how to evangelize by handing out tracks about God’s son, how to go on mission trips and build things but tear down with our words..”, or whatever other definition Christians used to define as being the light?

I don’t think it’s possible for any of us, whether Jew or Gentile, to ponder and know God’s truth in it’s entirety, much less live it precisely as He intended it here and now, for how can we know infinite truth and all His thoughts or ways? But we do know truth is what He chose to reveal in the Tanakh and that is: Israel is chosen and God’s Torah is the light for all eternity. So much so the non-Jews will be looking to Jews and the instructions God gave them for guidance.

Carrie R. Turner, 9.3.2020

Are We In the New Covenant Yet?

In both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, more accurately stated the Tanakh (“Old” Testament) and “New” Testament, there is limited dialogue regarding the New Covenant. Nevertheless, the one and only time the terminology is used, the LORD provides a few critical clues through His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29-31. Specifically, the term is used in Jeremiah 31:31.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – ” Jeremiah 31:31 NKJV (New King James Version)

In the JPS (Jew Publication Society) version of the Hebrew Bible, it reads almost identical, “See, a time is coming – declares the LORD – when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.”

First, the reader is introduced to the term new covenant and that this new covenant is made between God / the LORD and two groups of people, the Northern Kingdom or ten tribes of Israel, being the House of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, primarily consisting of the remaining two tribes, the House of Judah. The slang term “Jew” comes from the tribe of Judah, which later evolved to be “House of Judah”. To understand how the kingdom of Israel split into two groups, read 1 King 12. Essentially, there was a family feud, but not the Steve Harvey type.

Now that we introduced the main characters, it is immensely important verses are read and interpreted within context. To do that, we must read and dissect the surrounding verses, chapters, and overall message or themes shared throughout the Bible.

A depiction of the Jews taken captive by the Babylonians.

When we read Jeremiah 29 through chapter 31, for example, right away we see in 29:1 this prophetic message sent by Jeremiah is being given to those Israelites, specifically the House of Judah (as well as those who fled the northern 10 tribes to join them), or Jews, taken captive by the Babylonians and dragged off to Babylon as basically prisoners of war. The LORD is giving His people hope that even though life is miserable right now, due to a long period of rejecting His laws outlined in Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible, which also was prophesied (see Deuteronomy 28:32, 36-37; 30:1-11), God is not finished with them. In the famous Jeremiah 29:11 verses quoted by both Jew and Gentile and can be found in nearly every Christian Bookstore and Hobby Lobby across the United States, God says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (NKJV). Technically, this promise is given to the Jews, also known as House of Judah, and those who aligned with them from the other tribes.

The LORD expands in great detail exactly what He means when He says “a future and hope” or “a hope and a future” (depending on which version) through the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 30. Notice in Jeremiah 30:3, Adonai, the LORD says, “For behold the days are coming…that I bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah…I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers and they shall possess it..” So here we see God plans on not just rescuing and regathering all of the House of Judah, which largely consisted of the tribe of Judah, Benjamin, and some Levite priests, but He also intends on gathering the House of Israel, the ten northern tribes that were take prisoners by the Assyrian captivity and assimilated into the nations – in other words, most of the ten tribes have never been tracked, much less regathered. As a side note, some argue that the Jewish population today represents all twelve tribes being there is Biblical evidence some from the northern tribes traded teams and migrated south to Judah, but for the most part, it would appear the vast majority of the ten tribes have been forever lost thus far. With that said, here in this prophetic utterance, Abba Father, God, declares He will be regaining custody of all His kids in a glorious family reunion in the New Covenant. Many other prophetic passages indicate just prior to this family reunion it will be the worst time on earth for God’s people, the Jews, but He will literally save or rescue them from their oppressors, the surrounding nations at that time, as also is stated in Jeremiah 30:5-8. This theme is not difficult to find as you read just about any book of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, etc.

Likewise, we know God does nothing without revealing it to his prophets (Amos 3:7) and God is BIG on reiterating things with at least two or three witnesses (prophets, a type of witness). Needless to say, these concepts or prophecies will one day be a fact of history.

As we continue to read the surrounding verses and context of the new covenant prophecy, notice we left off at Jeremiah 30:9, an important verse to grasp as it proclaims the House of Israel and the House of Judah, previously defined, will all be serving God collectively, not Allah or Jesus, mind you, but “their God”. Furthermore, that same verse adds they also will be serving David their king. David was known as a “man after God’s own heart” and one of the greatest King of Israel to ever have lived, who also authored most of the Psalms. You could say David, the king/prince, was the ultimate worship leader as he will do once more in the New Covenant (read Ezekiel 37-48 – look for verses about the prince). Now this is important, pay attention to the very next phrase as the LORD deems “whom I will raise up for them.” Now, if you aren’t familiar with the plethora of other passages in the prophets discussing this same prophecy you might glaze over the “raise up” phrase but this is referring to the resurrection of the House of Israel and the House of Judah described in Ezekiel 34-37. This verse indicates the LORD is literally going to resurrect King David, as well as all of the deceased Israelites (twelve tribes), and David will rule and reign once more. Be advised some Christians who choose to cherry-pick verses to fit a preconceived notion state that this must be referring to Jesus’ alleged past resurrection and yet, clearly, these events have not occurred as not all twelve tribes have been restored to the land of Israel and certainly not by a cataclysmic event as many of the prophets describe in their writings. A minority of Jews, so the House of Judah, are being restored to the land of Israel in modern times, but not the entire kingdom. Additionally, it doesn’t take much reasoning to deduce, the LORD says He will rescue Israel, His kids from their oppressors, bring them back to their birthright land, as well as or and THEN resurrect the dead King David (and others). Obviously, this cannot be about Jesus’ resurrection because #1 all twelve tribes were not rescued from the Roman Empire, in fact the Jews weren’t rescued at all, though they were oppressed, AND #2 Nobody was raised up to be a literal king of all of Israel at that time. All of this prophecy is defining a FUTURE, life-changing, earth-rocking event as the prophets also describe a massive earthquake coincides. Go to Ezekiel 34:23-31, notice the LORD reiterates here what He said in Jeremiah 30:9 that He will make David be like a shepherd to His sheep (of Israel), the LORD will be their God (not Jesus) and David will be a prince. Verse 25 describes the new covenant as a “covenant of peace” made with them (Who is them? The House of Israel and House of Judah). Not Gentiles, by the way, although they will be present in the new covenant as well. Notice it goes on to describe a time of peace and prosperity, where animals will no longer attack people (Hosea also speaks to this), the earth will be a lovely garden, nor be persecuted by Gentiles (non-Jews) anymore, there will be no more food pantries as hunger won’t exist, all will know who the LORD is (Ezekiel 34:25-31). Does that sound like the events that followed after Jesus was resurrected? Is it today? Here and now? No. And yet, both Jeremiah 30:9 and Ezekiel 34:23-25 are referring to raising up David to be a king/prince, or ruler, over the people in the very visible, not mystical-allegorical-spiritual new covenant as Christianity teaches. These prophets are describing obvious physical changes as God brings a NEW heaven and NEW earth; hence, the NEW covenant.

The Bible tells us about the gorgeous gardens of the new covenant.

Let us continue in Ezekiel for a moment. Notice in Ezekiel 36 starting in verse 24 through 38, the LORD describes through the prophet Ezekiel the exact statements He said through Jeremiah…no more terror, no fear, no hunger, glorious gardens, no more persecution from the Gentiles/ nation, etc. By the way, consider there is absolutely no Biblical prophecy stating the Jews got it wrong, should be persecuted by the Gentiles, and the Gentiles will be elevated, but various places such as Jeremiah 16:19 state that the Gentiles will be shocked when they realize in this moment they believed in lies. So if both Christians and Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah, but Jews don’t, who do you think is going to be shocked about the lies they were sold? Apparently, not Jews. In fact, upon all this happening, look what the world does according to Zechariah 8:23, they cling to Jews, for it is then, Gentiles realize they were wrong about their beliefs.

Let us return to the passage at hand. Notice He says in v 24, the LORD miraculously gathers and regains custody of all His kids at once. Christians refer to this concept as “the rapture”, which is a similar concept, but no one is “raptured to heaven”, rather regathered to heaven on earth, in Israel. To read more about that, click here. Notice first, the House of Israel is regathered, the lost tribes. Why doesn’t it specifically say the “House of Judah” here? Perhaps it could simply be because by that time, possibly all of the Jews are residing in Israel already? The more Antisemitism that manifests around the world combined with the more ministries and other programs that develop to help Jews make aliyah, it is possible that eventually the Jews of the world will be relocating to Israel or maybe we will get a free flight of sorts when Abba Father regathers us. In other prophetic passages, it references both houses being reunited. Nonetheless, notice in the next chapter of Ezekiel 37, a resurrection occurs. In verse 11 of chapter 37 the LORD states “these bones are the WHOLE House of Israel”. It would seem to indicate all of the twelve tribes, or at the very least, the 10 tribes are resurrected, but I suspect it indicates all of the tribes for that fits the overall promise, the covenant God made with the patriarchs. First though, did you catch those alive are physically regathered somehow to the land of Israel, and then the resurrection of all twelve tribes buried worldwide occurs? Have we read anything yet stating one must believe in a Messiah named Jesus in order to receive eternal life, be resurrected, etc? Do you notice the resurrection of the dead is already in the forecast even without any belief in Jesus? Daniel 12 tells us every body will be resurrected. Why hasn’t the LORD revealed the crucial nugget of “truth” that we must believe in Jesus in order to be resurrected to His prophets?

Graves at Mount Olive, Jerusalem, Israel

A few verses later in Ezekiel 37, the LORD describes all of the family being reunited forever, the LORD literally and physically saves them, forgives their sins, and once again, David is their King “for all time” (see 37:15-25). Before we proceed, ponder the fact that this states nothing of the twelve tribes or anybody else for that matter needing to believe in a Messiah to be saved or to have their sins forgiven. Why is this never discussed in any of the prophets? Because Amos 3:7. Surely, this would have been discussed in such crucial prophetic passages such as these all discussing the new covenant.

Let us continue. Notice in the following verses it describes the new covenant as covenant of friendship, an everlasting covenant. In Ezekiel 34 it is referred to as covenant of peace. Think “For I know the plans I have for you…a future and a hope” we discussed earlier in Jeremiah 29:11.

Have these events occurred? Has their been a massive world-wide resurrection of Jews and other Israelites? Have all twelve tribes returned to the land before or because of this incredible resurrection? Is anyone, particularly David, currently king in Israel? Is there everlasting peace in Israel and worldwide today? NO. Obviously, we are not in the New Covenant in the NEW way of life yet. Moreover, the resurrection of David, or Davidic descendant as some interpret, described in Jeremiah 30:9 is absolutely NOT referring to Jesus as none of this has not occurred – even if you believe in Jesus, this is not rocket-science.

As if all that wasn’t enough evidence to explain the new covenant has not been activated yet, return with me to Jeremiah, specifically Jeremiah 31:33-34. Please carefully notate that the LORD makes it very plain and understandable that “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD’, for they ALL shall know Me..”. So in the New Covenant will there still be Bible Studies, Yeshivas, church services, synagogue services, YouTube teachings, Zoom congregation services, or articles like this, according to this passage? NO! Why not? He already told you why – Because GOD will be with us here on earth. Every single being, both man and beast, will know who God is and know what He expects for He forgives sins, makes us clean, and finally fully dispenses His Spirit so that obedience to Torah is the norm no longer the exception. Review Zechariah 14:16+ notice after this epic event, the entire world, even the remaining and repopulated Gentile nations are celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (not Christmas or Easter, incidentally), and must bring sacrifices to the temple to worship the LORD. So I ask again, are we currently in the NEW covenant? Do you see a new way of living for God manifesting? A new world-wide Torah observant, law-abiding, God-worshiping culture? Have you heard about David, the worship-leading prince/king ruling currently? Or at the very least a Davidic king, currently reigning? Was there a massive resurrection? How about a massive flight plan to Israel? OK, so how much more obvious can this be? I only used two of the numerous prophets that discuss this future era. But they all state the same concepts.

Lastly, Christians are led to believe Jesus died for their sins and therefore, they are in the new covenant…They are spiritually saved and don’t need to die for their sin in this new, allegorical, spiritual (not literally physical way of life) known as the new covenant, much less obey God’s Torah, for in the Christian version of the New Covenant God’s laws are irrelevant according to their new and improved Bible full of errors and misquotes and yet according to Jeremiah 31:30, quite literally the verse next to the “new covenant” verse, describes that time as still “every one shall die for his own sin”. Just like God says numerous places elsewhere – nobody can die for your sins – each person is held accountable to God for themselves (hence, what Christians refer to as ‘Judgment Day’ or Jews refer to as ‘Yom Kippur’). Study Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Psalm 49:7, Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18 & 33. Furthermore, why would God sacrifice His son when numerous times he tells the Israelites to not be like the pagan nations that sacrifice their kids as a form of worship? See Deuteronomy 12:29-31; Leviticus 18:21; Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35.

Paul and his pals who wrote gospels and other books deceived millions.

With all this overwhelming evidence, what say you? Are we in the new covenant? You can trust God’s word when He tells you that it will be obvious to the entire globe when He activates the new, everlasting covenant of peace.

For further reading, you may want to explore related articles by visiting my Carrie, Did You Know page.

Carrie R. Turner, 9.1.2020