Messianic Hope & Grace in Times of Trial

Posted by on Mar 13, 2020 in Teachings, Video
Messianic Hope & Grace in Times of Trial

Message 1: Greetings and Shalom Part 1 (1Peter 1:1-2)

Introduction

Read John 1:35–42 (TLV)

  • When you find the Messiah (or when the Messiah finds you), your life is never the same again
  •  Andrew heard Yeshua speak and was moved in his heart to follow him… before he did, he found his brother and brought Simon along for the ride of his life… his life was never the same again…
  • Brief testimony…
  • Messiah looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You shall be called Kefa (which is translated Peter).”
  • Not only did Simon get a new name but he became a leader of a new movement that we call today, the Messianic Movement – Jewish followers of Yeshua HaMashiach.

Over the next several weeks we will look at the sermon/teaching/ instructions that Peter wrote to the Messianic Communities in Asia Minor and we will pray that the Holy Spirit will take God’s word written 2,000 years ago and speak to our hearts today, here in Canberra at Hineh Yeshua Congregation. I certainly do believe that 1 Peter is especially relevant to our lives today. Peter wrote to the communities in Asia Minor who were experiencing persecution for their faith…

  • Now, we in Australia may not be experiencing daily persecution because of our faith, but I would not be doing you a favour (or my job properly) if I didn’t tell you that persecution is on the way…
  • Did not the Messiah warn us? When his disciples asked him, “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” Yeshua answered:

Read Matthew 24:4–14 (TLV)

There is a time coming when believers in Yeshua the Messiah and followers of the Judea-Christian heritage will not be tolerated. Already there is an incredible pressure on us to conform to the world around us in order to fit in and be accepted. That pressure is building in our schools, in our universities, and in our workplaces. While we agree on principles of tolerance and acceptance and condemn and work against racism and hatred of any kind, it is always fascinating that those who espouse values of tolerance and acceptance in our society are often the most intolerant of others who may disagree with them. So, on the one hand there is a pressure to be accepted in the society and regular Australian citizens, on the other hand we know that as believers we are not of this world, we will always be strangers in a strange land.

How should we engage the world?

There has been various ways or models in which believers in the God have tried to answer this question; how then should we live? Should we be like the radical ascetics, the desert monks who lived alone in the wilderness places, separating themselves from worldly corruption to focus on devotion to God? Should we be like the Anabaptists after the Reformation who believed God called them to be countercultural and to live separately from world and not to engage in societal affairs and politics; giving way to the emergence of groups like the Mennonites, the Amish, and the Hutterites? The Jewish version of this is of course, the Haredim – the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities around the world. The Haredim response the world around them is t completely isolate and separate themselves from society in order to live a life that they feel is fully observant of Jewish law and practices, creating their own dress, their own educational system, their own social services, their own governing authorities and speaking primarily only in Yiddish. Their response to the world is to completely separate from the world and it’s influences. Should we be like many Christians over the centuries, especially since the Industrial Revolution who have tried to extend Christian society into secular society arguing that if it is God’s will for the individual Christian then surely it is his will for all of society? These Christians are involved in politics, lobbying governments, opposing slavery, opposing anti-Christian teachings in public schools, fighting international injustices, blocking abortion clinics and trying to influence major politicians, etc… Or should we like Martin Luther who believed that there are two realms, the realm of the kingdom of God as found in the church and the realm of the state and that God works differently in both realms? Or should we be like Yeshua our Messiah and model our engagement with the world after his example? Yes, of course, as followers and disciples we must model our lives after our Master Yeshua.

He has called us and sent us to engage in the world in a redemptive way as he did. He did not shy away from the world, on the contrary, he engaged with the world and brought his holiness to bear on humanity. Yeshua’s holiness was positive and engaging holiness, not the kind of holiness that separates itself out of the world, but the kind of holiness that touches the world and changes it. True worship as a disciple is to bring our world back to God. And so, we as followers of the Messiah need to seek the Lord and how we will be obedient to God in the society that we will in. Perhaps obedience to Yeshua would like a little different depending on the different social situations that find ourselves in as believers.[1]

But I truly believe that the inspired writings of the Apostle Peter will go a long way to helping us work out our relationship with the world around us. How we should live in this world but not of this world. Peter is known as the Apostle of Hope and Grace and he wrote his first Epistle primarily to messianic Jewish believers in times of trial and suffering. Yeshua had asked him to “strengthen my brothers” and “feed my sheep” and in this truly pastoral letter, Peter does just that. He speaks to our hearts about our identity and calling in Messiah as a holy priesthood standing fast in the true grace of God, empowered to be his witnesses in this world. I really have been praying that the Holy Spirit will take the words written by Peter 2000 years ago and deeply encourage each one of us in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in. My prayer is also that you will be able to take God’s word and encourage others…

General Outline of Messages (Adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s expository outlines of the Bible):

[2]

Greetings and Shalom (1:1–2)

1 Peter 1:1–2 (CJB)

1 From: Kefa, an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora—in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia—2 chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obeying Yeshua the Messiah and for sprinkling with his blood: Grace and shalom be yours in full measure.

Author:
Shimon Kefa

The First Epistle of Peter begins with information about the author, the recipients, and their location so let’s look into that a little more.

“From: Kefa, an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah.” There is little doubt that the author of this letter in indeed, Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter), the disciple of Yeshua. Peter is known by three different names. His Hebrew name was Simon (Shimon). Peter’s Aramaic name was Chephus (Kaifa), which means “rock.” His Greek name was Peter (Petros), meaning “stone” or “pebble.”

As we read earlier, Andrew and Peter were brothers and were two of the first five disciples of Yeshua (Jn. 1:40–42). It seems that Andrew was previously a follower of John the Baptist. Originally, Peter was from Bethsaida (Jn. 1:43–44), but by the time he became a follower of Yeshua, he had moved to Capernaum (Mk. 1:21, 29) where he was a fisherman by profession (Lk. 5:4–11). He was obviously married since he had a mother-in-law (Mat. 8:14–15; Mk. 1:29–31; Lk. 4:38–39). Based on the fact that his name appears first in the apostolic lists (Mat. 10:2–4; Mk. 3:16–19; Lk. 6:13–16), he was Chief of the Apostles, and it was he who declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the God, the Living One.” It was to Peter that Yeshua gave “the keys of the kingdom” (Mat. 16:13–20). He was also the one who denied that Yeshua would suffer and die (Mat. 16:21–23). Peter was one of the three eyewitnesses of the transfiguration and the one who suggested the building of three tabernacles (Mat. 17:1–8). During the Last Passover, Yeshua had to say a special prayer for Peter because of Satan’s desire to sift Peter as wheat (Lk. 22:31–34). At Gethsemane, Yeshua chided him for following asleep (Mat. 26:40–41; Mk. 14:37–38). At the time of Yeshua’ arrest, Peter drew his sword to defend Yeshua (Jn. 18:10–11). Due to Satan’s sifting of Peter, he denied Yeshua three times (Mat. 26:69–75; Mk. 14:66–72; Lk. 22:55–62) but, as a result of Yeshua’s prayer, Peter reaffirmed his love for Yeshua three times after the resurrection (Jn. 21:15–17). When Mary Magdalene first reported the empty tomb, it was Peter, together with John, who went out to investigate and left the tomb in a state of perplexity (Luke 24:12; John 20:2–10).

In the Book of Acts, Peter still headed up the apostolic list (1:13), took the lead in choosing who would replace Judas (1:15–26), preached the messages at the time of the birth of the church (chapters 2–3), and boldly confronted the Sanhedrin (4:1–23; 5:17–42). Because Peter had the keys of the kingdom, after opening the door of the kingdom to the Jews (2:5–42), he then did the same for the Samaritans (8:14–25) and the Gentiles (10:1–11:18). He was miraculously released from prison (12:1–19) and last appears at the Jerusalem ouncil where he defended Gentile Christianity. In the Epistles, Paul notes that there was a private appearance of the resurrected Yeshua to Peter (1 Cor. 15:5). Peter travelled with his wife (1 Cor. 9:5), and had a confrontation with Paul in Antioch (Gal. 2:11–21). His death is not recorded in Scripture but, according to Church tradition, he was crucified upside down in Rome at the time of Nero.[3]

When did he write this letter? If Peter can be argued reasonably to be the author, then our letter was written prior to A.D. 64 or 65, when Peter was martyred at the hands of Nero. In light of the number of references to suffering and persecution in 1 Peter, we maintain that Peter wrote this letter near the outset of Nero’s persecution of the believers—perhaps between 62 and 65[4] I mention these details about Peter’s life because it shows us how God calls each one of us and through the experiences we have through life, the good times and the not-so-good, the successes and the failures, and the skills we acquire along the way, he equips us to serve him in this world. (Ponder! Identity) Peter describes himself as an apostle (Greek apostolos) which is equivalent to Hebrew shaliach, “sent one”). His introduction of himself is very simple, he has no need to puff himself up by claiming to be the prince of the Apostles or any need to justify or defend his Apostleship. He speaks with power because of his life with Yeshua.

Recipients: God’s Chosen People

To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora—in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia—” (1 Peter 1:1, CJB)

 To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” (1 Peter 1:1, ESV)

God’s Chosen People (literally “God’s elected ones”) Who are these people in these communities? They are predominately Jewish believers in Yeshua. This epistle, together with 2 Peter, Hebrews, James and Jude can be called the “Messianic Epistles” written primarily to Jewish believers in Yeshua. These messianic communities across Asia Minor (most of modern day Turkey; Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia)

map2.png

Why do we believe they were Jews? They are clearly identified as “God’s Chosen People,” a term used for the Jewish people, and that they were “exiles living in the Diaspora.” Diaspora, a Greek noun meaning a “sowing” or “scattering,”[5] which is a technical term used for Jewish people living outside the Land that is still used today (Diaspora or maybe equivalent to Galut in Hebrew). The book of James also used this term in addressing the Jewish people (“Jacob, a slave of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, To the twelve tribes in the Diaspora: Shalom!” (James 1:1, TLV))

But also two other things; First of all remember when Peter preached that anointed sermon on the day of Pentecost and 3000 Jewish people were born again? Well, in Jerusalem at that time were Jews from these places (Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia – cf. Acts 2:9). Many became followers of Yeshua and must have gone back home and planted congregations, home-fellowships etc. Also, once persecution broke out against the Jewish believers in Jerusalem after Stephen’s death, they were scattered, and many would have found themselves in these communities. And since Peter was the Apostle called to ministry primarily to the Jews, it is natural that he would be the one who would write this circular letter of instruction, an extended sermon of encouragement to these messianic Jewish believers. The lists of names of these places suggest that this Epistle was an encyclical letter hand-delivered to each one of these communities.

From: Kefa, an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora—in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia—” (1 Peter 1:1, CJB)

I labour this point about the recipients of this letter because many scholars who espouse the tenants of Replacement Theology would contend that this letter uses terminology that was previously used of Israel to now refer to the Church, the New Israel. This is of course, in our mind, an erroneous and very dangerous view leading to all sorts of distortions of the biblical truth. However, we should say clearly that these communities would have had many God-fearing Gentiles and Gentile converts to the faith as part of their communities. These communities would have had Jews and Gentiles together in faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Sounds like most of our messianic congregations today. And so even though these communities were primarily made up of messianic Jews, they were together in unity with Gentile believers who had attached themselves to Israel’s God and Israel’s Messiah through faith in Yeshua. They had been grafted into God’s Olive Tree (cf. Rom 11). Gentiles too are chosen in Messiah, not replacing God’s ancient covenant people but sharing in God’s blessings together (cf Eph 2:11-22; 3:6).

What’s Our Identity?

Peter says that they are “parepidēmois;” living as “strangers,” “resident aliens,” “sojourners,” “refugees,” “exiles” in this world. This may have been true both literally (many of them had fled persecution or were being marginalised/persecuted by society) and spiritually in the sense that this world is not our home. We are in this world but not of this world as Yeshua said. So, Kefa says that are “strangers,” “resident aliens,” “sojourners,” “refugees,” “exile ” in this world. This speaks of us This is who we are and it also describes our relationship to the world. This has much to do with understanding our identity…

John
17:15–19 (TLV)


[1] McKnight, S. (1996). 1 Peter (p. 22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 737). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2005). The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude (1st ed., pp. 316–318). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.

[4] McKnight, S. (1996). 1 Peter (p. 29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[5] Mason, J. L. (1988). Diaspora of the Jews. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 623). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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