The Shofar Newsletter
THE SHOFAR Newsletter of Bet Yeshurun Messianic Assembly
Good News for the Assembly of Bet Yeshurun
No. 1412 / February 16, 2023
2022 Schedule of Gatherings
2/18 Praise & Worship Services 1:30 pm
2/22 Praise & Worship Services 3:00 pm
2/25 Praise & Worship Services 1:30 pm
3/1 Praise & Worship Services 3:00 pm
3/4 Praise & Worship Services 1:30 pm
3/8 Praise & Worship Services 3:00 pm
3/11 Praise & Worship Services 1:30 pm
3/15 Praise & Worship Services 3:00 pm
3/18 Yom Peguim (Leap day services for spring season) 1:30 pm
3/20 Rosh ha’Shanah (Start of the New Year on the Divine Calendar)* 1:00 pm
3/23 Praise & Worship Services 1:00 pm
* High Holy Day (Like Sabbaths, a day of no work)
2022 Schedule for Reading the Bible in One-Year
Brit Cha’Dasha; Romiyim (Strength) Paul’s Letter to Romans
2/19 - Chapters 1 – 3 2/20 - Chapters 4 – 7 2/21 - Chapters 8 – 10
2/22 - Chapters 11 – 13 2/23 - Chapters 14 – 16
Brit Cha’Dasha; Pileymon (One who Kisses) Paul’s Letters Qolasim (Colossal)
2/24 - Chapter 1 2/24 - Chapters 1 – 4
Brit Cha’Dasha; Eph’siyim (Permitted) Paul’s Letters Pilipiyim (Lover of Horses)
2/25 - Chapters 1 – 3 2/26 - Chapters 4 – 6 2/27 - Chapters 1 – 4
Timotiyus 1 (Honoring Elohim) Titos (Nurse)Timotiyus 2 Timotiyus 2 Paul’s Letters
2/28 - Chapters 1 – 6 3/1 - Chapters 1 – 3 3/2 - Chapters 1 – 4
Brit Cha’Dasha; Ivrim (Those from Beyond) Paul’s Letter to Hebrews
3/3 - Chapters 1 – 6 3/4 - Chapters 7 – 10 3/5 - Chapters 11 – 13
James' Ya’aqov (Supplanter) and Peter's Kepha 1 (Rock) and Kepha 2 (Rock) Letters
3/6 - Chapters 1 – 5 3/7 - Chapters 1 – 5 3/8 - Chapters 1 – 3
Letters of John (Yochanan 1) (Yochanan 2 & 3) and Jude (Yahudah) Praiser of Yah
3/9 - Chapters 1 – 5 3/10 - Chapters 1 3/11 - Chapter 1
Brit Cha’Dasha; Chazon (Vision) Revelation of John (Favored of Yah)
3/12 - Chapters 1 – 3 3/13 - Chapters 4 – 8 3/14 - Chapters 9 – 12
3/15 - Chapters 13 – 16 3/16 - Chapters 17 – 19 3/17 - Chapters 20 – 22
Interested in joining Bet Yeshurun Assembly? Please contact Pastor ObadiYah by email, telephone, mail, or in person at a gathering of Yahushuah’s Body.
The Alternative Covenant
Editor's Note This Shofar for Bet Yeshurun (BYA) studies a Covenant often overlooked in the Bible. Many are familiar with Elohim's Promises to the descendants of Sarah and Abraham. In this article, Jory shares some insight into a Promise for the descendants of Hagar and Abram. To learn more about these Covenants, also watch the teaching video that pastor ObadiYah posted on the BYA Youtube website entitled: “Abram's vs. Abraham's Covenants.”
YAH’s Covenant with Abram and Hagar
Few Christians today realize that in the Old Testament there are a people outside of the nation of Israel who were given wonderful Divine promises of blessings. (Genesis 17) These non-Israel recipients are descendants of Hagar. The promises they received are of tremendous import in world events of our own time.
Who is Hagar and her descendants? Her story begins with a childless Sarai and her husband Abram. Past childbearing years, Sarai gives her maid Hagar to Abram as a concubine to bear a child for his inheritance. Their child is named Ishmael (Elohim will hear). Biblical scholars think Ishmael (brother of Isaac) is the ancestor of the world's Arabic people. From the WordIQ Dictionary, “in Islamic and Jewish tradition, Arabs are a Semitic people, who trace their ancestry from Ismael, son of the ancient patriarch and Hagar.” WordIQ also notes that the word “Arabic” is derived from a Semitic root “meaning traveling around the land, that is, nomadic.”
The promises to Hagar's descendants begin: “as for Ishmael I heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis 17:20) Take note that the special blessing of Elohim to Ishmael includes fruitfulness, many descendants, 12 princes, and a great nation.
The Hebrew word for “princes” is “nasiym.” It means “an exalted one, a king, or a sheikh.” (Strong’s Concordance) Prophetically speaking, 12 kingdoms or nations are to arise from Ishmael. Thus, his descendants are a parallel anti-type to Israel's 12 tribes. While the present number of nations in the “Arab League” exceeds 12, some are composed of immigrants from other Arab countries and are considered ethnologically indistinct, like Palestine and Kuwait. Mark Brett, a professor of Old Testament Theology and author of “Genesis: Procreation and Politics of Identity” writes “the promise to Hagar is potentially the beginning of an alternative covenant.”
Two Prophetic Sons through Hagar and Sarah
Largely ignored in modern theology, this parallel “alternative covenant” is so significant Paul expounds on it: “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman. He who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise, which are an allegory: for these are two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:22-26)
In describing the allegory about the son of a bond maid (Agar/Hagar) and the son of a free woman (Sarah), Paul illustrates a spiritual principle within its literal meaning. Many believe his letter contrasts “a physical Israel” (the Jews) with a “spiritual Israel” (the Church). Such thinking, however, disregards how Paul connects unbelieving Jews with Hagar, not with Sarah. He clearly refutes a doctrine which claims the Jewish people legally, prophetically, and exclusively represent all of Sarah’s progeny in the world today. Is Paul speaking solely in a spiritual sense?Standard prophetic usage calls for a “double witness:” “At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (Deuteronomy 19:15)
Sincethe spiritual and the physical realms parallel one another and aren't contradictory, is there a “second witness” linking ancestors of Hagar/Ishmael to modern Jewish people? Yes! Consider this passage about Esau (also known as Edom) who fathers a line of Ishmael's descendants:“Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.” (Genesis 28:9)
Via Esau's marriage to Ishmael's daughter, the offspring of Esau (brother of Jacob/Israel) include the direct progeny of Hagar. History informs us that while Israel's descendants often warred with Edom, the Edomites were later incorporated into the Jewish nation as the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia notes: “In 126 BCE, the Edomites were completely subdued by John Hyrcanus and were Judaized by forcible circumcision.” Thus, the Jewish people of today have a physical connection with the descendants of Hagar and Ishmael. So ironically, modern-day Jews can claim ancestry with both Sarah and Hagar.
Furthermore Paul writes, “Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son: for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.” (Galatians 4:30) Thus, Paul uses the Word to show that the unbelieving portion of Jewish people are Hagar’s offspring; are cast from Abraham's “household” and are rejected as Covenant recipients! Paul no doubt was very much aware of the Edomite section of Jewry’s direct physical descent from Hagar and Ishmael by including a reference to it in his argument.
This ties in precisely with Paul's “Spiritual” theme, which says by rejecting the Messiah Yahushuah, Jewish people associate with their “Arabic” ancestors—the bondwoman Hagar and her son, Ishmael—rather than with their Hebrew ancestors, like the Believers Abraham and Sarah. Paul also writes, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)
It's also interesting to note that prophecy states, “For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate [i.e. Sarah’s dispersed Hebrew descendants] hath many more children than she which hath an husband [Hagar, representing the Arabic peoples]. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” (Galatians 4:27-28; quote from Isaiah 54:1) So, Israelites must exceed in number the 400 million population of the modern Arabic countries. Clearly, the 12 million or so Jews in today's world cannot by themselves constitute all of Israel. Sarah’s descendants number “many more” than the Arabic progeny of Hagar, yet Jews represent only about 3 percent of the number of Arabs! Where are the rest of Abraham’s “many more” descendants?
The Many Nations of Abram and Abraham
In his book, Mark Brett also notes “the narrative in Genesis has thus far demonstrated that at least the Moabite, Ammonite, and Ishmaelite nations have been blessed through Abraham.” Some theologians claim the “many nations” descended from Abraham are his non-covenantal descendants: “Abram fell on his face, and Elohim talked with him, saying, 'As for me, behold my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.“ (Genesis 17:3-5)
But Hagar’s “alternative covenant” itself clearly states that the Abrahamic covenant proceeds only through the chosen line of Sarah's descendants through Isaac and Jacob. “Abraham said unto Elohim, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And Elohim said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him.” (Genesis 17:18-19)
Of course, this implies that Ishmael and his descendants are not included in the Abrahamic blessing. While Ishmael’s blessings are enumerated in the Bible (Genesis 17:5), Elohim declares, “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” (Genesis 17:21)
Thus, Abraham's Covenant isn't established with any nation or people that are not covenant inheritors of Isaac. Paul concurs, “...the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.” (Galatians 4:30) The incident when Hagar is cast from Abraham’s home without any form of proper inheritance, being given only some bread and a single bottle of water (Genesis 21:14) shows without question that Hagar’s descendants did not participate in the rewards of the Abrahamic covenant. Consequently, the Arabic nations cannot constitute the “many nations” attested in Scripture (Genesis 17:5), or the “company of nations” (Genesis 35:11) prophesied to arise from Abraham as some erroneously suggest.
Biblical scholar Brett agrees, “Hagar’s son will become a ‘great nation,’ but outside the Covenant with Sarah’s son.” If the Arabic people are not the “nation and company of nations” promised to Abraham, then who is? What nations comprise them in our world today? In “Genesis 12 – 50, Introduction and Commentary,” Dr. A. S. Herbert interestingly notes Edom itself also had a 12-tribe confederacy, although this may appear to constitute another parallel “alternative covenant” since Edom will not inherit Israel’s promises!
Could Abraham’s descendants constitute a “company of nations” that are Christian and that constitute the true New Covenant Israel in our world today? Mainstream scholars refuse to even consider the possibility. Brett also states, “Now that Abraham and Sarah are set to become the father and mother of many nations, it is no longer possible to restrict this covenantal promise to the people of Israel.” Yet the prophecy says exactly that! Israel herself was to become “many nations!” Otherwise, the promise was actually not to Abraham’s covenantal descendants at all, which would make it a false prophecy. Even Brett admits, “the rewards of the covenant are exclusive,” so much so that no one outside of the Israel of the covenant could inherit them, including “daughters who are not even mentioned.”
A Summary on the Alternative Covenant
The “Alternative Covenant” promises to Hagar and her descendants can also be found within Elohim's Covenant to Abraham and Isaac. (Genesis 17 & 35) This “Alternative Covenant” parallels the Abrahamic Covenant so closely as to make it hard for many people to know the difference. A synonym for the word “alternative” is “substitute.” Thus, there's a substitute people that mimic the Covenant people of Elohim. Since the Jews have ancestry from Hagar as Scripture attests, might the faith-rejecting modern Israeli state be the “great nation” promised to Hagar? These issues point out that the Jewish people need salvation, which can only come from Yahushuah, and that it's only by believing in Him that they, along with other Believers, can claim kinship with Abraham and Sarah through faith.
See Schedule above.
Thoughts for Meditation
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham Lincoln