Ya’akov Avinu (Our Father Jacob) is an excellent example of the righteousness of faith that is in Mashiakh Yeshua (Messiah Jesus), Tzidkenu (Our Righteouness). Like Avraham (Abraham) his [grand]father, Ya’akov Avinu received the promise of G-d by faith. He believed G-d (cf. Bereshit / Genesis 15:1-6), so it was counted to him as righteousness.
In fulfillment of the blessing which HaShem promised to Avraham Avinu (Our Father Abraham), HaShem in turn promised to bless Ya’akov.
‘Your offspring shall be like the dust of the Earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the Earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’
– Bereshit 28:14-15
HaShem promises that He will be with Ya’akov. He promises Ya’akov protection and guidance. He promises descendants, including HaMashiakh (the Messiah) who comes into the world through Yisrael; and, in the offspring of Ya’akov, blessing for all the nations of the Earth. And in spite of being taken into exile, HaShem reaffirms for Ya’akov the promised inheritance of Kena’an (Canaan).
It was enough for Ya’akov to receive such a promise from HaShem, the Almighty, Who cannot lie. At the Word of HaShem, Ya’akov put his trust in the G-d of his fathers, and, in this faith, he set his heart to be content with the basic needs of life. He knew that HaShem would bring His Word to pass, so he vowed to serve HaShem, his G-d.
‘Then Ya’akov made a vow, saying, ‘If G-d will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then HaShem shall be my G-d, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be G-d’s House. And of all that You give me I will give a full tenth to you.’’
– Bereshit 28:20-22
Just as the promises which HaShem gave to Avraham and Yitzkhak were also for Ya’akov, so are the promises which HaShem gave to Ya’akov also for the nation of Yisrael that came into the world through him. Furthermore, HaShem’s blessing upon the nation of Yisrael also includes blessings for the nations of the Earth who join the commonwealth of Yisrael through Mashiakh Yeshua, the offspring of Ya’akov.
As Shaul (Paul) says, in Mashiakh Yeshua, our Lord, G-d reconciles the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). In Yeshua, we become the righteousness of G-d by faith (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21), if indeed we receive the promises of G-d by faith and repent. A person who refuses to repent, however, remains the enemy of G-d and will perish (cf. Tehillim / Psalms 7:12, Luke 13:13).
As Shaul says to the servants of Mashiakh Yeshua who were in Ephesus,
‘…remember that you were [formerly] separated from Mashiakh [the Messiah], alienated from the commonwealth of Yisrael and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without G-d in the world. But now in Mashiakh Yeshua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Mashiakh.’
– Ephesians 2:12-13
In Messiah Yeshua, Yisrael and the nations alike are reconciled to HaShem as His children; Yisrael being the firstborn (cf. Shemot 4:22). To us all are given the covenants of promise; HaShem is with us, so we have hope.
As Shaul says to the Romans,
‘For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through the encouragement of the Scriptures and through endurance we might have hope.’
– Romans 15:4
What was formerly written is the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven which is coming to the Earth through the Patriarchs, through the nation of Yisrael, and ultimately through the Messiah. In him we have the Life of the World to Come, including life more abundantly today (cf. Yokhannan / John 10:10).
What was written for our instruction is that we are blessed with the Patriarchs when we receive the Good News with emunah (faith), but without emunah it is impossible to please G-d (cf. Ivrim / Hebrews 11:6). Hearing the Good News alone will not benefit us unless it is mixed with the obedience of faith (cf. Romans 1:5, Ivrim 4:2).
As the writer of Ivrim says,
‘Take care, Brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the Living G-d. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Mashiakh, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Mitzrayim [Egypt] led by Moshe [Moses]?’
– Ivrim 3:12-16
Like the Patriarchs, Moshe is an example for us of the righteousness of faith (cf. Ivrim 11:24-28), but the example of unbelief is also recorded for us that we might not be led astray by the same kind of error.
As HaShem says through His servant Moshe,
‘Say therefore to the people of Yisrael, ‘I am HaShem, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of Mitzrayim, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an Outstretched Arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be My people, and I will be your G-d, and you shall know that I am HaShem your G-d, who has brought you out from under the burdens of Mitzrayim. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Avraham, to Yitzkhak, and to Yaakov. I will give it to you for a possession. I am HaShem.’
– Shemot (Exodus) 6:6-8
HaShem is true to His Word. He does what He says He will do, but it is those who believe Him who benefit. Those who receive His promises by faith and thereby submit to His righteousness walk in the light and are cleansed by the blood of Messiah (cf. Yokhannan Alef / 1 John 1:7).
In the first place, Bnei Yisrael could not listen.
‘Moshe said these things to the people of Yisrael, but they did not listen to Moshe because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.’
– Shemot 6:9
Sin is harsh slavery, which breaks the spirit of the sinner so that they cannot hear. HaShem being compassionate, however, shows His people His power in order to get their attention, so they can believe.
‘‘If they will not believe you,’ G-d said, ‘or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from HaYor [the Nile] and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from HaYor will become blood on the dry ground.’
– Shemot 4:8-9
With many signs and wonders, HaShem displayed His mercy toward the people of Yisrael, so that when they were warned by Moshe of the final plague, the people of Yisrael believed HaShem. They followed Moshe’s instructions, preparing for the Pesakh (Passover).
‘Then the people of Yisrael went and did so. As HaShem had commanded Moshe and Aharon [Aaron], so they did.’
– Shemot 12:28
They believed G-d, and He counted it to them as righteousness. By their faithful obedience to His instruction, HaShem delivered the children of Ya’akov from Mitzrayim. He also showed them His power in the wilderness, so they were without excuse.
‘In the sight of their fathers, He performed wonders in the land of Mitzrayim; in the fields of Tzoan. He divided the Sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. In the daytime He led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.’
– Tehillim (Psalms) 78:12-15
It should have been enough!
‘Yet they sinned still more against Him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. They tested G-d in their heart by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against G-d, saying, ‘Can G-d spread a table in the wilderness? He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can He also give bread or provide meat for His people?’ Therefore, when HaShem heard, He was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Ya’akov. His anger rose against Yisrael, because they did not have faith in G-d and did not trust His saving power.’
– Tehillim 78:17-22
With many signs and wonders HaShem delivers His people from slavery and gives us His Instruction, the Torah, to be received by faith. For by grace are we saved through faith to do the good works which G-d prepared beforehand for us to walk in (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10).
If not through faith, however, the Good News and instruction in righteousness is of no benefit. Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) received the Torah at Sinai, but following their evil, unbelieving hearts, they were led astray and fell away from the Living G-d.
It is for good reason that Yirmeyahu HaNavi (the Prophet Jeremiah) says,
‘I know, HaShem, that the way of man is not in himself; that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.’
– Yirmeyahu 10:23
Likewise HaShem says through Yirmeyahu HaNavi,
‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’
– Yirmeyahu 17:9
We must not look to our own hearts, Beloved, nor our own strength, but to HaShem. If only we follow the Lord Yeshua and believe the Word of HaShem, we have life more abundantly.
As HaShem says,
‘Blessed is the man who trusts in HaShem; whose confidence is HaShem. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.’
– Yirmeyahu 17:7-8
HaShem has given us more than enough reasons to believe Him, to trust Him, and to be confident in Him. He has shown Himself strong to the Patriarchs, and He has shown Himself strong to their children.
He shows Himself strong in every generation, casting the wicked to the ground and lifting the humble (Tehillim 147:6). How blessed we are to see Him restoring His people to the Land a second time in our very generation, as He promised (cf. Yeshayahu 11:10-12). We have every reason to trust His saving power!
With an Outstretched Arm, He delivers us slavery and exile from His Presence; those who are unable to deliver themselves. He does this for all those who respond in faith to Mashiakh Yeshua.
As the Lord Yeshua says,
‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ … ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’
– Yokhannan (John) 8:31,34b-36
Those who believe what G-d has said of the Messiah through Moshe and all the Prophets will receive the Lamb of G-d whom HaShem has provided for us (cf. Yokhannan / John 5:46, Luke 24:27, Yokhannan 1:29, Yeshayahu / Isaiah 53:6-7). Those who receive him receive the power to become the Children of G-d (cf. Yokhannan 1:12).
We know the truth because we believe what the Lord Yeshua has said, as transmitted to the nations by his emissaries. We believe his emissaries because they reveal the fulfillment of the words of the Prophets in Messiah Yeshua (cf. Kefa Bet 1:19). When we really believe the truth, we walk in the light and the blood of Messiah Yeshua cleanses us from all sin (cf. Yokhannan Alef / 1 John 1:7).
As Shaul says to the Corinthians,
‘For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of G-d.’
– 2 Corinthians 5:21
As Yeshayahu HaNavi (the Prophet Isaiah) foresaw,
‘All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned—everyone to his own way—and HaShem has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ … ‘Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied. By his knowledge shall the righteous one, My servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.’
– Yeshayahu 53:6,11
If we hear the words of the Prophets and mix our hearing with faith in the work the Lord Yeshua has done, sin has no dominion over us because we have been set free from the condemnation that G-d’s justice demands for our former sins (cf. Romans 6:14). We receive His grace instead when we receive the propitiation that He put forward for us in Messiah Yeshua (cf. Yokhannan Alef 2:2).
We are therefore no longer the slaves of sin, the transgression of HaShem’s Torah (Yokhannan Alef 3:4), but slaves of Messiah Yeshua who is without sin (cf. Romans 6), abiding in him and walking as he walked (Yokhannan Alef 2:6). For the love of G-d our Saviour, therefore, we keep His commandments (Yokhannan Alef 5:3).
All of this is ours by faith, which is itself a gift from G-d. The Torah is holy, and the Commandment is holy and righteous and good (cf. Romans 7:12), but in order to attain to the righteousness of the Torah (cf. Romans 8:4), we must pursue it by faith in HaShem (cf. Romans 9:31-32) through what He has done for us in Messiah Yeshua, just as Avraham Avinu looked forward to the work of the Messiah (cf. Yokhannan 8:56). Without faith, it is impossible to please G-d (cf. Ivrim / Hebrews 11:6).
Those who believe the truth are blessed with Avraham, the believer (cf. Galatians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 1:20). HaShem promises to be with us (cf. Yokhannan / John 14:23). He promises us guidance (cf. Yokhannan 16:13) and protection (cf. Yokhannan 8:51). He promises those from all nations who come to Him through Messiah Yeshua an abundance of life and blessings (cf. Yokhannan 10:10), and even a portion in the World to Come (cf. Yokhannan 3:16, Yeshayahu 65:17, Revelation 21:1). It is the meek who will inherit the Earth (cf. Tehillim / Psalms 37:11, Mattityahu / Matthew 5:5).
Like Ya’akov, let it be enough for us to receive such promises from HaShem, the Almighty, Who cannot lie. Let us put our trust in the G-d and Father of the Lord Yeshua HaMashiakh (cf. Yokhannan 20:17, Ephesians 1:3, Kefa Alef 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:3), according to the Words which HaShem gave him in fulfilment of what He had previously said through the Prophets. In this faith, let us set our heart to be content with whatever we receive from HaShem, knowing that HaShem will surely bring His Word to pass.
While HaShem certainly did bless Ya’akov materially, Ya’akov did not live to acquire earthly riches. Instead, he committed himself into HaShem’s hands and served Him faithfully with whatever HaShem gave him, and through many trials over many years. It is this same kind of childlike faith that we see in Yeshua, our Lord, and it is this same faith he teaches us to walk in as we abide in him.
As the Lord Yeshua says,
‘Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’ … ‘Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the nations seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of G-d and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’
– Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:26,31-33
Like Ya’akov, we become the righteousness of G-d when we believe the word He spoke through His Servant, the Lord Yeshua. Shaul likewise makes reference to the childlike faith of Ya’akov, and the Lord Yeshua after him.
‘But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the Faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.’
– 1 Timothy 6:6-10
The writer of Ivrim (Hebrews) likewise says,
‘Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘HaShem is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’
– Ivrim 13:5-6, cf. Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:6, Tehillim 118:6
Ya’akov knew something of the suffering of Messiah Yeshua, who gave his life as a ransom for us. Yeshua was also as a stranger to his own brothers (cf. Tehillim / Psalms 69:7-8, Yokhannan / John 7:5), and we are likewise sometimes estranged from our families because of our faith in G-d through the work of the Lord Yeshua.
Like Ya’akov’s brother, Yeshua’s own people hated him (Cf. Yeshayahu / Isaiah 53:3, Tehillim 69:4, Yokhannan 15:25), even we are sometimes rejected by our communities and even nations to varying degrees because of our faith. Like Ya’akov’s brother, Yeshua’s own people wanted him dead (cf. Mattityahu / Matthew 26:4), even as our wicked governments sometimes also seek to put us to death for our faith.
In Messiah Yeshua, we, too, know the suffering of rejection.
As Shaul says,
‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Yeshua’s sake, so that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.’
– 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
And as Kefa says,
‘Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Messiah’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Messiah, you are blessed, because the Ruakh of glory and of G-d rests upon you.’
– Kefa Alef (1 Peter) 4:12-14
And as Shaul says,
‘The Ruakh [Spirit] Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of G-d, and if children, then heirs; heirs of G-d and fellow heirs with Mashiakh, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’
– Romans 8:16-18
Therefore, as Shaul says,
‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to G-d. And the peace of G-d, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua.’
– Philippians 4:4-7
May the grace and mercy and peace of our Lord Yeshua be with the holy ones, who keep the commandments of G-d and the faith of Yeshua (cf. Revelation 14:12), a faith like Ya’akov’s.