Becoming an Israelite
Overcoming the Jacob- and Esau-Natures
What I am about to write here today is nothing new to those who have read my spiritual father's (Christopher Warren's) sermons, but to me, it is a very fresh teaching. It is about becoming an Israelite in the New Covenant. There are many who presuppose that because they are Christians, that they are indeed Israelites, but coming to Messiah and becoming part of Messiah are two different things. It is only when we become a bride "without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish", or in other words, "holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:27 NIV) that we become true Israelites.
We should first, however, study the etymology of this word. It comes from the Hebrew Yisrael made up of two root words, sarah which means "to fight, to prevail, to have power as a prince" and el which means "strength, might, or God." From this word, we can get many meanings, such as "one who fights or prevails with strength or might", "one who has authority as a prince with strength or might", "one who fights or prevails with God" and even "one who has authority as a prince with God." This latter definition is confirmed in Revelation 20:4-6 NIV:
"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Yah'shua (Jesus) and because of the word of Elohim (God). They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Messiah (Christ) a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of Elohim (God) and of Messiah (Christ) and will reign with him for a thousand years."
In this article, I hope to show people how they can become princes and rulers with Yahweh. It is Yahweh's desire to bestow upon us this blessing and thus I believe necessary to teach. To do this, however, I must consult the life of the first Israelite, Jacob, and detail he became the man Israel. This will not be an exhaustive discourse on his spiritual transformation. Those looking for that are free to read Genesis 25:19-33:20.
The Birth of Jacob and Esau and Jacob's Life as Supplanter
In order to understand the aim of my study, we must go back to when Jacob was born. In Genesis 25:21-26 NIV, we read:
"Isaac prayed to Yahweh on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. Yahweh answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, 'Why is this happening to me?' So she went to inquire of Yahweh.
"Yahweh said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.'
"When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them."
First, we must understand the names. The Hebrew name for Jacob is Ya'akov and simply means "supplanter" (as confirmed by Genesis 27:36). Esau means "hairy". These definitions are important to define the proposition I am making.
Yahweh told Rebekah that two people dwelt in her womb. These two people will be separated. While it is certain that on a p'shat (literal) level, this is talking about the enmity that existed between Jacob and Esau, on a sod (mystery) level, it is likewise talking about the separation of the spiritual and carnal natures. There will come a time (if we are to become Israelites) where the spiritual nature must prevail over the carnal nature. That is, the old nature must serve the new nature brought to life in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus).
This will not become possible until the spiritual nature is renewed, however. Until this spiritual nature is renewed through faith in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus) and the person thus trusting Him becomes a new creation (Ephesians 2:8-10), the Jacob nature will always be a supplanter. This is the spiritual nature without Yahweh. Without Him, it is dead. But once it is renewed, it must then wrestle with the carnal Esau nature.
As we can see from the preceding chapters of Genesis, Jacob was fond of supplanting people to get Yahweh's blessings for himself. In Genesis 25:29-34, Jacob tricked Esau into giving him his birth right by blackmailing him. The condition was that Jacob would only feed the starving Esau if Esau sold him his birthright. Esau relented, giving into his carnal nature, and then the birthright (legally) passed into Jacob's hands. It was then that Esau was called Edom
The Hebrew word edom is related to the Hebrew adamah meaning, "ground." In other words, Edom was that man of the "ground", the carnal nature. Paul says concerning this nature:
"So it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam (Messiah), a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 NIV).
Now without getting into heavy resurrection theology (one need only to look at John 20:24-31 to know the type of body we'll have in the resurrection), I use this Scripture to make my point. Those who are of the earth are just as the earthly man. In the case Paul is speaking of, it is Adam, but his namesake is similar to and related to the Hebrew name 'Edom.' So those who are like Edom are of the earth, whereas those who are like the Messiah are of Heaven. Just as we bear the likeness of the man of the earth (the Esau or carnal nature), we will bear the likeness of Him in Heaven if we overcome it. Through Adam, Yahweh created our flesh, which, in its fallen state, is given to sinful inclinations but through Messiah, we overcome it. This is what it means to be an Israelite.
So how did Jacob overcome this nature? Well, first, we find that he tried to appease this Esau nature by giving it a gift. In Genesis 32:13 NIV, we read:
"He spent the night there (at Mahanaim), and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau . . ."
And why did Jacob do this?
"In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, 'If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape" (Genesis 32:7-8 NIV).
In other words, Jacob was afraid that Esau was going to kill him for stealing his birthright. He prepared a provision to soften Esau's wrath. But Yahweh had other plans.
"That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenches as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.'
"But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'
"The man asked him, 'What is your name?'
"Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with Elohim (God) and with men and have overcome.'
"Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name.'
"But he replied, 'Why do you ask my name?' Then he blessed him there.
"So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, 'It is because I saw God (Elohim) face to face, and yet my life was spared.'
"The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon" (Genesis 32:22-32 NIV).
And what did Jacob learn from this when confronted with Esau?
"For to see your face is like seeing the face of Elohim (God), now that you have received me favorably" (Genesis 33:10 NIV).
Lesson in the "Parable"
Now that I have recounted the story, let us find the lesson. Although this story is real, it is also highly parabolic of our spiritual lives. It is only when we realise this that we can receive the keys to overcoming our carnal nature.
As we have noted, our Jacob nature is found of supplanting or gaining the blessings of Yahweh through trickery. While Jacob was destined to obtain the blessings, he should have done so according to Yahweh's timing. This is why he had to overcome his nature at Peniel, which in Hebrew literally means "the face of God."
In order to abate Esau, Jacob tried to pay him off. How often do we do this when we are afraid? If we have struggle with pornography, we often give into it to relieve ourselves of the sexual tension that builds up in us. If we do drugs, we often give into our addiction to them to find emotional relief. This is highly neurotic and a symbolic acting out of unfulfilled needs. How do we fulfil these needs?
First, we must crucify the Esau nature, the nature that is of the earth and its ways. We need to stop paying it off. Yah'shua (Jesus) was explicit in this when He said:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a [married] woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart [or fornication, if she isn't married]. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell" (Matthew 5:27-30 NIV, with clarification in brackets by this author).
This doesn't mean to literally mutilate yourself (as some people interpret it), but to cut off sin at its roots. If you're looking at pornography rid your house of it and cease to associate with those who pull you back into it. If you're doing drugs, rid yourself of all opportunities to do them. This is necessary for your healing. You must cleanse your lives of all leaven before the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) can operate in you.
Of course, this may not always be possible. What do you do if you're angry with your children and want to slap the tar out of them? You can't remove the child until your anger is fully dealt with otherwise they'll be homeless! Rather, remove yourself until you have overcome the specific episode, if possible, or do your best to control it, if not possible. Go to a quiet place and ask, "Why am I feeling this way?" Allow Yahweh to then lead you to memories or emotions or lies and hand them to Yah'shua (Jesus) for His cleansing. You must hold on to it to some extent so you can identify the lie and expose it. But you should not lash out on others. It is only when it is exposed and cleansed in the bright light of Yahweh's truth that we can then cut such lies out of our lives.
This is where the struggle begins. When we remove ourselves from the source of temptation (if at all possible and necessary), we may still have urges to go back to the sins we loved. Don't do it! Let those urges scream and kick. This is Esau screaming and kicking for his bribe. Instead of paying the bribe, as Jacob did, we must confront the lie that we will die if we don't give in to our flesh. Esau could care less for the things of the spirit. He sold his birthright so that he could have his own fleshy appeasement! We should not give him one inch.
When those urges come up, then hand them to Yahweh. Pray and wrestle with Him, uncovering all the lies behind those urges. This is our Peniel experience, where we seek "the face of Elohim." It is here we must "work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12 NIV). As each lie comes up from these withdrawals, hand them to Yah'shua (Jesus) to dismantle. He will do it. You may not notice it at first, but the more you pray to Him, acquaint yourself with His Word, and verbally speak the truth to these lies using the Word as your guide, the Esau nature will stop fighting in that area and will learn to submit to the Ruach (Spirit). But remember we must first wrestle! This is what it means to be an Israelite. To wrestle, overcome and rule with Yahweh!
The more we overcome, the more we realise the folly of our ways. Just like Jacob thought Esau was going to kill him, so we think we will die if we don't appease our flesh. Who hasn't thought that life will crumble if they give away one of their "pet sins"? The flesh says: "Kill or be killed." Yahweh says: "Die and I will resurrect you." It is only when we die to ourselves and thus see the face of Yahweh that we can learn to look the flesh in the eye and say with Jacob:
"For to see your face is like seeing the face of Elohim (God), now that you have received me favorably" (Genesis 33:10 NIV).
This does not mean that Esau is Elohim (God) . . . by no means! But if we can see Yahweh and live, we can declare our flesh a liar and live all the same! No matter how much it kicks, screams, threatens to make life miserable and vows to destroy us for not appeasing it, Yah'shua (Jesus) alone holds the keys to the power of life and death (John 11:25-26). It is only by denying it that we die and that He can resurrect us.
Now I know this message isn't easy. However, what is easy usually isn't worth it. We are to take the hard road. This is what Messiah meant when He said to build our houses on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-27). While this requires much sweating and toil, it is the only way to ensure we can remain strong. By following the words of Yah'shua (Jesus) and denying ourselves (this includes even lawful desires - even they can lead us away from Yahweh if not in check), we begin to live the heart of Torah and not the mere letter. We become firm and insurmountable bulwarks, prepared for every attack, not because we ourselves are anything, but because we are built on the Rock that is Messiah. To believe in Messiah also means to believe His very teachings (John 15:10). It is only by truly believing Him, making Him the lord of your life, that you inherit eternal life (John 3:16; see also Luke 19:27).
The message then is clear. If we struggle with lust, we should live as though we would be celibate forever. If we are gluttons, we should live as though we are in a famine. Whatever we do to excess, against Yahweh's desires, we should do the exact opposite. This is the only way we will counteract the lies.
For example, if you have a piece of metal in your eye, the doctor can't operate on your eye until he removes the metal. In the same way, Yahweh can't operate on us until we remove sin out of our lives because "the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Ruach (Spirit), and the Ruach (Spirit) what is contrary to the sinful nature" (Galatians 5:17 NIV). However painful this may be, this must be done before Yahweh can help us. It is only then that Yahweh can change our walk (dislocating our carnal hips) by writing Torah on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Let me end this essay with a dream Yahweh gave me a few nights ago. I was in an airport, which represents a place of transition. In this airport, I used their shower, but had walked out, forgetting my clothes. All I had was a scant towel, barely covering my nakedness. I started walking around, looking everywhere for the showers so I could put my clothes on, but couldn't find them. I even remember walking through the security checkpoint, saying, "I already walked through here." This represented a re-evaluation of my life. I couldn't find them but I found that no one cared either. They were walking about, doing their own thing. The dream then ended.
I believe Yahweh was trying to show me through that dream that he was about to strip me bare and change my life. I realised after I had the dream that being (spiritually) naked isn't so bad, because then I will be stripped of all my idols and can thus be real. Not only that, the world is blind and dead in their own sins, so they can't even notice my nakedness! If you remember, this was Adam and Eve's state before they were cast out of the Garden. The more we get the leaven out of our lives, the more innocent we become. Or as Paul himself says, "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast - as you really are" (1 Corinthians 5:7 NIV). It is only when we starve the Esau nature by not giving it bribes that we become what we really are - Israelites.
So let us put off our fleshly nature and do our best to become Israelites, princes who rule with Yahweh, in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name, I pray, amein.
This page was created on 4 October 2009
Last updated on 4 October 2009
Copyright © 2009 NCCG