Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve 2010

As we approach another "new year," there seems to be another round of what I call, "Help is just around the corner" messages. You know the type: things have been not been going too good, but the New Year is going to be different. Is that because we move from December 31ST to January 1ST? Is there some magic that takes place in the dropping of the big ball? Is God really going to do something great in 2011? One definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. If you keep doing what you did in 2010 in 2011, why should you expect a different result? I suggest that God doesn't need a "new year" to start doing something great in your life. If you need a "start up" date, then use today. How should you make a different result in your future?

The Hebrew sages tell us that the soul has three garments: thoughts, words, and actions. If you want a different result than your present circumstances, start with your thought life. Consider your thoughts. Do you find your mind naturally drifting toward the negative? If so, grab the reins and redirect to the positive influence of the Holy Scriptures. God is not a negative God. He has made provision for your success in His Word. You need to meditate on it. Joshua 1:8 tells us to meditate on God's Word. Meditate means to mutter to yourself. Joshua wants us to mutter to ourselves God's Word all day. Don't you think that might make your thought life different? One Hebrew rabbi said: "You are present where your thoughts are, so be careful what you think." A proper thought life will lead to the next garment.

The second garment is your words. Yeshua said that we would be judged by the words of our mouths. He said that what was in our hearts will be spoken from our lips. Your words can help you achieve success. Words alone won't do it, but it is part of the success package. Words do matter. They matter a lot. You can create with your words. No, I'm not talking about creating a tree or some inanimate object. However, your words can create love; they can create hate. You get to choose what type of creative power you will have. Do you want success; talk success. Do you want failure; talk failure. The choice is yours.

Finally, let your actions express your thoughts and words. They need to be consistent. Talk success and live success. Talk failure and live failure. This is not an overnight process. One character trait is to "keep at it." Determine that no matter what occurs, you will not quit. You will see it through until success manifests itself. You will need to understand that everything you need to be a success is inside of you right now. Just like gold is not on the surface of the earth (you have to dig for it), the thing on the inside of you that will put you over may have to be found after doing some digging. Remember that the only thing holding you back is you. Make every action count. Start with your self and then show kindness, love, and respect to all that God brings across your path.

If you follow the above, you can expect success in 2011, not because of the new year but because of your new approach to life. Guard your thoughts, watch your words, and live a life in obedience to God and you will be a success!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

As we approach Christmas day 2010, I wonder how many well meaning Christians will totally miss the "reason for the season." The Internet has many historical accounts of the true reason for the season. It is not the Hebrew Yeshua; the holiday is a pagan celebration of the winter solistice. Almost every major religion has some type of holiday this time of the year. All the time we have been fighting to keep "Christ in Christmas," we have been engaging the wrong battle. Yeshua has nothing to do with the season, despite what you have been taught in Sunday School. This season is about greed and money. It is about finding the best gift at the right price to make our loved ones and friends happy. Everybody does the same thing and the retailers hope to benefit from our efforts to some how believe that Jesus is happy with all this mess.

All of this must make G-d sick. The typical Christmas story contains so many errors. The wise men didn't show up in the stable. Actually, neither did Joseph or Mary for that matter. They were in a home with an attached area with privacy. They were not in an inn, but they were not out in a cold stable either. Joseph was from the lineage of David. He would have been well received in Bethlehem and would not have been turned away. Yet, we have created a Christmas story that we seek to fight for that is just plain wrong.

We need the truth, but from the line in a "Few Good Men," can we handle the truth? The truth is that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. His mission was to renew the covenant as promised in Jeremiah 31. The law was to be written on the hearts of mankind and not on tablets of stone. Every new covenant required a sacrifice and Yeshua was the ultimate sacrifice for this covenant. Yes, He was born; however, it was not on December 25TH. He is not the reason for this season, but He is the reason that we as Gentiles can be grafted into the Olive Branch of Israel and we can have salvation. Now that is something to rejoice over, but Christmas isn't.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dealing with Confrontation

A quote concerning Jacob and his preparation to meet Esau (who had years ago desired to kill him):
"Jacob prepared himself for his confrontation with Esau in three ways: he sent Esau a gift to appease him, he prayed, and he made ready for war."

The above quote provides with good instruction on dealing with those that oppose us. Whether spiritually, in business, or among those who at one time we considered close to us, but now stood in opposition. First, send an act of kindness. Perform some good deed for the one who may oppose you. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Demonstrate the love of YHWH to them. Second, you should pray. Pray for G-d's blessing on their life and on yours. It is not wrong to pray that you would be blessed. It is not an act of selfishness; it is an act of good sense. Finally, prepare for war. Every one has freedom of choice. We may not always be able to anticipate the choices of others. In all cases, the final act to prepare for war is an act of self preservation. Life is precious, and that includes yours. So prepare for war, and prepare well.

Follow these three suggestions and you will be prepared to deal with all opposition, no matter where it originates.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Ayin)

The sixteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called Ayin. In ancient Hebrew, Ayin meant an eye. The pictograph of an eye symbolizes to see, to understand, to experience, and to be seen. Words with Ayin demonstrate some aspect of the eye or sight. The Hebrew word for to continue or forever is ad. The word picture tells us that you can continue when you see the door. The Hebrew word for pleasant or the garden of Eden is e-den. The word picture for e-den informs us that it was where you could see or to experience the door of life. The word for weep is da-ma. The word picture describes weeping as the blood of the eye. The word for to hear, to understand, and to obey is sha-ma. The word picture tells us that to hear is to see the name.

Psalm 119 verses 121-128 all begin with the letter Ayin. Since the letter Ayin is the eye, these eight verses speak of seeing or understanding. It is to the G-d of lovingkindness (v.124) and precepts (v.128) that we place our trust. Verse 127 says: "Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold." Can you make that declaration? Do you love G-d's commandments more than gold?

Today is a good day for considering what you love above all else. What controls your heart? Is it the commandments of G-d or something else? It doesn't matter what the something else is; if it is not G-d's commandments, you have erred.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Samech)

The fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Samech. In ancient Hebrew, it meant a prop, i.e. a support. It symbolizes: (1) support; (2) a slow twisting; or (3) turning aside. Thye Hebrew word for refuge or trust is cha-sah. The word picture tells us that a refuge comes from the fence of support. We have previously learned that the Torah is a fence to keep us from difficulties. The word for grandfather is sav. The word picture is that a grandfather supports the house or family. There is great wisdom with those with grey on their heads. We should listen to the older generation for their wisdom. The word for moody is sar. The word picture informs us that a moody person is a propped up person. Finally, the Hebrew word for book is se-fer. The word picture is that a book will support the mouth of a man or woman. The contents of a book will help you speak to other people. What have you been reading and how has it helped you speak to other people?

Psalm 119 verses 113-120 all begin with the letter Samech. Since we know that Samech means a prop, these eight verses teach us how G-d supports and upholds those who lean completely, not selectively, on His Torah. Verse 113 says: "I hate those who are double-minded, but I love Thy Torah." Do you love the Torah? Or, are you like most Christians that believe the Old Testament has passed away? Are you free from those restrictions? I have one question, "So, how is that working out for you?"

Today, consider what supports you. What holds you up? Is it the word of G-d, or is it the traditions of man or a church? When you can lean completely on G-d and His word, you will find peace, i.e. shalom (nothing missing, nothing broken).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Noon)

The fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet is Noon. In ancient Hebrew, it meant a fish. It symbolizes a fish darting through water, i.e action and life. We would expect words that contain Noon to have action and life in their pictographs. The Hebrew word for son is ben. The word picture says that he is the life of the family. This means that he will continue the family name. He continues the life of the family. The Hebrew word for eagle is ne-sher. The word picture reveals the eagle as the living prince. The Hebrew word for expel or reject is nee-dah. The word picture tells us that to expel is what comes from the moving door. Again, we see action; the door moves to expel. The Hebrew word for please is nah. The word picture informs us that to ask please is an action of strength.

In Psalm 119 verses 105-112, each verse begins with Noon. Since Noon means action or life, these eight verses tell us that G-d's word is like a lamp to my feet (allowing action even in the midst of darkness). When I find myself in trouble, I can turn to G-d's word to revive me and carry me through whatever I am facing. Verse 109 says: "My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Thy Torah." Can you say that? Can you affirm that your life is in G-d's hand? Can you testify that you have not forgotten His Torah? If you can't, you can not pick and choose what verses you want from this psalm. Do you want His word to be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path? Don't forget His Torah. Do you want ADONAI to revive you? Don't forget His Torah.

Today, ask yourself, "Have I forgotten G-d's Torah? Do you want His word to light your path and be a lamp to your feet? If so, don't forget His Torah. Incline your heart toward the statutes of Elohim. He will guide you and never fail.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Mem)

The thirteenth leter in the Hebrew alphabet is Mem. In ancient Hebrew, it meant water. It symbolized: (1) a mighty, massive or many; (2) chaos; or (3) to come from like water down a stream. The Hebrew word for mother is em. The word picture informs us that a mother is the strong water. A mother is like the water that never fails; she is the life giver. The Hebrew word for thirst is tsa-ma. The word picture is that when you thirst, you are hooked by water strongly. The Hebrew word for bitter is mar. The word picture is that a bitter person is as a chaos man. Have you noticed that those who are bitter in life are surrounded by chaos? They go hand in hand.

In Psalm 119 verses 97-104, all verses begin with the letter Mem. Since Mem means water, these eight verses tell us that as water in the desert produces life and growth, G-d's word causes us to flourish. When you grow in G-d's word, you increase in insight, understanding, and wisdom. If you want these attributes in your life, they are available to you. However, you will need to study G-d's word. The power is in His word. There you will find wisdom and life.

Today, consider your study habits. Do you really take time to study G-d's word? Or, are you content to read a few passages and wait for church to receive some nourishment. Make today a day of study. Dig into G-d's word. As you do, you will find insight, understanding, and wisdom increasing in your life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Lamed)

The twelfth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Lamed. In ancient Hebrew, Lamed meant a cattle goad or shepherd's staff. A cattle goad was used to drive animals to their destination. The pictograph of a rod symbolizes control, prodding or urging forward, going forward, or a tongue. As we consider several Hebrew words with Lamed, remember the picture of control or going forward. One Hebrew name for G-d is el. The word picture informs us that G-d is the first or the strong authority. The Hebrew word for heart is lev. The word picture tells us that the heart is what controls the inside. One life lesson is that people generally do what they want to do. People are not overwhelmed by some outside force. Instead, they give in to an evil inclination that is inside of them. Too often, Christians like to "pass the buck" and blame the devil, when it is themselves at fault. The Hebrew word for tongue is la-shon. The word picture explains that the tongue is the rod that devours and establishes life. Proverbs 18:21 says: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue...."

In Psalm 119 verses 89-96, all verses begin with Lamed. Since Lamed means a staff, these eight verses tell us that G-d's authority controls and protects us like a shepherd's staff. When we see the Sovereignty of G-d and how it impacts our lives, we will be able to speak in confidence verse 94: "I am Thine, save me." However, don't forget the rest of the verse, "For I have sought Thy precepts." The Hebrew word for "precepts" is pikkudim and it means to take oversight or charge. G-d will save us when we allow Him to take charge of our lives. That includes obedience to Torah.

Today, consider who is in charge of your life. Who or what controls you? What is inside your heart that is the hand that guides you? If it is anything other than YHVH, you are on dangerous ground.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Kaf)

The eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Kaf. In ancient Hebrew it meant a palm or a wing. It symbolizes to allow, to cover, or to open. The hand performs all these functions. It allows; it can cover; and it can open the way. Hebrew words that contain Kaf will demonstrate some attribute of the hand. The Hebrew word for yes is ken. The word picture informs us that to say yes is to open your hand to life or activity. The Hebrew word for priest is ko-hen. By placing Hey in the middle of the word for yes, the word picture is formed that tells us that the role of the priest is to reveal the heart of the "yes." The Hebrew word for all, complete, or everything is kol. The word picture tells us that it is "whole" when you open the hand of the rod. The Hebrew word for forgive is kee-per. The word picture tells us that to forgive comes when, instead of pronouncing judgment, you cover the mouth of the person. This is exactly what occurs by the grace of G-d. The mouth of the accuser is covered when we receive grace from ADONAI.

In Psalm 119 verses 81-88, each verse begins with the letter Kaf. Since Kaf is the open hand, these eight verses inform us that we all need the open hand of G-d. Too often we seek the open hand of man, when it is the mercy, compassion, and grace from the open hand of G-d we need. Consider whose hand you seek. Is it the favor of man, or the favor of G-d?

Today, consider the hand of G-d. Look to His past faithfulness to act in the present. It is because of what His hand has done in the past, we can have trust in His hand to open in the present. Our future, as well as our present, is secure because of His open hand. Seek His open hand and not man's.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Yood)

The tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Yood. Yood in ancient Hebrew meant a hand. Yood symbolized to work or a deed done. As we examine Hebrew words with Yood in them, we will see a hand at work. The Hebrew word for fear or awe is ya-ray. The word picture tells us that you will fear the one whose hand you see. The Hebrew word that means straight or upright is ya-shar. The word picture for upright is the hand of the prince or warrior. The Hebrew word for despair is ya-ash. The word picture says that you despair when the hand or work is fire (when that which you have labored for is destroyed). When one considers a hand, one thinks of action. Whether one is in fear, upright, or in despair, it is about the action that accompanies the emotion. This is not mental assent. It is action founded on belief.

In Psalm 119 verses 73-80, each verse begins with Yood. Since Yood means hand, these eight verses inform us that when we know the hand and the work of G-d, how He made and formed us, we will be able to trust Him to work faithfully in times of trouble. Those that trust in the hand of G-d will trust in His character and that includes trusting in His lovingkindness. We act on our knowledge of G-d's faithfulness in the past to guide us to the future. Because G-d has been faithful in the past, I can trust Him for the future.

Today, what do you trust about ADONAI? What do you know for certain about His past faithfulness that encourages you to trust Him in the present and in the future? Meditate (means mutter to oneself) on His past faithfulness. When you do, tomorrow looks much better.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Tet)

The ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Tet. In ancient Hebrew it meant a snake, or to surround. It symbolizes to surround or to twist. When we study Hebrew words with Tet, we see the word picture clearly. The Hebrew word for belly or womb is be-ten. The word picture is the house that surrounds life. The Hebrew word that means to trust or to be safe is ba-tach. The word picture informs us that it is safe to be inside a surrounding fence. We have previously seen that Torah is like a fence that surrounds us and keeps us safe. When we leave the safety of what ADONAI has provided, we lean on our own understanding to keep us safe. The Hebrew word for adversary is sa-tan. Does that look familiar? The word picture tells us that an adversary like Satan is like the snake that devours life. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was the snake that twisted the truth of ADONAI's word. He is still doing that today when he convinces people to disregard the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e the Old Testament. The Hebrew word that means good is tov. The word picture says that good is what surrounds and is inside. The inside and outside match. This is Hebraic thought versus the modern Christian view that says my spirit is saved, but my flesh is in rebellion. Pure nonsense!

In Psalm 119, verses 65-72, they all begin with the letter Tet. Since Tet means to surround, the eight verses tell us that when G-d teaches us discernment and knowledge, we will be able to distinguish truth from deception. If we believe that G-d is good and therefore does good, we will desire to learn His ways through His Torah. Our G-d is a good G-d and He desires the best for His people. We get into trouble when we substitute our ways for His ways.

Today, consider your ways. What surrounds you? Is it the truth of ADONAI's word, or just a portion of it? If you believe He is all good, why would you not want all of what He says? The safest place to live is surrounded by His word. Come inside the fence and be surrounded by His goodness.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Chet)

The eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Chet. Chet in ancient Hebrew meant a fence or an inner room. It symbolized to be separate, to be cut off, or to protect. As we review several Hebrew words that contain Chet, we will see "the fence." The Hebrew word for brother is ach. The word picture tells us that a brother protects us like a strong fence. The Hebrew word for grace is chen. It may come as a surprise to many in modern Christianity, that the Hebrews also had grace. It is not limited to the ministry of Yeshua. The word picture for chen is to fence or protect life. The Hebrew word for refuge or to trust is cha-sah. The word picture says that a refuge is a fence of support. The Hebrew word for keeping silent is cha-shah. The word picture is to fence the teeth, i.e. refrain from speaking. All these words containing Chet reveal some aspect of a fence.

In Psalm 119 verses 57-64, the verses all begin with the letter Chet. Since Chet means a fence, these verses inform us that ADONAI's favor, grace, and Word are a fence that will keep us safe within and from our enemies without. It still amazes me that most Christians do not see the importance and necessity of obeying the Torah of ADONAI. They are His words of instruction to us in how we should live our lives. Why do we approve of some and disregard the rest? Does this not reveal your intent to act like Elohim? If you can decide which words of Elohim are binding, does that not make you superior to Him? We need all of ADONAI's fence in the world we live in to be safe.

Today, ask yourself, what is your fence? Do you rely on your own good judgment, or do you rely on Elohim's? This is an important question because we live in a sick world. There are many complex issues before us. I am thankful we have the Torah to guide us. What about you? How is your fence holding up?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Zayin)

The seventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Zayin. In ancient Hebrew, it meant a weapon. It symbolizes to cut or to pierce. The Hebrew word for enemy or foreigner is zar. The word picture describes an enemy as a weapon man. The Hebrew word that means to prune is za-mar. The word picture informs us that to prune, we need to cut off the bitterness or to cut the rebel. The Hebrew word meaning to be taught is za-har. By placing the letter Hey in the middle of the word, the word picture is that we are enlightened when the enemy is revealed. The Hebrew word for bad counsel is zee-mah. The word picture tells us that if we follow bad counsel, it will back fire on us. You can see that when a word begins with Zayin, there will be a cutting or piercing in some aspect of the word.

In Psalm 119, verses 49-56, all the verses begin with Zayin. Since the letter Zayin means a weapon, these eight verses tell us that there are powerful weapons that ADONAI has given us. ADONAI's Name and Word are our primary weapons. As you read these eight verses, see the weapon aspect of each one. Elohim's Word will carry us through the darkest of times. It will give us guidance and instruction (Torah). It will defeat the enemy of our souls. Remember in the desert, Yeshua defeated Satan with words from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Today, check how much word is in you. You do this by listening to how much word comes out of you. Do you speak words of despair and discouragement? Or, do you speak His words that bring life? Remember, it is your choice.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Vav)

The sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet is Vav. In ancient Hebrew, it meant a nail or wooden peg. Vav symbolizes: (1) joining together; (2) making secure; and (3) becoming bound to. The meditation of Vav causes us to consider our alliances, our friends, and our way of life. What does your life, not your stated beliefs, reveal about what you are nailed to? The Hebrew word for at home or to rest is na-vah. The word picture tells us that resting comes from a life that is secured, i.e. nailed to something. The word for lust is a-vah. The word picture informs us that lust is the strong nail that binds you to itself. It can be what controls you. Who or what are you nailed to? The word ka-vah means to bind together. The word picture is that of the binding together that comes after the nail. This is the result of being nailed or secured to someone or something.

In Psalm 119, verses 41-48 all begin with the letter Vav. Since Vav is the nail that secures, these eight verses inform us that the security of ADONAI's word and loving kindness will provide us an answer to reproach and will allow us to walk in liberty. Notice, this is not a freedom to do as we please. Instead, it is a freedom that comes from being bound to His Torah. Freedom is freedom to obey. Obey what? Obey the Torah, i.e. instruction or guidance, that comes from ADONAI.

Today, ask yourself what are you bound to? What secures you? Is it your own efforts and abilities, or is it the word of ADONAI? If it is ADONAI, then you should be following the Torah. After all, if you are bound to ADONAI, and He has given you the Torah to know how He wants you to live, then the Torah is the nail that will keep you secured.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Hey)

The fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Hey. Hey in ancient Hebrew meant behold. The picture of a man with his hands lifted up, or of an open window can be seen in the ancient symbols for this letter. The pictograph of a window symbolizes to show or to reveal. The idea behind behold is that you are being shown something that is distinct and clear. That which you may behold may answer that which you seek. The eight verses 33-40 in Psalm 119 all begin with Hey. The eight verses inform the reader how G-d's teaching can give us understanding of His Torah. When His word is established in our lives, we should honor and revere Him.

A review of the first words in each verse referenced above in English are: teach, give, make, incline, turn away, establish, and behold. They are all requests from the Psalmist to ask ADONAI to do something for him. The requests are to: (1) teach me Thy statutes; (2) give understanding; (3) make me walk in Thy commandments; (4) incline my heart to Thy testimonies; (5) turn my eyes away from vanities; (6) establish Thy word to Thy servant; (7) turn away my reproach; and (8) behold, I long for Thy precepts; revive me. The heart cry of Hey is a plea for understanding of the ways of ADONAI.

Today, what is your heart cry? Do you seek to learn more of ADONAI and His ways? Consider the letter Hey. Meditate on the ways of ADONAI and seek to follow Him according to your best ability.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Dalet)

The fourth letter in the Hebrew alphabet is Dalet. In ancient Hebrew it meant a door. The pictograph for Dalet is: (1) a door; (2) a path or a way of life; and (3) movement especially into or out of. The Hebrew word for judge is dan. The word picture informs us that a judge is the door to life. This is because a judge provides justice, protection, and redemption. The Hebrew word for knowledge is de-ah. The word picture is that knowledge is the door of the eye. Through knowledge, we see and understand, which will in turn affect our lives. The Hebrew word for weep is da-ma. The word picture describes weeping as the blood of the eye. Psalm 126:5 says, "Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. The weeping is a door to joy.

When we begin to understand that every letter in Hebrew is also a number and picture, we begin to see a deeper meaning to the Scriptures. Hebrew words that begin with Dalet will have some reference to a door. The word will be a pathway from one place to another. Who is another door? In John 10:9, Yeshua said, He was the door. When we remember that He would have been speaking Hebrew or Aramaic (a first cousin language to Hebrew), the powerful meaning becomes clear. A door is a passage way that enables you to be transferred from one place to another. Through Yeshua, we have a door of transformation if we will avail ourselves of it.

Today, consider Dalet. Think about the doors in your life; the ones you have walked through and the ones you didn't. Remember, Yeshua is the door to life. Walk through it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Gimmel)

Today, we will examine the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Gimmel. In ancient Hebrew, the letter meant a camel. The picture of a camel symbolizes: (1) a camel or beast; (2) something benefited or lifted up (like a camel rising from his knees); and (3) self will or pride (like a stubborn camel). When meditating on Gimmel, consider how following Yeshua has lifted you from where you used to be, to where you are now. If you are a follower of Him, your actions will have changed. This is not to emphasize you or focus on yourself; instead, it is to focus on what He has done for you.

Each of the verses in the third stanza (17-24) of Psalm 119 start with Gimmel. Since Gimmel means to lift up, or reward and can symbolize a lifting up, in pride, revelation or exaltation, these eight verses tell us that it is ADONAI who will lift us up in either reward or rebuke. We that understand this truth will trust Him and His word. Read the verses and focus on the fact that it is ADONAI that lifts us and not we ourselves.

Today, choose to meditate on Gimmel. Focus on what ADONAI has done for you. Do not fall for the new age trap that you are the author of your own destiny. It is true that obedience brings blessings, but it is ADONAI that has provided the instruction (Torah) so you will know how to obey. It is no accident that the modern church has so many problems, sexual sin, and greed; it is a direct result from the abandonment of the Torah. Focus on Elohim's lifting power. Focus on Torah as the way to blessing through obedience.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Bet)

We are focusing on meditating on the Hebrew alphabet. Today, we consider the second letter, Bet. In ancient Hebrew Bet meant a tent or house. It is a three sided letter open to the left with a dot in the middle. The pictograph is of a house which symbolizes: (1) a physical house or building; (2) a body (house) of someone or something; (3) family, household; or (4) inside, within or amid. The dot represents one who lives within. When Jacob slept in the wilderness, he was certain he was alone. However, when he awoke, he had learned about Bet: "Surely G-d has been in this place, and I didn't even know it!" Bet reminds us that we are never really alone if we obey Elohim.

G-d has many houses: the house of being set apart (Bet Ha-Mikdash); the house of meeting and prayer (Bet Ha-Kenesset); and the house of searching and study (Bet Ha-Midrash). You can walk into Bet through the opening and you are at home. ADONAI wants us to be at home whether you are living set apart from the ways of the world, meeting and praying with others, or studying the Torah to find truth. The Hebrew word for blessing, i.e. Beracha, begins with Bet. It is true that it is a blessing to never be alone, to always know that ADONAI is watching over, and that you are a part of a community.

Today, consider the letter Bet. Meditate on the goodness of Elohim who is constantly with you. Remember you are part of a community that is separated from the world. However,know that with Bet, you are not afraid of the world because at any time you can walk into His house and be safe.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Word: Meditating on the Hebrew Alphabet (Alef)

Yesterday, we read that Yeshua went to the mountains alone to pray. We discussed the difference between saying ritual prayers and contemplative prayer. The latter focuses on meditating on some aspect of the Word of God. This is the opposite of Eastern religions that seek to empty oneself; instead, in this type of prayer you are filling yourself with something sacred. We are going to spend a few days considering the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. My 10 year came out of a Sunday School class and told me that speaking in tongues was Elohim's language. She knew that didn't sound right. I told her Hebrew was ADONAI's language and He created it to communicate to His chosen people. Let us get to know His alphabet.

The first letter is Alef. It has no sound. It is the breath you make when you begin to make every sound. It is the letter beginning the first of G-d's names, Elohim. It also is the beginning of a word that sets our G-d apart from others; He is One, i.e. Echad. The name of the first man begins with Aleph, i.e. Adam. It also begins the name of the first Jew, the father of our faith: Abraham. It is no accident that all these words begin with Aleph. The most basic words begin with the most elementary sound; the almost sound before you make any sound.

Today, go before Elohim and consider the words that begin with Aleph: Elohim, Echad, Adam, and Abraham. Remember that Elohim means mighty one. He is One. He is all powerful. Remember the error of Adam and commit to follow Yeshua, the second Adam, not the first. Finally, remember the faith of Abraham, who left the security of his family to follow a G-d he had just heard. As you consider these things, your prayer life will be embarking on a wonderful journey.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daily Word: Praying Alone

After the feeding of the five thousand, Yeshua sends the disciples to go before Him to Bethsaida. He then, "Went to the mountain to pray." The Jews had many form prayers, such as the Amidah, which we have previously examined and were spoken together in unison. Yeshua also practiced solitary prayer. This would have included the principle of Kavannah. As Maimonides put it, “any prayer without kavannah is no prayer”. Kavannah is a state of mind that is seldom achieved; it’s the split second of the present moment—here it is; now it’s gone. It is the present moment where we face ADONAI. In the Torah, we read of Moses' request to see the face of Elohim, and Elohim explains to Moses that He is not available: “You cannot see my face, no man can see Me and live. Behold there is a place near me and when my presence passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover my hand over you until I have passed. Then I will remove my hand and you shall see my back, my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:20-23). Some definitions of kavannah include attention, awareness and mindfulness, but more precisely it is the ability to concentrate on one single object for extended stretches of time, rather than being scattered. The practice focuses on the mystical side of prayer.

Some religious groups are fearful of what has been called contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer, also known as “centering prayer,” is a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word or phrase and concentrates on it. While contemplative prayer is done differently in the various groups that practice it, there are similarities. Contemplative prayer involves choosing a sacred word ot text and seeking God's presence. Contemplative prayer usually includes sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settling briefly and silently, introducing the sacred word. Yeshua spent complete nights in prayer. He wasn't reciting formal prayers since He was by Himself. He would have been seeking the presence of His Father. He provides us a perfect example in how to pray.

We will look at this type of prayer over the next few days. Begin to seek Him in your quiet moments. This is not a quick rush prayer that is thrown up in the air. This is knowing before Whom you pray and seeking His presence. Yeshua did this and if we are His disciples, we should also.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daily Word: Our Part in Miracles Part 2

Yesterday, we examined the miracle of feeding the five thousand. The emphasis was on the role the disciples played in the operation of the miracle. Today, we want to summarize Yeshua's teaching to enable us to be involved in miracles today. Why is this important? It is important so that others will see the hand of Eloheim and also become followers of the Way. If we, the true disciples of YHWH, would act and live the way he has instructed, then we would most likely see many coming to YHWH. The problem is that we spend too much time just trying to get people to agree with us about some particular doctrine. How silly and what a waste of time! Yeshua wants His disciples moving in authority according to His word. Are you ready for such a radical lifestyle or would you rather just play church?

From the verses in Mark 6, we find the following principles:
1. Action is more important than understanding. At one point, the disciples completely misunderstand what is about to happen. Yeshua commands them to feed the five thousand and they check their finances. They are looking for a natural way to obey. Yeshua is operating in the supernatural and He desires us to operate in that realm also.
2. Action is required to receive. At any point in the process, the miracle would have ceased if the disciples quit moving. If they had refused to pass out the food or if they had stopped mid way of the feeding, the miracle would have ceased. Yeshua was requiring them to be involved in the process. Presumably, He could have called down manna from heaven, but He did not. He wanted the disciples to act, see, and then believe. Notice the order. Action first; seeing second; and then comes belief.
3. Yeshua's word directs our actions. This is not a call to individual thinking. This is a call to follow what Yeshua has said. You don't get to decide what miracle you want to perform. You must wait for the command, "to give them something to eat." This can be the most difficult part; the waiting. We are in to big of a hurry to hear the command. We act and then want Yeshua's blessing on what we have decided to do. Wait until you receive the command, and then act, especially if you don't understand it all. Faith is in the action. Faith brings the miracle.

Today, spend time alone with ADONAI. Here the voice of the One who loves your soul. If He gives a command, then act. If you hear no command, still enjoy His presence and let Him know you are available.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Daily Word: Our Part in Miracles

What does Yeshua teach about our involvement in miracles? In Mark 6, we read the familiar story about the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, not including women and children. The crowd has gathered and it is late. the disciples want Yeshua to send them away so they can buy food. Yeshua says to them in verse 37: "You must now give them something to eat." The word "give" is the Greek word didomi and it means to give of one's own accord and with good will. It is in the aorist tense, imperative mood, and active voice. This means that Yeshua is commanding them to a specific act that they are to perform, and that act is to feed all the people. Of course, the disciples immediately think that they are to go and buy the food so they calculate the budget to determine the feasibility of the request. Yeshua then begins to operate in a realm of faith beyond their comprehension. He has the crowd sit down. He thanks ADONAI first, breaks the bread, and gives the food to the disciples so the miracle can be performed. Notice, He does not bless the food. Hebrews bless ADONAI, but not the food. Blessing the food is a Christian custom. The miracle is performed as the disciples act on the words of Yeshua. Remember, faith is action. The disciples demonstrate their faith, which activates the miracle by starting the feeding process and continuing on as they distribute the food to the crowd. If at any point they stopped, the miracle stopped.

Yeshua wants us to know that when we act on His words, we can see miracles. Yet, we are to be involved in the process. Too many people cry out for a miracle, but sit on their hands and do nothing. If you want to see a miracle, determine what the word of ADONAI is and act on it. James said, "Faith without works is dead." A faith that is alive is a faith that can be seen and is moving. Faith is not a stagnant belief in a creed. It is Abram leaving his comfort zone and going to a place he doesn't know. It is Moses standing before the Red Sea with the Egyptian army about to over take him and he raises the staff to divide the waters. It is Peter speaking a word of healing and then lifting the lame man at the Temple. The man's legs were not healed until after Peter began to raise him up. Our involvement in miracles involves the potential for our embarrassment. This is why we must to act on faith, not think about it.

Is there a miracle in your life that has been delayed because of your embarrassment to act on the word? If so, know that the delay is not Elohim's, but yours. Decide what you really believe about a situation and then act on it. Don't be afraid, if you have a word from ADONAI, you can trust Him even if your knees are shaking.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Daily Word: Taking a Break Part 2

Mark 6:31 reads: "And Yeshua said to them, "Come aside yourselves to a lonely place and rest a little." Yesterday, we examined the different Greek words that are translated as "rest." Today, we continue to consider our rest. I have just completed my Sabbath prayers. There is a comfort and rest I receive, even if physically tired, from repeating prayers that have been spoken for hundreds if not thousands of years. I begin every Sabbath by having a time of prayer. It is my stepping away from my busy life full of responsibilities and I rest and speak to ADONAI. Two phrases struck me this morning: "Enlighten our eyes in Thy Law, and let our hearts cleave to Thy commandments." That is a cry of my heart. May my inner being hold tight to the Law of Elohim, i.e. His Torah. It is how He wants me to live and it brings honor to Yeshua who was the covenant sacrifice for the renewed covenant. Jeremiah 31 informs us that the renewed covenant will write the Torah on our hearts. If you are part of that renewed covenant, you also should love Torah because it is written on your heart. The second phrase was: "Happy is the man who hearkeneth unto Thy commandments...." To hearken is to hear and obey. In this prayer we find one way to happiness: to obey the word of ADONAI. What does obedience have to do with Yeshua's call to a time of rest? There is a Sabbath rest reserved to the followers of Yeshua. Every week, we are commanded to "keep the Sabbath." I have little doubt that Yeshua has this in mind, i.e. the concept of Sabbath, in His call to rest.

Abraham Heschel said: "The seventh day is the armistice in man's cruel struggle for existence, a truce in all conflicts, personal and social, peace between man and man, man and nature, peace with man, a day on which handling money is considered a desecration, on which a man avows his independence of that which is the world's chief idol. The seventh day is the exodus from tension." If you want to improve the quality of your life and your relationship with both Elohim and man, I encourage you to follow the words of Yeshua and come to a place of rest. Now don't think you can pick any day you want, ADONAI has taken the guesswork away; He has chosen the seventh day as your day of rest. It is His Sabbath. It is for our benefit.

Today, it is the Sabbath. Try to rest. Have a time of prayer, study of His Word, do something nice for someone, perform acts of kindness and charity. Bring honor to the words of Yeshua, come and rest.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Daily Word: Taking a Break

Mark 6:31 reads: "And Yeshua said to them, "Come aside yourselves to a lonely place and rest a little." There are three words in Greek translated as rest. First, there is epanapauomai and this means to lean upon, to trust in something, and it is used only in Luke 10:6 and Romans 2:17. The second word is kataapausis and it means a permanent rest of the eternal kingdom. The third word is anapausis and it means a temporary rest like a coffee break. In this verse, Yeshua is teaching on the necessity of physical rest as an essential ingredient of our being of service to the Kingdom of Elohim. At times we are so busy that we get fatigued and sickness can develop. We can simply get "worn down." Yeshua understands this and gives us an answer. The question is, will we hear Him? Remember, in Hebrew you don't hear something unless you apply the words to your life and it is seen in your actions.

Notice that we are to have this rest in a "lonely place." You can't rest like Yeshua is speaking about in the middle of your work place or a shopping mall. You need a place to go to be alone and meditate on the teachings of Yeshua. This is a quiet place where you will not be distracted. A place where you can read the Scriptures and allow Elohim to speak to you. This is a place of rest that is temporary. You will be both physically and spiritually recharged and be ready to resume your work and ministry. If you neglect this teaching, you will reach a point of fatigue that will negatively impact what you are trying to do. Hear His words.

Today, do you have a "lonely place" to go to? If so, how long has it been since you visited it? If you don't have one, take a few days to find one and then go there. Don't allow the business of life steal your quiet time with Elohim. Yeshua knew what He was talking about. Have you heard Him?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Daily Word: Reaction to Rejection

We have seen that Yeshua sent His disciples to preach His message of repentance. His directions were to go without provision in hand, and to trust that they would be provided for. They were to take a staff for protection, but trust in Him would feed them. Today, we look at Yeshua's teaching to them concerning the rejection of the message of repentance. Mark 6:11 reads: And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them." Remember that to "hear" in Hebrew means to hear and obey. If someone would not apply the message of Yeshua to his or her life, then the disciples were to shake off the dust from their feet as a testimony against them. How different is this from modern discipleship today? Seeker sensitive churches seek to comfort the unbelieving one until they can be persuaded to follow "Jesus." Yeshua's message is much more direct.

The word "shake" is in the imperative mood aorist tense and active voice. This means that it is a command to a specific action as opposed to continuous action. The active voice means that the reader is to perform the action himself. Yeshua seems to be saying that there are no second chances. If you present the message of repentance and it is rejected, then you are to shake the dust as a sign of testimony against them. Again, compare Yeshua's instructions with that in modern churches today. When we do, we see how far what takes place in the name of "Jesus" today is different from what the Jewish rabbi actually taught.

Today, you are not being called to mean and inconsiderate to people. However, neither are you being called to beg them or trick them into becoming Christians. The Way of Yeshua is for the most committed. There are no half way disciples. Examine your methods and life and ask, "Am I disciple of Yeshua?" Am I following His teachings?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daily Word: True Provision

Today, we look at the provisions for the "sent ones." Mark 6:8: "and Yeshua instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt...." Yeshua tells them to begin their mission with no visible means of support. This is the opposite of most evangelical ministries today. Churches budget how much they can send for missions. If they are considering expanding, they want to make sure that they have the money before they move. You may have heard the expression, "Where God guides He provides." Here, Yeshua says, "I am sending you, and you don't need any provision for your basic necessities of life."

Remember that to the Hebrew, faith was action and not the adoption of a creed. If the twelve have faith in the words of Yeshua, they will do what he says. He tells them to go without provision and they go. This is faith in action. Yeshua told them to take a staff. The staff was like a policeman's club. It was often made of oak wood and had a knob on the end of it. Into this knob nails were sometimes driven so as to make a better weapon. It was very useful for protection, and no shepherd would be without it. There were packs of roaming wild animals that the staff could be used to drive them away. It is interest to note that Yeshua wanted them to have faith that their physical needs would be provided for, but when it came to their personal safety, they were to be prepared with their staff.

Has Yeshua sent you somewhere, but you have not acted on His words because you didn't see the provision. Do you need to see the money before you act. That is not faith; that is fear. Fear says, "I won't move until I see the money." Faith says, "If you send me Yeshua, I will go and bring my protection with me." Who are you listening to?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dangerous Teaching Part 2

I generally read the Daily Word a couple hours after I send it to see if anything strikes me that I should have said or I should not have said. I try to read it again for the first time with fresh eyes. When I did so yesterday, I noticed that I left something out that needed to be said. One might question, whether I was too critical of a church that simply saw the Scriptures different from me; they were coming from a different theological perspective. Perhaps, I should have been more tolerant. No, I don't think so. The teacher was dismissing ADONAI's instruction contained in the Torah as no longer applicable to our lives. He saw "Jesus" doing a completely new thing that broke with Judaism. However, that is not what Yeshua taught and not what the early disciples practiced. They remained faithful Jews, obeying the Torah, and following the teachings of Yeshua. They were a sect of Judaism, and not a new religion.

What happens when you dismiss the guidance of Torah? What happens is that you substitute something in its place. Read Genesis 3 again. What happens? Eve decides to supplant her thoughts and reasoning for what ADONAI has instructed her. He told her not to eat the fruit from the one tree. After talking with the serpent, she decides after careful deliberation that she knows best and you know the rest of the story. When man disregards the teachings of ADONAI and replaces with his own ideas, sin and rebellion (even with the best of intentions) is the result. That is what took place at the church I attended this past Sunday, and what happens in most all evangelical churches. This is serious and not just a theological discussion. The rebellion of the garden takes place every day when people disregard Torah and claim to be Elohim's children.

Today, ask yourself, "Who is in charge of my life?" Do you follow ADONAI's instructions on how to live your life or someone else? Is it a denomination or a person you are following? This is no place for tolerance; this is a place for truth and truth is found in ADONAI's Word.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dangerous Teaching

I was out of town yesterday due to a professional commitment my wife was obligated to keep. Being in a new area, I wanted to find a church I could worship with. I selected one due to its proximity and it had a 9AM service. I parked in the "First Time Visitor" parking space and was greeted by two very nice men. I inquired what type of a church it was and I was informed that it was an independent charismatic church. I found a seat in the middle section and listened to the praise band practice. The music was contemporary and uplifting. The service began and after singing, announcements, and prayer, the pastor began in his words, "to teach." His message was that as Christians we need to "stay ahead of the curve." He used Power Point slides to demonstrate that if we are not careful, our spiritual lives will be like a bell curve and we will start to slide downward. He explained that Jesus was doing a new thing and His curve was rising as the Old Testament was descending. He explained that the Old Testament had passed away, that the priests did not like to offer the once a year sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, and that the Holy Spirit had been pinned up in the Temple, lonely, and waiting to be freed because He liked people. He said that Jesus' sacrifice set the Holy Spirit free so He could be active in people's individual lives. Further, there was a major emphasis on being free to be you; all the chains that held you were broken.

This type of teaching is very dangerous. First, the Hebrew Scriptures have not passed away. I have previously taught on Mathew 5:17. Yeshua did not come to annul the law; He came to correctly interpret it. Look around; has heaven and earth passed away? If not the Torah is still most important in our lives. It teaches and guides us in how we are to live to please Elohim. Second, the priests considered the Day of Atonement a solemn occasion, but it was also one to be celebrated exactly as ADONAI had instructed. Third, the Spirit of Elohim has never been locked up in the Temple. The Hebrew Scriptures are full of evidence of the Spirit's active involvement in the lives of His people. Finally, Yeshua did not set you free to do what you want to do; He set you free to obey.

As I left yesterday, I could not help but to have a sense of sadness. People are searching for Elohim. Yet, they are ignoring what He has said in the Bible and in exchange they seek a personal liberation to be the masters of their own lives. They want a fresh word from Him. I say, He has already given you a good place to start listening to Him: His Torah. If you want to hear from Him, start with what he has already said. One last word of advice, avoid dangerous teaching. If Torah has been eliminated, you are on dangerous ground because it will be replaced with a man made doctrine.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Festival of Booths Part 7

We have spent the last several weeks immersing ourselves in practices from the Hebrew Scriptures. We have learned more about Rosh HaShanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), the Days of Awe, and now the Feast of Booths. The Greek mindset focuses on how to do these things. Now, we do need to know how to keep these set apart times because Yeshua did; however, we need to focus on the "why" to keep them. Everything ADONAI commands us to do has a reason. When we learn the "why," the "how" will take on more meaning. In our society, we seldom ask "why" (unless you are three years old). Our focus is on the completion of a task. Let us focus on the "why" as we conclude our studies on the fall set apart days.

Why would ADONAI command His people to keep these special days? The reason appears quite simple; He commands them to be kept to keep us from the pagan worldly influences all around us. The set apart times are not optional; they are commanded. We too often overlook this fact. If we keep the Spring and Fall holidays and keep the Sabbath every week, we will greatly hinder the materialistic pagan influences from creeping into our families. Keeping the set apart times is a way to keep the world away from your home and hearts. We live in a time where there is a great demand to assimulate into the world. The Jews have faced the temptation for 7000 years; we now face the same test. There is a tendency to either compromise with the world or to create some man made barriers such as clothing to be worn, or movies to be avoided. None of these are ADONAI's methods. His methods are found in the keeping of set apart times the way he has commanded.

As we conclude this brief study, what are you going to do with it? Will it be business as usual, or will you learn the lessons and apply them to your life? My prayer is that you will will live your life ADONAI's way, the Biblical way; Yeshua's way.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Festival of Booths Part 6

We will spend today and tomorrow finishing our study of the Feast of Booths. Have the lessons affected your life in some way? If they have not, then according to Hebrew thinking, you have learned nothing. To the Hebrew, knowledge was acquired only when it impacted your life. With that reminder, we continue our study. The Feast of Booths came to be so important in the ancient Jewish community, that it was known as "the feast of ADONAI," and was even called "the feast." The Hebrew word hag translated "feast" literally means "to dance or to be joyous," and comes from a root meaning "to dance in a circle, i.e., to march in a sacred procession, to observe a festival, by implication, to be giddy: celebrate, dance . . . reel to and fro" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, #2287). Have you felt like dancing lately? If not, this is the time to celebrate Sukkot!

This final harvest celebration, coming on the heels of the fall harvest, was a special time of joy for the Jews. The rabbis gave it the name, Zeman Simhatenu, which meant "the season of our rejoicing." It was a high point in the year for all the people of Israel. That is why it was called "the feast!" Mitch and Zhava Glaser state in The Fall Feasts of Israel: "If the theme of Rosh Hashana is repentance, and the theme of Yom Kippur is redemption, then most naturally the theme of Sukkot is rejoicing in ADONAI’s for- giveness. The gathering of the year's final harvest was a confirmation of His blessing upon the Jewish people for their obedience to His law. Salvation and obedience to ADONAI always leads to joy" (p.162).

There is a compelling reason to remember the Biblical feasts. "The specifics of the Jewish harvest festival were designed to protect the Israelites from the pagan influences they would encounter once they entered Canaan. While heathens worshipped nature itself, the Jews were to worship the Creator and Renewer of nature. While the pagans celebrated with excess and debauchery, the Israelite pilgrims were to focus on the moral significance of the festivities. "The purpose of rejoicing was not sensual abandon but to honor and thank ADONAI for His blessings, spread good fortune, and act with sensitivity.”
As we conclude today, I ask one question: “What are you doing to protect you and your loved ones from pagan influences?” Keeping the Biblical feasts is ADONAI’s suggestion; Do you have a better one?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Festival of Booths Part 5

We continue our study of The Festival of Booths by examining the spiritual significance of Tabernacles. We saw yesterday that Yeshua participated in the celebration of this holiday and used it as a teaching lesson. There are a number of spiritual lessons to learn from the feast. For example, Elohim is our shelter. This holiday reminds us not to hold too tightly to material possessions. We live in an age that is very materialistic age. Television commercials try to control and dictate our desires. They tell us what we should want to make our lives happy and complete. Tabernacles reminds us that all we see is temporary. It is the things of Elohim that we are to cling to. It is ADONAI's faithfulness and provision that will bring real joy. Isaiah 25:4 reads: "For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the blast of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall...." Let us rejoice in Elohim's faithfulness to His people.

Just as the Israelites lived in booths or tabernacles, we also live under the shelter of Elohim. In our fast paced world, it is easy to forget the essential role ADONAI plays in each of our lives. We need to really thank Him for all the good things that are in our lives. If you look around, you will find plenty to be thankful for. Things may not be perfect, and you may be facing struggles in relationships or finances, but you have the blessing of Elohim on your life if you are living in obedience to His Torah.

The reason this holiday is so joyous is that the emphasis is on His faithfulness, and not on yours. During these seven days, focus on what he has done for you in the past. It is by looking to the past that we may have confidence for the future. Keep looking back while you are walking forward. The Festival of Booths is a great way to do just that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Festival of Booths Part 4

The Feast of Booths was the most festive and joyous of occasions. History records that four huge candelabra were constructed, lighted, and maintained by men climbing ladders to pour fresh oil to keep the flames burning. The holiday was celebrated according to the outline in Leviticus:
1. They lived in booths made of tree branches for the seven days of the feast;
2. They rested from all regular work on the first and eight days of the festival;
3. The Priest offered sacrifices for seven days;
4. On the eighth day, there was a solemn assembly when one bullock, one ram, and seven lambs were offered. During the week, a total of 189 animals were sacrificed; and
5. Men carried the cluster of branches to the synagogue to wave as they rejoiced before ADONAI. Lev. 23:40

Water was very important part of the festival. Before it began, the Rabbis taught on every passage of Scripture dealing with water. Gold pitchers of water were brought from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple. The Priest would pour out the water over the altar to signify Israel's gratitude for the rain that had helped produce the harvest and they would pray for rain for the next year. The last day of the festival was called Hosha'na Rabba, meaning the Day of the Great Hosanna. Now look at John 7:37-39: On the last day of the feast, the great day, Yeshua stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Yeshua spoke this words on the last day of the Feast of Booths. Notice first, that He celebrated the holiday. He did not abandon it, nor did He ever teach His disciples to disregard keeping the holiday. Second, notice that He uses an element of the feast, i.e. water, to explain its deeper meaning.

Once again, we are confronted with the truth that Yeshua participated in the Festival of Booths. Listen this week for any Bible teacher to explain this fact to their listeners. The tension between "Christianity" and following Yeshua grows. Who or what will you follow?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Festival of Booths Part 3

The Hebrew Scriptures command Jews to dwell in temporary shelters, as their ancestors did in the wilderness. The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (which is the singular form of the plural word "sukkot"). This holiday is to be a joyful time. It is great fun for the children. Building the sukkah each year satisfies the common childhood fantasy of building a fort, and dwelling in the sukkah satisfies a child's desire to camp out in the backyard. The commandment to "dwell" in a sukkah can be fulfilled by simply eating all of ones meals there; however, if the weather, climate, and one's health permit, one should spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, including sleeping in it.

You can buy do-it-yourself sukkah from various sources online, or you can build your own. I have a gazebo in my back yard that will be covered and serve as our family's sukkah. It is common practice, and highly commendable, to decorate the sukkah. In the northeastern United States, Jews often hang dried squash and corn in the sukkah to decorate it, because these vegetables are readily available at that time for the American holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Sometimes families hang artwork drawn by the children on the walls. Building and decorating a sukkah is a fun family project, much like decorating the tree at Christmas. It is a sad commentary on modern American Christianity, that most Christians have been deprived of the fun of having and decorating a Sukkot.

Some think that the sukkah (and the holiday generally) reminds them of Thanksgiving. It is entirely possible that our American pilgrims, who originated the Thanksgiving holiday, borrowed the idea from Sukkot. The pilgrims were deeply religious people. When they were trying to find a way to express their thanks for their survival and for the harvest, they may have looked to the Bible for an appropriate way of celebrating and found Sukkot. This is not the standard story taught in public schools today (that a Thanksgiving holiday is an English custom that the Pilgrims brought over), but the Sukkot explanation of Thanksgiving fits better with the detailed research of Mayflower historian Caleb Johnson, who believes that the original Thanksgiving was a harvest festival (as is Sukkot), that it was observed in October (as Sukkot usually is), and that Pilgrims would not have celebrated a holiday that was not in the Bible (but Sukkot is in the Bible). It must be remembered that the Pilgrims were deeply religious people who looked to the Scriptures as the standard for their faith and practices. The idea of Thanksgiving being derived from Sukkot is not logically a stretch.

Today, consider making a booth or tent at your home. Decorate it and spend some time in the booth and remember ADONAI's faithfulness. Eat a few meals outside under the booth. When you do, you are obeying ADONAI and having a celebration at the same time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Festival of Booths Part 2

...On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, seven days for ADONAI -Leviticus 23:34

The Festival of Sukkot begins on the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is a very drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in the Jewish year to one of the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as the Season of our Rejoicing. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Ingathering. The word "Sukkot" means "booths," and refers to the temporary dwellings that the Jews were commanded to live in during the holiday in memory of the period of wandering. The Hebrew pronunciation of Sukkot is "Sue COAT," ,

The name of the holiday is frequently translated "Feast of Tabernacles," which, like many translations of Jewish terms, isn't very accurate. This translation is particularly misleading, because the word "tabernacle" in the Bible refers to the portable Sanctuary in the desert, a precursor to the Temple, called in Hebrew "mishkan." The Hebrew word "sukkah" (plural: "sukkot") refers to the temporary booths that people lived in, not to the Tabernacle. Sukkot lasts for seven days. The festival of Sukkot is instituted in Leviticus 23:33 et seq. No work is permitted on the first and second days of the holiday. Work is permitted on the remaining days. This is a time of celebrating ADONAI's faithfulness to the Jewish people even though it was doubt and unbelief that brought them to the wilderness in the first place.

Today, celebrte ADONAI's faithfulness to you even though you have failed Him over the years. The beauty of this festival is its emphasis on ADONAI"S faithfulness to you, not yours to Him. Now that is something to celebrate! Take your time, it lasts for seven days and it begins at sunset on September 22 and ends at nightfall on September 29TH. Go ahead and have a Season of Rejoicing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Festival of Booths

We have just completed the Day of Atonement on Saturday September 18TH at dusk. However, there is another Biblical feast we are to celebrate. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) was on the Jewish calendar the 10TH of Tishri. Five days later, on the 15TH-21ST of Tishri, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths is celebrated. Leviticus 23:33-43 reads: And the ADONAI said to Moses, Say to the people of Israel, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the feast of booths to the ADONAI. On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. Seven days you shall present offerings by fire to the ADONAI; on the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the ADONAI; it is a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work. These are the appointed feasts of the ADONAI, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the ADONAI offerings by fire, burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day; besides the Sabbaths of the ADONAI, and besides your gifts, and besides all your votive offerings, and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the ADONAI. On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the feast of the ADONAI seven days; on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the ADONAI your Elohim seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the ADONAI seven days in the year; it is a statute for ever throughout your generations; you shall keep it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the ADONAI your Elohim." Yeshua would have participated in this feast, so why don't those churches that claim to worship Him also celebrate the same feast? This year it begins Wednesday, September 22ND at 6:44PM. Listen to the television preachers, radio ministers, and the local pastors to see if there is any mention of the Biblical feast. ADONAI commands His people to keep this holiday.

In Hebrew, the word is Sukkot and is pronounced Soo-KOTE. It is a week long celebration of the fall harvest and a time to build temporary shelters of branches. This is done to remember how the Hebrew people lived under Elohim's care during the forty years in the wilderness. Jews celebrate Sukkot by building and dwelling in temporary booths for eight days. It is one of the three pilgrimage feasts when all Jewish males were required to go to Jerusalem to "appear before ADONAI." (Deuteronomy 16:16)

Again, we are confronted with the disconnect between Christian practices and those of Yeshua. The tension is growing stronger. The time will come when a decision will be made. Will you follow the Bible and Yeshua, or a religion made by gentiles that did not know ADONAI in the 4TH Century?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yom Kippur Part 2

I have been asked, "How do you reconcile celebrating the Day of Atonement with the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua?" This is a legitimate question that deserves a honest answer. In Leviticus 23:26-27, the word reads: And the ADONAI said to Moses, On the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be for you a time of set apart convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present an offering by fire to ADONAI. And you shall do no work on this same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the ADONAI your Elohim. Notice the bold portion of the text. The Jews were to afflict themselves, which was interpreted to mean a complete fast, in an effort to pay for their sins. As a follower of Yeshua, I acknowledge His affliction for my sins. Yesterday, I celebrated the Day of Atonement, but I did not afflict my body. It was a celebration that I went before Elohim and asked for forgiveness for all I had done wrong in the preceding year. Also, I took great comfort that His book was sealed which included all the good things He will send to me in the coming year. Because of Yeshua, I celebrated my right standing with Elohim, but I keep the Day of Atonement in all other aspects.

After the resurrection of Yeshua, the early believers in Jerusalem keep the Biblical feasts and holidays, which included the Day of Atonement. Whatever Yeshua taught them in the 40 days after His resurrection, it did not include an abandonment of the Torah. The disconnect from the Hebraic roots came centuries later as gentiles dominated the church. The question you must ask yourself is, "Who or what am I following?" "Am I following Yeshua, or a man-made religion that is separate from that practiced by Yeshua and the early followers.

Today, listen to see if anyone mentions the Day of Atonement. Then ask yourself, "Why?" Why are we so afraid of following Yeshua, really following Him? Be careful, the answer might turn your world upside down.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day (similar to "Christians" who only attend services on Christmas and Easter). The Biblical basis for the holiday is found in at Leviticus 23:26. The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that essentially explains what the holiday is about. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. During the Days of Awe, Adonai inscribes all of our names in the "book." On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in the books is sealed. This day is, essentially, the last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

Christians, in part due to John Wesley and Dwight Moody, place the most emphasis on our individual relationships with Adonai. To the Hebrew, the emphasis is on community. Confession of the sins of the community is made on Yom Kippur. Note that all sins are confessed in the plural (we have done this, we have done that), emphasizing communal responsibility for sins.

There is even a catch-all confession: "Forgive us the breach of positive commands and negative commands, whether or not they involve an act, whether or not they are known to us." It is interesting to note that these confessions do not specifically address the kinds of ritual sins that some people think are the be-all-and-end-all of Judaism. There is no "for the sin we have sinned before you by eating pork" (though obviously these are implicitly included in the catch-all). The vast majority of the sins enumerated involve mistreatment of other people, most of them by speech (offensive speech, scoffing, slander, talebearing, and swearing falsely, to name a few). These all come into the category of sin known as "lashon ha-ra" (lit: the evil tongue), which is considered a very serious sin in Judaism.

Today, ask yourself how seriously do you consider sin? Then, ask yourself do you see yourself as affected by the community you worship with, or do you consider your personal relationship the most important? Are your answers consistent with Hebrew thought, or a Greek view that places the greatest emphasis on personal freedom?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 8

Yom Kippur, known to Jews as The Day of Atonement, begins today at 6:52PM. Yeshua would have participated in some type of service on this day. For the Jews, and Yeshua, it was a day of fasting, prayer, and attending services. At the conclusion of the service, Kaddish Shalem would have been said. The Kaddish is a prayer that praises Elohim and expresses a yearning for the establishment of His kingdom on earth. The emotional reactions inspired by the Kaddish come from the circumstances in which it is said: it is recited at funerals and by mourners and sons are required to say Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a parent. The word Kaddish means being set apart, and the prayer is a set aparting of Adonai's name. The one who says Kaddish always stands. Whether other worshippers sit or stand depends on the congregation. It is customary for all the mourners in the congregation to recite Kaddish in unison. A child under the age of thirteen may say the Mourner's Kaddish if he has lost one of his parents. Most religious authorities allow a daughter to say Kaddish, although she is under no religious obligation to do so. Here is a portion of the text of Kaddish Shalem:

"Magnified and sanctified be God's great name in the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in our lifetime, and in our days and in the lifetime of the entire family of Israel swiftly and soon."

If we say we follow Yeshua, then why does His religious practices seem so different from ours? How many churches will even mention the Day of Atonement this week? Does it concern anyone that the early church in Jerusalem continued to participate in the Day of Atonement even after Yeshua had been raised from the dead and ascended into the clouds? Logic would seem to dictate that if you follow someone then you should do what they do. Why does this not apply to Christians? Did Yeshua abolish the Day of Atonement in His teachings?

Over the last 8 days, have you noticed the seriousness with which Jews approach sin? They mourn for their sins, they repent, and seek forgiveness. I fear that those that claim to follow Yeshua have minimized the importance of repentance and honesty concerning their walk with Elohim. As we approach Yom Kippur, it would seem to honor Yeshua by learning more about His practices and examine ourselves concerning the need to repent.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 7

Yom Kippur begins tomorrow evening at sunset. Another prayer offered is called Al Chet, For All These Sins. It is spoken while striking the left side of the chest with the right fist while reciting each sin. The text of the prayer spoken with focus and intention while aware of before Whom you stand, i.e. Kavannah, is set forth below:

For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness.

For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently.

And for the sin which we have committed before You with an utterance of the lips.

For the sin which we have committed before You with immorality.

And for the sin which we have committed before You openly or secretly.

For the sin which we have committed before You with knowledge and with deceit.

And for the sin which we have committed before You through speech.

For the sin which we have committed before You by deceiving a fellowman.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by improper thoughts.

For the sin which we have committed before You by a gathering of lewdness.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by verbal [insincere] confession.

For the sin which we have committed before You by disrespect for parents and teachers.

And for the sin which we have committed before You intentionally or unintentionally.

For the sin which we have committed before You by using coercion.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by desecrating the Divine Name.

For the sin which we have committed before You by impurity of speech.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by foolish talk.

For the sin which we have committed before You with the evil inclination.

And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly.

For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

For the sin which we have committed before You by false denial and lying.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a bribe-taking or a bribe-giving hand.

For the sin which we have committed before You by scoffing.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by evil talk [about another].

For the sin which we have committed before You in business dealings.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by eating and drinking.

For the sin which we have committed before You by [taking or giving] interest and by usury.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a haughty demeanor.

For the sin which we have committed before You by the prattle of our lips.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a glance of the eye.

For the sin which we have committed before You with proud looks.

And for the sin which we have committed before You with impudence.

For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

For the sin which we have committed before You by casting off the yoke [of Heaven].

And for the sin which we have committed before You in passing judgment.

For the sin which we have committed before You by scheming against a fellowman.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a begrudging eye.

For the sin which we have committed before You by frivolity.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by obduracy.

For the sin which we have committed before You by running to do evil.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by tale-bearing.

For the sin which we have committed before You by swearing in vain.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by causeless hatred.

For the sin which we have committed before You by embezzlement.

And for the sin which we have committed before You by a confused heart.

For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a burnt-offering.

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a sin-offering.

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a varying offering [according to one's means].

And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a guilt-offering for a certain or doubtful trespass.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of lashing for rebelliousness.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of forty lashes.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of death by the hand of Heaven.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of excision and childlessness.

And for the sins for which we incur the penalty of the four forms of capital punishment executed by the Court: stoning, burning, decapitation and strangulation.

For [transgressing] positive and prohibitory mitzvot, whether [the prohibitions] can be rectified by a specifically prescribed act or not, those of which we are aware and those of which we are not aware; those of which we are aware, we have already declared them before You and confessed them to You, and those of which we are not aware --- before You they are revealed and known, as it is stated:The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, that we may carry out all the words of this Torah. ForYou are the Pardoner of Israel and the Forgiver of the tribes of Yeshurun in every generation, and aside from You we have no King who forgives and pardons.

As followers of Yeshua, we would do well to consider the words of this prayer. Jews are honest about their sins. Christians have a tendency to excuse or minimize our transgressions. We would do well to have a paradigm shift and take our sins more seriously. That would cause us to live a life of repentance

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 6

Today, we will look at a prayer that is read on Yom Kippur. It is very important to remember that although the prayers are read, they are read with Kavannah. Kavannah means to act and to live with focus and consciousness. Instead of going through your life on "automatic pilot," you live with awareness and intentional choice. Kavannah reminds you that to remember to Whom you are speaking. The following prayer is called, "We Have Trespassed" and is prayed while striking the left side of the chest with right fist while reciting each sin:

We have trespassed;
We have dealt treacherously;

We have robbed;
We have spoken slander;

We have acted perversely;
We have done wrong;

We have acted presumptuously;
We have done violence;

We have practiced deceit;
We have counseled evil;

We have spoken falsehood;
We have scoffed;

We have revolted;
We have blasphemed;

We have rebelled;
We have committed iniquity;

We have transgressed;
We have oppresssed;

We have been stiff-necked;
We have acted wickedly;

We have dealt corruptly;
We have committed abomination;

We have gone astray;
We have led others astray.

We have turned away from Your Mitzvot (commandments) and from Your good laws, and we are poorer for our disobedience. You are just in all that has come upon us. You have been faithful; yet, we have done evil. What can we say to You, ADONAI of the universe? You know the mysteries of the universe as well as the secrets of every mortal. You search the deepest recesses of the human soul, and probe all our thoughts and motives. Nothing escapes You, nothing is concealed from You.

Therefore, may it be Your will, ADONAI, our Elohim and Elohim of our fathers, to forgive all our sins, to pardon all our iniquities, and to grant us atonement for all our transgressions.

Do not think that you can escape the temporal consequence of your sins by hiding behind the sacrifice of Yeshua. The sacrifice of Yeshua merits you eternal life, but the issue here is different. Here, we are dealing with the consequences of your sins now, in this life. Too often, modern day Christians rely on the sacrifice of Yeshua as "fire insurance" in the next life and forget that we still have to live this life out first. We, as followers of Yeshua, need to live a life of repentance. It was His primary message: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Elohim is at hand!" Today's prayer will keep us ever mindful of our need to repent and be honest before ADONAI.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 5

For many Jews, the essence of the Yom Kippur (this year on September 17TH) service takes place at the very beginning of the holiday, at the evening service that ushers in Yom Kippur. It is called Kol Nidre. The name is derived from the first major portion of the Yom Kippur prayers, dramatically chanted at the evening service. All the Torahs are taken out, the entire congregation stands, and the cantor chants this formula three times. While most people think that Kol Nidre is a prayer, it is actually a legal statement, as set forth below:

"All vows, oaths, and promises which we made to God were not able to fulfill--may all such vows between ourselves and God be annulled. May they be void and of no effect. May we be absolved of them and released from them. May these vows not be considered vows, these oaths not be considered oaths, and these promises not be considered promises."

This legal declaration was very important to the Jews. The tendency to make vows was very strong in ancient Israel. Quick and frequent vows inevitably involved in difficulties many who had made them, and thus evoked an earnest desire for release from such responsibilities. This gave rise to the rite of absolution from a vow. On account of the passionate nature of the Jews in general, however, and in view of their addiction to making vows, it might easily happen that these obligations would afterward be wholly forgotten and either not be kept or be violated unintentionally. The religious consciousness, which felt oppressed at the thought of the non-fulfilment of its solemn vows, accordingly devised a general and comprehensive formula of dispensation in the name of the assembled congregation at the beginning of the fast of Atonement. This declared that the petitioners, who were seeking reconciliation with God, solemnly retracted in His presence all vows and oaths which they had taken during the period intervening between the previous Day of Atonement and the present one, and made them null and void from the beginning, entreating in their stead pardon and forgiveness from the Heavenly Father.

To summarize, the Jews wanted to be released from any vows they may have made to God that they had not performed. They understood the power of speech. A major point to grasp is the power of the spoken word. Jews believe in the power of speech. So should we! They did not want to be in a position where they were in "default" before Elohim. We should examine our vows to Elohim. If we recall something we have promised Him and not done, ask to be released from the vow. We want to live our lives as obedient as we can before Him. Is there an unfulfilled promise to Elohim in your life? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 4

What are some of the rituals of Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur is the most set apart day in Judaism, the Shabbat of Shabbats. The Bible says, “You will afflict your soul.” The rabbis interpreted this as fasting, which included abstaining from both food and drink. In the morning on Yom Kippur there’s a tradition with a live chicken. If you go to Jerusalem on this day you’ll see people with live chickens everywhere. Before prayer people twist the chickens over their heads three times to move their troubles to the chicken. Today in the United States many people use money instead of a chicken and donate the money to charity afterwards. A meal before sundown on Yom Kippur is obligatory, to prepare for the fast.

What is special about the Yom Kippur prayer Kol Nidre?
It’s the most famous prayer in Judaism. Before a Jew goes to the synagogue to say Kol Nidre (“all vows”), they put on white clothes to symbolize purity. The prayer asks to annul their personal vows to God in the last year, and there’s a lot of debate about it and how it became central to this set apart day. The prayer is the high point of the ritual season, and the cantor sings it three times. It became popular among the Marrano Jews of Spain, who converted during the Inquisition, but continued to practice Judaism secretly. It could be about annulling one’s vows to another religion. Many Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or die.

What happens when the Sabbath of Sabbaths actually falls on a Saturday?
On Yom Kippur all the laws of the Sabbath apply. But if either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur fall on the Sabbath, the shofar is not sounded, because to carry it to the synagogue violates the Sabbath.

Are there other fasting holidays in Judaism?
Yom Kippur is one of several fasting holidays. There are other, less observed holidays, which commemorate the destructions of the first and second temples or destruction of the walls of Jerusalem. On fasting holidays such as Yom Kippur, the Jews do not eat, they do not drink, they don’t bathe, they don’t have sex, and they don’t use perfume. Boys 13 and older and girls 12 and older will fast. But someone who’s ill can eat, in the same way the rules permit Jews to violate the Sabbath to save a life. There was a mid-19th-century rabbi whose town was in the midst of a plague and to fast would have made them more susceptible. So the rabbi said people could eat on Yom Kippur. At the synagogue he made a blessing on a plate of food and ate first, so people could see it was really okay.

Why the Yom Kippur edict against leather shoes?
You see people in the synagogue all dressed up with sneakers. That’s because leather shoes are too comfortable, and this is a day about self-mortification. What gets you into trouble all year? Your ego! So, all these activities are a way of controlling your ego.

Today, consider how often do you afflict your soul. Do you ever fast? Do you ever sacrifice anything to draw closer to Elohim? If not, ask yourself why not?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 3

What are some rituals observed at the Rosh Hashanah table?
The Jews have special bread called "challah." The challah is usually long but now it’s round, symbolizing the cycle of life. Everyone has the custom of dipping something in honey; some of the Sephardim (Jews from Spain and Portugal) dip bread, Ashkenazi (Jews from eastern European) dip apples. With the dipping they say: “May it be a sweet year, L’shanah tovah.” A good year. Also, some people dip vegetables. While others set out the head of a fish and say, “May we be a head and not a tail.” These are traditions without a sound Biblical foundation.

The Jews practice tashlich, the casting away of sins.
On the day of Rosh Hashanah, at about 5 or 6, between the afternoon and evening prayers, Jews come from a synagogue together to stand beside a moving body of water to do tashlich, a casting away of sins, which is described by the prophet Micah. As a symbol, some people toss bread into the water, probably a custom from medieval Germany, where the pious were very mystically oriented and may have borrowed the ritual from Christians. The water can be either a river, a lake, or an ocean. In New York you can see people doing the ritual along the Hudson River. The idea of water purification is very old. When you enter a synagogue, you wash hands, when you go to pray at a mosque, you wash hands and feet. Christians are baptized. Everyone uses water as a sign.

What rituals are observed only at the meal on the second night of Rosh Hashana?
On the evening meal on the second day, after Kiddush—the blessing of the wine—we add a new fruit, to celebrate this occasion, this rebirth. It will be a fruit the individual has not eaten all year, so it’s usually an exotic fruit. Fruit stores know about the ritual and stock exotic offerings for the occasion. Some families have their own customary fruit.

What are some of the traditional ways to repent during the Days of Awe?
The 10 days are all about repentance. It’s a time when you ask forgiveness of your friends you’ve wronged. Of course you can go to the temple and say, “God forgive me,” but if I hurt you in some way, why should God be the only one to forgive? You must ask the people you’ve hurt for their forgiveness. The days of awe are an effort of critical self-examination. You apologize: “I gossiped about you. I was angry with you.” Then, the one in the position to forgive now has the responsibility to act. The importance of community to the Hebrew can be easily seen by this practice. If people in the community don't get along, it has a direct affect on the community. Has does this compare with the practice in most churches? Perhaps now we can better understand Yeshua's teachings about being reconciled to your brother even before giving a gift to the synagogue. All of these practices are meant to be both individual and collective.

Today, is there someone you owe an apology to? If so, what is the Hebraic approach? It is a real shame that Christian practices have diluted repentance. We need to think about our community and quit acting like "Lone Rangers."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Days of Awe Part 2

As we learned yesterday, we are in the ten day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These ten days are collectively called the "Days of Awe." It is a time of self examination and honesty about how we have lived and treated others in the past year. The Jews believed that through repentance, prayer, and good deeds, any misfortune in the upcoming year could be avoided. We will spend a few days learning about the Days of Awe.

What is the mood during the Days of Awe?
The mood during the entire 10 days is one of repentance. It’s the time of year where Jews and non-Jews are judged on the scales of good and evil, but the theme is that we can avert the evil decree by various acts. It is very much in keeping with the Jewish notion that it’s not just a matter of Elohim's grace, but includes human energy as a factor in the outcome. Men and women hurt each other and do bad things, but men and women can repair the damage they’ve caused. It is our duty to do so when we can.

What makes the Rosh Hashanah service different?
The most notable thing about the service is the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn. The Book of Numbers says that we are to consecrate this first day of the seventh month with the blowing of the ram’s horn. The shofar is blown 100 times. Why? The number of times is a question discussed and debated by the Talmudic sages, but it’s become customary to blow 100 blasts.

What’s the significance of blowing the shofar?
The significance of the shofar, which is not a set apart object like a Torah scroll, is much discussed. It awakens the dormant soul to repentance. You may be thinking about a ball game or a work project and not be paying attention, and when the shofar sounds, it is a means to call you to the important worship at hand. If you look at Biblical stories, they most a;ways mention the ram’s horn. It’s a sign of Elohim's sovereignty, a signal that He is coming down with His law. The horn also recalls that when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as Elohim had requested,* an angel guided Abraham’s hand to kill a goat instead. On Rosh Hashanah we are reminded of how faithful Elohim has been. Have you ever heard the shofar in a church service? If not, ask why not? Do we think because of Yeshua's sacrifice that we need no longer repent? The early followers of Yeshua did not hold to such a belief.

As we continue studying the Days of Awe, let us not faint and give up. The process of repentance will be quicker if we don't resist. Understand and act on the belief that Elohim has seen all your sins in the last year and somehow He still loves you. Embrace repentance; don't resist it.

* In Hebrew, Elohim does not command Abraham to offer Isaac. Instead, it is in the form of a request. This should change the way you see Elohim and Abraham in this passage.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Days of Awe

As we learned yesterday, the Jewish new year called Rosh Hashanah was celebrated. Did you hear any recognition of the holiday from churches or news agencies? I suspect not much. Now, the Jews, including Yeshua went He walked the earth, begin a very important period of time. The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with the Day of Atonement called Yom Kippur, are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious self examination, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that Elohim has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter Elohim's decree. The actions that change the decree are repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). This is not about earning salvation, but this about the quality of your life you live.These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and Elohim. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, making restitution, i.e. righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. This is very different from the Christian approach that merely seeks forgiveness from Elohim. Ask yourself, which approach do you think reflects the true purposes of Elohim?

Today, you don't have to be Jewish to examine your walk with Elohim. Paul exhorted his readers to examine themselves to make sure they were in the faith. He probably took that approach from the Days of Awe. Get a spiritual mirror and have a good look over the next week. If there is something you don't like, change it and have a great year!