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!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rosh Hashanah

...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

Yesterday, at 7:06PM EST, Rosh Hashanah began. When Yeshua walked the earth, He would have participated in some type of Rosh Hashanah celebration. If we are His disciples, we should also join the festivities. It is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the set apart days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game. There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American holiday: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." In the same way, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to describe this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar.

Work is not permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in the synagogue.
Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of the wish for a sweet new year. It's tastes sweet and is symbolic of the sweetness we hope for in our daily lives especially for the new year. Bread is dipped in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.

Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). Jews walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty their pockets into the river, symbolically casting off their sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Religious services for the holiday focus on the concept of God's sovereignty.

The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month of the Jewish calander is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why does the Jewish "new year" occur in Tishri, the seventh month?

Judaism has several different "new years," a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).

Now you know the basics of Rosh Hashanah. What are you going to do now?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daily Word: Being an Apostle

Today we will look at Mark 6:7: "And Yeshua summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits...." You can't give what you don't possess. Yeshua was the master over unclean spirits and thus, was able through the spoken word to place the twelve over the spirits also. However, there is no Greek word for authority in the text. It is implied. What Yeshua actually does is place the twelve over the unclean spirits. This is good support for the belief that our enemy is beneath our feet. Yeshua teaches that He is over unclean spirits and so are those to whom He elevates. This is the point to grasp; Yeshua elevates the twelve. It is not some token designation. The twelve have actual power over the spirits because they have been placed above them.

The twelve are sent. The Greek word for "sent" is apostello and it means to order (one) to go to a place appointed. This is where we get the word "apostle." Today, people call themselves "apostles" as if that somehow makes them more important. If Elohim directs you to the grocery store to share the good news with someone, then you are an apostle. You have been sent to a specific place. There are many apostles today because many people are being sent by Elohim to specific places. Sometimes, we don't like where we are sent. That is not the issue; the issue is to go where you are sent.

Today, recognize that you are a candidate to be an apostle, i.e. you are a candidate to being sent somewhere. This does make you more special than one who is not sent today because they might be sent tomorrow. It is important that you don't send yourself. The apostle is one who is sent by someone else. We all need to approach each day with anticipation that Elohim might send us to a place today. Are you ready? More importantly, are you willing?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Daily Word: Future Choices

Yeshua is amazed at the lack of faith He sees in His home town of Nazareth. Mark 6:6 reads: "And Yeshua marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching." The word "marveled" is the Greek word thaumazo and it means to wonder, marvel, or be struck with admiration or astonishment. It is in the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense is only used in the indicative mood (which describes a statement of fact) and refers to continuous or linear action in past time. Yeshua is describing a statement of fact, i.e. the lack of faith or trust in Him, that occurred in the past. It is absolutely true that the community of Nazareth did not believe in the words of Yeshua. He is astonished at this fact. To be astonished is to be filled with a sudden and an overpowering surprise or wonder. The reaction of the Nazarenes was new information to Yeshua. Their sudden rejection of Him was a surprise. The point is that Yeshua did not know the future choices that a person would make. Too often, we minimize Yeshua's humanity in an effort to deify Him. When we reduce His humanity we misunderstand who He really was. Yeshua was not aware of the specific future choices being made. This is very important because that fact should cause us to appreciate Him even more.

While we have previously read that Yeshua could read minds, today's verse makes clear that Yeshua's had the ability to be surprised. You really can't be surprised if you know what is going to happen before it does. This teaching inspires us to confront ourselves with the choices we make. We can't excuse our bad choices because they are, "All under the blood." There are consequences that have to be faced if we sin against God. Those consequences affect us now, in this world, in the life we live. There were people in Nazareth that did not receive a healing or deliverance because of a lack of faith (which is sin); they made the choice not to act in faith and received the consequence of not receiving. Too often, we are always thinking about heaven and the "sweet by and by." We need to focus on the reality of now.

Today, would Yeshua be surprised at your faith, or lack of faith? Would He be filled with amazement or surprise? Do you focus more on heaven rather than the needs that exist now? Begin to focus on the needs of others; begin to be the work of God on a desperately sick world. When you do, you will surprise and amaze Yeshua with your faith!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Daily Word: Are You Following Yeshua?

After seeing the unbelief in His hometown of Nazareth, Yeshua leaves for the surrounding villages. Mark 6:6 reads in part: "And Yeshua marveled because of their unbelief (their lack of action based on His teachings). And He went about among the surrounding villages and continued teaching." What exactly did Yeshua teach in the surrounding villages? Most likely, it was His consistent message, "Repent because the Kingdom of Elohim has come." Yeshua knew that for His followers to be a part of the Kingdom of Elohim, they would have to destroy their old way of living before the new path of God's ways could take effect. Just as the lack of faith had restricted Yeshua's ministry to heal, the failure to repent would prevent the coming of the Kingdom of Elohim into the lives of individuals. Yeshua is teaching the importance of our actions as revealing our true faith.

Yeshua is also teaching the importance of obeying the Torah of God. Exodus 20:8-11 reads: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it set apart. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Elohim thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days Elohim made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Elohim blessed the sabbath day, and set it apart." Yeshua remembered the Sabbath by evidence of His being at the synagogue and reading the Scriptures. We know that He read from the prophet Isaiah. While there is some uncertainty on first century customs, we do know that Jews would read from the Torah and the haftarah (this was readings from the Prophets and Writings). Yeshua's reading from Isaiah would have been for the haftarah. It is unclear whether Yeshua would have been reading from an assigned portion or whether He would have selected the passage Himself. The essential point is that on the Sabbath, He was meeting with God's people and reading the Scriptures.

Today, consider how closely are you following the teachings of Messiah? Do you bring His message of repentance, or do you tell a gospel that focuses on what God's benefit package is for signing up ? Where are you on the Sabbath? Will you be found in the Scriptures or at the mall? Do you remember the Sabbath day and keep it set apart to God?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Daily Word: Hindering the Work of God

In Mark 6, Yeshua travels back to His home town of Nazareth. His hometown was very critical of Him. His neighbors could never accept the fact that He was the Messiah. The fact that a person from among their midst could really be Israel's Messiah was beyond their ability to comprehend. Notwithstanding some gnostic writings about Yeshua's childhood which detail the performance of miracles, it seems likely that His early life was unremarkable. There was nothing from His days in Nazareth that would have caused this small community to believe that Yeshua was the Messiah. This resulted in nonacceptance and unbelief concerning Him among the people of Nazareth. Mark 6: 2 reads: "And when the Sabbath had come, Yeshua began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were amazed, saying, "Where did this man get this type of wisdom? And what type of wisdom is this that is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!" First, notice that it was the Sabbath, not Sun-day, that Yeshua went to teach. Yeshua was a Torah observant Jew and on the Sabbath, He would be found in the synagogue.

Second, notice that the unbelief on the part of the local community affected the ministry of Yeshua. Whereas the woman with the issue of blood and Jarius walked in faith which resulted in the occurrence of the miraculous, the unbelief of those in Nazareth hampered Yeshua's work there. Verse 5 reads: "Now Yeshua could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them." Unbelief and fear is a deterrent to the work of God in a community as well as individually. The teachings over the last several days clearly reveal that we can have a role in the results when we seek Yeshua's assistance. He wants us to know that role and that role is to act in faith. Yeshua was not as concerned with what they believed mentally as He was concerned with what they did as a result of that belief. To the Hebrew, it is all about faith as an action.

Today, if Yeshua visited you, what would He say about what you are doing? How would He describe your faith? Notice that it was considered a rejection of Him to act in fear. Verse 4 reads: But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house." Now fill in the blank: "Now Yeshua came to the house of ________________ (insert your name), and He found great _____________ (insert "faith" or "fear") and as a result He was able to do ____________ (insert "many" or "few") miracles there."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Daily Word: Faith or Fear

We will summarize Yeshua's teachings from the last several days. He comes back from the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. He is approached by a leader of the local synagogue to come and lay His hands upon His very sick daughter. Yeshua agrees to the request and begins the journey. A woman who has been ill for twelve years with a hemorrhage of blood comes from behind Yeshua and grabs His Jewish tallit by the tassel called a tzitzit and is instantly healed. Yeshua informs her that her faith has made her whole. As Yeshua and Jarius begin again to go to the daughter, they are informed that she has died. They don't expect Yeshua to come because to do so would make Him ritually unclean to touch the dead body. Yeshua turns to Jarius and commands him to keep the faith (which we have learned is a call to action). They arrive and remove the mourners and Yeshua touches the girl and commands healing and she is brought back to life. No doubt, the ones mocking and laughing at Yeshua probably became very silent at the display of His authority over death.

What are the lessons that Yeshua teaches through these events? First, Yeshua will respond to our requests. Second, sometimes events don't happen as fast as we desire. I'm sure Jarius didn't want Yeshua to stop and talk to the woman since that caused a delay in the journey to his daughter. Third, sometimes things get worse after we call on Yeshua to help us. The daughter died after the request by Jarius for help. Fourth, our individual faith in action sometimes plays an important role in the outcome of our difficulties. Fifth, you can't operate in both faith and fear at the same time. You have to choose one or the other. While you have the free choice capability, the consequences of your choice are not yours to make. You can choose faith or fear, but the result of your choice is God's domain. If Jarius had sent Yeshua away after the news of the daughter's death, he would have had a funeral to plan. Since he continued to walk in faith, he had a celebration to attend. His faith; God's results. Finally, sometimes you can't tell it all. Mark 5: 43 reads: "But Yeshua commanded them strictly that no one should know about the healing, and said that something should be given her to eat." Sometimes we need to wait to share good news.

Today, examine whether your actions demonstrate faith or fear. It is your choice, but you can only choose one. You will live your life motivated by faith or fear. Which one do you think Yeshua wants you to have? Which one do you think the Satan wants you to operate in?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Daily Word: Walking in Faith

We are continuing to look at Yeshua's healing of Jairus' daughter. On the way to her, Jarius and Yeshua are told that it is too late, the child has died. Yeshua commands Jarius to continue to believe. This means, that Yeshua is commanding him to continue to act in faith. Jarius does so and they arrive at his home. Mark 5:38-40 reads: "Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and cried loudly. When He came in, He said to them, 'Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.' And they mocked and ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying." The reason Yeshua puts the mourners outside is that they are not needed. During the first century, some people were paid mourners. They would come to where the dead were and they would cry for the lost one. Yeshua is telling everyone that there is no need to mourn, the child is only sleeping; however, they think the daughter is dead and this is why they mock Him. They think Yeshua is out of touch with reality. They can't see His authority yet.

Verse 41 reads: "Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, 'Talitha, cumi,' which is translated, 'Little girl, I say to you, arise.'" It would make someone ritually impure to touch a dead body. Yet, Yeshua touches her before He spoke the word of healing. Yeshua does not become unclean and the girl is healed. Yeshua is teaching that He has power over death and power over ritual uncleanness. Our culture does not understand the significance of this simple act. If someone was unclean, it had an affect on his involvement in the community. If Yeshua touched the girl and she did not live, the community would have labeled Him as unclean and He would not be able to participate in certain activities until the uncleanness was removed. Yeshua, by His actions, reveals to us His absolute trust in His authority over death. This was no surprise to Him; He was sure of the outcome. That is real faith with action.

Today, how certain are you of the truth of Yeshua's teachings? Are you willing to be mocked for following Him? Too often we settle for a "Christianity Lite." We want a little "God" in our lives but not enough to make us stand out. So how much Yeshua do you want in your life today?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Daily Word: Commanding Faith

We are continuing to look at Mark 5 and Yeshua's return to the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee. Over the last two days, we have looked at the woman with an issue of blood and how her faith in action was the basis for her healing. Today, we look at Jairus' faith in action. When he first approaches Yeshua, he begs Yeshua to come to his home, lay hands on his very ill daughter, and heal her. After the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, someone comes from Jairus' home and informs him that his daughter has died. The Scriptures read: While Yeshua was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?"
Ignoring what they said, Yeshua told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." Yeshua is teaching that our beliefs (and remember in Hebrew, belief or faith is tied to action) have a direct correlation to our outcomes. Yeshua tell Jarius to continue to believe.

Yeshua's word to believe is in the present tense and imperative mood. The present tense represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time. In most cases this corresponds directly with the English present tense. It implies on going continuous action. The imperative mood means that Yeshua is issuing a command to believe. This is very important. How can Yeshua command someone to believe? How can someone be made to have faith? If faith or belief is head knowledge or personal conviction, the answer is that you can't make someone have faith. However, if faith is connected with action, then you can command action. The point Yeshua is making is that you are to act in faith regardless of what your heart or head may be thinking. Jairus may have felt like all was lost, but he keep going with Yeshua.

Today, ask yourself, "Do I have faith?" No, this is not a call to work up some emotional personal conviction. This is a call to action. What does what you do reveal about what you believe? Be like Jarius and regardless of what things look like, keep walking in faith.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Daily Word: The Jewishness of Yeshua

Yesterday, we looked at the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. Today, we are going to consider her actions in detail. She was in a state of ritual impurity because of her hemorrhage. This is most likely the reason she approached Yeshua from behind. Yeshua was wearing a tallit (a four cornered garment similar to a shawl) with fringes called tzitzit. The tzitzit had a thread of blue that represented the Law of God, i.e. the Torah. The purpose of the tzitzit was to remind God's people to obey His commandments. It was the most set apart, i.e. "holy" part of the tallit. It is this part of the tallit that the woman grabs. In normal circumstances, when something impure touches something pure, they both become defiled. In this case, the opposite occurred. When the impure touched the pure, both were pure. Yeshua is teaching us about the power of His touch. Healing virtue departed from Him and He remained set apart and pure. He cannot be defiled by the impure that come to Him.

Sometimes modern translations try to conceal Yeshua's Jewishness by describing Him as wearing a coat or garment. There is a real effort to turn the olive skinned Jewish rabbi into a blond haired blue eyed "Jesus." He is thoroughly Jewish in His practices, culture, and beliefs. He is wearing a tallit. He is reminded of God's commandments. He is obeying the law concerning the tallit as set forth in Numbers 15:37-41. This passage is part of the Shema that is spoken in the morning and in the evening before retiring to sleep. This is not a mere decoration; it is a real observance by Yeshua.

Today, what do you think about Yeshua's Jewishness? Do you ignore it, or do you embrace who He really is? I can tell you, you will never really know who Yeshua is until you find the Jewish Yeshua. And, when you do embrace His Jewishness, a whole new book of Scriptures will be opened to you!