Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas: A G-dly Holiday?

From Bibles to Israel sent to my E-Mail:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ” (Isaiah 9:6)

Many Christians around the world have already set up their Christmas trees, bought their presents to give family and friends, and depending on which denomination they are a part of, will be celebrating the prophetic fulfillment of the birth of the Jewish Messiah in Bethlehem this Tuesday. (Micah 5:2)

The tradition of the Christmas tree arose out
of tree worship that has existed in many
societies throughout history. The use of holly and
mistletoe comes from the Druid ceremonies.

Armenian Apostolic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, unlike Protestants, do not celebrate the birth of Yeshua HaMashiach on December 25th, due to differences between the Armenian, Julian and Gregorian calendars.

The Tanakh (Jewish Scriptures), however, doesn't identify the month in which the Messiah would be born, nor does the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) identify the exact date of His birth.

Scripture does give us an indication of the time of year.

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

When was the Messiah Born?

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (Luke 2:8)

Although Christmas is a well-established Christian tradition, Bible scholars know that December 25th is not the true date of Yeshua’s birth.

Winter in Israel is generally too cold at night to be out shepherding flocks, and yet at the time of Yeshua’s birth, the shepherds were in the fields watching over their flocks at night.

This December in Jerusalem, the temperature has been averaging about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with the temperature dropping below 50 at night.

While the men in our ministry can get away with wearing short sleeve shirts for part of the day, around 4 p.m. as the sun goes down, it becomes quite cold, and they need to put on a warm jacket.

The fact that shepherds were in the field keeping watch over their sheep at
night when Yeshua was born likely indicates that He was not born in the
winter. Some scholars even suggest the sheep were brought under cover
between November and March.

Another point to consider when trying to determine the time of year that Yeshua (Jesus) was born is the fact that winter in Israel is not a logical time to take a census because of the cold and rain. Occasionally, it even snows in Jerusalem. So the fact that Yoseph (Joseph) and Miriam (Mary) had gone to Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) to register for a census is a good indication that they were traveling in a warmer, drier season (Luke 2:1-5).

When they arrived, Jerusalem and Bethlehem were so crowded that no accommodations were available at the inn. Such crowding would have been more typical during one of the three pilgrimage feasts: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) or Sukkot (Tabernacles/Booths).

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7)

Likely, Yeshua was born at the end of the harvest, during the Biblical holiday of Sukkot, fulfilling the Scripture that one day the Lord would ‘tabernacle’ will His people. (Ezekiel 37:27)

“Look! God’s dwelling is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

God first revealed Messiah's birth to nearby shepherds
who were watching over their flocks in the fields at night.
(Luke 2:8-20)

Birthdays and the Culture of the Time

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Yeshua was born into a completely Jewish, Hebraic culture where the date of one’s death was remembered and observed rather than the date of one’s birth. This could explain why we are certain of the date of His death (Passover), but not clear on the date of His birth.

How, then, did December 25th come to be celebrated as the day of Yeshua’s birth, and what is the origin of the festival of Christmas?

It was certainly not included in the early celebrations of the Christian church.

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian [early Church fathers] do not show it on their list of feasts.”

Later, when churches in different parts of the world began celebrating the birthday of Yeshua, they had various opinions as to the correct date. It was not until the latter part of the fourth century that the Roman Church began observing December 25th.

By the fifth century, it was decreed that the birth of Jesus would be forever observed on this date, even though this was the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, one of the names of the sun-god.

Interior of the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, which is on the banks
of the Sea of Galilee, at Christmas.

Mithraism—a large, pagan, sun worship cult—fostered the celebration of December 25th as a holiday throughout the Roman and Greek worlds. This winter festival was called ‘the nativity’ and ‘the Nativity of the sun’.

This type of cult even reached Israel. Semiramis, the Queen of Babylon, (also called the Queen of Heaven and Ishtar) contaminated the Israelites’ worship of God with Baal worship (Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17).

She ordered the ancient world to celebrate the birth of her son Tammuz, who was apparently believed to be the sun god reincarnated.

She set December 25th as the date of Baal’s birth on the advice of her astrologers, since the sun is at its farthest point from the earth during the winter solstice.

“The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger.” (Jeremiah 7:18)

Over time, the sun god came to be worshiped all over the ancient world on December 25th. It was a time of orgies, drunkenness, and the sacrificing of infants to the pagan god, Baal.

Because this feast was so popular among the pagan population of Greece and Rome, the date was simply adopted as the time of the birth of Yeshua by the Roman Church.

Although Christmas caroling today brings cheer to many Christians, in
their earliest beginnings, carols really had nothing to do with Christmas.
The melodies were originally written to accompany an ancient dance form
called the circle dance associated with fertility rites and pagan festivities.

Gift-giving, Saturnalia and Violence Against the Jews

Many customs associated with the season–the giving of gifts, house-to-house caroling, and the general rejoicing and festivity derived from this winter festival of Saturnalia–are a remnant of paganism that has remained attached to the Christian Church.

The Christians who first observed the birth of Jesus on December 25 did not do so thinking that he was born on that day. Because the pagan winter festival of Saturnalia was celebrated on that date in Rome, they were willing to have this pagan holiday metamorphosed into a Christian one.

Due to the pagan origin of Christmas and the violence and excess associated with it, the Puritans (Christians from the Church of England) banned Christmas altogether. In Massachusetts, USA, its observance was illegal between 1659 and 1681.

Despite its association with paganism, Christmas was, and still is, celebrated by most Christians.

Rabbis and Orthodox Jewish anti-missionaries often use this information to confirm that Christianity is a pagan religion and that the story of the birth of Yeshua is inspired by the pagan festival celebrating the birth of the sun-god Sol.

According to this logic, the rabbis state that Yeshua couldn't be the Jewish Messiah!

This mosaic found in the Vatican grottoes under St. Peter's Basilica,
on the ceiling of the tomb of the Julii (Pope Julius I), represents
Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) as the sun-god Helios or Sol Invictus
riding in his chariot. It's dated the 3rd century AD.

Beside the ties to Saturnalia and Mithraism that discredit the celebration of Christmas, violence against the Jews on Christmas understandably blackened the holiday among the Jewish People.

According to David Kertzer, in his book The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of projectile objects as part of the Saturnalia carnival (p. 74).

In 1836, the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition to Pope Gregory XVI pleading with him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, to which the Pope responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.”

And on December 25, 1881, riots broke out across Poland when Christian leaders incited the Polish masses into an anti-Semitic frenzy.

On this Christmas Day, twelve Jews were brutally murdered in Warsaw, several others injured, and many Jewish women raped. Also, two million rubles of Jewish property was destroyed.

The Origins of Christmas Customs

The season of Christmas can be a joyous time. Many Christians set up Christmas trees with beautiful lights, and as long as it brings joy to family and friends while keeping them focused on the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and all the blessings from God, then that’s a blessing.

However, one should know the history of traditions that they keep.

While the custom of decorating a Christmas tree dates back only a few centuries, the principle behind it is ancient. Pagans had a custom of worshiping trees in the forest (Jeremiah 7:18), or bringing them into their homes and decorating them, and this observance was adopted by the Christian Church.

Furthermore, sacred trees as symbols of the life force were also associated with Canaanite cults.

Cylinder seals dating from the Late Bronze Age often show a worshiper standing in front of a tree.

Bronze Age Megiddo site: Seals depicting sacred trees have been
found at Megiddo and other archaeological sites in Israel.

Other seals dating from the 8th to the 10th centuries BC, which depict a tree flanked by worshipers, have been found at Lachish, Beth-shemesh, Gibeon, Samaria, and Megiddo archaeological sites in Israel.

A drawing of a sacred tree with lily flowers being eaten by two ibex was discovered on a jar at the religious center of Kuntillet Ajrud. Gold pendants of the Late Bronze Age from Tell al-Ajjul (near Gaza) and from Ugarit show stylized trees growing out of a formalized goddess, according to ‘The Harper Atlas of the Bible’ (pgs.101-102).

Sexual intercourse under these "holy" trees was thought to transmit the potency and vitality of the goddess.

"They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth trees, where the shade is pleasant. Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery." (Hosea 4:13)

These female deities could well have been the Asherah or Astarte who are often mentioned in the Jewish Scriptures (Tanakh/Old Testament) as the consort of the weather god Baal.

"The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs." (Judges 3:7)

In at least 10 Bible references, the "green tree" is associated with idolatry and false worship.

"They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree." (1 Kings 14:23)

The use of holly and mistletoe comes from the Druid ceremonies. Some historians think that the Druids used mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim.

Kissing under the mistletoe is a synthesis of Druid sacrificial rituals with Saturnalia sexual immorality.

Places of worship with sacred Christmas trees are frequently mentioned in the Bible and the prophet Jeremiah condemned their use:

“Do not learn the ways of the nations... For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.” (Jeremiah 10:1-4)

The custom of kissing under the mistletoe during
the Christmas holidays has pagan origins.

Christmas Today

“Look! The young maiden (also translated virgin) will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23, see Isaiah 7:14)

In light of these facts, some Messianic Jews and born-again Christians choose not to celebrate Christmas in any form whatsoever, while others continue to celebrate December 25th as Yeshua’s birthday.

It is important to refrain from condemning those who choose to celebrate Christmas, as well as those who choose not to.

What is truly important during this season, while people are confronted with the birth of the Messiah, is to spread the good news that Yeshua came as the Light of the World, not to condemn the world, but to save it.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Redeeming the Time

"Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." (Ephesians 5:16)

Although the celebration of Christmas has pagan origins, this time can be redeemed by doing special mitzvot (good deeds) to help those who are feeling isolated, lost or alone while others are celebrating with friends and family.

It’s a fact that this time of the year is the hardest for many people who don’t have family or who are struggling.

We can be a ‘light’ by bringing cheer, comfort, hope and support into the lives of friends, family, neighbors, and those less fortunate than ourselves.

This season is a good time to help single mothers, widows, or anyone who has fallen upon hard times.

While it is true that many Christians celebrate pagan traditions in ignorance on one day of the year – December 25th, our focus should be celebrating the Messiah’s birth and life everyday of the year because Yeshua was born in prophetic fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures to redeem the world.

It is right to celebrate our Creator and His Scriptures (The Word) and the Messiah (The Word that became flesh).

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God is love and so He gives to us His very best.

We can choose to share the love of God during this festive season by giving of ourselves so that others can also come to know salvation (Yeshua).

During this holiday season and Year-End Tax Saving time, please help Bibles For Israel educate the Jewish people.

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"
(Luke 2:10-12)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Book of Jacob

In English Bibles, there is a book called "The Letter to James." The Greek name for the book is not "Demetrios" which is translated "James," but rather "Iacobos" which translates as "Jacob." This is important because this is a Hebrew book. It is written by a Hebrew and is overflowing with Hebraic thought. Consider 1:25: "But the one who looks intently into the perfect Torah, the Torah that gives freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts--he shall be blessed in what he does." This verse tells us the following:
1. The Torah (in Hebrew means "instruction")is perfect. YHVH's instructions to His people are perfect. If He tells us what to eat, when to worship, and how to worship, we should obey instantly without debate.
2. The Torah gives freedom. Some believe that to follow YHVH is to lose freedom. "I can't do this. I can't do that." However, this scripture gives us a different result. By following the Torah I have the freedom to avoid sin and its consequences. The Torah instructs me how to live a life that pleases YHVH and His Son Yeshua. Yeshua knew this and was Torah observant.
3. To have freedom in Torah, you must continue to walk in obedience. This is not about making a decision for Christ and being once saved always saved. There is no such thing from a Hebraic interpretation of the scriptures. It is a Gentile doctrine recently created to grow a large church.
4. If you are not a doer of Torah, you lose the blessing. The verse instructs us that we will be blessed in what we do if what we do is Torah. I have people try to tell me that I don't have to obey the Torah. I tell them, not a chance. YHVH has blessed us and I would be a fool to walk away from the blessing. To those that disagree, I say, "So, how is it working out for you?"

The Torah is YHVH's instruction to teach His people how to live. If you are not one of His, the Torah does not apply to you. It is only for YHVH's people. I am pleased that I am part of a community that obeys Torah. When I watch people rise early on Sun-Day to visit churches that worship on the wrong day, I am saddened. So many sincere people being misled. Elohim have mercy on those that reject Torah.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blessing or Cursing Israel

The Presbyterian Church is considering divestment from companies doing business with Israel. Genesis 12: 2-3 says: "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." With these Scriptures in mind, consider the following:

"PRLog (Press Release) - May 31, 2012 - The following is a joint statement by Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), International Messianic Jewish Alliance (IMJA) and the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS).

The Presbyterian Church (USA), despite its historic concern for justice, is considering a move that violates basic principles of justice—targeted divestment from specific companies doing business with Israel. Divestment is the practice of withdrawing investments from companies in order to create economic and political pressure against those companies, or governments with which they do business. In this case, by withdrawing investments from companies supplying materials to Israel’s defense and security programs, divestment proponents hope to force Israel into an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Judea and Samaria."


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sabbath to Sun-Day

Do you know why the day of Worship for the followers of Yeshua (Jesus) was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday? We are going to spend a few days looking at the change and why it occurred. There are three main verses in the New Testament that are used to justify the change:
1. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2: "Now about the collection for the set-apart people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made."
2. Acts 20: 7-11: "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. 'Don’t be alarmed,' he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left."
3. Revelation 1:10: "On YHVH's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet...."

Regarding the verse in Corinthians, is the verse about the procedure for taking an offering, or about the removal of the Fourth Commandment? Exogesis is "Reading out of the scriptures". Isogesis is "Reading into the scriptures". If you come to the verse in Corinthians with your mind made up that the Fourth Commandment has been changed, you are likely to read into the verse what you want it to say. On the other hand, if you read out of the verse, a different result can be concluded. Paul is giving directions about taking an offering, and nothing more.

Regarding the verses in Acts set forth above, also consider chapter 2:46: "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts...." This verse informs us that the Jerusalem community of believers continued to meet in the Temple. Afterwards, they would go and break bread together. Now, reread verses 7-11. Do the verses actually suggest that the Fourth Commandment has been changed? Or, is the passage about the power of G-d acting through Paul to bring about a physical healing?

Regarding the passage in Revelations, do you read anything that instructs us that the Fourth Commandment has been changed. Regarding YHVH's Day consider Isaiah 13:6,9" 'Wail, for the day of YHVH is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. See, the day of YHVH is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it." Is the "Lord's Day" a substitute for the Sabbath? Perhaps the "Lord's Day" has more to do with the coming of YHVH than a change of the day of worship. Either way, the text does not "read out" a change of the Sabbath. The only way you can reach that interpretation is to read into the passage.

The Sabbath has not been changed. We will examine the reasons for the change over the next few posts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Feast of Trumpets and the Christian

RoshHaShanah is also called the Feast of Trumpets. Leviticus 23:24 says: "In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart convocation." This is the first fall festival. It occurs on the first day of the Hebrew New Year. It is believed to be the birthday of Adam, Cain, Abel, the day Abraham bound Isaac on Mount Moriah, the day Noah was born, and the day Noah's ark hit dry land. It is the day Sarah conceived Isaac, the day Rachel conceived Joseph. It is the day Elohim heard Hannah's prayer for a son and the day he was born a year later. It is the day that Satan stood before YHVH to accuse Job. It is also the day Pharoah set Joseph free from an Egyptian prison.

The blowing of trumpets is very important. The sound of the shofar is a spiritual wake up call to listen to YHVH, repent of known sin, and dedicate yourself to set-apart living. In the modern day holiness movement, this would be called entire consecration followed by Elohim's Divine act of entire sanctification. While the holiness movement errs in its theology of removal of the "old man" of sin, it is correct in the requirement to live a life dedicated to YHVH. What does it mean to dedicate yourself to living a set-apart life for YHVH? First, it means to commit to study the Torah. Second, it means to obey the Torah. The Torah is YHVH's instruction book to those in the covenant in how we should live our lives day to day. RoshHaShanah points us to the Torah. Perhaps this is part of the reason the Christian church for the most part ignores the Feast of Trumpets. Third, it means to pray to YHVH. This means to bless the name of YHVH. Sometimes YHVH is referred to as Hashem, which means "the Name." Bless His Name today by blessing Hashem.

We are in the time known as the Ten Days of Awe. Take this time to repent of known sin, pray, and do acts of charity for those in need. As you do so, you are getting ready for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This will occur ten (10) days from Rosh HaShanah. This is the time to get serious about following YHVH. When the modern Christian church neglects the Biblical feasts, it is missing a time to draw near to Hashem. We are to draw close to Him when He commands us to do so and that time is now.

Should the Christian keep the Feast of Trumpets? Ask yourself, "Did Yeshua keep the Feast of Trumpets?" "Does the Feast of Trumpets honor Hashem?" If it does, "Who has an interest in not honoring Hashem? What does your community teach? Was it on the side of Hashem or on the side of one that seeks to dishonor Hashem?"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rosh Hashanah and Following Yeshua

Did you know that today is Rosh Hashanah? It is the Jewish New Year. The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss 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. In ten days, Yom Kippur, i.e the Day of Atonement, will occur. What do you think Yeshua would be during this time? Where would He be? Would He be lighting candles in the evening? Would He be blowing the shofar? I suggest, He most certainly would. If you are His disciple, that means that you are copying or imitating His behavior. If you were in church yesterday, did the ministers mention the Jewish holiday? If they did not, how can they claim to be a disciple of One who is keeping the Biblical holidays? If they did mention the holiday, but not put actions with their words, how can they claim to be disciples of the One who does keep the holidays?

Have you heard of the Ten Days of Awe? The ten days start with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur and are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, 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 belief that G-d 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 G-d's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). 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." Have you heard this before? If not, you might want to consider expanding your knowledge of the religion of Yeshua. During these ten days, we should be most on guard concerning our thoughts, words, and actions.

Yeshua is Jewish. He followed the Torah. We that claim to be His disciples should make it a point to follow Him as He follows the Torah. If not, who are you a disciple of? Hint: It is not Yeshua. It is the one that has turned people away from the true faith in YHVH and His Son Yeshua.

Note: Thanks to www.jewfaq.org for information on Rosh Hashahah and the Days of Awe.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

True Devotions Part 4

We are going to continue today to focus on being still before YHVH as part of developing our personal devotion time. Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am Elohim. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Do you get still before YHVH on a consistent basis? Or, do you allow the cares of this life, no matter how legitimate, to interfere with quiet? One of the most important things you can do for yourself, your family and your friends is to establish a time of being still before YHVH. A time to block out everything except Him. This may seem difficult at first, but with practice you will discover that this is the best part of your day.

Charles Spurgeon said of Psalm 46:10: "A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be."

This time of stillness will be a time that Elohim may speak to your inner person. There may be times of guidance and reflection. You may feel a warmth or inner peace as you surrender your self completely to Him. Do not be afraid to be alone with Elohim; you have nothing to fear. If He corrects you; instantly obey. If He directs you to do something; instantly obey. As Mary told the helpers at the wedding feast at Cana, whatever He (Yeshua) says unto you, do it. Allow stillness and silence to become a regular part of your devotional life. It will change you (for the better).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

True Devotions Part 3

As we continue to explore devotion, consider the importance of silence before YHVH. Psalm 46:10 says: "Be still, and know that I am G-d: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." There is something incredible about being alone in your devotions with G-d and just being still. I prefer to do so early in the morning while it is still dark. I do not turn on the lights, but instead I sit still in the darkness. My mind then focuses on a small passage of Scripture and I allow myself to just think about the goodness of G-d. We are just too busy sometimes to slow down and be quiet, but we need to do so.

Adam Clarke explains the stillness as: "Cease from your provocations of the Divine justice; cease from murmuring against the dispensations of his providence; cease from your labour for a season, that ye may deeply reflect on the severity and goodness of God-severity to those who are brought down and destroyed; goodness to you who are raised up and exalted:-cease from sin and rebellion against your God; let that disgrace you no more, that we may no more be brought into distress and desolation."

Silence requires you not to complain or ask for anything; instead, it is a time of quiet reflection before G-d. You will have to make time for silence. You may have to get up earlier, or go to bed later to find the peace and quiet necessary to be silent and still before YHVH. You may have to travel away from your home to a park or lake to see the beauty of G-d's creations. Whatever you have to do or wherever you have to go, find a place to be still before YHVH. Allow Him to speak to you; allow yourself to love Him and praise Him from a heart that has surrendered its all to Him. Silence is very important to devotion and it is very important to your devotions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

True Devotions Part 2

Today we look at some practical aspects of devotion. Every follower of Yeshua must have a time of personal reflection and time with YHVH. Involvement with a community and family devotions are very important; however, these should never replace private time with Elohim. It is essential to your growth as a disciple of Yeshua. Yeshua spent much time alone with His Father and we as His disciples must imitate Him and do the same.

One of the methods that I have found successful is to find a quiet place away from distractions. Get comfortable, either by sitting in a chair or standing, and begin to meditate on a small passage of Scripture. For example, recently I focused on the phrase "Elohim is faithful" from 1 Corinthians 10:13. Over and over I thought about Elohim's faithfulness. I thought about how faithful He had been to me over the years even when I was disobedient to Him. I thought about His faithfulness to those I had read about in the Bible. I spoke and thought the words: "Elohim is faithful." After 15 minutes of doing nothing more than think about His promise of faithfulness, I was now ready to petition Him for "our daily bread." Just as Elohim provided manna, i.e. daily bread, for the children of Israel in the wilderness, He would also provide our daily bread today. Why; because He is the same faithful Elohim.

The Bible is full of short phrases that can serve as the basis of a daily meditation. You will never run of choices out because the Bible contains Elohim's complete written revelation to man. This aspect of devotion is called meditation. It is very important and will guide you into the other areas that we will discuss over the next few days. For today, select a verse or a portion of a verse, get alone and get quiet and ponder your selection. Don't rush; enjoy this time of being alone with Elohim. He is waiting.

Monday, September 10, 2012

True Devotions Part 1

A few years ago, I was called to the house of a man dying of cancer. He was in the final stages and would most likely not survive 90 days. His wife was with him. As I was traveling to see him, I prayed for Elohim's guidance and that I would speak His words not mine. You can imagine the thoughts in my head; would he give the remainder of his life to Yeshua? Would he and his wife be transformed by the power of YHVH? I saw a valuable truth that day. People generally die as they lived. Everyone has a "god;" it just depends on what you choose to worship. The dying man's only concern was a debt from 17 years ago that had been repaid only he had forgotten it. At one point the wife took YHVH's name in vain and he cussed (not about the debt but just in the normal course of the conversation). I spoke firmly about the language and stated that if it occurred again I would depart immediately. Their "god" was money. He actually had a large paper cup by his bed within arm's reach filled with $100 bills. Here was a man about to slip into eternity with no concern for his soul. His devotion was to money and not the true YHVH. The Bible is true when it says: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve Elohim and mammon." Matthew 6:24 This man had served money his life and that was his "god."

Where is your heart's devotion? What has your heart? Is it YHVH or something else? The point I want to make today, is that whatever you spend your life serving is mostly likely what you will die serving. If you are a child of Elohim, then you need to spend your life serving your Savior. That service begins with devotion. Pray for passion for the Word, for prayer and for a closeness with Him. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8 "Draw nigh to Elohim, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded."

Today examine your heart. Find out where your passion is; when you find that passion, you will find your "God." Don't wait until you are on your death bed, because most likely by then your heart is settled and will not change. Live your life for YHVH! Live your life for Yeshua! Have a passion for Yeshua! When you do, your heart will have true devotion for G-d.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Blessing Part 9

Are you struggling to be blessed? Do you not feel worthy enough to have the blessing of G-d on your life? Well guess what? You aren't worthy enough and you in your own righteousness will never be good enough to earn the blessing of G-d. That is the exact point; you must quit trying to earn G-d's blessing. You are simply to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that you are blessed in Him.

Romans 10:9-10 instructs the reader to believe in your heart the resurrection and confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Adonai and if you do so, you will be "saved." The word saved here is the Greek word sozo and means deliverance, protection, health, and well-being (sounds like the blessing doesn't it). The stem of the word means "to be roomy." G-d wants to take you to a roomy place (this means a place that is full of abundance and deliverance). Great you say, how do I get there? You get there by loving His Commandments (His Word) and obeying them to the fullest.

What are His Commandments? We are to love Him and our neighbor. Sounds simple doesn't it; the road to activate the blessing is the walkway of love. Today, tell Yahweh that you love Him with all of your heart (make the confession even if you don't "feel it") and show G-d's love to one of His children today. You will find the blessing beginning to over take you. He guarantees it not me.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Blessing Part 8

Are you still not convinced that you are blessed? Or do you acknowledge that in some ways you see the blessing, but you would like a greater manifestation of the blessing in your life? Do not despair as this week we are going to focus on confessing the Word with corresponding actions that will produce an even greater outpouring of the blessing in your life.

We must understand that the blessing is activated and retained by obedience. As you are obedient to G-d (and His Word) you will receive the fruits of the blessing (success, prosperity and fecundity). Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As long as they obeyed the Commandment of G-d, they had the joy of the blessing: daily communion with G-d, a beautiful home, daily provision and a loving relationship with each other. They were very successful and prosperous in the Biblical sense. Then, Satan enters and sin is committed and they lose the effects of the blessing on their lives.

The great news is that G-d did not fold up the blessing and put it away. Through Yeshua the blessing is now available to you and your family. Today, commit to be obedient to Him in every way you know how. Study the Torah and it will teach you how to live. Torah will show you the path of obedience. As you do, I guarantee you will be blessed beyond your imagination (don't take my word for it, take His)!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Blessing Part 7

We have been studying "the blessing" over the last week. By now, whether you feel it or not, the evidence that you are in fact "blessed" from G-d's point of view should be enough to convince you that it is a spiritual fact. You are blessed simply because He says you are. Yeshua redeemed you from the curse of sin that the blessing of Abraham would come upon you (see Galatians 3:13-14).

What did you receive when you received Abraham's blessing? For an explanation you must look at Genesis 12:1-3: "I will bless (Hebrew barak "endue with the power to be successful, prosperous, and fecund") you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless ("endue with the power to be successful, prosperous, and fecund) those who bless you...."

As you go about your day, commit to practice two things:
1. Consciously receive and confess you are blessed;
2. Bless (endue them with the power to be successful and prosperous) someone else who has been redeemed from the curse (don't forget to start early so look for someone in your family)!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Blessing Part 6

Today we are going to look at another aspect of "the blessing." Earlier we saw that the word barak (Hebrew for "bless") meant to be endued with power for different attributes, for example success, prosperity and fecundity. Fecundity means to be very productive or to be creative intellectually. It has been pointed out by others that no country needed a patent law until it received the Gospel message. There is something about following Yeshua that does something to your mind. You begin to walk in a power that enables you to be more than you ever thought possible. The Bible says that those in Yeshua have His mind (1 Corinthians 2:16). Confess that you have the "mind of Yeshua" today. If you make a mistake it still doesn't change the fact that you have His mind.

Do you find this hard to believe? Have you allowed what others have said or are saying to persuade you that you are inferior in some way intellectually? Well guess what; one that is intellectually perfect (the Word of G-d) has declared that He (Yeshua) is your wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). Now don't stop there because this is not a place of arrogance, it is a place of great humility. Verse 31 says "Therefore, as it is written: "Let those who boast boast in YHVH." Today, know that you are intellectually blessed and make sure that you give Yeshua the credit (not man)!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Blessing Part 5

Over the last several days, we have been focusing on the different aspects of "the blessing." Do you realize that the first words that Adam heard in the Garden of Eden were, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion...." Now there was other talk in Genesis 1, but the above words were the first said to Adam. Does that increase your understanding of the importance of the blessing to G-d? He could have said many different things to Adam, for example, "Good morning Adam, I am Elohim and I have created you to serve me." He could have warned Adam about the serpent that was going to tempt him; He could have discussed Adam's role in the Garden. No; Adam's primary job was to be blessed!

Do you see the connection? Your primary role in relationship to G-d (you have a role in relationship to others but that comes after your relationship with G-d) is to be blessed! (To receive the blessing and maintain it, you will have to be obedient in every area of your life to His will, but more on that later). G-d wants His kids to be blessed, that is endued with the power to be successful and prosperous (don't think money) for His Esteem not our own. Never think that the blessing is for your selfishness; it is for His Esteem!

Tell Him today that you have heard His Words to be blessed and you receive the blessing today for His Esteem.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Blessing Part 4

"The blessing" on you also includes the power to prosper. Don't fall into the trap that limits this word to money. It includes financial blessings but also much more. The word usually translated "prosperity" is the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom means "peace, prosperity, wellness, health, completeness and safety." Psalm 35:27 says in part: "Let YHVH be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant."

Did you catch that? G-d takes pleasure when your life is blessed and prosperous! Too often we are asking Him to give us something we already have. We already have the blessing. I have been married to Susan for over 15 years. What would you think if at the next prayer meeting I said, "Please pray for my situation; I want Susan to be my wife. If she will become my wife I will be the happiest man on the face of the earth." You might look at me and wonder what is wrong with me. You might properly say, "Barry, Susan is already your wife. You already have what you seek." In the same way, G-d says "you are blessed. I have already given you the blessing. Now go and enjoy it!" Say: "I have the blessing."

As you pray today, thank Him for "the blessing" that is now working in your life! You have already received the gift of the blessing and He wants you to open it and try it on. So what are you waiting for? Start unwrapping!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Blessing Part 3

Yesterday we learned that G-d has blessed you (which means "empowered" or "endued with power") so that you would be successful. The Unabridged Dictionary defines "success" as the "favorable or prosperous termination of endeavors." This means that you have received favor from G-d in the form of "the blessing" that whatever you attempt to do will end with a favorable or prosperous end result. Here is where it can get tricky; you must believe and confess G-d's Word ("I am blessed") even if it the circumstances don't agree. Remember circumstances change but G-d's Word doesn't. You can only see where you are at, but G-d knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and it is from His perspective that I want you to focus. He says you are blessed and He knows the circumstances may end in several different ways(here is where trust becomes important). When you face your situation that doesn't look blessed and pronounce "I am blessed," you are applying G-d's Word directly to the circumstances and declaring His opinion about your situation. Guess which one is going to change (hint: it isn't G-d's Word because it is eternal).

Today, face every situation that comes your way with a firm conviction that G-d has said "you are blessed!"

Here is a good prayer for today: "Father, regardless of my circumstances today, I know that I am blessed. I have taken my place as your child and I expect to walk in the blessing today. You are taking care of me and I walk in love and in wisdom and in the fullness of the blessing."

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Blessing Part 2

Whether you felt "blessed" on Tuesday or not is not the issue; the point is G-d says "you are blessed!" The word "blessed" here is the Hebrew word barak (pronounced "baw-rak") and means "to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity (more about this word later), and longevity." The word barak is the opposite of the Hebrew word qalal which means "to esteem lightly, curse."

So lets get this straight, G-d's Word (which you are now agreeing with by speaking it) says that He has placed something on you to make you a success and prosperous; that something is "the blessing." All the good things in your life flow from that blessing. On the contrary side, is the devil's lies that try to steal what God has given you. Would you allow someone to steal your car, wallet or purse without a fight, or calling the police, etc.? Of course not; your stuff belongs to you. Well guess what, "the blessing" is more important than the results of the blessing (the car, what is in your wallet or purse). So today, if any force tries to send someone your way to steal your blessing, laugh at them and say "I am blessed and I'm not giving it up or handing it over to anyone. IT IS MINE!"

In prayer today say, "Adonai, thank you for the blessing. I have received this blessing from you and I am not going to give it up or hand it over to anyone. I choose to walk in love and to walk in the blessing."


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Blessing Part 1

I speak to so many people that are fearful because of the economy in the United States. Too many focus on what they don't have, or what they have lost. Instead, I would like to encourage you to focus on the Hebraic blessing for YHVH's people that walk in obedience. This will involve you confessing G-d's Word over your life. If you will be faithful to speak His Word, you will see the blessing manifesting in your life. It has been said, "It takes 21 days to make a habit and 21 days to break a habit." So, the sooner you begin, the earlier you will see the blessing working in your life.

Today, I want to make a confession based on Proverbs 10:22: "The blessing of the YHVH makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it." Now I want you to confess the verse this way: "The blessing of YHVH (pronounce as Yahweh) makes (say your name) rich and He adds no sorrow to my life." As you speak this Word, you are proclaiming a Biblical truth and you are activating the angels of God (Psalm 103:20) to do His Word and to bring this truth into reality.

Now before you leave your time of confession today, confess the Word for someone that you want to see G-d's blessing manifest in their life. Speak, "The blessing of Yahweh makes (my spouse, my children, my friend, etc.) rich and He adds no sorrow to his/her life."

And by the way, you can speak this over as many people as you want to bless today. Remember the old potato chip commercial, "bet you can't eat just one." I bet you can't confess this just once! Repeat this often today, “I am blessed!”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is Jesus A False Prophet? Part 2

We have previously looked at Deuteronomy 13: 1-5 says: "When there arises in your midst a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he has given unto you a sign or wonder, and the sign and the wonder has come which he has spoken of to you, saying, Let us go after other gods (which you have not known), and serve them, you do not obey the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of the dream, for YHWH your Elohim is trying you, to know whether you are loving YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul; after YHWH your Elohim walk, and Him you fear, and His commands you keep, and to His voice you obey, and Him you serve, and to Him you cleave. And that prophet, or that dreamer of the dream, is put to death, for he has spoken apostasy against YHWH your Elohim (who is bringing you out of the land of Egypt, and has ransomed you out of a house of servants), to drive you out of the way in which YHWH your Elohim has commanded you to walk, and you have put away the evil thing from your midst." The passage makes clear that it is apostacy and carries a death sentence for a prophet to drive people away from the commands of Elohim.

Now let us use some simple deductive logic:
1. The Scriptures say that it is apostacy to drive people away from the commands of G-d;
2. The church tells its followers that they are free from obeying the commands of G-d; and
3. Therefore, the church is apostate.

Let us consider another example:
1. The Scriptures say that it is apostacy to drive people away from the commands of G-d.
2. The church teaches us that Jesus nailed the commands of G-d to the cross so the church is under grace and Jesus teaches us that we do not have to follow the commands of G-d; and
3. Therefore, Jesus is committing apostacy according to the teaching of the church.

One last example:
1. G-d wants His followers to obey His commands;
2. The church does not want its followers to obey the commands of G-d; and
3. Therefore, the church is not a follower of G-d.

Is Jesus a false prophet? It depends on what you think He teaches? If you believe that Jesus teaches the commands of G-d are not necessary, then you make him a false prophet. The Torah (instruction) of G-d is serious business.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Is Jesus A False Prophet?

Deuteronomy 13: 1-5 says: "When there arises in your midst a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he has given unto you a sign or wonder, and the sign and the wonder has come which he has spoken of to you, saying, Let us go after other gods (which you have not known), and serve them, you do not obey the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of the dream, for YHWH your Elohim is trying you, to know whether you are loving YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul; after YHWH your Elohim walk, and Him you fear, and His commands you keep, and to His voice you obey, and Him you serve, and to Him you cleave. And that prophet, or that dreamer of the dream, is put to death, for he has spoken apostasy against YHWH your Elohim (who is bringing you out of the land of Egypt, and has ransomed you out of a house of servants), to drive you out of the way in which YHWH your Elohim has commanded you to walk, and you have put away the evil thing from your midst." Notice that it is called "apostasy" if the prophet does not speak of keeping the commanbds of YHWH.

Now considering that most of the modern church believes Jesus did away with the Torah, i.e. the commands of G-d, what does that say about Jesus? Matthew 5:17-18 says: "Do not suppose that I came to throw down the law or the prophets--I did not come to throw down, but to fulfil; for, verily I say to you, till that the heaven and the earth may pass away, one iota or one tittle may not pass away from the law, till that all may come to pass." (Young's Literal Translation) First, understand that "fulfil" does not mean to do away with; instead, it means to confirm or affirm its truth. Yeshua did not come to do away with the Torah; He came to affirm and correctly interpret the Torah. Consider the last verse. Has the earth passed away? Look around you. It has not. Since it has not, not even the smallest letter or decorative spur i.e. "yod") shall disappear.

This is serious. If the modern church maintains that Jesus has done away with the Torah requirements, then according to Deuteronomy, they are making him a false prophet. If Jesus is a false prophet, he is not sinless. To endorse a Torah denying Jesus, is to follow a savior who is not perfect and cannot be a sacrifice for sin. The entire theology of the church falls apart. However, if Yeshua is Torah observant and He does not teach others to disregard the commandments, He is the sinless Messiah of Israel and the entire world. How you view Jesus determines who he is, and what his role is. If Yeshua did not do away with the Torah, then who did? Who has the most to gain from YHWH's people rebelling against Him?

Note: In this article I have followed my pattern of referring to "Jesus" as a creation of the church and not divine. When I use "Yeshua" I refer to the set apart divine Messiah of Israel and the world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Are You 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?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Did Yeshua Know?

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!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Following the Messiah

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?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hindering G-d

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."

Monday, August 6, 2012

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 G-d'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; G-d'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, August 3, 2012

Standing Out: Rejecting "Christianity Lite"

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, August 2, 2012

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, August 1, 2012

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 G-d, i.e. the Torah. The purpose of the tzitzit was to remind G-d'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 G-d'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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Law as the Basis of Faith

After healing the demonic in the land of the Gadarenes, Yeshua gets back in the boat and heads to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. This is the Jewish side. Upon arrival, He is stopped by Jairus, a leader in the local synagogue who has a daughter who is very ill to the point of death. Yeshua and Jairus begin to travel to his home so Yeshua can heal her. On the way, a woman with an issue of blood is desperate. She is so desperate, that even in an unclean state, she presses through the crowd to reach Yeshua. She speaks the word to herself that if she can just touch Yeshua, she will be healed. This is faith in action, i.e. Hebraic faith. She reaches Yeshua and grabs the tassel on His tallit. Yeshua is dressed as a Jewish rabbi and she reaches for the part that represents the Law of God. In each corner there was a thread of blue that signified the Law. It is the the Law of God that is the basis of her faith. She reaches the place of victory and is healed by the representation of the Law, i.e. the tallit.

Yeshua says in verse 30: "Immediately Yeshua, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My garments?'" Notice that Yeshua was not aware of specifically who touched Him. Second, notice that healing power flowed from Him through the tallit to the diseased woman. Third, notice that Yeshua gives credit for the healing to the woman's faith: And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." What was her faith? Her faith was found in her actions. Faith is a verb and not just a list of beliefs about God. Yeshua teaches the importance of real faith; faith based on actions.

Today, what type of faith do you have? If we look just at your actions, what would they tell us about your real belief system? Challenge yourself to have real Biblical faith; a faith that can be seen and brings real hope.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Yeshua Will Leave You Alone

We have seen that Yeshua healed the man from unclean spirits in the country of the Gadarenes. The spirits are sent into the pigs, who run off into the sea and drown. The people from the town come to see what happened and upon the discovery of the financial loss from the destruction of the swine and the seeing of the man in his right mind, they become afraid and ask Yeshua to leave. Today's teaching from Yeshua is not based on His words, but on His actions. When He asked to leave, He does so. There was no rebuke or long sermon, He simply yields to the will of the people and departs. Today's teaching is that if you want, Yeshua will leave you alone. The people cared more about money than the truth, or that a wonderful miracle of deliverance had occurred. Yeshua left them as they wished.

Today, people are still telling Yeshua to leave their homes, businesses, and families. There is a theology that God imposes His will on people to force them to follow Him. Yeshua does not teach this doctrine at Gadarenes. He teaches that you have the free moral ability to reject Him or follow Him. Too often, we want to shift the burden of our obedience to God. "If He will help me, I will be obedient." No, you are to obey and it is not Yeshua's fault if you don't. The Hebraic view is that you don't know or believe something unless it impacts your actions. We know someone is a follower of Yeshua when that person actually follows Yeshua, i.e. when he or she does what He did.

The question today is, whether you are rejecting Yeshua and His teachings from any part of your life? Do you divide your life into compartments, e.g. work, home, friends, and only invite God into those parts you desire while shutting Him out of the others? It will not work that way; Yeshua comes into all or He comes into none. So, what is your decision? Does He leave or does He stay?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Repost: Being Deceived About the Sabbath

I thought it appropriate to repost the below article that I wrote in 2010. I remain as firmly committed today as I was in 2010 to the truth contained therein.

Being Deceived About the Sabbath

In 2001, Dr. John MacArthur Jr., the pastor of Grace Community Church, was asked are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today. He responded as follows: “We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses' law that prefigured Christ.” According to a 2008 edition of Pulpit Magazine, Dr. MacArthur reasoned in part that the New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath. This appears to be the standard evangelical answer concerning Sabbath observance by “New Testament” believers. This article advocates the position that a non-biased translation of Hebrews 4:9 commands Sabbath observance for the people of God.

The following are four different translations for Hebrews 4:9:
1. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (KJV)
2. So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God…. (AMP)
3. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God…. (ESV)
4. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (NASB)

The 17TH Century English nonconformist theologian Matthew Poole provided a typical protestant interpretation of the verses above: "Here the Spirit concludes from his former proofs, that there is a more excellent rest revealed to faith in the gospel, which is remaining, future, and to come, and will surely and most certainly do so; though it be behind, yet it will be enjoyed. A sabbatism, which is a state and season of a most glorious rest, (see Heb 4:10), shall be enjoyed by sincere believers, the true Israel of God, of whom he is the Proprietor, and who are for their eternal state so excellently holy, and of so Divine a nature, that he is not ashamed to be called their God." (Emphasis supplied)


There has been an effort to remove the present duty of Sabbath observance for a futuristic “Sabbath” celebration. I submit that the translators are misleading the readers. This is another example of the purposeful attempt to disconnect followers of Yeshua with his Hebraic roots. An examination of the Greek text supports this view. The Greek word for “remains” is the verb apoleipo and it indicates that the sabbatismos is "left behind.” It still remains. Apoleipo is in the present tense indicative mood. The present indicative asserts a statement of fact which is occurring while the speaker is making the statement. Conservative scholarship dates the book of Hebrews from the mid to late 60’s. The writer is expressing a statement of fact about keeping the Sabbath approximately thirty years after the resurrection of Yeshua. This is not about the future; it is about now. It is unfortunate that even Dr. Zodhiates falls victim to replacement theology in his lengthy discussion of sabbatismos. He explains in part: “Therefore, the intimation is that the Sabbath was instituted as a symbol of that eternal rest at the completion of God's work.” He clearly is referencing a future rest. A lot of linguistic gymnastics has to occur to move this statement in Hebrews into an event in the future. The Greek word for "rest" is sabbatism├│s and it means to keep the Sabbath. The use of the word "rest" was added by replacement theologians in an effort to change the commandment to keep the Sabbath into a futuristic event.

The correct translation should be:
"There is left behind a keeping of the Sabbath by God's people."

The Sabbath is the sign of God’s people being separated to Him. It is written in Exodus 31:13, 16: "Say to the people of Israel , 'You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. (RSV) An accurate translation of Hebrews 4:9 reveals the failure of the modern church to obey God's command to keep the Sabbath. It is not a futuristic fulfillment; it is a command. We should now concentrate on what it means to keep the Sabbath as God’s people in the 21st Century. If we are the people of God, we should keep the Sabbath.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Wisdom of Yeshua: Dealing With Prejudice

In Mark 5, Yeshua is in the region of the Gadarenes. This is the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. When He arrives, a man possessed by many unclean spirits comes and worships Him. This man was known to be uncontrollable. He was not capable of being subdued. The unclean spirits went by the name Legion because they were so many. The man asks Yeshua: "What have I to do with you, Yeshua the Son of The Most High Elohim?" The unclean spirits begged Yeshua to be sent into the nearby swine. Verse 13 reads: "And he permitted them, and those unclean spirits departed and attacked the pigs. And that herd ran to a steep place and fell into the sea, and about two thousand were drowned in the water." The man with the unclean spirit was completely delivered and set free. The delivered man seeks to remain with Yeshua as he enters the boat to go back to the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee. Yeshua says to the man: "Go to your house to your people and relate to them what Master YHWH did for you and how he had mercy on you."

It is very easy to miss Yeshua's teachings if you read this passage independent of the culture of the day. Yeshua does not permit the man to accompany Him back to the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee. Why not? The reason is that the uncircumcised Gadarene would not have been accepted by the Jewish congregation. The delivered man would have met with strong resistance and been rejected because he was a Gentile. It was an act of mercy by Yeshua to spare him that rejection. That is why Yeshua sends him to "his people," where his testimony will be received. Yeshua understands people's biases and prejudices and works around them to bring YHWH the most good. Some of the Jews might have even questioned whether YHWH had performed the miracle on the Gentile.

Today, behold the wisdom and mercy of Yeshua. He delivered a Gentile, and protected his feelings from rejection. To those who were legalistic Jews, Yeshua even showed mercy on them by not giving them the opportunity to reject the work of YHWH. Don't you just marvel at the wisdom of our Messiah? He truly is the Son of God!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Help in the Storms of Life: From a Hebraic View

In Mark 4:35, Yeshua says, "Let us cross over to the other side." For those in the first century, this would have been understood as meaning to the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. The Scriptures inform us that a great storm began. Wind and waves were falling on the boat. An interesting theological debate is whether Yeshua knew in advance that the storm would occur and thus, directed His disciples into a perilous circumstances, or whether Yeshua' humanity did not permit Him to know the future. Either way, the disciples find themselves in a dangerous place. Yeshua is sleeping on a blanket in the stern of the boat, seemingly oblivious to the plight of His followers. They wake Him and ask, "Master, don't you care? We are perishing!" Yeshua gets up and rebukes the wind and sea and simply says, "Cease! Be silent." The wind and sea obey the words of Yeshua. Then, almost in disbelief, Yeshua says, "Why are you fearful in this manner? And why is there no faith in you?" By this time, Yeshua had performed many miracles and provided signs revealing His authority on earth. The Hebrew mindset sought for signs demonstrating the power of God. Yeshua had provided those signs, so He did not believe the disciples' fear was justified.

What does Yeshua teach in these verses: (1) Sometimes you may be led into trouble; (2) in the midst of trouble, your faith should remain constant in the power of YHWH to bring you through the difficulty; (3) Yeshua has power over nature; (4) Yeshua does care about His disciples; (5) Yeshua does not want you to be fearful in the midst of the storms of life; (6) Faith resides within you as is expressed in your actions; and (7) Yeshua wants you to have faith in Him and not in the storm.

Today's verses should bring us comfort in the midst of life's difficulties. Regardless of what you are facing, if you call upon Yeshua, He may arise and come to your defense. He has authority over the trials of life. You may have been led into the difficulty you are facing, but do not despair, He can speak the word of deliverance and set you free.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Mustard Seed

In Mark 4: 30-31, Yeshua says: "What is the Kingdom of Elohim like? And with what parable can we compare it? It is a grain of mustard which when it is planted in the earth, is the smallest of all the seeds that are upon the earth. And when it is planted, it grows and it becomes greater than all the herbs, and produces great branches so that it is able in its shade to nest the bird." This passage is evidence that the inspiration of Scripture does not require scientific accuracy. The mustard seed is not the smallest seed, but it may have been the smallest seed in the region of the listeners. Yeshua liked to use the culture of the day to establish His points. So, to the audience, the mustard seed would have been the smallest of all seeds. We must remember that the Scriptures are a book of the relationship between God and man, and not a science book. Science did not exist when the Scriptures were written. Science developed hundreds of years later.

Yeshua is teaching that the Kingdom of Elohim starts small and grows very large. Think about this: if you are a follower of Yeshua today, you can trace your faith back to one of the early disciples. One of the believers in that crowd is the root of your faith. Truly, Yeshua's teaching has proven its truth. His message started small in the region of Palestine. It spread to Europe and beyond. Wherever you live, God has brought the message to your part of the planet. The Kingdom of Elohim is now worldwide. Our faith is the largest on earth and it began with a small group of Hebrew believers!

Today, consider your true ancestry. Your faith in Yeshua relates back to almost 2000 years. You follow Him today because someone in 30AD started spreading the word that ultimately reached you. Now that's a heritage!

Friday, July 20, 2012

G-d's Knowledge of the Future: The Colorado Shootings

Our hearts do hurt for the lost and injured lives resulting from the shooting in Colorado last night. No doubt, many will be searching to understand "why" this occurred. We want to know why because if we know that, we can hopefully prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. We seek to understand tragedy so we can make sense of it. One of my concerns is when we state that "God" is still in charge; that He knew in advance of the tragedy, yet He allowed it to occur, we give ammunition to those who deny the existence of G-d. I read the following post from a Christian organization referencing the shooting: "Please know that even though evil is in this world & people act it out, God is in control & He does not slumber nor is He surprised. This is why it is imperative that we get His message out - none of us know how long anyone will be on this earth but eternal life is certain. Live for Christ and share Him with others." What do you think about the bold words? Is G-d in control? Did He know in advance and do nothing to stop the shooting? Why would He allow this to occur if He knew about it in advance?

Arguments like this are used by nonbelievers to prove that G-d does not exist. Too often in an effort to protect G-d's omnipotence and omniscience, the Christian has to develop excuses for G-d. We hear that even though G-d knew it would occur, He has to allow for man's free will. These attributes of G-d were developed through Greek philosophy. They are not Biblical. What good does it do for us to ascribe to G-d all power and knowledge and then have to make excuses for Him? I suggest that a proper view of G-d will bring greater light on tragedies like what occurred last night.

Does G-d know the future? I suggest that He knows all that can be known. However, to say that He knows all and fails to act is to create a G-d that allows children to be molested, killed, and abused. A G-d that knows all and fails to act allows women to be abused without taking steps to help. I suggest that G-d does not sit on a high bubble seeing the future, the present, and the past at the same time. Instead, perhaps G-d sees the future as it unfolds much like a carpet is being unrolled. Consider the following illustration. I am wearing a yellow and green shirt today. Did G-d know yesterday that I would wear this shirt today? If He did, then I lost the free will to change my mind and wear a red one. If we believe in free will, then I must have the ability to change my mind.

Perhaps we should look at the shooting tragedy as the act of a sick human being. It is not G-d's fault. He was aware of the possibilities that lead to the event, but since they were only possibilities until actual choices were made, He was not culpable for those choices. Remember the words of YHVH to Abraham as he offered Yitshaq for sacrifice: "And He said, 'Do not lay your hand on the boy, nor touch him. For now I know that you fear Elohim, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'" (Gen. 22:12) When did He know? He knew when it was apparent that Abraham would slay his son at G-d's command.

Our G-d can bring the most comfort to hurting hearts when we do not have to first explain His failure to act. Perhaps He hurts the most when we say He knew of the event, and failed to act. Our prayer is that the hurting hearts today will find true refuge in a G-d that loves them, and is not to blame.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Being a Work in Progress

Yeshua continues His teaching in Mark 4:26-29: And He was saying, "The kingdom of Elohim is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and goes to sleep at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows while he is not aware. "The soil produces crops by itself; first the plant, then the ear, then the mature grain in the full ear. "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." First, notice that it is the responsibility of the person in the Kingdom to sow or cast seeds. We know from the Parable of the Sower, that the seed is the word of Elohim. This is all being taught as a single session and the people listening would have known what Yeshua meant by the word "seed." He had just told them. Yeshua expects us to sow seeds as we live our lives day to day. This is the coming of the Kingdom of Elohim, the sowing of the word of Elohim in the hearts (i.e. ground) of those in contact with us.

Second, notice that the ground does the work of producing the harvest from the seed. Yeshua is teaching that it is the heart of man that receives the seed of the word of Elohim that will act upon the seed to produce the results. Further, notice that Yeshua is teaching that the harvest will come in stages, i.e. the plant, the ear, and finally the grain in the full ear. Yeshua is teaching the people that the Kingdom of Elohim produces the harvest in stages. People develop in stages and do not become instantly perfect as some teach. It seems clear that Yeshua is teaching a puncticular coming of the Kingdom with an ongoing manifestation in the lives of its subjects.

Today, are there those around you that have not come up to your level of perfection yet? Do you recognize that everyone is a work in progress? Perhaps, it is time to allow the word of Elohim to work in others lives without our critical judgment? So, what do you think? No, what are you going to do now?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yeshua versus Jesus

This post will briefly compare Yeshua the Hebrew rabbi, and Jesus who is worshipped by Christians:

Yeshua

1. Kept the Sabbath;
2. Confirmed the Torah;
3. Kept the Biblical Feasts and Festivals;
4. Obeyed the Kosher (Dietary) rules; and
5. Wore a tallit.

Jesus

1. Followers worship on Sunday;
2. Believes that the law has passed away and is no longer binding;
3. Replaced the Biblical Feasts and Festivals with Lent, Easter, and Christmas;
4. Disregards the Kosher (Dietary) rules; and
5. Does not wear a tallit.

Questions:

1. Which person is Biblical?
2. If Yeshua is more Biblical than Jesus, who created Jesus?
3. Which one do you follow?

Selah

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Misunderstanding Yeshua (Jesus)

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine writes the following in her book The Misunderstood Jew: "Today Jesus's words are too familiar, too domesticated, too stripped of their initial edginess and urgency. Only when heard through first-century Jewish ears can their original edginess and urgency be recovered. Consequently, to understand the man from Nazareth, it is necessary to understand Judaism. More, it is necessary to see Jesus as firmly within Judaism rather than as standing apart from it, and it is essential that the picture of Judaism not be distorted through the filter of centuries of Christian sterotypes...." I believe that Dr. Levine is one hundred percent correct. You cannot understand Yeshua apart from His being a Jew. He spoke in Hebrew idioms. His audience was primarily Jews; His ministry was in the Middle East; and He thought in Hebrew. To separate Yeshua from Judaism is to misunderstand who He is and what His message was.

Tomorrow is Sun-Day. A day that was named for the worship of sun deities. The Catholic Encyclopedia states the following concerning Sunday: "Sunday (Day of the Sun), as the name of the first day of the week, is derived from Egyptian astrology. The seven planets, known to us as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, each had an hour of the day assigned to them, and the planet which was regent during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day." No righteous Jew would set Sun-Day as his day of public worship. Yeshua would not dismiss the Sabbath because He was a righteous Jew. He would not worship on a different day than the one established by YHVH. Yet, how many followers of Jesus (and yes, I'm using Jesus on purpose as a separate person from Yeshua)will meet tomorrow? Most, if not all, would be my guess.

To meet tomorrow for public worship is to misunderstand Yeshua. To meet tomorrow is to separate yourself from Judaism,and when you separate yourself from Judaism you are separating yourself from Yeshua. The early followers of the Way continued to remember and keep the Sabbath. The early followers saw no reason to create a new religion. They were still Jews, but they followed Yeshua as their rabbi. It was His teachings that they followed. If you are meeting tomorrow as your day of public worship, whose teaching are you following? If you think it is Yeshua's teachings, you have misunderstood Him.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where Do You Stand?

Subsequent to His teaching on watching, Yeshua says in Mark 4:25: "For to him who has, it shall be given. And for him who has not, also that is to be taken from him." It should be noted that the words "given" and "taken" are both in the future tense, passive voice, and indicative mood. The future tense corresponds to the English future, and indicates the contemplated or certain occurrence of an event which has not yet occurred. The passive voice represents the subject as being the recipient of the action, e.g., in the sentence, "The boy was hit by the ball," the boy receives the action. The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact. If an action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it will be rendered in the indicative mood. Yeshua is teaching as a matter of fact, that your actions will result in your receiving more from G_d or less from Him. This is very Hebraic; it is about what you do, not just what you think.

The word "has" is the Greek word echo and it means to have in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have possession of the mind, to hold fast, keep, to have or comprise or involve, to regard or consider or hold as. It is in the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is the mood of possibility and potentiality. The action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances. Yeshua is teaching that you have choices and those choices will dictate what you passively receive from G_d. If you hear and obey, more will be given. If you don't hear and obey, what you have will be taken away from you.

How do you respond to this teaching by Yeshua? Do you find it difficult or unfair? Notice that Yeshua's teaching does not "grade on a curve." The issue is hearing that impacts actions. You are either obedient or disobedient. There is no middle ground. The question for us is, "Where do we stand (based on what we do, not just what we say)?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Jewish View of the Messiah

What I am about to write you will probably be difficult to accept. The vast majority of what Christian churches believe is the product of what took place in the 4TH Century. The early church, i.e 30AD to 70AD continued with annual sacrifices for their sins. They continued to celebrate Yom Kippur. It was years later that the idea of one sacrifice for sins by Yeshua became the norm. That being said, the question was: "What was their understanding of the purpose of the Messiah?" Belief in the eventual coming of the mashiach is a basic and fundamental part of traditional Judaism. It is part of the Amidah prayer. Jews pray for all of the elements of the coming of the Messiah: ingathering of the exiles; restoration of the religious courts of justice; an end of wickedness, sin and heresy; reward to the righteous; rebuilding of Jerusalem; restoration of the line of King David; and restoration of Temple service.

Modern scholars suggest that the Messanic concept was introduced later in the history of Judaism, specifically during the age of the prophets. The messianic concept is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the Torah. The term "mashiach" literally means "the anointed one," and refers to the ancient practice of anointing kings with oil when they took the throne. The mashiach is the one who will be anointed as king in the End of Days. The word "mashiach" does not mean "savior." The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. This is a Catholic creation. Some Gentiles believe that the term "mashiach" is related to the Hebrew term "moshiah" (savior) because they sound similar, but the similarity is not as strong as it appears to one unfamiliar with Hebrew. The Hebrew word "mashiach" comes from the root Mem-Shin-Chet. It means to paint, smear, or annoint. The word "moshiah" comes from the root Yod-Shin-Ayin, which means to help or save. The only letter these roots have in common is Shin, the most common letter in the Hebrew language. The "m" sound at the beginning of the word moshiah (savior) is a common prefix used to turn a verb into a noun. For example, the verb tzavah (to command) becomes mitzvah (commandment). Saying that "mashiach" is related to "moshiah" is a bit like saying that ring is related to surfing because they both end in "ing."So , it is clear that the Hebrew concept of the Messiah had little to do with salvation from sin. It had to do with someone taking control and ruling. Consider Jeremiah 31:33-34; Isaiah 11:1-16. These speak of the times of the Messiah. Have they occurred yet? Now, you can see why the Jews have a difficult time with "Jesus." Yeshua's sacrifice did open a door; a door for the Gentiles to enter in. The subject is most complex and I have just scratched the surface. I hope I have given you something to ponder.