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Looking For The Blessed Hope

(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 11, 2017) 

I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible.  When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of:  forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!

I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981.  This was the blessed hope.  Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth.  But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture.  Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD.  I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride.  This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.

My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years.  According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope!  They simply were not living at the right time!  Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5)  In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul:  whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58)  Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven:  “Write:  ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’  Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13)  As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed!  For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body.  The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord.  Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it.  This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us.  As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)

An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as  ‘coming soon’).  Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming.  Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time.  Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood:  that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist.  This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel).  It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent.  But even then, maybe not:  remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11)  Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’.  The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out.  The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption.  But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)

The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b)  Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe.  God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both  Jews and Christians.  Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them.  God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him.   Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers:  we will not suffer the wrath of God.  This is good news!  And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom!  This is also good news!  (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)

Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:

Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.

Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.

Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.

Job 19:25-27  For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last;   (26)  and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God,  (27)  whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!

Heb 11:17-19  By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son,  (18)  of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called,  (19)  concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.

Jn 11:23-27  Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.  (24)  Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  (25)  Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live.  (26)  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?  (27)  She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.

Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?

1Co 15:16-20  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.  (17)  And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.  (18)  Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.  (19)  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  (20)  But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.

Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.

Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Jerusalem Day

It has been 50 years (May 24 this year according to the Hebrew calendar) since Israel captured Jerusalem in the Six-Day War in June, 1967.  It is clear now for many years already that this did not bring the “times of the Gentiles” to fulfillment. (Lk 21:24)  Jerusalem is still being trampled under foot by the Gentile powers, and East Jerusalem — the Biblical Jerusalem, where the Old City and Temple Mount are located — is still being offered as the capital of some potential Palestinian state.  Jerusalem’s peace will only come with the return of the rightful Heir to the throne of David. Until then, there is still much unrest and trouble.  Keep Jerusalem in your hearts and prayers, for the sake of the name of the Lord, who has chosen that city as His — the city of the great King!  For now, she has the spirit of Sodom and Egypt (Rev 11:8), and awaits her full redemption.

President Trump is scheduled to arrive tomorrow for a brief and historic visit.  He wants to make peace between the three major religions.  Such attempts should be wake-up bells for real believers in Jesus that we are nearing some extremely significant ‘signs of the times’, and cause us to increase our alertness in watching and praying as we carry on our Lord’s business.  The religious and political kingdoms of this world are opposed to the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world (Ps 2; Jn 18:36) — but the Day is nearing when it will come!  Praise the Lord!!

Who Is Yeshua?

Mk 8:27-38  And Jesus and His disciples went out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. And in the way He asked His disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am?  (28)  And they answered, John the Baptist. But others say Elijah, and others say one of the prophets.  (29)  And He said to them, But who do you say that I am? And Peter answered and said to Him, You are the Messiah.  (30)  And He charged them that they should tell no one of Him.  (31)  And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  (32)  And He spoke that saying openly. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him.  (33)  But when He had turned around and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men.  (34)  And calling near the crowd with His disciples, He said to them, Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  (35)  For whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, he shall save it.  (36)  For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?  (37)  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  (38)  Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Just before this passage, Yeshua had seemingly experienced some failure in the healing of a blind man. The first act of giving the man sight resulted in him only seeing without clarity.  The second time Yeshua put His hands on the man’s eyes resulted in him receiving full sight.  This scene was not only a physical reality — a blind man was healed — but also a parable and a prophecy:  even the disciples of the Lord were not seeing clearly who Jesus really was; and the Messiah is still at work to bring His identity into sharp focus for all – believer and unbeliever alike. 

Up till now, Yeshua had performed many miracles and healings and signs among the people, yet His closest disciples still seemed to be uncertain who it was that they were walking with.  Yeshua is now going to bring them to a ‘valley of decision’ – a moment of truth to choose to recognize and to accept, or to reject:  a decision that determines destiny. (עמק החרוץ Joel 3:14) 

Yeshua asked His disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?”  The answers were very interesting: Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptiser, one of the other prophets. (Mk 6:14-15; Mt 16:13-18)  Did the apostles and the Jewish people believe in reincarnation!?  (see Jn 9:1-2)  But then Jesus said to them:  “But you, who do you say that I am?”  And Peter, always ready, answered, “You are the Messiah, [the Son of the living God].”  Then Yeshua strictly charged the disciples not to tell anyone about Him!  They still did not know what it meant that He was the Messiah.  They were still not seeing clearly or understanding; but they knew now that He is the one of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote.    The Son of God did not come to become famous or popular.  Again we see that God’s ways are not like those of men or women who think more highly of themselves than is suitable. (Rom 12:2-3)  In Matthew’s gospel, he adds that Yeshua told Simon Peter that his confession of the revelation of who Yeshua is did not come from flesh and blood, but from Yeshua’s Father in Heaven; that is, from God.  This is the foundation upon which the Lord builds His household of faith, against which not even death can overcome the believers. (Mt 16:16-181Jn 2:20-25)

Yeshua began to teach the apostles the truth about what it meant that He was Messiah.  In Jewish teaching and expectation at that time, there were those who thought that the Messiah would come as a conquering King, the son of David.  Others taught that the Messiah would come — not necessarily from David’s line (1Kg 12:16) — and overthrow the Roman enemy and occupiers, freeing Israel and the Jewish people from foreign domination to be a free people in their own land.  The mystery of the cross and of the gospel was hidden from them, and now Yeshua had come — the truth, the life, and the way.  Yeshua told them that being the Messiah meant, firstly, that He was going to “suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”.  All of their prior understanding of the Messiah had been false or distorted.  This is what gives rise to false Messiahs/Christs – being deceived about the truth of the Messiah/Christ being Yeshua/Jesus.

(Tonight is Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day of the counting of the sheaves of wheat between the Passover week and Shavuot/Pentecost.  This day is a celebration of a false prophet and of a false Messiah.  Rabbi Akiva claimed that Bar-Kochba was the Messiah, who was going to defeat the Romans and regain the holy city of Jerusalem.  Yet the rabbi – who was burned at the stake —  is still considered one of the sages of Judaism, and everyone knows now that Bar-Kochba was not the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism even forbids marriages during this period until after this truly pagan fire holiday!)

We know that these closest disciples never did “hear” the words, “and after three days rise again”, because until they actually saw Jesus after His resurrection, they had believed that His death brought an end to their hope that He was, in fact, the Redeemer. (Mt 28:17; Mk 16:11-14; Lk 24:13-32; Jn 20:24-25)

Peter, who had just been blessed for confessing the revelation from God the Father, was now speaking on behalf of Satan when he rebuked Yeshua, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Mt 16:22)  Yeshua then rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men”.  The devil was quick at work to try to steal the Word which Yeshua had sown into the heart of His dear followers. (Mk 4:14-15)   It was God’s plan and good pleasure that His Son would be the sacrifice to atone for the sins of every man, woman, and child. (Is 53:10-12)

Jesus then spoke to all of the people there, with his disciples, and told them all what it would mean for all who confess in faith and become followers of Yeshua the Nazarene (not, the Nazirite); and He connects it with His second coming:  we will have to deny ourselves and pick up our own crosses to follow Him; we will have to be willing to die for Him and for the gospel; the whole world is not the value of even one soul; we must not be ashamed or embarrassed about Jesus or of His words. (Lk 9:26; Rev 3:8)  Remember that even many of His disciples had been offended and embarrassed by His hard sayings regarding eating His flesh and drinking His blood. (Jn 6:53-69)  In today’s post-modern and post-Christian world, the Bible – God’s Word – is under attack; the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to God the Father is attacked; the truth that God remains faithful and committed to His covenant promises to Israel is attacked; the truth that homosexuality is still a sin is under attack.  Believers are to stand with the Lord and His words in this “adulterous and sinful generation”.

What are some lessons for us in knowing who Yeshua is?:
–Before we became believers we did not understand what it means for someone to be the Messiah, especially that Jesus is the Messiah.  He is not the Messiah that we expected.  That being so, we bore false testimony against Him, simply by denying that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. (Ex 20:16; Dt 5:20)

–Yeshua told Peter that his clear acknowledgement of Him being the Messiah was a revelation from the Father.  It was not something that was being taught; it was not something that could be simply intellectually figured out.  The demons and the devil already knew who Yeshua was; they were not deceived like people are.

Each person needs this revelation of who Yeshua is.  It is not enough to grow up hearing about Him, or even being taught.  If that were all that was needed, then every person who has been brought up in a Christian or Messianic home or society would know that the Messiah/Christ is Yeshua/Jesus.  But they do not.  It requires a revelation from the Father.  If any of you here do not yet see clearly who Jesus is, ask the Father to reveal Him to you.  Ask the Lord to heal your spiritual blindness.  It is essential if you are going to be capable of truly being His disciple and not ashamed of Him or His words.  This gives confidence when He will come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

–There is unity among the believers who have this revelation.  All of the apostles were brought to that point of certainty regarding who Yeshua was/is.  Even Thomas; even Judas Ishcariot.  Whatever each of the apostles and the people had understood before that ‘valley of decision’, the Good Shepherd was going on from there.  They were going on together from there with the Lord breaking through before them.  If they were to begin arguing or discussing things as they had previously understood them, the Lord was going on from there.  He was not going back.  This unified the disciples.  It still did not guarantee covenant faithfulness to Yeshua or to His way.  Sin is a dreadfully strong slave master!

It is my conviction that the Body of Messiah is in need of another such revelation from the Father that is going to bring unity to the disciples of Yeshua at this time.  There are many differing and opposing interpretations of what is going on in these last days, and of Israel’s part, of believers in Jesus’ part, and of the abiding truth of the Word of YHVH God.  Just as the truth of Messiah was written in the Scriptures – but not understood – so, too, is the truth of where God is now in His plan of redemption also written in the Old and the New Testaments – but divisively not agreed upon.  We need a common, corporate, Holy Spirit revelatory moment to bring us together in His truth and love to enable us to do effectively what the Lord has called us to for His glory and purpose.  There will still be Thomases and Judases among us (Lord, have mercy on me!), but the power needed to stand  as one in this adulterous and sinful generation until the Day of Messiah necessitates such a revelation.  Let us love one another in the hope we have in our God.  And let us stand in the truth that we do know:  Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God.  Yeshua is LORD, to the glory of God the Father!

We were blind, but now we see.  Praise God!

Israel — Of God, or Not of God?

Israel celebrates her 69th Day of Independence this Monday and Tuesday.  Most of Israel’s Arab population knows it as their Day of Catastrophe (nakba).  Neither one yet fears YHVH.  The one, true, living God of Heaven and Earth is fulfilling His Word and plan for His holy name’s sake, and against all opposition to Him — including unbelief.  He cannot, and will not, be stopped!  Praise be to His name!

The Israeli Jewish people celebrate their military strength and prowess; the Arab Palestinian people refuse to accept that the land was covenanted to Jacob for an everlasting possession, yet to be realized.  The Holy Spirit is working to turn away ungodliness from Jacob so that all Israel (the full remnant from all the tribes) will be saved.  The Arabs hope is to be found in Israel’s hope:  Yeshua/Yasua/Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, Son of David.

Israel’s leadership and people feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is that the Jewish people must protect themselves by themselves.  The Arab world feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is unjust and not fair.  Neither fear the LORD.

Most of the Jewish people are relying on “a god of fortresses” — self-determined that they must be masters of their own destiny —  rather than trust in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who alone can guarantee them life that is really life.  Most of the Arab peoples are relying on a god of vengeance, nurtured by a bitter root and an ancient hatred towards their brothers and cousins.  Neither line of Abraham’s family fears the God of their father in truth.

The Jewish people have only recently celebrated the Passover, glorying in their deliverance by YHVH from Egyptian slavery.  On the heels of that joyful celebration and hope, we solemnly and gravely remembered the worst calamity yet to come upon our people — the Holocaust.  The night preceding Independence Day we again remember all those Jewish people [in particular] who have sacrificed their lives in the many wars and conflicts connected with being a sovereign people in our own land.  There is the constant reminder to abide in the faith, for through much suffering and tribulation we enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)  Yet our people still have not repented and believed the gospel, confessing their unfaithfulness to our God, that they would know their sins are forgiven through the sacrifice and shed blood of Yeshua, whom God raised from the dead. (Lev 26:40-45)  For the Father was well-pleased with His beloved Son!

For us who have received our peace with God through saving faith in His Son, our Savior, our battle is not waged against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.  Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.

Today’s Israel is a miracle/banner (nes) for the nations/Gentiles.  God has intervened in history again to repossess HIS land for His people.  The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise is a proof that YHVH is the true God.  It is a huge sign of the end-times of the last days — not unlike the ark in Noah’s days.  Against all odds, the LORD is doing a greater thing than what He did to bring us out of Egypt, or out of Babylon.  (Is 11:12; Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8).  Jacob’s Trouble is coming, but Israel will be saved out of it.  (Jer 30:7)  The Lord’s return cannot be far behind!  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!  Then Jerusalem will have God’s peace.

The Holocaust and Knowing God

Is 5:11-16, 21-24  Israel does not regard the activity of YHVH or the works of His hands.  God’s people in captivity [physical and spiritual] because of  lack of knowledge.  YHVH of Hosts will be exalted in judgment, hallowed in righteousness.    God’s people have rejected Law of YHVH of Hosts and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel.

Tomorrow night begins Holocaust Remembrance Day, the remembrance of the worst calamity so far upon the Jewish people/the children of Jacob in our history.  The subject of the Holocaust always brings with it many questions:  Where was God, whom Jews and Christians claim is everywhere, all-powerful, and all-knowing?    Why did our God not intervene to stop or even prevent such unspeakable horror and sufferings and acts of wickedness?    If Messiah has come, as Christians say, and He has not forsaken His covenanted people, how could so many – including children, nursing mothers, religious Jews – be killed?    How could this happen in a “Christian” nation — Germany?    What kind of God is this who could see and allow such a thing?    Answers are not so easily offered.

Jewish persons and the people of Israel are witnesses of YHVH God, who created and chose us. (Is 43:10)  We are witnesses of who He is, and we are witnesses of what man is. (1Cor 10:6-11)  The lesson of Scripture is that a nation collectively, and individuals personally, are responsible before God for their own sin and consequent judgment, and for their own righteousness and consequent justification.(Ezek 18; Joel 2:32)  The same God who made His Son Jesus a whole burnt offering for sin to die for our transgressions is the same God who brought a destruction upon His chosen people — whom He has called as a nation His first-born son — in judgment for our continuing unbelief and sin, in accord with the testimony of God’s covenants and written Word.  Our God is a Jealous God, who knows what is wise and good!

YHVH is a God of covenant, and He is faithful.  He does not change.  The God of the Tenach (O.T.) is the same as the God of the N.T.  The God of Israel is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We all believe—I think—that the words and teaching of Jesus recorded in Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21, Rev refer in large part to events still to take place – regarding Israel, the nations, and the Church – and that these things are not far off now.  What is spoken of in these places is something not yet experienced in human history, and the only deliverance can come from God Himself:  the God who has prophesied judgments is the God who promises deliverance and mercy to those who turn to Him for salvation.

When speaking about the Holocaust and its lessons, God is usually left out as being active in it.  It is always good and edifying to read stories like Corrie Ten Boom’s, because we see the works and ways of God in mercies towards innocent victims, and towards those who repent of their sins.  But even a Corrie Ten Boom needed to learn the ways of God in Messiah:  to forgive those who did such despicable things, not only to Jews, but also to her own Dutch family who tried to save Jews from being sent to Germany.  We Jews, who know that our own sins – both personal and as part of a nation – are forgiven, can offer comfort to Germans, especially to those who have saving faith in Jesus, to free them from a lingering sense of guilt and shame over their sins and those of their nation. 

When we leave God out of the discussion as to what happened and why, it is further proof that we do not regard His Law, or His Word, or His acts and righteous judgments, the very things by which He can and will be known and sanctified!  Those who would deny that God could allow such a thing become those who deny that He can send sinners, who refuse His terms of salvation, to hell forever.  The passage we read from Isaiah is consistent with the Words of YHVH through Moses in chapters like Lev 26; Dt 28; 32.

Read them to know better the great God whom we serve and in whom we have entrusted our souls for life.

It is evident that Holocaust museums, education on racism and antisemitism will not be enough to prevent what is cried aloud, “Never again!”  The same living Word of God written thousands of years ago still abides.  Judgments against sin and sinners come from the Holy and Righteous Judge of the whole Earth, firstly against those of His own people who refuse to walk in His ways and so receive all His benefits.

Even today, when the gospel is going out in Israel and believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah and Lord are greater in number than ever before, our religious and political leaders still oppose the truth of God our Father in Heaven.  The government is making its own plans for peace and security, refusing God’s, which is the only one which will succeed.  The believers in Arad are suffering threats and curses from those who claim to know God, just as happened in the days of Jesus and the apostles. 

How can we know God’s grace and mercy?:  Through His judgments, just as Adam and Eve; just as we who know the reason why Jesus came to die on the cross; just as Israel and the nations will learn as God brings every knee to bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (YHVH).  It is at the cross that we know God—both in His righteous judgment against all sin and sinners, and in His mercy and love for anyone who repents and believes in their heart that He is just in all His ways.

Jn 3:16-19  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

If we love our people, if we love the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, we will bring the truth of God and His Word to them, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin of unbelief, so that they might seek God for His mercy to forgive.  As we remember the Holocaust, let us remember, too, the honor of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ whom He sent.

The Holocaust and The Salvation of Israel: “Be Reconciled to God”

Lev. 26: 40-45   Israel and Jewish people confessing personal and historic collective guilt for breaking the LORD’s covenants

There is a biblical principle whereby God holds the heads of a people accountable for the blessing or punishment of the people.  We see this with Pharaoh and the Egyptians with respect to the children of Israel at the time of the Passover and Exodus from Egypt.  We see it again with King David and his census of Israel, bringing the LORD’s judgment upon the people and the near destruction of Jerusalem (2Sam. 24).

The rulers of the people — whether kings or priests — represent the people before God, and by their example of faith and obedience — or the contrary — the nation is led.  Today, does not a nation of people go to war or make peace based upon the determinations of their leader(s)?  Are not nations judged in the eyes of others by their thoughts regarding the heads of government or of the religious authorities?  Do not Jews today insist that Germans living today confess their nation’s and their parents’ guilt for the Holocaust — that Germans and Germany are primarily responsible and guilty because of their evil leader who governed and represented them?; or to put it another way, in Hitler, the Germans living today — whether or not they were personally and directly involved — are reckoned as guilty and defiled by the Jewish people, even more than are Austrians and Poles who also bear their own iniquity.

Other Biblical examples of this living principle of divine justice covering generations for nations, tribes, and  peoples are:
1.      in Adam, all have sinned and all human beings inherit condemnation and death;

2.      in Abraham (Abram), Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, signifying the preeminence of  the Priest Melchizedek over Aaron and the Levitical priesthood;

3.      in the Passover, Jews remember that we were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD brought us out;

4.      in Messiah, many are justified and made alive, inheriting righteousness and life.

There are both  power in, and accountability for, our words which we speak or write, all the more so if we are in positions of authority (Mt. 12:36-37).

          John 11:45-53    – Caiaphas the High Priest unknowingly prophesied that the one man Yeshua would die for the whole nation, and even for all the scattered children of God.

          Mt. 27:25           – “all the people [of Israel] answered and said, ‘Let His [Yeshua’s] blood be on us and on our children’!

Primary responsibility, with its guilt and historic consequences, is upon the leaders and people of Israel (John 19:11; Lev. 4:1-3, 13, 14, 22, 23; Acts 2; 4; 1Cor 2:7-8; Lk 23:34) — both before God and by our own words and agreement with our “fathers” — for the betrayal and death of Messiah.  Praise God that upon the cross, Yeshua/Jesus prayed that God His Father forgive us!  They did not know what they were doing; and neither did we until we repented and believed the truth of who Yeshua/Jesus is.

YEHOVAH is the God of covenant, to which He is always faithful to fulfill His part, which includes His  promises to make the people of Israel a holy people for Himself.  Therefore He is working to remove from His people transgressions, sin, iniquity, and uncleanness — guilt and shame – – and to bring in everlasting righteousness.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring His people to an end of themselves, to stop trusting in themselves or in the arm of the flesh, so that they will call on the Name of Yeshua for salvation:  Blessed is He who comes in the Name YEHOVAH!  It is Yeshua whom God has given as a guilt offering (Is. 53:10), and His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness.

The Holocaust brings reproach to the Holy Name of the God of Israel and of the Lord Jesus Christ:
          –“These are the people chosen by God?!”

          –“Where was/is God?”

        –“There is no God!”

          –“How can a ‘good’ God allow such atrocities?”

          –“Maybe God is not strong enough to stop evil?!”

        –“God has forsaken and cast away the Jews!”

Remember Messianic brothers and sisters, Yeshua died a criminal’s death because of — and to take away — that evil unbelief and rebellion, the sin of the world!

Do we trust and love our God and Savior to honor His holy name in the face of such unbelief and mocking?  Many Christians risked, and even sacrificed their lives to save Jews from the death trains and camps.  In the unknowable ways of God, just as the crucifixion was necessary, so too was the Holocaust.  God’s judgments are past finding out!

As many as are Jewish believers, we need to accept the truth of our primary responsibility for our history.  Let Gentile believers each examine and judge himself for their own personal and historic sins of your nations and churches against the Sovereign LORD and against the Jews and Christians.  Offenses there must necessarily be, but woe to those through whom they come!

The Lord Jesus says that the truth sets free and sanctifies.  Confession of our own and of our fathers’ sins is an act of humility, and it brings cleansing, freedom, blessedness — because by it we receive and know the righteousness of God who forgives us and accepts us.

The Lord promises to save His people from their sins.  The true gospel includes the cross of the Messiah and God’s righteous judgments against Israel, not to the exclusion of the other nations.  As has been spoken before, there is no glory for the Jewish people (or for any nominal Christian) apart from the faith in the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Hope of Israel.  Let us who believe be sure of our own peace with God and acceptance of His ways and judgments so that we can speak the truth with love to the Jewish people, and to others.

2Cor. 5:11a, 18-21  – in the fear of God, be reconciled to Him and be ministers of reconciliation   

Amen.

Passover to Resurrection

Mt 26:17-29  And on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You desire that we prepare for You to eat the Passover?  (18)  And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.  (19)  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them. And they made the Passover ready.  (20)  And when evening had come, He sat down with the Twelve.  (21)  And as they ate, He said, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.  (22)  And grieving sorrowfully, they began to say, each one of them, Lord, not I am the one?  (23)  And He answered and said, He who dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.  (24)  The Son of Man goes, as it has been written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.  (25)  And answering, the one betraying Him, Judas, said, Master, Not am I the one? He said to him, You said it.  (26)  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is My body.  (27)  And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it.  (28)  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  (29)  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.

Mt 28:1-9  But after the Sabbath, at the dawning into the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  (2)  And behold, a great earthquake occurred! For coming down from Heaven, an angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone from the door and was sitting on it.  (3)  His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  (4)  And the keepers shook for fear of him and became like dead men.  (5)  And the angel answered and said to the women, Do not fear, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  (6)  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  (7)  And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. And, behold, He goes before you into Galilee. There you shall see Him. Lo, I have told you.  (8)  And they quickly departed from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.  (9)  But as they were going to report to His disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, Hail! And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

We have heard how that YHVH God, brought out the children of Israel from Egypt in order to make His name great, and to have Israel be His holy people, and He would be their God.  He promised them to inherit the Land of Canaan.  However, the people have been unfaithful to the LORD throughout most of their history.  BUT, God has been faithful to His covenants and to the conditions and promises of them.  Praise the Lord!  And we today who have returned to live in this very land are part of His plan of redemption, and proof that the God of Israel is the true God, and God of gods.

In the passage from Mt 26, we see that Yeshua and His closest disciples kept the Passover, with the Messiah establishing a New Covenant with them, and with Israel.  It is a covenant in which YHVH promises to forgive the Israeli people all of their sins. (Jer 31:31-37)  For this the Savior’s name is Yeshua. (Mt 1:21)  He still reaches out to them until today with this same offer of salvation that He began with them.  Even among the apostles was one who was unfaithful to the Lord.  Yeshua, at this last supper before His crucifixion as the Passover Lamb born to be the sacrifice to atone for our sins, institutes the Lord’s Supper of remembrance, which we are about to do ourselves.

In the passage from Mt 28, a new day has come – Sonday, the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:9-12)!  It is the day of Firstfruits.  A day of rejoicing instead of mourning!  Victory over death, the devil, and sin!  A new day in which the angels and Yeshua told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to go tell the others that Yeshua is risen from the dead!  He is the firstfruits from among the dead.  The harvest time is nearing in our generation.  And they went from Jerusalem to meet Him in Galilee, as He had told them beforehand to do, and they ate together.

Now, all who confess with their mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, will be saved!  And with this New Covenant that God offers not only to the Jewish people, but also to all Gentiles, YHVH also confirms that He will keep all of His covenant promises to Israel, including the inheritance of the land, and that they will be His people, and He will be their God. (Rom 15:8-13; 2Cor 1:20-22; Jer 31:33)  Yeshua was born King of the Jews; Yeshua was crucified as King of the Jews; Yeshua will come again to be the King of the Jews!  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let us fellowship together now in remembering the death of the Lord, and His burial and resurrection, until He comes.

Yeshua and Traditions of the Elders/of Men

Mk 7:1-23

As Yeshua continued to prove Himself to be the Messiah and the Son of God, we also see how the opposition to Yeshua strengthened and became more threatening to the established order.  Despite all of the signs and good works and healings that Jesus did, the flesh and the natural mind were warring against the Spirit and the wisdom of God. The will of men was resisting the will of God:  without repentance from unbelief to faith, the natural mind can not and will not understand the things of God. (1Cor 2:14)   

I saw a blog on the internet by someone who calls himself an atheist and a believer in natural law.  He wrote against the Sermon on the Mount!  Everything that Jesus strengthened concerning the Law of Moses was, to this man, against natural law; e.g., Jesus saying that hating someone is the same as murdering him;, or that a married man lusting after another woman is the same as adultery; we have to love our enemy.  The true God calls His people to holiness – within, and without. 

In the passage we have read in Mark, we see that those who have taken upon themselves to control others by their own interpretations, customs, and traditions – all in the name of keeping the Torah – find themselves fighting against the very One who does in truth keep the Law, and is the very one who came to save those who do not!  This is the essence of what is called “Replacement Theology”:  replacing God’s Word with someone else’s.  Some examples are Adam and Eve believing what the serpent said rather than what God Himself had told them; Judaism placing the “Oral Law” – their own interpretations and judgments, now written in the Talmud – as an equal or higher authority over the written Law and interpretations given through the prophets and even the Messiah Himself; Christianity saying that God has finished with Israel and the Jewish people, and that the Church and Christians have replaced them as God’s people, rather than becoming also God’s people along with the Jews and Israel; Islam claiming that God has finished with both Jews, Israel, and Christians, and that now Muslims are the true believers.  All of this “replacement theology” results from a lack of the fear of God and not believing in what the true God – YHVH – has actually said.  In essence, we place ourselves equal to or above the Father and the Son in determining truth and our choice to obey or not, or to approve or disapprove!

This accusation of Yeshua against His own brothers and people is true not of them only, but of all people.  Remember, Israel is given by God as an example to the church (1Cor 10:11) – made up of men and women from every nation and tribe.  In this “replacement theology”, Jews are not different than Gentiles, and Gentiles are no different than Jewish people.

In this passage, it is the third time that the religious authorities confronted Jesus and His disciples regarding their non-compliance to keep the traditions and regulations of the ‘Oral Law’.  In the first instance (Mk 2:18), they failed to fast as the Pharisees did; in the second (Mk 2:24), they did not keep the Sabbath as the elders taught.  To the religious Jews, the Oral Law was also received by Moses from God at Mt. Sinai, and passed on to Joshua and the elders of Israel.  By this assumption (which was not true), they gave equal – even more – weight to the traditions of the elders – which Jesus calls the traditions of men – than to the Law of Moses itself, claiming that the Oral Law is what helps a Jew keep the written Law.  In other words, the traditions of the elders/of men becomes the halacha, or the way to walk the pious life, and find approval from men.  The Pharisees called themselves disciples of Moses (Jn 9:28), and Jesus told them that Moses would judge them for not believing in Him and what He said. (Jn 5:44-46)

When the Pharisees challenged Yeshua as to why His disciples did not walk according to the traditions of the elders, Yeshua responded with the Word of God as written in the prophet Isaiah, and in Moses.  They were breaking God’s commandments because their hearts were far from the LORD.  Yeshua took the first commandment with a promise – intended for children of all ages, even as adults – that children are to honor their fathers and mothers (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16) – and told them that they were inventing ways to not honor their parents, and giving it religious authority as if it were from God, and as if they honored and loved God more than anyone else, even their own fathers and mothers. But they were actually guilty of cursing their fathers and mothers. (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9)  This can sound very pious, and even like what Jesus Himself teaches:  that we must love Him more than all, even more than our own parents. (Mt 10:34-39)  Only by really loving the Lord, and paying attention to all that He says – to listen and understand (v. 14) — can we begin to understand how to obey Him in the right Spirit and without contradiction or hypocrisy.  By our own traditions, we can become worthy of death under God’s law, all the while justifying ourselves as being righteous!  This is a very strong deception!!

With respect to eating food with unwashed hands, the issue that the Pharisees brought up was not really about having clean (i.e., not dirty) hands before eating.  They only did a religious ceremony of pouring water on their hands/fists, having little to do with making sure that their hands were clean before eating, but rather, by their custom, making their hands ritually clean and not defiled.  Jesus did not accept this at all, principally because their inner heart relationship with God, and with their own mothers and fathers (and towards other people), was not pure. 

Jesus said to the multitude of people that were listening that what goes into the mouth does not defile a person, but rather what comes out from the heart.  Even the disciples did not understand. (v 15-18)

Now, Jesus took the opportunity to make a huge change in the Law of Moses, with respect to what is acceptable as food.  Remember, the LORD told Jeremiah the prophet that the new covenant would not be like the former one given at Mt. Sinai.  Being new, there would be some changes and differences.  Remember, too, that God’s eternal plan is that Jew and Gentile would become socially equal before God.  The whole issue of food is huge socially:  ­­­­­can Jews and Gentiles – in particular co-believers in Jesus — eat the same food, and together at the same table?

The Law of Moses says that some animals are unclean to eat, and that it is an abomination for Jews to eat them, and that those who eat them become an abomination. (Lev 11:12, 20, 41, 43)  YHVH gave these laws and regulations so that Israel would learn to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, for He is holy. (Lev 11:45-47)   

But NOW, Yeshua is saying that putting any food in the mouth does not defile a person – does not make him unclean or abominable!  What goes into the mouth goes out of the body after nourishing it.  But what comes out of the heart of a person can defile him or her.  By this word of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, He has made all foods clean (kosher), at least for the believer in what He said and meant. (v.19)  Clean animals were already clean; He did not need to make them clean.  Therefore it is the unclean foods which He has also declared as clean.  To the Jewish people first of all, to whom the Law was given!  Yeshua is our peace, and the middle wall of partition He has broken down between Jewish believers and Gentiles.  Yeshua is able to send us to serve Him and the gospel among other people groups, and our conscience can be clean regarding the food we may need to eat for the sake of love and of the gospel.

If God can make me clean (and Gentiles, too!), He — the LORD and Messiah — can make unclean food clean that only goes in and out of me, and His word was reinforced by the experience and doctrines of the Apostles. (Mk 7:14-16; Acts 10:9-16; 11:1-10Rom 14:2-3,14,20Gal 2:11-14; 1Tim 4:1-5; Heb 13:9)  What is OUR character?!  Is it like one of the unclean animals and creatures?  So we begin to learn in ourselves the difference between that which is acceptable to God and that which is not, sanctifying ourselves, purifying/cleansing our hearts, for our God and Lord and indwelling Spirit is holy and pure, and by faith we both establish the Law and fulfill its righteousness. (Rom 3:31; 8:4)  When we speak of what is Biblically kosher regarding foods (including, of course, the man-made traditional ban on eating meat and dairy together), we must remember that the New Testament is part of the Bible!  God is getting to the heart of the matter with us as His holy people and temple.

A Messianic Jew is not obligated to eat pork, for example — or, for that matter, a good kosher angus steak — but will he allow others to do so, or will he judge them for not being ‘good Jews’?  Our own cultural and moral biases and sensitivities can keep separate what God has made possible to join together.

So, what do we learn from our passage in Mark:  one lesson concerns external rituals. If people participate in congregational/synagogue/church services and follow all the rituals perfectly, they may have a heart after God’s, but may not. Unbelievers and nominal believers can have the appearance of being devout, but if there is not faith then their ritual will not help in worshiping God in spirit and truth.  It is more important for people to get their hearts right with God than to ‘go through the motions’.

A second lesson is that there is a real danger in replacing the the word of God (the letter and the spirit of it) with our traditions. Traditions can be helpful (like a picture is worth a thousand words), but they have a way of pushing aside or replacing the basic commandments.  We might also carry through what was appropriate for a ‘dispensation’ in life into a more mature stage where it becomes unsuitable for going on unto the fullness which is in the ‘seed’.  The attitude of the “keepers of the law” in the passage also appears in many churches, even in Israel still!  Many traditions have grown up over the centuries in different streams and denominations, and many of them have become “essential”. We can be more concerned that people might violate our man-made rules for leading and serving the congregation/church, the way we do baptism and communion, or the set of rules that our particular group follows in the name of holiness, than we are about mercy and humility. We can be more concerned about which way take up the offerings than about meeting the needs of people in the community. If we are not careful, these traditions of ours can become ‘law’, and we might even forget what the Word of God actually says about some of those things we do, or do not do.

Then, when someone comes along – like Jesus and His disciples — who discerns the difference, we can become defensive, judging them while justifying ourselves. But then we remember the teaching of Yeshua that God is more concerned with what/who we actually are than what our outward religiosity looks like. There is a place for rituals and traditions, but they must retain their proper place in our faith-life.
https://bible.org/seriespage/22-jesus-and-traditions-elders-matthew-151-20

A third lesson from our reading is that the New Covenant is just that – new.  There are some things that continue from the old, but there also some changes and differences which promote and advance the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the truth of the one new man in Messiah Yeshua – affecting all believers, allowing for full social fellowship among and with all.  In love, we do not make our liberty a cause of stumbling for another brother or sister. (Rom 14:13-23; 1Cor 8) 

“Yeshua/Jesus Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition/separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity – the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Eph 2:14-16)  

To obey the Lord is better than sacrifice.  He wants a heart that is one with His.  This will ensure that we are with Him and not against Him as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as the apostle Paul writes. (Phlp 2:12)   We do not want to be judged as hypocrites, but as righteous, in the righteous judgment of God, who sees the heart.

Purim 2017

He who keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!  Praise the Lord!
Purim begins this evening, but the celebrations have already been going on for a few days.  While most of the Jewish people are still in both a physical and a spiritual exile — not in fellowship with their God — we who know the Father can rejoice in His sovereign providence to preserve His people as He still works to bring them back to Himself.  The only way He has given is through repentance and faith in His Son, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, just as for each of us.
In the Scroll of Esther, it is written in ch 9 v 27 that Queen Esther and Mordecai instituted the custom that “the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days (the 14th and 15th of the month Adar, which is the last month on the Jewish calendar) every year. . . .”
This celebration began about 2500 years ago, and continues till now. What is interesting to note for Gentile Christians is that this decree is for you, too!  You are ‘joined’ unto Israel and the Jewish people through your New Covenant relationship with Jesus, the King of the Jews and of Israel!  It reminds me of the shortest of the Psalms, 117, in which it is written that all you Gentiles and peoples should praise YHVH and extol Him.  Why?  Because His lovingkindness has been great towards the Israeli Jewish people, and His truth endures forever!
God has shown Himself faithful and powerful to keep His covenant commitments towards the children of Jacob/Israel in Egypt at the time of the Passover, in Persia/Iran in the days of Haman (an Agagite and descendant of Amalek and Esau/Edom), through the horrors of the Holocaust, and will yet do do through the final purging of Jacob’s Trouble.  So, it is for Gentile believers to join in with the purposes of God for the redemption of His chosen people, through whom salvation has come, and through whom the entire world is blessed, especially through the promised Seed, Yeshua/Jesus, who will yet rule over His people when He returns. Hallelu-Yah indeed!  This is good news for all who love Him and His people.

2017: A Momentous Year

We are now into this new year of 2017, 5777 on the Jewish calendar (a 240-year discrepancy, but that is another story).  Three years ago I began to look at some significant dates connected with the return of the Jewish people back to this land of Israel, and also looking ahead to the coming again of Yeshua.
http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/eclectic-course-menu/dates-to-remember/ )

When the disciples asked Yeshua about the sign of His return at the end of the age, His first response was that they should be careful not to let any man deceive them, and that they should watch and be ready for whenever that exact time should come. (Mt 24:3,4,42)  These signs – or events — were connected with the Jewish people living again in this land after a long exile.  There have been signs in the sun and moon and stars last year and this.  I do believe that God wants to get our attention, since we are His people and family, and to get us to remember that the Scriptures are His word to us, that we can be in the light and not in darkness.  We are in a season, but exactitude is not given us to know.  Signs point and lead to something and to Someone. Yeshua has all sovereign authority now in the heavenlies and on Earth.  All these things serve the purposes of YHVH, the one true living God, to be exalted as such, that He may display the wonders of His love.

What are some of the significant events which converge this year to remind us of God’s plan of salvation for His people Israel?:

–This year of 2017 marks 500 years since the Reformation, when God used Martin Luther to open the Bible as the Word of God to the common people, and that salvation is a gift from God on the basis of faith in Jesus and His sacrificial death for our sins.  Many Christians also began to see that God had promised to restore His chosen people, the Jews, back to the land He swore to give them as an inheritance.

–This year marks 120 years since the First Zionist Congress on Aug 29, 1897.  Theodor Herzl warned his fellow Jewish people that they needed to get out of Europe because of anti-semitism, and to return to establish a state for the Jewish people back in Palestine, as the Promised Land was then called.

–This year marks 100 years since the ANZAC victory in Beer Sheva, on Oct 31, 1917 during WW1 (the same date as the Reformation), which enabled Britain to make known its intention, through the Balfour Declaration, to help the Jewish people reestablish their homeland here.  By this declaration, the Gentile nations expressed their support for the return of the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, as written in the Scriptures.  God was acting and intervening towards fulfilling His promise, whether they understood or not.

–2017 marks 70 years since Nov 29, 1947, when the United Nations voted for the Jews and the Arabs to have two states in this land.  The Jews accepted; the Arabs rejected the plan, and went to war.

–This year remembers 50 years since the Six-Day War victory in June 1967, in which the Israeli Jews captured Jerusalem, opening up access to its holiest sites, including the Temple Mount, which were closed to them all the previous years since the establishment of the State of Israel.

–The opposition to God’s interventions is remembered in the outbreak of the first Palestinian intifada in 1987, 30 years ago.

–This year has opened up with a UN resolution (passed just before Hanukkah and Christmas) claiming that Israel has no legal right to any territory that was not theirs before 1967, including East Jerusalem – Biblical Jerusalem — where the Temple Mount is located.

–There has been an increase over the last few years of Christians being persecuted and killed for their faith.  Most of this has been perpetrated by Islamic jihadi terrorists, who want to take peace from people’s lives and hearts and minds, and to also bring the world into submission by force to profess the god of Islam as the only true God, and Mohammed as his prophet and servant.

What are some verses that help us to put these events into perspective for us as believers?:

Ezek 36:19-28  the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel for God’s holy Name’s sake; all will know that He is YHVH, and He will be Israel’s God, and they His holy people

Ps 2:1-6  opposition to YHVH and to Yeshua, and to God’s righteous ways

Ps 83:1-5  conspiracy to wipe out Israel from being a nation in opposition to the God of Israel (As a Jew, I also must confess that this is what the Jewish religion teaches about Jesus:  that His name and memory must be wiped out and remembered no more.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring everyone to account before the Lord.)

Zec 12:1-3  All nations shall come against Jerusalem, and will not succeed

Jer 30:12-25 (Heb; 30:12 – 31:1 Eng)  The time of Jacob’s trouble coming in the Land to bring the people to repentance and salvation; God’s wrath will fall on His enemies, and on His people’s oppressors; in the latter days this will be considered, and fulfilled.

Lev 26:40-45  God bringing the Jewish people to confess their sins against Him, , and accept His righteous ways towards them, that they be saved and live in peace and security in the land He promised them for an inheritance.

Mt 24:6-14  These troubles and sufferings and events must come; but do not be troubled in our hearts; and the gospel will go out with power to save until Yeshua returns.

What should we do now, and throughout this momentous year?

–Read the whole Bible – as the Word of the Lord!

–Pray with understanding.  Many good things promised, but a hard way to make it worthwhile to get there.  The stakes are high, and the nations and Israel can expect a shaking from the very real living God, who desires that all should repent and be saved.  For this He sent His Son into the world, which is ignored at our own peril.

–Pray for revelation and wisdom to understand the times, and what we should do as things progress:  helping each other; encouraging one another; promote holiness in the fear of God….

–Continue faithfully doing what the Lord gives you, according to His call, spiritual gifts, ministry

–Evangelize, share the gospel with whomsoever, that they might repent and be saved before the Day of the LORD.

–Strengthen your faith, hope, and love in Yeshua, trusting God for His power and grace to use you and us for His praise, honor, and glory when Yeshua returns. (1Pt 1:3-9)

Israel, The Nations, and YHVH God – 25 Dec 2016

On Sabbath evening, Dec 23, on the day before the first night of Hanukkah, on the day before Christmas Eve, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, essentially declaring that the heartland of Israel — Judea and Samaria, and East Jerusalem — are illegally occupied and settled by Israel and the Jewish people.  East Jerusalem is Biblical Jerusalem, and includes the Old City, the City of David, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount.  The United States broke its long-standing … Continue reading

Jesus Christ Came Into The World To Save Sinners – 24 Dec 2016

1Ti 1:15  Faithful is the Word and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Num 29:39  You shall prepare these to … Continue reading

The Incarnation Shook Heaven and Earth – 19 Dec 2016

The birth of the Messiah some 2000 years ago was a singular event which divided history between that which came before from that which has been reckoned since.  The God of Israel promised through the prophet Haggai that from a significant event on the 24th of the ninth Israeli month (corresponding to the 24th of December on non-Israeli calendars) that He would shake the heaven and the Earth. (Hag 2:20-22)  God began by announcing His joy in the birth of … Continue reading

Trump Trumps! — 9 Nov 2016

They said it couldn’t be done, but he did it!  Political election surveys have become little more than a form of divination.  It really is hard to think of Donald Trump as President Trump.  But it’s great that we are not going to be saying President Clinton any more.  I still look to the coming of the rightful Heir of the ‘freed’ world, the Son of God, the Lord Messiah Yeshua!  This world is still lying under the sway of … Continue reading

The Inheritance of Yeshua – 28 Oct 2016

1Pe 1:3-9  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you  (5)  by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;  (6)  in which you greatly rejoice, yet a … Continue reading

The Last Great Day of Succot – 24 Oct 2016

Today concludes the 22-day period of the feasts of ingathering — of the autumn harvest.  Succot is the time of the fruit harvest, and of great rejoicing in the goodness and faithfulness of the God of the Bible, who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to give them an inheritance in the Land of Canaan.  YHVH would be their God, and they would be His people.

Today is Simchat Torah (the Joy of the Torah), which the … Continue reading

Shimon Peres – 30 Sept 2016

Today Shimon Peres was buried, having died at the age of 93.  Leaders and other dignitaries from Israel and around the world paid tribute to a great man of the world.  He was forever an optimist, which continually gave him hope that things — including peace — would eventually improve, and he worked tirelessly until his end to live according to his faith.   Yet the God of Israel has His own plan and solution for peace, which neither optimist nor … Continue reading

Bible Texts Written Earlier

From tests done on archeological finds near Arad in the Negev, scientists are reconsidering the literacy skills of the Jewish people with respect to dating the writing of historical writings in the Bible:  http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-look-at-ancient-shards-suggests-bible-even-older-than-thought/

Not Peace Yet

Before I was saved, I was like most Jewish people:  I did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or that He was God’s Son in any special way, or that He died on the cross for my sins; maybe He did for the Gentiles!  I also did not believe in Him as the Messiah which Jewish people speak of and hope for:  we say that if the Messiah comes, everyone will know, and … Continue reading

What’s Going On Behind The Scenes of Current and Future News?

Do you read or listen to the news?  Every day in Israel politicians and commentators are vying for power and influence, telling us who should be the Prime Minister, or what the PM should do.  In the United States, there is an election process taking place, with each candidate saying that the other one is unfit to be President, the leader of the Free World.  In Turkey and Iran, their leaders are threatening each other, and the rest of the … Continue reading

What Kingdom Are We Of? – 1 Aug 2016

As I follow the election process in the U.S. (we are also citizens  there), I thank God for saving me and giving me hope through faith in Jesus!  I had been active in the political system with the naïve idealism of “tikkun” — trying “to make the world better”.  (I didn’t know then that satan is the prince of this world, nor that God had HIS plan of tikkun.)  Thirty-six years ago, the state of the union (the U.S.) was heavy on my spirit:  to me the U.S. was … Continue reading

Palestinian Leadership Seeks to Sue Britain for Balfour Declaration – 26 July 2016

As the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration approaches next November, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is gearing up for the effort to undo it.  According to this latest effort, the British government — which issued the Declaration on November 2, 1917, expressing their intent that the Jewish people should reestablish their historic homeland in Palestine, without harming the rights of those already living there — is guilty of setting in motion the catastrophe that the predominantly Islamic Arabs claim … Continue reading

The Farthest North – Ezekiel 38:6,15

Ezek 38:1-6  Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4 I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, … Continue reading

Gay Pride Parade Canceled in Beer Sheva; Protest Demonstration Last Night – 15 July 2016

The proud LGBT community in Beer Sheva had planned a parade on the main thoroughfare of the city on Thursday, which was canceled after the community organizers refused a compromise route, suggested by police over security concerns, in a court ruling.  Last night, between 1500-2000 persons demonstrated at the Municipality Plaza in Beer Sheva.  It is very interesting that the Hebrew word for “proud” is the same word used by the LGBT for “gay” — גאה — and is pronounced ge’eh.  … Continue reading

Christian Cemetery Cleaned Up – 11 July 2016

This translated article from Hebrew appeared in the Caspari Media Review today:

Yediot HaNegev, July 1, 2016

A group of volunteers has taken it upon themselves to clean and repair the Christian cemetery in Beer-Sheva, “in light of the formal authorities’ lack of action on the subject.” “The neglect devastated me,” said one of the volunteers. “This doesn’t honor anyone and offends the families who come to visit their loved ones.” After three hours of dedicated work, however, the place … Continue reading

Daniel’s Prayer

Dan 9:1-27

Daniel was burdened for the glory of his God, and the God of his people.  In our lives there are times when we are greatly burdened but do not really understand what to do about the matter that weighs on us so heavily. The apostle Paul writes that as believers serving the Lord, there are times and situations when we are “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair”. (2Cor 4:8) This … Continue reading

Keeping Faith in Yeshua in a Hostile Environment

(Adapted for AMZI conference and ministry tour in Germany and Switzerland, June 9-14, 2016)

1Co 1:23-25  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness.  (24)  But to them, the called-out ones, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (25)  Because the foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and the weak thing of God is stronger than men.

1Jn 2:22-25  Who is a … Continue reading

Israel Celebrates HaPoel Beer Sheva Football League Championship

Although I am not a big football (soccer) fan, and don’t even know all the rules, the championship of the 2015/16 season has been a cause of celebration in the whole city of Beer Sheva for the last three days since its decisive victory in the final game of the season.  Many people throughout the country rejoiced as HaPoel Beer Sheva won its first premier league championship in 40 years, and in its first year in her new stadium.  Last night, … Continue reading

Prayer of God’s Family and Yeshua’s Disciples

Prayer might be the only thing many believers can do; and prayer might be the only thing on which many believers across the denominational streams agree. Therefore, even here, the enemy comes in to bring inaction or disunity!

Let’s pray now together the prayer, commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer”, but which is better described as the prayer pattern which Jesus taught His disciples and brothers to pray. Yeshua’s prayer in John 17 is definitely the Lord’s prayer!  (Even now … Continue reading

Beer Sheva Being Developed as Cyber City – 15 May 2016

Here is a Washington Post article highlighting the cooperative efforts of Israel’s collective ingenuity to develop cyber technologies for defending the small nation: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/how-israel-is-turning-part-of-the-negev-desert-into-a-cyber-city/2016/05/14/f44ea8e4-0d58-11e6-bfa1-4efa856caf2a_story.html

Israel’s Population Has Increased 10-Fold Since 1948 – 10 May 2016

Here is an interesting article with some statistics comparing Israel in 2016 with those at her establishment in 1948, 68 years ago: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=33619

God’s Pattern – 8 May 2016

The period between Passover and Shavuot/Pentecost is full of significant commemorative days here.  Last week was Holocaust Remembrance Day; this week we have Memorial Day and the Day of Independence (68th).  Of course, Ascension Day was remembered last week by those who remembered! By Messiah’s ascension to glory at the right hand of the Father, we who believe in the Lord can receive the Holy Spirit, who was given only after that event.  And Yeshua ever lives now to intercede for … Continue reading

The Lamb Lives! – 21 Apr 2016

How good is our God! At the Passover, and for all those subsequent Passovers that the Israelis celebrated (in the past), many lambs were slain and blood shed in order for God to pass over the houses where He saw the blood, and in remembrance of that mighty initial act of salvation for His people, making His name great among the Jews and among the nations.

But poor lambs! They were offered in sacrifice that others could live, but they … Continue reading

Sexual Purity

Est 2:1-4,14  After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus had calmed down, he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.  (2)  And the king’s young men who served him said, Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king.  (3)  And let the king choose officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, so that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the palace, to the house of … Continue reading

Unity of the Spirit of the One Body of Messiah

(Modified June 26, 2016)

Eph 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling with which you are called, (2) with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, (3) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, … Continue reading

Beer Sheva — From Biblical City to Modern Town

Here is a new PR video for Beer Sheva, named by Abraham and Isaac nearly 4000 years ago:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpeYqnD2RCQ&feature=youtu.be

Brief History of Rise of Messianic Judaism – 1 Mar 2016

Redemption of Jewish Identity and Hope Jer 29:11 For I know the purposes which I am purposing for you, says Yehovah; purposes of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Lk 2:34-35  And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, … Continue reading

Former PM of Israel, Ehud Olmert, Goes to Prison – 15 Feb 2016

Today is both a sad day and a day for rejoicing, as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert goes to prison for 19 months, convicted of bribes and obstruction of justice.

Olmert was tried and convicted of crimes going back to his days as Mayor of Jerusalem, from which he joined with Ariel Sharon in the new political party, Kadima, which Sharon formed after being elected PM as a Likud party member.  This was all done in connection with the pull-out … Continue reading

Light Dispels Darkness

(A teaching article originally spoken on Dec 21, 2007)

This Sunday some of us are going to Bethlehem to worship with Arab brothers and sisters in the joy of our God.  Next weekend our congregation (actually the Lord Yeshua’s congregation) will be host to over 40 teenagers from that same area.  Today happens to be the shortest day of the year, when the light of day in the darkest of seasons is at its briefest in this part of the … Continue reading

Being Light in The Coming Darkness – 16 Jan 2016

(An introduction to a study of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation, with the focus on believers being overcomers and light in the darkening world)

What is important to the Lord Jesus Christ regarding our spiritual condition as His disciples? He has given us the Law of Messiah in His sermon on the mount (Mt 5 – 7); He has given us to understand what the Kingdom of God is like in this world (Mt 13); He … Continue reading

Inauspicious Beginning of New Year – 3 Jan 2016

The New Year just begun, connected as it is with the birth of the King of the Jews, has had an unpromising beginning here in Israel.  The last night of 2015 and the first day  of 2016 were cold and stormy throughout the country.  And then the relaxed Shabbat in Tel Aviv was rudely shattered by a presumed terrorist who did a little vegetable shopping before walking out of the market with his father’s weapon, killing two and wounding seven, … Continue reading

Three New Years

I remember that before I was a believer, I wondered and asked the question:  Why do we have and remember New Year’s.  I was particularly thinking about the Jewish “New Year” which had become one of the High Holy Days in the synagogue.  The answer that I gave myself, and to my parents, was that there must be Someone who is keeping us (the Jewish people) alive for another year.  It gives an opportunity to thank Him, and to also … Continue reading

The Birth and The Coming Again of Jesus

Today, as a congregation, we are celebrating the birth of the Messiah (who is called Christ). But we are also celebrating, remembering, and looking forward to the Lord’s return in great power and glory.  The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the death of our Savior God, who took on human flesh and blood, of the seed of Abraham, and of all humankind.

God always does His great acts in a manner that sets Him apart from all other gods and … Continue reading

November 29

Today is November 29.  For those who believe that the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland in the land promised to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to their descendants is of God, this date is of utmost importance.  For those who oppose this reestablishment of the Jewish homeland in the land  promised to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to their descendants is of God, this date is of utmost importance.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to … Continue reading

Israeli Cabinet Approves Plan to Build Five New Negev Towns – 23 Nov 2015

The Prophets of YHVH to Israel foresaw the day when the Negev Desert that is southern Israel will bloom and blossom as a rose, and become regenerated as the Garden of Eden.  (Is 35:1-2; Is 51:1-3)

From the beginning of the reestablishment of the modern State of Israel, her first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw that Israel’s future depended on the vibrant settlement of the Negev, which makes up more than 60% of the State’s land.

… Continue reading

Microburst Storms Israel – 27 Oct 2015

The country was inundated with heavy rains, wind, hail, and havoc on Sonday. The first storm of the winter (the clocks were also turned back that same day to standard time) caught everybody by storm! Not that the rains weren’t forecast, but the intensity of the weather was not. Even as I write on Tuesday late afternoon, our daughter in Raanana, whose car windshield was cracked by large hailstones, says that they are still without full electricity and phone/internet service … Continue reading

Terror Comes to Beer Sheva – 19 Oct 2015

Yesterday evening around 7:30, the Beer Sheva Central Bus Station was the scene of panic as a gunman opened fire inside the station, killing a soldier, taking his rifle, and then shooting at others, wounding several, including policemen.  Many people were also treated for shock.  The terrorist was a Bedouin resident of the Israeli town of Hura, about 15 km outside Beer Sheva.  An Eritrean foreign national, who was reportedly mistaken as also being involved in the terror, was shot and injured  before … Continue reading

Renewed Escalation of Turmoil – 11 Oct 2015

Once again tensions and violence are escalating and spreading in Israel. The Islamic version is that the Temple Mount is strictly theirs, and that the presence of non-Muslims up there is an affront to their holy site.(Consider Is 14:12-17)  They deny any Jewish Israeli history there, which, of course, stirs up the emotions of the Jewish people whose soul has been forever connected to that site which YHVH God chose to place His name there. Without saving faith … Continue reading

Beer Sheva Being Touted – 8 Oct 2015

A “package deal”, the biggest of its kind in the State of Israel’s history, has been agreed to and signed between the government and the local Municipality of Beer Sheva.   This “roof agreement” includes plans to build 20,000 new housing units in the city by 2019, with an expected 50% increase in the population from the present 200,000 to around 300,000, making Beer Sheva the 3rd largest city in Israel, according to current figures.

You can read more about this … Continue reading

Succot Full Moon Lunar Eclipse – 28 Sept 2015

The special and uncommon series of lunar eclipses the last two years which fell twice each at Passover and at the Feast of Booths are finished.  Apart from some interesting astronomy, nothing unusual occurred which could be attributed ominously to these “blood moons”.  The end is not yet, and those who thought it might be do not then know the actual signs of the end, which are still to come.

Although “the heavens declare the glory of God”, for the … Continue reading

Haboob Stifles Israel – 20 Sept 2015

This huge and very unpleasant heavy dust yellowed the skies of Beer Sheva and all of Israel for three days last week.  This was accompanied by higher than normal humidity levels, which simply made everything much more uncomfortable.  The reason I am thinking and writing about this now is because, although the haboob has moved out, there is still a higher level of dust floating and settling around us here.

Although the phenomenon is called a “violent dust storm”, our haboob … Continue reading

Israel’s Largest Artificial Lake Planned for Beer Sheva – 29 Aug 2015

Construction is underway for a major project in the Beer Sheva River Park to build the largest man-made lake in Israel.  The project is recreational and commercial.  Read more about it here: http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/society/83793-150829-beer-sheva-to-build-biggest-artificial-lake-in-israel

http://www.kkl.org.il/eng/tourism-and-recreation/forests-and-parks/beersheva-river-park.aspx

The Scriptures Keep Us Up-to-Date — 28 July 2015

Middle East news continues to receive wide media coverage around the world.  This is no longer surprising to those who do believe that the Bible is relevant today as we witness current events and prophecies coming together more-and-more as the age draws nearer to its end.  Yehovah God, who knows the end from the beginning, has told us in advance through the Scriptures, which He Himself has given in both the Old and the New Testaments, that there would be wars … Continue reading

Jewish and Arab Pastors Celebrate Together at ICB – 17 June 2015

This past week concluded the one-year study program specially set up by Israel College of The Bible (ICB) for a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministries.   I was privileged to have been among the students in this unique program, not least because of the mix of Jewish, Arab, and other congregational pastors and leaders being equipped to help us better equip the believers in our own congregations.  The love and unity among the leaders gave expression to the truth of the one … Continue reading

Employment Desert – 17 May 2015

Three small Negev cities face severe unemployment.  The towns of Arad, Dimona, and Yeruham are essentially factory towns, dependent on the major industrial chemical companies for most of the employment.

Due to weakening profit margins, these companies (and other companies in the textile and ceramic industries) have been laying off workers and closing factories and plants, a situation that has been going on for years in Israel’s southern region.  Whole cities are becoming economically impoverished by these actions.

We have seen many times … Continue reading

Racism is a Sin Issue, and Is Nothing New – 4 May 2015

Israel has been beset by protests and riots from the Ethiopian Jewish community the last few days, the likes of which have not been seen here.  The spark was a seemingly senseless attack of an Ethiopian Israeli soldier in uniform by a policeman and volunteer.  Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with the Ethiopian soldier, Damas Pakada, who called for calm while also addressing the legitimate grievances of discrimination and prejudice against his community.  http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-pledges-to-eliminate-deep-problem-of-racism/

Racism is not new, and … Continue reading

God’s Grace: Hidden Water Under the Negev – 8 Apr 2015

The Negev Desert of Israel is a unique desert, not least because part of it is within the borders of the Promised Land.  There are promises given to the Negev which anticipate a regeneration of its plant and animal life.  (Is 35:1-2; 51:1-3; 41:17-20)

Here is a fairly recent article (4 years ago) which extols its unique qualities and Israel’s ingenuity to even now make it “bloom and blossom”:

… Continue reading

Jesus is Sovereign Lord! – 5 Apr 2015

As the “World Powers” prepare to give “this world” over to Iran and the Islamic powers with a very bad supposed agreement, it reminds me of how the devil got Adam and Eve to give their God-given stewardship over to him by lying and deceit.  Israel followed suit, and gave her God-given beauty over to Gentile ‘lovers’; and the Church has left its domain to mix with worldly aspirations.  Where would we all be if Jesus was not the Sovereign … Continue reading

Israeli Elections 2015

Some of you have written asking what I think about the outcome of the elections last Tuesday, so I will answer that here.  Personally, I was surprised by the extent of the victory of the Likud party, and of PM Bibi Netanyahu.  All of the polls leading up to the election, and the exit polls immediately at the close of the elections, were all completely wrong regarding the Likud, while being nearly accurate for the other parties, including the Labor/Tnua list led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.  Beer Sheva … Continue reading

Purim 2015: Iran Still Intent on Destroying Jewish People

On the day before Purim, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress to once again warn the United States and the rest of the “Free World” of the clear and present danger posed by modern Persia to the nation of Israel and to them.

In an invitation swirled in controversy both in Israel and in the U.S., Netanyahu seems to have intentionally set the timing to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Purim, in order … Continue reading

Negev Segment of Israel Bike Trail Inauguarated – 1 Mar 2015

Israel is a small country with a disproportionate incredible variety of nature and vistas.  It’s tourism and nature preserves authorities have developed many sites and ways to visit and to see the country, the Land of The Bible.  The latest development is the Israel Bike Trail’s southern portion being officially opened, traversing 300 km (~190 mi) from Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat.  http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/01/cycling-the-desert-new-israel-bike-trail-connects-mitzpe-ramon-to-eilat/

 

Dry Nahal Zin Suddenly Becomes Stream in the Negev – 18 Jan 2015

Here is a dramatic video of the exciting effect of heavy rains miles/kilometers away flash-flooding the dry stream bed of Biblical Nahal Zin in the Negev:

http://inhabitat.com/dramatic-video-captures-rebirth-of-river-zin-in-israels-negev-desert-after-centuries-of-drought/

Beer Sheva in Int’l News – 17 Jan 2015

Here is an article in Business Week about development plans underway to make Beer Sheva the cyber hub in Israel and for other nations: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2015-01-15/israel-sows-cyber-hub-in-desert-to-make-beersheba-bloom-cities

 

 

An All-Clear View of the Land of Israel from the Skies – 28 Dec 2014

On Christmas, NASA’s ISS astronauts woke up to a cloudless day as they flew over the Holy Land.  See the beautiful photos taken by astronaut Barry Wilmore:   http://www.haaretz.com/life/science-medicine/1.633979

The proclamation of the heavenly hosts still rings out:  Glory to God in the highest!  Peace on Earth; good will towards man!

Religious War? – 21 Nov 2014

The recent terrorist attack in a synagogue in West Jerusalem by Arab Muslims from East Jerusalem, in which rifles, knives, and meat cleavers were among the weapons used against Jewish men praying their morning prayers, has brought closer to home the reality that we are entering a religious war, and not only a nationalistic, political war here in Israel.   Among the dead and wounded Jews, a Druze policeman was also mortally wounded and killed as he responded to the terror within the Har … Continue reading

Islamic Caliphate: Ultimate Out-working of Replacement Theology

In every place God has left Himself a witness to the truth.  “Replacement Theology” (by whatever name) presumes that God has either abandoned or else fulfilled His covenant promises with Israel as a specific and particular nation, and has moved on to the Church as the replacement of Israel.  Islam, of course, says that God has finished with both Israel and the Church — the one for not accepting Yeshua as the Messiah; the other for disobeying Jesus who … Continue reading

War: Seed of the Serpent Against the Seed of the Woman

Yeshua said that in the world we would have tribulations.  He also said that He has overcome the world!  And we, too, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony that Jesus is Lord and Messiah/Christ, will overcome as we hold fast with faith to the hope of the glory beyond the present suffering.

When I see the Islamic State (the precursor of the re-emerging Caliphate) terrorists, without conscience or mercy, slaughtering people in general created in God’s image, and especially aiming for … Continue reading

War Cry: Come, Lord Jesus!

Shabbat shalom (Peaceful Sabbath),

It is a quiet day; no sirens, no rockets.  Back to ‘normal’.  I think the standard of measuring ‘normalcy’ has been lowered during this last generation, at least in this part of the world.  With this, God is bringing the hiddent things of darkness to light, so that His judgments will be seen to be righteous and true when the necessary time comes in His long-suffering towards sinners (and who isn’t?).  We had a wonderfully refreshing service last night.

Yeshua spoke the parable about the good … Continue reading

War: Righteousness Exalts a Nation – 19 Aug 2014

Update, Tues., Aug 19:  Sirens and rocket fire have begun again, already before the agreed upon time for the “cease-fire” ended.  Thanks to all for your prayers.

_ _ _ _ _

Shalom,

Israel is ‘anxiously’ waiting to see whether or not the current cease-fire with Hamas will continue after it’s agreed upon termination  at midnight tonight (Mon., Aug 18 in Israel).  As believers, we can wait with a calmer anticipation, not knowing what exactly may be, but knowing the sovereign Lord, Yeshua, who does know, … Continue reading

Israel as God’s Sword and Bow – 9 Aug 2014

Once again, Hamas broke an agreed upon cease-fire, this one intended for at least 72 hours brokered by Egypt and the UN, breaking it yesterday (Friday) morning in the continuing war of Hamas against Israel, which has necessitated Israel’s heavy, yet restricted response.

Last night at our service, a siren went off during the time of the teaching on the whole-hearted commitment that Yeshua insists upon for those who would follow Him.  The congregation had to calmly go off to three locations on the … Continue reading

The Valor and The Folly of War – 4 Aug 2014

Today were two terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, and there is a danger of other break-outs of violence in the wake of the terrorist war against Israel, and Israel’s response in defense.  If Israel is so powerful and its destructive force known, then shouldn’t Hamas consider the cost before drawing Israel into a war?  It’s like a featherweight boxer picking on a heavyweight, knowing that the heavyweight can not use all his strength to keep the annoying attacker to stop, lest … Continue reading

War Against Terror Evil Helps Sharpen Reality – 2 Aug 2014

Ex 3:7-10  And the LORD (YHVH) said:  “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.  So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey. . . Now, therefore, behold, the cry of the … Continue reading

War in Heavenlies and on Earth – 28 July 2014

It has been three full weeks now since Operation Protective Edge — the current war which the terror organization in Gaza, Hamas, started against Israel — began, with still no clear sense of when it might end.  I would ask that whatever I say in this letter will be read in the context of all that I have written in the previous updates .

Randi is returning now from Eilat after spending several nights there, taking an older sister in … Continue reading

War of Hearts – 24 July 2014

Israel’s 10th President, Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin has just been consecrated and sworn in at the Knesset (Parliament), succeeding Shimon Peres after seven years in that office.  During the much subdued ceremony compared to normal times (due to the current military operation/war in Gaza against the Hamas terrorist regime), sirens were heard in Beer Sheva and all around the Jewish towns and kibbutzes around Gaza. Both the out-going President, and the in-coming, expressed confidence of defeating the terrorist threat, both against Israel and her citizenry, and also against ordinary … Continue reading

The God of Armies – 21 July 2014

Yesterday we had five siren alerts of rockets and missiles still being fired from Gaza towards Beer Sheva.  Our weekly congregational services on Friday evenings are greatly reduced in the number of those coming since the place of meeting is old enough not to have any real protected area.

Soroka Medical Center, the university hospital located just down the street from us, is on emergency status now, as more Israeli soldiers are being wounded or killed in the hard fighting going on in the Gaza Strip.  While … Continue reading

Israel Again at War in Gaza Against Hamas – 18 July 2014

Israel sent in ground troops into Gaza last night at 10:30, following a long day which included a ‘game changer’, or which showed the situation for what it is regarding the perpetual murderous grudge of Hamas towards Israel and the Jewish people (in particular, but also against their own population, which they hatefully use as human ‘shields’ in order to deter Israel’s military efforts, and also to turn public opinion against Israel when civilians are killed in the war).

In … Continue reading

Clear Trumpet Call – 13 July 2014

Shalom from God in Messiah,

Thanks to God and to all of you who stood with us in prayer and words of encouragement for the Trumpet Call to Prayer that gathered close to 50 people!

Things being what they are here, today proved two things:  in the Body of Messiah here, not all are of one mind, even if many are of one  heart; and, God is ‘there’ when we come together in unity for the sake of the name of His Son, the Lord … Continue reading

Trumpet Call To Prayer – 9 July 2014

As I write this, the sounds of war are heard within our nation, and the blood of Abel cries out for vengeance and vindication.  Yet the blood of Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah/Yasu al Massih cries out better things:  salvation, and forgiveness of sin. (Heb 12:24)

There is a growing sense within and among the Israeli Messianic/Christian and Palestinian Christian communities that our united, collective voice needs to be heard as a prophetic voice to our people.  We, who believe in the … Continue reading

Hamas Video Targets Beer Sheva – 7 July 2014

Hamas has put out a one-minute video trying to scare the ‘settlers’ of Beer Sheva to flee before it is too late:  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182592#.U7rkakB5bFw

Vengeance and Redemption – 6 July 2014

Rockets have again hit Beer Sheva (yesterday, as of this writing), violence and rage are again venting, cries for vengeance are shrieking.  Yet, for all this, God is working out redemption, as witnessed by people repenting and believing the good news of God about salvation through living faith in Jesus throughout the country and region.  Today is still the day of salvation!  This is still the acceptable year of the LORD (YHVH)!  We, as believers in Yeshua/Jesus, cannot forget that.

… Continue reading

The Shot Heard ‘Round The World – 28 June 2014

Today, 100 years ago, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that started World War I when he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  No one could have known then that that gunshot would trigger the first world war in history, with staggering loss of life, but that that war, rather than being the ‘war to end all war’ would actually become the war which has not yet ended.

Jesus Christ said nearly 2000 years ago, when asked … Continue reading

The Negev is Now

Construction work and roadworks are going on all around us here in Beer Sheva, and southward towards Yerucham.  The major investment and development is due to Beer Sheva being chosen as the ‘cyber hub’ of Israel, or as Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President, Rivka Carmi, quips, “silicon wadi“.  (A wadi is a dry river bed, waiting for the waters to stream into it.)   Beer Sheva and the Negev are also developing in preparation for major re-location of military bases and … Continue reading

Kidnapping as Act of Terror – 16 June 2014

Israel is still riveted to prayers and the news reports about the three teen boys, ages 16, 16, and 19, who were kidnapped on Thursday night, and whose whereabouts and circumstances since then are still unknown as of this post.  While it is not certain exactly who carried out the kidnappings, it is clear that it was carried out by jihadi elements within the Palestinian Authority/Hamas-governed population, probably around Hebron.

Both the PA and Hamas have similar short-term policies towards their long-term objectives:  the release of all terrorist prisoners … Continue reading

Pentecost – 8 June 2014

Today, Sonday, is Pentecost, the holiday marking 50 days from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 7 complete Sabbaths from that day after the Sabbath when He rose and showed Himself alive with many infallible proofs.  On that unique fulfillment of Shavuot/Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given from the Father in Yeshua’s name to His disciples.  Although the Lord Messiah is ascended in glory at the right hand of God, His presence is still with those who believe … Continue reading

HEBREW — The Primary Language of Jesus in Israel in His Day – 2 June 2014

Why Jesus was a Hebrew-speaker Hebrew, and not only Aramaic, was a spoken language at the time of Jesus, but PM Netanyahu’s exchange with the pope wasn’t only academic: It’s a debate with a clear religious and cultural subtext. By | Jun. 2, 2014 | 10:28 AM  (HAARETZ)

Around the turn of the millennium, I received an email from a party looking to create a film script about a … Continue reading

State of Religious Freedom in Israel – 31 May 2014

In the wake of the ‘writing on the wall’ at the congregational home of Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation, Donna Diorio, of IsraelPrayer, has written an update article wrapping up some recent events from a perspective of watching developments over many years:

http://israelwatcherasecondopinion.blogspot.co.il/2014/05/the-state-of-religious-freedom-in.html

For readers unacquainted with the lawsuit referenced by Donna, you can read our update reports on them beginning with this post from 2007:

http://streamsinthenegev.com/lawsuit/lawsuit-update-initiation-of-suit-9-feb-2007/

“Policy of Misunderstanding” – 30 May 2014

According to “official” sources, the denial of visa entries for Arabic Christians planning on attending the ‘At The Crossroads’ conference in Jerusalem earlier this month was due to a “policy of misunderstanding”.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/policy-of-misunderstanding-bars-christian-tourists-source-says/

The Writing on the Wall – 23 May 2014

Yesterday morning, offensive writing offending religious sensitivities was found spray painted on the wall surrounding the property used by the Messianic congregation, Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance), in Beer Sheva.   This is known as a “price tag”, property attacks of incitement against those whom extremists oppose, usually against Palestinian Arabs and against Christians.

Six months ago, during a Jews For Jesus evangelism campaign in Beer Sheva, Jewish teenage yeshiva students, with their rabbi, were filmed defacing the same property, but the police … Continue reading

At The Crossroads Conference in Jerusalem – 20 May 2014

Last week, from May 13-16, the second bi-annual “At The Crossroads” conference was held in Jerusalem at Christ Church inside Jaffa Gate.  The conference did not focus on either politics or theology, but on carrying out the Great Commission in a triangular region in the middle of the Earth inspired by the Word of God in Isaiah 19: 23-25:  the highway from Egypt to Assyria (the whole area of its former empire), with Israel in between as the bridge of … Continue reading

Dates to Remember

Times and seasons have a way of stirring the memories, both personal and collective. Depending on what they may signify, the reactions and anticipations may vary among individuals or nations, or among those joined together through religion or faith. Below are some historical markers that are beginning to converge to draw attention to a watershed, perhaps. Both friend and foe are taking notice.

Oct 31, 1517 – Reformation Day, which gave the Bible back to the people that they may … Continue reading

Record May Rainfall in All of Israel – 9 May 2014

Israel experienced a rare nation-wide lightning and thunder storm, pouring record amounts of rainfall, accompanied by hail, going back to 1920.  On Wednesday night, May 7, the storm began, continuing through much of the day on Thursday.   The Negev region suffered flash floods and stranded hikers and tourists.

In the Negev, May is usually a dry month, following the rainy season of the Israeli winter.   This winter was exceptionally dry throughout much of the country, and the rainfall of the last … Continue reading

Israel’s Independence Day – 6 May 2014

Tuesday, May 6, is Israel’s 66th Independence Day.  Millions of Jews suffered, were murdered, died in the Holocaust; tens of thousands more have died in the wars from the inception of the re-establishment of the Jewish people back in their homeland; hundreds are memorialized for their deaths since 1860 as they ‘returned to Zion’.  All of this human tragedy and valor as a price in order to be redeemed from the lands of exile, scattered around the globe, after 1900 … Continue reading

Holocaust Past and Future – 27 Apr 2014

Remember, lest we forget.  This “creed” underlies much of Jewish and Christian culture.  All of the LORD’s holidays are to remember His mighty acts of redemption, based on bringing His people out of Egypt.  Believers in Jesus, in fellowshipping in the Lord’s Supper, do so to remember Yeshua and what He did in and through His death on the cross; and we are to do so until He comes again.  God has given us these times of remembrance together so that we might not forget, and to be strengthened in … Continue reading

Israeli Jewish Population Increasing More Than Arab – 20 Apr 2014

While the premise of increasing Arab/Palestinian Muslim population growth over and against the Jewish birth and demographics has been used for decades to advance some political policy, current information challenges that assumption.   During  the closing years of  slavery in Egypt, despite being placed under even harsher work conditions and economic stress, among the Children of Israel there was a population explosion. (Exodus 1:8-14).  It seems like history may be repeating itself:  today, the world is applying increasingly harsh measures against Israel in order … Continue reading

A Greater Passover – 14 Apr 2014

As Jewish people everywhere celebrate the Passover, we can rejoice as we remember that not only has YHVH made His name great as the God of Israel who brought His people up out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm to serve Him, but also He continues to raise a banner to all nations as He brings back His people from all corners of the world to the land which He swore to give them as an everlasting possession.  And the whole world … Continue reading

Beer Sheva and Negev Development Accelerating – 13 Apr 2014

The Israeli government is promoting and enhancing development opportunities in Beer Sheva and the Negev.  The primary impetus here is military re-location of some large bases from the population center to the vast periphery of the southern desert, of which Beer Sheva is the largest and capital city.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David  Ben-Gurion, always believed that the future of the country depended on the development of the Negev.  He lived what he believed by moving to Kibbutz Sde … Continue reading

Passover and Firstfruits – 6 Apr 2014

Greetings this season when the Body of Messiah/Christ reminds the world that Jesus Christ/Yeshua Messiah died and rose again!

Even unbelieving Jewish people in Israel and in the diaspora are witnesses to the one true God and His mighty act to deliver them from Egypt, making His name known to the nations as Yehovah, the God of Israel.

Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus are His witnesses that the Redeemer and Savior has come in the flesh, died at Passover, risen … Continue reading

More Christian Heritage Discovered in the Negev – 3 Apr 2014

In addition to sites at Avdat, Shivta, Nizzana, archeologists have now uncovered a Byzantine monastery, with beautiful colored mosaics, in the Negev region not far from Beer Sheva, near Hura, a Bedouin town:

  http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=16579

Not Only God, But The Civilized World Has Spoken – 30 Mar 2014

A case study of sovereign legal rights to Jerusalem — in particular East Jeruslaem, and more specifically the Old City with the Temple Mount:  a thesis by Dr. Jacques Gauthier, an international lawyer and human rights attorney:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf8cF1HYqN8

Today’s peace negotiations are a battle of narratives less grounded on facts and more on historical fallacies and revisionist history, personal and national emotions, and increasing lawlessness (recognizing no law as binding).

Would You Come To This Conference? – 17 Mar 2014

The “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference has ended.  There is tension within the ranks of the Body of Messiah here in Israel.  We pray for healing of strained or broken relationships through humility, repentance where necessary, forgiveness as commanded, transcendant love for our heavenly Father and our Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ.  This is all part of our sanctification, and is also a part of God’s righteousness to nullify our own.

I was thinking about another conference, but with an opposite orientation.  If … Continue reading