A DIM LIGHT – 31 Dec 2010

Yesterday, the eighth and former President of the State of Israel, Moshe Katzav, was convicted as a rapist, sexual harasser, perjurer, and an obstructer of the judicial process.  http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=201648 

While this reflects favorably on the Israeli system of law — that no one is officially above it — it also demonstrates the sad state of affairs in a country which would allow such a man to rise to such a position of power and influence over a period of many years.  Not only is rape, sexual harassment, and adultery too often dismissed in this generation and society — placing many victims into the position of feeling like the perpetrators, which sometimes may also be the common truth — but a nation which has been called and chosen by the Creator and Redeemer of the Heavens and the Earth to be a holy people continues to dimly reflect this reality.

It is often said that Israel is called to be a “light to the Gentiles”, but the Scriptures actually show that the Messiah Himself — the true Servant and Elect One who embodies all that Israel is to be — HE is the One given as the Light:

Is 42:6-7   I, YHVH, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand;  I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people (Israel), as a light to the Gentiles; to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

Is 49:5-6   And now YHVH says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of YHVH, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the Earth”.

The whole of the Bible shows clearly the spiritual condition of God’s people — whether Israel/Jews or the Church/Christians —  and our need of repentance unto salvation and/or unto humble obedience in the fear of God.  Israel’s democracy is flawed, as are others who consider this form of government to be the ideal.  Yet God has not called Israel to emulate the Gentiles, but to be a kingdom of priests, and to return unto His righteous rule, with YHVH Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah) being her King in truth.  The ignoble conviction of Israel’s “Public Citizen #1” only further testifies to that.

Israel is in need of new birth, not merely correction and fixing.  She is in need of healing, not outwardly and physically only, but inwardly and spiritually.  She needs a new heart and a new spirit, even the Spirit of the God and Savior who still loves her for His holy name’s sake, and for the sake of the fathers — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.

Israel’s reflection of the true light is dim indeed:  she has preferred the works of darkness, rather than come to Him who is the True Light, whose life is the light of men.  All of her contributions to the benefit of the world’s peoples are as dead works, since they are done for her own praise and not for the praise of Him who has enabled her.  The former glory is fading and passing away, that the true glory may shine in its eternal fullness!

2Pt 1:19   And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Yesterday’s harsh verdict against the former Israeli President, Moshe Katzav, is a self-indictment:  we can not save ourselves however we may wishfully hope.  God has made it profoundly simple:  there is only one name by which anyone can be saved — Yeshua/Jesus!  Thank God for His love and faithfulness to keep His covenants, and may this next year see many more Gentiles and Jews come to His Light, shining like the sun in its strength.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!: OF WINTER AND SPRING – 2011

The one true living God has left His witness in every place, including in His sovereignty over times and nature.  The universe at large, and our unique solar system set within it, both bear witness to His Godhead and plans, to His times and His seasons.  (Gen 1:1-19; 8:22; Ps 19:1-6; Jer 31:35-37; 33:25-26)

The ‘modern’ calendar for the whole world till now is centered around the person of Jesus Christ (Messiah Yeshua).  The all-encompassing “creative” year begins in Winter around the season of His birth into the world and His circumcision, testifying to Him being the first-born of creation, and of coming in the flesh as a Jew. (Col 1:15-17; Lk 2:21-24)  The “redemptive” year — which YHVH gave to Israel for a testimony — is set within the overall created order, and begins in the Spring, during the season of Yeshua’s death and resurrection, upon which foundation our salvation is grounded through faith.  This newness of life which the Spring proclaims testifies to Yeshua being the first-fruits from among the dead (1Cor 15:12-23).

As the birth of Messiah came during the darkest and bleakest time of year, He also came as the Light of the world, with each day increasing its light in the hope of a ‘better and cheerful Spring’.

The believer in Jesus can rejoice in all of God’s wonderful works, from the beginning of the year through to the end.  His Word and His Spirit have given us to know and understand the times in which we live, and the signs of His coming.

Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!  This is still the acceptable year of the LORD; Today, if you will hear His voice, is the day of salvation!

HIStory: PROPHETIC MILESTONE – 25 Dec 2010

HIStory unfolding:

Is 9:6-7 (5-6 Heb)   For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.  And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with justice and righteousness from this time forward, even forever.  The zeal of YHVH of Hosts will perform it!

Hag 2:18,21-22  Consider now from this day forward, from the 24th day of the ninth month (Hebrew month, Chislev, when Hanukkah begins in winter, adjusting to a lunar/solar calendar), from the day that the foundation of YHVHs temple was laid consider it!  (Yeshua/Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone of the ultimate and true Temple of God!). . . .Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:  I (YHVH) will shake Heaven and Earth.  I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride on them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.

Lk 1:51-52  [And Mary said, . . .] He (YHVH God) has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. . . .

Lk 2:8-14  Now there were in the same country (area of Bethlehem in Judea) shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people!  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you:  you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Heb 12:25-29  See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.  For if they did not escape who refused him who spoke on Earth, much more if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven, whose voice then shook the Earth; but now He has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not only the Earth, but also Heaven!  Now this, Yet once more, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire!

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

Meanwhile, keep up the good work in His name to glorify the Father.  Merry Christmas, and a fruitful 2011!

MILESTONE IN HIStory – 24 Dec 2010

Is 9:6-7   For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.  And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with justice and righteousness from this time forward, even forever.  The zeal of YHVH of Hosts will perform it!

Hag 2:18,21-22  Consider now from this day forward, from the 24th day of the ninth month (Hebrew month, Chislev, when Hanukkah begins in winter, adjusting to a lunar/solar calendar), from the day that the foundation of YHVH’s temple was laid — consider it!  (Yeshua/Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone of the ultimate and true Temple of God!). . . .Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:  ‘I (YHVH) will shake Heaven and Earth.  I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.  I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride on them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.’     [Haggai can be translated as “My festival/holiday“, adding further testimony to the significance of the specified date for the Child born, the Son given, even the King of the Jews and of all Israel.]

Lk 1:51-52  [And Mary said, . . .] ‘He (YHVH God) has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly‘. . . .

Lk 2:8-14  Now there were in the same country (area of Bethlehem in Judea) shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people!  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord (i.e., the King of Israel, King of the Jews, and King of kings, Lord of lords).  And this will be a sign to you:  you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Heb 12:25-29  See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.  For if they did not escape who refused him who spoke on Earth, much more if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven, whose voice then shook the Earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the Earth, but also Heaven!’  Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire!

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

MYSTERY OF THE SEVEN STARS AND LAMPSTANDS

Rev 1:12-20   Then I (John) turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lampstandsand in the midst of the seven golden lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden sash.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters.  He had in right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore!  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden stands:  The seven stars are the angels (mal’achim) of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”   

      –Yeshua is the High Priest of God’s Kingdom, our mediator as the Son of Man over His churches.
      –Full of glory (Mt 17:2; ctr Phlp 2:5-11)
      –Yeshua speaks the Word of God.  (Heb 4:12-13)
      –He is holy, and is in the midst of His churches.
      –He is the Living One; the Victorious One
      –There is an angel (messenger) over each of the churches under the authority of Jesus.

Ex 25:31-32, 40   You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work.  Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.  And six branches shall come out of its sides:  three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.    And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.
      –pure gold, symbolizing divinity; base (foundation) and shaft (trunk) with its branches (the lampstand is in the design of an almond tree, a  plant/tzemach); all of one piece (union/unity);
      — made according to heavenly pattern shown to Moses on Mt. Sinai

Ex 27:20-21   And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the light to burn continuallyIn the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before YHVH.  It is a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.
      –The High Priest and his sons (the other priests) were to keep the lights burning through the night, as a lasting ordinance (the Church is  within the Commonwealth of Israel) inside the Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle).

Ex 29:42-43   This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting before YHVH, where I (YHVH) will meet you to speak with  you.  And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.
      –The Tabernacle of Meeting is where God would meet with His people at His appointed times, and Israel’s glory would be the presence of  the glory of YHVH God with them. (1Cor 14:24-25)

Mal 2:5-7   My covenant was with him (Levi), of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he fear Me; and he feared Me, and was reverent before My name.  The Law of Truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips.  He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.  For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger (mal’ach) of YHVH of Hosts.
      –covenant of life and peace with Levi (priestly family); responsible for faithfully representing YHVH God of Hosts to the people and of  maintaining their own holiness
      –the priest is the messenger/angel of the LORD of Hosts (Jn 12:41)

The Church (with each believer) is now the active light in the world – the golden lampstand – while Israel has been temporarily removed, while still passively a light.  (Her lampstand has been removed like the church of Ephesus was warned about.)  While under the Law only the Levites of the children of Israel had access – with both privileges and responsibilities — to the Menorah (Lampstand) in the Holy Place, now the seven golden lampstands are the churches!  In Messiah, the veil has been torn and all believers have been made priests unto God, and we have access – with privileges and responsibilities – into His presence.  God meets with us when we assemble together in holiness and truth under the Lordship of our Great High Priest Yeshua.

The churches maintain a perpetual light for the truth of Yeshua – the testimony of Jesus.  The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.  The symbolism of the lampstand perpetually burning through the night – whether as the moon (Israel) or as stars (believers) – also gives us to understand that these seven letters to the churches are written not only for/to them who lived at that time almost 2000 years ago, but also for us living today near the end of the age.  The words of Jesus to them He is still speaking to churches today.

It is the testimony of JesusWho/What He Is – that He is maintaining in and through His churches – His Body, and calling His ‘angels’ (priests) to uphold – among ourselves and also to the world, as we hope-fully anticipate the revelation of Jesus Christ at His coming again!

Remember that the Menorah is of one piece – Yeshua the Head and central Light, joined to His people, lights in the world who are to shine upon Him:  the glory of God is given to His people, and our glory is to give Him glory!

Next week, people around the world – believers and unbelievers alike – within the Church and without (the fishing net and the mustard tree) – will celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah.  It is for us to proclaim the testimony of Jesus as light in the world:
   –Son of God
   –Son of Man
   –Son of David
   –King of kings
   –Lord of lords
   –Savior
   –Messiah (Prophet, High Priest, King)
   –The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God
   –Victor/Overcomer over the works of the devil, of the world, and over sin, death, and hell

Rev 1:9-11   I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches. . . .”

PARABLE OF THE NET (AND OF THE INSTRUCTED SCRIBE)

Mt 13:47-52  “ Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.  So it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Yeshua said to [His disciples], ‘Have you understood all these things?’  They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’
Then He said to them, ‘Therefore, every scribe instructed concerning the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure new and old.’

Heb 5:12 – 6:2   For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes of milk is unskilled in the word of righteouness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Messiah (the ‘old’), let us go on to perfection (the ‘new’), not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

The fire in the Carmel Forest presented a vivid reminder of the first parable of the Sower:  some trees survived while others around them were destroyed.  There would be three primary reasons why the trees were burned up:  1) all  things/people can die from such disasters; 2) some of the trees were not well-rooted, and so fell in the heat of the fire; 3) some looked well on the outside, but inwardly were rotten—had no inner strength to survive.  Those trees which withstood the blaze while all around others burned up obviously had much strength of ‘character’ that enabled them – by the grace and sovereignty of God – to stand victorious in the day of evil.  Some have no ‘fruit’ left on them after the testing by fire, while others are still capable of producing more.

This last parable of the net (and of the learned teacher of the law) is similar to the second parable of the tares, in that Messiah teaches that in God’s Kingdom now, there will be a final separation of the bad from the good, and this will be done by angels at the end of the age.

In this final parable of this series which Yeshua taught to instruct His disciples in the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven/God, all kinds of fish from the sea – different people from every nation  –  the composite pearl – are gathered in by fishermen by the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God and of His salvation.  Yet, there are good fish, and also bad fish brought into the full fishing dragnet.  Not until the end of the age will the final separation take place, and this will not be done by us, but by the angels of God. 

When Yeshua had finished these parables, He asks His disciples if they understood everything.  They, like us often times, said ‘Yes’, when they should have said more honestly and humbly, “Not really, Lord”.  But taking them at their word, He says “therefore”, if you do understand these teachings of God’s ways and of righteousness, you should be able to discuss things both old and new, as an owner of treasure in your own house.  Brethren, the Son of God has brought us into His Father’s house, which is also ours through Him!  I could ask a little like Jesus did:  “Do we really understand this?!”

What an honor and a privilege it is to be called children of God!  What a responsibility we have as stewards of the mysteries and of His Kingdom!  What a treasure we have – the Bible!  Where our treasure is, there will our heart be.  Is our treasure in this world, or is it in Messiah and the world to come?  

In the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer exhorts us to grow up in our knowledge of the true faith.  He speaks of principle things and of going on to new things.  One of the elementary things of the faith, which this parable of the net and the parable of the tares make clear, is that there is a final judgment at the end of the age, and the wicked or bad will be separated forever from the righteous or good.  There is everlasting judgment – whether to be with God, or whether to be cast out from His presence forever.  To teach otherwise is not to be instructed concerning the Kingdom of Heaven/God, and/or to be immature in our faith. 

The major responsibility of a pastor and teacher, according to the Word of God through the apostle Paul in the letter to the believers in Ephesus, is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head – Messiah – from whom the whole body . . .causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”.

It is my strong hope and prayer that some of you, at least, are benefitting from these teachings – as well as others – and that you can apply them in your own life as a believer generally, and as being able to help others know the thoughts and ways of our Lord and God, and not merely know laws and commandments, or stories.  We want to know God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth.  Yet we must always remember that we are saved by grace through faith, and love covers a multitude of sins.

What are some lessons to learn from these parables of Jesus about God’s Kingdom on Earth at the present time?:
–The Father loves us.  Jesus loves us.  He tells us all things that the Father wants us to know, and gave His Spirit to teach us.  We are His children; we are His friends; we are His brothers and sisters.

–With that secure love, the Lord wants us to fear God and not to take His love for granted.  We show our faith and love for Him by obeying Him willingly out of a humble and thankful heart.

–These parables help keep us on the narrow road which leads to life, and to guard ourselves from certain doctrines which sound good, but are not necessarily so:
   –once-saved-always-saved as a cliché  (the Sower)
   –Mankind in general, and Christians in particular, can succeed to make the world better before — or without — Jesus coming again. (Tares; Mustard seed; Leaven; Net)
   –that the believers – the ‘wheat’, the ‘good seed’, the ‘good fish’ – will be taken before the end of the age (Tares; Net)
   –universalism:  everyone is eventually ‘saved’ (Sower; Tares; Net)
   –There is no hell, no eternal conscious judgment. (Tares; Net)
   –Every person is inherently ‘good’. (Tares)
   –Where God is ruling, evil can not be there, whether in the world or within the church. (Tares; Mustard Tree; Net)
   –We were saved because we looked for Jesus, and so earned God’s favor for our salvation. (Hidden Treasure; Pearl of great price)
   –that God has ‘finished’ with Israel, His treasured people (Hidden Treasure)
   –that somehow God has ‘lost control’ and is not able to ‘get it back’ (all of the parables)

–As we study and learn the truths that we have in the Scriptures, we will be able to bring out of such wealth which our Father has given us in Christ, things from the Old Testament and from the New.  As Jesus told the apostle John in the Revelation, we can speak of things which were, which are, and which shall be.  It is all about Jesus – the King of the Kingdom of God!

FIRE – 6 Dec 2010

The fires in the Carmel forests in western Galilee near the Haifa area have finally been brought under control, but at great human and natural loss.  Israel received help from a number of countries to help fight the fire, especially from the air.  Help even came from Turkey, whose relationships with Israel have taken a turn for the worse in the last year.  Government officials are under fire, and if nothing else, God has shown that no matter how much we may want to “make the world better” (which obviously means different things to different people), our version of a “better world” can go up in flames and smoke in an instant.  Mercifully, it began to rain today in Israel (including the Carmel region, and even in Beer Sheva), furthering helping to douse the burning embers of this devastating fire, which has been called the worst natural disaster in Israeli history.

Three prison guard trainees from Beer Sheva were among those killed in the blaze of those trapped in a busload to go into the danger zone to try to rescue prisoners from the area.  There were also others from Negev towns and cities who were among the killed, and a number of them worked at the Beer Sheva prison facility.  Our congregation, Nachalat Yeshua, took up a special collection to give to the Beer Sheva families as an expression of our sympathy at this time. 

The apostle Peter writes that just as the world was once destroyed by water, so will it be a second time, but by fire.  There may actually be something to global warming to set the stage for that.  Some of us may think that we will not be around for that; but what if some of us are?  What will we do?  How will we react, or respond?  Will our faith be found secure in the Lord and in His promises that all things are in HIS hands?  As it is written, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  Our God is a consuming fire!  We dare not take Him for granted, but rather humbly place our whole-hearted trust in Yeshua, who died and rose again, and is coming again to renew His creation to make it a habitable place filled with the knowledge of His glory!  Hallelu-Yah!

With that in mind, here is a great breath of fresh air:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE  

Yeshua was born King of the Jews; He died on the cross as King of the Jews; and the day is coming that He will be the King of the Jews!  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Let us not be ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ or of His words in this generation, which is ours to be His witnesses and a praise unto Him.