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 were killed and eaten! They could not enjoy the fruit of their sacrifice.

Praise the Lord! Messiah our Passover was slain for us, giving physical and spiritual salvation and deliverance to all who believe in who the Lamb of God is whose shed blood grants forgiveness and life! And not for us only, but Yeshua, the Lamb, rose from the dead and is alive, now seated in glory, interceding for us! He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied!

By His out-stretched arms, and with great judgments, we look for the blessed hope of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our own resurrection (or rapture), the redemption of our bodies to receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of God. May it be in our own day.

Remembering His death until He comes.

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 the women, to the hand of Hegai the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women. And let their ointments be given.  (4)  And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king, and he did so. . . . She went in the evening, and on the next day she returned to the second house of the women, into the hand of Shaashgaz, the king’s officer who kept the concubines. She did not come in to the king any more, unless the king delighted in her, and she was called by name.

Act 15:28-29  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these necessary things:  (29)  that you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which, if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Be prospered.

I want to look at the manner of seeking a wife in contrast to the way of the Gentile King Ahasuerus.  You will remember that the people of Israel asked for a king like the Gentiles have, rather than have YHVH being their King.  YHVH is holy, and searches the thoughts and intentions of the heart; whereas, Gentile (those not in covenant relationship with YHVH) kings are sinners.  The people became sinners, rather than being a holy and righteous people who kept the Law of Moses with God’s commandments and judgments.  As we read in the New Testament, God has shown that all people are sinful — Jews and Gentiles; those who have the Law and those who do not — and need the blood of the Messiah’s sacrificial death in order to be saved and cleansed from sin.  With Passover coming next Shabbat, it is good to remember that God has chosen us to be His holy people.

King Ahasuerus was looking for another wife, and had all of the pretty virgins from his large kingdom come to him, in the hope of being chosen by him to be his wife.  It did not seem to concern all of his youthful servants or him that he was not leaving many eligible single women for many single men in his kingdom!  All of these pretty women apparently had to sleep with the king as part of his selection process (Est 2:14).   This is the way of kings – especially Gentiles.  When Israeli kings – and other men — acted this way, it was against the Law of Moses, and against the holiness of the God of Israel.  They became like Gentiles, which is what they wanted.  It brought ruin and shame to the king and to the nation, and did not bring honor to the name of the LORD.

In the New Testament, all believers are called to a higher standard of holiness and purity than even the Law of Moses required.  And to emphasize the seriousness and importance of this in God’s eyes, the apostles agreed with the Holy Spirit that Gentile believers needed to stop fornication of whatever kind.  The Jewish believer was supposed to already know that from the Law.  Fornication is a word that includes any illicit sexual activity outside of marriage – whether before marriage or during marriage, and even after one has been married (whether widowed or divorced).  Fornication includes sex for payment, premarital sex, adultery (illicit sex with another while married), homosexuality of men or of women, bestiality, pedophilia, pornography.

The Israeli news is full of political, judicial, military, and religious leaders, and entertainers who are accused, and sometimes convicted, of sexual harassment and of  rape.  Most of these men are married, but no one is talking about adultery.  The men usually do not deny that there was sex with the complainant, only that it was not rape:  that is, it was done not by force but with consent.  But adultery?  Not a word in the public media!  Yet the damage to the marriage and to the family is often irreversible.  There is a breach of trust and security when there is unfaithfulness within the closest relationship that God has made between a man and a woman.  Our security as the Bride of Messiah is His complete faithfulness in our relationship with the Lord Yeshua.

For one who loves God, who cares about him/herself in God’s sight, who respects the other person, in the fear of YHVH, they will be empowered to resist all temptation – and the Holy Spirit will help overcome the urge.

Today there is a BIG problem:  fornication is not taken very seriously, even by many who say that they are believers, and even born-again!  In a poll (conducted by The Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) taken in the U.S. a few years ago, 88% of all unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex.  Among Christians, who identify as “evangelical”, 80% say they have had sex.  80%. . .even though, according to a Gallup poll, 76% of evangelicals believe that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong.  There is not much distinction between the Body of Messiah and those still “of the world”.  And consider, that if 76% of evangelical believers think that premarital sex is wrong, then 24% think it is okay!  Which means that 56% of these young adult believers are hypocrites:  they believe that premarital sex is wrong, but do it anyway!

In Israel there is a law which recognizes common-law marriage (publicly recognized couples).  These are two persons living together in a manner that is as if they were married, and after only 6 months (!), they can be considered to be in a legal relationship that binds them under the law.  (A true marriage is a covenantal relationship, which carries with it more serious benefits and consequences.)  Some believers approve of such relationships.  But what is the couple doing up until the time that they are publically recognized?!:  they are sinning by having sex outside of marriage, with some even having children.  God’s standard of what is acceptable, and of what is holy, is being lowered even by some believers to fit the low moral level of today’s culture, which does not want the Holy One of Israel to be their God and King, but want to break the bonds of YHVH and of His Messiah from off of them. (Ps 2)  We might lower God’s standard, but He has not!

King Ahasuerus wanted to know what the Persian law allowed him to do about Vashti his wife.  Believers in Yeshua need to know what God’s law says in such matters, and not be hypocrites, but obey with faith what our Lord says.  We live under the laws of our nation, but when there is a contradiction, we must obey God’s higher standard, and not use as an excuse, “it’s legal in our country”; or, “it’s culturally acceptable in our society”; or, “times have changed, and the Bible is not currently relevant”.  All of these excuses say that our fleshly desire has higher priority and authority over God’s sovereign authority!  This is no different than what Israel wanted in asking for a king like the Gentiles have.  What does the Holy Spirit say about this?:

Eph 5:3-7  For let fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness not be once named among you, as becomes saints,  (4)  neither baseness, foolish talking, jesting, which are not becoming, but rather giving of thanks.  (5)  For you know this, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (who is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  (6)  Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience.  (7)  Therefore do not be partakers with them.

If anyone should say, I am not really a believer yet, so it is okay.  NO!  Then you put yourself in the category of “children of disobedience” that God’s wrath will come upon!

Do not test God, but in the fear of the Lord sanctify yourself; for without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

If any of you are already approving of sex before, or outside of marriage, please confess this sin to God, and He will forgive you.  Do not justify sin, or return to it.  If any of you are actively engaged in illicit sex, then confess this sin, stop the activity, and you will find favor with God.  Isn’t inheriting the Kingdom of God, and being with Jesus worth it?  Do we love Him more than even ourselves, more than someone who is not really respecting you if he or she is causing me to sin against my God and Savior, and threatening my eternal destiny!?  God knows our deepest needs; He created and made us, and He is the one that gave sex as something good and holy between a man and his lawful wife.  Part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control.  In today’s world, there is a great battle going on for the souls of people, and for the dignity of human beings, whom God created in His image and likeness.  Satan says that we can become like God by disobeying the Word of God and doing what we want.  Satan is a liar and a murderer.  The words of our Father are truth and life to all who trust and obey.

So, brothers and sisters – and especially those who want to find the right man or woman  to marry, and who want to be the right person for someone – keep yourselves holy for that person, and for God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  You will never regret it!

The vision of Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation is that we will be prepared for the coming again of the Lord, and to have part in the first resurrection.  This matter of sexual purity is extremely important towards that readiness and overcoming the world by our faith, and being light in the increasing darkness.

Three Days and Three Nights: The Sign of Jonah – 1 Apr 2016

Yeshua gave the sign of Jonah, of being 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the large fish, as the only sign that He would give to those religious leaders who consistently opposed Him and would not listen to Him. He spoke of His death, burial, and resurrection.

In order for this sign to be fulfilled, Jesus had to be sacrificially killed on Thursday afternoon, and rise from the dead during the night before the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, i.e., the first day of the week, Sonday.

In Genesis 1:5, God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.

Death and burial before 6:00pm (18:00) on Thursday = 1st day 6:00pm Thursday – 6:00am Friday = 1st night 6:00am Friday – 6:00pm Friday = 2nd day (which was also a Passover Sabbath) 6:00pm Friday – 6:00am Shabbat (regular weekly Sabbath) = 2nd night 6:00am Shabbat – 6:00pm Shabbat = 3rd day 6:00pm Shabbat – 6:00am Sonday = 3rd night

Yeshua rose sometime before the dawn before the end of that 3rd night of darkness, firstfruits from the dead. (Lev 23:9-15; 1Cor 15:19-20)  He is the true Light, and the bright and morning Star of a new day of an anticipated new creation! Hallelu-Yah!

Yeshua is the Passover Lamb, who was examined for 4 days, from the 10th of the first month (Nisan/Aviv) through the 13th (4 days: Sonday-Wednesday), and then slain on the 14th of the month (Thursday). Messiah was found innocent by Pilate, by Herod; the rulers and religious leaders could only get false witnesses to perjure against Jesus, thus breaking the 9th commandment: He was innocent, the Man and the Lamb without spot or blemish. (Ex 12:2-7)

God is sovereign and brings to pass His Word precisely on time!

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, (6) one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all.

I was in Kenya a few weeks ago on a mission to help Christians there understand the importance of Israel to them in God’s plan of redemption. There is a unity of purpose with God through Christ Jesus. Many of the church leaders – pastors and bishops – came up to me to ask of me forgiveness for them thinking and teaching that God had finished with Israel. This week I was at a leadership retreat (SAYF – Sitting At Yeshua’s Feet) with Jewish and Arab believers, and others, as an expression of our unity in the common faith that we have in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When SAYF first began in 2000, the concern then was to bring together as one the charismatics and the non-charismatics. The group that I was part of in Kenya included Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals. I was the only Jewish believer, and I do not belong to any of those particular churches or denominations. But we were all born-again believers, and that is what united us! There is one Body of Messiah; we are many and diverse members across and within the many streams. I thank God that even in our own small congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, there is a variety that challenges us, and also that is a witness to us of the truth.

We just finished our study of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation. The Lord was writing to all the churches as being together as one church under His headship and shepherding. The New Testament is written to all believers of all churches, and each of us will have to give an account to the Word of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul writes that we are to have fellowship and to bless all those who love the Lord in sincerity, and who call upon YHVH out of a pure heart. (Eph 6:24; 2Tim 2:22)

God has given Israel as an example to the Church – to Christians throughout the generations. Israel is not an example to other nations, but to the Church. Israel and the Church are the ones in covenant with YHVH God, and He deals with us in similar fashion, and the Scriptures are written to us about all things.

You remember that Israel became divided into two kingdoms: Judah in the south; Ephraim, or Israel, in the north. What we read of the northern kingdom is that they did not allow worship of God in the place which He chose – Jerusalem – and they were completely idolatrous. But, there were real believers in Israel, the northern kingdom. In 1Kg 18 we have the account of when the prophet Elijah needed to meet the evil king Ahab. There was a servant in Ahab’s council named Obadiah. He hid 100 true prophets of YHVH from being found and killed by the queen Jezebel. All of these persons were faithful to the true God, even though they lived and even served in Israel. They did not move to Judah, but remained in Israel.

The time came that God’s long-suffering ended towards this part of His people, and He sent them into captivity by the Assyrians. The Jews in Judea and Jerusalem trusted in themselves that they were okay with God. But the time came when He told them through the prophet Ezekiel that their sisters – Sodom and Samaria – were more righteous than they: Judah knew of the sins of Sodom and of the northern Kingdom (represented by the capital, Samaria), and why God had punished them; yet they did the same things and more! (Ezek 16:49-52) There were also real and faithful believers in Judah.

As we study the letters to the seven churches, we also see that within each of the churches there were those who heard and obeyed the word of the Lord, and those who did not. All who did were of one spirit in the faith.

Throughout the history of Israel and of the Church, we see that there were always those who thought that they were the true believers when comparing themselves with others among the people. We just saw how Judah thought towards Israel. The first Jewish believers thought that the Gentile believers needed to become Jewish in order to be saved. The Roman Catholics thought that they had become the New Israel instead of God still keeping covenant with actual Israel. Later Martin Luther thought that the Protestants were the spiritual Israel. The Catholics thought that those not in the Roman Catholic Church were outside of God’s grace, and the Protestants thought that all those inside the Catholic Church were not real believers. The Pentecostals came, and thought that unless you speak in tongues you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit, which would mean that you are not really saved. Others thought that if you speak in tongues you are of the devil. The Church of Christ that my wife grew up in thought that they were the true New Testament church, even while teaching that God was finished with the Jews, and also with musical instruments for now. The Closed Brethren think that they are the only believers faithful to Jesus and the Apostles. Many of these believers in these different denominations and camps will not take the Lord’s Supper together because they do not accept each other as Christ accepts all who put their trust and hope in Him for salvation. But it is the Lord’s Supper, not ours; He has invited all disciples and brothers and sisters.

Again, the apostle Paul writes that let each one examine himself if he is in the faith, and not be judging whether the next person is or not. (2Cor 13:5-6; 1Cor 11:28-29)   Within each of the very many streams of the faith in Jesus – within the Body of Christ – there are those who believe, and those who do not. We cannot trust in our own righteousness by saying that I am okay because I belong to a particular church or denomination; nor because I do not belong to that church or denomination! This is what the southern kingdom of Judah thought towards the northern kingdom of Israel. God is no respecter of persons, and those who think that they see will be judged even more severely than those whom God has already judged.

To be clear here, I am not at all condoning what I believe are Scripturally aberrant institutions and churches, such as the Roman Catholic; but I do believe that there are within it some true believers, just as Obadiah and the prophets were in Israel.  Yet the Protestant churches are not exempt from God’s judgments.  Free evangelicals, Messianic Jewish synagogues — no one can place their hopes on any other foundation than Christ crucified, and Him risen from the dead.  True believers from any of these “camps” should be able to freely fellowship outside the camp in the truth — and bear Messiah’s reproach — take the Lord’s Supper together, and justify God as alone righteous.  Through the centuries the record is full of disciples of Jesus who were members of churches which today we call historic or traditional.  Some were led by God to remain in them, while others left.  Good King Jehoshaphat of Judah wanted to be united with wicked King Ahab of Israel, believing sincerely that all Israel was “family”.  Yet we learn from his efforts and experience that ecumenism and political alliances are not God’s way or thoughts for true unity of His people who are estranged from Him.

Through the blood of the cross, God has reconciled Himself to us, and we are reconciled to Him and to each other who believe – across all the streams that come out from and converge into the one river of life. (Rev 22:1-3; Ezek 47:1-12) Let those who have an ear to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. It is a sin to judge God, and to make ourselves the judge of the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb. Jesus is the Judge, and He says that His word will judge us. (Jn 12:42-50)   Let us confess and repent of our sins against the Lord and our brethren if we have judged them unrighteously, simply because they belong to a particular church or denomination.  At the same time, we can not reconcile with institutions or systems that remain opposed to revealed truth, in so much as we understand.

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, (6) one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all.

Joh 17:14-24 I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (15) I do not pray for You to take them out of the world, but for You to keep them from the evil. (16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them through Your truth. Your Word is truth. (18) As You have sent Me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. (19) And I sanctify Myself for their sakes, so that they also might be sanctified in truth. (20) And I do not pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word, (21) that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. (22) And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one, (23) I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. (24) Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me, that they may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You have loved Me before the foundation of the world.

1Co 10:16-17 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (17) For we, the many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.