Yeshua Is Judge, And Savior

Mk 11:11-26  And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the Temple.  So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. 

(12) And on the next day, they going out of Bethany, He was hungry.  (13)  And seeing a fig-tree with leaves afar off, He went to it, if perhaps He might find anything on it.  And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs.  (14)  And Jesus answered and said to it, No one shall eat fruit of you forever. And His disciples heard. 

(15)  And they came to Jerusalem. And entering into the temple, Jesus began to cast out those who bought and sold in the Temple.  And He overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.  (16)  And He would not allow any to carry a vessel through the Temple.  (17)  And He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, “My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?” But you have made it a den of thieves.  (18)  And the scribes and the chief priests heard. And they sought how they might destroy Him. For they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine. 

(19)  And when evening came, He went out of the city.  (20)  And passing by that morning, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.  (21)  And Peter, remembering, said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away. 

(22)  And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith of God.  (23)  For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said.  (24)  Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you. 

(25)  And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  (26)  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.

Yeshua has just made His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the common people acknowledging Him as the Son of David who they believed had come to be the King of Israel.  But His time had not yet come for that.  He left the city and the Temple, and went to Bethany, probably to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

We come now to the story about the fig tree that Yeshua cursed.  I am sure that all of us have read this and been uncomfortable that He would curse a tree without fruit at a time when it was not the season for fruit.  When we do this, it reveals again how our thoughts and ways are not the same as the Lord’s.  In our discomfort at His act, we are judging Him for doing what we think is wrong or unfair, does not make sense.

Why did Jesus curse the fig tree for not having fruit before its season?  This event occurred probably in April, whereas figs are a summer fruit, the first and best ripening happening around June.  The fig tree is used in the Bible as one of the symbols for Israel, and in it are both good and bad figs. (Jer 24:5-10; Hos 9:10; Mk 13:28-31Lk 13:6-9)  Normally the fig tree begins to blossom before its leaves cover them, or there are hold-overs from the previous season.  So, in the case of this particular fig tree on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem, it had leaves, and therefore it should also have had some blossoms of fruit before their full growth to maturity.  However, Jesus found no fruit on it.  In response, He said (cursed; judged) the tree:  “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”  And His disciples heard Him.

Mark then goes on in his account to Yeshua and His disciples arriving in Jerusalem.  Yeshua went into the Temple and began to drive out all those who bought and sold in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.  He also would not allow anyone to carry wares through the Temple.  Then He taught, quoting from Isaiah and from Jeremiah the prophets:  “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  ‘But you have made it a ‘den of thieves’!”

For this “presumption”, the scribes and chief priests, who heard Him, sought how they might destroy Him (get rid of Him/finish Him off, and His doctrines).  They were afraid of Him, because all the people were astonished at Yeshua’s teaching.  At this point, Yeshua’s popularity was a protection, but it was only a matter of time before those in power would act anyway, as envy and hatred took control of their spirits.  Here we see the beginning of Pharisaic/Talmudic/Rabbinic Judaism’s cursing of Yeshua – both His name and memory (Yeshu).

Then Mark goes back to say that that same morning, on the way up from Bethany to Jerusalem, the disciples and Jesus saw the fig tree that the Messiah had cursed dried up from its roots.  This was obviously a result of the Lord’s judgment of the tree, and not a natural drying up of a dying tree, which would have taken much longer.  The roots were still there in the ground.  God has not finished with Israel!  And we are witnesses to that certain hope today, here in Beer Sheva, Israel!  (In ch. 13 of Mark, the Lord uses the same symbol of the fig tree again, this time in reference to Israel’s revival in the last days leading up to His return.  The curse is still there, the fruit is still not satisfying to God, but redemption and the Redeemer is on the way!)

What do we learn from this fig tree and from the incident on the Temple Mount that Mark records?  Yeshua was the central figure in both of them, and His acts greatly disturbed both His disciples in the one, and the religious leaders in the other.

Both acts were judgments from God on the fruitless life and the corrupted religion of His chosen people, whom He had chosen for His glory, and to be His light to the Gentiles, and to be a holy people for His name, and to bear much good fruit from all of His fatherly care for them. (Is 5)  Instead they professed to be outwardly ‘good’, especially in comparison to the ‘Gentiles’ (the goyim), while inwardly and outwardly dishonoring their God and His house.  In this passage of Jesus taking control over the Temple Mount complex, He calls the house, “My house” (Is 56:7; Jer 7:11), whereas in the account in John, He calls the Temple “My Father’s house”. (Jn 2:16-17; Ps 69:9)   He and the Father are one.

The marketplace that the people had set up was on the holy site in the area called the Court of the Gentiles.  The buying and selling desecrated it as a place of prayer for non-Jews, as a house of prayer for all nations.  The public and merchants were using the Temple area as a ‘short-cut’ to carry their wares to the abused area. Doves were the sacrificial animals for the poor, and the greedy merchants were selling them, probably at high prices.  Yeshua had come to preach good news to the poor, who were being oppressed and taken advantage of.

So, too, the fig tree with leaves but without fruit.  The tree looked good on the outside, but there was no fruit on the inside.  The leaves were a covering for their fruitlessness.  Remember when Adam and Eve knew that they had done wrong, and wanted to cover their naked shame, they put fig leaves over their private parts.  So, too, this tree, and Israel and the Jewish people – and by extension, the church and Christians (Rev 3:1-6; 14-22)  – can look good to the eye of man, but cannot satisfy genuine [spiritual] hunger.  Israel is blessing the world in amazing ways today, but good works can be “dead works”, and they do not save unbelievers; or they can be good works of believers, but motivated by wrong motives or done without love. (Heb 6:1; 9:14)  Religious life without love,  or without intention to honor the name of our Lord, is empty.  As a prophetic and priestly nation, the Jewish people are not consciously drawing people to know the one true God.  No one can eat from such a tree and be nourished with the life of God.  The good works are a ‘fig leaf’, a cover-up for the lack of God’s righteousness and fruit.  The God of Israel will not grant His people peace and tranquility as long as they/we continue to seek it, to buy it, apart from Him – apart from Yeshua.

God cannot, and will not, bless fruitlessness in those who are called by His name. (Jn 15:1-12)   We cannot satisfy the need in others – whether believers or unbelievers – when our hearts of flesh become hearts of stone again.  Praise to our God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ:  He is not finished yet, neither with Israel and the Jewish people, nor with those who profess to believe in the name of Yeshua/Jesus for salvation!  Yeshua asked the Father  — when He was nailed to the cross – to forgive that very people and nation, for they did not know what they were doing. He still calls His people to repentance, and to bear fruit of that return to HIM.  This is especially regarding the state of our hearts towards God, and towards our fellow man.  Israel, as represented by the fig tree, is also a sign of the last days that the end of the age is near, and that the Lord is coming again “soon”. (Mk 13:28-31; Mt 24:32-35; Lk 21:29-33)  The same cursed fig tree is redemptively revived in the last days!  

Yeshua took the opportunity of His disciples’ reaction to the cursed fig tree to teach them about believing prayer, but even more about the necessity and the power of forgiveness. (Mt 6:9-15)  The Messiah, when He taught His disciples how to pray, told them and us that we must forgive others if we want our Father in Heaven to forgive us.  To the measure that we forgive others, He will forgive us.  Also in this passage from Mark, He says the same thing.  We can pray with all faith to have God do miraculous things in our lives or for others – including the restoration and salvation of Israel –­ but if we are not forgiving someone – not loving Jesus above all, and others as ourselves — for what we think or know that he/she/they have done to me, I will have no peace with God my Father, and He will not be pleased with me, His son through Messiah.  (It is very interesting that in the matter of divorce, which YHVH hates, Yeshua gave one exception for allowing it:  adultery.  But in the matter of forgiveness, there is no exception.  A very challenging commandment and commitment!)

Brokenness – knowing how much we have been forgiven – produces the Holy Spirit fruit of love (God’s measure of love) towards others, especially towards those we think do not deserve it.

What then can we learn from this passage in the plan of God to redeem His people?

–The fruitless fig tree and the corrupted religious worship and ministry are indicative of the spiritual state of the Chosen People:  there would be no more [godly] fruit from that again!  Only when Israel repents and sees Jesus whom they pierced will that finally produce the broken heart and contrite spirit needed to produce fruit for YHVH their God. (Zech 12:10-14; Ps 51) 

–This is also true of believers in Yeshua – of those who say we believe and follow Him.  Some of us have let our own spirits push away the Holy Spirit, and we have let our new heart of flesh become like stone again.  We then become hypocritical like the Pharisees:  demanding of others what we ourselves will not do, nor help them to do.  We separate ourselves in self-righteousness (which is the meaning of Pharisee), and do not love the brothers and sisters, and can oppress the poor.  We look good on the outside – the leaves – but inside we are in rebellion against our holy and gracious Father and Savior.

–The Lord’s acts in this passage should put the fear of God in us, whom He has chosen to be the Lamb’s beloved Bride, obeying His commandments with thanksgiving, and loving one another as He has loved us.

Yeshua is our Judge and our Savior.  Thank -you, God!

Looking For The Blessed Hope

(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 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!”

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!

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 now presents a completely different aspect.

The Christian cemetery referred to here lies behind the British WW1 War Memorial Cemetery.  The local cemetery is under the divided authority of the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.  We do know that some evangelical Christians have also been buried there in the small, crowded cemetery.

Holidays LIKE They Have in Judah – 5 June 2014

(11 June 2014 – For some comments and responses to this article, see http://www.kehila.com/articles/589-holidays-like-they-have-in-judah)

1Kg 12:32-33   And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar.  So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

 “So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”

When the Kingdom of “all Israel” was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel (Joseph/Ephraim), and the southern Kingdom of Judah (Judah/Judea), God left His place of worship in Jerusalem in the oversight of the Tribe of Levi and House of Aaron, under the sovereign control of the House of David, of the Tribe of Judah, the messianic family line for the Messiah, Son of David and Son of God.  YHVH gave the northern kingdom of Israel to be governed by Jeroboam, while the southern kingdom of Judah was left in the hands of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.

In order to prevent and discourage those under his rule from continuing to worship the LORD in the only place that He had established to place His name there, i.e., Jerusalem, King Jeroboam of Israel, as written in the Scripture quoted above, established feasts according to his own heart like those in Jerusalem, but not in Jerusalem, the center of worship for all the Children of Jacob/Israel.  This severed the unity of the nation even further, and instilled idolatry and unfaithfulness towards God and His instructions about His feasts/appointed times.

The Bible is written for us living at the end of the age, and for our instruction and admonition in learning from the examples given from Israel’s Holy Spirit-inspired written history. (1Cor 10:11)

I believe that we in the Messianic movement of God to restore all things to His people have allowed ourselves to do what Jeroboam did:  we have adopted some of the holidays of YHVH which He set times for, but for which those set times have been altered; we have also over emphasized some of the feasts of the LORD which He gave to Israel, while minimizing or ignoring others which He also gave; we have given too much weight to “Jewish thinking” as to what is important – even if in unbelief towards God the Father and His Son – rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to give us the mind of Christ/Messiah about these matters in the present dispensation.  (Yes, I do believe that there are dispensations, but am not a classic dispensationalist.)

We are not learning from the example of Jeroboam, but seem to be following his lead:  we are diverting attention from the centrality of the New Jerusalem above for our true and spiritual worship in these days prior to the return of the Lord (Jn 4:19-24), and from celebrating the open revelation of Yeshua/Jesus having already come in the flesh in fulfillment of those holidays which point to Him and to God’s redemption of His people, and which He has given to the whole Body of Messiah/Christ under His welfare in the Commonwealth of Israel.

I will give some examples:

Sabbath (Shabbat) (Gen 2:1-3; Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15)

The Sabbath is given to observe and to remember that YHVH God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh (the Sabbath); and, to remember that YHVH redeemed and delivered His people Israel out of hard labor and bondage in Egypt to give them rest in the promised Land.  This first of the appointed ‘Feasts of YHVH’ given to Israel (Lev 23) is a holy day to remember (and to act accordingly) our Creator and Redeemer, and the beginning of all that He created and made, and His mighty acts of redemption.  So, in remembering the beginnings, we are also brought to remember the first day of the creation week, when God called light to shine out of the darkness.

In the plan of God, the day after the Sabbath is the first day of the week, or Sunday/Sonday – the day of light.  As born-again new creation children of light and of the resurrection (1Thes 5:4-6; Lk 20:35-36), we have been redeemed, and reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, being brought back into the uncreated Light that is God:  Messiah Yeshua/Jesus is the uncreated Light of the world even before there was a sun.  The seventh-day Sabbath is not the end of God’s plan; the day after the Sabbath, the eternal day of no darkness is the new beginning of eternal life in the new creation that the Father is preparing for those who love Him and His Son.  The Sabbath day is a day to look back, in anticipation of the future judgment and the world to come.  Yeshua/Jesus is our Sabbath rest, in whom we cease from our own works to do the works of God. (Heb 4)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/sabbath-the-7th-day-and-the-1st-day-of-the-week-25-aug-1995/

First-fruits (Lev 23:9-11)

This holiday has to do with resurrection, the day after the Sabbath (Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; 1Cor 16:2); it has nothing special to do with the 1st day after Passover, nor with a particular date after the Passover.  The counting of the omer (sheaves of wheat) was to begin from this day:  the firstfruit of the harvest is showing itself, and is waved before God:  Yeshua is alive, first-fruits from the dead! (1Cor 15:20-23)  It is the Son‘s day!  This is the day that the LORD (YHVH) has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord and in His day! (Ps 118:15-29; Rev 1:10)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-lords-day/

Weeks (Shavuot)/Pentecost (50 Days) (Lev 23:15-17; Acts 2:1)

The Word of the LORD to Moses for Israel tells them to begin counting the appearance of the living wheat harvest from the day after the Sabbath which comes during the Passover week, regardless of what day Passover may  actually begin.  Seven complete Sabbaths, and 50 days from the day of first-fruits/resurrection, is to be celebrated as a presentation of a new grain offering unto YHVHtwo leavened loaves of bread. Shavuot/Pentecost should, therefore, always be celebrated on a Sonday, just as God commanded Israel.  This celebration is expressive of our unity in Messiah/Christ, all knowing that we are sinners for whom the Lord died.  The holiday displays the power of the life of God in the redeemed and forgiven believer in the gospel.  Yeshua is glorified, risen from the dead and seated in glory!  It is a time to rejoice together in Him by the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in us who are born-again from above!

Yet Israel has changed the day of beginning the count of the 50 days and the 7 weeks, by beginning the count from the day after Passover; that is, on the 16th of the first month, Nisan, on the Hebrew calendar.  Doing so brings them to celebrate Shavuot always on the 6th day of the third month, Sivan.  This is not what God instructed them through His Torah, and, by doing so, the Jewish people have been blinded to the clear connection with Jesus/Yeshua and with His resurrection.  This is not a disconnect caused by the “Gentile Church”, but by the Jewish Synagogue. (Some believers, who are caught up in turning away from all things ‘church’ and taking on all things ‘Jew-ish’, have begun the count on the 17th of Nisan, reckoning the three days and nights of Yeshua being in the grave from the 14th, as the starting point of counting.  But that date is neither the day after the Sabbath of the Passover day, the 15th, nor is it what God said and Moses wrote.  As the apostle Paul admonished, there are those who would be teachers of the Law, but do not know what they are talking about.) (1Tim 1:5-8)

The Holy Spirit is fulfilling the Word of God.  A serious problem has come because Christians have not been able to explain the fulfillment of these appointed holiday feasts from the Bible, often out of ignorance, but sometimes due to reliance on faulty Jewish custom and tradition; again, sometimes in ignorance, other times in rebellion, like Jeroboam.  Jewish people don’t know either.  But Messianic Jews, and Gentile believers in Jesus who connect with Israel and the Jewish people, should know, and act in humble and thankful obedience to God, who magnifies the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, and He has come!  We are His witnesses, and if we are going to celebrate holidays, then we should at least be able to say what and when they are, even if we are free, for the gospel’s sake, to celebrate, or not to celebrate – unto God — as situations present themselves. (Col 2:16-17)  There is a powerful testimony when believers across streams and cultures celebrate corporately as one body and family the mighty acts of the one true God!

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/the-feasts-of-yhvh-and-the-final-harvest/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/shavuotpentecost/evidence-of-holy-spirit-baptism/

New Moon

Many are following those who teach that the New Moon is a sighted crescent, rather than the two to three days of a darkened moon, which typifies the Biblical life which is by faith, and not by sight.  As all of YHVH’s appointed times, the New Moon also relates to Yeshua and also to Israel.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-new-moon-covered-or-revealed/

Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25)

The Jewish religious authorities added a day to Rosh HaShana, and call it the New Year rather than the 1st of the 7th month.  In adding a day, it puts hardship on poor people who are dependent on daily wages for work.  In emphasizing the Memorial of Trumpet Blasts as the beginning of the Jewish calendar year, it brings in confusion in the people’s mind regarding the redemptive plan of the God of Israel, and His time-table.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/blowing-of-trumpetsrosh-hashana/memorial-of-shouts/

Day of Atonements (Lev 16; 23:26-32; Is 53; Zec 12:10-14)

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion places its emphasis on this holiest day in God’s calendar for the people’s civil and religious life on bodily fasting from food for 25 hours, in the hope that their names will be inscribed favorably by God for the coming year, rather than on one’s genuine sorrow and regret for unbelief and disobedience against YHVH and His commandments. For those who are justified through faith in God and in His provision of the sacrificial atoning sacrifice by His Son for our sin, transgression, and iniquity, it is a new beginning, transformed by an affliction of soul to be converted, healed, and fully restored even beyond what we could have thought possible; and, as usual with God, it is all connected with Jesus! Jubilee! (Lev 25:8-12)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/day-of-atonementsyom-kippur/the-scapegoat-day-of-atonements/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/sabbathshabbat/jubilee-blessings-10-jan-2011/

Hanukkah/Birth of the Messiah the Lord (Jn 10; Is 9:6-7; Hag 2; Lk 2:4-20)

The true Light has come; all who came before must give honor and glory to the Lord of all.  Yeshua/Jesus must increase; they all must decrease. (Jn 3:30-31)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Lord’s Supper

There is the over-emphasis on the connection with the Jewish Passover (recipients of grace apart from sin) and not upon Yeshua’s death being also a sin and guilt offering, the atonement (all people, all sinners in need of a Savior), opening the way into God’s presence for both Jew and Gentile believers (Mt 27:51; Heb 10:15-25) There is no sound basis that the ‘Last Supper’ was a meal patterned after the modern Passover seder.  Yeshua was closing out one dispensation, while ushering in a new and better covenant for His disciples and spiritual family, and giving us a better inheritance than the Law can give hope for.

Both the Old and the New are at present in force, as God  works to fulfill every jot and tittle that is written in the Law and the Prophets, to be brought to completion during the Millennial Kingdom. (Mt 5:17-18)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/leavened-or-unleavened-bread-april-2012/

Other holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar, such as Tisha B’Av (Zec 7:1-13; 8:19) and Lag BaOmer, which have become more sacrosanct to the Israeli Jewish people than God’s own memorials; yet there are those within the Messianic movement who give even these credibility, despite their being instituted in direct opposition to the judgments of God against His own people for their unbelief, rebellion, and consequent gross idolatries. (Is 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-24; Rev 3:14-22)

We need to beware of the mote in our own eyes with respect to holidays before we think we can help others with specks in theirs.  Those who say that they see will be judged more severely than those who are blind. (Jn 9:39-41; Ja 3:1)  The devil is a liar, deceiver, murderer, and destroyer.  It is for us to honor the Lord, and bear witness of Jesus/Yeshua to His people – whether unsaved Jews, or whether misguided or unsaved Christians – as we celebrate our great God and Savior.

Jewish believers generally do not recognize or celebrate/observe Sonday/Sunday; First-fruits/Resurrection Day; Pentecost/Shavuot according to the Lord’s timing; the birth of the Messiah.  Shavuot as dated in Judaism is instead of Pentecost; Hanukkah is in competition with Christmas, and given meaning that seeks to decrease the greatness of the Lord’s coming in the flesh into the world; Saturday is considered as the Lord’s Day, and given prominence over the significance of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ prophetically of new birth and eternal life after death for the believer in Messiah.

The Hebraic and Jewish roots of the Messianic/Christian faith are found in the Word of God given to Israel and the Jewish people.  But the roots have produced a whole plant that looks much different than the seed that was planted to sprout those roots. (1Cor 15:35-49)  The flower and fruit are more interesting and glorious than the tangled roots, for all their fascination that God has created and made! God is calling out a people for Himself from every nation; the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but a new thing in the Earth which YHVH is creating in Christ/Messiah.  His appointed times which testify to Messiah having already come – and coming again — bring all believers from any and every nation outside of our camps to Yeshua, uniting us in His love as we suffer with Him and bear His reproach, hoping in His return and the resurrection. (Heb 13:12-16; Rom 8:18-24)  Neither Jewish believers nor Gentile believers are called to bring anyone into our purpose; but God is calling out one new man into His purpose, which He has planned before He created anything.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/new-testament-faith/the-gospel-the-new-covenant-and-the-messianic-faith-are-neither-jewish-nor-greek/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/messianic-judaism/the-faith-in-messiah-yeshua-different-from-all-others/

THE TRINITY

(In response to a couple of persons recently asking me to comment on my understanding of the Trinity, here is a fairly concise answer for those who already know that it is probably true, but are not intellectually confident as to how and why.)

As for the Trinity, I think your statement holds a clue to its truth:  “Adonai can not be limited by the human limits of understanding.”  Since the concept of God as a 3-in-1 is so outside of human understanding — and no normal person would think it up or expect others to go along with it — then it must be a revelation from the triune God, YHVH, Himself.  By faith we understand God’s Word to be true and truth, and God gives many examples in the world to fathom the possibility of its being so.  For instance, TIME is present, past, and future:  3 that is necessary for the 1 to be what TIME is.  Human beings, created in the image of God, are 3 — body, soul, and spirit — that is 1 whole person.  There are many such examples, which I am sure that you are also familiar with.  God, of course, is still ‘other’, and He, as a great mystery, came in the flesh by the conception of the Holy Spirit in the person of Jesus Christ, who did not pray to Himself, but to His Father in Heaven.  Therefore the need for a revelation of this holy and unique, one, true, living God which He has given to us that we might worship Him in spirit and truth.

When Abraham ate lunch with YHVH, he ate lunch with the Angel YHVH, who appeared in the likeness of human form, along with the other two angels.  These pre-incarnate appearances of the Lord were all angelic, even though He looked like a Man often times.  The conception and birth of the Lord through the virgin Mary is what gave Him the name Yeshua, which means that He is the Savior:  He will save His people from their sins.  For this He had to come as a flesh-and-blood human being, for angels, which are spirits, can not redeem humans.  The name of Yeshua/Jesus applies to the Son of God being also the Son of Man in His humanity.  Even He will receive a new name that we will know in the world to come.

The Hebrew word ‘echad‘ (אחד) does convey a plural unity.  The number ‘1’ is made up of numerous ‘fractions’, such as 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 = 1.  A cube is measured by its height, length, and width — and God being  ‘equal’ in His unity and Deity, we can consider that 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.  He is ONE, not three separate entities being added together to make 3.  The Hebrew word to denote ‘one only’, or ‘unique’, is yachid (יחיד).  This word is used to describe YHVH as the only true God; Isaac as Abraham’s ‘only’ son; Yeshua as God’s ‘only begotten Son’.   Each of these is unique in their ‘one onliness’.

One more example which has helped me understand by faith the truth of God’s revelation — even though its full comprehension remains beyond human capability — is the first Hebrew word for ‘God’ used in the first sentence of the Bible — Elohim (אלהים).  This word is plural, but the word for ‘created’ here in Genesis is singular, so already there is something unusual being expressed by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.  Linguistically, the specific form of plurality in this Hebrew word implies three or more; and we know that it is three in this case.  YHVH God NEVER uses plurality in some Gentile way of speaking ‘royally’; and even if He does somewhere that I have missed, for Him it is also true!  In most pagan religions, their gods are just that, plural in number — the gods.  In Islam, their God is never expressed as a plurality; they have made him only a singular, like the Hebrew words also used for God, such as El and Eloha (אל; אלוה).  That religion denies and rejects the love of the truth of the one, living, God; and, sadly, Rabbinic Judaism has done the same.

The Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer has given a revelation of monotheism that is not defined simply as the belief in one God:  the true one YHVH God — “Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God(s), YHVH is one.”  The true ‘one God’ is truly unique.  He is the God which both the Old and the New Testaments bear witness to.  It is the Spirit of YHVH that has inspired all the writers of the Holy Scriptures.  Yeshua/Jesus is YHVH/LORD, the Son of the Living God.  He and the Father are one in essence, and it is this unity of the Godhead that Yeshua prayed will be in those who are the Body of Messiah/Christ.  Amen, Amen.  Truly, there is none like Him! 

SHAVUOT/PENTECOST – 13 May 2013

Holiday greetings to you all!

In the following days the Biblical holiday of Shavuot ([7] Weeks) and Pentecost (50 Days) will be marked, properly counting from the first-fruits resurrection of our Lord Yeshua from the dead on the day after the Sabbath, i.e. Sonday, during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week.  Thus, Shavuot/Pentecost should also be properly celebrated on the 8th Sonday from the Passover, which is 7 weeks from that first Sonday, and the 50th day including that day after the Sabbath.  Our new life as a new creation born-again by the Holy Spirit begins as children of the resurrection in our Savior Redeemer, who died and rose again!  Jesus is the first-born of creation, and the first-born of many brethren.  Praise God for His free gift of eternal life after death for all who truly believe His good news! (Lev 23:9-21; Acts 2:1; Rom 10:1-13)

God bless you as you celebrate His wonderful  gift of His Spirit and of eternal life in Messiah Jesus!

PRAISE TO HIM WHO SITS UPON THE THRONE, AND TO THE LAMB!

Gen 3:15   And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

Ex 12:1-7   And Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be to you the beginning of months/new things.  It shall be the first month of the year to you.  Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb for a father’s house, a lamb for a house.  And if the household is too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take according to the number of the souls, each one, according to the eating of his mouth, you shall count concerning the lambYour lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.  You shall take from the sheep or from the goats.  And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month.  And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slaughter it in the evening.  And they shall take some of the blood and strike on the two side posts and upon the upper door post of the houses in which they shall eat it.

Ex 12:11-14   . . .It is Yehovah’s Passover.  For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast.  And I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt.  I am Yehovah.  And the blood shall be a sign to you upon the houses where you are.  And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  And the plague shall not be upon you for a destruction when I smite in the land of Egypt.  And this day shall be a memorial to you.  And you shall celebrate it as a feast to Yehovah throughout your generations.  You shall keep it as a feast by a law forever.

Is 53:7   He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

Mt 5:3-5   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Mt 11:28-30   Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Mt 1: 18-23   Now the birth of Jesus Christ was this way: after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph, her husband to be, being just, and not willing to make her a public example, purposed to put her away secretly.  And as he thought upon these things, behold, an angel of Yehovah appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take to you Mary as your wife.  For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS/YESHUA, for He shall save His people from their sins.  Now all this happened so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and will bear a son.  And they will call His name Immanuel,” which being interpreted is, God with us.

Lk 2:30-35   For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken by him.  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this One is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Jn 1:29    . . .Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Mt 27:25-26,29-30   Then all the people answered and said, Let His blood be on us and on our children.  Then he released Barabbas to them.  And when he had flogged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. . . . And plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand.  And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, Hail, O King of the Jews!  And spitting on Him, they took the reed and struck Him on His head.

Lk 23:34a   And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

1Cor 5:7   . . .Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

2Cor 13:4   For even if He was crucified out of weakness, yet He lives by the power of God.  For indeed even we are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.  

1Pt 1:17-19   And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to the work of each one, pass the time of your earthly residence in fear, knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  

Rev 5   And I saw a book in the right hand of Him sitting on the throne, written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book and to loosen its seals?  And no one in Heaven, nor on the Earth, nor under the earth, was able to open the book or to look at it.  And I wept very much, because no one was found worthy to open and to read the book, nor to look at it.  And one of the elders said to me, Do not weep.  Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals of it

And I looked, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, amidst the elders, a Lamb stood, as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.  And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him sitting on the throne.  And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slaughtered and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth.  

And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and the living creatures and the elders.  And the number of them was myriads and myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.  And I heard every creature which is in the Heaven and on the Earth, and under the earth, and those that are in the sea, and all who are in them, saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.  And the four living creatures said, Amen.  And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the One living forever and ever.

Rev 6:12-17   And when He had opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake.  And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.  And the stars of heaven fell to the Earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs when she is shaken by a mighty wind.  And the Heavens departed like a scroll when it is rolled together.  And every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.  And they said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath has come, and who will be able to stand?

Rev 7:1-4   And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth so that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God.  And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the Earth and the sea, saying, Do not hurt the Earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.  And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousands, having been sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.

Rev 7:9-17   After these things I looked, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands.  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb.  And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God, saying, Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.  

And one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these who are arrayed in white robes, and from where do they come?  And I said to him, Sir, you know.  And he said to me, These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes, and have whitened them in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His temple.  And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.  They will not hunger any more, nor thirst any more, nor will the sun light on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and will lead them to the fountains of living waters. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Rev 12:10-11   And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Messiah/Christ.  For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony. And they did not love their soul until death.

Rev 19:6-8   And I heard as the sound of a great multitude, and as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of strong thunders, saying, Hallelujah!  For Yehovah God omnipotent reigns!  Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him.  For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.

Rev 21:9-10,12,14,22-23   And one of the seven angels who had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God. . . . she had a great and high wall with twelve gates. . .and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel. . . .And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them were the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. . . . And I saw no temple in it, for Yehovah God of Hosts and the Lamb are its temple.  And the city had no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they might shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Rev 22:1-6   And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of its street, and of the river, from here and from there, was the Tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each yielding its fruit according to one month.  And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And every curse will no longer be; but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will serve Him.  And they will see His face, and His name will be in their foreheads.  And there will be no night there.  And they need no lamp, or light of the sun; for Yehovah God gives them light.  And they will reign forever and ever.  And he said to me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show to His servants the things which must shortly be done.


(2 Tim 4:1; Heb 10:26-31   Yeshua, the Son of God and Son of Man, will judge the living and the dead, because He is the Lamb who was slaughtered and crucified, shedding His blood, to redeem us that we might be saved to live with God forever.  God the Creator will judge each one in his relationship to the Redeemer Lamb and to His blood.)

SUNDAY

Lev 23:10-12  Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest of it, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  And he shall wave the sheaf before Yehovah to be received for you. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.  And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to Yehovah.

Act 13:32-33  And we proclaim glad tidings to you, the promise made to the fathers, that this God has fulfilled to us their children, raising up Yeshua, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”

Ps 118:19-24  Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise Yehovah. This is the gate of Yehovah into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise You; for You have heard me, and are my salvation. The Stone which the builders refused has become the Head of the corner. This is from Yehovah; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which Yehovah has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Rev 1:9-11  I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the affliction, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in 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 heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Also, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches. . . .

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 25 Dec 2012

As a Jew, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas when I became a believer, partly because it wasn’t “Jewish”, and partly because it was too paganized and commercialized. But the Lord began to show me that my reasons were not all correct. In my other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. The truth of God is not pagan, and it happened right here in Israel among Jewish people, as prophesied by the prophets of YHVH  long before.

Much of what people do with God’s holy things is to defile them, to paganize them, and Satan is the cheerleader in this, along with our own propensity to be drawn away by what seems ‘good in our eyes’, and to fit in with the surrounding unholy and unclean culture.  As a Jew, I have examined and judged myself and my people for FIRST doing what Christians also do; yet, we continue to keep the Passover (in the light of the New Covenant and greater Passover). We continue to acknowledge Purim and Hanukkah, even though, like Christmas, God did not ordain them, but believers did unto Him and for the people to celebrate God’s mighty acts on their behalf, in keeping with His covenantal promises, despite their own general and widespread unfaithfulness and tendency to heathen practices.  Purim especially has been paganized, and is more like Carnival and Halloween.  God has historically intervened in the lives of His people and of the rest of humanity, redeeming days, etc., so that these times become connected with His redemption, while remaining mere worldly, even pagan, occasions for those not in covenant relationship with Him

It is true, as the Lord spoke through Amos and others, that He hates our sacrifices and fasts and holidays: in other words, when we are doing them according to our own understanding and culture, and not for Him and His honor. That is what I am trying to express: that we should keep His celebrations as a freewill offering in a manner that does honor and please Him, and fills us with thanksgiving and joy in the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that there is much more evidence in Scripture to warrant Yeshua’s birth around this time (Haggai 2 refers several times to the 24th of the 9th [Hebrew Israeli] month Chislev, which corresponds with the first night of Hanukkah that occurred hundreds of years later and corresponds to the Western Christian calendar of the evening of 24th of December), but did not fulfill what the last verses speak of: Yeshua’s coming in the flesh at birth does begin that overthrow, first in our own hearts, and ultimately in all peoples and nations, including Israel. Mary’s new song in Luke 1 expresses her own understanding in faith and hope of what the Lord spoke through Haggai, and other prophets.  The true and brighter and eternal Light that shines in the darkness is not extinguished, and should be given much higher priority over celebrations of mere oil or candle lights that burn out.

The reason that Jewish people as a whole do not celebrate the Lord’s birth is because they do not believe in Jesus, even though the first ones who did celebrate with the angels were Israeli Jews! Neither do the Jewish people, along with many nominal Christians, celebrate His resurrection, also because of unbelief. But the Holy Spirit has brought Gentile Christians into the Commonwealth of Israel through their faith in the promised Messiah to Israel, and have celebrated His life, and His suffering and death, and His resurrection and ascension, and the hope of His coming again — whether with faith or without — for most of this age.

I have put together a timeline that brings together and reconciles all of the appointed/set times, and those which God accepted from His people, to show Yeshua’s birth:  http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Just as the second coming of the Lord will be at a time, and a day and an hour, not expected, well. . . it seems that so was His first coming!  The winter objection pre-supposes that the God of Nature can not do something extraordinary to declare His glory, just as I believe He did the night of the Lord’s betrayal, when it was so chilly on a Spring night (and it’s possible that Passover was a late date that year), that Peter and others kept themselves warm with a fire. And the sheep, as far as I have heard others say, were sacrificial sheep, and were handled differently, and were outside yearly. But since these things are not understood by ‘babes’ anyway, they are not central to resolving the controversy. That Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with us does not mean that He was therefore born at the Feast of Tabernacles, which actually is the Feast of Booths (succot). The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, and is more permanent than a temporary booth. And the priestly course of Abia (Aviyah) is not certain of its annual cycle, nor can we be sure of how the Jewish rulers at that time were regulating matters, since the whole system had become corrupt. But I have read sites that have decided to assume a particular cycle and time, but acknowledging that if another were taken, then it puts John’s father in the Holy Place at a time in a context that Yeshua would be born as tradition maintains. The whole counsel of God together unfolds His revelatory plan and purpose, and Scripture interprets Scripture, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.

Since YHVH is a Man of War and the God of Armies/Hosts, He is not going to reveal things before it’s necessary, because there is an enemy with certain liberty to do what he will in this world, who likes to pre-empt things to ‘muddy the waters’, like he has with the Queen of Heaven, and the whole saturnalia bit. Even if the date of Christmas is the same as saturnalia, the God of gods has come and taken the day for Himself! Passover is celebrated by the heathen and unbelieving Jews even as merely a Spring festival and celebration of freedom. But God’s freedom is for us to serve and worship Him, not to remain independent from Him nor to remain slaves to sin and unbelief.

Despite all, let us take a stand of faith for the name of Christ/Messiah, who is Jesus/Yeshua, our great God and Savior.

God bless you, and, yes, Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2013 in Messiah,
Howard