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. Continue reading “PRAISE TO HIM WHO SITS UPON THE THRONE, AND TO THE LAMB!”

SONDAY

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

THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE LORD’S PRAYERS

–Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33 

Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20)
   –till end of age
   –fullness of Gentiles towards Israel’s salvation  

“Lord’s Prayer” (Mt 6:9-15)
  –actually prayer for disciples and family
  –sanctification of God the Father’s name (3rd Commandment)
  –anticipation and expectation of coming Kingdom of God to Earth over Israel and the nations
  –seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness
    –must forgive
    –not to worry about most basic of human needs:  food, clothing, covering
      –serving God, not mammon
  –fear of God to shun evil
  –living faith and trust in YHVH that He – and we – will prevail, overcome over evil
    –God’s plan, not ours; God’s righteous paths in His grace and mercy, not our own sense of righteousness and judgment; God’s work – believe in Jesus – not our works  

Yeshua’s intercessory prayer for us, not for the world (Jn 17:9, 15-26)
  –Jesus now seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph 1:20-21)
    –the day is still to come for Him to stand as a Lamb, even though a Lion (Rev 5:4-6)
  –love and unity in the truth as proof of who Jesus/Yeshua is, and of the Father’s love for us in Him
    –Local believers and congregations/churches to care for each other for Messiah and the gospel’s sake  

God has something far better in mind than what any nation or government could ever accomplish.  He will even make peace with and among the animals, for example. (Is 11:6-9; Hos 2:18 Eng 20 Heb); Ezek 34:25-28 

We are called and sent out to be ambassadors of Christ, of another King, of another Kingdom.  

Let us do all we can to give people, at the least, to respect – and even to fear —  the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so that they might find mercy when the wrath of God is poured out on those who refuse to repent from evil and to turn to that which is good.

BIRTH, DEATH, AND GOOD FRIDAY OF MESSIAH YESHUA THE LORD – 12 Dec 2012

I just did a quick count-down and count-up and came to this conclusion on this fourth day of Hanukkah:  if Jesus died in 30 AD (which is 40 years before the Temple’s destruction; mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 39b, and also referred to in the Jerusalem Talmud; see http://www3.telus.net/public/kstam/en/temple/details/evidence.htm  ), and was 33 1/2 yrs old (having begun His 3 1/2 yr public ministry when He was about 30 years old, then He was born in Dec., 5 B.C., by my reckoning. http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/  (If He were born in 2 B.C., because of Herod dying in 1 BC instead of in 4 BC before Passover, then His death would have been in 33 AD, which reduces the forty years from the rent veil till the Temple’s destruction).  The magi from the East could have seen His star up to a couple of years before they actually arrived in Bethlehem, Israel.

Yeshua, as the Passover Lamb, began His last week (Passion Week) in Jerusalem on Sunday, the first day of the week (the day after the Sabbath), which would have been the 10th day of the first month (Nisan) leading up to the Passover.  He was “examined” until the 14th of the month (Ex 12), and was found without spot or blemish by the people, by the Jewish rulers (they needed false witnesses in order to “make” Him guilty and condemn Him), and by Pilate and Herod.  He was crucified and died on the afternoon of the 14th of the month, Thursday.  This also fulfills the prophecy connected with Jonah, that Jesus would be in the heart of the Earth for three days and three nights, rising early on the first day of the week as the first-fruits from among the dead, the day after the Sabbath.

“Good Friday” would have been a Sabbath as being the first full day of Passover (Lev 23); and I believe it is called Good Friday because believers — after the fact (and the Holy Spirit from the beginning) — would have come to understand that what took place the day before was actually the greatest victory of all ages and the essence of the Good News and the New Covenant:  Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and to bury our sins with Him, fulfilling the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread at the appointed time of the 15th day of the first month!  HalleluYah!

The Hebrew/Jewish/Messianic roots of New Testament faith are found in the Word of God given to and through Israel.

ARE BELIEVERS TO TAKE THE KINGDOM OF GOD BY VIOLENCE/FORCE? – Part 2

Mt 11:12-13   And from the days of John the Baptiser until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.   

Lk 16:16   The Law and the Prophets were until John.  Since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 

Yeshua said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and explain the things which He taught; which, He also said, are not always easy to understand at first.

Do you hear what the Lord is saying here in these passages?  The Kingdom of GOD is being preached now, and violent, forceful people are attempting to take what belongs to Jesus.  All of the Law and the Prophets spoke of Yeshua/Jesus.  John the Baptiser was sent by God to prepare the way for Yeshua. 

Those who try to force their way in and pretend to be heirs of the Kingdom mislead others and threaten the true believers, especially the weak and immature.  The response to the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in Jesus Christ has been mostly opposition. (Mt 11; 12; Ps 2)  The whole context of these verses we have read is one of others who are opposed to Jesus and His message.  In Jn 10, Yeshua speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd in contrast to the false shepherds – the zealots – who wanted to raise a rebellion against Rome, much like the Maccabees in their victory over the Greek Hellenists.  Others with religious and political influence neither believed the Scriptures nor in the power of God.  Other elites sitting in the seat of authority thought that they were deserving of the kingdom and sought to keep others from entering in, even to kill the Heir in their lack of brotherly love, thinking that by this murder they would get the inheritance that is rightfully His. 

Within the Lord’s ‘inner circle, there are some who, naively in their zeal, do not know what spirit they are of, and want to bring down fire from heaven to destroy those who do not yet give honor to the Lord. (Lk 9:53-56)  Others, to our grief, scheme with the enemy to betray Jesus and His interests, thinking to force His hand to suit their personal ambitions and dishonesty.

There is a spirit at work still today that would have some believers take the nations and the world for Jesus, scornful of the blessed hope that Jesus is coming again, and prepared to subject (by force, if necessary) to themselves those who do not agree with them, or else curse them for being ‘not with the program’.   

Yeshua will BREAK THROUGH!  He will suddenly come back from the heavenly Zion to the earthly Zion — and take Israel and the other nations for His inheritance, judging all those who are opposed to Him!

“Violent men want to storm Heaven, to be like God, and to rule the world.”  This is what Satan has done and is doing, and he is lying and deceiving the whole world concerning the truth of who Jesus Christ is.  God has decreed that His Son Yeshua will rule over the world and take away its sin and rebellion.  At the baptism of Yeshua by John, not only did the Holy Spirit descend in bodily form as a dove to rest on Yeshua, but God’s voice was heard from Heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.  After the immersion, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, and after 40 days without food and drink, the devil comes to tempt Jesus on this very issue:  “If you are the Son of God. . .”

The enemy says, “I will seize the kingdom by tempting the Son of God to submit to me”.  Not succeeding there, he actively works to put to death the Son, the Heir’; and then, while Yeshua was suffering on the cross, Satan tempts Him once more, taunting Him to come down from the cross.  The devil is today stirring up hatred and opposition among the nations against Israel to destroy her.  But it is ISRAEL to where Yeshua will return, and from where He will rule and reign over all the Earth, as in Heaven.

Evil men have sought to rule the world from long ago by force of might, or of personality, or of ‘rights’ – any way except God’s way!. (Dan 11:36-39)  But Jesus, the King of kings, and Lord of lords gave His life a ransom to redeem the hearts and minds of whomsoever, and to restore the Kingdom of GOD in their lives.  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah came as a Lamb, and He was slain.  The Fearless One manifested His glory in humility.  It is clear from Satan’s attacks and temptations that both the cross and the truth of being a son of God are the only ways to receive the Kingdom of God.

YHVH said the it is not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit (Zech 4:6) that His Kingdom will be established.  On the evening that Yeshua was betrayed, when Peter tried to protect Him with the sword, Yeshua said, “Put your sword in its place, for all who live by the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than 12 legions of angels?!  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Mt 26:52-54) Before Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (Jn 18:36)

Yeshua, to close His teaching and preaching (in Mt 11) in the cities of His disciples before sending them out, calls whosoever will hear and do:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)

The writer to the Hebrews tells believers that “there remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God.  For he who has entered [God’s] rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.  Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9-11)

Why is all this so important?  Because we will live according to what we believe if we are honest with ourselves.  Our hearts can deceive us; we can sincerely believe the wrong thing, like Peter.  It is my job and responsibility as the pastor and a teacher to help us all to gain Messiah/Christ – with all our energy invested in that.  The only way to obtain the Kingdom of God is through Jesus and His cross, and whoever comes in that way receives the Spirit of Son-ship.  Satan says to put down the cross:  it’s heavy; it’s a humiliation; there’s an easier way.  Yeshua says that whoever would be His disciple must deny himself, pick up his cross daily, and follow Him.

Let’s finish by reading what the apostle Paul learned from being a disciple of Yeshua, in Phlp 3:7 – 4:1:

“But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  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 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, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;  if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

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.  My brothers, I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let us therefore, as many as are mature, be of this mind. And if in anything you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you.  Yet, as to what we have already attained, let us walk in the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Brothers, be imitators together of me, and mark those who walk this way, for you have us for a pattern.  (For many are walking, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, those who mind earthly things.)  For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we are looking for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of humiliation so that it may be fashioned like His glorious body, according to the working of His power, even to subdue all things to Himself

Therefore, my brothers, ones loved and longed for, my joy and crown, stand fast in this way in the Lord, beloved ones.”

ARE BELIEVERS TO TAKE THE KINGDOM OF GOD BY VIOLENCE/FORCE? – Part 1

There are a number of passages in the Bible which are sources of controversy and even of division within the Body of Messiah:  Israel, Yeshua/Jesus, the Bible itself, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, certain gifts of the Holy Spirit, the rapture of believers, and more.  The wisdom of God is far above ours, and the devil is smart enough to know how to sow confusion into everything.  It is for us, in the fear of the Lord, to seek true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, so as to know our Father in Heaven better, and to be faithful as His sons and daughters in our lives and testimonies of our faith in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is given us to lead us into all truth once we have come to believe that Jesus and the Bible is the truth.

I speak much about the fact that God has a plan, and that we need to see things and to make decisions in the light of His purposes.  We have spoken of prayers and intercessions, and how that the Lord is working to bring us more into His way so that we would pray more intelligently in accord with the name of Jesus, having confidence, then, that God will not only hear, but answer.  There is a sense that a breakthrough is necessary soon by the Holy Spirit to move us on together, not only as one local congregation, but also within our personal and family lives, and the Body of Christ nationally and globally.  The true gospel of the true Jesus needs to be preached and heard, and believers need to press on to the fullness of Messiah.

One such passage, which we find in two of the gospel accounts, over which there are two interpretations, each one opposing the other, is this:

Mt 11:12-13   And from the days of John the Baptizer until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

Lk 16:16-17   The Law and the Prophets were until John.  Since that time the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.  And it is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for one tittle of the Law to fail.

There is a passage in one of the prophets which speaks to that time of John, who prepared the way for the Lord Jesus; and it speaks to our day, for the final breakthrough is drawing near at the second coming.

Mic 2:12-13 (Jn 10:1-16)   I (YHVH) will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob.  I will surely gather the remnant of Israel.  I will put them together like sheep of the fold (Botzrah), like a flock in the midst of their pasture.  There will be a loud noise of man.  The Breaker (one who breaks open) will go up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it.  And their King will pass before them, and YHVH at their head.

There are passages of Scripture that do have two opposing interpretations:  for example, the Law is good and holy and righteous, and will be fulfilled completely.  However, it is for sinners, not for the righteous; it is for children and slaves, not for the mature and free.  Being that none of us are as yet perfected, we still have need of some rules and regulations, but if we truly understand what it is to be under grace, we do not need to be under law, whether or not we are Jews.

We will look first at the connection with Micah, and of John’s call to repentance in the spirit of Elijah.  In both there is the preparation of the sheep, of God’s flock, of God’s people for the coming of the Lord Messiah.  It is the Messiah who is the One who breaks open the way, and there is a certain “violence” and “force” in Yeshua opening the way, and in His sheep going through the way which He has just opened.

A sheepfold (dir k’vasim) is a place of incarceration (k’li’a), and of protection.  When the shepherd wants to let his sheep out of the fold (mikh’la), especially when there is danger inside, as when a wolf gets in, the good shepherd protects the sheep and brings them to the gate to let them out to safety.  Coming to the one door, the sheep crowd each other, they are in a close and tight place together, there is a bit of a panic and lots of noise from fear and of discomfort, and all are pushing on each other in hope of being near the door to safety when it is opened for them to go out.  There is a violence and forcefulness in getting to the right place when the one who breaks open does open the door to safety and freedom.

This was what John the Baptizer was doing; he was preparing the way of YHVH; he was preparing the way for Yeshua to come.  John was not the Messiah; he was not Elijah; he was a voice crying in the wilderness for a baptism of repentance in preparation for the Holy One of Israel who was coming to free His sheep – His people – those who recognize and obey His voice.  As John went preaching repentance, and baptizing those who recognized their need for the freedom and peace of a new life from their sinful ways, the multitude came to him, who was preparing the way; he was not The Way.

Jesus came the first time, and declared that He is the Door of the sheep; He is the Good Shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep. (Jn 10:1-16)  Jesus gives a similar illustration of this narrowing of the way in which those who want life will follow Him:  wide is the road which leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate and the way which leads to everlasting life. (Mt 7:13-14)  As His disciples get brought into this narrow road, we are brought very close and crowded together.  We are going to be very uncomfortable; we are going to be pressing in and not so calm, and probably not so peaceable.  And Yeshua our Lord and Shepherd at our head is leading us to safety and freedom, away from the enemies of our souls – whether it is the devil, or the world, or our own flesh.  And there will be a violence, a force, in our being squeezed and pushed together; waiting for God’s breakthrough; and at the same time is the command to trust and love Jesus above all, and to love one another as He has loved us!

At the Passover in Egypt, after hearing the groaning of the children of Israel from all their hard bondage, YHVH God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go.  Pharaoh, of course, did not do that.  God did not tell Moses to raise an army among the Israelis to fight Pharaoh, or to plot a revolution by Egyptians against him.  God told Moses to tell the people to watch as He brings Pharaoh to the place and time that he would let the people go, and that the children of Israel should be ready when the time finally came. There was certainly much violence, and anxiety within the people, as they prepared for their protection and their freedom.  When the gate was opened, they left so quickly that the bread did not have time to rise, and till this day matza is eaten at the Passover to remember this great deliverance, and to remind the people from generation to generation of what YHVH their God did to break open their chains of slavery to bring them out to safety that they might serve and worship Him, the true God and Savior, as He led them to the land which He had promised, and to be King over them as a people.

Are you and I sensing any danger to the general health and welfare of believers, which would also hinder us from doing the work which the Lord has given each and all of us to do until He comes?  Do we sense an impasse within ourselves, and in the Body at large, which requires an unclogging, a breakthrough, which will bring a greater and truer expression of unity and love among the believers?  Do we sense any urgency as we understand the times in which we live?

Are we willing to leave quickly what we have been doing or thinking in order to both press in, and to be pressed in?  Are we willing, in love, to be very uncomfortable as we wait for all of the sheep to be ready at the time the gate is opened by Yeshua?  It will become even more uncomfortable as other sheep are squeezing in together, some in a panic, others getting impatient.  But it is not us who open the door; it is not us who first breakthrough.  It is Yeshua at our head, who has both protected us from the enemy by His death and resurrection, and who goes before us; we follow Him, the Lamb, wherever He goes.