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!”

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

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. 

THE FAITH IN MESSIAH YESHUA DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHERS

Tit 1:1-3   truth according to godliness

It is by personal faith in YHVH God and His Word that we are saved and brought into a vital union and fellowship with the Father and the Son.  Natural birth and culture may give privileges and honor, but do not guarantee acceptance.  Many are called but few are chosen.  There are many good things in all religions and cultures; there are many things held in common between them; for there is one true God, who by His Spirit works in the world among all people whom He created in His image.  Yeshua/Jesus alone has the words of eternal life.

Acts 17:1-6; 1Thes 1:9-10  the world turned upside down
This suggests that the new and living way is no mere correction or fine-tuning; nor a re-newed covenant; but rather something new and radical, which turns our world upside down – a very significant thing.
 

 Mt 16:13-18; 1Jn 2:22  belief that Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah/Christ, the Son of the living God
The holy and righteous Creator God took on flesh and blood to redeem us human beings (whom He had created in His image and likeness) in order to restore us to Himself through the sacrificial death of the Son of God/Son of Man.

 Jer 31:31-34 (30-33 Heb)  a new covenant; not like the old    “You have heard, but I say. . . .”  

    1Cor 3:16; Col 1:26-27; Jn 14:23; 2Cor 6:16; 1Jn 3:24; 4:12-16; Rev 3:20
        God is in us, not just for us, with us, upon us
It has all to do with loving Jesus 
Christ/Messiah Yeshua and  obeying Him in New Covenant relationship and union.

    Acts 2:16-18  the Holy Spirit given to all believers, not only to Israelis, men, prophets, priests, kings

    Jn 15:4; 1Jn 2:24  in Messiah; in the Son and in the Father; not merely a cultural or a national religious affiliation        This gives us the assurance of faith in the hope of the love of God in promise to us – eternal life.

    Jn 1:12; Gal 4:6-7; 2Cor 6:18; 1Jn 3:1  we are sons and daughters of God, not merely slaves or servants
    Such love!   The world does not acknowledge us as children of God, for it does not know [the true] God.  This was our own condition before we were saved by faith and brought into the truth and the light.

    Mk 7:14-16; Acts 10:9-16; Rom 14:2-3,14,20; Heb 13:9  food and other social barriers broken down
        We are freed to eat with whomsoever – and them with us – wherever God may have us or send us!

 

    Heb 7:12; 9:8; 10:20; 1Pt 2:4-5  Law changed; priesthood of all believers–male and female–from any and all families, with direct access to the Father, through our High Priest Jesus, by the Holy Spirit
          Requires no special ordination.  NOT A RENEWED COVENANT!

    Heb 7:20 – 8:6; 1Jn 2:25  a better covenant with better promises
        –the priesthood
        –our sins and sinful nature totally forgiven, removed, and forgotten through shed blood of Messiah
        –we are a new creation; one new man
        –resurrection of the body for eternal life
        –all the other things mentioned above

Gal 1:11-12; Rom 10:1-4; 1Cor 1:21; 11:23  the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek; not of man, but by revelation from God in Messiah; not of religion or of science or of philosophy, e.g., ‘Darwinism’

Gen 25:23b; Mt 20:24-28; Lk 22:26  the greater shall serve the lesser
       –to whom much is given (the birthright and blessing by sovereign will, wisdom, and grace), much is required
         —Is 40:2; Rom 2:9-10  double honor and double judgment
         —Rom 2:17-20; 3:1-2; 9:4; 11:24  for individuals and for nations

Jn 13:12-17; Mt 20:28; Lk 12:37  Yeshua came to serve; He washed the disciples’ feet; He made them breakfast; He will serve us at the great supper; He cares for us each and every day.

                                               God can not deny Himself; He is who He is!

DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

I went to a website of someone who had written a book I found very interesting, and was shocked to see that he had left the faith, and was even defending his fall as  ‘being set free’.  Not only does he forsake the God of the Bible – whom before he had praised – but also denies that there is any God at all!  In this truly is the Scripture fulfilled, “Professing to be wise, they became fools. . .” (Rom 1:22)

This man gave two primary reasons why he decided that he no longer believed in the God of the Bible – both the O.T. and the N.T.:  because God required that the Israelis kill all men, women, children, and animals under certain conditions (Dt 20:16).  His complaint was not only in the killing itself, but that God told them to do it rather than doing it Himself:  why should God have His own people take vengeance in such a way?!  The second reason why this man apostasized is that he claims that, despite promises of Jesus, God does not really answer prayers for even believers.

Many people have written this man on his blog, trying to reason with him, but he has defended his position and attacked as blind faith and foolish those who would believe in such a God.

DO YOU LOVE GOD?  DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

There are many hard sayings in the Bible for us to understand or to accept easily.  I know believers who are uncomfortable with some of the things God does – or does not do.  I have heard those who say they are believers question whether the God of the Old Testament is the same God as of the New!  Then which God is Jesus the Son of? Is your faith challenged when you are uncomfortable with the thoughts and ways of the God who claims to be the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth?

Lk 19:22-23   In this parable which Jesus told, there was a servant who did not like King of the kingdom, who had left him responsible to “do business (occupy) till I come”.  What did this King answer to such a servant of his?:  “Out of your own mouth I will judge you, wicked servant.  You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?”

There are at least two other very hard sayings of Jesus which challenged those who would be His disciples:
Lk 14:25-27   ‘Now great multitudes went with Him.  And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”’.

When the requirement of loving Jesus above all is twisted to mean to actually hate those naturally closest to us, it contradicts other clear and equally radical statements of Jesus to not only love your neighbor as yourself, but also to love even our enemies.  What He is saying is not, “Dad, Mom, I love Jesus and hate you!”, but more like, “Dad, Mom, I love you, but love Jesus even more.” 

To carry our cross, on the other hand, is to say that we are sentenced to death!  And who wants to live a life like that in order to be a disciple of Jesus?  Many of the multitudes that were following Jesus apparently did not want to!

The other hard saying is recorded in Jn 6:53-56,60,66:  ‘Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.”’

Even ‘many of His disciples’ said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?!’  “And from that many of His disciples went back [to their old life] and walked with Him no more.”

Jesus asked those closest to Him – the twelve apostles, “Do you also want to go away”? (v. 67)  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  And we have come to believe and know that You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Do we believe and know?  What does the prophet Habakkuk have to help us when we struggle with the ways of the God who loves us?  (Hab 3:16-19)  “When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.  When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops.  Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in YHVH, I will joy in the God of my salvationYHVH God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”

Our God is holy.  There is no one like Him, and it does not matter whether we understand everything or not.  But the God of the Bible is the ONLY God who is the REDEEMER of His creation and of sinful men.  “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us”. (1Jn 3:16)  THIS God – our God and Savior – came and died a horrible death.  He came in the Person of Jesus Christ, and took full responsibility for ‘the way things are’.  We accused Him of being a criminal; we did to Him what we thought of Him, and of His ‘way’. 

Jesus asked the Father to forgive us for we knew not what we did, and the Holy Spirit calls on men everywhere to repent, and receive this grace by which we stand in hope of eternal life.  Do we find ourselves retreating from abiding in Jesus when people accuse Him of being in any way evil; or are we willing to die for Him – to lose our own life or reputation – for Him who alone would come down to us to be crucified in our place in order to reconcile us to this God who is an awesome God, and a consuming fire?

As we take the Lord’s Supper together, let us examine and judge ourselves – and check our hearts – if we really do love Jesus – because we do believe and know Him who has brought us back home to our Father in Heaven.

Under Law Contrasted to Under Grace: As a Candle to the Sun

1Tim 1:8-11

–The Law is good, if used lawfully.
–It is for sinners
   –No need for law until there is enough transgressions to warrant it to maintain order and promote the general welfare
        –e.g., increasing traffic safety regulations and automobile safety features
–It is useful when having to subdue evil or the causing of hurt to another.
   –e.g., speaking in unacceptable way that needlessly hurt or offend or panic other people  

2Cor 3:7-11
–The Law of Moses was glorious, but a passing glory when compared to the glory of the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
   –like a candle which gives way to electric light, and even more so to the sun
      –what was glorious and served its purpose adds nothing more once the more glorious has come
         –maintains its own glory, but does not compare to that which far surpasses it and which serves a far more greater purpose  

Rom 7:1-13
–The Law is our life:  any set of rules by which we live and has dominion over us; it rules us; it is like a husband, until he/it dies to us
   –establishing, for instance, one’s own kashrut laws for what you will or will not eat as a matter of righteousness
–The law brings a curse on us because we can not live up to it – and so we feel condemned, not free, not alive – nor can it make us righteous in God’s eyes.
   –putting ‘a fence’ around the law holds people’s consciences accountable to man’s customs or commandments, rather than to the Word or Teaching of God.
–The Law is what lets us know what sin is, and until the law comes in, we do not feel guilty.
   –e.g., cigarette smoking and labeling
–The law causes transgressions to increase and strengthen.
  –How do we normally react when required to submit to authority or required to serve others?
     –It is sin in me doing the transgression if I myself want to obey the law, but it shows how sinful sin is.
–Our deliverance from this cursedness is Messiah’s death and resurrection, and ultimately our own resurrection and clothing with a new body, freed from sin.  

Questions:

1.  What is the difference between ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’?
   –Mercy keeps us from deserved punishment/hell; Grace gets us to Heaven/far more than I deserve.
   –Mercy forgives someone for offenses and debts; Grace adds to that a ‘reward’ for believing, thanking, trusting the forgiver/deliverer/savior.
   –Mercy is necessary during this life only; Grace/Lovingkindness is for eternity for those who love God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
      –The grace of God imputes His righteousness to the forgiven sinner who believes.  This is the only righteousness which exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, and enables us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Mt 5:20) (The righteousness of the religious is not enough for salvation.)  

2.  Must believers in Jesus still obey the Law?
   —Rom 3:31 (Mt 5:17-19; 7:24-29; Dt 18:18-19)   We do not make void the Law, but rather establish it through faith
     –The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12)
       –it is needed both to keep the peace in any society, and to show the people that they are sinners
         –either by breaking good laws, even unintentionally
         –or, by refusing to accept and submit to the law:  lawlessness
           –for Jews and for Christians, we have greater responsibility to both submit to civil authorities, and to keep a higher standard
     –it will be all fulfilled
     –we must teach and do even the least of these commandments which Messiah has now brought in under the New Covenant/Testament, the grace of God producing righteous fruit (Ezek 36:27)  

3.  What about those who lived before the Torah, or who are without the Law?
   —Gen 9:3-7   food, sanctity of life, pro-creation and continuity of humanity
   —Rom 2:12-16   those without Law will die without Law; those with Law judged by the Law; for all  men the Judge is Jesus Christ
   –Remember Avimelech, the Philistine king(s) who made covenants of peace with Abraham and with Isaac.  To Avimelech, it was acceptable to murder a husband of a woman to take her for himself, but not to commit adultery with another man’s wife!
       –This was before the Law (Torah) was given by YHVH God to Israel
       –Gentiles have their own laws and rules by which they judge themselves
           –Hamurrabi’s Code — ~1760 BC, app. 650 after the Flood, and about 315 years before the Torah
           –even an organization like the Mafia has their own code of conduct
           –God will judge those without His law by a lower standard than those with His law. (Rom 2:24; Ezek 36:22)
              —Lk 10:8-16; 11:30-32; Jn 9:39-41
                 –to whom there is more light, there is more responsibility and greater judgment (Lk 12:47-48)
                    –God knows exactly how to judge righteously and without partiality:  ‘handicapping’
                    –Jews and Christians have more than others (Rom 2:5-12; Ezek 18:25-32 

1Pt 4:17-18; Prov 11:31   For the time is coming for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?  Now, “if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?!”   

Having a covenantal relationship with the one true God makes us more accountable, not less!  We are members of His family, and discipline and punishment begins there within before doing so without.
   –Israel most accountable nation
   –Christians most accountable persons
   —Jewish believers in Yeshua the most accountable of all  

Rom 5:13-14   Until the Law came, sin and death (sin’s consequence/wage) were in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
     –like a baby before being old enough to be able to know that ‘yes’ means yes, and ‘no’ means no
     –Adam transgressed God’s commandment to him, and so was punished more severely than Eve, who was deceived by the devil.  

The Holy Spirit has always been in the world (and will remain in this world until these heavens and earth pass away).  God gave certain rules and commandments to Noah after the flood to help sinful people live more peaceably together, and to fear God and His judgment.  These general guidelines have impacted every society since those days, as all people have descended from Noah’s three sons, and there is only one Sovereign God in the world who keeps a restraint on evil.  Although sin was not imputed before the Torah came, yet God judged the people for their wickedness, as He also did in Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Sodom will be less severely judged in the Day of Judgment than a city which has heard the gospel and seen the works of God, but refused to repent and receive the servants of God. (Lk 10:8-12)  Today, the Western nations are more accountable in God’s sight than others, for the “Judeo-Christian” civilization has developed and matured there. 

Being under the grace of God in Christ is a privilege requiring a greater response of thanksgiving and of responsibility than of those seeking still their own righteousness by works of law.  Praise God that Jesus is our Great High Priest interceding for us at the Father’s right hand!  As believers, we, by God’s grace and mercy, will not be judged for the sin of unbelief or hypocrisy, but will be judged for the works we have done in our bodies – whether good or bad. 

2Cor 5:7-11   For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.  Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. . . .