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/

Death of Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – 7 Oct 2013

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef died at the age of 93, following many months of deteriorating health.  He was perhaps the most influential rabbi in this period of the return of the Jewish people back to the promised land.  His influence was both religious and political, and affected all of Israeli society, not just the Sephardi Jewish (those who were especially under Islamic influence during the long years of exile) community which he specifically represented.  This, in itself, was an enormous achievement:  helping restore a measure of equality and dignity within the Jewish people, no matter if Ashkenazi (those Jewish people mostly under Christianity’s influence while in exile), Sephardi, or otherwise.  His funeral procession of hundreds of thousands persons, the largest ever, from many sectors of Israeli society is testimony of his significance.  Yet by his strong emphasis on his own heritage, politically there was much bias for his own constituency, resulting in some high-profile corruption, and harsh words for civil institutions and those whom he disliked.  (God’s intention is to restore complete equality and dignity among and within all the House of Jacob — Ephraim and Judah — making them “one stick” when all Israel is saved by seeing Jesus whom they have pierced.)

Here is one article from the Israeli English press, highlighting the man’s life:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/ovadia-yosef-outspoken-spiritual-leader-of-israels-sephardi-jews-dies-at-93/

Speaking in terms of Judaism, Rabbi Yosef was a sage,  a ‘wise man’, steeped in ‘Torah’, meaning especially the Oral Law which forms the traditional foundation of Talmudic Rabbinic Judaism.  At his death, many of his own ardent followers and disciples cried out as if their shining light had gone out, and their father had been taken from them, leaving them as orphans in the dark.  There is the sense that there is no one who can replace him.   This is true in all cases when certain figures pass from the scene, and a generation is left with ‘lesser lights’.

In Biblical history, we see how YHVH, God of Israel, saw to it that Joshua Ben-Nun would be the heir to Moses, and acted on his behalf that he would be honored just as Moses was.  We see this also when Elijah the prophet was taken up, and Elisha was there to be his anointed heir.  It was God who indicated that Aaron’s son, Eleazar, would become High Priest following the death of Aaron.  Following King David’s death, there was an attempt to usurp the throne which he had promised to Solomon.  Whenever there is a void, and a lack of a publicly clear successor, power struggles often ensue, and divisions within the house become more evident.   This is so within the Chabad movement which accepts their dead rabbi, Menachem Schneerson, to be the Messiah (which Ovadia Yosef categorically denounced).  And this is already a much discussed issue over the passing away of Rabbi Yosef, and its consequences especially within the political party, Shas, which he founded to represent the interests of Sephardi Jews.

When Yeshua was with His apostles and disciples, He was preparing them for the time when He would no longer be with them, and He would not leave them orphans.  At His death, even those closest to Him thought that their hopes were dashed, and went back to ‘business as usual’.  When they saw Him after His resurrection, He spent 40 days with them to confirm them in the truth of His being alive again, and then told them to wait together in Jerusalem until they received the promise from the Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within each one of them.  At that appointed Pentecost/Shavuot, while the 120 disciples were gathered together, each and all received this gift, producing a harmony among these disciples as to who was in the lead (Peter), and what business they were about (preaching the gospel of God’s kingdom for salvation).

The 12 chosen apostles of the Messiah were a motley group of unlike people — Gallilean fishermen, a levitical tax collector, a Judean, a nationalist zealot.  Yet the way of the Lord was able to bring these unlikely colleagues together, and, more importantly perhaps, keep them together in heart and mind, after His ascension to glory at the right hand of Power.  The Holy Spirit held them in love and unity for the sake of the name of the Lord Yeshua, and reminded them of those things which He taught and did:  how He loved them, chastening them, too, as a Big Brother, as a Good Friend, and as a Father to his children.   The rest is history.  Divisions have come within the house, but not because of those whom Jesus appointed to deliver to us the doctrines of the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

It is my prayer that, as the ‘wise’ of this age pass on (and they all know who Jesus is now, whether they are already glad, or already in torment), many of those who feel that there is not much hope in what comes after them, that their faith falsely placed in mere mortal men and their own wisdom would be turned toward the ever-living God of Heaven and Earth, who chose the Children of Israel to be His people and His children, and that He, in His infinite knowledge and wisdom and mercy, would favorably shine His uncreated Light of Messiah, the Son of God, upon them, that they might return home to the Father through calling on the name of Yeshua for salvation.  Amen.

Clogged Wells: Religiosity vs Living Faith — 27 Apr 2013

We have spoken about clogged wells earlier, and about how not giving tithes and offerings can be a cause of stoppage of the living water in our life and in the congregation.  Giving from our money according to the appreciation of God’s grace and for His purposes is one defense against stinginess and greed. 

Today I want us to look at and consider together about another cause of clogged wells, and of what each of us can do to be both blessed and also a blessing to others.  This requires repentance, which brings life unto God, and also requires each of us to take heed as we seek the life that is Messiah in us to grow and enlarge.

The banner behind me is the one done for the “Spring up, O well!” conference last week.  It was done by Ladell Neitzel, who was also part of the conference.  She spoke about how difficult it was for her to make this banner, and she could not complete it with water springing up out of the well.  She felt from the Lord that perhaps we are not ready for it yet, for the well to be released.  On the one hand, I completely understood by the Spirit that we are preparing for and anticipating a significant revival within the congregation and whole Body of Messiah.  On the other hand, I felt ashamed at our own condition that the well is still clogged. 

Let’s read from the source:  Gen 26:12-33

–Isaac, the son of promise, became very rich and prosperous in the land of the Philistines. –The Philistines envied him, and sent him away; and they had stopped up all the wells, which Abraham’s servants had dug, with dirt and dust.

–Isaac left, and his servants dug again the wells from the days of his father and gave each one the same name which Abraham had given.

–Isaac’s servants dug in Gerar (probably near Nahal besor today), and found a well of living water.
–The shepherds of Gerar quarreled with the shepherds of Isaac, saying that the water was theirs!
–They had not dug there all the time they had been in that area, but ‘owned’ it after the hard  work of others.  This is similar to the Islamists who claim all the land of Israel, even though it has been the Jewish people who have worked hard to make the land cultivated and fruitful after so many centuries under Muslim control and disinterest.  Another recent example if Lebanon, which claims the natural gas off-shore of Israel’s northern coast after Israelis invested and located it for commercial use.  

–Isaac called the well Esek (Quarrel), and moved on, rather than fighting or insisting on his rights, in order to keep the peace as much as possible.  By faith, he knew that the whole land was his to inherit. 

–Isaac’s servants dug another well, and again there was a dispute.  He named this well Sitnah, which has the same root as satan (s-t-n).  Satanic disputes are rooted in envy, hatred without cause, false accusations, needless hostility

–Isaac moved on again, and his servants dug another well.  This time there was no dispute or quarrel.  God had given them room, and he called the well Rehovot (Wide spaces).
–YHVH enlarged their tent, and they could be fruitful.
–Isaac and his servants did not let quarrels with others, or lack of approval from others prevent them from continuing to seek what was good.  They had faith in the Living God even as others contended with them and sought to clog up their faith and frustrate them in their labors. 

–They moved on up to Beer Sheva, and in the same night YHVH appeared to Isaac to assure him and to bless him.
–Isaac built an altar, called on the name of YHVH, pitched his tent, and his servants again dug a well.
–Avimelech, king of the Philistines, a friend, and Phicol, the military commander came to Isaac.
–Isaac asked them why they were coming to him now, since they had hated him and sent them away.
–Avimelech answered that they saw that YHVH was with Isaac and was blessing him despite all 
their evil thoughts,  attitudes, and efforts to quench his life and successes.
–They made a covenant of peace with Isaac, that he would not them any harm.  The Philistine spirit demands to receive grace and mercy – even from their ‘enemy’ — but is not able to give it.
–That same day Isaac hears from his servants that the well they had dug in Beer Sheva had water, and they called the name Shev’ah (Seven), and the city is called Beer Sheva until today.

What can we learn from this history for ourselves?  How can these things, written long ago for us living at the end of the age for our learning and admonition, be applied to us now who believe in Yeshua?

As I have said many times before:  God is God; Satan is Satan; people are people.  But we, in whom dwells the Spirit of Christ, can change and be continually transformed into the image of the Son of God.

The word philistine means invader.  The Philistines then and today (in spirit if not actually physically descended) always resist the ways and thoughts of God, and of those who live by faith in the Spirit of God.  They ‘invade’ the peaceable character of the ‘righteous’, discourage their prosperity, and strive with those who are free – even to putting dirt and dust in their flow of living water. 

These invaders are under the control of traditional human authority and of legalism in their lives ; that is, of human religiosity, not knowing the living Spirit in their own lives.  We can all be guilty of this in certain instances; therefore the admonition to take heed to ourselves, lest thinking we stand, we fall.

This show of righteousness speaks much of grace, but separates grace from the living faith.  It is a legalism that quenches the Spirit of God, despite all our talk about freedom in the Holy Spirit.

The contention over the wells is characteristic of our legalism and self-righteousness in our own eyes – like the Philistines:  they do not dig the wells, which were also beneficial for them, but either clog them with dirt, or else claim yours as theirs.

But for those, like Isaac, who avoid becoming entangled in unproductive strife, and who continue digging for the waters until they are found, God will cause even our enemies to want us to be their friends.  They will finally see and accept that YHVH God is with you – the man or woman of faith, hope, and love – like He was with Abraham and with Isaac.  Then, the well that you dig will be your own, not to be taken by another nor filled in with dirt.  Isaac offered Avimelech food and drink, displaying the peaceable intentions he had towards even those who mistreated him.  May God help us to love others as ourselves, and even as Yeshua has loved us.

Spring up, O well!  Let the waters flow!

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.

PRIESTS AND PRIESTHOOD

1Pt 2; Ex 19:6   But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, so that you might speak the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light….  

The last few weeks we have been speaking of Jeremiah and others who were called and chosen by God to work together with Him, according to His purpose.  In this verse we can see that a primary purpose for which God has called and chosen us is to be a praise to Him who is worthy of all praise.  

What is it to be a priest and a priesthood?  Let’s consider some other verses from the Scriptures to help us know and understand, and to live in the truth:  

Gen 14:18-20a   And Melchizedek the king of Salem brought forth bread and wine. And he was the priest of God Most High.  And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of Heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.…  

The first priest mentioned in the Bible is Melchizedek.  He serves God Most High (El Elyon); he blessed Abram who also belongs to El Elyon; and he blessed El Elyon, who enabled Abram to defeat his enemies who had taken his relatives captive.  A priest is one who blesses others in the name of the Lord, and who blesses God for His greatness.  Notice that Melchizedek gave Abram bread and wine, the reminders of the sacrificial foundation of all praise and blessing.  

Num 1:47-50   But the Levites, according to the tribe of their fathers, were not numbered among them.  For Yehovah had spoken to Moses saying, Only you shall not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the sons of Israel.  But you shall set the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all its vessels, and over all its things. They shall carry the tabernacle and all its vessels. And they shall serve it, and shall camp around the tabernacle.  

The Tribe of Levi was called out of the rest of the Children of Israel to serve YHVH as priests.  They were no longer of Israel, while yet they were still related by flesh and blood.  They were separated unto the Lord and service to Him firstly, and then to the rest of their brethren, the Children of Israel, in His Name.  In other words, the priests were holy.  This was to be a service done in love with thanksgiving 

Dt 18:1-2   The priests, the Levites, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the offerings of Yehovah made by fire, and His inheritance.  Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brothers.  Yehovah is their inheritance, as He has said to them 

All of the priests together had no inheritance of land with the rest of their extended family.  What was God’s was theirs!  The whole land was His; by being scattered throughout the land serving the other tribes, they, as a tribe, would inherit the whole, while possessing none of it themselves.  YHVH had told them that HE was their inheritance.  The ministry of the priesthood was their their inheritance to perform it.  

Levi 22:9   And they shall keep My ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, that they may not die for it when they defile it.  I, Yehovah, sanctify them  

Heb 2:11   For both He who sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers…

Priests are given much honor by being chosen by the Lord to be His, and to represent Him to the people even as they represent the people before God.  The priests carry a heavy responsibility to keep the commandments of the Lord because it is He who has sanctified them – makes them holy.  By keeping His commandments, they sanctify themselves for His sake, and for their own peace and joy, too.  Otherwise, they are guilty of defiling themselves by defiling, dishonoring God’s good and holy commandments 

Levi 18:27   For the men of the land who were before you have done all these [sexual] abominations, and the land is defiled 

1Cor 6:18-20   Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits fornication sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s 

Heb 13:4   Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.  

Mk 7:20-23   And He said, That which comes out of the man is what defiles the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:  All these evil things pass out from inside and defile the man.  

Defilement is often associated with sexual immorality and immoral lust, that is, any sex outside the marital relationship, or pornographic thoughts or lust in the heart.  That which is in the heart will come out!  We see here again the truth expressed that in Christ/Messiah we have become joined with the Lord; therefore if we defile our bodies, it brings dishonor not only to ourselves, but even to the name of Jesus/Yeshua.  He who sanctifies, and he who is sanctified are one.  It defiles the ‘land’; it defiles the Kingdom of God on the earth.  We sin against our own bodies, according to the Word of God.  As priests of God in Christ, we have both the honor and the challenge to keep ourselves pure, even as He is pure.  In today’s world, this is a great challenge to love and to trust Jesus for to overcome.   

Ezek 44:23-24   And they shall teach My people to discern between the holy and common, and between the unclean and the clean.  And in a dispute they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to My judgments. And they shall keep My Laws and My statutes in all My assemblies, and they shall keep My Sabbaths holy.  

All priests are in a relationship with the Lord in a more personal way than others:  we have access in Christ to the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God at the throne of grace.  In Ps 73, Asaph the priest begins writing about how he almost fell from the faith as he saw the wicked prospering.  He could not understand the righteousness of this before God, whom he served with all his heart in holiness.  What was the point, if the wicked prosper and the righteous “can’t have fun”.  Asaph did not understand, until he went into the sanctuary, into the holy presence of God, and understood that a day of judgment would come, and the wicked would no longer prosper, and the righteous would be rewarded.  

As believers in Jesus, we are called and chosen to be priests, holy to God, to instruct other believers first of all to discern between what is precious to God and has eternal value, and what is merely ‘of the world’.  We are to behave ourselves in a way that is ‘clean’, and not causing ‘little ones to stumble’.  We are to mature in godliness, being conformed to the image of the Son of God, being transformed from what is acceptable to the world, but not to God.  We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

In Ps 82 (Jn 10:34-36), the priest Asaph again writes by the Holy Spirit that those to whom the Word of God came to judge righteously were the leaders in Israel.  God says that they are judging unrighteously, acting as mere men than as those who represent the Judge of the whole Earth.  If we are to judge between good and evil, between the innocent and the guilty, we need to know God’s word, His commandments, His laws and ways.  Every earthly lawyer and judge are held to high standards of upholding the laws of their country.  How much more so should we, as priests of God in Christ, uphold the Law of His Kingdom in all things?  

The blood of the cross, the death of our Lord and Savior because of our sinful nature and way of life needs to take deep root in our souls so that we will value more and more what a great God we serve who has loved us so much to pay such a price.  He/She who is forgiven much loves more.  Like Asaph, we must see things from the perspective of God’s holy and righteous throne.  If we are to judge matters according to the authority of GOD’s authority and will, we will be as merciful as possible, for we are all sinners, and we will uphold the truth of God’s Word 

Rev 5:9-10   And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.  And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth 

Are we singing a new song?  Is our life changing in ways that we ‘march to a different drummer’?  Yeshua has been crucified to redeem us from every kind of people to be a kingdom of priests, ruling and reigning with Him when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth, with its center in Jerusalem and Israel.  Our lives now are in preparation for that day:  are we preparing?  Do we see that GOD has a purpose, and He has called us into it to work together with Him?  

To be a king is to have authority to rule, and in God’s kingdom that authority is based on His holiness and righteousness.  To be a priest is to minister unto God in faithful love, and to minister unto the people as those who know God, what honors Him, what pleases Him; for we do so in His Name.  The king is subject to the High Priest:  there were priests before there were kings, and it is the duty of priests to maintain the righteousness and holiness of God’s law.  The prophets received their authority from the Lord to speak in His name His word – to priests, to kings, to the people – to bring all people to obey the true God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; the God of Israel; the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  These three – prophet, priest, and king – are all part of our calling and chosenness in Messiah – the Anointed One:  the Prophet; the great High Priest; the King of kings.  

Some of you have known from an early age that you wanted to be an engineer, a musician, a doctor, or a teacher; and if you were serious, you prepared for that by making choices in your life which would better make you ready and open the door for you to be accepted at a certain school or by a particular business or hospital.  So, too – and even more so – should we, when we understand that for which we have been called by the Lord, put aside those things which hinder, and focus on the life which God has promised in His Kingdom to those who love Him.  

Heb 13:14-16   For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.  By Him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, confessing His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.  

We see here, as for the Levites, that the priests of God in Messiah have no possession of any land here.  Yeshua is our inheritance, and we are His; and with Him we will inherit all things in the world to come.  Until then, we sacrificially serve God and others, to the glory of His Name.