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.

THE TRINITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!”

THE NEW MOON: COVERED, OR REVEALED?

(Corrected and/or Revised on 10 Sept 2014; 4 Jan 2015; Mar 2015; June 2015; Aug 2015; Mar 2016; 31 Jan 2018; 30 Aug 2018)

Tonight (March 11, 2013), there is a New Moon.  Do you see it?  What is it that you saw?

This New Moon also marks the beginning of the first month in God’s redemptive calendar year given to Israel, leading up to the Passover on the Full Moon in two weeks. (Ex 12:2)

I am not going to give a teaching here on all that is written concerning the New Moon celebrations given by YHVH to Israel to commemorate, both under the Law of Moses and also in the future Millennial Kingdom (Lev 23:24; Num 10:10; Ezek 46:1-8)The New Testament tells those who are now believers in Yeshua/Jesus not to make too much of days, months, seasons, years, festivals, New Moons, Sabbaths – all of these things being shadows of things to come, but the substance is Messiah. (Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-17) 

The Lord has told us that all of the Scriptures are written about Him, and we know that all of the sacrifices and holidays/appointed times are also fulfilled by Jesus in the entirety of His first coming, and in the anticipation of His coming again to fulfill all that is written in the whole of the Bible, which still waits for the Kingdom of God to come. 

My main purpose here is to try to shed some light on a subject which seems to have been darkened by human reasoning, rather than understood by faith in God’s own Word. We believe by faith, not by sight.  (2Cor 5:7; Heb 11:2) 

In Scripture, we do have references indicating that the sun, the moon, and the stars symbolize the Son, Yeshua; Israel; and, born-again saints, respectively. (Gen 1:14-19; 37:9-11; Mal 4:2Eng; 1Cor 15:40-41; Rev 12:1-2) Yeshua is the glory both of Israel — His people — and of the Church — His Body and Bride. In Him, both find their true identity and fullness. (Is 49:3; Lk 2:32; 1Cor 11:7; Col 2:6-10) 

If we accept the truth that all things are created by God through Messiah Yeshua/Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1-3), and all in Christ find their true identity and purpose, then we can better understand that there is no Israel of God apart from Him; there is no true Church apart from Him.  Even the sun and moon exist only through His creation, but in the eternal New Heavens and New Earth there will be no need for the temporal sun and moon.  Again, these present things are but a shadow of the things to come, whose substance is Christ.  The Israel of God (the Millennial Israel, ultimately, I believe) and the Church of God (those in Christ, whether dead or still living) are identified with YHVH God and His Anointed Son – the Holy Spirit indwelling the born-again believersMessiah in us.

So, is the new moon covered over, that is, darkened?; or, is it a slim crescent, that is, partially revealed or exposed?  The Scriptures are not silent about this, since God commanded Israel to celebrate every New Moon, and to blow the trumpets on that occasion! (Num 10:10)  If Jesus does fulfill the meaning of the New Moon, and if the moon does symbolize Israel, then the answer to whether the New Moon is covered or partially revealed will be consistent with its symbolism.   When the Holy Spirit speaks through Scriptural authority, then it is other voices which need to be silenced, as we “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah…” (2Cor 10:5

There are three Bible references to the New Moon that can help us:
1Sam 20:5   “And David said to Jonathan, ‘Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the King to eat.  But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.'”

From this verse, we can see that David knew when there would be a New Moon, without there being any official ‘spotters’ to watch for it and inform all the others after they had seen it.  David also says that he will be hiding in the field.  How hiding?  Because there would be no light of the moon to help make him detectable in any night-time movements (he would have been hiding out during the day in any event), as he sought to protect himself from the king who sought his life.  (Were the New Moon the first crescent sliver, then each succeeding night the moon would have waxed larger and brighter, making hiding at night more difficult.)  How long did he plan to hide out in the field during the New Moon?  Until the third evening, which is about the length of time for the dark moon to wax as the moon moves from its final light phase to its next crescent moon.   

Amos 8:5   “. . . When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? . . . .”

The heartless people, who were only concerned with their own commercial interests at the expense of the poor and needy, were anxious to know when the beginning-of-the-month New Moon (and also the end-of-the-work-week Sabbath) would be over – and not, “when is it beginning?” — so that they could get back to business and oppress the poor and needy.  If the New Moon were a sliver of light (like the Islamic sign by sight!), there would be no need of the question!  But if the New Moon is darkened by being directly between the Earth and the Sun, it could take up to three days until the light that was hidden to unaided human sight appeared again.  (As an aside, an eclipse of the Sun can occur only at New Moon, while an eclipse of the Moon can occur only at Full Moon:  there is perfect symmetry in the moon’s phases.  And, exactly one half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun:  God always ‘sees’ a Full Moon!)  The oppressors wanted to know when they could again be ‘freed’ from the constraints of the Law of God in whatever way it restricted their greedy, self-serving thoughts and plans.  The commandment to sound the trumpet was for the New Moon beginning, and not for the New Moon ending.  Again, it is a new moon, not a renewed moon:  it is there, yet concealed, signifying the beginning of a new month, not a renewed month.  (Those who would make the first sliver of a crescent moon the New Moon are then putting the darkened phase at the end of the month rather than at the beginning.  This is akin to those who moved Sonday to be the last day of the week rather than the first.)

Montage by Connor Madison

Ps 81:3-4 (Eng)   “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon; at the covering, on our celebration day.  For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.” 

Verse 3 (4 in Hebrew) has been used by many to go through hoops not to accept it for what it plainly and simply says in Hebrew.  The two verses are in parallel.  Verse 4 (5 in Hebrew) says in parallel the same thing:  God gave His instruction to Israel – to Jacob – to celebrate the New Moon.  Verse 3 (4 in Hebrew) is describing when to blow the trumpet:  at the New Moon, which is described as being covered.  (See also Job 26:9, where the Hebrew word is the same; for some reason, all of the translations have either ‘full moon’, or ‘throne’.  The Hebrew word for ‘throne’ is spelled differently than for ‘cover’.  The parallel part of the verse is not describing the time, nor is the verse speaking of two different moon phases, just as the other verse is not speaking of two different peoples.  And, God did not command Israel to blow the trumpets on the Full Moons (which they could, though, when holidays fell on them; e.g., Passover, Feast of Booths, Purim).  The Hebrew word is bakasehכסה), which simply means ‘at the [whole] covering’If something is partially covered, it is not ‘covered’:  it is partly exposed.  We do not speak of ‘covering’ something in some measure of light, but we speak of covering something over.  Light reveals; darkness covers.  Yeshua spoke of letting our light shine, not being hidden under cover of a basket. (Mt 5:14-16)

Identification with, and being the representative Israel (Is 49:3; Gal 4:4-5; Heb 2:14-18), the Man Yeshua came stripped of His visible glory as the Son of God.  But the Sun of Righteousness died, went down in burial (hidden in the secret, dark, lower parts of the Earth), and rose again visibly and triumphantly as the Bright and Morning Star on the third day!  As the risen Savior King and Head of the Church, believers ‘see’ Him clothed in divine light and majesty with the glory that was His before He came to His own, and to the world that He made.  Israel has no glory of her own:  the moon has no light but that of the sun which it reflects.  YHVH called Israel to be a light to the nations, but without receiving her Source of Light, she is darkened until. . . – having an inherent hope of a restoration through the covenant promises of God to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their descendants.  Born-again Christians are a light.  Yeshua has said:  “You are the light of the world. . . . ”  Stars are lights of their own, each with its own glory, but none outshining the glory of the Sun. (1Cor 15:41)  Israel is still hidden from man’s view, as if away from the light of the Sun/Son, whom the nation still rejects because it prefers the darkness (Gen 3:7-10; Jn 3:19-21)  During the New Moon, the illuminated side of the Moon is then pointed away from Earth, but is full in God’s sight, who sees the end from the beginning! (Num 23:18-23)  The Church, through her historic replacement theology presuming that God is finished with Israel, also has consequently rejected the truth from God’s side that Israel’s future is assured. (Jer 31:35-37)  Israel began to be seen since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, and will be seen in her full [moon] glory when she rises up to remember the former glory that was given her by YHVH, and seeks with all her heart the true Son who has risen! (Hos 6:15; Rom 9:4); finally repenting, and accepting the Sun of Righteousness, Yeshua whom she pierced. (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39

The New Moon (which, technically, is only for a brief minute, but can seem to the natural naked eye to be extended over a period of some three days) occurs when the visible side is completely covered from the light of the sun (much like a blanket over us to keep out light) by being directly between it and the Earth.  It is the phase when the moon is ‘out of sight’, and the night, which the moon rules, is less lit.  Yet, the stars are more brilliant and so many more can be seen when there is a New Moon.  Spiritually, it is Israel’s phase of “being there”, but out-of-sight, and, for too many people, also out-of-mind.  The moon then waxes for 13-14 days to the Full Moon, then wanes for 13-14 days till the New Moon.  And, meanwhile, the born-again ‘star saints’ are given their opportunity to shine!  So God, in His infinite wisdom, gave Israel a statute to remember the New Moon.  The whole world — including Gentiles, angelic and demonic spirits, and the Body of Christ — are reminded of God’s New Moon which He gave for a sign and for seasons, and for days and for years:  every month (from the word, ‘moon’; in Hebrew חודש/chodesh, new month), begins with the new and unseen moon that is there!  It is a globally recurring heavenly sign from the Creator and Redeemer that He has thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give Israel a future and a hope. (Jer 11-14)  

The trumpets for the New Moon are for a memorial before YHVH.  The Memorial Feast of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:24), which marks the beginning of the seventh month in God’s redemptive calendar to Israel (the Jewish ‘New Year’ today), is basically a uniquely appointed New Moon prophetic wake-up BLAST! to Israel to gather together for preparing to meet her God on the Day of Atonements, either to have her sins forgiven and removed by calling on His Name on that Day (Num 10:9; Joel 2; Acts 4:8-12; Mt 23:37-39), or else to face His wrath like the rest of His enemies.  Those who are saved celebrate the Jubilee — truly a new beginning! — and as on all the celebratory days for His people, the trumpet is sounded. (Lev 25:8-10)  The historic steps towards the reestablishment of national Israel were the New Moon trumpet of God to the Church and the nations in these last days, to remember that the God of Israel keeps His covenant promises to the seed of Jacob.  Israel’s full glory – the Full Moon – will be manifested when the Lord returns to dwell in the midst of His completely restored people at the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths (which always begins at the Full Moon of the 7th month of the redemptive calendar) – the Millennial Kingdom.

Israel is Messiah’s treasure hidden in a field (Mt 13:44), to be uncovered on the third day (Hos 6:2) at the revelation of Jesus Christ (who is Himself now hidden from the world (Jn 16:10)), when the surviving remnant of Jacob shall see Him whom they pierced, repent with great affliction of soul, and all Israel will be saved. (Zech 12:10 – 13:2; Rom 11:25-27)

Yeshua fulfills the New Moon in His death, burial (covering and removing our sins out of sight), and resurrection to life everlasting.  Israel fulfills the New Moon, which symbolizes her as a continual reminder of God’s covenantal faithfulness — and of her hope in Him — that there is a day coming when her redemption will shine forth, the glory of the LORD will shine upon her, and all the nations will praise YHVH, God of Israel, and call her blessed when He cleanses her from all her sin against the Lord.  (Lev 26:40-45; Ps 117)  There is joy when a woman becomes aware that she is pregnant; there is greater joy when she has given birth. (Jn 16:21-22; Lk 15:7,10,32)  What began in secret in the dark inward parts, (even as in the womb at conception. ..Ps 139:11-15), will come to light and be seen by all in its full glory, that which was already conceived by the Holy Spirit for a new birth and the celebration of life (Is 66:5-14)!  Yeshua’s conception was not ‘light’; His birth brought to light the public knowledge of the promised Messiah and Lord.  Blessed is he who believes and has not seen!  Even the creation began with darkness, being outside of God, who is Light!  The heavens declare the glory of God! (Gen 1:2)

God is redeeming Israel today.  He is again returning His attention to Jerusalem.  He is calling His people to remember Him and to rejoice in His goodness and long-suffering, which lead to repentance unto salvation.  Let all who want God’s purposes to be fulfilled, who desire the peace of Jerusalem, not keep silent, but remind the Lord as workers with Him to make Jerusalem a praise in the Earth, with a highway of holiness and blessing between Egypt and Assyria, running through Israel.  YHVH God will remove unrighteousness from Jacob, and all Israel will be saved.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

SONDAY

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

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

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

Rev 1:9-11  I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the affliction, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the island that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Also, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches. . . .

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 25 Dec 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE LORD’S PRAYERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;  if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  My brothers, I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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