Rejoice! And Again I Say, Rejoice!

Rejoicing is the spiritual atmosphere of the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.

Dt 16:13-15

You shall observe the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to YHVH your God in the place which YHVH chooses, because YHVH your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will surely rejoice!

Continue reading “Rejoice! And Again I Say, Rejoice!”

THE FEASTS OF YHVH AND THE FINAL HARVEST

The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross was the fulfillment of all the sacrifices:  sin, transgression (guilt), peace, etc.  His death in history fulfilled what God had already ‘done’ before time:  the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8)  Therefore, all of the sacrifices given to Israel in the Torah were based upon that eternally ‘efficacious’ once-for-all sacrifice to be.

Since our salvation is of grace through faith in that sacrifice of Yeshua (Lev 16:30; 23:28-29; Rom 5:1-11), so has this been the lesson to be learned by the Jewish people through the Law and the Prophets, and by Christians through the Gospels and Apostles. Passover was a ‘grace thing’.  NOTHING was spoken about sin.  It was simply a matter of believing and obeying YHVH God, trusting Him to carry out what He was saying to deliver them from a real and felt bondage.  All who simply repent and believe the gospel are saved:  it is all of grace.  Sinners are justified through faith in the Word of God concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The sacrifice of Jesus differs from, and is greater than, the Passover in that it was also a sin and trespass offering, thus fulfilling the Day of Atonements for all who believe.  The Passover occurs during the time of the barley harvest. (Ex 9:31-32)

After Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea, the Law of Moses was then given around Shavuot, the season of the wheat harvest (Ex 34:22).  The blood of the covenant was sprinkled upon the whole people, bringing them into their relationship with YHVH.  The law for sinners was given on external tablets of stone to bring us to know we are in need of God’s grace to forgive us if we are going to have rest and peace within ourselves, and to demonstrate this to others through love of God and of our fellow-man.

After the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was given to the born-again Jewish people at Shavuot/Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit filled and dwelled within the believers, bringing them/us into a more personal and intimate covenant relationship with God, as members of the Body of Messiah.  The law of Messiah on the ground of His death, and His resurrection from among the dead, becomes the basis for our living.

NOW (that is, after knowing the laws and regulations by which to live), Israeland the Church — have been given lots of time to figure out that they are not living up to the standard which we have been given, whether under the Old Covenant, or under the New.  We have all been disobedient, needing God’s mercies.  (Those outside God’s covenants are just that — outside — and are called to come inside.  This includes Jewish people too, since the New Covenant was, and still is, for them.  (Jer 31:31-37; Rom 9:4; 11:27) 

SO, what did the prophets do?  What did John the Baptizer do?  What did Yeshua do?  What do the apostles who wrote most of the N.T. still do, since the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age?  They called — and still call — firstly the people of God, i.e., Jewish people and Christians to repent – and come back home to the Father — for the Kingdom of God/Heaven is near — for the coming of the Lord [to judge and to establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth] is near!  Based on what? . . .on the Law and the Prophets; on the Sermon on the Mount and the Epistles.

The New Covenant, first offered to Israel, but rejected in the sovereign wisdom of God in order to take the offer to all peoples, brings both Jews and Gentiles to accountability to the one true living God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob/Israel, who is Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and the Redeemer through His Son, Yeshua the Nazarene.

Gentiles being brought into the Commonwealth of Israel through faith in the King of the Jews (but not becoming Jews or Israelis), both Israelis (Jewish people) and Christians (whether Jewish or Gentile) are being called to get ready through repentance and sanctification as the Memorial of the Blowing of Trumpets is nearing its fulfillment.  While God begins His judgment within His own household first, He is still working through the Great Commission to bring ever more people into His household.  Many more Gentiles will be saved before ‘all Israel’ will be. (Rom 11:25-27)                                                             

BEING SAVED BY GRACE (Passover) IS NOT TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.  THE LAW, THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE WHOLE WORD OF GOD, TELL US PLAINLY THAT WE ARE SINNERS WHO NEED TO EXPRESS HEART-FELT THANKS FOR SUCH GRACE AND MERCY (Day of Atonements), AND LIVE OUR LIVES OUT OF LOVE FOR GOD AND JESUS, AND BECAUSE OF THAT, WE LOVE THE BRETHREN ALSO, AND EVEN OUR ENEMIES. 

This being pretty difficult (understatement) to live out, Israel (and also the Church through a corresponding spiritual awakening) has the fulfillment of the Day of Atonements coming (Zech 12:10-14), when they deeply know and are afflicted in soul, both personally and collectively, for their sin and rebellion against YHVH God and against Jesus (Lev 26:40-43), against His commandments and judgments. (Rom 1:28,32; Jude; Rev 2:18 – 3:22, for some examples)

Yom Kippur is the conviction and the confession that we are sinners, that it is only the grace of God through His own righteousness, demonstrated by the foundational Passover sacrifice to bring us into that relationship with Him through faith expressed through obedience, which grants us forgiveness and life. 

There is only one atonement for all — accomplished on the cross — but God in His love and wisdom has worked out His redemptive plan to bring us humans into a knowledge — no longer innocence — of Him and His ways so that we mature into sons and daughters — and even to being the Bride of the Lamb for those who “overcome [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death”. (Rev 12:11)

On this ground of a cleansed and forgiven people — not only as a matter of doctrine or covenant promise, but of living faith in God’s provision of His blood sacrifice — YHVH, whose name is Holy, can dwell in the midst of His chosen people, and they will be then a blessing to the other nations, glorifying Him who has done it!  This is the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths (a temporary, semi-enclosed covering; not really ‘tabernacles’, which is another word, and carries a different connotation) for Israel as the Israel of God during the Millennial Kingdom yet to come.  This final feast/appointed time of YHVH for Israel celebrates the joy of all the harvests with the final fruit ingathering, and the prosperity which God supplies to and through His people. (Dt 16:13-15)

For the Church, the Bride of Christ, it is possible to say that we are already a ‘tabernacle’ of the Holy Spirit — an enclosed dwelling place for God — and those who have that blessedness to have part in the first resurrection will truly have the fullness of the Spirit (rather than ‘mere’ firstfruits Rom 8:23), and will rule and reign with Messiah over Israel and the nations during that final Sabbath Day of history and time, to bring everything to its culmination of the final harvest of souls, either to live forever with Yeshua in the New Heavens and New Earth, and New Jerusalem, in the abundant life God has planned for all who love Him (1Cor 2:9; Is 64:4; Jn 10:10); or else to exist forever separated from God in outer darkness, where the worm does not die, and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  These things I command you, that you love one another.” (Jn 15:16-17)

BLOOD OF NEW COVENANT ON JEWISH PEOPLE

14 June 2011

Much ‘blood has been spilled’ over the outcry of the “all the [Israeli Jewish] people”to Pontius Pilate washing his hands wishing to be “innocent of the blood of this just man”:  “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mt 27:24-25; Acts 5:28; Dt 19:10)

In the sovereignty and wisdom of God, and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this Scripture is full of life and death, for “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. (Pr 18:21) This publicly spoken word by the rulers and the common people had consequences which were not understood or foreseen when rashly uttered. (Acts 5:28)  When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he had no idea really of what he was doing and the dreadful consequences of his action – that in him all future human beings would be starting out in life as sinners and dying!

Through the centuries the Jewish people have suffered much because of the irrational hatred toward Yeshua when He walked among us.  The Romans and other Gentiles have taken those words and, still wanting to wash their hands of their own evil part in the crucifixion of this ‘Just Man’, caused horrible suffering to the Jewish people and to the nation Israel because of this blood we have brought on ourselves as being guilty of rejecting the Son of God, and seeing to it that He was put to death on the tree. (Acts 2:22-39)  The ‘curse’ of blood-guiltiness turns into the ‘blessing’ of atonement when any Jewish person or Gentile repents and believes the good news of salvation through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin and sins.

I want to look again at this shout of ‘all the people’ in the light of God’s sovereign grace reigning through His righteousness.  The blood of Jesus will either forever cleanse those who love life that comes through confession of Yeshua as Lord, and believe with our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, or else it will bring eternal condemnation for those who love the fruit of refusing the goodness of the Father to bring us into His household and family.

God has dealt with Israel in a unique way among the nations in that He has cut covenants with her fathers, extending to their descendants, including a chosen king and priesthood; and ultimately, in the fullness of time when Messiah came, God cut a new covenant with the House of Israel and with theHouse of Judah. (Amos 3:1-3; Rom 9:4-5; Jer 31:31; 33:17-25; Gal 4:4-5) The full meaning of these wonderful truths of the Creator and the Redeemer of the Heavens and the Earth will find their full expression only when the Lord Messiah returns to restore the Kingdom to Israel and over all the other nations.  This is crucial in the plan of God in order to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets, so fulfilling all the promises of God concerning all things. (Mt 5:17-19; Rom 15:8-9)  In the cutting of covenants – rather than merely ‘making’ a covenant – the shedding of blood is a vital part of the covenant in which a life has been sacrificed as the binding price of the ‘deal’.  And for our sins to be forgiven there must be the shedding of blood. (Lev 17:11)

At Sinai, the covenant with the Children of Israel from all of the twelve tribes was cut by the blood of oxen offered unto YHVH, God of Israel.  As Moses read the Book of the Covenant to all of the people, they said, “All that YHVH has said we will do, and listen to”.  Then Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which YHVH has cut with you according to all these words.” (Ex 24:3-8)  With this covenant, YHVH and the People of Israel became forever joined in covenant union.  Israelis and Jewish people may come and go the way of all flesh, but the covenanted nation with the God of the covenant endures forever!  Anti-semitism is first and foremost against YHVH Himself. (cp Acts 9:1-5)

In Lev 16:32-34 and again in chapter 23:28-29, the LORD gives His people the opportunity to have their sins atoned for and removed in order that He might dwell among them as a holy people, justified by faith in the provided sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sinfulness.  This blood of the atonement was given upon the altar for all of the people and for all else that pertained to the whole religious and civil life of the nation.  Any Israeli that did not afflict his soul that day for what God did to grant him life would cut himself off from his people – he would no longer be part of the people because he refused the blood that was shed to provide forgiveness for all his sins he committed under the terms of the covenant made at Sinai, and the covenant cut with those just prior to their entry into the land of Canaan. (Dt 5:1-3)

This means of atonement by the blood on the Day of Atonements was everlasting, and was God’s means until Messiah came to offer Himself as a guilt offering for sinners. (Is 53:10; Heb 9:23; 10:12-14)   At the last Passover supper with His apostles, Yeshua spoke to them about His upcoming betrayal and suffering and death.  The cup of the New Covenant in His blood, shed for all of us, but first of all for the House of Israel and the House of Judah, is our constant reminder that Jesus is the covenant (Is 49:8) which God has cut with His people. (Lk 22:20)  He is the Lamb of God who was slaughtered as an acceptable sacrifice to God, and “His side was pierced with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out”. (Jn 19:34-35)

He is also the Scapegoat who willfully, in His innocence, bore all their/our sins, and is wrongfully blamed for all our woes.

When Caiaphas, the High Priest responsible that year, said to the religious leaders who were alarmed at so many of the Jewish people beginning to believe in Yeshua, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish”, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to write:  “Now this he (Caiaphas) did not say on his own, but being High Priest that year he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (Jn 11:49-52Caiaphas did not realize that he was actually prophesying!  But if God can cause a donkey to speak, he can certainly bring forth truth from a man, even one opposed to or ignorant of His full intentions.  And being High Priest of the Israeli nation that year, the words of Caiaphas had power and authority, and his unintentional sin brought guilt upon the people. (Lev 4:3)

When all Israel accepted God’s covenant at Mt. Sinai with all its holy and righteous commandments, they did not realize what they were really committing to when they said “Amen” to put themselves under the yoke of the Law.  When all the [Jewish] people cried out that the blood of Jesus should be on them and on their children, they did not realize the consequences and power the words from out of their heart and mouths would carry throughout the generations and millennia.

Praise God!  On the cross, our Savior, the Son of Man, called out to His Father – and the Father of Israel (Ex 4:22) – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

Praise God!  In His own divine love and wisdom, and in His own faithfulness to His Word, His promises, His covenants – He had His priestly nation ‘sprinkle the blood of the New Covenant’ firstly upon themselves and their descendants! (Lev 16:6; Heb 7:27; Is 52:13-15The atonement has been provided for the whole House of Jacob, and the way was opened for the Gentiles to also be purified and brought near!  The covenants belong to Israel of the flesh (Rom 9:3-5).  Those who repent and believe receive the blessedness of God’s grace and favor.  The day is coming when all Israel – the full remnant from all the tribes who turn from ungodliness – will be saved and enter into the good of the New Covenant cut with them by the One whom they have pierced. (Rom 11:26-27; Zech 12:10-14)  They will afflict their souls and cease from all their own works.  Those who still refuse His provided sacrifice will cut themselves off from their people and His people.  The blood of the Messiah which God promised to His people Israel has been shed for all people and nations everywhere at all times. (1Tim 4:10)  The Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world, and all of God’s covenants are based upon His eternal plan of redemption. (Rom 15:4; Rev 13:8)

Praise God!  His will has been done, is being done, and will be done – on Earth as in Heaven.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

JUBILEE BLESSINGS – 10 Jan 2011

Lev 25:1-13      

   –Sabbatical years and the Jubilee are statutes and judgments, promises and blessings given by YHVH to Israel, for when they came into the land which He gave them.

   –The Promised Land was to rest every Sabbath (7th) year, just as each person was to rest every Sabbath (the 7th) day.

   –The Year of Jubilee was not the seventh sabbatical year, but came after the 7th sabbatical year – after 49 years.  The Jubilee was a double Sabbath year, coming the year immediately following the 49th year, the 7th Sabbatical year.  When it was time for the Jubilee, two whole years were a Sabbath rest for the land!  The 50th year is the Jubilee (i.e., from the day after the end of the 49th until the “50th birthday”).  The next series of sabbatical years begins after the Jubilee year.
        —Lev 23:9-10   when you come into the land which I give you, beginning the day after the Sabbath during the week of Passover, the priest waves the firstfruits of the harvest.
          Lev 23:15-17,21-22   from that day after the Sabbath, count seven complete Sabbaths, till the 50th day – the day after the 7th Sabbath. This is the appointed time of Shavuot/Pentecost.  A new grain offering of leavened bread offered as first-fruits unto YHVH.  A double Sabbath day of rest.

   –The Jubilee is a special year of redemption, with every Israeli having his property and family restored.
        —Lev 25:9-10   The trumpet of Jubilee is blown on the Day of Atonements; proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.

What does this all have to do with you who are Gentile Christians outside the Land of Israel?

Much in every way!  Eph 2:11 – 3:6   brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, whose God has become yours, and His Jubilee promises connected with the land and people of Israel becoming relevant to you as children of Abraham through your faith in Jesus as Messiah, the King of Israel.

Lk 12:32-40   It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!  (This is far better than being given, for example, Tanzania, as your inheritance.)  Jesus tells us to be anticipating His coming, even as we continue to do the work He has given each of us to do.  Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

What trumpet are we expecting to hear to proclaim liberty throughout all the Earth to all its inhabitants at that time?

Rev 11:14-18   the trumpet of the seventh angel, with loud voices in Heaven proclaiming, “The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”    The ultimate Jubilee is about Jesus bringing back to God under His rule ALL of His possessions and family!

1Cor 15:51-58   the last trump on the Day of the LORD, giving to those in Christ the promised inheritance of a new body that will not decay or die, and of the Kingdom of God.  Far more than promised to Israel under the Law, yet by grace to enjoy the blessings of the Jubilee to Israel and to the rest of the nations under the Millennial rule of Christ, as we rule and reign with Him as kings and priests.

(Is 49:5-13; Is 55:6; Is 61:1-2a; Lk 4:16-30; Mt 11:2-6; Lk 14:12-35; 2Cor 5:16 – 6:2; Heb 3:12 – 4:16; 12:28-29)   

IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH

Rom 8:3   For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin:  He condemned sin in the flesh.

1Tim 3:16   Great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh. . . .

We often think of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God, and as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  These are descriptions of Him which we have in the N.T., giving light to O.T. Scriptures.  We think of the lion as symbolic of kingly authority and as a mighty warrior.  The lamb depicts meekness, innocence, dependence upon a shepherd.

As we enter into the most holy of the holy-days within Israel’s religion which YHVH God gave her, what we have before us are two goats:  sacrificially clean animals; kosher for eating; but which have no place in the Kingdom of God (Mt 25:31-46).  Goats are too independent and selfish:  they do not feel any loyalty to their shepherd, but take advantage of the shepherd’s guidance, protection, and provision; goats will eat the food of the sheep and waste the time of the shepherd trying to bring them under discipline while also trying to take care of the sheep.

We could say that the Lion emptied Himself of His fierce countenance to come to us in the humility and utter dependency of a Lamb, but was willing to clothe Himself in the likeness of a Goat – in the likeness of sinful flesh.  In the eyes of those in religious and political power, the Messiah Yeshua did not entrust Himself to their authority and teaching:  He was one from among them, but as a goat in their judgment according to outward appearance.  But from God the Father’s righteous judgment, His Son was perfectly blameless:  the Lamb of God who came to take away sin and sins through being judged a criminal and a deceiver.

Lev 16:5-10   from the congregation of the children of Israel; two goats:  one unto YHVH as a sin offering; one presented alive before YHVH with all Israel’s sins to be a scapegoat

From God’s covenant perspective, Israel and the Jewish people are loved for the fathers’ sake. . .but they/we have acted contrary to His love – we have not been whole-heartedly faithful to Him.  At best, we have been as goats:  clean but sinful.

The Lord Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh – although the perfect Lamb – to condemn sin in the flesh.  No flesh shall glory before God and live!  Truly this is a mystery that is great!

Heb 10:19-39   Hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, in the love and in the fear of God, that we may receive the promise of the Lord’s coming and of the resurrection of our own mortal bodies.

REVIVAL AND UNITY IN THE CRUCIFIED ONE – 20 Sep 2008

(Message given at The Negev Conference in Beer Sheva)

1Cor 1:18, 23-25   For the word/message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . We preach Messiah crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Messiah the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Zech 12:10 – 13:1   And I (YHVH) will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  And they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.  On that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning  at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.  And the land shall mourn, every family by itself:  the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the  family of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of  Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
         On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness

When I was in the Israeli army, I was in a conversation with some other trainees, some religious and some not.  The discussion came around to how Israel would become a united country with so many Jews coming from so many different cultures and backgrounds.  I answered one of the religious young men that our unity would come from accepting the Passover lamb and it’s sacrificially shed blood as the basis for our becoming a people – the people of Israel.  If we could remember that – the sacrificed lamb — it would help us to become a united nation.

In less than three weeks we will remember the Day of Atonements, the prophetic set time of YHVH when Israel will eventually recognize that Yeshua is the Holy One of Israel, the Lord and Savior whom they pierced and crucified.  The Day of Atonements is the day (Lev 23:27-30) when God commanded the children of Israel to afflict (lit., torture)theirsouls over their sin against YHVH and His covenant.  Sin is refusing to believe in Jesus (Jn 16:9).  In sinning against Him, we have sinned against other people; in sinning against other people, we have sinned against God.  Each Israeli alone from each family alone – whether king or priest, politician or religious, or of the common people – every one who is still alive at that time will know that Yeshua, whom we crucified, is in fact the Lamb of God — YHVH our God.  All Israel will be saved, and they will become one people and Yeshua will be their glorious King!

Revival and unity both come through the Crucified One, through Yeshua the Messiah, Son of the Living God, and His cross.  What had been a stumbling block or foolishness will be seen to be wonderful in their  eyes!  Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given!

Have we – each one of us alone who are joined together into one spiritual Body of Messiah – experienced at the deepest level what the remnant of Israel will experience in that soon coming future day? 

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Yeshua the love and the righteousness of God?:  His love for me and for you?  His judgement against sin and sinfulness? 

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Jesus that I am fully forgiven and cleansed by the blood of God’s Son?  The blood of the Day of Atonements was effective to cleanse all Israel and all that pertained to the priesthood and Temple; the blood of Jesus is effective to cleanse the entire universe!

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Yeshua my own death – that I died – and am now born again a new creation of God our Creator and Redeemer? 

Have I seen in the death by crucifixion of Jesus the shame and indignity He was willing to suffer for me and for you and for us in order that we could see the glory of God in His cross!?

It is written that the Lamb was slain (lit., slaughtered) from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).  Therefore all God’s ways with mankind in general and with Israel and the Church in particulars . . .all His ways with us have been the way of the cross.  By the Word of God the world was created:  God spoke . . . and it was!  (That was the ‘big bang’!)  Part of what God spoke from the foundation of the world was that in the fullness of time, the Word would become flesh and be crucified to take away the sin of the world in the greatest display of love this world will ever know.

God chose Abraham because God knew that Abraham would command his children in the way of YHVH – the way of the cross:  dying willingly, sacrificially to the world and to self in great expectation and joy of the glory of God’s kingdom to come – in our own hearts and minds, and finally in the coming again in the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Abram knew something about sacrificially dying to personal interests when he willingly gave Lot the choice of where to live with his extensive flocks and herds and tents in the land which God had promised him.  Abraham learned more perfectly the way of the cross when God required of him to offer up his ‘only’ and beloved son Isaac, in and through whom all God’s promises were to become realized ; not merely being theoretically willing to offer up his son, but to actually go about doing it, fully expecting to carry it out, until the Angel of YHVH stopped him.  ‘Now’, the angel said to him, ‘I know that you fear God’, and Abraham’s faith was revealed as truly believing in the God who can raise the dead in order to fulfill His promises!  Are we sons of Abraham in the faith?!  Or are we looking for the fulfillment of the promises before the resurrection promised at the end of the age?  Not a mere theoretical resurrection, but the real thing!

We read in 1Corinthians about the offense of the cross to both Jews and Greeks.  Paul wrote this letter about 20 years after he was saved and began his ministry to preach the gospel.  After all those years he came to his evaluation of the message he was proclaiming.  For all that, he did not suggest nor recommend another way to bring sinners to repentance unto salvation!

Why was the cross such an offense to both religious people and to those filled and satisfied with worldly wisdom?  To the Jews, the very thought that our great God and King, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, should be revealed in the form of a mortal bondservant and allow Himself to be humiliated and accept punishment on the cursed tree (Dt 21:23) – the penalty given to slaves, to rebels, to blasphemers – and that we ourselves were instrumental in this murder by the hands of lawless men – is more than we can bear except the Spirit of grace and supplication of God’s love in Messiah breaks in on us.  We deny that Jesus is God in the flesh to ease our conscience.  Then we deny that He is the Son of God, but rather only a man to ease our feelings of guilt.  Isn’t this what the people and the leaders of Israel taunted Yeshua with while He was hanging on the cross?:

Mk 15:25-34   Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.  And the inscription of His accusation was written above:  THE KING OF THE JEWS.  With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right hand and the other on His left.  So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’  And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha!  You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’  Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save.  Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe!’  Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.  Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Yeshua cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?”, which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’

For the philosophers and pagans in the world, the idea that we would believe in a God who died on a cross, and that apart from belief in such a thing there is no salvation, is sheer folly, madness.  Isn’t this what Festus said in a loud voice to Paul after hearing Paul’s defense of his faith before King Agrippa?

(Acts 26:24-25)  “Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself!  Much learning is making you mad!’  But [Paul] said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.’”

I want to read a description (by Seneca; Crucifixion, p. 30-31, Martin Hengel) of the long process of dying of the victim of crucifixion:  ‘Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all?!  Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid long drawn-out agony?!  He would have many excuses for dying even before mounting the cross.’

A crucifixion is not something to make fun of, to make a joke about.  It doesn’t matter who it was or what he did or whether he ‘deserved’ it or not….death by crucifixion is not a subject of levity. . . especially when it touches the Holy One of God.  Yeshua has left us His supper to remember His death until He comes [again]. . . and He will come!

The ‘words of truth and reason’ which Paul proclaimed are that our Messianic faith and life centers on the Son of God who died a shameful, undignified, criminal’s death on the tree of shame. (Heb 12:2; Crucifixion, p.4)  The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek; the gospel is of God!  Neither paganism with its polytheism, nor Judaism with its monotheism, could or can comprehend the foolishness of God – which is actually made unto us wisdom once we repent from our own pride and intelligence to believe instead in the ‘word of the cross’.

We are here in the Negev together; we want revival and unity.  May God be merciful and give it, and let us see the glory of God in the death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our sin!  Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit, and know Messiah in the fellowship of His sufferings and in the power of His resurrection!  May we see many more people come to know God through our witness and testimony of the crucified and risen Savior, and have the inheritance of the righteous in the first resurrection from among the dead!

FORGIVENESS AND THE FEAR OF GOD – 15 Sep 2007

Ps 130   If You, YAH, should keep track of iniquities, who could stand, O Lord?  But there is forgiveness with You, so that You may be feared.

Mk 2:5-12   Your sins are forgiven. . . . .Who can forgive sins but God alone?!

Is 33:22   YHVH is our Judge; YHVH is our Lawgiver; YHVH is our King; He will save us!

Mt 1:21   …He shall be called Yeshua, for he will save His people from their sins (iniquities).

YHVH God is our Judge, and He alone has authority to forgive our sins and transgressions and iniquities.  The Father has given all authority to His Son Yeshua/Jesus, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father (Jn 5:22-23).  Jesus has also said that even He will not judge us, but that the Word He has spoken will judge us on the last day (Jn 12:47-48).

As Israel and the Jewish people around the world observe what are called the Days of Awe from their New Year (or, Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets) through the Day of Atonements, God has given His people to consider the state of their souls (heshbon nefesh) before their fellow man and before their Creator God who alone redeems and saves His people and countless others from amongst humanity.

Forgiveness of sin is absolutely necessary in order to be in right relationship with God and with others in our lives.  Without forgiveness, there is no fellowship, no joy or freedom in that person’s presence.  Only YHVH forgives iniquities so that He may be feared and revered!  He alone is righteous, therefore He alone has been the ultimate object of sin– or, the offended Person. 

Being that YHVH is a Savior from sin in His righteous judgment and love, He also can demand of us who are His sons and daughters that have been created anew in His image must also be willing to forgive from our hearts those who have sinned against us.  Otherwise, our Father in Heaven will not forgive us either when we sin; in fact, that is the transgression:  unforgiveness.  Our Father is saying, “Why should I forgive you your sin which you are asking me to do, when you are not willing to forgive another person their sin against you?

The fear of God brings with it respect for those in authority because they have power over our lives to reward or to punish.  In other words, they are our judges.  Parents have responsibility to discipline their own children in order to instruct them in right and wrong; teachers have authority over children not in their own families to discipline them in order to maintain order in a classroom; school principals have authority over teachers and can determine whether or not they remain in their profession; government rulers can place lawbreakers into prison.  If we respect authority and those who have it, God can entrust us with authority over others.  Sin is lawlessness, which acknowledges no higher authority over it (them).  There is no fear; they feel no obligation under God, who is the Judge of all the Earth, to either ask for forgiveness or to grant forgiveness.

The one true God has spoken that the Word of God will judge every one on the last day (Heb 4:12-13).  The Lord Jesus tells us not to fear him who can kill our bodies, but to fear Him who can not only kill our bodies but also cast our souls into Hell. (Lk 12:5)

While Jewish people are still seeking their own righteousness, we who believe in God’s righteousness know that the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins has made us aware of how horrible sin is to our holy Father, and how true it is that all persons should fear God, who alone can forgive sin and change our whole life to love Him who has first loved us.  Our God is full of grace and truth.  How can we ever again turn our backs on Him again?!  Let the lovingkindness of God take deep root within our inmost being, and live in the full knowledge of Him who has brought us out of darkness into His glorious light.

Receiving forgiveness from God for previously rejecting His only way of coming back to Him is truly a ‘new year’, a new beginning where, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, we can press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  The fear of YHVH is the beginning of knowledge, of understanding, and of wisdom.

MARRIAGE COVENANT – 29 Sep 2006

Is 54:4-8   “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.  For your Maker is your Husband; YHVH of Hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole Earth!     For YHVH has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused,” says your God.  “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you.  With a little wrath I hid My face from you, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have mercy on you,” says YHVH, your Redeemer.   

Gen 2:24; Dt 30:20   the man is to cling to his wife; Israel is to cling to YHVH God  

Covenant:  I am your God and you are My people. 
                          I am your husband.  I am your wife.  
                         You are my wife.  You are my husband.   

The marriage covenant is based upon YHVH God’s covenant with Israel and the nations.  God relates to Israel as a partner in covenant:  YHVH is the Husband; Israel His Bride (Jer 31:32).   

Idolatry by God’s people – whether Jews or Christians – is called adultery (Ja 4:3-5), because breaking the covenant with our own God is like breaking our marriage [vows] to Him.   

The marriage covenant of God and of man – at least in Jewish/Christian heritage – includes the promise of the stronger party to protect the weaker (1Pt 3:7).  It is a promise, a vow, an oath:  God and husbands are to give our wives peace and security in our love, in our marriage.  The nation, the wife, is to submit to that love and faithfulness to her husband as unto the Lord.   

Praise God for His New Covenant – a better covenant – by which all conflicts, even within marriages, will cease!

Yom HaKippurim – Day of Atonements – 18 Sept 2004

Day of Atonements and Understanding the Centrality of Our Faith

For us who believe in Jesus and the New Covenant, understanding the Messianic roots through the Old Testament given to Israel helps us to see some of the details that are supplied to grasp more fully the fulfillment which is in Jesus and His sacrificial atoning death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

Simply stated, the King of Glory (Ps 24) – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Gen 49:8-12; Rev 5:4-7), the Ram whom God supplied as a burnt offering (Gen 22:9-19), the Lamb slain who sits on the Throne (Rev 5) – humbled Himself by clothing (identifying) Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh – as a Goat! (Lev 16; Rom 8:3-4; Mt 25:31-46) – and willingly offered (sacrificed) Himself in purity and without blemish unto God as a sin and guilt offering, shedding His own blood, to the glory of God the Father, and taking upon Himself all of our iniquities, transgressions, and sins in order to be the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe, that we might live with the Holy Father – indeed, that God may live with and in us.

Lev 16: 29-34; Heb 10: 11-23 N.T. in Messiah our everlasting reality of annual Day of Atonements

Lev 23: 28-30; Rom 11: 25-27 anyone not appropriating the God-provided sacrifice personally, and so  afflicting his own, is cut off from the people corporately.  Jesus died for the whole world, but especially for those who believe.  All Israel are those who, when they see Him whom they pierced, accept the covenant blood sacrifice.

Lev 16: 5-10; Jn 10: 17-18; 11: 49-50 Living scapegoat bearing all the iniquities, transgressions, sins of Israel, and Israel being atoned for on the basis of the accepted blood sacrifice of the first goat unto the LORD; two goats. . .one sin offering; atonement (reconciliation) and the effectual removal of guilt and uncleanness from the camp on the innocent goat — made sin for us – sent alive into the desert as a witness and testimony of the accepted sacrifice by God of the first goat slain.

We are to be with Jesus, outside the camp, willing to bear with Him His reproach, which falls on us who believe in Him.  He is worthy! (Heb 13:12-14)

The Wall of Separation He’s Broken Down

Lev. 10:3 By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I must be honored.

Eph 2:11-12 As we continue to let the Tabernacle in the Desert instruct us of God’s pattern for us to approach Him in prayer, the passage from Ephesians notes “the middle wall of separation”, which separated Israel from the other nations.  God in His wisdom separated the people He had chosen and called to Himself from the surrounding heathen peoples of the world in which they lived.  In spiritual reality, the gentiles then were without Messiah, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  Israel/the Jewish people are in a similar spiritual condition as the gentiles then, but there is a difference:  Israel is still the nation chosen by God, even if there is a willful collective amnesia regarding that and its significance.

But we remember (Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets) that YHVH spoke the gospel to Abraham when He promised him that, through him, ALL the families of the Earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3).

v. 13-15   But NOW in Messiah Jesus, those who were once far off – spiritually and physically – have been brought near by the blood of  Messiah.  He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, having broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His FLESH the enmity, the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Him ONE NEW MAN from the two, making peace.

NOW, both Jews and all other peoples have access into the court of God’s people, since Jesus died for ALL, and God’s salvation through the forgiveness of sins is offered to ALL (Day of Atonements).

v. 16-17 Jesus came to die that He might reconcile them both to God in ONE BODY through the cross (the altar), thereby putting to death the enmity.  Jesus came and preached peace both to those far and near.

How can born-again redeemed Jews be hostile towards the gentiles when once we realize and appreciate that Messiah, the Son of God, died for my and our sins!     How can the gentile Christians remain hostile to Israel and the Jewish people when once they realize and appreciate that, in God’s sovereignty and grace, Israel’s promised Messiah has been shown to be the Savior of the whole world, and given gentiles access to the true living God!

v. 18-19 Through Jesus we both have access by one Spirit to the Father – both in our relationship as sons and daughters, and also in our prayers.  Both Jewish and gentile believers are fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom and members of His family, His household.  All persons, whether or not believers, have been redeemed to God by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and this speaks to the reality of the broken down wall of separation.

As we have noted before,  entry into the Holy of Holies –representing symbolically the spiritual reality of Heaven, God’s dwelling place – brings us to God the Father, which Jesus opened up for all believers through the veil, that is, His flesh – firstly by His birth, but foremost by His death on the cross.

v. 20-22 We are being built together as a holy temple in the Lord for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Inwardly, this speaks of the cross and the crucified life being grasped hold of in the life of the born-again believer, in the power of the resurrection, of an endless life unto God, who has cut for us each the New Covenant by forgiving us our sins.  In these things there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, free nor slave, rich nor poor, but rather a new creation.

1Cor 10:17 one bread; one body; priestly intercession for all the Body of Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile

Lev 23:17 two loaves; with leaven.   Shavuot (Weeks) looks ahead to the day when the middle wall of separation and the enmity between God and man, and between Israel and the nations, was broken down by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and God’s Spirit being given to all who believe on Him.