Worship God in Spirit and Truth – 20 Dec 2003

(Modified Dec 15, 2017)

Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints
Mt 5:14-16  we are light to be seen, and to honor the true Light source
–light to be seen publicly
–draws attention for friend and foe

The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) reminds us of the battle within Israel amongst the Jewish people over the worship of God in the Temple.  This was about 160 years before Jesus was born.  The LORD helped the Maccabees win the victory to re-establish the worship of God according to the truth as understood under the Law and the Prophets.  And the LORD was with them in the victory!  But the Maccabees, too, were but men like us, and before long, the decline reached to the point of no return.  There remained a remnant that sought true freedom, not only from the Roman powers which the Maccabees invited into Israel, but freedom to worship God with all their hearts, soul, mind, and strength, and to see Israel redeemed from all her unrighteousness.

A greater than the Maccabees has come, and He is also greater than the Temple.  Jesus came into Israel, and into the world which He made, in order to re-dedicate the true worship of the one true God, and to establish the Kingdom of God in the hearts of any who would believe.  It required His death and resurrection and ascension to make this reality in those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit.  Yet the same battle rages today within the Church, the Body of Messiah, as in the days of the Maccabees.

Jesus confessed before Pilate that He was indeed a king — the King of a kingdom not of this world.  And Jesus said that for this He came into the world — to bear witness to the truth.  Pilate did not believe in absolute truth. (Jn 18:36-38)  As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we are to be faithful witnesses of our King — both in speaking of Him and in our life for Him.

This year we continue to experience an assault on essential truths of the faith which we have received through the Scriptures.  Our Father in Heaven is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth, and the enemy is seeking to deceive believers – the elect – if it were possible.

I want to look at a few of the issues that we must earnestly contend for in faithfulness to the New Covenant and the revelation of Jesus Christ:

Ex 20:6; Mt 10:37-39; 22:36-40 the Deity of Jesus: we must love Him with all our heart; He is LORD
Rom 10:13-14; Mt 10:28-33 Evangelism:  we must confess His holy and blessed name to others that they may be saved
Mt 16:15-17; 1Jn 2:20-26,28 Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God
1Jn 4:1-6; Jn 5:18-20; Lk 3:38; Mt 1:1 ; Jn 5:22-27  Jesus Christ came in the flesh: He is the Son of God; He is the Son of Man:  He is the Judge (God is the Judge)
Acts 1:9-11; Lk 9:26 The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again in the body
Jn 14:6; 1Jn 5: 4-5,9-13 Jesus is the only way to God the Father
Heb 6:2; Rev 20:10-15; Mt 25:41-46; Mk 9:42-48; Dan 12:1-2; Is 66:22-24 Everlasting judgment and condemnation for those who will not to believe

To love God is to honor and obey Him as our Father.  To love others is to keep the commandments of God.  For us to worship God the Father in spirit and truth, and to love others as we love ourselves, we must uphold these truths of the faith once delivered unto the saints.  The Lord’s Supper is a constant reminder of the shed blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins until He comes again.

KEEPING YEHOVAH’S FEASTS: REJOICING IN GOD’S WORD – 18 Oct 2003

Lev 23:37-43   v.41temporary:  statute forever in your generations, but God with His people continuing everlasting

Last week we spoke about the fire offering to God, which speaks of the zeal for the purity of our lives which the LORD requires of His people.  Jesus baptizes us with fire to purify us and to make us suitable as His holy and pure bride.  This has been God’s heart – His thought and intention – from the day He created man in His image and likeness; in other words, for seven days, or throughout time. 

“Forever” here in v. 41 means till the end of time, whether personally until one dies, or whether historically until time ends.  For it says here in these and other verses that we are to celebrate seven –even eight—days in the seventh –and other—months.  It all speaks of TIME and SEASONS, yet we know from the Word of God that in the New Heavens and New Earth time will be no more.  ETERNITY has no time:  no sun and moon; no day and night for those who will live in the Presence of God forever and ever!

But this brings us to that which does not pass away with time:  the very Word of God it(Him)self.  The Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is the Word of God, says, “Till Heaven and Earth [this creation] pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled” (Mt 5:18); and again, “Heaven and Earth [this creation] will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Mt 24:35)

The Scriptures speak briefly of what will be after time – in the New Creation: 

1Cor 2:9; Is 64:3 (4 Eng) – “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Rev 21:1-8  “Now I saw a new heavens and a new Earth, for the first heavens and the first Earth had passed away.  Also there was no more sea.  Then I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’  Then He who sat on the Throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’  And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’  And He said to me, ‘It is done!  I am the Alpha (Aleph)and the Omega (Tav), the Beginning and the End.  I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.  But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’ “

As believers in God through Jesus, we as children of God our Father are expected to uphold the truth of God’s Word (Jude 1-4).  Jewish people today in synagogues around the world are finishing and beginning anew the reading of the Torah.  Jesus says that He is the Beginning and the End.  Do we believe what God reveals through the Bible about the beginning of this creation?  If not, can we say that we really believe what He says about the end of this creation and of things afterwards? 

The first appointed time given by YHVH God is the Sabbath (Lev 23:1-3).  Israel was commanded to keep the Sabbath holy as a reminder that YHVH God is Creator and Redeemer (Ex 20:11; Dt 5:15).  The Sabbath was given to Israel as a sign of the covenant with YHVH God (Ex 31:13,17).  A sign points somewhere or to something.  Every week Israel is to keep the seventh day as a testimony of who the one true God is and what He Himself says that He has done:  created the heavens and Earth in six days, and He rested on the seventh.  We are to deny ourselves, not to lean on our human understanding or knowledge, but humbly as children hear, believe, and obey what our God and Father says about any and all things.  WE ARE TO REJOICE IN GOD AND IN HIS WORD!  From beginning to end!  John says that those who are of the world do not hear Moses and the prophets, or the apostles.  Those who are of God do hear and speak what they have seen and heard (1Jn 1:3;  4:4-6).  There is a tremendous spiritual battle going on both without and within the household of God’s covenants –Israel and the Church – to deny the truth of the Bible and its authority.  We are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.  God’s Word does not change; neither does He.  Therefore,Israel is not destroyed, nor the Church.  For those who overcome and rejoice in God and keep His commandments, we can KNOW that the same Jesus who ascended up into heaven will again return to fulfill all that is written regarding all things for all time. 

Jesus died on the cross as a seal upon God’s Word to perform it.  Let us honor Him and His death by rejoicing in the Word of God our Father.  The truth sets us free to glorify God even as Jesus glorified Him.  He suffered and was rejected because He trusted in God and upheld His Father’s will and purposes.  As we rejoice in Him, He will rejoice in us.  The Feast of Booths speaks of God’s Kingdom – of God’s presence in the midst of a holy and purified people.  The Sabbath is the day which belongs to Him, and His Kingdom and His rest will continue throughout eternity, beyond time — beyond the Sabbath day — never to be relinquished again.  Come, Lord Jesus.

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.

The Incarnation – 21 Dec 2002

John 3:13 (5-21) The Son of Man has descended from — and ascended to — Heaven

There are well-meaning dear brothers and sisters in Messiah who do not celebrate the birth of the Savior at this time of year.  They have their reasons for this, just as I once did.  The danger, however, is that we will harden our hearts from being able to rejoice at all in the birth of Yeshua – from singing the great songs of Heaven over His coming into the world He made to redeem people like you and me and them.

Jesus came into the world to defeat the works of the devil, and so give hope and joy to persons who are looking and waiting for salvation and redemption from futility and despair.  God came in the weakness of flesh and blood to deal a death blow to spiritual forces of wickedness who are oppressing the whole creation of a loving and good Father.

This same Jesus who died and rose again ascended back to the presence of God His Father, and this same Redeemer will come again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth.  Meanwhile, He is establishing the Kingdom in the hearts of men, women, and children who turn from their ways unworthy of God and instead put their hope and trust in His mercy and grace.  Yeshua has come and God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life freed up to give honor and glory to God.  We learn to say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to righteousness, because the Son of God has set us free from the power of sin and given us the power of holiness.  This is His love for us so that He can live within us, and that we can live in His presence.  God is not only for us; He is not only with us – Immanuel; God is in us:  Messiah in us, the hope of glory.  The incarnation was the beginning of the end for Satan because Messiah, Son of David, came to utterly defeat the Goliath of this world.

God’s desire is that none should perish but rather inherit eternal life through believing in and loving His only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He alone is the mediator between God and man, and so we are commanded to pray for and to seek the salvation of all persons through the preaching of the glad tidings.

Just as Mary was pregnant with the Holy Child within her, so too does the Holy Spirit conceive Messiah in every born-again child of God.  It is as Christ grows within our hearts and thoughts and every act of our lives that the reality of the glory of God becomes more real and visible – as a light shining in darkness.  Do people see Messiah in us?  Do they see the truth of the incarnation: that God has come to dwell in the midst of His people, according to His promises?  Is there this witness in our relationships with our fellow human beings?

Indeed, the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits for the revelation of the sons of God.

Jesus teaches what He lived and died for:  to make peace – true peace, God’s peace – to all who truly come to Him for salvation.  He forgives; He cleanses; He heals.  Jesus is truly the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

The Holy Spirit is working to transform (convert) us into God’s likeness, that the glory of God would be revealed in and through us; that the name of our Father in Heaven would be sanctified in us.  It is all for the honor and glory of Yeshua, the Son of the Father’s love, who was crucified in order that God’s love would be manifest to all.  He did not create this world just so that it might be destroyed by the devil and all who take his side – whether actively or passively.

God paid the ultimate price to have what He wants:  us.  The whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of YHVH as the waters cover the seas.   With the angels we sing, “Glory to God in the highest”.   The holy and spotless Bride of the Lamb of God cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus”.

God Still Faithful When His People Are Not – 23 Feb 2002

The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim.  If you do not know the story of the history, read it at home.  The Purim celebrations  by Jews around the world today are far from the manner prescribed by Mordecai and Esther almost 2500 years ago.  What is remarkable, though, is that his holiday is still being observed:  it still has relevance for us today, even as believers in Jesus.  Purim is not one of the appointed times given by YHVH to Israel, but a set time by His people in appreciation of God’s sovereignty – even though they did not acknowledge Him personally – and this holiday of the Jewish people was accepted by the Lord.

We – and the rest of humanity – place ourselves in danger when we ignore God’s voice and His mighty deeds which ascribe glory to Him alone.  The holiday of Purim reminds us of this real and present danger when God’s people – the Jews and Christians– ignore His grace and faithfulness to His purposes of redemption.  (The Holocaust is another grave reminder of failing to heed the Providence of the LORD to keep His prophetic and covenantal promises).  The LORD remains faithful in His love and for His Holy Name’s sake, even when we do not.

Esther 4:13-14 God’s sovereignty and faithfulness, and our own personal responsibility

Ezra 1:1-4 the proclamation of Cyrus, King of Persia

 The events which happened to the Jews at the time of Queen Esther and Mordecai occurred about 50-60 years after King Cyrus had issued the call for the people of the LORD to return to the Land of Israel to rebuild the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem.  Most of the Jews did not go up but rather remained in the galut (exile).  They apparently preferred the life amongst the people who served other gods and had little taste for returning to the harsh life of rebuilding society under the Hand of God.

Nonetheless, the LORD had left some believers in Persia in order to preserve His people and a testimony for His Name.  The scroll of Esther is notable for not mentioning God directly.  While it is evident throughout the book that the God of Heaven was overseeing and intervening through events here on Earth, it is also a picture of the galut mentality that the Name of the true God is forgotten by His people.  Practically and spiritually the people are in exile:  they do not know who their God is, and have no personal relationship with Him. They celebrate their freedom like pagans rather than in a manner worthy of Him who has called them to serve Him who is Lord over all.

This is the present reality of Israel – both within the land and without.  Because of unbelief and unwillingness to return to the LORD, the Father of Israel, through His beloved Son Yeshua, the Jewish people continue to find themselves threatened with annihilation by those who oppose them for being the people chosen by God, and primarily rely on their own skills and power to prevail.

Just as the LORD has kept His Word in the past – when He preserved and redeemed His people out of Egypt, and again delivered them from destruction by their enemies like Haman, and again saved a remnant through the Holocaust and re-established a sovereign nation-state in our own day – so too will God be faithful to Himself and to Messiah Jesus, who died on the cross to allow God to accomplish all His purposes for His people, and bring the Jewish people and Israel through its worst crisis.  In doing so, He will also save many other people as well, just as in Egypt, Persia, Europe, when they saw Him act on behalf of His chosen – even while they were outside His full covering.  Praise the LORD!

Es. 9:27 – For believers in Jesus – whether Jewish or not — the story of Purim has lessons for us:

What is God’s Name? – Many who are called Christian/Messianic live their lives as if in exile:  not actively representing the Kingdom of Messiah in the country in which we live; not confessing the Name of Jesus before men out of fear or because of what public faith in Him requires of us.  We can either serve the Lord Jesus or not, willingly or not, but He will ever remain faithful and true to His name.

Jesus outside our worship. – There are local churches who, in the Lord’s eyes, have kept Him outside; they are in spiritual exile, yet He calls to those inside to repent and return to Him, and so He to them.

Pagan spirit in celebrations. – Many called Christian celebrate their sacred days in a manner more like the heathen than honoring the holy God who purchased them with His own blood.

Vengeance is YHVH’s. – When we are far from the close relationship with our Father in Heaven, we often resort to carnal and desperate means for protecting ourselves from our enemies.  That itself should be a clue to us that perhaps we are not where we should be.  Vengeance is the LORD’s!  He will judge and war against those who curse His people and seek to wipe them out.

Remnant suffers for righteousness sake. – Mordecai and Esther were willing to suffer for righteousness sake in order to honor God and to seek protection for their people against their enemy, who only seeks his own glory.  They represent a believing remnant who fear the LORD and identify with His/their people.

Israel and the Church will prevail! – The faithfulness of God to Israel gives comfort and hope to the believers in Jesus.  God’s sovereignty and providence work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  No weapon formed, not even the gates of Hades, will prevail against the people whom God has chosen for His inheritance and glory!

A Time for Hope, A Time for Joy

Rom. 5:1-11

As members of the Body of Messiah — in the world today and of those who have believed during the last two thousand years — there is something special at this season of the birth of the Savior, Yeshua the Son of David.  It is similar to that specialness when Jewish people — around the world today and since the time of the Exodus from Egypt about 3450 years ago — celebrate the Passover.  It does not require either the Christian or the Jew to be a believer to anticipate these special holidays each year.  Families, relatives, and friends share together something extraordinary in their history as a people that has impacted not only their own culture, but of the whole world.  They are times of inclusion.  Because of this, these can be the saddest times of the year for many Jews and Christians who are alone, or who feel rejected and unloved.  In their souls they know that they are supposed to be a part of something bigger than themselves and to celebrate, especially with others in the family.

It is the blessing and inheritance of the believer to really celebrate these holidays.  Believers celebrate the God of these special times and events, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the focus of both these holidays.  We have joy in the Holy Spirit because we are known by our God and have our Father’s peace.  On the other hand, it is also as true today as it was in the time of Amos the sheep breeder/prophet that many of God’s own people celebrate the set times for testimony of the LORD in a manner unworthy of the Holy One of Israel.  They leave Him out of their parties and neither give Him glory or thanks.  But then, let us not go to the other extreme and “throw out the baby with the bath water”.  Even Yeshua Himself participated in the holidays in His day.  Believers in God through His Son Jesus can sanctify the Lord in their hearts and rejoice:

Joy to the world:  the Messiah has already come!  God is faithful to all that Moses and the Prophets wrote, and there is hope and joy in God the Father in Heaven.  The LORD has become my light and salvation; Yeshua is Lord and Messiah!  God knows us; He has come down to be with us on this unique planet He created.

This is not just the joy of remembering something good in our lives as we think back, and wish that we could do that again — or be there again.  No, this is the joy that kicks like John the Baptiser did in his mother’s womb when, by the Spirit of God, he acknowledged His Lord, Yeshua, in the womb of His mother.  Our joy is even greater than John’s because the Spirit of Messiah dwells in us who believe, and we rejoice in the sure and living hope that this same Lord Jesus is coming again from [the Heavenly] Zion to take His own to be glorified with Him!

All this began to take place here in Israel about 65 km (40 miles) from Beer Sheva, when the Word of God became flesh and the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven began to be revealed.  Praise the LORD that He has revealed such wondrous things to us and filled us with hope and joy in His love.  We have much to thank Him for, including for approving of a day when many of His people throughout the world through countless generations can celebrate together–from the rising of the sun to its setting down–the God of gods and Lord of lords — even Jesus, who was born to be King of the Jews, and who has already become King also to many, many gentiles!  The wise men from the east who saw the special star rejoiced in the hope of that sign in the firmament of the heavens:  the promised Ruler was born.

The enemy wants to steal the blessing and the heritage of God’s people.  As he always has, he lies and puts doubts in our mind about what God has said or about God’s intentions.  In a world filled with grief and fear and hopelessness, the God of Glory, who is Love, still proclaims and offers peace on earth and goodwill towards the children of Adam.  Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the destroyer, the devil.  Believers can celebrate as a testimony that our God is the one true living God and that Jesus is the one alone who can satisfy the need of every human being who is born into the world.  The gospel of God is going out to all the world, and the Heavens declare the glory of the LORD.  (See how many people are fascinated with that star which spoke of the birth of the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!)

God’s Word is truth:  Yeshua came in the flesh and the Man Christ Jesus will come again in the flesh from Heaven to bring fullness of joy to all whose living hope is in Him.  Jesus gives His peace from the heart of the Father to His family.  Receive it with a thankful heart.  The joy of the LORD is our strength.  It is not what people — even believers — do or not that is going to bring Spiritual unity within the Body for a testimony of who Jesus really is; but rather, it is when we confess what God has done, and when we do this in love for all who are His people — and who have become our people, the Bride of the Lamb — that will demonstrate the reality of the truth of Messiah in us.  Doesn’t the desire of true revival burn within us to recover our first love for Jesus — when Messiah was born in us at our new birth?  Our Father has shown that He wants His children to be at peace with each other, and for each to know that he or she is accepted in the Beloved Son, and to rejoice in true and spiritual worship of the One who was born to die as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, and who now lives forevermore.  He stands at the door knocking, and will gladly come in to every heart and church that repents and opens up the door for the King of Glory to come in.  Glory to God in the highest!

REMEMBERING – 17 Sep 2001

  1. Creation of Universe and of Man (all the way to the Redeemed and New Creation)
    –Shabbat (Ex. 20: 8-11; Deut. 5:12-15)

2.  First sin of Man:  necessitating self-examination and self-judgment – confession, repentance, and prayer

3.  Substitutionary sacrifice of Ram as a sheep led to slaughter for Isaac (Yeshua for us) (Gen. 22)

4.  The Passover and Shavuot, that we were delivered from being slaves to being made free to serve and   worship the LORD in righteousness and holiness (Deut. 16:3, 12)

5.  From whence we have fallen and repent for leaving our first love (Rev. 2: 5)

6.  God’s great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4)

7.  To remind the LORD to make Jerusalema praise in the earth (Is. 62: 6-7)

8.  The LORD’s marvelous works, wonders, and judgment (1 Chron. 16:12)

9.  The Covenants of the LORD our God with us (1 Chron. 16:15)

10.  In wrath remember mercy (Hab. 3:2)

11.  The death and coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11: 23-26; Rev. 22:20)

12.  –Remember the New Moon, the promise of Israel’s life from the dead! (Rom 11:15)

Spiritual Leprosy – Memorial of Trumpets

Mt. 8:1-4     . . .behold, there came a leper and he worshipped Him [Yeshua], saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean’.  And He [Yeshua] stretched forth His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed!  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (healed).

Is. 53:4       Surely He [the Arm of the LORD] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Rosh Hashana, or the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, is the first set time of YHVH after the giving of the Law at Shavuot to Israel.  For New Testament believers in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, for us too at this point in history approaching the return of the Lord Jesus in great power and great glory, it is a new season after the long intervening ‘summer’ since the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church, putting God’s law in our hearts and minds.

The appointed times of the LORD help us to understand the plan of God to make a holy people for Himself, which includes a process of sanctification and glorification over our lifetime until He completes the work He has begun in us.  The Feast of Ingathering –which includes the three set times of Trumpets, Atonements, and Booths during the seventh month of the calendar which the LORD made for Israel– is a very important time in this process.  It includes God’s demand –and our need– for both personal and corporate accountability.  The Holy Spirit is working to convict of righteousness, of sin, and of judgment not only in the world, which includes Israel, but also within the Church, the Body of Messiah.  I think every Spirit-filled Christian knows it –feels it– in his or her own soul and spirit.  This will intensify as the Day of the LORD draws ever nearer.  But we are saved by faith –praise God!– in what the Lord Jesus the Messiah accomplished on the cross, setting us free from Satan’s lies and accusations, and giving us new clothes of salvation and righteousness!  Therefore we do not need any longer to strive and fight to prove ourselves acceptable in God’s sight, but rather we can enter into the joy of knowing that God our Father loves us because we believe in His Son Yeshua.  Instead of war and fear of death, Jesus has given us His peace and assurance of life eternal with Him.

What does all this have to do with the leper?  Much actually, and I hope that you will prayerfully consider and meditate on it afterwards (read Lev. 13 & 14).  The leper suffered not only physically from his bodily disease, but even more in that he was stigmatized as unclean and immediately put out of the community.  Just after the chapters which record the sermon on the mount by Jesus, He demonstrates the truth He had been teaching regarding the Kingdom of God:  He touched the leper who came to Him, and cleansed him.  According to the Torah, there was no cure for leprosy:  no sacrifice was offered until after a leper was cleansed, and this was only after a prolonged process of several examinations by the High Priest.  Even then there was no assurance that the leper would be healed and so fit to return to his town and to enter the House of the LORD.

Sometimes leprosy came from the hand of God for a specific serious sin, for example in the cases of Miriam –Moses’ sister, Gehazi –Elisha’s servant, King Uzziah.  Other times a person was stricken for no apparent specific sin.  But in any case, the person with leprosy was stigmatized and put outside the community, and even had himself to warn people to keep away.  The leper could only live with other lepers, because the condition was contagious.

I remember reading the book Ben-Hur.  In it the mother and sister of Ben-Hur were stricken with leprosy even though they were women of God.  What they did though, even in their humiliation and suffering in their shame in the eyes of other people, was to speak to the other outcast lepers of the Lord’s love and faithfulness.  I praised God, for His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts like ours.  Jesus has come to bring love and healing into our lives:  the Kingdom of God is within us in Messiah.

Leprosy was evident when the wound exposed raw (living) flesh (Lev. 13:14).  Because it was contagious, the law required isolation of the leper until he was cleansed.  We do not always want to admit that we have an open wound that is a threat to the lives of others.  The letter to the Hebrews warns against bitterness as though it were contagious (Heb. 12:15).  A root of bitterness can grow where there is resentment and unforgiveness.  In the Tenach, the fear and unbelief of the ten spies infected most of the other Israelis (Num. 14:36); Korah infected the Levites who died with him for not accepting Moses and Aaron (Num. 15); Satan infected one-third of the angels (Rev. 12) when he rebelled against God.  Leprosy, we see, can also be a spiritual disease, and is not just my personal problem.  It can infect my family, my house and home, my congregation (Lev. 14:34; 1 Pet. 2:5), my clothes or “habits, works, ministry” (Lev. 13:47; Is. 64:6).

The best cure for any disease is prevention.  At the first signs of illness or injury, admit it and go to the doctor.  The key to cleansing and healing for one whose wounds are still open and incurable after much time has passed, or after we thought that we had dealt with a matter, is again first of all to confess that we are not well.  The place to go is the cross of our Lord.  He Himself was stricken by God for our transgressions.  He knows what it is to be rejected; He came to heal the sick and cleanse the lepers (Mt. 11:5).  Yeshua touched the unclean leper who cried out to Him.  He touched him –He accepted his person.  The Son of Man loved him with the love of God the Father.  We are called to do the same for those who ask.

The apostle Jacob (James) tells us by the Holy Spirit to confess our sins to one another, praying for each other, so that we may be healed (James 5:16).

I want to quote here from a letter I received:

“As God’s servant you belong in only one of two places –in the battle on the front line, or (if you get wounded, which happens in battle) in the hospital getting well.  What many don’t realize is that, while the healing is always available, you have to take yourself to the door of the hospital and ask to be admitted.  Some get right up to the door and then, out of fear, pride, or unforgiveness, don’t go in.  They can’t go back to the battle, where they would be a burden in their condition.  So they wander around the countryside while the wound begins to fester.  After a long while they see a dangerous infection setting in and run back to the hospital in panic.  But by then it is too late –nothing can be done.  They can’t fight, they can’t get healed –they can only walk around as lepers, looking for other lepers to sympathize with them.  You must go to the cross with your wounds when I send you, or you will become a leper.”

[Let us all be quiet before the Lord and search our souls, bringing before Him our open wounds, which perhaps only you and He know about, and the raw wounds which have grown and infected others.  Now is the time to confess our transgressions before God that also prevent our healing.

Afterwards, those who want us to pray with you, come to the front row and we will pray together.]

VISION OF THE GLORY: THE PRESENCE AND KINGDOM OF GOD

(Israel Conference at Langensteinbacherhohe, Karlsruhe, Germany:  “Radicalism and The Testimony of Christ in Israel”, 22-28 Oct 1999)

Hebrews 9:27-28

Radicalism is sustained by a utopian spirit which believes and works toward the vision of a future qualitatively different than the present.  It will often look to the past for its inspiration, for example naive notions of the Garden of Eden or of a former “golden age”.  Or as in the case of the “utopia” of computerized virtual reality, radicals are escaping from reality to an unreality of their own making.  As the faith and hope fail and the vision is lost, a significant number of the people will cast off restraint and self-control (Prov. 29:18) and resort to unjust behavior and lawlessness–displaying unwarranted fear, hatred, and envy towards those not “with” them or “of” them in spirit.  In the history of this world, there have been many efforts–some quiet and others filled with blood–to “make a better world” in the image of someone’s imagination.  Most religions have described for its believers and followers a future state, which to them is described as being better than the present life.  But where is the King of Glory?!

The prophets of the LORD to Israel had a vision of the glory, of a world where the LORD would be King.  And Yeshua came proclaiming the Kingdom in Himself, and said that unless one is born again by the Spirit from above, you can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God.

Those of us here who have been blessed with a revelation from God the Father that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God (Mt. 16:16-17), have also been given to see by the Word and Spirit of God that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come again, subduing evil and bringing in everlasting righteousness and peace.  The Apostle Peter carries us even beyond this when he says that we look for a new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:13-14), where we live in eternity with God in the fullness of His glory.  God will be all in all (1Cor. 15:28)!

Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the prayer which the Lord taught His disciples and spiritual family to pray all speak of the future glory of God when the Lord Jesus returns to establish throughout His creation the Kingdom of God which shall not pass away.  All the redeemed who suffer for His sake now will also be glorified and reign with Him.  Perseverance in the faith, in hope, and in love till the end make the vision of the Kingdom of God sure to the believer.  Christ in us…the hope of glory!  Perhaps now we see like the blind man first saw when Yeshua began to give him sight. . .trees walking.  If we can admit this to the Lord, then He will give us clearer and fuller sight.

Our Lord admonishes us to always watch and pray so that we will not be deceived nor fall to temptation (Mt. 24:4; 26:41).  He wants us to be ready when the time of His return comes (Mt. 24:42), and He does not want us to grow weary and lose heart (Lk. 18:1-8; Heb. 12:1-13).  The Holy Spirit works within us that we will be found worthy to stand before the Son of Man at His coming (Lk. 21:36).

In Israel there is a danger of being too Israel-minded at the expense of losing sight and heart for the soon coming of the Lord Yeshua.  Yet we are to look for and love His appearing (2Tim 4:8).  There is a set time that nothing can change, and God knows how to see to it that the great commission is fulfilled beforehand (Mt. 24:14,36)!  Jesus wants to return.  He told the Jews who would not receive Him who came in the Name of His Father that they would receive another who comes in his own name  (John 5:43), who will be the anti-christ.  Yet God is working out His plan of redemption and salvation in such a way as to bring the Jewish people to cry out from the depths of their beings–out of a deep sense of need and desperation–Blessed is He who comes in the Name of YEHOVAH!  For Christians who know who it is that will answer such a heart cry, the last prayer of the Bible is, Even so, come Lord Jesus!   Is that your groan of the Holy Spirit in you, that the Bridegroom should come for His Bride who has made herself ready?

Our Father in Heaven is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and truth.  God is love and His Kingdom is ruled by love.  Our Father loves everyone and has no delight that even the wicked should have to die and spend eternity existing in hell, the place where God is not there (Ezek. 18:23; Mt. 25:41).  When we see Him as He is, we are changed into His likeness (2Cor. 3:18).  Stephen saw the Lord Yeshua in His exaltation and so was able to ask forgiveness for those who hated Messiah in him and stoned him to death.

The Church in Israel–and throughout the world–needs a Holy Spirit revival:  a revival which brings God’s people back to the doctrines of the apostles; a revival which reveals to us the Lord Jesus in His glory; a revival which unites the whole and true Body of Messiah as the people of God; a revival in which the joy of the LORD is our strength, even to confess and repent of sin; a revival in which our hearts are circumcised and our souls afflicted for our sins and transgressions and iniquities as saved and justified believers; a revival whereby we bless and thank God for His goodness despite our sense of unworthiness to be called His children; a revival in which we know the value of the blood of the Son of God shed for us and whereby our boast is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; a revival which brings forth much good fruit to the glory and praise of the Holy Name of our great God and Savior.      

Our unity together in Christ is not only a testimony of who Jesus is–that He was indeed sent by God His Father–but also that God loves us even as He loved Jesus!  Remember that Jewish people do not think that God sent or loved Jesus. . .for after all, He was crucified (Is. 53:4; Mt. 27:35-49).  Yet this Holy Spirit  unity and love for one another by the members of God’s household is the crowning proof of the truth that  Jesus is our Lord, and not someone else (Ps. 133; John 13:34-35; 17:20-26; Eph. 4:21).  We are to fear God and to love Jesus more than we fear rejection by our own kinsmen in the flesh.  In this unity with Christ and the Father is the manifest presence of God reigning in the hearts of His redeemed people and adopted children.  The LORD is there!  This is eternal life. . .to know God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.

Jude 24-25    Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever!  Amen.  

Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets

Lev. 23:24-25    – a Shabbat, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation, an offering made by fire
Is. 62:6-12      – remind YHVH of His salvation for Israel and for Jerusalem

The devil is busy sowing his bad seed amongst the good seed of the Kingdom of Heaven  (Mt. 13:24-30).  The Lord Yeshua tell us that this bad seed–and its fruit–will remain until the end of the age.  The Day of the LORD (YHVH)–the day of vengeance of our God (Amos 5:18-20; Is. 61:2)–will bring to an end all the kingdoms of this world, and in their place will be the Kingdom of God and of His Messiah Yeshua (Dan. 7:9-14; Rev. 11:15-18).  There is a promised Day of judgment (Acts 17:30-31), when Yeshua, the Judge of both the living and the dead, will make a distinction between good and evil, holy and profane, clean and defiled.  It marks a time when there will truly be a “new year”,founded upon a completed work of redemption.  He will bring in everlasting righteousness, and His Kingdom will not pass away.  HALLELU-YAH!

God wants us to remember His covenant and the promises of the covenant for those who believe in the LORD Yeshua.  He wants us who remember to remind Him–as did Moses, David, Daniel, Nehemiah–and to remind each other–as did Paul, John, Peter–of the blood of the covenant, the blood of Yeshua, and of His death and resurrection which gives all who put their trust in Him for salvation living hope.  God has saved us by His power and grace; He has made us His people in Messiah; He has given us the Spirit of Holiness and placed His Law within our minds and hearts. He has given us clothes of salvation in place of our own unacceptable garments.  The LORD has made it abundantly clear that He is the only true God.

The devil has been active and succeeding in trampling down truth (Dan. 8:12) in part because of those within the church who have been sleeping (Mt. 13:25).  The LORD, who neither slumbers nor sleeps while He watches over and keeps His people, is longsuffering as He allows us to learn and mature with respect to the reality of things.  But the day and hour draw near for the Deliverer and the Judge to come–because of the promises He has made in His covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with David; even with Adam and Eve; and because of the even greater promises He has given through His Son Yeshua.  The Holy Spirit is giving a WAKE-UP CALL WITH BLASTS FROM THE SHOFAR (Eph. 5:14-15; Is. 60:1-2):

–Remember the Word of God which is truth and abides forever;
–Remember to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to persevere through to the end of testing and troubles;
–Remember from where you have fallen and renew your first love with the Lord Yeshua;
–Remember, you are saved by mercy and hope–through faith, not by your own works;
–Remember to fear God who has forgiven you your sins and gives hope of true freedom;
–Remember!  The Lord Yeshua said that He will come back for us so that we can be with Him;
–Remember that Jesus died as the judgment and punishment for my sins and for our sins.

The Holy Spirit is calling the lambs and the sheep to hold fast to what we have received and not to let anyone take away what our Father in Heaven has promised is ours through faith in His Word (Rev. 3:11).  The enemy has fought hard to prevent us from accepting — and afterwards enjoying — what is ours now in the Kingdom of God:  we are in Messiah; Messiah is in us; Messiah is with us all the days until the end of this world; God loves us as a Father and calls us His children; He forgives us from all our sins against Him; we have eternal life with the Lord, our Husband, as an inheritance according to God’s own promise, and He can not lie.

Jews and Muslims especially do not want Christians (whether Jewish or gentile) to live in the truth of what God has revealed through the New Covenant.  They argue over Jerusalem, but the Sovereign YHVH has chosen it as the city where His Name shall be.  Because of their own unbelief, envy, and bitter root, they do not want believers to enjoy our present liberties.  Even within the Body of Messiah, there are those who seek to deprive their own brothers and sisters in the faith from the joy and liberty that accompany a close personal relationship with Father, whose love is without measure for any who draw near to Him with humble assurance and thanksgiving.

Our own sense of guilt and shame work to prevent us from progressing further by faith in the Land of Promise –the Kingdom of God– which the Father is pleased to give us.  As a result of our own sense of unworthiness, we begin to tolerate things which God has already declared unworthy of  Him.

We begin to resort again to things which enslave us.  We lose sight of the necessity to continue fighting the good fight of faith until it is all over.

The Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets reminds us to examine and to judge ourselves, to see if we are really standing in the faith (2Cor. 13:5), and to acknowledge how great a salvation the Lord Yeshua has purchased for us with His own blood.  Remember, you were bought with a price.  God is sounding the trumpets to gather a final great fruitful harvest of all His redeemed people together, who have each taken to heart his sins of unbelief, dishonor, and disobedience against the Law of Messiah which He has put within us.  When we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us because He is satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus.  We have an abiding sacrifice; there is no need for us to offer another but rather to remember and praise God for the once-for-all and sufficient sacrifice of the Son of God, our Redeemer.

The Father is sending out the message to all of His sons and daughters that we remember who we are–a holy priesthood unto God.  He desires us to unite for His sake and to give Him the honor due to Him and to His beloved Son Yeshua.  Our Father reminds us to remember that He has delivered us from the bondage (Egypt) and the vanity (Babylon) and the immorality (Sodom) of this world.  He wants us to voluntarily come out from all this, esteeming above all Zion (the heavenly new Jerusalem) and the glory of the Lamb who sits upon the Throne.  Our Father wants our joy to be in Him (Neh. 8:10) and to look for and love the appearing of the Lord Yeshua (2Tim. 4:8).  Listen to the clear sound of the trumpet blast –the loud Voice which calls out, “Come unto Me all who want life!”– and remember to praise our great God and Savior!

Amen.