The Incarnation Shook Heaven and Earth – 19 Dec 2016

The birth of the Messiah some 2000 years ago was a singular event which divided history between that which came before from that which has been reckoned since.  The God of Israel promised through the prophet Haggai that from a significant event on the 24th of the ninth Israeli month (corresponding to the 24th of December on non-Israeli calendars) that He would shake the heaven and the Earth. (Hag 2:20-22)  God began by announcing His joy in the birth of His Son through the singing heavenly host.

When the Roman-appointed ruler over the Jews, Herod, heard the news, he plotted to kill the new-born Son.   The Jewish religious leaders acknowledged that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but not that His goings forth were from everlasting.  When Yeshua began His public ministry by being baptised by John, the devil sought to tempt Him to submit to his wiles.  At the crucifixion the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate, and the devil, and the Jewish leadership all conspired together to both crucify Jesus, and try to get Him to come down from the cross!  The chief priests in apostacy cried out that “we have no king but Caesar!” (Jn 19:15)

After Pentecost, when the disciples had all been baptized with the Holy Spirit and began to take the gospel to all regions, it is written that they were “turning the world upside down, saying that there is another King — Jesus”. (Acts 17:6-7)

No shots were fired; no armies formed; just the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Truly YHVH had begun His revolution to overthrow Gentile thrones and to shake the heavens and the Earth.  This work has continued till today, and we are nearing another promise from the Lord to again shake the heavens and the Earth at the return of this same Jesus/Yeshua:

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

We are celebrating this time with great anticipation that what God has begun at the first advent, He will fulfill at the second.  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

The Inheritance of Yeshua – 28 Oct 2016

1Pe 1:3-9  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you  (5)  by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;  (6)  in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations;  (7)  so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  (8)  whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified,  (9)  obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Eph 1:18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints

Last week we heard an excellent teaching on the expectation we have of a new, eternal, heavenly body to replace our present, temporary, earthly bodies which are incapable of living the fullness of the life which is our inheritance in Christ.  Our congregation is called Yeshua’s Inheritance, and it is the inheritance which gives meaning to every human life:  whether that person will, or will not, inherit eternal life.  The God who has created the heavens and the Earth has given two options:  eternal existence separated from Him, in a place called hell; or eternal life with Him, in a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where love is perfect in all its aspects.  The way to either place is determined by one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, by whom alone anyone can come to the Father.

The name, Yeshua’s Inheritance, for our congregation gives us an identity:  we belong to Yeshua – both now and forever!  This is the hope that we have along with all other believers – past, present, and future!  The Hebrew word for inheritance (nachala נחלה) has the same root as for a stream or river (nachal נחל):  the inheritance flows from its source like a river stream from generation to generation until it reaches its destination into the big, wide, deep ocean with all the other streams.  YHVH God is our source, and His promises flow until they are fulfilled, to be inherited by all His holy ones.  We are the inheritance of our God and Savior!  What a treasure He has given us and promised us to inherit.

As was said last week, this inheritance comes into fullness only in the resurrection, when we receive our new bodies suited to the eternal life that we have also received as a free gift from God through our living faith in Yeshua as our Savior and Lord.  This inheritance is not for one people or ethnic group alone, but for all who are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above.  It is for the corporate one new man in Messiah, a new creation:  new bodies, new heavens, new Earth, new names.  Jesus makes all things new, perfect, eternal in the Kingdom of of God. (Rev 21:5)  We have the promise and the down-payment now; we receive the fullness of it when God finishes His plan of redemption in this world. (Rom 8:23-25; Jn 17:3)

For now, what does it mean for us in this congregation?  First of all, we have a common hope and calling.  Our vision and hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and rapture of the righteous – of the saints – that are connected with that.  Our bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies and we will forever be with the Lord, and will begin that ‘new life’ ruling and reigning with Him over redeemed Israel and the nations.  This is Yeshua’s inheritance in the world to come, and ours with Him! (Is 19:25; Ps 2:8; Dan 7:13-14,18,27; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 11:15; 20:6)   We will be ministers in His government, and priests as we rule and reign with Him as a kingdom of priests.

But brothers and sisters, if we do not love one another now, we risk inheriting nothing!  As we heard last week, if our acts are not motivated by love for the Lord and towards others, our deeds or ministry or participation profit us nothing.  They lack eternal value.  Without unity bound by love, we have a weak testimony of the truth of who Yeshua is.  We become a dysfunctional family that lacks order and peace.  Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment by choice because we love.  God has chosen to love us, especially those who love His beloved Son, Yeshua, and all that He does for us springs from His love, even though we clearly do not ‘deserve’ such attention and kindness (among other good things that is love).  God suffers long in demonstrating His love for us, and we are called to do the same.  Long-suffering is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit.  These things should weigh heavily upon us as we examine ourselves in relation to the reality of our faith and hope, and how it affects our part in this local congregation, and any other.   

Under the Law of Moses, all of the tribes of Israel, except one, received an inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan, which YHVH promised to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, according to His covenant promise.  This promise of an everlasting possession and inheritance still awaits fulfillment for the salvation of Israel as a nation.  But the one tribe which did not receive any inheritance of land was the tribe of Levi, the priestly family.  God determined that they would be scattered throughout the land to serve Him and the Temple and the people, and that their inheritance would be HIM. (Dt 10:8-9)  All of the promised land to be inherited by the Children of Israel belongs to YHVH.  Therefore, by having YHVH as their inheritance the priests inherited the whole land, although possessing none of it in their own right. 

Our inheritance in Yeshua is greater than a particular land or country.  This is our inheritance in Jesus:  the whole Kingdom of God – the whole universe, which includes everything – because the Father has given it all to Him. (Heb 1:1-4; Rom 8:16-17)  We have become God’s children in Christ, and co-heirs with Him.  And Jesus says that all that is His is the Father’s, and all that is the Father’s is His. (Jn 17:9-10)  And that especially means US, all who believe in God through Jesus, for whom He died to forgive us of our sin.  All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life! (Jn 3:16-17)   But those who refuse to honor Jesus condemn themselves to eternal spiritual darkness apart from the Light of Life. (Jn 3:18-21) 

The inheritance:  Yeshua/Jesus! And the whole Kingdom of God and eternal life with the Lord
The heirs:  the righteous saints – all who put their trust and hope in Jesus for their salvation from sin and sins
Our present knowledge of our future hope:  By the Word of God in the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers.  Take hope, young and old!  We have a glorious future after the suffering and tribulations of this life:  we will inherit the everlasting life that is really life that God has planned for those who love Him. (Eph 1:18; 1Tim 6:19; 1Jn 2:25; 1Cor 2:9-10; Is 64:4; Rev 21:1-8)   

Lk 12:22-34  And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on.  (23)  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  (24)  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, having neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the birds?  (25)  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?  (26)  If then you are not able to do even the least, why are you anxious about the rest?  (27)  Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not toil, they do not spin. And yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (28)  If then God so clothes the grass (which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven) how much more will He clothe you, O little-faiths?  (29)  And do not seek what you shall eat, nor what you shall drink, and stop being in anxiety.  (30)  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things.  (31)  But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  (32)  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  (33)  Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts.  (34)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Lamb Lives! – 21 Apr 2016

How good is our God! At the Passover, and for all those subsequent Passovers that the Israelis celebrated (in the past), many lambs were slain and blood shed in order for God to pass over the houses where He saw the blood, and in remembrance of that mighty initial act of salvation for His people, making His name great among the Jews and among the nations.

But poor lambs! They were offered in sacrifice that others could live, but they were killed and eaten! They could not enjoy the fruit of their sacrifice.

Praise the Lord! Messiah our Passover was slain for us, giving physical and spiritual salvation and deliverance to all who believe in who the Lamb of God is whose shed blood grants forgiveness and life! And not for us only, but Yeshua, the Lamb, rose from the dead and is alive, now seated in glory, interceding for us! He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied!

By His out-stretched arms, and with great judgments, we look for the blessed hope of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our own resurrection (or rapture), the redemption of our bodies to receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of God. May it be in our own day.

Remembering His death until He comes.

Sexual Purity

Est 2:1-4,14  After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus had calmed down, he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.  (2)  And the king’s young men who served him said, Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king.  (3)  And let the king choose officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, so that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, to the hand of Hegai the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women. And let their ointments be given.  (4)  And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king, and he did so. . . . She went in the evening, and on the next day she returned to the second house of the women, into the hand of Shaashgaz, the king’s officer who kept the concubines. She did not come in to the king any more, unless the king delighted in her, and she was called by name.

Act 15:28-29  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these necessary things:  (29)  that you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which, if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Be prospered.

I want to look at the manner of seeking a wife in contrast to the way of the Gentile King Ahasuerus.  You will remember that the people of Israel asked for a king like the Gentiles have, rather than have YHVH being their King.  YHVH is holy, and searches the thoughts and intentions of the heart; whereas, Gentile (those not in covenant relationship with YHVH) kings are sinners.  The people became sinners, rather than being a holy and righteous people who kept the Law of Moses with God’s commandments and judgments.  As we read in the New Testament, God has shown that all people are sinful — Jews and Gentiles; those who have the Law and those who do not — and need the blood of the Messiah’s sacrificial death in order to be saved and cleansed from sin.  With Passover coming next Shabbat, it is good to remember that God has chosen us to be His holy people.

King Ahasuerus was looking for another wife, and had all of the pretty virgins from his large kingdom come to him, in the hope of being chosen by him to be his wife.  It did not seem to concern all of his youthful servants or him that he was not leaving many eligible single women for many single men in his kingdom!  All of these pretty women apparently had to sleep with the king as part of his selection process (Est 2:14).   This is the way of kings – especially Gentiles.  When Israeli kings – and other men — acted this way, it was against the Law of Moses, and against the holiness of the God of Israel.  They became like Gentiles, which is what they wanted.  It brought ruin and shame to the king and to the nation, and did not bring honor to the name of the LORD.

In the New Testament, all believers are called to a higher standard of holiness and purity than even the Law of Moses required.  And to emphasize the seriousness and importance of this in God’s eyes, the apostles agreed with the Holy Spirit that Gentile believers needed to stop fornication of whatever kind.  The Jewish believer was supposed to already know that from the Law.  Fornication is a word that includes any illicit sexual activity outside of marriage – whether before marriage or during marriage, and even after one has been married (whether widowed or divorced).  Fornication includes sex for payment, premarital sex, adultery (illicit sex with another while married), homosexuality of men or of women, bestiality, pedophilia, pornography.

The Israeli news is full of political, judicial, military, and religious leaders, and entertainers who are accused, and sometimes convicted, of sexual harassment and of  rape.  Most of these men are married, but no one is talking about adultery.  The men usually do not deny that there was sex with the complainant, only that it was not rape:  that is, it was done not by force but with consent.  But adultery?  Not a word in the public media!  Yet the damage to the marriage and to the family is often irreversible.  There is a breach of trust and security when there is unfaithfulness within the closest relationship that God has made between a man and a woman.  Our security as the Bride of Messiah is His complete faithfulness in our relationship with the Lord Yeshua.

For one who loves God, who cares about him/herself in God’s sight, who respects the other person, in the fear of YHVH, they will be empowered to resist all temptation – and the Holy Spirit will help overcome the urge.

Today there is a BIG problem:  fornication is not taken very seriously, even by many who say that they are believers, and even born-again!  In a poll (conducted by The Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) taken in the U.S. a few years ago, 88% of all unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex.  Among Christians, who identify as “evangelical”, 80% say they have had sex.  80%. . .even though, according to a Gallup poll, 76% of evangelicals believe that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong.  There is not much distinction between the Body of Messiah and those still “of the world”.  And consider, that if 76% of evangelical believers think that premarital sex is wrong, then 24% think it is okay!  Which means that 56% of these young adult believers are hypocrites:  they believe that premarital sex is wrong, but do it anyway!

In Israel there is a law which recognizes common-law marriage (publicly recognized couples).  These are two persons living together in a manner that is as if they were married, and after only 6 months (!), they can be considered to be in a legal relationship that binds them under the law.  (A true marriage is a covenantal relationship, which carries with it more serious benefits and consequences.)  Some believers approve of such relationships.  But what is the couple doing up until the time that they are publically recognized?!:  they are sinning by having sex outside of marriage, with some even having children.  God’s standard of what is acceptable, and of what is holy, is being lowered even by some believers to fit the low moral level of today’s culture, which does not want the Holy One of Israel to be their God and King, but want to break the bonds of YHVH and of His Messiah from off of them. (Ps 2)  We might lower God’s standard, but He has not!

King Ahasuerus wanted to know what the Persian law allowed him to do about Vashti his wife.  Believers in Yeshua need to know what God’s law says in such matters, and not be hypocrites, but obey with faith what our Lord says.  We live under the laws of our nation, but when there is a contradiction, we must obey God’s higher standard, and not use as an excuse, “it’s legal in our country”; or, “it’s culturally acceptable in our society”; or, “times have changed, and the Bible is not currently relevant”.  All of these excuses say that our fleshly desire has higher priority and authority over God’s sovereign authority!  This is no different than what Israel wanted in asking for a king like the Gentiles have.  What does the Holy Spirit say about this?:

Eph 5:3-7  For let fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness not be once named among you, as becomes saints,  (4)  neither baseness, foolish talking, jesting, which are not becoming, but rather giving of thanks.  (5)  For you know this, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (who is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  (6)  Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience.  (7)  Therefore do not be partakers with them.

If anyone should say, I am not really a believer yet, so it is okay.  NO!  Then you put yourself in the category of “children of disobedience” that God’s wrath will come upon!

Do not test God, but in the fear of the Lord sanctify yourself; for without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

If any of you are already approving of sex before, or outside of marriage, please confess this sin to God, and He will forgive you.  Do not justify sin, or return to it.  If any of you are actively engaged in illicit sex, then confess this sin, stop the activity, and you will find favor with God.  Isn’t inheriting the Kingdom of God, and being with Jesus worth it?  Do we love Him more than even ourselves, more than someone who is not really respecting you if he or she is causing me to sin against my God and Savior, and threatening my eternal destiny!?  God knows our deepest needs; He created and made us, and He is the one that gave sex as something good and holy between a man and his lawful wife.  Part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control.  In today’s world, there is a great battle going on for the souls of people, and for the dignity of human beings, whom God created in His image and likeness.  Satan says that we can become like God by disobeying the Word of God and doing what we want.  Satan is a liar and a murderer.  The words of our Father are truth and life to all who trust and obey.

So, brothers and sisters – and especially those who want to find the right man or woman  to marry, and who want to be the right person for someone – keep yourselves holy for that person, and for God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  You will never regret it!

The vision of Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation is that we will be prepared for the coming again of the Lord, and to have part in the first resurrection.  This matter of sexual purity is extremely important towards that readiness and overcoming the world by our faith, and being light in the increasing darkness.

Three Days and Three Nights: The Sign of Jonah – 1 Apr 2016

Yeshua gave the sign of Jonah, of being 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the large fish, as the only sign that He would give to those religious leaders who consistently opposed Him and would not listen to Him. He spoke of His death, burial, and resurrection.

In order for this sign to be fulfilled, Jesus had to be sacrificially killed on Thursday afternoon, and rise from the dead during the night before the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, i.e., the first day of the week, Sonday.

In Genesis 1:5, God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.

Death and burial before 6:00pm (18:00) on Thursday = 1st day 6:00pm Thursday – 6:00am Friday = 1st night 6:00am Friday – 6:00pm Friday = 2nd day (which was also a Passover Sabbath) 6:00pm Friday – 6:00am Shabbat (regular weekly Sabbath) = 2nd night 6:00am Shabbat – 6:00pm Shabbat = 3rd day 6:00pm Shabbat – 6:00am Sonday = 3rd night

Yeshua rose sometime before the dawn before the end of that 3rd night of darkness, firstfruits from the dead. (Lev 23:9-15; 1Cor 15:19-20)  He is the true Light, and the bright and morning Star of a new day of an anticipated new creation! Hallelu-Yah!

Yeshua is the Passover Lamb, who was examined for 4 days, from the 10th of the first month (Nisan/Aviv) through the 13th (4 days: Sonday-Wednesday), and then slain on the 14th of the month (Thursday). Messiah was found innocent by Pilate, by Herod; the rulers and religious leaders could only get false witnesses to perjure against Jesus, thus breaking the 9th commandment: He was innocent, the Man and the Lamb without spot or blemish. (Ex 12:2-7)

God is sovereign and brings to pass His Word precisely on time!

Being Light in The Coming Darkness – 16 Jan 2016

(An introduction to a study of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation, with the focus on believers being overcomers and light in the darkening world)

What is important to the Lord Jesus Christ regarding our spiritual condition as His disciples? He has given us the Law of Messiah in His sermon on the mount (Mt 5 – 7); He has given us to understand what the Kingdom of God is like in this world (Mt 13); He has told us what to expect as the time of His coming nears (Mt 24 – 25); He has given the Holy Spirit to teach us through the Apostles’ writings in the New Testament how we are to live as believers in the truth of the gospel of the grace of God. (Jn 17:20)

What is important to Jesus in order for us to be confident of our hope in His salvation for us?: The seven letters to the churches in Asia give us His counsel to equip us and to help us judge ourselves and respond appropriately according to what He praises and approves of, and of what He disapproves and gives correction.  He gave the apostle John to hear and to see and to write these letters, and the whole book of Revelation, about 60 years after the Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father.  They are written for all believers as to one new man – where it does not matter if we are Jewish, Gentile, male, female, Turkish, or Ethiopian.  It is written to the churches – where it matters not if one is Orthodox or Roman Catholic, if Protestant, Evangelical, Baptist, or Pentecostal.  The encouragements, chastisements, warnings, promises are to all in the Body of Messiah: let him/her who has an ear to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches. There is a call to listen: Even within the church there are different types of soil, of hearts, with respect to how we hear the Word of God and its interpretation.

He tells us not to be afraid. Our Lord and Savior wants each of us to be overcomers, to be victors, to be light in this world in the spiritual battles of life against the darkness of this age – victors over the devil, over this world, over our own selves. (Eph 6:12; 1Jn 2:15-16)  He wants us to be wise virgins, who are prepared and glad when He comes. (Mt 25:1-13)  We overcome by our faith in Jesus, who has won the victory for us on the cross, where He died and shed His blood to atone for our sins!  The Holy Spirit gives us the power by the grace and the love of God to endure to the end in the faith!

All of these seven churches – these lampstands shining for the glory of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ — were located in the region of today’s Turkey on the Asian side. That light now is very dim, but not completely quenched. (Is 42:3; Mt 12:20)  Turkey is now an Islamic country – spiritually very dark — and for 400 years ruled over Palestine/Israel.  These churches were local city-wide congregations, and are also representative of the church-at-large, giving  relevancy to these letters throughout the last 2000 years, and they also bring us right through the last 7 years of this age — Daniel’s 70th week (Dan 9:24-27) — leading up to the Lord’s return.  All Scripture is written for us living at the end of the age; these letters are also prophetic in that they take us to the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of His saints ruling with Him in His kingdom over Israel and the nations. (1Cor 10:11; Rev 2:25-28)

The Book of Revelation is unique in that it is the only one in the Bible which offers a blessing to those who read and hear and keep that which is written therein. (1:3)  It is a book which Yeshua Himself gave to be written, rather than inspired by the Holy Spirit. (1:1)  It also ends with a curse for anyone who would add to or take away from what is written in it. (22:18-19)   If we believe what the Bible says about the beginning of all things in Genesis, we will be more inclined to believe what God says about the end.

The book is the revelation of Jesus Christ: He is now in Heaven hidden from the world, but the plan of God is to send Him back at the appointed time, and every eye will see Him, including His people Israel. (Rev 1:7; Jn 16:10; Zec 12:10-11)  The book opens with this hope of the return of the Everlasting God to take up His throne on the Earth.  He is not only the Head of the Church, but He is ruler over the kings of the Earth. (1:4, 12-20) He has died and risen, and lives forevermore! There was no one before Him; there will be no one after Him:  He is the first and the last.

Jesus is the uncreated Light, who shines like the sun when He is seen in glory, as on the Mount of Tranfiguration, or when appearing to Saul on his way to Damascus. (Gen 1:3-5; Mt 17:2; Acts 22:6-11)  Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it/Him. (Jn 1:5)

Jesus is the Light of the world, and has called both Israel and believers in Him to be the light in the world, that others would see and know who the true God and Savior is. (Is 43:10-12; Mt 5:14-16) Both Israel and Christians have fallen short (Rom 5:21-26), but Jesus is here presented as the faithful and true witness: He is the true Israel and Man of God, the Prophet who perfectly speaks and bears true witness to YHVH God.  The ninth commandment is “Do not bear false witness”, and this we have all been guilty of too often.  Yet Jesus’ witness is true, both of the Father and of Himself. (Jn 8:12-20) He is the Light of the world, and those who follow Him shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.  In Christ, we are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of night or of darkness.  So let us not sleep as others, but watch and be sober. (1Thes 5:5-6)

This is what we want for ourselves, and this is the instruction we want to receive from this study of the Lord’s letters to the churches.  Yeshua is seen by the apostle John as being in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, with seven stars in His right hand.  John, the apostle that knew that Jesus loved him, fell down as dead when he saw the Lord in the light of His glory.  And the Savior told him not be afraid:  our Judge is also our Savior and Bridegroom.  We should honor Him with holy fear, as true witnesses of who He is.

The Menorah was the light within the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the Temple, both in the desert and also in Jerusalem. Only priests had access to it, and were to keep it lit at all times.  Jesus says that the seven golden menorahs are the seven churches, and the stars (heavenly lights) that He holds in His right hand are the angels/messengers – whether divine or human (Mal 2:7) – of the seven churches. The letters are addressed to the churches through their messengers.

2Pe 1:19-21 We also have a more sure Word of prophecy, to which you do well to take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Daystar arises in your hearts, (20) knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture came into being of its own private interpretation. (21) For prophecy was not borne at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke being borne along by the Holy Spirit.

The Birth and The Coming Again of Jesus

Today, as a congregation, we are celebrating the birth of the Messiah (who is called Christ). But we are also celebrating, remembering, and looking forward to the Lord’s return in great power and glory.  The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the death of our Savior God, who took on human flesh and blood, of the seed of Abraham, and of all humankind.

God always does His great acts in a manner that sets Him apart from all other gods and from human beings.  We are all created by YHVH God.  Yeshua, the Son of God the Father, is the Creator and the Redeemer.

Yeshua asked two very serious questions: “And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them? I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:7-8)

In this parable about praying always, the Lord refers to avenging His servants who have been treated unjustly in this world. This is an everlasting promise and hope which God has given to people from the beginning in the Garden of Eden:  the Seed of the woman will destroy the seed of the serpent and their unrighteous deeds.

Sadly, there are many within the Body of Messiah who say that no one can know when Jesus was born. Many also say that we cannot know when He is coming again.  Yet the Lord rebuked the religious leaders of His day as being hypocrites:  they could discern the weather from the evening and morning skies, but could not discern the time of His coming from the signs of the times, according to God’s word through the Prophets.  The promised Messiah and King of Israel came, but the Chosen People did not believe it or accept Him. (Mt 16:1-4)

Do you know that there are many more prophecies in the whole of the Bible regarding the Lord’s [second] coming than His first? (~354; ~2400! internet search) God’s plan of redemption, which He laid out for Daniel with the 70 weeks of years, is completed when the Lord returns.  All creation is waiting for it with hope. (Rom 8:20-23) It is the blessed hope of all believers:  the coming again of Jesus and the resurrection from among the dead.

When Yeshua was born, the old man Simeon was fulfilled when he knew that this child was the Savior whom God had promised him that he would see before he died. Anna, the aged prophetess, also expected the birth of the promised Messiah, and she joyfully spread the news to others who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.  Simeon and Anna understood the times they lived in, according to the Word of God spoken and written through Moses and the Prophets.

We have many more prophecies given to us about the return of the Lord at the end of the last days. We do not want to be asleep, but awake with faith and the Holy Spirit, not only to be ready for Jesus when He comes, but also to tell this good news to others who are looking for a better world than what it is now, or has ever been: the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again to make the world right, a world of righteousness and justice!  (Acts 3:18-21)

“And they called His name Yeshua, for He shall save His people from their sins.”

“Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”

It’s Christmas Time Again!

I have come to strongly accept that the birth of the Lord was during this time of year, and have given what I believe is sufficient Scriptural proof for upholding the long-held tradition. http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Here is an article which addresses two objections — sheep out in the winter (don’t forget that Christmas is in early winter), and also the timing of the priestly course of Abia, to which John the Baptiser’s father, Zechariah, belonged. http://nabataea.net/birthdate.html

Another objection used today is that Yeshua/Jesus was born during the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, because He “tabernacled” with us. It is very interesting how God always shows Himself “ahead of the game”, and having thoughts and ways far above ours! Hanukkah was started by the Maccabees as an 8-day festival in order to be celebrated as a substitute Feast of Tabernacles, the 8-day festival of the LORD which they could not celebrate at the scheduled time because of their war against the Greeks and the Jewish Hellenists. You can find this reference in the non-canonical primary source, the Apochrypha, in 2Mac 1:9, 10:5-8.

A further argument given as to why Yeshua/Jesus could not have been born during this time is that it is the time of celebration of pagan gods (Saturnalia, etc). But the point is missed that the Son of God came to take back what is His from all the usurpers and pretenders to the throne! The God of gods’ coming was/is an act of war on YHVH God’s part to restore the true spiritual worship of the one true God, redeemed humanity to Himself, and the Kingdom of God to the heavens and the Earth, over and to Israel and the nations. He began this with His birth in the flesh. When He pours out His wrath on His enemies prior to His coming again, the Kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah! (Hag 2:20-23; Dan 2:31-45; Mt 1:18 – 2:23; Ps 2; Rev 11:15-18)

Come, let us celebrate our great God and Savior for His great faithfulness and grace to us!  He rejoices in our freewill offerings of overflowing love and praise for His wonderful acts on behalf of His people.   (If we accept that He did so from the Jewish people regarding Purim and Hanukkah, how much more so from all who would commemorate celebrating His most wonderful and awesome act in coming in the flesh in order to redeem us and save us from our sins!)

He has put a new song in our hearts.

Yeshua Showed Himself Alive, and Is Coming Again!

Acts 1:1-11 (Lk 24:19-53; Mt 28:5-17; Mk 16; Jn 20:9-31; Jn 21:1-14; 1Cor 15:1-8; 1Jn 1:1-4)

Following the celebrations of the Passover and the Firstfruits – the death and the resurrection of the Messiah and Lord — believers all around the world are rejoicing in the risen Savior, having begun the 50-day (7-week) count till Shavuot/Pentecost. For many people then – 1985 years ago – and now, such a thing as the resurrection is only a rumor, or a myth, idle chatter, or impossible. Even for the closest disciples of Yeshua, the 11 apostles, it was “too good to be true”!

Jesus had told them that He would be crucified, put to death, and that He would rise again and meet them in Galilee. Yet when the event actually took place, their hearts were hardened and would not even believe the testimony of their own friends who had seen Him alive again, talked with Him, touched Him, eaten with Him! Even though He had told them all what was going to happen; even though it was written in the Tanach (Bible)!

Acts 1:1-11  Truly, O Theophilus, I made the first report as to all things that Jesus began both to do and teach (2) until the day He was taken up, having given directions to the apostles whom He chose, through the Holy Spirit; (3) to whom He also presented Himself living after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them through forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (4) And having met with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father which you heard from Me. (5) For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (6) Then, indeed, these coming together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, do You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (7) And He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority. (8) But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (9) And saying these things, as they watched, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. (10) And while they were looking intently into the heaven, He having gone, even behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, (11) who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven, will come in the way you have seen Him going into Heaven.

Jesus showed Himself alive to the 11 men whom He especially chose and sent (and afterward Saul/Paul) to be His witnesses to the Jewish people first, and also to the Gentiles. By proving day-by-day for 40 days that it was He Himself who had died and risen from the dead, then it was no longer just a rumor hard to believe. Just as the sheaves of wheat are counted each day from the day of Firstfruits until Shavuot/Pentecost as a “confidence builder” for the harvest, so Yeshua, until the day of His ascension, built in the certainty of the truth of His resurrection for the hope in God’s promise of life after death for believers in His Son. (Read the passages at the top of the page.) The good news brought unspeakable joy to their sad and hardened hearts, and prepared them to live and to die for the truth of the gospel in the face of fierce opposition, ridicule, and persecution. (Remember the Samaritan men who came out to see Jesus after the Samaritan woman at the well had gone back to tell them that she had met the Messiah: they went to Him, and heard and saw for themselves, saying, “Now we believe not only because you told us, but we have heard for ourselves.”)

Paul writes later that Jesus showed Himself alive to more than 500 people at one time together. In many ways the gospel writers wrote how the Lord clearly showed that He was indeed alive after having been dead and buried for three days. He had defeated the devil, sin, and death, and was indeed the Son of God who had come into the world to save His people from their sins. He is the King of Israel, Messiah, Son of David.

Do you believe? Do you know without doubt that Yeshua Messiah is alive – risen from the dead and now seated at the right hand of the Father – and that He is the Savior of the world, including being your own Savior from sin and death?

Have you believed what is written in the Scriptures, both the Tanach and the New Testament? Have you believed when your friends or family members told you that it is true?! At least one of Yeshua’s apostles doubted that the truth was true: Thomas was not with the other apostles when the Lord first appeared to them all, and he said that unless he actually saw Him and the nail prints in His hands, and put his finger into the print and into His side, then he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared again to all of the apostles, this time including Thomas. Jesus told him to do what he had said, and said to him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing”. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn 20:24-29)

For those of you who still are not certain and still unbelieving, is it because your heart is hardened to the Holy One of Israel to whom all must give an account on the day of judgment? Is it because He is holy, and requires that His people be holy?  Is it because you have too much love for this world?  Is God’s plan interfering with your own plans or ambitions?

For those of you who say you believe, can you testify of having seen God working in your life and in the life of others: answering prayers, healing sickness, giving hope and comfort through suffering and loss, protecting you  from harm, blessing you beyond all expectation and “worthiness”, forgiving you your sins and giving you power and faith to forgive others their sins?

Do you have living faith and hope that Jesus is coming again to put away evil from the world that He created and made? Do you love Him enough that you want Him to come again?

Why is this hope and expectation important for believers? In the passage we read in Acts, before Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, and before the disciples would receive the Holy Spirit, the seal of the New Covenant relationship, their first question to Him was concerning the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, the very thing that the Lord taught them (and us) regarding how to pray. It was also a very logical question by Israeli Jews, who were taught to expect that when the Messiah, Son of David, would come, He would bring YHVH God’s peace and righteous rule again to Israel.  When Jesus did go up in their sight into Heaven, the two men dressed in white standing by them said, “This same Jesus/Yeshua, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.” (v. 6,11)

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ and our resurrection or rapture (whichever applies personally at the time of the First Resurrection) is the hope and expectation of all true believers. The Lord’s Supper reminds us, as often as we take it, that Yeshua is coming again.  The whole life of Messiah and the gospel is summed up in the Communion:  for Yeshua to have died, He had to be born a human being; for Him to come again, He has to be alive by being raised from the dead; by coming again, He has to be ‘somewhere else’ now — in Heaven, the place from where He first came: God appeared in flesh and blood.  The last prayer of the Bible is, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”

Do you believe the Word of God concerning the things to come?  Will you be ready to endure to the end by faith that overcomes the world in the blood of the Lamb and our confession of Jesus as LORD/YHVH?

God has a plan for restoring His kingdom over Israel, and the whole Earth, even the universe. Yeshua is alive, and He is coming back in great power and glory! For this we are here: Yeshua’s witnesses to bring more people into His Kingdom; God’s sons and daughters to grow to full maturity in preparation for our Bridegroom’s return.

The Passover, The Resurrection, The Present Ingathering, The Final Redemption – 3 Apr 2015

 

In Judaism there is an expectation of a greater Passover to come.  There is the expectation the prophet Elijah to come herald the coming of Messiah.  For us who believe that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah that was promised, we believe that John the Baptiser came in the spirit of Elijah to herald the Lamb of God, even Yeshua, the Son of God.

And, indeed, there is a greater Passover taking place right now that is often overlooked by most Jewish people:  the God of Israel says that the present ingathering of Jewish people from around the world back to the Land promised in covenant to the seed of Jacob is a greater Passover deliverance than what He did to bring out His chosen people from Egypt about 3500 years ago.

Gen 15:12-14   God is letting Abraham know something about what the future held for his descendants, the Children of Israel, who did not yet even exist.

Prophecy is given to help us not to stumble, but to be prepared when, and as, things are coming to pass which the Lord has spoken about in advance.  This builds up our faith and trust in YHVH and in His word.  Faith in God’s Word also enables us to help others – and to remind one another – about what is taking place in the world today, and how it fits within God’s plan of redemption in accord with His covenants.
Gen 18:17-19  The Lord tells Abraham what He is going to do because He has chosen Him.
Jn 15:15  Yeshua/Jesus tells His disciples all that the Father has given Him to tell us.

Ex 6:5-8   God heard the groaning of the Israelis in bondage in Egypt, and He remembered His covenant to deliver them with great substance, to bring them back to the Promised Land, and that He would be their God as a people.

Ex 10:2   We are telling our children and grandchildren the mighty acts of our great and faithful God! (hear Gideon, about 300 years after the Exodus – Jud 6:13)

Traditional FoodsEx 12:8  Lamb; Unleavened Bread; Bitter Herbs
Explain the three matzot and the Afikomen:  death, burial, resurrection of the Son of the triune God, found to be alive by those who believe the report!

Yeshua came to His own people Israel to be the Lamb of God, who takes away their sin and whose shed blood on the cross atones for all their sins.

Tomorrow (Sonday) is the day after today’s Sabbath, and is the day of First-fruits, which comes during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week-long celebration and remembrance.
Lev 23:9-11,14

Jesus, the “afikomen”, was broken, buried with our sins, and found alive when He rose from among the dead on the first day of the new week, the day after the Sabbath, and the third day from His crucifixion. He is the firstfruits from among the dead!
Lk 24:1-8   Jesus had told the disciples what would happen; they needed reminding to remember
1Cor 15:20-28  The Holy Spirit is telling us through Paul what the order of God’s redemptive goal is in connection with the resurrection of believers in Jesus as Messiah and Lord.

Again, God is telling us by His Spirit through His Word what He is doing regarding His plan of redemption.
Rom 8:18-25   With groaning hope we eagerly wait with perseverance our own resurrection and redemption of our bodies.
Tit 2:11-14   the blessed hope of the Lord’s return and our resurrection, being God’s holy people

The Exodus from Egypt delivered Israel from hard bondage in a kingdom of this world.  Every family had to have its slaughtered lamb – or else share with another family — and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts in order to be saved.  They were delivered to worship their God and Redeemer, and to live in the land which He had promised with an oath to their fathers.

The Exodus from this world delivers each believer — in Yeshua/Jesus, the Lamb of God, and His blood — from bondage to sin and death.  Just as YHVH God covenanted with Abraham and Israel to have them be His people and He be their God, so, too, in Messiah we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the New Covenant that all believers – Jewish and Gentile – would be purified, holy, and blameless to be His people for glory, and to live forever with Him in the final destiny of the New Heavens and New Earth, in the New Jerusalem!

Meanwhile, in the Present
Jer 16:10-15   Because of Israel’s sin against the LORD and His covenant, they were exiled from the promised land.  Because of God’s faithfulness to Himself to His promises to the Fathers, by grace He is gathering back His scattered people to the land from all around the world:  a greater Passover than the mighty act and wonders He did to bring them out of Egypt!

Mt 28:18-20   the Great Commission to tell others and make known the name of the true Redeemer:  Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and to make them disciples of the Lord

The Future
Ezek 45:21-24   the Passover celebrated by the Israel of God for the next 1000 years after Messiah returns to reestablish God’s Kingdom over Israel and all of the nations

Remembrance of Things Past, That Now Are, and That Are To Come
1Cor 11:26   Lord’s Supper:  we remember Jesus, and His death until He comes:  He is risen!

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!