Take Heed; I Have Told You All Things Beforehand

The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age. That is why they are still relevant to us today – not only as a guide for wisdom unto salvation, and for righteous living, but also as a guide for knowing the will of God: Jesus Christ is going to come back to take back the world that the devil and human beings have usurped for themselves, and He will establish the Kingdom of God (YHVH) forevermore.  Continue reading “Take Heed; I Have Told You All Things Beforehand”

The Church’s Role in The End-Times of The Last Days Towards Israel’s Salvation

Gentile believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, and with Jewish believers in the Son of God.  The Church — the Body of Christ/Messiah, the one new man, the Bride of the Lamb — is comprised of both these redeemed and born-again believers called out from every people group and nation.  We all have a significant role to play through to the end of the age towards YHVH God’s salvation of His chosen people Israel, by which the whole world and creation will be blessed. Continue reading “The Church’s Role in The End-Times of The Last Days Towards Israel’s Salvation”

Looking For The Blessed Hope

(Presented at PFI-UK conference on June 10, 2017) 

I was saved when I finally realized that my hope for a better world was going to be the Lord Jesus Christ coming back to make this world right, according to the prophetic Word of God that He has given us in the Bible.  When I repented and believed the good news, I got much more than I had expected or even thought of:  forgiveness of my sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with the Lord in a new creation that will be perfect, far better even than the Millennial Kingdom after Jesus returns!

I remember that when we were first saved, much of the expectation then (1981) was that Jesus could come back in 1988, which meant that the rapture could happen any time very soon in 1981.  This was the blessed hope.  Randi and I went to a church service not long after in another state, and the pastor that day said that the rapture, our blessed hope, could happen any time very soon, and that the Christians would escape the terrible things that were going to come on the Earth.  But every time that I read the Bible about these things, I was not as sure as these pastors and teachers were about the timing or the purpose of the rapture.  Also, I thought, Christians had not done any better than the Jews had with respect to living in a manner that honored the name of the LORD.  I heard another well-known teacher, who recently spoke at a conference in another country, say that the blessed hope of Christians was not dying; i.e., being raptured when Jesus comes for His bride.  This expectation was, and is, believed and taught by both Jewish and Gentile believers.

My thoughts always took me to consider all the thousands, millions, billions of believers who have already died over the last almost 2000 years.  According to all of these teachers and teachings, they all missed the blessed hope!  They simply were not living at the right time!  Yet the Scriptures give this blessed hope to all believers, not only to those who might still be alive when the Lord returns, when He calls, firstly, for those dead in Christ, and also to those alive in Him to gather together unto Him. (Ps 50:4-5; 2Thes 2:1-5)  In fact, the catching up of those alive at His coming was a “new thing” that would not have been thought of before the revelation given to the apostle Paul:  whether dead or alive, all who have hoped in YHVH’s Messiah for salvation will be in the new body with Him at that moment which the Father has appointed! (Gen 3:15; Mt 24:36; Rom 8:18-25; 1Cor 15:50-58)  Have you noticed that after the mark of the beast has been taken to the doom of all who do so, the apostle John is told by a voice from Heaven:  “Write:  ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’  Yes, says the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev 14:13)  As much as we might like not to die, God is saying that those who do die in the Lord even during the time of great tribulation are blessed!  For they will be resurrected to eternal life in the body.  The gates of Sheol/Hades – death — can not prevail against the Church! In any case, it does seem that the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Messiah to the coming again of the Lord.  Many still seem to be sleeping, or, having awakened, they still seem unprepared or indifferent to it.  This is what the parable of the ten virgins teaches us.  As often as we fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Cor 11:25-27)

An argument used to support an “imminent” – any time, whether very soon or very distant – rapture are the verses and expectations of the apostles in their letters to believers that the Lord was “at the door”, “at hand”, “approaching”, “coming quickly” (which is not the same as  ‘coming soon’).  Paul, in his first epistle to the believers in Thessaloniki, wrote to them of the Lord’s coming and the catching up of those believers who would be alive at His coming.  Paul even wrote as if he himself might be alive at that time.  Yet in his second letter to them, he clarified what had apparently been misunderstood:  that this would not happen until the falling away (apostacy) and the revelation of the antichrist.  This does not occur until midway through the last seven years of this age (the 70th week of Daniel).  It could perhaps be said that from that midway point the Lord’s return will be imminent.  But even then, maybe not:  remember that those who are alive in Messiah meet in the air those who are being resurrected on the way up, and in these verses from Revelation regarding the opening of the fifth seal, the Lord is letting us know that there are going to be a certain number of martyrs before His vengeance is poured out. (Rev 6:9-11)  Both Paul and Peter came to know that they were going to die, and they did not say, ‘unless the Lord should come between now and then’.  The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise was and is a big sign of the last days that needed to occur before these other events can play out.  The Holy Spirit gave the early believers an earnest expectation that their blessed hope would truly be in God and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption.  But beyond them, the Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and so this expectation is being quickened in our generation to a level not known for most of the last 2000 years. (1Cor 10:11)

The Word of God promises to those in Christ that we are delivered from God’s wrath, the Day of YHVH. (Is 61:2b)  Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation is essentially Satan’s wrath being unleashed on especially Jews and Christians, whom he especially hates, since both are connected with Yehovah God and His Son in covenant relationship, even if individuals among them do not believe.  God’s wrath is against His enemies, and of His people, both  Jews and Christians.  Some of His enemies can include individual Jews and Christians who have forsaken the covenants He has “cut” with them.  God’s wrath will be seen to be His righteous judgment against those who are clearly opposed to Him.   Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture as the blessed hope have had to redefine the whole of “Daniel’s 70th Week” — the last seven years before the coming again of the Lord — as God’s wrath/ the Day of the LORD, in order to justify their particular position, but which is also the eschatological view of all believers:  we will not suffer the wrath of God.  This is good news!  And the Holy Spirit will enable us to help others understand what is going on, and purify us to be the spotless and chaste Bride of our glorious Bridegroom!  This is also good news!  (Mt 3:11-12; Dan 11:31-35; Eph 5:25-27; 1Jn 3:1-3)

Let’s look at some verses that express the promise of God which gives the confident hope that has sustained the faithful throughout the ages of mankind:

Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, (13) looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.

Act 23:6 But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead’.

Act 24:14-16 But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) And I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And in this I exercise myself, always to have a blameless conscience toward God and men.

Job 19:25-27  For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall rise on the Earth at the last;   (26)  and even after my skin is corrupted, yet this: in my flesh I shall see God,  (27)  whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not a stranger’s; my heart yearns within me!

Heb 11:17-19  By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son,  (18)  of whom it was said that in Isaac your seed shall be called,  (19)  concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from where he even received him, in a figure.

Jn 11:23-27  Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.  (24)  Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  (25)  Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live.  (26)  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?  (27)  She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.

Dan 12:1-2 And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great ruler who stands for the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation; until that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Act 26:6-8 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made to our fathers by God, (7) to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain, serving God fervently night and day. For the sake of this hope, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. (8) Why is it thought a thing incredible with you that God raises the dead?

1Co 15:16-20  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.  (17)  And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.  (18)  Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.  (19)  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  (20)  But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.

Php 3:7-12 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ (9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; (11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the [righteous] dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.

Our blessed hope as believers in Yeshua/Jesus is the same as that given to the Fathers and the Children of Israel, and which was believed by men and women of faith in the Word and promise of God before them: it is the resurrection of the dead in Messiah/Christ, and the rapture of the living in Christ/Messiah at His revelation, at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory, and sin will trouble us no more: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Israel — Of God, or Not of God?

Israel celebrates her 69th Day of Independence this Monday and Tuesday.  Most of Israel’s Arab population knows it as their Day of Catastrophe (nakba).  Neither one yet fears YHVH.  The one, true, living God of Heaven and Earth is fulfilling His Word and plan for His holy name’s sake, and against all opposition to Him — including unbelief.  He cannot, and will not, be stopped!  Praise be to His name!

The Israeli Jewish people celebrate their military strength and prowess; the Arab Palestinian people refuse to accept that the land was covenanted to Jacob for an everlasting possession, yet to be realized.  The Holy Spirit is working to turn away ungodliness from Jacob so that all Israel (the full remnant from all the tribes) will be saved.  The Arabs hope is to be found in Israel’s hope:  Yeshua/Yasua/Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, Son of David.

Israel’s leadership and people feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is that the Jewish people must protect themselves by themselves.  The Arab world feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is unjust and not fair.  Neither fear the LORD.

Most of the Jewish people are relying on “a god of fortresses” — self-determined that they must be masters of their own destiny —  rather than trust in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who alone can guarantee them life that is really life.  Most of the Arab peoples are relying on a god of vengeance, nurtured by a bitter root and an ancient hatred towards their brothers and cousins.  Neither line of Abraham’s family fears the God of their father in truth.

The Jewish people have only recently celebrated the Passover, glorying in their deliverance by YHVH from Egyptian slavery.  On the heels of that joyful celebration and hope, we solemnly and gravely remembered the worst calamity yet to come upon our people — the Holocaust.  The night preceding Independence Day we again remember all those Jewish people [in particular] who have sacrificed their lives in the many wars and conflicts connected with being a sovereign people in our own land.  There is the constant reminder to abide in the faith, for through much suffering and tribulation we enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)  Yet our people still have not repented and believed the gospel, confessing their unfaithfulness to our God, that they would know their sins are forgiven through the sacrifice and shed blood of Yeshua, whom God raised from the dead. (Lev 26:40-45)  For the Father was well-pleased with His beloved Son!

For us who have received our peace with God through saving faith in His Son, our Savior, our battle is not waged against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.  Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.

Today’s Israel is a miracle/banner (nes) for the nations/Gentiles.  God has intervened in history again to repossess HIS land for His people.  The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise is a proof that YHVH is the true God.  It is a huge sign of the end-times of the last days — not unlike the ark in Noah’s days.  Against all odds, the LORD is doing a greater thing than what He did to bring us out of Egypt, or out of Babylon.  (Is 11:12; Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8).  Jacob’s Trouble is coming, but Israel will be saved out of it.  (Jer 30:7)  The Lord’s return cannot be far behind!  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!  Then Jerusalem will have God’s peace.

Passover to Resurrection

Mt 26:17-29  And on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You desire that we prepare for You to eat the Passover?  (18)  And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.  (19)  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them. And they made the Passover ready.  (20)  And when evening had come, He sat down with the Twelve.  (21)  And as they ate, He said, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.  (22)  And grieving sorrowfully, they began to say, each one of them, Lord, not I am the one?  (23)  And He answered and said, He who dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.  (24)  The Son of Man goes, as it has been written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.  (25)  And answering, the one betraying Him, Judas, said, Master, Not am I the one? He said to him, You said it.  (26)  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is My body.  (27)  And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it.  (28)  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  (29)  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.

Mt 28:1-9  But after the Sabbath, at the dawning into the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  (2)  And behold, a great earthquake occurred! For coming down from Heaven, an angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone from the door and was sitting on it.  (3)  His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  (4)  And the keepers shook for fear of him and became like dead men.  (5)  And the angel answered and said to the women, Do not fear, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  (6)  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  (7)  And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. And, behold, He goes before you into Galilee. There you shall see Him. Lo, I have told you.  (8)  And they quickly departed from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.  (9)  But as they were going to report to His disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, Hail! And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

We have heard how that YHVH God, brought out the children of Israel from Egypt in order to make His name great, and to have Israel be His holy people, and He would be their God.  He promised them to inherit the Land of Canaan.  However, the people have been unfaithful to the LORD throughout most of their history.  BUT, God has been faithful to His covenants and to the conditions and promises of them.  Praise the Lord!  And we today who have returned to live in this very land are part of His plan of redemption, and proof that the God of Israel is the true God, and God of gods.

In the passage from Mt 26, we see that Yeshua and His closest disciples kept the Passover, with the Messiah establishing a New Covenant with them, and with Israel.  It is a covenant in which YHVH promises to forgive the Israeli people all of their sins. (Jer 31:31-37)  For this the Savior’s name is Yeshua. (Mt 1:21)  He still reaches out to them until today with this same offer of salvation that He began with them.  Even among the apostles was one who was unfaithful to the Lord.  Yeshua, at this last supper before His crucifixion as the Passover Lamb born to be the sacrifice to atone for our sins, institutes the Lord’s Supper of remembrance, which we are about to do ourselves.

In the passage from Mt 28, a new day has come – Sonday, the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:9-12)!  It is the day of Firstfruits.  A day of rejoicing instead of mourning!  Victory over death, the devil, and sin!  A new day in which the angels and Yeshua told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to go tell the others that Yeshua is risen from the dead!  He is the firstfruits from among the dead.  The harvest time is nearing in our generation.  And they went from Jerusalem to meet Him in Galilee, as He had told them beforehand to do, and they ate together.

Now, all who confess with their mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, will be saved!  And with this New Covenant that God offers not only to the Jewish people, but also to all Gentiles, YHVH also confirms that He will keep all of His covenant promises to Israel, including the inheritance of the land, and that they will be His people, and He will be their God. (Rom 15:8-13; 2Cor 1:20-22; Jer 31:33)  Yeshua was born King of the Jews; Yeshua was crucified as King of the Jews; Yeshua will come again to be the King of the Jews!  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let us fellowship together now in remembering the death of the Lord, and His burial and resurrection, until He comes.

2017: A Momentous Year

We are now into this new year of 2017, 5777 on the Jewish calendar (a 240-year discrepancy, but that is another story).  Three years ago I began to look at some significant dates connected with the return of the Jewish people back to this land of Israel, and also looking ahead to the coming again of Yeshua.
http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/eclectic-course-menu/dates-to-remember/ )

When the disciples asked Yeshua about the sign of His return at the end of the age, His first response was that they should be careful not to let any man deceive them, and that they should watch and be ready for whenever that exact time should come. (Mt 24:3,4,42)  These signs – or events — were connected with the Jewish people living again in this land after a long exile.  There have been signs in the sun and moon and stars last year and this.  I do believe that God wants to get our attention, since we are His people and family, and to get us to remember that the Scriptures are His word to us, that we can be in the light and not in darkness.  We are in a season, but exactitude is not given us to know.  Signs point and lead to something and to Someone. Yeshua has all sovereign authority now in the heavenlies and on Earth.  All these things serve the purposes of YHVH, the one true living God, to be exalted as such, that He may display the wonders of His love.

What are some of the significant events which converge this year to remind us of God’s plan of salvation for His people Israel?:

–This year of 2017 marks 500 years since the Reformation, when God used Martin Luther to open the Bible as the Word of God to the common people, and that salvation is a gift from God on the basis of faith in Jesus and His sacrificial death for our sins.  Many Christians also began to see that God had promised to restore His chosen people, the Jews, back to the land He swore to give them as an inheritance.

–This year marks 120 years since the First Zionist Congress on Aug 29, 1897.  Theodor Herzl warned his fellow Jewish people that they needed to get out of Europe because of anti-semitism, and to return to establish a state for the Jewish people back in Palestine, as the Promised Land was then called.

–This year marks 100 years since the ANZAC victory in Beer Sheva, on Oct 31, 1917 during WW1 (the same date as the Reformation), which enabled Britain to make known its intention, through the Balfour Declaration, to help the Jewish people reestablish their homeland here.  By this declaration, the Gentile nations expressed their support for the return of the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, as written in the Scriptures.  God was acting and intervening towards fulfilling His promise, whether they understood or not.

–2017 marks 70 years since Nov 29, 1947, when the United Nations voted for the Jews and the Arabs to have two states in this land.  The Jews accepted; the Arabs rejected the plan, and went to war.

–This year remembers 50 years since the Six-Day War victory in June 1967, in which the Israeli Jews captured Jerusalem, opening up access to its holiest sites, including the Temple Mount, which were closed to them all the previous years since the establishment of the State of Israel.

–The opposition to God’s interventions is remembered in the outbreak of the first Palestinian intifada in 1987, 30 years ago.

–This year has opened up with a UN resolution (passed just before Hanukkah and Christmas) claiming that Israel has no legal right to any territory that was not theirs before 1967, including East Jerusalem – Biblical Jerusalem — where the Temple Mount is located.

–There has been an increase over the last few years of Christians being persecuted and killed for their faith.  Most of this has been perpetrated by Islamic jihadi terrorists, who want to take peace from people’s lives and hearts and minds, and to also bring the world into submission by force to profess the god of Islam as the only true God, and Mohammed as his prophet and servant.

What are some verses that help us to put these events into perspective for us as believers?:

Ezek 36:19-28  the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel for God’s holy Name’s sake; all will know that He is YHVH, and He will be Israel’s God, and they His holy people

Ps 2:1-6  opposition to YHVH and to Yeshua, and to God’s righteous ways

Ps 83:1-5  conspiracy to wipe out Israel from being a nation in opposition to the God of Israel (As a Jew, I also must confess that this is what the Jewish religion teaches about Jesus:  that His name and memory must be wiped out and remembered no more.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring everyone to account before the Lord.)

Zec 12:1-3  All nations shall come against Jerusalem, and will not succeed

Jer 30:12-25 (Heb; 30:12 – 31:1 Eng)  The time of Jacob’s trouble coming in the Land to bring the people to repentance and salvation; God’s wrath will fall on His enemies, and on His people’s oppressors; in the latter days this will be considered, and fulfilled.

Lev 26:40-45  God bringing the Jewish people to confess their sins against Him, , and accept His righteous ways towards them, that they be saved and live in peace and security in the land He promised them for an inheritance.

Mt 24:6-14  These troubles and sufferings and events must come; but do not be troubled in our hearts; and the gospel will go out with power to save until Yeshua returns.

What should we do now, and throughout this momentous year?

–Read the whole Bible – as the Word of the Lord!

–Pray with understanding.  Many good things promised, but a hard way to make it worthwhile to get there.  The stakes are high, and the nations and Israel can expect a shaking from the very real living God, who desires that all should repent and be saved.  For this He sent His Son into the world, which is ignored at our own peril.

–Pray for revelation and wisdom to understand the times, and what we should do as things progress:  helping each other; encouraging one another; promote holiness in the fear of God….

–Continue faithfully doing what the Lord gives you, according to His call, spiritual gifts, ministry

–Evangelize, share the gospel with whomsoever, that they might repent and be saved before the Day of the LORD.

–Strengthen your faith, hope, and love in Yeshua, trusting God for His power and grace to use you and us for His praise, honor, and glory when Yeshua returns. (1Pt 1:3-9)

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.

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.