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!”

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.

No One Knows The Day Or Hour – 27 Feb 2015

Mk 13:28-37   “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

What time is it?  (Does anybody really care?)  This is a question many in Israel ask!  What time is it?  If we are speaking the answer to the one asking, we might say, for example, 11:30.  And he/she would understand whether it was morning or night.  But if, for another example, we sent out an invitation and said, ‘Let’s get together at 9:00’, someone might ask:  ‘Do you mean in the morning, or in the evening?’ Had the invitation been for 21:00, it would have been understood here that it was for the evening.  Or had it said, 9pm, it would also have been understood by those who received the invitation.

What day is it?  I know that when we first immigrated to Israel, it took some time before Randi and I got used to Monday not being the first day of the week, i.e., Sonday!  We often would think that Monday was Tuesday!  We were confused for a while until we finally adjusted to Sonday being Sonday, the first day of the week, and also a work day.  So, if we would say to someone in the U.S. that our services here are on the Sabbath, unless we explained, they thought we meant on Sonday, because in the West they made Sunday the Sabbath, moving back the proper seventh day Sabbath to being the sixth day of the week.  The weekend was Saturday-Sunday.  If someone writes a date like this:  7/12/15; does it mean July 12, 2015; or, Dec 7, 2015?

It seems as if the confusion of languages at Babel has also included the confusion of time!

Let us take this further:  Israel changes its clock to ‘Summer Time’ (Daylight Saving Time) each year; but “the territories” do not.  So Jerusalem has one time, and Bethlehem another, during the same time of year.  In the United States, the country changes its clock for the Summer, but the state of Arizona does not.  Yet within Arizona, an area for Indians does!

The Universal Coordinated Time (UCT) (which used to be called Greenwich Mean Time) is the Prime Meridian running through Greenwich, England, from which all other time zones on the globe are calculated.  Israel is two hours in advance (UTC+2) of the UCT; the East Coast of the U.S. is five hours behind (UTC-5).  South Africa, south of Israel, is in the same Time Zone as Israel.  So Israel is 7 hours ahead in the day from the eastern U.S.  However, depending on when each country changes its clock for the Summer, and then back again to Standard Time (which is based upon the position of the Sun relative to the Earth), Israel could be 8 hours ahead, or maybe 6 hours ahead.  Australia’s western province is normally five hours ahead of Israel, and seven hours ahead of the UCT (UTC+7).  All through the 24-hour day/night cycle, part of the Earth is in the evening, at midnight, at dawn, in the morning, or in the afternoon.  Afternoon to me means after 12:00 noon.  In Israel most veteran Israelis think that afternoon is from 4:00pm.

What if YHVH God has set His Prime Meridian to run through Israel as the standard for calculations?  Does anybody know?  Or do you think He is beholden to man’s arbitrary manipulations of the clock?  Are you confused yet?!    

What time is it!?  Most countries set their clocks by the hour within which they fall in the Time Zones.  But India, for example, changes her clock by ½ hour;  Nepal changes theirs by ¼ hour! (Interesting and Confusing Facts about Time and Time Zones: http://www.worldtimezone.com/faq.html )

And you know that there is an International Date Line (IDL) that has been arbitrarily set which divides the calendar date between that which is east of this imaginary line from that which is west of the line.  Even this legally recognized line has been altered by some governments and islands, so that their whole country remains on the same day together!  Every day while some sleep and some are at work, there are two hours during which there are three different calendar days at the same time!  Praise the Lord!

Here is an explanation of the IDL and the UTC from Wikipedia:

“The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates the change of one calendar day to the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but deviating to pass around some territories and island groups.

The IDL zigzags around the antimeridian, which is on the opposite side of the Earth to the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is used to define Universal Time and is the meridian from which all other time zones are calculated. Time zones to the east of the Prime Meridian are in advance of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (up to UTC+14); time zones to the west are behind UTC (to UTC-12). The IDL is the line between those highest (up to UTC+14) and those lowest (down to UTC−12) time zones.

The IDL and the moving point of midnight separate the two calendar days that are current somewhere on Earth. However, during a two-hour period between 10:00 (2200) and 11:59 (23:59) (UTC) each day, three different calendar days are in use. This is because of daylight saving in the UTC+12 zone and the use of additional date-shifted time zones in areas east of the 180th meridian. These additional time zones result in the standard time and date in some communities being  24 or 25 hours different from the standard time and date in others.

A traveler crossing the IDL eastbound subtracts one day, or 24 hours, so that the calendar date to the west of the line is repeated after the following midnight. Crossing the IDL westbound results in 24 hours being added, advancing the calendar date by one day. The IDL is necessary to have a fixed, albeit arbitrary, boundary on the globe where the calendar date advances in the westbound direction.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line)  [bold emphases mine]

To add to the lack of clarity, I remember rooming with a man from Ethiopia who told me a story of how he missed his flight one time.  The time on the ticket said 01:00, which to most of us means 1:00 at night on the next calendar day, even though the time would be 1:00am (“before noon”, “in the morning”).

Well, for this brother, he thought of 7:00 in the morning, according to his own nation’s custom and law.  Of course he missed his flight!

When does a day begin?  In the beginning, there was evening and the morning.  Does the day begin at 6:00pm?  In the New Testament, the wrath of God was upon Jesus on the cross from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, meaning, from 12:00 noon until 15:00 (3pm).  Does the day begin at 6:00am?  Yeshua did say that there are twelve hours in a day for man to work, and that the night is coming when no one can work. (Jn 9:4; 11:9)  Has the day-time changed in the light of the coming of Messiah, the Light of the world?  Today, with the IDL, the new day and date begins from 12:00 midnight, depending on which side of the “line” one is.  When the antichrist has his power and authority, the Scriptures say that he will think to change times and laws. (Dan 7:25)  Will he decree a new universal time and dating system??  The Word of God marks the beginning of each lunar month by the New Moon (darkened); Islam marks their months by the sighted ‘birth’ of the moon at the first sliver of light.

Does anybody know what hour it is, and what day it is?  And does it really matter?  It mostly does, I would say.  We have seen how not knowing the time can cause confusion in schedules and in orientation and for documentation.  On the other hand, the Lord lets us know in no uncertain terms that not only is it unnecessary, but it is impossible for any created thing to know exactly when He will come again. (Mk 13:32)

We have seen how that can be!  The Lord did not say that we could not discern the time — the season — of His coming, but rather the precise day and hour.  There are many Scriptures giving us signs and indications of His coming – such as the fig tree analogy in the passage we read from Mark 13 — but the precise set time is something that only the Father knows.  Jesus has told us all things that He heard from His Father to make known to us; and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth of all that has been revealed. (Jn 15:15; 16:12-15)  The Holy Spirit is not going to reveal what the Father did not even tell His Son (in the wondrous mystery that is the triune God)!

This is no small matter:  Jesus rebuked the Jewish people during His first coming for not knowing the time of their visitation, with its subsequent severe judgment. (Lk 19:41-44)  And terrible consequences have resulted from listening to those who have claimed to know precisely when the Lord will return, discrediting both the faith in the truth of His coming, and in preparing ourselves for His return.

Why is it important to God that we do not know precisely?  Because if the Father would make it known at all, then Satan could also know – even quicker than we!  Yeshua is coming as a thief into the master’s house.  (Mt 24:42-46; 25:13; 1Thes 5:1-11)  If it could be known when that would be, including a particular holy-day, then the devil would prepare for that time and day in a manner that it is not possible for him to do so now.  If a military commander were to let his enemy know his plan of attack and the time of it, he would face fiercer opposition and greater possibility of defeat.  Surely the LORD of Hosts (Armies) has carefully planned His surprise attack!  And if we, the believers, were to know, then we would live our lives not by faith in God and His covenantal promises and in the absolute victory of Jesus by His death on the cross for us, but, rather, as is common to the sin still in us, we would only wait until just before that moment to “make ourselves ready”; or, else, we would wait and see if it really comes true.  Neither of “our ways” submits to the “way of the LORD”.

Yet the Lord warns us not to let any one deceive us, and for us to be watchful and prayerful.  This day will not come until sometime after the revelation of the antichrist. (2Thes 2:1-4)  We will not watch and pray if we are not anticipating with expectation.  In our love and hopeful expectation of the Lord’s return, the Holy Spirit will see to it that those who are faithful will not be like the five foolish virgins, but will be prepared like the five wise virgins.

As we learn to obey God with faith, walking in the Spirit, we will be transformed, and conformed more and more into the image of God’s Son.  The Lord knows who His own are, and those who call on His name will depart from iniquity!  As the blessed hope of His coming again to establish forever the Kingdom of God grows within us, we will purify ourselves, even as He is pure.

What time is it?  What day is it?  I don’t know; but even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Who I Am In Messiah – 14 Jan 2015

Who are you?  Has anyone ever asked you that question?  Were they genuinely interested in knowing who you are, or were they challenging you?  Did you know how to answer the question?  Let’s look at a scene in the Bible, and how this question and answer can help us know who we are, our identity:

Jn 8:12-30 (23-25)   And [Yeshua] said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.  Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I Am He, you will die in your sins.”  Then they said to Him, “Who are You!?”  And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.”

Yeshua was being challenged and threatened by the religious leaders in His day, trying to find a way to justify not accepting Him as Messiah.  It is interesting for us, who do know that Jesus IS the Messiah, how His answer to them as to who He is takes them back, I believe, not only to when He began His public ministry, but to “the beginning”, reminding them (and us) of Gen 1:1 (and of Jn 1:1; 1Jn 1:1).  We know that Yeshua is YEHOVAH in the flesh-and-blood body, and He has been speaking to His people “from the beginning”.  He had been speaking to them, and doing His marvelous works, testifying that He is YEHOVAH, the promised Messiah, the Son of God.  YEHOVAH was visiting His people, bringing salvation.  Yeshua is the Light of life.

To know who I am in Messiah/Christ – to know my identity as a person and a believer in Yeshua/Jesus – I need to know who Yeshua really is, since my identity is connected with Him and His name.  YHVH God has revealed Himself to us in personal ways by telling us His names.

He first reveals Himself by name to Moses, when He tells him that He is “I Am Who I Am”, and that He is the God of our fathers:  YEHOVAH, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob. (Ex 3:14-15; Mt 22:32)  Being that God Is Who He Is, He has revealed Himself to be, among other things:

El Shaddai – God Almighty (Gen 17:1)
Ehiyeh – I Am (Ex 3:14; Jn 8:24)
YHVH (YEHOVAH) — Eternal, Self-existing One (Ex 6:2-4)
YHVH Jireh – YHVH Will See [and Provide] (Gen 22:14)
YHVH Rophe – YHVH [our] Healer (Ex 15:26)
YHVH Nissi – YHVH my Banner (Ex 17:15)
YHVH M’Kadeshchem – YHVH your Sanctifier (Lev 20:8; 11:44-45; 1Cor 1:2)
YHVH Shalom – YHVH [our] Peace (Jud 6:24; Eph 2:14)
YHVH Tzidkeinu – YHVH our Righteousness (Jer 23:6; 2Cor 5:21)
YHVH Ro’i – YHVH my Shepherd (Ps 23:1)
YHVH Shammah – YHVH is There (Ezek 48:35)
YHVH Tsva’ot – YHVH of Hosts (Is 6:3-5; Jn 12:37-41)
El Elyon – God Most High (Gen 18:19)
El Ro’eh – God who Sees (Gen 16:13)
El Olam – Everlasting God (Gen 21:33)
El Gibor, Pele Yoetz, Sar Shalom, Aviad – Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace,
Everlasting Father (Is 9:6)
Tzemach – Plant (‘Branch’) (Is 42; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8)
Father – (Ex 4:22; Is 9:6; Mt 6:9)
Netzer – Root branch (Is 11:1; Mt 2:23)
Yeshua – Savior (Mt 1:21)
Immanuel – God with us (Mt 1:23; Is 7:14; Lev 26:12; 2Cor 6:16)
Messiah – Anointed One (Dan 9:25; Mt 1:16; 27:22)
The Son of Man (Dan 7:13-14; Jn 3:13-15; Mt 26:63-64)
The Son of God (Pr 30:4; Mt 16:16)
The Word of God – (Jn 1:1; Rev 19:13)

Some of these names we use for our God in general, but some of them apply also to Messiah Himself, for Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is YHVH! (Phlp 2:11; Is 6:3-5; Jer 23:6)  In His conception, life, works, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus fulfills the essence of these names which describe Who He Is.  Just as YHVH placed His name upon the Children of Israel through the priestly blessing (Num 6:24-26), so, too, is the name of Christ upon those who belong to Him in New Covenant relationship. (Acts 11:26; 1Pt 4:12-16; Is 65:15)  We are children of God if we are in Christ/Messiah: God has become my Father; we have become His children! (1Jn 3:1-3)  We, in Christ, are sons and daughters of the Creator and King of the universe!   In Messiah, we are heirs with Him of all things! (Mk 12:7; Lk 12:32; Heb 1:2; 12:28)  We all may know believers who have an identity crisis, either for not accepting who they are in the flesh (our natural origin), or else for not identifying themselves in Christ with Him.

I remember growing up as a Jewish boy in a gentile Christian society.  In synagogue we learned that we Jews believed in the one true living God.  We read in the Bible (only the O.T. for us!) that God spoke to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, etc.  God not only spoke the worlds into existence, but He also spoke with people!  When God speaks to someone, His life is forever affected!  When God speaks to someone, He is revealing something about Himself, and the one spoken to knows that there are implications from hearing God’s voice.

I heard God’s voice just as I got saved through believing that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord.  This became part of my testimony to my Jewish family:  we had learned that Adonai our God was living, and that He spoke to people that we read about in the Tanach.  So, He also spoke to me; and He said, “Go to Israel.”  As I just said, there are implications when God speaks to you.  Jesus made Israel home for me, and for Randi – and now for our children and grandchildren.

After a couple of days from hearing this, God spoke to me again.  The Holy Spirit said, “Jesus died for you, and because of you and your sins, and has brought you home to your Father in Heaven.”  These two occasions forever changed the whole course of my and my family’s life, and has affected my knowledge of who God is, and who I am – all because I have repented and believed the gospel.  God is the Messiah! Jesus is the Messiah; He is the Lord; Jesus is God manifested in the flesh!

Believing the good news, and hearing God’s voice – both audibly and also through reading the Scriptures and hearing others speak or preach –  ­­have helped me to know who I am in Christ.  When the religious leaders went to John the Baptizer to find out who he was, he answered that he was “a voice of one crying in the desert [to make straight the way of YHVH”. (Jn 1:23; Is 40:3)   When I am asked by people in the context of religious identity (which is what Yeshua and John were being asked), I say, “I am a believer in Yeshua/Jesus“.

And among other things:
–I am a male person, a son of Adam.
–I am an Israeli Jew, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.
–I am a Christian, since Yeshua is the Messiah/Christ, the netzer root and offspring of David; and I am in Him, belong to Him, and follow Him.
–I am a child/son of God.
–God is my Father.
–I am your brother.
–Jesus is not only the Lord and the Savior, but my Savior and my Lord.
–I am a new creation.
–I am a saint.
–I am a servant of Yeshua, who died for me and gave me hope and a future; He has given me purpose and significance and an everlasting destiny with Him.
–I am a stranger and pilgrim on the Earth (a Hebrew!).
–I am an exhorter, to strengthen and encourage especially other believers to stand in the faith, and to know that the God of Israel is the living God, that Jesus is the truth, and the Word of God is true.

My experience of receiving the Holy Spirit, of God telling me to go to Israel, of my being a sinner who personally needs a Savior – these are all found in the Bible as true from God. (Joel 2:28-29; Ezek 36:22-29; Zech 12:10; Acts 3:17-26)  I can verify these experiences as being from the one true God because they are in accordance with His written Word.

To know who we are in Messiah, what do we need to do?  What Abraham our father in the faith did; what Saul, who is better known as Paul the apostle, did:  they each believed the word which the living God spoke to them, and they obeyed with faith the revelation and vision which they received. (Acts 26:19; Heb 11:8-19)  Do not shrink back, and our God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – will confirm and strengthen the call, the election for salvation, and our identity in Messiah, for we are hid with Him in God. (Heb 10:39; Col 3:3)

Let’s close with the Holy Spirit-inspired words to us through the apostle John, our brother in Messiah (1Jn 3:1-3):

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God:  therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not.

Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be:  but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.

And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.”

The Birth of Yeshua Is A Blessing to Israel and to All Peoples – 19 Dec 2014

The God of Israel is a God who speaks.  He spoke the creation into existence!  He spoke to Adam, to Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David – to many others.  We see that He spoke to the Prophets of Israel; and Yeshua, after His ascension to the right hand of the Father, spoke to the Apostles Peter, Paul, John in the New Testament.  God speaks, and it is good for those to whom He speaks when they listen to His voice. (Heb 3:12-12 – 4:1)

Psa 85:8-9 (9-10 Heb)   I will hear what God Yehovah will speak; for He will speak  peace to His people, and to His saints; but let them not turn again to folly.  Surely His salvation is near those that fear Him, so that glory may dwell in our land.

What does God speak concerning the birth of His only-begotten Son, Yeshua?  Let’s look at how Yeshua’s birth is meant to be a blessing to Israel and to all peoples.

Let’s begin with what Yehovah God spoke to the serpent (the devil) in the  Garden of Eden in the presence of the first man and woman at the beginning of history, for us who believe that the prophecies which God gave of a Savior and a Deliverer are fulfilled in Jesus.

Gen 3:15  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

God speaks here of the Seed of the woman, implying that a male child – a son — would be born through a woman, and that this ‘good’ male would defeat the ‘evil’ seed of the evil one.

What does YHVH God speak to Abram (Abraham), the man whom He chose to cut a covenant with and to make his name great?:

Gen 12:3  And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you all families of the earth shall be blessed.

For us who believe in Yeshua as also the Son of Abraham and Son of Adam, we hear God speak that He will guard the honor and dignity of this Seed of the woman.

What does the Holy Spirit tell us through Paul about this spoken promise to our father, Abraham?:

Gal 3:7-9  Therefore know that those of faith, these are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all nations be blessed.”  So then those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

God is speaking peace to His people, and to His godly ones (hasidov); He is blessing them in connection with the good news of this child to be born, this son to be given. (Is 9:6-7; Hag 2:19b)

The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob had promised a New Covenant to His sinful people, by which He would forgive them their sins – blessing them with peace. (Jer 31:31-34)

Now we are ready to read the account of Yeshua’s birth, and to listen to what God is speaking to His people Israel, and to all peoples, concerning this male child who was born not too far from here about 2018 years ago:

Lk 2:1-14   And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.  (This taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be registered, each to his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee to be taxed (out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David).

And he took Mary his betrothed wife, being with child.  And while they were there, the days for her deliverance were fulfilled.  And she brought forth her son, the first-born, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger– because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were grievously afraid.  And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this is a sign to you:  You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

God is speaking good news of peace to His people Israel until today with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God; but not to the Jewish people only, but also to all peoples:  “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men!” (Mt 28:18-20)  This is the blessing which God proclaims from the birth of His Son, King of Israel, to sinful people everywhere.  And for those who do believe in Him – His godly ones — His birth carries with it the promise of His coming again to rule in righteousness, as King of kings and Lord of lords! (Is 9:6-7):

Rev 12:1-5  And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head,  and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear.  And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads!  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child.  And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

In these days when darkness is covering the nations, let us, as sons of light, not return to our former way of life, but let us shine brightly with the good news of hope, encouraging one another as we continue on the way, and proclaiming God’s desire that all should believe on His Son, and inherit everlasting life.  Messiah has come, and is coming again quickly!  (It accomplishes no good to answer an inquiring person with the confusing controversy over the timing or sanctity of this great marvel.)  This is our peace and blessed hope which all the saints and godly ones have, who hear what YHVH God speaks to Israel, and to the Church of God, for all peoples.

PRAISE TO HIM WHO SITS UPON THE THRONE, AND TO THE LAMB!

Gen 3:15   And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

Ex 12:1-7   And Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be to you the beginning of months/new things.  It shall be the first month of the year to you.  Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb for a father’s house, a lamb for a house.  And if the household is too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take according to the number of the souls, each one, according to the eating of his mouth, you shall count concerning the lambYour lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.  You shall take from the sheep or from the goats.  And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month.  And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slaughter it in the evening.  And they shall take some of the blood and strike on the two side posts and upon the upper door post of the houses in which they shall eat it.

Ex 12:11-14   . . .It is Yehovah’s Passover.  For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast.  And I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt.  I am Yehovah.  And the blood shall be a sign to you upon the houses where you are.  And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  And the plague shall not be upon you for a destruction when I smite in the land of Egypt.  And this day shall be a memorial to you.  And you shall celebrate it as a feast to Yehovah throughout your generations.  You shall keep it as a feast by a law forever.

Is 53:7   He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

Mt 5:3-5   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Mt 11:28-30   Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Mt 1: 18-23   Now the birth of Jesus Christ was this way: after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph, her husband to be, being just, and not willing to make her a public example, purposed to put her away secretly.  And as he thought upon these things, behold, an angel of Yehovah appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take to you Mary as your wife.  For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS/YESHUA, for He shall save His people from their sins.  Now all this happened so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and will bear a son.  And they will call His name Immanuel,” which being interpreted is, God with us.

Lk 2:30-35   For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken by him.  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this One is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Jn 1:29    . . .Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Mt 27:25-26,29-30   Then all the people answered and said, Let His blood be on us and on our children.  Then he released Barabbas to them.  And when he had flogged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. . . . And plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand.  And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, Hail, O King of the Jews!  And spitting on Him, they took the reed and struck Him on His head.

Lk 23:34a   And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

1Cor 5:7   . . .Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

2Cor 13:4   For even if He was crucified out of weakness, yet He lives by the power of God.  For indeed even we are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.  

1Pt 1:17-19   And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to the work of each one, pass the time of your earthly residence in fear, knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  

Rev 5   And I saw a book in the right hand of Him sitting on the throne, written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book and to loosen its seals?  And no one in Heaven, nor on the Earth, nor under the earth, was able to open the book or to look at it.  And I wept very much, because no one was found worthy to open and to read the book, nor to look at it.  And one of the elders said to me, Do not weep.  Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals of it

And I looked, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, amidst the elders, a Lamb stood, as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.  And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him sitting on the throne.  And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slaughtered and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth.  

And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and the living creatures and the elders.  And the number of them was myriads and myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.  And I heard every creature which is in the Heaven and on the Earth, and under the earth, and those that are in the sea, and all who are in them, saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.  And the four living creatures said, Amen.  And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the One living forever and ever.

Rev 6:12-17   And when He had opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake.  And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.  And the stars of heaven fell to the Earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs when she is shaken by a mighty wind.  And the Heavens departed like a scroll when it is rolled together.  And every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.  And they said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath has come, and who will be able to stand?

Rev 7:1-4   And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth so that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God.  And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the Earth and the sea, saying, Do not hurt the Earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.  And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousands, having been sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.

Rev 7:9-17   After these things I looked, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands.  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb.  And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God, saying, Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.  

And one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these who are arrayed in white robes, and from where do they come?  And I said to him, Sir, you know.  And he said to me, These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes, and have whitened them in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His temple.  And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.  They will not hunger any more, nor thirst any more, nor will the sun light on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and will lead them to the fountains of living waters. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Rev 12:10-11   And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Messiah/Christ.  For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony. And they did not love their soul until death.

Rev 19:6-8   And I heard as the sound of a great multitude, and as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of strong thunders, saying, Hallelujah!  For Yehovah God omnipotent reigns!  Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him.  For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.

Rev 21:9-10,12,14,22-23   And one of the seven angels who had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God. . . . she had a great and high wall with twelve gates. . .and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel. . . .And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them were the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. . . . And I saw no temple in it, for Yehovah God of Hosts and the Lamb are its temple.  And the city had no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they might shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Rev 22:1-6   And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of its street, and of the river, from here and from there, was the Tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each yielding its fruit according to one month.  And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And every curse will no longer be; but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will serve Him.  And they will see His face, and His name will be in their foreheads.  And there will be no night there.  And they need no lamp, or light of the sun; for Yehovah God gives them light.  And they will reign forever and ever.  And he said to me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show to His servants the things which must shortly be done.


(2 Tim 4:1; Heb 10:26-31   Yeshua, the Son of God and Son of Man, will judge the living and the dead, because He is the Lamb who was slaughtered and crucified, shedding His blood, to redeem us that we might be saved to live with God forever.  God the Creator will judge each one in his relationship to the Redeemer Lamb and to His blood.)

VISION: MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM

A leader is responsible to carry and direct those under his authority towards a goal.  It may be to win a battle in a war; or to build a winning team; or to govern a country to preserve its freedoms and values.

An elder or overseer or pastor in a church is responsible to rule the household of God and to bring God’s children to maturity, to function as ‘adults’, and for them to carry on the integrity of the process.  

What is the goal, though?  A leader can not lead beyond what he himself knows or understands to be the purpose.  There may be different ways of reaching the same goal, but these all need to conform to the character of the one who has set the goal.  

There is much in what I, as pastor/elder of Nachalat Yeshua Cong., am limited.  But we are a body that is supposed to build itself up in love towards the goal which God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has set before us.  

There is spiritual power from the Holy Spirit when we are seeing what God’s purpose is, and have the willingness to obey Him with persevering faith and love until we get there.  To God be the glory!  

Heb 11:8-10,13-16   Abraham saw City of God; dwelt in Land of Promise as in a foreign land; dwelt in tents  

Gen 13:9   Abram and Lot:  go wherever you (Lot) see and want; the whole land was given by YHVH to Abram  

Rev 1:7  revelation of Jesus Christ coming in great power and glory, and all shall see Him and mourn  

Phlp 3:3-8   to know Messiah, Son of Man/Son of God  

Num 9:15-23; Ex 40:34-38   In the wilderness, the cloud would move – sit – move at different intervals, leading the people onward through the wilderness to the Promised Land — not to settle down too much in the wilderness, since the goal was/is the Promised Land.   

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth – and throughout this universe – for 1000 years.  His coming is that towards which all history and current events are converging.  This, too, is God’s work to bring about the ultimate purpose of this creation and His redemption through the cross:  the new heavens and new earth, with the heavenly New Jerusalem, the city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God, planned for all those who love the Father and His Son:  that which is perfect to come.

ISRAEL 2015: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE MESSIANIC BODY

(Shared at opening of new TOS church center in Tubingen, Germany, Sept 9, 2011)

It is difficult to know what will be tomorrow, so I will speak of what I believe to be God’s purpose as we look ahead to what will be four years from now within the Messianic Body in Israel.

1.  God, as a Father, is regathering His scattered children – both geographically and also spiritually.  He is bringing His dysfunctional family into order.  Jewish people are called Children of Israel; Israel is the first-born of nations; Abraham is the father of many nations, and of all who believe; we who believe in Yeshua are children of God through redemption, and Yeshua/Jesus is the first-born of many brothers and sisters. (Eph 3:14-15)  The Holy Spirit will be carrying this out through to the last trumpet.

2.  The Holy Spirit is fulfilling the Word of God, and will continue to do so through to the end, with 2015 falling somewhere in between.  This is extremely important to let sink well into our hearts and  minds.  We may have our own thoughts and ideas, but the Holy Spirit has completely the mind of God and of Christ/Messiah.  We know only in part, and that part as through a cloudy glass.

3.  The Holy Spirit will be working in the Messianic Body in Israel – and everywhere else, too, in the world – to bring not only more persons to repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, but also to bring the believers to full maturity – to the fullness of the reality of the one new man in Messiah, the image and likeness of the Son of God(Eph 4:11-16; Col 1:19-23; Gal 6:14-15; Eph 2:14-16)  We are a new creation, and are being sanctified and purified.

4.  God is not going back to the first century, but finishing what He has begun:  bringing to full maturity; bringing in the full harvest at the end of the age; preparing the Bride for the Lamb; preparing us to endure the sufferings and the shame of the cross; answering the prayer of Yeshua for full union and love within those who are hid with Messiah in God (Phlp 1:6; Col 1:28; Mt 13:39; Rev 19:6-9; 1Cor 1:23-25; Heb 13:13; Jn 17:20-26; Is 41:17-20; Col 3:3-4)  Our boast is to be in the cross of our Lord and Savior, not buying into the world’s ambitions.

5.  The Holy Spirit is preparing the believers and the people of Israel for the hope of the coming of Yeshua.
    –Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
    –Blessed is He who comes in the name of YEHOVAH!
       — Gentiles still treading down Jerusalem so that the Jews’ heart-cry and hope is only in Him who comes in the  name of YEHOVAH/Yeshua/Jesus to save them (Mt 23:37-39; Lk 21:24; Ps 137:4-6; Acts 4:10-12)
    — The whole creation is groaning for this:  are we groaning?!
    –God’s peace plan is the shed blood of His Son on the cross.

6.  Unity through tribulation, a purifying baptism of fire from the Lord (Acts 14:22; Phlp 3:8-15; Rev 3:18-22)
   –Troubles bring us together.
   –Endure to the end and overcome by faith.
   –The word for the ‘narrow’ road and  for ‘trouble/tribulation’ is the same in Hebrew:  tzara.  The Holy Spirit will bring us all into that narrow road that leads to life, and cause us to love one another through this unity of purpose.

VISION: PATIENCE TILL THE HARVEST

Lk 12:42-43   And the Lord said, ‘Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.   

Ja 5:7-12   Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patientEstablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.   

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.  Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!  My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the LORD, as an example of suffering and patience.  Indeed we count them blessed who endure.  You have heard of the perserverance of Job and seen the end of the Lord – that the LORD is very compassionate and merciful.  

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by Heaven or by Earth or with any other oath.  But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and ‘no’ ‘no’, lest you fall into judgment 

Patience of Hope
1Thes 1:3   remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ  

Rom 5:2b-5a   and rejoice in hope of the glory of GodAnd not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character hope.  Now hope does not disappoint. . . .  

Example of Prophetic Patience and Endurance
Heb 11:37   Isaiah said to have been sawn asunder
Jer 38:6   Jeremiah was thrown into a pit with no water, but mire that he sunk into
Job         did not curse God, and have faith and hope that he would see his Redeemer in the flesh

 

Patience with Humility and Self-Control in Trusting God 
Mt 5:33-37  Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not swear at all:  neither by Heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the Earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and ‘no’ ‘no’.  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.  

VISION

Often when people are asked, ‘What is your vision?’, the answers range from:  ‘to be used by God for His glory’; or, ‘to see the young people on fire for Jesus’; or, ‘to start a discipleship program for Israeli believers after the army’; or, ‘to plant x number of churches in the next five years’; or, ‘the salvation of Israel’.  

All of these are good things to desire, but all are not “vision”.  Of those which are ‘visions’, some are shorter range than others; some are things to carry through to a longer-range objective; some are dependent on factors not in our control.  God will use all of these things towards His objectives.  

A true vision will originate from God; it will not originate from myself or from someone else.  

There is a fundamental principle that the Lord has given His disciples:  Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mt 6:33)  In the context of what Yeshua was teaching, He is referring to food and clothing – our most basic needs.  Yet the whole of the Bible is instructing and directing us to seek first the will of God for our lives, and the other things will fall into place at the right time to fulfill His purposes for us, in us, through us – for His glory, and our good, as He fulfills His own ‘vision’ (not dream).  What is in God’s ‘sight’?; what does He see?; where is He going and leading us, and how are we going to get there?  

Jn 3:3   Jesus answered and said to [Nicodemus], ‘Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’  

Our vision of the Kingdom of God begins with the new birth by the Holy Spirit.  It is for this vision which Messiah taught us to pray:  “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  

Pr 29:18   Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the Law.
   —Rev 3:8,10   I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little  strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. . . .Because you have kept My command to  persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which shall come. . . . .

   —Mt 10:22   And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.  

   —Mt 24:12-13   And because lawlessness will increase, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  

Brothers and sisters, we are saved by faith.  It is faith — in who Jesus is and what He has done for us sinners on the cross — till the end (or at the end) that will be our salvation.   Not by our works or even our obedience, but we will be judged for our works and obedience as believers, which will affect our future and eternal rewards, and our present usefulness.  (Lk 18:9-14 

   —Lk 12:40-46   Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.  Then Peter said to [Yeshua], Lord, do You speak this parable to us, or to all?  And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But, if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming’, and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint his portion with the unbelievers.  

Brothers and sisters, our Lord and Savior exhorts and admonishes us to hold fast to what we have received, not to give up our hope, not to lose sight of the vision of His coming and of the Kingdom of God, and so cast off restraint and become unruly.  Blessed is he who keeps the Law of Messiah!