Rejoice! And Again I Say, Rejoice!

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

Dt 16:13-15

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

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

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah (the Joy of the Torah) is the Jewish celebration of the Torah, or the Law of Moses given by YHVH to Israel at Sinai. In the synagogues they not only conclude the reading of the five books of Moses which are read throughout the year, but they also begin to read Genesis again to begin the new cycle as an expression of their joy in the Law of Moses, which for them is more ‘holy’ and authoritative than the other portions of the Old Testament (Tenach).

Yeshua stood and cried out on this last great day of the Feast that all who are thirsty should come unto Him and drink, and out of their hearts would flow rivers of living water. From a Messianic perspective, the Law of Moses leaves one dry and thirsty, and it is the Messiah, YHVH God come in the flesh, the Word of God become flesh, who alone can refresh tired and weary souls incapable of pleasing God by works of the Law. There is a connection between the Gospel and the Word becoming flesh: both words – gospel and flesh – have the same Hebrew root, bet-seen-resh (ב-ש-ר). We have the bread of communion to remind us.

Returning to the uniqueness of Yeshua, He is also the “poretz”, the one who breaks open (or breaks through) of Mic 2:13. He is described in that verse as being the King, who is YHVH! What is significant about all this for Simchat Torah? In some of the Jewish sources since the time of Yeshua, the rabbis have said that the poretz is the Messiah, and that He has the full authority – which only resides in God the Father – to bring renewal to the Torah and to properly define it! Despite all that they say, they obviously remain partially hardened and blinded to the truth of Messiah being Yeshua/Jesus. Anyone but Him! Until . . . the fullness of the Gentiles comes in to the Commonwealth of Israel, and then the full remnant of Israel and the Jewish people see Him whom they have pierced, and their souls are afflicted for all their sinfulness towards God and His covenants with them. (Hos 5:15)

This 8th day celebration marks the end of Succot/the Feast of Booths. May the Jewish people all over the world return back to the God of their fathers through the One who has broken through the heavens and become like unto us for redemption and salvation, and rejoice in Him! Yeshua alone gives peace and satisfies the soul. The Law of Messiah is superior to that of Moses, and the love which is God’s will eternally be lived out in those who love Him! May we see the Lord’s return in our generation!

Please pray:
–for the salvation of the Jewish people
–for Gentile Christian believers to provoke Israel to jealousy, and to show mercy to the nation and people
–for God to bring HIS peace to Jerusalem

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 25 Dec 2012

As a Jew, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas when I became a believer, partly because it wasn’t “Jewish”, and partly because it was too paganized and commercialized. But the Lord began to show me that my reasons were not all correct. In my other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. The truth of God is not pagan, and it happened right here in Israel among Jewish people, as prophesied by the prophets of YHVH  long before.

Much of what people do with God’s holy things is to defile them, to paganize them, and Satan is the cheerleader in this, along with our own propensity to be drawn away by what seems ‘good in our eyes’, and to fit in with the surrounding unholy and unclean culture.  As a Jew, I have examined and judged myself and my people for FIRST doing what Christians also do; yet, we continue to keep the Passover (in the light of the New Covenant and greater Passover). We continue to acknowledge Purim and Hanukkah, even though, like Christmas, God did not ordain them, but believers did unto Him and for the people to celebrate God’s mighty acts on their behalf, in keeping with His covenantal promises, despite their own general and widespread unfaithfulness and tendency to heathen practices.  Purim especially has been paganized, and is more like Carnival and Halloween.  God has historically intervened in the lives of His people and of the rest of humanity, redeeming days, etc., so that these times become connected with His redemption, while remaining mere worldly, even pagan, occasions for those not in covenant relationship with Him

It is true, as the Lord spoke through Amos and others, that He hates our sacrifices and fasts and holidays: in other words, when we are doing them according to our own understanding and culture, and not for Him and His honor. That is what I am trying to express: that we should keep His celebrations as a freewill offering in a manner that does honor and please Him, and fills us with thanksgiving and joy in the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that there is much more evidence in Scripture to warrant Yeshua’s birth around this time (Haggai 2 refers several times to the 24th of the 9th [Hebrew Israeli] month Chislev, which corresponds with the first night of Hanukkah that occurred hundreds of years later and corresponds to the Western Christian calendar of the evening of 24th of December), but did not fulfill what the last verses speak of: Yeshua’s coming in the flesh at birth does begin that overthrow, first in our own hearts, and ultimately in all peoples and nations, including Israel. Mary’s new song in Luke 1 expresses her own understanding in faith and hope of what the Lord spoke through Haggai, and other prophets.  The true and brighter and eternal Light that shines in the darkness is not extinguished, and should be given much higher priority over celebrations of mere oil or candle lights that burn out.

The reason that Jewish people as a whole do not celebrate the Lord’s birth is because they do not believe in Jesus, even though the first ones who did celebrate with the angels were Israeli Jews! Neither do the Jewish people, along with many nominal Christians, celebrate His resurrection, also because of unbelief. But the Holy Spirit has brought Gentile Christians into the Commonwealth of Israel through their faith in the promised Messiah to Israel, and have celebrated His life, and His suffering and death, and His resurrection and ascension, and the hope of His coming again — whether with faith or without — for most of this age.

I have put together a timeline that brings together and reconciles all of the appointed/set times, and those which God accepted from His people, to show Yeshua’s birth:  http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Just as the second coming of the Lord will be at a time, and a day and an hour, not expected, well. . . it seems that so was His first coming!  The winter objection pre-supposes that the God of Nature can not do something extraordinary to declare His glory, just as I believe He did the night of the Lord’s betrayal, when it was so chilly on a Spring night (and it’s possible that Passover was a late date that year), that Peter and others kept themselves warm with a fire. And the sheep, as far as I have heard others say, were sacrificial sheep, and were handled differently, and were outside yearly. But since these things are not understood by ‘babes’ anyway, they are not central to resolving the controversy. That Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with us does not mean that He was therefore born at the Feast of Tabernacles, which actually is the Feast of Booths (succot). The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, and is more permanent than a temporary booth. And the priestly course of Abia (Aviyah) is not certain of its annual cycle, nor can we be sure of how the Jewish rulers at that time were regulating matters, since the whole system had become corrupt. But I have read sites that have decided to assume a particular cycle and time, but acknowledging that if another were taken, then it puts John’s father in the Holy Place at a time in a context that Yeshua would be born as tradition maintains. The whole counsel of God together unfolds His revelatory plan and purpose, and Scripture interprets Scripture, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.

Since YHVH is a Man of War and the God of Armies/Hosts, He is not going to reveal things before it’s necessary, because there is an enemy with certain liberty to do what he will in this world, who likes to pre-empt things to ‘muddy the waters’, like he has with the Queen of Heaven, and the whole saturnalia bit. Even if the date of Christmas is the same as saturnalia, the God of gods has come and taken the day for Himself! Passover is celebrated by the heathen and unbelieving Jews even as merely a Spring festival and celebration of freedom. But God’s freedom is for us to serve and worship Him, not to remain independent from Him nor to remain slaves to sin and unbelief.

Despite all, let us take a stand of faith for the name of Christ/Messiah, who is Jesus/Yeshua, our great God and Savior.

God bless you, and, yes, Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2013 in Messiah,
Howard

THE FEASTS OF YHVH AND THE FINAL HARVEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALL NATIONS WILL WORSHIP YHVH GOD – 6 Oct 2006

Zech 14:16-19   And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came againstJerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, YHVH of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the Earth do not come up toJerusalemto worship the King, YHVH of Hosts, on them there will be no rain.  If the family ofEgyptwill not come up and enter in, they shall not have rain; they shall receive the plague with which YHVH strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Booths.  This shall be the punishment of Egyptand the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Booths.

There is a battle in the spiritual realm over the nations.  God has always had a plan for the nations, and He is the one who has established their borders, WITH THE INTENT THAT THEY SEEK HIM, THE GOD OF gods, AND FIND HIM WHO IS OUR VERY LIFE (Gen 10:32; Acts 17:26-28).  On the Day of Atonements the Jewish people read in the synagogues every year the book of the prophet Jonah.  It is interesting that that is the book from the Bible which is read, since the Messiah Yeshua told the Jews, who were demanding from Him another sign from Heaven to prove who He was, that He would give them no other sign than Jonah, who was,  by the way, a prophet fromGalilee.  In the book of Jonah we learn that God sent him to preach repentance and judgment to an enemy people, to the city-stateNineveh.  The king ofNineveh used his authority to call ALL of those living in the great city to seek mercy from the God of Heaven and Earth: the God of Israel who is also the true God over all the nations.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to everyone everywhere, because ALL authority has been given to the Son of God, and He calls nations to repentance.  Those persons within each nation who hear and believe today can have their sins forgiven, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the free gift of eternal life.  Those who do not believe today have no guarantee for tomorrow, but the Lord will have mercy on a remnant in every nation who fear YHVH and do good to those who are Jews or Christians especially, and bring them into His Kingdom at His coming again.

When God the Father chose Abram (Abraham), from whom eventually came the nation ofIsrael, YHVH revealed Himself toIsraelwhom He called to be His special treasure in the Earth among the nations.  He also acknowledged that the other nations had their gods, and that His people were not to go after them or to worship them, even when God scattered the Jewish people into the other nations as a judgment for unfaithfulness to Him, the God of gods and the Creator and Redeemer.  Remember last week we spoke of the marriage covenant which reflects God’s covenant withIsrael.

Satan had authority over the kingdoms of this world, which he received when Adam sinned.  But Jesus, through His sacrificial death on the cross to take away the sin of the world, has bought back for the one true living God ALL the creation – including the nations – and now has been given ALL authority in Heaven and on Earth.  We pray, “…lead us not unto temptation, but deliver us from the evil [one], FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FOREVER AND EVER.  AMEN!”

Ps 72:17-19   His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun.  And all shall    be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed.

Blessed be YHVH God, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things!
And blessed be His glorious name forever!  And the whole Earth will be filled with His glory!
Amen and amen!

The Joy of Fellowship in the Truth of God’s Love – 1 Oct 2004

1Pet 1:3-9 we rejoice greatly in Him whom we love for saving our souls

On the Day of Atonements last Shabbat, the Jewish believers amongst us then did a very significant thing (Neh 9:2):  we accepted and confessed our sin and rebellion against YHVH our God (Lev 26:40) and against His Son, the Messiah Jesus (Mt 27:25).

As priests of God in Christ – and as sons of our fathers, whether in the time of Moses or whether in the days of Yeshua – we have a responsibility to accept our personal and collective guilt for our iniquity, transgressions, and sins against God and against our fellow man (Lev 16:11,15,17,21).  We are connected to our people both in promises and in judgment, according to God’s covenants with us.  God has an historic plan of redemption throughout the generations and history of man to bring about His purposes to live with all those who love His Son, Jesus Christ, and know Him as Savior and Lord.

All of the appointed times of YHVH – Sabbath, Passover, Shavuot, Succot – remind Jews (and Christians) that the Creator redeemed and delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt (Dt 16:6,12; Lev 23:43).  They are also based upon sacrifices of blood, the blood of covenant with God and His people.

As I have mentioned times before, the Passover was a sacrifice and a deliverance by grace and power, apart from the reckoning of sin.  But it did require faith and obedience on the part of the Israelis in Egypt to put the blood of the slaughtered lambs upon their door posts and remain inside their homes.  From Shavuot, with the giving of the Law, the people became aware of the holiness and righteousness of the great God and Savior who had saved them and promised to give them the land which He promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and to their descendants.  The people of Israel “became” sinners, who had to offer all kinds of sacrifices in acknowledgement of his or her sin and guilt and defilement.  The Day of Atonements was the national day of corporate cleansing by the Holy God through the sacrifice of the goat to YHVH and the sending away to live in the wilderness the other goat to Azazel, laden with all the sins of the children of Israel.  This, too, is all of grace, but requiring the personal application of the Israeli to him-/herself, lest he/she disqualify himself from inclusion as a member of the family of God.

Now we come to the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated with great rejoicing (Dt 16:13-15), because not only is the final harvest of fruit gathered, but God Himself will dwell in the midst of His people! (Ezek 37:21-28; Lev 26:11-13).  The sacrifice has been accepted, and the people rejoicing in the goodness and love of the Lord!

For us now as believers in Jesus, we have a better sacrifice and already enjoy the pledge of the fullness of God’s presence with us.  The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and there is great joy in the love of the Father when we live with thanksgiving by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross when He died for our sins.  There is great joy to know God’s power working on our behalf, and of His righteous ways.  The blood of the Son of God cleanses our conscience, which all the blood of animals could not and will not accomplish.

The booth (succa) reminds us of our temporary life here, both in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, and in our actual lives as we anticipate the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection.  Through it all, God keeps us and provides for us as we look up at His wondrous creation and consider the ultimate expression of love in giving us His Son for the propitiation of our sins.  The Kingdom of God is presently within us, yet there is joy.  How much more so when the Lord Yeshua returns to bring the Kingdom to Earth, and with it righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit!  All the nations which survive along with the remnant of Israel will be blessed by the presence of the Lord in their midst.  And to demonstrate this – and their understanding that this is all of the one true God – all the nations will come up to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles to worship the King, YHVH of Hosts!

As we celebrate today Succot, we also celebrate with the Lord’s Supper, which is a prophetic reminder that the Lamb who was slain, and for doing so has received all power and authority and blessing and honor and a Name above every name. . . this same Yeshua who ascended up into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father will Himself return to establish God’s Kingdom in Israel and over the whole Earth and universe!

Come, Lord Jesus!