Israel’s New Year and Examining Yeshua as Passover Lamb

Israel’s Biblical New Year begins tomorrow, Mar 17, the first of Nisan.

Let’s look here at how Yeshua was fulfilling the Word of God, who gave a pattern for how the Jewish people were to keep the Passover.  In Exodus, YHVH told Israel that their year would begin in the Spring/Aviv, on the first of the lunar month of Aviv/Nisan, marked by the New Moon.  God told Israel that each family was to choose their lamb for the Passover, and it must be without any imperfections.  They were to choose their lamb on the 10th of that first month.  They were to examine it during the next four days, and, assuming that it was without blemish, to sacrifice it to YHVH on the 14th of the month, at the Full Moon. Continue reading “Israel’s New Year and Examining Yeshua as Passover Lamb”

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)

Three New Years

I remember that before I was a believer, I wondered and asked the question:  Why do we have and remember New Year’s.  I was particularly thinking about the Jewish “New Year” which had become one of the High Holy Days in the synagogue.  The answer that I gave myself, and to my parents, was that there must be Someone who is keeping us (the Jewish people) alive for another year.  It gives an opportunity to thank Him, and to also hope that He would do the same for the next year.

Now, I have what, for me, is a broader and a more personal understanding of the significance of New Years.  YHVH God has given three opportunities to observe a New Year.  He is the God of Creation and of Redemption.  We are all born in the flesh; we  must be born of the Spirit to inherit eternal life.  We are individuals; Israel is a nation, whom God calls His first-born son.  These New Years — new beginnings —  are begun by God, and adopted by His people — whether Israeli Jews, or whether Christians.

YHVH told Israel that for them, the New Year would begin on the first day (the first day of the covered New Moon) of the month of Aviv/Nisan, the first full month of Spring of the Hebrew calendar for Israel.  This New Year focuses on the death of the Lamb of God, who died at the Passover, which is the 14th of that month (a Full Moon).  Israel does not perceive the resurrected sacrificial Lamb, but only the Passover sacrifice for deliverance from Egyptian slavery.  Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah is the Lamb of God who died for the sin and sins of every person, both in Israel and for all humanity for all time.  In His death, all died, for He is the representative Man in God’s ultimate plan of salvation, which He conceived before time began.  This first New Year of God’s redemptive calendar is the foundation of the gospel:  Messiah crucified, and risen from the dead on the day after the Sabbath of the Passover week.  By grace Israel was delivered out of Egyptian bondage; by grace all who believe are saved from sin’s bondage.

At some point in her history, Israel began to observe the civil New Year on the first day (the first day of the covered New Moon) of the seventh month (Tishri/Etanim) on her calendar in the Autumn/Fall.   This may seem strange, yet for Israel, each year they would be forgiven their sins, and God would dwell among them for the next year, which the Feast of Booths commemorates with joyful celebration, two full weeks after the beginning of the month, marked by the light of the Full Moon. And the Jubilee year is marked from the Day of Atonements, which falls on the 10th of the same month.  Jubilee is a new beginning for slaves, prisoners, debtors and creditors, and land possessions.  The Day of Atonements is the day of the LORD, in which those who accept YHVH God’s sacrifice for forgiveness of sins — both personal and corporate — are saved and justified; and those who refuse His sacrifice and way of righteousness are condemned for their unbelief and unthankfulness.  For an individual — and for Israel as a nation — this experience of being born-again through faith in God’s good news of His Son, truly marks a New Year of a new life in everlasting restored fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It marks new birth, which is needed since we all died with Messiah in His death on the cross.  This new beginning for Jews and for Gentiles upon whom the Lord bestows His mercy will be fully realized at the coming again of the Lord.

The time around the birth of this Son, this Lamb, who was born to die, and to live forevermore to provide for the full reality of the Kingdom of God over all, marks the celebration of the third New Year, and this for all who love Him for who He is and for what He has done, is doing, and will yet do.  God so loved the world that He gave His only unique Son so that whosoever believes in His name should not perish but inherit eternal life.  Yeshua was born near the end of the “world” calendar, in the first month of winter, Chislev/December, on both calendars (and the 9th month beginning with April/Aviv), and puts away the old that the new may come in.  His birth marked a new beginning of God’s intervention in Israel’s and the Gentiles’ affairs in order to take back to Himself all that had been lost by Adam and Eve and subsequent humanity, and deceitfully stolen by the devil to oppose the Sovereign God and His plan that human beings created in His image and likeness would be joint heirs with God’s Son of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus’ circumcision on the 8th day marks the covenant faithfulness to God’s promises given to Abram/Abraham that Israel and the people of God would one day worship Him without fear of any enemies.  We have all been God’s enemies, and the birth, death, and resurrection of the Lord Messiah takes away that enmity in us against Him, and we glorify Him, who is seated on the Throne!

So, to summarize:

All of the New Years have to do with Jesus Christ, and the celebration of Him by those who are God’s chosen and elect. They quicken an expectation of what God will do, based on what He has promised and has already done:

1.  Yeshua’s Death and Resurrection:  The Lamb of God was slain to redeem His people and set them free to serve YHVH God, and Him only.  He was slain before the foundation of the world, according to the perfect plan of God. And this Lamb rose from among the dead to everlasting life to enjoy the fruit of His suffering and sacrifice!  Israel’s calendar begins with YHVH God’s redeeming them from slavery that they may know and serve Him.

2.  Yeshua’s Coming Again:  All who are born-again through faith in the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus begin a new life unto God.  Israel as a nation still has this promise before them when Yeshua returns to save “all Israel”, the preserved remnant from all the tribes who will see Him whom they pierced, and afflict their souls for all their unfaithfulness and unfounded hatred toward Him and the Father. And the Body of Messiah has the hope of the Lord’s return and the resurrection of their bodies, to rule and reign with Him during His kingdom on Earth.

3.  Yeshua’s Birth:  His coming into the world in the flesh, born in order to be our Redeemer – to be the Lamb of God — who died to declare God’s Sovereign righteousness regarding sin, and His grace toward human sinners.  Peace on Earth, goodwill towards mankind!

These three New Years center around the birth, the death and resurrection, and the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ.  For the people of God, they mark natural birth, death, redemption by new birth through faith by the Holy Spirit, and the return of the Lord.  These three events are each memorialized with a ‘new song’: the song of Moses, the song of Mary, and the song of the 144,000 redeemed from the Earth.  They mark progressive time as the Sovereign Lord of history continues onward bringing to pass all that must be. Till now, the Holy Spirit is bringing all to pay homage to the Son, whether they realize it or not, and whether they rejoice in it or not in fellowship with other worshipers of God in spirit and truth!

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. Continue reading “PRAISE TO HIM WHO SITS UPON THE THRONE, AND TO THE LAMB!”

THE NEW MOON: COVERED, OR REVEALED?

(Corrected and/or Revised on 10 Sept 2014; 4 Jan 2015; Mar 2015; June 2015; Aug 2015; Mar 2016; 31 Jan 2018; 30 Aug 2018)

Tonight (March 11, 2013), there is a New Moon.  Do you see it?  What is it that you saw?

This New Moon also marks the beginning of the first month in God’s redemptive calendar year given to Israel, leading up to the Passover on the Full Moon in two weeks. (Ex 12:2)

I am not going to give a teaching here on all that is written concerning the New Moon celebrations given by YHVH to Israel to commemorate, both under the Law of Moses and also in the future Millennial Kingdom (Lev 23:24; Num 10:10; Ezek 46:1-8)The New Testament tells those who are now believers in Yeshua/Jesus not to make too much of days, months, seasons, years, festivals, New Moons, Sabbaths – all of these things being shadows of things to come, but the substance is Messiah. (Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-17) 

The Lord has told us that all of the Scriptures are written about Him, and we know that all of the sacrifices and holidays/appointed times are also fulfilled by Jesus in the entirety of His first coming, and in the anticipation of His coming again to fulfill all that is written in the whole of the Bible, which still waits for the Kingdom of God to come. 

My main purpose here is to try to shed some light on a subject which seems to have been darkened by human reasoning, rather than understood by faith in God’s own Word. We believe by faith, not by sight.  (2Cor 5:7; Heb 11:2) 

In Scripture, we do have references indicating that the sun, the moon, and the stars symbolize the Son, Yeshua; Israel; and, born-again saints, respectively. (Gen 1:14-19; 37:9-11; Mal 4:2Eng; 1Cor 15:40-41; Rev 12:1-2) Yeshua is the glory both of Israel — His people — and of the Church — His Body and Bride. In Him, both find their true identity and fullness. (Is 49:3; Lk 2:32; 1Cor 11:7; Col 2:6-10) 

If we accept the truth that all things are created by God through Messiah Yeshua/Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1-3), and all in Christ find their true identity and purpose, then we can better understand that there is no Israel of God apart from Him; there is no true Church apart from Him.  Even the sun and moon exist only through His creation, but in the eternal New Heavens and New Earth there will be no need for the temporal sun and moon.  Again, these present things are but a shadow of the things to come, whose substance is Christ.  The Israel of God (the Millennial Israel, ultimately, I believe) and the Church of God (those in Christ, whether dead or still living) are identified with YHVH God and His Anointed Son – the Holy Spirit indwelling the born-again believersMessiah in us.

So, is the new moon covered over, that is, darkened?; or, is it a slim crescent, that is, partially revealed or exposed?  The Scriptures are not silent about this, since God commanded Israel to celebrate every New Moon, and to blow the trumpets on that occasion! (Num 10:10)  If Jesus does fulfill the meaning of the New Moon, and if the moon does symbolize Israel, then the answer to whether the New Moon is covered or partially revealed will be consistent with its symbolism.   When the Holy Spirit speaks through Scriptural authority, then it is other voices which need to be silenced, as we “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah…” (2Cor 10:5

There are three Bible references to the New Moon that can help us:
1Sam 20:5   “And David said to Jonathan, ‘Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the King to eat.  But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.'”

From this verse, we can see that David knew when there would be a New Moon, without there being any official ‘spotters’ to watch for it and inform all the others after they had seen it.  David also says that he will be hiding in the field.  How hiding?  Because there would be no light of the moon to help make him detectable in any night-time movements (he would have been hiding out during the day in any event), as he sought to protect himself from the king who sought his life.  (Were the New Moon the first crescent sliver, then each succeeding night the moon would have waxed larger and brighter, making hiding at night more difficult.)  How long did he plan to hide out in the field during the New Moon?  Until the third evening, which is about the length of time for the dark moon to wax as the moon moves from its final light phase to its next crescent moon.   

Amos 8:5   “. . . When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? . . . .”

The heartless people, who were only concerned with their own commercial interests at the expense of the poor and needy, were anxious to know when the beginning-of-the-month New Moon (and also the end-of-the-work-week Sabbath) would be over – and not, “when is it beginning?” — so that they could get back to business and oppress the poor and needy.  If the New Moon were a sliver of light (like the Islamic sign by sight!), there would be no need of the question!  But if the New Moon is darkened by being directly between the Earth and the Sun, it could take up to three days until the light that was hidden to unaided human sight appeared again.  (As an aside, an eclipse of the Sun can occur only at New Moon, while an eclipse of the Moon can occur only at Full Moon:  there is perfect symmetry in the moon’s phases.  And, exactly one half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun:  God always ‘sees’ a Full Moon!)  The oppressors wanted to know when they could again be ‘freed’ from the constraints of the Law of God in whatever way it restricted their greedy, self-serving thoughts and plans.  The commandment to sound the trumpet was for the New Moon beginning, and not for the New Moon ending.  Again, it is a new moon, not a renewed moon:  it is there, yet concealed, signifying the beginning of a new month, not a renewed month.  (Those who would make the first sliver of a crescent moon the New Moon are then putting the darkened phase at the end of the month rather than at the beginning.  This is akin to those who moved Sonday to be the last day of the week rather than the first.)

Montage by Connor Madison

Ps 81:3-4 (Eng)   “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon; at the covering, on our celebration day.  For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.” 

Verse 3 (4 in Hebrew) has been used by many to go through hoops not to accept it for what it plainly and simply says in Hebrew.  The two verses are in parallel.  Verse 4 (5 in Hebrew) says in parallel the same thing:  God gave His instruction to Israel – to Jacob – to celebrate the New Moon.  Verse 3 (4 in Hebrew) is describing when to blow the trumpet:  at the New Moon, which is described as being covered.  (See also Job 26:9, where the Hebrew word is the same; for some reason, all of the translations have either ‘full moon’, or ‘throne’.  The Hebrew word for ‘throne’ is spelled differently than for ‘cover’.  The parallel part of the verse is not describing the time, nor is the verse speaking of two different moon phases, just as the other verse is not speaking of two different peoples.  And, God did not command Israel to blow the trumpets on the Full Moons (which they could, though, when holidays fell on them; e.g., Passover, Feast of Booths, Purim).  The Hebrew word is bakasehכסה), which simply means ‘at the [whole] covering’If something is partially covered, it is not ‘covered’:  it is partly exposed.  We do not speak of ‘covering’ something in some measure of light, but we speak of covering something over.  Light reveals; darkness covers.  Yeshua spoke of letting our light shine, not being hidden under cover of a basket. (Mt 5:14-16)

Identification with, and being the representative Israel (Is 49:3; Gal 4:4-5; Heb 2:14-18), the Man Yeshua came stripped of His visible glory as the Son of God.  But the Sun of Righteousness died, went down in burial (hidden in the secret, dark, lower parts of the Earth), and rose again visibly and triumphantly as the Bright and Morning Star on the third day!  As the risen Savior King and Head of the Church, believers ‘see’ Him clothed in divine light and majesty with the glory that was His before He came to His own, and to the world that He made.  Israel has no glory of her own:  the moon has no light but that of the sun which it reflects.  YHVH called Israel to be a light to the nations, but without receiving her Source of Light, she is darkened until. . . – having an inherent hope of a restoration through the covenant promises of God to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their descendants.  Born-again Christians are a light.  Yeshua has said:  “You are the light of the world. . . . ”  Stars are lights of their own, each with its own glory, but none outshining the glory of the Sun. (1Cor 15:41)  Israel is still hidden from man’s view, as if away from the light of the Sun/Son, whom the nation still rejects because it prefers the darkness (Gen 3:7-10; Jn 3:19-21)  During the New Moon, the illuminated side of the Moon is then pointed away from Earth, but is full in God’s sight, who sees the end from the beginning! (Num 23:18-23)  The Church, through her historic replacement theology presuming that God is finished with Israel, also has consequently rejected the truth from God’s side that Israel’s future is assured. (Jer 31:35-37)  Israel began to be seen since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, and will be seen in her full [moon] glory when she rises up to remember the former glory that was given her by YHVH, and seeks with all her heart the true Son who has risen! (Hos 6:15; Rom 9:4); finally repenting, and accepting the Sun of Righteousness, Yeshua whom she pierced. (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39

The New Moon (which, technically, is only for a brief minute, but can seem to the natural naked eye to be extended over a period of some three days) occurs when the visible side is completely covered from the light of the sun (much like a blanket over us to keep out light) by being directly between it and the Earth.  It is the phase when the moon is ‘out of sight’, and the night, which the moon rules, is less lit.  Yet, the stars are more brilliant and so many more can be seen when there is a New Moon.  Spiritually, it is Israel’s phase of “being there”, but out-of-sight, and, for too many people, also out-of-mind.  The moon then waxes for 13-14 days to the Full Moon, then wanes for 13-14 days till the New Moon.  And, meanwhile, the born-again ‘star saints’ are given their opportunity to shine!  So God, in His infinite wisdom, gave Israel a statute to remember the New Moon.  The whole world — including Gentiles, angelic and demonic spirits, and the Body of Christ — are reminded of God’s New Moon which He gave for a sign and for seasons, and for days and for years:  every month (from the word, ‘moon’; in Hebrew חודש/chodesh, new month), begins with the new and unseen moon that is there!  It is a globally recurring heavenly sign from the Creator and Redeemer that He has thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give Israel a future and a hope. (Jer 11-14)  

The trumpets for the New Moon are for a memorial before YHVH.  The Memorial Feast of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:24), which marks the beginning of the seventh month in God’s redemptive calendar to Israel (the Jewish ‘New Year’ today), is basically a uniquely appointed New Moon prophetic wake-up BLAST! to Israel to gather together for preparing to meet her God on the Day of Atonements, either to have her sins forgiven and removed by calling on His Name on that Day (Num 10:9; Joel 2; Acts 4:8-12; Mt 23:37-39), or else to face His wrath like the rest of His enemies.  Those who are saved celebrate the Jubilee — truly a new beginning! — and as on all the celebratory days for His people, the trumpet is sounded. (Lev 25:8-10)  The historic steps towards the reestablishment of national Israel were the New Moon trumpet of God to the Church and the nations in these last days, to remember that the God of Israel keeps His covenant promises to the seed of Jacob.  Israel’s full glory – the Full Moon – will be manifested when the Lord returns to dwell in the midst of His completely restored people at the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths (which always begins at the Full Moon of the 7th month of the redemptive calendar) – the Millennial Kingdom.

Israel is Messiah’s treasure hidden in a field (Mt 13:44), to be uncovered on the third day (Hos 6:2) at the revelation of Jesus Christ (who is Himself now hidden from the world (Jn 16:10)), when the surviving remnant of Jacob shall see Him whom they pierced, repent with great affliction of soul, and all Israel will be saved. (Zech 12:10 – 13:2; Rom 11:25-27)

Yeshua fulfills the New Moon in His death, burial (covering and removing our sins out of sight), and resurrection to life everlasting.  Israel fulfills the New Moon, which symbolizes her as a continual reminder of God’s covenantal faithfulness — and of her hope in Him — that there is a day coming when her redemption will shine forth, the glory of the LORD will shine upon her, and all the nations will praise YHVH, God of Israel, and call her blessed when He cleanses her from all her sin against the Lord.  (Lev 26:40-45; Ps 117)  There is joy when a woman becomes aware that she is pregnant; there is greater joy when she has given birth. (Jn 16:21-22; Lk 15:7,10,32)  What began in secret in the dark inward parts, (even as in the womb at conception. ..Ps 139:11-15), will come to light and be seen by all in its full glory, that which was already conceived by the Holy Spirit for a new birth and the celebration of life (Is 66:5-14)!  Yeshua’s conception was not ‘light’; His birth brought to light the public knowledge of the promised Messiah and Lord.  Blessed is he who believes and has not seen!  Even the creation began with darkness, being outside of God, who is Light!  The heavens declare the glory of God! (Gen 1:2)

God is redeeming Israel today.  He is again returning His attention to Jerusalem.  He is calling His people to remember Him and to rejoice in His goodness and long-suffering, which lead to repentance unto salvation.  Let all who want God’s purposes to be fulfilled, who desire the peace of Jerusalem, not keep silent, but remind the Lord as workers with Him to make Jerusalem a praise in the Earth, with a highway of holiness and blessing between Egypt and Assyria, running through Israel.  YHVH God will remove unrighteousness from Jacob, and all Israel will be saved.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

Each new year people tend to think not only of the year gone by, but also of what they  want to accomplish during the coming year.

Ex 40:17, 34-35   Looking at these verses, we see that on the first of the year for Israel, YHVH God filled the erected tabernacle with His glory.  We who believe in Yeshua are God’s dwelling place on Earth today, and He wants His glory to fill us:  to be immersed in the reality of God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. (Mt 28:19; Jn 14:23-24)  He wants to so bless us with His presence that we will not be satisfied in doing our own will but worship Him by doing His.  Even Moses could not enter the Tabernacle because the glory of God filled it!  That is really what the Sabbath is all about (Is 58:13-14), which in Messiah is to be a daily experience rather than merely a religious duty the last day of the week.

Resolve this year to know our Lord more and to demonstrate that by having fruit pleasing to our Father in Heaven.  Resolve this year to be more aware of your need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the glory of God, as evidence of, and as a confession of the need and desire to knowing Him more.  With this glory of the triune God within us, let us also resolve to speak of Him, and of our faith in Him, to others, that they, too, might come to know the one true God.

Acts 10:44-48   From the salvation of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, we see that the God of Israel loves the gentiles in the same measure that He loves the Jews.  We, too, want to love the Arabs, the Bedouin, and other people groups around us with the love of God that we ourselves have received, and to pray for and believe for their salvation.

Another important thing which we learn from the Holy Spirit here is that after you have believed and been saved by the grace of God, you are supposed to be baptized in water.  By doing so, you are obeying the Lord in whom you believe and who has given His life for the forgiveness of your sins.  Baptism in water in the presence of other witnesses is a testimony that what occurred by the Spirit in you and to you is true, and in humility and joy you willingly act as a work of faith.  Being baptized by those with spiritual oversight authority is also a confirmation by them in the eyes of others that you do believe and are accepted into theChurch ofGod.

Resolve this year that we will pray for the salvation of more Jews and Gentiles in and around Beer Sheva and the wider Negev, and that we will humble ourselves to obey God – ‘keeping Shabbat’ – in the small things and in the bigger things.

Jn 6:28-48   The work of God is that we should believe in Yeshua completely.  We read here that Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God, invites people to make HIM their food in life, and that no one can belong to Him except those whom the Father gives Him. And He says that all who believe in Him He will raise up on the last day.  Do you want to be His?  He says that He will not cast away any one who comes to Him.  Do you know if the Father is giving you to His Son?  Do not test Him and wait passively, but show your interest by drawing near with faith, for He is seeking those who know that only He can satisfy the soul.  He is our Good Shepherd.

The Kingdom of God is not of this world.  When Paul was preaching the gospel in Thessalonica (Acts 17:6), the unbelieving Jews there resisted and attacked some who did believe, crying out that “the people who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and they act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying ‘there is another King – Yeshua!‘”

Jesus says that He is the Bread of Life.  He tells us not to labor for the food which is temporary and perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life (v.27).  God is that Bread; Jesus is the Living Bread.  After Jesus was baptized in water, He went out into the desert for 40 days and nights.  It is written that afterwards He was hungry.  In the weakness of the Son of Man, the devil comes (remember Amalek?) and tempts Him, saying, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  But Jesus answered him saying, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’.”

Yeshua was hungry, but He trusted and obeyed God His Father.  We may be hungry, not knowing if we will have enough food sometimes.  With our Lord Jesus Christ as our example, we are not to solve our hunger or the world’s hunger and poverty in a demonstration of power that  will impress the world, nor by methods which ‘Caesar’ requires.  We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and our Father in Heaven who sees will provide our need for food and clothing in a way that is quiet, peaceable, loving one another and strengthening our faith and our relationship with God in His glory.

Jesus has shown us that the Father is not like us:  He is far different and more generous than we are in His very being:  He is love.  The parable of the ‘lost son’ shows God as the Father who patiently but expectantly waits for His wasteful son to come to his senses and return home.  The time came.  This son would have been satisfied simply to be received back onto the property and be a slave.  The hunger in his soul was not satisfied by all the money he took from his inheritance, nor by all that the world had to offer him.  Being repentant and thankful for his father and his house was what he realized was good.

What a surprise he got when his father REJOICED over him and made a feast for him and the entire household!  The older and dutiful son was also surprised by his father’s attitude and behavior:  he was angry and self-righteous about what a good son he was and what a terrible person the father’s other son was.  (He wouldn’t even acknowledge him as his brother!)  The father wanted both of them at the feast he had prepared in His joy that the son who was ‘dead’ was alive; the son who was lost was found.

How do we react when the Lord is good to someone else that we think is less undeserving than ‘me’?

Resolve this year to trust Jesus to satisfy our hungry souls; to become more like our Father in Heaven; to love one another as He loves us; and to quicken our hope in the Father’s Kingdom to come.

God’s “resolution” this year is that each of us should be conformed more to the image of His Son.  He wants to form Messiah in us, to fill us with His glory.  Whatever may happen this year — whether good or bad — let us resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to work all things together for good towards that purpose.

Being Reconciled to God and to One Another

Matt. 23:16-21   The altar is greater than the gift

Matt. 5: 21-24   First be reconciled to your brother, and then offer your gift upon the altar

The calendar tells us that it is a new year,  a year which reminds us and the world that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh into the world which He made.  We can look back and consider how our God has watched over us and has kept us.  We can look ahead and know that our salvation and redemption are nearer this year than they were this past year.

The Lord is building up His church and showing Himself faithful, training us to trust Him fully to bring us through to glory at His coming.

God has shown us His way to be at peace with Him and with one another.  He had (has) a controversy with Israel and with mankind.  Our sins separated us from the LORD our God. What was God to do since it became clear that we were not going to do anything sufficient to get right with Him?   The reality is that we blame God for our problems and those in the world at large.  God’s altar is the place of sacrifice.  In Lev. 17:11 the LORD says that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and that He has given it to us upon the altar to make atonement for our souls.  The heart of God our Father came to us in the person of His Son Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself on the cross to make atonement, to make reconciliation, for those who have sinned against Him.  Yeshua satisfied God’s righteousness and justice so that the LORD can show grace and mercy and compassion to whomsoever He will.  He has reconciled Himself to man.  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation in that we are to be peace-makers, telling and showing others how they can be reconciled to God:  through repentance and faith in Him through Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin.  This is the love of God and the new commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved us:  if we know that someone has reason to have something against us, we are to humble ourselves and grant forgiveness based on the righteousness of  God.  Then we can come to the Lord’s table and supper; then we can offer our gifts and prayers and praise to God.  For we have acknowledged that the cross – the altar – of God is greater than any thing which we can offer.  It is the faith we have in, and the thankfulness for,  the sacrifice of God’s Son that sanctifies us and our gifts, both before God and before our brothers and sisters.

When Jesus came into the world, His whole life was consecrated to God His Father and to His Kingdom.  He knew that the spirit in the world was opposed to God.  He came to give honor and glory to His Father, whom He knew to be good.  Jesus brought light to expose the darkness in men’s souls, even in those who claimed to know and to serve the LORD.  Before the Holy One of Israel, many of the religious leaders were exposed as hypocrites, not really sincere in caring about God’s interests, but more concerned for their own honor and privileges.  Jesus did not sing their songs or dance to their tunes.

(Mt. 11: 16-19; Is. 22:12-13)    The Son of God listened to God’s voice and responded in a manner which showed that He loved His Father more than He wanted to prove that He was a man like others of His day.  He seeks the lost sheep of the House of Israel, those who want to be found and go back home.

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecc. 3:4).  What “time” is it this year?  Certainly the Lord will give us much to know and enjoy the liberty that we have in Messiah.  Yet the Holy Spirit in us groans and mourns over the sin still acting within us, and the spirit in the world which still is separated from and in opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed One – to the sovereignty  of God and the truth that Jesus is LORD.  The people of this age are getting ready for a big party and celebration for the new millenium.  They have forgotten God, and, sadly, so have many who are called by His name.  It is written that the joy of the Lord is our strength; if our joy is truly in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond in a worthy way to show that we love our heavenly Father, that we are His children and servants.

Even so, the Lord Jesus says to His disciples that when we see these things beginning to happen, that we are to rejoice, for our redemption is near.  As God intervenes in the affairs of man – whether in grace or in judgement – the holy Father in Heaven so loves the world that the reconciliation which Jesus accomplished still abides:  the blood of the Lamb still speaks salvation and  peace to those who will repent from their unbelief and evil and, instead, believe the love of the truth:  God has forgiven sinners and Jesus rose from the dead to justify all who believe that with thanks.

This year the Lord wants to bring forth more fruit from us His  people.  He wants to give us His song to sing.  Jesus has given us His peace.  Let us desire to be at peace with one another for His sake.  He will make us glad in Him.