What’s Going On Behind The Scenes of Current and Future News?

Do you read or listen to the news?  Every day in Israel politicians and commentators are vying for power and influence, telling us who should be the Prime Minister, or what the PM should do.  In the United States, there is an election process taking place, with each candidate saying that the other one is unfit to be President, the leader of the Free World.  In Turkey and Iran, their leaders are threatening each other, and the rest of the world with terror, or support for terrorists.  In Russia, their President is reasserting his country’s place as a serious threat to Western Powers.  In the nearing future, the antichrist will arise, who will require all to submit to him as if he is above all gods and God. (Dan 11:36; 2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev 13:1-8)

What is also interesting in all this, is that each of these countries represents a different religious worldview, and how that affects their policies and geo-political decisions.  They are peoples and nations who seem to agree on one thing:  they want to determine and to rule their own destiny, and also the world’s.

What’s going on behind the scenes?  What do the Scriptures say?  What do they teach us?  Let us look at a psalm of David (Acts 4:25), a psalm referenced several times in the New Testament:

Ps 2   Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate on a vain thing?  (2)  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against Yehovah and against His Anointed:  (3)  Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us.  (4)  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; Yehovah shall mock at them.  (5)  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His fierce anger.  (6)  Yea, I have set My king on My holy mountain, on Zion.  (7)  I will declare the decree:  Yehovah has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You.  (8)  Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the ends of the earth for Your possession.  (9)  You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.  (10)  And now be wise, O kings; be instructed, O judges of the earth.  (11)  Serve Yehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  (12)  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled in but a little while. Blessed are all who put their trust in Him.

The Holy Spirit through David tells us that the Gentiles and the Jews, with their leaders, are in a conspiracy against the one true God – against the Father and His Son, the Messiah Yeshua/Jesus.  It is a vain thing that they do; it is destined to fail!  You have probably all heard the saying that there is a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.  Well, it is actually God’s plan that a Jew will rule the world!  Jesus is the King of the Jews and of the nations, and God has declared that His Son is the heir to the Throne of David to rule over Israel and the whole world.  The conspiracy is actually by the devil and those of the world against the sovereign Creator and Redeemer.

What is it that the “world” wants?  They want to be “free” from any accountability to a holy God, who is the righteous Judge of all the Earth.  This conspiracy began in the heavenlies, when Lucifer rebelled against YHVH, and led other angels to follow him in the rebellion. Israel openly rebelled when she asked for a king like the Gentiles have, and then said that they did not want “this Man” Yeshua to rule over them. (1Sam 8:1-9; Lk 19:11-27) And the world Gentile powers have rebelled against the God of Israel, who gave them their authority, but they have all eventually caused distress for Jews and for Christians, the people of the true God.

What does it mean when they want to break the bands in two and cast away their cords from us?  You remember that Isaac told Esau, when he spoke to him after giving the blessing to Jacob, that the day would come when Esau would break the yoke of Jacob his brother from off him. (Gen 27:40)  We see this taking place today in the intifada, which is the Palestinian uprising against the rule of the children of Jacob over them here in Israel.  But it represents something much bigger:  it is the spiritual rebellion against the sovereignty of YHVH God, led by the spirit of a religious faith in another god.  It is the world today rising up against the morality of YHVH, whose name is holy, saying, in effect:  “Who is YHVH that we should serve Him?!”  “Who says that He is God Most High?!”  “Why should we submit to His authority and morality?!”  “All religions are okay, and lead to something good.  In fact, better in our own eyes than what the God of Israel wants!”  So, in the end, it is more than seeking equality among the different religions and cultures and life-styles.  It is a rebellion against YHVH even more than simply seeking “equality with Him”, which is itself rebellion.  Tolerance is for anything other than truth.  “What is truth?!”, Pilate asked Jesus.  To the “world”, all is subjective relativism.

Some current examples that we see of trying to break God’s and His Son’s yoke, and their restrictions that make for civil society:
–requiring governments and people to accept homosexuality as normal and as a choice for each person to make regarding their own gender identity; in other words, not only to choose what sex to do, but what sex to be!;
–sex outside of marriage is accepted as normal and not sinful;
–not allowing in Israel and in Christianized countries, like the U.S., to use the Bible for explaining or instruction in righteousness in public institutions; or, to pray in the name of Jesus;
–being sued and denied a license for a bakery because of being owned and operated by believers in Yeshua;
–not allowing any Jews to enter some Muslim countries; not allowing any evangelism either;
–Israel makes it difficult for evangelical Christians to receive visas, or for Messianic Jews to immigrate;
–Russia just passed a law forbidding any evangelism outside of a recognized church building;
–no spanking of children in some ‘enlightened’ countries, as an overreaction to child abuse;
–not being able to teach Creation in schools, only Evolution:  no sovereign, holy, uncreated God; no special uniqueness about this solar system or the Earth; no chosen land or people or city or unique and beloved Son of God;
–humanism, that man is basically good, is the dominant philosophy opposed to the Word of God saying that all are born in sin, and need to be given restrictions and boundaries to live socially, and that people need to be born-again by the  Holy Spirit in order to have life.

These are just a few examples out of many, many more.  The results and consequences of throwing off the yoke of the true God is to lack the fear of God, to be ignorant, to lack wisdom, to be not only immoral, but amoral, to lack purpose and goals, to be unable to think critically, and to lack discernment between good and evil.  By all this, the devil deceives the people much more easily to side with him and his rebellion.  If we are deceived, we do not know it, and it requires an intervention by God to bring us to our right senses!  Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him, because they did not know what they were doing.

This Psalm 2 also tells us that God is actively working so that the people will know what they are doing, and that they must repent while there is time, if they want to be saved from His wrath. (2Cor 6:2; Is 61:1-2)

Though it is written that God laughs at this vain thing being planned, He is not amused:  He holds them in derision. (Is 40:15-17)  Since the death and resurrection of God’s anointed King, His Son, He is making it known everywhere, and calling all persons to repentance, because He has declared that His Son is going to be King in Zion, and He is the Judge of His people Israel, and of the Gentiles, and will rule over all. (Dan 2:44; Jn 3:14-21; Acts 17:30-31)

Although Jesus is already chosen and anointed to be the King of Israel and of the Nations, He is not yet reigning on David’s throne:  He has not yet been accepted by His own people or by the Gentile nations.  This is like when God chose David to be King instead of Saul, but David did not actually become the king until after Saul died, and after the people accepted him to be king.  Yeshua is now reigning — at the right hand of the Father — over Heaven and Earth, but He is not yet accepted by the whole House of Israel to be their King as Heir to David, according to God’s covenantal promise. (Lk 1:26-33,67-75; 2Sam 7; Mt 23:37-39)   Born-again believers already possess eternal life, but it is evident that we have not yet inherited it:  it remains a living hope upon a sure promise. (Rom 8:23-25)

The Psalm also informs us that Yeshua/Jesus is the Son of God.  The New Testament quotes this verse 7 in the psalm in the context of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:33; Rom 1:4):  the proof that He is God’s Son, and by that He inherits not only Israel, but all the nations are His, and become accountable to Him. (Is 49:5-6)  For this, the gospel is to go out to all peoples and nations, not only for individual salvation, but also for nations to be saved, like Israel and Egypt and Assyria. (Is 19:23-25; Dan 7:13-14)  Part of our joy is knowing that we, too, will rule and reign with Messiah when He returns.  He promises those in the church that those who overcome will rule the nations with a rod of iron to break the stubbornness of rebellion in the people. (Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:6)  This is the inheritance of the saints, in fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham! (Dan 7:18,25-27; Gen 22:17; Rom 4:13)

David finishes his psalm by warning those who are in rebellion:  they need to fear YHVH and to acknowledge His majesty and righteousness.  And they must respect and honor God’s Son, for His favor is their salvation. (Rev 6:12-17; 19:15)  Even believers in Jesus are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phlp 2:12-13)  We should be concerned with offending God, and to recognize our weakness – our “trembling” — that we are wholly dependent upon Him for grace and mercies in our need for help in serving and living for His glory.  His faithfulness and strength are our confidence and joy!  “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

In this psalm we see already the suffering yet triumphant Messiah, Son of God, over His enemies.  And we who follow the Lord will also suffer yet be triumphant by our living faith in Him.  YHVH is sovereign over all and against all!  The schemes of man and devil can not and will not succeed!  Repent, and believe the gospel, and be saved from this perverse generation! (Acts 2:40; Rev 3:19-22)

What should we do?:
–In the face of this unholy and ungodly conspiracy, we can ask God for boldness to be witnesses of the King whom God has chosen and that we serve. (Acts 4:27-29; Rev 12:11)

Pray for those in authority to repent and believe actively, that they be saved. (1Tim 2:1-6)

Palestinian Leadership Seeks to Sue Britain for Balfour Declaration – 26 July 2016

As the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration approaches next November, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is gearing up for the effort to undo it.  According to this latest effort, the British government — which issued the Declaration on November 2, 1917, expressing their intent that the Jewish people should reestablish their historic homeland in Palestine, without harming the rights of those already living there — is guilty of setting in motion the catastrophe that the predominantly Islamic Arabs claim is an invasion into their territory by a non-Muslim sovereign entity.  This latest attempt to completely delegitimize Israel reveals the falseness of any statements to the effect that the Palestinian leaders would be willing to have a “two-state solution” for the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”.

The incessant efforts to erase all historic Jewish connections to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, the Land of Israel find support from a number of world bodies and nations.  Just last month UNESCO emphasized the Muslim connection to the Temple Mount — on which Jesus was possibly crucified — while afterwards acknowledging that the site is important to Jews and Christians, as well.  Last year the PA wanted the UN to declare that the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) is a Muslim holy site, which did not pass.  Before that, UNESCO did vote that the Cave of Machpelah — which Abraham bought as a burial site for his wife, Sarah, and where also Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are all buried, these being the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people — is a Muslim World Heritage Site!

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=35243
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=16785

http://www.timesofisrael.com/after-angering-israel-unesco-urges-respect-and-dialogue/

There is a movement in the UK, called the Balfour Project, seeking Britain to apologize for its great historic mistake over the issuance of the Balfour Declaration:
http://www.balfourproject.org/

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/3715/prepare_for_war_over_the_balfour_declaration

What will be next?  As the battle against YHVH’s sovereignty and plan intensifies, He is going on, whatever the nations and peoples may do.  Let us, too, go on with Him in faith that He is justified in all that He does, and we are saved by grace and justified when we believe in Jesus, and what He says.   The gospel is to the Jew first, and also to the Arabs and to all other Gentiles!  The day of reckoning is coming when all will know that the triune YHVH is the true God, and that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father!

 

Keeping Faith in Yeshua in a Hostile Environment

(Adapted for AMZI conference and ministry tour in Germany and Switzerland, June 9-14, 2016)

1Co 1:23-25  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness.  (24)  But to them, the called-out ones, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (25)  Because the foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and the weak thing of God is stronger than men.

1Jn 2:22-25  Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He who denies the Father and the Son is antichrist.  (23)  Everyone who denies the Son neither has the Father. The one confessing the Son also has the Father.  (24)  Therefore what you heard from the beginning, let it abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you will abide in both the Son and in the Father.  (25)  And this is the promise that He has promised us: everlasting life.

1Jn 5:19  We know that we are of God, and all the world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Ps 2:1-3  Why do the nations rage, and the peoples conspire a vain thing?  (2)  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against Jehovah and against His anointed, saying,  (3)  Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us.

Rom 11:28-32  Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.  (29)  For the free gifts and calling of God are without repentance.  (30)  For as you also then disbelieved God, but now have been shown mercy through their disbelief,  (31)  even so these also have not believed now, so that through your mercy they may also obtain mercy.  (32)  For God has shut up all in unbelief, so that He might show mercy to all.

The subject we have is going to be tested to the limits as the last days of the end-times draw nearer to a close.  The Scriptures are written for us living at the end of the age, and therefore the things written in them are for us living now, as much as, if not more in some things, than for those who lived at the time they were written. (Rom 15:4; 1Cor 10:11)

The name of our congregation, Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance) is itself a testimony to our Israeli Jewish society of our faith in Jesus.  We intentionally decided to include Yeshua’s name in our name, rather than use a more general term, such as “The LORD’s Inheritance”.   It better helps define who we are, and to be more open about it in discussions or conversations with unbelievers who inquire.

That we are here today with our friends from Beit Jala is also the fruit of building a relationship with our Arab Palestinian brothers and sisters – again, as a testimony to our peoples that the truth of God, and of His righteousness and peace, is found only through repentance and faith in the gospel.  When we share with Israeli unbelievers – and even with other believers – why we go to Bethlehem every Christmas time, and to a church that does not support the return of the Jewish people back to the land promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to their descendants – in these last days – it is to testify to the truth of the gospel of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us on the cross, and of His resurrection and ascension, as being greater than the disagreements we have on some important subjects.  Israel is unique in that it is the only Middle Eastern country native to Jews and to Arabs, where believers in Jesus of each people can live and meet together.  This cannot happen in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, or Iraq.

As a congregation, all of our local members send their children to public schools, rather than to Christian schools (which are not in Beer Sheva anyway) or homeschool.  It is certainly a challenge, and a struggle, and a matter of great concern, given the level of education these days.  The primary responsibility for children’s “education” lies with the parents, so we constantly monitored what was being taught to our children in subjects which could be problematic. (Gen 18:17-19; Dt 6:4-9)  We would instruct our children in truths, if the school was instructing them in lies, such as evolution, or that all religions and faiths are equal, and nowadays in matters of “sexual identity”.  We also taught our children not to be afraid or ashamed or embarrassed that our family believes in Jesus, even – and especially – in our Jewish society which rejects and hates Him.  It is like sending out our lambs among wolves, but it helped them all to be able to be open about their faith in their classrooms, with their unbelieving friends, in the army, in college, and in their workplaces.

Evangelistically, we encourage everyone to be willing and ready to share their faith, and the gospel, with others, as the Lord gives opportunity.  We have had some major public evangelism campaigns in Beer Sheva, and they have all generated a strong, negative reaction.  Yet we continue to preach the Word of God, confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and baptize new believers, whether Jewish or other.  But as light and salt in the world, each of us must be prepared to tell others the truth about the Son of God the Father, even though most of our people are religiously opposed to the only God and Savior.   And our good works must be towards believers and unbelievers, for our Father is good and merciful to all.  We want them to be saved just as we were:  by the grace of God through repentance and faith in the gospel.

For me, Israel is a great place to follow the Lord.  For one thing, there is nothing better anyway.  And, it is a place where you must learn to trust Him and obey in faith.  There is no Christian culture to support those who are disciples of the Lord Messiah, either culturally or in truth.  There is no softening of the blows; believers themselves must learn to stand against all that attacks the true faith, and the true Jesus – who is neither “Yeshu” nor “Isa”.   We need to help and support other brothers and sisters in this spiritual warzone.  Reading the whole Bible as God’s Word is of great importance to grow in the faith, and in the knowledge and ways of God.  In the Scriptures God has told us His plan, and the reasons for it, just as YHVH told Abraham why He was going to judge and destroy Sodom.   Jesus tells us as His friends what the Father has revealed, and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.   

Military service is a necessary part of being an Israeli citizen, especially for the Jewish people.  As believers, this can cause a conflict:  on the one hand, we must obey the civil authorities, and military service is part of the life in Israel; and Israel is surrounded by sworn enemies who seek her destruction.  On the other hand, the Lord tells us that our warfare is not carnal, but spiritual, and that we are to love our enemies.  How, as believers, can we live in this tension, and be overcomers?  Each one has to hear from God, and act in faith with a clear conscience.  In either case, we will be needing to explain ourselves to others, whether to our Arab brothers and sisters, or to our Jewish people among whom we live.  What is important for believers in the military is to demonstrate a different spirit – a different motivation and attitude  —  in them than in those who do not know the Lord Jesus as their own Savior from their own sins, and from the sins of their people.  Soldiers in Messiah will need to show their faith by their works, whether by sacrificially helping others, not complaining about their commanders and officers, not stealing, not falling to the temptations of sex or of other sins, but taking a stand for the righteousness of God.

The Bible makes a difference between killing, as in war or police actions, and in murder.  This is very important to all of us, for conscience sake, and in matters of justice.  As citizens who benefit from the security and well-being of the society, the fact that most of the believers are willing to sacrifice themselves — sometimes with their lives, and in other ways, such as delaying studies and careers – with others who are obligated to serve the country, helps to break down a barrier against Jewish believers in Jesus, which is that we are no longer Jews or have that we have joined the persecutors.  Now, the military echelon has come to respect the believers, and to make them officers and put them in charge of important positions.  This makes the testimony of faith more credible to them, and gives more respect for “Christians”, for those who do believe.

In the society, when we are known and respected, then opportunities are given us:  taking in Christian refugees from Sudan; cooperating with a city soup kitchen; assisting Holocaust survivors; working with the government Tourism ministry; being entrusted with police and court procedures, such as translating for those whose Hebrew is insufficient.

We are in the world, but not of the world.  We are the salt of the Earth.  Let your light so shine, that by your good works they glorify your Father in Heaven. (Jn 17:16-17; Mt 5:11-16)

 

Sexual Purity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racism Is Sinful, and Is Not New – 9 May 2015

Act 17:24-27   The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands,  (25)  nor is served with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives life and breath and all things to all.  (26)  And He has made all nations of men of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth, ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling,  (27)  to seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after Him and find Him, though indeed He is not far from each one of us.

This past week in Israel we have witnessed large and very angry, emotional demonstrations – even riots – by the Israeli Ethiopian community.  These were triggered by a senseless attack by a policeman and volunteer upon an Ethiopian Jewish soldier in uniform.  Years of pent-up frustration were vented by the demonstrators, calling upon the government and the people to stop the discrimination and racism against the large community of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia.

Racism is a sin, is not new, and the Jewish people during the last 2000 years have suffered from it under the term anti-Semitism.  People are people, and the Jewish people are not different in that respect:  we can also be racists in our attitude and acts towards other people groups.  Even within ethnic groups, there is discrimination and racism:  among Jews, it can show up, like now, against Jewish Ethiopians; it can be by Ashkenazi Jews towards Sephardic Jews.  Once, an Ethiopian brother in Messiah told me that even among the Ethiopian people – who are all ‘black’ – there are those who are considered the “whites”, and those who are the “blacks”; and the ‘whites’ discriminate against the ‘blacks’, treating them with less value and dignity.

Sinfulness does not recognize boundaries, and the hearts of all people are wicked and deceitful, as YHVH spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, and as Yeshua also taught.  We need a new heart and a new spirit, both given by YHVH God when someone is born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above, becoming a new creation.  But then we find that the flesh and Spirit war one against the other, and we may still struggle with sin in us, even though God considers us righteous by our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord!  Not all believers are free from the sin of racism in our daily lives, or in our reactions when we hear that a Jew, or an African, or an Arab did some terrible thing.

What does the Bible have to teach us about God’s view of humanity, especially to us who have been saved by grace through placing our faith in the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man?

First of all, what is not racism?  Do you remember the story of the Gibeonites in the book of Joshua? (Josh 9:1-27)  The Children of Israel were conquering the Land of Canaan.   YHVH God had strongly spoken to the Israelis that they were to make no covenant with those who dwelt in the land, because it would weaken their faithfulness and loyalty to Him alone as their God. (Ex 23:32-33; Dt 7:2)  While all the other people groups within Canaan prepared to fight the Israelis, the Gibeonites realized that they could not defeat the chosen people of God.  So what did they do?  They deceived Joshua and the other leaders into thinking that they had come from a far land, and they wanted to make a covenant of peace with Israel.  Joshua and the other leaders agreed, and only afterwards did they realize that the Gibeonites were actually from within the land.  But since the covenant had been made with YHVH as a witness, Joshua had to let the agreement stand, but, the Gibeonites had to agree that they would always be woodcutters and water carriers for the Israelis and for the needs of the sacrifices on the altar to God.  The Gibeonites were glad to live!  They would praise and thank the God of Israel for both mercy and justice!

As an ethnic group, there was no hope or expectation that Gibeonites could ever advance in the society.  There would not be social equality.  There may have been individuals, who by the favor of God, “broke the mold”; but as a group, their price for being allowed to live at all, and live in what had been their own country, but was now to become the Land of Israel, was to be menial laborers for the Israelis and for the service of YHVH.  This is not racism, nor unfair social justice.  However, if either side forgot, or does not know the history regarding the how and why of the relations between the two groups, the enemy of our souls can exploit the situation to turn it into a racist issue.

To say the Jews love money is not necessarily racist or anti-Semitic:  most people love money and what “being rich” means in this world.  The love of money is a sin.  To accuse the Jewish people specifically for their love of money can be understood as racist or anti-Semitic. To be born with “black” skin is not a sin, nor a mark of inferiority.  To think of “black people” as a lower level of being human is racist and sinful.

What is racism?   As we read in the verses from Acts, God has made every nation of men from one blood:  human beings are equal before God in dignity and value, having all been created in His image.  Therefore, racism is prejudice, discrimination, or hostility towards people from another race because of pride in your own race or nation as being superior to theirs. Pride and fear are roots of racism.  Not loving your neighbor as yourself is its fruit.

Since the time of the Tower of Babel and the days of Peleg, God separated the nations in judgment, and brought division, even by establishing boundaries.  Again, as we read in Acts, this is so that people would seek the Lord, in the hope that they might find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  Different people groups do have a destiny:  God has given purpose in life to all.  No one can change God’s Word which He promised to His people Israel.  No one can change God’s Word that He spoke to Babylon.  No one can change God’s Word that He spoke to Ishmael.  Yet, from among each of these people, God is calling out a people for Himself by saving them out from their own “people and their fathers’ houses”, bringing them into His House, and becoming their Father in Christ.

As believers in Jesus, we are to know no man according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.

(2Co 5:14-21)
“For the love of Christ constrains us, judging this, that if one died for all, then all died;  (15)  and [Jesus] died for all, that those who live may live no more to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again.  (16)  So we now know no one according to the flesh; even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we no longer know Him so.  (17)  Therefore, if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (18)  And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19)  whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us.  (20)  Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  (21)  For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

What does all this say to us in this matter of racism?  The Word of God examines the thoughts and intents of the heart.  We may keep our opinion to ourselves, knowing that it may not be appropriate, or even acceptable, to express them on some issues.  Yet Jesus and the Holy Spirit know us from within and from without.  Racism is a sin against God who has made all human beings in His image; and His judgments as to how He has determined the multitude of ethnic groups and nations are past finding out.

While YHVH God calls for people to love each other, and to treat the stranger with respect, the devil makes our differences as people a basis for sowing division and fear and hatred, even among believers.

Yeshua has said that we will always have the poor with us, and sin will, sadly, also always be with us in this life.  Our congregation here is a little picture of the Kingdom of God, made up of persons from different tribes, tongues, people, and nations – each redeemed to God by the blood of Jesus. The gospel message which we carry gives people true hope for having their ‘heads lifted’ from suffering humiliation and shame and sinful attitudes, or from having been a racist who caused such anguish of soul in others.  The gospel is the same message of salvation for all persons from whatever race of men, because Jesus died for all.  He forgives and heals – giving peace in place of fear and shame and arrogance.  In Christ, we not only know God the Father and the Son because the Holy Spirit lives within us, but God knows us, and fully accepts us, whatever others may think of ‘my people’, or whatever ‘my people’ think of Jesus.  We overcome the world by faith in the Lord, and can relate to all others with humility and love for Yeshua’s sake.  As His disciples, it is sin to humiliate any group or person because we think ourselves superior to them.

We need to each examine and judge our own hearts as to our attitude toward the ‘other’ or the ‘lesser’.  We are ambassadors for Christ to help each other be reconciled to God on this issue of racism, and on any other issue which the Scriptures speak about from the Lord’s perspective.  When we love one another and have respect for people from all races and nations, the truth of Jesus/Yeshua being Messiah will be seen.

Religious War?

The recent terrorist attack in a synagogue in West Jerusalem by Arab Muslims from East Jerusalem, in which rifles, knives, and meat cleavers were among the weapons used against Jewish men praying their morning prayers, has brought closer to home the reality that we are entering a religious war, and not only a nationalistic, political war here in Israel.   Among the dead and wounded Jews, a Druze policeman was also mortally wounded and killed as he responded to the terror within the Har Nof neighborhood synagogue.

There are those who remember what Dr. Baruch Goldstein did 20 years ago, when he entered a mosque in Hebron and massacred 29 Arab Muslim pray-ers during their morning prayers, and wounded many others.   As despicable as Goldstein’s act was, it is not comparable as a modus operandi to what took place in the synagogue:  apart from some fringe supporters, the government of Israel and the people as a whole repudiated such use of violence to achieve whatever the goal may be.  The then PM Yitchak Rabin said that he was ashamed to be a Jew.  Such an act taints all of us.  On the other hand, the Islamic terrorists are praised and celebrated, called martyrs, and others are encouraged to go out and wantonly murder Israeli Jews — and any others — in order to rid the land and the planet of particularly Jews and Christians — those who are the living witness of the one, true, living God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah.  This is done in the name of their God, who is not the same as YEHOVAH, God Most High.  The murderous attack by the Jewish terrorist and murderer, Jack Teitel, against Palestinian Arabs and against Jewish believers in Jesus was his act of war, thinking to do God’s will; yet he, too, was widely denounced for his thinking and for his actions.

While most wars seem to have be for economic and political reasons, there have been many religious wars in history; the Crusades come to mind fairly quickly.  The Islamic conquests after its beginnings in the 7th century were all religiously motivated.  There have been intra-faith wars between rival parties within religions; for example, the Jews led by the Maccabees against the Hellenizing Jews and Greeks; Sunni vs Shia Muslims; Catholic vs Protestant Christians.  Hindis have fought Buddhists.  When the Israelis first conquered the Land of Canaan in the 15th century BC, it is stated in what would be considered religious terms:  the iniquity/sin of the inhabitants of the land was full, and YHVH God was bringing His chosen people — the descendants of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob — back into the land from Egypt in order to possess it as an everlasting possession, with the stipulation that should they also act as the Canaanites did, then they, too, would be removed from the land as a punishment under the terms of the covenant between YHVH and the Children of Israel.  The return of the Jewish people back to Palestine (the Land of Israel) in the 20th century was both pragmatic,  political, and religious, and God in His sovereignty brought both His will and the will of man to coincide.   This return of the scattered Jews from out of nations all around the globe is itself a strategic act of war by the LORD of Hosts against those who seek to prevent Him from fulfilling His covenant promises and glorifying His name.  The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount — the place which God led King David to choose as the place for YHVH’s earthly Temple — and the Muslim efforts to eradicate the validity of Israeli and Jewish history there, is itself an affront and act of defiance to the historical record.

Yet, for the most part, most religions do not teach to engage in war in order to propagate their faith and culture.  Islam does, and there have been many who have written about that, using the Koran and Mohammed’s teachings as a proof.  The God of Israel also instructed His people to use force as needed, under His directions and guidelines, when taking possession, and then defending their natural and spiritual identity and heritage.  This use of force by Israel was not to extend beyond their borders.  Until today, this is generally the way Israel employs its military might and prowess.

The Word of God in the Bible tells us that war was declared already back in the Garden of Eden, when YHVH, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth — including the angels and human beings — let Satan (the devil; the fallen angel, Lucifer) know that his rebellion against God, and his active efforts to spread that rebellion among humanity, whom God created in His image and likeness, would not go unanswered.   The enmity between the seed of the serpent and between the Seed of the woman — this ‘state of war’ between the devil and Christ Jesus — has been the “mother of all wars” since, whether carried on in the heavenlies, or played out here on land, seas, and air.   “Just wars” are those which are perceived as being between good and evil.  While warfare is itself a result of sin and rebellion, it is nonetheless used by God to ultimately defeat all enemies of that which is godly and righteous and good, and to glorify His holy name in the process.  One of our problems is that we have not exercised our senses to discern both good and evil.

Those who believe in Yeshua as Lord and Messiah are also called to engage in what is called spiritual warfare:  this is the war against lies, against the works of the devil, against unrighteousness, against the truth of the true God and Savior.  We are called to take the gospel to the ends of the Earth to all nations and people groups, to deliver people from the lies and darkness of Satan and to bring them into the truth and light of Jesus Christ.  This is effected through preaching, not by carnal weapons or through lying, intimidation, or force of arms.  It is a war for the hearts and minds of men, women, and children — to know and believe the Word of the God who alone forgives sins, and who has power and authority to not only kill the body, but also to send both soul and body to hell.  In His love, and to win this war, God the Father sent Yeshua His only-begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but inherit eternal life.

Jesus won the war on the cross, in His death, and subsequent burial and resurrection!  The sad news is that many people have not heard, or have not believed what they have heard concerning this good news.  The good news is that the Holy Spirit is still at work to bring the many who do repent and believe to saving faith.  The peace which Jesus gives is not the peace which the world gives.   The day is nearing when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return from Heaven to put an end to all rebellion and unrighteousness, and to establish the true God’s kingdom over Israel, and over the entire Earth and universe!  He alone forgives sin.  “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.)

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

SUBMIT TO GOD, RESIST THE DEVIL, FOR THE KINGDOM IS THE LORD’S- 10 Nov 2012

(Delivered in essence at The Negev Conference in Beer Sheva)

Ja 4:4-8   Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever desires to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us yearns to jealousy?  But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.  Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded ones.

Mt 6:31-34   Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?  For the nations seek after all these things.  For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things.  Sufficient to the day is the evil of it.

The United States just had elections for its leaders, and in a couple more months, Israel will do the same.  Each citizen in each country can choose who it is that they prefer to rule over them.  Each citizen can choose whom they prefer to serve.  At the end of the day, though, everyone – leaders and ruled alike – must choose if they will serve the Devil, the prince of this world (Jn 12:31) – or if they will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of this world, the Judge of this world, the Redeemer of this world, and King of kings and Lord of lords throughout the universe which He created and made – both in this world, and in the world to come. 

 Are we, who say we believe in Jesus (by the grace and mercies of God to forgive our sins),  actively submitting to God and resisting the devil, who hates YEHOVAH (who alone is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and us?  Are we seeking first GOD’s kingdom and HIS righteousness; or are we content with a ‘righteousness’ of the world or of our own, but which is nothing more than filthy rags to YHVH God? (Is 64:6 Eng)

Do we love our Lord above all else, above anyone else?  Are we confident of God’s love for us?  A ‘Yes’ answer to both of these questions is the key to our victory of the faith in our life.

Satan is running around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us, and, if possible, to deceive the elect. (1Pt 5:8; Mt 24:24)

The Holy Spirit is working to honor and to exalt the Name of God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (Jn 16:14-15)  The devil is doing all he can to dishonor the holy name of the Son of God, the King of Israel.  He started in the Garden of Eden, and succeeded to get Adam and Eve to submit to him and to do his will, not God’s.

Today, both the Holy Spirit and the enemy of God are still working in the hearts and minds of each human being, and the question of eternal destiny is, Who will we listen to and obey?

Just as the devil tempted our Lord and Savior in the desert when Yeshua was hungry and weak in His body, so now does Satan come at us when we are weak, and when we think we are strong.  

    –The devil tempts us with instant gratification, whether of appetite or of some sinful momentary pleasure.  Just as Esau gave up his birthright simply to eat some soup now, so can we lose much by giving in to carnal desire out of unbelief.  And, surely, he cunningly implies, we can give food to all who are hungry in the world, as any son of a loving God would do.

    –The devil tempts us to exercise our spiritual gifts and power to ‘prove’ we are children of God.  And, of course, we can change the world through hidden agendas or force to submit to God, when in fact, it is serving the enemy of the one true God.

    –The devil tempts us with wealth, possessions, and the power and fame it brings, if we will only serve under his authority in a desolate world under sin and judgment.  The Lord Jesus Christ has taught us that we can gain the whole world. . . but lose our souls. (Mt 16:26)

The apostle John writes (1Jn 2:15-17), Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.

There is a battle for the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life. (Tit 1:1-2; Rom 2:7)  The Word of God, which we have written to us in the Bible, is truth; Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Word of the Father made flesh. (Jn 17:17; 14:6; 1:14; Rev 19:11-16)  The truth sets us free, and when we live in the Spirit of Truth we are sanctified – drawn near to God and conformed more to His image.  This sanctification in the presence of the holy and everlasting God is an antidote to pride – the sin of the devil – for thinking that we know anything too well, or thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to. (1Cor 8:1-3; 2Cor 10:3-6; Rom 12:3)

The righteous lives according to what he believes.  The Word of God tells us not to be hearers of the word only, but doers.  Our works of the faith justify our faith in the sight of men.  If we say that we believe in something, or in Someone, but do not live in a manner consistent with our profession, then we are not ‘righteous’, but are judged as being insincere or hypocrites.  This certainly makes the adversary and deceiver glad, especially when Jews and Christians – the peoples upon whom God has put His name (Num 6:23-27; Mt 28:19; Jn 17: 6-12; Acts 11:26) – dishonor the name of YEHOVAH and of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah in this way.  It is leaven in our lives, rather than the righteousness of God, which is what we are to be seeking in our life.  We will find God’s righteousness to be wisdom when we submit to God as a living sacrifice with our whole heart, and stop giving place to the devil to lie to us and deceive us.  Jesus overcame by submitting to God His Father’s will:  the way of the cross as a true Son of God in this world.  The apostle Paul wrote that when our obedience is fulfilled, then all disobedience will be punished. (2Cor 10:6)

We began by reading from James 4:4-8.  The metaphor here (from which is taken the conference theme to “submit to God. . . .”) is faithfulness in covenant relationship.  Jesus was faithful in all things to His Father’s Name, to honor Him in all His character and will and purposeAdultery is betrayal of faithfulness, of trust, in the most holy and personal relationship between a man and a woman, especially in the covenant relationship of marriage

The Holy Spirit tells us through the Scriptures that the husband-wife relationship and union is a picture of Messiah/Christ and the Church/Body of Christ. (Eph 5:25-33)

Yeshua has testified that His Kingdom is not of this world – not of this world system which is opposed to Him and the Kingdom of Heaven.  Believers in Jesus are in a new blood-covenant relationship with Messiah and all that He is, all that His Name represents and symbolizes.  That is why we pray in His name, saying ‘Amen’ to what is in accord withthe will of God based on the death and resurrection of the Lord.  He has purchased us with a price, even the blood of the cross.  Whenever we take the Lord’s Supper, it should sober us regarding our faithfulness to the God and Man who has so loved us:  are we submitting to God, and resisting the devil?  It is for each one to examine and judge himself.

We are engaged to Christ for marriage.  If the world hates Him, as Yeshua says it does (Jn 15:18-25), then we can not be friends with the world, but rather cling to our Husband-to-be in devotion to Him for His honor.  The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 always desired the honor of her husband.

Yeshua says that whoever is ashamed of Him and His word in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man will also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mk 8:38)  This should put the fear of God in us!  If we really love the Lord as we profess, then we want His joy to be full in us, and ours in Him; that when we see Him there is nothing to fear in judgment because we have loved Him who first loved us. (1Jn 4:17-19)

Jesus speaks of our faithfulness to Him and to His word.  (Jn 14:23-24; Rev 3:10)  How many times do we say ourselves, or hear other believers say, “I believe in Jesus but I don’t think He really means this [. . .] for us, certainly not for today.”?

Lots of people who say they are Believers are sleeping with others without being married.  There are more and more divorces within the Body of Christ, even in Israel, for all sorts of reasons besides the only one which Yeshua gives.  More believers are accepting homosexuality as a choice to be made, or as a ‘choice’ made for them.  For all these things, the devil is lying to you in deceitful ways that weakens the truth and authority of what God has really said! (Gen 3:1)

If we find ourselves doing any of these things, then we need to submit to God and repent, and turn away from doing the devil’s will.  If we find ourselves being tempted to doing or approving of these things, again we need to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us – especially when he sees that we are serious in our commitment to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in our life.  God is for us, with us, and the Holy Spirit within us helps us to be obedient to what is good and right in the sight of God.  The power of the blood of Jesus to strengthen us to love Him above anything or anyone else will overcome the dark powers of Satan, the world, and our own flesh.

The demonic spirits fled from Paul because they knew him as one who served God with his whole heart, mind, being. (Acts 19:15)  When we put God’s kingdom first, we will know His joy and pleasure in a way of the love of a Bridegroom for His Bride-to-be!  Our moral authority as a kingdom of priests is based upon our obedience with faith and thanksgiving to the Lord.  We are engaged in a spiritual war concerning the one true God and His Word, which abides forever.  We are to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2Cor 10:5)

The day of the Lord’s coming again is nearer today than yesterday.  In His longsuffering and mercy, He desires more people to repent and be saved before He must carry out His righteous judgments. (2Pt 3:9-15)  God wants to wake up the Church, and the Jewish people, to turn back to Jesus with genuine repentance and even tears, loving the truth of His death, His resurrection, and His coming again to reign and rule. (Zech 12:10-14; Rom 13:11-13; Rev 3:14-22)

“Turn to [Jesus], all the Earth, and be saved; for He is God, and there is no other!” (Is 45:22)

Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph 6:10-13)

Let us fight the good fight of faith until the end to show that we love God for the everlasting love He has shown us.

ARE BELIEVERS TO TAKE THE KINGDOM OF GOD BY VIOLENCE/FORCE? – Part 2

Mt 11:12-13   And from the days of John the Baptiser until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.   

Lk 16:16   The Law and the Prophets were until John.  Since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 

Yeshua said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and explain the things which He taught; which, He also said, are not always easy to understand at first.

Do you hear what the Lord is saying here in these passages?  The Kingdom of GOD is being preached now, and violent, forceful people are attempting to take what belongs to Jesus.  All of the Law and the Prophets spoke of Yeshua/Jesus.  John the Baptiser was sent by God to prepare the way for Yeshua. 

Those who try to force their way in and pretend to be heirs of the Kingdom mislead others and threaten the true believers, especially the weak and immature.  The response to the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in Jesus Christ has been mostly opposition. (Mt 11; 12; Ps 2)  The whole context of these verses we have read is one of others who are opposed to Jesus and His message.  In Jn 10, Yeshua speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd in contrast to the false shepherds – the zealots – who wanted to raise a rebellion against Rome, much like the Maccabees in their victory over the Greek Hellenists.  Others with religious and political influence neither believed the Scriptures nor in the power of God.  Other elites sitting in the seat of authority thought that they were deserving of the kingdom and sought to keep others from entering in, even to kill the Heir in their lack of brotherly love, thinking that by this murder they would get the inheritance that is rightfully His. 

Within the Lord’s ‘inner circle, there are some who, naively in their zeal, do not know what spirit they are of, and want to bring down fire from heaven to destroy those who do not yet give honor to the Lord. (Lk 9:53-56)  Others, to our grief, scheme with the enemy to betray Jesus and His interests, thinking to force His hand to suit their personal ambitions and dishonesty.

There is a spirit at work still today that would have some believers take the nations and the world for Jesus, scornful of the blessed hope that Jesus is coming again, and prepared to subject (by force, if necessary) to themselves those who do not agree with them, or else curse them for being ‘not with the program’.   

Yeshua will BREAK THROUGH!  He will suddenly come back from the heavenly Zion to the earthly Zion — and take Israel and the other nations for His inheritance, judging all those who are opposed to Him!

“Violent men want to storm Heaven, to be like God, and to rule the world.”  This is what Satan has done and is doing, and he is lying and deceiving the whole world concerning the truth of who Jesus Christ is.  God has decreed that His Son Yeshua will rule over the world and take away its sin and rebellion.  At the baptism of Yeshua by John, not only did the Holy Spirit descend in bodily form as a dove to rest on Yeshua, but God’s voice was heard from Heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.  After the immersion, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, and after 40 days without food and drink, the devil comes to tempt Jesus on this very issue:  “If you are the Son of God. . .”

The enemy says, “I will seize the kingdom by tempting the Son of God to submit to me”.  Not succeeding there, he actively works to put to death the Son, the Heir’; and then, while Yeshua was suffering on the cross, Satan tempts Him once more, taunting Him to come down from the cross.  The devil is today stirring up hatred and opposition among the nations against Israel to destroy her.  But it is ISRAEL to where Yeshua will return, and from where He will rule and reign over all the Earth, as in Heaven.

Evil men have sought to rule the world from long ago by force of might, or of personality, or of ‘rights’ – any way except God’s way!. (Dan 11:36-39)  But Jesus, the King of kings, and Lord of lords gave His life a ransom to redeem the hearts and minds of whomsoever, and to restore the Kingdom of GOD in their lives.  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah came as a Lamb, and He was slain.  The Fearless One manifested His glory in humility.  It is clear from Satan’s attacks and temptations that both the cross and the truth of being a son of God are the only ways to receive the Kingdom of God.

YHVH said the it is not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit (Zech 4:6) that His Kingdom will be established.  On the evening that Yeshua was betrayed, when Peter tried to protect Him with the sword, Yeshua said, “Put your sword in its place, for all who live by the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than 12 legions of angels?!  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Mt 26:52-54) Before Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (Jn 18:36)

Yeshua, to close His teaching and preaching (in Mt 11) in the cities of His disciples before sending them out, calls whosoever will hear and do:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)

The writer to the Hebrews tells believers that “there remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God.  For he who has entered [God’s] rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.  Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9-11)

Why is all this so important?  Because we will live according to what we believe if we are honest with ourselves.  Our hearts can deceive us; we can sincerely believe the wrong thing, like Peter.  It is my job and responsibility as the pastor and a teacher to help us all to gain Messiah/Christ – with all our energy invested in that.  The only way to obtain the Kingdom of God is through Jesus and His cross, and whoever comes in that way receives the Spirit of Son-ship.  Satan says to put down the cross:  it’s heavy; it’s a humiliation; there’s an easier way.  Yeshua says that whoever would be His disciple must deny himself, pick up his cross daily, and follow Him.

Let’s finish by reading what the apostle Paul learned from being a disciple of Yeshua, in Phlp 3:7 – 4:1:

“But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;  if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  My brothers, I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let us therefore, as many as are mature, be of this mind. And if in anything you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you.  Yet, as to what we have already attained, let us walk in the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Brothers, be imitators together of me, and mark those who walk this way, for you have us for a pattern.  (For many are walking, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, those who mind earthly things.)  For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we are looking for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of humiliation so that it may be fashioned like His glorious body, according to the working of His power, even to subdue all things to Himself

Therefore, my brothers, ones loved and longed for, my joy and crown, stand fast in this way in the Lord, beloved ones.”