Passover to Resurrection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeshua and Traditions of the Elders/of Men

Mk 7:1-23

As Yeshua continued to prove Himself to be the Messiah and the Son of God, we also see how the opposition to Yeshua strengthened as He became more threatening to the established order.  Despite all of the signs and good works and healings that Jesus did, the flesh and the natural mind were warring against the Spirit and the wisdom of God. The will of men was resisting the will of God:  without repentance from unbelief to faith, the natural mind can not and will not understand the things of God. (1Cor 2:14)   

I saw a blog on the internet by someone who calls himself an atheist and a believer in natural law.  He wrote against the Sermon on the Mount!  Everything that Jesus strengthened concerning the Law of Moses was, to this man, against natural law; e.g., Jesus saying that hating someone is the same as murdering him;, or that a married man lusting after another woman is the same as adultery; we have to love our enemy.  The true God calls His people to holiness – within, and without. 

In the passage we have read in Mark, we see that those who have taken upon themselves to control others by their own interpretations, customs, and traditions – all in the name of keeping the Torah – find themselves fighting against the very One who does in truth keep the Law, and is the very one who came to save those who do not!  This is the essence of what is called “Replacement Theology”:  replacing God’s Word with someone else’s.  Some examples are Adam and Eve believing what the serpent said rather than what God Himself had told them; Judaism placing the “Oral Law” – their own interpretations and judgments, now written in the Talmud – as an equal or higher authority over the written Law and interpretations given through the prophets and even the Messiah Himself; Christianity saying that God has finished with Israel and the Jewish people, and that the Church and Christians have replaced them as God’s people, rather than becoming also God’s people along with the Jews and Israel; Islam claiming that God has finished with both Jews, Israel, and Christians, and that now Muslims are the true believers.  All of this “replacement theology” results from a lack of the fear of God and not believing in what the true God – YHVH – has actually said.  In essence, we place ourselves equal to or above the Father and the Son in determining truth and our choice to obey or not, or to approve or disapprove!

This accusation of Yeshua against His own brothers and people is true not of them only, but of all people.  Remember, Israel is given by God as an example to the church (1Cor 10:11) – made up of men and women from every nation and tribe.  In this “replacement theology”, Jews are not different than Gentiles, and Gentiles are no different than Jewish people.

In this passage, it is the third time that the religious authorities confronted Jesus and His disciples regarding their non-compliance to keep the traditions and regulations of the ‘Oral Law’.  In the first instance (Mk 2:18), they failed to fast as the Pharisees did; in the second (Mk 2:24), they did not keep the Sabbath as the elders taught.  To the religious Jews, the Oral Law was also received by Moses from God at Mt. Sinai, and passed on to Joshua and the elders of Israel.  By this assumption (which was not true), they gave equal – even more – weight to the traditions of the elders – which Jesus calls the traditions of men – than to the Law of Moses itself, claiming that the Oral Law is what helps a Jew keep the written Law.  In other words, the traditions of the elders/of men becomes the halacha, or the way to walk the pious life, and find approval from men.  The Pharisees called themselves disciples of Moses (Jn 9:28), and Jesus told them that Moses would judge them for not believing in Him and what He said. (Jn 5:44-46)

When the Pharisees challenged Yeshua as to why His disciples did not walk according to the traditions of the elders, Yeshua responded with the Word of God as written in the prophet Isaiah, and in Moses.  They were breaking God’s commandments because their hearts were far from the LORD.  Yeshua took the first commandment with a promise – intended for children of all ages, even as adults – that children are to honor their fathers and mothers (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16) – and told them that they were inventing ways to not honor their parents, and giving it religious authority as if it were from God, and as if they honored and loved God more than anyone else, even their own fathers and mothers. But they were actually guilty of cursing their fathers and mothers. (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9)  This can sound very pious, and even like what Jesus Himself teaches:  that we must love Him more than all, even more than our own parents. (Mt 10:34-39)  Only by really loving the Lord, and paying attention to all that He says – to listen and understand (v. 14) — can we begin to understand how to obey Him in the right Spirit and without contradiction or hypocrisy.  By our own traditions, we can become worthy of death under God’s law, all the while justifying ourselves as being righteous!  This is a very strong deception!!

With respect to eating food with unwashed hands, the issue that the Pharisees brought up was not really about having clean (i.e., not dirty) hands before eating.  They only did a religious ceremony of pouring water on their hands/fists, having little to do with making sure that their hands were clean before eating, but rather, by their custom, making their hands ritually clean and not defiled.  Jesus did not accept this at all, principally because their inner heart relationship with God, and with their own mothers and fathers (and towards other people), was not pure. 

Jesus said to the multitude of people that were listening that what goes into the mouth does not defile a person, but rather what comes out from the heart.  Even the disciples did not understand. (v 15-18)

Now, Jesus took the opportunity to make a huge change in the Law of Moses, with respect to what is acceptable as food.  Remember, the LORD told Jeremiah the prophet that the new covenant would not be like the former one given at Mt. Sinai.  Being new, there would be some changes and differences.  Remember, too, that God’s eternal plan is that Jew and Gentile would become socially equal before God.  The whole issue of food is huge socially:  ­­­­­can Jews and Gentiles – in particular co-believers in Jesus — eat the same food, and together at the same table?

The Law of Moses says that some animals are unclean to eat, and that it is an abomination for Jews to eat them, and that those who eat them become an abomination. (Lev 11:12, 20, 41, 43)  YHVH gave these laws and regulations so that Israel would learn to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, for He is holy. (Lev 11:45-47)   

But NOW, Yeshua is saying that putting any food in the mouth does not defile a person – does not make him unclean or abominable!  What goes into the mouth goes out of the body after nourishing it.  But what comes out of the heart of a person can defile him or her.  By this word of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, He has made all foods clean (kosher), at least for the believer in what He said and meant. (v.19)  Clean animals were already clean; He did not need to make them clean.  Therefore it is the unclean foods which He has also declared as clean.  To the Jewish people first of all, to whom the Law was given!  Yeshua is our peace, and the middle wall of partition He has broken down between Jewish believers and Gentiles.  Yeshua is able to send us to serve Him and the gospel among other people groups, and our conscience can be clean regarding the food we may need to eat for the sake of love and of the gospel.

If God can make me clean (and Gentiles, too!), He — the LORD and Messiah — can make unclean food clean that only goes in and out of me, and His word was reinforced by the experience and doctrines of the Apostles. (Mk 7:14-16; Acts 10:9-16; 11:1-10Rom 14:2-3,14,20Gal 2:11-14; 1Tim 4:1-5; Heb 13:9)  What is OUR character?!  Is it like one of the unclean animals and creatures?  So we begin to learn in ourselves the difference between that which is acceptable to God and that which is not, sanctifying ourselves, purifying/cleansing our hearts, for our God and Lord and indwelling Spirit is holy and pure, and by faith we both establish the Law and fulfill its righteousness. (Rom 3:31; 8:4)  When we speak of what is Biblically kosher regarding foods (including, of course, the man-made traditional ban on eating meat and dairy together), we must remember that the New Testament is part of the Bible!  God is getting to the heart of the matter with us as His holy people and temple.

A Messianic Jew is not obligated to eat pork, for example — or, for that matter, a good kosher angus steak — but will he allow others to do so, or will he judge them for not being ‘good Jews’?  Our own cultural and moral biases and sensitivities can keep separate what God has made possible to join together.

So, what do we learn from our passage in Mark:  one lesson concerns external rituals. If people participate in congregational/synagogue/church services and follow all the rituals perfectly, they may have a heart after God’s, but may not. Unbelievers and nominal believers can have the appearance of being devout, but if there is not faith then their ritual will not help in worshiping God in spirit and truth.  It is more important for people to get their hearts right with God than to ‘go through the motions’.

A second lesson is that there is a real danger in replacing the the word of God (the letter and the spirit of it) with our traditions. Traditions can be helpful (like a picture is worth a thousand words), but they have a way of pushing aside or replacing the basic commandments.  We might also carry through what was appropriate for a ‘dispensation’ in life into a more mature stage where it becomes unsuitable for going on unto the fullness which is in the ‘seed’.  The attitude of the “keepers of the law” in the passage also appears in many churches, even in Israel still!  Many traditions have grown up over the centuries in different streams and denominations, and many of them have become “essential”. We can be more concerned that people might violate our man-made rules for leading and serving the congregation/church, the way we do baptism and communion, or the set of rules that our particular group follows in the name of holiness, than we are about mercy and humility. We can be more concerned about which way to take up the offerings than about meeting the needs of people in the community. If we are not careful, these traditions of ours can become ‘law’, and we might even forget what the Word of God actually says about some of those things we do, or do not do.

Then, when someone comes along – like Jesus and His disciples — who discerns the difference, we can become defensive, judging them while justifying ourselves. But then we remember the teaching of Yeshua that God is more concerned with what/who we actually are than what our outward religiosity looks like. There is a place for rituals and traditions, but they must retain their proper place in our faith-life.
https://bible.org/seriespage/22-jesus-and-traditions-elders-matthew-151-20

A third lesson from our reading is that the New Covenant is just that – new.  There are some things that continue from the old, but there also some changes and differences which promote and advance the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the truth of the one new man in Messiah Yeshua – affecting all believers, allowing for full social fellowship among and with all.  In love, we do not make our liberty a cause of stumbling for another brother or sister. (Rom 14:13-23; 1Cor 8) 

“Yeshua/Jesus Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition/separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity – the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Eph 2:14-16)  

To obey the Lord is better than sacrifice.  He wants a heart that is one with His.  This will ensure that we are with Him and not against Him as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as the apostle Paul writes. (Phlp 2:12)   We do not want to be judged as hypocrites, but as righteous, in the righteous judgment of God, who sees the heart.

Purim 2017

He who keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!  Praise the Lord!
Purim begins this evening, but the celebrations have already been going on for a few days.  While most of the Jewish people are still in both a physical and a spiritual exile — not in fellowship with their God — we who know the Father can rejoice in His sovereign providence to preserve His people as He still works to bring them back to Himself.  The only way He has given is through repentance and faith in His Son, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, just as for each of us.
In the Scroll of Esther, it is written in ch 9 v 27 that Queen Esther and Mordecai instituted the custom that “the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days (the 14th and 15th of the month Adar, which is the last month on the Jewish calendar) every year. . . .”
This celebration began about 2500 years ago, and continues till now. What is interesting to note for Gentile Christians is that this decree is for you, too!  You are ‘joined’ unto Israel and the Jewish people through your New Covenant relationship with Jesus, the King of the Jews and of Israel!  It reminds me of the shortest of the Psalms, 117, in which it is written that all you Gentiles and peoples should praise YHVH and extol Him.  Why?  Because His lovingkindness has been great towards the Israeli Jewish people, and His truth endures forever!
God has shown Himself faithful and powerful to keep His covenant commitments towards the children of Jacob/Israel in Egypt at the time of the Passover, in Persia/Iran in the days of Haman (an Agagite and descendant of Amalek and Esau/Edom), through the horrors of the Holocaust, and will yet do do through the final purging of Jacob’s Trouble.  So, it is for Gentile believers to join in with the purposes of God for the redemption of His chosen people, through whom salvation has come, and through whom the entire world is blessed, especially through the promised Seed, Yeshua/Jesus, who will yet rule over His people when He returns. Hallelu-Yah indeed!  This is good news for all who love Him and His people.

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)

Israel, The Nations, and YHVH God – 25 Dec 2016

On Sabbath evening, Dec 23, on the day before the first night of Hanukkah, on the day before Christmas Eve, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, essentially declaring that the heartland of Israel — Judea and Samaria, and East Jerusalem — are illegally occupied and settled by Israel and the Jewish people.  East Jerusalem is Biblical Jerusalem, and includes the Old City, the City of David, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount.  The United States broke its long-standing position to veto measures in the Security Council which were clearly against Israel’s legitimacy and legality.  President Obama began his presidency eight years ago with his deference to the Islamic governments and narratives, and is ending his two terms authorizing an abstention on the vote, thereby allowing it to pass unopposed, allowing Islamic doctrine and terror to cause even “Christian” nations to throw Israel ‘under the bus’, and to wipe her out from being a nation anymore. (Ps 83:1-5)  But neither has the Lord given Israel and the Jewish people to be the determiners of her own destiny.  He has created, chosen, and called her and them to a destiny and an inheritance for His glory.

The U.S. and the UN, with all the nations, are obscessed with finding fault with Israel, because the battle is really against the God of Israel, who is YHVH, God over all.  This, despite the fact that just a few short months ago, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, sought to have the UN basically nullify the Balfour Declaration, which set the Gentile nations in motion to help the Jewish people reestablish their homeland in Palestine (the Land of Israel).  By this, he was making it very plain that he does not accept Israel as a nation-state.  Yet, the U.S., and the UN Security Council, say that the Jewish settlements are the impediment to a two-state solution to “solve the conflict”.  This is truly closing the eyes and putting one’s head in the sand!  The settlements do pose a real challenge, but God is going on in HIS plan to restore HIS kingdom to Israel, and to all the nations.  Only His solution is righteous and permanent.

The Bible clearly states that in the latter days all nations would come against Jerusalem (Zech 12:1-314:1-8), and that the people and the nations are in a conspiracy against YHVH and against His Messiah (Anointed One) (Ps 2).  On the other hand, the prophets foretold that all of Israel’s lovers would desert her (Jer 30:12-24), and this would be from God in order to apply pressure on His people to return to Him, who alone truly loves them and is powerful to save them when they confess their sins against Him (and against Jesus/Yeshua) and return to Him with all their heart. (Lev 26:40-45)

In God’s sovereign wisdom, He holds all sides to account for their actions — whether they be in rebellion, in unbelief, or in ignorance.  All must give account to Him in the exercise of their free will.

We are about to enter the year 2017, a year of convergence connected with the Bible and the Word of God, the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and to signs leading up to such a great tribulation that there is no human experience for it, with the return of the Lord following. (Dan 12:1-3; Mt 24:21-31)  The year 2017 marks the following signposts:
500 yrs since the Reformation; 120 yrs since 1st Zionist Cong; 100 yrs (double Jubilee) since Beer Sheva Charge, the Balfour Declaration, and the capture of Jerusalem by Gentile Christians; 70 yrs since UN Partition Plan; 50 yrs Jubilee since capture of Jerusalem by Israeli Jews; 30 yrs since beginning of 1st Palestinian Intifada (“breaking the yoke; horse shaking off the rider”)

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.

 

Jesus Christ Came Into The World To Save Sinners – 24 Dec 2016

1Ti 1:15  Faithful is the Word and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Num 29:39  You shall prepare these to Yehovah in your appointed seasons, besides your vows and your free-will offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your food offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.

God did not command Israel to celebrate the birth of His Son, but He gave them – and us – the opportunity to celebrate as a free-will offering.  We do it because we want to, and we do it gladly unto the Lord.  What the Prophets foretold came to pass:  the Messiah was born!  Trumpets were to be blown in Israel on the day of our gladness. (Num 10:10)  Was/Is not the birth of the Lord a day of rejoicing for the heavenly host of angels who proclaimed the glad tidings to the Israeli Jewish shepherds, and to the shepherds themselves who heard and saw all that they were told; was it not a day of rejoicing for Simeon, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, who saw YHVH’s salvation in the new-born Child and Son; was it not a day of rejoicing for Anna, the widowed prophetess waiting for redemption in Jerusalem?  Is it not a day of rejoicing for all who have come to believe in the Son of God, who was born in the flesh, and who is the Father’s gift to His people?:  Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given!  God has forever changed the culture of His people:  rather than just remembering someone’s life when he dies, we now rejoice and celebrate the time of those we love for when they came into the world.  It all waited for the celebration of the first-born of creation, and His Father’s joy in that day!  It began as neither a Jewish nor a pagan holiday.  It is God’s holiday celebration, which is actually what the name of Haggai the prophet means (“my celebration”)!  It was Haggai to whom the LORD gave the date of this appointed time. (Hag 2:10-22)  Yeshua came to His holy but unclean people to save and to cleanse them from all their sinfulness, and to restore His Throne to His people and to the Gentiles.  

What Israel and the Jewish people as a whole did not appreciate when He came to His own, and to the world that He made should not restrict us who have seen the glory of the birth of the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins on the cross, and whose sacrificial death was God’s plan before the foundation of the world!  His name is Yeshua because He will save His people from their sins.  YHVH is our salvation and Savior!

The new and significant year of 2017 is being ushered in by the perfect coinciding of Hanukkah and Christmas.  The 8th day and candle (the day of Yeshua’s circumcision) is the last night of this year, and the first day of  the next.  The God of Israel has given all the world a witness as to the time of His Son’s birth to the virgin, Mary.  Going back another 4 years to 5 BC does not alter things much.  But the world system has followed for centuries a calendar that points to the period surrounding the birth of the Lord, the King of the Jews.   When I was recently in Thailand, I noticed that the date on a package ended with the numbers 2559.  That seemed odd, so I asked what that was:  the Thai culture traditionally counts its years from the era of Buddha, who lived more than 500 years before Yeshua/Jesus.  Muslims count their years from 622 AD, the year that Mohammed went from Mecca to Medina.   Tonight is the lighting of the first candle for Hannukah; today is the 24th of the ninth month.  In the Jewish calendar, this is the month of Chislev; in the Gregorian calendar, which most of the world follows, this the 24th of the 12th month, December, but which is the ninth month when we count beginning with Israel’s first month in Aviv/Nisan/April! This date of the 24th of the 9th month was a day from which the [true] foundation of the Temple was laid, and YHVH would bless Israel and shake Heaven and Earth. (Hag 2:18-22)  These things did not find genuine fulfillment with the Maccabees, but do in Yeshua, the true Savior and Deliverer from Gentile and pagan thrones – both literally, and also in the hearts of those who truly believe.  (The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Yeshua.)

I want us to look at one example of the truth that Jesus came to save sinners:  the woman caught in adultery. (Jn 8:1-11) 

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (2) And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him. And He sat down and taught them. (3) And the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery. And standing her in the midst, (4) they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. (5) Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned. You, then, what do you say? (6) They said this, tempting Him so that they might have reason to accuse Him. But bending down, Jesus wrote on the ground with His finger, not appearing to hear. (7) But as they continued to ask Him, He lifted Himself up and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her. (8) And again bending down, He wrote on the ground. (9) And hearing, and being convicted by conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, until the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (10) And bending back up, and seeing no one but the woman, Jesus said to her, Woman, where are the ones who accused you? Did not one give judgment against you? (11) And she said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I give judgment. Go, and sin no more.

In this scene, the self-righteous religious leaders and teachers came to Yeshua with a woman who was caught, somehow, in the act of adultery.   Where was the guilty man?  Under the Law, both were to be stoned. (Lev 20:10-12)  So their motive was not pure, but rather to trap Messiah and to show their disdain for women.  People did not matter to them with all their religiosity, but the “Law”, which they themselves did not keep.  Yeshua bent down and wrote on the ground with His finger, probably the sentence of death, which the Law of Moses demanded.  He had not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  But then, the Lord showed His compassion in His identification with the sinner against her unjust accusers.  He also appealed to the conscience of them:  let he has no sin cast the first stone.  From the oldest rabbi first, the others followed in leaving the scene.  Jesus paid a price to mediate in this situation, with courage and compassion. Jesus did not acquit the guilty woman; neither did He condemn her:  He told her to go and sin no more.  Did she?  We don’t know.

Jesus came to save sinners.  He alone is without sin; He alone has moral authority to condemn; He alone could have thrown that first stone.  But He desires to see sinners repent and have their hearts changed, sinning no more in the face of such grace and truth.  He takes the blame; He takes the uncleanness.  On the cross He bore our sin and our punishment.  Can any who know such love and forgiveness continue to sin against the holy God and Savior?!  Let each answer for himself, just as the Scripture leaves us without the answer to the rest of this woman’s life, and that of her accusers.

YHVH’s new covenant with Israel is that their sins will be forgiven forever.  Our message which we have received from Him remains the gospel to sinners:  repent and believe, and so receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit and of eternal life.

As I considered this passage about the woman caught in adultery, it reminded me of how Christians have historically accused the Jewish people before God for their spiritually adulterous unfaithfulness to Him, and of their sin and guilt in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus.  The Savior continues to reach out to both with His own understanding and righteousness to affect the hearts and minds of both.  All Israel will be saved when they look upon Him whom they pierced; and the Body of Christ will be purified when they humble themselves and show mercy to the Jews, even as they have received mercy from the God of Israel for all their sins in Jesus’ name.

We thank and praise God for giving us His Son (Is 9:6), and for what Messiah has done for us:  forgiveness and new life, which only He could bring by coming here to Earth (even to Israel!) and suffering for us — both during His life and climatically in His death on the cross.  Now He lives within us who are born-again from Above, and is with us in life and in death.  Even this last enemy can not overcome the believer, but only serves to bring us into the everlasting presence of the Lord!

The Incarnation Shook Heaven and Earth – 19 Dec 2016

The birth of the Messiah some 2000 years ago was a singular event which divided history between that which came before from that which has been reckoned since.  The God of Israel promised through the prophet Haggai that from a significant event on the 24th of the ninth Israeli month (corresponding to the 24th of December on non-Israeli calendars) that He would shake the heaven and the Earth. (Hag 2:20-22)  God began by announcing His joy in the birth of His Son through the singing heavenly host.

When the Roman-appointed ruler over the Jews, Herod, heard the news, he plotted to kill the new-born Son.   The Jewish religious leaders acknowledged that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but not that His goings forth were from everlasting.  When Yeshua began His public ministry by being baptised by John, the devil sought to tempt Him to submit to his wiles.  At the crucifixion the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate, and the devil, and the Jewish leadership all conspired together to both crucify Jesus, and try to get Him to come down from the cross!  The chief priests in apostacy cried out that “we have no king but Caesar!” (Jn 19:15)

After Pentecost, when the disciples had all been baptized with the Holy Spirit and began to take the gospel to all regions, it is written that they were “turning the world upside down, saying that there is another King — Jesus”. (Acts 17:6-7)

No shots were fired; no armies formed; just the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Truly YHVH had begun His revolution to overthrow Gentile thrones and to shake the heavens and the Earth.  This work has continued till today, and we are nearing another promise from the Lord to again shake the heavens and the Earth at the return of this same Jesus/Yeshua:

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

We are celebrating this time with great anticipation that what God has begun at the first advent, He will fulfill at the second.  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

Trump Trumps! — 9 Nov 2016

They said it couldn’t be done, but he did it!  Political election surveys have become little more than a form of divination.  It really is hard to think of Donald Trump as President Trump.  But it’s great that we are not going to be saying President Clinton any more.  I still look to the coming of the rightful Heir of the ‘freed’ world, the Son of God, the Lord Messiah Yeshua!  This world is still lying under the sway of the evil one, and Israel still remains an enemy of the gospel for the Gentile’s salvation sake.  So the Millennial Kingdom has not yet dawned, nor has the night even yet settled.

Yet there is hope that Trump’s victory will be used by God to wake up the Church (the Body of Messiah) and the Jewish people to God’s own plan for righteousness and justice and equity, and to shake things up to work towards that objective.  Some days ago I listened to a video by a well-known Christian, who said that Trump was God’s Cyrus candidate, and that Trump would be used by God to enable Christians to gain power and influence.  I was thinking that was a poor analogy and a misplaced hope.  He was looking for the Church to be empowered “to take over” rather than for Jesus to come back and reign.

I thought more of Jehu, whom YHVH sent Elijah to anoint that Jehu would destroy the House of Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, and all their governmental and religious allies.  (1Kg 19:15-18; 2Kg 10:6-11)  Trump, I pray and hope, is not going to go round actually killing those who have been bringing the U.S. down, but many of those who have are going to lose much of their influence.  I pray that there will be some among them who will truly repent and believe the gospel.  The same for Trump and those close to him.  Jehu did not go on in faithfulness to God and His covenant, but amazingly followed the ways of those whom had been called and anointed by the LORD to bring down and destroy.

This is where the new Vice-President, Mike Pence, comes in.  He was selected by Trump to be his running-mate, in part, I believe, because Pence is an evangelical Christian.  He could pull in conservative Christians (although not all born-again evangelicals are necessarily conservative), and he was experienced as a politician as a Governor and as a Congressman.  Mike needs to hold Trump accountable to his word, and to his behavior.  Mike needs to be a Daniel, who feared and continued to faithfully serve his God — the God of Israel — while also faithfully and with integrity serving the Gentile kings, such as Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon and Darius of the Medes.  Daniel did not fear them, but did respect them and their God-given authority.  Mike, who describes himself as a Christian firstly, must continue to be that so that he will not be partisan but truthful, evangelical (Daniel called Nebudchanezzer to repent from his evil ways and know the true God of Heaven and Earth), humble, completely trustworthy, and proved that his faith was a living faith in a living God.  Daniel also received revelation and wisdom concerning God’s future plans in the latter days, days in which we are now living.  I pray that the vice-president will be the man of God that is needed in leadership and counsel.

The Inheritance of Yeshua – 28 Oct 2016

1Pe 1:3-9  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you  (5)  by the power of God, having been kept through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;  (6)  in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations;  (7)  so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  (8)  whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing in Him you exult with unspeakable joy, and having been glorified,  (9)  obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Eph 1:18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints

Last week we heard an excellent teaching on the expectation we have of a new, eternal, heavenly body to replace our present, temporary, earthly bodies which are incapable of living the fullness of the life which is our inheritance in Christ.  Our congregation is called Yeshua’s Inheritance, and it is the inheritance which gives meaning to every human life:  whether that person will, or will not, inherit eternal life.  The God who has created the heavens and the Earth has given two options:  eternal existence separated from Him, in a place called hell; or eternal life with Him, in a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where love is perfect in all its aspects.  The way to either place is determined by one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God, by whom alone anyone can come to the Father.

The name, Yeshua’s Inheritance, for our congregation gives us an identity:  we belong to Yeshua – both now and forever!  This is the hope that we have along with all other believers – past, present, and future!  The Hebrew word for inheritance (nachala נחלה) has the same root as for a stream or river (nachal נחל):  the inheritance flows from its source like a river stream from generation to generation until it reaches its destination into the big, wide, deep ocean with all the other streams.  YHVH God is our source, and His promises flow until they are fulfilled, to be inherited by all His holy ones.  We are the inheritance of our God and Savior!  What a treasure He has given us and promised us to inherit.

As was said last week, this inheritance comes into fullness only in the resurrection, when we receive our new bodies suited to the eternal life that we have also received as a free gift from God through our living faith in Yeshua as our Savior and Lord.  This inheritance is not for one people or ethnic group alone, but for all who are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above.  It is for the corporate one new man in Messiah, a new creation:  new bodies, new heavens, new Earth, new names.  Jesus makes all things new, perfect, eternal in the Kingdom of of God. (Rev 21:5)  We have the promise and the down-payment now; we receive the fullness of it when God finishes His plan of redemption in this world. (Rom 8:23-25; Jn 17:3)

For now, what does it mean for us in this congregation?  First of all, we have a common hope and calling.  Our vision and hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and rapture of the righteous – of the saints – that are connected with that.  Our bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies and we will forever be with the Lord, and will begin that ‘new life’ ruling and reigning with Him over redeemed Israel and the nations.  This is Yeshua’s inheritance in the world to come, and ours with Him! (Is 19:25; Ps 2:8; Dan 7:13-14,18,27; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 11:15; 20:6)   We will be ministers in His government, and priests as we rule and reign with Him as a kingdom of priests.

But brothers and sisters, if we do not love one another now, we risk inheriting nothing!  As we heard last week, if our acts are not motivated by love for the Lord and towards others, our deeds or ministry or participation profit us nothing.  They lack eternal value.  Without unity bound by love, we have a weak testimony of the truth of who Yeshua is.  We become a dysfunctional family that lacks order and peace.  Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment by choice because we love.  God has chosen to love us, especially those who love His beloved Son, Yeshua, and all that He does for us springs from His love, even though we clearly do not ‘deserve’ such attention and kindness (among other good things that is love).  God suffers long in demonstrating His love for us, and we are called to do the same.  Long-suffering is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit.  These things should weigh heavily upon us as we examine ourselves in relation to the reality of our faith and hope, and how it affects our part in this local congregation, and any other.   

Under the Law of Moses, all of the tribes of Israel, except one, received an inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan, which YHVH promised to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, according to His covenant promise.  This promise of an everlasting possession and inheritance still awaits fulfillment for the salvation of Israel as a nation.  But the one tribe which did not receive any inheritance of land was the tribe of Levi, the priestly family.  God determined that they would be scattered throughout the land to serve Him and the Temple and the people, and that their inheritance would be HIM. (Dt 10:8-9)  All of the promised land to be inherited by the Children of Israel belongs to YHVH.  Therefore, by having YHVH as their inheritance the priests inherited the whole land, although possessing none of it in their own right. 

Our inheritance in Yeshua is greater than a particular land or country.  This is our inheritance in Jesus:  the whole Kingdom of God – the whole universe, which includes everything – because the Father has given it all to Him. (Heb 1:1-4; Rom 8:16-17)  We have become God’s children in Christ, and co-heirs with Him.  And Jesus says that all that is His is the Father’s, and all that is the Father’s is His. (Jn 17:9-10)  And that especially means US, all who believe in God through Jesus, for whom He died to forgive us of our sin.  All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life! (Jn 3:16-17)   But those who refuse to honor Jesus condemn themselves to eternal spiritual darkness apart from the Light of Life. (Jn 3:18-21) 

The inheritance:  Yeshua/Jesus! And the whole Kingdom of God and eternal life with the Lord
The heirs:  the righteous saints – all who put their trust and hope in Jesus for their salvation from sin and sins
Our present knowledge of our future hope:  By the Word of God in the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers.  Take hope, young and old!  We have a glorious future after the suffering and tribulations of this life:  we will inherit the everlasting life that is really life that God has planned for those who love Him. (Eph 1:18; 1Tim 6:19; 1Jn 2:25; 1Cor 2:9-10; Is 64:4; Rev 21:1-8)   

Lk 12:22-34  And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on.  (23)  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  (24)  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, having neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you better than the birds?  (25)  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?  (26)  If then you are not able to do even the least, why are you anxious about the rest?  (27)  Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not toil, they do not spin. And yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (28)  If then God so clothes the grass (which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven) how much more will He clothe you, O little-faiths?  (29)  And do not seek what you shall eat, nor what you shall drink, and stop being in anxiety.  (30)  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things.  (31)  But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  (32)  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  (33)  Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts.  (34)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Last Great Day of Succot – 24 Oct 2016

Today concludes the 22-day period of the feasts of ingathering — of the autumn harvest.  Succot is the time of the fruit harvest, and of great rejoicing in the goodness and faithfulness of the God of the Bible, who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to give them an inheritance in the Land of Canaan.  YHVH would be their God, and they would be His people.

Today is Simchat Torah (the Joy of the Torah), which the Jewish people celebrate, and in the synagogues they not only conclude the reading of the five books of Moses which is read throughout the year, but they also begin to read Genesis as an indication of their joy in the Law of Moses, which for them is more ‘holy’ than the other portions of the Old Testament (Tenach).  Yeshua stood and cried out on this last great day that all who are thirsty should come unto Him and drink, and out of his heart would flow rivers of living water. (Jn 7:37-39; 4:10; Is 41:17-20)

We pray that the Lord would open the eyes of His people as they read Moses every week of their need of YHVH’s salvation which is to found only in the name of Yeshua, Messiah and Lord.