HOPE DESPITE FUTILITY – 19 June 2013

The people of Israel lives!  Am Israel Chai!   Last night witnessed a gala celebration of a man and his life, and of a people and their hope.  Israeli President Shimon Peres enjoyed a birthday party unlike any other person on the world stage.  Although his actual birthday isn’t until August 8, leaders and celebrities from Israel and from all around the world came together in an exciting and emotive way to wish Shimon a happy 90th birthday, with the hope of many more.

President Peres was one of the founding builders of the modern State of Israel, and has served in nearly every major government position available.  He is a man who has embodied the Israeli and Jewish people’s dream and hope of a better tomorrow, whatever today brings.   It is an indomitable optimism that does not give up hope, despite the reality of futility which constantly frustrates its realization.  He has been a politician and a statesman who has never been tainted by scandal, yet has often found himself at odds with the conventional wisdom during the course of his long, and still very active, life.  He, like his nation, has a remarkable record of achievement and resiliency.  His reputation is honored as a man who has lived according to what he believes.  He received accolades of praise that properly belong to another Man.  He is a man of the world, and the world hears him.   If ever a a person has received his reward in this life, Shimon Peres is among them.  If it only ends with this, it will be an eternal tragedy he will forever regret.

King Solomon, the wisest man who has ever lived apart from Jesus Christ, was also very wealthy.  With his wisdom and wealth, he set himself to do whatever came into his heart and mind.  The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible tells of his quest for understanding and for happiness.  What the son of King David came to realize, with all the resources at his disposal to be a self-satisfied man, was that all was vanity, and vanity  of vanities.  The  optimistic humanistic effort to have a good life and to make the world better is, at the end of the day, futile.  Yet God, the Creator and Redeemer — who has subjected the whole creation to futility  — has put into it and into every person a hope that there is — and can be — something better.  This hope is embedded in the collective soul of the Jewish people in particular, and in humankind generally; but wishful thinking does not bring fulfillment, nor does God have a dream that He hopes will come true.

Shimon Peres has struggled with his fellow pioneers and builders of the State of Israel in his and their quest for peace and security.  Last night’s gala celebration, which brought people from the whole spectrum of political and social life — both within Israel and the Jewish world, and also from many  other countries — was a proof that Shimon had prevailed.   Israel, like this man who has shared her life and struggles from the beginning, continues to seek approval from her neighbors and from the whole international community, and finds them very fickle.  Neither Shimon Peres nor his people Israel has yet overcome in their struggle with man and God, who alone gives the most important approval which anyone must have, and who gives the peace which comes from ceasing our own works to find significance and worth in this world, by coming to know that the true unifying truth and Hope of Israel — and for all humanity — is found in the Messiah Son of David, even the Lord Jesus Christ/ha-Adon Yeshua ha-Mashiach.

My prayer for Shimon Peres, and for the others of my people, is that they be saved, and to give the glory to the God of our fathers, and to do His will in obedience of the faith in the living God, and in His Son.   What a wonderful testimony to hear the likes of President Peres — who has won the acclaim of the world and accomplished so much, yet frustrated by the elusive peace he so much wants for all — to be able to confess like the apostle Paul, who had all the credentials, that all that he achieved in and from the world is rubbish not to be compared with the living and sure hope in God of the riches of the glory of knowing his exalted Lord and Savior and Prince of Peace — the Light to enlighten the nations, and the Glory of His people Israel!

LEAVENED OR UNLEAVENED BREAD? – April 2012

(Updated Feb 26, 2017)

—– Original Message —–
From: R
Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 22:00
Subject: GREAT TO SEE YOU BOTH!
To: Howard

Dear Howard,

It was good to catch up with you both so soon again – another of God’s ‘God-incidences’ I think!   You said something at one of our recent meetings that rang an immediate chord: that the Muslims have no father, whereas the father of the Arabs is Abraham/Ishmael.  I have always understood that every Arab is a Muslim, whereas not every Muslim is an Arab.  Could you enlighten me as to which nations are Arab (such as Egypt) as against those that are non-Arab Muslim (such as Iran)?

Finally, in the DVD of the Nachalat Yeshua fellowship that we saw at the Conference last month you mentioned that you use leavened bread at Communion to remind everyone that Jesus was our sin-bearer – our sin-offering.  As I come from another persuasion, I wonder whether you would be willing to have an email dialogue with me on this subject? (Iron sharpening iron always seems a good idea!).

Blessings in Messiah,
R

From: Howard and Randi Bass
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:31 PM
To: R
Subject: Re: GREAT TO SEE YOU BOTH!

Shalom R,

We’re glad you’re back safely.  We had another air raid this evening, even though there is supposed to be a cease fire.  It was very nice to see you and the others, and to spend some quality time with you all.

Here is a link to the Arabic nations:  http://www.arab.de/arabinfo/league.htm
Here is one to Muslim nations:  http://arabicpaper.tripod.com/country.html

Egypt is not actually an ‘Arab’ country, being descendant from Ham, but they are Arabized through language and culture, mostly Islamic.

I’ll try my best to dialogue with you over the leavened bread.  It’s really very interesting; I wish we could do it face-to-face.

Blessings,
Howard

At 03:29 PM 18-03-12 +0000, you wrote:

Dear Howard, many thanks for your prompt reply re: Arabs & Muslims.  As Muslims don’t appear to have Abraham as their father, who are their ancestors?

It’s a great pity we can’t meet face to face to have a discussion, but I guess that email is next most convenient!  Re: Using leavened bread for communion: I cannot see any Scriptural warrant for this anywhere, but I can think of a host of objections! – and I list them for your consideration:

— Jesus used unleavened bread at the Last Supper/first Communion; as Christians, surely we should follow His lead and His example

— Scripture never asks us to remember Jesus as a sin offering; rather, we are to remember Him (eg, Matthew 26 vv 26-29 & 1 Corinthians 11 vv 23-26)

— I can’t imagine a worse emblem to signify Christ’s sinless purity than leaven, which is always a symbol of pride and sin because it ‘puffs up.’

— This is like a parable of our times in Britain; almost all churches now use leavened bread for communion.  As you will be aware, there is an ‘echo’ of the 7 parables of Matthew13 inthe 7 letters of John, and in exactly the same order.  In parable number 4, the woman (false religion) mixes leaven (false teaching and hypocrisy) with the 3 bowls of meal (God’s word).  In the 4th letter of John, the woman (Jezebel) brings false teaching and sexual immorality (leaven) into the church.  Interestingly, the 3 bowls neatly represent the 3 strands of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism – and each contains leaven.

I’d be most interested in your comments,  Blessings to you all in Beersheva,  R.

From: Howard & Randi Bass
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:25 PM
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion

Dear R,

Thanks for your questions, which I also had to wrestle with for myself about 30 years ago regarding the Lord’s Supper.  But first of all, concerning the Muslims:  Islam is a faith, not a people, even though historically most of the Muslims have been Arabs, and most Arabs Muslims.  But we know that during the beginnings of the Church, there were Arabs who became Christian, and these are mentioned in the New Testament.  The Coptic Christians in Egypt were there long before the Islamic conquest.  Today, Islam is making great inroads into other people groups; so ancestrally, it depends on each person and their ethnicity.  In any case, Islam is not of the faith of Abraham, for nor is their God.  Even the demons know that there is one God, and they tremble at the truth of who He is.

As for the bread of communion, let me preface all this with a bit of personal testimony, and as I mentioned, this goes back to 1982 over this issue.  When I was first saved and born-again in Feb. 1981, my first reactions were as a Jewish person, seeing everything through ‘Jewish eyes’.  I thought that the Gentile Christians had taken things from us, or had done things ‘not Jewish’, and that this was why so many Jews felt that there was nothing of Christianity for us AS Jews.  Then the Lord began to open the eyes of my understanding that God is bigger than doing everything ‘Jewishly’.  In the parable of Jesus in Mt 21, He told the religious leaders that because we threw Him out of His own vineyard, God would give it to other vinedressers who would render to Him the fruits in their seasons.  In other words, the Gentiles would take on some major responsibility for the things of God, and, being from every nation and ethnic group, things would not ‘look’ Jewish, or even be Jewish.  The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but is something new — a mystery now revealed — for anyone and for all, from God, in Christ. Gentile believers are being brought not into the Law, but into the living hope of the New Covenant, which is not a renewed covenant, but a new and better one. (Heb 8:6)  “Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed  be Abram of God Most High, Possessor (Purchaser) of Heaven and Earth. . . .’” (Gen 14:18-19)

But when it comes to the communion, I thought, at least that is ‘ours‘:  it was instituted at a Passover; the bread, I was sure, was matza (unleavened); leaven represents sin, and Yeshua was the perfect, sinless Man and Lamb of God to be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin and sins.  I asked a Baptist missionary in Israel, why do some Christians use leavened bread?  His answer was simply that we are under grace, and that it doesn’t matter.  That may be true, as long as the substance is preached, but this answer does not satisfy someone seeking to know the why of the things of God, and of symbols He chooses to use. (Col 2:16-17) God does things for a reason, just as immersion better ‘tells the story’ of someone who has died, been buried, and rises from the dead with and in Messiah better than sprinkling does.  Symbols can provide great visual aids for our understanding, such as the bread and cup of Communion.  We really do have to be born-again by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the gospel, and continually learn what it is to reckon our old man as dead, and that we are alive unto God as a new creation.  As Paul said, the world is crucified to him, and he to the world.  This would also include his own culture if it conflicts with the newness of life, and our new identity that we are in Christ.   The Law and the Prophets point to something greater and better, not only in Christ Himself, but also through Him.

I know you know all these things, R; I just want you to know that I take these things seriously, too, and the Word and Holy Spirit of God together set me free by the truth of who Jesus Christ is, and now He has also set me free from ‘religion’, or from simply accepting traditions handed down by ‘the fathers’, sometimes without any understanding of what or why they might be.  On the other hand, something like Sunday worship, which I believe is of the Lord, is right, but, again, often without much understanding from the Law given to Israel why it is so for believers in Jesus! (Lev 23:9-14)  Whatever we believe must be shown from the written Word of God to be so.

I was reading a book that a brother in Beer Sheva gave me to read back in 1982, a book whose name I can not remember.  The reason he let me read this book was not for what I came away with.  In the book, the author was referencing ‘sources’ from the 1st century, according to him — both Jewish and Roman sources.  One of the things he mentioned was that part of the opposition to Jesus was that He taught His disciples to eat leavened bread on Passover.  I couldn’t believe it!  What I did, though, was ask the Lord if  this could possibly be!  Because as a Jew, this was the last vestige of something that was ours that the Gentiles couldn’t take away!  (As a sideline to this:  some years later, I was wanting to share this with another Jewish believer, who is a teacher and an influential person and one who is regarded as prophetic; but once I said that “I think the Lord has shown me . . .”, he did not want to hear anymore.  His reason?  How could the Jewish people accept the gospel if this were true?  That was a very revealing answer about his own way of understanding the implications of the gospel.  But what this shows is how something so simple can shake our very sense of truth or identity.  And that was what also prompted my reaction to what I had read, and of my inquiring cry to the Lord, and also of your own instinctive reaction.)

The answer I received from the Lord — and what justifies it all for me — was simply, “Check the Word”.  He turned me to the Scriptures, both Old and New.  And He opened up a whole new vista of ‘gospel truth’, and how it also affects the one new man reality, and the priesthood of all believers.  This remembrance ordinance which the Lord left us, and the symbols He chose to use, are radical and revolutionary on the one hand concerning the substance, and ‘don’t matter’ as to use,on the other.

Another interesting ‘happenstance’ occurred during my studies:  I happened to pick up a National Geographic magazine (not exactly a magazine with any vested interest in the truths of God), with an article about the historic split between the western Roman Catholic Church and the eastern Greek/Russian Orthodox Church back around the 5th century.  One of the reasons, apart from Papal authority, was over whether the Holy Spirit was given by the Father and the Son, or only by the Father.  (It’s pretty clear from the Scriptures, and, here, the RCC got that one right! Jn 14:16,26Another reason was over the bread of communion:  apparently leavened bread had been used, until the RCC decided and decreed that it must be unleavened.  It is interesting to note that the crucifix is the ‘symbol’ of the RCC — with Jesus still on the cross slain, not yet buried nor risen from the dead —  and, therefore, there is no justification for the ungodly sinner through faith in their system (much like rabbinic Judaism and every other religion), which is only so for those who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  He is no longer dead, but alive forevermore!  And so the sinner can be judicially acquitted of murdering or killing or of consenting to His death through faith in the good news!

A curious thing:  wine was used by the Lord at the Last Passover, and is considered acceptable doctrinally by many churches and Messianic congregations for the Lord’s Supper.  Grape juice is an alternative, being of the fruit of the vine.  At the first Passover, when the Israelis were delivered from hard slavery in Egypt, neither wine nor grape juice was part of that feast.  And, according to the instructions given us in Lev 23, with all of the appointed times/’holidays’ of YHVH, the emphasis is on eating unleavened bread (matza), but nothing about drinking wine.  Following the Passover, looking prophetically, once the first-fruits wave offering had been offered on the day after the Sabbath (i.e., Sonday, the first day of the week) after coming into the land which the Lord was giving to the children and people of Israel, then they could use wine and eat [regular bread] (lechem).  This was during the Passover week.  When Jesus was walking with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus after His resurrection (first-fruits from the dead) on the day after the Sabbath of that Passover week (i.e., Sonday), their eyes were opened when He blessed and broke bread (artos in Greek; lechem in all Hebrew translations normally used).  Then “they knew Him, and He vanished from their sight”. (Lk 24)  Wine is fermented; it is leavened.  Nothing leavened was permitted under the Law during the Passover and Unleavened Bread week.  (It is interesting that the same Greek word for bread is used in the account of the Last Supper, and in that of the meal with the two disciples in Emmaus.  Had the Last Supper been the night before Passover, as some believe — and therefore leavened bread would have been “permissible” — then surely we would think that the word used in the account of Emmaus would have specified unleavened bread, since it was during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week.)

The words for wine and for new wine/grape juice are different in both languages, just as in English.  The words for regular bread and for unleavened bread are, too.  It is here that my search in ‘checking the Word’ began:  what word was used for bread in the Greek in the New Testament wherever the Lord’s Supper was the subject, or the Passover week; when was the word for unleavened bread used, and in what context; how were these words translated into English and Hebrew; how were the Hebrew words for regular bread and for unleavened bread used in the Old Testament?  What I found was astounding, and full of grace and truth, and a proof to me of the verbal inspiration of “all Scripture”.  I already knew that the root word for bread/lechem in Hebrew has to do with warfare, conflict (lamed-chet-mem); what I found out is that the Greek word for bread, artos, means to expiate:  through the sacrificial atoning death of Jesus Christ for sin and our sins, God has removed/taken away/expiated the struggle for survival which every man since the Fall has inherited and come up against — only to die in defeat at the end — and has taken away the futility and vanity of life for the believer .  The first of the use of the word lechem in the Bible is found in Gen 3:19, in connection with God’s punishment for Adam’s disobedience:  he would have to struggle to eat bread (also used for food in general; see Mt 6:11).   Jesus, the second and the last Adam, fought the ultimate battle and struggle from the onslaught of the enemy, and when He knew that by being crucified for our sins, He would be separated from God, His Father, while bearing all of our guilt and punishment.  And by His obedience and His victory in this warfare, we receive living bread to eat, having received peace and acceptance with God!

He has given us justification and peace and the living hope of everlasting life through the victory on the cross by the Lord over sin, the devil, and death!  The inspired use of language in the New Testament fulfills the types and Messianic hopes of the Old!  (I am sure there is much more of such examples that the Holy Spirit has shown others.)  Unleavened bread in the Old Testament is called ‘bread of affliction‘ because of the haste of leaving Egypt (Dt 16:3)  There is no reference here to recall sin, but the haste of leaving, and of not having time for the dough to leaven. (Ex 12:34)  They were being delivered and driven out, and the affliction which they suffered as slaves was remembered as well as the affliction of not having tasty bread to eat!  Whereas in the New Testament, Yeshua has said that He is the Bread of Life, and the Living Bread that one may eat of and not die.  This living bread is His flesh, which He gives for the life of the world. (Jn 6:48-51)  People will wait hours in bread lines when they are hungry to receive some loaf of bread, which is not so for some unleavened bread:  Jesus is the Staff of Life, and we who know Him give thanks every time we eat bread.

Every Friday evening in Jewish homes around the world, there is the family meal ushering in the Sabbath.  On the table — which in Jewish tradition has become an altar, in the absence of the Templewith its Shewbread — is wine and two leavened loaves of challa, a special bread loaf especially for the Sabbath.  The loaves represent, in the Jewish understanding, the House of Israel and the House of Jacob, and replaces the Shewbread. (Lev 23:16-17)  There is also salt and two candle sticks.  The wife says a blessing to welcome the Sabbath Queen.  Who is the King/Lord of the Sabbath?  Who is His Queen, the Bride?  Yeshua tells His disciples — us — that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  He has personalized and internalized the symbols to Himself and to His Body, the Church.  Every week Jewish people, without knowing it, are remembering the Creator of the Universe, and the Savior, who gave Himself as the sacrifice for our redemption — none other than Jesus whom we pierced and who has left His Church the very emblems which, in the sovereignty of God, has been given as a witness to the whole House of Israel!  Jewish families are acting as if they are priests, eating the Shewbread, representing all the 12 tribes of Israel, each week; Christians are priests, and have the priestly privilege to eat the bread of the Presence/ the bread of the Faces/ the Bread of God, remembering Him who embodies Israel, and who gave Himself as the High Priest of a different order than under the Law once and for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself — for both Jews and Gentiles. (Heb 7 – 9)

From this basic and straight-forward beginning to ‘check the Word’, everything else began to open up, with much enlightenment and revelation with respect to what I had not seen before — partly due to ignorance, partly due to prejudice, and partly due to conditioning.  And I have to say, R, it was like being born-again again, it was so life-changing!  It set me free from thinking that some truth of God had to be Jewish in thinking, or that the traditions of the Church ought to all be Jewish if it were really based on the Torah that was ‘ours’; when, in truth, it is His, and He is moving on, and the Holy Spirit is leading us into all truth, all based upon the written Word of God, glorifying the Son and the Father.  Again, the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek:  “But I make known to you, Brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught, but [I received it] through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:11-12)  “Where is the wise?  Where the scribe?  Where the disputer of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks folly, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1Cor 20-25)

The Communion is for the Church during this present age:  we remember the Lord’s death until He comes, when He returns in great power and glory apart from sin.  Israel will not celebrate it during the Millennial Kingdom (but she will the Passover, with unleavened bread), nor will the saints in glory who are ruling and reigning with Christ.  It is all about remembering Jesus, and it focuses on His death, not His life.  (1Cor 11:23-26, 27-30)  In His death, He who knew no sin, had no sin, did no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  His death on the cross was the victory over Satan.  He bore the full punishment due us from the Father.  The remembrance of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper has everything to do with His death, for this is what brought to an end the power of the devil and of sin in any who believe, and ushered in a new covenant of God with Israel and any Gentile or Jewish person who comes to God now through repentance and faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior — the Messiah, Son of the Living God.

Appreciating the value of His death, we then stand in wonder at the life which He lived, how He came into the world through the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life proving that He is God with us, enduring every temptation known to man without ever falling to any, for there was nothing in Him which Satan could succeed in getting a hold.  He is the second Adam, and the last.  Being the perfect sinless Lamb of God, He alone is worthy and adequate to be the necessary perfect and all-encompassing sacrifice to put away sin and to redeem sinners.  Passover/Unleavened Bread being a seven-day feast, it is suggestive of the truth that the atoning death of Jesus was and is sufficient to cover all of history — before Christ, and after the Lord’s death and resurrection — for the salvation of sinners:  the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world.  Once a sinner (“leavened”) has been delivered from the sin of the world, he is to stop sinning — to cease from putting ‘more leaven’ into his life, and is to live a new life of righteousness (“unleavened”) unto God in the power of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor 5:6-8)

At the Lord’s Supper, in corporate communion with the blood and the body of Messiah, we remember and celebrate the blessedness of a finished work on the cross, which is the foundation and guarantee for the eternal purposes of God which He purposed before the foundation of the world, but only manifested it in the coming of the Lord into the world and in His victorious death and resurrection. (1Pt 1:18-21; Rev 13:8)  Such is the love of God!

Just as all of the appointed times of YHVH point to and are fulfilled in Jesus, so are all of the sacrifices required in the Law fulfilled in the crucifixion of the Lord:

–the whole burnt offering — Yeshua gave His whole being to God in sacrifice — both in His life and in His death on the cross — and was ‘burned up in full’ as He suffered the wrath of God and the separation from His Father when He bore our sins upon Himself on the cross;

–the meal/grain offering — Yeshua lived a pure, sinless, uncorrupted life; the only perfect Man.  No blood sacrifice was ever needed for Him.  No grain offering, or any offering by any Israeli under the Law could be offered with leaven or with honey. (Lev 2:11)  Yet, the Scriptures lead us onward, which we will see.;

–the sin offering — Jesus bore the sinfulness of our nature, and the sin of the whole world in its contrariness to God;

–the trespass/guilt offering — Jesus bore our guilt, uncleanness, and shame for our sins.    We are saved by grace, and are [justified] sinners till the end through faith.;

–the peace offering — On the basis of the other sacrifices — and on Jesus’ one comprehensive sacrificial death — we have peace with God, with ourselves, and with others.  Only of the peace offering could both the priest and the sinner eat, and if a thank offering, it also included leaven along with the unleavened bread. (Lev 7:11-14).  The Lord’s Supper is the remembrance of all that Jesus has accomplished unto God and for us in His sacrificial atoning death.  At the last supper, He, the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, shared with His sinful apostles in anticipation of the peace He was making for them, and leaving with them.  He gave them the bread and the wine, looking ahead to His death, and leaving His ‘flesh’ and His ‘blood’ which He, the Lamb of God, gave on the altar of sacrifice, and which the priests of the New Covenant — redeemed sinners — could share in, just as we can as priests share in what is also represented by the bread — the shewbread.

As mentioned, the Law permitted no leaven (or honey) to be burned in any offering to the LORD by fire.  However, in Lev 23:17, where YHVH is telling Moses about Shavuot/the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, He is requiring two loaves of fine flour, baked with leaven, as firstfruits to Him.  Many Christians have understood the two loaves as representing Israel and the Gentile nations.  We all have sin still in us; thus the leaven.  The sacrifice has been accepted, but as long as we are in this body in this creation, there is sin in every person, whether saved or not.  Pentecost marks the beginning of the “Church Age”, and God has brought as equals into His covenantal purposes both Jewish people and Gentiles from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  And He wants those who have accepted the Passover and entered into the good of it, and into the rest which God has given in bringing us into the “Promised Land”, to remember this with a new grain offering during this age until Christ comes again. (Lev 23:16We are the grain offering, as we offer our bodies a living sacrifice in a life consecrated to God, priests holy to the Lord.  In being brought out of Egypt with its sin (leaven) by the power of God on our behalf, and judgment against His and our enemies (Ex 6:6), we are to leave hastily, and not put any more of Egypt into us – nor go back there again (Num 14:3;Dt 17:16; Lk 9:62) — but rather live a new life of holiness and righteousness (unleavened) unto our Savior God. (Lev 18:3)

The Lord’s Supper is in fulfillment of this new meal offering, and is for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Passover, and as their Savior from inward sinfulness and outward sins.  We are saved by grace, but we must always recognize that we are sinners who, at the very least, fall short of the glory of God.  This will be so until the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection.  “Your glorying is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?!  Therefore purge out the old leaven (speaking of our sinfulness, not of bread), that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened (made righteous through faith in Him who became sin/leavened).  For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened (no word for bread here) of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor 5:6-8)

I pray and hope that this is helpful, R.  I apologize if I have gone on too long, or did not answer your questions in a direct manner.  If you have any more questions, or if I can maybe clarify something, please let me know.

God bless you,
Howard

At 09:53 PM 01-04-12 +0100, you wrote:

Dear Howard, Greetings in the lovely Name of Jesus!  Sorry to have taken so long getting back to you,.

Thank you the information on Islam very interesting and thank you for your trouble in explaining things in such a deep and comprehensive way.

I have a few thoughts from your email:

— I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that “Whatever we believe must be shown from the written word”.  However, despite your comprehensive study of this subject, I still cannot see from Scripture anywhere that tells us that communion is with leavened bread.

— You mentioned that one source suggested that Jesus used leavened bread at Passover; this surely is pure conjecture.  In addition, and if it were so, then Jesus would have broken the Law, since anyone eating unleavened bread at Passover/Feast of Unleavened bread would be cut off from Israel (Exodus 12 v 15).  Again, I see nothing in Scripture that suggests that the annual Passover celebrations were any different (in terms of unleavened bread) from the original Passover; and Jesus’ Last Passover Supper elements of bread and wine were the basis for His first communion service.

— You quote the RCC as a source of information; as an apostate church whose doctrines generally contradict Scripture (salvation by works, etc).  Personally, I would give no credence to the RCC.

— You state that wine is leavened and nothing leavened was permitted at Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.  However that’s not entirely correct; let me explain.  There are a small number of people who are allergic to leaven and cannot eat leavened bread or drink low alcohol drinks such as cider and beer, because of the traces of leaven.  Wine is of a totally different character, because wine contains no leaven; wine is of course made by adding leaven but, as the pure wine is formed, the much higher alcohol level destroys the leaven, which totally separates out and falls to the bottom as dregs.  When the pure wine is decanted, it contains not one cell of yeast, and can be safely drunk by those who are allergic to yeast.  In like manner to the pure wine, the blood of Jesus destroys every sin to which it is applied by confession and repentance.

— The Shavuot bread, as you pointed out, is with leaven, confirming that humankind is hard-wired with Adam’s DNA!  It is interesting that the 2 loaves represent the firstfruit of Jews and Gentiles in God’s kingdom.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum noted that, traditionally, these 2 loaves were even baked in separate ovens.  James (1 v 18) picks up on this when he says, “We are a kind of firstfruits.”  I was amazed to discover a type” of the Jew and Gentile entering God’s kingdom in the 2 from the original exodus that enteredCanaan: Joshua and Caleb; because although Joshua was a Jew, Caleb wasn’t: he was a Gentile.  His father, Jephunneh, was a Kennizite, and the Kennizites were a pagan Canaanite tribe; I was amazed to discover that Caleb is Hebrew for dog”, and dog” is a derogatory name for a Gentile.

Blessings to you, Randi & the family, and hope that our paths cross again; I rather think they will!

R

Shalom R,

It is the wisdom of God that two men who love Him and His Word can see it differently on a very relevant topic!  Praise the Lord that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by our own understanding!

Just to comment on your comments, since it helps me better cover the objections in any future use of what I believe to be correct, despite the difficulties:

1.  As I wrote, when I questioned the Lord about the matter that was actually shocking to my sensibilities, He told me to “check the Word”; that is, the Scriptures.  In first of all looking up all the uses in critical places where the Hebrew and Greek word for ‘unleavened bread’ was used, and all the uses in critical places where the original languages used common, or leavened bread, it was both eye-opening and convincing enough to go on from there in prayer and study.  The Holy Spirit is very precise in the choice of words and language.  Sometimes we ignore the significance; other times we simply do not know that it is significant.  In a similar vein, as you write in your excellent booklet, “You have to understand the type or symbol, otherwise the Scriptures remain opaque.”

2.  It may be ‘conjecture’ that suggested that Jesus used leavened bread at Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread.  But it was this very claim that startled me to ask the Lord if it could possibly be so, since it was so contrary to my preconceptions and understanding, not only of the Passover requirements, but of the symbol of leaven as ‘sin’.

As for being ‘cut off from Israel’ for eating leavened bread during Passover week (Ex 12:15), that is exactly what Israel has done to Jesus and to His disciples:  claim that we are no longer part of Israel.  The priests were the only ones who could eat the leavened Shewbread (and there is no basis for the claims of some that that bread was unleavened; see also 1Sam 21:6; Mt 12:3-4), and there is no stipulation in the Law that the Shewbread was to be made differently during Passover.  The tribe of Levi represented Israel, but were not reckoned in the census of Israel, for they belonged to YHVH God in a more personal and direct way. (Num 1:47-49; 2:33)

According to the New Testament, in the Letter to the Hebrews, the Law is necessarily changed because the priesthood has been changed.   Among other changes are those concerning clean and unclean meats.  According to the Law (Lev 11), to eat unclean food (not kosher) was an abomination, and made one abominable to YHVH, becoming unclean/defiled.  Yet in the Gospels, and further brought out in Acts and the Epistles, we are told that Jesus made all foods clean (Mk 7:14-20):  clean animal meat was already clean, needing no ‘cleansing or purifying’; therefore, it was the unclean food which He added to the liberty for the Jewish believer (and for the Gentile believers) to eat.  What a social barrier Jesus broke down which put enmity between the Jew and non-Jew!  The disciples of Jesus “turned the world upside down” — including the Jewish world!

3.  The RCC was not a source of information; simply that in a historical article in the National Geographic on the split between the Western and Eastern churches, the RCC began to use unleavened wafers after centuries of leavened bread traditionally used by Christians.  Besides that, God will even use unbelievers and apostates to unintentionally instruct us (although intentionally on God’s part):  it was an unclean bird, the raven, that brought food to Elijah while he rested in the desert of Beer Sheva on his flight from Jezebel.

4.  It is very interesting what you say about the wine:  just as Jesus became sin on the cross for us, yet that sin was completely removed from Him as the darkness again became light, and He cried out victorious with a loud voice, “It is finished!”  And the Lord will visibly return again a second time to those who eagerly wait for Him, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb 9:28)  From the human side, we leaven/ferment wine; it is made with leaven. We murdered the Righteous One, shedding innocent blood; it is God who removes our guilt and shame in His remarkable wisdom, again as a parable for us to learn from of His kingdom ways:  there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  The Lord has left us a witness that we must still admit that we have sin in us, and that we still sin, as we take the leavened bread in faith that Jesus’ death has ultimately removed sin from us completely, which will be realized only in the resurrection.

5.  We are a first-fruits, not only of the grace of God making Jew and Gentile equal in His sight; but even more so as the making of the one loaf (1Cor 10:17), representing the one new man in Christ, the one Body of Messiah, the new priesthood, the Bride of the Lamb.  Israel is never referred to as the Body of Messiah, nor is Yeshua ever called the King of the Church.  He is the King of Israel, but the Head of the Church, which is His body — a far more vital union than merely being His ‘people’.

Thank-you, R, for prompting these stimulating thoughts and discussions with you.  And I certainly look forward to being with you again.

All praise and glory to God, and to the Lamb upon the Throne!
Howard

Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 22:07:55 +0100
From: R
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion

Dear Howard, Greetings in the lovely Name of the Lord!  Thank you both for the speed and depth of your reply.  I see where you are coming from but don’t accept your position.  What is fantastic is that we both have that unity in Messiah; and although we may not agree each other’s positions, we can disagree without being disagreeable!  I look upon it as iron sharpening iron.  I’ve attached some notes I made about Passover recently and would be interested in your comments.

I asked K for his views on our discussion and will forward a copy to you as soon as I’ve sent this.  May the Lord richly bless you in His land.  Blessings, R

From: K
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2012 3:32 PM
To: R
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion

It is true that one of the more minor issues dividing Rome from Greek Othodoxy is that Rome uses unleavened & Greece uses leavened bread in their masses.  I do not know that from the Roman end it was due to a decree from theVatican, altho I do know that theVatican changed the decrees of the Council of Jerusalem to allow the eating of blood, whereas the Eastern Orthodox still keep that decree.
It is also true that artos (artoV) is the normal Gk word for bread.  There is also a word, azymos (azumoV) which means unleavened.  However I am not sure we should put too much weight on that.  I think it unlikely that Jesus would have used leavened bread at Passover, indeed I would doubt it profoundly.

However I remember hearing from a Jewish believer that the Friday night kiddush with challa (which is of course leavened) bread and wine is regarded as a weekly mini-passover, just as the Lord’s Day is a weekly reminder of the resurrection.  So they would be doing the mini-passover with leavened bread.

I can’t say that I would view the use of leavened bread as a liberation from the bondage of the Law.  It seems to me legalistic to insist that we must eat leavened bread at the Lord’s Supper.

Far be it from me to enter into an argument with Howard. However I do feel “at home” with the use of matzah at communion & to me it eloquently speaks of the sinlessness of Jesus.

Hope that is enough to be going on with.
K

5 Apr 2012   11:41am

Thanks, R and K, for this worthwhile discussion.  And to be sure, there is no legalism here:  I will use whatever is given.  I have met some who have refused to take communion over the choice of bread!  The last time that happened in another setting, the love of God had them change the bread so that the brother and sister would participate.  (Legalism is not gracious, from whichever side it comes.)

As I mentioned in the initial response, it is not the type that we focus on, but the substance, who is Christ.  The symbols mainly help us see and tell the story of the glory of the Lord!  It is not so much liberation from the bondage of the Law for me, but from the religion of rabbinic thought from which I came that conditions everyone to think ‘Jewishly’, just as Roman Catholics really think that all Christians need to return to their papal authority, despites its obvious fallibility.  I say sometimes that I was born Jew-ish, and born-again a Jew!
Blessings to you all as you celebrate Jesus in His death and resurrection.  The Living Bread of Life rose!
Howard

Dear K,

Your own comments do show that there is historic precedent for the leavened bread; and the Jewish witness on Friday nights is also something which I have paid attention to, looking to that day when their eyes will be open to see Who He Is of whom they celebrate each and every Sabbath evening!

As for “putting too much weight” on the inspired exactitude of Scriptural words for ‘leavened’ and ‘unleavened’:  does not Paul do that when writing of “seed” and not “seeds” to prove that it is Messiah/Christ who is the intended Inheritor, through Whom all who believe in Him will inherit all that God has promised?  Why do evangelicals emphasize ‘immersing’ rather than ‘sprinkling’ when we “baptize”?  Would that be considered legalistic?  Why do those who believe in God’s faithfulness to His covenants cut withIsraeland David insist that “Israel” meansIsrael, and not the Church?  We interpret these things this way because we do believe that the Word of God means what He says, and He says what He means!

The Lord’s Supper now of the New Covenant brings our focus and attention on our Redeemer and Savior in His sacrificial death to die in our place for our transgressions and our iniquities.  The perfect, sinless Creator came to us and identified Himself with us, taking on the likeness of sinful flesh – even to becoming sin for us on the cross, and an accursed scapegoat (as perhaps symbolized by the unleavened bread of affliction)!  This great humiliation and affliction to bear our guilt (Is 53:10), which is His ‘greatest’ glory, is what we will forever remember.  Perhaps in Melchizedek, and in the bread and wine which he served Abraham to celebrate the victory over his enemies with the help of God Most High, Yeshua referred to Abraham seeing His day, and rejoiced and was glad. (Jn 8:56)

The types and symbols of the bread and the wine are given to better see, but they are not the main thing, for theKingdomofGodis not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  It is Messiah/Christ, who is the substance of these ‘visual aids’, whom we honor and worship.  Yeshua/Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who manifested Himself as the meek and lowly Lamb of God who was slain (slaughtered), and rose from the dead, alive forevermore!  Amazing love!  How can it be?!

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you:  that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread (artos); and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you announce the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1Cor 11:23-26)

Enjoy celebrating the risen Lord in all His glory,
Howard

TRUTH, AND THE LYING SPIRIT – 23 Aug 2011

Greetings from the land where the lie is often spoken as truth,

Thanks to the many of you who have written in, and to those who didn’t yet lifted a voice to our Father in Heaven.

From the time that the serpent got Eve and Adam to listen to him over the clear Word of God, we have inherited the tendency to believe lies over truth.  And when the lie is repeated enough and taught and passed on as being true, it takes a rude awakening sometimes to open our eyes and ears to reality.  I was always brought up to believe that the truth of Jesus was not true — at least not for Jewish people.  If something is true, it is true for everyone.  Today Israel and Jewish people curses — although not always knowingly — both Jesus and those who believe in Him.  And Israel herself finds the nations delegitimizing and cursing the truth of her existence, and her witness to the one true God — even in her unbelief.  We reap what we sow; as we judge, we shall be judged.

In the present state of war preparations, Israelis were attacked and murdered.  Israel responded by killing the terrorists, and also some Egyptians, who may or may not have been complicit in the attacks near Eilat last week; and the news media, including some of Israel’s own, give a picture that Israel is the aggressor against Gazans and Hamas.  I heard a BBC newscast just two days ago, with the story stating that Israel had killed 15 Palestinians, including civilians, in response to a militant raid which killed  eight Israelis.  NOTHING about the civilians that the terrorists killed, including the injury of two children.  NOTHING about all the rocket attacks which had already begun on southern Israel towns and cities.  And with all this, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations involved who started the latest salvo during Ramadan, threatened Israel should Israel retaliate during Ramadan! 

The terrorists who chose to start the killings and attacks then also decided when the “cease-fire” should begin — 9:00 pm on Sunday.  Since Sunday at 9:00 pm (2100), rockets have been fired towards Ashkelon and other Israeli towns near Gaza.  Israel, once again, finds itself in a dilemma that no matter what she does, it is wrong.  Believers in Jesus/Yeshua, whatever we do or say about the truth of who He is, are never right in Judaism thinking. 

Praise the Lord for His righteousness!  His thoughts and ways are just and true, and His wisdom is awe-inspiring, and His judgments past finding out! 

Here is a link to a pretty amazing video about Hamas tactics against their own people and Israel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUuhw0RpRMY

Here is a very wry response to the U.S. demands for Israel to always apologize:  http://yossibarnegev.wordpress.com/  (I do not know who the author is, as far as I know.)

And here is a video of rocket attacks in Beer Sheva this past Saturday night, with most being intercepted:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n5ICddnSJk

HUMBLING OURSELVES – 7 Aug 2011

A call for a national fast by the believers in Israel has gone out for this week, Aug 8-9, coinciding with the Jewish day of mourning over the destruction of the two temples, and for other calamitous events which have occured on or near the same Hebrew calendar date of the 9th day of the 5th month.

The Body of Messiah, as a priesthood representing our peoples before God, is called to intercede for our nation in the face of all the existential threats she faces.  For us to have any authority before God on behalf of our unbelieving people, the believers must face squarely our own sins as God’s people under the blood of the New Covenant at this time.

Not only are there external enemies and threats to seek to destroy Israel from being a nation anymore, but there are both external and internal agents seeking to prevent Israel and the Jewish people from being what God has created and redeemed her for.  We still, even as born-again Spirit-baptized and -filled believers in the truth of who Jesus Christ is, too often show a likeness to Israel who did/do not want to have the living God be her King, but wanted/want a king like the Gentiles have.  We want to be like the Gentiles, rather than a holy people serving the Holy One, and being a servant nation as a royal priesthood to bless other nations and peoples for the glory of our Father in Heaven and the Lord Yeshua Messiah/Jesus Christ.  Too many Christians — or by any other name that clearly identifies any and all believers with Yeshua/Jesus — want a Jesus that is like the ‘holy’ men of other religions, and not the unique and only-begotten Son of God who alone is the Mediator between God and men.

As we humble ourselves and seek God’s face, let us acknowledge our own sins first — as is required of the priests serving YHVH God — according to the calling and ministries we have in Messiah/Christ, so that there might be healing and deliverance and revival within the household of faith.  Then, perhaps those outside will come and see what the Holy Spirit is doing that brings lasting hope in the God of hope.  All their sins are a consequence of not believing in the name of the Son of God; all our own sins are for not believing what He says.

BLOOD OF NEW COVENANT ON JEWISH PEOPLE

14 June 2011

Much ‘blood has been spilled’ over the outcry of the “all the [Israeli Jewish] people”to Pontius Pilate washing his hands wishing to be “innocent of the blood of this just man”:  “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mt 27:24-25; Acts 5:28; Dt 19:10)

In the sovereignty and wisdom of God, and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this Scripture is full of life and death, for “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. (Pr 18:21) This publicly spoken word by the rulers and the common people had consequences which were not understood or foreseen when rashly uttered. (Acts 5:28)  When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he had no idea really of what he was doing and the dreadful consequences of his action – that in him all future human beings would be starting out in life as sinners and dying!

Through the centuries the Jewish people have suffered much because of the irrational hatred toward Yeshua when He walked among us.  The Romans and other Gentiles have taken those words and, still wanting to wash their hands of their own evil part in the crucifixion of this ‘Just Man’, caused horrible suffering to the Jewish people and to the nation Israel because of this blood we have brought on ourselves as being guilty of rejecting the Son of God, and seeing to it that He was put to death on the tree. (Acts 2:22-39)  The ‘curse’ of blood-guiltiness turns into the ‘blessing’ of atonement when any Jewish person or Gentile repents and believes the good news of salvation through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin and sins.

I want to look again at this shout of ‘all the people’ in the light of God’s sovereign grace reigning through His righteousness.  The blood of Jesus will either forever cleanse those who love life that comes through confession of Yeshua as Lord, and believe with our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, or else it will bring eternal condemnation for those who love the fruit of refusing the goodness of the Father to bring us into His household and family.

God has dealt with Israel in a unique way among the nations in that He has cut covenants with her fathers, extending to their descendants, including a chosen king and priesthood; and ultimately, in the fullness of time when Messiah came, God cut a new covenant with the House of Israel and with theHouse of Judah. (Amos 3:1-3; Rom 9:4-5; Jer 31:31; 33:17-25; Gal 4:4-5) The full meaning of these wonderful truths of the Creator and the Redeemer of the Heavens and the Earth will find their full expression only when the Lord Messiah returns to restore the Kingdom to Israel and over all the other nations.  This is crucial in the plan of God in order to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets, so fulfilling all the promises of God concerning all things. (Mt 5:17-19; Rom 15:8-9)  In the cutting of covenants – rather than merely ‘making’ a covenant – the shedding of blood is a vital part of the covenant in which a life has been sacrificed as the binding price of the ‘deal’.  And for our sins to be forgiven there must be the shedding of blood. (Lev 17:11)

At Sinai, the covenant with the Children of Israel from all of the twelve tribes was cut by the blood of oxen offered unto YHVH, God of Israel.  As Moses read the Book of the Covenant to all of the people, they said, “All that YHVH has said we will do, and listen to”.  Then Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which YHVH has cut with you according to all these words.” (Ex 24:3-8)  With this covenant, YHVH and the People of Israel became forever joined in covenant union.  Israelis and Jewish people may come and go the way of all flesh, but the covenanted nation with the God of the covenant endures forever!  Anti-semitism is first and foremost against YHVH Himself. (cp Acts 9:1-5)

In Lev 16:32-34 and again in chapter 23:28-29, the LORD gives His people the opportunity to have their sins atoned for and removed in order that He might dwell among them as a holy people, justified by faith in the provided sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sinfulness.  This blood of the atonement was given upon the altar for all of the people and for all else that pertained to the whole religious and civil life of the nation.  Any Israeli that did not afflict his soul that day for what God did to grant him life would cut himself off from his people – he would no longer be part of the people because he refused the blood that was shed to provide forgiveness for all his sins he committed under the terms of the covenant made at Sinai, and the covenant cut with those just prior to their entry into the land of Canaan. (Dt 5:1-3)

This means of atonement by the blood on the Day of Atonements was everlasting, and was God’s means until Messiah came to offer Himself as a guilt offering for sinners. (Is 53:10; Heb 9:23; 10:12-14)   At the last Passover supper with His apostles, Yeshua spoke to them about His upcoming betrayal and suffering and death.  The cup of the New Covenant in His blood, shed for all of us, but first of all for the House of Israel and the House of Judah, is our constant reminder that Jesus is the covenant (Is 49:8) which God has cut with His people. (Lk 22:20)  He is the Lamb of God who was slaughtered as an acceptable sacrifice to God, and “His side was pierced with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out”. (Jn 19:34-35)

He is also the Scapegoat who willfully, in His innocence, bore all their/our sins, and is wrongfully blamed for all our woes.

When Caiaphas, the High Priest responsible that year, said to the religious leaders who were alarmed at so many of the Jewish people beginning to believe in Yeshua, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish”, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to write:  “Now this he (Caiaphas) did not say on his own, but being High Priest that year he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (Jn 11:49-52Caiaphas did not realize that he was actually prophesying!  But if God can cause a donkey to speak, he can certainly bring forth truth from a man, even one opposed to or ignorant of His full intentions.  And being High Priest of the Israeli nation that year, the words of Caiaphas had power and authority, and his unintentional sin brought guilt upon the people. (Lev 4:3)

When all Israel accepted God’s covenant at Mt. Sinai with all its holy and righteous commandments, they did not realize what they were really committing to when they said “Amen” to put themselves under the yoke of the Law.  When all the [Jewish] people cried out that the blood of Jesus should be on them and on their children, they did not realize the consequences and power the words from out of their heart and mouths would carry throughout the generations and millennia.

Praise God!  On the cross, our Savior, the Son of Man, called out to His Father – and the Father of Israel (Ex 4:22) – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

Praise God!  In His own divine love and wisdom, and in His own faithfulness to His Word, His promises, His covenants – He had His priestly nation ‘sprinkle the blood of the New Covenant’ firstly upon themselves and their descendants! (Lev 16:6; Heb 7:27; Is 52:13-15The atonement has been provided for the whole House of Jacob, and the way was opened for the Gentiles to also be purified and brought near!  The covenants belong to Israel of the flesh (Rom 9:3-5).  Those who repent and believe receive the blessedness of God’s grace and favor.  The day is coming when all Israel – the full remnant from all the tribes who turn from ungodliness – will be saved and enter into the good of the New Covenant cut with them by the One whom they have pierced. (Rom 11:26-27; Zech 12:10-14)  They will afflict their souls and cease from all their own works.  Those who still refuse His provided sacrifice will cut themselves off from their people and His people.  The blood of the Messiah which God promised to His people Israel has been shed for all people and nations everywhere at all times. (1Tim 4:10)  The Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world, and all of God’s covenants are based upon His eternal plan of redemption. (Rom 15:4; Rev 13:8)

Praise God!  His will has been done, is being done, and will be done – on Earth as in Heaven.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

FIRE – 6 Dec 2010

The fires in the Carmel forests in western Galilee near the Haifa area have finally been brought under control, but at great human and natural loss.  Israel received help from a number of countries to help fight the fire, especially from the air.  Help even came from Turkey, whose relationships with Israel have taken a turn for the worse in the last year.  Government officials are under fire, and if nothing else, God has shown that no matter how much we may want to “make the world better” (which obviously means different things to different people), our version of a “better world” can go up in flames and smoke in an instant.  Mercifully, it began to rain today in Israel (including the Carmel region, and even in Beer Sheva), furthering helping to douse the burning embers of this devastating fire, which has been called the worst natural disaster in Israeli history.

Three prison guard trainees from Beer Sheva were among those killed in the blaze of those trapped in a busload to go into the danger zone to try to rescue prisoners from the area.  There were also others from Negev towns and cities who were among the killed, and a number of them worked at the Beer Sheva prison facility.  Our congregation, Nachalat Yeshua, took up a special collection to give to the Beer Sheva families as an expression of our sympathy at this time. 

The apostle Peter writes that just as the world was once destroyed by water, so will it be a second time, but by fire.  There may actually be something to global warming to set the stage for that.  Some of us may think that we will not be around for that; but what if some of us are?  What will we do?  How will we react, or respond?  Will our faith be found secure in the Lord and in His promises that all things are in HIS hands?  As it is written, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  Our God is a consuming fire!  We dare not take Him for granted, but rather humbly place our whole-hearted trust in Yeshua, who died and rose again, and is coming again to renew His creation to make it a habitable place filled with the knowledge of His glory!  Hallelu-Yah!

With that in mind, here is a great breath of fresh air:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE  

Yeshua was born King of the Jews; He died on the cross as King of the Jews; and the day is coming that He will be the King of the Jews!  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Let us not be ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ or of His words in this generation, which is ours to be His witnesses and a praise unto Him.

YESHUA/JESUS IS COMING AGAIN! – 14 Oct 2010

This news is not new!  It is also good news for those who love His appearing!  It is the same “old” news!  It remains current news!

There is a wave of deception entering from without and working within the “Church” connected with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven to judge the nations and to establish His righteous reign over Israel and the rest of the world.  Many professing believers/Christians — and some are truly so — are re-defining terms to interpret the Word of God to be saying what He isn’t, or else to not be saying what He is.  The spirit at work in this seeks to de-legitimize both Israel and the gospel in their uniqueness; to make what God calls “new” (as in New Covenant and new creation) only something re-newed or re-cycled; and to weaken doctrinal support not for these only, but also for the hope of the literal and personal return of the same Yeshua/Jesus who ascended in bodily form to sit at the right hand of the Father until the time appointed.

The gospel/good news goes out to “whosoever” from whatever nation and group of people.  God is working to save whosoever repents and believes His good news concerning repentance and faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the free gift of eternal life to all who truly believe.  Any consequential transformation of a society or a culture is only in part and definitely temporary.  Only the return of the Lord to establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth is going to permanently change this situation at a universal level.  Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is working to bring as many as will to have part in the better resurrection, which is the first resurrection, which is far better than merely entering the Millennial Kingdom in the flesh for those of Israel and of other sheep nations who come through the great tribulation without giving themselves over to the antichrist, and upon whom Yeshua will show mercy and compassion at the end of the age.

To make this as simple as possible:  as long as Satan is the god of this world, then the world is not going to be transformed to a degree satisfactory to YHVH God and His Son; and as long as Israel — His chosen people and nation — remains an enemy of the gospel, then the God of Israel is not going to be satisfied with any lesser transformation.  Both of these conditions will prevail until the coming again of Yeshua, and thank God that the Father has set a time for this!

Therefore, it is for true believers not to lose sight of the blessed hope as we go about being light, salt, and a fragrance in the world in the faith, hope, and love that more individuals will have their own heart and minds transformed by that which is the power of God to save:  the gospel.  In God’s Kingdom, every part will be holy in order that all is holy.  It appears that the elect are going to be more and more “hid with Messiah in God”, and not be the most vocal and visible, or high profile, or most popular, or even most ‘influential’.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!

LAWSUIT UPDATE – Final

Today a small representation of leaders of Messianic congregations and other ministries from all sections of the country met together to discuss the lawsuit and its verdict and the ‘what now?’.  The ‘what now?’ is still an open discussion.  In the very short term, unless a very clear Word of the Lord should come to say otherwise, there will be no appeal of the verdict.  We spoke and heard today how the lawsuit was initiated and handled, and how the evidence was presented to the court, and the judge’s decisions during the course of the trial to our side of the case.  Another leader with a legal background was also present, who changed his mind from before coming:  he clearly saw along with everyone else that there is very strong legal basis for filing an appeal.  With that, no-one present — nor any who have communicated with me in the past few days — had a conviction that an appeal is the clear will of God.  Some were uncertain; others were against. 

I want to say that God has given His peace to us regarding the verdict handed down by the judge in our lawsuit against Beer Sheva’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi, and against the international anti-Messianic/-Christian organization, Yad L’Achim (Hand to Brothers).  The Lord provided us with the funds required of us to pay the defendants and their lawyers, including the punitive reward they were given for their actions.  Some responded so immediately to donate towards our financial obligation that it can only be seen as a demonstration of God’s direct involvement.  Even some who anticipated the verdict to be as it was have stood with us.  This reminds me of the prophets in Antioch who warned Paul by the Holy Spirit what awaited him in Jerusalem, yet they blessed him when he knew he must go — also by the Holy Spirit.

The verdict was so one-sided and unjust, and the defendants and their lawyers were even rewarded for their involvement in the “serious event” (the judge’s own words) on December 24, 2005, that truly it is liberating to know that the case was not decided on legal grounds, but on religious.  The secular judge, in a civil court, deciding a civil suit for illegal demonstration, trespass onto private “church-owned” property, property damage, personal injuries, ultimately interpreted all the evidence to satisfy the religious precept that “to save a [Jewish] soul in Israel is like saving the whole world” (pikuach nefesh).  This precept allows even the Sabbath to be violated, lies to be told (“the end justifies the means”), harm to be done.  Praise God, He wants to save Jewish souls, and Yeshua/Jesus is the Savior of the world, especially of those who believe!  And we too, as believers in Messiah Yeshua, may use means that seem unacceptable to others, yet we are taught by the Lord Himself and by His apostles to preach the gospel and to act righteously because salvation ultimately belongs to Him, and not to any methods of men or of demons.

Laws restricting proselytizing to minors or by offering material inducements are good and proper, and protect all of us.  Seeking to prohibit all evangelism can serve no-one and no “free” society well.  It is ultimately unenforceable, and can only lead to repression of liberties of speech and conscience.  Should all political parties be banned from trying to gain supporters or members?  Should no one be allowed to present what he considers good reasons for a better economic system?  The irony here in Israel, of course, is that the very good news that is rejected and denied has its roots, stock, branches, flower, and fruit all right here!  And YHVH God is faithful:  untold multitudes of Gentiles have turned to the God of Israel through Jesus Christ, the King of Israel who will be also the King of the Jews, to whom He first came, and to whom He will return when they bless Him who alone truly and fully comes in the name of YHVH.  Then will they realize that the One they have pierced and have been rejecting is the One who has nonetheless really loved them.

We went into this suit in weakness:  we did not present any witnesses who have immigrated since the ‘Beresford Case’ on Dec. 25, 1989 (anyone interested that does not already know can look this up on the internet), so as not to put them in any jeopardy; we did not take to court certain persons who clearly were instrumental in the riot, knowing that they would not testify against the Chief Rabbi or against Yad L’Achim; we strived to respect the Chief Rabbi because he is the Chief Rabbi of the city, despite his total lack of regard either for us or for our self-control.  We acted on the principle that the person or agency in charge is responsible for actions taken by those under their authority:  after bombings, don’t people wait to hear who accepts responsibility for the evil deed?; doesn’t Israel hold Hamas, for example, responsible for rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities?; didn’t the world hold Israel’s Prime Minister and Defense Minister responsible for the recent flotilla incident (even though refusing to hold the guilty persons, organizations, and governments accountable)?; don’t the Scriptures hold the religious and political leaders of the people more accountable than the common people? (Lev 4)

Our lawsuit was never about money:  we were not interested in their money, but we used the monetary claims against them to express the seriousness of what they were doing, according to existing Israeli laws.  We were seeking to uphold the right to assemble together legally without illegal interference.  We were not trying to gain equal rights or recognition for believers within mainstream Judaism, nor expecting that our lawsuit would prevent future attacks.  We did hope that our case might give some of those who now oppose us pause to reconsider the reasons for that, and the means they use to express their hostility.  Despite the judge’s off-the-record comments about the nature of the event — which justified a lawsuit — he himself trivialized it in his verdict by demanding we pay our adversaries the percentage of our claims, even if we did not satisfy him in sufficiently proving their personal liability.  It is a corrupt system in any country when even the police do not bring to justice those whom they have arrested for illegal acts, especially when they were eyewitnesses to it.  We were given no opportunity to reference the same defendants’ cooperation for a similar event on November 28, 1998, even though the judge allowed them to refer to it untruthfully to serve their purpose, accepting their testimony as true.  There are a number of legal and procedural reasons why an appeal of the case could justifiably be made, but the reality of the entire proceedings only confirms that the real nature of our battle is spiritual and not carnal.  Just as wars are a necessary part of life till now, yet never permanently solves the problems nations have towards one another, so, too, are legal battles sometimes necessary, but neither can they win the ultimate victories for righteousness and justice.  Only God’s own righteousness being imputed to those who have come to Him by His way and on His terms can change the heart, mind, and conscience of a person or of a nation.  Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH!  Not in words and prayers only, but in faithfulness and truth.

Israel is not called by God to be a democracy, but a holy people and nation under the rule of the Sovereign YHVH God of Heaven and Earth (Mic 5:2) for a blessing to the whole world.

We have sought to honor the name of our Lord and Messiah, Yeshua, the Son of the living God, whose name is casually cursed and blasphemed here, often without even realizing it.  Just as Israel is continually placed on the defensive by the likes of Hamas, with never even a legitimate defense that is acceptable, so, too, do many of my brethren — the Jewish/Israeli people — relate and react towards those who have repented, and now believe the Word of God spoken through Moses and the Prophets regarding YHVH’s Anointed One.  All things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.  Hallelu-Yah!  God bless you in Messiah our righteousness.

No Confidence in the Flesh

Philp 3: 3-11 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in the Messiah Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so. . . .  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Messiah.  Yet indeed I also reckon all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ. . . .

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the 50th day of counting the sheaves of wheat, according to the Law of Moses, which Jesus came to fulfill.  The counting does not begin from the day after His death and burial – or even from the time He descended into the lower parts of the Earth to set free the captives – but rather from the day of His resurrection, from the day after the Sabbath.  We who believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah are a new creation.  We begin with resurrection life in Messiah and then begin to learn what it is to suffer for His sake, to die with Him to ourselves, to live our lives unto God and His will.

The gospel is not something Jewish, since the Law makes no one righteous, and we can not be justified by the works of the Law.  Neither is the gospel something Greek or gentile, because non-Jews were outside of God’s covenant with Israel, and, according to the Bible, the gentiles worshipped demons and not the one true God.  So we see that the gospel is neither religion nor philosophy, not man’s wisdom or knowledge, not of demons or angels.

If our fellowship with God the Father and His Son Yeshua and with other believers is based upon any of these things esteemed by the world, then this is what Paul calls “having confidence in the flesh”.  Yet Paul claims that to be a true Jew and a true Christian is just the opposite:  “to have no confidence in the flesh”, concerning which he writes that he had more to boast in than others.  Let’s look at his credentials from our passage and consider how they apply to our identity and hope as God’s children.

circumcised on the eighth day

of the race of Israel

of the tribe of Benjamin

a Hebrew of Hebrews

in regard to the Law, a Pharisee

 

as for zeal, persecuting the church

as for legalistic righteousness, blameless

Notice that all of Paul’s “confidence in the flesh” have to do with those things of natural birth, supposed keys to citizenship in God’s Kingdom either through no choice of their own, or either through confidence in choosing the right party.  Everything here takes pride in one’s self, status, giftings, intellect, or else in one’s “team”.

Paul learned that these outward endowments and benefits are not ultimately those which count for eternity, for God is no respecter of persons.  He is after people, like David, who have a heart for Him, whose relationship with Jesus is worth more than whatever else he or she thinks important, who live now with a vision of the everlasting Kingdom of God.  All that is of now, Paul counts as rubbish, and he looks for the glory to come, which is all of God.

Have we learned. . .are we learning. . . to reckon all that makes us feel proud to be but refuse compared to the matchless beauty of the meek and lowly Holy One of Israel?

Let’s close with Paul from v. 12-21 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but one thing:  forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.   Let us therefore, as many as be perfect , be thus minded; and if in any thing you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.   Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.   Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk according to the pattern we gave you. . . . For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of the humiliation, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working of His ability even to subject all things to Himself.

LAWSUIT update – VERDICT update

Shalom Brothers and Sisters,

A verdict has been handed down by Judge Iddo Ruzin in our lawsuit filed against the Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and against the anti-Messianic organization, Yad L’Achim.  The judge did exactly what we have been praying and hoping . . . that he would not do!  Judge Ruzin has determined that the two defendants are innocent of any wrong-doing concerning the events before, during, and after 24 Dec 2005, and that we did not produce sufficient evidence to prove any personal liability on their part in our civil suit against them.
Judge Ruzin has ordered that we pay 1000 ILS to each of the defendants, graded percentages of our claims against them for violations of Israeli law, attorneys’ wages for their clients’ defense, and the five appearances in court for the trial, for a total of approximately 155,000 ILS ( ($40,200; 32,900 Euros; or GBP 27,800).  This miscarriage of justice is a sad commentary on the state of affairs, and should be seen, too, as a wake-up call to all who care for truth and righteousness.

We express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you for your encouragements, prayers, praises to God, and financial contributions throughout this lawsuit to date.  We believe, with many of you, that we were led by the Lord to enter into this lawsuit, and we have sought to honor the name of Yeshua.  We believe that at least in this latter regard, we were successful:  even the judge in his decision referred to the Lord as “Yeshua”, and not by the acronym commonly used by many in this land.  We understood from the outset that there was a risk involved in taking these particular defendants to court for what we still know they are liable.

If we decide to file an appeal of this decision, we will do so only after consultation with other Messianic leaders from around Israel, just as we did before going to trial.

We always believed, and still believe and accept, that the verdict is from the Lord, and it is for us to discern what He is saying to us through it.

Glory to the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel.