I returned home on Friday night from one week in Kenya. I was invited to be part of a small team for a diplomatic mission, speaking with senior church leaders about reconciliation of Gentile Christians — and church “positions” — with Jewish believers in Jesus/Yeshua, with a conference being planned in two years. For my part, my Jewish identity is not conflicted with my faith in Jesus and being also identified as a Christian, along with other believers and followers of the Messiah. But this is also something that might not necessarily have been so just a couple of hundred years ago, and even lingering until today in many quarters. Continue reading “Towards Unity of the Spirit in The Bond of Peace”
We are influenced by the world we are born into much more than we realize. Young children today have an intuitive grasp of some modern technology than many adults who are their parents and grandparents. The current generation is also entering and growing up in a world that is increasingly ignorant of the true God and of His Word, of His covenants, and with an evolutionary mindset and world-view that has displaced a general consensus of the fundamental truths of morality expressed in the Bible, even within the household of faith (at least in the western, Christianized, gospelized world). We have a natural tendency to subject God’s word to the teachings of men – or to the lies of the devil – rather than to subject all things to the Word of God. If we do not believe what God says about the beginning, we may not believe what He also actually says about the ending. If we twist His words at first, we will probably continue to twist them at last.
Many believing Christians want to accept evolutionary “facts” as a means by which God created and made the world as it has “evolved” to be. Mostly they do this because of the amount of time they think is needed to “evolve” to where we are today. Yet, the issue is much more than a matter of time: the evolutionary explanation of origins and destiny are totally incompatible with what YHVH God has revealed to us – especially through the Jews – regarding what He alone knows: He IS the Creator, and the Redeemer, and has a plan that He is carrying out, no matter what anyone may believe or not. “Let God be true, and every man a liar!”
For those who “keep and remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”: if you do not believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh, then you are not keeping the Sabbath, since this is the initial reason He gave it to Israel as the sign of His covenant relationship with them. And the Jewish people are His witnesses for who He is. This is so, also, for believing Christians, since they are in a new covenant relationship with the God of Israel, YHVH God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel. We bear false witness of Him if we deny His own testimony of what He did, how He did it, when He did it, why He has done it! The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world!
When God, who is unapproachable light, created in the beginning the Heavens and the Earth, the “raw material” was in darkness. The creation was outside of Himself. Then God spoke and called the light out of the darkness, as He began to form and order His creation. This was not created light, for God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Jesus said that He is the light of the world. And in the New Heavens and New Earth – in the New Jerusalem – there will be no night there, for the Lamb will be its light for the eternal day, without darkness: the day after the Sabbath. The sun and moon are temporary lights for this creation, which God placed in this unique solar system within the universe on the fourth day to serve their purposes in His sovereign wisdom.
We must, like Elijah called upon the false prophets of Baal in Israel, make a choice: if Yeshua/Jesus is our Lord and God, let us believe and follow Him. We can not be of two opinions when God has spoken to us, if a serpent, or a man, or even an angel, comes to us with a different word which contradicts His.
Here are some articles which are helpful on this subject of “the gap”:
2Pt 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2Pt 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with deceptive words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not.
Mt 26:19-29 “And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover. Now when the evening was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I? And He answered and said, He that dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
The Son of man goes as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, who betrayed Him, answered and said, my Lord, is it I? He said unto him, You have said.
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.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Continue reading “The Communion of The New Covenant in Yeshua’s Blood”
Gen 18:16-19 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And YHVH said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of YHVH, to do righteousness and judgment; that YHVH may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Yeshua says that His disciples are His witnesses in the world, and that as He was in the world, so are we to be. (1Jn 2:6; Phlp 1:27-30) A disciple is not above His teacher. The Father loved His only-begotten Son, and Jesus suffered and died in obedience to His love for and trust in God His Father.
The Apostle Peter did not want to accept that the Messiah would suffer and be rejected to the extent that He was. And Peter did not want to suffer for being a disciple of Yeshua. . . . until he learned that this is the way of YHVH in this world to fulfill all righteousness, in order to save those persons who repent and believe, and to condemn those who will not. Continue reading “1Pt 3:13-22: Witnesses for Yeshua Through Suffering for Righteousness”
The righteousness and justice of God: His ways are not ours; His thoughts not ours. Repentance begins with agreeing with Him and learning from Him. The truth sets us free, and humbles us to first judge ourselves of the log in our own eyes, so that we can better help others with their specks. Glory to our Father in Heaven and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ!
Heb 7:8-10 Here men that die receive tithes; but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receives tithes, paid tithes in Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Continue reading “Generational Transference: We and Our Fathers”
Today is no fools’ day except for those who deny the truth of Messiah being Jesus/Yeshua, and that He rose from the dead, as if there is no God capable of such power! But our God is the Maker of Heaven and Earth! This is the day that the LORD has made, so let us be glad and rejoice in it! Some of our friends went out early this morning in Beer Sheva to the Negev Brigade Monument (which can be seen from our home) to celebrate and remember this most momentous event which shook the Earth from Jerusalem close to 2000 years ago. This is also a Biblical feast — an appointed time of YHVH — which He gave to Israel through Moses at Mt Sinai. In Lev 23, it is called First Fruits, and is to be celebrated and remembered on the first day of the week after the Sabbath during the Passover week. This year, the Passover fell on Friday evening, making this day the day after the Sabbath. I don’t know where, when, and why eggs and rabbits became a tradition of many Christians, but it is interesting that children hunt for eggs like Jewish children hunt for the afikoman on Passover night. And Jewish seder plates have an egg on it. Let us worship God in Spirit and truth, keeping what is good, and being careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
As you are all probably aware, the situation on the Gaza border here in the south of Israel is one of increasing tension and casualties. We deplore the suffering and ruined lives of so many, and unless we realize the spiritual war going on in the heavenlies that is behind these conflicts, we would ourselves be in despair. There is no true resolution except for God’s solution, and Jesus has paid the price for it! His Passover death and resurrection is the Father’s peace plan, and no other will or can succeed.
Thank-you all for your prayers for the glory of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah and of God our Father in all His covenant dealings with His people, and all others.
The State of Israel is preparing to celebrate its 70th Independence Day this April 18-19.
Seventy years of the impossible being made possible. After nearly 1900 years of exile from the land God promised on oath to give to the children of Israel; after prayers and hopes of one day returning to Jerusalem; after centuries of suffering persecutions and unending dislike and mistrust; after forced expulsions from other countries; after trying to show that they are like the Gentiles among whom they live; after failures of other nations to keep promises to assist them in their return to the land; after the Holocaust which sought to destroy their aspirations once-and-for-all; after wars against their surrounding enemies throughout the 70 years of statehood: Israel and the Jewish people here are thriving and prospering beyond all expectations, and blessing the world through its acquired knowledge and innovations born of necessity. Continue reading “Pride Comes Before A Fall – 19 Jan 2018”
Mk 11:11-26 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the Temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
(12) And on the next day, they going out of Bethany, He was hungry. (13) And seeing a fig-tree with leaves afar off, He went to it, if perhaps He might find anything on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs. (14) And Jesus answered and said to it, No one shall eat fruit of you forever. And His disciples heard.
(15) And they came to Jerusalem. And entering into the temple, Jesus began to cast out those who bought and sold in the Temple. And He overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. (16) And He would not allow any to carry a vessel through the Temple. (17) And He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, “My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?” But you have made it a den of thieves. (18) And the scribes and the chief priests heard. And they sought how they might destroy Him. For they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine.
(19) And when evening came, He went out of the city. (20) And passing by that morning, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots. (21) And Peter, remembering, said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away.
(22) And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith of God. (23) For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said. (24) Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you.
(25) And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.
Yeshua has just made His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the common people acknowledging Him as the Son of David who they believed had come to be the King of Israel. But His time had not yet come for that. He left the city and the Temple, and went to Bethany, probably to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
We come now to the story about the fig tree that Yeshua cursed. I am sure that all of us have read this and been uncomfortable that He would curse a tree without fruit at a time when it was not the season for fruit. When we do this, it reveals again how our thoughts and ways are not the same as the Lord’s. In our discomfort at His act, we are judging Him for doing what we think is wrong or unfair, does not make sense.
Why did Jesus curse the fig tree for not having fruit before its season? This event occurred probably in April, whereas figs are a summer fruit, the first and best ripening happening around June. The fig tree is used in the Bible as one of the symbols for Israel, and in it are both good and bad figs. (Jer 24:5-10; Hos 9:10; Mk 13:28-31; Lk 13:6-9) Normally the fig tree begins to blossom before its leaves cover them, or there are hold-overs from the previous season. So, in the case of this particular fig tree on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem, it had leaves, and therefore it should also have had some blossoms of fruit before their full growth to maturity. However, Jesus found no fruit on it. In response, He said (cursed; judged) the tree: “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard Him.
Mark then goes on in his account to Yeshua and His disciples arriving in Jerusalem. Yeshua went into the Temple and began to drive out all those who bought and sold in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He also would not allow anyone to carry wares through the Temple. Then He taught, quoting from Isaiah and from Jeremiah the prophets: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? ‘But you have made it a ‘den of thieves’!”
For this “presumption”, the scribes and chief priests, who heard Him, sought how they might destroy Him (get rid of Him/finish Him off, and His doctrines). They were afraid of Him, because all the people were astonished at Yeshua’s teaching. At this point, Yeshua’s popularity was a protection, but it was only a matter of time before those in power would act anyway, as envy and hatred took control of their spirits. Here we see the beginning of Pharisaic/Talmudic/Rabbinic Judaism’s cursing of Yeshua – both His name and memory (Yeshu).
Then Mark goes back to say that that same morning, on the way up from Bethany to Jerusalem, the disciples and Jesus saw the fig tree that the Messiah had cursed dried up from its roots. This was obviously a result of the Lord’s judgment of the tree, and not a natural drying up of a dying tree, which would have taken much longer. The roots were still there in the ground. God has not finished with Israel! And we are witnesses to that certain hope today, here in Beer Sheva, Israel! (In ch. 13 of Mark, the Lord uses the same symbol of the fig tree again, this time in reference to Israel’s revival in the last days leading up to His return. The curse is still there, the fruit is still not satisfying to God, but redemption and the Redeemer is on the way!)
What do we learn from this fig tree and from the incident on the Temple Mount that Mark records? Yeshua was the central figure in both of them, and His acts greatly disturbed both His disciples in the one, and the religious leaders in the other.
Both acts were judgments from God on the fruitless life and the corrupted religion of His chosen people, whom He had chosen for His glory, and to be His light to the Gentiles, and to be a holy people for His name, and to bear much good fruit from all of His fatherly care for them. (Is 5) Instead they professed to be outwardly ‘good’, especially in comparison to the ‘Gentiles’ (the goyim), while inwardly and outwardly dishonoring their God and His house. In this passage of Jesus taking control over the Temple Mount complex, He calls the house, “My house” (Is 56:7; Jer 7:11), whereas in the account in John, He calls the Temple “My Father’s house”. (Jn 2:16-17; Ps 69:9) He and the Father are one.
The marketplace that the people had set up was on the holy site in the area called the Court of the Gentiles. The buying and selling desecrated it as a place of prayer for non-Jews, as a house of prayer for all nations. The public and merchants were using the Temple area as a ‘short-cut’ to carry their wares to the abused area. Doves were the sacrificial animals for the poor, and the greedy merchants were selling them, probably at high prices. Yeshua had come to preach good news to the poor, who were being oppressed and taken advantage of.
So, too, the fig tree with leaves but without fruit. The tree looked good on the outside, but there was no fruit on the inside. The leaves were a covering for their fruitlessness. Remember when Adam and Eve knew that they had done wrong, and wanted to cover their naked shame, they put fig leaves over their private parts. So, too, this tree, and Israel and the Jewish people – and by extension, the church and Christians (Rev 3:1-6; 14-22) – can look good to the eye of man, but cannot satisfy genuine [spiritual] hunger. Israel is blessing the world in amazing ways today, but good works can be “dead works”, and they do not save unbelievers; or they can be good works of believers, but motivated by wrong motives or done without love. (Heb 6:1; 9:14) Religious life without love, or without intention to honor the name of our Lord, is empty. As a prophetic and priestly nation, the Jewish people are not consciously drawing people to know the one true God. No one can eat from such a tree and be nourished with the life of God. The good works are a ‘fig leaf’, a cover-up for the lack of God’s righteousness and fruit. The God of Israel will not grant His people peace and tranquility as long as they/we continue to seek it, to buy it, apart from Him – apart from Yeshua.
God cannot, and will not, bless fruitlessness in those who are called by His name. (Jn 15:1-12) We cannot satisfy the need in others – whether believers or unbelievers – when our hearts of flesh become hearts of stone again. Praise to our God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: He is not finished yet, neither with Israel and the Jewish people, nor with those who profess to believe in the name of Yeshua/Jesus for salvation! Yeshua asked the Father — when He was nailed to the cross – to forgive that very people and nation, for they did not know what they were doing. He still calls His people to repentance, and to bear fruit of that return to HIM. This is especially regarding the state of our hearts towards God, and towards our fellow man. Israel, as represented by the fig tree, is also a sign of the last days that the end of the age is near, and that the Lord is coming again “soon”. (Mk 13:28-31; Mt 24:32-35; Lk 21:29-33) The same cursed fig tree is redemptively revived in the last days!
Yeshua took the opportunity of His disciples’ reaction to the cursed fig tree to teach them about believing prayer, but even more about the necessity and the power of forgiveness. (Mt 6:9-15) The Messiah, when He taught His disciples how to pray, told them and us that we must forgive others if we want our Father in Heaven to forgive us. To the measure that we forgive others, He will forgive us. Also in this passage from Mark, He says the same thing. We can pray with all faith to have God do miraculous things in our lives or for others – including the restoration and salvation of Israel – but if we are not forgiving someone – not loving Jesus above all, and others as ourselves — for what we think or know that he/she/they have done to me, I will have no peace with God my Father, and He will not be pleased with me, His son through Messiah. (It is very interesting that in the matter of divorce, which YHVH hates, Yeshua gave one exception for allowing it: adultery. But in the matter of forgiveness, there is no exception. A very challenging commandment and commitment!)
Brokenness – knowing how much we have been forgiven – produces the Holy Spirit fruit of love (God’s measure of love) towards others, especially towards those we think do not deserve it.
What then can we learn from this passage in the plan of God to redeem His people?
–The fruitless fig tree and the corrupted religious worship and ministry are indicative of the spiritual state of the Chosen People: there would be no more [godly] fruit from that again! Only when Israel repents and sees Jesus whom they pierced will that finally produce the broken heart and contrite spirit needed to produce fruit for YHVH their God. (Zech 12:10-14; Ps 51)
–This is also true of believers in Yeshua – of those who say we believe and follow Him. Some of us have let our own spirits push away the Holy Spirit, and we have let our new heart of flesh become like stone again. We then become hypocritical like the Pharisees: demanding of others what we ourselves will not do, nor help them to do. We separate ourselves in self-righteousness (which is the meaning of Pharisee), and do not love the brothers and sisters, and can oppress the poor. We look good on the outside – the leaves – but inside we are in rebellion against our holy and gracious Father and Savior.
–The Lord’s acts in this passage should put the fear of God in us, whom He has chosen to be the Lamb’s beloved Bride, obeying His commandments with thanksgiving, and loving one another as He has loved us.
Yeshua is our Judge and our Savior. Thank -you, God!