Streams in the Negev
Isaiah 41:17-20 "A site of a thankful soul who has found living water to drink from the true God of Israel"
WE SHOULD NOT BE IGNORANT OF THESE THREE LAST-DAYS TRUTHS – 10 Aug 2013
Rom 11:25-36 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you should be wise within yourselves; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations has comes in.
And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
For this is My covenant with them, when I have taken away their sins.”
Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the free gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
For as you also then disbelieved God, but now have been shown mercy through their disbelief,
even so these also have not believed now, so that through your mercy they may also obtain mercy.
For God has shut up all in unbelief, so that He might show mercy to all.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?
Or who first gave to Him, and it will be repaid to him?
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things; to Him be glory forever! Amen.
1Cor 12:1-7 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I would not have you ignorant.
You know that being led away, you nations were led to dumb idols.
Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus is a curse, and that no one can say that Jesus is LORD, but by the Holy Spirit.
But there are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
And there are differences of workings, but it is the same God working all things in all.
But to each one is given the showing forth of the Spirit to our profit.
1Thes 4:13-18 But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you be not grieved, even as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him all those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.
For we say this to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall ever be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these words.
EXPRESSING MESSIAH IN US – 7 Aug 2013
We have been teaching and praying for a break-through in the Spirit for our personal lives, for families, for congregations, for the Body of Messiah — a break-through that will put us on new ground in our relationship to Yeshua and His cross, to our relationship with one another, to an enhanced expression of the freedom of true spiritual unity in the bond of peace, in an understanding of the truth of being one new man in Christ, and of seeing the return of the Lord Jesus as a real and felt need among those who are His. There is obviously a move of God world-wide concerning these things. Just after the organizing committee of the next Negev Conference (in November) chose the subject of such a break-through as the theme of the conference, so, too, did the coordinating team for the next SAYF (Sitting At Yeshua’s Feet) retreat next month in Sde Boker. And then I received an e-mail giving a praise report of a recent Arab Palestinian conference, which also spoke of a break-through and a focus on Isaiah 64.
The break-through will come from the Lord for those who have been preparing themselves for it, anticipating it even while waiting on Him for it. It is in God’s timing, but as the believers wake up/revive to such a need, then the break-through — when it does come — will open up truths more clearly that will both set us free and also sanctify us for our Lord’s purposes. It will be both personal and corporate in its impact.
GRACE – 29 June 2013
God’s grace is just that: GRACE. Goodness and blessings to us despite being undeserving and unworthy of them. Not only the initial gift of salvation, which really begins our relationship with God in a personal way, but as His children He has many precious promises and blessings for us even now which He wants to give us. By faith we believe God and accept from Him every good thing. If we really understand and appreciate who Jesus is and what He did in order that my sins can be forgiven, it will forever impact and change our whole approach to God, to sin, and those around us.
Yeshua suffered so much and died such a horrible death in order that we CAN be recipients of God’s amazing grace and of His blessings. Not to be willing to receive them is to actually dishonor the price which Jesus paid so that we CAN receive them. It is a false humility and an inappropriate guilty conscience which we too often use to refuse all that the Lord has for us. Nor is it selfish if our motive is to draw near to God, to be a blessing to others, and to honor Yeshua for what He accomplished on the cross for each of us personally, and for all of us in Messiah together.
GOD IS LOVE – 18 June 2013
God is love, and He wants us to know His glory, and to glorify Him in all things in our love for Yeshua as our response to His love for us to live with Him forever. That being so, and it is not good for man or for God to live alone, God ‘has chosen’ to ‘need’ us; otherwise, there is only the lonely and unsatisfying love of ‘self’. Love is seen in its expression towards others. God loves us; we are to love Him; we are to love one another: love needs someone to love; love needs to be loved. When this love is perfected in the resurrection, and God is all in all, then that which is perfect will be realized: life in glory, which God has prepared for those who love Him (1Cor 15:20-28; 13:10; Col 3:4; Is 64:3 Heb; 1Cor 2:9)
God loves us as He loves Himself. May we be transformed to love each other as Yeshua has loved us.
Essentially, God is who He is, and does what He does by virtue of being who He is. Wisdom is inherent in Him, and all that He does is right and good, whether it is to bless or to judge, to save or to send away. He cannot deny Himself.
Since — in His acting out of who He is — He created and redeemed us in order to share life together eternally, it is ‘evident’ that He is not ‘sufficiently’ satisfied — humanly speaking — with Himself (the Trinity: זה בזה) or among ‘themselves’ (זה עם זה). (Words are hard to come by in speaking of what is beyond my comprehension.)
If He never created us, or any other living being, no one would know Him or His love. If He ‘decided’ to send us all away because we are unsuitable for Him, then no one would enjoy His love. His joy as a Father and as a Husband — not just as God — is to have His (God’s) family dwelling together in divine love and unity, to do whatever it is that He has ultimately redeemed us in Christ for.
Looking forward to that eternal day, while doing the work the Lord Jesus has given me to be doing until He comes.
HOPE – 16 June 2013
ShaLOM, from a dry and thirsty land not yet desperate enough for the only true source of true peace and rest.
In Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation the last few weeks we have been teaching on the necessity of both the baptism of the Holy Spirit for salvation (new birth), and of the on-going filling of the Holy Spirit as needed for the power necessary to live the victorious life of a believer in Yeshua. Just as God has given this chosen land of His to be mostly desert until the curse and futility are actually taken away after the Lord returns, so, too, at times are our souls dry and thirsty, and crying out for the living waters to submerge us with the fullness of Messiah. The whole creation groans, and we groan with it until the liberty of the full redemption at the resurrection of our bodies. We have been saved in this hope, which is also the hope of the fathers of the Jewish people. (Acts 26:6-8; Rom 8:18-25) That glorious day will surely come!
THE LORD’S DAY – 14 May 2013
The Lord’s Day, mentioned by that term only in John’s vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ, is not to be confused with the Day of YHVH (Day of the LORD), mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. The former signifies a particular day of the week; the latter to the ultimate day of judgment, either for salvation and deliverance, or else for condemnation and cutting off.
Can we determine which day the Apostle is referring to when he uses the name, the Lord’s Day?
The Sabbath Day in the Bible always refers to the Seventh Day, the last day of the week. There are certain days occurring on the holidays given to Israel which are to be ‘sabbaths’, or days of cessation from other work, but these are distinguished by the context from the regular weekly Sabbath. There is a day after the Sabbath, sometimes referred to as the day after the Sabbath to present the first-fruits to God (Lev 23: 11,15-16; Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1-2); other times as the first day (“one”) of the week. (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2) The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, and translated almost two centuries before Yeshua was born, translates “the day after the Sabbath” in Lev. 23 as protos (first), indicating the first day of the week.
There are only two possibilities for which day the Creator and Redeemer intended to be called the Lord’s Day: either the 7th day Sabbath, which is a weekly remembrance of YHVH as the Creator and the Savior, who rested and who gives His people rest; or, the 1st day/8th day-1st day of the week, the weekly celebration of the uncreated Light of the world and of His first-fruits resurrection from death and burial, who gives the children of light eternal life and rest.
What can we learn from God’s prophetic Word?
Ps 2:7 I will declare the decree: YHVH has said to Me, ‘You are My Son; today, I have begotten You’.
Ps 118:22-24; Acts 4:10-12 The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone. This was YHVH’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that YHVH has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!
Rom 1:1-4 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
Rev 1:9-11, 17-18 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last’, and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia. . . And when I saw Him I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I AM He who lives, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore! Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’
The day after the Sabbath, the first day of the week, and the one eternal day of an everlasting and new creation: this is the day of the Son of God; this is the Day that the LORD has made; it is the Lord’s Day, and we will rejoice and be glad in it! All who are born-again are sons of the resurrection and children of light, having been brought back into the glorious Light from out of the darkness of evil and death. Yeshua is the first-born of all creation, and the first-born of many brethren. God is light, and has bought us with the blood of the redeeming death of Yeshua, His beloved Son, on the cross, that we may live in His eternal goodness and presence!
Let us give the Lord glory, and call His day SONday!
The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but brings both Jews and Gentiles into the new thing which God is doing. We can see the roots of the faith in the Law and the Prophets, but the flower and fruit which they produce through the truth of the death and resurrection of Messiah is far more glorious as a new creation and as one new man in the risen and glorified Son of Man/Son of God.
PRAISE GOD, AND THE LAMB UPON THE THRONE! – 24 Mar 2013
Ex 12 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying. . .Every man shall take for himself a lamb. . . . Your lamb shall be without blemish. . . . Then the whole congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight, and they shall take of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. . . . It is YHVH’s Passover.
For I (the LORD) will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. . .and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I Am YHVH. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be on you to destroy when I strike the land of Egypt.
So this day shall be to you a memorial, and you shall celebrate it as a celebration to YHVH throughout your generations. You shall celebrate the feast as an everlasting ordinance.
Rev 5 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the Throne and of the four living beings, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slaughtered (slain), having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the Earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the Throne. . . .
They sang a new song, singing:
You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slaughtered (slain), and have redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us a kingdom of priests to our God; and we shall reign on the Earth.
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the Throne, the living beings, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered (slain), to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!
And every creature which is in Heaven and on the Earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
Blessing and honor and glory and power to Him who sits on the Throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
Then the four living beings said, Amen! And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever.
Lev 23:10-12 Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest of it, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before Yehovah to be received for you. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to Yehovah.
Act 13:32-33 And we proclaim glad tidings to you, the promise made to the fathers, that this God has fulfilled to us their children, raising up Yeshua, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”
Ps 118:19-24 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise Yehovah.
This is the gate of Yehovah into which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise You; for You have heard me, and are my salvation.
The Stone which the builders refused has become the Head of the corner.
This is from Yehovah; it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which Yehovah has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Rev 1:9-11 I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the affliction, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the island that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Also, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches. . . .
BIRTHDAYS – 13 Feb 2013
It is good to celebrate our natural births of water (the mother’s ‘breaking’), but ought not born-again believers of the Spirit of God celebrate what is unique to the redeemed?
A birthday celebration of a child can also be a day to celebrate the birthing day for the mother!
JERUSALEM AT PEACE, AND A PRAISE IN THE EARTH – 8 Feb 2013
Ps 122:6-9 Prayerfully ask about the peace of Jerusalem; those who love you shall be blessed. Peace be within your walls, blessings within your palaces. For my brothers and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within you. Because of the house of Yehovah our God I will seek your good.
Is 62:1-7 For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until its righteousness goes out as brightness, and her salvation as a burning lamp. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of Yehovah will name. You also will be a crown of glory in the hand of Yehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You will no more be called Forsaken; nor will your land any more be called Desolate; but you will be called, My Delight is in her, and your land, Married; for Yehovah delights in you, and your land is married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so will your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who always all the day and all the night will not be silent; you who remember Yehovah, do not be silent. And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
PENTECOST AND THE RETURN OF THE JEWS TO ISRAEL – 13 Jan 2013
A connection between the restoration of Israel and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is this, I think: God said that He would provoke Israel to jealousy (and also to anger) through those who speak with another tongue/language. It’s true that this probably refers primarily to non-Hebrew language believers, like heard at that first Pentecost/Shavuot, and among the vast majority of Christians. On the other hand, tongues, as a gift of the Holy Spirit (which gift I do not have, by the way) are also a sign to unbelievers, which it certainly was at that first occasion; and also, it could possibly be said, when Cornelius and his household spoke with other tongues, it convinced ‘unbelieving’ Peter that God was also saving Gentiles just like He was the Jewish people.
The beginning of the major return of the Jewish people back to this land began around 1880, picking up some momentum following the First Zionist Congress in 1897. It was just around this period that the Pentecostal revival took place, with its emphasis on speaking in tongues. For centuries, there was no Israel in Israel; neither was there much talk about the gift of tongues. Both are under attack, because both are from God; both have their internal contradictions, which give a bad report abroad; God is moving on . . . towards completing what He began.
The destiny of Israel and of the Church are intertwined through he same God and Lord and Holy Spirit! Let those who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Body of Messiah/Christ.
THE CONTROVERSY OF ZION AND THE TIME OF JACOB’S TROUBLE – 30 Dec 2012
(Written in response to a strong Christian supporter of Israel.)
As I’ve been reading the book by Dalton Thomas, The Controversy of Zion and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, I have said to myself that sometimes the wording could have been put otherwise, but that, of course, depends on whether Dalton Thomas would agree with my sensitivity on the very matters that concern us both.
I know that Art Katz, whom Dalton refers to much in his book, believed that another exile is coming for the Jewish people in Israel. My main problem with that is I don’t believe it! I do believe, however, that the Antichrist is going to chase many of the Jewish people out, but not into all the far-flung nations like New Zealand, nor for some indefinite period, but for the ‘relatively brief’ time indicated, up to maybe 3 1/2 years. (Meanwhile, there are some Israeli Jews, including believers, who are already leaving to some far-flung places because of the difficulties of living here.)
I also think that this is in line with what is written in Amos about our being brought back to the land, never to be uprooted again. The whole scenario of Jacob’s Trouble is one of final wars with no one really in control or possession. Thank God that all these things are under Yeshua’s sovereign authority and control, which He has told us in advance.
I have said many times that what is happening today is not the fulfillment of prophecy, but the fulfilling of prophecy. For instance, even though we see glimpses of the coming glory of the Negev desert, to be blooming and blossoming as a rose, to be like the Garden of Eden, it is clear that that is not what we have today, but it awaits the return of the Lord Jesus, and all creation will be released from the futility it is presently subjected to. Nor was the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 the end of the times of the Gentiles, for it is clear that the ‘holy city’ is still being trampled down by them, and Israel is not the ‘head’ nation but still a ‘tail’.
Israel is a sign, like Noah’s ark, of coming judgment, and God is using it over a length of time to bring all people to choose and decide if this ‘sign’ is of God or only of man before He ‘shuts the door’ and rains down His righteous judgments on all who will not heed His preachers of [His] righteousness. Even if only of man, Israel is being judged perversely compared to other unrighteous countries; but then, Israel has always wanted to be like the Gentiles, and is suffering the consequences of also being judged and condemned and abandoned by them. Only Yeshua will and is able to save the full remnant of all Israel through His refining fire.
Israel is still stubbornly and proudly unrepentant regarding the truth of Messiah being Jesus, and therefore is going to be brought to the point of death (like Isaac) to call on the name of YHVH or of Jesus/Yeshua Himself for salvation. In her acceptance then, it will be as life from the dead, as Paul writes in Romans 11. The nations are showing themselves coming against Israel and Jerusalem in the face of economic, political, and religious terror, and are going to also be judged severely by God when He pours out His wrath on His enemies and the enemies of His people (Jews and Christians). Just as this world is not going to come under the Kingdom of God and His righteousness apart from the physical return of the Lord to establish it, so, too, is Israel (like unredeemed Jacob) not going to become the Israel of God except she repents and returns back to Him whom we have rejected ever since we wanted a king like the Gentiles have; and even then, we were already ungodly and unfaithful to Him and His covenant.
I agree with what Dalton writes that many Christians who love Israel support her for present geopolitical reasons, or thinking that if they bless Israel God is obligated to bless them in return. Many American Christian supporters still think that the U.S. is the leading nation, not Israel, in God’s plan. Many give huge donations to Israeli Jewish organizations, but not to the Messianic believers and congregations. God’s plan for Israel is to be His holy nation and people, and for Him (in the person of Jesus) to be their God and King. This is not democracy, but His Kingdom, which is not of this world. Other [sheep] nations will only enter into their inheritance when the first-born receives his inheritance at the return of Messiah.
So, I agree that the language can be put in such a way as to dismiss the present situation as only carnal and political, and not of God at all. I hear this from Palestinian Christian believers, and I am dumb-founded how they can think that way given all the Scriptures saying otherwise. But they know that by accepting Israel today as being part of God’s working out His redemption and restoring His Kingdom over Israel and all the nations, they put themselves at great risk. The rulers and principalities of this world have been put on notice ever since the birth of Christ that their days are numbered (Hag 2:20-22; Lk 1:51-52; Rev 12). The reasoning that denies the present return of the children of Israel/Jewish people back to this very land now is of God is similar to the non-Zionist religious Jews who also delegitimize the State of Israel because, to them, the Messiah has not yet come. But He has come! And He is keeping His promises confirmed to the fathers, by grace reigning through GOD’s righteousness. (Rom 15:8-9; 5:21; Ezek 36) The war going on in the heavenlies and on the Earth are truly both carnal and spiritual, and political and religious. It has to do with who the true God is, the way of worship He requires, and the rightful King and Priest to sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem and over all Israel and the entire world. (These three elements, by the way, were what Hanukkah signifies, and is, for me, another circumstantial bit of evidence regarding the time of Messiah Yeshua’s birth. This ‘holy war’ is still being waged till He comes again in great power and glory.)
From what I get out of Dalton’s reason for writing his book, it is to get Christians to take seriously the great troubles that are coming — not only to Israel, but also to the saints and to the whole world — and that believers would stand for and with Israel through those times. With this, I completely agree, even if I may not agree with his understanding on every particular point. Israelis and Jews everywhere still need to hear the gospel, repent and believe it, and be saved from the wrath to come. This is also true for non-Jews. (Acts 2:37-41; 1 Thes 1:9b-10) We are saved from God’s wrath, but not exempt from man’s or Satan’s. Maybe books like his will at least bring these important and critical subjects to light for serious consideration and discussion among believers, so that we all are built up in our faith and hope and love in God, who has saved us because He loves us. Amazing!
FOR THE SAKE OF THE NAME OF THE LORD – 25 Dec 2012
“Jesus Christ [Yeshua Messiah] has become a servant to the circumcision [the Jewish people] for the truth of God, to cnofirm the promises to the fathers [to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to his descendants], and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. . .” (Rom 15:8-9)
On this day traditionally celebrated to remember the birth of the Messiah, let us remember that He was born to be King of the Jews (Mt 2:1-2) and to receive from YHVH God the throne of David to rule over the House of Jacob forever, whose Kingdom [over all nations and creation] will never end. (Lk 1:31-33)
Jacob’s trouble is yet to come during the great tribulation, in accordance with the abiding truth that YHVH is faithful to His holy Name and His covenant terms, both for blessing and for cursing; for good and for evil; His goodness and severity; to save a people — a nation — in her land promised with an oath as an everlasting possession.
While these things are hard for us to understand and to digest, I fear that just as Paul was persecuting Yeshua in his outrage against the believers and the church at large (Acts 9:1-5), so, too, are many Christians persecuting Jesus in a similar manner by their insolent (1Tim 1:13) attitude towards Israel, as a regathered people in the very land of promise. This is not the fulfillment of prophecy, but rather of prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. (Ezek 12:21-28)
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God, who is a consuming fire. I pray, as with Saul/Paul, that those who are doing this ignorantly in unbelief would also know the mercies of our God to have their eyes open in this matter. And, that like him, they would repent of their unbelief, and obey the revelation whole-heartedly. (Rom 11:25a)
To God be the glory!
IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 24 Dec 2012
(This is an e-mail I received, one of several, to which I have responded below it, with some further editing.)
It has been since 1977 that I was in Bethlehem for Mass on Christmas Eve I remember having to park so far way and walking in that cold winter nights air. The center of the town was packed with people. The church of the nativity was by advance tickets only. We ended up at the milk grotto.
This really had a impact on my life. God stirred in me such a ferfer for getting back to the truth. The more I traveled around Israel and visited the sites and the churches the louder it became.
I felt a calling to set the hearts of people back to the purity of worship and away from the commercialization and paganization that has over taken the church. At the age of 12 I was asked to leave the Catholic Church. Because the things in was questioning and convicting the priests on was the core of their pagan traditions.
I believe that is what God created me for is to help prepare the bride for her bridegroom. The bride has defiled herself with pagan traditions.
I just wanted to let you understand where I am coming from.
_ _ _ _ _
Thanks for this, M. I completely understand where you are coming from. As a Jew, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas when I became a believer, partly because it wasn’t “Jewish”, and partly because it was too paganized and commercialized. But the Lord began to show me that my reasons were not all correct. In my other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. The truth of God is not pagan, and it happened right here in Israel among Jewish people, as prophesied by the prophets of YHVH long before.
Much of what people do with God’s holy things is to defile them, to paganize them, and Satan is the cheerleader in this, along our own propensity to be drawn away by what seems ‘good in our eyes’, and to fit in with the surrounding unholy and unclean culture. As a Jew, I have examined and judged myself and my people for FIRST doing what Christians also do; yet, we continue to keep the Passover (in the light of the New Covenant and greater Passover). We continue to acknowledge Purim and Hanukkah, even though, like Christmas, God did not ordain them, but believers did unto Him and for the people to celebrate God’s mighty acts on their behalf, in keeping with His covenantal promises, despite their own general and widespread unfaithfulness and tendency to heathen practices. Purim especially has been paganized, and is more like Carnival and Halloween. God has historically intervened in the lives of His people and of the rest of humanity, redeeming days, etc., so that these times become connected with His redemption, while remaining mere worldly, even pagan, occasions for those not in covenant relationship with Him
It is true, as the Lord spoke through Amos and others, that He hates our sacrifices and fasts and holidays: in other words, when we are doing them according to our own understanding and culture, and not for Him and His honor. That is what I am trying to express: that we keep His celebrations in a manner that does honor Him, and fills us with thanksgiving and joy in the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that there is much more evidence in Scripture to warrant Yeshua’s birth around this time (Haggai 2 refers several times to the 24th of the 9th [Hebrew Israeli] month Chislev, which corresponds with the first night of Hanukkah that occurred hundreds of years later and corresponds to the Western Christian calendar of the evening of 24th of December), but did not fulfill what the last verses speak of: Yeshua’s coming in the flesh at birth does begin that overthrow, first in our own hearts, and ultimately in all peoples and nations, including Israel. Mary’s new song in Luke 1 expresses her own understanding in faith and hope of what the Lord spoke through Haggai, and other prophets. The true and brighter and eternal Light that shines in the darkness is not extinguished, and should be given much higher priority over celebrations of mere oil or candle lights that burn out.
The reason that Jewish people as a whole do not celebrate the Lord’s birth is because they do not believe in Jesus, even though the first ones who did celebrate with the angels were Israeli Jews! Neither do the Jewish people, along with many nominal Christians, celebrate His resurrection, also because of unbelief. But the Holy Spirit has brought Gentile Christians into the Commonwealth of Israel through their faith in the promised Messiah to Israel, and have celebrated His life, and His suffering and death, and His resurrection and ascension, and the hope of His coming again — whether with faith or without — for most of this age.
I have put together a timeline that brings together and reconciles all of the appointed/set times, and those which God accepted from His people, to show Yeshua’s birth: https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/
Just as the second coming of the Lord will be at a time, and a day and an hour, not expected, well. . . it seems that so was His first coming! The winter objection pre-supposes that the God of Nature can not do something extraordinary to declare His glory, just as I believe He did the night of the Lord’s betrayal, when it was so chilly on a Spring night (and it’s possible that Passover was late date that year), that Peter and others kept themselves warm with a fire. And the sheep, as far as I have heard others say, were sacrificial sheep, and were handled differently, and were outside yearly. But since these things are not understood by ‘babes’ anyway, they are not central to resolving the controversy. That Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with us does not mean that He was therefore born at the Feast of Tabernacles, which actually is the Feast of Booths (succot). The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, and is more permanent than a temporary booth. And the priestly course of Abia (Aviyah) is not certain of its annual cycle, nor can we be sure of how the Jewish rulers at that time were regulating matters, since the whole system had become corrupt. But I have read sites that have decided to assume a particular cycle and time, but acknowledging that if another were taken, then it puts John’s father in the Holy Place at a time that Yeshua would be born now. The whole counsel of God together unfolds His revelatory plan and purpose, and Scripture interprets Scripture, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
Since YHVH is a Man of War and the God of Armies/Hosts, He is not going to reveal things before it’s necessary, because there is an enemy with certain liberty to do what he will in this world, who likes to pre-empt things to ‘muddy the waters’, like he has with the Queen of Heaven, and the whole saturnalia bit. Even if the date of Christmas is the same as saturnalia, the God of gods has come and taken the day for Himself! Passover is celebrated by the heathen and unbelieving Jews even as merely a Spring festival and celebration of freedom. But God’s freedom is for us to serve and worship Him, not to remain independent from Him nor to remain slaves to sin and unbelief.
I do hope that this helps you to see where I am coming from, and to also see that there is a spiritual battle over these things. That’s one reason I like the song, “It’s Called Christmas With A Capital ‘C'”, because, despite all, it is taking a stand of faith for the name of Christ, who is Jesus/Yeshua, our great God and Savior.
God bless you, and, yes, Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2013 in Messiah,
LIGHT – 21 Dec 2012
I keep hearing how Yeshua was conceived at this time of year (Hanukkah/Christmas) during the Festival of Light(s). But the Lord is clear: a light is to be SEEN, not hid under a basket, nor in the womb (when even the mother is unaware at conception that she may be carrying the Light of the World). The celebration began at the birth, as the angels sang and announced the glad tidings, and faith and hope became visible. It seems that we protest too much; yet our God is not a God of confusion, but of order, liberty, power, peace, a sound mind, of love.
God bless you all in the light of His glory!
LAW vs GRACE; FAITH vs WORKS
“MAN UP OR PUFF UP”
In response to Howard:
Yes. Nonetheless we see Paul’s agony as he wrestles with not actually being able to ever keep the law fully. What I believe made Paul unique was his brutal honesty.
Here’s what I mean:
While he was a zealous pharisee and a persecutor of believers, he did it with all his might, and remained spotless under the law – which he also poured the entirety of his being into.
Yet, apparently, somewhere deep down he must have recognized that this was getting him nowhere. Reading Romans it is plain to see that Paul has a deeply developed sense of reflection and self-awareness, to the point where he must admit that even in his seeming “perfection” as a zealot and a pharisee, he somehow knew deep down this was incomplete. Even if he knew he must endure to the bitter end for the sake of the law, clenching documents against believers in his fist and riding to Damascus to shed more blood, it appears that something was eating him.
Note the contrast between the actions of some men:
When the Messiah appears to Paul on the road to Damascus and speaks, “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” To this, Paul ultimately responds!
Whereas, there were those who after having with their very own eyes witnessed the Messiah raising a stinking, grave-clothed Lazarus from dead thereupon sought to kill both Jesus and to murder the raised Lazarus!
Who can explain the vast divergence in these two responses?
What is this?
My view: It is the difference between deciding to either “man up” and eat crow where eating crow is due; or deciding to “puff up” further and begin scrambling to maintain the self-delusion that there may be a way to be perfect in God’s eyes through our own efforts. But this illusory house of cards we’ve invested so much of our lives into building will CRUMBLE!
Admitting this means perhaps facing deep humiliation in some cases, be ostracized, mocked, beaten, shamed, just as those whom one formerly persecuted are.
Ultimately it may actually boil down do simply being honest. One might say: “Look. I tried. Not only did I try. I succeeded. In fact, I was the best at what I did. But you know what? It just wasn’t good enough.”
This is what I think Paul is laying bare for us here:
“21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Romans 7:21-24
Note how he admits that in his inner being he delights in God’s law, but that his flesh is nevertheless a kind of prison, which keeps him in a perpetual state of being bound to sin, again and again; wash again, sin again, wash again, sin again … in an endless, vicious cycle.
Only when we realize that this very cycle matches our personal experience will we be able to make sense of Paul’s conclusion that,
“… what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Paul realized that God needed to condemn sin IN the flesh! And this God did through Jesus. Here it is:
“And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4
Once we’ve come full circle with this writhing and agonizing in our weak flesh, we, too can shout with Paul:
“Who will rescue me …? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24a-25
In Act 1 scene 3 of Hamlet, Polonius is admonishing his son Laertes. Put aside the fact that this quote has been misused by so many – by New Agers on one end of the spectrum seeking to justify the very thing Paul said is impossible: perfection in the flesh by one’s own efforts; and by Hedonists or Machiavellians on the other, who are closer to Polonius’ more probable meaning: the comment appears in context to be idiomatic of Polonius’ self-serving nature (a bit of irony from Shakespeare).
The comment when taken here in the context of Paul’s wrestling with doing the very things he hates, points us to a more profound truth about having no illusions regarding our ability to be perfect in this wicked, weak, self-serving flesh. Just admit it.
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Like Jonah, we rebel against God’s clear instruction, lack compassion, misunderstand God’s ways, and above all reinterpret God’s sense of justice to fit our the needs of our creaturely experience. But deep down we know. We are failing at keeping God’s law perfectly. And we need The Rescuer.
Paul also lived “blamelessly under the Law”. Yet in doing so, He persecuted the believers, and blasphemed the Lord.
Phlp 3:6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless
1Tim 1:13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Praise God that mercy triumphs over judgment for those who do not know what they do!
LAW VERSUS GRACE; WORKS VERSUS FAITH
I had a truly great conversation with a brother on this very topic just today.
Yes, there is a beautifully fine line between law and grace, works and faith. One might even call it a “narrow path” the Lord keeps us walking. Notably, it is one He himself walked.
James reminds – or better said – admonishes: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
At the same time Jesus gives clear instruction to the hypocritically legalistic, who would presume to construct even further barriers to those seeking healing, restoration and salvation: “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
I’d like to put an exclamation point at the end of this gem of a passage from Matthew – the counterpart to the Lukan passage Howard cites above, which in Matthew also leads into Jesus’ healing of a man on the Sabbath.
Sometimes it is hard to live in Israel and raise small children in the midst of so much legalistic understanding of “mitzvot”, mysticism and superstition. My daughter has observed neighbors and asked me on occasion, “Abba, [so-and-so]’s parents say it’s wrong to strike a match on the Sabbath. Is it really okay if we do it?”
In an attempt to keep the balance for such an innocent heart, I smile and merely comment, “If it means I’ll be able to keep you from stumbling in the dark, then YES!”
LAW VERSUS GRACE; WORKS VERSUS FAITH – 16 Dec 2012
If we insist on being scrupulous in maintaining and achieving ceremonial and legal purity and righteousness, we will not fulfill the law of love and mercy and humility.
6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” 10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man,“Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Luke 10:25-37 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed,he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
BIRTH, DEATH, AND GOOD FRIDAY OF MESSIAH YESHUA THE LORD – 11 Dec 2012
I just did a quick count-down and count-up and came to this: Jesus died in 30 AD (which is 40 years before the Temple’s destruction; see corroborating evidence from a hostile third party, the Talmud, an unsympathetic source: http://www.windowview.org/hmny/pgs/talmuds.30ce.html). It is widely accepted that Messiah/Christ was 33 1/2 yrs old at His death. Having begun His 3 1/2 yr public ministry when He was about 30 years old, then He was born on the 24th of Chislev, 5 BC, by my reckoning, being necessary that He was born before King Herod died, whose death is historically recorded as being in 4 BC. https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/ (Hag 2:10-23) The magi from the East could have seen His star up to a couple of years before they actually arrived in Bethlehem, Israel.
Yeshua, as the Passover Lamb, began His last week (Passion Week) in Jerusalem on Sunday, the first day of the week (the day after the Sabbath), which would have been the 10th day of the first month (Nisan) leading up to the Passover. He was “examined” until the 14th of the month, and was found without spot or blemish by the people, by the Jewish rulers (they needed false witnesses in order to “make” Him guilty and condemn Him), and by Pilate. He was crucified and died on the afternoon of the 14th of the month, Thursday. This also fulfills the prophecy connected with Jonah, that Jesus would be in the heart of the Earth for three days and three nights, rising early on the first day of the week as the first-fruits from among the dead, the day after the Sabbath.
“Good Friday” would have been a ‘Sabbath’, being the first full day of Passover (Lev 23:4-8); and I believe it is called Good Friday because believers — after the fact (and the Holy Spirit from the beginning) — would have understood that what took place the day before was actually the greatest victory of all ages and the essence of the Good News and the New Covenant: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and to bury our sins with Him, fulfilling the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread at the appointed time on the 15th of the first month! HalleluYah!
The Hebrew/Jewish/Messianic roots of New Testament faith are found in the Word of God given to and through Israel.
STUMBLING WILL COME, BUT WOE TO THROUGH WHOM IT COMES – 1 Dec 2012
The U.N. General Assembly vote on Thursday heavily in favor of the Palestinians being a state-in-waiting (which they fully refused to accept exactly 65 years ago!) is a sign of things to come.
It reminds me of the time when the Jewish leadership considered that it would be better to sacrifice one Man totally innocent –the true Son of God — for a murderer and rebel, whose name Bar Abbas means ‘son of the father’ in Aramaic. They thought it would be expedient and prevent the Romans from ruining the nation. Now, a not totally innocent Jewish nation finds itself the one nation — but justified by God for her present existence and irrevocable calling — which the other nations of the world want to sacrifice and make a scapegoat, in the hope that they will not suffer any more at the hand of terrorists.
Israel then made, and the nations now are making, a huge mistake which will work against them far more than they ever imagined: similar to Adam who did not really understand the consequences of leaning on his own understanding. Human beings have not really changed, and there is nothing new under the sun.
BOUNDARIES AND UPGRADES – 16 Nov 2012
Thanks for standing in faith with us.
As for the boundaries, there will not be secure and truly peaceful boundaries, in my understanding, until the Lord Jesus returns to establish His kingdom with whatever boundaries God has assigned. For Israel, it goes from the river/stream of Egypt (I do not at all believe that that is the Nile, but probably at El Arish) up to the Euphrates, incorporating parts of Lebanon and Syria. These boundaries have never been under Israel’s possession, even though David’s and Solomon’s reach and influence did. Should, by some sovereign wisdom of God, Israel obtain some control over these areas before Jesus returns, it will not be a possession nor will they be secure. Israel is not, for their part, interested in them; just look at what they did after the 1967 War: they gave the Muslims virtual control over the holiest spot of all for Jewish people, the Temple Mount.
When I speak with Arab Christians who want a state of Palestine, or who want upgraded status meanwhile at Israel’s expense, my argument with them is not only over prophecy and eschatology. What will believers, especially, gain by being under a radical Islamic government and society? History shows that their freedoms will be greatly restricted. Islam is opposed to both Christians and Jews, especially when also connected with this land. In reading what B (whom I saw just the other day and spoke with him) has written, and A, among many others, has signed, to garner support for the Palestinian upgrade bid at the UN later this month, this presents essentially a fifth column within Israel by citizens of Israel. B’s letter even refers to the Palestinian Authority as the Palestine Liberation Organization! For Islamists, that is the whole of this land; the PLO was founded before there was any “occupation” other than the fact that Israel existed as a Jewish nation in the midst of the Islamic world, the very place which the true God has promised with an oath to give for an everlasting possession to the physical descendants of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob — a full remnant which will be saved when they see Yeshua (different than those now who believe in Him and are part of the Body of Christ). The fact that there is ‘racial mixture’ is not a problem with YEHOVAH God in determining who is covenantally Jewish Israeli, and who may be otherwise Gentile with full inheritance rights during the Millennial Kingdom.
Anyway, I have written something following the last bid by the Palestinians to upgrade their status: https://www.streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/of-breaking-covenants-and-treaties-1-sept-2011/
Much of the world is treating the PA and Gaza as if they were sovereign states, which they are not, and it is wrong for a Prime Minister or a President of a sovereign and recognized nation-state to be treated with equal ‘honors’ as a lesser entity.
There are real “constitutional issues” involved here, but there is not acceptance of whose constitution is superior. The God of Israel will show His own people, and others, that His is.
Blessings, as another siren is going off now,
A PRAYER FOR THE SALVATION OF ISRAEL – 27 Oct 2012
Our Father in Heaven, thank-you for your goodness and long-suffering to your people Israel. You have sent the Holy Spirit to the world to convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Sin is not believing in Your Son, Yeshua, as the Messiah. Our people still harden their hearts and stubbornly stiffen their necks against the truth of the gospel, despite all that we have done till now.
The New Covenant in the blood of Yeshua is the basis for the promise that You will save the full remnant of your people, as you have promised in many ways and places throughout the Scriptures, by forgiving their sins.
Act on behalf of your holy Name’s sake to show to the Jewish people everywhere in the world, and to the enemies of Israel round about Israel and anywhere else, that there is still a God in Israel! Why should the nations say, Where is your God?! Put Your fear in your own beloved people, and in those who would seek her destruction, that they would fear YEHOVAH, the God of Israel, God Most High. Break the pride in Your chosen people regarding their being chosen as the first-born among the nations. Bring them to see the futility of trying to justify themselves by their own works, rather than returning in humble confession to You in the way You have provided. In wrath, remember mercy, O God!
Until the fullness of Gentiles comes in, You say that Israel will remain partially blinded. Save more, and more, and more individual Israeli Jewish people now, Lord, until that day. Save more of the Gentiles, especially round about Israel — the Arabs, Muslims — to bring us closer to that day when all Israel will be saved! Give them a new heart, a new spirit through their repentance and faith in the gospel, that they would provoke Israel to jealousy and show mercy to Israel, rather than seek vengeance and her destruction.
Bring more Israelis to repentance for their unfaithfulness against You and Your covenant with them, in their heart’s desire to be like the Gentiles, a thing which You say will not be! Work, LORD, for Your holy Name’s sake, through all the political power struggles and religious corruption that more and more of your people would become fed up with being like the Gentiles, who lord it over one another, and would begin to return to You; for You, YHVH God, to be King over them once again; for Your Kingdom to come — Your righteousness and Your true peace.
Act on behalf of your holy Name’s sake within the Body of Messiah here in Israel, that You would break through the impasse preventing us from going on in the truth of the one new man, in spiritual unity in love and in truth, that our testimony would be faithful to the truth of Your love and grace to us who believe in Jesus, whom You sent. We plead, our Father, that our people would see something GOOD within the congregation and life of believers, that would draw them towards You. . .and You would run towards them.
Act, O Lord, for Your Name’s sake, that believers would feel the need for You, Lord Jesus, to come back, and that the Jewish people would begin to cry out, Blessed is He who comes in the name of YEHOVAH! Let them see Him whom they have pierced, and afflict their souls in mourning for all their hatred without a cause towards Him — even as we have by Your lovingkindness. Take away the curse out of their mouths, and bring them to call upon the only Savior: Blessed are You, Lord Yeshua! And heal them, and cleanse them — the people whom You love, and have chosen to be Your holy people, and for Yeshua to be the King of Israel, King of the Jews.
Thank-you, Father, for Your faithfulness, in Yeshua’s name. Amen.
O, Maker of peace in the high places, (Oseh shalom bam’romim,
You will make peace upon us, (Ata ta’aseh shalom aleinu,
and upon all of Israel. (ve’al kol Israel
And all say, say Amen. (Ve’imru, imru Amen.
Make peace, make peace, (Ta’aseh shalom, ta’aseh shalom,
Peace upon us, and upon all Israel! (Shalom aleinu, ve’al kol Israel!)
COOPERATION – 19 Aug 2012
Undeserving grace without also the bride sanctifying and purifying herself is a distortion of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, even though we have confidence in our salvation and our acceptance by the Father because of our faith in Yeshua for who He is and for what He accomplished on the cross.
COUNTERPART – 13 Aug 2012
I think I have finally come up with the English word which ‘best’ describes the Hebrew of a wife to the husband: Counterpart.
The Webster’s Dictionary defines counterpart as:
1. The correspondent part; the part that answers to another, as the two papers of a contract or indentures; a copy; a duplicate. Also, the part which fits another, as the key of a cipher.
2. In music, the part to be applied to another; as, the base is the counterpart to the treble.
The Hebrew in Genesis 2:18,20 is ezer k’negdo (עזר כנגדו). The NKJ translation for this is “a helper (ezer) comparable to him”. This, of course, is true, but the Hebrew word neged literally means “against; two sides facing each other”, but not necessarily antagonistically. We can think of it as [living] stones facing each other as counterparts to help each other be fitted into place in the spiritual house that God is building up for His family.
As Adam and Eve are also a type of Messiah and His Bride (the body of Christ, just as the woman was taken out of the body of her man, both to be joined again as one flesh), we can see that the Bride is a complementary part of the other that love makes wholesome and good. The wife is to help her husband be all that God has called and chosen him to be. She is to actively help him face to face, heart to heart, sometimes with Holy Spirit stimulation to be a man of God in his ways and manner. In this is mutual submission.
The believers, currently individually and corporately joined in one Spirit and betrothed (engaged) to the Son of God, are to lovingly, honorably, adoringly lift up the name Jesus/Yeshua in prayer and praise for Him to be and to do all that He is and does. He is already perfect, so needs no admonition or correction from any of us!
FINANCIAL GIVING TO BELIEVERS IN ISRAEL – 26 July 2012
If I can say one thing about financial support, with the risk of not being completely understood: the priority of giving should be to those who are connected with a local congregation, and not just a ministry. Everyone can ‘start’ a ministry or a business and ask for money, but they may be independent of local oversight and community in the NT Biblical sense. It is much easier to give money for ‘social evangelism’ or some big event, with the hope that someone may get saved if they are treated for their drug abuse or hunger, or have some emotional response to some worldly stimuli, but Yeshua did not commit Himself to man because He knows what is in man: most came to Him because He fed them, not because they wanted HIM. Evangelists and pastors seem to have a natural built-in discord that needs the help of the Holy Spirit to harmonize.
It is much harder to get consistent financial help for existing congregations to not only pay those earning small salaries, but to function as a community to help those in need, train up new and older believers , bless others (including unbelievers) in the name of Yeshua; but maybe even first having to pay the overhead on the place of meeting, which is actually the reverse order.
The Scriptures describing the responsibility of Gentile believers outside of Israel to help those inside is also applicable today. This is the same for Israel as a country: without foreign aid (especially U.S.), Israel would not be able to make it on its own. Such seems to be the way of God for His people, whether Israel, or the Body of Messiah in Israel.
Messianic Jews and Messianic synagogues abroad should also be among the first to help those Jewish believers who live here, just as Cyrus instructed the Jewish people who chose to remain in Babylon and Assyria to help those Israelis who chose to return to the Land following the intended period of exile.
Let those of the household of faith help first of all those with them in the family; there are plenty of others not in the faith helping their household members.
YESHUA’S INHERITANCE – 17 June 2012
For Yeshua’s Inheritance, the one new man represents, perhaps, better than any other particular expression, His inheritance in a way that includes the Bride and the Priesthood.
As the Bride, Yeshua is our beloved Bridegroom and inheritance, and we are His: the wife inherits all things that are her husband’s; and as the Son of God, Yeshua/Jesus is promised the inheritance of all things from His Father.
As the Priesthood, YHVH — the Creator and Redeemer covenant-making God who was, and is, and is to come — is our inheritance, and we are being called out into something new together now to stand before Him on behalf of our peoples — whether we are Jewish or Gentile now; yet as one new man, we are neither going to be Jewish or Gentile, male or female, but, rather, as the Body of Christ — our Head and Husband who is King of kings and Lord of lords — something inclusive of all.
As the Bride and the Priests, we are preparing to rule and reign with Messiah/Christ in our resurrected bodies for the 1000-year Millennial Kingdom over Israel and the other nations, in final preparation for that which is perfect to come in the new Heavens and new Earth forever and ever!
HAMAS – 13 June 2012
In Biblical Hebrew, “hamas” (חמס) means violence, destruction, malice, ruthlessness, fierceness. Its first appearances in the Bible are in Genesis 6:11,13: “The Earth also was corrupt before God, and the Earth was filled with violence…. And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the Earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the Earth.'”
The Biblical Greek word is ἀδικίας (adikia), meaning wickedness, evil, wrongdoing, injustice, wrong; iniquity, falsehood, deceitfulness.
HAMAS, the acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, calls for establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel and rejects all agreements with Israel.
In Arabic, the word “hamas” means enthusiam; bravery, strength.
Think about this, and what it would mean if you believe that the use of violence is a virtue that proves one’s loyalty and ‘manhood’.
Yeshua says that the last days would be like as in the days of Noah. Praise the true God and Savior, the Just One who suffered and died for the unjust (adikia), that He might bring us to God! (1Pt 3:18)
The Word of YHVH looks ahead with this great and precious promise to Israel through the prophet Isaiah 60:18: “Violence (hamas) shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.”
Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
PRAISE REPORTS – 6 June 2012
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in Heaven.
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues/churches and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly.”
(words of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus Christ, as quoted in Matthew 6:1-4)
MESSIANIC/CHRISTIAN MUSIC/MUSICIANS – 29 Apr 2012
I would say that my “heart music” is rather eclectic, and it probably depends on the mood or situation or setting, which may also change as I am going on in my ‘personal’ worship alone, or in a corporate setting. For sure, the instrumentation should not overwhelm the hearing (or the singing!) of the words.
I do think that worship leaders have a great influence on how others may or may not enter in. If it is only a matter of style, then I need to get over that and praise and worship God anyway. But sometimes it is a matter of trust: do I trust the person leading me into God’s presence? Is that what he or she is doing, or is he/she causing me to pay too much attention to him/her, or is his/her life simply not measuring up clearly enough to really believe that he/she is a “worshipper” who follows the one true God and His Son? The clothes are important to God from what is written in the Bible, so if the worship leader or others have, for example, their pants to tight, or down below their butt line; or if the women have their tops or their dresses too low or too high (and this is not always merely a subjective or a cultural issue), then they are certainly drawing attention to themselves, are not really mindful of their presence before God, and are a worrisome and uncomfortable distraction to those they are ‘leading’.
One thing that commends a teacher or a worship leader is when he/she pays attention and engages when someone else is doing the teaching, or leading the worship. I have seen many instances in numerous places where this is not the case, which suggests that it may really be all about themselves more than about the Lord. It would be so encouraging to other teachers of the Word and to other praise and worship leaders to see ‘their equals’ respect them in this way; and it would be a sign of humility to others that teachers and music leaders can receive from and appreciate one another.
As in any other ministry of the Holy Spirit, we need to grow and to mature and become more discerning. It is not really an issue of age; but no doubt “me, myself, and I” will color how I view these things; yet we all need to be learning from the Lord throughout our life spans. It is clear from Scripture that the House of God is too infiltrated by the world and the spirit of the world, so we do need to be diligent on our watch, and in our discipling of others by word and by example.
There is an appropriate form to content. For example, new wine must be put into new wineskins, not into old. And there is the pattern/form of sound words and doctrine. (2Tim 1:13) For all the good lyrics here and there in a song, the form may have nothing to commend it, and in all the frenzy I’m not so sure that the right message would be clear. Jesus and the apostles, and the prophets before them, never reached out ‘in the flesh’, nor teach us to do so, as a means to draw people to repentance and faith in the gospel, or as a means to bring back those who have fallen or retreated. That would simply promote one professing Jesus to live with lots of compromise on the commandments to “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy”, and to “love Jesus more than even ourselves” . What a mixed message!
God is dealing with the sanctification of the whole person, not less. We mature at different rates and stages, but it is the whole person that is being dealt with at all times, even if parts of the whole are out of sync in progress. Prophetic types and artists (of whatever variety) sometimes use their personalities and idiosyncrasies as excuses for ungodly manners and behavior. We may start in the Spirit, but go on in the flesh.
Many unbelievers don’t smoke or drink, aren’t depressed or given to swearing or lying, and can speak of changing from those bad habits and sins without ever knowing the Lord and Savior. Our new life in Messiah has to get beyond merely giving up those things as the proof of my being a disciple of Jesus. It is a good start, but surely there is far more (Acts 15:28-29). Our ‘message’ goes far and wide beyond our immediate ‘target audience’, and we are to avoid being a cause of stumbling to others. Giving a novice too much influence too soon often wreaks havoc, with pride and confusion, rather than produce the good fruit which glorifies our Father in Heaven and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor or Rabbi?
Can’t tell you how often I am confused about how I should refer to you guys in Israel – as pastors or rabbis. I usually settle in on the one that most speaks to me as being the point of what I’m writing at the time. If it is in the capacity of shepherding the flock, I usually go with pastor. If it is in the authority structure of the congregation, I will usually write rabbi.
One thing for sure, it is always one of those stop, pause, think about the pros & cons every time the issue arises!
Paul did hold that title prior to meeting Yeshua. But as he said all his learned insight before was folly.
I agree that the term Pastor should be used rather than the term Rabbi. In my opinion those that are choosing to use the term Rabbi are trying to be more appealing to Judaism.
Every Jewish mother wants the best for their child. They want them to grow up to be happy and successful. They wouldn’t mind if they were the Messiah but a doctor or Rabbi is the next best thing. It is a status symbol.
I view the Rabbi title as Priest in the temple where the Pastor title as Shepherd.
The job of Shepherd is looked down and has been among our people since coming into the land. They look down on Shepherd’s as the Egyptians did when we entered their land.
I hold the title of Pastor and it wasn’t until God allowed me to get some goats did I fully realize that the job of tending livestock and people where very much the same.
But the bottom line on this is Yeshua teaching is clear and straight forward. We are not to be called Rabbi.
He also told us to stop sinning. Do we skirt that one as well to satisfy our egos?
Thanks, A, for this nice summary.
As for Paul, he may have indeed been a trained Rabbi, but after knowing the Lord, he sat at Yeshua’s feet.
An issue arose as to whether the apostle Paul (Saul) should be referred to as rabbi. On the one hand, he is never called rabbi in the New Covenantsc-riptures. On the other hand, he is clearly described as one who had a rabbinic-type position, had letters of authority from the High Priests (Acts 9:2; 22:5), was among the leaders of Orthodox Judaism (Galatians 1:14), was a member of one of the most radical sects (Acts 26:5), and was trained in a Jerusalem Yeshiva by Gamliel (Acts 22:3).
Another related issue is whether it is appropriate to refer to Yeshua as rabbi. In the Modern Hebrew version of the gospels, Yeshua is referred to as rabbi 50 (!) times. Of those fifty, 13 are from the Greek word rabbi (primarily in John), 36 from didaskalos (often translated as “master” or “teacher”), and 1 from kathegetis. Verses listed above.
While none of these references represent a command to refer to Yeshua as rabbi (in contrast to such mandated terms as Messiah (Christ), Son of God (Matthew 16:16), and Lord (Romans 10:9), taken altogether they do prove the validity of using that term when appropriate to a Jewish audience or when emphasizing the historical-cultural context of the New Covenant to an international audience.
Matthew 23:8 – Do not be called “Rabbi (rabbi), for one is your Rabbi (didaskalos), the Messiah (christos), and you are all brethren.
While this verse might point to the invalidity of using the term rabbi for Messianic leaders, it might equally indicate the validity of using the term for Yeshua Himself. There is no necessity for Yeshua to be called rabbi among Gentile nations. However there is justification in using that term in order to demonstrate cultural context.
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 11 Apr 01:54
I appreciate your stand for the word of God. We all need to come back to child like simplicity when it comes to obedience to his words.
I agree with what one of the brothers wrote, that Yeshua meant we should not boast. That is the main point that lays behind his commandment not to be called Rabi. But then lets also obey what this commandment says up front. Not only the principal behind.
God bless you,
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 12:18pm
Again, well done Howard. You are correct in that the concept of pride and humility are expressed, but that does not take anything away from Yeshua’s teaching. The term Rabbi has the same meaning today as it was back then. Nothing has changed. Context helps us understand elements within the text, but does not change the content of the text itself. Yeshua specifically states for us not to be called “rabbis.” If we eliminate this teaching of Yeshua, what keeps us from eliminating other teachings of Yeshua that we would like to neglect.
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 11:31am
Howard, i don’t disagree at all with your point–in fact, I think that is exactly what Yeshua was referring to–and some of their priestly outfits are ridiculous, competing with the pope. However, when I go with a team, I am focused on the team, a team from ISRAEL, a culture that has little respect for leadership. So I take the opportunity to teach them honor, while also explaining how much I personally dislike titles. Also, I almost always sign my emails to the leaders in Africa, ‘R’. But I still address them as they prefer to be addressed, because I don’t feel that it is my place to correct them. Maybe I should be bolder in that. If I was coming to train leaders I would definitely bring it up.
Blessings and Hag Sameach!
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 11:16am
By the way, R, as for the Africans, I have also addressed their many titles and kings’ and queens’ chairs.
When they began to give me titles, I told them they could just call me Howard, and I would do the same towards them, for we are all brothers and sisters. Their whole thing of excessive honor is a ‘gentile’ mentality, which Jesus told His disciples not to be like. We are to learn a Kingdom of God culture, not to bring in our own unredeemed one. Those who are not bent towards a skewed prosperity “gospel” are the most responsive, and are even released from a false sense of proving one’s worth. Yeshua brought the good news to the poor — whether in spirit or materially.
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 10:10am
Thanks, R. Absolutely the issue of pride and humility are involved here. And with that comes the issue of humbly accepting the teaching of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all the truth, when it comes to temininology. The external threats we all face are a given until the end, yet Yeshua wants His house in good order. (Rev 2 & 3)
When people ask me who I am, even overseas, I say I am Howard. Only if they ask me what I do do I tell them that I serve a local Messianic congregation as the pastor. If that raises a question in their mind, I am more than glad to explain to them why that term is perfectly acceptable — and it also becomes clear to Gentile and Jewish believers that we are speaking of someone who believes in Yeshua/Jesus and the New Covenant.
We also have to explain to people sometimes when we say that we are Jews, or Israelis. For some, these terms are also problematic, yet that does not seem to trouble us. We know that they are issues of identity which are Biblical and from God for those to whom it rigthly applies.
I don’t think I am being dogmatic here, but I am, in the fear of God, not wanting to look for all kinds of human reasoning why not to simply submit to His Word, which He has seen fit to speak to us living at the end of the age. Israel is given to the Church as an example in many areas, and YHVH has brought Gentile believers into the Commonwealth of Israel (not Israel proper, in my imperfect understanding), under the welfare of the God of Israel, who is instructing them as well as us together: one new man in Messiah.
Called many names, but go by. . .
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 7:11am
Dear Howard and others,
I think that the reason that the responses, as mine to you, were tongue in cheek, is because in light of everything else we deal with (rockets, CatC, Iran, etc) this is not a big issue in Israel as most of us, like you, are simply Howard, Avner or Ron. I am not aware of anyone in the Land who demands a title. In fact, just today I had to explain to a dear African friend that while in Africa he is Apostle so and so, here he is just so and so, we even call our PMs Bibi and Arik. However when we travel to Africa I have to tell our team members to refer to me differently, not because I need a title, but because the Africans serving us would see it as a sign of disrespect not to call someone in ministry ‘pastor’ or ‘evangelist’.
Having said that, I don’t think that Yeshua is against titles. He is against inflated egos that come with titles. In Matt 23:8ff:
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
If we take this literally, then clearly He is outlawing all titles, including Pastor or Shepherd. He is not zeroing in on rabbi…but he mentions Father, Instructor/Teacher as well. Taken literally I cannot even refer to my earthly father as father. However the heart of the passage is in verses 11 and 12 where he speaks to the need for humility. I believe He is speaking hyperbolically here, just as in Luke 14:26 when He says:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
Clearly the God of Love is not advocating hate, but emphasizing that our love for Him should be far greater than for any human being. Or…
When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing (Matt. 6:3)
Because my hands don’t have brains, this is really quite impossible. The meaning is clearly: don’t be stingy in your giving.
And lastly, I hope no one takes Matt 5:29 literally, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out…”
So, seeing that Yeshua often employs hyperbole in His teaching, it is more likely that He is not doing away with titles, but seeking to deal a fatal blow to man’s ego, which loves titles. The issue, as I see it, was not titles, but the ego boost that we derive from titles, positions and promotions.
So, what about Rabbi?
I personally do not like it when Messianic leaders come from the US and judge certain Messianic expressions here in Israel as not being Jewish enough. However, I don’t think it is my place to judge how they function in their efforts to bring the good news to Jewish people abroad. In Israel, it would be foolish, certainly in Tel Aviv, to go by the term rabbi, as most secular Israelis are not looking for something that looks like the datim.
Yet, in the US, where the spiritual leader of a Jewish Community is called rabbi, I can see why some Messianic leaders feel that it is the appropriate title. My aunt, who just became a believer a few weeks ago, sends me emails raving about her rabbi. After going to a Baptist church and feeling guilty, she finally went to a Messianic congregation (that interestingly meets in the synagogue that she attended as a girl) and loves it. During those six months she wanted to give her life to Yeshua, but could not bring herself to do so. However, after one visit to the Messianic congregation, she came to faith. She loves the fact that there is Yiddishkiet and she loves her rabbi. If the rabbi there suddenly announced that he was going to now go by the term pastor, she would say, “But I thought we were Jewish.”
I would also argue that in those Messianic congregations where the term rabbi is employed, when congregants hear the word ‘rabbi’, they feel ‘shepherd’. A word is only as powerful as the meaning we give it. If you are arguing for the word Shephard/Pastor, then you have won, because these people see their rabbis as their spiritual leaders—their shepherds.
The problem is that in the wider Jewish community, a guy can’t just start a meeting and call himself rabbi. He must be trained in a rabbinical seminary. I do believe the UMJC does require significant training now before a member can use that title.
But once again, I will leave that to them. I live in Israel. I personally cringe when someone calls me Rabbi Cantor. First of all, it’s confusing…I could also be Cantor Rabbi 🙂 or if I sang better, Cantor Cantor. But because of the negative experience I had growing up in the synagogue, the term never appealed to me. But that is my personal feeling and I will let others make up their own mind. I think this is an issue where there needs to be freedom, not dogmatism. The more important issue, whether we have the title of Pastor, Rabbi or no title at all, is that we seek to serve from a humble heart.
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 9:51am
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the gifts of Yeshua to the congregation (our church, without getting hung up over terms), in the five-fold ministry, one of them is Pastor (shepherd in Greek). A pastor is an elder/overseer, but apparently there would be one (or more) among the elders who would be recognized as having more overall responsibility.
The elders would be appointed by those with spiritual authority; the pastor would be set apart by the Lord.
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 11:05pm
I think the best Biblical term is Elder. You can also have Founding Elder, or Leading Elder. In all of the congregations founded by Shaul, there were no Pastors, only Elders.
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 10:51pm
Yep. I agree with you on all counts. I just think what’s important is that we communicate the right concept to people’s minds. In other words, the words I choose will create the same image in the hearer’s mind, as it does in mine. If I use a word in which the hearer’s definition of that word is different than the definition of me as the speaker — that’s miscommunication. That’s why we need to worry about what people think. What they think, is what they think of Yeshua. If I communicate well, they will think of Yeshua correctly — whether they reject Him or not. Thanks for your time. I enjoy our friendship.
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 10:44pm
I think we worry too much what people think, J. Being called Israeli or Jew doesn’t always have a positive connotation to those we may be communicating with: not all Israel is Israel, after all. The name Christian doesn’t always ring well; yet, like Jew, it has both a badge of honor and of dishonor.
I say usually that I am a Jewish believer who believes in Jesus/Yeshua. After that they can call me what they want. I say I am Howard. If they ask me what I do, I tell them I pastor a local Messianic congregation.
Thanks for sharing, J.
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 10:13pm
I thought I would just make an additional comment with reference to what you said:
When I said it was too “Christian”, I meant that in today’s society the Jewish person would lump the term “pastor” with all the unbelieving mainline Christian denominations. They also use that term, and has been identified with them in the media. When speaking with believers, I would have no problem with using the term pastor as you correctly outlined.
As with the term “rabbi”, it is not important what I think the meaning of the term is. It’s important what the other person thinks I’m communicating. So the question becomes what does that Jewish person think of when I use the term “pastor.” If only believers used that word, I would be much more comfortable using it. I suppose for me, if I was in the US, I would simply say that I’m the leader of a Messianic congregation. I think that says it all.
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 9:52pm
Most of the responses privately and publicly (which are not posted here) show that the problem is either dismissed or trivialized. Some Jewish believers with some influence seem to think that by using the Biblical Jewish Messianic term ‘pastor’ it makes us sound too Christian. Yet it is precisely the term that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Scriptures to use — to Israel’s shepherd-Kings and -Priests first of all.
“What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom 3:1) “For what if some ]do] not believe?
Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed , let God be true and every man a liar!” (Rom 3:2-4a)
Is Stephen still correct as he spoke to [some] of our people as he was heading for a hail of stones thrown his way by them?: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers so you!” (Acts 7:51)
In brotherly love,
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 7:21pm
Me, too, S!
The problem is that many Jewish believers have more affinity for our rabbinic tradition than that of Moses and the Prophets, not to mention Yeshua and the Apostles.
My friends and brothers call me Howard! 🙂
Pastor or Rabbi? Tues 3 Apr 2012 18:48
Of course you are right.
However, in the US, they have chosen to use the term rabbi. I
believe most of those using it, have in mind, “Jewish Leader,”
and are not thinking too, much of either the Biblical meaning or
that in current Judaic circles (one who has been trained in a
In English, shepherd is a little strange, and pastor of course has
its own connotations. The generic term, congregation leader, works, but is on the weak side.
Glad I live here.
ושמח להיות רועה קהילה בארץ!!!
Pastor or Rabbi? Wed 4 Apr 2012 9:18am
Dear — what? leaders? pastors? rabbis? friends?
Here is what I wrote in Messianic Jewish Manifesto in 1988:
e. Messianic Rabbis. Starting with the New Testament side of this issue, we have Mattityahu [Matthew] 23:8, where the Messiah warns his disciples, “But you are not to let yourselves be called ‘Rabbi’; because you have one Rabbi, and you are all each other’s brothers.” But a literalistic approach here seems inappropriate, since he also warns against being called “father” or “leader.” The context leads me to believe that Yeshua here prohibits believers from allowing themselves to accept unearned honors generally rather than outlawing three titles forever.
What would a “Messianic rabbi” be? Merely a pastor under another name? It seems to me again that as with “synagogue” the term “rabbi” sets up Jewish expectations which ought to be fulfilled. Therefore, someone who calls himself a Messianic rabbi, or who permits his congregation to call him that, ought to have training commensurate with that which would enable him to qualify as a rabbi in a non Messianic Jewish setting. (But in which setting Orthodox, Conservative or Reform? or is that a wrong question?) Should a Messianic rabbi have smikhah (ordination)? If so, should it be Messianic or non Messianic? If Messianic, who is qualified to give it? Where can an aspiring Messianic rabbi get the necessary training? In any case, in order not to embarrass the Messianic Jewish movement, I urge leaders without rabbinic training to resist letting themselves be called “Rabbi.” (In other contexts, assuming an unearned title is tantamount to fraud — if you don’t think so,
try advertising yourself as a medical doctor without an M.D. degree, and see what happens.)
(FYI: The current title of this book is Messianic Judaism — A Modern Movement with an Ancient Past. The Hebrew translation of the book is called ?יהדות משיחית — מהי)
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