GOD IS AT WORK ON YOUR BEHALF

GOD IS AT WORK ON YOUR BEHALF
by Gary Wilkerson

The city walls of Jerusalem were being rebuilt but Nehemiah saw sin, bondage
and discouragement beginning to captivate the hearts of the people.

“As soon as it began to grow dark . . . I commanded that the doors should be
shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath”
(Nehemiah 13:19, ESV).

In this passage Nehemiah is a type of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God is
saying, “I know your propensity, I know the pulls. I know the temptation will
be to take the Sabbath and make it unholy . . . and you will forget Me.” So
even before it was dark, Nehemiah closed the gates.

Your heavenly Father is on the move in your life to solve your problem even
before you know you have a problem. God is on the move on your behalf even
before the sin sets in, even before it takes hold. God is working! The old
Puritans called this a prevenient grace—grace at work before the temptation
comes. Even before Adam and Eve got out of the Garden, even before sin began to
take hold in the fruit, God said to the serpent, “The Son (He was talking of
His Son, Christ Jesus) will crush your head” (Genesis 3:15, paraphrase mine).
After deceiving Adam and Eve, before Satan slithered out and began to move
throughout the whole world to deceive the sons of Adam and Eve, God said, “I
have a plan in action.”

This is not God standing on the sidelines saying, “If you fall into that sin,
come to Me and repent and I will forgive you again.” Yes, He does that, but it
is so much more than that. God is working on your behalf even before that
temptation ever comes to you, building up a wall in your life. He is building
up grace and maturity in you, leading you through the spiritual process of your
growing to where you are strengthened—line upon line, precept upon precept.

God is already planning for your victory!

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Israeli government websites under mass hacking attack

More than 44 million hacking attempts have been made on Israeli government web sites since Wednesday when Israel began its Gaza air strikes, the government said on Sunday.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said just one hacking attempt was successful on a site he did not want to name, but it was up and running after 10 minutes of downtime.

Typically, there are a few hundred hacking attempts a day on Israeli sites, the ministry said.

Attempts on defence-related sites have been the highest, while 10 million attempts have been made on the site of Israel’s president, 7 million on the Foreign Ministry and 3 million on the site of the prime minister.

A ministry spokesman said while the attacks have come from around the world, most have been from Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“The ministry’s computer division will continue to block the millions of cyber attacks,” Steinitz said. “We are enjoying the fruits of our investment in recent years in developing computerized defence systems.”

Steinitz has instructed his ministry to operate in emergency mode to counter attempts to undermine government sites.

Both sides in the Gaza conflict, but particularly Israel, are embracing the social media as one of their tools of warfare. The Israeli Defense Force has established a presence on nearly every platform available while Palestinian militants are active on Twitter.

“The war is taking place on three fronts. The first is physical, the second is on the world of social networks and the third is cyber,” said Carmela Avner, Israel’s chief information officer.

Last month, U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said cyberspace is the battlefield of the future, with attackers already going after banks and other financial systems. U.S. banks have been under sustained attack by suspected Iranian hackers thought to be responding to economic sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program.

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Study: U.S. power grid vulnerable to terrorist attack

As if Hurricane Sandy’s blackouts weren’t worrisome enough, a new federal study warns the U.S. power grid is also vulnerable to terrorist attack. Yet it says fixing the problem won’t be easy.

6:46PM EST November 14. 2012 – After Hurricane Sandy left millions in the dark, a long-delayed federal study Wednesday says the U.S. power grid is also vulnerable to terrorist attacks that could cause months of blackouts and billions in economic damages.

The nation’s grid is spread out across hundreds of miles, and many key pieces of equipment are either unguarded or so old they lack the sensors to limit outages from cascading, according to the study by the National Research Council (NRC), a private independent agency operating under a congressional charter.

“We could easily be without power across a multistate region for many weeks or months, because we don’t have many spare transformers,” says M. Granger Morgan, engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and chairman of the NRC committee that wrote the report. He says a terrorist attack could cause disruptions worse than Sandy and rack up “hundreds of billions of dollars” in damages.

“Most of the report is as relevant today as when we wrote it,” he says, adding the power industry changes slowly. The NRC completed the report in 2007, but the sponsoring agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), decided to classify it entirely. In August 2010, the NRC requested an updated classification, and in August 2012, all but a few pages of the report were cleared for publication.

“It was very frustrating,” Morgan says of the delay. He says the committee understood the need to protect national security and was careful not to provide a “cookbook” for terrorists, relying instead on widely available data. He says the authors are now “pleased” the report is public.

The report focuses partly on high-voltage transformers, saying they’re vulnerable both from within and from outside the substations where they’re located. It says they’re huge, difficult to move, often custom-built, and hard to replace, because most are no longer made in the United States. It recommends developing smaller portable ones for temporary use to reduce delays in restoring disabled power systems.

Morgan says DHS has “done a little” to develop and test spare low-voltage transformers but says “there’s a long way to go.”

DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard acknowledged threats to the grid, but added that the agency”continues to work every day with private sector and government counterparts to adapt and strengthen our security and resilience against an ever changing threat.”

The report says the federal government faces difficulty in addressing weaknesses in the nation’s power grid, because more than 90% of the grid is privately owned and regulated by the states. Still, it calls on DHS or the Department of Energy to study where the U.S. is most vulnerable to extended blackouts and to develop cost-effective strategies for reducing their length and their impact on critical services.

“The NRC is right to call for more investment in making our grid both more secure and more resilient in the face of attacks,” says Richard Caperton, an energy expert at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank. He says a terrorist attack is unlikely but, as Hurricane Sandy shows, “Anything that disrupts power supply can have catastrophic consequences.”

Morgan says many of the steps that could protect the grid from terrorism would also protect it from extreme weather. He points to smart meters, saying they disconnect damaged properties so power can be restored more quickly to the rest of a neighborhood without fear of explosions. He says much of Long Island and New Jersey lacks such technology.

DOE estimated Wednesday that 6,000 homes and businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region remained without power because of Hurricane Sandy or the Nor’easter storm. The number, which reached nearly 9 million, was down from 25,061 on Tuesday and 63,821 on Monday.

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Report: Majority Of Americans Still Not Prepared For A Major Disaster

According to a report by YouGov.com, a research and consulting organization, 64 percent of Americans are woefully unprepared for a major natural disaster, even after the events of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and a series of other major natural disasters smacking us around in recent years.

The report finds that people making disaster-readiness plans has slightly increased from 31 percent to 36 percent since 2011, showing that the majority of Americans have failed to adequately prepare themselves in the event of another major disaster. This is the breakdown of YouGov’s numbers,

Of the 36 percent who said they were equipped for natural disasters, their preparations included the following:

  • Emergency supplies (for example, flashlights or first-aid kits): 89 percent
  • Food stocks: 74 percent
  • Creating an evacuation or an emergency plan: 50 percent
  • Disaster insurance: 22 percent

Of the 89 percent who had emergency supplies, their supplies included the following:

  • Flashlights:  97 percent
  • Water:  92 percent
  • First-aid kits or medicine:  92 percent
  • Sleeping bags or blankets:  83 percent
  • Face masks: 18 percent
  • Iodine pills:  15 percent

While general preparedness is low, concern and fear over another natural disaster has increased, especially across the Northeast, where 31 percent report that they are “very concerned” following Hurricane Sand, doubled from the previous year’s report of 17 percent concern in polling done after Tropical Storm Irene, the highest percentage in the country.

A lot of people have prognosticated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that this was finally the storm that got everyone’s attention, and that in the future, people will be more prepared for the advent of another natural catastrophe. I’m not so sure. While Sandy’s devastation was massive and destabilizing, only time will tell how New Yorkers will prepare and respond, both personally, and politically, should another superstorm come to wreck our city.

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Thousands march against same-sex marriage bill

Thousands of people rallied in Paris and across France on Saturday to protest a government bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. March organisers said marriage required “one dad and one mom for every child.”

Opponents of a bill that would open up civil marriages and adoption to same-sex couples in France marched in the country’s main cities on Saturday to protest what they call a “major and dangerous upheaval”.

Protesters took to the streets of Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse to participate in the so-called “Demonstration for All” rally organized by conservative Catholic groups and which counted on the support of right-wing parties.

Their stated goal was to persuade French lawmakers to abandonplans to pass the new law called “Marriage and Adoption for All”, which is being championed by France’s ruling Socialist Party.

In Paris thousands of people gathered in the Denfert-Rochereau square, many brandishing signs that read “one mom and one dad for one child”. The crowds largely respected requests by organisers to wear blue, white and pink clothes and abstain from brandishing the names or colours of their own organizations or political parties.

Organisers said there was between 15,000 and 20,000 people at the protest in the French capital.

Marc, a 60-year-old Parisian who said he was a fervent Catholic, called the government hypocritical. “They all have wives and children. So they understand perfectly well what kind of deviations would result from the approval of gay marriages.”

He was holding a sign that read “No to genitally modified marriage”.

Despite an overcast sky and heckles from pro-gay marriage activists, there was a lively atmosphere throughout the march, with many young people present.

Students Victoria, Dauphine, Eléonore, Flore and Marie were five friends volunteering at the event together. “We defend our vision of what society should be like. Our first concern is the child’s well being and balance,” said Flora. “If the law passes, it would be z deep injustice to the child, who is not given a choice.”

Gay rights activists and supporters of the government’s initiative also staged counter-rallies in the French capital. Around 100 people in favour of gay marriage met the rally at its starting point in southern Paris.

Mathias, a student from Paris in favour of gay marriage, debated the issue with anti-gay marriage participants on the sidelines of the march. Making little progress in convincing protesters, Mathias and a friend provocatively proceeded to lock lips.

Alice Coffin, a 34-year-old gay rights activist, greeted protesters with a sign that read “Homophobes, we are not interested in your opinion, only the same rights as you.” She and a group of around 50 people threw confetti and rice –used for its link to weddings– when the march passed near the Montparnasse train station.

“I think the government is firm on this law,” Coffin said, adding she did not think the anti-gay marriage march would change the government’s course. “But the fight is not over yet and it’s important to be out here today.”

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Giant Sun Eruption Captured in NASA Video

The sun unleashed a monster eruption of super-hot plasma Friday (Nov. 16) in back-to-back solar storms captured on camera by a NASA spacecraft.

The giant sun eruption, called a solar prominence, occurred at 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), with another event flaring up four hours later. The prominences was so large, it expanded beyond the camera view of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which captured high-definition video of the solar eruption.

In the video, a colossal loop of glowing red plasma erupts from the lower left of the sun, arcing up and out of frame as it blasts away from the star.

“The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas made of electrically charged hydrogen and helium,” officials with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which oversees the SDO mission, explained in a description. “The prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo. An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.”

Friday’s solar eruption does not appear to be aimed at Earth, so will likely have little effect on our planet. But that was not the case earlier this week when a powerful solar flare erupted on Monday (Nov. 12). That flare registered as an M6-class eruption, a moderate but still intense solar event.

On Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 13 and 14), space weather conditions sparked a geomagnetic storm that supercharged the Earth’s auroras, creating spectacular northern lights displays for observers at high latitudes.

When aimed directly at Earth, the most powerful solar flares and eruptions can pose a threat to satellites and astronauts in orbit, and also interfere with communication, navigation and power systems on the ground.

The sun is currently in the middle of an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle. The current cycle is called Solar Cycle 24 and is expected to peak in 2013.

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Israel ready to ‘significantly expand’ Gaza offensive

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning to Hamas on Sunday, declaring that the Israeli army was prepared to significantly widen its Gaza offensive. Netanyahu’s threat came as Hamas launched a fresh rocket attack on Tel Aviv.

The Israeli army is ready to “significantly expand” its operation in Gaza, the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday as Hamas launched fresh rocket attacks on Tel Aviv.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said “The soldiers are ready for any activity that could take place”.
Netanyahu issued the warning as Israel’s “Iron Dome” system intercepted two rockets aimed at Tel Aviv. Hamas militants admitted responsibility for the latest rocket attack on Israel’s commercial capital.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry told FRANCE24 that a ground offensive into Gaza was likely if the rocket attacks continued.
“Our sole aim of this offensive is to make Hamas stop firing rockets. We have used air strikes but if that’s not enough then we may contemplate ground operations as well,” Ygal Palmor from the Israeli foreign ministry told FRANCE 24 on Sunday.
“If rockets are being fired then that will bring the ground operation forward,” he added.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also said on Sunday that Israel would not negotiate a truce with the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers as long as rocket fire continues from the Palestinian enclave.
Israel’s operation has drawn Western support for what US and European leaders have called Israel’s right to self-defence, but there have also been a growing number of calls from world leaders to seek an end to the violence.On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip “would lose Israel a lot of the international support and sympathy that they have in this situation.”

Hague told Sky News television it was much more difficult to limit civilian casualties in a ground assault and said it would threaten to prolong the conflict.

Air and sea raids continue

Fifty Palestinians, about half of them civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began, Palestinian officials said. More than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three civilians.

Since Israel unleashed its massive air campaign on Wednesday, the Jewish state has launched more than 950 air strikes on the coastal Palestinian territory, targeting weaponry and flattening militant homes and headquarters.
The raids continued past midnight on Sunday, with warships bombarding targets from the sea. An air raid targeted a building in Gaza City housing the offices of local Arab media, wounding three journalists from al Quds television, a station Israel sees as pro-Hamas, witnesses said.
The TV building also housed journalists from Britain’s ITN news and Sky News networks.
Three other attacks killed three children and wounded 14 other people, medical officials said.
Violence ‘shatters’ hopes of peace
The night of violence represents a blow to peace efforts, which have been lead by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, who on Saturday said there were indications a truce could “soon” be reached.
FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gallagher Fenwick, reporting from Gaza, witnessed the latest night of violence.
“Throughout the night we heard very heavy shelling, most of it coming from Israeli warships stationed off the coast. The sound of Apache helicopters and drones flying low overhead could also be heard,” Fenwick said on Sunday.
“The Israeli Air Force has published a statement saying it had hit what it called ‘terrorist targets’ across the Gaza Strip, including rocket-launching facilities and other Hamas infrastructure. For their part, the Palestinian factions are claiming responsibility for rockets being fired towards Israel,” said Fenwick.
“It has really shattered the hopes that were raised on Saturday night when rumours came out of Cairo that a truce might be brokered between the two sides,” he continued. “Considering the night we have just had, it appears we are heading in the opposite direction.”
On Sunday, France also became involved in attempts to bring peace to the region with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius travelling to Israel to try and broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.
During his one-day visit Fabius is due to meet with Israeli leaders as well as with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, diplomatic sources told AFP.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will head to Cairo on Monday for talks with the president and other officials on the crisis in Gaza.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News on Sunday he welcomed efforts by his Egyptian counterpart to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict but accused Hamas of rejecting the proposals.
A delegation of ministers from the Arab League are due to visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in what a league official described as a “show of support for the territory”.
Israel said it would keep schools in its southern region shut on Sunday as a precaution to avoid casualties from rockets.
On Saturday, in the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashdod, a rocket ripped into several balconies. Police said five people were hurt.

EU in fresh trouble as budget summit faces collapse

The European Union looks set for fresh trouble this week as an extraordinary summit called to agree a long-term trillion-euro budget heads for an ugly showdown, possibly even failure.

Already weakened by three years of economic crisis, the 27-nation bloc of half a billion people faces new trauma at the two-day summit starting Thursday after weeks of talks that have exposed stark divisions between pro- and anti-austerity nations, as well as between the haves and have-nots.

“It’s a lose-lose summit,” said a senior EU diplomat. “Absolutely no one will leave this summit content if by chance we reach a solution.”

“We don’t exclude a breakdown,” another diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Europe’s leaders begin the talks on the EU’s next seven-year budget at 1900 GMT Thursday, with Britain’s premier David Cameron in the role of leading spoiler though most governments are putting national interest well above shared concerns.

“Cameron will come with a big knife to get spending cuts and to defend the British rebate,” said an EU diplomat.

In the face of Britain’s austerity-minded determination to secure a cut of up to 200 billion euros in the 2014-2020 budget, EU president Herman Van Rompuy, who will broker the talks, last week suggested a 75-billion-euro cut to the proposed 1.047 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) budget.

But that made no one happy.

Spain said it would lose 20 billion euros of EU aid, Italy complained of losing 10 billion euros.

And a group of Nobel laureates flew to Brussels waving a petition signed by dozens of Nobel winners urging Van Rompuy and other EU officials not to strip funds for research and innovation.

“Fortunately, we only have these summits every seven years,” Van Rompuy said Friday after coming under fire from all sides.

His plan left Britain having to pay in part for its cherished yearly rebate of 3.6 billion euros, while diminishing Sweden’s rebate, and failing to address Denmark’s demand to have a discount too.

The three are among the 11 net contributors to the EU budget who in times of economic strain and domestic cutbacks are tired of bearing the brunt of the financial burden.

Eight of the net contributors — Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden — have banded together to demand spending cuts, though they are far from being on the same page on what should go or by how much.

France for instance, along with Italy, is refusing any decrease whatsoever in the budget’s biggest item, the subsidies paid to farmers, big and small.

“There can be no question of withdrawing even one euro from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP),” said French Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose government is pushing for the EU to raise new revenues through new taxes, such as one on financial transactions.

In the other corner are 15 nations from Europe’s east and southern fringe who are net recipients, most often of the so-called “cohesion funds” used to help poor regions catch up economically and socially with the rest. This is the second biggest budget item after the CAP.

Chaired by Poland and Portugal, the group includes Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia — and most recently, once mighty Spain.

Cameron, who is under intense euro-sceptic pressure to wrest an agreement in Brussels, has been shuttling back and forth to raise support, travelling to the Netherlands, Italy and Germany in search of allies.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which is the biggest contributor to the EU budget, has promised to do her utmost to ensure the summit would not end in collapse.

“Even if we are net contributors and people could perhaps think that we can live with a non-agreement, that is not our goal,” Merkel said. “We want an agreement and we will talk exactly in this spirit with all countries.”

Meanwhile, there is a growing exasperation with France, whose recently elected Socialist President Francois Hollande has urged Brussels to push for growth, rather than austerity, but whose obsession with maintaining the CAP will lead to cuts in programmes to help growth.

“He wanted to re-orient Europe towards employment and growth. It’s a political choice. He must be consistent,” said an EU official who asked not to be named.

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Toldot (History) – “Moored to the Rock”

Toldot (History)

Genesis 25:19-28:9
Malachi 1:1-2:7

Moored to the Rock

Our parashah for this week begins with the word, “Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac” (Genesis 25:19). Just consider a few of the thoughts in your mind when you hear the names “Isaac” and “Abraham,” and what these two figures of our faith are commonly known for. Do you at all consider some of the trials that they endured, or when presented with difficult situations, how they had no choice but to place their complete trust in the Holy One?

Sometimes the Father gives us personal challenges and trials to test us, forcing us to remember where our anchor must be secured: in Him. Born again Believers have been firmly moored to the Rock of Salvation, Messiah Yeshua, and what He has accomplished for us via His sacrificial atonement. And, since He is the Word made flesh, I believe that it is quite beneficial that we strive to see what we can learn about the Messiah from the weekly Torah and Haftarah readings (cf. Luke 24:44), parts of the Bible that too often get overlooked by many people.

Consider the possibility that our Heavenly Father is like a huge transmitter in the universe, broadcasting His blessings that can be gleaned through a consistent study of the Torah portions on a weekly basis. I have certainly experienced the blessing of committing myself to a discipline of reading the weekly parashah for many years, meditating upon these passages of the Bible and integrating their distinct messages into my heart. With the added discipline of actually putting words to paper—with my TorahScope reflection commentaries—the process of delving into where He has my heart as Shabbatapproaches becomes an exciting process. Of course, I do not want to be the only person blessed by examining the weekly parashah, and so one of my distinct prayers is that someone who might read these thoughts would be ministered to in a special way.

Perhaps some of the circumstances in which you presently find yourself—even some testing you might be enduring at this moment in time—needs clarity and understanding. Hopefully, you will be inspired to turn to Yeshua, the Living Word, for the answers to all of life’s circumstances. We know that when we can rely upon the Lord and Him alone, because His answers to our prayers and supplications will be the perfect anecdote for seasons of consternation and affliction. James the Just sums up the trials and tribulations of life very succinctly:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have itsperfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-12).

The life of faith is indeed one that includes many tests, trials, and tribulations. We know from our reading of Scripture that we should endure through whatever we face. One thing that is clear, from reading through Toldot this week, is that we have an intimate record of the details of a very traumatic time in the history of Abraham’s descendents. In this Torah portion we see the struggle between Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:19-34; 27:1-46), and how Isaac and Rebekah acted and reacted to their two sons (Genesis 28:1-9).

Great lessons about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility can be weighed in our meditations. Why did the Holy One select Jacob for His blessings? Why is Esau hated? Considerable theological debates have emerged from the accounts recorded in our portion. These, and many other questions, should simply drive us to our knees when we recognize that God is ultimately in control of His Creation. He chooses whom He will choose, to do whatever He has predestined them to do. And while I do not believe we are necessarily robots or mindless pawns, because personal human responsibility does have a role in this incredibly complex dichotomy of actions, we are eventually subject to the will of our Creator. We are often reduced to the dirt from whence we came, when we realize that the finite cannot even begin to comprehend the Infinite. But we must try, because He clearly states that if we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us and we will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Isaiah 51:1; 55:6; Jeremiah 29:13; Psalm 9:10; Hebrews 11:6).

I would submit that Paul adds a little clarity to this complex question about Divine sovereignty versus human responsibility. In his letter to the Romans he explains his pain over the unbelief of his fellow Jewish brethren, appealing to the account of Jacob and Esau:

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: ‘Through Isaac your descendants will be named’ [Genesis 21:12]. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son’ [Genesis 18:10, 14]. And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger’ [Genesis 25:23]. Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’ [Malachi 1:2-3]. What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’ [Exodus 33:19]. So then it doesnot depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth’ [Exodus 9:16]. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, ‘I will call those who were not My people, “My people,” and her who was not beloved, “Beloved.”’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” there they shall be called sons of the living God’ [Isaiah 10:22-23; Hosea 1:10]” (Romans 9:6-26).

This passage should humble us with the understanding that the Holy One of Israel is in total control of His Creation, and those He has chosen to be a part of His family. Whether one thinks that God has predestined the events of every second from eternity past, or thinks that God knows the decisions people are going to make given His Divine foreknowledge—or you simply throw your hands up in the air and consider yourself a small mortal and do not really know what to think about this passage—further study into the Tanakh passages Paul alludes to is probably in order.

The Apostle Paul lamented over the fact that in his day, there was a widescale Jewish rejection of Messiah Yeshua, using some foundational accounts seen in the Torah to teach the Romans. How this intertexuality actually plays into Paul’s argument is something that has to be taken very seriously, and may require you to not only read Romans a little closer, but also each of the series of verses he quotes from. Romans chs. 9-11 are undeniably one of the most important sections of the Bible for today’s Messianic movement.

As this passage continues, Paul not only describes how those of the nations have the opportunity to come to grace through their trust in the Messiah of Israel, but are those who are largely going to benefit from it, given how the Jewish people have largely decided to reject Him:

“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed’ [Isaiah 28:16]” (Romans 9:30-33).

The Apostle Paul summarizes his thoughts about his fellow Jewish brethren and their zeal, without knowledge of Yeshua as the Savior. This passage clearly speaks to the need to demonstrate the gospel of Israel’s Messiah to the people from whom He came:

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for theirsalvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Messiah is the [or goal; culmination, TNIV] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Messiah down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Messiah up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ [vs. 6-8: Deuteronomy 9:4; 30:12-14]—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Yeshua as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed’ [Isaiah 28:16]. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved’ [Joel 2:32]. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ [Nahum 1:15] However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ [Isaiah 53:1] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Messiah” (Romans 10:1-17).

A few of you might be asking, what does this specifically have to do with the Torah portion Toldot? Well, as stated earlier, the intention of these writings is to reflect upon our weekly readings in the Torah and Haftarah, and a principal part of the modern Messianic movement is to connect these texts with the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), and let the Holy Spirit minister to the personal needs of individuals. Sometimes my writings might take tangents into areas that need deeper meditation for personal repentance and reflection, and to probe where our understanding of some passages needs improvement or more investigation. May His words have their perfect work in all of our hearts!

This week, I would also encourage you to take a look at what the Sages for centuries have seen as an appropriate parallel passage to Toldot. This week’s Haftarah selection is Malachi 1:1-2:7, and details some of God’s dealings with the descendants of Jacob and Esau:

“The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi. ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have You loved us?’ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.’ Though Edom says, ‘We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins’; thus says theLord of hosts, ‘They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.’ Your eyes will see this and you will say, ‘The Lord be magnified beyond the border of Israel! A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ ‘You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of theLord is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘nor will I accept an offering from you. For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will begreat among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts. But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,’ says theLord of hosts, ‘and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?’ says theLord. But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,’ says the Lordof hosts, ‘and My name is feared among the nations. And now this commandment is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,’ says theLord of hosts. ‘My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts’” (Malachi 1:1-2:7).

This section of Scripture, from the last of the Prophets, no doubt left many Jews in quite a quandary. They knew that the Holy One of Israel loved them unconditionally, but they also knew that there were obvious consequences should they sin and disobey. How many people simply go through religious motions without their hearts being in the right place? How easy was it for the ancients to promise a choice lamb to God, but bring a blemished one instead? After all, who was really going to know or care as long as the appearance of godliness was evident to one’s neighbors and family?

Considering these questions from Malachi, how easy is it for modern-day followers of the Messiah to do just the same with their offerings? How many do not give what they should to those who minister to them? How many Believers do not strive for spiritual maturity? Should we be examining our heart intentions? Just how are we guarding the utterances from our lips? As an assemblage of those who serve God, our actions, words, and the mediations of our hearts should be pure and holy. Remember that the Lord is looking at our hearts and He is not impressed with our outward appearances. King David understood these challenges intimately:

“Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:13-14).

Now imagine this reality: Do you remember that there are books which record the history of humanity in Heaven? These are recordings that go into much greater detail than this week’s Torah portion of Toldot about the lives of Isaac, Rebekah, and their twin sons Esau and Jacob. Here is a glimpse as to some of what transpires at the final judgment, when those records are considered at the Great White Throne judgment presided over by Yeshua Himself:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every oneof them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

For 3,300 years, we have had the testimony of the Torah to be used as an instructional tool for life. The Lord has used the lives of the Patriarchs to reveal to each of us the reality of our human condition. If we do not learn from the previous examples of those recorded for us in the Scriptures, will we face condemning judgment from the King of Kings? Or will we learn, and not have to face the damnation of the Great White Throne?

Esau made choices that he regretted years later. Jacob also made some choices that he probably questioned over time, but for some reason, the Most High made a choice and He decided to love Jacob more than Esau. To the carnal mind this does not seem fair and equitable. And logically speaking, it is not impartial. Paul states the following in Romans 9:18-23:

“So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”

The bottom line to this saint with clay feet, after the whirlwinds of trial and testing, is a simple plea:

Please, Heavenly Father, do not discard this lump on the trash heap of worthless clay. Instead, mold me into a vessel that has usefulness in Your Kingdom’s work. You are the Potter and I am the clay. Let me be more moldable in your hands. Please, let me persevere so that I will receive the crown of life. Please, let my name be found in the Book of Life. Please have mercy upon me! And for those who choose to follow the inclinations of sinful flesh—have mercy on them too—and may they see the light of Your salvation.

I Bless You O Lord, my King of Kings, my Protector and my Shield! For You alone are worthy to be praised! Amein!

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Being Prepared For Another Nor’easter – Are You Ready For A Possible Storm This Week – November 19 – 22, 2012?

It has been predicted that a possible Nor’easter might hit the storm ravaged Northeast this week, Nov 19th – 22nd.  As we know about weather forcasts, they are not always accurate;  but, one thing for sure, being prepared for any disaster – man made or natural – is a certain means of survival for oneself, their loved ones and their pets.   Should a severe storm strike the area that you reside in, store enough water, food, blankets, batteries, flashlights, light sources, a battery or crank operated radio, back-up generator, pet food & supplies and other essentials, to get you through the disaster.  If you live near flood prone areas, evacuate to higher ground or to an emergency shelter in your area.  You life, the lives of your loved ones and your pets are important.

Remember:  Prepare today for what might happen tomorrow.