Torah Commentary – Tetsavah (You Are To Order) – Protocol – SCRIPTURES FOR February 24, 2017

Torah Commentary – Tetsavah (You Are To Order)
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Exodus 27:20 – 30:10
Ezekiel 43:10-27
Philippians 4:10-20
Protocol
Last year I was given the honor of speaking at the “Trail of Tears” in Tennessee. It was there that I began to see the Tabernacle as the protocol for entering into the Creator’s presence. That revelation has affected the way I look at these chapters of Sh’mot in numerous ways. For someone who has taught on the Tabernacle for many years I have received a new appreciation. With that being said, I have to admit something. As much as I love the revelation of the Tabernacle, the garments of Aaron bog me down a bit. It is not that I see this as unimportant in any way, but I have not taken the time to delve into this like I have the Tabernacle.
Now that I have put myself out there as a target of lack of study on this topic, allow me to expound on what I do see. First of all, Aaron and his sons were not to approach in any old way. They were not to go to their closet the morning of their duty unto Yah and select anything off the rack that looked comfortable. No matter how their week or day was going, they were to “put on” the garments of righteousness before they began. Let’s stop right there for a moment. Before I go any further, I am not suggesting that we go back to the days of three piece suits and ties. I totally agree with a friend who said that he doubted the sanity of whoever came up with the idea of putting something around the neck of a man that would cut off even more oxygen to his brain. But just how do we come before Him? I had to face this myself as recent as last night.
Kathy and I had been out and came home just about dark. I came in and changed my shirt for a Carhartt t-shirt that I had been wearing that day while working on my truck. It had a few paint spots and an extra hole or two. You know the real comfortable ones! I knew it was the night of the New Moon so we went out on the porch. I looked up, saw the moon, sounded the shofar and we sang the shema. We then came back inside to give thanks for the previous month and say our blessings. Before I began to read from the siddur Kathy said, “So you dressed up for the occasion?” I did not say anything, but I have to admit when she said those words I knew she was not speaking on her own. I will still be leaving my ties in the closet, but next month they will have the company of my comfortable Carhartts.
Another part of the garments which really speaks to me are the names and representation of all the tribes upon his shoulders and the breastplate. When Aaron walked into the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle, he was not walking alone, but was carrying the “Whole House of Israel” with him. As he entered, Israel entered. Consider this in light of the numerous verses which reveal Yeshua as sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. The picture Aaron presented is revealed in Ephesians 2:6, as the whole house of Israel is presently seated with and in Messiah in unity before the Father. May the natural house follow suit and line up with the spiritual house!
The above picture brings in the word intercession. In Sh’mot 30 we are given just five verses concerning the Altar of Incense. As we consider its function we see it as a place of intercession and worship. It is a place of mysterious beauty as we can imagine the smoke transcending not only the Holy Place, the Holy of Holies and the courtyard, but reaching into each tent in the camp. This teaches us that intercession, whether it is His for us or ours for others, has no boundaries. It can reach to the most hidden cracks of a life.
One more point to ponder concerning the Altar of Incense. Remember that the Earthly Realm Tabernacle is a mirror of the Spiritual Realm Tabernacle. Take a moment to read Revelation 8:1-5. Yes, your prayers, your worship, your intercession are pictured here as incense which one day will be poured upon the altar. Those prayers you have been praying, but have not seen answered. Maybe they are just being stored for the right day and time! (Click to Source)
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Zephaniah 2:1–3: A Promising Pre-Trib Prophecy Hidden In Plain Sight

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A few years ago, back in the 2012–13 range, I distinctly recall asking the Lord for further confirmation of the Pre-Trib Rapture, specifically in passages of the Old Testament. Afterwards, I remember landing on Isaiah 26:19–21 one day and was overwhelmed with excitement. Maybe you know the feeling—that sudden burst of joy springing up from your innermost being the moment you discover a precious gem hidden deep in the minefields of Scripture.

Well, time has passed since then, and the discoveries of Pre-Trib truth tucked away in the OT haven’t ceased. If you’ve been tracking with us at Unsealed for a while, then you may have noticed that even more passages in the OT have opened up since the amazing discovery of the Revelation 12 sign and its connection to the Rapture of the Church.

For example, Gary posted an article back on September 12, 2017 entitled “Blood Moons, Births, and Babies.” Toward the end of that post, he cited one of the lesser-known OT prophets, Zephaniah, and highlighted the possible future fulfillment of Zephaniah 2:1–3 as applicable to the Church—the male-child of Revelation 12:5who is born [resurrected to glory] and snatched up to God’s throne.

While the timing of the Rapture of the Church in Revelation 12 as it relates to the onset of the Tribulation period isn’t all that clear, other passages such as Isaiah 66:7–8 make the timing as clear as day (for a more detailed analysis, see my previous post “The Birth of a Nation: Part I“).

The Pre-Trib timing is made crystal clear in Isaiah 66:7, most notably, because of the repetitive use of the temporal preposition “before.” Likewise, Zephaniah 2:1-3 appears to be yet another confirmation of the timing of our deliverance in relation to the start of the 70th week.

Here’s a quote from Gary’s article mentioned above that I’ll use as a launching pad for this post:

Most importantly, according to Zephaniah 2:1–3, this group who seeks righteousness is gathered together before a certain decree takes effect (the 7-year covenant of Daniel 9:27?) and is hidden away before ‘the day of the anger of the Lord.’ These ancient Old Testament prophecies are coming to light like never before and they seem to be painting an increasingly pre-trib picture” (emphasis his).

Indeed, the picture is coming into focus. It’s not just one text or passage in isolation that illuminates the portrait of a Pre-Trib deliverance for the Church. Like a mosaic or impressionist painting, it’s the composite pieces and individual brush-strokes seen together that reveal the whole.

So, put your fine-art glasses on [i.e. Holy Spirit lenses] and walk with me through the gallery of Scripture to view the bigger picture. As I hope you’ll see, Zephaniah 2:1–3 is an integral piece of the Pre-Trib portrait. Therefore, the aim of this study will be to shore-up Gary’s initial hunch about the relevance of this passage for the Church today.

Seeking Shelter Before the Storm (Hiding in Yahweh’s Doomsday Bunker)

Zephaniah had a tough message to deliver to the people of his day. Most likely, he was not a favorite guest preacher in the synagogue circuit, and he definitely would not be first on the list to speak in the preeminent pulpits of our churches today.

It’s not that he’s a false prophet or anything like that. No, far from it. It’s just, well…he’s all doom and gloom, and nobody wants to hear that. Most people want to hear about how great tomorrow will be. Tell me something good. Tell me that God’s going to prosper me and keep me healthy, wealthy, and happy. Ah, but that’s not reality, and the truth is a hard pill to swallow.

The truth is that the Day of the LORD is near and rapidly approaching (Zeph. 1:14). It’s a day of darkness and gloom, destruction and desolation (Zeph. 1:15). This isn’t merely a local judgment, either. It’s global and worldwide in scope (Zeph. 1:2–33:8).

Ok, ok, so do I need to build a bunker in the ground? Gather supplies to outlast my neighbor through the Tribulation? No, listen to Zephaniah. He offers a glimmer of hope to a specific nation, a people who are living in the days right before God executes His judgment on earth:

Gather yourselves together; gather together, undesirable nation, before the decree takes effect and the day passes like chaff, before the burning of the LORD’s anger overtakes you, before the day of the LORD’s anger overtakes you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who carry out what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be concealed on the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zeph. 2:1–3, HCSB, emphasis mine).

A play on the prophet’s name embedded in 2:3 underscores the opportunity for a certain, humble nation to be hidden away and concealed before God’s judgments take effect. Clarifying the connection between the prophet’s name and his message, Old Testament scholar, Ronald B. Allen, writes in his book, A Shelter in the Fury:

The name Zephaniah…is built on two Hebrew words, a verb meaning ‘to hide’ and the proper name of God, Yahweh. Zephaniah means ‘Hidden by Yahweh” (pgs. 19–20, emphasis mine).

Thus, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, this passage in Zephaniah is truly a hidden gem. Amidst all the “doom and gloom” in the surrounding context, this window of opportunity is a welcome sight for anyone in right standing with Yahweh who is living on earth before the final judgment begins.

To really grasp the full effect of this passage, however, we need to examine the original Hebrew text. Paraphrased translations have their place, but there is a reason why a more literal translation such as the KJV should be consulted in this instance.

For example, a survey of the English translations for Zephaniah 2:1–3 shows a couple of minor discrepancies that are relevant to our study, especially verses 1 and 2:

First, is the gathered nation of verse 1 shameless, or undesirable/unwanted? Does the answer help us to further identify these people who are hidden “on the day of the LORD’s anger”?

Second, is “decree” the right word choice in verse 2? If so, what is this decree that is linked so closely with the Day of the Lord and its horrific judgments?

We’ll address these questions next.

Which Nation? What Decree?

By now, many of you who have studied the Bible for some time know that the Hebrew language is really flexible. Certain words like ruach have a wide semantic range with possible meanings of “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” Therefore, not only is the immediate Old Testament context crucial for interpretation and understanding, but we must also consider the New Testament’s use of the Old to see how prophecy functions in God’s economy.

In many instances, we discover that Old Testament prophecy can have multiple fulfillments as time and revelation progress. Perhaps the most striking and surprising example comes from Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 (see Matt. 2:15). The historical context of Hosea 11:1 reveals God’s son to be the nation, Israel, who is called out of Egypt during the Exodus. However, as time and revelation progress, Matthew is later moved by the Holy Spirit to latch on to this particular text. As a result, the referent shifts from the nation of Israel to Jesus, God’s Son, who is protected in Egypt until it is safe to go back to Israel again. Wow!

Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming “Day of the LORD” are similar in that they establish a pattern, or template, which the Holy Spirit can later appropriate to another time and place for fulfillment. Dr. Darrell Bock confirms this critical point on the New Testament’s use of the Old:

Although ‘day of the Lord imagery’ is fulfilled in certain events within the OT (e.g. parts of Joel 2), the nature of that fulfillment looks forward to the decisive period of such fulfillment (the ‘day par excellence’). In all these examples, the imagery is such that an aspect of the passage demands fulfillment beyond the short-term event and thus points to the presence of pattern. The prophetic character of the text resides in this ‘needs to be fulfilled’ feature in the pattern” (“Scripture Citing Scripture,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, pg. 272, emphasis mine).

After marinating on Zephaniah 2:1–3 for a while, I now strongly believe that this passage fits the bill for the prophetic pattern previously described. For some, you will have no problem with this because you rightly discern the distinctions between Israel and the Church (for a study on an OT precedent for the continuity and discontinuity of Israel and the Church, see my previous post “Birthday Break-away“).

For others who wish to blur the lines where they should not be blurred, I pray that you understand that the “nation” in Zeph. 2:1 isn’t limited to ethnic Israel. In fact, as I will demonstrate below, the nation who fulfills Zeph. 2:1–3 in the future cannot be national Israel.

First, a word about the nation of Zeph. 2:1—are they shameless, or undesirable? The Hebrew text reads literally, “…gather together nation who is not longed for [Heb. kasaph].” For various reasons, rather than translating kasaph in its usual sense of “to long for; seek after,” some scholars have decided that “shameless” fits the context better and justify their decision by pointing to a related Arabic root word.

Given that kasaph is never translated this way in the four other OT usages (see here), it seems best to keep the sense of “longed for” in Zephaniah as well.

All right, so a nation not longed for is told to gather together—and this is when we are hit with a barrage of before’s:

1) Before the decree takes effect…
2) Before the burning of the LORD’s anger…
3) Before the Day of the LORD’s anger…

Whenever you see repetition in Scripture, pay attention! The purpose of repetition is to emphasize something very strongly, especially a three-fold usage of a term like terem (Heb. “before”) in Zephaniah 2:2 (note also the three-fold repetition of “seek, seek, seek” in 2:3).

There is a minor textual issue in that the Septuagint (LXX) reads very differently in 2:2 and does not have the word “decree.” The weight of evidence, however, favors the Hebrew (MT) and the other ancient versions that all contain “decree” (the Latin Vulgate has a solid translation of our passage too, see here).

Since this is a critical juncture of our study, we need to examine this “decree” [Heb. choq] and its implications (see the nuanced meaning of this term especially in Ps. 2:7 and Isa. 24:5here). The King James Version renders 2:2 quite well, “[gather together]…before the decree bring forth…” This is how the Hebrew reads literally and could even be translated, “…before the decree gives birth [Heb. yalad, a word also found in our major “woman in labor” passages such as Mic. 5:3 and Isa. 66:7].

When you survey the English versions, you’ll find that most have paraphrased the Hebrew to read something like, “…before the decree takes effect…,” or as the NLT renders it, “Gather before judgment begins…” These are all faithful translations that communicate the message of God’s prophetic word: The call goes out for a nation not wanted (not desired) to gather together before the the Day of the Lord strikes—before the decreed judgments of the end-times take effect. This nation who seeks the LORD at this time will also have the opportunity to be hidden and concealed while judgments from above rain down on the earth below (2:3; cf. Isa. 26:19–21).

At this point you should take note of the intentional ambiguity (or flexibility) of Zeph. 2:1. This prophetic offer from the LORD was available to the nation, Israel, right before the Babylonian invasion and exile (Zeph. 1:1; cf. 2 Kgs. 23:24–27). However, as we near the final Day of the LORD, Jacob’s trouble, and the 70th week of Daniel (7-year Tribulation period), this offer of a “Pre-Decree” escape is not for Israel anymore—it’s for the Church.

In the next section, I’ll demonstrate from key parallel passages how Zephaniah 2:1–3 applies to the Church (who was once an undesired nation: Deut. 32:21Rom. 9:24–261 Pet. 2:9) and cannot be fulfilled by national Israel (or Tribulation saints, to cover the bases).

Before the Decree Takes Effect (The Pre-Decree Resurrection/Rapture of the Church)

Are there other passages in the Bible that speak of a “decree” and also confirm its connection to the end-time judgments of the 7-year Tribulation period? Overwhelmingly, yes!

Let’s check ’em out:

 
If you haven’t already, take the time to read through this passage in its entirety. As noted in a previous post “Gimme Shelter,” we have in this pivotal text the “rulers of Jerusalem” cutting a deal with “Death and Sheol [Hell]” (vv. 14–15, 18). This passage reveals the LORD’s anger toward Israel for their agreement [covenant] with the Antichrist and his alliances. Now take a look at verse 22:

So now, do not mock [Israel], or your shackles will become stronger. Indeed, I have heard from the Lord GOD of Hosts a decree of destruction for the whole land” (HCSB, emphasis mine).

 
Thus, we have here one of the earliest hints of “peace and safety.” Also, there is a strong word correspondence between Isa. 28:15 and Zeph. 2:3: The Hebrew word satar “to hide, conceal” is found in both texts. What irony! Israel seeks covering and shelter in a “peace” covenant with Gentile powers, but instead she will be “terrorized” and “trampled” (Isa. 28:18–19). Meanwhile, another nation (the Church) has found true security in Yahweh’s hiding place on high (Zeph. 2:1–3; cf. Isa. 26:19–21).
 
 
Seventy weeks are “decreed” for Israel (Dan. 9:24). Need I say more? Ok, one more thing needs to be said in order to shore-up the link between the “decree” of Zeph. 2:2 and Dan. 9:27. The decreed judgments of the Day of the LORD and Daniel’s 70th week are explicitly connected in this monumental end-times text:

He will make a firm covenant with many for one week [7 years], but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator” (HCSB, emphasis mine).

But one may object: The “decree” of destructive judgments from God [His wrath] may only apply to the latter half of the Trib, so the Church is not guaranteed an escape from the entire 70th week, perhaps only the trumpet or bowl judgments.

Hopefully, these next two passages will seal the deal for you. As the prophecy in Zeph. 2:1–3 clearly states, it’s a “Pre-Decree” gathering and hiding away for the Church. Daniel 9:24 informs us that specific periods of time are “decreed” for Israel alone, and 9:27 reveals that a certain end-time covenant signals the start of the last seven years—these are reserved judgments for the nation of Israel and the rest of the world that are allotted by divine decree!

So, here’s the last question to be answered: Does the New Testament confirm the 7-year duration of the “decree” in Zeph. 2:2 ?

 
 
Right before chapter 5, we have a command for the dead in Christ to rise and gather together (1 Thess. 4:16), and don’t forget the Rapture (4:17)! Immediately following this revelation for the Church, Paul then discusses the issue of timing:

For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘Peace and security,’ then sudden destruction comes on themlike labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that this day would overtake you like a thief” (HCSB, emphasis mine).

 
Ok, let’s trace the logic involved in these passages covered so far: The Isaiah 28 passage links “sudden [decreed] destruction” with Israel signing a covenant with Satan, essentially. Daniel 9:27 hammers it home that the Tribulation “week” (7 years) kick-starts when the Antichrist enters into a covenant with Israel, and destruction is “decreed.” Furthermore, Paul explicitly reveals that the gathering of the Church [i.e. Rapture] occurs immediately prior to the time when “they” [Israel and the world] say “peace and safety” (also, don’t forget the “birth before labor” in Isa. 66:7).
The phrase “peace and safety” is code for the covenant of Isaiah 28 and Daniel 9. When this covenant is signed, sudden destruction takes effect [i.e. the decree of Zeph. 2:2].
Whew! Take a breath. In summary, the “decree” of Zeph. 2:2 entails the entire Tribulation period, not merely the trumpets or bowls—but the seals too! This point will be made most explicit in the book of Revelation.
Before we venture on to the final frontier, first a quote from Arnold Fruchtenbaum:

This decree of destruction [Isa. 28:22] is the same as the Seven-Sealed Scroll of Revelation five…with the breaking of the seals, there is massive destruction of the earth. But this decree of destruction will be issued only when the covenant [Dan. 9:27] is signed. So then, the same point made in Daniel 9:27 is made by Isaiah. The Tribulation begins with the signing of the Seven-Year Covenant between the leaders of Israel and the Antichrist. Once that covenant is signed, the Tribulation begins and a decree of destruction is issued by God Himself” (Footsteps of the Messiah, pgs. 200–201, emphasis mine).

 
 
As Dr. Fruchtenbaum stated above, the “decree of destruction” issued by the LORD himself is the same as the seven-sealed scroll that only Jesus is worthy to open (Rev. 5:576:1). This decree of judgments written on a scroll (Rev. 5:1) is designated for Israel and a Christ-rejecting world. Among those who are excluded from this hour of the decree—a fully glorified Church (Rev. 3:104:45:9–10)!
*If you haven’t already, please take the time to read Greg Lauer’s articles: “The 24 Elders Revisited” and “A Missing Piece.”  These well-researched and thought-through studies are a one-two punch confirming the Pre-Tribulation Resurrection and Rapture of the Church.
 
What Zephaniah previews in 2:1–3 is now a reality in Revelation 4–5. An unloved/undesired nation has been shown mercy and is now gathered and hidden in a most unexpected place—the throne room of God (Rom. 9:24–29Rev. 12:5). This all take place before a single seal is broken from the “decree” of Tribulation judgments.

Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a white horse. The horseman on it had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he went out as a victor to conquer” (HCSB, emphasis mine).

 

The opening of the first seal coincides with Israel proclaiming “peace and security” after covenanting with the Antichrist, “…by peace [he] shall destroy many” (Dan. 8:25); and the rider on a white horse (counterfeit Christ) carries a “bow” and is given authority to conquer (the “bow” here could represent a counterfeit of God’s own peace treaty that He created in the days of Noah; see Gen. 9:12–17 for God’s “bow,” a sign of the covenant).

The Day of the Decree is Drawing Near

According to God’s word, the Church will not spend one nano-second in the coming 7-year Tribulation period. This time of trouble for Jacob (Jer. 30:7) is just that—the time of Israel’s darkest hour. Rather than getting the anticipated peace and security from their covenant with the nations, the woman [Israel] will instead go into labor and be chastised with covenant curses (Lev. 26Deut. 31:17; cf. Rev. 6:3–8). The flood of the end will continue unabated until Israel comes under the everlasting protection of the New Covenant, and, instead of saying “peace and security,” the Prince of Peace will come when they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (Ps. 118:26Matt. 23:39).

All Israel will be saved, but it will first be wittled-down to a purged remnant (Isa. 10:20–23Zech. 13:8–9Rom. 11:25–27). Israel will be given a hiding place, but not before the “decree” of destruction takes effect (Rev. 12:614).

In this study we affirmed the prophetic principle of an OT prophecy applying to more than the original, historical referent (e.g. Hosea 11:1 and Matt. 2:15). The text of Zeph. 2:1–3 was established, key issues were examined, and overall, the prophecy was shown to be flexible enough to apply to a future “nation” other than Israel. Finally, we traced the thread of the “decree” in Zeph. 2:2 to other key passages that cemented the doctrine of a Pre-Decree [Pre-Trib] Resurrection and Rapture of the Church.

Be encouraged, brothers and sisters in Christ! We are not appointed to wrath (1 Thess. 5:9), and that “wrath” includes the full seven years of the seven-sealed scroll! Let’s keep watch and eagerly wait for our rescue and escape. It won’t be long now. Before the decree takes effect, you and I will effectively be gathered and hidden.

In closing, I’ve got three, nay four, words for you: Pre. Trib. Rapture. Amen!

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Torah Commentary – Joined To HaShem – Yitro (Jethro) – Words To Live By – SCRIPTURES FOR February 3, 2017

Torah Commentary
Yitro (Jethro)

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Exodus 18:1-20:23
Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6
Matthew 5:21-30; 15:1-11
Hebrews 12:18-29
James 2:8-13
Words To Live By
The Hebrews are free from life in Egypt. Pharaoh is among the dead on the sea shore. It is time for their journey to continue. In their minds, it is time to move on and make a bee line for the Promise Land. Not so fast though. There is a very important stop they have to make, and that is Mount Sinai. What is the purpose of this stop?
In Egypt, the Hebrews had for the most part forgotten who they were and lost their identity as Israel. Though they could have recited their lineage back to Abraham, they had forgotten what that lineage was all about. They had forgotten the responsibilities associated with their lineage. For this reason, they needed a stop to get their foundation set.
At Mount Sinai it is not that the Hebrews will be given the words of Torah, but rather these words will be reinstated into their lives.  The words of Torah go all the way back to the beginning, it is not just a new thing that Father makes up on the spot and gives to them. No, these words were alive and ingrained into the world already, but the people certainly needed to be reminded of them in a powerful way. It is these words which set them apart from all peoples of the earth. And guess what? They do the same to this day!
What are these Ten Words, the Ten Commandments, all about? Are they the “end all,” as some would think? Should they be looked at more as suggestions for life? Is Father really serious about these words? A look at these words from the angle of marriage may give us more insight.
The Ten Words are like the day a bride and groom stand before one another, share their vows and sign a document of marriage. The vows and document contain a foundation for their marriage, but does it spell out every response to every situation which will arise in their years of marriage? Of course not! When situations arise, the couple has to figure out how to walk out the marriage based upon the foundation that was agreed upon on the wedding day. Let’s try an example:
In most traditional marriages, a bride takes on the name of her husband. She states in her vows she will honor him. If, after her honeymoon, she goes to her friends and tells them how stupid he is because he does not know how to squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom or put a roll of toilet paper on the holder the right way, what has she done? She has brought dishonor to his name in the eyes of her friends. What about if he decides to contact some of his old girlfriends? Could he say he thought “faithfulness” was just a suggestion?
The Ten Words provide a foundation for the covenant we enter into. The balance of Torah, the words of the prophets, apostles and even Yeshua Himself build upon this foundation.
Here is an interesting exercise you may want to try one day. There are 613 commandments in the Torah and over 1050 in the Renewed Covenant. Lists of these can be found on a web search. Print those lists and begin to read through them. You will find that every commandment can be linked to one of the 10. One example is the kosher diet.
Many will say they do not see a commandment in the Ten Words concerning what we eat. If you were asked the question of where kosher eating is in the Ten Words, what would you say? Give up? The answer is number 2, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” When a person says, “I don’t care what HaShem says, I will eat whatever I want,” food has become a god before Him. How about, “I can worship on whatever day I please?” Go back and read Ex 20:8-11. The word is Shabbat which can only be translated into one day of the week, the seventh. Is that just a suggestion or did He mean it?
I could go on and on with this, but to put it in the way of an old board game, “Now it is your turn to move your Monopoly piece.” Remember, you don’t pass “go” to get to the Promise Land and you don’t get to “collect” milk and honey until you once and for all settle the fact in your own heart that the word “commandment” does not mean “suggestion.” (Click to Source)

 

G-d’s goodness overcomes all

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Throughout the Bible there are many places where, as believers, we read the text and immediately grieve in our hearts. One of the saddest dialogs is found in the book of Exodus, yet this same dialog takes place today and, unfortunately, too often we respond in exactly the same way without realizing what we are saying and doing.

In Exodus chapter 6:6-9, we find one of the most powerful promises Scripture contains.

Therefore say to Bnei-Yisrael: I am Adonai, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to Myself as a people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Adonai your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. So I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, and give it to you as an inheritance. I am Adonai.” Moses spoke this way to Bnei-Yisrael, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and cruel bondage.

According to verse 9, when Moses spoke these words to the Children of Israel, they did not listen to him because of their spiritual and physical condition. They looked at themselves and their circumstance and then judged G-D’s ability to fulfill His promises based upon their situation. Here, we see the Creator of the Universe reminding His people that He still loved them and remembered them and was going to redeem them and fulfill His promises. Yet, because the Children of Israel based G-D’s power and sovereignty on their current state of affairs, knowing how bad their spiritual and physical conditions were, they could not believe that G-D’s good could overcome their bad.

Reading these verses today, I know that some of you are in difficult circumstances right now. You know the promises G-D made and the redemption that was brought to you in Messiah Yeshua. You know who G-D is and can quote John 3:16, Romans 8:28, and Romans 9:9, as well as many other verses filled with promises from G-D by memory. Yet, you are looking at your situation in the same way that the Children of Israel viewed theirs. You may not be proclaiming your response vocally as the Children of Israel did to Moses, but your response is heard by G-D just as loudly. You are allowing your heart to believe that your problems, your Egypt, is more powerful than G-D’s promises.

So, let me remind you today that when G-D said these words to Moses to speak to the Children of Israel, they were at the lowest point in their lives physically and spiritually. Yet, none of their predicaments kept G-D from promising them that He would deliver them, He would restore their relationship with Him, and that He would bring them to the land of prosperity.

With this in mind, please remember this absolute truth: Your bad, no matter how large it appears to your heart and mind, will never, ever become larger or more powerful than G-D’s good. (Click to Source)

Top 30 Evidences for God

This article is a brief summary of the evidence supporting God’s existence.

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1. The Fine-Tuning Argument. The obvious fine-tuning of the world “proves” the existence of a “Designer.” Science has calculated the odds against our universe randomly taking a form suitable for life as: One in 10,000,000,000124 [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, p. 35]
2. The Teleological Argument (Design). The obvious design (complexity) of the world “proves” the existence of a “Designer.” Science has estimated that the odds that intelligent life exists on the Earth as the result of non-directed processes to be around: One in 102,000,000,000 [Cited in Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, 2004, p. 179]
3. The Moral Argument. The existence of a universal morality among humans “proves” the existence of a universal “Lawgiver.” If the evolutionary worldview were true, we would be advanced animals acting on chemical impulses. Absolute moral standards would not exist. But they do exist! See: Moral Argument (Proof God Exists)
4. The cosmological argument. The principle of cause and effect “proves” the existence of an “uncaused Cause.” Simply put, nothing cannot create something, and therefore, either the universe has always existed or something outside the universe has always existed. Scientific evidence shows us that the universe hasn’t always existed. Therefore, the something outside of the universe, that has always existed, is God. Furthermore, the characteristics of this something are the same characteristics that are attributed to God. This argument has a logical progression, and is rational, compared to the atheist’s argument.See: Cosmological Argument (Proof God Exists)
5. The Golden Ratio. In God’s creation, there exists a “Golden Ratio” (the mathematical constant of 1.618) that is exhibited in a multitude of shapes, numbers, and patterns whose relationship can only be the result of the omnipotent, good, and all-wise God of Scripture. See: The Golden Ratio: Amazing Proof of God
6. The Great Pyramid. Isaiah 19:19-20 tells us that The Great Pyramid shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord”. It was built thousands of years ago, yet it contains extraordinary measurements of Earth and space that could not have been built even with today’s modern technology! People are more willing to believe that Egyptians used superior technology from alien visitors thousands of years ago! See: The Great Pyramid: Amazing Proof of God
7. Hidden Sevens in the Bible. The recurrence of the number seven – or an exact multiple of seven – is found throughout the Bible and is widely recognized. But there turns out to be much more below the surface. For example, in the first 17 chapters of Matthew Gospel, there are 42 such words (7 x 6) and they have 126 letters (7 x 18). Always an exact multiple of 7. These are just two features, there are 14 features, in total, in that chapter! What are the chances? In the 12 verse of Mark Gospel, the chances of this being random chance have been calculated at 54,116,956,037,952,111,668,959,660,849 to 1! It is absolutely, completely, and totally impossible to mathematically disprove this phenomenon. The overall validity of this discovery—the fact that God did it—is unimpeachable! And, of course, this phenomenon only occurs in the original Biblical Hebrew. See: Hidden Sevens in the Bible: Undeniable Proof
8. 101 Scientific Facts & Foreknowledge in the Bible. Scientific research continues to unfold the wonders and mysteries of our universe. Interestingly, the Bible has anticipated many of these scientific facts! Many of these facts were penned centuries before they were discovered. For example, the Bible shows circumcision on the eighth day is ideal (Genesis 17:12Leviticus 12:3Luke 1:59). Medical science has discovered that the blood clotting chemical prothrombin peaks in a newborn on the eighth day. This is therefore the safest day to circumcise a baby. How did Moses know?

The Bible says that light can be divided (Job 38:24). Sir Isaac Newton studied light and discovered that white light is made of seven colors, which can be “parted” and then recombined. Science confirmed this four centuries ago – God declared this four millennia ago!

The Pleiades and Orion star clusters described (Job 38:31). The Pleiades star cluster is gravitationally bound, while the Orion star cluster is loose and disintegrating because the gravity of the cluster is not enough to bind the group together. 4,000 years ago God asked Job, “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?” Yet, it is only recently that we realized that the Pleiades is gravitationally bound, but Orion’s stars are flying apart. See more: 101 Scientific Facts & Foreknowledge

9. The Shroud of Turin. It is considered to be the linen cloth the dead Jesus was wrapped in after He was crucified. It’s an ancient, sepia-colored, rectangular, 14.3 x 3.7 foot linen cloth woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils with the front and the back image of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin on it. The Shroud of Turin is an icon of faith and controversy among Christians. We can’t be completely dogmatic about the Shroud of Turin, but there is certainly a high degree of probability that it is genuine. See: The Shroud of Turin: Evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection

10. America 9/11 terrorist attack predicted. The link between the 9/11 attack in America, and the attack on ancient Israel (Isaiah 9:10), is uncanny. For instance, both were attacked by Assyrian terrorists, both terrorists were Semitic people (children of the Middle East), both buildings in the attacks had fallen bricks, both had a sycamore tree cut down, both buildings were rebuilt with hewn stone, both sycamore trees were replaced with a cedar tree…etc. It’s unbelievable evidence of God. See: Ancient Israel & America: Uncanny Link
11. Biblical Shemitah years in America. The biblical Shemitah came every seven years to Israel, and brought cessation to production, trade and economic activity, and ultimately, a nullification to the nation’s financial realm, the wiping away of credit and debt. This ancient pattern, established by God, has manifested in modern America. From September to September is the Shemitah year and each of the crashes America’s experienced as a nation, for the last century, have been on a Shemitah year! People cannot understand why September is a historically bad month for stocks, however, it’s easy to understand why if you read God’s Word. This is further evidence for God. See: Biblical Shemitah Years: Beyond A Coincidence

12. Blood Moon Tetrads on feast dates. There have been 56 tetrads since Christ’s day, however the last 8 have fell on the first and last of the 7 “feasts of the LORD” (Lev. 23:4; cf. Gen 1:14). On God’s “appointed times”, just like He foretold in Genesis 1:14! And not just have they fallen on the seasons (appointed times), but they have also been for signs (things to come). See: Signs in the Sun, Moon & Stars – End Times
13. Rebirth of Israel, and recapture of Jerusalem, exact date predicted in the Bible. Not only was Israel becoming a nation prophesied, it was also prophesied down to the very date. And if that wasn’t enough proof for you, the recapture of Jerusalem was also prophesied to the very date! Two of Israel’s most significant end-time prophecies fulfilled, and predicted by date thousands of years beforehand! See: Israel Significant Dates: Prophesied in the Bible
14. Biblical archaeological discoveries. There have been thousands of Bible discoveries; but the wonder of it all is that even with all the overwhelming archaeological evidence, none has ever contradicted a single claim the Old and New Testament makes! See here.

15. Specific Bible verses have numbers and themes in the text of the Bible that seem to line up with the locations where the verses are found. This requires a supernatural author. For example, Matthew 24:42 is about the Day of the Lord. It is the 24th chapter, it’s about the DAY (24 hours) of the Lord; and the 42nd verse (reverse of 24) is the key verse to watch out for we don’t know when this DAY will occur. These three references to things related to 24 are all found in the 24,000th verse of the Bible (now that really sets it apart)! Mathematics shows it’s statistically impossible for this to be chance occurrence (calculated at billions to one could not be coincidence). See over 35 more examples here.

16. Donald Trump’s election and 7s. God’s hand was clearly present in Trump’s election. For example, he was 70 years, 7months and 7 days old on his first full day as president of the United States, and he defeated Hillary Clinton by 77 electoral votes…etc. Many take these numbers as a sign that Donald Trump was supposed to become the next president as the number 7 is very significant in The Bible and Revelation! The world was stunned that Hillary Clinton lost in a landslide victory to Donald Trump, since Clinton was heavily favored to win in virtually every poll conducted by our mainstream media. See: Donald Trump, Israel, & 7, coincidences?
17. Theomatics. Throughout the Bible, multiple factors and clustering (known as theomatics) is so consistent in words and phrases, that it boggles the mind. The major fact is that it happens so regularly, as to defy any mathematical odds. In other words, if God did not place this phenomenon into the text, then the numerical values for words and phrases would only produce “random” results. It is absolutely, completely, and totally impossible to mathematically disprove theomatics. See here.
18. Overwhelming evidence for a young earth and universe. There are over hundreds of evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe. For example, there is evidence of recent volcanic activity on Earth’s moon. This contradicts the supposed vast age – it should have long since cooled if it were billions of years old! If the sea had no sodium to start with, it would have accumulated its present amount in less than million years at today’s input and output rates. This is much less than the evolutionary age of the ocean, three billion years…etc. The list goes on. See: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe
19. Overwhelming evidence for Noah’s flood. Noah’s flood really happened, there is a flood of evidence for it in the fossil record. For example, fossilized jellyfish must have been rapidly buried because their soft bodies float and decay within hours of death. There are millions of fossilized jellyfish. It is not possible for trees to remain vertical for thousands of years while layers form around them. Yet we see thousands of them. We find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers that cover all the continents (more than a mile above sea level) contain marine fossils. Fossilized shellfish are even found in the Himalayas…etc. The list goes on. See here and here.
20. The spiritual realm. Testimonies of supernatural healings, demonic encounters, angelic encounters and many different spiritual experiences by generations of people all over the world speak of a reality/realm that exists beyond the physical. See: The Spiritual Realm: Evidence God Exists
21. The Bible. The New and Old Testament have an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting their reliability. In fact, the Bible should be enough Christian evidence for anyone since its reliability, alone, defies natural explanation. For example:

  •  If the average-sized manuscript were two and one-half inches thick, all the copies of the works of an average Greek author would stack up four feet high, while the copies of the New Testament would stack up to over a mile high!
  • 40 authors wrote the Bible over a period of 1,500 years, yet when the 66 books of the Bible with their 1,189 chapters made up of 31,173 verses are brought together (KJV), we find perfect harmony in the message they convey.

See more here.

22. End-time prophecies fulfilled. Bible prophecy is a fantastic proof for God’s existence. The fact that over hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled, and have all converged, within the last century should be enough evidence for anyone. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter – NO errors. The odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is estimated at over one in 102000! See: 101 Last Days Prophecies
23. Historical records for Jesus. There was never any debate in the ancient world about whether Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure. The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Within a few decades of his lifetime, he is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. See here.
24. “Torah Codes” and “ELS” (Equi-distant Letter Sequences). Instead of reading a text normally––one letter at a time––hidden words are looked for by reading the text every 2, or 3, or 4, (etc.), letters, skipping over the letters in between. For example, the first five books of the Bible are known as the Torah, and in each of these five books, in 50 letter increments, we find the letters spelling “Torah.”! In addition, the number 50 has several important meanings relating to Torah. What are the chances? The chance of just two appearances at intervals 50 is 1 in 400,000! See here.
25. Jesus’ number is in everything. The relationship between the two numbers, 792 and 3168, is foundational to the creation of the earth itself! It is evident that these two numbers are found to repeat all through the creation! Why these two numbers? Maybe because the Gematria value for “Lord Jesus Christ” in Greek is 3168, and in Hebrew is 792! See: Jesus’ Number in Everything: Amazing Proof
26. Laminin. The protein inside our body, called Laminin, has an extremely vital role in our bodies. So vital, that without it, we could literally cease to exist. What is it exactly that makes Laminin so special? It is a cell adhesion molecule that is organized into a specific structure and it dictates what job the cell performs in the body. In other words, it literally holds all the cell membranes in your body together. It is the glue of the human body. The cross-like shape of the laminin molecule is evidence of God’s hand in creation!

27. Planets aligned to form Jesus on the cross during crucifixion. On the day commonly viewed as that of Jesus’ actual crucifixion, April 3, 33 AD, the planets Saturn, Uranus, Jupiter, Earth and Venus aligned to form what looks like Jesus on the cross with the head, the hands spread out and the legs together in accurate positioning, rotation and on a galactic scale. Indeed, even Saturn’s rings can be viewed as representing the ‘halo’ or ‘crown of thorns.’ This alignment appears to have occurred only six times between the year 0 and 2000 A.D.
28. Hidden name of God in DNA. YHWH is used almost 7,000 times throughout the Bible as the only and unique name of the Mighty One of Israel (God). The four elements that make up human DNA: Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon, when converted to letters, based upon their matching values of atomic mass, spell YHWG!
The last letter (G) is the “stuff” that gives us the color, taste, texture, and sounds of our body: carbon. If we were to replace the final H in YHWH with its chemical equivalent of nitrogen, YHWH becomes the elements that are all all colorless, odorless, and invisible gases!

Just as the first chapters of Genesis relate that it is in a nonphysical form (invisible) that the Creator was present during the time of creation: It was “the spirit of YHWH” that first moved over the face of the earth. (Genesis 1:2). The one letter that sets us apart from YHWH is also the element that makes us “real” in our world – carbon. Evidence of God’s hand in creation! 

29. Cross at centre of galaxy. The Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of the center of the Whirlpool galaxy, M51. The cross-like shape is evidence of God’s hand in creation!

30. Pillar shields Israel from the Islamic State. On the 1st December 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists had been hammering Israel along their border for several days, almost defeating Israel, when, on the fourth day, a large cloud pillar formed within minutes, so thick it made for zero visibility. This strange storm of what appeared to be dust, cloud and rain did NOT cross the border fence into Israel. It sat like a barrier between ISIS and Israel. This is evidence of God protecting Israel as He promised.

There are numerous other evidences for God’s existence. If you know of greater evidence for God, than the top 30 shared in this article, let us know in the comments below! (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Mikketz (At the End) – Though It Lingers, Never Give Up – SCRIPTURES FOR December 16, 2017

Torah Commentary
Mikketz (At the End)jesus-in-the-synagogue
Genesis 41:1-44:17
1 Kings 3:15-4:1
Acts 7:9-16
Though It Lingers, Never Give Up  
I often consider the life of Yosef as I feel it has much to say to my own life. His life was one of twists and turns that no one could have foreseen. His was also a life of promises which seemed to be out of his grasp. Can you relate?
Our Torah portion begins with the words, “At the end of two years.” It does not say anything about these two years, just states they happened. Think back over your last two years since the first part of December 2015! Have you had anything happen since then? How much has happened? Have you experienced successes, failures or should we say “learning experiences”? What about betrayals or the twists and turns of life?
Consider Yosef’s two years. He was in a prison cell. Probably not much was happening outside of staring at walls. How might his life relate to ours? Glad you asked. Yosef was waiting; waiting for the promise of a dream to be fulfilled. I believe it was the dream that kept him going on a daily basis. He had to ask himself many times if the dream was real or not. When he did, something deep within answered with a resounding “yes”. The dream remained alive and in fact may have kept him alive to the end of those long two years.
The prophet Habakkuk may have thought of Yosef when he received a prophecy now recorded as a book of Scripture for us. Habakkuk was given a promise and wondered when it would happen. In chapter two of his book he is told that though the promise may seem to linger from his standpoint, from the view of the Heavenly realm, it will come to pass right on time. Too bad Yosef did not have the book of Habakkak to read.
Where am I going with this?
Do you have promises you believe Father has given you? Are there dreams in your life becoming pretty distant in your memories? Do you wonder if those things were truly promises or the result of too much pizza the night before? Here in the midst of the Feast of Hanukah would be a good time to bring those things to mind again. Submit them to the Father and listen for a renewal of those promises. Allow Him to sort out what was from Him and what was not.
I wonder if it was a day like I am asking of you which Yosef was going through in his prison cell. Could it have been a day which he was at the end of his rope so to say? He had thought about the dreams over and over and was just about to give up, for the “Linger Time” was just more than he could stand. Could he have been thinking “If nothing happens tomorrow, I am done with those dreams?” Little did he know while he was staring toward the heavens, Pharaoh was having dreams which would bring his promise to pass.
Here is a question for you. What if Yosef had given up just one day earlier? Was the fulfillment of the promise tied to him remaining faithful to it? We cannot say, but what if?
What if the fulfillment of the promises given to us is tied to our remaining faithful to them? Are you willing to chance the answer on this?
Let’s look at it from a different angle. After Yosef is summoned to Pharaoh he interprets his dreams. He then makes a great statement of faith in Genesis 41:32 which states, “The matter has been established by Elohim.” Did those words resound in Yosef as he realized all he had been through in his own life had also been established by Elohim? Did he now see his own faithfulness had been a gift to keep him from giving up?
I am asking many questions this week. The purpose is to cause each of us to think back over promises to possibly cause us to renew our grasp on them. It would be a shame to think if our faithfulness does play a part in His work that we gave up just before a knock on the door. That knock by the way may have sounded like the knock of a prison guard to Yosef, but what was it really? It was the knock of Elohim summoning Yosef into a promise given years earlier.
A last thought concerning Yosef. As the events of his life are happening, Yah is causing a famine in the land of his family, a famine which would cause his brothers to seek food, but find Yosef. What an interesting turn of events as what put him in prison to begin with was him seeking for his brothers. What a great twist!
My ending words are adapted from Churchill, Never, Never, Never give up on the promises He has spoken to you! (Click to Source)

On Christmas…

Then came Hanukkah;[c] it was winter in Jerusalem. 23 Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!”

25 Yeshua answered them, “I told you, but you don’t believe! The works I do in My Father’s name testify concerning Me. 26 But you don’t believe, because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice. I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life! They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again the Judean leaders picked up stones to stone Him. 32 Yeshua answered them, “I’ve shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone Me?”

33 The Judean leaders answered, “We aren’t stoning you for a good work, but for blasphemy. Though You are a man, You make Yourself God!”

34 Yeshua answered them, “Isn’t it written in your Writings,[d] ‘I have said you are gods’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the Word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, the One the Father set apart and sent into the world, ‘You speak blasphemy,’ because I said, ‘I am Ben-Elohim’?

37 “If I don’t do the works of My Father, don’t believe Me! 38 But if I do, even if you don’t trust Me, trust the deeds. Then you may come to know and continue to understand that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.” 39 Therefore they tried to capture Him again, but He escaped from their hand.

40 Again He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first started immersing, and He stayed there. 41 Many people came to Him and were saying, “John performed no sign, but all John said about this man was true.” 42 And many trusted in Him there.

(John 10:22-40)

  1. John 10:22 Lit. Rededication.
  2. John 10:34 Lit. Law, here applied to the Torah, Prophets, and Writings; quote is from Ps. 82:6.
Tree of Life Version (TLV) Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

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On Christmas…

My family has been involved in the Messianic movement for 22 years, now, since 1995. Like many people within the Messianic movement, I find myself not looking to the month of December with great enthusiasm.

Huge controversies can and do erupt during the month of December, regarding how Messianic people are to approach the Christian holiday of Christmas, on December 25. Many Messianic Jews simply do not see Christmas as something Jewish, they do not see it as something for them, but if Christians observe it, they are not going to oppose them. Many Messianic people, particularly intermarried couples, often keep both Chanukah and Christmas. Many other Messianic people, oppose Christmas, although for different reasons and with different levels of opposition. Some of this may simply come from December 25 not being a specified holiday in the Bible, or established by the Apostles. Others see Christmas on December 25 as a clear result of syncretism practiced by Christians of the Second-Fourth Centuries, where pagan holidays were reinterpreted and “Christianized” with Biblical themes. Many see Christmas on December 25 as outright paganism, Christmas trees directly prohibited in Scripture (i.e., Jeremiah 10:2-5), and most Christians serving the Kingdom of Darkness. And, a few others, noting some early opposition to Christmas by a number of the Protestant Reformers, see Christmas on December 25 as a symbol of corrupt Roman popery. Those who hold to all of these positions, are likely to be found at your local Messianic congregation during the month of December.

When I attended Asbury Theological Seminary (2005-2008) and took Church History I, the subject of Christmas on December 25 did come up in various classes. One of the textbooks we were assigned, had this to say:

“The earliest feast day in connection with the birth of Jesus was January 6, Epiphany, the day of his manifestation. This was originally the celebration of the birth itself. Later, particularly in some areas of the Latin West, December 25 began to take its place. This latter date was actually a pagan festival which, after the time of Constantine, was preempted by the celebration of Christmas”

Justo L. González, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1 (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1984), 96.

As you can imagine, some of my fellow students were a bit shocked when they saw–in our assigned textbook, no less–that Christmas on December 25 had some less-than-Biblical origins. I remember once of my professors adding to this that the Christmas tree was adapted from Teutonic and Nordic religion, with obviously no connection to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem–and then only added that Easter eggs likewise had no connection to the resurrection, but instead ancient fertility rites. “So, why do Christians participate in this?”, was the blunt response. The answer was: “The Christian Church has reinterpreted and redeemed these once pagan holidays and festivities.” What this actually was, was a seminary instructor saying that it was acceptable for Believers to practice syncretism, that is, take pagan religious customs, reinvent them, and superimpose Biblical themes onto them. This is precisely what Ancient Israel was told not to do, before entering into the Promised Land:

“When you enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abhorrent practices of those nations” (Deuteronomy 18:9, NJPS).

Yet unlike much of today’s evangelicalism, which will equivocate on the value of Christmas on December 25–a number of prominent comic voices recognize the syncretism in Christmas, and have no problem using it in their various routines!

At the 2002 White House Correspondents Dinner, Drew Carey made note of how Christmas, Easter, and most especially Halloween–were all holidays with origins outside of the Bible:

Last year, the College Humor sketch, “Adam Ruins Everything,” came out with a piece on “The Drunken, Pagan History of Christmas”:

Many of us who once observed Christmas, did not participate in frivolity, drunkenness, and hedonism. Many of us observed Christmas in a pious and holy manner, going to church, focusing on the birth of the Messiah, singing hymns, and fellowshipping with family and close friends. This is actually what makes giving up Christmas difficult for many people in today’s Messianic movement. Their attachment to Christmas, is not so much with the Christmas tree; their attachment to Christmas is with memories of being with those they cared about, some of whom are no longer living.

All of us should be mature enough as adults to recognize that during the month of December, due to all of the nativity scenes and different Christmas carols, that more people are going to be presented with hearing about Jesus and some form of the gospel, than at any other time during the year. In spite of many of the questionable practices and origins surrounding Christmas, God has brought people to Himself during this time of year. Yet Messianic people should also be wise enough to recognize that the Savior declared today during the month of December, is broadly not the Messiah of Israel, who is returning to reign over Planet Earth from Jerusalem—but is instead a universal Christ of tolerance (for human sin). While many sincere Christian people have honored God in ignorance on December 25, Christmas on December 25 is not a God-honoring activity.

I do not encourage any of you to be odious to Christian people during this month, creating unnecessary scenes. Wishing “Happy Holidays” when being told “Merry Christmas,” is entirely legitimate. (Click to Source)

 

Lamb of God – The manger in Migdal Eder

Behold, the lamb of God. The manger in Migdal Eder

jesus

Jesus Birth Foretold

The story of Jesus birth was first foretold in Genesis three verse fifteen.  God told Adam and Eve that a child would be born. This Child would crush the head of the old Serpent who tempted Eve to sin and resulted in the curse that leads to man’s extinction.  Many others would foretell the coming of this Savior of man.

God Chose Jacob

I suppose God could have chosen a million different ways to bring about a remedy to mankind’s disease. But He chose Jacob, a very flawed man and his wildly dysfunctional family to bring forth the antidote.  This Christmas story begins with a man, Jacob, and his family spanning 53 generations.

Beyond a brief telling of Jacob’s story, our focus will be on two of his future grandsons David and Jesus.   All three men had one thing in common.  The importance the little town of Bethlehem played in their life.  The reason our Christmas story ends with the birth of Jesus, is because in his blood is the antidote for the curse.

Hundreds of years pass from God’s promise in Genesis, but slowly and painstakingly God, or Yahweh as He is known to the Hebrews, moves mankind closer and closer to a solution to his death problem.  Yahweh makes covenants with famous men like Noah and Abraham, edging ever closer, till one day Abraham has a grandson named Jacob.  Yahweh changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and transferred to him God’s promise to Abraham that the Messiah, who would save mankind from the curse of death, would come through one of his sons.

Jacob’s journey through life was a painful one and he was not a sinless man.  He had many hardships and struggles, most of which he brought on himself by his poor choices.  But Yahweh had a plan for Jacob to bring forth the Messiah through his seed.

Jacob Meets Rachel

While Jacob is still a young man, he cheats his brother out of his inheritance, and consequently his brother threatens to kill him.  So Jacob finds himself on the run, fleeing the wrath of his brother, away from home for the first time, lonely, broke and in a strange land.  He runs to his mother’s relatives in Haran. When he arrives in Haran, he goes to a well where Sheppard’s are waiting to water their flocks, and He asks them if they know his Uncle Laban.   They say, “Yes, and there comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”

Jacob is so ecstatic to meet his beautiful cousin Rachel, that he sobbed on her between kisses.  It was love at first sight for Jacob and for Rachel too.

Jacob marries the beautiful Rachel, who he adored, but he is also tricked into marrying her sister Leah.  Though he did not love Leah, Leah gave Jacob six sons.  Rachel however, could not conceive, and her ache for a child, throbbed throughout the camp.  Jacob then had two sons from the handmaid of Rachel, and two more sons from the handmaid of Leah, but Rachel still could not become pregnant, and her despair was almost unbearable.

Jacob’s Heart Broken in Bethlehem

Finally, with great joy, Rachel becomes pregnant and has a son named Joseph, who will become a famous character in the Bible.  After Joseph’s birth, Jacob decides to move his family back to Canaan, the land of his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham.  Along the way, Rachel conceives again, and by the time they get to a little town that becomes known as Bethlehem, Rachel’s birth pains begin, and she delivers her second son Benjamin.  The labor was too much for Rachel, and she dies soon after Benjamin is born.

Jacob’s heart is broken.  He mourns that he will never again hold her face in his hands, gaze upon her, feel her embrace or inhale her fragrance.  He will miss her sweet words and shattered are the dreams of growing old together.  His darling has died and the loving mother of his two youngest sons.  He ceases his journey there, because his sorrow is too great.  The Bible tells this part of the story like this.

And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, Fear not; you shall have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: (Which means son of my sorrow) but his father called him Benjamin. (Which means son of my right hand) And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar on her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

Rachel’s body was laid to rest in Bethlehem.  It remains one of the Jews most holy places, and a beautiful shrine to Rachel is there today.

Rachel's Tomb

Ephrath means fruitful place, which is an ironic name for a burial-place.  However, it was not only the place of Rachel’s departing, as the scripture puts it, but it was also a place of new life, because Benjamin began his life there.

The prophet Micah, who appeared a few generations after King David, spoke for Yahweh, and prophesied the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah. Too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you, One will go forth for Me, to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

For Jacob though, this was the place of his mourning for beloved Rachel.

We know that Jacob was becoming a wealthy and prosperous man having much livestock.  The Bible tells us that when Rachel died he went beyond the tower of Edar and spread his tent.  Migdal Edar, as it is known, was only a 1000 paces from Bethlehem, and was a place of elevation, where Shepherd’s would go to watch over their sheep that grazed in the valley’s meadow below.  It was a good vantage point, and ideal for watching over the sheep and keeping an eye on what might come down the road from Jerusalem.  Several generations later, it became the place where they raised the unblemished and unspotted sheep used for Temple sacrifice.

What the Tower of the Flock at Migdal Eder may have looked like

 

David is Born in Bethlehem

Eleven generations would come and go till Jacob’s descendant David is born in the little town of Bethlehem.  He is quite possibly born near this very spot where Jacob pitched his tent to mourn.  One day David would become King of Israel, but as a young man, David was a Priestly Sheppard in the hills and valleys of Bethlehem.  It was the sacred duty of a Priestly Shepherd to watch over the sacrificial sheep used in the temple worship.

A priestly Shepherd was not just any Shepherd, but a priest who knew the scriptures, for while David watched the sheep his delight was in the law of the LORD;and in his law he meditated day and night.( Psa. 1:2) Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Psa 119:97) Later David references his thoughts of Yahweh while watching the sheep through the night:  On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. (Psa. 63:6)

The little lambs of God

David must have had a true sense of sacrifice, knowing the fate of the little sheep he came to love and risk his life to protect.  The daily Temple sacrifice required two unblemished sheep from Bethlehem.  One sacrificed in the morning and one in the evening as a continual sacrifice before the Lord.

The Passover was an annual sacred feast that Yahweh himself instituted for Israel to commemorate their deliverance out of Egypt.  During Passover in Israel, the feast required literally thousands of sheep.  One lamb needed for each household in all of Israel.  During the time of David’s census there were 1,300,000 men beyond age 20. This would suggest a population nearing 5 million.  This demand required an estimated 250,000 sheep to accommodate the Passover annually.

Jesus born in Bethlehem

Now let’s fast forward 900 years from the days of David to see what is happening in our little village of Bethlehem.  The apostle Luke writes this account.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.   And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The fields around Bethlehem were valuable grazing lands.  The Priestly Shepherds were still charged with watching over the Temple flock both day and night. They were vigilant to protect them from their natural enemies, the robber, the wolf, the bear and the lion.  Migdal Edar or Tower of the Flock was constructed as a place for watching over the sheep.  A room on the ground floor was designated for the delivery and protection of these special lambs.  Here they kept a manger ceremonially clean due to the sacred role of these little lambs.

The Shepherd’s find the prophesied Lamb of God

And the Shepherds did find the babe, for they understood what the sign meant.  They knew to look for the Messiah in the manger at the watch tower in Bethlehem.  The Shepherd’s knew the prophecy of the Prophet Micah, who foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. They also knew Micah foretold where to look in Bethlehem. The Messiah King would come to the “the tower of the flock.”

Micah 4:8  “And thou, O tower of the flock  the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”

The Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb of God would be born in the same place all unspotted lambs designated for Temple sacrifice were born.

John the Baptist, grew up knowing the stories and prophecies of his cousin Jesus.  I expect they were friends and playmates like most cousins who grow up together. I like what may have been John’s nickname for Jesus for we have recorded in John 1:29 when John saw Jesus he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

This Lamb, Jesus, who was once born at Migdal Eder, the tower of the flock, became the sacrificial Lamb of God for Israel.  One day He will return to Jacob’s troubled land and miraculously deliver his descendants.  Jeremiah called this future time the day of Jacob’s trouble when Jerusalem’s enemies besiege her.

In the nick of time, The Lamb will reveal his true identity and take His rightful place, seated on His throne as the glorious Son of David, the greatest King of Israel. He will tend the sheep of the house of Jacob and all of those from the nations who have come to dwell in that house. Finally, Jacob’s heartache and troubles are comforted.  No more tears will flow from Migdal Edar. The lowly Lamb, who became incarnate there, will be Jacob’s Comforter, King, Shepherd and Messiah forever and ever.

And the angel Gabriel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Praise be the name of the LORD.  (Click to Source)

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Torah Commentary – Vayishlach (He Sent) – The Journey Continues – SCRIPTURES FOR December 2, 2017

Torah Commentary

jesus-jew-2

Vayishlach (He Sent)
Genesis 32:4-36:43
Obadiah 1:1-21
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Revelation 7:1-12
 
The Journey Continues     
 
Ya’akov is now free of Lavan after twenty years of working for him. The time was not wasted by any means as he is returning with a growing family and the riches needed to take care of them. It appears Yah was up to the challenge of guarding Ya’akov giving him bread to eat and clothing to wear. Though Lavan is behind him there is still a matter he has to face, his brother. 
 
Word comes to Ya’akov that Esav is heading his way with 400 of his men. Twenty years may be a long time, but Ya’akov figures those years have not softened the heart of Esav, but more than likely made it harder. The response Ya’akov has to the meeting is one we need to consider, not only for him, but for ourselves. In Genesis 32:21 the Complete Jewish Bible says Ya’akov sought to “appease” Esav. The Hebrew word here is kaphar. It is only used four times in Torah, two of those times in Genesis. The word means “To cover or coat with pitch.” Yes, you guessed it, the other time the word is used is in Genesis when Noah covers the Ark with pitch. Where do we go with this one? There are two directions.
 
First, we can take the standard commentary and say Ya’akov was trying to compromise with Esav and protect his own hide at the possible expense of part of his family being killed. Let’s take a different look.
 
When Noah covered the Ark with pitch what was he doing? Was he not seeking to protect that which was inside? Could this same thought not be applied to Ya’akov? Is it that Ya’akov thought he could not win the battle over Esav so he set the whole plan in motion to by time, protect his family for the moment and live to fight another day? You be the judge.
 
One more thought before moving on. Either way we look at this, in the end the conflict between the two brothers was not resolved, but rather pushed on to a different time, a different generation. Was this the plan and timing of Yah? I don’t know. What I do know is that one day the fight between the two seeds will have to be brought to a head and decided. When is that time? Again, I do not know. If it is to be in our lifetime, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we willing to no longer kaphar, but fight, no matter our personal cost?”
 
 After the meeting, Ya’akov again breathes a sigh of relief and continues his journey to Sh’khem. Wait, stop the bus, he goes where? Sh’khem. What about the oath he took to return to Beit-El? Maybe it was a stop on the way, but it would be a stop of disaster. It is in Sh’khem that Dinah is found with the “local girls.” Why was this allowed? Who forgot to protect their daughter, their sister? Dinah is raped and the family begins a downward spiral bringing tension within that I would argue is yet to be repaired. A sad note to me is the question of the boys which was asked to their father in Genesis 34:31. This question was never answered. You consider that one for a while. 
 
What is the lesson to us from the disaster of Sh’khem? There are many. On top of the list to me is concerning our oaths or promises we make to HaShem. Ya’akov stood at a mountaintop experience of seeing angels, ladders and Yah Himself. He speaks words of promise and then twenty years later, does he think Yah has forgotten those words? Did he consider Sh’khem a place to rest for a bit before he fulfilled his promise? It is my belief that as soon as he figured out he had survived the meeting with Esav he should have asked a question, WWAD. What Would Abraham DO? His grandfather, who when asked to sacrifice his Yitzchak, got up early and made a beeline to the mountain. If he had followed that example maybe the eventual wedding of Dinah would have been a happier event.
 
But who am I to point fingers at Ya’akov? Who are you to do the same? Truth is we have all made promises we at best, delay in keeping. Maybe the lesson of this Torah portion and the uncovering of Ya’akov’s life is for our benefit to teach us to not be quick to offer a vow or promise. When we do make a vow, let us be quick to fulfill those words at the earliest possible opportunity. I think that is something someone else spoke about somewhere, like maybe Yeshua in the Gospels! (Click to Source)