How Should We Really Pray for The Peace of Jerusalem?

In the Gospels, when Yeshua (Jesus) is in the garden praying to God, he asks if the cup can be passed from him. He was asking, “Lord? Do I really have to go through this? Isn’t there a Plan B?”

And the answer he gave himself was, “Thy will be done.”

Do you know where we commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Nowhere. There is nowhere in the Bible we are commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The Torah is where we find God’s instructions and there are none telling us we must pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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We are asked to pray for the peace of Jerusalem by King David in Psalm 122:5-6, where he says:

For there the thrones of judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you prosper. May there be peace within your walls, and prosperity inside your fortresses.”

This psalm is asking that we pray for peace in Jerusalem so that there is peace in the house of David, and also in the house of Adonai.

Since its formation as a state in 1948, Israel (and Jerusalem as its capital) has been attacked daily by her enemies, which surround her on all sides. These attacks aren’t just military or terroristic; Israel is also being attacked economically, it is being lied about in the media, and it’s people are attacked throughout the European nations through anti-Semitic activities, such as in France and many former Soviet Union states, to name a few.

Even in the Congress of the United States, there is a New York Representative who is blatantly anti-Semitic! New York has always had a tremendously large Jewish population, yet here is a New Yorker who is obviously against Israel. Let’s not forget to mention there are some representatives from other states who also demonstrate a public persona that is anti-Semitic.

With regards to Jerusalem and Israel, we have prayed and prayed until our tallitot are frayed, and yet there is no peace. Is God ignoring his people? Does God want the enemies of the Jews to succeed?  Are we praying the wrong way?

I believe we are praying the wrong way, or maybe I should rephrase that: I believe we are praying for the wrong kind of peace.

First off, let’s all see if we can agree on this: whatever God wants to happen, will happen. Are we all OK with that? Good.

Next, let’s see what God intends for Jerusalem and Israel, so we know what he wants to happen:

Zechariah 12:3– On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.

Luke 21:24– Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Isaiah 34:1-2- For the Lord’s anger is against all the nations. And His anger is against all their armies. He has destroyed all of them. He has given them over to be killed.

Revelation 21:1-3– Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

 

These are just a few of the many verses telling about Jerusalem and Israel in the End Days, called the Acharit HaYamim.  God has punished Israel for her sins, and since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, the regathering promised throughout the Tanakh by nearly every prophet has been underway. The time of Israel’s punishment is over, and the time for the punishment of the nations is starting.

However, that doesn’t mean Israel is going to have peace- not yet.

God’s plan is that all the nations of the earth will come against Israel, and when the end of Israel seems to be certain, Messiah Yeshua will return, land on Mount Carmel and then (as we Marines say) he will kick butt and take names.

And when he kicks butt there won’t be any names left to take.

God’s plan for Israel is that it be attacked and decimated, nearly to the point of total destruction. We don’t have to like it, but that is what it is. He had the same plan for Messiah, who was insulted, beaten, whipped, tortured, and crucified. Israel will have to undergo the same treatment, and just like her Messiah, who rose triumphant and resurrected in a perfect body, Israel and Jerusalem will also be resurrected as a perfect place, and we will live in the presence of God, forever.

We should be following Yeshua’s example of praying, which means not praying for the avoidance of the terrible things to happen, but for God’s will to be done. We should not pray for the peace that men design, for we have seen throughout the history of Mankind that the peace men create is not lasting. Forget about peace with Jordan, or Syria, or any other nations. It ain’t in the cards!  Pray that the attacks against Israel and her people be ended by the return of Messiah.

That is the way I pray for the peace of Jerusalem: I pray that Messiah’s return happens swiftly because that is the only thing that will bring everlasting peace to Jerusalem.

We cannot go against the plan of God, and his plan is that Israel is attacked until it is nearly destroyed. We can’t stop that and we shouldn’t- it is what God wants, therefore I say we must not pray against it but for it to be done speedily so that the fewest number of people will have to suffer.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but not for a man-made peace, which is a waste of time. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem that God has planned for it by praying for the speedy return of Messiah Yeshua.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this message to everyone you know who believes in God. I welcome your comments, just be nice, and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Give the Argument About Shabbat Rest a Rest

Every Friday and Saturday I see posts all over the Hebraic Roots and Christian Discussion Groups I am a member of about the Sabbath (Shabbat, in Hebrew), which is the 7th day. Most decry the Christian moving of the Shabbat to a Sunday, and many are very confused about what can and what cannot be done on the Shabbat.

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The Bible tells us all one, definitive thing about the Shabbat- it is to be kept holy. Holy, as I have said many times, simply means to be separated, and the Shabbat is to be holy, i.e. separated from our regular activities and dedicated to rest and to God. There can’t be any reasonable argument against this simple definition of what the Shabbat is: a day to be separated from our regular scheduled activities and dedicated to resting and to God.

The next question is: what, exactly, does it mean to rest?  And, as Shakespeare wrote, “There’s the rub!”

I will not tell you what you should do on the Shabbat. I will also not accept anyone telling me what I should do on the Shabbat; anyone, except God, of course, and he told me that I should rest from my regular work. To me (and you each have to determine what this means for you), resting is not doing that which I normally do on a regular basis that is not restful for me. As for dedicating the day to God, I dedicate every day to God and in this, I may be guilty of not separating the Shabbat from the rest of the week.

Will I follow the strict limitations that are found in the Talmud? No, I will not. I don’t believe that God thinks walking a certain distance is not work, but going a few feet further is work. I do not believe that driving my car is forbidden, and if I want to do work in the garden or around the house, which I don’t normally do during the week, although I will work up a sweat and it is often hard toiling, it is also restful for me in my spirit and my body (I love a good workout.)

Why is driving a car forbidden? We are told not to light a fire on the Shabbat (Exodus 35), and when you drive you are lighting a fire every time the spark plug creates the spark to ignite the atomized fuel in the cylinder.

There are so many rabbinic restrictions on people regarding the Shabbat, and I see neophytes in the Hebraic Roots Movement confused about them. The pressure from others to conform to strict restrictions is a new form of the legalism that the Galatians were being subjected to.  Look- if you want to spend the entire day in a Synagogue or sit quietly at home, not walk very far, not spend any money or doing any kind of physical activity at all (not even making the bed), I do not think that is wrong or a bad thing IF it is what you believe God wants from you.

Personally, on Saturday I will ride my bike, I will spend money if I need to go to the grocery store and I wil go out to brunch with Donna if we feel like it. I will drive my car if I need to go somewhere, and I will do many other things that many people (especially Orthodox Jews) would say I should not be doing. Do I do this in order to purposefully sin against God? Of course not! I do what I do on the Shabbat because I find it restful; if Donna and I want to see a movie on a Saturday, we will go. It is time together, it is restful, and it is not denying God our attention and devotion. That I give to God 24/7/365…and 366 in Leap Years!

I am not telling anyone that they can do whatever they want to do on the Shabbat, but if what they do is restful, enjoyable, connect’s them with family, and includes worship of and communion with God, then as far as I am concerned, that can’t be a bad thing. Maybe I am wrong, and if so, then I will have to ask forgiveness from God for misunderstanding him. I believe he will let me know if I am really off the mark.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing something on the Shabbat, then don’t do it. But don’t not do something just because someone else told you that you can’t. Ask God to show you what he wants from you, and always remember that it is our intrinsic nature to avoid God’s instructions, so filter what you want to do from what you think God wants you to (or not do), and when in doubt go with what you think God wants.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe, share me out and buy my books. I use the income (what little there is) to send my books and Bibles to people who ask me for them.

And I always welcome comments, so long as you are nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Ha Shem!

Why I Get Angry Playing Golf

Before I start today’s message I am excited that later today Donna and I will get to see Avengers: Endgame. I promise no spoilers in my next message.

 

 

Now for today’s message.

I play golf in a league on Monday (9 holes) and a full game (18 holes) on Wednesday. I get to play with the same guys on both days.  I too often get really angry with myself when I screw up a shot (or maybe more like two or three in a row) and would like to say that this explosive anger I demonstrate is not typical for me in the other areas of my life. Normally, I am pretty patient with most things. Golf, however, gets under my skin in an instant, and before I know it I am thrown out of the cart, and my evil, twin brother Skippy takes over my game.

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Shaul (Paul) tells us in Ephesians 4:26 that we should not sin in our anger. The anger he is talking about is not being pissed off when I follow a great drive with a duffed chip. That is not the kind of anger that Shaul was talking about; however, that doesn’t justify throwing a club, or (what I have forced myself to do instead of throwing the club) wham my golf bag with the club.

Yesterday I bought some cookies and placed them in a pocket of my golf bag for the turn-around. During the front nine, I got angry at messing up and swatted my bag a few times. When I went to eat the cookies, I discovered that I had smashed the cookies and now had a bag full of crumbs. Karma.

I have prayed, really I have, asking God to help me to take away this stupid, energy-wasting anger, but he hasn’t really done anything. Not that he should, because this is something that I do and therefore is something I need to stop doing. My golf buddies understand, and they are all much better at maintaining their composure than I am. That just makes me feel even worse about myself.

So why do I get so mad when the way I am playing golf is the way I should be playing golf? I mean, really- I am not on the PGA tour and never will be. I am a Bogie-plus golfer (that means I will normally score one or two strokes over the par for a hole), so my normal score for 18 holes is in the mid-nineties. Most of the time I will get mad, then relax, then get mad, then relax and do this during the game, and at the end find out my score was what it should be after 18 holes. It then I have to ask myself: what did I get so mad about? I played my normal game!

Here is where God helps me: he uses that still, quiet voice talking to me in the back of my head telling me the reason I get mad is that I am prideful. I think I should be a better golfer than I am, and I know I can be, so when I am not doing as well as I think I should, my pridefulness takes over and I get frustrated (at myself) and that results in anger.

Right now my friend Frank is bobbing his head up and down in agreement with me (aren’t you, Frank?)

So, nu?  Now that I know what the problem is, I should be able to fix it, right?  WRONG!!

Knowing what is wrong is a good start, but that is all it is- a good start. I know where to begin walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), but how far can I walk humbly before I backslide? With people I can go miles and miles…with golf, not much past the third hole!

Here’s the worst part…I know it is only a game! My life will not change if I score over 100, or if I score under 90. I’m sure if I don’t get mad my friends will feel less intimidated and I will feel much better if only I can get a handle on this anger thing. I do NOT want to manage it- I want it to go away, completely!

I always pray for self-control, and God keeps telling me this is something I need to learn on my own. I understand that- it isn’t that God isn’t willing to help me, but he won’t do it for me. God has taught me that I must find the strength to overcome my sinfulness, and I can do that by calling on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) NOT to change me, but to remind me I need to change and to warn me when I start to wander off the path of righteousness.

It all comes down to Free Will- our God-given right to choose. I can choose to get mad or I can choose not to get mad. God leads me, he shows me the way, he tells me how to act and instructs me what to do. But in the end, I am responsible for my actions and that is why God will not control me. The same goes for you.

Our God is a God of action: he wants us to walk with him not sit around waiting for him to do it for us. If I want to be less prideful I need to walk in humility- I need to keep myself in check, and I need to remember to work on it. God will help me by reminding me, by having people in my life help me, and by letting me screw up and embarrass myself so (maybe) I will think twice the next time before I do the same, stupid thing again.

I don’t think I am the only person with trouble managing anger in one way or another, and I am thankful that I lose control mostly only with my golf game.  But that is no excuse to allow it to continue.

What makes you angry? Is it godly or is it prideful? We all, each of us, need to ask ourselves this question when we feel the rage starting; and then we must try to stop it before it is noticeable. This is what I have to do more earnestly for myself, and I will still pray for God to help me.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t get mad. If only it was really that easy.

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I welcome comments, suggestions, and even disagreements- all I ask is that you be nice.

L’hitaot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Does God Keep Secrets?

Gnosticism. Many of you have heard of this, and many of you probably have a better definition than the one I am going to give, but essentially it is the heretical idea that the world was created by an imperfect spiritual being, and there is a hidden, special knowledge we must find in order to be saved.

Too many people who are NOT Gnostic still try to figure out what special meaning, or hidden messages there may be in God’s Word.

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We see this all the time: people use the numerical value of the Hebrew letters to create some quirky relationship or algorithm to show what something really means (there are some numerological relationships that are legitimate), or they pull passages out of context to form a message that doesn’t exist on its own, or sometimes they just interpret something the way they want to in order to justify that it means what they want it to mean.

The Bible does confirm that God has secrets: we are told in Deuteronomy 29:29 that

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

And Yeshua told us in Matthew 24:36, regarding the End Days:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” 

So clearly there are things God doesn’t want us to know, which begs the question: “If God doesn’t want us to know something, should we try to figure it out, anyway?”

If you’re asking me (and even if you’re not), I would not want to try to figure out something that God doesn’t want me to know. If for no other reason, it is disrespectful to God. If you have a secret, and a friend or acquaintance keeps bothering you to find out what it is, doesn’t that tend to piss you off a little?  Don’t you feel somewhat insulted that they ignore your feelings and keep trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do? Don’t you think God might, even with his compassionate understanding and tremendous patience, get a little impatient with people that keep trying to get him to reveal that which he doesn’t want to reveal?

In the Gospels, now and then Yeshua told things straight from the shoulder (especially when chiding the Pharisees), but he also taught using parables very often, which confused many people. Why would he do that? Is it possible that God wanted to keep secret the things of the Kingdom so that people wouldn’t understand what he was saying to them?

I believe that Yeshua talked in parables because we have Free Will; let me explain what I mean. Having the ability and opportunity to make up our own minds inherently requires us to think about what we do. Of course, so many people do without thinking, but that doesn’t change the fact that God allows us to decide for ourselves, and we are so easily led astray (just like sheep, right?) that he didn’t just give us a simple and easily understood lesson about the Kingdom of God, but instead he is making us think about it. God wants us to decide to be a member of his kingdom, and not because someone told us we have to be or we should be. He wants us to decide, for ourselves, that we want to be in his kingdom.

The warnings about following Yeshua are plain enough- if you want to join with Yeshua you need to deny yourself and pick up your execution stake, then you can walk with him (Luke 9:23.) In other words, being a follower of Yeshua is no walk in the park.

If you find yourself asking many questions, that is fine. I also like to know as much as I can about the Bible, God and what he wants from us. and I have nothing against the study of the Bible, which should be accompanied by a study of the historical and cultural mores of the times to properly understand what is written. We need to know the cultural and historical meaning of the words used, and their connotation at that time.

But I stop asking when it comes to things that are not clearly stated. The clearest statements we have and all we really need to know is what Yeshua said (love God and each other) and what God had Micah (6:8) tell the people what he expected from them- to love mercy, to act justly, and to walk humbly with God.

When we start dissecting passages and using numerology to justify what we think God is saying, we are treading a dangerous pathway that will only lead us to Gnosticism, which is the express route to faithlessness. Yes- Gnosticism is, to me, the path to faithlessness because the more we try to understand what we aren’t told, the less we are accepting of what we have been told. 

Read the Bible every day; learn what God wants from you; study the people, the times, the languages in order to better understand what is written; but do not try to learn what God has kept hidden for himself, and that would be anything that isn’t written down. If God wants you to know something that isn’t clearly stated, he will give you a revelation.

We should all just trust God to tell us what we need to know, and we shouldn’t pry into his personal business.

Thank you for being here, please remember to subscribe on this website and also my YouTube channel (use the link above to get there), and please share me out. If you like what you see here, please buy my books as you will enjoy them, as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Does it Mean to Strain Out a Gnat and Swallow a Camel?

In the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 23), Yeshua is chastising the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and false teachings. One of the things he accuses them of is straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel (Matthew 23:24.)

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The use of this hyperbole was to show the people that although the Pharisees were knowledgeable and well trained in Torah, while they did things in a legally correct manner they taught (by example) to do things that were not in accordance with what the Torah really wanted. Whereas they gave their tithe carefully measured out, they neglected the spirit of the law with regards to how they treated others.

I see this same straining/swallowing problem in the Messianic and Hebraic Roots movements, mostly from Gentiles, and not from ignorance or hypocrisy, but from a misdirected zealousness to know God better and be obedient to the Torah.

I see arguments, passionate and even hateful at times, regarding how to spell and/or pronounce God’s Holy Name, the Tetragrammaton. God never said that our salvation was based on our pronunciation.

I see people arguing over exactly which day Yeshua was raised, and was it at night or in the light of dawn? When Thomas doubted Yeshua’s resurrection, at the time Yeshua met him he didn’t tell him what the time was when he left the tomb to prove he was raised.

I see people arguing over the calendar days, solar or lunar, and even within the lunar calendar, they argue over which day a certain festival really starts on. Don’t they know that in the ancient days no one knew when the days started or ended until they saw a signal fire? There was a 2-3 day “grace period” for every important festival simply because they had to have 3 witnesses in Jerusalem agree that the moon phase was verified. If that was OK with God then, why would it be any more important now?

I see people arguing over topics that have absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with their salvation- it is just biblical trivia. And the worst thing of all is the biblically knowledgeable people arguing over these irrelevant and non-salvation issues as if they were as important as faith in God and trusting that Yeshua is the Messiah!

What do you think this does to neophyte Believers? I have read posts by people complaining that they joined a “Believers” discussion group to get answers and help and all they see are arguments, where people are nasty to and insulting each other, and are now more confused than ever.

If you think you are biblically knowledgeable and want to help others know the truth about God and Yeshua, and also about the Torah, then PLEASE stick to the important things. What are the important things?  They are the things that God told us we need to do, which are the same things Yeshua taught about.

God taught us how to worship him and how to treat each other, and Yeshua taught us the deeper, more spiritual meaning of the instructions God gave us, which he discussed in the Sermon on the Mount. Neither God nor Yeshua are into minutia, but they are very much into compassion, trust, faith, love, forgiveness, and just living humbly and with treating each other with respect.

God and Yeshua were never concerned with how to pronounce The Name, or when the moon is really in phase, or even whether you tithe from gross income or net.  All God or Yeshua cares about is how you treat others and your faithfulness, which is demonstrated by obedience and accepting that what God said we need to know is all that we need to know.

We don’t need to know when the End Times will start; we don’t need to know when Yeshua will return; we don’t need to know if ducks are kosher or not (yes- I have seen that question); and we don’t need to know “Why” about anything!

All we need to know is that God wants us to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8.)

And if you aren’t sure what walking humbly with God means, it means to stop asking so many useless questions in order to poof up your own pride and to show off how knowledgeable you are. It means to accept that all you need is to be faithfully obedient, faithfully trusting (without asking why) and faithfully treating each other with respect, love, compassion, patience, and forgiveness.

If you find yourself asking things that are not directly related to salvation, think about whether or not you really need to know the answer.

I know what I am talking about because I have always been the “Duty Expert” in every job I have worked; I have been the one with the technical knowledge of every detail. I still want to know everything about everything, but when it comes to God, Yeshua and my own salvation I have learned what the writer of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) learned the hard way: trying to know everything about everything is like chasing the wind.

I have taught myself to be satisfied knowing that God exists, that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised, that I am to do my best to obey the Torah (which I read every day, along with the rest of the Bible), and that I can learn about the culture and history of the people in the Bible but when it comes down to it what matters is to trust God to do as he said he would, if I do as he said I should.

That is all you need to know to be- and to stay- saved.

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I welcome your comments, even if you disagree: all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Yeshua as First Fruits…the Right Way

At this time of the year, everyone is talking about “First Fruits”, or in the Hebrew, HaBikkurim. Yeshua (Jesus) was referred to as first fruits by Shaul (Paul) in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:23), and as far as I can see, that was the only reference to Yeshua and HaBikkurim throughout the entire Bible.

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The real first fruits festival, the one commanded by God in the Torah, is a harvest festival. God instructs us how and when it should be celebrated in Leviticus 23:9-10, and again in Deuteronomy 26:1-2.  Let’s see exactly when God said we should celebrate first fruits:

Leviticus– The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.

Deuteronomy– When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name.

As we can see, the instructions regarding when we are to celebrate the first fruits are not related to any other festival. They are directly related to the harvest, which any farmer will tell you cannot be associated with or dependent upon a calendar day. The crop will be ready for harvesting when, and only when, the crop decides it will be ready for harvesting.

I believe a lot of the confusion is because Yom HaBikkurim is not just considered the celebration of the first fruits, but it is also the day that we begin to count the 50 days of the Omer. Actually, it is at the Shavuot celebration that we bring the sheaf to the Cohen. The day to start counting is related directly to Unleavened Bread but that is also under debate, which is a different story.

The reference to Yeshua by Shaul as the first fruits, within the context of what Shaul was writing, I believe was meant to be understood that as through Adam death entered the world, through the Messiah, we can again have eternal life. The references as “first fruits” was not to HaBikkurim, but Shaul used the term “fruits” as in “works”, meaning that the “fruit” of Yeshua’s ministry is salvation.

Look at how the word “fruit” is used throughout the Bible and you will see it is often used metaphorically for works or actions. Hermeneutically, doesn’t Shaul’s reference makes more sense as first fruits representing the harvest of Yeshua’s ministry than related to HaBikkurim?

Let’s now look at what God instructs us to do in Leviticus 19:23-24:

When you enter the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you shall regard the fruit as forbidden. For three years it will be forbidden to you and must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the LORD.

Now, isn’t that interesting?  The trees planted in the land are not to be touched for three years, and after that, all their fruit is to be offered to Adonai at the place where he dwells. Yeshua’s ministry grew for three years, and how many times do we read that when the people tried to get to Yeshua to do him harm he was left untouched because it wasn’t his time yet?

What we also have to note, although I will not go into it in detail here, is that Yeshua’s sacrifice was not just a sin sacrifice, but was also a peace-offering, which is what “first fruits” is. The Passover lamb sacrifice was not a sin sacrifice it was a peace-offering, also called a Thanksgiving sacrifice. However, Yeshua’s sacrifice was both for sin and as a peace-offering.

What I am saying is that Shaul’s reference to Yeshua as first fruits was only a metaphor to show that Adam’s actions (his fruit, if you will) brought death and Yeshua’s actions (his fruit) brought life: Yeshua’s fruits represent the first fruits from the harvest of people.

How many times did Yeshua refer to people as a crop ready to be harvested?

Yeshua as the “first fruits” is really unrelated to the celebration of Passover or Unleavened Bread, but should be seen as the peace-offering to God which we are to make as commanded in Deuteronomy.  Yeshua was planted in the land as soon as the Ruach HaKodesh was placed upon him when John baptized him. For three years he was allowed to grow, and after three years he was taken to the place where God put his name (Jerusalem) and offered (himself) up to God as a peace-offering, through which we are able to come back into communion with God.

Firstfruits is really a harvest celebration, unrelated to when Passover or Hag HaMatzot arrive, but the Counting of the Omer is called Yom haBikkurim, which we also call “First Fruits.”

I submit that Yeshua as the real First Fruits is not related to Yom HaBikkurim (thereby associated with Passover and Hag HaMatzot) but as a tree (the tree fo life) planted in Israel (when he was baptized) and after three years offered up to God in Jerusalem. And, as the instructions for first fruits state, only after the offering can we then eat from that tree, whose fruit is our salvation.

Adam’s fruit (his sin) brought death and Yeshua’s fruit (his sacrifice) brings life: Adam was the first fruits of destruction and Yeshua is the first fruits of life.

Of course, that’s how I see it. I believe many will fight against this interpretation without even checking it out in the Bible simply because what we have been traditionally taught is so comfortable. It just fits so nicely to have Passover, Unleavened Bread, HaBikkurim, resurrection and Shaul’s reference as first fruits all come one after the other.

But that’s OK, because none of this really matters when it comes to our salvation, and I only offer it up (pardon the expression) as a different interpretation and simply something to think about.

Thank you for being here and I hope you will subscribe (if you haven’t yet done so), as well as share this post with others. Please, if you like what you hear and read on my website, help this ministry to grow. I don’t have a “DONATE” button, and the proceeds from any book sales go to helping pay to ship my books to Believers in Third World Countries who ask for them.

I also welcome comments and ask only that you be nice when you make them.

Until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Passover 2019 Message

Tonight begins Pesach (Passover) and I am already busy preparing for the Seder. I have invited someone I knew in High School and haven’t been in touch with since then. We now live close to each other and it will be good to have her share this Seder with Donna and me.

The Passover is a very misunderstood festival. The traditional idea is that it is 7 days long, but that is not correct. Also, the teaching that HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is the first day after the beginning of Hag HaMatzot (Festival of Unleavened Bread) is not biblically accurate. The most incorrect belief about Passover of all is that the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) was that of the Passover lamb.

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Let’s start by reading from the Bible some of the passages that relate to Passover.

Leviticus 23:5-6 says:

The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.

The Passover is really only from dusk on the 14th day of Nissan (then called Aviv) until midnight, which was when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites. That means the passing over of the angel really occurred on the 15th of Nissan, since dusk on the 14th would have been the end of that day and after the sun had set it would then be the 15th. This is also the day on which the Seder is eaten; when we think about it, by the time the lamb was slaughtered at dusk, brought home, roasted over a fire, and everyone sat down to eat the sun would (probably) have already set, so the Seder is really eaten on the 15th of Nissan.

So, then, if Passover is really only from dusk to midnight, where did they get the idea it is for 7 days? It became confused with the next festival, Hag HaMatzot, which starts with the Seder. In Exodus 12:17-20 it says:

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.

I believe that because unleavened bread starts with the Seder, and the Seder is for Passover, people just assumed that Passover was for 7 days.

It isn’t.

As for HaBikkurim, this is also celebrated on a day which is not in accordance with when the Bible says we should.

In his letter to the Corinthians (15:23) Shaul, also called Paul, refers to Yeshua as the First Fruits. Traditionally, the celebration called HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is celebrated on the first day after the beginning of the festival of unleavened bread; this doesn’t coincide with the day Yeshua rose, which would have been three days after unleavened bread began. I believe because Shaul referred to Yeshua as the first fruits that Gentile Believers mistakenly associate Yeshua’s resurrection with HaBikkurim. It isn’t the same.

The Torah tells us that the first fruits are to be offered on the first day after the Sabbath of the harvest. Although the instructions regarding this festival come directly after the instructions regarding Passover and unleavened bread, the first fruits sheave to be waved is not dependent on Passover, but on when the crops are harvested.

Again, let’s go to the source, the Bible. In Leviticus 23:9-11 we read that:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”

The Torah says, clearly, that First Fruits is the day after the first Shabbat after the harvest. Despite the fact that the second day of Pesach and the last day of Hag HaMatzot are both Shabbat days, First Fruits celebration is NOT based on Pesach or Hag HaMatzot, but on the reaping of the harvest.

Lastly, let’s look at the traditional reference to Yeshua as the Pesach (Passover) Lamb. True, he was the “Lamb of God” in that he, like the lamb chosen to be sacrificed, died for our sins. And as such, he is the lamb of the sin sacrifice. But there’s a problem when we refer to him as the Pesach Lamb- the lamb sacrificed for Passover was NOT a sin sacrifice!

When we read the instructions regarding the different kinds of sacrifice within the sacrificial system God gave us (Leviticus, Chapters 1-7) we notice that for the grain, guilt, sin, and wholly burnt sacrifice that only the Cohen was to have a share of the item offered. It is only with the Thanksgiving sacrifice, also called a Peace Offering that the one bringing the sacrifice was allowed to partake of eating some of the meat.

The instructions for eating the Pesach sacrifice clearly shows that the meat is to be taken back to the house and roasted over a fire, then eaten that night. If any is left over, it is to be burned up completely.  This is in perfect concordance with the instructions for the thanksgiving sacrifice we read in Leviticus 7: 29:

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, offer it so that it may be acceptable on your behalf. It must be eaten that same day. Do not leave any of it until morning.

Because the Passover lamb sacrifice is one where the person bringing the lamb also may eat it, that means it is a Thanksgiving or Peace Offering. And when we review the different reasons to perform this sacrifice, one of them is to thank God for deliverance.

The proper timing for this season is that the Seder meal is eaten after the lamb is slaughtered at evening on the 14th of Nissan, which ends up not being until the 15th of the month, on which we also begin the festival of Unleavened Bread for the next 7 days. Originally, HaBikkurim would be a separate festival that began on the day after the first Shabbat, after the harvest. In truth, there was more than one HaBikkurim celebration since there were usually two harvest seasons: the barley harvest in the spring and the wheat harvest in the fall. Biblically, First Fruits really has nothing to do with Passover or Hag HaMatzot. The traditional celebration of it on the first day after Hag HaMatzot is a decision made by the rabbis of old. It is not unlike what happened with the celebration of Shavuot, considered to be a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses which occurs 50 days after the first Shabbat after Pesach. When you study the timeline from when the Jews left Egypt to when Moses received the instructions at Sinai, it is not 50 days.  However, just like with Habikkurim and Pesach, Moses at Sanai and Shavuot have been associated for so long that now they are inseparable.

Does any of this change what we are doing, or make it wrong? I don’t think so. God sees the heart, and I really doubt that he is so nit-picky that he will not accept our worship just because we celebrate first fruits on a calendar day instead of based on a physical harvest. Especially since we aren’t an agrarian society anymore.

So go ahead and celebrate Passover, keep that Chametz far away from your mouth for the week after the Seder, and find joy in knowing that Yeshua rose on the first day after the Pesach Shabbat and through that resurrection, we can find eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

The fact that the current timing of these celebrations doesn’t match exactly when they are to occur according to the Torah is simply a result of the way the world has changed, and God understands that.

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This Passover is special because it also falls on Shabbat, which we call a Shabbat Shabbaton (special Shabbat) so please enjoy it. Passover is a joyful celebration and I wish you all a very pleasant one.

L’hitraot, Pesach Sameach, and Baruch HaShem!!

By Direction of the Commanding Officer

For those who have served in the military, the signature line “By Direction of the Commanding Officer” should be very familiar. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it means that whatever has been written has been done so by someone under the authority of higher command and although the letter (or orders, whatever) come directly from the writer, they are done so as if the commanding officer had issued them, personally.

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For example, when I was in the Marine Corps I was a Company XO (Executive Officer), and as such, I had authority over 350 men and millions of dollars in equipment. What I said, went, but I was under the authority of the Company Commander. I was most often the one issuing commands, but when the CO (Commanding Officer) issued a command through me, written below my name was the signature line “ByDir“, which meant that what I said was an order directly from the Company Commander.

Yeshua is the Messiah God sent to the world: to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. What Yeshua told us about how to live, worship and treat each other was not just from his own authority as Messiah, but was “ByDir” of God.

And when Yeshua used “ByDir” it was from the universe’s Million-Star General, the Lord, God Almighty!

Many times Yeshua told us that he does only what his father in heaven tells him to do or to say. There are too many references in the Gospels to annotate each time this is done, but when you read the Gospels (especially in John) you see this often. We read how people say of Yeshua that he speaks as no one ever did and that his teachings have the tone of authority to them. Well, of course, they do! He is speaking ByDir of the Lord! Yeshua’s every teaching, parable, riddle or lesson was directly from Adonai.

When we consider the above, we have to ask this question:

“How can anyone say that Yeshua did away with the instructions God gave us in the Torah if he was always speaking “ByDir” from God?”

Anything Yeshua said that was not in accordance with the “commands” God had already given would be like disobeying a direct order, wouldn’t it? If God told us to eat certain foods, but Yeshua said we didn’t have to do that, then he would have been disobeying God, right? Or, if Yeshua had taught that the Sabbath was on the first day of the week and not the 7th, he would have been in a state of sin, wouldn’t he?

The fact is Yeshua never disobeyed God or taught anyone to do so. His authority was given to him directly from God and was evident in the miracles he performed. And when people praised him, Yeshua always gave the credit to that person’s faith in God and in Yeshua, who was only acting under the ByDir authority from God as God’s Messiah.

When people preach to us, they should be preaching not from their own authority but ByDir; however, too often they don’t. They preach what they want to, such as when the Shabbat day was changed, the kosher laws were said to be only for Jews, and the festivals God ordered to be celebrated should be replaced with man-made “Christian” celebrations. These, and many other unauthorized doctrines and teachings have polluted God’s word and his plans for humanity. The ByDir from God has been misused and abused by those who teach not to edify but to create and maintain power over others.

We all have the God-given right to choose what we will believe, and God has given us all the information we need to make a choice. He has instructed us how to live and how to worship and how to treat each other. And through the Prophets, he has advised us to choose life (meaning obedience) because the only other option is death.

Don’t find yourself in the Brig for all eternity by refusing to accept the ByDir of Yeshua. Always question what your religious leaders tell you God meant and read it for yourself in the Bible, asking God to show you what he really meant.

God is the ultimate power and authority in the Universe, and there have only been two XO’s God has assigned: Moses and Yeshua. Those two, and only those two had God’s ByDir authority Remember that when you are reading the New Covenant Epistles, so you can understand them correctly, or when you hear people telling you that you are saved by the “Blood of Jesus” and the Torah is just for Jews.

Those people do not have ByDir and you don’t have to listen to what they say.  You are responsible for what you do, and what you don’t do, so make sure you know exactly who gave what commands so you follow the ones that are under God’s ByDir.

If you like what you have read here please subscribe in the right-hand margin, and use the link above to go to my YouTube channel and subscribe there, as well. I welcome your comments and only ask that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Is John 1 Talking About a Person or an Idea?

In the Gospel of John, we are told that the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1-2). We are also told that the Word became a human being and lived with us (John 1:14.) This same “Word” was with God from the beginning and all things were made through him; in fact, nothing had any being without him.

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Spoiler alert!! Today’s message may be hard to understand so please try to stay with me.

The traditional understanding of this is that it is all about the Messiah, whose name is Yeshua (please don’t argue over the “real” name of the Messiah- it is not relevant to this discussion) and who was sent by God to bring the path to salvation to the world.

I don’t disagree with this at all; in fact, the entire Gospel of John tells us about the Messiah God sent, his life and his teachings.

What I want to talk about is the confusion over whether or not Yeshua was with God since the beginning. Because the entire Gospel of John is one long, on-going use of metaphor, I wonder if he was really referring to Yeshua the person or to the plan of God regarding a Messiah to come.

Here is what I am thinking: God knew his plan of salvation would involve a Messiah from the very start. He told Abraham this, in not so many words, when he said his descendants would be a blessing to the world. He told David, absolutely, that one of his descendants would have an everlasting kingdom. There are some 135 or more Messianic passages in the Tanakh, and everything we read in the Tanakh points to the coming of a Messiah to bring the Jewish people back into communion with God, who promises (through the Prophets) to regather his people, change our hearts and forgive us our sins.

Everything in the Tanakh is about the Messiah and God’s promise to “save” us from our sins.  The New Covenant (B’rit Chadashah) is the narrative about the Messiah who God promised to send. We are given the narrative of his life in the 4 Gospels, and the rest is about the influence his Disciples had in the world. The main thing about the writings in the New Covenant is that the salvation provided for by the Messiah has been expanded to the rest of the world, i.e. the Gentiles.

I do not know if Yeshua was a spiritual being from the beginning, which would then (by definition) equate him with God, or if his future existence was just part of the original plan God had for saving the human race from our own sinfulness.  If we take what John wrote, literally, then the Messiah either is God, or God is not unique, which he couldn’t be if another spiritual being was with him all the time.

I believe God has no beginning and no end, as he is described to us in the Torah, and that the Messiah had to have come later. As a person, the Messiah did not come until when we are told, in the New Covenant. As an idea, though, I believe the Messiah existed- in God’s mind- since the very first time God decided he would create the world and humans.

Therefore, what I believe John meant when he said the Word was with God and all things were made through him, is that God’s plan for humanity has always included the need for a Messiah, and as such everything that was created was done so with the Messiah in mind. Not the person of a Messiah, but the need of a Messiah, and when God knew the time for this Messiah to stop being a promise and become a living, flesh-and-blood entity, he created him through a virgin, in accordance with the prophecy he gave us through Isaiah.

This may seem somewhat radical to many, and I guess it is. I don’t believe Messiah is God, and I don’t believe he pre-existed himself. However, I don’t believe I am absolutely certain about that, either. Frankly, I don’t think it matters one iota if Yeshua pre-existed his human form or not.

We are not saved by belief in whether or not the Messiah had some form of pre-existence, or whether or not he, God and the Holy Spirit are one and the same entity, but only through faith in him as the Messiah who was born in the flesh, who walked the earth, died on an execution stake and was resurrected. If you can keep your focus on that, the other things become less important.

I will end with this other radical thought: personally, I think when people have to know absolutely everything about God, the Messiah and every single thing in the Bible, it will not result in holiness or be useful to save others, but it will feed one’s pridefulness. Being full of knowledge that has no practical use in saving people is just a form of Gnosticism which doesn’t feed the soul, it only enlarges the ego.

Here’s what you can do: write a long list of everything you want to know the answer to, and when you are in the presence of God and the Messiah you can ask them for the answers. I guarantee you that when you are there, in their presence, you will fold up your list and throw it away because you will realize the answers are important at all anymore.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Another Day When I Have Nothing

Nada!

Nuttin, Honey!

Hello? McFly? Anyone home?

I have absolutely no message at all today; there’s no video to do with no message to give.

However, I do have this…Thank you.

Thank you for subscribing (if you haven’t, now would be a really good time to do so- click the subscribe button in the margin on the right) and thank you for your comments. Whether or not you agree, I appreciate your feedback, and any discussion can help to edify us, even if we present the wrong example.

For those that prefer the video, thank you for subscribing to my YouTube channel. I do not have a “Donate Here” button on my website, this is not a 501-C (Non-Profit organization) ministry, but if I get enough subscribers to my YouTube channel they will add advertising and I get some money from that. I use those funds to pay for shipping charges when I have people from Africa or India or any other third world country ask me if I can send them any of my books for their Bible study group. And I have sent books to these countries.

I also want to thank you for sharing me out, and helping this ministry to grow. I pray daily and always ask Adonai to send people to my website who need to hear what I say. I also have a very fervent prayer that whatever I say is always something that he approves of.

That is all for today; just a simple, plain-old, heartfelt “Thank you!

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!