What I Did During My Summer Vacation

I am back from a week in Ireland, having been on a bus with 27 other family members driving nearly 1,000 miles in 6 days, staying at 5 different hotels and spending a total of 16 hours on planes. OY!

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As we traveled, we saw so many farms, green pastures, and even the mountains (of which there are many) are green. There are cows and sheep, and the occasional horse; the amount of peaceful scenery is enough to lower your blood pressure.

Yet, underneath this bucolic scene is a roiling cauldron of hatred and distrust, left over from the bad feelings of what our guide called the “Troubled Times”, which was when the Northern Irelanders (Protestants) and the Republic of Ireland people (Catholics) were at war with each other.

And it was a war- in fact, it has been officially declared as a war.

Our guide, Murt, was from the Republic of Ireland and a Catholic, yet he was fair in his narrative of the atrocities that both sides caused.

The issue was not originally a religious one but was, in fact, a political separation. The English had taken possession of lands that had Irish living on them, and when that happened British landowners made the Irish people slaves forcing them to pay taxes, which paid the tax the landowners had to pay to the Crown. This tax was based on how many people were living on the land, so when things got tough, such as during times of famine, the Landowners would evict the people and destroy the houses so that they didn’t have to pay tax on them. In the meanwhile, with no house, land or source of income, the people being evicted would starve to death.

The religious issue came about because the British (Landowners) had separated from the Church of Rome while the indigenous Irish (tenant farmers) had not. The British were Protestant and the Irish were Catholic. This resulted in the Irish population being split into the Loyalists (Protestant Irish) and the Catholic Irish.

In other words, the real problem was the geopolitical separation of land-owners and tenant farmers but it was hidden under the guise of religious persecution by Protestants against Catholics. Everyone knew that it was really British rule in Ireland that was the root of this evil, but the thing that people focused on was Protestant against Catholic.

When I thought about this, I realized that the End Times will be the same thing, but the other way around.

In Ireland, politics was the cause but religion was what people focused on. In the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) the Enemy of God will be fighting a religious battle but will have people focus on the politics. I believe the Antichrist will rise from the political turmoil that we are seeing today, persecution and (civil) lawlessness will give him (or maybe, her?) the fodder on which to build a political platform, selling the idea that peace will come about when the world comes together under a single government that has a single economy. The political focus will be created to hide the true, underlying issue- not one religion or another, but the worship of God or the worship of Satan.

Ireland’s history may be a good example of what we should expect to happen in the world. Politics has already become more like a religion than a form of government, in that people are separated in such a hateful, unjustified way that they are at odds with each other and it is currently bordering on becoming physical. I see Americans spending more time trying to prove someone did something wrong in the past than they are trying to focus on improving the future; I see Europe divided and being taken over by extremists; I see people worldwide losing the ability to communicate face-to-face and becoming so dependent on technology that they will be easily transformed into a bunch of robots, walking aimlessly about with their faces in their phones and not seeing where they are heading (physically or spiritually.)

We are a people composed of individuals in an emotional cocoon which actually separates us from everyone around us. Without Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, or the media, people don’t know how to just talk with each other anymore.

In today’s, world, people are not connected to each other unless that connection is through the airwaves, through our TV, the radio, newscasts, or the Internet.

Do you remember what Shaul (Paul) called the Son of Perdition? He is called the Prince of the Air!

One last thing for today: do you recall what Yeshua said about a house divided against itself? America today is a house divided, Europe today (with the Brexit debate) is a house divided, and the only “house” not divided in the world is found within the despotic Communist countries. Islam is quickly taking over the free countries in Europe and had already infiltrated our American way of life and government.

The religious war prophesied in Revelation is already here but it hasn’t reared its ugly head yet. It is crouching in the shadows, and when it strikes out it will not be identified as a religious war but as a political war; I believe that politics is the sea from which the Antichrist will arise.

The battle is (and always has been) spiritual but it will appear to be political, and now that you know this you need to be alert. Don’t be fooled by political upheavals because it is really the Enemy who is behind them. Stay focused on God, strengthen your faith and prepare for battle by reading the Bible, especially Ephesians 6:10-17.

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I look forward to the next time we get together, and until then….L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

More Gloom and Doom to Report

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I feel a little like Jeremiah; he never had anything really good to talk about, either.

I was reading the paper this morning and decided that I should add a new viewpoint to my messages- showing where God is NOT in the news. I believe by seeing where we leave God out of our society we can get a better idea of where we need to add Him back in.

So, in this light, today I was reading about the aftermath of the mass shooting on this past Valentine’s Day here in Florida. Governor Scott has called a roundtable committee to discuss different actions that we should take to help prevent this sort of atrocity from happening. Here’s one thing that really scared me about the report: a psychologist from Florida State University College of Medicine has stated that by looking at the family history we may be able to predict the mental illness of the child and proactively act upon that. The paper reported she said that we can “predict pretty well which families will have this forward trajectory even before the child is born.”

I don’t know about you, but that scares the HE(double-hockey-sticks) out of me. Someone will be evaluating pregnant women and determine that the child will be mentally ill?  Who can do that? And if they do, then what? Should the child be placed in a program for the mentally ill and/or have his (or her) rights restricted? Does that sound good to you?

I also read today that yesterday in a Florida middle school some students were making jokes about shooting up the school. It was heard, reported and those two boys were taken into custody by the police. Now, what they did was totally stupid (if I was “PC” I would have said “inappropriate”, but it was STUPID), yet these are middle school aged boys- stupid is what we are at that age. I believe they should have been chewed out by the Principal and their parents should have been called in to take them home for that day. Do you think the school overreacted?  And if you don’t, do you think that in an atmosphere of fear that eventually people will tend to overreact? Isn’t that what history shows us does happen?

What I see happening here is that the government of the United States, at all levels, is advocating that everyone report about anyone who they think is a threat.

Sound familiar?

In major transportation hubs there are signs and announcements telling the people to report anything that they see as suspicious; schools are telling the students to report on anything they see or hear that they think is suspicious; and when we add the recent flurry of sexual harassment charges and the current (pardon the expression) exposure of this problem, more and more people are being sensitized to be afraid of almost anything anyone may say.

Here’s the doom and gloom- it will get worse. This is all a set-up for the enemy to take complete charge of our lives. We cannot overtake this, we cannot resolve it, and we cannot avoid it.

See why I feel like Jeremiah?

The enemy will rule by fear and intimidation, and this will not come from him (or maybe her) directly, but from each one of us. Just like in Nazi Germany, where children reported their parents and neighbors couldn’t were afraid that someone might say something that will get them in trouble, the atmosphere of fear and distrust is exactly what will help the enemy take charge.

This is also the kind of environment where people can “rat out” anyone that they have a personal grudge against.

I am not a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and neither am I a Libertarian, but I am someone who believes what I read in the Bible, and all this makes sense to me as a sign of the events yet to come that we are told about in God’s word. I am not saying there is no hope- what I am saying is that the only hope we have is in God. We must strengthen our faith and help lead others to God and Messiah as things worsen. We need to stop wasting energy, time and money trying to fix what God has decreed will happen, and get to work trying to save as many as we can, while we still have the time.

I am no Jeremiah and I do not profess to be a Prophet, but I do think I am on the right track when I say we need to prepare for what is coming because we cannot get out of the way.

I see the writing on the wall- do you?

Right to Choose is Right to Reject

One of the harder concepts to grasp in the “religious” world is that of Predestination- if God knows what will happen and His plans will always be fulfilled, then how can anyone really have Free Will?

Jeremiah 1:5 says God formed him in the womb, as David also said in Psalm 139:13. David also said he was born into sin. In fact, the whole idea of Original Sin is a form of predestination, is it not? When we think about it, we have no choice about whether or not we are born innocent or guilty because the choice is already made for us.

I once read (and don’t believe everything you read) that the Jewish way of understanding the dichotomy of Free Will and Predestination is that God is the captain of a ship, sailing from here to there, and when you sail aboard this ship you are expected to perform your duties (obey the Torah); by staying aboard you get to the final destination. However, you always have the opportunity to get off at any port you wish to. If you perform a certain duty (have a calling) and jump ship, someone else will fill that position. This way, the ship gets to where it is going, the captain is always in charge, and the crew may turn-over any number of times, but there will always be a crew with enough people doing what needs to be done for the ship to arrive at its final destination. Its up to each of us if we want to get on, and its up to each of us if we want to stay on.

The best example I can think of that shows this is in the Book of Esther (Hadassah) 4:12-14 when Mordecai tells Esther:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

God’s plan will be accomplished, period. If He calls you to do something and you refuse, then He will call someone else. If no one can do what God wants them to do, then He will do it, Himself.

Salvation? Yeshua? Hello? Anyone home, McFly? God has already accomplished that which no one else could accomplish, through Messiah Yeshua. And it has been written about over and over… and over. So Predestination is not needed because God is able to do whatever He needs or wants to do.

Free Will is, at it’s very core, the right to choose. Conversely, it is also the right to reject. It is the right to vote, or the right to abstain. It is the right to do good, and it is the right to do harm.

There are legal rights which are secured by human laws, and the right to refuse to work within the limits of those laws has consequences. Jail time, specifically, and the resulting violence in one’s life that is almost inescapable when working outside of the law.

From a spiritual viewpoint, it is not really any different: when we do as God requires (obeying the Torah, which Yeshua taught was valid and necessary) we receive blessings, which are (in fact) protection from the evil and cursed world we live in. When we refuse to accept God’s sovereignty and obey His commandments, we have to deal with the world as it really is.

The times are coming, and sooner than most people realize, when one of the biggest and most important choices we will ever make is going to be upon us- to take “the mark” or reject it. Just as accepting God separates us from the world, so, too, will rejecting the Antichrist separate us from the world, except instead of being teased or ridiculed, we will be tortured and killed.

Big difference. And it is already happening in many third world countries throughout the world- people doing God’s work are being murdered in the name of Yeshua (Jesus.)

If you believe that you have a right to choose, respect the fact that other people have a right to reject. Too often we make a bad impression on people because we tell them what they have to do, just because we believe it to be the right choice. No one has to do anything they don’t want to- that is what Free Will is about, and it is a gift from the Almighty, Himself. God gave us Free Will to choose to accept and love Him, or to reject and hate Him. That translates from believing in God or not, to accepting Yeshua (as your Savior) or rejecting Him, to voting for someone to be President or abstaining, to choosing the salad or the soup as your appetizer. Free Will is the gift God gave to us and when we tell anyone what they should do with that gift, we are interfering in God’s plan for that person.

“But Steve- what if God wants us to interfere? How do we know what we are doing isn’t part of God’s plan?”

We don’t- that’s a good point, so I guess what we are left with is to respect the right of someone to make their own decision, and when we want to help influence them to choose what we believe is right, we can tell them why we choose this way, and then demonstrate in how we live and treat others the value of our choice. In other words, don’t tell people how they should act but show them how by the way you act!

“Live and let live” is really a form of apathy- you do what you want and I’ll do what I want. As Believers, that is not what we are supposed to do: we are supposed to live and be an example of how to live according to God’s rules. We all have the right to choose, and we need to respect that right as a gift from God.

“People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do”- How many time have I repeated this? It is up to us to be the exception to the rule and live as an example of doing what we say.

People have the God-given right to be stupid, to be smart, to be whatever they want to be. If you ask me, most choose stupid, but what the heck! That’s their right, right? What I choose is God, and as Joshua said to the people of Israel, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” Now it is up to me to demonstrate that choice in how I live and treat others.

It ain’t easy.

 

 

Jesus was ……what?

I mentioned in my last post about Jesus (real name is Yeshua) being a man. I believe that He had to be a flesh-and-blood human being, and I know that many are taught He was God in the flesh, which (by definition) agrees with me about Him being flesh and blood.

But many people state He was and is God. I just can’t accept that, and I thought I should explain why.

To begin with, let me say that I capitalize the “H” when referring to Yeshua in the third party as a form of respect; I capitalize the “G” in God when talking about Elohim, Adonai- the one and only God. If I was talking about any other god, it is (well, as I just did here) with a small “g” instead.

I believe that Yeshua had to be a total human being, but He also had to be of a supernatural birth if, for no other reason, He had to be born outside of the original sin we all carry with us from the womb. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but He came from a human egg, matured in the womb as a human does, was born from a human and grew as a human grows. Isaiah 53 says this about the Messiah (bold added by me):

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,  and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with painLike one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our sufferingyet we considered him punished by Godstricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healedWe all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the livingfor the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his deaththough he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to sufferand though the Lord makes his life an offering for sinhe will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the greatand he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto deathand was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53 is considered by almost everyone to be purely Messianic. Not about a king, not about a prophet, but about the Messiah. All of the areas where I have bold printed the words indicate, unquestionably, that whomever Isaiah was talking about was human; totally separated from ,and couldn’t possibly be, God. The Messiah was to be crushed and punished by God (how do you punish yourself?), pierced, he had wounds (God is not human so cannot be killed or hurt), the “Lord laid on him”, i.e., there is someone doing something to someone else here. It was the Lord’s will to crush him, the Lord made his life an offering, he poured out his life unto death. This is someone who is not the Lord because the Lord is doing things to him.

Everything that the Messiah was to go through as God’s sacrificial lamb could not be done to God, and God could not do that to Himself. God cannot suffer sin or be sinful, yet Yeshua had to take on the sin of the world. No one argues that Yeshua took on the sin of the world, so if He did that how could He be God? He couldn’t be- He had to be human.

What did He cry from the execution stake just before He gave up His spirit (oh, wait! If you are God, how can you give up your spirit?): “My God, my God- why have You forsaken me?” Yes, He was quoting the 22 Psalm, which also indicates that there is someone else He was speaking to who had a superior position.

The Messiah is the servant of God, not God. He is of supernatural birth, but human, He performed miracles not from his own power but by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Yeshua didn’t perform any miracles that prophets (no one argues they aren’t human) performed before Him, and nothing that the Talmudim (Apostles) didn’t perform after He ascended.

And since the time that Yeshua ascended, He has been sitting at the right hand of God. OK- so, if He is God, how can He sit at His own right hand? Maybe He can scratch His ear with His elbow, too?

What is the function of God?- to run the universe. What is the function of the Messiah?- to bring people into reconciliation with God and to be our Intercessor, our Cohen HaGadol (High Priest.) These are two separate and unique things, and one of them has to be superior to the other. You can’t be the drone and the Queen Bee at the same time, and even though God is above any laws of physics or science that we understand, still and all, He doesn’t sit on the throne and at His own right hand at the same time. Everything God has had people write about Him in the bible, both Old and New Covenants, indicates absolutely that He and the Messiah are different. God is the CO, and Messiah is the XO.

God can’t die, and if a sacrifice doesn’t die, then it isn’t a sacrifice. So, if Yeshua is God, His sacrificial death didn’t really occur; therefore, we have no absolution from our sins. It comes down to this: if Yeshua is God, we have no hope of salvation through Him.

If Yeshua is God, then why did he tell us to pray to the Father using His name (Yeshua’s name, that is)? When we reference someone, such as “Joe sent me” we are using the credentials and reputation of the one we mention as the means to justify our acceptance. When “Joe sent me” is used, that means since Joe is OK, and he said I was OK, then I am OK. If Yeshua is God, then there is no reason for Him to say to pray to the Father in His name because He is the Father, and we don’t need to mention Yeshua in our prayers because we are praying to Yeshua, right? It just makes no sense , even on a spiritual and ethereal level.

Anyway you look at it, when you read the bible and accept the P’shat (the literal meaning) as valid, the Messiah had to be a human being to be the Messiah. God could not do what the Messiah had to do, namely be completely human to make His sinless life meaningful to all the rest of us humans as an example of how we are to live. I mean, so what if God lives a sinless life? He is sinless; that is not something He manages to do, it is what He is. God could not accept the sin of the world on His shoulders because God cannot associate with sin in any way, whatsoever.

How about this? God cannot die, so if God cannot die, then God cannot be resurrected. But Yeshua was resurrected, so either He wasn’t resurrected (hence: no salvation) or He wasn’t God (hence: we are saved.)

Everything that Messiah had to do, God can’t, so Yeshua (if you believe He is the Messiah) had to be human. And although He is resurrected, He is still not God- He is still the Messiah. The 1,000 year rule has not come, the Tribulation is not over, the enemy still rules the earth (how can anyone argue against that- just read the newspaper!) and the new Jerusalem is still in heaven. And we still need the Messiah.

Let’s finish with this thought: idolatry is placing something in a position of more importance or in place of God. To pray to anyone or anything other than God is idolatry, a violation of the 2nd Commandment. Praying to Yeshua, just like praying to a saint, is idolatry. To claim (and worse, to teach!) that Yeshua, Jesus, is God and that it is all about Jesus, and we should worship and pray to Jesus, is placing Jesus in the position of the Father. This is what we are told the Antichrist is going to do: he (or she, who knows?) will come and present himself as the Messiah, then eventually will take hold of everyone and force them to worship him instead of, or as, God, Himself.  As such, anyone preaching that we should pray to anyone other than God the Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is preaching blasphemy and idolatry, and preparing the way for the enemy of God.

If you pray to God, and invoke the name of Yeshua the Messiah, you are honoring them both. If you pray to Yeshua in lieu of God, then you are dishonoring them both and doing Satan’s work.

That leaves just one question: Who’s your Daddy?