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!

 

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?

Parashah Shoftim (Judges) Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

There are some very important practices outlined in this parashah.

First off, judges must not allow a person’s social status to influence their decision. Any crime deserving of capital punishment must be substantiated by no less than 2 or 3 witnesses, and to ensure those witnesses realize the seriousness of their accusations, they are to be the first ones to lay hands on and stone the guilty.  For criminal cases that are too hard for the local judge to adjudicate, those cases are to be brought to the Levites in the location where where God places His name; God just created the first Supreme Court.

It talks about when the people want a king that the king must read and obey the Torah daily, and that he must not bring the people out of the land or have too many horses or wives; too many horses represents faithlessness in God as their protector, and too many wives will be a lure to idolatry (as Solomon proved true.)

What is interesting is that after establishing the rules for having a king, Moses tells the people that God will send a prophet to let them know what He wants of them. The reason I find this interesting is that the prophet was supposed to be in place of the king, yet the rulings for how the king is to act came before Moses talked about the prophet.  Perhaps this is to emphasize that the king is also required to listen to the prophet God sends, which (for the good kings) did happen. As for the bad kings who rejected the prophets warnings, well… we know where they ended up.

The other regulations in this parashah deal with which men shall be free of military obligation, establishing cities of refuge and what I want to talk about today- offering peace with slavery or total destruction to the cities the people would encounter when conquering the land.

Deuteronomy 20: 10-18 states that when coming to a city which is not one within the land that God is giving as an inheritance, they are to approach it and offer a peaceful takeover. The city that accepts will be required to pay tribute but will remain unmolested. If the city refuses, then all the men are to be killed and the woman, children and possessions are to be taken. However, for those people living in the land that God is giving as the inheritance (the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites), the people, all the animals and their possessions are to be completely destroyed. Nothing is to be kept by the Israelites.

Wow! Our loving, compassionate and merciful God wants total annihilation of people- men, women and children, as well as the animals!  Is this the same God who chided Jonah for wanting Nineveh destroyed? Is this the same God who gave us commandments regarding proper treatment of all people and animals? Is this the same God who gave us Messiah so that we can have eternal life? Is this the same God who has Ezekiel tell us (Chapter 18) that He doesn’t like to see anyone die, but would rather that the sinner turn from his sin, and live?

If God is willing to let the other pagan peoples remain alive as slaves, why not these that live in the land already?

The answer is simple, yet hard for humans to accept- the people living in the land that God is giving to the Israelites have sinned so terribly that their time for forgiveness has passed and the time for judgment has come. Remember how Moses told the people that they are not being given the land because they deserve it, but because of the promise God made to their fathers (Deuteronomy 9:5)?  Moses also told the people the reason the existing peoples are being ejected from the land is because they have so polluted it that the land, itself, is vomiting them out of it (Leviticus 18:28), and if the Israelites do not destroy them completely then they will become a snare for them and cause them to fall into the same sin, resulting in Israel being vomited out of the land, as well. Which, of course, eventually happened just as Moses warned them it would happen.

God is loving and compassionate and caring, but he is also God, which means that He judges fairly. He sets the rules, and He holds Himself accountable to them. I think this is why people can’t figure God out- it’s because we are weak and easily influenced by our emotions, and God isn’t. We have rules and regulations but we do not always hold ourselves up to our own standards.

God is not like that- God makes the rules for us, but He also follows those rules Himself. One of the reasons God is able to judge fairly is because He not only can see the heart, but because He will not allow Himself to break His own rules. Since He is God, if He wanted to break His own rules, who could stop Him? Who can hold God accountable? No one, of course, except God, and He does exactly that- God holds Himself accountable to follow His own rules.

We do not know if God sent prophets to these people, or if He made Himself known to them as He did to the Israelites, but we do know that the people in the land were aware of who God was. The story of what God did to Egypt was known throughout that area. God also said He would put the fear of the Israelites into the peoples, which was evident. Once Joshua was in the land, Rahab (Joshua 2) knew about them, and there is the story of the city of Gibeon (Joshua 9) that fooled Joshua by sending envoys pretending they came from a far distance in order to make peace with him. So there was no excuse for these people to have not done T’shuvah and save themselves.

Purging of sin and sinful people from the world is a cruel thing, because sin is a cruel thing. You cannot put out a fire with gasoline or by throwing wood on it- you have to kill the fire by taking it’s life. You do that by suffocating it with water or chemicals. Sin is like fire- it destroys anything and everything in it’s path, and someone who has come into close contact with it will wear the scars of that experience forever. Through Messiah we are saved from the fire, and when we receive our resurrected bodies the scars of that fire will be gone. In the meantime, we go on and let those scars remind us of how terrible sin is. Yeshua is the balm, the covering and the relief from the sin we have scarred ourselves with by playing with fire.

What we learn from this parashah is that God is fair, just and will hold Himself accountable to His own commandments and regulations. He wants everyone to live, but when people reject Him (and He gives them plenty of chances to change their mind) eventually the deadline for T’shuvah (repentance) runs out, and the judgment follows. America is coming into judgment, as is the rest of the world. In fact, we can see it has already started. Terrorism is a cruel, heartless and destructive thing that cares not for men,women, children ,animals, or possessions; I believe it is the sword of Adonai. God used His people, Israel, to mete out His righteous judgment against the Canaanites and other peoples that had polluted the land God allowed them to live in, and today judgment is coming on the nations just as it did then. God is using terrorism as His sword of justice. Why do I say this? Because what the terrorists are doing is no similar to what the Israelites did- destruction of the social, financial and political systems of the people they were sent to destroy.  The only difference is in the procedure: in Joshua’s day the destruction was through direct warfare, whereas today it is through terrorism; terrorism is slower and less direct, but it is just as destructive and cruel, with the same final results. The people are destroyed without pity, without recourse and without warning. Just look at how terrorism is spreading throughout Europe and America. Even those Arab countries that are attacking Israel to this day are tearing themselves apart, internally.

Judgement is here, God is working His will throughout the world, and it will only get worse. We need to steel ourselves against turning from the faith in order to avoid the terror- it won’t work, anyway, The terror is coming, and no one can do anything about it. We just need to make sure we are on the wining side.

 

watch carefully, but don’t get too involved

Watch what? Why, the world, of course. We need to keep our eyes open for the signs of the return of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and also to be observant of the actions of the enemy as he (or maybe, she?) begins to take charge of the world.

Revelations warns us that as the enemy begins to secure his rule that there will be a time of peace for 3 1/2 years before the real fecal matter hits the air circulation unit. We are also warned that many will be turned from the true faith and follow the evil one, the Anti-Christ, because of the many wonderful and miraculous acts that he (yes, or maybe she) will perform.

Therefore, we need to be aware of what is coming and to look for it. I have heard the political talk that the next administration will be friendly to Israel (anyone would be friendlier to Israel than the exiting administration), and whether or not that proves true, we need to remember the warnings about being fooled, and about the time of peace that is a sign of the coming tribulation.

They says it is always darkest before the dawn, but for us, we should know that it will be a bright and sunny day, it will be peaceful and joyous, and in that environment- when we are happy, financially strong and secure- that is when the foolish and unknowing will be lulled into a false sense of acceptance. That is the way the enemy will fool people into taking the mark: he (yeah, yeah…or she) will provide earthly pleasures; there will be an image of peaceful waters (while Leviathan is stalking us just under the surface), there will be good weather (while storm fronts and earthquakes are forming just past the horizon), and the Anti-Christ will use this to justify the claim that he is the Messiah, to fool us into worshiping him and be turned from Yeshua, our true Savior.

The signs will be deceiving; peace and joy and plenty will be the rule, but you must stay alert and be forewarned: the people will be led like lemmings to their death, like sheep not knowing they are on a strip of tasty, green grass that leads them to the slaughterhouse.

So watch what is happening but stay separated from it, both emotionally and physically. Try to remove yourself from discussion because people are, well… they’re stupid, and if you get involved in political discussions you may be led to believe in something other than what we are told (in the bible) to believe. We are, all of us-  myself, you, everyone- capable of being fooled and seduced by the enemy. Only by remaining separated can we avoid becoming embroiled and trapped in controversy; only by remaining outside the circle of politics will we be able to see the maelstrom forming; only by remaining knowledgeable of, and faithful to, the word of God while constantly trusting in and asking the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) for divine insight and understanding will we be able to avoid the trap falls and snares the enemy will be setting all around us.

Look- I am not a “doomsayer” and telling you that the world is coming to an end…Hey! Wait a minute; actually, now that I think about it, I really am saying the world is coming to an end, so let’s stick with that: THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!!

Big deal. We all know the world is coming to an end- even the scientists tell us that eventually, in a few billion years or so, the sun will supernova and the earth will be evaporated. So the news that the earth is coming to an end isn’t anything new.

What we need to be concerned about is not whether or not the earth will be destroyed, but when. And that “when” is coming sooner than the scientists realize.

So, stay aware, be alert, and be watchful. My advice is this: keep your eyes open, but don’t get sucked into the controversy and emotional stir of politics, the environment, or society’s problems because we know they are all going to get worse. Enjoy the peaceful times we will have, and use it to prepare for the Tribulation coming after it. Just as Joseph had Pharaoh prepare during the 7 years of plenty for the 7 years of famine, when we are in the plentiful times of the Anti-Christ’s 3 1/2 years of peace, we need to recognize it for what it is and store up what we need to survive through the next season coming.

This may or may not happen in our lifetime, but if we don’t know what signs to look for by the time we realize what has happened, it will be too late.

Bad news is the news

Doctor to Patient: “I’ve got some bad news, and I’ve got some even worse news.”

Patient: “OK- so, what’s the bad news?”

Doctor: “Your test results are back and you have only 48 hours to live.”

Patient: “Yikes! If that’s the bad news, what could possibly be worse?”

Doctor: “I’ve been trying to reach you since yesterday.”

If you read the newspapers (and if you read this blog, you know that I don’t) it is pretty much all bad news. Death, crime, destruction (both natural and man-made), corruption. All bad news.

Why? The answer is simple: bad news sells. In all fairness, newspapers are not public service announcements, they are a business. And the way a business stays in business is by selling their product in such a way as to make a profit. If bad news sells, then put out bad news.

But why does bad news sell? Ah- as Shakespeare would say (and he did): There’s the rub!

I only wish I knew the answer.

I can guess the answer, and even if I am not correct, 100%, I ‘ll bet I am awfully close…..it’s because people want to feel better about themselves, and they do when they see others in worse condition. We are a competitive species, so we compare ourselves to others in order to see how well we “rate” in the world.

Is my car newer? Is my house bigger? Do I make more money? Am I prettier? Do I turn out more work? Is my grass greener? Is my hair nicer? Are my teeth whiter?

We need to compare ourselves to something, anything, in order to understand ourselves better and to find our place in the world. And here’s the kicker charge, Folks- der ain’t nuttin wrong widdat! It’s who and what we are- if not for a competitive spirit, there would be no progress, no improvement, no growth. It is our need to compare ourselves to others that drives us to improve ourselves and our society.

The question is: to whom should I compare myself?

In my opinion, the problem is that we compare ourselves to the world, to other people, and to what is expected by our society.

You may ask, “Yeah, so? What’s wrong with that?” What’s wrong with that is that people are stupid: self-centered, self-absorbed, hedonistic, and sinful from birth.

The world will do much better when we stop trying to beat out the next guy and just try to be more like the only guy we should emulate: Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus).

When we compare ourselves to other people we are working with a bad role model, so even all the wonderful things that have resulted from this competition- improvements in technology, medical care, science, etc.- are good, but came about in spite of ourselves, not because of what we intended.

Oh, yeah- there are many, many things that have improved our lives that were intended to do so, but overall when you start with hedonistic, self-absorbed beings what you get is a drive to be better than the other person for the sake of being better.  What we need is to stop trying to be better than the other person and concentrate on being a better “me.”

The only role model we should be looking to is Yeshua.

I believe when we compare ourselves to what God wants us to be we will have plenty of room for improvement. Don’t you worry about that! And, when we are driven to create, we will create for the betterment of society. And when we are driven to do something, it will be for someone else’s sake and not for our own fame. And when we give to others, it will be without concern for recompense because we will do it to glorify God, not us.

Then, maybe in this idealistic dream of mine, the newspapers will tell of the kitten that was saved, the way people worked together to prevent a tragedy; instead of focusing their report on the death and destruction from an earthquake, they will report that there was an earthquake and this is how people helped each other….

We all need role models, especially the children, because once you get to about 7 or 8 years old, most of what and who you are going to be is already formed. With good role models in our life we can become better people and be role models for others. Eventually the “chametz” (yeast, biblically representing sin) will be removed from the dough instead of the other way around. Shaul (Paul) said only a little chametz can leaven the whole batch of dough (Galatians 5:9) and the dough of this world is pretty well leavened, wouldn’t you say? But for purity, that which we present to the Lord, there must be no chametz in the bread:

Lev. 2:11– Every grain offering you bring to the LORD must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the LORD.

What we present to God, which should be our everyday thoughts, actions and words, should be matzo- unleavened bread worthy of presentation to God.

One of my favorite (and most often repeated) prayers to God is from two of David’s psalms:

Psalm 51:10– Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 19:14– May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

These prayers ask God to make me into what I really want to be: matzo presented to Him without chametz.

Forget reading the newspapers- they are full of dreck. Read the Bible, instead. A little Bible every day will work it’s way through you, and make you a better person. Compare yourself to God, to Yeshua, to what they want you to be and forget what the world has to offer you. It is fleeting, it is temporary, it is superficial.

The world is never going to have anything more than a finite effect on you and you on it, but what you do for God is eternal. And what God offers you is eternal, as well.

We all have the God-given right to make our own decisions, and that includes picking the role model we want to emulate. And don’t ever forget- we will all have to answer for who we chose to be like when we come before the Lord.

I suggest you chose well.

Parashah Mattot (chiefs) Numbers 30:2 – 32

The previous parashah ended with Moses reviewing for the people the commandments regarding sacrifices and the Holy Days. Now he continues with the laws regarding vows. These three things- sacrifice, Festivals and vows- form the basis of worship. The people are at the end of their journey and being prepared to enter the land God promised them they would possess. This is not the generation that refused God’s offer, for they all died in the desert. This is the new generation of Israel, a nation not born into slavery but born into freedom, raised in the harshest of climates and environments. This is the generation that has grown up knowing battle.

After the A-B-C’s of worship are reviewed, God tells Moses that the last thing he is to do as leader is to have Israel destroy the Midianites for the cruelty they imposed on the Israelites. After this, Moses is to meet his Maker.

The Israelites destroy the 5 kings of Midian, but there are still Midianites left in other parts of Canaan. Israel takes all the spoil, including women and children, which makes Moses mad. He reminds them of the sin caused by these women after Balaam suggested they seduce the men of Israel into worshiping their gods. Moses orders all the women who are not virgins to be slain, and all the male children (BTW…Balaam is also slain in the battle.) The spoils are split with those who did not go to war, with a lions share to the men who went to battle. There is tithing of the spoils, and the men that risked their lives gave a portion one tenth the size of those that received spoils but did not fight.

Miraculously, but not surprising considering God is behind this, of the 12,000 men from Israel who went to fight (1,000 from each tribe) it is reported that not one man is killed in battle.

This parashah ends with the tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh asking if they can have the land east of the Jordan because it is good for their cattle.

Just for the record, Manasseh wasn’t really spit in half: there were 8 tribes of Manasseh (Numbers 26:29-32 lists the sons of Manasseh, 8 in all), of which 6 families stayed on the East of the Jordan, and the other 2 were on the West.

This request ticked Moses off, as he assumed they were refusing, as their fathers had, to enter the land, but it was soon resolved that they would go into the land to help the other tribes conquer it, and only after the other tribes had their inheritances would these three tribes return to their share east of the Jordan. These three tribes built up their cities and fortified them, then joined the rest of the camp to go into Canaan and take possession.

I have often heard that the bible is not fair to women. Of course, any complaint against social mores in historic times that is based on current beliefs is ridiculous. History is what it was, and can’t be judged by what is now. We can make comparisons, we can say that women were considered in a different light then, but when we look deeper we see that they were not treated unfairly then, considering that day’s ethical beliefs. In fact, the bible shows that women were given just as much right as men to make decisions, once they were of age or their social status was free of parental support.

That is really the difference- today a female person of majority (legal age) has rights and is accountable for what she does, with no consideration as to her marital status or where she lives.  Back then, the ages for majority were different, but what was the same then as it is now is …“as long as you live under my roof, you will abide by my rules.” A female who was a virgin and living with her father was under his authority. She was allowed to make vows, and if the father (or when married, the husband) let those vows stand by not voiding them, then she was totally accountable to God for keeping that vow. If the father (or husband), who technically owned all assets of the family, voided the vow the moment he heard about it, then the female was absolved of responsibility. However, if the male did not void it immediately upon learning about it, but tried to void it later, the female was not accountable because he was! She had the right to make a vow and the responsibility to keep it, unless the person that owned the property for the family voided it. Remember- a vow would affect the entire family, and may also affect their income; or, the person making the vow may be less available for doing chores. Whatever the vow was, it affected everyone in the family, and may have affected their assets. It is only right that the one who owns the assets is given a right of review. It may be that you say women should have as much right to the property as the man, but there were no communal property laws in 1500 BCE. Today that certainly isn’t fair, but that is how it was back then. When you consider the cultural ethics of the time, the laws about family leaders (the father or husband) having the final vote about a vow the female living with him makes, is very fair, and respectful to all involved.

Note , also, that if a woman was a widow or divorced (the assumption is that she is living alone), then her vows were binding. Again, here it shows that she has the same authority as a man to make a vow, but being under her own authority (marriage-wise) she is totally accountable. Having the right to promise to do something also carries the weight of responsibility for doing that which was promised. Man or woman, this was equally enforced.

One example that comes to mind is how Elkanah let stand Hannah’s vow to give her first born son to God (1 Samuel, 22-23.)

When we read the bible we have to incorporate proper interpretive rules, and one of those is to accept that the cultural norms of that day were acceptable then. We may not accept them now, but that doesn’t make the people back then “wrong” or “unfair’ because the rules, as well as the entire game, was very different.

By remembering to account for cultural and ethical differences, you will not misjudge the people, or (for that matter) the bible.

Parashah Shelach Lecha (Send out) Numbers 13:1-15:41

This parashah tells us of the spies that went into the land and returned after 40 days with a report that disheartened and demoralized the entire camp of the Hebrews.

What really happened was that God provided everything He said He would, brought us to the land He promised our fathers, and showed us it’s wonderful riches.

And we said , “No thanks- we can’t do this.”

After all God showed us, all the miracles, all the battles we had won up to this point against strong enemies, all the wonders He had performed- fire at night, cloud by day, Miriam turning into a leper and recovering, the plagues, the Red Sea splitting, water for millions in the desert, manna from heaven, and on and on and on. After all that, they still only saw what God told them He would do coming as a result of their own strength and their own ability.

Jeez! How stupid can you get?

On the other hand, here is a generation that was raised in slavery, without any self-respect, without any self-confidence or self-governing training. They were, as a result of how they lived and were raised, truly unfit for self-rule. That isn’t a slap in the face, it is a statement of fact. However, for God, that didn’t matter. He proved to them that He was all they needed to be protected and cared for, and after all He did they still weren’t able to trust in Him. They can’t blame their upbringing for that.

He was ready to destroy the entire camp, but with Moses’ intervention, only the 10 spies that spread the bad reports died immediately, the rest died in the desert while wandering for 38 more years.

The parashah ends with God reviewing the regulations for sacrifice, which will happen when they are in the land. This seems out of place, but it is a confirmation that, although God will not allow them to enter the land now, He will bring them in, eventually.

This is a powerful lesson for us- the lesson being that God is always the power behind the action. When we walk with God He will provide and protect, and when we walk on our own we can’t do much at all.

It also shows us that once we have been judged, we are judged. God determined that He would not allow this generation into the land, and when they tried to attack the Canaanites (just another rebellion against God’s commands) they were severely beaten.

How many times do we still “kick against the goads” when we are trying to do something? When the people were given the chance to enter the land, they refused; yes, they were scared and they were feeling helpless in the light of what seemed to be overwhelming odds, but isn’t that the difference between the faithful and the faithless? If Arnold Schwarzenegger beat me up, so what? That would be expected. But if I kicked his Mr. Olympia butt into next week, that has to be the work of a supernatural power! That is what faith can do- help you overcome overwhelming odds.

David beating Goliath, Gideon overcoming an army, Samson killing a lion; these biblical events have one thing in common- God was the real power behind the action. The things these people did was not from the ability of humans, but from the power of God.

We need, even today- no! especially today- to rely on God in everything we do. In today’s world we aren’t attacked just physically but digitally, too. We are having our very identities stolen and we don’t even know it. Financial ruin today is as terrible as a drought or a famine was in biblical days. We face the End Times, which are lurking right around the corner. We are seeing prophecy become fact, hurricanes and Tsunamis, murder, religious genocide, and where is God?

Right where He always has been- in the wings, waiting for us to call on Him to come out to center stage.

The generation that died in the desert deserved that, although it really wasn’t all their fault- they were the result of their upbringing. Yet, Joshua and Caleb were also the result of their upbringing and they didn’t falter or go along with the bad reports. Consequently, they were allowed to go into the land. They had to wait, from no fault of their own, but they made it. And God kept them strong enough to not only conquer their land, but live long enough to enjoy their victory.  God is no respecter of persons, and when someone has done evil in His eyes, whether or not it was by their own choice or a result of what they had been taught, they are accountable.

That is another lesson for us today, which is something you will hear me saying over and over- it doesn’t matter what you are told by people, what matters is what God tells you. Don’t you think there were people in that generation destined to die in the desert that felt it wasn’t their fault? They were just doing and acting like everyone else! And what happened?- because they did what the others told them to do, they were judged as the others were judged. If one sins, and others follow that person in his or her sin, then they are sinners, too. Innocently or by volition, it makes no-never-mind to God: if you follow someone in their sin (just ‘following orders’ is not repentance, it is an excuse) you join them in their judgment.

Yeshua tells us that when the blind lead the blind they BOTH fall into a pit (Matthew 15:14), and that means pleading innocence or ignorance when you are before the Judge of the World, you will be told, “I understand you were just doing as your (fill in whatever religious leader title you want) told you, but it’s what I told you to do that counts. Sorry. Here is your bottle of SPF 10,000 and an umbrella- enjoy your afterlife! Going down!”

God is the power, God is the way, God is the relief, God is everything to everyone, everyday, forever. Amen! When you trust in God you will be unbeatable- even after a loss, you will end up winning as long as you maintain your faith. The Hebrews got their tuchas whipped but later they destroyed their enemies. God is eternal, and when we put our faith and trust in Him, that means that we are on an eternal plane.

Life will always have it’s ups and downs; the trick to overcoming life is by trusting faithfully in God to direct it. Trusting that God will do what He says He will do will allow you to see your life as more than just birth to death: you will realize it is only a dress rehearsal for eternity.

Life is temporary, eternity is forever. Choose to live for eternal rewards, keep your eyes on the Kingdom, and trust in God to provide everything you need.

Real faith doesn’t require understanding how God does it, it only requires that you trust He will.

Parashah Tetzaveh (Thou shalt command) Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

The previous Parashah described the Tent of Meeting, or Tabernacle, and now we get to the regulations about those serving in the tent. Aaron and his sons were chosen by God to be His Cohen HaGadol, His High Priests, and only those who are direct descendants are to carry on in this office. The clothing they are to wear, the special things for the High Priest (Ephod, breastplate and mitre) and the sanctification ceremony are all outlined in great detail. The last thing mentioned is the altar and it’s manufacture.

The breastplate had  12 brilliant gems, one for each tribe of Israel with that tribe’s name engraved on it, and it was worn over the heart. In biblical psychology the heart is the seat of intellect, not feeling, so people who are “wise-hearted” are those God has given special knowledge to (Exodus 28:3).  The Urim and Thummim (light and perfection) are also to be in the breastplate and worn over the heart.

The breastplate is called the breastplate of judgement: the people and the means of judgement (Urim and Thummim) are to be close to the heart of the one who is God’s representative to the people. I believe that this demonstrates to us that God’s judgement is to be intellectually influenced. It is to be totally fair. Of course, I also have to ask myself where, if judgement is to be unemotional, does mercy fit in? Mercy is certainly not something that is a mathematical equation or something we can intellectualize. It is an emotional feeling; it stems from compassion and love.  Can these two things really exist together? I don’t know. God is fair, and He tempers His judgments with compassionate mercy, but (then, again) He has been awesome and totalitarian in many of His judgments. God has had entire nations and peoples completed destroyed. Frankly, I don’t know how this all works together, and I was thinking of just deleting this entire section, but it raises questions. I think questions before the Lord are good things, so I am leaving this here for you to think over, on your own, and to discuss with God. If you have an answer, or something to add, please comment so we can all discuss this. The topic is: how can God judge fairly and still have compassion and mercy?

One other thing I find interesting: the Urim and Thummim, which are mysterious (we don’t even know what they were) are used to determine God’s will. They may have been some kind of dice that were used for throwing lots. They are mentioned in some of the writings of the Prophets (Nevi’im) but pretty much by David’s time they are not mentioned any more in the Tanakh. These means of determining God’s will were obviously important during the time the people were in the desert, and under Joshua. As time went on, they became less important, and we also see as time went on the people got further and further away from God; eventually, we got so far away from Him that we were nearly destroyed.

With Yeshua, we have been reconciled with God and can (again) draw close to Him. So, will we again see the Urim and Thummim? I don’t think so, because what was used to determine God’s will is now not over our hearts, but inside our hearts. The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is how we can know God’s will for our lives. It is our Comforter, our Guardian, our own “Jiminy Cricket” keeping us on the straight and narrow. We don’t have to have a physical thing to help us understand what God wants for us anymore because we have His very Spirit living inside of us.

As we are told in Jeremiah 31:31:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The Urim and Thummim have been replaced by the Ruach HaKodesh as our means of understanding what God wants in our lives. For me, that underscores even more than usual the need for people to accept their Messiah, especially the Jewish people, because without accepting Yeshua as our Messiah we can’t receive the Ruach HaKodesh. Without the Ruach, we can’t know God’s will for our lives. It is all so clear: first, after Yeshua’s resurrection, the next major event is the destruction of the Temple. No longer can we bring our sin sacrifice to the Lord- Yeshua was the last and complete sacrifice for sin, and through His sacrifice we are now reconciled and cleansed before the Lord. With the destruction of the Temple we also lost forever the records of the lineage of the people to prove who is a true child of Israel, and more important than that, who can serve as Cohen Hagadol. And that’s because we don’t need that anymore: Yeshua is now the Cohen Hagadol for all eternity, and the separation between the Jew and the Gentile doesn’t exist in the body of Messiah (Galatians 3:28).

If we look at the history of the events that occurred before and after Yeshua’s appearance on Earth, we can see the logical progression of salvation, the gradual development of the plan for eternity. Today we see the regathering of the children of Israel back to the land of their fathers, and God’s judgment on the nations coming to fruition. Terrorism, El Nino, global warming, wars, diseases, and terrible earthquakes and Tsunami’s occurring all over the world. Do you think these are just coincidence? Yes, they have always been here but throughout the recorded history of these events today there are more of them, and they are becoming more fierce and regular.  Just because science says some of these are the result of man-made problems doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of God’s plan. Throughout the bible we see God had used people to accomplish His goals more often than by some miraculous divine intervention.

We are living in prophetic times, and we need to have the courage to tell people, whether they believe us or not, about Yeshua so that their blood is on their own head and not ours.

Ask God to show you what His plan is for you, listen to the Ruach HaKodesh in your heart, and take action. Don’t wait until the Groom arrives to fill your lamps with oil.

(hashtag) Enough Already!!

When was the last time you saw some kids playing Hide and Go Seek in your neighborhood at night? Can your teenager really talk without having to do so into a phone or I-Pad? When did they replace “Spin the Bottle” with “Text me?”

I grew up in the Fifties- it was an age of innocence, the government didn’t lie to us and we were all worried about the Red Scare (Communism) taking over our country. And let’s not forget “The Bomb” destroying us all in a flash. When you see the old movies with the little children at school duck and cover under their desks or along the walls under a window, and you laugh at how silly that is, I was doing that. I remember it.

The really sad and ironic thing is that while we were all certain that Communism would destroy our American way of life, it was TV that silently and slowly infiltrated the nuclear family. In the long run, it wasn’t “the bomb” or Communism that destroyed our family, it was technology. It was TV. The TV we watched during dinner, so no one talked about their day during the meal. We even kept quiet to hear the commercials. Now it is I-Pads, Tablets and Smartphones that cause our kids to stay in their little cocoons and think they are communicating.

To be fair, communication is a dynamic environment, changing constantly in the way we use words, gestures and even the means of communication. We have gone from yelling, to smoke signals, to sending letters, to calling, to emailing, to texting, twitter, facebook and snapchat. Just to mention a few. And as we find newer and faster ways to communicate, the words we use change. OMG, I wonder if this is TMI for you, my BFF? HUH?

God communicated very simply- He spoke to us through the prophets and on occasion, directly through visions and dreams and, at least once, as a voracious fire on a mountaintop. The words are fairly simple to understand and the commandments straight forward. There are some of the ordinances and regulations that many call “Ceremonial Laws”; in Hebrew they are called “Hukkim”, and these are regulations that are not so clear as to why God gave them to us. But, He did give them to us to obey, and we should. The whole idea of ceremonial verse moral is just a form of compartmentalizing God’s commands in order to justify disobeying them. And when you watch TV to learn about who Jesus was, what the Bible “really” is about, you will find that the word of God is treated (usually) as something to debunk. And you know that they would never lie on TV, right?

What am I leading up to here? I am concerned for our children and our future because the way we deal with each other is one of the two greatest commandments, isn’t it? To love God and love each other? Leviticus 19:18? How can we truly show compassion towards and care for each other if we aren’t even face-to-face? Our children don’t know how to talk to each other, or anyone else, for that matter. Some research indicates (I just read this in the paper this morning) that youth are spending nearly 16 hours a week just on their computers or phones. When you figure that’s probably between 1500 and 2100 (that’s 3:00PM and 9:00PM to you civilian types), add to that all the TV they watch, there is almost no time for interactions like play, catch, tag, whatever. When I was a kid I would be playing outside with my friends until I got called in to the house, way after dark. Summertime was playtime when I could stay out late. Now the only thing that prevents kids from playing is when their battery runs low.

The family that is centered on God should be more centered on each other- the parents should make sure they talk with their kids (even though kids don’t feel that way) and they should watch out for too much technology. I am a systems engineer; as such, my career is dependant upon computers and networks. But I am afraid that technology is how the Enemy’s will enter into our lives and how he will infiltrate our family and take over those who are innocent and unaware.

The way we communicate today is almost exclusively through the airwaves, is it not? And what is the term that Shaul (Paul) gave to the enemy? In Ephesians he calls Satan the “Prince of the power of the air.” Think about that for a moment:  we communicate through the air and the Enemy controls the air.

We who are Believers should do whatever we can to make sure that we do not let technology become a snare for ourselves and our children. I am not saying to go live in the wilderness, or throw the computers and cell phones into the garbage- the unfortunate truth is that we cannot do without them because they are a global phenomenon and, as such, we have to deal with it. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it run our lives, or (more correctly) ruin our lives.

Technology can do wonderful things: it can perform life-saving surgery, it can help us see our loved ones across the country or across the world, and when used correctly it can help bring us together. But, on the other hand, it can (and already has) separated and cocooned us; it is cold and unfeeling and it may be controlled by the Enemy in a way that will divide us as a family, a people, and (ultimately) place a wedge between us and God. Technology is like fire- it can warm and protect us or it can turn on us and destroy us with an unquenchable hunger.

It’s up to us to maintain face-to-face, “real” relationships. Get off Facebook or Twitter now and then, and call someone. Talk to them using your voice instead of your fingers, and meet with people, get your kids out onto the lawn and play with them. Have a catch, roll around in the grass, or just walk around the neighborhood. Go to the country for an outing, invite the neighbor’s kids to go along, encourage meeting with each other at your place of worship.

We need to be with each other, physically; we need to see each other’s faces, touch, interact closely; we need to get back to being sociable instead of just socializing.

And we need to be alert for “the sign” being pushed on us: I believe it will have something to do with technology. There has already been, for a long time, talk about a computer chip in the hand or forehead that will replace the debit and credit cards. It will seem correct, it will be the “latest thing” and when we fall for the hype we will find ourselves with the mark of the Enemy before we even realize it. That’s what I am afraid of: technology is a tool which can be used for good or for evil- it is up to us to use the tool correctly and be aware of it’s inherent dangers.

When I was in the Marine Corps I was a Combat Engineer, which means I dealt with demolitions. Things that go BOOM, in a big way. We used to say you only get one mistake with a land mine.

The same holds true with technology- one mistake, one moment that we let our guard down, and BOOM!

Parashah Beshallach (After he let go) Exodus 13:17-17:16

The sea is turned away, Pharaoh’s army is destroyed, manna comes from heaven,  rocks give forth water, and millions of quails appear from an empty sky.

Even with all this, not to mention the 10 Plagues that have just happened and 400 years of slavery are over, the people still grumble and look back to Egypt at every little stumbling block or problem.

Isn’t this what we all do? Isn’t the grass always greener somewhere other than where we are in our lives? And don’t we spend more time “killing the messenger” than dealing with the source of our problems?

Throughout the journey in the Desert we read, over and over, how the people grumbled against Moshe. “We don’t have food”, “We don’t have water”, “We don’t want you to be the only leader”, “The people in the land are too strong for us”, yadda-yadda-yadda! Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch!

And they did this despite the many miraculous events that they witnessed: and we’re not talking about reading of it in the morning paper, or watching it happen on You Tube! They were eye witnesses, they lived through these things, they walked on dry land with a wall of water on both sides. They knew all these things had happened, that God had done it, yet the first time they stub their little toe they are totally fed up and want to go back to being slaves! Oy!

Yet, we are no different today. You disagree? Maybe some of you do, so let’s think about this: when you start a new job, haven’t you noticed that when others are running around you are calm and you can handle things? You think “This isn’t such a big  deal”, right? Then a year later, you are running around just the same way while the newbie is thinking, “This isn’t such a big deal.”

How many times have you been in a situation where you seem calm and others are not, yet there are times you can’t see any hope, running around tearing your hair out by the roots,  and others are calm? Look close at your experiences and you will see that we are all the same as the young and immature Nation of Israel was in the desert- always complaining, forgetting the blessings, not trusting even in trustworthy things, all because of our petty and selfish desires for comfort and ease.

This is a lesson for us all- God is always present, God is capable, and we need to trust in Him to form our future while we let go of the past. There are two things that no one can ever do- change the past or go back to it. The past is just that- past. It is gone, and whatever was good about it is a memory, just as whatever was bad about it is also a memory. It is up to us to choose how we live: in the past, the present, or the future.

God wants us to remember the past so that we can do what is right in the present, which will secure our future. 

(Please read that again because it can change your life)

The people of Israel knew that God was with them and that He was capable of doing everything and anything that they needed. He had sent the plagues, He split the sea, He provided them manna to eat and water to drink, and when they cried out for meat He gave millions meat for a month! In the midst of the desert, no less!

True, they did have some issues: no water or food, the most powerful army in the world coming to destroy them with hundreds of chariots. OK, I will give you that these are somewhat significant, but may I remind you that these people saw the plagues, they saw the sea close behind them while still open in front of them, they saw the pillars of cloud and fire guide them and protect them. I mean, c’mon? How much more do you need to realize that there is a great power that is on your side?

We need to ask ourselves how many seas have opened before us? How many times did we receive water and food during times we were in a “desert?” And how often do we gripe and cry about things that are, in the light of God’s majesty and awesome Grace, so unimportant and childish, that we should feel ashamed?

Shaul complained about a “thorn in the side” that he had to deal with, and that God answered his prayers to remove it by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you.” God’s grace is sufficient for all of us: it was sufficient in Egypt, in was sufficient in the desert, it was sufficient during the time of the Judges, and throughout all history it has been sufficient.

Are you satisfied with the manna God provides for you, or do you want the leeks of Egypt? The people forgot that those leeks,vegetables and meat they had were given to them like farmers feed their pigs, in big pots that were shared by all. They also forgot that whatever they received in Egypt was given to slaves, not free people. They forgot that before they ate they were worked, whipped and mistreated all day, every day. There was no 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch; there was only every day, sun-up to sunset, 7 days a week, every week of the year for their entire lifetime.

Look to your life for the good and do what you can to overlook the bad, even if it seems insurmountable to you. Look instead to all that God has done for you; list it in your head. I guarantee that no matter how terrible it seems right now, no matter how thirsty you feel, how hungry, or how many chariots are coming after you, when you remember and count all of God’s blessings you have received you will realize that even during the worst times of your life, you are blessed.

Let’s not be like the people in the desert, grumbling against those that are just doing their jobs (who take orders from someone else) and always looking back at what we perceive to be better days. No matter how bad it seems right now, there’s a good chance you may find yourself looking back at this very moment and wishing you had it as good as you do now! That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Trust in God, look for the blessings He has given you and believe and trust that He only wants what is best for you. Trust in the Lord and you will see His majesty, His power and His compassion rain down upon you as though the very floodgates of heaven were opened over your head. Read His word (all of it) and obey His word (all of it) and He will bless you in everything you do.  Yes, you will still have tsouris in your life because that is part of life. Only the dead have no problems, so if you want a problem-less life, well…not the best alternative, is it?

Stop kvetching about everything and get on with it. Walk in faith and the seas will split for you, the rocks will give you water and the heavens will provide you sustenance.

At the Red Sea, as the Egyptian army was coming after them, God asked Moshe why he was crying out to Him, and told Moshe to tell the people to start walking. The seas hadn’t split open yet, but God said to start walking. That is what we need to do- walk in faith before we see what God is doing. Walk in faith, as God told Moshe and the people to do, and you will see the salvation of the Lord appear before you!