Why There Will Not be Peace in the Middle East

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There will not be peace in the Middle East because God said it won’t happen.

Genesis 16 recalls the story of the birth of Ishmael. It tells us Sarai (not yet called Sarah) gave her slave girl, Hagar to Abram (not yet Abraham) so that she could have children through the slave girl. When Hagar became pregnant, instead of being joyful at this Sarai was jealous and began to mistreat Hagar. Hagar was fed-up with this and ran away, but God saw her and told her to return to Sarai.

Now here is the important thing for us to remember: when God told Hagar to return, he also promised her that she would have a son and be the mother of many, many descendants, but the most important thing he said, which seems to have been forgotten by people is found in Genesis 16:12 (CKB):

“He will be a wild donkey of a man, with his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, living his life at odds with all his kinsmen.”

I think we can all agree that when God says something is going to be a certain way, we can be sure that that certain thing will be exactly the way God said it will be. And God said that the Arab nations that are the descendants of Ishmael, who are all still living throughout the Middle East (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and the smaller countries) would always be in combat and against one another. Of course, Israel is right in the middle of all this, being also a kinsman to Ishmael.

And the history of that part of the world demonstrates that God wasn’t lying.

So there you have it! We all want peace in the Middle East, but it’s just the same as when every beauty pageant candidate is asked what would be their fondest wish and they answer, “World peace.” Yeah, nice thought, but it ain’t gonna happen in this plane of existence.

Do you want peace in the Middle East? So do I, so do what I do to make it happen- pray for Messiah’s return. That’s the only way there will be peace in that part of the world; in fact, that is the only way there will be lasting peace anywhere in the world.

Parashah Naso (Take) Numbers 4:21 – 7

We continue with the census of the tribe of Levi, which is where we left off from the previous parashah.

Next, God gives the commandments regarding how to tell if a woman has been unfaithful when there is nothing to go on other than the suspicion of the husband, and laws regarding restitution of property, which (I believe) would be equivalent to a “Tort” in today’s penal system.

The last part of this parashah records the gifts that the leaders of the twelve tribes gave to the Sanctuary for the service, therein. Each tribe gave the exact same number and weight of the exact same items to show complete unity, in that no one tribe was over any of the other tribes. The Midrash accounts for the sum of all the gifts in this way:

the 12 chargers given correspond to the 12 constellations;

the 12 bowls to the 12 months;

the 12 spoons to the 12 guides to men (heart, kidneys, mouth, palate, windpipe, esophagus, lungs (2), liver, spleen, crop and stomach);

all the silver weighed 2,400 shekels, which corresponded to the number of years since the creation of the world to Moses’ 40th year,

all the gold of the spoons weighed 120 shekels, the length of Moses’ life.

The part of today’s Torah portion that I want to talk about is Number 6:23-27, which is known as the Aaronic Benediction (also called the Priestly Blessing.) This is the blessing that God specifically told Aaron and Moses to use when blessing His people. You are probably familiar with it, as I have heard it used not just in Jewish places of worship, but in Christian churches, as well:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee;

The Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious to thee;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

The final part of God’s command regarding this blessing is that this is the way we shall put His name upon the people, and thereby God will bless them.

The simplicity of this prayer is what impresses me: God is telling us that all we need is His blessing, His countenance and His peace. His blessing will result in health, life and prosperity. In the bible light represents happiness, purity, and friendship, so to cause His face to shine upon us is saying that we would have His divine love and salvation. It can also represent, as the Rabbis have said, the spiritual gifts of knowledge and moral insight.

Peace, the final blessing, is considered a pillar of the world, and there cannot be any level of social order without it. We are not only to receive the peace of God, but we are to employ it and make peace with others. Most every synagogue ends their prayers with, “May He who makes peace in His high places, make peace upon us and upon all Israel.”

It is the the burden of the people of God to make peace in their hearts, and then extend that peace to others, in order to help them find the same peace we have. Peace starts internally, and that comes from being able to commune with God, which comes from the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit); this is the same spirit that Yeshua (Jesus) said He would send to His followers and which He called “The Comforter”, because that is what it does.

If anyone reading this has ever felt a sensation of complete rest, total peace of spirit, and a tingling feeling throughout your body that makes you cry for joy, then you know the peace of the Lord that His Ruach can bring. I have felt that, more than once, yet due to the hardness of my heart I haven’t felt it as much in the last couple of years. I know it is my fault, and I constantly pray for the Spirit to come upon me again. Sometimes it does, often it doesn’t, and (again) it is because I am not opening my heart. Still and all, every now and then, when I am in the proper condition of worship… BAM!! His presence is felt mightily. What a great feeling!

I want to see this wonderful, overwhelming peacefulness come on my wife, on my children, on friends and family and even acquaintances. I want this to come over my enemies (I don’t have any enemies, but suspect that some consider me their enemy) and everyone who doesn’t know the Lord. Even if they could feel it for just a second, it could change their life.

God has so much for every single person on earth, and He is just waiting for us to ask Him for it. That is the saddest thing I have come to realize as I become more and more familiar with God’s ways: He is so anxious for each one of us to come to Him for wonderful blessings and for total peace of mind and spirit, but so few of us do. And some of those that do often abuse it, thinking that they can continue to act as they want because God is forgiving, so as long as they say they are sorry they will  be OK. We all stubbornly want to have things our way, and the history of mankind proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we do not know what is best for us.

God knows what is best for us, and has constantly told us, but have we listened? Are you listening right now?

If you haven’t known the peace that God’s spirit can bring through His blessings, you still have hope for it. If you really, really want to know the Lord, He is just dying to get to know you (pun intended), and all you need to do is admit you need Him, choose to change from ignoring Him to following His commands, and confess you believe Yeshua is the Messiah God promised who died for you- yes, just for you- and you want to be forgiven by means of that sacrifice.  That’s all you need to do- perform T’shuvah (turning) from sin in your heart, confess Yeshua is Messiah (this is very hard for Jews but should be easy for Gentiles), and ask God to send His Ruach to indwell and lead you for the rest of your life. This will bring you peace of heart, spirit and mind, and you will then be able to share that peace with all whom you love and care about.

You won’t be free of trouble and strife, for that is inescapable when living in a cursed and fallen world, but the Ruach (Spirit) is like a nice, cleansing hot shower after a long, dirty and sweaty day of hard work.

 

Parashah Terumah (donation), Exodus 25 – 27:19)

From this point on, except for Chapters 32 through 34 (the sin of the Golden Calf) the remaining chapters of this book deal with the construction of the Tabernacle and the articles in it.

The Tabernacle is where God talks to Moses. His instructions were first to built the Ark, after the Ark (which is the holiest of all the items) the rest of the construction was done from that point outwards: the Ark, then the Holy of Holies, then the articles in the area where only the priests were allowed (only the Cohen haGadol, the High Priest, was allowed in the Holy of Holies, and only once a year on Yom Kippur), then the Court, etc., all the way to the main entrance at the far end of the court.

The materials used were of dyed linens, tanned hides, acacia wood, gold, silver and bronze. The people were asked to contribute from their personal stores, much of which they received from the Egyptians when they left Egypt (Exodus 12:36); so, in a way, Egypt helped make building the Tabernacle possible. The most valuable materials were the ones closest to the Holy of Holies, with the less valuable materials being used as the Tabernacle was being built outwards.

We have all heard or used the expressions, “Closer to God” and “Farther from God”, representing, clearly enough, one’s spiritual maturity and faithful obedience to God’s commands. When I think of how the Tabernacle was built, with the purest items items being closest to the center of the Tabernacle (where God was present), I see this as representing how we need to be in our worship life: in order for us to come closer to God, we must first become purer.

Gold and silver are metals unto themselves, bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and each one needs to go through a firing process in order to remove the dross so it can be in it’s purest state; gold is purified using temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius, silver at about 800 degrees Celsius and bronze at a temperature between 230 and 630 degrees Celsius. The purer the metal, the higher the heat used to purify it.

I see people and their relationship to God similar to the way these metals are forged: the closer we want to come to God, the hotter the fire of purification will have to be. Yeshua tells us this when He tells us that anyone who wants to be His Disciple will have to carry His execution stake to follow Him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23), so we are adequately warned that getting closer to God will not be easy. Consequently, as we are further from faithful obedience and fear of the Lord, we are more like the less pure metals- we will be forged, but at a lower heat. For those who may be no more spiritual than having some recognition of God, such as type who go to services during the High Holy Days only, or at Christmas and Easter, their “spiritual purity” is still full of dross and slag.

The dross is the sin inside of us: that is why, since sin is part of our nature and formed when we are formed, it must be burned out for us to be purified, separated from the world (sin) and brought closer to God.

Oy! That is a very hard word to hear. Basically, what I am saying is that the Tabernacle represents what we need to go through, spiritually and physically, when we decide to worship God as He wants us to do. We are all built with some copper, tin, silver and gold inside of us, and as we approach God, we will have the base metals separated, and the fine metals purified. This is done through Tsouris (suffering) in our lives. It sounds unfair, but that is what is needed. You can’t get rid of the dross without going through the fire, and the reason we do this is to be closer to God.

Even after we have been purified, we will still have Tsouris in our life. But as we become more purified we will be able to abide the suffering and stay focused on the reward we are all striving to receive: eternal joy and peace in the presence of God, Almighty.

I don’t mind going through the fire because I know what is on the other side.

What metal are you? Have you accepted your level of purity? Realistically, everyone wants to be gold but very few are willing to go through the fire, so if you really, really want to be gold, then here is what you need to do:

  1. Prepare yourself for troubles
  2. Read the entire bible (Genesis through Revelations) and accept that it is all one book, one God, one way to worship Him (His way) and that all the commandments, from beginning to end, are valid
  3. Accept that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised and ask for forgiveness of sin on your own, meaning that you ask for forgiveness from your heart and not because your Priest or your parents said you had to.
  4. Prepare for even more troubles and steel yourself (gird your loins) for a lifetime of rejection, problems, harassment and persecution.

Read Matthew 5:10, 1 Peter 4:12-19 and James 1:2– all of these verses warn us that we will be persecuted in Messiah’s name, but that it is a blessing we should all strive to achieve.

Doesn’t this sound crazy? I want to have the joy and peace of spirit that worshiping God can bring, which it does, but to get that I have to suffer. Sounds like the ultimate oxymoron- suffer persecution and hatred to have peace of mind and spirit. Huh?!?

But that’s how it works, and it does work. Ask anyone who you know to be devoted to God and they will tell you of all the problems they have had to undergo, but also of all the joy they have felt and blessings they have received from God. It sounds crazy, but that which the world thinks is right is usually the exact opposite of what is acceptable to God.

It’s all up to you- do you want to be bronze or gold? Your choice, your decision, your eternal future.

Will we ever learn?

I just read Psalm 78, by Asaf, which is titled as a “Maskil.” From what I have seen, the difference between a psalm and a maskil is that a maskil is a psalm that may have a specific message, other than praise for God. This particular maskil is a reminder of the many ways in which God provided for his people, Israel, despite how they constantly demonstrated faithlessness and a rebellious attitude, which resulted in them being punished.

Fortunately for us (and I mean everyone, not just Believers, Jews or even Americans- I mean everyone in the world), God is a forgiving God, so much so that even in His righteous anger and punishment He is merciful. The fact that we are all still here is proof of that! And when He punishes, it isn’t like when a human punishes, which is (most of the time) from anger and frustration born out of pridefulness (“You didn’t do as I wanted”); no, that is not why God punishes us. When God punishes us, and we end up flat on our backs, it is so that we can only look up to see Him there, with His hand extended, waiting for us to take it so He can lift us back up onto our feet.

We have learned at least one thing- that God is forgiving. In fact, it seems (from history, including my own) that we count on His forgiveness because we keep sinning and rebelling. What would happen if, one day, God just decided, “Oy! Enough is enough! Youse guys have gone too far this time, so you’re on your own. Forever.” ? What would happen then?

I’ll tell you what will happen- there will be no hope for anyone, ever. I assume that without hope for eternal peace, there would be no more fear of eternal suffering- we will just live out our lives, with absolutely nothing else to look forward to, and then die. Our lives will be all we ever have, and when we die it will be as if we never existed. A meaningless past, no future, only the present. No blessings and hope, only random chance to count on; no one to depend on and nowhere to go for hope (you can’t count on humans), with nothing to do but get through it on your own.

Thank God that God will never allow that to happen. His promises are absolute, irrevocable and dependable. His faithfulness is eternal and never-ending; unlike ours, which is weak, unstable and transitory.

We need to learn one thing, if nothing else- God is dependable, and what God says will be, already is. God called Himself, “Ehyeh asher ehyeh“, which means “I am that I am”, or “I will be that which I will be”; what He is saying is that He, His name and everything about Him is undefinable in human terms and understanding. What He is, He was, and He will be. There is no timeline in God’s world- what was, what is and what will be already are.

Try to wrap your head around that one! Yikes!!

So, back to the lesson we need to learn, if nothing else- that God is dependable and what He says will be, already is. In other words, we always have time to ask forgiveness, and when we ask for forgiveness and really mean it (which is demonstrated by a change not only in our heart, but in our actions, too- the former without the latter is meaningless), we will be forgiven, even when we ask with our very last breath.

If you already know this lesson, you are ready to move on to the next level. If I put this in the terms most youth of today will understand, which does sort of jive with some ancient beliefs, as you do better and better, you move up a level (just like in video games); and, like in a video game, the higher the level, the more difficult it is to succeed at that level. The holier we become, the less likely we will fit into the regular world system, and the world will treat us more like an outcast than a member of society. That’s OK, believe me, because what the world offers is temporary and what God is preparing for us is eternal.

And infinite beats the heck out of finite, any day!

You don’t learn anything from winning

I like word puzzles. My mornings start with coffee, cryptograms, crosswords and other mind-exercising puzzles that involve wordplay.

This morning I did a cryptogram that was a quote from Nelson Mandela:

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

It reminded me of when I was a Sales Manager and teaching people how to sell. I used to say that is rare when you know what made the sale, but you always know where you lost it. The same held true when I was in High School and on the wrestling team. I always practiced wrestling with the heavy weights and the best wrestlers (of which I was not) on the team. I always lost to them, but it was good practice and taught me where my mistakes were being made.

When it comes to living a righteous life in an unrighteous world, we are going to have failures. Personal and financial failures, failures of faith, failure of judgement, failing to help others, and we will never stop failing in trying to do something, in some way, at some time.

As Mr. Mandela points out, it isn’t the successes that demonstrate the merit and strength of a person, it is the number of times they failed and then got back up and kept trying. Anyone, at any time, can succeed; it isn’t succeeding that is the real acid test of fortitude, it is how consistently you continue to try.

We have a great fail-safe system: it is called the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. We have a great coach- His name is Yeshua (Jesus) and He is always right there at our side, ready to help us up when we fall. And we have a tremendously wonderful prize to win- eternal joy and peace.

The best part is that to win all we have to do is finish. Just make it to the finish line (we call that “death”) still trying to do as God has told us we should do, still maintaining your faith (weak or strong, having faith is what saves us- works are only the evidence of our faith) and still trying to be an example of righteousness to the world.

So don’t be upset or depressed when you fail to live up to the standards God has set for us: no one can. If you start to feel like you can’t do this, you just don’t feel worthy, or that it isn’t really worth the effort, that is the Enemy, the Devil, trying to convince you of a lie. Don’t fall for it. When you feel like you have let the Lord down (and we all do, at one time or another) just remember that God is glad you still want to try; He is there to help you, He has provided the bible so you can review the game plans, and He is very forgiving of errors. Geeze- what a great coach, right?

The only time God will ever be upset or disappointed with you is if you should stop trying. Remember: failure is not when you don’t succeed- that is just a temporary roadblock- failure only happens when you stop trying.

 

 

Parashah V’Yechi (and he lived) Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

We come to the end of Genesis, when Jacob blesses the two sons of Joseph, essentially adopting them into his family, and then blessing all his sons. He is carried back to the burial cave of his fathers and buried there. Then Joseph also dies and is embalmed.

The biblical account of the burial place for the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is in Hebron.  This is an Arab-controlled area, with a very small, completely surrounded Jewish section. Many Orthodox Jews will have Shabbat services in the cave at Machpelah (Hebron) that is accepted as the actual burial place for the Patriarchs.

However, Joseph is supposedly buried in Shechem. In fact, there is a Tomb of Joseph building in Shechem, which is totally off-limits to anyone Jewish.

Here is the “welcome” sign as you enter Shechem:

warning sign outside Schechem Valley entrance

So, two of the most important and holy of all Jewish locations in the land of Israel are off-limits to Jews. Yes, they can go to Hebron, but it is a dangerous route to travel, in both directions.

This is not a political blog, it is a ministry, but part of what ministry is, at least to me, is to tell the truth about the world and the spiritual battles that are occurring, every day, within it. One of these battles is that the Church is supposed to be grafted into the state (both spiritual and political) of Israel. It does NOT replace it!!  Believers are supposed to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people because they are God’s chosen Priests, and you don’t double-cross your priest.

The Arab world has stated, over and over, that it’s only desire for the Jewish nation is that it be totally destroyed- not a very friendly “How do you do” campaign slogan. They have lied about their “rights” to the land they have occupied (yes, they occupied these lands  AFTER the nation of Israel made the land economically desirable); they have planted trees because that gives them ownership, even though the trees they planted are the only thing on the mountainsides they planted them on. There are thousands of trees, olive trees (which only need to be reaped once a year, otherwise there is nothing you need to do to them with regards to care-taking) all over the “disputed” West Bank, which is the Jordan Valley Rift area. The shanty towns that Israel is accused of causing are actually Arab creations because the Arabs have nowhere else to go- their own country will not allow them back in.

In Shechem there are bare, cinder-block buildings we would call “Projects” that house Arabs wanting to enter Israel but are not allowed- by the Arabs- to do so. And- they are not allowed back into Syria, either. In truth, none of them really want to go back to Syria…I mean, would you? So, Jewish people are kept out of Shechem, and the Arab people in Shechem are kept in there.

Truth be told, those Arabs that do live and work in Israel have no problem with  the Jewish people, and the Jewish people, the Israelites, have no problem with any Arab who wants to live and work with them, so long as you don’t try to kill me. The Arabs that work in Israel have the same pay, same benefits, and same opportunities as the Israelites- can we say that in America when it comes to minorities?

The Jewish people only want to live in peace, and be left alone. The Arab political powers want them destroyed. This is an age-old, sibling rivalry that goes back to Abraham. God tells Hagar that Ishmael with be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against his brothers and his brothers hands against him (Genesis 16:12), and we can see that has been true since then. History shows us that the Arab world has been nothing more than one political assassination after another, with family against family and people against people. The “Palestinian People” have nothing to do with Palestine- they are North Syrians, nomads, who used to take their herds and feed them on the hills of the Jordan Rift, then go back to Syria when the grass was gone. If you travel along that road you can still see the Arab shepherds along the way with their goats and sheep. It wasn’t until Israel became a nation and started to clear out the mosquito infested swamps, irrigate the land and make it a viable farming community that suddenly now, this is “historically” land that these “Palestinian” peoples owned, and Israel was invading their territory!

Horse-apples!

The only “Palestinians” that have “historically” lived there were the Jews. The North Syrians were dubbed with that title as a propaganda program by Yasser Arafat; and it was as good as anything that Joseph Goebbels could have come up with. Both Arafat and Goebbels had the same goal- to bring the world against, and ultimately destroy, the Jewish people, whose only “crime” was wanting to live peaceably on their own land.

One day we will have complete access, safe and open to all, to the burial places of our Patriarchs. This will come about because, when you read the bible, you know how it will all end. It would be nice if the Arabs would just get off their hate wagon. Isn’t it about time that ISIS and ISIL and all the other terrorists in the world leave Israel alone and concentrate on taking care of their own people; you know, not abuse and rape their own women, not kill themselves, not attack innocent men, women and children in countries that take them in only to try and help them?

The world has never really been a nice place for people- Adam and Eve had it made, but they blew it, and not just for themselves but for everyone. Now we live in a world that is cursed and fallen, and it is only going to get worse. It seems all this week I have been on an apocalyptic bent, but with all that is happening, natural and man-made disasters everywhere, how can I not see the end coming? How can anyone not see the end coming?

Keep reading the bible, keep praying to God for peace in our time- we know how things will end, we just don’t know when, so praying for the peace of Jerusalem and peace in our time is fine. It isn’t against God’s plan, it is just asking for a reprieve for the time being.

If you call yourself a “Believer”, say you have been “Born Again” and profess to worship God- the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- then you MUST support and help the Jewish people. There’s no real choice about it: God said that is what you are to do, and Shaul (Paul) also says that we need to be one new man (Ephesians 2:15), meaning that the Jewish people and Christians need to worship the one Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) and work together. Christians are grafted in, and when you graft a branch onto the tree the branch now belongs to that tree, not the other way around.

So draw from the root of the tree to which you have been grafted in, do not denounce it, do not ignore it and do not work against it- you will only be killing yourself.

 

 

 

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.

Salvation is an “IF…, THEN” statement

I used to be a programmer back in the Nineties, and when you write a program the most basic and useful command is called the “If…, Then” statement. This is the one command that, in my opinion, drives the entire program because it is what directs the program by telling it when there is something it has to do, and where to go to do it.

If the number if greater than 5, Then go to this module; If the input is not the required type, Then go to “Error Processing”, and so on.

We live our lives the same way, don’t we? When you come down to the lowest common denominator of decision making, we decide what to do by reviewing our options: If I have a salad, Then I won’t have room for desert (consequently, I eat very few salads); If  I don’t get the report out in time, Then I will have to deal with an upset Boss; If I tell my spouse what I really think right now, Then I will be sleeping on the couch for a week.

Salvation is no different: everything God tells us about how to live, how to worship and how to act is an “If…,Then” statement. If you do as I say, Then you will have blessings. If you do as you want, Then you will have no blessings.

God gave us all Free Will and I believe He really likes to see us use it wisely. Foolishness, according to the way it is used in the bible, is not acting silly- it is refusing to accept the existence and sovereignty of God. When you think about it, that is the ultimate silliness- refusing to accept that God exists and that He is the King of kings. When we use our Free Will to accept God’s existence and sovereignty, then He is pleased with us. When we do that and also choose to believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, better still. And when we believe in God, accept that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah God promised, do T’shuvah (turning from the desire to sin) in our hearts, and live our lives trying to sin less- well, IF we do all that, THEN we will be saved.

That’s the eternal IF…, THEN command: trust in God, accept the gift of Grace provided by the sacrificial death of Yeshua, do T’shuvah, and show it in how you live your life (which means to respect and honor the Torah- that has to be in there, too), and you will be saved from eternal damnation. It’s that simple, it’s that complete, and it’s the hardest thing you will ever do.

But it’s worth doing. And not when you have time, and not when you are ready, but right now. This very moment. Stop reading this-well, actually, don’t stop reading until I finish telling you what to do- so, after you stop reading this, close your eyes and tell God that you are sorry for not obeying Him. Tell God you are sorry that you have never really tried to stop sinning, and (this is especially important if you are Jewish) tell God that you believe Yeshua is the Messiah Adonai promised to send to the Jewish people and the world. Lastly, ask for the forgiveness Yeshua provided for you and ask to receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) because you want it to lead your life from this moment on.

IF you do that and mean it, THEN you are set on the pathway that will lead to earthly blessings, peace of spirit and the comfort of knowing that you will be spend eternity in the presence of the Lord, God Almighty.

IF you don’t, THEN you’re screwed!

Know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em

I read Dear Amy this morning. As I have often mentioned, Dear Abby and Dear Amy provide wonderful fodder for this ministry because the people that write to them are so lost and confused about the relationships in their life, and almost never do I read a letter from a Believing person asking for advice. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because we have a better adviser to ask.

In any event, the letter this morning had to do with someone whose friend is emotionally unstable and despite being close for many years, the writer is concerned about her own health and how dealing with her friend is draining her. She wants to know how to break away without totally closing her friend out.

I feel the same way, often, about family and friends who are not Believers, who desperately need God in their lives, and whom I try to tell about God and about the wonderful peace I receive from knowing Him and having the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) in my life (despite the sad truth that I often fail to show this peacefulness, I DO have it.)

I try to tell people of God, I bring him up in conversation, even with clients (which is not always appropriate so I am very careful in how I do that) and I throw out my line with a little bait to see what I can catch.

What I do is simply add to the conversation something from the Bible, but I won’t say “The lord tells us this or that”; instead, I will lead off with, “I read this in a really good book about relationships, and the book said…..”. If they ask me the name of the book, then they have taken the bait. After I tell them it’s the Bible, and it was said by (whomever), I will follow up with , “Have you ever read the bible?”

This is an example of how I bring God into the conversation, slowly, deliberately, and with an open-ended aim: all I want to do is plant a seed. That is what the aim of today’s message is about: we need to plant a seed, we need to know when we can “hold ’em” (keep going on with the conversation) and know when to “fold ’em” (let it go if they don’t want to discuss it.)

People don’t like having something jammed down their throats, especially something as exotic tasting as spiritual things. They don’t want to hear that they are wrong in what they say and do, and that most everyone they know (friends, family and acquaintances) have all steered them in the wrong direction. Remember the old adage: birds of a feather flock together. That means people who aren’t “saved” won’t be hanging around with Believers. So, when we start to tell them about God, about the Torah and Yeshua, and what it means to be saved, and what it takes to stay saved, they are hearing the kind of stuff they have been ignoring their whole life.

And they don’t really want to hear it.

It is up to us to be patient, to understand what they are going through. I think the fact that so many Believers have been raised that way, or accepted Messiah at a young age, could make them poor missionaries simply because they can’t relate to what the people are going through when they hear the Good News.  I know what it is like to have people preach the Good News to me before I was saved by it- it was annoying. Because I spent so many years on the “outside”, I know when to hold and when to fold. And because I remember what it was like, I have the patience to allow them to accept what they will and reject what they need to.

And, yes- they NEED to reject what we tell them because if they don’t, they have to admit they have been lied to by everyone they have ever trusted and admired their whole life.

What we need to do is allow them the time they need to process that the people who have misled them have done so innocently, because they, too, were misled by those they trusted and admired. The incorrect teaching of the “Church” goes all the way back to Constantine in the Third Century CE. It’s been going on for quite a while.

When you talk to people about God, remember to say little and watch very, very carefully their response. You need to play your hand well, to watch what they discard and what they pick up, and (ultimately) when to call and when to fold.

Missionary work is not spiritual- it is sales. You have to ask what they feel they are missing, listen to what they think they want and make sure you only tell them what they need to hear, and it all starts with listening. Too often people go out there and just talk talk talk about God, without letting the other person tell them what they feel they need.

David says, in Psalm 38, that we should “taste and see that the Lord is good“; well, when you have something rammed down your throat you don’t get a chance to taste it. We need to let them savor the flavor of salvation, let them smell the steak sizzling on the grill, smell the bread fresh from the oven, let the aroma of peace and joy fill their nostrils to the point where they want more.

And when they ask, that’s the time we can, bite by bite, let them taste more of the Lord.

Most people will not make a leap of faith- they won’t go “all in” right away. They will make small bets, watch their cards and be very wary of the other players.  We need to deal honestly with them (pun intended) and go at their pace, not ours.

Offer, wait, watch, listen, and most important of all, be patient- those are tools you need in your creel when you go fishing for people. Also, know when to cut the line and re-bait your hook.

It’s not how big the fish is, but how many you end up catching.

 

Parashah Metzora (Leper) Leviticus 14 and 15

Continuing the laws of cleanliness, Chapter 14 deals with leprosy of the body and any infectious contamination that spreads to the plastering on the walls of the house.  Chapter 15 deals with bodily secretions, such as when a woman has a discharge during her menstrual cycle or a man with a seminal secretion.

You would think, this being the Bible and all, you wouldn’t find mention of such graphic and disgusting things. Yet, having read through the Bible many times, there isn’t a part of the body, and I mean ANY part of the body, that isn’t mentioned or referred to very specifically in the Bible, somewhere.

So, you have a skin disease, your house has mold or something similar, you are bleeding or exuding some liquid from your body- you are unclean. Whether it is contagious or not, you are unclean. Everything you touch becomes unclean, and anyone who touches what you touched or is touched by you becomes unclean. The only difference is that the clean who touched the unclean must wash themselves and their clothes, and after doing so at evening (meaning the start of the next day) they are clean. When you become unclean by association you wash and for the rest of that day you are unclean, but then you are clean (mostly meaning ceremonial, or having to do with entering the Sanctuary area) the next day. If you are the source of the uncleanliness, you are always unclean until, according to the rules stipulated in these chapters, the Cohen declares you no longer unclean, you make the appropriate sacrifice, and then you are accepted back into the camp and the Sanctuary.

The simple truth is that these laws deal with outward evidence of being physically unclean- we are, all of us, unclean in our hearts. We are born with the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination, and we have to overcome this. As Yeshua said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible; hence, we have a Messiah to be the ultimate soap, if you will, to cleanse us spiritually so that we can come before God, tabernacle notwithstanding, and be clean before Him.

The warning in today’s Parashah is about not dying in one’s uncleanness by entering the Sanctuary when unclean. The intimation is that if you enter the Sanctuary unclean, you will be killed, and thus not just die, but die unclean. Not what you want, really. When we accept Yeshua as Messiah and ask forgiveness of our sins in His name, it is His righteousness that cleanses us so we can come before God clean. The cleanliness of our bodies is still important: when they say cleanliness is close to godliness, these chapters about clean and unclean should dispel any doubts about the accuracy and biblical confirmation of that old saw. But, yet, more than physically, or even ceremonially, clean, we need to be spiritually clean. We need to be more than clean outside, we need to be clean inside. Didn’t Yeshua tell us that it isn’t what goes into us that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our hearts?  Read Matthew 15:11 and Mark 7:15 to see what He said.

The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is what cleans us, inside and spiritually, and to receive it we have to ask. But we won’t want to ask until we are ready to be clean, until we want to wash our hearts and minds of the dirt that we are born into because of this cursed world we exist in. We have to do T’shuvah before we can really clean up our act (pun intended) and want to ask for the Ruach.

No one would go to the Cohen to get diagnosed until they saw the evidence of their disease, and wanted to be clean. We need to see the evidence of our disease, our sinful nature and accept what we do as truly being wrong; we need to stop rationalizing what we do as acceptable and start realizing what we do as wrong. That’s the first step. Next we have to truly want to stop doing wrong, that’s called T’shuvah, or turning from sin. Now we can come to the Cohen, either a religious leader as a Rabbi or Minister or Pastor or Priest, and ask them for help.

In truth, even a good friend can do the same- you need to find a spiritually mature person who can help you to be cleansed and then you clean yourself with water; not water from a sink but the everlasting water that we only get from Yeshua ha Maschiach.

The best thing is that once cleansed by Yeshua’s blood, you don’t have to wait until evening to be clean.

This is a simple lesson- to be clean forever the steps are:

  1. Confess that you are dirty
  2. Do T’shuvah
  3. Accept Yeshua as your Messiah and ask for His intercession before God
  4. Pray to God for forgiveness, calling on the name of Yeshua (not praying to Yeshua, but praying to God and asking that God accept you as one of the sheep that Yeshua owns)
  5. Ask for the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and accept it
  6. Be prepared to fight against your nature for the rest of your life.

And remember: you can be strengthened in that fight knowing you now have the hope of eternal joy and peace, which you can also find here on Earth, through the Ruach HaKodesh.