Parashah Vayyiggash 2020 (He approached) Genesis 44:18 – 27

We left Benjamin being taken into life-long slavery for having stolen the cup from Joseph. This parashah begins with Judah coming to Joseph and explaining how very valuable Benjamin is to Jacob and begs Joseph to take him in place of Benjamin as his slave for life and release Benjamin back to his father; otherwise, Jacob will die of a broken heart.

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At this demonstration of brotherly love and devotion, Joseph can no longer contain himself, so glad that his brothers have shown they are no longer as they were when they sold him into slavery. He clears the Egyptians from his presence and reveals his true identity to his brothers. After a moment of disbelief, Joseph reunites with them. He tells them to bring Jacob and all they have into Egypt because the famine is not over yet and that he, Joseph, will take care of all their needs from now on.

Pharaoh hears that Joseph’s brothers are there and confirms Joseph’s request to bring the family into Egypt; not only that, but he also gives them wagons to carry everything.  The brothers return to Jacob and tell him about Joseph, and once he gets over the initial shock, he desires to go to Joseph just as fast as he can. On the way they come to Beersheba, where Jacob was raised, God confirms to Jacob he may go to Egypt.

Remember that Isaac wanted to go to Egypt when he was in the midst of a famine, but God forbade it (Genesis 26:2) so, naturally, Jacob wanted to have God’s approval before he went there, and the altar that Isaac set up at Beersheba was the perfect place to ask permission.

Upon arrival in Egypt, Pharaoh confirms (again) Joseph’s desire to have his family settle in Goshen, which seems to be the best land in Egypt. They settle in and the famine continues, although thanks to Joseph his family is well fed. The rest of Egypt, in the meantime, is starving and they run out of money to buy food, so Joseph trades their cattle for food. Eventually, Pharaoh owns all the cattle (although Joseph had the people care for the cattle) and the famine is still with them, so Joseph buys the land the people own and allows them to work it, giving Pharaoh a percentage of their crops in exchange for letting them work the land. By the end of the famine, Pharaoh owns everything in Egypt: the land, the cattle, and even the people.

Meanwhile, the children of Israel are growing stronger and multiplying like rabbits.

When I read this all I could think about was how amiable Pharaoh was to Joseph. He appreciated all that Joseph had done not just for him, but for his people, as well. He was kind to Joseph, and when Joseph brought his family down, even though (compared to the Egyptians) they were crude and their habits and lifestyle an abomination, Pharaoh gave them the best land to live on and even made them supervisors of his own cattle. The government appreciated what this lowly Jewish man had done for it.

Then I thought about the treatment of Jews today.

Do you have any idea of the technological advancements to make life better that have come out of Israel?

First off, consider that Jews make up less than 4/10’s of 1 percent of all the people in the world, which means that out of every 10,000 people only 4 of them are Jewish. Yet, even at that minuscule percentage, in the last century, nearly 22% of all Nobel prizes have been awarded to Jews.

As for technology, here are some examples (just a few of the many) of what Israel has contributed to the world:

  • the cell phone was a Motorola invention, but it was developed at their Israel R & D location;
  • an exoskeleton device to help paraplegics walk;
  • PillCam, which is a camera in a pill people can swallow for diagnosis of gastronomic illnesses;
  • a flexible stent for heart patients that has already saved millions of lives;
  • some of the most advanced firewall software available today;
  • the very first USB flash drive patent was from an Israeli;
  • Netafim is an advanced irrigation system;
  • Israel has invented a device for farming that can pull water directly from the air; and
  • the car camera system that makes driving safer? Israeli invention.

And these are just a few of the many inventions that Israel has not only developed, but shared with the world. They even share it with their neighbors, who refuse to accept what Israel can give them to make their lives better, Instead, they do all they can to completely destroy Israel.

Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs!

The governments of the world, unlike that Pharaoh so many millennia ago, don’t appreciate a thing that Israel has done. In fact, instead of recognizing the benefits that Israel gives to the world and demanding that the Arab nations leave Israel alone, they side with the ones trying to destroy Israel. How blind can you be? How can the world not see that they are supporting the destruction of the one country that is doing more than anyone else to make their lives better?

I don’t have an answer to that one, except maybe that Satan has so influenced the world leadership, meaning the United Nations, that the world is willing to drink the Kool-Aid (if you understand my reference.)

The worst part is that I know this will not get better, but in fact, it will get worse.  God’s plan for the redemption of his people has been done: we are gathered from the four corners of the earth and are back in our own land. Now comes the judgment of the nations, the Goyim, who will pay for their attempts to destroy God’s chosen people. But, as that judgment comes, Israel is still part of the world, they will also undergo suffering. Pray that during this suffering they come to recognize and accept the Messiah God already sent to them, Yeshua.

God has his plan for the world, which is outlined in the Bible books, especially the one called Revelation. It tells us how terrible it will be, and we can see the events beginning to unfold. Yes, there have been “doomsday sayers” for millennia, but I really think that we can count on it happening soon because the one definitive sign is that God will first regather his people, which he has done. That, and the inexplicable stupidity of the world, believing and supporting the PLO, who are liars and murderers, not just of Jews but of their own people, as well. And the UN is so blind that they are blaming Israel for all the problems that Israel’s neighbors are causing.

We can pray for Israel, and we should, but what we should pray for now is not a peace that comes from men, because history proves that peace men make is never more than temporary. We need to pray for the peace that God will bring, and that peace will not come (per God’s word) until after the Tribulation.

Pray for the Tribulation to come soon, and pass quickly.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this ministry with others, and please remember that I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Until next time, Shabbat Shalom and Baruch HaShem!

How to Identify the Anti-Christ

When  we read the bible we are given the promise of a Messiah from the very beginning, in Genesis , when God promises Abraham that his seed will be a blessing to the whole world. And at the end of the bible we are told of the tribulations we will suffer when the Anti-Messiah takes rulership of the world and tries to destroy God’s people, who will be the ones remaining faithful to Him and trusting in Yeshua as their Messiah.

There are many warnings about these End Times, in Hebrew called the Acharit Hayamin. Yeshua describes the things to look for in Matthew 24:4-15:

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The A-C (it gets tiresome typing Anti-Christ all the time) is talked about in Revelation 13:5 as having 42 months of total rulership over the entire earth. I am not going to do a detailed exegesis of Revelation because, frankly, I don’t understand it well enough to teach about it. What I do know is that the A-C will appear to be an all-powerful, divine creature who survives some fatal attack, then rises to take control of the earth. The power that he will have will amaze and astonish people, but what this power is might be anything.

OK, so we know that there will be political turmoil, ecological upheavals and other bad things happening all over the world before the A-C takes charge. There will also be a false prophet, a beast and a dragon, all associates of the A-C, that will amaze people and cause them to accept the A-C as their Messiah. This means we are not really looking for a single A-C, but (at least) three separate entities, all working in unison to promote the A-C.

Now to tell you how I think we will be able to identify the A-C. The A-C will be the one who brings order and peace to the world; as such, we won’t know who that is until we can identify the greatest threat to order and peace in the world. So I ask you: what is the most chaotic thing that is happening nearly everywhere in the civilized world?  Isn’t it the international terrorism of the Islamic extremists?

We have plenty of ecological events happening: the Tsunami’s, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. going on all over the world, with the consequent famines and disease and poverty and starvation. End Times eschatology tells us these things will happen in unison with political trauma, and Man-oh-Manischevitz, don’t we have that in abundance now?

The A-C will be the one who puts an end to all these terrible events. 

Here’s how I see it happening: I believe we will see, originating in the United Nations, an international police organization come into being which will be empowered with authority throughout the membership of the UN to attack and defeat all forms of terrorism in the world. There will, of course, have to be management of this police force, and that will be through a triune leadership. One will be in charge of  policing actions (the Beast), one will be in charge of the administration of the program (the Dragon), and one will be in charge of reporting all that the police force accomplishes to the UN and the world (the False Prophet.) These three will lead this international police force in establishing the peace and prosperity of the world by defeating terrorism in a totally cruel and efficient manner.

For security purposes they will request (and receive) authority to establish world-wide martial law, and through this mandate they will control the world. Again, as a means of protecting the people, to simplify control there will be a single form of money, and the leaders of the world will report to this police force, essentially creating a de facto  one-world government. This won’t just be acceptable to the people, but they will actually be thankful for it.  In order to make it impossible for a terrorist to buy supplies or weapons without being known, all those who are “law-abiding citizens of the world” will be required to take the “Mark”, which will be the only acceptable form of ID to allow people to buy anything. Henceforth, anyone without the “Mark” will be considered a terrorist and an enemy of the world. This will be the beginning of the persecution and murder of God’s people, who will not be turned and refuse to take the “Mark.”

In this scenario, can you see how people will not only be giving their permission to the A-C to rule them, but will actually be thankful for his control and power? People will eagerly accept his “Mark” so that they can live peacefully. To those without the knowledge of the word of God and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to open their eyes and ears to what is happening, it will seem that Messiah has returned. And if you think it was bad for a Jew in Nazi Germany, that will be a cake-walk for anyone in the world without the “Mark” when these events come to be.

Then things will really get bad; not so much for those that have the “Mark”, but for those that are remaining faithful to God and the real Messiah, Yeshua. We will have Tribulation like nothing ever before, and for 3 years or so we will be in great turmoil. This is what Yeshua warned us about; many will be turned from the faith and only those that hold on will be saved. Many, many thousands will be put to death in the name of Yeshua, but those that do survive will be able to see what everyone who believes in Messiah Yeshua wants to see: Yeshua riding on the clouds in power and majesty, taking power back from the A-C and chaining him up for a thousand years.

This is what I believe will happen. Although I can’t really call this a “vision”, the entire scenario came to me in a second as I was reading this morning’s paper about how England says it will tighten it’s security after yesterday’s (6/4/17) terrorist attack.  I guess we won’t know how correct I am until it happens, so please accept this as a viable scenario, Then, if I am right about this, at least you have been alerted as to what you can expect.

 

Which Generation Will See the Kingdom of God?

Yeshua tells His Talmudim (Disciples, or students), and also mentions throughout the Gospels, that some of this generation will see the kingdom of God come:

Matthew 16:28- I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

Mark 9:1- And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.

Luke 9:27- I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God

If we took these statements literally, it would mean that at least some of the people He talked with would see what we expect from Revelations, i.e. the new heaven and the new earth, with the Temple coming down from the sky. But none of that happened then, and in fact, hasn’t happened even to this day.

Clearly, there must be a deeper meaning.

Judaism and Christianity both believe the number 7 has special significance, in that it represents completion; this comes from the 7th day being Shabbat (the world was completed in 6 days and on the 7th day God rested.) God told us to rest on the 7th day, after which we start to count the days until the next Shabbat, so we can draw from this that even though the world was created in just 6 days, God sees the 7th day as the completion of that cycle.

Further along on this thought, there is a belief in Judaism that the world is going to last for 6,000 years (Talmud-Sanhedrin 97a), and at that time (if the Messiah hasn’t come before then) the Age of Messiah will begin with the 7,000 year. The reason we wait 6,000 years is based on the 7th day Shabbat and this verse from the Psalms:

Psalms 90:4– For one thousand years in Your [God’s] eyes are but a day that has passed.

Let’s look at the biblical history of mankind: God created people through Adam and Eve, and all but 8 of them died out in the Flood. Then an entirely new race of people came from Noah and his sons. Can’t we call this a new generation of human beings? The next destruction of human beings, namely this current post-Flood generation, will occur with the Tribulation when all living and dead human beings will be judged, with the righteous (saved by Messiah) being resurrected with a new body, and the doomed going to the Lake of Fire and eternal damnation.   Therefore, we are a generation of people with finite lifetimes, which will be completely different after the final Judgment, when we will be beings of eternal life. A new, third generation.

Therefore, I believe what Yeshua meant when He said some of this generation will not pass away until they see the Kingdom of God come will be of those people who have lived between the Flood and the Tribulation. In the bible we have people who existed before the Flood (the first generation), then the people that repopulated the earth after the flood (the second generation, which is the current one), and there will be the third generation, composed of those who survive the Tribulation and are resurrected by means of their faith in Yeshua.

The number 7 represents completion, but so does the number 3. This is why I see God’s plan for His creation completed in the  7th  Millennia with the 3rd generation.

A completed creation, earth and people, that will last for eternity.

 

is willing to obey enough?

Why do we obey? When we are told to do something, we always have the choice to obey or refuse. There is a middle course- obey the order but don’t do it the way we were told. That isn’t really refusing, but it’s pretty darn close to it.

In the military you obey for one of two reasons: the first reason is if you don’t, you get in trouble, which can mean anything from losing free time to losing money to going to the Brig. The second reason is that you trust the officer giving the order and do what he or she says out of respect, and knowing that what they are asking you to do is for a good reason. You don’t have to know their reason, you just have to trust that they have a good one.

At the workplace (I think) most obey in order to keep their job- obedience from desire to remain out of trouble. And yet, as above, obedience does often come from knowing the manager has a good reason, respect for the person and trust that they know things need to be done in a certain way because that is the best way to do it.

We obey traffic laws so we don’t get a ticket, but overall we recognize that when everyone drives lawfully we protect ourselves and others. This obedience comes more from a desire for self-preservation than from respect for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

However, whether in the military, at the workplace, or even within a family unit, some people will refuse to do what they have been told to do and make excuses, saying someone else told them a different way, they didn’t understand, they got bogged down with other work and will get to it soon, yadda-yadda-yadda. Nearly everyone can find an excuse for not doing what they were told that will not result in them getting into too much trouble.

If you have been agreeing with me so far, I hope we can agree that when it comes down to it, there are two different motivations for obedience:

  1. To prevent getting into trouble; and
  2. Obedience that comes from respect and trust for (maybe we can add desire to please) the one telling you what to do, whether or not you understand why.

Now….what about obedience to God? What is the main motivation for that? As we said above, it is either because we fear retaliation (going to hell) or because we trust in God that what He tells us to do is for our benefit and that He knows what He is doing.

Oh, wait! Let’s not forget those “middle-of-the-road” types that will do what they want to do and refuse to do what they don’t want to do, then find excuses for disobedience. Such as, “My Rabbi/Priest/Pastor/Minister told me I don’t have to do that anymore”, or “That was just because of health reasons, but we have better medicine today and things are cleaner”, or “The men who wrote the bible are chauvinists”, or the the one I really can’t stand,”That’s for Jews only; we are Christians and don’t need to do that because Jesus overcame it.”

Oy!! I really can’t stand that excuse, which is totally man-made by people who refuse to do what God says simply because they don’t want to, then use Jesus (real name- Yeshua) as their excuse, ignoring the truth that He did those things, Himself, and preached that everyone should.

When you obey God’s word, do you obey what He told Moses or what the Elders (in Acts) said Gentiles need to do? If you read the entire bible, you will see that everything the Apostles (in Hebrew they are called “Talmudim”) did and preached is all based on the Old Covenant writings, including the laws of Moses, and they never, ever said that Gentiles accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah don’t have to follow the same rules and regulations as the Jews. That’s because there were no other religions that worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (BTW- He’s the same God of Jesus) that weren’t pagan. There were Pagans, and there were Jews, and the Jews worshiped God as God said they were supposed to. The same rules He gave Moses are the rules we are ALL told to obey.

God has no religion, only rules, regulations and commandments that are designed for our good. OUR good- not His. I mean, really- He’s God, the All Powerful, the Creator of Everything, the One and Only Almighty: do you really think there is anything, anywhere, that we humans could do or give Him that He can’t get anywhere except from us?

There is something God can only get from us: our worship, devotion and love.

I don’t obey every commandment, neither do you. None of us can, which is why Yeshua had to sacrifice not just His life on earth, but His divinity, too. But I try to obey, and more than that, I really, really want to be as obedient as I can simply because God asks me to do these things, and I trust God to know more than I do what is best for me. I also respect God, and as such want to do what he says I should out of respect for His justifiably absolute authority. Don’t think I am bragging- I try, but I fail, much more often than I succeed, but what I can boast about is that because of God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), which leads me, I can obey more often than I ever did. I’m still not very good at obeying, but I am getting better at it, and that is not from fear of reprisal, but from fear of the Lord (in the biblical sense, which means to have an awesome reverence for God.)

Obeying just to avoid going to hell is better than not obeying, but it is like the good seed falling on the poor soil, which never takes root deep enough to last during tribulations. If you obey only what is easy to obey, only what you don’t mind obeying, and only because you don’t want to go to hell, then your obedience is probably not going to be enough when the fecal matter hits the air circulation unit. The enemy will offer you a much better program, one that will let you pick and choose what you want to do and promise eternal reward for it. Trust me- it’s a lie; anything worth having is worth working for, and if you are promised great rewards for doing nothing hard, you are going to be very, very disappointed.

Think of all the wonderful things God has done for you- and even if you are homeless, sickly, distraught, lonely, whatever- even in those sad and unhappy conditions, God has made sure that you are still here: you still have hope for things getting better and you can always turn your life around. God will help if you ask for it, but you need to get off your tuchas and work at it. The bible tells us that salvation is not easy, that obedience is possible but very hard, and that suffering will ensue as you strengthen your relationship with God. It only makes sense- the world we live in is cursed and under the authority of the enemy, so anything ‘Godly” is out of place. So what? God is more powerful than the enemy, and even if the enemy attacks you and destroys everything you have (as he did with Job), God can replace it, easily, and give you even more than you had. And what God can do for you eternally the enemy can’t even come close to doing.

Obey from love, obey from respect, obey from desire to please God (a labor of love, so to speak) and obey every commandment you can. Do all that God said we should do (which is every commandment and regulation found between Genesis and Revelations) and never give up trying to do better.

That kind of obedience will be more than enough.

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.

No One Turns to God When They’re Happy

I may be wrong with today’s title. I am certain there are people out there who haven’t accepted God’s Grace and are enjoying fulfilling, useful and happy lives. Maybe there are people who have comfort and joy in their lives, but haven’t accepted God or His Messiah, then suddenly realize that it is not because of their own worthiness or power that they are so well off but because God is giving them blessings out of nothing more than His love for His children.

Maybe there are people who can appreciate Him and say to themselves, “Hey, know what? This is too good to be true, and I don’t deserve any of it because I am a sinner. So, while I am enjoying my life, let me stop and thank God for it, and take this time to accept His Grace, the salvation He made possible through Messiah Yeshua, and ask for forgiveness for the sins He is not punishing me for. ”

Maybe this is happening, maybe there are people who come to the Lord this way, maybe… but I really, REALLY doubt it.

Humans are self-centered, self-absorbed, self-important and hedonistic. And those are our good qualities!

I do not ever recall, in the 18 years I have been saved and even before, talking to anyone or hearing of anyone who came to the Lord in the midst of their joy. It is almost a foregone conclusion that when we are happy all we care about is staying happy. We don’t want to know or think of anything else.

In D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 8:10-20 Moshe warns the children of Israel against falling prey to their nature, in that once they have been secure and happy in the land they will forget it was God who did all that for them and that it was God who made it all possible, driving out the nations before them, and that it was because of God’s love for them that they have that security and abundance. He tells them to remember the Lord in the midst of their joy and not to think that they earned any of the peace they will have. In other places in the Torah he tells them to never think they are worthy of the land God is giving to them: in fact, Moses reminds them throughout the Torah about their stubbornness, their stiff-necked attitude and continual refusal to follow God’s laws wholeheartedly.

I think you have to agree with me- we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it. We want, we pray, we get, and when we are happy we think it was by our power we now have it and we ignore God. When it all goes away, we cry and kvetch and, finally, when we are beaten into a sobbing hulk of self-pity, those who are still smart enough to remember where it all came from look up to God, repent and ask forgiveness.

And He forgives. Over and over, He forgives. Not because we deserve it, because we don’t. I mean, maybe the first, or second, or even third time we screw it all up I can see His forgiveness being given. But after 40 years in the desert and still not paying attention? After thousands of years of distorting His word, making our own rules from His simple commandments? And what about the religions with rules that are against His commandments? How can He still be able, let alone willing- actually, wanting!-  to forgive us time and time again?

The answer is as simple as the commandments He gave us- He can, He does and He wants to because He is God.

If you are reading this and don’t consider yourself saved, thinking that your life is your own, please take this test:

  1. Can you add even 1 hour to the day?;
  2. Can you change one hair on your head from black to gray (without medical intervention)?;
  3. Do you know when you will die?;
  4. Do you know when Yeshua will return?

If you cannot answer any of those questions with an absolute “Yes”, I suggest you reconsider your position about God. And soon, because the prophecies about judgement are all pointing to the unavoidable conclusion that it will be here soon….very, very soon.

If your life is joyful and serene, please thank God for it. It’s because of Him. And if your life sucks, you are unhappy, depressed, needy and feel rejected, then look to God for help. He is there to bring you out of the pit and into the light.

And know this- those of you who are joyful and at peace today may be in tribulation tomorrow, so enjoy it and thank God for it.

Never lose sight of the fact that whatever you have that feels like a gift from above is just that- a gift from above. Yacov (James) reminds us in James 1:17 that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God doesn’t change, and we can. I think that is one of the greatest gifts that God provided for us, the fact that we have not just the opportunity to change, but the ability. They say the leopard cannot change it’s spots nor the tiger it’s stripes, but we can change; no matter how old we are, no matter how bad we’ve been (or good, for that matter- it can go both ways) and no matter how long we’ve been that way.

God will accept you whenever you ask His forgiveness and request His grace, so don’t wait for the bad times to do so and never forget to thank Him during the good times.

He is worthy and deserving of thanks, all the time.

Parashah Pinchas Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

The plague was just stopped by the zealousness of Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, when he killed a prince of Israel who was with a Midianite woman (also of high birth) and blatantly showing disdain and rebellion against Moses’s command to not have any relations (especially physical ones) with the Midianites. God makes a covenant with Pinchas that throughout his generations his seed will serve in the Priesthood.

The Israelites are at the end of their wandering, and God has already demonstrated His support as they have defeated two kings and taken their lands. Now He has them take another census, and after 40 years of living in a desert, the difference in the size from when they came out of Egypt and now is less than 3/10 of 1%. Essentially, there are as many now before entering the Land as there were when they left Egypt. Some of the tribes are less but the nation, as a whole, is the same size.

The rules for inheritance are stipulated and God reminds the people about the regulations for sacrifices, Joshua is appointed as Moses’s replacement and Moses is allowed to view the land, although he is still not to cross over and enter it.

Isn’t it amazing that when the Jews were in Egypt as slaves, with plenty of food, water and shelter they were able, despite their slavery, to grow into a great nation, and then after 40 years in a desert, devoid of food, water and shelter, they were still able to maintain their great size? Well, maybe it is amazing to someone who is secular minded, but to me it is just what I would expect from God. He said that the generation which had rebelled would die in the desert, and they did, but still we read in this parashah that not only did God maintain the size of His people, but even the descendants of Korach have survived (26:11) to enter the land.

Now, as God prepares the people for what is to come, He reviews the laws for the daily sacrifice and the holy convocations, since these were first given to the prior generation (Leviticus) before they were to enter the land. They didn’t get in, though, and it has been 40 years, so God is reminding them what to do when they enter.

The lesson I see here is simple: God’s plans, whatever they are, will be accomplished. He is flexible enough to make it seem to us, with our limited ability to understand, that He changes His mind or doesn’t accomplish what He said, but what is really happening is that the ship is moving. We may have to take a round-a-bout way to avoid some reefs and rough waters that weren’t on the chart, but it is always going to the place it is sailing to.

God’s plan of salvation has been working itself out since before Adam was created. The Israelites in the desert got to see miracles daily, and these have been recorded for us because we are too “sophisticated” and too “scientifically wise” to see the miracles that are still happening today, every day. We think that just because we can explain how an event occurs that knowing how it happens makes it less of a miracle. I can describe how the digestive system works, but does that make it less of a miracle? Could anyone of us design that system? Could any one of us make a stomach? Can we create a physical being that can spontaneously create hydrochloric acid inside itself and not burn itself to death from the inside out?

God needed a nation to enter the land that was big enough and strong enough (and faithful enough) to be His weapon of judgement against the nations that had been defiling His land for centuries. The first group didn’t meet that criteria, so God got rid of them and had the second group, just as large but more faithful, do the job. When all was said and done, what God wanted was accomplished. Oh, yes, not all of the baddies were destroyed and, yes, the people screwed up royally and ended up being thrown out of the land, also. But has that stopped God’s plan? No, of course not: God is this very day actually completing His plan. We see the regathering of the people back to the land and the land becoming a fruitful garden, again. And we see the world starting to suffer the judgement that God promised would happen through the words of the Prophets and in Revelations.

This parashah shows us that whatever God plans to do gets done. Maybe not when it was first started, maybe not with the people that it was first intended to use, but it will be done, one way or another. That is something that the enemies of God should find totally frightening, and the children of God should find totally encouraging.

The generations we are reading about in today’s parashah got to see God up close; they saw Him on the mountain when they were children, they have been miraculously fed and watered by him in a desert for forty years, and now they see Him supporting them in their battles, allowing them to defeat bigger and stronger nations, easily. They saw His plan to free them from slavery and lead them into the land evolve and succeed. We, today, are also seeing His plan evolve and succeed. We have seen the Messiah overcome sin, we have seen the gathering of the people back to the land happening for the past 60 years, and we are seeing the earth being judged and in turmoil, weather-wise, politically and spiritually. The enemy is on the move, this is his time and we are seeing it happen. We need to steel ourselves against what is to come because it will come! Don’t listen to the prophets that advised Ahab, or the ones that told Zedekiah everything is fine. We are coming into the End Days, and it won’t be pretty.

Take hope, no matter how bad it gets, in the knowledge and the proven, historical evidence that God’s plan WILL be done, and the promises He made and the ones He will make are all absolutely trustworthy.

And also remember that you are responsible to do your part- God will keep His word to you, but you need to hold up your end of the bargain.

Peace in the Midst of Turmoil

I am attending a Bible study on the Prophets and prophecy. It is a short study, just during the summer, and already I am learning new things.

One of the things I enjoy about this class is how it brings out that the prophets always left us with God’s promise of the regathering of Israel and the coming of the New Creation. However, there is a lot of Tsouris before that happens and none of it is very enjoyable. Death, famine, mutilation, sexual abuses, murdering babies…sounds more like some video game than real life.

But it is going to be real life. It may happen during our lifetime, it may happen to our children, but whenever it happens, it is not going to be spiritualized or quick. It will be devastating to people, animals and the Earth, itself.

The upside to this is that for those who accept Messiah Yeshua as God’s Messiah, and are working to be more of what God requires of us, we can find peace in the midst of this turmoil.

We have armor that God has provided to us to wear and protect us during the battle (see Ephesians 6) and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), which Yeshua called “the Comforter” (John 14 – 16) to guide and help us in times of trial and need to find that peace that comes with knowing Yeshua.

If I was to try to define what it was that I saw in Believers, before I was one, that attracted me to them it wasn’t the promise of heaven, nor the threat of hell, but the peace that they found even when they had the same troubles and situations I had. I was frantic, angry and frustrated, striking out against anyone and everyone, using cruelly cynical and “dirty” humor and really bad language. Since I have accepted Yeshua, and was given the Ruach, I have calmed down tremendously. Except, maybe, for my language when I am trying to get something down and these stupid, slow and uncooperative computers that I am working with just don’t want to do what I want them to do when I want them to do it so I start to get crazy and then I have to let it all out and say, “$^&&^$##@#&^(**&^$$$#%^^$##%%!!!!!!

Um…where was I?  Oh, yes…peace in the midst of turmoil….

The Ruach helps us to stay in touch, spiritually and, yes, even physically, with God. Haven’t you ever felt the calming touch of the Lord? I miss it so much, so often, and realize it’s because I am not reaching out. So at Shabbat services, I will now and then cover my head with my Tallit, and sit during worship music under my own Kippur and pray to God for His touch. I try to open my heart and my emotions; I try not to think of anything else except asking Him to touch me. That’s all, just touch me. And when I am open, when my spirit is broken, my heart is appealing and my request is genuinely, humbly presented….He responds. I feel that tingling, that sudden emotional “rush” that feels like the waters of life have washed over me, leaving me sparkling clean. I feel the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders, and I have to cry tears of joy and peace.

Yes, the big, tough Marine cries. Heck, I cry if the TV commercial has a happy ending. I can’t cry at real life, but I can cry over a movie or a stupid TV show. One day I’ll have to figure out why that is.

Have you felt God’s presence? Do you know His touch? If you do, then you can understand, and I’ll bet as you are reading this you are feeling exactly as I feel writing it, thinking just how nice it would be to feel that way right now! But if you don’t know what I am talking about, you need to ask God for His intervention in your spiritual growth; ask God to send the Ruach and have an open heart and mind to accept it. Also ask the Ruach, itself, to let you know it is there. I remember reading somewhere that we can ask the Ruach, the Holy Spirit, to come to us. It is a sort of self-help, with the Ruach’s help: you stop what you are doing, you close your eyes (obviously you don’t want to do this while driving or operating heavy equipment) and you ask the Ruach to give you peace, to help you overcome the moment. Breathe deeply and slowly, relax, prepare yourself for whatever the Ruach is going to do, and faithfully expect that your prayer will be answered. I really believe, from my own experience, that if you genuinely ask and trust in the Spirit, the Spirit will answer you with a sense of peace and relaxation. Maybe even joy, in the midst of your Tsouris.

That’s what we can look forward to; in the middle of the destruction, we will be at peace. God gives us a spirit not of fear but of victory. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will have no fear, for Thou are with me.

Those are very powerful words, and they should be a reminder to us that the power of God is living within us, and greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

When the world starts to fall apart, which it is already doing, don’t look to yourself for the strength to survive: ask the Ruach for help.

For any human to find peace during the Tribulation times, it is impossible, but with God, well…you know how that one ends, don’t you?

 

Sin is Now; Forgiveness is Later

We are all sinners.

It isn’t a pleasant thought, but it is true. It doesn’t mean we are a bad person if we sin; if that was true, then every single person who ever lived (except one, of course) would be a bad person. And that one who didn’t sin, by the way, when called “good” refused to accept that description and reminded the person that the only one who is “good” is God.

Since we all are sinners, that means we all sin. DUH!!  We sin every day, and we are supposed to forgive each other. We are not commanded to ask for forgiveness, but to forgive.  Forgiveness is what God wants us to do: read the Bible and realize, if you don’t already, that even though Yeshua tells us to leave our sacrifice at the altar and go make right any relationship issues we have with anyone else before offering the sacrifice, we are not commanded to ask for forgiveness– we are commanded to forgive. Read Matthew 6:14 if you don’t believe me. And that’s just one example; the Manual is rife with other examples of the fact that we are to forgive.

Of course, we are to ask for forgiveness, as well, but forgiving is what we do here on Earth. So if we forgive here on Earth, why am I saying that forgiveness is later? I say that because the forgiveness we really need is from God, and the forgiveness He gives doesn’t really count until we are dead.

David said it in Psalm 51- despite what he did to Uriah (and Bat-Sheba, too) he knew that his sin was, first and foremost, against God. Whenever we sin, and whomever we sin against, it is always against God because He told us not to sin, so when we do it is always a violation of His commandment, and to violate God’s commandment is to reject the Lord. That’s hard to hear, but it is the truth- to sin against anyone is to reject God.

As such, the forgiveness you receive from another person is good, but not for you: the one who receives the benefit from forgiveness is the one who is forgiving. By obeying God that person will receive more blessings. The one who is forgiven by another human being may feel some relief now, but the real forgiveness that does that person good is when it comes from God. Think about it: will God let you into heaven simply because you are forgiven by someone else? If that was true nearly everyone would be allowed in because nearly every Mother will forgive her child anything. It is God’s forgiveness we all need, that is the forgiveness that keeps us from eternal sunburn, and that is the forgiveness that we can claim only when we are one of the sheep shepherded by Yeshua Ha Maschiach. If we don’t have Yeshua in our corner, we have no hope of salvation.

The sins we commit are here and now, but the forgiveness we need to receive will be coming when we face God and Yeshua says, “This one is mine, Father.”  When I am forgiven by another person that is good for that person, and when I am forgiven by God that is good for me. Even though I will feel better, here and now, if I ask for and receive forgiveness from the person (or people) I sin against, it is God’s forgiveness that I need and it comes through asking it in Yeshua’s name. But I must first be one of Yeshua’s sheep.

God will forgive us as soon as we ask it, so long as we ask correctly: we must come to Him with a broken spirit, with a contrite heart, and we have to mean it! God isn’t stupid and He can’t be fooled- if anyone thinks they can get into heaven simply by saying they believe Yeshua is the Messiah and in His name they ask forgiveness of their sins, it doesn’t work that way. Yes, those are the right words, but you need the right state of heart and mind when you say them. You have probably heard the expression, “You get what you pay for?” Well, your salvation will be as real and wonderful as the work you put into it. It is NOT free- just because we can’t buy it or earn it doesn’t mean it is free. It is invaluable. It is priceless. It is more than anyone can ever accomplish on their own, and it only takes your heartfelt repentance to receive it. But it isn’t “free”- it will cost you friends, it will cost you earthly pleasures, and it may even cost you your life. There are Believers all over the world losing their lives, this very day, because of their belief in God and their work for His Kingdom.

No, my brothers and sisters, salvation can not be bought or earned, but it is not free.

What you may give up now are things that you will lose anyway, when you die, but what you will receive now is peace of spirit, and later complete joy in God’s presence, for all eternity.

Not a bad deal, don’t you agree?

Try your best not to sin: we can never be sinless, but we can always sin less. So do that: sin less. Always ask for forgiveness from all those whom you have sinned against: the ones on Earth, and your Father in heaven. And more than that: remember to always forgive those who have sinned against you.

Invest in your eternity by depositing your forgiveness of others every day, and at your final retirement the size of your spiritual IRA will be greater than any CD or stock could ever pay out.

My Worst Nightmare Come True

To the person who said always follow your dreams, I say,”Bah!! Humbug!!”

I have had a beard, and a nice one, too, for about 18 years. My wife likes it, I like it, and I have been complimented on it.

Occasionally I have this nightmare where I am really tired, and getting ready for work, and instead of shaving around the beard I accidentally shave a portion of it off.

Well, you can see where this is going, I am happy, at least, to say it wasn’t a careless mistake. I bought a new beard trimmer and was testing the plastic heads that allow you to trim to a specific length, and the one that I wanted to use slipped off the shaver head just as I was working my way up the left side of my moustache. So, ZIP!! Half the moustache is gone. I tried to shorten everything else to make up for it, but when I really did not want to face the truth, I took the coward’s way out…I asked Donna if it looked okay.

After I picked her up off the floor (not from fainting but from hysterical laughter) she confirmed what I knew all along, ever since the shaver head fell off.

Like the lead song from that 1960’s movie: Bye, Bye Beardie!

So, nu?  What’s this got to do with God, or Messianic Judaism, or anything, for that matter?  Good question.

My beard was a part of me, and it was something I had cared for and never expected to lose. But in a moment it was gone. Worse than that, in a moment it suffered a devastating accident, and I had to take action on  my own to complete the partial loss.

It’s like when a loved one is suffering, or brain-dead and we have to be the ones to pull the plug. Yes, yes…I know….a beard is not a loved one, but the lesson is the same. We never know when something will happen to change what we expected to remain the same.

In the B’rit Chadasha (Good News) Yeshua is talking with a man who says he is going to build a barn, store his grain, yadda-yadda-yadda. He was telling Yeshua all the plans he had made before trusting totally, and Yeshua called the man a fool, because he was making all these plans for his life, but his life was going to be called that very night. The lesson was that the man was too busy being involved in worldly things to recognize the need to first and foremost be right with God.

We don’t know when we will have an accident. That’s why they call it an “accident”: if you plan for it, it is an event. We don’t know why or when or what will happen, day by day, minute by minute. That’s why we have to be prepared for the unprepared. The way to do that is to be right with God, and trust God to take care of whatever comes your way.

If you are right with God, and you know someone who isn’t (they shouldn’t be hard to find) please tell them about my beard. Tell them how the world is an unknown, and that we can never get back what has been lost. We can only go forward, and sometimes we need to be able to let go of the little bit that is left so we can move on.

There is nothing of this world that is more important than preparing for the second life. The whole purpose of being alive is to take the opportunity to prepare for death. If we plan to wait only a minute longer, we may not have even a second to do that. We need to make sure we are not afraid to tell someone who is not a Believer, or a Believer who is not doing right, that they have no time to wait.

I believe we are living in prophetic times. I see the world coming against Israel, the growth of unrest, wars, bad weather, and an evil that is growing very quickly from the Middle East. We, those who believe in God, that Yeshua is the Messiah, and have been saved must try to get the word out. I often take “chances”, dropping little hints here and there in conversation at work or when I volunteer at the Brevard Zoo, or just in general conversation to see if I get a reaction. I will talk about a story in a book relating to the conversation and tell one of the parables, or a story from the Torah or one of the writings, to exemplify the point I am making. If I get a positive response, I may ask further, “Oh, you know that one. Do you read the Bible?” and that can lead me into a discussion, if the other person is willing.

It’s always by baby-steps so I don’t do wrong. Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) tells us there is a time for everything, so if it seems the other person is willing to listen, talk; if they are shying away, leave them be. You can’t shove God down someone’s throat. But you can give them a small taste, and since God’s word never returns void, you don’t know what  good you might have just done by sowing seeds.

We need to sow the seeds, no matter what kind of soil, and let God do the rest.

I’m not sure if I will keep the baby-face look or not. I figure since it’s done, I might as well stay clean-shaven for a while and see what the general reaction is. You know Donna didn’t waste a second before posting my shaven face on Facebook, and we got a dozen OMG!’s before 5 minutes passed (don’t these people have a life?) Maybe I should leave the beard off- being Messianic doesn’t mean I have to look Orthodox, right? Besides that, Donna has a real good belly-laugh every time I try to kiss her now. Until she gets used to it, it’s worth being this way just to make her happy.

Maybe you won’t have to suffer the loss of your beard, but we all will suffer the loss of our loved ones, and our loved ones will suffer the loss of us. Prepare for them- have your will or trust in order, get a Living Will so they don’t have to make that decision for you when you can’t make it for yourself, and tell people to be prepared for death.

The most important way to be prepared for death (as far as I am concerned) is to reserve my place in the resurrection. I have done that by accepting the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised throughout the Tanakh, and I have accepted the gift of Grace through Yeshua. I have made fellowship with God through the fellowship sacrifice Yeshua made when He gave up His human life so I could have my spiritual life. My human life is how I prepare for my eternal life, and I am set. I have a reserved space, a guaranteed ticket, and all I have to do is make sure I do my part while I am waiting to be called.

The Torah says never come before the Lord empty handed. When I am called before Him, I want to have baskets and baskets full of fruit, the first fruit of my life’s work to bring the Good News to people. I am no missionary, and I am not the type to minister to people. I don’t have that strong a love. I am a good teacher- that is my gift from God, and I will try to use that to bring His word to the world.

I also need to live the word and not just speak the word. That’s hard to do, and I stink at it. But I am getting better.

That’s what living the life of a Believer means to me: not being a different me, just being a better me. And not being who I was, a sinner who rationalizes his sins, but being who I am, a sinner who regrets his sins. This is the path we walk, the way we need to be, and the most difficult thing in the world to do: live in the world but refuse to be a part of the world. I am a foreigner, a sojourner in the world, but unlike those that sojourned with the children of Israel and were expected to live as they did, I am not accepting the world’s ways. I want to live as God says I should live.

What about you? Are you ready to lose people important to you? Are you ready to lose things that you love? Are you ready to lose your very life? If not, get with the program, people! Get real- you will lose everything when the Tribulation starts! If you aren’t ‘raptured’ out you will be in the middle of it (and I have to add I don’t think anyone can say, for certain, who will or won’t be enraptured, or even if or when it will happen.) We must steel ourselves for the battle, get familiar with our armor (read Ephesians) and prepare our emotions and our very souls for loss and sadness. The Ruach will get us through it, if we learn to look to it and draw on it’s strength. It is, after all, the Comforter.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord by preparing yourself.