The Best Counter-Attack Ever Made

It’s almost here!! My newest book, Parashot Drashim A Commentary of the Weekly Torah Reading for Both Jews and Gentiles is almost ready for publication.  Watch for it. 

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

As a (former active duty) Company Executive Officer in the Marine Corps, I can tell you that the very first thing you do after having won a battle is to prepare for the counter-attack.  Whether you have successfully “taken the hill” or cleared the building, freed the town or whatever the objective was that you have completed, the time when you are most vulnerable is as soon as you have won. Before you attend to the wounded or do anything else, you set up your perimeter defenses and make sure that everyone on the line has their ammunition and selected zones of fire. Only after the area is secured do you then take care of the other things.

Yeshua died on the execution stake, was buried and rose three days later. That was the objective achieved- the sting of death was taken away and the pathway to salvation for the entire world was cleared. But the Enemy wasn’t done away with- he was still here, and planning his counter-attack.  That counter-attack was to split the factions between believing and unbelieving Jews to the point where those who were able to avoid the sting of death would be considered traitors and outcasts from “mainstream” Judaism. In essence, the Enemy wanted to turn salvation made possible to salvation lost to all the unbelieving Jews in the world. 

Yeshua warned us about this in Matthew 10:34

Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’…

Although Yeshua was quoting from Micah 7:6 regarding the punishment God was inflicting on a sinful Israel, I see this also as a prophetic warning as to how the Enemy will try to inflict ruin on the efforts of the believers in Yeshua to gather all people to the Messiah.

And, to a large degree, it worked. The Enemy used people to discredit the resurrection, and when Gentiles were brought to salvation he used the leaders among them, as well as the confusion that came from some of the Epistles written by Shaul, to not only cause a chasm between Believing Jews and the Gentiles converting to Judaism but to create an entirely new religion which was not what Yeshua taught. This was accomplished by the Council of Nicene, and since then the schism has grown wider, having been fueled with persecution, hatred, distrust, and bigotry…from both sides.

The objective of the Messiah was to bring people back to God; to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. This was done, but the success of that objective was damaged by the counter-attack of the Enemy. It is similar to the Battle of Iwo Jima: the Marines were successful in capturing the island, but for months afterward they were still being attacked by Japanese hidden in underground caves and it took a long time and more deaths before the island was completely safe. 

The difference in the way people worshiped between the Jews that rejected the Messiahship of Yeshua and the Jews that didn’t was small at first. There were Jews that accepted Yeshua and Jews that didn’t, but they were all Jews worshipping as Jews. However, as more and more Gentiles were added it grew to the point where the Messianic community was composed mostly of Gentiles.  At that time the Jews were being politically persecuted (because they were in revolt) so due to the political environment, the Gentile Believers were encouraged to part from their Jewish roots.  This resulted in moving the Sabbath to Sunday, the creation of “Christian” holidays to compete with the Jewish festivals and men like Ignatius of Antioch and other “church fathers” forming canon and traditions that were against the Judaic ones. At that point, the Enemy’s counter-attack had some level of success. 

But he hasn’t won. He lost the war when Yeshua rose, and the strength of his position is now starting to weaken. The Hebraic Roots movement is bringing Christians closer to their proper place within the plan of salvation, and the growth of the Messianic Jewish movement is bringing Jews back to their Messiah. The regathering of Jews to their Homeland is also part of God’s counter-counter-attack. The final battle is soon to come, and we all know who the winner is going to be. 

It is up to us, those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah, to faithfully continue the attack against the Enemy. There are many strong points that he holds, which we need to attack. One of those is the image of the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus Christ that the world believes started Christianity.  Approach Jews with the truth about their Messiah using only the name “Yeshua” and quoting only from the Tanakh regarding what the Messiah was supposed to do. You can’t convince a Jewish person about Yeshua if you call him “Jesus” and use the New Covenant writings for your proof – to a Jew, those are both false. Jesus is a false Messiah who created a religion that hates Jews and the New Covenant isn’t scripture. In fact, to a Jewish person, the New Covenant is a bunch of hooey that Christians wrote about their god.

The Enemy made an excellent counter-attack that has postponed the final accomplishment of the Messiah’s objective. The Enemy managed to postpone the End Days but did not defeat God’s plan; he just made us wait a little while longer.  The Enemy’s success in turning Gentiles converting to Judaism into a new religion that ended up persecuting Jews will be turned around by God. In fact, we are seeing that happen this very day, and eventually what the Enemy did will come down on his own head.

All we have to do is wait until God has had enough. At that time he will send Messiah Yeshua back to Earth to perform the final “mop-up operations.” 

How To Blow Up a Bridge

A bridge gives us passage from one place to another over a terrain or obstacle that cannot be crossed by walking or driving. In the Marines Corps, one of the things I was responsible to do was to be able to blow up bridges that gave the enemy a tactical advantage

We have a bridge that is between us and God, which has it’s entrance here in the world and leads to salvation. Like all bridges, it is composed of components that provide the support needed to allow us to cross over.

The enemy of God wants to destroy that bridge, and we need to know how he plans to do it.

Parashah Vayyakhel (and he assembled) Exodus 35 – 38:20

Moses calls all the people to him and asks that they offer up, each according to his or her own desire, the materials needed to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. Everything from wood to precious metals, base metals and gemstones were required, as well as cloth and people to do the work. God names Bezalel and Oholiab, from the tribes of Judah and Dan (respectively) to oversee the work because of their skills, and to teach others how to do the work needed. They were to be both the skilled craftsmen and skilled instructors.

The rest of this parashah, in fact, most of the rest of the book of Exodus,  is a very detailed and exacting narration about the construction of the Tabernacle and the Ark, and of the other items associated with the Tabernacle.

There is always a message, even in what seems to be a simple description of constructing the Tabernacle. The contributions came from the old, from the young, from men, from women, from the common people and from the nobles. In chapter 35 we read about how every man who had wood brought it, every woman who could spin spun the linen, and the rulers brought the stones needed for the ephod.  Both common and ruler, men and women, any and all who had what was needed brought their possessions (much of which they received when they left Egypt) and didn’t just hand them over, but gave them to the workers, gladly and eagerly. Shaul tells us in 2 Corinthians, 9:7 (which he is quoting from the Septuagint) that God loves a cheerful giver, and all the people gave cheerfully. So much so, in fact, that in 36:5 the workers ask Moshe to tell the people to stop bringing stuff- they already have way too much!

Yet, what? Only a month or so before this these same people who are happily and faithfully obeying the Lord, were dancing and reveling before a Golden Calf! Can they really be as faithful as they appear, given their proclivity to change faith and belief with the changing of the wind?

Yes, they can. Yes, they do, and yes, they did. I am not a “people person”- I have been in customer service in one form or another most of my career, and I have been (and am, now) in a position of leadership at the place where I worship, yet I am not really all that interested in “people.” A friend once told me that humanity is a wonderful thing: it’s the people that screw it all up! I couldn’t agree more.

And after having confessed my lack of compassion for and trust in people, I am still happy to say that I believe the message (at least, for me) in this parashah is not so much about the building of the Tabernacle as it is about the people giving so cheerfully and selflessly so soon after such a terrible sin. The difference between then and now is only one thing: they repented. They repented and God forgave them, and now they are cleansed.

Ever get so dirty that you can’t remember what clean felt like? I have, many times. Not just working around the house for a day, but when I was in the Marine Corps and we did training in the field. I was in woods, in desert, covered with dirt, sweat, and camouflage paint. You get used to it, and when you get back home you spend a good amount of time in the shower, cleaning everything two or three times. Then, when you come out all squeaky clean and neat, you feel GREAT!!

I imagine that is how the people felt, after they did T’Shuvah (turning from sin) and Moshe told them that God had forgiven them and would maintain His presence among them.

Sin is like a crust of foul smelling and filthy dirt that covers us, and when we are in it long enough we don’t smell it anymore. It’s only after being cleansed that we remember how good it feels to be clean. So, even after a terrible sin such as the one with the Golden Calf, being cleansed can make us more joyful and faithful than we thought possible.

The more we live in dirt the less we remember what it feels like to be clean. The more we allow sin to rule our lives, the dirtier we get, and the further from the joy and peacefulness we can feel only when in God’s presence. We may not smell the sin, but God does. He will not associate with sin and will not allow sinfulness in His presence, so when we stink from sin we can’t get close to God.

The Grace He provided through Yeshua is what cleans us so that we can come into His presence, and allows us to experience the joy and peace His “touch” brings.

We all sin, we are sinners from our birth, but we can also be cleansed. Yes, this is a job for Clorox- spiritual Clorox, that is. And that Clorox of the spirit is called Grace, and it is delivered by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). This Clorox isn’t bleach- it is the blood of the Messiah, Yeshua. And whereas bleach cleans your clothes, the blood of Yeshua cleans your soul. Whiter than Clorox could ever get it, too!

We will sin, we will fall, but we can also get up. That is what happened at Mt. Sinai. They learned the temporary nice feeling we get from sinning is nothing compared to the complete and overflowing joy we get from obeying the Lord.

Sin feels nice for a little while, but the joy of the Lord feels great all the time. Which would you prefer?

(hashtag) Enough Already!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Always Do As You’re Told?

I was a 1st Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. During the 3 1/2 years (and 1 year in the reserves) I was on duty I led a platoon of Combat Engineers, had a Truck Platoon, and was the Company XO (Executive Officer: for you civilian types, that’s the person who is 2nd in command of a company, which is made up of 3 platoons. My company was the Headquarters and Support Company for the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and was very large, with about 365 men.) Believe me, I know all about following orders and doing as I am told.

So did the Nazi’s. So did those people who killed for Charles Manson. So do the ISIS terrorists. And on, and on, and on…

We need to obey those orders and instructions that are valid and correct, and we need to know when they aren’t. Sounds easy enough, but it isn’t. There is mob mentality, there is fear of retribution, there is fear of rejection (peer pressure), and there is the legitimate concern about being put in jail or held accountable for breaking the rules.

So how do we know the difference between doing what we are told to do or (as I am leading into) believing what we are told to believe, and rejecting what they say?

Good question…I wish I had an answer for it. The best I can come up with is to follow your instincts. Oh, yes, there is something else you should do: read the Bible regularly so you know what God says is the right thing to do, how God says to treat each other, and ask the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to lead you and help you understand.

The Torah is more than just a bunch of religious rules, or a history lesson. It also defines how we should treat each other. It gives us a penal code so that when we mistreat each other there is a fair and reasonable system of retribution. It treats slavery, which was the way of the world then, with dignity for the slave and accepted slaves as human beings, even though they were, legally, property. It teaches us how to get along (Can’t we all just get along?), and not just how to treat other people, but how to act when mistreated by other people.

The Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor (whatever you call the religious leader of your particular religious organization) should be respected and given a modicum of trust for, if no other reason, the level of education and commitment they have demonstrated to be where, and what, they are. But these things also have to be earned. These people are, after all, still human and subject to human frailties. Listen to what they say, but also accept everything with a grain of salt and verify it for yourself by reading God’s word and asking Him to show you what He wants for you.

The Bible tells us to respect our elders, to honor and obey those put in authority over us, but overall to do as God says. If the “legal” authority is telling you to do something that God says is wrong, you must choose who you will follow. Likewise, if you are being told how you are to worship but you do not verify it for yourself , as I recommend above, you may be one of the blind being led by the blind. Yeshua tells us when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a hole.

I can’t speak for God, but from all my study and reading and in my spirit, I feel confident saying this to you: when you meet the Almighty at His Throne of Judgement, and you say you were just doing what the (enter title of religious leader) told you, God is going to say something along the lines of, “I understand, but I don’t care what they tell you: it’s what I tell you that counts!”

Chew on that for awhile. It may not taste good, but what the world wants you to do is almost always against what God wants us to do. Like some of the scrolls that the prophets ate, the world tastes good going down but will really give you an upset stomach in the long run.

As for me, I choose God. I have been fortunate and blessed that this choice has not gotten me in trouble yet, but I know it will. I believe we are in prophetic times, and the world is quickly speeding towards destruction. When the Son of Perdition comes to power, I will NOT take the mark. That is going to make life difficult, if I live through it, at all. But I am ready; I am a Marine and I am Jewish; I have the blood and spirit of two of the most fearsome warrior tribes ever known to humankind. Bring it on!

But not just yet, OK?

When I was in sales and people used to meet me at their door and say, “No matter what you say I am not buying anything today!” I would ask them, “Do you make your decisions based on information?” When they told me they do, I would say, “Then why are you saying no to something you don’t even know about? Look- it’s your money, do what you want with it. All I am asking is that you let me tell you about the product so that whatever decision you make, it is an informed decision.”

That’s all I am asking you to do- make an informed decision regarding what you choose to believe. You can’t do that unless you know all about the product, so read the Manual.

Don’t be foolish or lazy about this: where you spend Eternity depends on it.

Believing Isn’t Accepting

Do you recall where, in the Bible, we are told that just believing in Yeshua as the Messiah and Son of God isn’t enough? It is followed by the fact that even the demons believe He is the Son of God (I’ll give you a hint- look for it in the Book of Yakov.)

When I talk to people about salvation, even though I call myself a “Believer”, what I really should start to do is call myself an “Acceptor” because I don’t just believe that God exists, and I just don’t believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah God promised us, but I accept this. That means I adopt it, I embrace it, I am committed to living my life differently because of it.

When I accepted that Yeshua is the Messiah, I realized that my life would have to change. When you stop denying your car needs to go to the shop, when you know that you’re overweight and a glucose count of 3,000 is something you cannot live with…whenever you have a “truth” you don’t want to acknowledge, but have to, that is what it is like when you accept the truth (if you will) about Yeshua.

It’s something that, once accepted, can no longer be ignored. You have to make a choice- be a slave to sin or a slave to God.

I think that’s why so many people will believe, but not accept. They live in a sort of partial acceptance and partial denial: they believe Yeshua is the Messiah and Son of God, and that God is real, but they deny to themselves that there are consequences for ignoring God’s rules and laws. They go with, “I believe in Jesus- He died for my sins. And besides that, I’m a good person; I don’t commit murder and I don’t steal, so I will go to heaven.”

WRONG!!! No one is good, everyone sins, and there are 613 commandments in the Old Covenant: take away the 1/3 (thereabouts) of them that deal with the sacrificial system and you still have a lot more commandments, rules and regulations than just not murdering or lying. According to God, and to Yeshua, and to Shaul (St. Paul), if you have violated so much as one stroke of the pen of the Torah you have violated the entire Torah.

God is bi-nomial: it is or it isn’t, right or wrong, black or white, day or night…there is no “middle ground” with God. If there was, we probably wouldn’t need Yeshua.

The truth is we are all sinners, inside and out, and without Yeshua/ Jesus/ the Messiah we wouldn’t have a chance of surviving the second death. That is what people hear, many believe it but so many still don’t accept it as really real.

When you feel a cold coming on, don’t you tell yourself it’s just a sore throat from talking and that you will feel better tomorrow?  We know it’s a cold, but we tell ourselves it isn’t. And we keep saying that until we are sick as a dog and now have to face the truth. And by the time we accept the truth, it is too late to avoid the consequences.  When I am coughing, nose running and throat sore for two days, it is too late to take the Cold Eeze to avoid the sickness. Now I will have to suffer through instead of either having it much easier or maybe having been able to avoid it, altogether.

If you believe Yeshua is the Son of God and the Messiah God promised, well, big deal. That won’t do it. You need to accept His Messiahship, you need to change how you see sin, you need to do T’Shuvah (turning from sin) and you need to do it now. Who knows when it will be too late?

I used to sell Revocable Living Trusts, which protect an estate from most of the expenses of Probate, and when people would tell me they believe it is a good idea, but they aren’t ready to accept it (i.e., commit to getting it done) just yet, I would say, “That’s right- why spend the money until you absolutely need to? So, since this takes about 3 months to complete (as I pull out my calendar) tell me when you are going to die and I will make an appointment three months before then.”

Unless you know, absolutely, when you are going to die, you need to accept Yeshua now! Don’t just “believe”- that’s not enough. You need to accept, to commit, to do T’Shuvah.

When I was an active duty Marine, I learned that “close” only counts in two games: horseshoes and handgrenades. Believing is close, but won’t get you there. Only accepting will save you.