Parashah B’ha’alotecha 2020 (When you set up) Numbers 8 – 12

The people have been in the desert for a year and have completed building the Tabernacle. Now God tells Moses to have Aaron set up the lampstand, or menorah so that the light will shine in front of it. Next, the Levites are cleansed and dedicated to the Lord for service unto him, and they are to be the substitution for all the firstborn among the people of Israel; all the firstborn of the people are ransomed to God since he took all the firstborn of Egypt as a ransom for the people.

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The Levites are to serve from the ages of 25 through 50; afterward, they are to help with the service but not to perform any of the actual work.

As Passover begins this second year, some men were made unclean and God said that those who could not celebrate Passover in the first month could do so the exact same way on the same days in the second month.

The cloud over the Sanctuary would be the signal for moving or remaining, and when it was taken away from the Tabernacle the people followed it. On the 20th day of the second month of the second year of freedom, the cloud moved to the desert of Paran. I believe this happened on the 20th day as there were those who were still celebrating the Passover because they were unclean in the first month.

As they are getting ready to move, Moses asks his father-in-law to come along and act as a guide, but he refuses. Moses asks a second time, but we aren’t told what answer he was given; however, in Judges 1:16 and 4:11 we read about the descendants of Moses’s father-in-law, so it appears that he did stay with the Israelites.

The final chapters of this parashah deal with the people complaining about not having any meat to eat, which leads Moses to ask God for help because their whining and rebellion is too much for him to bear. God gives some of the spirit he gave to Moses to 70 of the Elders, to help Moses lead the people, and then sent quails to feed them. However, as punishment for their complaining, the people were also cursed with a terrible plague.

In Chapter 12, Aaron and Miriam complain against Moses because of the wife he took, and God calls them to the Tent of Meeting where he chides Aaron and Miriam for speaking out against Moses, who God speaks to as a friend. Miriam is struck with leprosy, although Aaron is not punished. Aaron begs forgiveness from Moses, and Moses begs God to heal Miriam, which he does but requires her to be shut outside the camp for a week.

There certainly is a lot happening in this Shabbat reading, which has special meaning for me because the last section of Chapter 12 was the portion I read for my own Bar Mitzvah, oh so many years ago.

What struck me when I read this week’s parashah is at the beginning, and actually has very little to do with the happenings in this parashah. It was during the instructions for the Levite’s cleansing (Numbers 8:12) where God tells them they must sacrifice a sin offering and then a burnt offering.

The sin offering is, of course, to be able to receive forgiveness of sin, and the burnt offering (also called a wholly burnt offering) is to signify total rededication to the covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham, i.e. renewing one’s promise to obey God’s instructions.

There is a teaching within Christianity that is called OSAS, which stands for Once Saved, Always Saved and it is part of the other (wrongful) teaching that the “law” was nailed to the Cross. This is, of course, not justified by anything in the Bible, anywhere, and teaches people that they don’t have to repent or even ask forgiveness because when Jesus died for their sins, he covered all their sins: past, present, and future.

The truth is Yeshua did die for our sins, past, present, and future, but that forgiveness is NOT automatic.

God will not forgive someone who is not repentant, and also only when he is asked for forgiveness. It is clear that the sacrificial system, which states once we have offered up our sin sacrifice we must follow it immediately with a burnt sacrifice, shows that God requires more than just repentance and asking for forgiveness: God also requires our rededication to obedience. The teaching of “Once saved, always saved” is not how God told us it works.

When we sin, we must first repent; if you don’t really care about having sinned, then you don’t really care about being forgiven, and you certainly wouldn’t consider rededicating yourself to obedience since obedience isn’t all that important to you, anyway.  Right?

Sin is pervasive, and it is also very hard to overcome. Our very nature is sinful, and it is only through the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that we can overcome our sinful desires and sinful thoughts, which (as Yeshua taught us) are just as bad as having actually sinned.

So, the lesson I would like us to learn from this parashah is that repentance is the beginning of forgiveness, sacrifice makes forgiveness possible (thank you, Yeshua), but without your heartfelt rededication to obedience, it will all be unacceptable to God.

Sin will happen, we can’t avoid that, and without the temple in Jerusalem the only way forgiveness is possible is through Yeshua. Yeshua made forgiveness available to us, but without your heartfelt and honest rededication to obedience to God’s instructions, Yeshua’s sacrifice will be rendered impotent.

Yeshua died a mortal death so that you can have eternal life, but if you have an unrepentant heart, do not ask for forgiveness for each and every sin, and refuse to rededicate yourself to obedience after asking for forgiveness, the only future you have is one of eternal punishment.

Hey, don’t blame me! Look, these are God’s rules and if anyone chooses to accept man-made rules over God’s rules, well, then they have no one to blame but themselves! Amen!

Thank you for being here, and please remember to subscribe and share these messages with others. I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

America Today and Biblical Israel

I am not a prophet, nor do I pretend to be one.  Nor would I consider myself a futurist, but I am very good with patterns of behavior and this is what I see when I read the books of Kings and Chronicles, the Prophets, and then look at what America has become today.

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A laundry list of the sins committed by Israel (the Northern Kingdom) can be found in 1 Kings 17; in that chapter, we are told that Israel feared other gods, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, sacrificed their children, and rejected God’s laws.

Despite being warned by the prophets, over and over again, about the results of these sins, they continued to do evil.

In the Southern Kingdom of Judea, Solomon set the stage for Judea to suffer as Israel would by marrying women for political reasons, women who were still practicing the pagan religions of the Semitic tribes surrounding Israel (which was still one kingdom at that time), and in his last days, he even set up standing stones, performed child sacrifice and worshiped other gods with his wives.

After Solomon died and the kingdom was split, the Northern Kingdom (Israel, later called Shomron) continued to worship the Golden Calf and never stepped one foot back to proper worship. Eventually, they were destroyed by the Assyrians, and when the Southern Kingdom (Judea) didn’t learn from Israel’s fate, doing the same as Israel did, they, too, were destroyed, but they were destroyed by the Babylonians.

Now let’s look at America. I am not going to make this a textbook lesson, citing the time and day for the following actions because I am sure you all are very aware of what I am about to point out.

America has long worshiped other gods: gold, silver, sports stars, celebrities, cars, and pretty much anyone who is popular. People spend thousands of dollars to get season tickets, but won’t tithe at their house of worship, if they even go to one.  They spend hours waiting on a line to get into the movie theater to see their Hollywood idol’s newest show, or to wait to get the newest version of the smartphone they love, or concert tickets, but will they spend an hour volunteering with a charity to help the poor or feed the hungry?

As for soothsaying and witchcraft, just look at any newspaper and there will be a section for horoscopes.

We don’t burn babies at the altar of Molech anymore, but we legalized abortions. If you don’t think that getting an abortion is tantamount to child sacrifice, then you haven’t ever seen or read about how they are done, and you certainly have no understanding of God’s hatred of killing innocent children for personal gain, which is why people sacrificed their children to Molech. Today, children are sacrificed because (other than for medical reasons) the mother doesn’t want the child to interfere with her life.

And if you want to talk about rejecting God’s laws, we have kicked him out of our courts. We don’t allow prayer in schools, we don’t accept that it is okay for a child to pray on his own, in private, and we reject the idea that we can worship the way we want to, for fear of “offending” someone else.

The governments at both state and federal levels have endorsed gay marriage, and there are even gay and lesbian churches. Not to mention how many “mainstream” churches and synagogues are supporting these laws so that they are politically correct, even though you would think they should know that by doing so they reject God’s commandments. It is obvious that many of our religious leaders are more concerned with pleasing people instead of pleasing God.

Our politicians are so focused on destroying each other that they are taking the entire country down with them. Remember what the Bible says in 1 Kings 15:30, with reference to the destruction of the family of Jeroboam, the first king of Israel:

This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.

Throughout 1 and 2 Kings, we read how every succeeding king of the Northern Kingdom continued to sin, always referring back to the sins of Jeroboam, who caused all Israel to sin. Our leaders are sinning, and really sinning a lot, and because of this the entire country is suffering, and will eventually come to ruin.

We no longer care about doing what we know is morally right but instead, we ignore our sense of righteousness in order to be politically correct. We reject our God so that people who worship a different god aren’t offended. Some of our leaders prostitute themselves to invading foreigners in order to win their approval, just the same way that the prophets accused Israel and Judea of doing with the Philistines, Egyptians, and Babylonians.

Today we are seeing biblical prophecy come to fruition: God’s chosen people are being regathered to Israel from all four corners of the world and Israel is becoming the oasis that God said it would become, again. We also see the world (i.e., the United Nations) coming against Israel, economically and politically. We see the world rejecting God and a new world order coming into existence, a Muslim world order that will soon overtake the indigenous population of many European countries. There will be one world religion, one world economy, and one world ruler, and I can tell you now, it ain’t gonna be a God-fearing person.

America began as Israel did under King David, a God-fearing land whose people worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and set their government up asking for God’s guidance and blessings. But today, America is a land of sinfulness. We kill our children, we worship other gods, gods of money and of popularity, and we have leaders who are more concerned with destroying their political opponents than to work with them to better the lives of their populace.

God gave Israel and Judea more than enough time and warning to get back on track with him before he took action, but once God decided that enough was enough, he dropped the hammer. I believe that America is in the same place Israel and Judea were just before they were destroyed: we have sinned too much for too long to be saved anymore, and now it is just a matter of time before God drops his hammer on us.

I was in the Marine Corps and although I didn’t see any action, I was willing to die to uphold and protect the freedom that America offered to its citizens. But today, well…I just don’t know. I see so little of the “America” I knew when I was a child that I don’t think it is the same country anymore. We want to change history by removing the reminders of it, which can only lead to teaching our children propaganda instead of facts, and we reject what is right for what is popular. America used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but today many of our freedoms have been taken away from us, and why? Because we are afraid. We are afraid of getting sick, we are afraid of offending a people who have proven all they want to do is kill us, and we are afraid of standing up for God. We are no longer a home for the free, and our people are cowards.

The Bible tells us of how the chosen people of God have been judged, and today they are being regathered as we enter the End Days, which means that the judgment coming will now be on the nations, and America is placing itself at the front of that line.

I thank you for being here, and today I will also say I am sorry to bring this bad news to you. If you have never shared anything before, and never intend to, at least please share this message with everyone you know. The destruction is coming, but people can still get themselves right with God before that happens.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Tzav 2020 (Command) Leviticus 6 – 8

We continue receiving the instructions from God regarding the various sacrifices. We are told to maintain the fire on the altar, the daily burnt offering, what to do with the parts of the offering, which parts go to the Priests, who may eat of which parts, what to do with the ashes, and finally, the inauguration of the services and anointing of Aaron and his sons.

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Considering how close this reading is to the Passover Seder (which this year will be in just 5 days), I want to talk about something I have mentioned before in different messages but always bears repeating.

Let’s look at Leviticus 7:15, which is part of the instructions for the Peace Offering (I am using the Soncino edition of the Pentateuch and Haftorah):

And the flesh of the sacrifice for his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering.

Did you know there are actually three separate types of peace offering? They are:

  • Thanksgiving offerings, which are for deliverance from sickness or danger;
  • Offerings in fulfillment of a vow made in times of distress; and
  • Free-will offerings when the heart is moved to show gratitude to God

The unique thing about the peace offering is that it is the only sacrifice in which the one sacrificing partakes in the eating of the sacrifice. With all the other types of offerings, what is offered is reserved to the Lord and the Cohen making the offering; the Lord gets the best parts, and the Cohen takes a part of what has been offered as his payment, which he shares with his family.

But the peace offering is not just giving to the Lord, it is sharing with the Lord. It allows communion between man and God, bringing us together eating a holy meal while sharing each other’s presence.

During the Seder, we remember the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, and how its blood on the lentils of our homes saved us from the plague which killed all the firstborn. That sacrifice was not for sin or guilt but was a peace sacrifice because the one offering shared in the meat, and it saved us from danger.

Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) sacrificed himself in order that we could have a way in which we could ask God for forgiveness, and his sacrifice occurred the day after the Passover Seder. Consequently, he has been called the Pesach Lamb of God, referring to the Passover sacrifice.

But that doesn’t make sense because the Passover lamb was not a sin sacrifice, and Yeshua died for our sins; his sacrifice replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple, which within a few decades after Yeshua’s death was completely destroyed, making sacrifice impossible.

Yet, the sacrifice of Yeshua was more than a sin sacrifice because his sacrifice provided more than just forgiveness of sin. His sacrifice also serves as a thanksgiving offering because once cleansed of sin we are able to come into communion with God; the parochet was torn, allowing us to enter into God’s presence. Not only that, but it saves us from danger, in fact, the greatest danger there is: the eternal consequence of sin.

Yeshua’s sacrifice is a double-edged sword: one side is the Yom Kippur sacrifice, which provides us forgiveness from our sins, and the other side is the Passover sacrifice, a thanksgiving offering that saves us from the danger of our sins and brings us into communion with God.

Two of the most important offerings that can be made to God: one to attain forgiveness of sin and the other as thanksgiving for salvation from danger. Only Yeshua, the Messiah, could have made this possible with one action, and only God could have given us a Messiah who was able to live a sinless life and thereby be an acceptable sacrifice.

What is left for us, today, is to accept that Yeshua is who he said he was, the Messiah God promised to send and to obey what he taught, which is what God said in the Torah.

One last note: in today’s reading God also specifies that when someone does not do all that is required regarding the peace offering then he will nullify the offering, and instead of communion with God it will be considered an abhorrent thing and not be accepted. Not only that, but the one who ignores God’s instructions will be cut off from his people and his iniquity will be on him.

The reason I point this out is that Christianity has been teaching Jesus died for our sins and therefore all sin is already forgiven and all that “Jewish” stuff in the Torah is not for those who follow Jesus. This is a lie and tantamount to violating the instructions for the thanksgiving sacrifice, which means that anyone who professes to follow Jesus but ignores the instructions in the Torah, will not have his or her offering (meaning Yeshua’s sacrifice) accepted. 

In other words, if you think that you are saved because Yeshua died for your sins, but you ignore what is written in the Torah, then Yeshua’s sacrifice will mean nothing for you.

God gave instructions in the Torah that tell us how to worship him and how to treat each other, and nothing Yeshua did or taught went against or changed any of those. If you want to be saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb of God, then you need to follow the instructions that the Lamb of God told us to follow. Don’t worry about what Paul or John or any of the Apostles said because they are not the Messiah!

Obey Yeshua, who taught to obey God, and his sacrifice will be accepted for you by God.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages, and consider buying the books I have written. Actually, don’t consider buying them, just go ahead and buy them. If you like what you read in my messages you will like my books, too.

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Vayikra 2020 (He called) Leviticus 1 – 5

I should start off wishing you all a Happy New Year for yesterday was the first day of Nisan (which used to be called Aviv) and is what God declared to be the first day of our year.

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We have come to the central book of the Torah. These first 5 chapters define the sacrificial system, starting with a description of the different types of sacrifice, followed by the specific procedures for the sins of an individual and for the sins of the community.

All that God has instructed us to do regarding sacrifice is not possible for us to do anymore, not since the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The reason we had to do these sacrifices at the temple was because of God’s instructions, which were that we are not to sacrifice anywhere we want to, but only at the place where he puts his name (Deuteronomy 12:.13). 

Each type of sacrifice, whether for sin, for guilt, for thanksgiving or the wholly burnt sacrifice is described in minute detail. God even accounts for those who cannot afford the required animal, allowing for them to substitute a different animal, one they can afford to give. This idea of being allowed to provide a substitute is something that will eventually provide for our salvation, many years later.

Every detail of how to perform the sacrifice is given in these chapters, but what I believe to be the most important part of the entire process is not explained.

The sacrifice is more, much more than just the spilling of blood. The physical actions we do, i.e. bringing the animal, killing it, dividing it up, splashing the blood and burning it on the altar are just physical things. We read throughout the Tanakh how these were being done but were, in many cases, unacceptable to God. In fact, through the prophet Amos God said that he hated the sacrifices and songs we made unto him (Amos 5:21-23), so if God wants us to perform these sacrifices, but in some cases, he says that he hates them, what was different? What was missing?

What was missing is something that is still missing today in many churches and synagogues: genuine repentance.

Let me share with you what I believe the sacrificial system should entail:

  1. We must sin. After all, if we do not sin, there is no need for a sacrifice to gain forgiveness, so for the sacrificial system to work, we need to sin (not that I suggest you should sin, only that this system is designed for when you sin);
  2. We must recognize and confess that we sinned. In today’s reading we are told that when we sin, whether or not we know it, we are still guilty. But to be forgiven, we must recognize that we did commit a sin. Too many people are taught that what God says is sin isn’t really sin anymore because the times have changed, or because all those laws were done away with by Yeshua. That is a total lie, but that topic is not something which we will be covering today;
  3. We must repent of our sin. This is probably the most essential part of the entire process because we can recognize and even confess that we sinned, but if we aren’t sorry we did it, then there can be no forgiveness, no matter what we do. It is repentance, more than anything else, which God is looking for from us. Not just that we are sorry we sinned, but that we are sorry we failed to do as God said we should. Repentance is not just feeling sorry we did wrong, but feeling sorry that we disobeyed God because in our hearts we should want to be obedient children. And, for the record, feeling sorry because you were caught does not count as being repentant;
  4. We must present a sacrifice. This step of the process was to be done with one of the prescribed animals but has been replaced by Yeshua. This is what is meant by the term “He died for our sins”; Yeshua’s sacrifice did not remove the sacrificial system or the laws that created it, but simply replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem. This is one of the most misunderstood truths about what Yeshua did as our Messiah. Nothing of the Torah was removed or done away with, only the need to bring an animal to the temple when asking for forgiveness. Every step of the process I am describing here is still valid and necessary if one is to ask God to forgive their sins. And now, the last step is;
  5. We must ask for forgiveness. I know that seems to be an obvious step, but it is the one step that everything else before it leads up to. Forgiveness is available, and not only is God willing to forgive, but he desires to forgive. God wants every sinner to turn from his sin and live (Ezekiel 18:23), but forgiveness is NOT automatic. God will not automatically forgive us, so if you have been taught that because of Yeshua all your sins are always forgiven, you will be very unpleasantly surprised when you come before the Lord on Judgment Day. There is no such thing as once forgiven, always forgiven.

The truth is that God will always forgive us when we confess our sins, are genuinely repentant and ask for forgiveness by calling on the name of Yeshua, whose sacrifice was made as an eternal substitution for the animal we must bring to the temple.

Yeshua’s blood is the substitution for the blood of the sacrifice we are supposed to supply. It was never supposed to be our own blood, but the blood of an innocent. While the temple existed, that blood was supplied by a sacrificed animal and had to be performed for each and every sin we committed. Because of Yeshua, we do not have to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem.

That is why God sent the Messiah.

Throughout the Bible, we are told, over and over, that God knows our hearts and our minds, and whereas in today’s reading he outlines the physical steps of the sacrificial system, what really matters to him is not what we do, but why we do it.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Why Three Sacrifices at a Time?

The Sacrificial System is outlined, in detail, in the first 7 chapters of Vayikra (Leviticus.) In those chapters, we learn about the sin, guilt, peace, thanksgiving, and burnt offerings; what animals are to be used and what condition they must be in, how they are to be treated, what to do with the different parts of the animals, and finally how the ones presenting them must act.

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The next couple of chapters deal with the consecration of the Cohanim (Aaron and his sons) and the general rules for what the people are to do when they sin.

In Chapter 9, when God tells Moses that he will appear before the people, there isn’t just a single sacrifice to be made in preparation for that event; God commands that the Cohen must make three separate sacrifices for the assembly before God can appear to them.

The first sacrifice is a sin sacrifice, followed by a burnt offering, and the third sacrifice is a peace offering, also called a friendship or thanksgiving sacrifice.

Why three sacrifices? If I sacrifice for my sin, why do I need to do more? Doesn’t God promise that we will be forgiven when we confess our sins and sacrifice, asking for forgiveness by means of the innocent blood (of the sacrifice) that was shed on our behalf? If that’s true, why do more?

That’s a good question, and it has a good answer.

The sin sacrifice is the innocent blood to be shed by which we are forgiven- we all know that. And when we ask for forgiveness, it is assumed that the sin we committed is one we don’t want to commit again. In fact, when we are forgiven, we want to remain “clean” for as long as we can. Asking to be forgiven with the attitude that once forgiven, I am free to sin again is a wrong attitude (although many times this has been part of the traditional Christian doctrine of “once saved, always saved”, which isn’t true.)

The burnt offering, which comes next, represents a total commitment to God, which translates into one word: obedience. We sacrifice something valuable to us without giving up any of its parts- the whole thing gets the altar treatment. It is burned up completely to demonstrate that we not only atoned for the sin we committed but that we are recommitting ourselves to obey God’s instructions going forward. It is our T’shuvah, our turning from sin that the burnt sacrifice represents.

The last sacrifice, the peace or friendship offering, is what now completes the cycle, bringing us into communion with God because having been cleansed of our sin and recommitted to him, we can now come into his presence.

The three sacrifices do this:

  1. Cleanse us of our sin;
  2.  Renew our commitment to stay in covenant with God; and
  3. By reason of our cleansing and recommitment, allow us to be in the presence of the Almighty.

The question now is, with the temple in Jerusalem gone, is the sacrificial system gone, as well? God said the only place we can sacrifice is where he put his name (Exodus 20:24 and Deuteronomy 12:11), which was the temple in Jerusalem, so without a temple how can we sacrifice and be cleansed of our sins?

The answer to that question is the sacrificial system is NOT gone, but it has been changed somewhat: the need to bring your sacrifice to the temple has been replaced by Yeshua. We still need to recognize, own up to, confess, and want to atone for the sins we commit. We still need to ask for forgiveness, but bringing a sheep or a goat to the temple has been replaced by the sacrifice of Yeshua.

Although the burnt and peace offerings cannot be performed, through our union with Yeshua we can come into God’s presence.

There is a constant debate about whether or not the sacrificial system will be reinstituted in the Olam Haba, the World to Come. Personally, I believe it will be, but not for sin or guilt sacrifices. The burnt and peace offerings will continue because they are designed to strengthen our relationship with God. I believe the Olam Haba will be a world returned to the peaceful way of life that is found in an agricultural economy; especially when the world we live in will be like Eden, with no bad weather or drought or famine.

The ancient sacrificial system, realistically, couldn’t work in our current service economy and has little chance to exist in the technological world we all live in today. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t perform the steps that the system is founded on: recognize and accept our sins, atone and ask for forgiveness, and recommit to God to sin less in the future so that we can continue to come closer to him.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with friends and family, or anyone you know who they might help. And don’t forget to check out my entire website (Messianicmoment.com) because there are pictures and some fun videos you may enjoy, as well as links to be able to purchase any of the books I have written.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Ha Shem!

Yom Kippur 2019 Message

Today I would like to share a message that I had given every Yom Kippur service when I was still living in Northeast Philadelphia and attending Beth Emmanuel Messianic Synagogue. For about 2 years we didn’t have a Rabbi and the Council members (of which I was one) kept the temple going, with me serving (pretty much) as Rabbi-pro-tem. The following is an updated version of the sermon I had been giving on this day.

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There is an undeniable relationship between Yom Kippur and Passover, and together they provide total atonement which allows us to have life everlasting. Yeshua is called the Lamb of God, the Pesach Lamb, and by means of his death and the blood he shed, we can find atonement for our sins. But, it wasn’t just as the Passover lamb that He accomplished this.

It’s important to know that the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, as we read of it in Exodus, Chapter 12, was not a sin sacrifice: it was a thanksgiving sacrifice. And the blood was not a sin atonement, but rather a kippur, a covering, which was meant to identify the people of God. It was spread on the sides and over the doorway of the house and as the identification of God’s people, it protected those people from being killed by the angel of death.

The blood from the sacrificed lamb on Passover provided protection from physical death for the people of God, and today Yeshua’s blood not only identifies us as God’s people, but also protects us from spiritual death. Yeshua’s sacrificial death may have occurred on Passover but is actually what the sacrifice of the Yom Kippur goats is all about.

The Yom Kippur goats (the one killed and the one released) together provide for our atonement (Lev. 16:9-10.) The scapegoat (which is the one released into the desert) had the sins of all the people transferred to it before being released into the desert, or as the Bible tells us, to Azazel. Let’s take a moment and talk a little about Azazel:

  • The Talmud interprets this word to mean a steep mountain, and for many years the scapegoat was not released into the desert but instead was thrown off of a steep mountain;
  • In the Book of Enoch, Azazel is a fallen angel. Of course, it is unthinkable that we would be told by God to sacrifice a goat to a god-like satyr in the desert;
  • According to Rabbi Hertz, the Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, in his 1965 edition of the Chumash, Azazel is a rare Hebrew noun that means “dismissal”, or “entire removal”. The transference of the sins of Israel by the Cohen HaGadol onto the goat released into the desert symbolized the total removal of sin from the community of God’s people.

I had always wondered why we needed two goats. If all the sins were removed by the scapegoat why kill another one? It’s because sin can only be forgiven by the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11) so the goat’s blood had to be shed.  That still leaves me with the question, what did the scapegoat represent?

The scapegoat released into the desert represents our T’ShuvahIt represents our willingness to let go of our sinful desires and remove them totally from our lives. That is why all the people were present when the goat was released. It meant that we all were giving up our sinful ways and desires.

Atonement is a five-step process:

  1.  You commit a sin (after all, without sin there is nothing to be forgiven for);
  2. Recognizing and taking responsibility for that sin;
  3. Doing T’shuvah (repentance);
  4.  Shedding innocent blood to atone for the sin, and finally
  5.  Asking forgiveness from God by means of the first four steps we took.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was more than just as the “Passover Lamb”; his death fulfilled the meaning of the two Holy Days most associated with freedom from both physical and spiritual death: Passover and Yom Kippur.

On the execution stake, Yeshua took upon himself all our sins just as the Yom Kippur scapegoat does, and when he died, just as the scapegoat sacrificed to Azazel, he carried them not just into the desert but beyond the grave. He also fulfilled the role of the goat sacrificed on the altar, the one whose blood atoned for the sins and made it possible for God to forgive us.

The blood of the Passover lamb gave protection from death and the Yom Kippur blood allows forgiveness of sin. Passover and Yom Kippur, although two separate Holy Days, through Yeshua have become spiritually one and the same thing.

In the Acharit HaYamim (the End Times) when Yeshua returns and we are all gathered up into the clouds with Him, then will the ultimate fulfillment of both of these festivals be realized. Yeshua is both the Passover Lamb and the Yom Kippur scapegoat. When He said He was the beginning and the end it meant more than just some timeline: he is the beginning of our eternal life and the end of our sin.

Praise God for his goodness and mercy, and give thanks to Yeshua, ha Maschiach for his sacrifice so that we could all be saved.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out to friends, family, and anyone seeking to know the Lord and Messiah better.

Until next time, L’hitraot and may you have an easy fast.

Passover 2019 Message

Tonight begins Pesach (Passover) and I am already busy preparing for the Seder. I have invited someone I knew in High School and haven’t been in touch with since then. We now live close to each other and it will be good to have her share this Seder with Donna and me.

The Passover is a very misunderstood festival. The traditional idea is that it is 7 days long, but that is not correct. Also, the teaching that HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is the first day after the beginning of Hag HaMatzot (Festival of Unleavened Bread) is not biblically accurate. The most incorrect belief about Passover of all is that the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) was that of the Passover lamb.

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Let’s start by reading from the Bible some of the passages that relate to Passover.

Leviticus 23:5-6 says:

The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.

The Passover is really only from dusk on the 14th day of Nissan (then called Aviv) until midnight, which was when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites. That means the passing over of the angel really occurred on the 15th of Nissan, since dusk on the 14th would have been the end of that day and after the sun had set it would then be the 15th. This is also the day on which the Seder is eaten; when we think about it, by the time the lamb was slaughtered at dusk, brought home, roasted over a fire, and everyone sat down to eat the sun would (probably) have already set, so the Seder is really eaten on the 15th of Nissan.

So, then, if Passover is really only from dusk to midnight, where did they get the idea it is for 7 days? It became confused with the next festival, Hag HaMatzot, which starts with the Seder. In Exodus 12:17-20 it says:

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.

I believe that because unleavened bread starts with the Seder, and the Seder is for Passover, people just assumed that Passover was for 7 days.

It isn’t.

As for HaBikkurim, this is also celebrated on a day which is not in accordance with when the Bible says we should.

In his letter to the Corinthians (15:23) Shaul, also called Paul, refers to Yeshua as the First Fruits. Traditionally, the celebration called HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is celebrated on the first day after the beginning of the festival of unleavened bread; this doesn’t coincide with the day Yeshua rose, which would have been three days after unleavened bread began. I believe because Shaul referred to Yeshua as the first fruits that Gentile Believers mistakenly associate Yeshua’s resurrection with HaBikkurim. It isn’t the same.

The Torah tells us that the first fruits are to be offered on the first day after the Sabbath of the harvest. Although the instructions regarding this festival come directly after the instructions regarding Passover and unleavened bread, the first fruits sheave to be waved is not dependent on Passover, but on when the crops are harvested.

Again, let’s go to the source, the Bible. In Leviticus 23:9-11 we read that:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”

The Torah says, clearly, that First Fruits is the day after the first Shabbat after the harvest. Despite the fact that the second day of Pesach and the last day of Hag HaMatzot are both Shabbat days, First Fruits celebration is NOT based on Pesach or Hag HaMatzot, but on the reaping of the harvest.

Lastly, let’s look at the traditional reference to Yeshua as the Pesach (Passover) Lamb. True, he was the “Lamb of God” in that he, like the lamb chosen to be sacrificed, died for our sins. And as such, he is the lamb of the sin sacrifice. But there’s a problem when we refer to him as the Pesach Lamb- the lamb sacrificed for Passover was NOT a sin sacrifice!

When we read the instructions regarding the different kinds of sacrifice within the sacrificial system God gave us (Leviticus, Chapters 1-7) we notice that for the grain, guilt, sin, and wholly burnt sacrifice that only the Cohen was to have a share of the item offered. It is only with the Thanksgiving sacrifice, also called a Peace Offering that the one bringing the sacrifice was allowed to partake of eating some of the meat.

The instructions for eating the Pesach sacrifice clearly shows that the meat is to be taken back to the house and roasted over a fire, then eaten that night. If any is left over, it is to be burned up completely.  This is in perfect concordance with the instructions for the thanksgiving sacrifice we read in Leviticus 7: 29:

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, offer it so that it may be acceptable on your behalf. It must be eaten that same day. Do not leave any of it until morning.

Because the Passover lamb sacrifice is one where the person bringing the lamb also may eat it, that means it is a Thanksgiving or Peace Offering. And when we review the different reasons to perform this sacrifice, one of them is to thank God for deliverance.

The proper timing for this season is that the Seder meal is eaten after the lamb is slaughtered at evening on the 14th of Nissan, which ends up not being until the 15th of the month, on which we also begin the festival of Unleavened Bread for the next 7 days. Originally, HaBikkurim would be a separate festival that began on the day after the first Shabbat, after the harvest. In truth, there was more than one HaBikkurim celebration since there were usually two harvest seasons: the barley harvest in the spring and the wheat harvest in the fall. Biblically, First Fruits really has nothing to do with Passover or Hag HaMatzot. The traditional celebration of it on the first day after Hag HaMatzot is a decision made by the rabbis of old. It is not unlike what happened with the celebration of Shavuot, considered to be a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses which occurs 50 days after the first Shabbat after Pesach. When you study the timeline from when the Jews left Egypt to when Moses received the instructions at Sinai, it is not 50 days.  However, just like with Habikkurim and Pesach, Moses at Sanai and Shavuot have been associated for so long that now they are inseparable.

Does any of this change what we are doing, or make it wrong? I don’t think so. God sees the heart, and I really doubt that he is so nit-picky that he will not accept our worship just because we celebrate first fruits on a calendar day instead of based on a physical harvest. Especially since we aren’t an agrarian society anymore.

So go ahead and celebrate Passover, keep that Chametz far away from your mouth for the week after the Seder, and find joy in knowing that Yeshua rose on the first day after the Pesach Shabbat and through that resurrection, we can find eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

The fact that the current timing of these celebrations doesn’t match exactly when they are to occur according to the Torah is simply a result of the way the world has changed, and God understands that.

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This Passover is special because it also falls on Shabbat, which we call a Shabbat Shabbaton (special Shabbat) so please enjoy it. Passover is a joyful celebration and I wish you all a very pleasant one.

L’hitraot, Pesach Sameach, and Baruch HaShem!!

Parashah Vayyera 2018 (And he appeared) Genesis 18-22)

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This parashah has so much stuff in it we could review it for months! It starts with the three angels coming to Abraham and telling him that Sarah will give birth to a son the following year and that they are there to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  The next event is how Lot protected the angels and they saved him and his family, although his wife turned back to look and turned to salt. His two daughters plied their father with wine and slept with him, each becoming pregnant and giving birth to the Ammonite and Moabite nations.

Next, we read about Abraham and King Abimelech, where Abraham (for a second time) lied about his relationship with Sarah to protect his life. After Abimelech took Sarah to wife, his entire family was cursed with infertility, and only after he returned Sarah (and Abraham prayed for them) did their fertility return.  Later Abraham and Abimelech make a pact regarding a well and form a treaty between them.

Then Sarah bore Isaac and when Ishmael, about 13 years older, began to pick on Isaac Sarah had Abraham eject Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. However, God took care of them and Ishmael grows into a mighty hunter and father of nations.

The parashah ends with one of the most important chapters in the Torah: we call it the Akedah. Abraham’s faith is tested by God, who demands Isaac be offered up as a burnt sacrifice to God. Abraham immediately obeys and only at the last second does God call out to Abraham to stop, and a ram caught in a bush is the sacrifice used instead of Isaac. This is why we use a ram’s horn for the shofar, to memorialize the ram that was substituted for Isaac. This chapter is one of the most Messianic chapters in the entire Bible.

There is one part of the Akedah that I want to talk about today, the one line that represents so much in our worship of God and our desire to know him better. That line is Genesis 22:2:

And he said, “Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” 

Abraham does so immediately. He leaves not knowing exactly where he is to go, is shown Mount Moriah (I could go on and on about the importance of this mountain, but that is for another time) and builds an altar there. He binds Isaac and places him on the wood, then raises his hand to kill the boy before burning him up completely. It is only when he is about to strike that God tells him to stop.

I checked a number of different Bible versions, such as the NIV, KJV, CJB, JPS Tanakh and even an old Dartmouth bible I have, and every one of them, except the NIV, use the word “offer”. The NIV is the only one I found that uses “sacrifice” instead of the word “offer”, or “offer up.”  We all know that God is hateful of human sacrifice, especially of the child sacrifice that was practiced by the Semitic peoples at that time. The hard-to-answer question that is always posed when reading the Akedah is why would God tell Abraham to sacrifice his son?

An answer may be found when we really read the command God gave to Abraham: to offer up his son as a burnt sacrifice. Now, it is important to be careful when interpreting the Bible that we use proper context, not just of the words within the sentence and sentences within the paragraph, but also of the meaning of the words. We must not use current definitions, but the definition of the word(s) at the time it was written. So, when we read the word “offer”, what did it mean to Abraham? Did it mean the same as it means today? The Wikipedia definition is: “present or proffer (something) for (someone) to accept or reject as so desired.” That means we present something to someone, and then wait to see if they will accept it or not.

I would like to submit that when God said he wanted Abraham to offer up his son as a burnt sacrifice, he never intended to accept it. This was a test- we all know that. But Abraham (apparently) did not know it was just a test. If he did, I suspect that after tying up Isaac and laying him out on the wood, he would have taken the knife, raised his hand and held it there himself, praying to God to please show a sign that this offering is acceptable to him. Then if God showed it was, he would have completed that act. But Abraham did not hesitate to kill Isaac- only God’s calling out to him stopped Abraham’s hand.

So what went wrong? Did Abraham miss the point? Did God purposefully mislead Abraham into thinking he had to go through with it? The fact is nothing went wrong- God intended to test Abraham’s faith, he told Abraham that he only wanted Abraham to offer up Isaac but Abraham, in his zeal to be obedient, took it one step further than God intended it to go, which is why God had to call out to him to stop.

The question for us is: do we go too far sometimes? Do we act out our own idea of what God is telling us to do? I have had experiences with many people were insulting and accusatory, telling me that I am spiritually empty and don’t know God’s word at all simply because we disagreed on a biblical interpretation. When I pointed out they weren’t acting very “Christian” with their attacks and attitude, they told me God commands us to be truthful with each other and they were just telling the truth. In my opinion, what they are doing is going further than God wants regarding how we tell the truth to each other. They aren’t being truthful, they are being prideful- their angry and insulting remarks are not the result of knowing the truth of God’s word, but of their frustration with me because I don’t agree with them. They know they are right!- and they can’t stand someone not agreeing with them.

God told Abraham to offer up Isaac, and Abraham took it one step further because that is what he knew “to offer up” meant. It was a natural mistake and thank God that God corrected him before it was too late. We also often take things one step too far, innocently or on purpose, and like Abraham’s mistake, it is because we are overtaken by our own desire to please or obey. God looks more to our heart than he does to what we actually do. We can obey a commandment, but if we do so without the desire to please God or are just going through the motions, God will not accept that. On the other hand, if we sin by disobedience, but not on purpose or through abject rejection of God, then he is willing to forgive us, which he has proven throughout history.

We need to listen to God and to listen carefully. If something seems a little “off” like Abraham must have thought when God told him to offer up Isaac, ask God for clarification. I am not suggesting you delay or ignore what you believe God is telling you to do, simply that if it doesn’t feel “right” in your spirit you should ask God to help you understand exactly what he is asking you to do.

And remember, as Job learned, that we don’t always know why God does what he does and we are to always trust God to do the right thing. But because we all have human frailties and pridefulness within us and we are born with iniquity, even the most spiritually mature person can make a mistake or misunderstand God.  When we think God is telling us to do something, we should always make sure we know exactly what he wants of us.

God is gracious, patient and understanding; I believe that if your heart’s desire is to obey and serve the Lord, to ask for clarification will not be a problem.

Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Re’eh 2018 (Behold) Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17)

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   God has Moses remind the people of the requirements when they enter and live in the land. This Third Discourse of Moses is all about what they are to do now that they will be in the land promised to their Fathers. 

   God reviews with the people that they are to take their sacrifices, vows, and tithes only to the place where God places his name. They are to destroy all the altars and Asherim (poles) they find throughout the land. Anyone or even any town or village that turns to worship other gods, and tries to get others to do so, is to be completely destroyed, even if a close family member or loved one.  

   One of the things they are to do, as soon as they can, is to place the blessings on Mount Gerizim and the curses on Mount Ebal. These two mountains are called the “Shoulder” mountains because they are next to each other, and they overlook the Shechem Valley. When the Israelites got there (under Joshua) and they all shouted the blessings and curses, all the people in the Shechem Valley were able to hear them. 

   God reviews the Kashrut laws and tithing rules, to include the 2nd tithe and the 3rd and 6th-year tithes for the Levites and the poor.  The commandment regarding the Shemittah (7th Year) release is given, which applies only to fellow Hebrews.

   The final part of this parashah is a review of the regulations regarding the Festivals.

   So much to talk about, so many things in here that are valuable to know and understand. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is pick one. I usually just open my mind and as I read through the parashah I pray for God to show me something, a little pop-up, so to speak, or to implant an idea in my skull. What popped into my head today was this: the importance of bringing the sacrifice to the one place in the entire country where God placed his name. 

   The pagan sacrifices were made anywhere the people wanted to, usually on high grounds and under leafy trees.  There was no real management since everyone could do whatever they wanted to do. God told the Israelites this is not what they are to do- they have to bring their sin forgiveness, vow, and tithe offerings to one place, and one place only. That place is the location where God, himself, will decide upon. They are not to offer anything to the Lord anywhere else.

   This rule is, for me, the set-up for needing Messiah. God knows all that will happen, and he knew (of course) that the Romans would destroy the Jerusalem temple, which (because of this rule) would prevent the Jewish people from having the opportunity to ask forgiveness of their sins. You may ask, “Why would God not want people to be forgiven? He gave us the sacrificial system specifically so that we could be forgiven, so why take that away? Doesn’t he tell us in Ezekiel 18:23 that he prefers we turn from sin and live?  How can we turn from sin and ask for forgiveness if he takes away the one place we are allowed to do so?” 

   That’s a good question, and the answer is that God took away our only means of forgiveness under the sacrificial system because the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua is to be the alternative to the animal sacrifice at the temple. Prior to Yeshua, we sacrificed something that we owned and had value to us. That valuable thing was to be taken from us and given up to God. Messiah was given up by God and given to us, then taken from us back to God. Whereas the animal sin sacrifice was geographically mandated, Messiah’s sacrifice is a universal atonement, allowing all people everywhere to ask forgiveness without having to bring anything anywhere. God sacrificed his most valuable possession, his son, in lieu of us giving up something of our own. 

Because God’s laws are forever the only way God could keep his commandments regarding sacrifice for sin valid but “upgrade” them to the newer version, which is by Yeshua’s sacrifice, was to make obedience to the original sin sacrifice commandments impossible. With the destruction of the temple, the only way anyone could be forgiven of their sins was through Yeshua.

So, way back when, even as the Israelites were just beginning to enter the land, God already had his plan for forgiveness of sin through Messiah configured. He first set the rules for sin sacrifice (in Leviticus), then he set the rules for where that sacrifice should be done (this parashah), then he sent Messiah to replace the sacrifice and, finally, took away that place so that there was no other way to be forgiven except through the Messiah.

   If you haven’t accepted Yeshua as your Messiah, you will have a second chance when he returns. May I suggest, enthusiastically, that you don’t wait.  Review the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh (there are about 135 of them) then read the New Covenant writings and make a decision. Don’t let the prejudice and hatred between Jews and Christians over the millennia get in your way- it got in my way for over 40 years, but when I made my own decision to study, research and then choose to faithfully believe, I found that my worship and my “Jewishness” became stronger and more fulfilling than it had ever been before. 

Parashah Tzav 2018 (Give an order) Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36

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As we continue in Vayikra (Leviticus), God gives the orders and commands regarding the daily offerings, specifically the wholly burnt, meal, guilt, peace and thanksgiving offerings.

The procedure and requirements for anointing of the Priests and the Cohen haGadol (High Priest) are given, and Aaron and his sons are anointed by Moses.

There are so many different things we could discuss in these few chapters, but since in this year (2018) Passover falls next Friday night, I would like to talk about the Passover lamb and its significance in the sacrificial system.

Yeshua (Jesus) has been referred to as the “Passover Lamb” for centuries, and His sacrifice is the means by which we are able to be absolved of our sins, so why is He called a “Passover” lamb? The lamb sacrificed on Passover was not a sin sacrifice.

We are told the requirements for the 5 different types of sacrifices outlined in Leviticus; by definition, Yeshua’s sacrifice was a Thanksgiving, or Peace sacrifice. We know this because only the peace sacrifice was eaten by the one bringing the sacrifice. In all the other forms of sacrifice some of the animal was given to the Priest as his compensation, with the remaining parts either burned on the Altar or removed and thrown away. Only the Peace sacrifice was also shared with the one bringing the animal.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was a sin sacrifice, and also served as a Passover sacrifice; in fact, His sacrifice fulfilled three sacrifices: peace, sin and wholly burnt. Of course, His body wasn’t consumed by fire, but His entire body was sacrificed (which is what was done with the wholly-burnt sacrifice.)

The wholly burnt sacrifice represents our complete devotion to God- no question that Yeshua was completely devoted to His Father in heaven.

The sin sacrifice is the means by which we are forgiven our sins when we do T’shuvah (repentance) and ask God for forgiveness (now by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice.)

The peace offering is how we enter into communion with God by sharing the meal made from the sacrifice, which we do at the Passover Seder.

Can you see how Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice accomplished all three types of sacrifice? Through our acceptance of Yeshua we can show our complete devotion to God, receive forgiveness of sins and enter into communion with God.

Does this mean we shouldn’t call Yeshua the “Passover Lamb” anymore? I think it is still appropriate to refer to Him that way, just as it would also be appropriate to refer to Him as the Yom Kippur goat.

Personally, I prefer to use “lamb” other than “goat” when I refer to Yeshua, although from a technical perspective either would be correct.

For those that will celebrate the Holy Days of Passover and Hag ha Matzot, I pray you thoroughly enjoy this festive festival. I am always afraid I will accidentally eat something with yeast during the week of this festival, and have done so, once or twice, in the past. I hope it is easier for you to keep away from leavening than it is for me (I just LOVE bread!)

Donna and I have different people to our Seder every year, and we usually try to have Gentile friends who have not enjoyed this Holy Day. Every single couple we have shared our Seder with, for nearly 20 years now, has enjoyed it and it has helped them to get closer to their Jewish roots.

I may be a week early, but…Chag Sameach!