Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Prayers of Repentance


Nehemiah 1:5-11 “I pray, YHVH Elohim of heaven and earth, O great and awesome Elohim, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant, which I pray before You now, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned.  We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.  I remember the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘if you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather you from there, and bring you to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.'  

Now we are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.  O Adoni, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name…”

Nehemiah 9:5-36 “Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!  You alone are YHVH; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.  You YHVH Elohim, chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites… and to give it to his seed. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.  You saw our affliction in Egypt, and heard our cry by the Reed Sea.  You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants, and against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against us. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.  And You divided the sea before us, so that we went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; And our persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters.  Moreover, You led us by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give us light on the road which we should travel.  You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with us from heaven, and gave us just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments.  You made known to us Your holy Sabbath, and commanded precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant. You gave us bread from heaven for our hunger, and brought us water out of the rock for our thirst, and told us to go in to possess the land, which You had sworn to give us.   But we and our fathers acted proudly, hardened our necks, and did not heed Your commandments.  We refused to obey, and we were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among us. But we hardened our necks, and in our rebellion we appointed a leader to return to our bondage. But You are Elohim, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake us. Even when we made a molded calf for ourselves, and said, 'This is our god that brought us up out of Egypt,' and worked great provocations. Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake us in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from us by day, to lead us on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show us light, and the way we should go.  You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct us, and did not withhold Your manna from our mouth, and gave us water for our thirst.  Forty years You sustained us in the wilderness, we lacked nothing; our clothes did not wear out and our feet did not swell. Moreover You gave us kingdoms and nations, and divided us into districts. So we took possession of the land…  You also multiplied our children as the stars of heaven, and brought us into the land which You had told our fathers to go in and possess. So we Your people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before us the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into our hands… we took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So we ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted ourselves in Your great goodness.

 Nevertheless we were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your Torah behind our backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against us to turn us to Yourself; And we worked great provocations. Therefore You delivered us into the hand of our enemies, who oppressed us; And in the time of our trouble, when we cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave us deliverers who saved us from the hand of our enemies.  But after we had rest, we again did evil before You. Therefore You left us in the hand of our enemies, so that they had dominion over us; Yet when we returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered us according to Your mercies, and testified against us, that You might bring us back to Your Torah. Yet we acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them. And we shrugged our shoulders, stiffened our necks, and would not hear. Yet for many years You had patience with us, and testified against us by Your Spirit through Your prophets. Yet we would not listen; Therefore You gave us into the hand of the peoples of the nations. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume us nor forsake us; For You are Elohim, gracious and merciful.   Now therefore, our Elohim, the great, the mighty, and awesome Elohim, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day.  However, You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly.  Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your Torah, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against us. For we have not served You… Nor did we turn from our wicked works. Here we are, servants today in the nations that you have banished us… Here we are Your servants… but slaves to the governments of these nations.  Because of our sins; they have dominion over our bodies and our belongings, and we are in great distress.”

Daniel 9:4-19   “O Adoni, great and awesome Elohim, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.  O Adoni, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day -- to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven us, because of the unfaithfulness which we have committed against You.  O Adoni, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To You YHVH our Elohim belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against You.  We have not obeyed Your voice YHVH, to walk in Your laws/Torah, which You set before us by Your servants the prophets.  Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your Torah, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; Therefore the curse and the oath written in the Torah of Moses the servant of Elohim have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against You. And You have confirmed Your words, which You spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us this disease/virus… As it is written in the Torah of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us and all Israel; yet we have not made our prayer before You YHVH our Elohim, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.  Therefore You have kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for You are YHVH our Elohim righteous in all the works which You do, though we have not obeyed Your voice. And now, O Adoni our Elohim, who brought us, Your people, out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day -- we have sinned, we have done wickedly!  O Adoni, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from us… Now therefore, our Elohim, hear the prayer of Your servants, and our supplications, and for Your Name sake cause Your face to shine on Your people. O my Elohim, incline Your ear and hear… for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.  O Adoni, hear! O Adoni, forgive! O Adoni, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my Elohim, for Your city and us, Your people who are called by Your name…”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Letter


Shalom Fellow Israelite,
How many of us could have imagined that at the beginning of this biblical year we would find ourselves locked down in our homes with many of our freedoms gone over night?  No one seems to know what tomorrow will bring.  We wake up in the morning and find ourselves still in a twilight zone.  But as Pesach draws nearer, we remember what happened at "twilight" on the last night before the exodus. This Pesach will be the closest to the one that our forefathers had in Egypt, that is, each family stayed in their own home and ate the Pesach lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  The doors were tightly sealed and smeared with the blood of the lamb, so as to stay away the plague. Therefore, "come my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past" (Isaiah 26:20). No matter what lies in the future, we can be confident that the Almighty One and His Son are very much in control having sovereignty over our lives and destiny.  It should be one of the most exciting times that we have ever lived in as redeemed Israelites.  Maybe it is time to think about a statement that was told to Israel (right at the same time of year as ours) before they crossed the Jordan into the land: "However, there shall be between you and it [Ark of the Covenant] a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."  Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow YHVH will do wonders among you" (Joshua 3:4-5).
Wow!  What a way to start this New Year!  May you and your family be at peace and be confident in faith that you are in good hands, under the shadow of His wings (Ps. 91).  YHVH -  Your kingdom comes and Your will, will be done on earth through your chosen nation and people, a united Israel. 
Rosh Chodesh Same'ach and Shabbat Shalom in Yeshua's love,
Ephraim and Rimona


Friday, March 20, 2020

Time to Seek...and Find


Shalom Fellow Israelite,

It seems that almost overnight our life’s circumstances and conditions have changed drastically.  Not that it came as a surprise.  Many have been warning that life in this world of iniquity and sin could not go on without suffering the consequences of what is stated in the Torah. How interesting that all at once much of the anti-Torah-anti-Elohim activities have been forced to come to a screeching halt! Just think, the markets in the Far East, selling the meat of animals which are an abomination if being consumed by humans; the pollution of the planet has been reduced considerably; Shabbat observance has been ‘forced’ on us; activities of lewdness and debauchery can no longer take place; incidents of crime and car accidents are much fewer, and the greed which marks so much of the economic activity is lessened to a large degree, as much of the economic activity is at a standstill. In Scripture we find this principle in Leviticus 26:33-34, and its fulfillment described in 2nd Chronicles 36:20-21: “And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon … to fulfill the word of YHVH by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete”. Hence, during this season there is a form of restitution (TIKKUN in Hebrew) which is taking place, and may it signal the fulfillment of YHVH’s Word with many willing participants.

Therefore this is a time to rejoice, as it is written:  “With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).  I might add, ‘the hard way’.

As I was pondering this scripture four words came bursting out at me, “I will seek You”.  Indeed at a time of crisis many start seeking for help, especially from their “God”.  Others may see it as an opportunity for a “Messiah” to come and save them out of a given difficulty.  We, as believers in the redemptive work of YHVH through Yeshua, may view this time as (the beginning of the) birth pangs of His coming, in accordance with Yeshua’s own words in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.  In this address Yeshua cautioned that when “…anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Messiah'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him;  for false Messiahs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray (Mark 13:21-22 emphasis added). 

One of the main reasons that the elect could be so deceived is that they do not have a firm foundation of knowing Yeshua’s presence in their innermost being.   A scriptural example of this are the Corinthian believers.   They were so ‘fleshly’ that at first they could not even ingest “the milk of the gospel”.  Paul’s letters to this congregation (teachings, exhortations and encouragements) were the longest of any of his letters to the other assemblies.  He also found it necessary to visit them at least three times, as did also Apollo and Timothy.  The content of his letters to them is permeated with a great deal of frustration, as he was trying to get through to them the good news, especially that they, as believers, were in Messiah and that Messiah Yeshua was in them.  They heard him say that they are the corporate temple of His presence (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), or “the body of the Messiah” (see 1 Corinthians 10:16; 12:27), and that they have a treasure (of His Spirit) in their earthen vessels (see 2 Corinthians 4:7).

Upon Paul’s third visit with them, and because of their continued lack of maturity and unbelief, his patience ran out and in an almost outburst of anger he exhorted them to examine their faith:  “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that, Yeshua the Messiah is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5 emphasis added).  We, as those who believe in His indwelling presence, should have no problem to seek Him.  “I in you and you in me” (see John 14:20) is our reality 24/7.  What’s more - we cannot be deceived when someone says:   'Behold, here is the Messiah'; or, 'Behold, He is there'.  Because we are living in a very dark hour of history, knowing His presence within and the purpose for our election is extremely important to our Elohim and to His prophetic plans. Read carefully the following:
“For Elohim who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim in the face of Messiah.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of Elohim and not from ourselves…” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).   



Friday, March 6, 2020

Compromising YHVH’s Orders


I was reading this week in 1st Samuel 15, where YHVH commanded King Saul to completely annihilate the Amalekites.  Saul was told to not even keep any spoil that belonged to them.  Saul, however, disobeyed. “And he captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.  But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed” (1 Samuel 15:8-9 my emphases).  When Samuel came to Saul to enquire as to why he did not kill Agag and destroy everything that YHVH had commanded him, Saul’s answer was seemingly very honorable and religious: “I have carried out the command of YHVH" (1 Samuel 15:13). But did he?  This was a distortion of the truth, preceding the excuse: "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to YHVH your Elohim” (1 Samuel 15:15 my emphases). In this statement Saul disconnects himself from his disobedience, and blatantly sheds off all responsibility: “they, the people did this (hear the echo: “the woman that You gave me, she…” Gen. 3:12?)… for your Elohim”. Why not our Elohim? 

What does this scene and its ramifications have to do with us today?  We too have an enemy who hates us, and a command from YHVH to destroy, cut off, tear down and eliminate any evidence of Satan’s influence and rule in our new creation life: “don’t let Sin rule you!” (Romans 6:12).  “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness” (Romans 6:11-13). “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of Elohim” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). 

Saul’s biggest problem was his pride, coupled with greed that was covered up by a self-righteous attitude that typically denies culpability, thus leading to a critical compromise.   Preserving Agag’s life and all the things that appeared to be of value, was really a sacrifice to his prideful self-righteousness and greed, followed by an inability to come to grips with his actions and heart motivations.

Pride is the king that sits on the throne of men’s hearts and the most difficult to discern, as it is cloaked in false humility.  But what exposes pride is its own greed.  Like sheol, it can never be satisfied (ref. Proverbs 30:16). 

With the festival of Purim right around the corner, we have here an example of how one generation’s critical compromise (in this case by Saul), can cause catastrophic consequences way down the line (Haman, a descendant of Agag, persecuted  Sauls’s descendant – Mordechai - and ultimately all the Jewish people in the kingdom of that day).

Friday, February 7, 2020

Faith's Works

Therefore by the deeds of YHVH’s instructions no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Word of Elohim, in the Torah, we come to the knowledge of sin that is, in our flesh.  But now the righteousness of Elohim apart from the Torah is revealed, being actually witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets… “(Romans 3:20-21 my modifications and emphasis).

How is YHVH’s righteousness revealed in the Torah and the Prophets?

The answer is, “I will write My Torah on your heart”.  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, you ‘shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ [and] you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9 emphasis added). Paul raises a very important question: “What shall we say then? Are the Commandments of Elohim sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the Commandments in the Torah. Therefore the Torah is holy, and the commandments holy and just and good…” (Rom. 7: 2).  

 “Then He [Yeshua] said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Torah and Prophets)…”  (Luke 24:44-45).  Why is it so important for us today that Yeshua has (also) been opening our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets?  There are religious voices in our midst which claim that the Word of Elohim, “Yeshua”, in the ‘Old Testament’ have very little relevance compared to ‘New Testament’ writings.  If the word of Elohim is the same yesterday today and forever, how can such a distinction be made?  Their favorite ‘proof text’ is:  “For Messiah is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).  The Greek word used there for “end” is 5056 telos {tel'-os} – meaning, end, completion or purpose.

The anointing of the Spirit of Yeshua in the life of a believer is in itself the righteousness of the Law to its fullness, thus ‘end’ does not mean that the Law has been done away with, rather, that nothing more may be added to its fullness, completeness or purpose in Messiah.  The righteousness of Elohim is seen as the fruit of the Spirit. Now that we have received Yeshua as Lord and our life is embedded in the Spirit of the Son, we have His righteousness expressed in the works of faith.

The apostles often quote and instruct from the Torah and the Prophets, giving credence to these writings in their preaching and teaching of the gospel of the Kingdom and Yeshua the Messiah (see Acts 28:23).  “For what the instructions of Elohim could not do while humanity lives in the flesh and under the power of Sin, the Father did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…” (Rom. 8:3-4 emphasis added).

 “But now the righteousness of Elohim apart from the Torah is revealed, being actually witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets…”  (Rom. 3:20-21), as we noted above. “Do we then make void the Torah of Elohim through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish it…‘‘ (Rom. 3:21) “For we delight in the Torah of Elohim according to the inward man… “(Rom. 7:22). “We thank our Heavenly Father, through Yeshua our Messiah and our Lord, we can serve the Torah of Elohim with our mind…” (Rom. 7:25). For when we are in Messiah, and He in us, He is the completeness and fullness of the Torah “for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4. My modifications in all of the above quotes). 

Therefore the evidence of faith is not justification only, but righteousness that is seen through the works of righteousness.  The works of the flesh are enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21. Immediately following this list comes the list of the works or fruit of the Spirit:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).  

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have the works of righteousness? Can faith save him?... “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14 ,26 emphasis and modifications added). 

In what way is faith dead?

Yeshua summed up the commandments that have been written on our hearts into: “Love YHVH with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself”.   This is the proof of righteousness that comes by faith in Messiah.  James challenges the believer who says he has “faith without works”.  In other words, he is asking for evidence in the behavior of the one who claims to have faith. If faith is truly present, then so would be the fruit of the Spirit or ‘works’ of the Spirit. “He who loves another has fulfilled the royal law” (James 2:8). “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Romans 13:8). If there is no evidence of the righteousness that comes through faith, then as James states, “faith is dead” and if faith is dead, then one is fooling one’s self into believing that they have been justified through faith only.  A living faith sees and becomes an expression of that which is unseen.  Our life in Messiah is unseen until it is manifested through the obedience of faith to His Word. What is it about our life in Messiah that is seen? Would it not be “the works that YHVH prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”? (Eph. 2:10b). Yes, we are “His workmanship that have been created/prepared in the Messiah Yeshua for good works” (Eph. 2:10a).  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A HEAVENLY LADDER


John 1:43-51:   The following day Yeshua wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me."… Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."  And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."  Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"  Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Yeshua answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."  Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim! You are the King of Israel!"  Yeshua answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."  And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of Elohim ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

At first glance, it must be admitted that this episode is quite unusual and enigmatic.  Yeshua, who had just ‘conscripted’ Philip, is now interacting with Nathanael. This is a moment when the Son of Elohim speaks into a man’s heart: “I saw you,” He says to him, thereby meeting a deep longing to be SEEN truly for who we are! Yeshua, in so doing, expresses His insight into Nathanael’s inner being. And much to the latter’s (probable) surprise, the Messiah says of him, “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit”. Having been seen, in soul and physically, Nathanael responds by exclaiming: “Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim! You are the King of Israel!” Thus “an Israelite indeed” recognizes that the King of Israel has just been revealed to Him. Certainly a touching scene! But Yeshua does not stop there, and continues to reveal Himself and His mission, culminating with: Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of Elohim ascending and descending upon the Son of Man". The picture or illustration which Yeshua presents here leave no room for doubt as to who He is, tying Himself, as He does, to the very heavens and to Elohim’s messengers. But who or what else does Yeshua infer by this illustration?

The obvious answer is found in Genesis 28:10-15: Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran.  So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.  Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of Elohim were ascending and descending on it.  And behold, YHVH stood above it and said: "I am YHVH the Elohim of Abraham your father and the Elohim of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your seed. Also your seed shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you".

The theme of Jacob’s “ladder dream” is YHVH’s repeated promises to three generations of men that, their descendants, of whom there will be many, will inherit the land, will spread in all directions and will bless the other peoples/nations of the world. Comparing Himself to the ladder, connecting heaven and earth, Yeshua is making a definitive statement of His identity and role. But it doesn’t end there. The picture of YHVH’s messengers which is being invoked by Yeshua, is the picture that Jacob saw, so as to become cognizant of the fact that YHVH’s promises are guaranteed and witnessed to by the heavenly host. So why is the One who has just been declared King of Israel by another Israelite, associates this promise with His ‘description’ of Himself? Is it because Yeshua is pointing to the fact that when He is truly perceived or seen as the one whom the Father has sent in order to tie or link heaven and earth, then the auspicious promises to Jacob (and his fathers) will finally materialize in their fullness? Is Yeshua saying that what has been a dream will morph, through His kingship over Israel, into a full blown reality?

With all this said, if Yeshua’s above-quoted statement is examined in light of two more encounters, which follow this one, it will become apparent that Yeshua was not only ‘upgrading’ Jacob’s dream, but that He will also add another dimension to its fulfillment. In the next two examples Yeshua will use, once more, illustrations from Israel’s past in order to point to Himself as a Giver of Life, and to the Spirit of Truth as the agent of action and fulfillment.

Thus, after the wedding at Cana, we see Yeshua meeting Nakdimon (Nicodemus), in which encounter He compares Himself to the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert thus thwarting the attack of the fiery snakes on the Children of Israel (in the wake of the latter’s complaints about their food supply. See Numbers 21:4-9). The “lifting up of the Son of Man”, likened to the lifting up of the bronze serpent, is an obvious reference to Yeshua’s coming death on the cross and to the resultant outcome to those who will believe in Him, who will not perish but will have eternal life (see John 3:15).

In the next instance Yeshua encounters a Samaritan woman at a well, where He points to Himself as to the source of “living water, springing up into eternal life” (John 4:14). Just as in the occasion with Nathanael, here too Yeshua appears to know the woman through and through (v. 18), and according to her own admittance “told her all that she ever did” (v. 29). But aside from this personal aspect of the encounter, when Yeshua makes reference to worshiping in the ‘holy sites’, notably bringing up Jerusalem, He declares categorically: “…the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father…  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…” (John 4:21, 23).  

Historically not too long after these words were uttered Jerusalem was destroyed, and for many years worship therein was not possible. In saying these words Yeshua was not abolishing Jerusalem’s (future) role, but was emphasizing that worship rendered to the Father, whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere, was to be first and foremost IN Spirit and Truth. 

So how does this relate to our original text of the “ladder”, the heavenly one, or to the one in Jacob’s dream? Let us repeat once again the questions as to why the One who has been declared King of Israel by another Israelite, is associating the promise to Jacob at Bethel with His own ‘description’ of Himself. Is it because Yeshua is pointing out that when He is truly perceived or seen as the One whom the Father has sent in order to tie or link heaven and earth, the auspicious promises to Jacob (and his fathers) will finally materialize in their fullness? Is Yeshua saying that what has been a dream will morph, through His kingship over Israel, into a full blown reality? If the answer to these questions is a resounding YES, in light of what we have just cited, what else must be added?

We saw Yeshua ‘spiritualizing’ the brazen snake’s healing power as well as having ‘spiritualized’ worship beyond a physical locality, teaching us that the fulfillment of promises to the Patriarchs’ progeny also has to be ‘spiritualized’. Yeshua is not negating the literal fulfillments. Rather, He is elevating them to a higher place or status. The fulfillments and their recipients are to be, first and foremost, imbued by Spirit AND Truth. Upon being seen by their/our Redeemer (just as He saw the sufferings of the Hebrews, Exodus 2:25), an awakening has to take place such as Nathanael’s, who was transformed from total skepticism, to a softening of the heart which led him to recognize the Persona of Truth, a recognition which brought about submission. Likewise, without a radical heart transformation on the part of the would-be recipients, the fulfillment of the promises will be, at best, made up only of the grains of the dust mentioned by Elohim in the words that He spoke our forefathers…

Thursday, December 26, 2019

From a Rock to a City


In my testimony book, Return To The Land, I make mention of a dream that I had shortly after returning from my second trip to Israel in 1977.  In this dream I saw a very large black rock on a beach by the ocean.  Five successive waves that washed to shore, broke up the rock. As I pondered the dream I felt it had something to do with the House of Jacob. Years later”, as I was reading Isaiah 51:1-2 more was revealed regarding the “rock: "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek YHVH: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.  Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him". 
As novices in geology or mineralogy, when passing by large rock formations we miss what is actually contained or hidden in those stones.  Could that also be also true regarding the rock of Isaiah 51?  How many of us can see the twelve precious stones of the High Priest’s breastplate in that rock?  How is it that according to the scripture this rock signifies a righteousness that is worth pursuing? And how is “looking” at that rock connected to seeking YHVH? Moreover, these verses also indicate that the pursuer himself has been quarried out of that same rock. This rock of Abraham and Sarah has even more peculiar characteristics.  In Scripture Elohim’s identity is many times tied to Abraham (and to his son Isaac and grandson Jacob). Thus three of the gospels record YHVH’s words regarding this matter and quoted by Yeshua: “I am the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob”. Yeshua goes on to say: “Elohim is not the Elohim of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).  How is it, that at that point in history, the forefathers were described as still being alive, and can it be said, in the same way, that they are still alive today?
“Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude -- innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Hebrews 11:12) were the words pronounced about Abraham, words that were also applicable to Sarah (v.11).  As far as reproduction of life, Abraham and Sarah were both dead, yet the Almighty Elohim and Creator brought forth life from them, defying death, in a manner of speaking. "I have made you [Abraham] a father of many nations, in the presence of Him whom he believed -- Elohim, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). 
Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac, was called into life by the Spirit of YHVH and became the father of a chosen race of people.  But now, thus says YHVH, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’” (Isaiah 43:1).  One cannot help but notice that throughout the Tanach over 200 verses mention: “My People”. At one stage in the history of “My People” YHVH called them “NOT My People”, but by the Covenant of Mercy He restored to them their identity, back to being “My people”.  
The stones quarried out of the rock of Abraham by YHVH who has also fashioned them, are “living stones". These stones are no ordinary stones; they are “precious stones”, although covered by clay (flesh) (see Lamentations 4:1-2).  As such they were hidden in sin and kept under law, yet in them lay dormant “the faith” of their father Abraham, so that when the time would come for that faith to be revealed (see Galatians 3:23). YHVH Himself, by His Mighty Right Arm, would purchase this treasure along with the ground where it was hidden (see Matthew 13:44). He would cleanse the stones by His blood, sculpture and polish them and make use of them for building the city that Abraham was waiting for:  “By faith he [Abraham] dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is Elohim” (Hebrews 11:9-10). 
YHVH, for His part, “laid a foundation stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation” (ref. Isaiah 28:16).  Following this act, it says about the stones that they are , “coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by Elohim and precious,  you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:4-5) (see also Ephesians 3:19-22).  Thus, as precious and redeemed living stones they can be built into YHVH’s temple-city.   This city is said to have no temple, because YHVH Elohim and Yeshua the Lamb are its temple (ref. Revelation 21:22), but as the Spirit of Elohim resides in each of the stones, the city itself becomes the temple. 
Now, as you look at the rock from which you were hewn, can you see the city?
“The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  But I saw no temple in it, for YHVH Elohim Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of Elohim illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it” (Revelation 21:18-24).