Friday, February 26, 2021

A Debt Repaid

 

A Debt Repaid

The Grand Scale Purim Spiel (Purim Play)

 

Israelite identity is far more important today than it has ever been in the recent past.  Thus I want to get right to the point, extracted from a teaching on the book of Esther given by Rabbi Fohrman of Alef-Beta.  Rabbi Fohrman highlights the interesting relation between Leah’s side of the family, as represented by the “Jews”, and Rachel’s, represented by the “Benjaminites” – Mordechai and Esther. In reflecting back on the story of Joseph, Fohrman mentions how Judah (Leah’s son) stood up for his brother Benjamin (Rachel’s son), in an attempt to save him from becoming a slave to the “Egyptian lord” (Genesis 44:33-34).  Fast forward now to the story of Purim. Esther the Benjaminite risked her life to save the entire Jewish population from an Amalikite overlord – Haman, thus repaying Benjamin’s “debt” to Judah. As many times as I have read the story of Purim, I had not seen it through the eyes of the two mothers, the two brothers, and two nations, until now.

If we fast forward again a few hundred years, we hear about a Messiah, from the root of Jesse, tribe of Judah, Leah’s descendant, saying that He has only come to Rachel’s side of the family that is to, “the lost sheep of the House of Israel [Joseph]” (ref. Mathew 10:6; 15:24).  Fast forward again to our day, at which time the descendants of Leah are settled in the land of Israel. Their religious leaders make the claim that the Messiah (Ben Yosef) has been in every generation, but hidden.  In this generation and in our day, they are even calling for Him to reveal Himself. But where is He?  The amazing thing is… that the Messiah Son of David, who was born on Leah’s side of the family, became the Redeemer and Messiah of the House of Rachel/Joseph. Therefore Rachel’s son Joseph remains indebted to Judah. Being that the Spirit of the Messiah is now indwelling a remnant from Rachel’s House, but camouflaged, so much so, that the Jews are not aware of His presence there. However, it is now Rachel’s children who will be the ones to bring Him back to Judah.  Thus, all Israel will be saved and the debt paid.  

When will this happen?  According to Revelation 18 and Jeremiah 50 & 51, it will be during the time of the fall of this present world’s Babylonian system.  One of the main references to this end-time scenario is found in Revelation 18:24-25: "The light of a lamp shall not shine in you [Babylon] anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.  And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth".  I don’t think much more needs to be said, as the rich and “great men” of the earth have taken control and are using their influence and power through “sorcery” (in Greek “pharmakia”) to subject the rest of humanity to what seems best “in their eyes”.  Every nation is experiencing the effects of this at this time, as billions of small vials of serum are being mass produced to fulfill an agenda, devised by the “great men/merchants of the earth, who have become rich by the wealth of her [Babylon’s] sensuality” (Rev. 18:25, 3). However, YHVH declares regarding such a time: “I will bring back Israel to his home, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; His soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead.  In those days and in that time,’ says YHVH, ‘The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; For I will pardon those whom I preserve’” (Jeremiah 50:19-20).

 “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his Elohim, YHVH of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel. Flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life! Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of YHVH's vengeance; He shall recompense her” (Jeremiah 51:5-6).

Friday, February 19, 2021

Two Wisdoms at War

 

It is very obvious that all that is happening in today’s world, both personally and corporately, may pose great challenges to our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father and His Messiah.  At the same time the scriptures encourage us to: “Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”, (James 1:2-4).  These words happen to address “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” - in other words both houses of Israel.  It is interesting that right after stating “that you may be… lacking in nothing” the writer (James) points to one thing that most likely they (and us) were missing, and that is “wisdom”. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim… in faith without doubting” (verses 5&6). 

James elaborates on the nature or character of the “wisdom from above”:  “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).

We just read that our faith is tested in the midst of trials. We may perceive our trials to be financial, physical, or the results of governmental decisions, but when it comes to the need for the “wisdom from Elohim”, the testing seems to be more in regards to our relationships within the family of Jacob.   

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?  You lust and do not have; so you commit murder [with the tongue]. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3).  Here the writer presents the nature and character of the world’s wisdom that is waging war against the wisdom from above, and obstructs having sound and loving relationships. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:14-16).

The warfare that goes on between the flesh and the spirit is not new, it is a daily battle for all of us who are striving after the wisdom and righteousness in Messiah Yeshua.  We all need the Father to impart His wisdom that can overcome the wisdom of the world, but it does not come without another condition and that is, asking with the right motives (ref. 4:3). 

Obtaining this wisdom, as we saw above, is based upon asking with faith and without doubting. The apostle reminds us of our father Abraham’s faith, of which there was living evidence when he offered up his only son (and in a way, his own life) (ref. 2:21-22).  Likewise, we too should be offering up… ourselves, in faith as a “living sacrifice” (ref Romans 12:1). It is only then that we will begin to see the evidence of the wisdom from above, and demonstrate the fruit of righteousness with which we may nourish others and brings about the oneness that unites the two families of Israel.

 “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13). “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of Elohim above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

“Now may the Elohim of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Father of glory, give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him… and that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9).  

Friday, February 12, 2021

WIND AND FIRE

 

WIND AND FIRE

 

At the peak of his ministry Yochanan the Immerser made a declaration about the One coming after him, saying:  “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [Ruach in Hebrew, meaning both spirit and wind] and fire.  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:11-12; Luke 3:16-17).


 Yochnan uttered wonderful words of promise - being immersed/absorbed/engrossed by the Spirit (Ruach) of Holiness, as well as by fire, a holy cleansing flame that would come from YHVH. Surely many were encouraged and stirred up when they heard those words; with their daily routines being ordered by an oppressive Roman rule, and the religious life by a corrupt Sadducee priesthood or legalistic rabbinic Pharisees, these words must have sparked excitement and anticipation. To be “gathered” as “wheat” to Elohim’s barn, to be in a safe place, protected and be made ready for the Master’s use – as wholesome bread (the “showbread” in the Holy Place)… Perhaps at last things were going to change….???  But, just a minute, not so fast… what is this about chaff and burning????

 

The chaff typically is gotten rid of by allowing the wind the blow it away. The chaff that Yochanan was talking about was going to meet an even worse lot. He announced that it would be burned. Even words spoken over Israel’s enemies were not so harsh: “O my Elohim, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind!” (Psalm 83:14). Yochanan’s words are even sterner. Burning up the chaff “with unquenchable fire” Yochanan was in agreement with Psalm 11:6, which says: “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup”!

 

Wind (Spirit) and Fire. Both Yochanan and the above words employ the two together. The wonderful immersion of the wind of the Spirit and It’s fire is something we are longing for – cleansed by His fire, filled by His Spirit! Could it be that YHVH is using the very SAME wind/Spirit, and the very same fire to both cleanse and saturate, but also to blow away with an unquenchable fiery wind? Are we in the season of the near maturation of the wheat kernels (almost) ready to be harvested and be gathered into the Master’s granary, while the tares are being readied to be blown into the flames?    

 

Abba, let the fiery wind do its thorough work within me, so that the flame of Your Spirit may be generated from within me for Your purposes as You blow away evil with Your fiery breath! Yes, may we be one with His Spirit. May we be one with His Fire!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Time for Wisdom

 

What a joy to be studying the Parashot (weekly Torah readings) at this time in the history of Israel, “YHVH’s people”, especially if you know that you are one of the redeemed of Jacob!  With all that is going on in the world and in the lives of billions of people, we stand out as Elohim’s witness and testimony of His faithfulness.  What an encouragement when we read of YHVH’s sovereignty over the lives of our ancient forefathers, even while in slavery in Egypt!  Moreover, scripture bears out that YHVH was also in total control of the king of Egypt, his people, and even over the magicians.  In this week’s Parashat “Va’ey’ra” YHVH speaks to Pharaoh and declares: “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). This very verse is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:17. The apostle brought out this example, because in the previous verse he highlighted a statement from Exodus 33:19, in which YHVH declares:  “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion” (Romans 9:15 emphasis added) – whether king or slave.  Many times, however, we lose sight of YHVH’s will and sovereign control over everything that transpires on the earth (and perhaps even in heaven), or just over our own lives. 

 That He has never lost control or given sovereignty over to a satan or to anyone else, is indisputable, as Daniel 2:21 confirms: “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding”. 

“He gives wisdom… and knowledge…” James says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (1:5). But how will we know that we have been given this wisdom from above?  Here is the apostle’s answer: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (3:17).  Make no mistake! You will know if you have been granted this special wisdom, because it has a very distinct character.  There is many an experience that we go through in life that does not line up with what we had expected or assumed.  At such times we have to recognize YHVH’s will and our need for celestial wisdom. As for the ‘celestial wisdom’, there is an outstanding promise for the future. Daniel declares that, “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmamentand goes on to say: “And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 emphasis added).

Friday, December 25, 2020

DECODING

 

Once appointed as Pharaoh’s deputy, with all the appropriate regalia, Joseph was also given a new name: Tzofnat Pa’a’ne’ach (transliteration according to the Hebrew original), which in Modern Hebrew means “the decoder of the hidden”. There is much about the story of Joseph which is associated with “codes” that require decoding. For starters, of all the various figures in Scripture who prefigure Yeshua, Joseph is one of the most obvious. But even with that, the text has to be examined quite closely in order for a clear picture to emerge. Another such example is the vision cast by Joseph’s life upon the eventual destiny of his progeny, and that of the progeny of those related to him. Here too a close deciphering is required of text and facts.

 

When it comes to Joseph, the Hebrew narrative is very deliberate in its vocabulary, especially in certain episodes. One such example is the usage of the root letters shin, bet/vet, resh – which form the word “sheh’ver”, with its primordial meaning being “to break” or “to sever”. Joseph’s specific role as well as his family’s efforts to obtain sustenance is couched in this term with its variety of meanings, such as: sell, grain, buy, provider etc. Moreover, in chapters 41-44 of Genesis it appears 18 times, although Joseph himself uses this term only once (in 42:19).

 

Admittedly, the repeated usage of such a term to describe the situation that revolved around Joseph is indeed strange, and therefore begs the question: Why? What is its significance?  There are two more times in which this term is used by the Sacred Text related to Joseph. Psalm 105:16-23 tells the story of Joseph with some additions, such as: “They hurt his feet with fetters. Iron pierced his soul, until the time that his word came to pass, the word of YHVH tested him” (vs. 18,19). This passage is introduced by: “He [Elohim] called a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision, - sheh’ver – of bread” (v. 16).

 

The next passage is in Amos 6:6. Those of the house of Israel, in Samaria, are being chastised in the entire chapter for being self-serving, selfish, complacent and living in ignorance of their impending judgment. The thrust of the charge leveled at them (‘them’ being those who were part of the “house of Joseph”) was for not grieving over the “affliction of Joseph – the shev’ver – the brokenness, the fracture, the crisis of their own household. And indeed they suffered the consequences. “Their house was left desolate to them” and they ended up scattered and lost.

 

Thus we see that decoding the usage of sh.b/v.r in Joseph’s story leads to more than just provision, buying, selling, grain etc. but to a very serious crisis of near annihilation that YHVH expects His people to be very concerned about – then AND now. The Hebrew word used in Amos 6:6 is “ne’ch’lu” – literally to become sick and weak, over the fate of the entity called Joseph. Our Father seems to regard this issue very seriously, can we do any less?

One more “she’ver”, which appears in Scripture, is found in Judges 7, when a dream that Gideon happens to overhear confirmed to him his assured victory over Midian by the hand of YHVH.  Gideon is said to have heard the telling of the dream and “its interpretation” – shivro… (v. 10).

 

Decoding, or interpreting (discerning), is also what is before us at this present time, so that the only “breaking” will be that of the “heart”, as YHVH isnear to those who have a broken heart” (Psalm 51:17; 34:18). That contrite heart and humble spirit is of utmost import at a time such as we are in, a time which is not unlike the seven years of famine that prevailed in the world covered by the Biblical narrative. In the midst of tribulation, the faith and humility of Joseph and the brokenness of Judah stand out as major traits that were needed for the events to take their course.

 

Viewing these events of the seven year famine from a historical perspective, it is quite clear that this upheaval had as its central pivot the family of Jacob/Israel, for the sake of their ultimate destiny - to be formed into a nation. This of course took place not without having its effect far and wide, just as things are in our day. From Genesis 48:14 we learn that further on into the famine, Joseph took gradual managerial steps in order to be ‘on top” of the situation. He first gathered all the money that was ‘floating’ in Egypt and Canaan and handed it over to Pharaoh (v. 14). When the people found themselves bereft of sustenance, both food and money, Joseph appropriated all of their livestock in exchange for food (v.17). Shortly after, when there was nothing left to pay with and the people offered themselves and their land, in exchange for seed. And although it is not recorded that Joseph had actually made them into slaves, he did buy all the land and turned it over to  Pharaoh in return for seed (vs. 20, 23). “And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end” (Genesis 47:21). This was nothing short of population transfer, which caused the now totally weakened people to become even more subject to governmental control. A firth of the produce that, they were to grow from the seeds that Joseph provided for them was to be handed to the monarch (v. 24).

 

Joseph’s methodology is quite totalitarian, but under whose orders was he operating? It does not say anything about Pharaoh instructing him thus. Was Joseph getting his ideas from a “Higher Power”? Remember Psalm 105:16, and who “called famine on the land”? Even so today, no matter what is happening and ‘fixing’ to happen in the near future, our trust is in Elohim Almighty who is navigating our ship to the port that He has in mind. With that said, it is worthwhile to note that in Judaism, and especially now, the Messiah is said to not just “come”, but mainly “to be revealed”. We wait for the Greater Son of Joseph to reveal Himself to His brethren, perhaps at such a time as this, just as Jacob’s favorite son did during the days of adversity to his brothers. But before we sign off, there is another question that comes to mind: “Could this prospective revealing come, at least partially, through the Body, the “sons of the living Elohim”, whose head is Messiah? Here again sh.v/b.r helps us to do some “decoding”. There are two passages where this root word comes into play: “Today is a day of trouble, rebuke and disgrace. Children are ready to be born – “mishbar”, but there is no strength to bring them to birth” (2nd Kings 19:3), and especially Hosea 13:12-13: “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hidden. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth – mishbar - of sons”. However, Revelation 12:5 tells us of a birth that is not aborted. Let us therefore get ready for the birth, and remember to decode the hidden things!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Focusing Our Aim

 

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

In our group zoom discussion the other night, a question was raised in regards to the massive focus on the American Constitution which is currently consuming Christians and Messianic Believers in the United States. The Republic of the US was founded on Judeo/Christian values, statutes and ordinances. These principles of freedom have their roots more specifically in the Torah of Moses. However, much of the Christian population in the United States does not live by what is written in those sacred writings, and in fact has even chosen to discard them under the doctrine of “not being under the law”. Thus, at this time when seeking justice looms large in the eyes of American Believers, the question must be raised: “Can lawlessness combat lawlessness? Is there a flawed foundation in the godly motivations of those trying to correct injustice and unrighteousness in the US, and does that affect the potential for a successful outcome…?” Thank you, Kay B. for asking! To drive this point even more poignantly, Kay also added another question, quoting from Mark 3:23: “How can Satan cast out Satan?”

I would like to add another point that came up in this week’s meeting. What about the role of the Ephraimites, who likewise are pursuing American identity at this time, rather than their own ancestral one? What is more important in these days of the restoration of the whole house of Israel, than the everlasting covenants and promises that are yet to be fulfilled? In regards to the House of Israel in the nations, especially the USA, Rimona had a word a couple of days ago – “diversion”.  Is it possible that the entire upheaval which is sweeping the world at the moment, is actually for the purpose of ultimately gathering YHVH’s people and setting up His everlasting kingdom in its designated location? Let us remember that in the midst of preparations for a time of calamity (famine) in Egypt, our ancestor Joseph was said to have “stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea…” (Gen. 41:49). This evokes the promises to his fathers that their seed would be “like the sand of the sea”. It is no coincidence that the verse which follows Joseph’s “ingathering” action reports the birth of his two sons, to whom the above irrevocable promise pertained.  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Scriptures for Lighting the Chanukah Candles

 

When Lighting the Chanukah Candles read each evening, as each candle is being lit:

 When lighting the Shamash candle:  "And now YHVH says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him…Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Nations, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"(Isaiah 49:5-6). "Then Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12) "In Me is life, and the life is the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:4-5).

 

 First Candle:  "But you/we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you/we may proclaim the praises of Him who called you/us out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but now the people of Elohim, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1Peter 2:9-10).

 

Second Candle:  "For so YHVH has commanded us [body of Messiah]: 'I have set you as a light to the Nations, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47) "to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to Elohim, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18 a word commissioned to the Apostle Paul but by inference to all of us).

 

Third Candle:  "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you/we do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your/our hearts" (2Peter 1:19).

 

Fourth Candle:  "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness"(John 12:46). "For you/we were once darkness, but now you/we are light in the Lord. [We should then] walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

 

Fifth Candle:  "No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, that those who come in may see the light" (Luke 11:33). "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him" (1John 2:10)."For if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Messiah Yeshua  His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7).

 

Sixth Candle:  "If you/we extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your/our light shall dawn in the darkness, and your/our darkness shall be as the noonday…(Isaiah 58:10) "Therefore let your/our light so shine before men, that they may see your/our good works and glorify your/our Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

 

Seventh Candle:  "Then Yeshua said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light" (John 12:35-36).

 

Eighth Candle:  "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12). "For you/we, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you/us as a thief.  You/we are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). "O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of YHVH" (Isaiah 2:5). "For Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path"(Psalm 119:105). "Arise, shine; for your/our light has come! And the glory of YHVH is risen upon you/us" (Isaiah 60:1).