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). 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Readings When 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).

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Sure Foundation

In 1st Corinthians 3:10-11 Paul makes the following statement: “According to the grace of YHVH which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah”.  In other words, "the Living Word of Elohim" is the foundation laid by the first apostles and prophets of old. Let me insert a clarification here: The apostles and prophets of what is commonly called “the fivefold ministry” (Ephesians 4:11) are not the builders of the foundation, nor are they the ones that are to add to or take away from it.  They are called to build on the foundation that has already been constructed, that is on the “Rock”, and Scriptural foundation.  
“Therefore thus says YHVH Elohim, ‘behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes [in Him] will not act hastily” (Isaiah 28:16).  
The ‘prophets of old’, i.e. the Biblical prophets, and the first apostles were the ones to whom Paul was referring in Ephesians 2:20: “…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua the Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone”. As a result of their groundwork we have “come to Yeshua as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by YHVH and precious,  we also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to YHVH through Yeshua the Messiah” (1st  Peter 2:4-5).  Without the foundation which has been built by the prophets and the apostles, we, as living stones, cannot be set on a sure foundation.  The prophets’ foundation is the Word of Elohim in covenants and promises to our forefathers and to Israel as a whole, enumerating details of people, place and time (history past and future fulfillment).  The apostolic foundation bears witness to YHVH’s faithfulness in keeping and fulfilling those covenantal declarations and prophetic promises via the indwelling of the Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is the guarantee and the evidence of YHVH’s faithfulness:  “For all the promises of Elohim in Him are yes, and in Him amen, to the glory of YHVH through us.  Now He who establishes us with you in Messiah and has anointed us is Elohim, He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:20-22).   
 “Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land.  Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.  Truth shall spring out of the earth, [that is, from our innermost being], and righteousness shall look down from heaven” (Psalm 85:9-11).  Thus, it is in us that heaven and earth touch each other and kiss. 

Bond Servant

“And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…” “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of Elohim, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:18; 22).
From these two verses one might raise the question: If we have been set free, how is it that we become servants or slaves?  Actually the definition of one who has been set free by their master or redeemed by another, but then decides to freely give himself back to his master or his redeemer is a “bond servant”.  In the following scriptures we see this term used by those who in their service were advancing the Kingdom of Elohim. 
Here is how some the greatest prophets and apostles and foundational builders of Elohim’s Kingdom thought of themselves and of their callings: “Paul and Timothy, bond servants of Yeshua the Messiah” (Philippians 1:1);James, a bond servant of Elohim and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (James 1:1); Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Yeshua the Messiah (2 Peter 1:1).  Not to mention our forefathers, along with Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Ezekiel etcetera, who all were servants of Elohim. 
Even our Messiah Yeshua became a bond servant of Elohim in order to qualify to be our Redeemer and Lord. Therefore “Let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah Yeshua… who made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5, 7-8).   If we have the mind of Messiah then our thinking should be the same, as well as our behavior.   Just because we have been set free from sin and are seated with Him in Heavenly places does not free us from being bond servants to righteousness AND to our King. 
If the following is an example of being a bondservant of an earthly master, how much more so does it illustrate our required service to our spiritual Master and King?  “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Messiah;  not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Messiah, doing the will of Elohim from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to Yeshua the Lord, and not to men,  knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether a slave or free” (Ephesians 6:5-8).  
Every day, regardless where we are, at home with family, at work with co-workers, colleagues or employees, or anywhere for that matter, we should be living out our calling as ‘bondservants’ of Yeshua our King.   Therefore, “Let as many bond servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of Elohim and His instructions [Torah] may not be blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1).  “For we do not preach ourselves, (nor live for ourselves) but Messiah Yeshua the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Yeshua’s sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).