Important lesson from the creation story


The very first time in the Bible that G-D speaks is found in Genesis 1:3, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.” With these words, a concept is established that is just as important today as it was on the very first day of creation. This concept has the ability to change our lives and affect everything we do. Every believer wants to be successful with their families, their occupations and especially in their personal ministries. Yet, most believers never pay attention to these words beyond their place in the narrative of the creation story. We all know that every word in the Bible has deeper meaning than the simple context we find them in. Every word is part of many larger contexts within a larger narrative.


In the case of “Let there be light,” these powerful words of creation hold millions of spiritual concepts within them and establish patterns that one could spend every day of their life searching for and still not find and understand them all. One of those concepts provides a pathway for success in every aspect of our lives.


Notice that these first words were spoken before any other creative words were spoken. Before the world became fully formed, G-D knew that light was needed. This same context is brought forward throughout the Bible. For instance, when the Tabernacle was being built, the Menorah was lit before the dedication of the Tabernacle and before sacrifices began to be offered. Thus, light was “turned on” before worship began. In the New Testament, we find in Mathew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.


Let your light shine. These words carry great value and are more than just the simple words of a worship song. They, as with “Let their be light,” speak to the concept of involving light in our lives. The light isn’t there just so that others might see our works visually, but so that we can have good works that others might see.


We should follow the example of G-D and, before we begin to do anything, we should first turn on the light. Turning on the light not only allows us to see where we are going it also allows us to see what we are doing. We all know that when the blind lead the blind they both fall into the ditch. So, having visual clarity or light shining will allow us to avoid pitfalls and tragedy in our lives and ministries.


So, how do we “turn on the lights?” We do so in the same way that G-D did in Genesis. We speak the words. In other words, we pray and ask that the light of G-D’s Spirit shine upon whatever we are preparing to do. Note that when G-D spoke the words “Let there be light” and there was light, that the light was not from the sun or any other heavenly object, because they had not yet been created. The light spoken into existence came forth from G-D Himself. This is the light we need to pray and ask to shine into our lives. When we do this before we serve in our world, we will be able to see clearly to do those things that we desire to accomplish.


Light shining in our businesses so that we will see stumbling blocks before we come to them or, worse yet, trip over them. Light shinning on our relationships so that we can walk in unity without being separated by obstacles. Light shining on our ministries so that we are not blind sided by the attacks of the enemy that would hinder our effectiveness. In other words, just praying for success isn’t enough, we must start our day saying, “Let there be light.” If we do, we will be able to join G-D in looking at the results of our efforts and say, “It is Good.”

Don’t give glory to the serpent

One word. One simple word can change the meaning and understanding of a Biblical passage and the concepts that are held within that passage. A single word can either illuminate the Bible so that those reading will see the pathways and connections laid out to lead us precept upon precept, line upon line, or it will sever the connection between those precepts leaving us short of understanding the complete messages that G-D established within His Word.


One powerful example of this is found in Numbers chapters 20 and 21. The events that take place in these two chapters are well known to most believers. In chapter 20, we find Moses hitting the rock instead of speaking to it. In chapter 21, we read about the fiery serpents attacking the children of Israel. We can learn a lot from both of these events. In chapter 20:9-12 we read:


So Moses took the staff from before the presence of Ad-nai, just as He had commanded him. Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock. He said, “Listen now, you rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with the staff. Water gushed out and the community and its livestock drank. But Ad-nai said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in Me so as to esteem Me as holy in the eyes of Bnei-Yisrael, therefore you will not bring this assembly into the land that I have given to them.”


From these verses, we learn that a leader should not get so angry toward the people he is shepherding that he disobeys G-D in the process. We also learn that G-D is just in His judgment as we see that He punished Moses while at the same time providing water to those who were thirsty. There are many more lessons we can learn from these verses and every single one of those lessons is important.


In Numbers chapter 21:8-9 we read:

Ad-nai said to Moses, “Make yourself a fiery snake and put it on a pole. Whenever anyone who has been bitten will look at it, he will live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole, and it happened that whenever a snake bit anyone and he looked at the bronze snake, he lived.


Here we find that Moses does exactly what G-D instructed him and the people were delivered and even though the serpents were a result of the people’s rebellion against G-D and Moses, Moses himself didn’t get angry and rebel against the commandment G-D gave him.


By now, you are asking your self, “Okay, so what does this have to do with the definition of a word and the possible illumination of important Biblical concepts?” When we look at verse 8 and 9, we find the phrase “put it on a pole” in both verses. Yet, the Hebrew word that is being translated is not the word for “pole.” The word being translated is “nes,” which is never translated as pole in any other locations we find it in the Bible. In other locations, that word is translated as “banner” and in some locations a “standard” or “ensign.” Now, you may be asking, “So what?” Well, the truth is that this one change of wording disconnects this verse from the verses in Exodus 17:15 where we read:


Then Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Ad-nai-Nissi.


As you turn in your Bible back to Exodus 15, you will see that the chapter is about a very similar event as the Children of Israel are thirsty and murmuring:


So Moses cried out to Ad-nai saying, “What am I to do for these people? They are about ready to stone me.” Ad-nai said to Moses, “Walk before the people, and take of the elders of Israel with you, along with your staff with which you struck the river. Take it in your hand and go. Behold, I will stand before you, there upon the rock in Horeb. You are to strike the rock, and water will come out of it so that the people can drink.” Then Moses did just so in the eyes of the elders of Israel.


This is the first appearance of this Rock, which we read about in 1 Corinthians 10:4:

…and all drank the same spiritual drink—for they were drinking from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the Rock was Messiah.


The significance of this Rock being the Messiah who would appear twice, first to be struck and second to be worshipped, cannot be missed. This helps us to understand why Moses’ punishment was so severe. It was because the intention by G-D was to provide a clear prophetic picture of the two appearances of Messiah, first as suffering servant and second as reigning King.


But the connection between these two events both brought on by rebellious people murmuring and complaining goes deeper than this. Notice that Moses called the place in Exodus 17 “Ad-nai is my Banner.” Moses understood it wasn’t his hitting the Rock that brought water, nor was it the staff in his hands his hands being held up that brought victory. It was looking beyond his staff to the Banner that brought the victory. This concept makes more sense when you understand that the word “nes” in Hebrew also means miracle. Anyone who has played dreidel during Hanukkah knows that the letters on the dreidel are nun, gimmel, hey, shin (outside of Israel) these letters stand for the phrase “nes gadol haya sham,” which means in English “a great miracle happened there” (there being in Israel). Notice the first word “nes” is the exact same word used for banner in Exodus 17 and it is the same word translated “pole” in Numbers 21. This simple word change keeps people from connecting Moses saying “Ad-nai Nissi,” or “The L-RD is my Banner,” in Exodus 17 with Moses raising up a banner in Numbers 21. This simple change makes it appear to the readers that when Israel looked on a serpent on a pole they were healed and lived. The truth is that they looked at a serpent being held up by the Banner of Ad-nai in defeat. Another way of looking at these words is that they looked at the miracle that defeated the serpent and the result was those that had rebelled against G-D were healed and given life.


Now stop for a moment and think about this picture as it was intended. First, the people were in sin and rebellion and the “Rock” appeared and was struck and from its side flowed living water and the enemy was defeated. Then the “Rock” followed the people and a second time the people thirsted for water and longed to be out of the wilderness. It was this time the “Rock” was to have been spoken to or “worshipped” and the serpent was to be defeated providing a flow of water. The former and the latter rains. Each time a “nes,” banner, or miracle was to be viewed as the mechanism of victory.


To further understand the breadth of the concept, let’s look at three more verses from Isaiah:


Isaiah 18:3


All you inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, look! when a shofar is blown, listen!


Isaiah 49:22-23


Thus says Adonai Elohim: “Look, I will lift My hand to the nations, and raise My banner to the peoples! They will bring your sons on their chest, and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings will be your guardians, their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their face to the ground, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am Adonai— those hoping in Me will not be ashamed.”


Isaiah 62:10-12


Go through, go through the gates. Clear the way for the people! Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Lift up a banner over the peoples. Behold, Ad-nai has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the Daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes! See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.” Then they will call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of Ad-nai, and you will be called, Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

How do you become a hero of the faith?


The book of Hebrews is a powerful book that shares with us Yeshua’s (Jesus’) role as High Priest. The letter covers both the similarities and the differences between the Aaronic Priesthood and the Priesthood of Melchizedek. The first ten chapters lay a foundation and go on to establish Yeshua’s rightful place as High Priest. Then we arrive at chapter 11, which is a list of Biblical faith heroes. This list provides example after example of biblical characters and how by faith they did amazing things. As we read, we see by faith Abel, by faith Enoch, by faith Noach, by faith Abraham – one after another, we see a compilation of great people who were examples of walking in faith with G-D. What an exciting faith-building chapter Hebrews 11 is to read. It is almost impossible to read these words without feeling somewhat challenged to step out in faith in the same way that they did. Yet, most of us do not make that step or at least not completely.


The key to understanding why so many fall short and fail to make that first faith step is our misunderstanding of the first verse of Hebrews chapter 12,


Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. 



In order to understand the verse above, it is necessary to note that there are two things that all of those in Hebrews 11 have in common. The first is that they had great faith. The second is that they also were all sinners. Yes they were all sinners according to Psalms 51:7,


Behold, I was born in iniquity and in sin when my mother conceived me.


Romans 3:23 says,


for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.


When reading the list of faith heroes of Hebrews 11 and the amazing and miraculous things that G-D did through their lives, it does not list their times of doubt, unbelief and, in many cases, outright sin. Instead, all that is seen is their faith and faithfulness.


Hebrews 12 switches from the faith heroes of the Bible to those reading the text, even those reading today. Instead of pointing to the faith of those in the past, it now speaks to the present and instructs us to get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Notice it isn’t just speaking of sin; it speaks of weight and entanglement. 


These two words hold the key to walking in faith. These words follow the faith heroes chapter so that those reading these words would understand they are not simply about choosing to no longer sin, which, by itself, is a very important message and vital to a believer in Yeshua. These words were placed where they were so that those reading would see that although these heroes were all sinners, there legacy was not, “here is a sinner who had great faith in G-D.” No! What was eternally recorded was simply, “here is someone who had great faith in G-D.” The weight of their sins and those sins’ entanglement on their lives had been forever removed, just as those who read beyond chapter 11 and into chapter 12 are encouraged to get rid of these weights and entanglements. Notice the instruction is not to let G-D rid us of these weights and entanglements. This is because He already has.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9


The key to being included as a hero of faith is very simple. It isn’t being born perfect. It is being born again to perfection, remembering that 1 Corinthians 6 tells us,


That is what some of you were—but you were washed, you were made holy, you were set right in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the Ruach of our God. (6:11)


We can walk in the power of faith when we see ourselves not as sinners, but as set right and made holy. Our faith in His redemption is the first step to being a faith hero.

The biblical key to signs and wonders

We gather together for worship once or twice a week and hear anointed messages from those who share the Word of G-D in our congregations. These messages speak of those in the Bible who experienced the wonderful works of G-D. We read of mighty victories, supernatural events like the parting of the sea and the plagues of Egypt. We are encouraged by those who we read that were healed and especially by those who were forgiven.


Yet for most congregations we are not seeing these types of miracles happening in our services regularly. The usual response to the desire to see more of a move of G-D is for our preachers and teachers to teach more and more messages about miracles and wonders, sometimes with additional encouragement to fast and pray. Yet with all of that preaching and praying and fasting the majority of our congregations still continue to exist in a spiritual drought of the miraculous.


There is an old saying about continuing to do the same things while expecting different results. While re-reading a very familiar section of Scripture, I believe we may find the reason for our limited results in the supernatural experience of our experience.


In the book of Acts chapter two, we find ourselves reading one of the most supernatural events in the entire Bible, the celebration of Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost). During this Biblical feast, we read of 3000 souls coming to faith in Yeshua in the courtyards of the Temple. There are supernatural signs galore and a powerful message brought by Peter that resulted in mass repentance and many being filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). As we continue to read what takes place after this outpouring of the miraculous we find the Apostles continuing to teach these Jewish believers. But and this is a huge but. They did not only teach. In Act 2:42-43 we read:


They were devoting themselves to the teaching of the emissaries and to fellowship, to breaking bread and to prayers. Fear lay upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were happening through the emissaries.


Notice that while they did continue preaching they also participated in fellowship and breaking bread and prayers. The result of the active combination of these four things was that wonders and signs took place. Above I mentioned the traditional formula used for attempting to achieve the supernatural occurring in our congregations being teaching, pray and fasting. But notice that the Apostles followed a different pattern, which included fellowship and eating together. In other words, the teaching of the Apostles brought individuals into a greater community and the community experienced the wonders and signs.


What would happen if instead of our congregations spending the majority of its time on one or two meetings a week, we all encouraged out congregation to spend time together outside of the building as well as inside them? What if we actually began breaking bread house to house? What if we decided to spend more time fellowshipping and building intimate relationships with each other than we spent sitting on pews listening to messages about how to see the miraculous? If the Bible is right then the answer to these question is that instead of longing for the signs and wonders to take place we will see them taking place all around us.


The Bible provides for us a clear pattern to follow. This pattern does include teaching and preaching. And Yes, it does include pray and fasting. But as we read the text, the result of teaching, fellowship with breaking bread and prayer were signs and wonders. Maybe if we begin to emphasize fellowship and meals in each other’s homes, we will begin to see the same results. Yes, I know that this type of fellowship removes some of the control that a leader has over their flock, but maybe it just that release of control that allows for the increase of faith and trust in G-D that opens the door to the supernatural to take place.

In Matthew chapter six, we find one of the best-known sections of Scripture in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament). While millions are familiar with the words from this text and many repeat the words daily or weekly as a part of liturgical worship, this familiarity has also opened the door to misunderstanding. Let’s look at these verses.


Therefore, pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. – Matt. 6:9-13


A simple look to the introduction lets us know that while these powerful words were spoken about prayer, the context tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) was not giving the Disciples a formulated prayer, but He was providing instructions for prayer. He was not giving them a prayer to recite. He was teaching them a format or formula for their individual prayer lives.


In the verses, preceding Yeshua telling his followers not to pray like the heathen and then tells them how to pray, not what to pray. In other words, Matthew 6:9-13 isn’t a liturgical prayer to recite over and again; it is an outline to be followed in order to have a powerful and effective prayer life. As we read through the words of instruction, we find instructions to honor and praise our G-D and Creator; Our Father.


We are further taught to acknowledge His Kingship and Kingdom both Heavenly and Earthly. The lesson continues by teaching us to be thankful for His provision. We are then told to forgive, and the teaching ends by reminding us that only G-D can keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil. There is amazing power in prayers who follow these instructions provided to us so clearly and simply by our Messiah. Even so, the key to revival begins with the word “Our.” Notice that this word as well as the words, “us” and “we” used throughout these verses of instructions on prayer are all plural words. In other words, Yeshua’s instructions for His followers on prayer teach us that our prayers must be prayed within the context of unity and community.


The power of the “L-RD’s Prayer” is not in its repetition, nor is it in a person praying individually for their own needs alone. The power of these words of instruction and direction is in the unity intended to be fostered through prayer for community. The words are “My Father” or “Forgive Me” but “Our Father” and “Forgive Us.” 


Revival will come when our prayers become patterned after His instructions and when we become unity minded.

Within the folds of the Christian Bible, is a subliminal message that has had a dramatic effect upon those who believe in all 66 books of the Bible. This single message added to the Bible has ignited some of the worst heretical teaching that have been foisted upon the body of Messiah and have created untold divisions. This singular deception has caused more difficulties than almost any other teaching for over 2,000 years, yet it continues to exist in almost every translation available.


This message is vastly accepted by most denominations because of its subtlety. The truth is that almost everyone reading this will have seen this unbiblical addition to the Bible and yet because it so cleverly hides itself within the pages, almost none of those reading will have noticed it or recognized the damage it has caused and will continue to cause, unless recognized and exposed.


What is this heresy? Look in your Bible between the book of Malachi and the book of Matthew. Do you see that blank page dividing the “Old Testament” and the New Testament? That single blank page is the culprit. A deception so subtle and sneaky that most turn the page without noticing the immense amount of damage that single sheet of paper has caused.


That page of division has opened the door to errant thoughts and ideas. Because of that blank page, people teach that the G-D of the Old Testament is different than the G-D of the New Testament. They teach that the “Church,” which is the English word for the Greek word Ekklesia, which means assembly or community, is somehow suddenly a different group of people than the assembly or community Kehila G-D is speaking to in the beginning of the Bible. This single page is why many people think of the Jews of the Old Testament and the Gentiles or Christians of the New Testament, even though all of the first believers in Yeshua were all Jewish and all of the Apostles and first Disciples were also all Jewish.


Replacement theology is based upon this one page: a belief that the Church has replaced Israel as the people of G-D. While almost every believer understands that many writers wrote the Bible over many years, with each additional book adding to the continuous revelation being provided to the people of G-D, no one seems to question why this page was placed between Malachi and Matthew in the Christian Bible, or why there’s no blank page between each of the prophets as they were added to the completing work of the Scripture.


Why was the page not inserted between the books known as the Gospels? After all, each of them were written to and by Jewish authors about a time while there were still only Jewish believers in Yeshua. Gentiles didn’t start to believe in Yeshua until the book of Acts. Why isn’t the blank page inserted in the book of Acts between chapters 9 and 10?


The reason is that that page was designed to divide the people of G-D into two groups: Jews and Gentiles. That single page has effectively rebuilt the wall of separation that Ephesians 2:14 tells us was broken down.


For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation.


I am not advocating ripping the page out of your Bible. I am however advocating recognizing the damage that page has done to the unity of the people of G-D and at least spiritually removing the message of that page from our minds and hea


Lessons from the Torah: G-D’s faithfulness and supernatural provision


In Judaism, a portion of the Torah is read each week in a cycle that allows for reading through the entire Torah each year. Recently, we began to read the book of Numbers and I began to realize how relevant this book is, especially to the believer in Yeshua (Jesus). When we think about this book and the events within it, we find that almost this entire book exists because of the failure of the Israelites to trust and obey G-D.


Think about it. The Israelites had been redeemed by the absolutely amazing miracles of G-D: the Ten Plagues, and the Parting of the Red Sea. They gathered at Mount Sinai and heard the voice of G-D speak to all of them. 


Not just the high priest or even the entire priesthood, but every person from the youngest to the oldest heard the voice of G-D proclaim what has become known as the Ten Commandments, the very foundation of the national covenant with Israel. They are then led to the border of the Land of Promise and are supposed to follow the cloud and fire as G-D delivers the Land into their hands by driving out their enemies.


The book of Numbers begins with the counting, or census, of those who would make up Israel’s army, continues with instruction for how they will function, and gives a reiteration of the need for holiness (separateness or distinctions) for all the people of Israel. Then, we reach chapter 13, which should have been a chapter of victory and praise, as Israel receives a report that everything in the Land is exactly as G-D said. Instead, fear overtakes Israel and the result is 38 more years of wandering in the wilderness.


You may ask, how is this relevant to us today as believers? The first, and possibly most important thing to notice, is that when the Israelites failed in their faith, G-D didn’t toss them aside and start over with another group of people. Instead, G-D demonstrated great love, grace, and mercy and provided a space for spiritual growth and repentance. During these extra years of journey, G-D never once rejected Israel as His people nor did He rescind the promises that He had made to them. For those of us who at times struggle with doubt and fear, this should be a huge encouragement. G-D is long-suffering and faithful, especially when we are not.


Secondly, G-D continued to provide for the Israelites supernaturally while they were on their extended trip. He didn’t say to them, “Well, you guys blew it, and as a result you are going to have to fend for yourselves.” He didn’t stop blessing them and He didn’t change His plan to give them the Land. In other words, Israel was afraid because they didn’t believe they could defeat an enemy that was larger and stronger than they were. Their fear was misplaced because G-D said that He was going to defeat and drive out the enemy before them. Instead of violating His word, G-D allowed them time to learn to trust Him completely and during that time He continued to provide for their physical needs and He continued to show them that with His help they could defeat any enemy.


Both of these concepts are important lessons for us. The first one teaches us that no matter how much we struggle with trust and faith, G-D’s promises are sure and He will do all He has said. G-D promises to finish everything He begins, or as Philippians 1:6 says:


I am sure of this very thing—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Messiah Yeshua.


The second concept helps us understand that G-D will help us to build up our faith in Him. If our faith is weak in areas, He will provide opportunities for us to exercise our faith. Sometimes that looks as if we go through the same crisis in our lives over and over and over again. Just as the Israelites travelled back to the same locations

in the wilderness, this was not to punish them nor is it to punish us. Rather, it is to strengthen us.


So be encouraged. You may be in your personal book of Numbers, traveling on a path that is the result of your stumbling in faith. On this journey, remember these two things. Always remember that during the entire journey, you will remain a child of the King and He will always be with you. As it says in Deuteronomy 31:6,


Chazak! Be courageous! Do not be afraid or tremble before them. For Adonai your God—He is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.


And in Hebrews 13:5,


…For God Himself has said: I will never leave you or forsake you.


And always remember that you will make it!! In other words, keep going and even though your personal book of Numbers may have more chapters than it might have if you had walked in perfect faith, every chapter will show victory and strengthening of faith that you can use to share with others. After all, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 reminds us:

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. It is clear that you are a letter from Messiah delivered by us — written not with ink but with the Ruach of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

What doesn’t kill us…

The other day a preacher was sharing with a group or people who, for various reasons, were broken. Some were hurting from the effects of divorce or broken homes. Others were damaged due to years of battling sickness and various addictions. Still, others that had recently lost love ones and were broken-hearted and searching for reason. Right in the middle of the speaker sharing some very inspiring words of encouragement, he inserted a well-known phrase which most of us have heard many times throughout our lives and one that seems to become more popular as time goes by. The problem with the statement is that while it is intended to bring a positive note to a negative event or situation, it is a notion that is not only anti-Biblical, but it is downright dangerous and almost guarantees continued failure.


The statement spoken in the middle of a faith-filled motivational message intended to inspire a large group of people with wounded souls was, “Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The original quote attributed to the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche was actually, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” For those unfamiliar with Nietzsche, he was a philosopher who was very critical towards people of faith who proclaimed in 1882 that “G-d was Dead.”


Yet, his quote, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” has many times been quoted by the very people who profess the absolute opposite of what Nietzsche promoted. Although, on the surface, the statement about survival making us stronger sounds good and even encouraging to those who travelled the path of struggle and personal warfare, the Bible teaches us a very different understanding. If we truly desire to overcome and be stronger as a result of surviving our circumstances, the only way we will be able to do so is by looking not to an anti-faith atheist, but by looking to the words of life provided by our G-D.


Let’s look at the Biblical perspective of strength, true strength. When preparing to face the Philistine Goliath, David, who had survived attacks by a lion and a bear, proclaimed to King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:37,


Then David said: Adonai, who has delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. Go! said Saul to David, and may Adonai be with you.


Notice that although the lion and bear didn’t kill David, David understood he didn’t get stronger,, but rather that G-D provided the strength. This is further established when David enters the field of battle with Goliath. David doesn’t speak of his own strength. He proclaims in 1 Samuel 17:45,


Then David said to the Philistine, You are coming to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I am coming to you in the Name of Adonai-Tzva’ot, God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.


In the book of Zechariah, we read about the calling of Zerubbabel to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. The captivity in Babylon was horrendous, yet Zerubbabel survived. When the Angel of the L-RD spoke to Zerubabbel, he didn’t say. “I know things were tough in Babylon, but remember what didn’t kill you made you stronger.” No, not at all. In Zachariah 4:6, we read,


Then he responded to me by saying, This is the word of Adonai to Zerubbabel saying: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Ruach! says Adonai-Tzva’ot.


The Angel made it perfectly clear to Zerubbabel that he was not made stronger while in Babylon and that it wasn’t by this newly establish survival strength that Zerubbabel would re-establish Jerusalem’s glory. No, not at all. It was only through understanding that it was by G-D’s might and power that Jerusalem would be renewed.


In the midst of the “Heroes of Faith” chapter, Hebrews 11, we read,


By faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, and made foreign armies flee.


It isn’t by our strength that these heroes prevailed through their hardships and tests of faith. It was through their faith and weakness that they were able to defeat their enemies.


Paul, the most effective and powerful apostle in the New Testament, describes the difficulties he lived through in 2 Corinthians 11:25-30,


Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent in the open sea. In my many journeys I have been in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the desert, dangers in the sea, dangers among false brothers, in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Besides these other things, there is daily pressure on me of concern for all of Messiah’s communities. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast of my weakness.


Notice after all of these things that didn’t kill him, Paul says he doesn’t want to boast in his strength – he wanted to boast in his weakness.


Remember in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul spoke these words,


But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me. For Messiah’s sake, then, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


So, contrary to pop culture’s repetition of Nietzsche’s false pronouncement about our becoming stronger because we survived those things that did not kill us, the truth is that it isn’t that we get stronger, rather it is that our faith gets stronger because we learn from our experiences that our G-D is stronger than anything that would come against us.

Most of those people reading this today will have a familiarity with Jacob and Esau from the book of Genesis, especially the story of the trading of the birthright for what the Bible calls a bowl of “red red stuff” often translated as lentil stew.  However, because most people focus on Jacob and how he deceived his brother and later his father, they miss an extremely valuable Biblical truth and as a result, they live lives short of the fullness of G-D’s promises.


The story of Jacob and Esau takes up only eight verses in Genesis 25:27-34.


When the boys grew up, Esau became a man knowledgeable in hunting, an outdoorsman, while Jacob was a mild man, remaining in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Now Jacob cooked a stew. When Esau came in from the field, he was exhausted, so Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me some of this really red stuff, because I’m exhausted”—that is why he is called Edom. So Jacob said, “Sell your birthright to me today.” Esau said, “Look, I’m about to die. Of whatever use is this to me—a birthright?” Jacob said, “Make a pledge to me now.” So he made a pledge to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.


Yet within these verses hold the key to vast blessings for those who understand them and can apply the precepts to their lives. Looking at the event we find that Esau is hungry and tired. He feels like he is about to die. 


How many times in our walks with G-D have we felt that way? We struggled through our day searching for something that satisfy our hunger, and it seems beyond our reach to the point at which we feel spiritually totally spent and unless something happens soon we will spiritually die. It is at that moment in time that a Jacob often enters our lives just as Jacob entered Esau’s life with an offer of something that will satisfy our hunger. Or at least they will try to convince us that what they are offering will bring fullness and satisfaction to our souls. These offerings will always come in the form of false doctrines and compromises of the flesh.


Looking further we see that because Esau despised the birthright he had, he is willing to exchange it for temporary fleshly gratification as too many believers will also. When they don’t see or feel victorious or they look around at others and find themselves lacking blessings in their own eyes, they will also trade their promise for a temporary bowl of stew.


The part that too many miss when reading about Esau and Jacob is that the entire exchange between the two, and the following results are just as false as the lies that satan would tell you and I today. Looking closely Esau’s birthright was never his to exchange for the soup; the birthright of the firstborn is a covenant promise of G-D with the firstborn. It cannot be revoked by anyone just as G-D promises to us cannot be traded for other things. Romans 10:29 says:


for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.


So we find that Esau didn’t have the ability to trade his birthright to Jacob and as we read on in the story Jacob never actually takes the birthright (the physical one). Remember the birthright is the double portion of inheritance, which included inheriting the fathers land and house etc. Jacob goes on to deceive his Father and ends up running away from his brother and living with Laban. So Esau got angry at Jacob for stealing something that Jacob never actually stole. As a result, Esau lived for years in anger while still possessing everything that he was angry with Jacob for stealing.


This is exactly what often happens to believers today. Just as with Esau they get tired, wore out, hungry and feeling defeated. At that moment, satan like Jacob will enter the picture offering to give them what they desire. But just as when satan tried to tempt Yeshua, that which he offered was not something he had the ability to give. In Matthew 4:8-9


Again, the devil takes Him to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”


When satan offered all the kingdoms of the world it was no different that Jacob offering to purchase the birthright. Satan didn’t own the world, and Jacob could not possess the earthly birthright.


Too many believers live their lives having settled for less then the reality of what they actually possess. Esau lived for over 20 years in the house that he believed his brother stole from him, on land he believed his brother stole and tending to herds that he believed his brother stole. All the while he was in total possession of his entire birthright.


As a children of G-D, you have many promises, including what we read in 3 John 1:2


Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.


The key to prosperity is in rejecting the lie of satan when he would tell us that in a moment of weakness and hunger we traded away an eternal promise for a momentary fleshly craving. It is a lie because we do not own G-D’s promises and because we do not own them we cannot trade them away.

Fewer calories – all the taste

This past weekend, I was speaking with some people at my congregation after service was over during a meal. The person who asked knew I was trying to live a healthier lifestyle so they started to hand me a diet drink. I told them I preferred un-sweet tea to soda and when they passed me my drink they also gave me a small container filled with sugar substitutes. I politely took the container and placed it on the table and went on with my meal choosing to simply drink the tea without any sugar or sugar replacement.


Later that evening I began to ponder this moment. For some reason, my mind kept returning over and over to this simple interaction, which normally would have been forgotten in moments. I knew that this thought was lingering in my mind because there was more to it than a simple conversation about tea. So I stopped what I was doing and looked at a can of diet soda and read the ingredients. I found out that in order to replace sugar, the manufacturers had to add many other chemicals, which, while not being sugar, are in many cases more harmful to the human body than sugar would have been in the first place. I studied further and found that, contrary to the advertisements and promotions, most people who drink diet sodas gain more weight than those just drinking regular sugar sodas.


After finding out this information, I began to seek the L-RD about why I couldn’t shake the conversation from my mind. Through prayer, I found that just as people believe that diet sodas and other diet foods can help them be healthier, many people try to apply the same principles to their spiritual lives. In other words, we use reduced calorie sins. While we won’t watch television programs or movies with nudity, we will watch “reduced sin” programs that use innuendo and promote sexually immoral relationships. While we don’t see the actual sin through the gateways of our eyes, the sin enters our minds through our thoughts and imagination, which many times are more dangerous than just seeing with our eyes.


We may not use curse words but we will use “reduced sin” words, which, while not the actual words, have the exact same intent of the heart. These “reduced sin” efforts, just like diet sodas or reduced fat products, can be very harmful to our spiritual man because we have convinced ourselves that we are doing something healthier, while we have really only exchanged the type of damage we are doing to ourselves. And in many cases, the self-deception is worse because we actually convince ourselves that the spiritual poisons we have chosen replace the obvious sin, but it only opens the door for greater deception to enter our hearts and minds.


“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” – 1 Timothy 4:1

Catching someone or catching something – the choice is yours

Imagine that you are standing at the edge of a bridge that has been damaged and you see a line of cars that are heading towards the bridge. You know that you can stand in the road flagging down those cars in hopes that they will listen to you and stop before launching over the edge and falling into the ravine below. You also know that it is possible that standing in the road in front of cars might cause you to be hit by one or more of the cars. 


You look at the broken bridge and the distance to the bottom and you realize that a fall from that distance would possibly cause a death, but assuredly it would cause injuries. Most of the injuries would be treatable and those who fell would eventually recover from their injuries, although most would have lifelong scars as a result. What would be your decision? Would you risk being hurt yourself in order to prevent harm to others, or would you knowingly let them fall into the pit with full understanding that that fall could bring death to the person or people in those cars?


Although not often viewed through this lens, the above scenario is consistent with the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in the New Covenant Book of John chapter 8. We find the description of an event intended to test Yeshua and His obedience to the Torah. In verse 2, we find the setting for what was taking place.


At dawn, He came again into the Temple. All the people were coming to Him, and He sat down and began to teach them. The Torah scholars and Pharisees bring in a woman who had been caught in adultery. After putting her in the middle, they say to Yeshua, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of committing adultery.”


Yeshua was in the Temple teaching when suddenly a group of Torah scholars dragged a woman into the Temple courts and stated boldly that she had been caught in the very act of adultery. Before we get to the biblical concept, I want to focus this blog on a few things that we know. First, if this woman was caught in the act of adultery, then where was the man? Second, it is very important to understand that this event is not as many people teach an example in which Yeshua superseded the Torah commandments by forgiving the woman. This is not an example of grace overpowering Law. The truth is that because there were not two witnesses that could throw the first stones and because the man was not there, the only Torah abiding option was “Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua said. “Go, and sin no more.”


While this story does show the love Yeshua had for both G-D’s Word and for people and the mercy that is inherent within the Torah, there is a much larger too often missed lesson in this story and it is key to understanding a much greater problem than the woman’s adulterous behavior. Think with me about this story. In order for the Torah scholars to have caught the woman in the very act, they had to have known that she and the man were going to violate that commandment. Yet they were more interested in trying to trick Yeshua than they were keeping these two people from sinning. The truth is that if these men were actually Torah scholars internally instead of just externally, if they had heart knowledge and not just head knowledge, we would not have been reading this story in Scripture at all. Instead, what would have happened is these men would have stood in front of the door to the place where this sin was committed and begged and pleaded with both the woman and the man to not violate the commandment concerning adultery. The verse that sticks in my mind when I read this passage of Scripture is Cain’s response to G-D after he killed Able, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 


The answer is emphatically yes! If these men had obeyed the Torah and worked as hard to keep these people from sin as they worked to judge them after their sin in an attempt to cause Yeshua to sin, the Book of John would contain an amazingly encouraging story of men being victorious instead of providing an additional example of human failure.


As believers in Yeshua it is not our function or role to tell people that they are sinners and judge their failures. We have the choice to treat the damage resultant from a fall or to help keep people from falling in the first place.

Home meetings: The only real hope for the Body of Messiah

In the past few weeks, I have read several very powerful articles each making the point that the only real way for us to reach this new generation is to transition, at least in part, from larger congregational models to home gathering models of worship. The cases were made using both Biblical text and anecdotal evidence, and by the time I finished reading these articles, I was convinced that they were correct. It is true that the only real hope we have of reaching the current generation of seekers as well as the generations that will follow is to focus on home meetings as the primary source of outreach and the community building.


However while I agree that the establishment of home meetings is the only hope for a healthy, biblically sound body of believers, I differ in the understanding of home meetings and their role from those who authored these articles. A few years ago, a group of visitors from a local church visited our synagogue. After the service, one of the men in the group, who happened to be a Jewish believer in Yeshua, came to speak to me about our congregation. As we discussed our services and events, he asked if we had cell groups or home groups established because he had been a very active part of a cell group in the church he had been attending. My answer was that we had many cell groups that met every week, but, that we called them families instead of cell groups. His response was exactly how most people respond: a kind of sideways smile and a look as if he thought I was making a joke, or worse making fun of cell group ministry.


This could not be further from the truth. I absolutely believe in home groups and cell groups. However, I believe that they have to be established not by having a couple invite people from around their area to their home for a study. They must be established around the family group. The cellular structure of any congregation starts with the family. The father and mother are the spiritual leaders of their family – that is their cell group or home group. Regular devotional time, study time and prayer time as a family must be the foundation to a home group. Once this true cell group has been established, then the family is in a position to invite others to come and join them in their times of study or devotion.


The generation that is seeking today are only seeking because many of them have not found what they are looking for in their homes. Studies show that they are looking for a sincere group in which they can belong. They have a desire to be world changers and are looking for ways to affect radical social change. The answers they seek are both in the Bible and in the Body of Messiah. The problem is that there is a distinct disconnect between these young people and the congregations they see around them and that disconnect is that there is only a very tenuous connection between their family and their congregation. I am not saying that their parents don’t go to worship services and events at their congregations. I am saying that their families do not operate as a functional part of the cellular structure of the body. In other words, when they are at their house of worship they don’t feel a unity with the people there because their life outside those walls does not resemble their life inside those walls. They don’t necessarily feel like those around them are hypocrites. Most believe that those people that they see in their worship services are sincere and honest-hearted about their faith and their beliefs. Not only do they believe that those people are sincere, they want to experience that same level of commitment and conviction to faith. They just don’t know how they can be a part of that because they have never been taught by example at home.


Let me provide an example. When I was young and would attend synagogue, I would hear the older members of synagogue talking in Yiddish. These were the pillars of my faith the examples I was to follow. I was Jewish and this was the synagogue that my family was a part of, yet at the same time, I was an outsider within the very walls of the place I should have felt most included. Why? Because I was never taught at home this language of my people.  I knew where I belonged, I knew and agreed with the goals and purpose of my synagogue, yet no matter how much my heart longed for the very feeling of community and greater family that synagogue provided, I was still an outsider because the language of the synagogue was not what my family spoke at home.

I watch as congregation after congregation hire youth leaders and have special youth services and events to attract young people. They do community service work and get involved with social justice program to attract young people. They have concerts with musical artists to attract young people. They even have special services with speakers to designed to reach out to young people. Every conference I have attended over the past 10 years or more has had at least one speaker whose topic was how to reach the next generation. We have spent large amounts of money and invested in everything from movies, waterparks, and short term missions trips hoping our young people would find their reason to join in and commit to the Body of Messiah.


Yet, the very thing that is purposefully designed to do exactly what we want to see is given little or no attention and is actively replaced by a manufactured imitation model: the “cell group.” Yes, we need cell groups and home groups. They are our only hope for a healthy, powerful body of believers.  However, these home groups must be based upon the family and not become a replacement for the family.

Why it is so important that we see G-D’s back side?

Just imagine if you were the bride at a wedding and the groom went to a private room to discuss the details of the service. The meeting goes a little longer than expected and when the groom returns the bride has married the best man and all of the guests are celebrating in the reception. Think about what would be going through the groom’s mind at that moment when he arrives in the reception hall – the swirl of hurt, anger, and emotional turmoil that he would be experiencing all at once. The groom confronts the bride who responds with the words, 


“You took longer than we thought you would so I, in fear, decided to marry the best man today. But, don’t worry! We will celebrate tomorrow as if it was our wedding that took place.”


This is almost exactly the event that took place in Exodus,


Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what’s become of him!” So Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He received them from their hand, and made a molten calf, fashioned with a chiseling tool. Then they said, “This is your god, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. Then Aaron made a proclamation saying, “Tomorrow will be a feast to Adonai.” They rose up early the next morning, sacrificed burnt offerings and brought fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to make merry.” (Ex. 32:1-6)


Just think about it. Moses is up on the mountain receiving the covenantal tablets personally from G-D. In Judaism, this time of covenant-making between G-D and Israel is pictured as the ketubah (wedding contract) and the cloud above the mountain being the chuppah(wedding canopy). So, the scenario above is not far fetched from the reality of the event and the betrayal no less dramatic.


While this scene is difficult for people of faith to imagine taking place, especially after all of the miracles G-D had performed on behalf of the Children of Israel, first in Egypt and now in the wilderness, anyone who has experienced fear knows that real fear can, in many ways, disconnect ability to distinguish between our rational and irrational thoughts. While it is very difficult for us to understand how the Children of Israel could so quickly turn their hearts from G-D to idolatry, it is an equally, if not greater, mystery to understand how G-D could so quickly forgive Israel after the golden calf incident.


However, it is precisely this event that allows us today to walk in the full confidence of the forgiveness of G-D through the atonement of our Messiah Yeshua. You may ask yourself what the golden calf has to do with Yeshua’s sacrifice. The answer is everything and nothing. Nothing because the golden calf was an idol and as we know has no power at all. Yet, it is everything because the golden calf is one of the greatest symbols of forgiveness in the Bible. It is directly after the golden calf event that we find G-D placing Moses in the cleft of the rock and showing him what we read in Exodus 34:23 in English:


Then I will take away My hand, and you will see My back, but My face will not be seen.


The Hebrew the word translated as “back” is ah-chor-eye, which comes from the root word אָחוֹר (achor), which can mean back, but also can mean, and I believe does mean in this verse, past or history. Moses was not shown G-D’s rear end while he was hidden in the cleft of the rock. Rather, G-D showed Moses His history. What history you might ask? The history from creation until that very day. Not the history of man, but rather the history of G-D. Why is this so important and what does it have to do with the golden calf or Yeshua, for that matter? It is because the history shown was the history of G-D continuing forgiveness of man starting with Adam and completing in the forgiveness of the Children of Israel for making and worshiping the golden calf. Remember the Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years and had just been delivered from slavery. They built a golden calf out of fear and because the perspective of G-D would have been based largely on the pagan gods of Egypt, they would have had no context to understand a G-D of true forgiveness and love. So, G-D takes this moment to show Moses His history of forgiveness and love for His people.


Moses then responds in the same way each of us should respond when we get an understanding of G-D’s forgiveness provided for us even though we have been idolators. Exodus 34:8-9 says,


Then Moses quickly bowed his head down to the earth and worshipped. He said, “If now I have found grace in Your eyes, my Lord, let my Lord please go within our midst, even though this is a stiff-necked people. Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Your own inheritance.”


Moses’ response once he saw G-D’s history of forgiveness and love was to ask G-D to forgive the rest of Israel. You see, every time we are forgiven, we become a part of the history of G-D’s forgiveness that can be shared so that others will understand and accept that He can and will forgive them and they then will also become part of that history. Or, as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3,


Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. It is clear that you are a letter from Messiah delivered by us—written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Now that G-D has forgiven you, you must forgive yourself

How many times have we heard this statement, especially when someone is speaking to a brand new believer? I know I have heard it one hundred if not thousands of times since I first came to know that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah. Yet, you can search through the entire Bible and you will not find one place where we are told to forgive ourselves.


We are told to forgive others in the Tanakh (Old Testament). We read over and over about G-D forgiving His people and we even read about His people forgiving others. But we don’t find a verse that commands us to forgive ourselves. When we look into the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), again we find many examples of instructions and commandments that tell us to forgive others, but again not one example of a verse that would command us to forgive ourselves.


Someone might ask, “Why is this important?” and, “What does it matter? After all, when a person forgives themselves don’t they feel better afterwards?” and, “Isn’t forgiving yourself a way to free yourself from the baggage and sins of your past?” The truth is no – forgiving yourself does not do any of those things. What actually does those things is our understanding the forgiveness of G-D and accepting that He has forgiven us from all our sins.


When we insist on forgiving ourselves, we actually place ourselves in a position to say, “I know that G-D forgives me, but that forgiveness is not fully mine until I also forgive myself.” This does two things. One, it makes G-D’s forgiveness incomplete, and two, it actually places our role in forgiveness above the role of G-D’s. His forgiveness becomes reliant and effective only if we then ratify or sign off on it, as if we were G-D’s supervisor.


The truth is that G-D has, through the atonement of Messiah Yeshua, provided forgiveness for all sins of all people, regardless of whether people accept that they have had complete forgiveness provided for them or not. Our role is to accept the gift of forgiveness and then live our lives as new creations.


Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17


We read the following in Luke 7 about the woman who anointed Yeshua’s feet,


For this reason I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little. He then said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” (vs. 47-48)


Notice that Yeshua said her sins “which are many” have been forgiven. He did not then instruct her that, in order for her to walk in that forgiveness, she would need to forgive herself.


While some might think this is a “solution in search of a problem,” the reality is whenever men assume authority that belongs to G-D, it is a problem and that problem always ends up with false doctrines and ultimately idolatry.


They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” – Romans 1:25


Simply stated, we, as believers in Yeshua, need only to understand the forgiveness that was provided by His substitutionary sacrifice and accept that forgiveness is ours. Now to work on the forgiveness that is our responsibility.

For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

How order opens the door to the out of order

This week, we are celebrating the Passover, a feast that is observed every year to commemorate the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt. As Jewish families, as well as a growing number of non-Jewish believers in Yeshua, gather around their tables, they will eat a traditional meal called a Seder. While enjoying the various foods attributed to the Passover meal, the leader of the Seder will read out of a book called the Haggadah (Hebrew word for “the telling”). This book leads those celebrating through the story of the Passover, making sure that all of the relevant experiences that took place in Egypt so many years ago are covered so that every new generation gets to hear the story. In this way, the Passover story may continue to be l’dor v’dor (“from generation to generation”).


The reason for the Haggadah and the Seder is much more important than just having a simple guide book to read through and tell a story of a miraculous event that happened so long ago. The Haggadah is in fact not just a book to read to guide us through our yearly meal. It is a part of the greater lesson of the Seder and a key to understanding both Biblical and modern day miracles.


This year, Messianic believers will read through the Haggadah and share how every event that happens during the Seder points to Yeshua as our Messiah – from the searching for the leaven to the eating of the afikomen (the remnants of the hidden matzah now found and redeemed). Every event described in the Biblcal narrative of the Passover points directly to the experience of Yeshua on that Passover day in Jerusalem. Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection are all prophetically foretold as we read about the Passover Lamb and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It was through this fulfilled Passover offering that Yeshua made a way for us to receive eternal life.


While understanding the provision for us to receive eternal life is valuable beyond measure, what is sometimes missed today is that for those who have been born again, eternal life has already begun. This eternal life, or life more abundant, is not something we are looking forward to; it is something we are supposed to walk in today. The question of how to walk in the eternal is answered partially within Biblical Holy Days, such as Passover, and the instructions for observing them.


Passover, as an example, is celebrated by following the reading of a Haggadah as a part of a Seder. Earlier we read what the word Haggadah means, but have not yet defined the word Seder. While the Haggadah is important, it can be meaningless without understanding its context within the Seder. The word Seder means “order.” In our world, we live in a time where everyone wants to do things their own way. And the popular thing even among believers is to throw out the old in favor of the new and exciting. We serve a G-D that expects things to be in order. He created the world to have order, He created a family order, He created an order for Israel by priests, Levites, and people and also division of tribes, etc.  He also established a prophetic order of events and when they should take place. We have all read the words “in the fullness of time.”


As we study the Scriptures and we see that everything in them follows a creative order established by G-D, we will also find out that in every case in which a miracle happened in the Bible, the people who received that miracle were in fact following the prescribed order in their lives. The people of Israel were observing the Passover when Yeshua gave his life. Yeshua spoke the words “it is finished” and died at the same time the Passover lamb was slain by the priest. There are too many examples to provide in this one blog, but I encourage you to not only look at the Passover, but at every miraculous event that takes place in the Bible. You will see that the commandments provided in the Bible are not burdensome weights to be grudgingly kept, but rather they are G-D’s pathway of walking in order, which opens the door for G-D to work miraculously in our lives.


You see, miracles are simply when something supernatural takes place. The natural is in regular order, the supernatural is out of regular order. So, the key to seeing the supernatural happen in our lives is to follow the patterns of order provided for the people of G-D in His word because G-D works the out of order when we are in order.

The mystery of the mirrors

Recently, while I was driving downtown in the city where I live, I encountered what has become a new norm for our society. I saw a group of young people standing on the side of the road each holding their phones up in the air while trying to capture the perfect selfie. It was clear by the fact they were all wearing t-shirts with the same logo on the front that they were all together as a group, yet they were not taking group photographs; they were each taking an individual picture. I watched, intrigued by the phenomenon, as they walked a little further up the sidewalk, stood in front of another landmark, stopped as if they were a herd, and then each stretched their arms up once again and snapped another picture.


The light soon changed and I drove on down the road thinking about the humor I found in this drive among people to capture photos of themselves. We have gone from a people that could not walk past a mirror of plated glass windows without stopping, or at least glancing sideways to make sure we looked okay, to a society that stops every few steps on a sidewalk to take another photo of ourselves.


As I continued to ponder the scene I had just witnessed, I began to think to myself wondering if humans have always been so self-centered. My thoughts travelled to the verses in the book of Exodus where we find the Mishkan (Tabernacle) being assembled and we read about the women of Israel donating their bronze mirrors to be used to make the base of the Brazen Laver. I had for years heard sermons relating this offering of the mirrors as a result of the women realizing their vanity and desiring to lay it aside by giving the mirrors up. The messages almost always continued to express that the desire of these women was that those who approached the Laver would look into the mirrors and see their sins and desire to have their sins washed away.


The symbolisms brought forth in these sermons always seemed to make perfect sense. After all, when someone comes to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, the result is a humbling experience and we are brought to a place where we see ourselves as sinners in need of redemption and our hearts cry out to be washed clean.

This year, however, because of my experience watching those young people and their camera phones, I began to reread the text of Exodus 38:8,


He made the basin and the base from bronze, with mirrors from the women who served at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. (TLV Bible)


As I did, I noticed something unique about the word translated “mirrors.” The word in Hebrew is bemarot (be-mah-roat), which is only translated one time in the entire Bible as mirrors. When I noticed that the definition used in this one verse was different from every other verse in which the word appeared, curiosity caused me to look deeper into not only the word, but also the verse. I found that all of the other times this word was used in Scripture it was translated as vision(s). This made we wonder if our understanding of the purpose of these mirrors had not been misapplied and if, in our efforts to find a spiritual application for a physical event, we didn’t miss an even more powerful spiritual application. What if the use of this particular word in this passage to describe the mirrors was meant to express a completely different yet overwhelmingly powerful message? What if that message was missed by many because of our predisposition to see mirrors only as something to see what is in front of them? What if the actual message of the mirrors is not in the image they show us when we view them, but rather in the vision that they are supposed to cast? What if the purpose of the mirrors on the base of the Brazen Laver was not so the Children of Israel could see exactly what they were, sin and all, but instead the mirrors were there so they could see through the lens of supernatural eyes, how G-D sees them? What if the mirrors were not there to show them their sins? What if they were there to give them a view of G-D’s completed work of restoration and redemption? Remember, every other time this word is used in the Bible it is used to describe a vision of the future.


What if G-D is trying to show us that while we seem more concerned with what we look like today, He desires that we see what we look like to Him in our completed future?

The mystery of the golden calf

Two weeks ago the section of the Torah that was read in synagogues around the world included the making of and worshipping of the golden calf.


They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. – Exodus 32:8


While we all know that this event was a low point in the history of Israel, what many don’t know is that this same text also includes one of the most amazing demonstrations of G-D’s grace shown in the Bible. The focus is so often placed on the making and worship of the golden calf, the breaking of the tablets, and Aaron’s famous line,


“…So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” – Exodus 32:24


While these events are very important, in reality, they each only lay the groundwork for a wonderful foundational principle that is established within this portion of Torah. To lay the groundwork for the principle, we must look at the context. First, the people of Israel have been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, they have travelled through the wilderness and are surrounding Mount Sinai and have been waiting for Moses to return from meeting with G-D on the Mountain. In Exodus Chapter 20,G-D began to speak the Commandments from the Mountain to all of Israel, but after speaking only a few (what became known as the Ten Commandments), because of great fear, the people asked G-D to stop speaking to everyone and tell Moses the Commandments and let Moses tell them to the people.


Then, Moses climbs up the Mountain and receives the Commandments from G-D and the people are waiting for Moses’ return. When Moses does not return quickly enough, the people ask Aaron to make a god to replace Moses. Hence, the Golden Calf is made. G-D then tells Moses to return to the people because of this great sin of idolatry. Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel, G-D relents as a result, and Moses journeys down the Mountain. 


Upon hearing the noise of the people and seeing their actions, in anger, Moses breaks the Tablets of Covenant.

Yet, with all of this action and excitement, the main part of the story within the portion has not yet taken place. It doesn’t happen until two chapters later when Moses meets with G-D again and writes the new set of Tablets. This new set of Tablets is different from the first and one of the differences is vitally important for those of us who believe in Yeshua and the New Covenant.


When writing the commandment concerning having and worshipping no other gods on the replacement set of Tablets, the wording is as follows:


For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. 17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. – Exodus 34:14


Notice verse 17 states, “make thee no molten gods.” In chapter 20, there is no mention specifically of molten, yet here it is very specifically added. Why? Because a principle is being established. For most it remains a mystery overshadowed by what they consider the major events of the text. This principle is so powerful that, once learned, it is life changing.


Why add the clarification of “molten” to the commandment, “Have no other gods before me?” There are two reasons and both are significant, especially for believers in Yeshua.


The first reason is that this verse is added as if the event of the Golden Calf had never happened. In other words, the text does not read, “Thou shalt make thee no molten gods AGAIN.” Simply by adding this line, G-D is demonstrating His absolute forgiveness of Israel for their sin. In one sentence, G-D let the people know that as far as He was concerned the Golden Calf incident never took place. This is the same way He treats our sins: once repented of, they no longer exist.


The second reason is that the new tablets are the perfect example of the New Covenant. Although we have sinned and committed idolatry against G-D, He has made a new covenant as proclaimed in Jeremiah 31:32,


Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.


The second set of Tablets and the wording upon them is one of the most powerful examples of the forgiveness of G-D in Torah and its relationship to the New Covenant. Take time to read Exodus chapter 34 and compare the words on the Tablets to the words of Exodus chapter 20, while also considering the words of Jeremiah 31:32 and Hebrews 8.



Jesus is to Christianity as pasta is to Italians

Pasta is Italian, bagels are Jewish, and chicken chow mein is Chinese right? Wrong; the bagel’s roots are not Jewish, but rather Italian. While pasta history begins in China, the Chinese food staple chow mein is actually an American dish. What does this lost history of these different popular foods have to do with Jesus and Christianity?


The answer is simple. In the exact same way that these three foods and many others are believed to be culturally connected to a certain people group and tradition, Yeshua/Jesus – a nice Jewish man born in a Jewish town named Bethlehem, born to Jewish parents Yosef (Joseph) and Miriam (Mary), who lived His life according to Biblical/Jewish law and conventions, and who died in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem – has been largely removed from His real Jewish culture, and over the centuries became a Hellenized Christian.


I know that many people reading this may still at this point be wondering, “So what? I still don’t know what difference it makes.” After all, you can enjoy a bagel in a kosher deli without understanding that the first bagels we made by Italians. You can eat a bowl of chow mein noodles with chopsticks without concern that it was first eaten in America and not in China. We also know the long piece of pasta is no less delicious just because the first ones to slurp pasta were not in Italy.


While there may be no critical impact caused by the lost cultural roots of foods such as spaghetti, bagels, and chow mein, the impact caused by removing Yeshua from His cultural roots is more than simple cultural appropriation. The issue isn’t just that Yeshua was Jewish. The problem caused by the removal of Yeshua from Judaism is much greater than cultural awareness.


When we learn about Yeshua outside of the context of the Old Testament and the Nation Israel, we may see Him as our Messiah, but we don’t know and cannot understand why He is the Messiah and why only He can be the Messiah. Outside of the full context that Yeshua was born into, we cannot understand the meaning of verses

such as Galatians 4:4,


But when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law. (TLV)


Once removed from historical Biblical context, it is impossible for someone to understand what is meant by “fullness of time,” “God sent out His son,” or “born under law”. So we are left simply with the understanding of His human birth, which in truth alone doesn’t qualify Him to be the Messiah.

Without the knowledge that starts in Genesis chapter 1:3,


Then God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light, (TLV) which is spoken before the creation of the sun, stars


and other planets, it is impossible to understand John 8:12,


Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (TLV)


While Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection can only be understood on a surface level without being attached to their context beginning with Genesis 1:14,


Then God said, “Let lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day from the night. They will be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, the word “seasons” in verse 14 is the Hebrew word Moedim, which means “appointed times.” There were biblical reasons that Yeshua died on Passover, was buried before the Sabbath, and rose again on Bikkurim, or the Firstfruits of the barley harvest. These reasons were established from the very first words of the Bible and continue throughout the Tanakh, or Old Testament texts.


While it may not make any difference if someone goes their whole life thinking that bagels are Jewish, pasta is Italian and chow mein is Chinese, it makes a huge difference if a believer in Yeshua doesn’t know that Jesus was/is a Jew, because the very foundation of what they believe is resting on that truth. After all, remember what Yeshua said on the last great day of the Feast in John 7:38,


Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’


In order to have rivers of living water flow out of our innermost being, we must believe in Him as the Scriptures said, remembering that the only Scriptures in existence when those words were spoken were the books of the Old Testament.

It’s about relationship, not religion right?

Wrong!!! One of the great blessings of living in the time that we do is the availability of social media. With the advance of technology what might have been a small unheard voice in a small town somewhere now has the ability to be heard globally in a moment. Blogs, Facebook posts, tweets and now videos can easily be written or recorded and once posted they have the ability to go viral and be viewed by millions.


While the advantage of being able to reach so many so quickly has provided a platform to spread the Gospel around the world almost instantly, people also now have the ability to misinform and mislead people like never before.


New apps have been programmed that allow the novice with limited skills and artistic talent to produce memes with witty slogans or words of encouragement that can be shared over and over with the pressing of a “share button”.


The trouble with this is that too often, pretty gets confused with insight, and bold is assumed to be accurate.

Case in point the often quoted phrase; “Its not about religion it’s about relationship”. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen that statement come across my news feed or heard a preacher on a video boldly proclaim that what they have is relationship not religion.


What’s wrong with this you might ask? After all it sounds great! After all we all want a relationship with the Messiah don’t we? And everyone knows religion is evil right? Wrong!!


Religion is not bad, bad religion is bad. As a matter of truth, Yeshua (Jesus) said the following in James 1:27:


Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”


Notice Yeshua is not anti-religion He is against impure religion. The truth is that Yeshua is extremely pro-religion. Because pure religion causes us to be relational. When we have right religion we establish relationships with orphans, we build relationships with widows. Religion is the glue that holds communities together and accountable to God. It is religion that according to Yeshua keeps one unstained by the world.


So we see that it isn’t religion -vs- relationship that we should promote it is religion + relationship we should proclaim. In a world that is increasingly stained with sin we need “pure religion” more than ever before!!


How do we know we love G-D?

ALMOST EVERY DAY I HEAR SOMEONE PROCLAIM, “I LOVE G-D.” WHEN I HEAR THESE WORDS, MY FIRST REACTION AND RESPONSE IS TO SMILE AND BE HAPPY. AFTER ALL, WHAT NICER PHRASE IS THERE TO HEAR FROM ANOTHER PERSON? AS A BELIEVER IN YESHUA, PART OF MY PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO THE G-D OF THE BIBLE AND EXPLAIN THAT THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT IS TO “LOVE THE L-RD YOUR G-D WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL AND STRENGTH.”


AS A SMALL CHILD GROWING UP IN A JEWISH HOME, ONE OF THE VERY FIRST LITURGICAL PRAYERS I LEARNED WAS THE SHEMA AND V’AHAVTA, WHICH IS DEUTERONOMY 6:4-5:


HEAR O ISRAEL, THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE. LOVE ADONAI YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.


THESE VERY WORDS ARE FOUNDATIONAL TO OUR FAITH AS JEWS. THERE IS ONE G-D AND WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO LOVE HIM.


YET, WHILE I AM ALWAYS EXCITED TO HEAR SOMEONE PROFESS HIS OR HER LOVE OF G-D, I AM EQUALLY CURIOUS AND OFTEN ASK THEM THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU LOVE G-D? IN OTHER WORDS, HOW DOES ONE QUANTIFY OR QUALIFY WHAT THEY HAVE AS LOVE FOR G-D? IS LOVE SIMPLY A FEELING WE HAVE, LIKE HUNGER OR FEAR? OR IS IT AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE OR REACTION TO A FEELING? 


IS THERE A WAY THAT WE CAN KNOW THAT WE LOVE G-D? IS THERE A WAY THAT OTHERS AROUND US CAN KNOW WE LOVE G-D?


MANY PEOPLE WILL ANSWER MY QUESTION BY QUOTING 2 CORINTHIANS 13:


LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND, IT DOES NOT ENVY, IT DOES NOT BRAG, IT IS NOT PUFFED UP, IT DOES NOT BEHAVE INAPPROPRIATELY, IT DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN WAY, IT IS NOT PROVOKED, IT KEEPS NO ACCOUNT OF WRONG, IT DOES NOT REJOICE OVER INJUSTICE BUT REJOICES IN THE TRUTH; IT BEARS ALL THINGS, IT BELIEVES ALL THINGS, IT HOPES ALL THINGS, IT ENDURES ALL THINGS.


OTHERS WILL BEGIN THEIR ANSWER WITH MATTHEW 7:17-20:

EVEN SO, EVERY GOOD TREE PRODUCES GOOD FRUIT, BUT THE ROTTEN TREE PRODUCES BAD FRUIT. A GOOD TREE CANNOT PRODUCE BAD FRUIT, NOR CAN A ROTTEN TREE PRODUCE GOOD FRUIT. EVERY TREE THAT DOES NOT PRODUCE GOOD FRUIT IS CHOPPED DOWN AND THROWN INTO THE FIRE. SO THEN, YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM BY THEIR FRUIT.


IN MATTHEW 22:37, WE READ THE FOLLOWING SPOKEN BY THE LAWYER TO YESHUA:

AND TESTING HIM, ONE OF THEM, A LAWYER, ASKED, “TEACHER, WHICH IS THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT IN THE TORAH?” AND HE SAID TO HIM, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE ADONAI YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ THIS IS THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT. AND THE SECOND IS LIKE IT, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ THE ENTIRE TORAH AND THE PROPHETS HANG ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS.


OF COURSE MOST BELIEVERS KNOW THAT YESHUA WAS QUOTING FROM DEUTERONOMY 6:5 AND LEVITICUS 19:18. WHAT MANY MAY NOT KNOW IS THAT THESE TWO VERSES WERE A TEACHING AND NOT JUST AN ANSWER. BY QUOTING THESE TWO VERSES IN RESPONSE TO THE LAWYER IN MATTHEW, YESHUA WAS ANSWERING A MUCH DEEPER QUESTION.

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY TIME YESHUA IS ASKED A QUESTION LIKE THIS. IN MATTHEW 19:16, WE READ:

NOW BEHOLD, ONE CAME TO HIM AND SAID, “TEACHER, WHAT GOOD SHALL I DO TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?” “WHY DO YOU ASK ME ABOUT WHAT IS GOOD?” YESHUA SAID TO HIM. “THERE IS ONLY ONE WHO IS GOOD; BUT IF YOU WANT TO ENTER INTO LIFE, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.”

NOTICE YESHUA’S ANSWER REFERS TO DEUTERONOMY 6:5 AGAIN AND THEN CONTINUES BY SAYING TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS. BOTH TIMES YESHUA IS ASKED ABOUT ETERNAL LIFE AND BOTH TIMES HE REFERS THE QUESTIONER TO DEUTERONOMY 6 FOR THE ANSWER. IN ONE CASE, HE SAYS “KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.” IN THE OTHER, HE SAYS, “LOVE G-D AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.” IT MAY SEEM AS IF YESHUA PROVIDED TWO DIFFERENT ANSWERS TO THE SAME QUESTION FROM TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. THE TRUTH IS YESHUA PROVIDED THE SAME ANSWER TO THE QUESTION – HE JUST REFERENCED THE ANSWER DIFFERENTLY.


WHEN YESHUA SAID, “KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS,” HE WAS REFERRING TO THE COMMANDMENTS SPOKEN FROM MOUNT SINAI, KNOWN AS THE 10 COMMANDMENTS. WHEN HE SAID, “LOVE G-D AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR,” HE WAS REFERRING TO THE SAME 10 COMMANDMENTS. THE FIRST FOUR COMMANDMENTS TELL US HOW TO LOVE G-D. THE FOLLOWING SIX TELL US HOW TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR.


ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT IT IS THAT WE HAVE ONE COMMANDMENT. LOVE G-D WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL AND STRENGTH. WE HAVE TWO COMMANDMENTS THAT TELL US HOW TO DO THAT: LOVE G-D AND LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR. YOU CANNOT LOVE G-D WHOM YOU DON’T SEE IF YOU CANNOT LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR WHOM YOU DO SEE (1 JOHN 4:20). WE HAVE TEN COMMANDMENTS TO TEACH US HOW TO KEEP THE TWO SO THAT WE CAN KEEP THE ONE. WE THEN HAVE 603 ADDITIONAL COMMANDMENTS IN TORAH THAT TEACH US HOW TO KEEP THE TEN, WHICH TEACH US HOW TO KEEP THE TWO, WHICH TELL US HOW TO KEEP THE ONE. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, WE HAVE 1150 MORE COMMANDMENTS THAT TEACH US HOW TO KEEP THE 603, WHICH TELL US HOW TO KEEP THE TEN, THAT INSTRUCT US HOW TO KEEP THE TWO, WHICH TELL US HOW TO KEEP THE ONE.

IN OTHER WORDS, BY KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS, WE DEMONSTRATE OUR LOVE FOR G-D AND OUR NEIGHBORS. FOR THIS SAME REASON, YESHUA SAID IN JOHN 14:15:

IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU WILL KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.

The worst best thing

This week a good friend of mine suddenly and without any discernible medical reason died. He was in the passenger seat of his car while his newly permitted son was driving and he physically just turned off. No heart attack, not a stroke. It was just as if someone pushed a button on a computer and he stopped breathing. His son heroically and immediately got his father out of the car and began CPR while 911 was called. The EMT’s arrived and ultimately he was transported by helicopter to a hospital for care and treatment.


For several days, his family and friends gathered to pray and just be there for them, each one with the same questions concerning what happened and what would happen next. My friend was a strong believer in G-D and a Jewish believer in Yeshua as his Messiah. His family members are also people of great faith. Those gathered together to pray all believed in the G-D of the Bible and believe in supernatural healing and restoration and many like myself have witness firsthand medical miracles.


Yet, with all of those prayers and all of the faith being exercised, my friend never regained consciousness, and after a few days, he slipped quietly from this world to the World to Come.


For some, circumstances like this might weaken their faith, or at the least shake their faith a little. However, as much as I will miss my friend, as many tears have flowed and will continue to flow, my faith will not waiver. 

Why? Because for all the wonder of this world and all the love I have experienced here, this world is the race, not the finish line. I am now over 50 years old and the probability is that I will live another 30 years and maybe a little longer. The truth is that I want to live every one of those years and enjoy every breath for as long as I am here. But, while I desire to live a long happy life and watch my grandchildren grow up and marry and have children of their own, if I transitioned from this world to the world to come tomorrow I would happily move to the eternal.


While we should pray for those who are sick and we must believe in the healing power of G-D, we also must understand that if we believe what we say we believe, the best thing that could possible happen to ourselves or someone we love is to die. Death truly is the entrance door to eternity where we spend forever in the presence of G-D.


While the best thing for me and all those who loved him would be for my friend to be healed and for all of us to have many more years together, the best thing for him was to finish his course having kept the faith. There is reserved for him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, has now awarded to him—and not to him only, but also to everyone of us who still long for His appearing.


You see, we must understand that sometimes the best thing that can happen to someone is what we in our humanity believe to be the worst possible thing for us.

Matthew 5:17 – Why not let the text answer the question?

One of the most discussed passages in the Brit Chadasha (New Covenant) is Matthew 5:17. I have heard and read so many opinions on what Yeshua (Jesus) meant when He spoke those words over 2000 years ago. Looking at the words themselves seems reasonably straightforward. 


“Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”


Clearly, the intent of the statement is to contrast the words “abolish” and “fulfill.” So, any reading of the text that would conclude with the understanding that Yeshua was doing away with the Torah and Prophets (another way of saying Tanakh or Old Testament) would be doing exactly the opposite of what the intent of the verse actually says. So, if Yeshua is not abolishing the Torah with this statement, what is He doing?


In order for us to understand this verse, we must first employ a primary rule of Biblical study and that is to keep the text in context. Anytime one removes text from the context it is within, we will always end up with a faulty understanding of the intention of the writer. 


In order to understand the context of these words, one has to read what event is taking place and what was said previous to and following verse 17. Yeshua is on the mountain preaching to His disciples. He begins to give what has become known as the Beatitudes in verses 1-12 and then continues in verse 13-16 with: 


“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt should lose its flavor, how shall it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 


Yeshua’s instructions are for His followers to become world changers and shine their light within the world so their good works would glorify the Father. Immediately after these words are spoken, Yeshua says the words we find in verse 17. The statement that He did not come to abolish the Torah and Prophets is directly linked to the instruction to shine, do good works and glorify the Father. It is clear in context that Yeshua’s intent was to reaffirm the instructions of Torah to His disciples, not as a means for justification or redemption. Rather, it was as a means to glorify the Father by demonstrating good works and letting their lights shine. 


Looking forward, we find that not only does verse 17 continue the thought and instructions starting in verse 1, but the rest of the chapter continues to provide insight into what is meant by the words “but to fulfill.”

Yeshua continued speaking in verse 18-20:


“Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps and teaches them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and Torah scholars, you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven!”


I think that we can all agree that heaven and earth have not yet passed away and also that all of the prophecies prophesied in the Torah and Tanakh have not yet come to pass. So, clearly Yeshua is still not abolishing Torah with these words. As a matter of fact, if one reads these words they appear to call for an even greater adherence to Torah, exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees and Torah scholars. The answer to understanding these difficult words and statements comes into clearer focus starting in verse 21 through 26:


“You have heard it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca’ shall be subject to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be subject to fiery Gehenna. 


“Therefore if you are presenting your offering upon the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. “Make friends quickly with your opponent while you are with him on the way. Otherwise, your opponent may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the assistant, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid back the last penny!”


Notice that Yeshua speaks in verse 21 with a Torah commandment, “You shall not murder.” He then goes on to “bring fullness” in the next few verses by explaining to His disciples that in order to let their light shine and glorify the Father they must obey the fullness of the commandment as expressed in verses 22-26. We find this same “bringing to fullness” demonstrated in verses 27-32 speaking of divorce, verses 33-37 concerning swearing, and verses 38-47 admonishing about how to treat others. Each of these are examples of how Yeshua brought a fullness not only to the understanding of the commandments, but instructed us on how walking out our faith in the fullness of the commandments allows us to be a light to the world and by doing so we are able to, as it says in the closing verse of Matthew chapter 5, “Therefore be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Maybe it’s time for some new glasses

Many years ago, I watched a movie entitled My Cousin Vinny, which stared Joe Pesci as a lawyer from New York who was defending his nephew who was being tried for murder in Alabama. During the trial, Pesci’s character was cross-examining a witness, an older lady who was wearing very thick glasses. As a part of the questioning, Pesci asked the witness how her sight was and she responded that with her glasses on her vision was pretty good. Pesci then took a tape measure and walked about 75 feet from the witness and asked the witness to tell him how many fingers he was holding up. After providing an incorrect answer, Pesci walked up to the witness and said, “Maybe it’s time for some new glasses.”


I was thinking about this scene while I was listening to some American prophecy preachers proclaiming their interpretation of the events, which are described in the eschatological books of the Bible. Each preacher shared their thoughts on what would be coming upon the earth and the events that would lead up to the “Tribulation” and the “Return of Messiah,” known by many as the “Rapture.” The more I listened to those men, the more I began to realize that for the American body of believers, “maybe it’s time for some new glasses.”


Why, you may ask? Each of these men who were considered experts in the fields of prophecy had based their entire eschatological foundation upon the Scriptures as they relate to the United States of America. They failed completely to even consider that every book of the Bible and every event that takes place in those books are written only from the viewpoint of the nation Israel. Israel is the center of all Biblical text and of the understanding of all Biblical text. If you shift the focus from Israel and the Middle East to any other location or nation you will always come to errant conclusions about the fulfillment of the prophetic statements found on the pages of the Scriptures. 


One clear example is found when considering those who proclaim that the Body of Messiah will be removed from the earth before the beginning of the Tribulation. This is a popular position for American theologians. I would ask those teachers to please try preaching that position to the believers in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or Egypt who are daily being martyred because of their unwavering faith in Yeshua as their Messiah. It would be impossible to convince those of such a great testimony that what they were going through was not to be considered the Tribulation simply because they don’t live within the geographical coordinates known as the United States of America.


When one reads the Bible and takes its words out of the context of the geographical boundaries of the Promised Land and its surrounding neighbors, the distortion is even greater than the distortion caused by the incorrect eyeglass prescription worn by the witness in the movie.


It is only when the worldwide body of Messiah decides that it is time to get a “new pair of glasses,” which will allow them to view the Bible within the context of the Bible itself, that we will begin to understand and see the signs of the times.

The lie that is the foundation of all lies

In Genesis 3:4, we find the very first lie from the lips of Satan when we read, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You most assuredly won’t die!’”


In these few words, we are introduced to the destructive power of words, the foundation for every murder that has ever been committed, and the reasoning behind the justification for all genocide, including the largely unrecognized genocide, known as abortion.


With this simple phrase spoken to the very first woman and man created by G-D, Satan provided the excuse used by human beings along with the rationalization of the destruction of entire people groups, and ultimately the extermination of over 58 million unborn. 


From Biblical times until today, these same excuses have been used and abused in order to allow one segment of society to massacre another with indemnity. What is this validation? Well, that is simple. It is the simple statement, “You most assuredly won’t die.” You may ask then, “How does this statement justify the annihilation of people for thousands of years?” The answer is also simple. Satan provided the ability to dehumanize people by simply saying they are not really human, and therefore they are not an equally living being; from the Egyptians murdering the babies of the Hebrews, the British saying women were not persons, the US Constitution declaring that African Americans were only 3/5ths of a person, the Nazis proclaiming Jews are not persons, and the 1973 US Supreme Court’s decision that the pre-born are not persons and unprotected by the 14th amendment.


In each and every one of these cases, and all other similar statements, the bottom line is the same. If they are not really people, then they cannot really be murdered because they will not “assuredly die.” Over and over throughout the annals of time, Satan has convinced mankind through this original lie that one race, gender, religion or nationality made one human a person with a valued life and another human a lesser, non-person. Those being non-persons do not have the rights of the living and thus are expendable for the convenience of the true person. 


Those involved in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms of Russia, and the Holocaust of the Nazis used this reasoning of the extermination of non-people and this exact reasoning is being used today to justify the murder of millions of defenseless babies in the womb as the promoters of “Choice.”


It should be noticed that “Choice” is what Satan was offering Adam and Eve also.  When you hear the leaders of the “Choice” movement proclaim things like, “The pre-born are not really ‘persons’ until they exit the womb,” or call a baby an “embryo” or “fetus,” or even the more modern and dramatically more offensive “parasite,” just remember what they are saying is the exact same lie that came from the lips of the original deceiver, Satan. 


They are saying it is okay for us to butcher and murder these babies because they really are not people and therefore, “they most assuredly won’t die.”


What is even more offensive is that the same group of people are at the forefront of protecting the human rights of so many others. Yet, with all of their zeal to protect and preserve the rights of many, they have fallen into the very trap that Adam and Eve fell into in the Garden so long ago. They have believed the lie that is the foundation of all lies and have joined the forces of Satan to commit genocide against those who are least able to protect themselves.