Where Will We Go? You Have The Words Of Life!

Posted by on Sep 6, 2015 in Torah & Life |
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John 6:25-69

Sometimes G-d asks us to do things that we don’t understand. They might not make sense to us at the time. We can’t reconcile what He’s leading us to do with any form of reasoning within us. We might even feel crazy for doing it. This passage should encourage us, especially if we’re going against the crowd to stay true to what HaShem has spoken to us.*

As we come into this passage, we see Yeshua having a conversation with a crowd of would-be disciples. They’ve been seeking him, and have even crossed over the Sea of Galilee to find Him. Once they arrive, they find him teaching in the synagogue. A conversation ensues about why they’re looking for him so earnestly.

He tells them:

“Truly, truly, I say to you,you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Naturally, they ask Him what they need to do in order to be doing the works of G-d, to which Yeshua answers:

“Truly, truly, I say to you,you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The crowd asks Yeshua to give them this “bread” always. He responds by telling them that He is the bread of life and that anyone who believes in Him would never hunger or thirst. He then says something that unnerves them when He says that He was the bread of life that came down from heaven.

And not only that, but when the crowd recoils at this, Yeshua takes things a little further. Not seeming to be content with blasphemy, what Yeshua says next also seems to cross the lines of kashrut:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

and

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[c] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Talk about a series of in-your-face and hard to swallow statements. Eating human flesh or any blood at all was, and still is, strictly against the kosher eating laws. Every Jew knows that the “life is in the blood”.

I think that at this point every self-respecting Jew would probably have abandoned any rabbi espousing such non-kosher and blasphemous teachings. Indeed, many of Yeshua’s disciples did leave:

60 “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

And:

66 “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

Imagine the leader of your congregation telling you to do something that seemed completely & utterly against what the scriptures say. Maybe he says to abandon your parents in their time of need, or to snub the homeless in your city in favor of pandering to the rich. Whatever it is, it would almost certainly pale in comparison to what it seemed like Yeshua was saying in this passage. He was not only elevating Himself to be equal with G-d, but also seemed to be telling His disciples to do some very unkosher things. To say this saying was “hard” is an understatement. It’s really no wondering that so many disciples walked away upon hearing this.

Sometimes rabbis give hard teachings. Sometimes their talmidim  (students/disciples) have to make hard decisions. This was one of those times.

Yeshua turns to the twelve whom He personally picked as his closest disciples. He asked a heavy question:

“Do you want to go away as well?”

In other words, “Will you turn your back on me, just like all these have done?”

In what seems to be a super star moment, Peter speaks up with one of the most profound statements credited to him in all the gospel accounts:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of G-d“.
Maybe another way to put this could be “we are and have been fed by your words – they are life to us! We believe You are the Messiah. To whom else could we go? Come good or bad, we’re with You.”

I don’t really know that Peter really understood what Yeshua was saying when He spoke of eating His body & blood. But one thing does seem exceedingly apparent: he had faith in Yeshua that sustained him during this time of difficulty.

This brings to mind another teaching of the Master. In Luke 18 Yeshua tells a parable of an indifferent judge who grants justice to a certain woman because of her persistence. He says that, of course, G-d would grant justice to His elect who call to Him day & night. Then he says something almost haunting:

“I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? Not in Israel. Not among the Gentiles. On earth. Even though G-d will answer our prayers. Even though He loves us dearly. Even though Yeshua promised never to leave nor forsake us.

Will He find faith on earth?

Faith is a funny thing. It’s not just a feeling. It’s not mentally ascending to a decision. It’s more than hope. It’s actually being certain of what we hope for, according to Hebrews. Faith itself is the evidence of things that we cannot see.

During the times when we are tempted to falter in our expectation of G-d’s word being true, our faith is what anchors us to HaShem.

In the face of a mass exodus of Yeshua’s disciples, Peter demonstrated unwavering faith in the rabbi who chose him as one of the talmidim who would carry on His teachings to future generations. Even though he likely had no idea what Yeshua meant by eating His body & blood, Peter had faith that his rabbi, his Messiah, would not break Torah. Even if Peter didn’t fully understand everything in the moment. Sometime later, his faith would be proven to be well placed.

At His last Passover meal, Yeshua finally explained his cryptic teaching to his 12 closest disciples:

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

The Master never meant that His disciples had to literally eat His body & blood. He was trying to give them keen insight into the scriptures, insight into some of HaShem’s appointed times (moedim), and an in-depth explanation as to why He must be crucified, buried, and raised again on the third day.

How many of Yeshua’s would-be disciples missed out on these precious teachings? How many lost faith a little too early? How many missed the Messiah because they didn’t understand this one, admittedly difficult, saying. How many times do we miss what G-d has for us because we don’t understand what He’s doing?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

In Isaiah 55:9 He tells us:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

No matter what you’re facing today, remember, G-d is for you. He makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Even if it seems like the whole world is going the opposite direction. Even if you don’t understand what’s going on or why seemingly bad things are happening to you. Even if you can’t see what good could possibly come out of certain situations in your life.

Above all, remember Who has the words of life and have faith in Him even when you don’t understand “why”.

Cheers,
-Mark
————

* Keep in mind: G-d will never ask or instruct us to do something that contradicts His written word. If you’re feel He is, it might not be HaShem speaking to you.
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Appointed Times Of The L-RD OR Passover: Why Should I Care?!?

Posted by on Jan 24, 2015 in Biblical Holidays, Torah & Life |
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[Please note, this post introduces ideas pulled from a few sections of scripture, the evidence for which is not complete. Those sections should be apparent to the reader. These sections of scripture and the ideas we are pulling from them aren’t meant to be taken dogmatically. Rather, they are pulled to get us thinking about something in a way that we might not have done before.

In Jewish thought, strict black and white lines of demarcation are not the norm. Instead, there is the idea of constantly looking for additional meaning which may have been previously missed. That is the spirit in which this post is presented.]

Genesis 1:14-19

Why did G-d create the sun, moon & stars? We’re told in Genesis 1:14 that He created them, first and foremost, to indicate signs and seasons.

The order in which the L-RD gives us the functions of the “greater and lesser lights” is important. He lists the most important, primary uses first and the secondary utilities last.

What’s particularly interesting about this is that, at this point, HaShem has not informed us about what these signs and seasons might be.

Since the primary purpose for which HaShem created the heavenly hosts was to be markers for signs and seasons, it is our obligation as His worshiping servants to search out exactly to what those signs point because they are of utmost importance to Him. We’ll revisit this idea in a minute.

In Genesis chapter 4 we have the recounting of the history of Cain & Abel.

In verse 3 the Hebrew literally says “at the end of days” both Cain & Abel brought sacrifices to the L-RD.

“At the end of days” indicates a specific, predetermined time.

Let me ask you, how did they know when the “end of days” was?

Could it be that HaShem had told them how to read the signs He put in the heavens? Could it also be that G-d had communicated to them about the specific times He had set aside to meet with them for specific, special purposes? Maybe this time of the “end of days” was one of the seasons mentioned in Genesis 1:14. I don’t think this is too far-fetched, but let’s put that thought on hold for a while. We’ll revisit it later in this post.

Let’s move on to Exodus 12. We’re interested in Exodus 12:1-4 and Exodus 12:14-15.

Here it seems HaShem introduces, for the first time in the written scriptures, the idea of Passover, or “Pesach” in Hebrew. However, one of the primary elements of the greater festival of Passover, and centric to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is referred to here in a casual way. G-d assumes that ‘unleavened bread’ is already something familiar to Moses and the Israelites.

In these verses in Exodus 12, HaShem specifically details every single aspect of how to observe Passover. Every aspect, that is, except for the matzoh – the unleavened bread. This is a significant detail we should not simply gloss over. Why?

We should remember that faithfully, and properly, observing Passover in Egypt was the difference between life & death for the Israelites. If the L-RD failed to describe the proper preparation of such an important element, it could potentially mean the deaths of many Israelites. If unleavened bread wasn’t a food already familiar to the Israelites, G-d would have described its preparation in detail, just as He did for the other elements.

In fact, some biblical scholars have decided the way G-d speaks about the unleavened bread indicates familiarity with it on the part of Moses and the Israelites. I agree with them.

To find out why, let’s turn now to Genesis 17:23-26.

The phrase “that very day” is significant. It indicates significance of immediacy. The particular phrase is telling us to pay attention to the time frame in which all these things happened.

Earlier in Genesis 17, the scripture describes an encounter Abram has with HaShem. It is during this encounter that HaShem both changes Abram’s name to Abraham and instructs him to circumcise himself, his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household.

In verse 23 and 26 we’re told Abraham carries out G-d’s instruction “that very day”. And Chapter 18 is a direct continuation of the events of chapter 17. That’s not necessarily to say it happened in the hours following the day Abraham circumcised himself and his household, but from the wording in the text we could certainly infer these events all happened immediately one after the other.

Chapter 18 starts with the word “And”. It also refers to Abraham as “him” without clarifying who “him” is referring to. Again, the continuation is significant. In fact, it looks like the events of Genesis 17:1-18:24 happened over the course of perhaps 2-3 days at the most.

Let’s take a step back & summarize what’s happening in these verses.

HaShem appears to Abram, changes his name to Abraham and instructs him concerning circumcision. “That very day” Abraham circumcises himself and his household “and the L-RD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre”.

Abraham invites the L-RD and His angels to sit down while Abraham brings them “a morsel of bread”. He then turns to Sarah and tells her to make cakes.

Here’s one place where only reading the text in English is a huge drawback. In the English, this event seems pretty inconsequential. In the Hebrew, however, we see something completely different.

The Hebrew for “cakes” here is “uga” (‘oog ah). “Uga” was flat, round bread – thin wafers.

In this passage we should also note that Abraham is in a hurry and mentions nothing to Sarah about waiting for the bread to rise. This is because “uga” was a type of unleavened bread.

Keep this in mind as we move a little further in the text and take a look at what goes on with Lot, possibly on the same day, in chapter 19.

In verse 3 it literally says Lot “made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate”.

We should notice this feast actually took place later in the evening. Notice that the topic of conversation in the first 2 verses center around where the angels would spend the night. The day’s activities in the market were over and people were settling into their homes for the night.

So, at this point, we see how G-d appeared to Abram (17:1), Abraham circumcised himself & his whole household and served flat, unleavened bread to HaShem. It’s also interesting that Abraham served a calf, “tender and good” to the L-RD as part of their meal. We won’t take the time to expound on what this means here, but suffice to say that this was a very special and important thing to do.

Down in Sodom, seemingly that very evening, Lot feeds the angels a feast, specifically with unleavened bread. After which meal, the men of the city, who are attempting to act violently towards the angels, are struck with blindness while Lot & his family are hurriedly delivered from destruction by being rushed from the city in the night.

Does any of this seem like it might fit just as well into another story?

Does it sound like another story where, on a certain night a certain group of people ate a feast including a year old animal and unleavened bread, who were then swiftly and miraculously delivered through supernatural signs & wonders, leaving on the heals of a wake of death and destruction in the middle of the night?

Is any of this ringing a bell? Seems like we might have just read part of a story that seems a lot like one that happened in Egypt.

Hmm… oh, yeah… the Passover! Exodus 12. It’s all coming back to you now, isn’t it? Isn’t it interesting that we started looking at one of the only other stories in scripture that talks about unleavened bread and have now stumbled upon the fact that this story closely mimics the Passover story we all know & love.

I’d like to draw your attention back to the part where Abraham circumcised everyone the day before Sodom bit the dust. I believe the timing of G-d telling Abram to do that at this particular time carries weight.

It just so happens that Passover is the only, I repeat, the ONLY appointed time/feast of the L-RD (moedim [moe eh ‘deem]) that requires its male participants be circumcised as a prerequisite for taking part in the festal sacrifice. (See Exodus 12:43-48)

Now let’s take this thing full circle. Turn back to Genesis 1:14.

Remember what the most important, primary purpose of the sun, moon & stars / heavenly bodies / “lights in the expanse of the heavens” is? They are to act as signs & “for seasons”.

Funny thing about the Hebrew word for “seasons” there in verse 14. This is one of only three (3) times that Hebrew word is ever translated as “seasons”. I’m trying to find a good reason why because almost everywhere else in scripture it’s translated differently using one of a couple of phrases.

The word translated “seasons” in verse 14 is the Hebrew word “moedim”. I hope that sounds familiar because almost everywhere else it’s translated as “appointed times”. As in the “appointed times of the L-RD” in Leviticus 23.

It’s the same phrase G-d uses with Abraham in Genesis 18 when He’s talking about Sarah having a child.

It’s also interesting to note that the Jewish sages place the timing of the incident of Cain & Abel bringing their sacrifices to G-d at Nisan 14 on the Hebrew calendar. We won’t look at why right now and we won’t put too much emphasis on it, but you should know that Nisan 14 is the first day of Passover.

Conclusion

What does all this mean? Why should we care? And how does it apply to our lives today? To find out, let’s ask ourselves a few questions, shall we?

Our first question centers around the “moedim” (appointed times) of the L-RD: Are what most Christians call the “feasts of Israel” really Israel’s feasts, or are they the L-RD’s? Let’s take a look at Leviticus 23:1 to find out.

G-d Himself calls them “the appointed feasts (moedim) of the L-RD”. He then emphasizes this by stating “they are My appointed feasts (moedim)” [emphasis mine].

Just a few verses later in Leviticus 23:4 the second moed (appointed time, singular) G-d outlines is Pesach (Passover). And, again, G-d makes sure we understand these are His moedim, not Israel’s. So, the answer to “who’s feasts are they, anyway” is fairly obvious.

Second question: To whom do the moedim (appointed times) of Genesis 1:14 apply (which are described in Leviticus 23)?

Well, let’s think about this.

Since Genesis 1:14 is right in the middle of creation, I think maybe a more appropriate question might be “To whom do the moedim of Genesis 1:14 not apply?”

While I think this should be a self-explanatory, rhetorical question, let’s look at who in the Bible might have celebrated them.

I know I haven’t built a case for it here, but, as I mentioned earlier, several Jewish sages believe that when Cain & Abel offered their sacrifices to the L-RD “at the end of days”, it was actually Nisan 14 – the eve of Passover. If this is true, it’s very easy to see why Abel’s offering of a lamb was accepted while Cain’s offering of produce was not.

Assuming the sages are correct, something else to think about is this: when Cain & Abel offered their sacrifices before the L-RD there were no Jews to be found. It was hundreds & hundreds of years before the Israelites would come on the scene. I believe this could be a hint that at all of mankind should be observing Passover. Within the criteria set forth by HaShem, of course.

Moving forward quite a few years to Genesis 17-19, we see both Abraham & Lot possibly celebrating Passover.

Both these instances (Cain & Abel and Abraham & Lot) occur hundreds or thousands of years before the events of Exodus 12 and before the nation of Israel even existed.

There were no Jews in Genesis 4. Depending on your viewpoint, there weren’t really any in Genesis 17-19, either, though Abraham is the father of the Jewish people. But even if we count Abraham as being “Jewish”, the same case cannot be made for Lot. Though he was related to Abraham, he wasn’t Abraham’s descendant.

When we take into consideration:

A) the moedim are introduced in the middle of the creation account in Genesis 1:14,
B) we see evidence of other, non-Jewish people celebrating at least one moed (appointed time),
C) HaShem goes to great lengths to separate His appointed times from being strictly Jewish, and
D) the specific appointed time we see non-Jews participating in is the second moed described by G-d,

it becomes apparent that the appointed times of the L-RD in Leviticus 23 should apply universally to mankind – at least from G-d’s perspective.

There does, though, seem to be one HUGE difference between the moedim as they relate to the Jewish people versus the rest of us.

G-d doesn’t mince words when talking about the nation of Israel being HIS PEOPLE. He makes it abundantly clear they are specifically required to celebrate all His feasts and uphold all His commandments. And even though they are required to do these things, G-d still promises a blessing for observing some commands and feasts.

Gentiles don’t seem to be under the same obligation.

The Gentiles seem to have incentive to observe certain commands or moedim, but are not under the same obligation as the Jews. Isaiah 56 is a great example of this kind of incentive.

However, I would say that, even if G-d’s moedim aren’t “required” for Gentiles, as G-d fearers, we should be especially eager to take part in them. Not for our own benefit necessarily, but because they are important to G-d.

If I only did things that were important to me and refused to do anything that was important to my wife (that I didn’t directly benefit from) how good of a relationship would you suppose we’d have? Not very.

Part of having a relationship with someone is doing things that person likes simply because they like it. Our own enjoyment isn’t the point – theirs is.

G-d has specifically and specially set aside certain dates and times to meet with us for certain purposes. Why would we waste such opportunities? We shouldn’t.

I’ll leave you with one final thought about the L-RD’s appointed times.

In Genesis 2:1-3 it says G-d finished His work on the seventh day and rested from His work. The next sentence is so often overlooked in Christianity, but I think it deserves special attention.

Verse 3 says, “So G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it G-d rested from all His work that He had done in creation”.

Not only did G-d specially bless the seventh day, but he also set it apart as special and unique. He made it to be treated differently than the six other days of the week. That’s exactly what making it “holy” means – set apart.

In Isaiah 66:23 it says: “From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the L-RD.”

In Zechariah 14:16-17 it says: “Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the L-RD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the L-RD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.”

From these verses, it seems to me, that at least Shabbat & Sukkot (Feat of Booths) are not just for Israel to observe, but apply to “all flesh”.

I believe G-d made the sabbath day part of creation for a reason, just as he put the sun, moon and star in the sky for a reason. It’s one of His moedim. He’s specifically set it aside in order to make time to meet with us, as He outlines in Leviticus 23:1-3.

This year, why not make an effort to learn about G-d appointed times and make time in our schedules to meet with the Creator of the universe, just as He’s made time to be with us?

Cheers!
-Mark

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Messianic/Christian Passover (Pesach) Seder in Meridian

Posted by on Mar 1, 2014 in Biblical Holidays |
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On the evening of Monday April 14th we will be hosting our second annual Messianic Passover Seder in Meridian, Idaho.

Messianic Passover Seder Meal

See below for details

There are a few times each year that I and my family very much look forward to. These times are the appointed times of HaShem, which also includes our weekly holiday of Shabbat. These come up about six times a year; three times in the spring & three times in the fall. You can find these times in Leviticus 23.

For the past decade we have been enjoying these appointed times, fellowshipping with other believers, learning about our G-d, and growing closer to Him.

Last year we opened our home for our first community Passover Seder. It was packed! We had nearly 40 people in our home, and that was without any advertising!

This year we are holding our second annual Community Passover Seder.

It will be held at the address and time below. If you are in the greater Boise/Eagle/Meridian/Nampa/Caldwell area, you are welcome and invited to attend.

Come take part in the Passover with us! Learn the messianic significance of Passover and see how it points to Yeshua, Jesus, as the Redeemer and Messiah of Israel and the world!

Treasure Valley Worship Center
50 W Spicewood Drive
Meridian, Idaho 83680

Time: 6:30pm
Cost: $16 adults, $6.50 children – dinner will be fully cateredPassover Seder in Meridian, Id

Please visit boisepassover.com for more information and to purchase tickets!

Cheers,
-Mark

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What Happened to G-d’s Promise? (Part 2)

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Bible Study |
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And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. And the L-RD will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.    Luke 1:31-33

The scripture portion we are examining is Luke 1:26-38. If you didn’t read part 1 you can find it here. Now that we have the context in which Mary heard the angel’s announcement, let’s explore what this could have meant to her and why it’s important for us.

[In our short study here we’re assuming that the idea of two Messiahs had already been promulgated by the time of Yeshua’s birth. It is possible, since the Mishnah wasn’t codified until around 100 CE, that the idea hadn’t yet gained traction. Even if that is the case and Mary didn’t have the idea of two Messiahs in mind, it is non-trivial that it seemed that her son, Yeshua, seemed to fulfill only half of the Messianic prophecies. Gabriel’s message held great importance for Mary and it does for us today, as well.]

Gabriel just showed up and told her that her son is the Messiah! This is great news! The son to be born to her will be a king, a great ruler! There are many good promises made about him! And her cousin is also pregnant. Could life get any better?

A few problems Mary faces, which also relate to our title, should be apparent. And by problems I mean looking beyond Mary’s immediate unwed circumstance.

As Yeshua reaches the end of his life, the image of Mashiach ben Yossef begins to emerge, not Mashiach ben David. We see him teaching in the synagogues in the towns throughout Israel, upsetting the local Pharisaic and Sadducean sects to the point that they plot His murder. We see a few times when the people themselves pick up rocks to stone Him. He is betrayed by one of His own, most loyal followers. And in the last, painful days of His life, Yeshua is repeatedly beaten and tortured, before being crucified naked for all to see on the side of the road leading into town.

If you are a parent and these things happened to your child, how would you handle it? How would you deal with so much hatred and violence directed at your child. How would you deal with your own pain, anger and heart ache?

What happened to G-d’s promise?!? I thought this was supposed to be a good thing for Mary, not emotionally torturous. What’s the deal? Does G-d think this if funny? G-d is supposed to be loving and kind, full of grace and mercy, not sadistic and capricious.

If we listen closely, can we hear ourselves mimicking questions that may have passed through Mary’s mind? How many times have we questioned G-d about something that’s happened in our lives? What tragedies have befallen us which have caused us to lash out in anger at our Creator? If G-d is so loving, we ask, why did _____ happen?

We all have things that have happened which have caused us to question G-d. And they’re often big, important, painful things. They could range from emotional betrayal to murder, from abandonment to rape to hunger. If G-d is so loving, why would He allow this? Maybe Mary asked that exact question.

But I don’t think so.

When the wise men came and presented gifts to Yeshua, Mary “kept these things and pondered them in her heart”. When she and Joseph found Yeshua in the temple after leaving him when he was 12, she kept it and pondered it in her heart. Throughout Yeshua’s life Mary was storing memories in her heart and pondering them. She knew that there were two messiahs. And she remembered Gabriel’s words. She was reconciling things that were happening in she and Yeshua’s lives with G-d’s promise.

Her son was the Messiah son of David. He performed miracles. He taught and led the people. But He was also Mashiach ben Yossef. I think Mary knew this. I think the hard part became reminding herself that her son was also Mashiach ben David.

I think remembering Gabriel’s prophecy about her son as the Messiah Who was to come helped Mary through the hard times. It wasn’t just a flowery prophecy to help Mary feel good as a young woman and mother-to-be. It was a prophecy of hope for her to hold on to when the times were hard. She could remember that prophecy and know that everything would be all right eventually.

That’s what G-d’s promises are for: to give us hope when times are tough.

So the next time you’re tempted to doubt G-d or chastise Him for a hardship, remember Mary. Remember that sometimes G-d’s promise is meant as an anchor of hope that ties us to Him when our lives take a turn for the worst. And instead of giving in to the temptation to throw His promise back in His face, hold it tightly. Keep it. Ponder it. Let it carry you when you need it the most.

And remember, one day our Messiah will return and there will be no mistaking that He is also Mashiach ben David.

Cheers.

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What Happened to G-d’s Promise? (Part 1)

Posted by on Dec 21, 2013 in Bible Study, Torah & Life |
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The scriptural context for our conversation today will be Luke 1:26-38, with our focus mainly on the following verses:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. And the L-RD will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.    Luke 1:31-33

Have you ever stopped to wonder what life was really like for Mary,  our Master’s mother? I’m guessing you have. Especially if you’ve been to many church services around Christmas time. It seems to be a topic the routinely comes up.

This last Sunday our pastor read Luke 1:26-38 with us and asked what lessons we could walk away with. Most of the lessons which were volunteered were along the lines of “Mary was obedient” or “Mary was humble”, or “Mary accepted the great task she had been assigned without doubting”. And I think I agree with all those lessons. But what occurred to me was something that I’ve never seen before. Something a little further beneath the surface.

Before I head into it, though, I need to fill in some background. I will delve a little into the Jewish idea of two messiahs and discuss why this is important before concluding with why the verses quoted above should bear so much significance to Mary (Miriam), our Master’s mother, and to us as well.

In the Christian church there is a basic understanding of the concept of a godly messiah. And with good reason – it’s what the entire religion is based on. The idea that G-d sent His only Son to live a perfect life and die an atoning death for the forgiveness of the sin of the world. In some cases, this understanding runs deeper than others, but one thing is certain: we Gentiles didn’t come up with this idea on our own.

The idea of a godly messianic redeemer is a Jewish one. And without that source, the Gentile (non-Jewish) world would not know the concept of the godly messianic redeemer. This is especially important to keep in mind because the Jewish world is the context for the passage we’re examining today, and it is the context for Yeshua (Jesus) Himself. To try to match that context with our modern western world one-to-one would be a mistake.

One thing about the Jewish context that most believers are unaware of is that in Judaism there is an expectation of not just one, but two messiahs: Mashiach ben Yossef (Messiah son of Joseph) and Mashiach ben David (Messiah son of David).

Mashiach ben Yossef is the suffering servant. According to Judaism, Mashiach ben Yossef is generally understood to precede Mashiach ben David as His forerunner, preparing the world for the coming of the final redeemer, Mashiach ben David, and to put them into the proper condition in order to clear the way for him to come. Mashiach ben Yossef is said to endure many hardships and trials. It is also understood that His coming will also bring trials for the nation of Israel. The principal and final function ascribed to Mashiach ben Yossef is of political and military nature. He shall wage war against the forces of evil that oppress Israel. He is also expected to die in His role.

Mashiach ben David is the actual (final) redeemer who shall rule in the Messianic age. He is the ruling and reigning King. He fulfills G-d’s promise to King David to always have a descendant on the throne of Israel. He is the “Messiah” we all generally think of when we are reminded of the promised one, the Redeemer of Israel. There will be no end to His rule and reign (see Daniel 2:36-44).

What is the significance of these two roles in Yeshua’s life, especially in light of the verses above? Why should this have mattered to Mary? Why is this important to us today? We’ll take a look at those issues in the next post.

Stay tuned!

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Our Steps Established – A New Journey

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in Personal, Torah & Life |
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The heart of man plans his way,
but the L-RD establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

 

Judy and I moved to the Boise area about a year and a half ago.  Life has kept us very busy since then, especially with the arrival of our 5th child in May!  But deep in our heart has always been the desire to build a healthy, vibrant, Messianic community here in the area.

With that purpose in mind, we built a website to get our name out, hoping that others would find us who were also interested in this same thing.  Through the website, we met wonderful people and are so very thankful for that!

However, we realized in September that the L-RD has really called us to something a bit different, at least for a season of our lives.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but we are returning to the greater Christian church.  A great number of Messianic believers cringe at this idea, turned off at the idea of facing replacement theology, supercessionism, and “grace vs. law” doctrine, and these things definitely don’t excite us.  But we know without doubt that this is the path that G-d has called us to walk.  We are excited about joining with a local church, working to help grow their community, worshiping together with them, and building friendships for us and our children.

In the process, we are praying that the L-RD will open doors for us to share the joy we have found in the Torah and in discovering the Jewish roots of our faith.  While this is not our main reason for returning to church, we are hoping and praying that HaShem will open opportunities for us to share with our Christian brothers and sisters. This is truly where the heart of G-d has drawn us.

We will still be keeping the Sabbath in our home and remaining Torah observant. If you would like to join us for Torah study on a Saturday afternoon, we’d love to meet you and share this journey together!

Blessings,

-Mark

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Rosh Hoshannah / Yom Teruah

Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in Biblical Holidays |
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Rosh_Hashanah_Symbols

Greetings and blessings to you from us! We trust this post finds you and yours doing well and in good health, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Today is Rosh Hoshannah / Yom Teruah. Rosh Hoshannah means ‘Head of the Year’. It is literally the Day of Blowing (Yom Teruah), also known as the Feast of Trumpets. It is found in the Bible in Leviticus 23:23-25:

And the L-RD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the L-RD.

Jewish tradition holds that this is the time of year G-d created all things according to Genesis 1. I believe that is very fitting. Why? Because Rosh Hoshannah is the beginning of a time of great introspection and restoration. Just as all things started new at creation, so, too, we have the opportunity at Rosh Hoshanna to start fresh in our own lives. Rosh Hoshannah/Yom Teruah is the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe. During this time we ask G-d to help us search our hearts. If we’ve wronged anyone, we make it right. If we’ve put up barriers between ourselves and G-d, we tear them down. It is a time of preparation for the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

This time reminds us that G-d is merciful and gracious, but He also requires holiness from us. Part of holiness and relating rightly to G-d is relating rightly with other people in our lives.

Our Master, Yeshua, commanded us to live at peace with one another. In fact, our relationship with G-d is directly affected by how we relate to one another. In Matthew 5:23-24 Yeshua says:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

The onus is on us to make things right when we realize someone has been hurt or offended by our actions. We’re not to wait until they bring it up, but we’re to be proactive about making amends instead. The clear implication here is G-d won’t hear our prayer or receive our gift if we’re not in right relationship with those around us. 1 John 4:20-21 says:

If anyone says “I love G-d”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love G-d whom he has not seen.
And this is the commandment we have from Him: whoever loves G-d must also love his brother.

For some of us, we have had strained relationships for years. Trying to right past wrongs doesn’t seem feasible.

That’s what Rosh Hoshanna is for! It’s G-d’s gift to us to give us the opportunity to correct our past mistakes, no matter how long we’ve been making them. This applies to many areas of our lives, but the one we’re focusing on today is our relationships.

Romans 12:18 says:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

There’s no better time for a fresh start than now. Let this Rosh Hoshanna be the season of change and restoration for you and those in your life!

May you have a sweet new year!

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