Monday, December 21, 2009
Imagine if you will, you are the leader of the world (at that time, it was considered the world) and you have all these schedules and apt books and nothing and nobody makes any changes without you knowing about it. But then GOD comes along and plants the idea in your head to have a census of the Roman world. And as a result of this census God moves the entire world to fulfill what had been said by the prophet Micah so a baby can be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2). But of course we know it's not just any baby, we know that Jesus was going to be born according to the Prophet Isaiah (Isa 7:14)
Now those that follow Jesus know that this is not not his real birthday. But since we don't know exactly when HE was born, Dec 25th is a good time as any to celebrate. Now we can stomp our feet and declare that it is wrong to celebrate it on this day as it is a pagan day and you can come up with chapter and verse to prove your point. Or you can look at it from another point of few and realize "A Day To Honor HIM"! That's what it's really about anyway, is a day to honor Jesus. Remember HIM? He's the one that born and died so that we wouldn't have to and as a result HE gave us a freedom. A Freedom to worship him or not, a freedom to follow him or not, a freedom to celebrate HIS birthday whenever we want.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
According to mainstream Jewish tradition, the story of Hanukah goes something like this. In 333 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Syria, Egypt and Babylonia, and promoted a lenient form of Hellenistic culture, encouraging the study of the language, customs and dress of the Greeks. Alexander was not necessarily bad to the Jews, and a legend tells that when he marched through Jerusalem he asked the High Priest to erect a statue to his honor within the Temple. The High Priest told Alexander that such was forbidden, though the Jewish people would construct a "living memorial" by naming all their firstborn sons after the great king. Alexander agreed to this and things went fairly well for the Jews. Nevertheless, the encounter of the Jewish people and their Torah-based ethics with the worldview of ancient Greece proved to be a traumatic shock which ultimately threatened to undermine the very existence of Judaism.
Over a century later, in 167 BCE, the ripened fruit of Hellenization began to appear in the form of one of Alexander's successors, the Syrian king Antiochus IV ("Epiphanes"), who began to openly persecute the Jews. Among other atrocities, Antiochus appointed a Hellenistic "High Priest" to the Temple, prohibited the study of the Torah, and desecrated the altar by requiring pigs to be sacrificed on it (the Jews referred to Antiochus not as Epiphanes, "God (i.e., Zeus) made manifest," but rather as Epimanes - "the madman.")
These outrages finally incited rebellion, and by 165 BCE the Hasmonean family of Mattathias the High Priest and his youngest son, Judah "Maccabee" (the "Hammer"), organized a revolt that eventually succeeded in evicting the Syrian-Greeks from Israel. The Temple in Jerusalem was liberated but needed to be rededicated for Jewish worship.
According to later tradition (as recorded in the Talmud (Shabbat 21b)), at the time of the rededication (on Kislev 25), there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Syrian-Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah to burn continually in the Temple, but there was only enough to last for one day. Miraculously, the sanctified oil burned for eight days -- the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.
Thanks to Hebrews 4 Christians for this history.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Mt 16:14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Mt 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Mt 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Mt 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
Mt 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I had a "heavy revy" a couple of weeks ago about these verses and a belief I had for a long time was corrected as a result. But first, let's figure out the who, what & where's and then I'll explain to you what I learned. We read in verse 13, they are in the region known as Caesarea Philippi which is a very "Roman" and very pagan city, which is just a nice way of saying that they didn't adhere to the Jewish belief or lifestyle and was very worldly. What the verse doesn't say is exactly where they are. Jesus took them to the temple (no not THAT temple), this temple is dedicated to Caesar Augustus that was created by Herod the baby killer, who also built a temple for Zeus and and for the Greek god Pan.
Ok, so why is this temple important? Here is why not only the temple is important but who is was dedicated to. His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus and he was the first Roman Emperor and his reign was from 31 B.C. to 14 A.D. Now Augustus Caesar was considered the following, The Son of God and God, worthy of our worship, savior of our world, and he came to bring - peace, order, man's rights and paradise on earth. He is like you and me - god as man and man as god. He is the high priest and king, the long expected one. Simply put he was looked upon as the Messiah Man which is the philosophy that one man can lead the world to peace and prosperity. In one place we have an example of "Hellenism" or a worldview that says my truth is my truth and your truth is your truth (relativism) and a worldview that focuses on ME and my needs and my pleasure. Ok so now we know who he was, let's go back to the verses and see why this is important. Who do they say Jesus is? The true SAVIOR of the world and not Augustus. What else? Jesus says HE is going to build HIS church on this rock of paganism not on Peter like some people have been taught (my heavy revy). HE is standing in this temple and telling HIS disciples that THIS is where HE is building HIS church HIS assembly and HE will lead us as we go against the gates of hell itself! Are you ready?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I was reading a column last week by Dr. George O. Wood who is the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God church, and he was discussing this scripture and raised some good points. In our culture today, after a long day we can’t wait to get home and relax and rest. Or if you are an evangelist, you look forward to getting back to your hotel room and rest, especially if you have to deal with a lot of people every day. While they did have “
Thanks as always for Rabbi Ferret who without him I wouldn’t be doing this, and Dr. George O. Wood for the basis of this, and for those that would like to read the article, the link is posted below.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Much like our houses of today where gutters drain the water off the roof during the rainy season, their houses had gutters also but these were used to channel the water into the cistern for storage. Now they had a lot of problems with this system, the cisterns had to be kept cleaned and plastered and they had to keep the stagnant water from getting diseases. The water itself was dirty as it flowed off the roofs or streets in to the cistern. It was also not very dependable as sometimes it might not rain during the season or the cistern might leak and all the water would seep out. The other problem they had was the water was considered "ritually impure" and was not used for religious ceremonies.
Running water, especially spring water, was different. It stayed fresh and clean. And most springs were dependable, providing water year round. This constant fresh source of water was called "living water," probably portraying its life-giving qualities as well as its constant freshness. God provides (and is described as) "living water". Living water is cleansing, The ritual bath of Jesus' day, "the mikveh" used before coming into the presence of God at the Temple or to the synagogue worship service?contained flowing water, or living water. John the Baptist's choice of the Jordan River for his symbolic cleansing likely was based on the need for fresh, moving water to symbolize cleansing. Near the shores of the Dead Sea, deep in the Judean Wilderness, fresh water gushes out of the desert floor creating an oasis called En Gedi. It was here that David hid from Saul and it is likely one of the places of inspiration for the king-poet, David. The water that brings forth life at En Gedi is a picture of how God meets his children's thirst in the desert.
Jesus described himself as living water (John 4:13-14, 7:37-38), and the people of his day understood the meaning. Only God could provide living water. It would not fail to satisfy any thirst. But it was the connection between living water and the feast of Sukkot that gave Jesus' image of living water the clearest meaning. He chose that feast day to reveal that he was living water. So my question for you is, which would you rather have?
Thanks to John Ferret for the photos and for Ray Vanderlann whose articles on Living Water and En Geddi were used for parts of this
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, "On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD." (Leviticus 16:34)
Five days after the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles begins. It is seven days long. The first day is a special Sabbath. The Hebrew name of the festival is sukkot (סוכות, pronounced "sue coat"), a word that means "shelters, stables or huts." The same word is often translated into English as "tabernacles" or "booths." The name is derived from the commandment for all Jews to dwell in temporary shelters for the seven days of the festival as a reminder of the post-exodus years when Israel lived in huts and booths, following God in the wilderness:
You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths. (Leviticus 23:42)
The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (סוכה), which is the singular form of the plural word sukkot. A traditional sukkah must have at least two and a half walls made from virtually any material. The walls don't have to be solid. They could be plywood, canvas, latticework or just about anything. One wall can be part of a permanent structure. For example, the wall of a garage would work. The rest of the booth has to be temporary and disassembled after the festival.
The sukkah booth can be any size, so long as it is large enough for the family to eat and sleep in. The roof of the sukkah is supposed to be covered with some sort of foliage or vegetation that grows from the ground: tree branches, cornstalks, bamboo reeds, sticks or even lumber. The roof material has to provide adequate shade yet be sparse enough so rain can get in and stars can be seen through it. The sukkah should leave a person vulnerable to the elements.
The process of building and living in a sukkah is a great adventure for children. It's like building a fort and camping out in the backyard. People commonly decorate their sukkot. It's fun for the kids, often more fun than decorating a Christmas tree. Families hang harvest decorations and handmade artwork from the walls.
During the course of the seven days of sukkot, it is appropriate to eat one's meals in the sukkah, and if the climate permits, to sleep at night inside the sukkah. Hosting guests in the sukkah for special holiday meals is a big part of the festival. It's a great time of fellowship.
Check out these photos for some examples of a sukaah.http://www.sukkot.com/gallery.htmThe sukkot is a time of joy and celebration, a time to celebrate the harvest and revel in God's goodness. The festival of sukkot comes at harvest time. The joyous mood of sukkot is a dramatic shift from the solemn and austere tone of the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The celebration of sukkot is so joyous that Jewish liturgy often refers to it as "the season of our rejoicing." The commandment to move outside of one's comfortable zone and live in a booth is meant to remind us that God is our provider, sustainer and protector. On the cycle of sanctification, sukkot is an annual opportunity to revel in God's goodness and take delight in our redemption.
Thanks to the folks at FFOZ for this article.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
- a serious (sometimes fatal) infection of rodents caused by Yersinia pestis and accidentally transmitted to humans by the bite of a flea that has ...
- any epidemic disease with a high death rate
- infestation: a swarm of insects that attack plants; "a plague of grasshoppers"
- blight: cause to suffer a blight; "Too much rain may blight the garden with mold"
- any large scale calamity (especially when thought to be sent by God)
We know that the Pharaoh would not let God's people go and as a result paid a hefty price for his cold heart. So starting in Exodus 7: 19-25 we read about the start of the plagues that GOD had released on the Egyptians. But when digging deeper we learn the meaning behind these plagues. The Egyptians had many gods that they worshiped and each plague correlates with a particular god. The following is a list of the plagues (and verses where they can be found) and also the names of the Gods that the plague went against.
|Plague||Bible Verse||Egyptian God|
|Water to Blood||Exodus 7:19-25||Hapi|
|Diseases of Cattle||Exodus 9:1-7||Hathor|
|Death of Firstborn||Exodus 11 & 12:36||Horus/Pharoah|
Now if you read in Joshua 2:10-11 and Joshua 3, you will read all about the crossing of the Jordan. For those folks from the land of Caanan, they worshiped the god of storms and rain who was called "BAAL". Baal won his dominance by defeating the other deities, including the god of the sea, the god of storms (also of rain, thunder & lightning), and the god of death. Baal's victory over death was thought to be repeated each year when he returned from the land of death (underworld), bringing rain to renew the earth's fertility. Rahab and the people were terrified since the GOD of Israel controls the water and the flood Baal was defeated.
Thanks to the following people for their help with this posting. Rabbi John Ferret who without him I wouldn't even be doing this. Dave and Deena Peterson for their support and Bonnie Calhoun for her most wondrous help with HTML.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Why Celebrate the Biblical Holidays
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Eccl. 3:1).
How much would you know about the Pilgrims without the celebration of Thanksgiving? Think about it. Would you remember Plymouth Rock, the Indians, the Mayflower? God gave us instructions to learn about His Story (History) through fun celebrations!
Paul wrote to the Gentile believers in Colossians 2:16-17 that the holidays are a shadow of things to come. Each of the spring holidays is a picture of Christ's first coming. Jesus was sacrificed for our sins on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread, and arose on Firstfruits. The fall holidays are a picture of His second coming and the beginning of the Messianic reign.
The Festivals of God are blueprints for the plan of God. When you look at a set of blueprints for a house that is to be built, it is difficult to visualize what the house will look like when it is finished. It is hard to imagine all the details as a whole. But if you look at the blueprints for a house you are familiar with, perhaps the house you live in, then you can relate those plans to your own experience. You can fully visualize the whole of its completion, and the blueprints will help you see where the foundation is laid, where the pipes and cables run, and how the structure supports itself. It is the same with the Holidays of God. When we look at the spring festivals, we can look back at the first century and see how the prophetic elements of those festivals were fulfilled. We can see how the plan of God was carried out in perfection.Each of the biblical holidays teaches us about our wonderful relationship with God. His whole redemption story is portrayed for us in these festivals. Passover pictures salvation or deliverance from Egypt (flesh or sin). Unleavened Bread shows us that God saved us in order that we may be holy and set apart for Him by putting off the old sin nature. Firstfruits teaches us the purpose of salvation: fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God (John 15:1-5) and putting on the new man, the nature of God (Eph. 4:24). The Feast of Weeks instructs us further concerning the kind of fruit we must bear spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) through the power of the Holy Spirit
Thanks to biblicalholidays.com for this article.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
There are many names for the Feast of Weeks. It is identified in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22) and the Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23:16). This feast is referred to as Latter Firstfruits. The Hebrew name is Shavuot (pronounced sha-voo-ote). The Greek name Pentecost is only found in the New Testament (Acts 2:1).Pentecost is a major festival and has a dual significance: historical and agricultural, just as Passover and Tabernacles. Unlike Passover and Tabernacles, it is observed for only two days (only one in the Reform Movement). Pentecost marks the end of the barley harvest and beginning of the wheat harvest. Counting the days from the second day of Passover to Pentecost is called the “Counting of the Omer”. The cutting of the omer of the new barley marked the beginning of the counting period; on the fiftieth day, Pentecost is observed. Pentecost is a Greek word meaning fiftieth.
Pentecost is considered the closing festival of the Passover season (Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:15; Deut. 16:9-10). This day is further referred to as “latter firstfruits” of the spring harvest. The “early firstfruits” (barley) were waved before the Lord during the Feast of Firstfruits (see Passover chapter) and the “latter firstfruits” (wheat) were offered unto the Lord during the Feast of Weeks. It is also referred to as the Day of the Congregation (Deuteronomy 18:16). Another name is Atserret, meaning stop or cease or conclusion of seven weeks of counting.
Pentecost is the only festival for which no specific date is given in the Bible. Rather, the people were instructed to count seven weeks “...from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf [omer] of the wave offering (Lev. 23:15). This holiday occurs in the months of May or June on the American calendar. It is the successful conclusion of the first wheat-growing season and the anniversary celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
It is a celebration to reawaken and strengthen personal relationships with God by rededication to the observance and study of the Torah — the most precious heritage. When Yahweh revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, His people heard His voice proclaiming the Ten Commandments. Then the Israelites pledged their allegiance to Yahweh by saying, “…All that the Lord has hath said will we do and be obedient” (Exod. 24:7).
Passover freed God’s people physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavuot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. The Torah contains the Five Book of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings.
Thanks to biblicalholidays.com for this article
Friday, September 18, 2009
Today's post is courtesy of First Fruits of Zion.
God never created a separate calendar with separate holy days for Gentiles. The biblical festivals are God's appointed times. Unless Gentile believers were meant to never have days of worship or religious festivals, the appointed times of the LORD are also meant for them.
And Abraham made a great feast. (Genesis 21:8)
The appointed times of the spring--Passover, Unleavened Bread, the Omer and Pentecost--have all seen some sort of Messianic fulfillment in the passion of our Master Yeshua and the giving of the Holy Spirit. The lull between the spring festivals and the fall festivals can be compared to the long years of waiting between Messiah's first coming and second coming. Appropriately, the appointed times of the fall commence with a trumpet blast. The first day of the seventh month is a special Sabbath. The Torah refers to it simply as a "reminder by blowing of trumpets." It is a day of trumpet blowing.
Just as Messiah's second coming will be heralded by the blast of trumpets, the first day of the seventh month begins with an appointed time referred to as the Feast of Trumpets.
For disciples of the Messiah, the Feast of Trumpets is a reminder of that appointed time yet to come when the Master "will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." (Matthew 24:31). It is a day on which we anticipate the coming judgment, the trumpets of the book of Revelation, and the beginning of the end. It is a glimpse of the future, a shadow cast backward through time. As such, the Feast of Trumpets is relevant for everyone who believes in Messiah's return. It is an important festival for the all disciples of Yeshua.
In Jewish tradition, the Feast of Trumpets is called Rosh Hashanah, a title that literally means "Head of the Year." It is called Rosh Hashanah because the first day of the seventh month is regarded as the biblical new year. Unlike conventional, secular new year celebrations, the Jewish new year is not a drinking party. On the contrary, it is a day of sober reflection and introspection. We consider our behavior over the past twelve months and use the occasion to make amends, offer apologies and repent for our misdeeds. This process is an important part of the cycle of sanctification. The new year is a time for correcting the mistakes of the past and making resolutions to do better in the coming year. This cleaning-of-the-slate process is meant to prepare us for the holy Day of Atonement that comes ten days later.
Obviously the appointed times of Leviticus 23 should be celebrated by Jewish believers, but should they also be kept by Gentile believers? Of course! Gentile believers have a divine invitation to participate in the cycle of sanctification. If God is throwing a party, and He has invited all of His children, all of His children should come.
The biblical calendar is a wonderful gift. Observing the holy days infuses the entire year with sanctity and godliness. The festivals draw families and communities together and focus their attention on God. Moreover, each of the biblical festivals uniquely foreshadows the work of Messiah and the plan of redemption. The appointed times communicate deep spiritual lessons to those who practice them. Every festival draws us closer to the living God and His holy Son.