Monday, September 13, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Ok I know what you're thinking, the guy has lost it because it's not Spring. Well don't panic because while I am crazy, I have not gone over the edge and I'm not deleting anything. The title is just a way of describing this holiday. But it's not the dusting and the scrubbing and the cleaning out the garage or the gutters type of things you do during Springtime, this is an internal cleaning that needs to be done at this time every year. The name of the holiday is "Yom Kippur" or "Day of Attonement" and it is on 10 Tishrei (10th Day of the 7th Month) which this year falls on Saturday Sept 18th. And it is s time for us to clean house and examine ourselves. Here is what the folks at FFOZ have to say about the day " It is one of the appointed times on God's calendar: the tenth day of the seventh month. It is a fast day, a day for confessing sins, repenting and asking God for forgiveness. In the days of the Tabernacle and Temple, it was a day of solemn sacrificial rituals for purification and atonement. It was the only day of the year when the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies." This is what Leviticus 16:1-34 says

The Day of Atonement

Lev 16:1 The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD.
Lev 16:2 The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses b into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
Lev 16:3 “This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
Lev 16:4 He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.
Lev 16:5 From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
Lev 16:6 “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household.
Lev 16:7 Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 16:8 He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.
Lev 16:9 Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering.
Lev 16:10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement u by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat.
Lev 16:11 “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering.
Lev 16:12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain.
Lev 16:13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die.
Lev 16:14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.
Lev 16:15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people c and take its blood behind the curtain d and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle e it on the atonement cover and in front of it.
Lev 16:16 In this way he will make atonement f for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, h which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
Lev 16:17 No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.
Lev 16:18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar.
Lev 16:19 He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.
Lev 16:20 “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat.
Lev 16:21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat m and confess n over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task.
Lev 16:22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins o to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.
Lev 16:23 “Then Aaron is to go into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen garments p he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there.
Lev 16:24 He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. s Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, t to make atonement for himself and for the people.
Lev 16:25 He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar.
Lev 16:26 “The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.
Lev 16:27 The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up.
Lev 16:28 The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.
Lev 16:29 “This is to be a lasting ordinance a for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month b you must deny yourselves and not do any work whether native-born or an alien living among you
Lev 16:30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins.
Lev 16:31 It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance.
Lev 16:32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments.
Lev 16:33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community.
Lev 16:34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance m for you: Atonement is to be made once a year n for all the sins of the Israelites.” And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses.

And here is a good description from FFOZ about what to do on this day.

Yom Kippur can be compared to "spring cleaning." After the long winter, some people turn their households upside down, tidying everything, washing the windows, scrubbing the floors and thoroughly cleaning the house. Of course they maintain the home throughout the year, but spring cleaning is an annual time of concentrated and detailed washing and clearing. Spring cleaning gives people the opportunity to take care of messes that accumulate over the year and are otherwise left unattended.

In the days of the Tabernacle and Temple, Yom Kippur was sort of like a spring cleaning (fall cleaning, to be more precise). The idea is that over the course of a year, the Tabernacle (or Temple) became more and more ritually unfit. As people traipsed in and out, they carried with them ritual contamination, sin, iniquity and wickedness. Their trafficking through the holy place left a residue of spiritual pollution. Eventually, that spiritual pollution could accumulate to the point where God would be forced to withdraw His dwelling presence from the sanctuary. To prevent such an outcome, God appointed the purification rituals of the Day of Atonement to cleanse His sanctuary.

Although there is no Temple today, the annual clean-up day is still an important spiritual discipline. The apostles teach that believers constitute a collective Temple of the Holy Spirit. The concentrated day of fasting, confession, repentance and petition for forgiveness is like an annual spiritual clean-up. This does not mean that we do not regularly confess our sins and repent. Nor does it mean that our sins are not forgiven by the blood of Messiah. It simply means that, once a year, it is a good idea to take inventory, straighten things up and scrub down the soul. That's what the Day of Atonement is all about.

The Day of Atonement is a day for humbling one's soul. It is the day for confession, supplication, fasting and weeping. Yom Kippur is about coming near to God.
Jewish custom refers to the Day of Atonement as Judgment Day because of its biblical associations with sin, atonement and forgiveness. The traditional synagogue Day of Atonement service lasts most of the day. Since it is a fast day, the whole day is spent in prayer, confession, study and reflection.

For disciples of Yeshua, the Day of Atonement is a special and significant day. The writer of the book of Hebrews shows us how the rituals of the Day of Atonement foreshadowed the work of Messiah—not in the Temple on earth, but in the heavenly Temple. He carried His own blood into the Holy of Holies of the heavenly Temple. Thus the rituals of the Day of Atonement foreshadow the redemptive work of Messiah.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rosh HaShanah

Due to a death in the family, I am not able to do research this enough and put it in my own words. So I give you a copy of the midrash I recd from First Fruits of Zion this week.


In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24)

On the first day of the seventh month is this festival the Torah simply calls a "reminder by blowing of trumpets." This is the festival we call the "Feast of Trumpets," the day of trumpet blowing. The Torah tells us to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets by blowing a ram's horn (shofar, שופר). The Feast of Trumpets is a festival that is meant to prepare us for the holy Day of Atonement that comes ten days later.

The festival is called Rosh HaShanah (the head of the year). This is the Hebrew way of saying New Year's Day. The Torah commands us to blow the shofar on the Rosh Hashanah as a memorial, but it does not tell us what the blowing of the shofar memorializes. The Sages offered various attempts to explain the festival. They searched through the Scriptures for references to shofars and trumpet blasts and derived a plethora of different remembrances. The early medieval sage Rav Saadiah Gaon codified these various explanations of the Feast of Trumpets and listed them. According to Rav Saadiah Gaon, there are ten primary remembrances for which the shofar is blown on the Festival of Trumpets. Each of these remembrances highlights a unique aspect of the festival:

1. The Coronation of the King
2. The Call to Repentance
3. The Giving of the Torah at Sinai
4. Warning of Impending Judgment
5. The Destruction and Future Rebuilding of the Temple
6. The Binding of Isaac
7. Fear of God
8. The Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur)
9. The Ingathering of Israel
10. The Resurrection of the Dead

Even as we wait to hear the trumpet blast of the king, the great shofar of our returning Redeemer, we celebrate the appointed time of the Rosh Hashanah. The annual blast of the shofar during the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows that day when the heavens will be rent by the blast of Messiah's trumpet. For disciples of the Messiah, Rosh Hashanah 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 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 disciples of Yeshua.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shavuot


Ok in my previous post, I talked about the counting of the "Omer" and I would like to thank my good friend The Count for helping me. When you have to take your shoes and socks to start counting you know you got problems. So the next question is, where does this counting take us, what's next? And I can honestly say that by the time you read this it will be the official day we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. But first as is my duty in this blog, I need to tell you "the rest of the story".

THE FEAST OF SHAVUOT

Leviticus 23:15-22; Deuteronomy 16:9-12; Numbers 28:26-31; Exodus 23:16

Three times a year, all God's people were to appear before him at the place he chose. The Jewish people determined that place to be the Temple in Jerusalem, where God's presence lived among the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. At Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles), the Jews from around the world who were faithful to Yahweh went to the holy city on pilgrimage. The joyful crowd, speaking the languages of the countries from which they had come, crowded into the city?throngs of people singing, celebrating, making arrangements for their religious obligations, and finding places for their families. The city was alive with the passion and joy that only a religious festival could provide. The modern celebrations of Christmas and Easter pale in comparison to the magnitude of those great religious festivals. Their meaning and ceremony were deeply rooted in the past, but they also provided hope for the future as people were assured of God's continued care for them. It was no accident that those feast days were the times God selected for the great redemptive acts of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. On the festival of Shavuot, he revealed his presence in a whole new way.

THE NAME OF THE FESTIVAL

This feast had several designations in the Bible. In Hebrew it was called Shavuot, meaning "weeks" (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:9?10), from which the English "Feast of Weeks" was derived. This designation was taken from God's command to celebrate "seven full weeks" after the Sabbath of Passover week (Lev. 23:15), placing the festival in the third month of the religious year, the month Sivan. Greek-speaking Jews referred to the feast as Pentecoste, meaning "50 days" (Acts 2:1), from which the English "Pentecost" was derived. This name was based on God's command that a special offering of new grain was to be made on the fiftieth day after the Passover Sabbath (Lev. 23:16). It was also called "the day of firstfruits" (Num. 28:26). (This is to be distinguished from the Feast of Firstfruits, which celebrated the beginning of the barley harvest?Lev. 23:9?14.) This name was based on the offering of new grain and two loaves of bread baked from new grain as thanks for the wheat harvest. The name Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23:16) was based on the same harvest season.

CELEBRATION IN THE TEMPLE

The people observed Shavuot by bringing gifts to the temple in Jerusalem and presenting them to the priests. An offering of new grain was presented as a gift of thanksgiving, along with two loaves of bread, baked from the finest flour made from new wheat grown in the land of Israel (1). According to tradition, each loaf was about 10 inches wide and about 16 inches long. In addition, a basket of the seven species of the fruit of the land was brought to the Lord by each family (Deut. 8:8).

Special sacrifices were made on the fiftieth day after Passover Sabbath. These included seven male lambs, one young bull, and two rams (Lev. 23:18) as burnt offerings. One male goat was offered for a sin offering and two lambs for a fellowship offering. Even the best thank offerings (the grain, the two loaves, and the baskets of the seven species) were affected by sin and required a sin offering seeking atonement and a fellowship offering seeking renewed relationship with God. These symbols and their meaning form the background to the events of the Pentecost on which God sent his Spirit

Following the ceremony of offerings, the Jewish people spent the afternoon and evening in a great festive meal, to which they were to invite the poor. This was both to rejoice in the renewed fellowship with God and to keep God's commandment to provide for the poor. Since true thanksgiving was demonstrated by a generous spirit toward those in need, God commanded the Israelites, "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien" (Lev. 23:22; see also 19:9?10).

These special ceremonies took place after the normal morning sacrifice and worship service in the temple, which began at dawn and ended in midmorning. A great crowd of pilgrims would gather in the Temple courts, filling me massive courtyard, during the morning prayers. As the offerings were presented and the sacrifices were made, portions of the Bible were read. According to Jewish history, those portions were Exodus 19?20 (the story of God's presentation of the Torah?including the Ten Commandments?to Moses on Mount Sinai) and Ezekiel 1?2 (Ezekiel's vision of God appearing in fire and wind). The fact that these activities occurred around 9:00 in the morning had great significance for the celebration the year Jesus died and was raised. As God had met the Israelites on the "mountain of God" (Ex. 24:13), on Shavuot he met them on the Temple Mount, "the mountain of the Lord" (Isa. 2:3, 66:20).

SHAVUOT AND MOUNT SINAI

Sometime before Jesus' birth, a new emphasis was added to the harvest festival of Shavuot. The rabbis determined that this feast was the time when the Law (the Torah, including the Ten Commandments) (2) had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Though the Bible does not specify the time of God's appearance to Moses, there are biblical reasons that indicate the rabbis' decision was probably right.

? Shavuot, celebrated 50 days after Passover, is in the month Sivan, the third month. The children of Israel reached Mount Sinai "in the third month" (Ex. 19:1). Since Passover and Sukkot were linked to the Exodus experience of Israel, it seemed right that the third pilgrim festival must be as well. At the very least, the giving of the Torah occurred in the third month, the month of Shavuot (3).
? Torah taught that "man does not live on bread alone" (Deut. 8:3), so it was appropriate to celebrate Torah on Shavuot, which emphasized God's gift of bread (the grain harvest symbolized by the two loaves).
?King Asa and the people of Judah assembled for a covenant (Torah) renewal in Jerusalem in the third month, which was the season of Shavuot, making another connection with Torah and the feast of the harvest.

The Essenes of Qumran, though they celebrated Shavuot on a different day than did the temple authorities in Jerusalem, apparently had a covenant renewal celebration that day. The book of Jubilees, written well before Jesus' time, referred specifically to the Torah being given on Shavuot. It is clear that the people of the first century celebrated this feast to thank God for the harvest and to praise him for the gift of Torah, which had been given in that same season. Though it is impossible to know whether the giving of the Law happened on the same day as Shavuot, the Bible clearly puts them in the same season at least. The Jewish people remembered them on the same day?a fact that had startling ramifications for the events of a certain Shavuot in New Testament times.

A CHRISTIAN SHAVUOT

Jesus returned to heaven 40 days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3). He told his disciples to return to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit and the power it would bring. The belief in the Spirit of God was not new for the disciples, for the Old Testament spoke of the Ruach HaKodesh (literally the "Holy Wind"), which empowered God's people (Isa. 63:10?11; Ps. 51:11). The disciples remained faithful as Jews, meeting continually in the courts of the Temple (Luke 24:50?53). They must have had great expectations for the upcoming Shavuot. After all, Jesus had made this an unusual feast season?he had died on Passover, had been buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and had been raised on the Feast of Firstfruits.

When the day of Pentecost (Shavuot) came, the disciples were together in "one place." (4) Many Christians assume that the place was the Upper Room, where the disciples had been staying. Instead, the evidence indicates that the place was in or near the temple, possibly on the Temple Mount itself. Some scholars believe they were on the great staircase south of the temple, where the pilgrims entered the Temple Mount (probably more man 1 million pilgrims during a feast). Though it is impossible to pinpoint an exact location for these events, there is significant support for placing this Pentecost event in an area of the Temple.

? It was Shavuot. All pilgrims gathered in the temple for the service on this festive and holy day. Certainly, the disciples, who were "continually" in the temple courts (Luke 24:53), would have been in the temple on that day also.
? Great crowds from everywhere garnered to listen to Peter and the other disciples. Where would great crowds have garnered on a holy feast day at the time of temple service? Clearly, they would have been in the temple somewhere (Acts 2:6?12).
? The disciples were all in one place. The sound of a great wind filled "the whole house" (Acts 2:2) where they were. The temple is still called "the house" by Jewish people, referring to God's house. Even in Acts, it is called "the house" (Acts 7:47) (5).
? Peter declared that it was 9:00 in the morning, the time of the Pentecost service in the temple. Certainly, the crowds, to say nothing of the disciples, would have been in the temple at the time Shavuot ceremonies were conducted. Some believe that 9:00 was the time during which the selected passages were read, describing the appearance of God on Mount Sinai (in thunder, lightning, fire, and smoke) and Ezekiel's vision of his appearance (with the sound of wind and with fire).
? Peter spoke of the tomb of David as being there (Acts 2:29). The Bible recorded that David was buried in the "City of David" (1 Kings 2:10), the part of Jerusalem located near the temple Mount.
? Three thousand people were baptized in response to the teaching of the disciples (Acts 2:41). Near the Southern Stairs, the pilgrim entrance to the Temple Mount, were mikvoth, ritual baths used by the worshipers before they entered the temple grounds. There were not many places in Jerusalem with enough water for that many baptisms. The proximity of these many pools, already believed to symbolize the removal of the uncleanness of sin, is evidence that this location was near the temple.

The events that occurred that Shavuot morning must have exceeded all the disciples' expectations. God's Spirit filled them with power and gave them abilities and gifts they could not have imagined possible. That same Spirit opened the hearts and minds of thousands so the community of Jesus grew from around 100 to more than 3,000 within a few hours. And the 3,000 came from every nation in the world. When they returned to their own cultures, they were eager missionaries who had to spend no time getting to know new cultures or languages. God's plan for the descendants of the survivors of the destruction of Israel (2 Kings 17) and the captivity of Judah (2 Chron. 36) had been made thousands of years before. Now here they were, free under the government of Rome to return to Jerusalem and their temple for Shavuot. When they arrived, God acted, and they became the first members of a great community of people. All Jews knew their Scriptures and the ways of God. At Pentecost they could add the final chapter?the coming of his Messiah.

THE MEANING OF SHAVUOT FOR CHRISTIANS

No event has been more significant for the ministry of the church than what happened on Shavuot that year. So much has been written over the centuries seeking to explain the meaning and significance of being "filled with the Spirit." We as Christians can learn from the Jewish setting of Shavuot in which these events took place.

There are remarkable parallels between the fulfillment of Pentecost and the events that occurred on Mount Sinai more than 1,200 years earlier. Since the Jews of Jesus' day believed that Pentecost celebrated the gift of Torah to Moses, these parallels would have been powerful to those Jewish believers. Note the following:

? Both events occurred on mountains known as "the mountain of God" (Ex. 24:13; Isa. 2:3).
? Both involved similar sounds and symbols, such as wind, fire, and voices (Ex. 19:16?19; Acts 2:1?3). Note that the Hebrew for "thunder" (kolot) means "voices" (Acts 2:4). Jewish tradition said that the Israelites heard God speak in 70 languages.
? Both events involved the presence of God (Ex. 19:18,20; Acts 2:4).
? About 3,000 people died because of their sin when Moses received the Torah (Ex. 32:28). About 3,000 people believed (were born again into new life) when the Spirit came (Acts 2:41) (6).
? At Mount Sinai, God wrote his revelation on stone tablets (Ex. 31:18). On the fulfillment of Pentecost, God wrote his law on people's hearts as he had promised He would (2 Cor. 3:3; Jer. 31:33).
? Torah means "teaching." The Spirit, given on Shavuot, also became the "Teacher" of the new community of Jesus' followers (John 14:26) (7)

These parallels are amazing evidence of God's careful planning, ensuring that the coming of the Spirit occurred in a context in which it was understood. The followers of Jesus were to be God's community. Their teacher, applying Torah in light of Jesus' work, was to be the Spirit of God. When the Spirit applies God's teaching to the hearts of people, there will always be life. Shavuot for the believers was as foundational and formative as Sinai had been for God's congregation, Israel. As Christians, we are in the tradition of Sinai, but Shavuot declares that God's Spirit brings us life.

The fulfillment of Pentecost provided another image that explains the Spirit's work. As noted above, Shavuot was the feast that celebrated the end of the wheat harvest. Jesus had frequently talked of the "harvest" of people who were to join his community (Matt. 9:37?38,13:24?29,36?43; Luke 10:1?2; John 4:34?38). On Shavuot, the day of celebrating the harvest, his promise came true. Thousands believed and were brought to God (probably in the temple).

There is another image of Shavuot that can help us understand the meaning of the events that year. God's presence had always been symbolized in the temple since Solomon had built the First Temple. That was God's way of living among his people.

? Exodus 25:17-22, 40:34-38. God had agreed to meet his people on the cover of the ark. The ark was placed in the Tabernacle, where God's presence was symbolized by cloud and fire.
? 2 Chronicles 5:1?14, 7:1?3. The ark and God's presence, symbolized by fire, moved into the temple.
? Ezekiel 1:4?28. Ezekiel's vision of God's presence in the temple included fire and wind.
? Acts 2:1?3. The Spirit of God came to "the house" where the disciples were. God's presence was symbolized by wind and fire.

The symbolism seems clear. God's presence was in the temple. It had been accessible to the people only through the high priest once a year (Heb. 9:25). When Jesus died, the veil that blocked the people's access to God was ripped (Matt. 27:51), showing that through Jesus' blood, God can be approached at any time, by anyone.

On Pentecost, God moved out of "the house" (temple) where he had revealed himself and moved into a new temple?the community of the followers of Jesus (1 Cor. 3:16-17, 6:19). They became God's new dwelling, his temple.

The implications of this change are staggering. As the temple had demonstrated God's presence to the world, the Christian community must demonstrate God's presence to our hurting world. We must bring his love, his truth, and his redemption to our culture, our communities, and our families. If the people around us are to see and know God, they will see him through us. We have received the power to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8).

It is hard to comprehend why God would choose flawed human beings to be his temple, representing his presence. Of course, it is not easy to understand why God would dwell in a temple made with human hands, either (2 Chron. 2:6). It is the infinite wisdom of God that led him to choose to be present in our world through his people.

The question we must face is simple: How well do we represent God's presence? his love? His healing touch? If we believe in his Son, we have been empowered. Now we must be faithful as the Spirit writes his Torah (Law) on our hearts so that the world may know that he is God.

CONCLUSION

A final connection to the Jewish festival of Shavuot concerns the care for the poor. The feast provided opportunity for the people to give thanks to God and to bring gifts, expressing this gratitude. But true thankfulness involves not only thanking God the provider, but also sharing with others. In God's original instruction for this feast, he concluded by commanding the farmers to leave some of their crops in the field so the poor could harvest with dignity and also experience God's provision (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22). In a sense, God was saying, "Don't come to say thanks to me if you have no concern for those in need."

If the New Testament Pentecost is to be understood on the basis of the Old Testament feast of Shavuot, fulfillment must include concern for those in need. Many of the gifts of the Spirit described by Paul (Gal. 5:16?26) involve concern for others. But the clearest sign that the Spirit's coming was a fulfillment of the spirit of Shavuot is found in the event itself. The early believers, who were filled with the Spirit, held everything in common and shared with everyone who had need. This was a true Pentecost. As the new temple of God's presence, these people could not help but be concerned for others, who learned of God and his love through their acts of generosity.


Thanks to Ray Vander Laan and David Stern for their information which was used in the making of this. And as always thanks to John Ferret for his passion and love for Yeshua and for teaching the Hebrew and Jewish roots of our faith.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spiritual Deception

While I do follow politics quite a bit especially how it pertains to "Religion", I normally don't want to bring that into this blog for various reasons the important of which I really want to keep this about biblical teaching. However I came across this yesterday from a source I respect and I thought it important to share.



AVOID THIS OBSERVANCE!
By Jan Markell
April 19, 2010

What kind of theology could attract a half-billion people from 180 countries? Nearly every school in North America will observe this day. Churches will emphasize it all week. Some of you will probably bow out of the hoopla April 22, but tens of millions won't. They insist on bowing down to "Mother Earth" on Earth Day.

Sen. Gaylord Nelson got this launched forty years ago, and you would think with that kind of long history, more would have figured out that church participation in the event is an outrage. In keeping with the tide of the 1960s, he first called it a "National Environmental Teach-In."

All movements and campaigns have their own "bible." For the Earth Day crowd the 1970 book The Environmental Handbook, is their guide. The book states that each tree and stream has its own guardian spirit. And Christianity is hugely at fault for environmental woes. They think we believe that it is God's will to exploit nature (p. 20-21). Thanks to Christianity, we will see a worsening ecological crisis (p. 25).














The book also says, "No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. The only way we can preserve more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed." (p.49, Garrett Hardin). That's called population control. Just like the global warming crowd, they want a whole lot of us to go away.

On page 324, the book promotes polygamy and group marriage. It pushes for a "revolution of consciousness" and enlightenment while praising Gnostics, hip Marxists, Teilhard de Chardin Catholics, druids, Taoists, witches, Yogins, Bhikkus, Quakers, Sufis, Tibetans, Zens, Shamans, Bushmen, American Indians, Polynesians, anarchists, and alchemists. (p. 331).

But here's the worst news. Take a look at the sacred earth prayer found in this book: "Mother, Father, God, Universal Power -- remind us daily of the sanctity of all life. Touch our hearts with the glorious oneness of all creation as we strive to respect all the living beings on this planet. Penetrate our souls with the beauty of this earth, as we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the seasons. Awaken our minds with the knowledge to achieve a world in perfect harmony and grant us the wisdom to realize that we can have heaven on earth."

So why are evangelicals lured into this? The direct reference to "Mother Earth," "Heaven on earth," and prayer to a "Universal Power," should be huge red flags that "Earth Day" and some related ecology events are pagan events to be shunned. Instead, we have Web sites representing evangelicals who are promoting this big time. One is "Blessed Earth: Serving God and Saving the Planet." According to the Bible, we are to be good stewards of the Earth, but we cannot save it. Only God can.

The Bible says, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs" (Romans 8:22) as it waits Earth's real liberation -- the return of Christ. I guess we "end-times watchers" continually mess up various agendas, including honoring the cause of the "Blessed Earth."

One Christian ecology site states, "I found God's Holy Spirit is convicting and calling Christians from all over the world to repent for the damage we have done, and to care for God's Earth." The "Blessed Earth" site folks want us to "wake up on Earth Day with a whole new spirit of serving God and saving the planet." But why are Christians being asked to unite with the darkness represented in some of the above-mentioned statements? Aren't we supposed to separate from them?

In the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) March e-newsletter, the leadership encourages us to participate in the "Blessed Earth" activities, including the "Blessed Earth" live Web cast on April 21.

The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has a wide source of Bible studies based on saving the planet from environmental destruction. I maintain we need Bible studies on saving people from eternal destruction.

Then we have the Green Bible.. It boasts that there are twice as many Bible references about Earth as there are about Heaven! I can't make things like this up! It has testimonials by spiritual giants Brian McLaren and Desmond Tutu.

Make no mistake that "Earth Day" does represent a "religion." It is the religion of "Mother Earth". This is not a kind of faith that evangelicals have paid much attention to until the last 15 years.

God cares about the creation and does not want Christians or anyone else abusing it. His care didn't stop after six days. It says in Psalm 104: 5 and 24, that,"You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken -- O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures."

The command that human beings are given to steward or manage the Earth is both a huge privilege and a great responsibility. It carries with it immense power for good or evil.

Creation is something good. It reflects the goodness and character of God. He made it. He loves it. We need to treat it properly. But what I am reading makes "creation care" the number-one issue on which some organizations wish us to focus. Nowhere on creation care sites do I read of evangelism programs or how to grow in the faith. I see only the exaltation of the planet and how we must intervene lest it destroy itself, or worse yet, mankind destroys it.

I close with wise words from Berit Kjos: "I wanted to be part of God's team of Earth stewards who helped take care of His creation. I still do. But finding like-minded team members in our fast-changing culture has become complicated. The beliefs and practices associated with ecology stray far beyond biblical bounds -- even in the church. My first exposure to unbiblical environmentalism under the banner of Christianity came in 1990. I had driven to a mainline church some distance from my home to see how God's people would celebrate Earth Day. Watching the worship, I wondered if the Creator Himself would have been welcome. At one point, the members of the youth group stepped forward to present their offerings."

One stated, "I bring to our Mother, the Earth, the gift of a new beginning..."

Kjos concludes, "The congregation responded to this strange ritual with a standing ovation. Did these people know whom they worshiped? Had environmental concern swung church doors wide open to paganism? Could this really be happening in a supposedly conservative church?"

The pains on the earth stem from the Fall in the Garden. We are waiting for Him to solve the problem of the global curse with His return. In the meantime, let's be the best stewards of the Eearth that we can be.

To better understand such issues, visit our Web site category of "Spiritual Deception."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's an Omer?

Lev 23:15-16 From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.


From the verses posted above we read that, we are supposed to count the days from Passover to Shavuot. This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. An omer is a unit of measure. On the second day of Passover, in the days of the Temple, an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. This grain offering was referred to as the Omer.

Every night, from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavu'ot, we recite a blessing and state the count of the omer in both weeks and days. So on the 16th day, you would say "Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer."

The counting is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until we received the Torah.

Now, I have to be honest with you. I am not good at math so I know I need some help. So I went over to Sesame Street and got my good friend Count Von Count to help me with the counting. So if everybody is ready we can begin the count (already in progress).



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's Not Easter (6)





Mt 27:27-31 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

In the book of Exodus in the 29th chapter it talks about laying hands on the head of the animal as it is sacrificed. Notice what happened to Jesus? They laid their hands on HIS head when they were crowning HIM with the thorns.


The Crucifixion

Mt 27:32-44 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, s save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Of course they are mocking HIM. When Jesus was talking about the temple, HE was referring to Himself.

The Death of Jesus

Mt 27:45-56 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, a put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Notice it says they put a sponge on a stick soaked with wine and tried to offer it to Jesus? Jesus said back in Mt 26:29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you i in my Father’s kingdom.” So it makes sense that HE would reject it. Also the verse above talks about the curtain in the temple splitting two. This curtain is what separated everybody else from the Holy of Holies and these are the measurements for it. The temple curtain was 4inches thick.(the length was 60 feet.The width was 30 feet.And the weight was in the region of 4 tons.It took 300 men to hold it.). And there are 2 main thoughts one why it split and both are very excellent. The first one is so that Man now had access to God since before that only the High Priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies and only once a year. the other thought is, now GOD was free to enter into Man and was no longer restricted. Here is an idea of what the Holy of Holies looked like and also a chart of what was in there.



The Burial of Jesus

Mt 27:57-61 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.


No they weren't trying to turn Jesus into a mummy, but they did have specific rules on burial and they had to hurry because the Sabbath was approaching and it wasn't permitted to do things like that on the Sabbath.


The Guard at the Tomb

Mt 27:62-66 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.




The Resurrection

Mt 28:1-10 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

Mt 28:11-15 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.


Notice the guards were bribed? Money sometimes can buy silence but if GOD wants the message out, it will come out no matter what happens.

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, g baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


I leave you with this video by Michael W. Smith. The song is called "Secret Ambition" and fits in nicely with all of this. I hope that this series has blessed you, if it has opened up more questions, good, One should always have questions so don't be afraid to ask. if I don't know I will find out.

video

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Not Easter (5)



So how would you feel if a pastor or a teacher that you admired and followed, told you that after tonight you would fall away? Or even told you that you would deny HIM three times. Would that scare you? And this takes place even before Jesus gets arrested. What do you think was going through the Disciples minds? Could it be something like this?
"Look at all my trials and tribulations, Sinking in a gentle pool of wine. Don't disturb me now I can see the answers, till this evening is this morning life is fine. Always hoped that I'd be an apostle, Knew that I would make it if I tried. Then when we retire we can write the gospels, so they'll still talk about us when we've died." Somehow I don't think so but I am sure they were scared out of their wits. Remember, all this time, the people were expecting a "Human King" one that would drive out the Romans and they were in for a big surprise. Next we read about how troubled Jesus is through all this. Not just the fact that HIS close friends will fall away and deny HIM but HE knows what is going to happen, because it was prophesied long before HIS birth. He knows that HE is going to die but like any human being would, HE questions if it is really necessary. Then comes Judas with the Roman Guards to come and arrest HIM. Now we read in MT 26:57 where Jesus gets taken to Caiaphas the Chief Priest which in today's terms means you get taken to see the head of the Mafia. Now remember we read in Exodus 12:5 that the lambs need to be without defect and this is still going even after Jesus gets arrested because we read in verse 59 of Matthew that they are looking for false evidence against Jesus so they can kill HIM. And Lord knows they tried as the verses continue it says they even had false witnesses come forward but it wasn't until somebody came forward and testified that he heard Jesus say "I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days." But of course Jesus remain silent until Caiaphas challenges HIM and asks HIM if HE is the Christ, The Son of God. And Jesus replies in Mt 26:64 “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Which made Caiaphas angry and he tears his clothes (Note there is a rule or prophecy regarding the High Priest and the tearing of clothes, will post that when I find out). After Peter's denial's and the next morning, Jesus gets taken to Pilate who was the Governor

and he questions Jesus. Pilate questions Jesus and asks "Are you King of The Jews?" to which HE replies "It is as you say" and after that Jesus doesn't say anything else. The chief priests accused HIM of many things but he stood there silent and we read that Pilate knows Jesus is innocent and tries to release HIM but the chief priests want Jesus out of their way because HE was a threat to their lifestyles so they stir up the crown and demand to have Barabbas released. As for Judas? We know he hung himself afterwards. There is speculation that the reason is not because he handed over an innocent man to die but because as stated previously, the Jews hate the Romans with a passion and he and a lot of other people thought that's what Jesus was here to do was to become their earthly king and drive out the Romans but when Judas shows up with the guards he expected a big fight and that a lot of Romans would be killed but instead Jesus just quietly surrendered and as a result Judas lost everything he had worked towards and hoped for and couldn't take it anymore.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Not Easter (4)


So we are now up to what is commonly referred to as The Last Supper, but actually what they were doing was celebrating Passover which is one of the Feasts that God had given the Jewish people. Now most of you are used to celebrating "Communion" at least once a month in your church, but let's take a look at what really happened. First off I want to say that Da vinci got it wrong. The only thing he got right was that Jesus and the disciples were there. The biggest thing that Da vinci got wrong is that they were not "sitting" at a table. In MT 26:20 it says they were "reclining" at the table with the twelve. What's the difference? The actual word is "Triclinium" which is more like couches with the average of about 3 per couch and others would be sitting on cushions while slaves would bring in the meals. Now if you look at the image above, you will see Jesus On the left and that would be Judas leaning right by HIM. And I think Peter is actually sitting on the right side. Now we all know they had bread and wine and what the bible says. Ex 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm w and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. During the meal, each participant drinks four cups of wine to recall the four expressions of redemption mentioned above.

But while they were eating and before they had the bread and the wine, he announces HIS betrayal. Once it is made known that Judas is the one who betrays HIM, he is sent off. Then we know Jesus took the bread and gave thanks and gave it to HIS disciples saying "Take and eat, this is my body. Then HE took the cup and gave thanks and offered it to them saying "This is the blood of the covenant." I never understood this until a few years ago but you have to understand what a covenant is. I looked up the word in Wikipedia and this is what it says " A covenant, in its most general sense, is a solemn promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action." So what is Jesus saying? HE is making a covenant with us right? The disciples got it when HE said this because to them a covenant is a marriage vow. When you married your spouse you entered into a covenant and that is the exact same thing Jesus is doing. He also says that HE is going to a prepare a place for you in HIS Father's house. Back in HIS day, right after getting engaged as you would call it, the bridegroom would leave and go and do exactly that. He would build a room off his parents house where they would live for at least a year.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Not Easter (3)

Ok we have already know that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a "Foal" (Matthew says Foal, Mark & Luke say a Donkey and John says a Donkey's Colt). Exodus Chapter 12 talks about the Israelites needed to take a lamb on the 10th of each month (Lamb Selection Day) and that they need to be without defect and they are to hold them until the 14th of the month when they are to be slaughtered. Let's focus on the inspections process. Exodus 12:5 says that they need to be without defect, blemishes, marks or disease. For the next several days we read about Jesus being in the temple and teaching others and answering questions put to HIM (examining the Lamb). One set of verses I want to focus on is MT 22 regarding paying taxes to Caesar.
Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. There are a several clues in these verses that I have learned and I will show them to you.
#1. The biggest point here is that the Jews hate the Romans with a passion
#2. Caesar is considered God
#3. They are in the Temple Courts and Jesus asks them for a coin and what kind of a coin is given to them? A denarius, a Roman coin which is NOT allowed in the Temple.
#4. He asks them whose portrait and whose inscription? Notice how only the first question is answered. And what is Jesus' reply? "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Jesus just declared himself to be God right there in that statement. And saying that anybody else is God is comparable to treason.

It is now Passover time


The Lord’s Supper

Mt 26:17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ”

More on this next time, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Not Easter (2)

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. (Exodus 12:3-6)

Along with Sunday being the "Triumphal Entry" it was also "Lamb Selection Day". John 1:29 says "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! " And when Jesus comes riding on the donkey, he doesn't come through the main gate like they would expect HIM to. He enters through the "Sheep Gate" which is used only for one thing and that is to bring your animals in for slaughter (and they don't come back out). This gate is located on the north side of the city (See Image Below). Jesus says in John 10:7 "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. " Jesus declared himself to be the sacrificial lamb that day. Whenever a shepherd would watch his sheep, he would stand at the gate of the pen to keep his flock in there and to keep predators out. I will share more with you in the next few days the correlation between what happened in old testament days and new testament days



Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Not Easter (1)





The Triumphal Entry


Mt 21:1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”


Forgive me folks, I know on our calendar and in our culture it is "Easter" and you will probably hate me for this but I am going to destroy Easter and open your mind to something else that's been around for 2000 years.

While we know it as being "Palm Sunday"and everybody is waving their palm branches and singing "Hosanna Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Sanna Ho Sanna Hey J C, J C won't you smile at me? Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar (ok, ok I'm only kidding about the singing), in Jesus day it was know as "Lamb Selection Day"(more about this later) or Passover, not cute little rabbits or fuzzy little ducks and it certainly had nothing to do with colored eggs. Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, as recorded in the Book of Exodus. On Passover, Jews also celebrate the birth of the Jewish nation after being freed by God from captivity. Today, the Jewish people not only remember an historic event on Passover, but also celebrate in a broad sense, their freedom as Jews. This is actually an eight day feast which is commanded by God and I will be writing more about this over the course of the week. So keep drinking that Ovaltine folks and stay tuned to this channel for more on Passover.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

They were a bunch of pigs!





In Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5: 1-20, Luke 8:26-39 we read about the man who is possessed by demons or unclean spirits. The town is called Kursi in the country of the Gerasenes and is located just east of the Sea of Galilee and is directly opposite Capernaum where Jesus and the Disciples sailed from. We know by reading those verses that there was a herd of pigs there. And what do pigs like to eat? Garbage! Now have you ever seen a pig eating your garbage or somebody else's garbage? We also know they were by a steep bank so it is quite possible they were at the town dump. Another question to ask is why was the man there in the first place? The reason is because it is the town dump and that is where everybody gets rid of their unwanted stuff and in this case that includes crazy people. So Jesus shows up where the normal and the sane do not and in this instance, it is a place that is dirty and stinky. Now unlike people, the demons recognized Jesus for who HE is and already know they have to leave the man they are possessing and they know there are only two ways this can go. #1. They can be cast out and destroyed or they can choose option #2. and take over the herd of pigs. There is speculation that there could have been a 3rd option and that would have been to heal the demons themselves as they could have been fallen angels. However, not only is that not in those verses, it is not something I have ever read either. So they beg Jesus to let them invade the pigs setting the man free for the first time in a long time. So now the herd which is about 2000 in number supposedly turn and runs down the embankment and into the Lake being killed instantly. Now the disciples being who they were dropped their jaws at the sight of this (I would most likely do the same) because they are seeing more and more that Jesus has power over the demons. But I should point out that it also shows what the devil does and that is that he destroys. The demons were torturing the poor man they had invaded and they can cause all manners of destruction. Where we know that not only does Jesus save people, he can heal & restore also. Something to think about is that Jesus never allows a demon to leave one person and enter another. Demons were always cast out and the only times they were allowed to enter flesh is when they went into the pigs.

Now the next big questions is, why did the townspeople ask Jesus to leave? Imagine for a moment you had all your money invested in Cattle and they were all killed, therefore making your investment null and void. Wouldn't you be mad? Well speculation is that's what this was. The townspeople had their money invested in the pigs and lost it all when they drowned in the lake.


As always thanks to John Ferret for the photo and George O. Wood of The Assembly of God Church for the inspiration for this article.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Being Ready For The Bridegroom

This is an article from Charisma Magazine and was written by Linda Sommer.



This story of the ten virgins is about being ready for the Lord's return. One has to understand the Jewish betrothal customs to receive the full impact of what is being conveyed in this passage.

Betrothal was a Jewish custom that occurred before the consummation of a marriage. We would call it today an engagement period, but betrothal was a much deeper commitment than an engagement.

During the betrothal period, which was usually a year, the bride was given all the rights of a wife, including all of her future husband's income and inheritance. During this year of betrothal the bridegroom would prepare a place for his bride to live. The day would come when he would call for his bride, and this was done in a unique way.





Every year in the small villages on the Judean hillsides, as many as ten virgins or more could be betrothed. Their duty was to be prepared at all times for the trumpet sound and the shout, "The bridegroom comes!" At that moment the virgins were to light their lamps so the bridegrooms could find them. Usually the shout would come in the midnight hour. All the bridegrooms would then travel down the hillside to find their respective bride, and thus would begin the time of celebration before the wedding supper and the consummation of their marriages.





The virgins would usually know the season of their betrothal, but they would never know the exact day. They were to have sufficient oil daily to keep their lamps ready for that special night. In this story five of the expectant virgins went out to meet their bridegrooms, and they also carried vessels of oil with them. The other five failed to have sufficient oil with them, and their lights went out because their bridegrooms tarried for a while. The virgins who were not prepared asked for oil from the prepared virgins, but the prepared virgins told the unprepared to go out and buy some more oil.

While the unprepared were purchasing more oil, the marriage took place and the door was shut to them.


Our bridegroom Jesus is coming soon, and it is our responsibility to stay filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit so our lights will not go out before He comes for us. We are the only light the world has now, and it seems the darkness around us becomes more intense as we await the coming of our Lord. The question to ask ourselves is, Are we receiving daily a fresh filling of this oil of anointing from the Holy Spirit?


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Plauges 2

A few months ago I did a midrash on the plagues of Egypt and the meaning behind them along with the Gods that were associated with them. I have recently come across some more information regarding those plagues that I want to share with you. This comes from the book "The Weekley MidRash"

>R. Bechaye writes that God brought ten plagues upon the Egyptians, representing measure for measure the ten evil deeds which they perpetrated.

They forced Israel to draw water for their animals and so God turned their water to blood and the animals could not drink.

They forced them to awaken early, leave their beds and go to work, so God sent frogs into their beds and they would not let them sleep.

They kept the Jew from washing themselves and thus they became full of lice, so too did the Egyptians.

They forced the Jews to hunt for them, so they were plagued with hordes of wild animals

The Jews had to watch their animals, so the animals were smitten with a plague

They would not allow the Jews to warm water to wash themselves, so the Jews became dirty, as a result, so God sent boils upon the Egyptians

When the Egyptians saw a Jew they threw stones, so God threw hailstones upon them from heaven.

The Jews had to fertilize their fields and cover them with manure, so the locusts covered their fields.

They put many Jews in the darkness of prison and so God brought darkness upon them.

Finally, they wanted to destroy Israel, who are called God’s first-born, so God destroyed their eldest children


Thanks goes to Rod Aslesen and Kurt Wical for their help with this