Category Archives: Nancy’s blogs

Law-Abiding Citizens?

Not everyone who says to meSince the time of Martin Luther, much emphasis has been put on salvation through Yeshua as a gift of YHVH’s grace and not something we merit.  This is true, but it is only a part of the truth.  Yeshua taught about salvation and stressed that reunification with YHVH was possible only through Yeshua Himself.  However, the majority of Yeshua’s teaching focused on how to live in the Kingdom of YHVH (Matt 5-7; 16:19, 18:3, 29-30, 19:23).  Salvation supplies us citizenship in YHVH’s kingdom, but as citizens we must abide by the rules and regulations of our King.  Citizens and visitors in all countries on earth are required to obey the rules of the country where they reside or visit.  What are the consequences of ignoring YHVH’s teaching and commandments?  What are the rewards?  Two books of Scripture (Judges and Ruth) present vivid pictures of the two choices and their consequences.  As we review the stories in these two books, let us look for insights into kingdom living and see how the Body of Messiah measures up.

The Book of Judges provides examples of those who made it to the Promised Land but who failed to follow YHVH’s explicit commands (Judges 2:10).  Let us begin with the story of Micah (chapter 17).  Micah stole 1100 silver pieces from his mother (violating Ex 20: 12, 15).  He overheard his mother putting a curse on the thief.  Micah confessed his sin and returned the money.  His mother used part of the money to “honor” YHVH by creating some idols.  Mixing pagan with sacred and is strictly forbidden by YHVH (Ex 20:3-5).   Micah hired a Levite to serve as a priest in his home.  Levites were to serve YHVH in the Tabernacle, not in individual homes (Num 18:1-2).  How do these choices compare to the development of the Body of Messiah? The church early on mixed pagan with sacred (Christmas and Easter replacing the seven feasts of YHVH), misappropriated funds (selling indulgences and relics), provided idols (statues), and created roles for “priests” that YHVH never authorized.  These practices continue today.  Corruption spreads quickly but is not easily eradicated.  Over time, the Israelites’ disobedience led to their expulsion from the land.  What will be the consequence of our continued disobedience in the kingdom of YHVH?

Next,  the tribe of Dan discovered Micah’s evil setup (Judges 18).  They not only failed to root out the evil, but they stole the idols and the Levite “priest” from Micah thus spreading evil throughout an entire tribe.   Even though YHVH raised up various judges to lead the people, their influence was short-lived.  Strong godly leaders have arisen throughout the history of Christianity.  Revivals have come and gone. Leaders can inspire, exhort and teach, but we make our own choices.  Each person is responsible for establishing and maintaining a relationship with YHVH by loving Him and obeying Him.  We are also responsible for exhorting each other in the Body of Messiah (Col 3:12-17) and rooting out evil from our midst.  Each of us will appear before the Judge (Matt 7:21-23).

Finally, there is the tragic tale of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19).  The Levite not only failed to protect his concubine, but he used her as a human shield to protect himself.  At that time travel in the Promised Land was no safer than in foreign lands (Judges 19:12).  Israel finally addressed the situation by almost eliminating an entire tribe, not to mention the loss of life in the other tribes.  The first two days Israel fought with the tribe of Benjamin (where the rape and murder had taken place), the other tribes suffered heavy losses.  Was this perhaps punishment for not purging evil from their midst earlier?  On the third day, the tribe of Benjamin was defeated and almost totally destroyed.   A lot of people were killed, but was the evil eradicated?  Being a member of a particular congregation or denomination in the Body of Messiah does not guarantee that we will be righteous before the Judge.  The many incidences of corruption, immorality, etc. within the Body of Messiah today bear witness to our failure to purge evil from our midst.  How many people have sought to know Yeshua and His Father within the Body of Messiah only to be discouraged or even destroyed?  What are we doing to purge evil from our midst?

The book of Ruth provides strong examples of Kingdom of heaven living. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz lived during the same time period as the book of Judges, but their choices brought blessings to themselves and others.  They represent the remnant, those in each generation who truly follow YHVH’s ways, the few chosen from among the many who are called (Matt 22:14).  The climax of the story takes place in the springtime during the barley harvest, the time of Pesach.  Boaz not only followed Torah (Lev 23:22) by allowing Ruth, a poor foreigner, to glean from his fields, but he provided protection and advice for her, unlike the Levite did for his concubine.  We are to welcome the “foreigners” to our faith who seek to know, love and serve YHVH.  We are called to make disciples of them, providing advice, mentoring and protection, not bias and judgment.  Ruth wholeheartedly sought to serve YHVH and her new family.  She was willing to follow the advice of both Naomi and Boaz.  We have much to learn from each other.  Are we proud and obstinate or humble and yielding?  Boaz followed the commandments of YHVH in offering to the kinsman redeemer first in line the opportunity to do his duty.  When the first kinsman redeemer refused, Boaz assumed his assigned duty.  Ruth and Boaz were harvesting barley; we are to harvest souls.  (John 4:35-36).  While bloodlines are important and respected by YHVH, they are no guarantee for eternity.  Neither is the fact that we claim to accept Yeshua as our Savior.  The litmus test for all of us is faithfulness to YHVH and His Torah.

The prevailing excuse given in Judges is that Israel had no king.  Actually, they did have a King who is Spirit, but they failed to recognize Him.  He later came to earth as a human and many still failed to recognize Him.  Our King, who is both YHVH and human resides in heaven, but also in our hearts.  Do we recognize Him as King?  Do we follow His commands?

Law-Abiding Citizens?

Not everyone who says to meThis article is the first of three articles in a series entitled “Living Kingdom”.  We will examine the importance of choosing to abide by YHVH’s commands as we consider the choices of individuals in Scripture.  The Good News (Gospel) is about YHVH’s kingdom.  Salvation is necessary for Kingdom Living, but it is a part of the process, not the goal.  We face the same challenges as the Israelites:  recognizing and obeying our King.     

Since the time of Martin Luther, much emphasis has been put on salvation through Yeshua as a gift of YHVH’s grace and not something we merit.  This is true, but it is only a part of the truth.  Yeshua taught about salvation and stressed that reunification with YHVH was possible only through Yeshua Himself.  However, the majority of Yeshua’s teaching focused on how to live in the Kingdom of YHVH (Matt 5-7; 16:19, 18:3, 29-30, 19:23).  Salvation supplies us citizenship in YHVH’s kingdom, but as citizens we must abide by the rules and regulations of our King.  Citizens and visitors in all countries on earth are required to obey the rules of the country where they reside or visit.  What are the consequences of ignoring YHVH’s teaching and commandments?  What are the rewards?  Two books of Scripture (Judges and Ruth) present vivid pictures of the two choices and their consequences.  As we review the stories in these two books, let us look for insights into kingdom living and see how the Body of Messiah measures up.

The Book of Judges provides examples of those who made it to the Promised Land but who failed to follow YHVH’s explicit commands (Judges 2:10).  Let us begin with the story of Micah (chapter 17).  Micah stole 1100 silver pieces from his mother (violating Ex 20: 12, 15).  He overheard his mother putting a curse on the thief.  Micah confessed his sin and returned the money.  His mother used part of the money to “honor” YHVH by creating some idols.  Mixing pagan with sacred and is strictly forbidden by YHVH (Ex 20:3-5).   Micah hired a Levite to serve as a priest in his home.  Levites were to serve YHVH in the Tabernacle, not in individual homes (Num 18:1-2).  How do these choices compare to the development of the Body of Messiah? The church early on mixed pagan with sacred (Christmas and Easter replacing the seven feasts of YHVH), misappropriated funds (selling indulgences and relics), provided idols (statues), and created roles for “priests” that YHVH never authorized.  These practices continue today.  Corruption spreads quickly but is not easily eradicated.  Over time, the Israelites’ disobedience led to their expulsion from the land.  What will be the consequence of our continued disobedience in the kingdom of YHVH?

Next,  the tribe of Dan discovered Micah’s evil setup (Judges 18).  They not only failed to root out the evil, but they stole the idols and the Levite “priest” from Micah thus spreading evil throughout an entire tribe.   Even though YHVH raised up various judges to lead the people, their influence was short-lived.  Strong godly leaders have arisen throughout the history of Christianity.  Revivals have come and gone. Leaders can inspire, exhort and teach, but we make our own choices.  Each person is responsible for establishing and maintaining a relationship with YHVH by loving Him and obeying Him.  We are also responsible for exhorting each other in the Body of Messiah (Col 3:12-17) and rooting out evil from our midst.  Each of us will appear before the Judge (Matt 7:21-23).

Finally, there is the tragic tale of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19).  The Levite not only failed to protect his concubine, but he used her as a human shield to protect himself.  At that time travel in the Promised Land was no safer than in foreign lands (Judges 19:12).  Israel finally addressed the situation by almost eliminating an entire tribe, not to mention the loss of life in the other tribes.  The first two days Israel fought with the tribe of Benjamin (where the rape and murder had taken place), the other tribes suffered heavy losses.  Was this perhaps punishment for not purging evil from their midst earlier?  On the third day, the tribe of Benjamin was defeated and almost totally destroyed.   A lot of people were killed, but was the evil eradicated?  Being a member of a particular congregation or denomination in the Body of Messiah does not guarantee that we will be righteous before the Judge.  The many incidences of corruption, immorality, etc. within the Body of Messiah today bear witness to our failure to purge evil from our midst.  How many people have sought to know Yeshua and His Father within the Body of Messiah only to be discouraged or even destroyed?  What are we doing to purge evil from our midst?

The book of Ruth provides strong examples of Kingdom of heaven living. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz lived during the same time period as the book of Judges, but their choices brought blessings to themselves and others.  They represent the remnant, those in each generation who truly follow YHVH’s ways, the few chosen from among the many who are called (Matt 22:14).  The climax of the story takes place in the springtime during the barley harvest, the time of Pesach.  Boaz not only followed Torah (Lev 23:22) by allowing Ruth, a poor foreigner, to glean from his fields, but he provided protection and advice for her, unlike the Levite did for his concubine.  We are to welcome the “foreigners” to our faith who seek to know, love and serve YHVH.  We are called to make disciples of them, providing advice, mentoring and protection, not bias and judgment.  Ruth wholeheartedly sought to serve YHVH and her new family.  She was willing to follow the advice of both Naomi and Boaz.  We have much to learn from each other.  Are we proud and obstinate or humble and yielding?  Boaz followed the commandments of YHVH in offering to the kinsman redeemer first in line the opportunity to do his duty.  When the first kinsman redeemer refused, Boaz assumed his assigned duty.  Ruth and Boaz were harvesting barley; we are to harvest souls.  (John 4:35-36).  While bloodlines are important and respected by YHVH, they are no guarantee for eternity.  Neither is the fact that we claim to accept Yeshua as our Savior.  The litmus test for all of us is faithfulness to YHVH and His Torah.

The prevailing excuse given in Judges is that Israel had no king.  Actually, they did have a King who is Spirit, but they failed to recognize Him.  He later came to earth as a human and many still failed to recognize Him.  Our King, who is both YHVH and human resides in heaven, but also in our hearts.  Do we recognize Him as King?  Do we follow His commands?

The Cost of Fear

He will not leave you

To our beloved readers:  I write this article as one who has struggled for years with fear.  Bit by bit I have overcome some of my “illegal” fears, but my struggle continues.  I write this article to myself as well as to all of you.  Let us keep our focus on the prize before us.

Fear is one of the emotions that YHVH gave to us for a specific purpose.  We are to fear only YHVH knowing that He is much greater than us and more powerful.   However, many of us fear much more than the awesome might of YHVH.  We humans have many different types of fear.    Yet Scripture tells us repeatedly not to be afraid.

In Exodus 1:19-45 and Numbers  13-14, we read that the Israelites refused to go into the Promised Land because of their fear of the giant people living there.  As they focused on the problem it seemed to magnify, distracting them so that they forgot the signs and wonders that YHVH had already performed to release them from slavery in Egypt.  As a result of yielding to their fear, the Israelites paid a heavy price.  They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation of adults died out.  They not only forfeited a much easier life in a land of abundance, but they failed to assume their divine assignment from YHVH.  Instead of carrying out their mission, they spent the rest of their lives wandering around aimlessly.  YHVH simply waited until a new generation was raised up to replace those who had yielded to fear.

What can we learn from the Israelites? In Exodus 19 and 20, we see that YHVH wants to meet with the people.  The manifestations of His presence (fire, smoke, lightening and thunder and so on) made the people afraid.  We are to have great awe and respect for the Ancient of Days, but we are not to be afraid to speak to Him and hear His voice.  Now, we do not hear YHVH’s voice thundering, but instead we listen for a still small voice inside of us.  YHVH has made it more comfortable for us to hear Him.  In the Exodus account, barriers were erected around the mountain in order to separate YHVH from the fallen, sinful humans, but Yeshua has removed those barriers for us.  The veil in the Temple has been torn and we are free to have a close personal relationship with our Father and His Son.  Do we fear having an intimate relationship with our Father or with Yeshua?  If so, what price are we paying for our fear?  What are we losing?

Our Father spoke His commandments to the Israelites, but they were too afraid to continue hearing from Him.  So He wrote out His commands on tablets of stone.  After Yeshua returned to His Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to write His law on our hearts.  The Holy Spirit not only has put the law on our hearts but works through us so that we can carry out YHVH’s commands.  Do we fear having the Holy Spirit operate in us and through us?

Just as YHVH delivered the Israelites from bondage, He desires to set us free from our bondage to sin and to demons.  Many of us deny that we can be in bondage to demons when we are already born again.  Others of us are afraid of the spiritual realm and the idea of demons, so we stay in denial and try to ignore them.  Just as termites in your house will not go away if you simply ignore them, neither will demons depart from you because you deny their existence or their presence.  Do we fear seeking deliverance from  demons who hold us in bondage and torment us?  Do we fear the spiritual realm?   As the Israelites were commanded to purge leaven from their midst during Unleavened Bread, we are expected to permanently purge sin and demonic influence from our midst.  How does our bondage hinder us from completing our mission on earth and enjoying life in abundance (John 10:10)?

When the Israelites began to fear the giants in Canaan, they abandoned the only fear they were supposed to have, fear of YHVH.  Their fear of the giants became so great that they disobeyed the only One who is to be feared.  Is it the same with us?  Do we fear that which challenges us to the point that we forget to fear YHVH and thus fail in our divine assignments? Will we fail in our mission because our fear is misplaced?  What blessings and joys are we forfeiting because we give in to forbidden fears?

 

Material Reflections

living-tabenacles

This is the second article of a new series (Living Tabernacles)  where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  However, it is more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, for each of us is now a tabernacle of YHVH.  There will be two posts each month for this series.

In the first article in this series, we studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle:  gold, silver and bronze.  In this article we continue examining the list YHVH gave to Moshe itemizing the components He desired to build His Tabernacle.  We will cover the items listed in verses 4 and 5 of Exodus 25: colored threads, fine linen, goat hair, ram skins, fine goatskin leather and acacia wood.

Thread is interwoven throughout the material just as the spiritual significance of these threads should be interwoven throughout our lives.  The scarlet thread symbolizes cleansing, purification, sin, riches, a marker, and/or clothing of a valiant man.  We know what “valiant Man” has died for our sins, cleansing and purifying us.  He still wears those markers on His hands and feet.  He has gained for us untold wealth.  In Him, we must root out the sin that is interwoven in us, so that His cleansing and purifying may permeate every part of us.  We are abundantly wealthy in Yeshua and we wear His mark on us (Rev. 7:2-3).

The blue thread symbolizes holy covering, heavenly, holy service, chastening and water (Spirit).  We are no longer naked in our sin (Gen 2:25, Is 47:3), but are covered with Yeshua’s righteousness.  Yeshua came down from Heaven for the express purpose of establishing (or perhaps re-establishing) YHVH’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Yeshua baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit fills us, chastening, strengthening and preparing us for holy service to YHVH.

The purple thread symbolizes royalty and riches. The Roman soldiers placed a purple robe on Yeshua during his trial in order to mock Him.  Little did they realize that Yeshua, above any other human, is entitled to wear the color of royalty.  Yeshua is our King and High Priest.  We are a royal priesthood and adopted children of YHVH.  Our wealth is in Messiah Yeshua, for without Him we have nothing and with Him we have an abundance of treasures.

The fine linen spoken of in Exodus 25 is the Hebrew word bad.  The word is from a root which means “separation”.  The Hebrew word for holy is kadosh which means to be set apart.  The fine linen worn by priests indicated that they were set apart to YHVH. YHVH is set apart and we are called to separate ourselves from the world and be dedicated solely to YHVH.  Our clothing must be the fine linen of Yeshua’s righteousness (Rev. 3:18), for without it we will not be welcome at the wedding of the Bridegroom (Matt 22:12).

Goat’s hair is used in Bedouin camps today for tents, tent ropes and rugs.  Goats’ hair cloth is able to stand the hard usage of a frequently shifting encampment.  We must be resilient enough to follow our Leader wherever He takes us.  Goatskin leather was used as a covering for the Tabernacle.  Yeshua is our spiritual covering.  With Yeshua’s covering, we are able to withstand many trials and persecutions.

On Yom Kippur, two goats were selected and lots were cast for them.  One goat would be sacrificed for the sins of the people and the second goat would bear the sins of the people and be sent out of the camp and into the wilderness, signifying how YHVH has removed our sins far from us (Lev 16).  Yeshua is both the sacrifice that atones for our sin (Heb 9:26) and the One who carries our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).

Tanned lambskins were also used to cover the Tabernacle.  Some versions translate this word as badger skins, but this is unlikely since badgers are considered to be unclean animals.  The skins of lambs have significant spiritual relevancy since Yeshua is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) and Yeshua is a covering for us.  Some versions translate the tanned lambskins as lambskins died red.  The blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, covered His skin as He hung on the cross.  His blood now covers us.

When Adam and Eve had sinned, they realized that they were naked.  YHVH made the first animal sacrifice on their behalf and clothed them with the skins of the animals signifying a much greater and more effective covering to come (Gen 3:21).

The acacia tree mentioned is likely the gum-arabic tree.  It is a gnarled and thorny tree.  Acacia trees are plentiful in the wilderness where the Israelites traveled.  Acacia wood is not desirable to insects and is virtually indestructible.  Was the cross made from acacia wood?  Possibly, but we have no proof of the type of wood used by the Romans in Jerusalem for crucifixion.  We do know, however, that Yeshua, even though He died, is indestructible.  Was the crown of thorns woven from acacia thorns?  We do not know for sure. The tree is formed much like an umbrella, just as Yeshua’s sacrifice provides us protection from the sentence of eternal death.

What is the significance of all the wood being overlaid with gold?  The acacia wood is gnarled and crooked signifying the twistedness of sin and evil.  The long thorns are menacing.  Yeshua willingly allowed Himself to be beaten beyond recognition.  He wore a crown of thorns and was humiliated and despised.  However, the reward He has reaped for Himself and for us is eternal glory and untold riches.  What appeared to be a disgrace and defeat, has turned into triumph and victory beyond measure (Rom 6:4).  Yeshua now wears a crown of unsurpassable glory.  On our own we are defeated, but in Yeshua we are victorious!

As we reflect on these materials, let us, living temples of the Holy Spirit,  be transformed into the image and likeness of YHVH, reflecting His glory.

Metal Reflections

living-tabenacles

This is the beginning of a new series (Living Tabernacles) where we will study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  However, it is more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, for each of us is now a tabernacle of YHVH.   There will be two posts each month for this series.

The building of the Tabernacle involved participation on the part of the Israelites from the beginning.  YHVH showed Moshe the building plans and a heavenly model so that he would understand exactly what needed to be done (Exodus 25:9, Heb 8:5).  Then YHVH gave Moshe a list of items needed for the Tabernacle.  Moshe was instructed to share the list with the Israelites.  They were to take from their possessions in order to have the necessary building materials.  Where did they get the materials in the first place?  From YHVH Himself.  Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow (James 1:17).   Since the Israelites gave of their own possessions and, later on, their time and talents, they had a significant stake in the Tabernacle and in the worship of YHVH.

The list that YHVH gave to the Israelites was as follows:

  • gold, silver, and bronze;
  • blue, purple, and scarlet thread;
  • fine linen and goat hair for cloth;
  • tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather;
  • acacia wood;
  • olive oil for the lamps;
  • spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense;
  • onyx stones and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece.

Every item on the list points not only to Yeshua, but to us who are seeking to become like Yeshua.  Each listed item symbolizes a characteristic of Yeshua and, by extension, should symbolize a characteristic of His followers.  What can we learn from this list?

In this first article we will examine gold, silver and bronze.  Gold and silver are precious metals and, for the Tabernacle, had to be “pure” (Exodus 25:11) and “refined” (1 Chronicles 28:18).  YHVH refines us through fiery trials so that we may be purified.  “Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand (Dan 12:10). Gold is symbolic of YHVH’s kingship, glory and holiness and we are meant to reflect His glory and holiness.  Gold is one of the least reactive chemical elements.  When the blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant (made of pure gold), the gold did not tarnish.  When we are sprinkled with adversity, it should not discolor or corrode us.

Silver signifies redemption, which means to purchase back at a cost. Yeshua paid the highest price to redeem us.  The Hebrew word for silver is ‘kesef,’ meaning a very strong desire. According to Strong’s Concordance, the root for this Hebrew word is:

H3700 – כּסף – kâsaph – kaw-saf’ – A primitive root; properly to become pale, that is, (by implication) to pine after; also to fear: – [have] desire, be greedy, long, sore.

Generally, when we purchase something at a steep cost, we expect to possess something of substantial value.  Yeshua “pined after” us so much that He was willing to lay down His life in order to get us back.  Do we pine after Yeshua to the extent that we are willing to lay down our lives in order to follow Him?

Many scripture passages tie bronze to sin and judgment.  The bronze Sea where the priests were to wash was constructed so that they could see their reflections in order to ensure that they did not miss any dirt.  Scripture and Yeshua (the living Torah) are our “bronze Sea” where we can examine ourselves in order to remove any stains or blemishes.  For it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be declared righteous (Rom 2:13). For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror— 24 for once he looks at himself and goes away, he immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect Torah, the Torah that gives freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts—he shall be blessed in what he does (James 1:23-25)

The bronze altar signifies that YHVH is willing to take our judgment upon Himself, but only if we are willing to repent of our sins.  In the case of King Zedekiah who was not willing to repent, we see that he was carried off to Babylon in bronze shackles (2 Kings 25:i7).  If we are not willing to repent of our sins, we will have to deal with YHVH’s judgment ourselves.

Just as the Israelites offered treasures, time and talent to build a Tabernacle for YHVH, each of us must do the same as we prepare ourselves as fitting tabernacles for YHVH.  We will continue our study of the significance of the elements in the next article in this series entitled Living Tabernacles.

Each of us is now a tabernacle for YHVH.  Yeshua replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them (John 14:23).  The materials for the Tabernacle were costly and of the finest quality.  What does your tabernacle look like?  How are the gold, silver, and bronze reflected in your tabernacle?

YHVH’s Sanctuary

yhvh-is-a-shelterWhat did Yeshua mean when He said in His Olivet discourse: “as it was in the days of Noach” (Matt 24:39)?  In this and other Re(new)ed Covenant Scriptures (2 Pet 2; 2 Thess 2), the authors speak of a future world of great wickedness, such as has not been known since the times of Noach and Sodom.  These Scriptures also speak of YHVH’s judgment on those who are deceived by the lies of hasatan and refuse to turn to the truth of the Creator and Redeemer of the world, Yehovah Elohim.

They also speak of YHVH our Deliverer saving and protecting His people during times of past trials or judgment:

  • Noach and all his family were divinely saved from destruction by the protection of the Ark (2 Pet 2:5). Note that the Hebrew word for ark (tevah) not only means a box or covering, but it also means “word” – so you can think of Noach and his family truly being covered by YHVH’s Word!
  • In the time of Sodom & Gomorrah, we are told that the people were very immoral and ungodly, but also that God [Elohim] rescued Lot from the fiery judgment because Lot was a righteous man who followed the truth (2 Pet 2:6-7)
  • Moses (Ex 44:7), David (1 Sam :14-15) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-8) were all protected in the wilderness
  • In the same way, when YHVH brought all the plagues onto the people in Egypt, He spared the Hebrews from the worst of those plagues (Ex 9). Yeshua became our Passover Lamb 2000 years ago, and now we can cover ourselves with His blood for protection from the enemy’s attacks
  • Finally, in speaking about the end of days, Yeshua says in Revelation 12 verses 6 and 14 that YHVH will once again protect His people from both the unbearable attacks from the adversary hasatan, and also from His own judgments against the wicked

From these Scriptures we know that YHVH has protected His people many times in the past, and has said that He would protect us again during the Tribulation period.  We also know from Yeshua’s words in Matthew 24 and Sha’ul’s prophecies in 2 Timothy 3 that the times before the end of this current world will be characterized by great sinfulness and evil.

What will lead the people of the world into such great lawlessness, though?  We know there are plenty of greedy, boastful and wicked people throughout the world now, but Yeshua says the End will be a time like no other that has ever been seen or will ever be seen again.  Several Scriptures speak of a great apostasy, deception, or falling away (2 Thess 2:3, Matt 24:10).  Reading further in these Scriptures we see many reasons for this falling away of believers in Yeshua, so great that even some of the elect will be led astray (Matt 24:24).  Yeshua speaks of many false prophets and teachers, and the great signs and wonders they will use to try to convince believers that they are the Messiah who is prophesied to return.

There is a stronger deception than simple signs and wonders that will be leading the saints away from YHVH, though.  This deception becomes clear when you look at the expanded meaning of apostasy – it means “an abandonment of the truth”.  In spiritual terms, this means that the end times will involve a wholesale rejection of YHVH’s revelation, a further “falling away” of an already fallen world.  This “end times” falling away is confirmed as the sign that will come before the Tribulation ends and Yeshua returns for His saints (the set-apart ones) in several other Scriptures.

When Sha’ul talks about the end times in II Timothy 3, he talks first about all the wickedness that will mark that time, but then he goes on to say in Verse 7 that people at that time will be: “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”.  This agrees with II Thessalonians 2:10-12 which states that the ones who will be judged in the latter days will be the ones who did not believe the truth of YHVH, but instead believed the enemy’s lies.  The crux of this passage in Verse 11 says: “…God will cause them to be greatly deceived, so that they will believe these lies”.

Going back to Matthew 24, Yeshua’s first answer to His disciples about the signs of the end was: “Be careful that no one leads you astray! For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will lead many astray” (Matt 24:4-5).  Remember that one of Yeshua’s harshest reprimands of the religious leaders was in John 8:44 when they accused Him of casting out demons and healing people in the name and power of the devil: “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”.

The essence, then, of the reason for the great falling away in the end times will be that a great majority of the people (believers and unbelievers alike) will believe the lies of the false teachers and prophets and of the anti-messiah himself.

So how do we prepare ourselves for these perilous times, so that we can discern false from true teaching and prophecy, and resist following the popular path of believing the captivating lies of the enemy’s allies?  As with all temptations and allurements of our society, we need to put all our trust in our Rock and Redeemer, Yeshua HaMashiach, and be filled with Yehovah’s Holy Spirit.  We need to ask Abba for guidance in discerning the truth from the lies, and then follow that truth no matter what are the world consequences.  While it is true that not all believers will be delivered physically through the Tribulation, we know that if we remain steadfast in our trust and obedience, YHVH will help empower us to overcome the world, by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony.  In this world we will have tribulation, but Yeshua has overcome the world, and greater is He that is in us (the Holy Spirit) than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Who’s Missing?

mind-of-spirit-is-peace

When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”

Many of us are familiar with Yeshua’s words from Matthew 12:43-45.  It is possible, however, to read over this passage many times and yet miss some vital information.  This is an important message for all of us, so it is wise to spend some time reflecting on Yeshua’s warning.

First, let us look at the rest of the chapter for context.  At the beginning of the chapter, Yeshua, referring to Himself as Son of Man (Hebrew expression for a human being) is also declaring His identity and authority as Son of God, because He has authority even over the Sabbath.  We know from other Scripture verses that Yeshua emptied Himself, or divested Himself from His power as the Son of YHVH (Phil 2:7) and relied solely on the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), as He expects His followers to do (Luke 24:49).[1]

As the chapter continues, Yeshua performs miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Beginning in verse 22, Yeshua casts out a demon from a man who is both blind and mute.  The people consult with their leaders after this miracle, saying that surely Yeshua must be the Son of David, the Messiah.  The leaders, who are against Yeshua, tell the people that Yeshua is not using the power of YHVH to perform His miracles, but the power of the prince of demons.  They are denying the power of the Holy Spirit in their attempt to discredit Yeshua.

Now we come to Yeshua’s words concerning an evil spirit who leaves (or is driven out) from its dwelling within a person.  After wandering for some time, the demon returns to its former abode, which has now been swept clean and is in order.  This suggests that the person has repented, been forgiven, and/or had soul wounds healed.  But Scripture also says that the abode is empty, or unoccupied.  Who should be dwelling there now?  The Holy Spirit.  If there is any part of our souls (mind, will, emotions) that have not been yielded to Yeshua and filled with the Holy Spirit, they are prime areas for demons to move in.

In our efforts to quell demonic activity in our lives and repair the damages, we must be intentional in inviting the Holy Spirit to ensure that the former (or potential) dwelling of the demon is not only in order and swept clean, but occupied and guarded as well.   In other words, we cannot truly improve on our own, but need the help of the Holy Spirit. In Mark’s version of this story (chapter 3), Yeshua tells us no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.  On our own, we are not strong enough to withstand the enemy.  The Holy Spirit is the “strong man” that cannot be overpowered by demons.

Yeshua purposely divested Himself of His power and authority as the second Person of YHVH in order to rely solely on the power of the Holy Spirit, thus demonstrating to us that we must divest ourselves of our own power and rely on the Holy Spirit.

Why did Yeshua say “that would be the experience of this evil generation”?  Because the Pharisees wanted to be in control to the extent that they not only denied the power of the Holy Spirit when it suited them, but they gave credit to hasatan for the work of the Holy Spirit.  Some believers today are still falling into that error.  Some say that speaking in tongues is of the devil, for example.  Many of us avoid the Holy Spirit out of fear or reluctance to relinquish control.

Where the Holy Spirit prevails there will be order, unity and love.  Where the Holy Spirit is not welcome, there will be chaos, division, hatred or apathy.  We cannot atone for our sins on our own, but need to rely on Yeshua’s sacrifice on our behalf.  Likewise, we cannot steer our own course through this spiritual battlefield on earth, but must rely on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Aside from some practice runs, the apostles did not get started on their assignments in YHVH’s harvest until they had been filled with “power from on high” or the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)

Are there areas in your life that are confusing or chaotic?  Are there broken or weak relationships in your life?  How will you sweep these areas clean?  Will you welcome the Holy Spirit to reign in that area of your life as your “strong man”?

[1] Yeshua did not cease to become the Son of YHVH at any time nor did He relinquish His authority as the Son of YHVH, but He operated only by the power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate to His followers what He expected of them.

 

Yeshua is the Way

thru-the-veil-of-his-fleshIt is clear that Abba Father tore the veil separating the people from the Holy of Holies when Yeshua’s body perished, because the Scripture says it was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt 27:51).  The fact that it was torn from top to bottom symbolizes YHVH reaching down from Heaven and opening the way for us to “come boldly to His throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy” (Heb 4:16).  What is this place we are entering into, though?  For Torah observant Jews of Yeshua’s time, they may have wrongly believed that the way had been opened for them to come into the Holy of Holies and worship in YHVH’s presence, where His glory dwelled above the earthly Ark of the Covenant.

However, through history and the Scriptures, we find a much deeper meaning to the tearing of the veil.  From history we know that the Temple was destroyed and the Ark was hidden or taken away, just as Yeshua had prophesied in Luke 13:35.  Our entrance into the Holiest place, then, was not an entrance into an earthly place, but rather an entrance into YHVH’s heavenly throne of grace.  Sha’ul gives us some great hints as to what this means at a deeper level:

  • “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the veil, where Jesus [Yeshua] has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever..” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
  • The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made with human hands,” (Acts 17:24)

The first passage above tells us that Yeshua has gone into the inner place ahead of us, to make a way for us to come before the Father’s throne.  We know from Scripture that Yeshua ascended to Heaven after his Resurrection and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Yeshua is now our high priest.  When He opened the way into the Holy place of the Father in heaven, Yeshua also did away with the sacrificial system.  He became our God-man sacrifice who took away our sins and diseases for all time, not just once a year like the earthly high priest or the animal sacrifices people brought to the Temple.

In the second Scripture above, we learn that YHVH does not live in earthly temples – rather, He dwells in His heavenly Tabernacle, where He now invites us to come and fellowship with Him, through the Way that Yeshua has made for us by tearing the veil.  Yeshua has also made us holy and righteous before Abba, as He has washed us white as snow by His blood (I Cor 6:11).  This is not only a way to the Father, but rather it is the only way to draw close to Abba – in John 14:6, Yeshua Himself said that no one can come to the Father except through Him.

Even with all these insights into the tearing of the veil, though, and the way that has been opened for us into Yehovah’s most Holy place, there is still a deeper and more personal significance to this event.  Hebrews 10:20 (NIV) says that Yeshua opened a “new and living way for us through the veil, but then it equates the veil with Yeshua’s flesh.  This means that we are actually entering into Yeshua’s body when we come before YHVH’s throne – now that is the way to come to the Father!  The next time you come before Abba’s throne in worship, remember that you are entering through the perfect, sinless flesh of the One who showed us His unconditional love by sacrificing His life for us.

Light Revelation

light-shines-in-darknessLight is essential for our survival, both physically and spiritually.  At this time of year, we celebrate light in the darkness.  The menorah symbolizes the light of Yeshua (Ps 119:105, John 8:12)  Arlene Sheldon provides an interesting study on Yeshua’s miracles that correspond with His “I AM” statements ( http://www.wellofbethlehem.witnesstoday.org/menorah.html ) as the living menorah.  The light of the Father poured forth from Yeshua.  Yet, Yeshua tells us that we are the light of the world (Matt 5:14).  What is light? How are we to be light in the darkness?

YHVH created light on the first day, but He created the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day.  What was the light that YHVH created?  Some ridicule the Bible and say that it contradicts itself.  How could YHVH create light but not create the sun until day four?  In his article entitled Sunlight Before the Sun, John D. Morris, PhD. from the Institute for Creation Resource points out that there are many types of light such as short-wave light including ultraviolet light and X-rays and long-wave light including infrared light and radio waves.  Perhaps YHVH created the materials for light on day one and then chose different combinations of materials for various types of light.  YHVH provides various combinations of spiritual light within us as we draw closer to Him, the Source of light.

We can be misled by what we do not see.  For example, when we turn on an incandescent light bulb, we may think that the light we see is the only light produced by the bulb.  However the incandescent bulb emits only around 10% of its energy as visible light and the remainder is infrared light (“Light,” Wikipedia).   We are to be light in the darkness.  Are we incandescent bulbs?  No, we are light in the sense that there is ignorance or defiance of YHVH’s truth and we can reflect the light of YHVH’s truth to those living in the chaos of darkness.  We may think that the light we provide to the world is small and insignificant, but perhaps we are unaware of the various kinds of light that YHVH is able to produce through us.

Light can also mean understanding or comprehension of Scripture.  Psalm 119:130 states, The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (ESV).  When we read or study Scripture, we can interpret or comprehend on four levels. Peshat is the surface or literal meaning,  Remez the allegorical or symbolic meaning,  Daresh  the comparative meaning given through similar occurrences and Sod is the secret meaning given through inspiration or revelation.  Light can penetrate through layers of darkness.  As we comprehend Scripture and it becomes part of us, we emanate its light to those around us.  Light and truth are closely related to each other.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (John 3:21 NIV).

YHVH Himself is light.  1 John 1:5 states …God is light, and in Him there is no darkness.   YHVH has many mysteries hidden in the dark and as they are revealed, YHVH will be more fully revealed.  How do we reveal YHVH to others?  Isaiah 58:10 says If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

By steeping ourselves in YHVH’s light through His word and through personal relationship with Him, the oil of the Holy Spirit will keep our lamps burning brightly in the ever increasing darkness of this world.  Our light will shine through our words and actions to others.  Let your light shine in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:16).  We will not only survive in the darkness, we will thrive.

 

Righteous Oaks

righteous-oaksWhen YHVH promises in the beginning of Verse 3 of Isaiah 61 that He will give us: “Beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness”, His end goal is not just to give us temporary help to get us through a crisis in our lives. Ultimately, God is building us up to be trees [oaks] of righteousness. We are the “trees” God is planting in the place He desires us to bear fruit.

Oak trees are known to be the strongest, most sturdy and resilient of all trees on Earth. They can withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts and floods better than almost any other type of tree.  God likens His children to oak trees and says we can be just like them in our character and integrity: “They shall be like great oaks of righteousness”.  These are not the words of a long-ago prophecy that have no meaning for us today. This is the expression of God’s heart for His people down through the generations. God wants us to be strong and enduring and He has given us clear insight in His word as to how we are to make that happen.

The average large oak tree needs as much as fifty gallons of water per day, so the root system is large and goes deep to reach that water. The root system not only brings the needed nourishment to the tree but it provides the anchoring base that allows the tree to withstand all kinds of assaults, from the wind, the rain and the shaking of earthquakes.  The root system of a mature oak tree can total hundreds of miles, and the roots of an oak tree extend out underground up to two and a half times their height.  So how can we as YHVH’s children ever hope to have such deep roots?

Jeremiah 17:7-8 is a powerful amplification of what Isaiah is talking about: “But blessed is the person who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”.

Both in Isaiah 61 and here in Jeremiah, it is clear that YHVH plants His seeds purposefully. He does not take His seeds and scatter them to the wind, disregarding where they fall.  God picks a perfect place for each of us, personally putting the tender shoot in the ground, knowing exactly what lies ahead. God knows every detail of our lives and the place of our planting and He does not make mistakes; we were not planted in the wrong part of the garden!

We were destined to display the “splendor of the Lord.” It doesn’t matter how you feel, you are destined to display the splendor and majesty of YHVH. There are days when you may not feel that you are reflecting God’s glory to others in your world, but if you have deep spiritual roots and are standing tall in constant relationship with YHVH, you will be displaying His majesty.   In fact, He will “rejoice over you with gladness” (Zephaniah 3:17) and even “protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of victory” (Psalm 32:7).

Trees do not instantly develop deep roots, and neither do people – both must go through difficult times of physical or spiritual drought and hardship, and must be patient until their roots develop.  In the case of God’s people, we must be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and grow in our faith and spiritual maturity, learning to trust YHVH more and more for strength to overcome the attacks and temptations of the world.

Trees contribute greatly to purify the air, and render it fit for us to breathe. When the air around us passes through leaf surfaces, it is purified and invigorated.  In the same way, there is a moral atmosphere around us.  When the air around us passes through our spirit and soul, we have the ability to speak life or death, blessing or curse to those around us.  As YHVH spoke in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, “I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, loving the LORD [YHVH] your God, paying attention to what He says and clinging to Him — for that is the purpose of your life!

As YHVH’s children, when we trust in Him with all our heart and follow His ways and His instructions, our roots will go down deep into the “earth” of the Holy Spirit within us, enabling us to withstand all the trials and tribulations of life, bearing much fruit and glorifying Him through our lives.  As YHVH says in Jeremiah 17:7-8 about those whose confidence is in Him: “we will be like trees planted by the stream, that send our roots deep: we will not fear when heat [persecution] comes; our leaves will always be green. We will have no worries in a year of drought and we will never fail to bear fruit”.