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A Tale of Two Messiahs

August 30th, 2013

IN THE DAYS OF YESHUA (JESUS), THE RABBIS RECOGNIZED TWO MESSIAHS

We know this from Talmud (traditions of the rabbis codified between the 2nd & 6th Centuries).

Victorious King Messiah – Moshiach ben Daveed ( Messiah son of David)

1.     Isaiah 27:13 –come at the blast of the shofar (the rams horn), when God promises that all of Israel will be redeemed and returned to the land.
2.     Psalm 2 – This is the conquering king Messiah
3.     Isaiah 9 – the one who would have the government upon his shoulders, and who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

But the rabbis recognized another picture of messiah –

Suffering Servant Messiah – Moshiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph) – also called the Leprous Messiah (Sanhedrin 98b; quoting Isaiah 53:4)

1.     Isaiah 53 – This is the suffering servant passage: would suffer for our transgression (v. 5); upon whom our iniquities would be placed (vs. 5,6); would become an asham (guilt offering) for the atonement of the people’s sins (v. 10); he would be cut off from the land of the living (v.8), Isaiah tells us, but will then see the light of life (i.e. be resurrected; v. 10).
2.     Zechariah 9:9 – lowly and riding on a donkey.
3.     Psalm 22 – cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 1), and suffer the anguish the psalmist writes of.

So if the rabbis had an understanding of these two pictures of Messiah:

  • Why were they unable to see Jesus for who he was?
  • Why did they miss him?
  • Why, in fact, did they do the very thing that God, through Isaiah, foretold in chapter 53 –despise him, reject him, and esteem him not?

You see the rabbis at that time reasoned in this way:

  • If Israel were righteous, then would come the Moshiach ben Daveed – the Conquering King Messiah – at the blast of the ram’s horn, on a white horse coming down from the clouds.  And he would bring Israel once again to prominence and bring peace to the whole world.
  • However, if Israel were unrighteous, then would come the Mochiach ben Yosef – the Suffering Servant Messiah – who would come humbly – lowly and riding on a donkey  A Messiah who would suffer for us and bear our sins. 

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: JESUS OUT OF CONTEXT

So if the Jewish scholars and sages knew both pictures of Messiah, why did they miss him?

Well, remember that since the return of the exiles, the religious Jew of his day considered himself doing all he could to be right with God.

  • He had all the Pharisaical traditions to follow.
  • He went to the temple regularly with his sacrifice.
  • He gave to the poor.
  • He fasted.
  • He did all the right things!

So did he think Israel was righteous, or unrighteous?  Righteous, of course.

So what Messiah was he expecting?  The Victorious King of course!

And that is the point!

  • For centuries, the people saw in their mind the Conquering King Messiah coming.
    • Another Judah Maccabee.
  • This was the expectation of the people because they believed themselves to be righteous.
  • So they refused to recognize the Suffering Servant Messiah when he came.

This is why Jesus says in John 5:45-47:

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Jesus and the Jewish leaders were reading the same Scriptures!  But Yeshua could see what the leaders would not.  Many leaders did come to faith, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (see John 19:38-39).  Most did not.  Those that didn’t led the rest of Israel on the wrong path.

  • When the temple (the center of the sacrificial system by which Israel and Israelites could have atonement) is destroyed, then the question came:  how now can the Jewish people atone for their sins?
  • Then the Jewish leaders made new rules:
    • rules that took the temple out of the equation
    • rules that determined other means of atonement.

And so, by the 5th Century, when the Talmud was finally codified:

  • there was a whole system of law that included atonement for sin
  • but not by the standard of God (i.e. not through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant Messiah, Yeshua)

My friend, Yeshua is not the Messiah of the Gentiles but the Messiah of Israel.  If you want to enter into the Olam Habah (to have eternal life with God our Father), you must believe in Him!

Contact us, and let us tell you how.  We would be happy to give you, free of charge, a book that tells you how twelve rabbis did just that.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Following God, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Resurrection, Salvation, Talmud vs. Tanakh | No Comments »

The Real Shammas of Hanukkah

December 14th, 2012

At Hanukkah, we light the nine-armed menorah called a Hanukkiah.  The middle candle, the one that lights all the others, is called the shammas – the leader.

We light the Hanukkiah because our sages tell us that when the Maccabees conquered the Syrian Greeks and wanted to reconsecrate the Temple, they could only find one vial of oil, enough to light the menorah for one day.  But when they used that vial, the light lasted eight days, just enough time to make more vials for use.

This great miracle of God is remembered as we light the Hanukkiah. It’s a wonderful, if not biblical story – and, who knows, it may very well have happened.  After all, though the book of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) was closed at the time and the Book of the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) was not yet begun, still God was then, as he still is, “in the miracle business.”

It is amazing to me, however, that the vast majority of the Jewish people will celebrate this apocryphal story, but cannot seem to recognize the even greater miracle of their Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) – the greatest light that ever shone.

After all, Isaiah wrote of him:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
Isaiah 9:2 (see the whole of Isaiah 9:1-7)

Isaiah goes on to describe the coming of this light:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah continued to talk about his ministry, death and resurrection in Isaiah 53.  Jeremiah spoke of the New Covenant that he would inaugurate in Jeremiah 31:31-34.  Zechariah also talked of him, and promised a time when all Israel would one day recognize him before he comes again (Zechariah 12:10-13:1).

Such a miracle of light was promised, and God kept His promised and made His Messiah known and knowable through His Word.  Yet, tragically, the vast majority of the Jewish people do not recognize this most palpable of miracles.

Yet this miracle is knowable.  Let us send you the evidence of the Messiah’s coming.  Contact us, and let us help you to recognize him for who he really is: the real Shammas of Hanukkah and all other times; the true light of the world!

Posted in Anonymous, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Resurrection | No Comments »

Who Is This?

July 16th, 2012

Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
According as many were appalled at thee – so marred was his visage unlike that of a man, and his form unlike that of the sons of men –
So shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they perceive.
‘Who would have believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of a dry ground; he had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him.
He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.
All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, though he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.
And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich his tomb; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’
Yet it pleased the LORD to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of the LORD might prosper by his hand:
Of the travail of his soul he shall see to the full, even My servant, who by his knowledge did justify the Righteous One to the many, and their iniquities he did bear.
Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Who is this speaking of? 

If you read this and thought it might be Yeshua (Jesus) you would be correct.  That certainly accords with a straightforward reading of the text.

If you thought this text was from the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament), you would be wrong.  These words were written by the Prophet Isaiah some 700 years before Yeshua dwelt among us.  Isaiah is the first of the Major Prophets found in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures).  The passage, as presented here, was from a version of the Bible published in 1917 by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS), a rabbinic publishing company.

Isaiah, inspired by the Ruach ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit of God), was writing of Messiah.  The words of this passage were fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). 

Why not accept what the Scriptures tell?  

Contact us for more information about the truth of Messiah.

Posted in Anonymous, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Resurrection, The Bible | No Comments »

Party on, dude!

January 9th, 2012

If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.
(1 Corinthians 15:32)

In 1 Corinthians 15, the servant of Messiah, the apostle Paul is talking about the resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).  Paul recognized, as all Christians should, that if the resurrection never took place, then there is no hope in Him.

Paul recognized that if there was no resurrection, Yeshua was not the Messiah; and if Yeshua was not the Messiah, then God is not faithful and our trust in Him has no meaning.  If there is no resurrection then Nietzsche is correct: God is dead.

In that case, there is then no resurrection for the followers of God.  As Paul put it, if there is no resurrection then, “we [believers in Yeshua HaMashiach] are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:19)”

This is, indeed, the way most of Western society sees things.  There is no God, or God is not an active part in the universe.  This is why the motto of the day is, “party on, dude!”  Let’s eat and drink; let us indulge ourselves because this life is all we have.

Even many who call themselves Christians are caught up in this thinking.  Many who claim to be of the Church, do not believe in the resurrection or the divinity of Messiah Yeshua; do not even believe in God.  To many, the Christian religion is more a social institution than a body of faithful believers.

The problem is that without God, and without the Messiah Yeshua, there is no reason to have any hope at all.  If there is no life after death, or if life after death is nothing of significance then we might as well party on now and get what joy we can get today.

There are two results of this kind of thinking.  One is to look at life in a purely sensual way.  If all that matters is today, then why not get your kicks now – do drugs, get sexual pleasure, over-indulge in eating, drinking and other sensual pleasures.

The other result of a godless worldview, and one that goes hand in hand with the first,  is to look at life in a purely self-interested way.  If all we have is life now, and I want to enjoy life to the fullest, then the purpose of life is to get for myself all that it offers.

Is it surprising then that the western world is coming undone?  Divorce his at an all-time high, because many are not willing to serve and sacrifice for their spouse.  The fabric of the family is coming undone because love and self-sacrifice, which seem on their way to becoming extinct, are the glue that holds together the family, as designed by God.

More people are on the dole than ever before.  More people are robbing their workplaces of time and resources.  Friendships are harder to make.  Shows of inter-personal conflict, like Survivors and Lost, are the most popular on TV.

In movies and television, we worship at the idol of self.  People of faith, however, are ridiculed and often portrayed as self-righteous hypocrites as anyone who watches the Simpsons would be familiar with.  Certainly, people like Ned Flanders exist, but true people of faith are a breed apart in this world.

I’m not suggesting that everyone who doesn’t believe in Christ is self-serving and self-indulgent.  That’s not the point.  What is certain is that as culture turns away from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it also seems to be deteriorating.  This is not new, of course.  This kind of self-destructive society occurred in Rome before its downfall.

Western society is sliding dangerously into oblivion, because people have turned away from the Living God and the Messiah of grace.  For most, there is no future and there is no hope.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  There is hope, and His name is Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).  He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).  He is the living water and the bread of life.

I don’t believe this because I want hope; I have hope because I believed.  Prior to coming to faith in Yeshua, I was no different from anyone else: self-satisfied, self-interested and self-serving.  But when I came to believe, I then knew the hope that I had.  I didn’t change and come to faith – I believed and that changed my life.

And now I can party on!  Not with the excesses in life that bring death and destruction, but in the surety of eternal life.

You can be part of that party.  Contact us and let us pass on to you the invitation.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Following God, Knowing God, Messiah, Resurrection, Salvation, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

A Case of Mistaken Identities

October 12th, 2011

And the disciples asked him, [that is, Jesus], “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things.  But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”  Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Matthew 17:10-13 (italics mine)

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light.
John 1:6-8

John the Baptist (Yochanan haMatbil) was recognized by Yeshua (Jesus) as the fulfillment of the prophecy foretold by the Hebrew prophet Malachi that Elijah would precede and announce the coming of Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6).  Thus John was the prophet who announced Messiah. and from the verse from Matthew it is clear that Yeshua understood that to be the case.

To be sure, John himself denied being Elijah – he was not Elijah in very person (John 1:19-21).  It is nevertheless clear that John understood what Yeshua claimed – that in the ministry of Yeshua as Messiah, John was the promised precursor (John 1:22-23 where John cites Isaiah 40:3).

The truth of all this is bourn out in the fulfillment of Scriptures.  Yeshua was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).  He was despised by his own Jewish people and rejected by them, all the while suffering for their (and our) transgressions.  He died as a guilt offering for sin, and was raised up from the dead (Isaiah 53).  In this way, God makes a New Covenant that is different from the covenant broken by Israel that he made with them on Mount Sinai (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Yet to this day, the vast majority of Jewish people look with scorn and denial upon the idea that Yeshua is their Messiah (and the Messiah of the world).

BUT WAIT!

Some 100 years after the death of Yeshua, there arose to power within the nation of Israel a man named Simon ben Kosiba.  He led a rebellion that freed Israel from the Roman yoke for about two-and-a-half years.  So successful was Simon ben Kosiba that the famous Rabbi Akiva declared him the Messiah and gave him the title bar Kokhba (Son of a star).

But the freedom of Israel was short-lived.  The Romans so destroyed the land and the populace that the center of Jewish learning was forced to move from Israel to Babylon.  Bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva and hundreds of thousand others were utterly destroyed.

So this so-called Messiah was proven not to be one at all – Rabbi Akiva was wrong.

Nevertheless, Bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva are both looked upon with great regard by the Jewish community.

I find it ironic that the true messiah and the true prophet are despised while the false messiah and the false prophet are venerated.  Think about it!

Want more information about the real Messiah?  Contact us and we will be happy to tell you about Him.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General
Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Resurrection, This, That, The Other Thing | 2 Comments »

The Matzah Tosh Enigma

April 21st, 2011

The Matzah Tosh!

If you’ve been to a Passover Seder – you know what I am talking about.  As part of the Seder service there are three matzot (plural of matzah – the unleavened bread used at Passover as commanded by God) one on top of the other.  Each one is separated from the other by a piece of cloth.  In many Jewish homes this is actually done with a partitioned bag – the Matzah Tosh.

It is the middle matzah taken from the tosh that is used for the afikomen.  The half of the matzah called the afikomen is buried, so to speak, hidden away somewhere until later on when the children search for it.  As a matter of fact, the service can’t officially be concluded until the afikomen is found, since it is the last thing to be eaten at the Seder.

The question is: why and how did this tradition ever start?  What is its purpose?

There are a number of rabbinic answers to why the three layers of matzah exist.  For instance, one is that the three layers represent the three patriarchs of Israel – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Another explanation is that the three layers represent the three divisions of worship in the Ancient Kingdom of Israel – the Kohanim (Priests), the Levites and the rest of the children of Israel. 

There are other explanations, all in the same vein, but they do not answer the very basic question: why is the middle matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?  There is little if any explanation for this custom within the Jewish community.  So what gives with this tradition?

Well, if we consider that, at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.C.E., up to a third of the population of Jerusalem may have been composed of Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus), we might have a viable explanation.

You see, the Matzah Tosh is one in three parts.  Just as God has revealed himself as one in three parts.  A unity like that which is expressed in Genesis 2:24,

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

The word used here for “one” is the Hebrew word “echad.”  It is the same word used by Moses when he proclaims,

Shema Yisroel Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad
“Here oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one”
(Deuteronomy 6:4)

Both passages express the word “one” using the Hebrew word “echad.”  Clearly then, “echad” does not necessarily mean a homogeneous “one” as the rabbis like to insist when it comes to describing the nature of God.  In both these cases it is referring to a pluralistic “one”.

It is not hard to imagine those early Jewish believers in Yeshua using the three layers in their Seders to represent God as He had revealed himself: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps because other Jews did not have a huge problem with this concept of God, as modern rabbis do, they liked and began to use this custom.

Perhaps these Jews who had taken on the custom of their believing neighbour did not fully understand why their friends had introduced the tradition of taking the middle matzah out, breaking it, “burying” it and then bringing it back.  But the Jewish believers in Yeshua had created the perfect picture of their Saviour.

Yeshua was God come as flesh to fulfill the promises of the prophets.  He was the second person of the three-in-one Godhead.  In terms of God, only Yeshua was made visible (see John 1:14), just as the afikomen layer is made visible while the other two remain hidden.

Yeshua, like the afikomen, was broken.  He died a painful and ignominious death on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven through his sacrifice on our behalf.  This too was promised by God through the prophets (see Isaiah 53).

Like the afikomen, Yeshua was buried but was raised up again to life.  His children partake of His atonement and His new life, just as those at the Seder table partake of the afikomen.

One question still remains.  How could a custom that was begun by Jewish believers actually get into the Passover Seder of traditional rabbinic Judaism and remain there all these many centuries after?

The answer is simple.  Though given by Yeshua in a different context, it still holds true: “with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)”

Hag Sameach!

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Atonement, Daniel Muller, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish Identity, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Resurrection, The Bible, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Passover: should we celebrate it?

April 18th, 2011

Tonight, Jews around the world will be celebrating the Passover Seder.  They will recount the Exodus from Egypt.  They will tell the story of how, at the price of the sacrifice of a spotless lamb, Israel was redeemed from bondage and slavery to Pharaoh.  They will remember also how God made the Angel of Death pass over the houses of those (Jew or Gentile) who put the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorpost of their homes.

Jewish believers will also celebrate this festival, inviting Yeshua (Jesus) as the main guest.  We invite Yeshua because we recognize him as the ultimate Passover Lamb that brings the redemptive fulfillment to which the Exodus story points.

Finally there will be many churches who will also celebrate the connection between the Passover Seder and Yeshua.  They may not be celebrating tonight, but they will be having Passover messages or even Passover Seders to commemorate Messiah as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.”

The other day I had a discussion with a fellow believer in Yeshua (not Jewish) who insisted that all Christians and churches “ought” to celebrate this festival.  I challenged her to explain why this should be so, and the fruits of that discussion instigated this article.  Do we need to celebrate Passover?

At the risk of annoying many, I have to say that I think the answer is no.  If you are reading this and it makes you upset – please read through before giving full vent to your anger.

I will go into the Scriptural details at another time.  Right now I want to just lay out a simple case.

If you are a Jew and you are celebrating the Passover, you have to recognize that you are not celebrating it biblically.  If you were to do so, it would require you to take your sacrifice to the temple.  Let’s face it – that is not possible.

You are not celebrating the biblical Passover, but the rabbinic Passover.  There is a difference.  The rabbinic elements of Passover are not commanded by God.  He did not command us to have four cups of wine.  He did not command us to light the Passover candles, despite what the b’rakhah (the blessing) says.  He did not command us to hide and then search for the Afikomen.  He did not command us to wonder how many miracles he did on land or on the water.

The rabbis put all that together.  God commanded us to sacrifice at the Temple.  Now your response to this (if you ever considered one) is probably, “but I can’t celebrate at the Temple – it was destroyed!” 

The rabbis say that these traditions have come into place for that reason – as a replacement for the Temple worship.  Let’s consider this , however.  I ask you, who gave the rabbis the authority to make changes to God’s Word?  The answer is nobody did.

However, if we understand Yeshua as the fulfillment of God’s Word, then not only does the destruction of the Temple make sense – it no longer was (or is) needed – but Passover itself can then be put in its proper place.

Passover was a pointer to Messiah.  It was intended as one of many clues that God gave the Israelites to help them understand who Messiah would be: first as the Suffering Servant (see Isaiah 53) that brought redemption between God and those who love him – eternal life to those who put the blood of Messiah on the doorpost of their hearts; and then as the Victorious King who would bring ultimate judgment and peace to the world and herald in the Olam Habah (the World to Come).

As such Passover is part of the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai and which he declares as broken through the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  We now have the New Covenant that God promised.  We enter into that covenant when we turn from our sins and accept our Messiah as Lord and Saviour, just as God commands through His Word.

As Yeshua is the fulfillment of the Covenant of Sinai and so of the Passover, therefore the Passover Seder does not have to be celebrated. 

Having said that, I celebrate the Passover; not because I have to, but because I want to.  As a Jew, I want to commemorate God’s faithfulness to my people by redeeming us from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt.  More importantly, however, I want to commemorate God’s faithfulness to me, by redeeming me from an even greater slavery – my bondage to sin through my faith in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ).  He is the ultimate fulfillment of the picture of Passover.

If a church wants to celebrate Passover for this purpose, I say go for it!

If my fellow Jewish believers want to do it for this purpose.  Yesh Koakh!

For my Jewish brethren who are not believers, I ask you: why follow the traditions of men, when you can follow the commands of God.  Come to your Messiah – Yeshua – and know true redemption!

May the Lord bless you with much Simcha this Passover Season.  Hag Sameach!

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Atonement, Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Jewish Identity, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Christianity, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Resurrection, Salvation, The Bible | 2 Comments »

A Sudden Shaking: are you ready?

March 2nd, 2011

Here in British Columbia we are on earthquake alert.  At least we are supposed to be.

At first one thinks of preparing, perhaps even gathers a few things in readiness to evacuate quickly.  And then life continues and, of necessity, we focus on our daily tasks.  But, how quickly things can change!  Just ask the survivors of the February 23rd earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the second quake in a few months.

On February 23rd Colin Perkel of The Canadian Press quoted a survivor: “It was like a giant had picked up the house and was shaking it, and not just up and down but side to side.” “Everything that could fall down did fall down – it looked like a bomb had gone off in there.”  Another survivor said the quake made such a deafening sound when it struck, he didn’t even realize it had knocked over his refrigerator.

On March 1st Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) said that three young Israeli men, ages 22 and 23, died in the earthquake, and 2 others remain missing. Those young men didn’t know that day would be their last in this life.

Our prophet Isaiah said,

“See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered … The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again. In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below … The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously. (Isaiah 24.1-3,19-21,23)”

Our prophet Zechariah said,

“A day of the Lord is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it … Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south … The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name (Zechariah 14:1-4,9)” 

“The Lord will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son … On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. (Zechariah 12:10; 13:1)”

Before He returned to Heaven, Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah – the pierced one – spoke about the days before his return to the Mount of Olives,

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many … There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:4-5, 7-8)”

He said there would be persecution of believers, and false messiahs and false prophets would do great signs and miracles in order to deceive.

‘Immediately after the distress of those days, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ (Matthew 24:29; he was quoting from Isaiah 13:10; 34:4 and referring to Isaiah 24:23)”

Yeshua said that at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30). 

When Yeshua rose from the dead after being crucified, He was seen by many people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).  One disciple, Luke, recorded the words of two angels after Yeshua was taken up into the sky, saying that Yeshua would return to the Mount of Olives in the same way he went up (Acts 1:11).

Wonders in the sky and shaking on the earth below. Our prophets spoke about this centuries before Christ (c. 700 B.C. and 500 B.C.).  Zechariah knew that one day all Israel would recognize her Messiah and that when He returns to the Mount of Olives there will be a massive earthquake (Zechariah 14:4).  Then our Messiah affirmed these prophecies for us.

He might return today or tomorrow or many years from now.  But we can be sure that His coming will take most of us by surprise.  So isn’t it wise to get ready now?  How can you do that?

Open your heart to Him. Look into the Scriptures to see for yourself what He has revealed. Pray and ask Him to show you the truth. Confess your need of His mercy; then receive His forgiveness and love.   Contact us so we can help or go to this link.  Accept Yeshua as your Saviour and Lord.

You’ll be in good company when you do!  Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Daniel all had a personal relationship with the living God of Israel. 

The Messiah is coming! His reward will be with Him, and He will give to everyone according to what he has done.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:12-17).

Come, take the free gift of the water of life, and when the sudden shaking comes, you’ll be ready.

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar,  a Jewish believer in Jesus

Posted in Cynthia Sugar, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, Personal Stories, Resurrection, Salvation, This, That, The Other Thing, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Who are God’s people?

February 28th, 2011

   And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
   “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him.  No foreigner or hired servant may eat of it.  It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.  All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.  If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised.  Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land.  But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it.  There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
   All the people of Israel did just as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.  And on that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
Exodus 12:43-51

God makes it very clear in this passage that the eating of the Passover lamb was tied into membership with His covenant people.  In other words, no one who did not recognize personal redemption through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb was not allowed to eat of it.

Another thing that God makes clear here is that, though the redemption he wrought was primarily for the nation of Israel, it was not exclusively for Israelites.  Although, in principle, foreigners or hired servants were not to eat of the Passover lamb, those who entered into the covenant of Abraham were permitted.  The sign of that covenant was circumcision.

This principle held true throughout Israel’s history as illustrated in the Tanakh (Old Testament).  Examples of foreigners who entered into covenant with God are plentiful: Zipporah the Midianite (Exodus 2:16-21; 4:20-26), Rahab the Canaanite (Joshua 2:1-4; 6:17-25), Ruth the Moabite (Ruth 1:16-19), and Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:1-11).

Often, rabbinic tradition anachronistically talks about these people converting to Judaism.  However, in the case of Uriah, though he clearly appears to be part of Israel, he is always referred to as “the Hittite.”  Similarly, despite Ruth’s profession in Ruth 1:16, she continues to be called a Moabite throughout the book of Ruth.

Clearly, to be part of God’s people, you did not (and do not) need to be an Israelite.  What you need to do is to be in the covenant.

Through the prophet, Jeremiah, God promised a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), which was fulfilled in Yeshua HaMashiakh (Jesus Christ) and inaugurated by his death and resurrection.  At his last meal before his death (a Passover Seder) Yeshua took the cup after the meal (the Cup of Redemption) and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20)”

This covenant has a new outward sign.  Yeshua declared that sign: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)”

There is now a new redemption and a New Covenant that finds its core in faith in Yeshua.  As one writer puts it:

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)”

This New Covenant is available to all, just as the first covenant was – available to Jew and Gentile alike.  In the earliest years of that New Covenant most of those who freely entered into that covenant were Jews. 

Sadly most of the Jewish people turned their backs on this covenant.  The truth is, however, that most of the Gentile people in those days also turned their back on this covenant.  This state of affairs remains true today.

Dear reader, whether you are Jewish or Gentile, you can have eternal life through this New Covenant.  You can be redeemed by God through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God – Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ).  You can be part of God’s people!

Won’t you at least consider these things and look into them.  It is a matter of spiritual life and death.

If you would like more information, please contact us.  If you are prepared to come to faith in Yeshua today, you can contact us or go to this link.

May the Lord bless you with understanding of His truth and His will.

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
(1 Corinthians 5:7)

 Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Evangelism, Following God, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Jewish Identity, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Resurrection, Salvation, Things Doctrinal and Theological | No Comments »

Believe and Succeed!

February 8th, 2011

And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”
2 Chronicles 20:20

This was the cry of the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat, as a great horde was coming to attack Jerusalem.  The day before, Jehoshaphat had gone to the Temple in supplication to the Lord Almighty, and the Lord answered to say that he would conquer their enemies – that the armies of Judah would not even have to fight.

The next morning, Jehoshaphat and his army went to the place of battle, but instead of preparing to fight, they sang songs of praise to God, who was true to His word.  God made the enemies fight amongst themselves.  They were annihilated.

The call of Jehoshaphat is the call of God: the call to believe in God and in His promises. 

God made promises to Abraham and we are told that as Abraham believed, God counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

The nation Israel, on the other hand, did not always believe.  They certainly did not when Moses went up on Mount Sinai, and so they made and worshipped the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). 

When ten of the twelve spies sent to check out the Land came back with a pessimistic report, the Israelites did not believe God’s ability to keep his promise to them (Numbers 13:25-14:38).  Moses reminds them of this in Deuteronomy 1:28-33.

Rabbinic tradition renders Judaism into a cult of action, whereas the Scriptures demands a faith founded on belief – belief in God and belief in His promises.  You cannot ‘do’ yourself into the Kingdom of God (Heaven, Eternal Life, Olam Habah or whatever you want to call it).  You must trust in God and in his promises.  You must believe and believe rightly.

God makes many promises that we read in Scripture.  One of them is the promise of a Suffering Servant who would take our transgressions upon ourselves and die for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5-8).  This Servant would be cut off from the land of the living but would be resurrected to see the light of day (Isaiah 53:10).

That Suffering Servant was the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ).  He came to be the answer to God’s promise – to restore those who love God to Himself.  That is why Yeshua proclaimed, “for if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. (John 5:46)”

God made the promise and he kept it.  So why do the vast majority of my Jewish people disbelieve?

Heed the words of Jehoshaphat!  “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”

Do not perish in the wilderness of life, because you will not listen.  Believe and be saved!

If you wish to respond to this plea, please comment or contact us.  If you wish to receive the Lord right now, you can pray to receive him by going here.

May the Lord bless you with His truth, and with the faith to believe it.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, Resurrection, Salvation | No Comments »

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