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Yom Kippur Opportunity

September 13th, 2013

This evening is Yom Kippur.  What an opportune time for us to draw near to God and let His Spirit move in our hearts!

We tend to be so slow in recognizing our indebtedness to our Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe (melech ha-olam – king of the universe); slow in humbling ourselves before Him and confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness.  This is the one time of year in the Jewish calendar when we are more aware of this need in our lives.

In fact, this self-examination is prescribed for us both biblically and traditionally.  Moses described the Day of Atonement in Leviticus chapters 16 and 23. The high priest represented the people to God.  He alone could enter the holiest place in the tabernacle, and only once a year.  Even then he had to first offer a perfect animal sacrifice for his own sin, and then he and his priests offered sacrifices for the people, so their sins would be ‘covered’.  Since the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century, we have replaced these animal sacrifices with our mitzvot, our good deeds.

In contrast, when our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) came, He replaced these repetitive animal sacrifices by the costly sacrifice of Himself.  He knew that when the Temple was destroyed we would have no need to re-institute the animal sacrifices. The new covenant that God promised for us so long ago through His prophet Jeremiah came into effect (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  He set aside the first covenant so He could establish the second (Hebrews 10:9)

Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of the world, is the only One who could take our place and be sacrificed for us, since He alone was without sin.  Now His is the only acceptable sacrifice to God which allows us to enter His holy Presence.

The Bible is an accurate record of the history of our people and of God’s intervention in our lives.  He loves us so much that He gave His only Son so that we can come to Him and find joy in His Presence now and forever.

If you find this teaching questionable, or confusing, or interesting enough to pursue, why not contact Daniel or Alan at newcovenantforum.org?  They’d be happy to discuss it with you and answer your questions.

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Atonement, Cynthia Sugar, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Messiah, New Covenant, Salvation | No Comments »

PASSOVER: Clean Home and Clean Heart

March 27th, 2013

There’s something so attractive about ‘clean’!  It feels so good to be welcomed into a home that is warm, inviting and clean. It’s so invigorating to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

The town where I live has been known for its clean water, apparently among the best in Canada. Recently for the first time, we’ve had chlorine added – permanently. It’s been a disappointing change. Now pure, clean water has become a precious commodity. Of course, there are places in this world where people are sick and dying from lack of a clean water supply. So this morning I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am for clean air, clean water, clean clothes, a clean home – and most of all a clean heart.

A clean heart?  What is that supposed to mean?

In Exodus, Moses passes on God’s instructions for the Passover:  “Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory” (Exodus 13:7). To this day Jewish homes are cleansed of all leavened products in preparation for the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Why? Leaven is a symbol of sin. (See article “Why Matzah?”)

As we begin to know the Lord by studying His Word, we see that He is always more concerned about the inside of a person’s life and heart than what is apparent on the outside. When God was about to choose a king for Israel, He said to the prophet Samuel, “…Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature … For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God was seeking a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). God chose David as King, and David reigned for a long time (2 Samuel 5:4-5).

Only God knows our hearts, and He wants to be with those whose hearts are clean (1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 17:10). King David wrote, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully”  (Psalm 24:3,4).

But who has never sinned against God?  Who has never chosen his own way over God’s way? Not a single person is righteous, for we have all turned to our own way (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 53:6). Even what we consider to be righteous deeds are unclean to the Lord by His standards, unless our hearts are pure before Him (Isaiah 64:6).

So who then can stand before God?

That is the amazing beauty of the Passover!

God Himself made a way for us to be acceptable in His sight. In the Exodus from Egypt, the lamb was His Passover (Exodus 12:11). Only the lamb could appease God at that time. The blood of the lamb diverted God’s wrath away from those who applied the blood to the entrance of their homes and kept them sheltered by the blood until morning (Exodus 12:7,13,22,23). Those who didn’t, lost their firstborn on that terrible night.

And now we have the perspective of history unfolded. The Passover lamb was a picture foreshadowing the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Our prophet Isaiah described this Lamb of God, our Messiah, hundreds of years before Jesus came into this world (Isaiah 53:3-11). Now our Passover has been sacrificed for us, once forever, to cleanse us always from sin, guilt and shame to serve the living God (I Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 9:14; 10:14)!

Our Lamb of God is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah,  the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 5:5; 22:16). He who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood is coming again. Then every eye shall see Him, every knee shall bow before Him, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Revelation 1:5-7; Philippians 2:9-11).

In the meantime, let’s give praise to God for our Passover Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, who alone can make our hearts clean (Revelation 13:8). Hallelujah, what a Saviour – what a Messiah!

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Cynthia Sugar, Following God, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Salvation, The Bible | No Comments »

PASSOVER: Exemplifying God’s love and mercy.

March 25th, 2013

In designing and instituting the Passover, God displayed His passion to save us, His power to overcome evil and His provision of a way of escape from judgment (Exodus 12).

Why did He do it? Because He loves us passionately to the point of sacrificial love, and because He wants our lives to reflect who He is (Isaiah 43:21; Hosea 14:4; Ephesians 1:6).

The Passover is a picture of a greater salvation, not only for Israel, but for everyone. God knew from the beginning of time that we would separate ourselves from Him (Isaiah 59:2) and that we would need a Saviour from spiritual darkness, from evil, and from our own wayward bent. So He created a plan to rescue us. Yeshua’s (Jesus’) sacrifice for us on the cross is so significant that it marks the division of all time:  the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) looks forward to it and the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) looks back at it. Our Messiah-Redeemer has come and one day He’s returning in power and glory.

Today we need God’s intervention again: on a personal level from our own sin and self-centeredness and on a national level for the protection and deliverance of Israel from those bent on her destruction.

As you celebrate Passover this year, worship the living God, the God of Israel, the Creator and Saviour of the world.  After all, the God of the Passover is the God of the Cross (Exodus 12:7,13; 1 Corinthians 5:7,8).  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (John 8:58; Hebrews 13:8). He is the mighty God, merciful and awesome in judgment.

May we humble ourselves before Him and be ready to meet Him face to face.

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Cynthia Sugar, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Knowing God, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Salvation | No Comments »

The Nations Rage, but Our God Reigns!

November 17th, 2011

Yes, the nations are surrounding our land of Israel with hatred and evil intentions.

But this is not a surprise to God. And He will have the last word.

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed … He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure.”
(Read all of Psalm 2)

Be assured, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

“Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.”
(Isaiah 8:9-10)

To His people Israel, He offers refuge and hope.

“See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him. He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart: He gently leads those that have young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens?”
(Isaiah 40:10-12)

“To whom will you compare Me? Or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. … Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. .. those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”
(Isaiah 40:25-26, 28-31).

God knows we are fearful. He knows the militant, radical leadership in Iran is fuelling hatred and it is spreading. He knows there will be more suffering yet.  But His eye is on the clock and He will let them go only so far.

For our part, we need to hide in Him. We need to run to Him for mercy and protection. Not only for this present life, but even more importantly for the next.  Our eternal security is with Him alone. He alone reigns above all powers political and spiritual.

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Contact us, and know more about our protector and the eternal security He offers.

Posted in Cynthia Sugar, Israel, Knowing God, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

Comfort My People

November 14th, 2011

God’s love is past finding out, beyond our wildest imagination, wider than the sky, deeper than the ocean.

We have spurned His love, yet He still reaches out to us. We have grieved Him, yet He still offers us joy.

Through our prophet Isaiah, God beseeches us,

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool”
Isaiah 1:18

He can offer us this mercy and forgiveness because He has sent the Messiah to take our place, to take His wrath which we deserve. The law has been fulfilled by our Messiah Jesus. He has become our atonement. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:6).

Jesus said, I have come so that you might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). Our Messiah is calling us:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”
Matthew 11:28

Peace.  Healing.  Abundant life.  Rest. Why would we refuse?

He knows we have already suffered tremendously and that we have “received from the Lord’s hand double for all [our] sins” (Isaiah 40:2).  But the day is coming when,”Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plan. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 40:2-5)”

My Jewish brothers and sisters – Jesus is ours!  He is our Messiah!  He is our God!  Yes, He came as a light to the Gentiles also (Isaiah 42:6) but He came to the world through our people!  He is our Prophet, and He is our Redeemer!  God promised Him to us, and He has come! Let Him clothe you with garments of salvation and array you in a robe of righteousness which comes from Him alone (Isaiah 61:10).

And He is coming again! He will return to the Mount of Olives in power and glory – the earth will quake, the mountain will divide, and He will judge the nations. He will yet make Jerusalem a praise in the earth:

“See, your Savior comes! See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him”
Isaiah 62:11

You will be called the Holy people, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”
Isaiah 62:12

Let’s be ready. Let’s honor Him now and praise Him for His life-giving sacrifice and for the abundant life He gives us today.

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Cynthia Sugar, Evangelism, Following God, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, The Bible | No Comments »

Better than Gold

September 14th, 2011

In these days of financial uncertainty, where should one invest? Of course the answer to that depends on the age, circumstances and personal goals of the investor. Many investors depend on professional money managers who constantly evaluate and manage risk against the potential growth level – or safety – desired by the investor.

There are many factors to consider, and a variety of investment styles. For example, one idea is to buy solid, well managed companies in strong economies and hold for the longterm. Some advisors suggest diversifying your portfolio into emerging markets such as Brazil which has an abundance of natural resources and huge cash reserves. Some say now is a good time to build your cash reserves and redeploy them when good buying opportunities arise. And of course there are those who recommend buying silver and gold to hedge against currency deflation.

After all, what could ever be more valuable than gold? What could be more enduring?

The Bible says that wisdom is better than gold, and understanding than silver (Proverbs 6:16). Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields a better return than gold (Proverbs 3:13,14).

What does this mean? How does one obtain this kind of wisdom?

 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding”
(Proverbs 2:1-6).

“Choose My instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her”
(Proverbs 8:10,11).

Worshiping the Lord and obeying His Word will bring you wisdom, and wisdom will continually lead you back to the Lord. By His Word were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth (Psalm 33:6). What could be better than belonging to the Creator of the universe, sheltered by His love?

 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”
(Proverbs 1:7).

What does that mean? When we reverence the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when we pray and seek the Lord with all our heart, we will find Him (Psalm 33:8; Jeremiah 29:11-13).  He will lead us to Himself. He will show us our need of His salvation and mercy and blessings.  And He will show the extent to which He has gone to show us His love. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for another (John 15:13), and this is what Jesus our Messiah did for us.

Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7). Seek the Lord, reverence Him, yield to Him in your life and the returns on your investment of time, energy and passion will yield the best return – forever!

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Cynthia Sugar, Following God, Knowing God, The Bible, This, That, The Other Thing | No 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 »

Perfect Timing

January 13th, 2011

King David wrote in one of his psalms, “As for God, His way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30)”

As I have been reading through the books of Moses again, and then into the story of Joshua, I have been deeply impressed by God’s perfect timing.

It’s interesting to see how many times the Scriptures say, “to the very day”.

“Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.  At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.”
(Exodus 12:40,41)

“On the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. … Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
(Exodus 19:3-6)

God told Moses that the month of the first Passover was to become for us the first month of the year. On the tenth day of the first month the Israelites were to choose their Passover  lamb.  On the fourteenth day at twilight they were to sacrifice the lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their homes, so that when God sent His angel of death throughout the land of the Egyptians He would spare them when He saw the blood, as expressed in Scripture:

“And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when He struck down the Egyptians.’”
(Exodus 12:26)

Forty years later, on the tenth day of the first month, the people crossed the Jordan on dry ground, even though it was at flood stage, just as He had dried up the Red Sea (Joshua 4:18-19).  On the fourteenth day they celebrated the Passover, and the day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan (Joshua 5:10-12).

In His final week before the crucifixion, about 1,450 years after the first Passover, on the tenth day of the first month, Yeshua (Jesus) was in the Temple in Jerusalem, angrily defending the Temple as a house of prayer.  On the fourteenth day He was crucified and became our Passover Lamb to deliver us from the just wrath of God.  His ‘Last Supper’ with His disciples was a Passover seder, a foreshadow of His death just as He had predicted:

“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
(Matthew 26:1-2)

Surely, we can marvel that “As for God, His way is perfect”!

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar,  a Jewish believer in Jesus

Posted in Cynthia Sugar, Jewish festivals, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, This, That, The Other Thing | 1 Comment »

Mitzvot or a Mediator?

November 1st, 2010

If you haven’t read it, please go to the first article, Mitzvot or Faith?

We see in many passages in God’s Word that all our good deeds are not good enough to overcome our sinful hearts.  In fact our sins actually separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).

But as Abraham was saved by faith, we too can be made righteous in God’s sight.

Do you remember when the Israelites were making their way through the wilderness under Moses’ leadership?  They began to complain (yet again) against God and Moses. In anger God sent fiery serpents which bit the people and many of the people died (Numbers 21:4,5).  When they repented, Moses prayed for the people .  The Lord told Moses to make a serpent out of copper and mount it on a standard.  “ … if anyone who is bitten looks at it, he shall recover.”  Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, he would look at the copper serpent and recover (Numbers 21:8,9).

Approximately 1500 years later, a leader among the Jews by the name of Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. (John 3:2)”  After explaining some spiritual truths to Nicodemus, Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14)”

Nicodemus would have understood Jesus’ reference to the serpent in the wilderness.  Jesus was making a connection between the salvation He was going to provide by His sacrifice on the cross, and the provision God made in the desert to bring life from death.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16)”

Our prophet Isaiah exhorts us who believe in the God of Israel:  “Comfort , oh comfort My people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)”  The comfort He offers is that our Messiah was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, each going his own way; and the Lord visited upon him the guilt of all of us (Isaiah 53:5-6).

We absolutely cannot enter God’s presence on our own merit.  We need an advocate.  Not only did Jesus come to be a mediator for us, He gave His own life to be our substitute.  He accepted death in our place, so that we could live.  And praise to our God, He rose again to prove His victory over sin and death.

When we look to Him and place our faith in Him, the God of Israel welcomes us with open arms.

We don’t need to understand it all—we never could.  We do need to accept His gift to us with humility, repentance, and gratitude in our hearts.

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Atonement, Blog, Cynthia Sugar, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Salvation | No Comments »

Mitzvot or Faith?

November 1st, 2010

In my religious education at Temple we were taught that we are pretty good: if we do enough mitzvahs (good deeds) there’s a good chance we will be alright in God’s book and we’ll probably make it to Heaven (“if there is one”). “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life” is a blessing we gave one another.  (And sometimes we thought we could pay for such a blessing by giving a large donation to a worthy charity.)

 But in reality, God’s book, the Tenakh, teaches us differently.

 The Torah records that, when Moses was 120 years old, the Lord told him that his death was near.  So Moses gave Joshua the charge of leading the people over the Jordan into the promised land. Then the Lord predicted Israel’s rebellion after Moses’ death:

“You are soon to lie with your fathers. This people will thereupon go astray after the alien gods in their midst, in the land they are about to enter; they will forsake Me and break My covenant that I made with them. Then My anger will flare up against them, and I will abandon them and hide My countenance from them. They shall be ready prey; and many evils and troubles shall befall them. And they shall say on that day, ‘Surely it is because our God is not in our midst that these evils have befallen us.’ Yet I will keep My countenance hidden on that day, because of all the evil they have done in turning to other gods. (Deuteronomy 31:16-18)”

 “And Moses said to the people, ‘Well I know how defiant and stiffnecked you are: even now, while I am still alive in your midst, you have been defiant toward the Lord; how much more, then, when I am dead? … For I know that, when I am dead, you will act wickedly and turn away from the path that I enjoined upon you, and that in time to come misfortune will befall you for having done evil in the sight of the Lord and vexed Him by your deeds.’ (Deuteronomy 31:27,29)”

 Our prophet Isaiah passed on God’s message to us, telling us that in fact we have all become like an unclean thing, and all our virtues are like a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:5).  So it turns out that we are actually unworthy and we walk in a way that is not good! 

 On the other hand, God pronounced Abraham as being righteous. How could that be?  When God came to Abram in a vision, He took Abram outside and said, Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.  And He added, So shall your offspring be.  And because Abram put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit (Genesis 15:1-6).  God counted Abraham as righteous because of his faith!

 By faith we are saved.  By our faith God considers us righteous. By faith we can be in right relationship with God.

 But faith in what?  in whom?  And how do we get this faith?

Mitzvahs or a Mediator coming up …

Contributed by Cynthia Sugar, Jewish believer in Jesus.

Posted in Atonement, Cynthia Sugar, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, Salvation | No Comments »

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