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Isaiah’s Afflicted Angel

January 24th, 2014

I will make mention of the mercies of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us; and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He hath bestowed on them according to His compassions, and according to the multitude of His mercies.  For He said: ‘Surely, they are My people, children that will not deal falsely’; so He was their Saviour.  In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.
(Isaiah 63:7-9; Jewish Publication Society, 1917)

This is a picture of God’s relationship with Israel.  Is it not a fitting picture of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)?  He is the fulfillment of God’s love to His people.

Posted in Anonymous, Biblical Interpretation, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Some Words and Thoughts | No Comments »

Days of the Maccabees

December 2nd, 2013

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

The week Yeshua (Jesus) was in Jerusalem, prior to his crucifixions, his disciples asked him when he would set up God’s eternal kingdom (Read Matthew 24).  They did not yet understand that he had come, not as the victorious Messiah son of David as promised in passages like Isaiah 9:6-7, but as the Suffering Servant Messiah son of Joseph, as promised in passages like Isaiah 53.

Yeshua warned them that, like the days of Noah, people will not be prepared for its coming (Matthew 24:37).  That is an interesting statement.  After all, Noah was 120 years building the ark, and in that time he surely proclaimed the truth of what God was doing.  The fact is, they just didn’t want to hear it.  The truth is that in the “days of Noah” there were two kinds of people.  God’s people, of whom there were eight, and the people who spurned God and wanted nothing to do with His ways.

This stark contrast is very obvious in the story of Hanukkah.  In those “days of the Maccabees” there were two types of Jews in Israel: Jews like the Maccabees who wanted to follow God, and Jews who wanted to follow the Greek ideals of the empire begun by Alexander the Great.  It was the latter who backed the evil incursions of the Seleucid King, Antiochus Epiphanes, which instigated the Maccabean rebellion and victory that our Hanukkah celebrations commemorate.

The name Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘dedication.’  It is a fitting name, since the festival encapsulates the dedication and faithfulness of God’s people in the face of great persecution, as well as the dedication of God to His faithful people.

Are we not living in “days of the Maccabees” now?  Do not the words of the Apostle Paul, quoted in the passage above, ring true with regard to the world we live in today?  We live in a very pagan world, where the idea of a God who created and loves is unpopular and often denigrated.  His expectations are spurned and ignored.

Like those days, God’s people are called to be perseverant in their dedication and faithfulness to Him.  Why?  We do so because he continues to be dedicated and faithful to His followers.   Time and again He has shown his faithfulness, just as He did for the Maccabees and their followers – the followers of God.

No greater evidence is there than His faithfulness on the Cross.  He promised a deliverer in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) and He provided that deliver as we see evidenced in the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament).  That deliver is Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).

Don’t take my word for it.  Read the Tanakh and the B’rit Hadashah and see if it is not so.  We would be happy to send you both.  Just contact us; we would also be happy to answer any of your questions.

Hag Hanukkah Sameach!

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

Posted in Daniel Muller, Evangelism, Following God, Israel, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Jews and Jesus, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Serving God, The Bible | No Comments »

It’s the High Holidays!

September 11th, 2013

It’s the High Holidays!  It’s a time for spiritual awakening; a call to repentance as we prepare for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  We are to recognize our transgressions against God; we are to turn away from doing them and turn towards God.

So before Yom Kippur we ramp up our good activities and try to reduce our bad ones.  On Yom Kippur we fast and pray.  In the end, we hope that our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds sufficiently to have our names written in the Book of Life, as if our actions could ever meet the standards of our holy, perfect God.  In the end, we have no assurance – we just hope and pray that our sacrifice is acceptable to God, all the time knowing deep inside that it can never be sufficient.

What if, however, our eternal life had nothing to do with our merit and everything to do with the Lord’s?  What if our relationship with God was based on just that – our relationship and not our deeds or lack of them?  What if it were our faith that determined our eternal destiny?

In the Tanakh (Old Testament) it is written, “the righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Surely we already have the love of God, but we only inherit his kingdom if we are in right relationship with him by faith.  After all, we who are in God’s image love our children, even though they do wrong, but we long for them to be in right relationship with us.

For this reason, God came to be amongst us in human form (much like he did with Abraham in Genesis 18), and became a guilt offering for us (Isaiah 53:10).  This was Yeshua (Jesus) who died on the cross for our sins and who said,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
(John 3:16-17)

Yeshua has paid the price of sin eternally for us. We do not need to wonder, for we know that the sacrifice for our sin is complete. God has provided the way for you and me.

This Yom Kippur, as you contemplate your sinfulness before God, why not receive forgiveness the way God intended: through our Messiah Yeshua.  If you want to know more, please contact us.

HAG SAMEACH!

Posted in Anonymous, Atonement, Following God, Jewish festivals, Messiah, New Covenant, Redemption, Salvation | No Comments »

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 »

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 »

Redemption and the Tanakh – Part 1: The Akedah

April 27th, 2012

A number of years ago, I was sharing with a church congregation about the way the modern Passover Seder service points to the redemption found in Yeshua (Jesus).  I’m afraid my attempts must have been found wanting, because afterward a young Jewish man, who attended the service, came up to me and asked me what I meant by the term, “redemption”.

Clearly I had not explained myself well enough.  I recognize that the expression tends to be used a lot in Christian circles but the concept is a biblical one that goes back to the Patriarchs.

Genesis 22, a passage know in Jewish tradition as the Akedah, or “binding,” speaks of the time when God called upon Abraham to sacrifice his one-and-only son, Isaac.  Abraham, ever the faithful servant of God, prepares to do so; even though God promised him that he would become a great nation through Isaac.

The passage tells of how Abraham and Isaac, with some servants, went to the place where God instructed them to go in the wilderness of Moriah.  At one point Abraham leaves his servants and goes on alone with Isaac .  Isaac was in his thirties at this time, and it was he who carried the wood for the burnt offering.  He carried the means of his pending destruction, just as Jesus did when he carried the wood he was crucified upon.

Interestingly, Abraham tells his servant that they would both return.  Abraham was confident that God would keep his promise regarding Isaac, even though he was asked to sacrifice him.  Whether he believed that God would spare him at the last, or that He would resurrect Isaac from the dead, we cannot say.  We can only say that Abraham exhibits unswerving faith in God’s ability to keep His promise.

On the way, Isaac notices that there is wood and fuel for the burnt offering; but where is the sacrifice?  He asks his father, who once again exhibits his trust in God, by responding, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).

Notice that he does not say the Lord will provide a lamb for the patriarch and his son, but for Himself.

It is amazing to think that Isaac, although ignorant at first regarding his part in the sacrifice, is a willing participant.  Certainly, Abraham could not have bound up Isaac on the altar, if Isaac had fought with him.  So we see here not only Abraham’s faith, but Isaac’s as well.

As all who are familiar with the story know, just as Abraham lifts the knife and prepares to bring it down upon Isaac, the Angel of the Lord comes and prevents him.  Abraham’s one–and-only son was safe, and their faith was proven.

But a sacrifice was still necessary.  Abraham looks up, “and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns.  And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).

The picture is clear.  Abraham was to sacrifice his only son of the promise, Isaac, and the son willingly prepares to lay down his life at God’s command.  God wanted to test Abraham and Isaac, not to see Isaac sacrificed, and so He sent a ram to redeem Isaac’s life. 

The Akedah is a story of both faith and redemption.  The two are inseparable.  Almost two millennia after this sacrifice, God sent His one-and-only Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).  This son was not a mere human, like Isaac, but was God Himself, come in human form to be a perfect sacrifice.  He willingly laid down his life at His Father’s command.

It is not a human sacrifice, but God’s self-sacrifice on behalf of his people – to reconcile them to Him.   By this sacrifice, Yeshua has redeemed us, just as that ram redeemed Isaac so long before.

That redemption – that salvation – is available to all those who put their faith in God through that sacrifice.  It is effective to all who put their faith in Yeshua and recognize him as both Saviour and Lord.

If you would like to know this redemption, then please contact us.

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

Posted in Daniel Muller, Jewish festivals, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Things Doctrinal and Theological | No Comments »

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