Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu?

I believe I have said it before in the past, at around inauguration time, and I'll say it again (though I didn't come up with it - I have heard many Messianic teachers say this), that we need to be in the weekly Torah portions (consisting of a specific portion read each week from the first five books of Moses - the Torah portion - along with a portion from the Prophets - called the Haftarah - and for Messianic believers, a portion from the NT) because it is usually pertinent for the week/times. Remember, God's word is "...quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." - Heb. 4:12. In other words, it is always relevant.

Last weeks Torah portion was actually a double portion (two portions put together due to the way the yearly calender falls) - "Tazria", and "Metzora" which consisted of Lev. 12:1 - 15:33. Within the portion were the laws pertaining to infectious disease, leprosy, etc.

Last night we turned on the news only to see that there is an "epidemic" of "swine flu" in Mexico (to read about it, click on the picture above), and believed to have migrated to America, Canada, and possibly New Zealand and Europe, soon to possibly be labeled a "pandemic!" This news coming out on the same day that "Metzora" (meaning "leper" or "diseased") was being read all around the world.

It reminds me of Yeshua's words in Matt. 24:7 - "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." I believe we are truly seeing these things as He spoke two-thousand years ago. I also believe that God's word is going to be the only navigation that will direct our steps (as Yeshua said in vs. 25 - "Behold, I have told you before"). I cannot stress enough how important it is to be reading the Bible daily (and I mean daily!), memorizing it, praying, and seeking direction from the LORD. With so many voices speaking today, how are we to know which is His voice, and the voices of all of the imposter's (cf. Matthew 24:5,11,23,24), and those that speak from their own heart and thoughts (cf. Proverbs 28:26; Jeremiah 9:13,14; Jer. 18:12; Jer. 23:16, et al)? We need to be in His word so that we learn truth from error. And Listening to teachers on the radio does not count (not that it is bad, but rather, we need to read the bible ourselves as well as listen to bible teaching!).

Please take seriously the times that we are in. If you are not already, get into the word DAILY.

If you would like a to get a Torah portion reading schedule ( that includes NT readings) you can go here and print one off.

May you be directed by YHVH, in the faith of Yeshua, and "may you go out with joy and be led forth with peace." - Is. 55:12


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Be Silent

This Last Tuesday was Holocaust Remembrance (Memorial) Day. It was (and is) a time to reflect on what happened during WWII and, for me at least, to think about how the Christian Church (for the most part, with a few exceptions) were implicit in much of what happened simply by their silence. How could a whole Nation, which was considered, for the most part, to be a Christian Nation at the time, allow such barbarity to occur?

There is an ancient fortress in Israel. According to the Masada National Park, Masada was fortified approx. 2,200 years ago, later being enlarged and reinforced by Herod the Great (to learn more, you can read about it at the Jewish Virtual Library, and this article at the National Guard website, among others). In the years between 66 A.D. and 73 A.D., about a thousand Jews took refuge there from the Roman army. As the Romans besieged the city, the Jews defended themselves there, until finally they all committed mass suicide, rather than be taken alive by the Roman army. A common practice with IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers today is to go up to Masada and take an oath: "Masada shall not fall again."

I share the above to say that I believe that we (meaning everyone of course, but specifically Christians) need to take a similar stance: We will stand with Israel; we will not remain silent and allow what happened during WWII to happen again.

I'm sure many of the "good Christian folk" of that time thought that were were innocent because they didn't personally take physical action against their *Jewish neighbors (though any DID!). But their silence, and turning a blind eye made them just as culpable. If one witnesses a crime in the United States and keeps silent, he or she is counted as complicit in the crime as well.

Now is the time, while we still have some semblance of freedom, to speak up, and stand for truth. We must determine in our hearts now, how we might act and speak if we are put into a situation where we are confronted with a situation similar to WWII.

We must not remain silent.

To see and hear a great (and sobering) video by Messianic Praise and Worship artist Ted Pearce about the Holocaust, go here.


*It must be noted that Jewish people were not the only people that suffered under the Nazi regime - Political dissidents, Christians who spoke out, Captured Russian soldiers, Homosexuals, Gypsies, and others were also exterminated in Hitlers death camps. NO one deserves to be treated this way, and so ALL should be remembered during Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where Is This President Heading?

This also, concerning the movements and actions of Barack Hussein Obama.

Dept. of Homeland Security's Version of "Extremism"

Watch out, you may be considered an "extremist" and a possible "domestic terrorist" by our Department of Homeland Security, as outlined here and here. You may also go here to read the actual document in PDF.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Bible's "Dictionary" - Itself!

For anyone even remotely familiar with the bible, and what it has to say, it is no secret that the bible uses many words that, quite simply, need to be defined for us - hence, when reading/studying the bible, one often uses a Webster's dictionary, a Strong's concordance, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera (sorry... accidentally slipped into "The King and I"), in order to try and better understand what we are reading. For example, what do the words "holy", "righteousness", "grace", "mercy", "love", "repent", et al mean? Unfortunately many today have not been taught how to study their bibles. We are told to read them daily (if we have a decent Pastor, the likes of which are becoming rarer day by day, though there are still some good ones left! ;). The art and practice of systematic, deep bible study is quickly going the way of the Dinosaur. This is not surprising if you know your bible, for we are told in it that:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it." Amos 8:11,12

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Tim. 4:3,4

This is in direct contradistinction to the command given to all disciples of Jesus Christ by Paul, an Apostle of the Lord:

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Tim. 2:15

So, despite the fact that we (believers/followers of the Lord Jesus Christ) are commanded to study to show ourselves approved unto God, many are turning away their ear from the teaching of sound doctrine, and willingly submitting themselves to a famine of God's word (and what does one do during a famine? Become starved, emaciated, and pathetically malnourished). They chase false teachers like a dog chasing the chrome bumper of a moving car - case in point: the multitudes that follow Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Jesse Duplantis, et al, and not only listen to their nonsense, but send them hard earned money by the shovel full (the Todd Bentley fiasco is another prime time example!).

So what does all of this have to do with the Bible's dictionary? Much indeed. You see, one cannot rightly determine what is "evil" and what is "good"; what is "darkness" and what is "light"; what is "bitter" and what is "sweet" (cf. Isaiah 5:20) if one does not even read their bible! And even if you are one of the ancient, "prudish" relics out there that takes down one of the 10 or so bibles that they own off of the shelf, dust off the cover and read it (Charles Spurgeon once said "There is dust enough on some of your bibles to write 'damnation' with your fingers" - ouch!), do you know how to study it? Do you know how to interpret a verse using the bible as the source of definition? Can I tell you that the bible is it's own best dictionary? Do you know how to find the "definitions"?

There exists a method of biblical interpretation that scholars call "hermeneutics." Hermeneutics are simply put, the "rules" of biblical interpretation. There are varying lists of hermeneutic principles, but some of the rules seem to transcend all of the various interpretive traditions. One of those "rules" concerns the defining of biblical terms/words. Basically speaking, words in the bible need to be defined by looking to examples of how the word is used throughout the bible, and taking into account phrases that may explain the word. One example is the word "love." There are many definitions and ideas in the world as to what love is. But the biblical definition is pretty clear:

"...And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Ex. 20:6

"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." Lev. 19:17-18

"And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." Lev. 19:33-34

"...And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." Deut. 6:5-8

"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. " 1 John 2:5

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" 1 John 4:20

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." 1 John 5:2

These are just a small sampling of the many times that the bible uses the word "love" in conjunction with an action, actions, or attitudes. Therefore, the bible itself defines the word love for us.

Words like love, faith, grace, righteous, mercy, holy, etc. are concepts - ideas. They are simply words that, taken apart from any kind of action do us very little good. As in the verse above (1 John 3:16-18), we see that if we see another person in need, but turn a blind eye to it, we are not "loving" our neighbor, regardless of what we say.

Today we are living in a time when not only the world has decided to create their own definitions for things, people who claim to love Jesus, and believe in Him do as well. This should not be for the person who says that he is a follower of Jesus, the Son of God.

One of my most urgent messages to fellow Christians is that we need to be reading our bibles daily. But more than that, we must study our bibles. We need to allow it to explain itself to us.

We must take pains to not redefine the words of the scriptures to suit our ideas and doctrines. We must, if we truly love God and His word, to let the bible define itself for us, and then walk according to what it says. This is not always easy to do, for if we are truly willing to do this, we may find some of our previously held ideas overturned - something not easily swallowed! Are we willing to do this?

Let me simply end with a simple recommendation. If you are reading the bible, and come to a word that seems hard for you to put into practical terms, look for where that word is used in other places in the bible in which an action is associated with it. Our various concordances can indeed be helpful, but they often define one word with another word that is equally abstract - in other words, not very helpful! We need abstract words like love, grace, etc. coupled with a verb in order to truly begin to understand it. And this is exactly what the bible does.

If the two greatest commandments in the bible are to "love God, and love your neighbor as yourself" as is often quoted, the shouldn't we look throughout the bible, and find the verbs that accompany these commandments in order to rightly determine how to do so? As the Psalmist stated in Psalm 119:9 "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word." And again in Psalm 19:7-11 "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward."

Let the bible define itself - after all, it is it's own best dictionary!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New World Order At The Door...Or Here Already?

Please go to Olive Tree Ministries, download and listen to the April 4, 2009 radio programs - hour 1 being an interview with Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend, and hour 2 being an interview with Jerry Robinson, a regular columnist for World Net Daily. Hour 1 with Brannon House will absolutely shock you. We need to wake up, watch and pray. But even more so, I want to encourage everyone to repent and draw near to the Lord, and get into your bible daily!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Passover, or Easter?

I'm sure most of us are aware that we are coming upon two "holidays" - Passover and Easter. One will be largely celebrated by the Jewish population of the world, along with some Christians, and the other will be celebrated by Christians, and those of some of the various Pagan religions (for example, note this online pagan calender, where Easter is listed as one of the holidays on the calender. It must be noted that there are many, many pagan religious groups, so there is not just one, uniform calender.).

In Genesis 1:14 we read the following: "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."

Let's look at this for a minute. The Hebrew word for "signs" in this verse is 'oth' and it means: sign, signal, a distinguishing, mark, banner, remembrance, miraculous, sign, omen, warning.

Next we have "seasons" which is the word 'mo'ed' which means: appointed place, appointed time, meeting, sacred season, set feast, appointed season.

The last two, "days" and "years" are 'yom' and 'shaneh' respectively, which can mean "time" in a more generic sense, but for the most part simply mean "days" and "years."

I want to focus specifically on the word 'mo'ed', translated "seasons" in the verse, for it is this same word that is used in Leviticus ch. 23 when God is giving the "feasts of the LORD" as the King James puts it. Here the word "mo'ed" is translated "feasts." If you take the time to read Leviticus 23, God calls the feasts that are listed, the "feasts of the LORD." In other words, they are HIS feasts. If you recall (from the definition above, taken from BrownsDriverBriggs Lexicon - Strong's will give you the same definitions), the word "mo'ed" means appointed time, place, meeting, etc. These "feasts" given by God are his "appointments" to meet with His people. He gave them to Israel after He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, and took them as His people.

The "mo'edim" (plural of mo'ed') of Leviticus 23 are known as the 7 feasts typically (Passover, Firstfruits, Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles) although the sabbath is listed first, so technically there are 8 "appointments" listed. Of these, I want to focus on Passover, since this is the "season" were are currently in, and share why Christians should be celebrating Passover, not Easter.

I'm going to keep this simple, so I'm not going to go through a long explanation of the Passover. However most, if not all Christians are aware that Jesus fulfilled this feast, being Himself the Passover lamb. In John 1:29 we read: "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." I want to note that in the bible, to "fulfill" does not mean to do once and then it is never to be done again. Let me give an example. If you were to buy a coffee mug, the purpose of the mug is to drink coffee out of it. Usually people don't buy a coffee mug, drink coffee from it one time, and then throw it away. The mug was made for drinking coffee. Every time you drink coffee from the mug, it has "fulfilled" it's purpose. It has multiple "fulfillment's." Many biblical prophecies work this way. For example, when Jesus' parents fled Bethlehem to Egypt to flee Herod, they later returned to Israel, going up to Nazareth. Matthew tells us ( In Matt. 2:15) "And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son" (emphasis mine). Matthew was quoting from Hosea 11:1, where it is written "When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." Notice that Hosea was speaking about Israel's deliverance from Egypt, yet Matthew claims that when Jesus' parents left Egypt to return to Israel, Hosea's statement was fulfilled. Earlier, in Genesis, we see that Abraham goes down into Egypt for a time, and then returns to the land of Canaan. Isaac, Abraham's son does the same thing. Abraham and Isaac were the "Fathers" of Israel. So we see the pattern of "Israel" coming out of Egypt - multiple fulfillment's.

Jesus was crucified on Passover, and three days later, exactly on the feast of Firstfruits, He rose from the dead at the same time that the priests in the Temple were waving the firstfruit grain offering before the LORD. The feasts (remember mo'edim - appointments) were and are the pictures of our Messiah.

Today, most Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Jesus. There are several problems with this. First, and most importantly, where do we find Easter being celebrated in the bible by the followers of Jesus? I thought we were people that believed "sola scriptura" (scripture alone)! Second, Easter has Pagan origins that can easily be confirmed by consulting many available Encyclopedia's. Why are we mixing our celebration of Jesus' resurrection with Pagan religious holidays? And third, God already gave us a day to celebrate Jesus' resurrection in His word - the feast of Firstfruits! We see this feast connected to Jesus by Paul in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 15, the "resurrection" chapter: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept... for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 1 Cor. 15:20,23 - emphasis mine. Firstfruits is celebrated, indeed integrated, into the Passover celebration. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 that we should "keep the feast" of Passover, in remembrance of Jesus. He gets this from Jesus Himself when Jesus took the unleavened bread of the Passover meal that He shared with His disciples, and said "...This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19. When He said "this do in remembrance of Me" what was He talking about? He was talking about the unleavened bread of the Passover. Just before He broke the bread, He told His disciples the following: "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Luke 22:15,16. Someday we are going to eat the Passover meal with Jesus in His kingdom, for He said He would not eat it again until it be fulfilled in the kingdom. Do we ever read of Him eating it again with His disciples? No, but He will eat it with us in His Millennial kingdom. The "cup" that He shared with His disciples was one of the cups of the Passover Seder meal. He tells us that it is the "cup of the New Covenant in [His] blood which is shed for [us]." Luke 22:20. So Jesus tells us that we are to participate in the Passover meal in "remembrance" of Him. Paul tells us to keep the Passover in Remembrance of Jesus.

The "appointments" of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits were given by God in His word. Often when we write papers, we first give an outline. God gave us His redemptive and prophetic outline in His feasts. Jesus not only fulfilled them, He told us to do them in remembrance of Him. Paul told us the same thing. So why are most Christians celebrating Easter, a holiday that has Pagan connections, and often does not even occur at the same time as Passover (sometimes it occurs before Passover - how on earth can we celebrate His resurrection before He even died, chronologically speaking?)? In fact, one of the practices involved in the Easter celebration is the sunrise service. This is reminiscent of the Pagan celebration of facing the East as the sun rises in celebration of it. We see a picture of this in Ezekiel chapter 8 (specifically vs. 16).

Please understand that I do not intend to judge or condemn anyone. The practice of celebrating Easter/Resurrection Sunday is well intentioned by Christians. My desire is to teach and tell others what I am learning, and to call us all back to the bible. Let's see what the bible says, and follow it. And the bible gives us the feasts of the LORD. If we are followers of Jesus, shouldn't we celebrate the feasts that speak of Him (they are literally the shadows of Messiah - in other words, when we celebrate the feasts as His people, we are forming a picture of Him and His work of redemption and salvation on earth)?

Lastly, God's appointments have prophetic implications. They are not only commemorative, they are predictive, and explanatory of what is to come. Shouldn't we be celebrating that which is biblical, fulfilled by our Savior, and demonstrative of what's to come?

May you be blessed in Jesus our Messiah, and may you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. Hallelujah!

B.T.W. - If you would like a resource to read that does a good job of explaining the feasts, is simple to read, and a good place to start, I would recommend a book by Valerie Moody called "The Feasts of Adonai" (pictured at the top) which I believe is available at her website or you can get it God's Learning Channel bookstore.