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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

What the MSM doesn't share!

Take a minute and watch the stories of these Israelis from communities bordering the Gaza strip, sharing their experiences of living under Hamas terror, which has been targeting them with rockets & with arson terrorism, setting fires to their lands.

sh’alu shalom yerushalayim.   (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.)

Am Ysrael Chai!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A complete view!

A few days ago, I downloaded some teaching material from the internet. One of the topics that I shall now be able to study, at some depth, is "The Historical Jesus". I expect it to concentrate on the Man, Christ Jesus.

Many people, of course, recognise Jesus' humanity - but fail to accept His Deity. They are content to accept the historical existence of One who was known as Jesus of Nazareth. They are not prepared to acknowledge the One Who is God the Son. One is reminded of the young woman who was engaged to be married to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, before he rose to fame. Impressed by what she considered to be more handsome men, she became disenchanted with Mozart because he was so short. So, she broke the engagement and went with someone tall and, in her eyes, more physically attractive (Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!).

However, it is recorded that, when the world began to praise Mozart for his outstanding musical accomplishments, she regretted her decision! "I knew nothing of the greatness of his genius." she said. "I only saw him as a little man"!

One sometimes wonders why the Jews, who knew the Scriptures (the Tanakh; the Old Testament), failed to see Jesus' true greatness. The Tanakh is, of course, filled with prophecies of HaMashiach (the Messiah). He was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); He was to be born of a virgin (Is.7:14); He was to be a descendant of king David (Jer.23:5-6, 33:15); He was to heal the sick, and raise the dead (numerous prophecies, e.g. Zech.9:11. See also Matt.11:2-5); He would enter Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey (Zech.9:9); He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech.11:12); His hands and feet were to be pierced (Ps.22:18); He was to be buried in a rich man's tomb (Is.53:9).

Only one Man fulfilled these and many other prophecies. However, perhaps the most telling fact is that there was only a very narrow time-frame in which they could be fulfilled! At the very time in which Jesus of Nazareth was ministering, Jewish leaders were actually looking for HaMashiach!  This was why they asked John the Baptiser if he was the One they were expecting (John 1:19) – something he immediately denied.

So why was HaMashiach expected at this particular time? It was because they knew the Tanakh, and they knew that HaMashiach would appear at that precise time! This is based on the Book of Daniel. The archangel Gabriel revealed to Daniel, while he was still in captivity in Babylon, that precisely 483 years after the command to rebuild Jerusalem was given “the Anointed One” (i.e. HaMashiach) would come (Dan.9:25). The Book of Ezra reminds us of the situation regarding that rebuilding. Cyrus (in fulfilment of another prophecy in the Book of the prophet Isaiah (44:28 – 45) had commanded that the Temple be rebuilt and, under the leadership of Sheshbazaar, some 42,000 exiles returned to Judah. However, this work did not continue and it was then Artaxerxes who commanded that officials in the province “Beyond the River” (the Euphrates) provide Ezra, and the additional exiles who returned with him, whatever they needed for the rebuilding of the Temple and the city. (That is a very potted version!). This took place in what we refer to as 457 BC. If we then count forward 483 years, we arrive at 27 AD, and this is the time when the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees were, indeed, looking for HaMashiach. It is also the time when Jesus of Nazareth commenced His public ministry!

Perhaps the Jews of the time were looking for the beautiful King described in Isaiah 33:17. They did not understand that, before Messiah came in all of His glorious beauty, He must come as the Man of sorrows described in Is. 53 - a chapter that is never read in synagogues today!

Some of Jesus' contemporaries said that He had "... an unclean spirit." (Mk.3:30). Others tried to throw Him off a cliff (Lk.:29). At first, even His own half-brothers failed to recognise His true identity (Jn.7:5). Indeed, most of Jesus' peers saw Him only as a man (Mk.6:3), and refused to accept Him as God.

The big question is still the one that the Lord Jesus put to the disciples on the way to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. We read it in all three of the Synoptic Gospel records: "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare′a Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli′jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?" (Matt.16:13-15; emphasis added). Do you think of Jesus as a mere man - or do you know Him as Saviour and Lord? Your eternal destiny depends on your having a complete view of the Christ!

How may one be saved? It's actually as simple as ABC!
Admit that you are a sinner, and can't save yourself (Rom.3:23).

Believe that Jesus died in order to pay the penalty for your sin (Acts 16:31).
Confess Jesus as your personal Saviour and Lord. (Rom.10:9-10).

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Noah and the Flood, Part 3

I would love to be able to say, honestly, that I am a very calm person, who never gets annoyed! Of course, as anyone who knows me well enough is aware, that is an impossibility! One of the things that annoy me is the way in which that which was (and is) good, has been 'hijacked' by those opposed to the Gospel and, indeed, to the whole idea of a Creator God to Whom we will, each one of us, answer.

As we continue to look at the record of the righteous man, Noach, we reach the point at which he and his immediate family - now the only human beings on planet earth - emerge from the ark in which they have sheltered during the world-wide flood. The first thing that they do is an act of worship and thanksgiving, as they offer to YHWH a sacrifice of the 'clean' animals that had been carried in the ark for that very purpose.

YHWH then makes a promise: "Adonai smelled the sweet aroma, and Adonai said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, since the imaginings of a person’s heart are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy all living things, as I have done. So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” "(Gen.8:21-22; CJB - emphasis added).

As a sign of this promise/covenant, YHWH then sets a rainbow in the sky: "I am putting My rainbow in the cloud — it will be there as a sign of the covenant between Myself and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth, and the rainbow is seen in the cloud; I will remember My covenant which is between Myself and you and every living creature of any kind; and the water will never again become a flood to destroy all living beings. The rainbow will be in the cloud; so that when I look at it, I will remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of any kind on the earth." (9:13-16; CJB).

That is the true significance of that particular phenomenon! It has nothig to do with sexual deviancy, any more than has the use of the lovely old word 'gay'! Actually, I take the latter personally. I was taught, at an early age, the old poem concerning the day of the week on which a person was born. I'll not print it all here, but it ends: "But the child who's born on the Sabbath Day is bonny, and blithe, and good, and gay"! You've guessed it - I was born on a Sunday!

Anyway, back to Noach. A righteous man he was; perfect, he was not! After leaving the ark, he plants a vineyard. In time, sadly, that results in him becoming drunk, and he is found by his second son, Ham, passed out naked in his tent. You know, that is one of the amazing things about the Word of God - it is transparently honest about even its finest characters! That's just one reason why it may be trusted! Ham, it should be noted, was the father of Kena‘an (Canaan - ring any bells?!).

Noach blesses his other two sons, Shem and Yefet (Japheth) because they walk in backwards, carrying a cloak, and cover their father without looking at him. There is an important lesson here! Although Noah's entire family is saved physically, each one still has to choose the way of spiritual salvation — a transformation of the heart.  Shem and Yafet show a right heart and right spirit, while their brother Ham, shows that his heart needs to be regenerated.

This curse over Ham did not end with him, but carried on down the generations: "When Noach awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. He said, “Cursed be Kena‘an; he will be a servant of servants to his brothers.” Then he said, “Blessed be Adonai, the God of Shem; Kena‘an will be their servant. May God enlarge Yefet; he will live in the tents of Shem, but Kena‘an will be their servant.”" (9:24-27; CJB).  There are many who would claim that any of us, today, may unknowingly carry curses upon our lives from a previous generation. Certainly, the Second of the Ten Words (commandments) indicates that children suffer because of the sins of their parents and grandparents, and even earlier generations. We may be truly thankful, therefore that the atoning blood of Yeshua HaMashiach paid the price for all our sins. The aged apostle John wrote: "... if we are walking in the light, as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of His Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin." (I John 1:7; C.J.B.)Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua." wrote rabbi Paul to the Roman disciples of Jesus (8:1; C.J.B.). If there are, indeed, such "generational curses", then He has the power to break them. However, we must receive, proclaim, and walk in the freedom that He offers to each and all.

We must also realise that we are not the masters of our own time. Speaking through His prophet, Isaiah, YHWH declares to His chosen people, Isreal: " 'For Me this is like Noach’s flood. Just as I swore that no flood like Noach’s would ever again cover the earth, so now I swear that never again will I be angry with you or rebuke you. For the mountains may leave and the hills be removed, but My grace will never leave you, and My covenant of peace will not be removed,' says Adonai, Who has compassion on you." (54:9-10).

Almghty God so loved Israel that He sent them a righteous, yet suffering, Servant so that a right relationship with Him could be restored, and eternal salvation be guaranteed to all, Jew and Gentile, who submit their lives to Yeshua, Who, Himself, is God. While Noach was used to save himeslf and his family physically; Yeshua HaMashiach is the Saviour of all who place their trust, unreservedly, in Him.

Just like the floood in the days of Noach, in the end times - and many, myself included, are convinced that that is when we are now living - judgment will come suddenly and swiftly (see Matt.24:36-41). But those who know the Lord Jesus need not fear, for He is, Himself, our safe shelter from the raging storm of tribulation, just as the ark sheltered Noach and his family. Isaiah wrote: "Come, My people, enter your rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past." (26:20; C.J. B.).

May we emerge from the Ark of God's shelter, in the unity of faith, to establish the new heavens and the new earth of peace and righteousness and justice, under the perfect rule of the Messish - Yeshua,

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Noah, and the Flood: part 2

In the previous post (which, ideally, should be read before this one!) we started to look at the record of the man, Noach - the only righteous man that Almighty God could find on the earth, so soon after the creation. Because of the rebellion, and sinfuness, of the rest of mankind, God decreed that He would cause a great flood to envelope the earth, destroying all land-based life - including all humans except Noach and his immediate family.

"I, Myself, will bring the flood of water over the earth to destroy from under heaven every living thing that breathes; everything on earth will be destroyed. But I will establish my covenant with you; you will come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives with you." (Gen.6:17; CJB).

God instructed Noach to build a huge box ('tebah' in Hebrew; not a boat!) capable of holding one breeding pair of every animal, and seven pairs of those that were considered to be 'clean'. "From everything living, from each kind of living being, you are to bring two into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they are to be male and female. Of each kind of bird, each kind of livestock, and each kind of animal creeping on the ground, two are to come to you, so that they can be kept alive." "Of every clean animal you are to take seven couples, and of the animals that are not clean, one couple; also of the birds in the air take seven couples - in order to preserve their species throughout the earth." (6:19-20, 7:2-3; CJB)

Now a box may not be as difficult to constuct as a boat would have been - but the dimensions of this particular box show that this was no small undertaking! The ark was some 500 feet long; 75 feet wide; and 45 feet high! (Precise measurements depend on the interpretation of the 'cubit' which was between 18" and 20", but this was no toy from the "Early Learning Centre"!). Sceptics scoff, and say that even such a vessel could not hold, along with the food necessary for their survival, approximately 1 million species of insect; 25,000 species of bird; 2,500 species of amphibians; 6,000 species of reptile; and several thousand species of mammals; together with cultures of tens of thousands of micro-organisms that can be identified without the aid of a microscope! What such people fail to realise is that the Biblical record doesn't refer to "species", but to "kinds" or "families" from which the various species descended - each according to its "kind"! So, for example, there may well have been just one pair if "felines" from which all of the 'cat' family descended - not by "evolution", but by adaptaton!

The fact is that there may only have been about 16,000 creatures aboard; the median size would have been no more than that of a large rat (only young would have been rescued!), and no more than 12% larger than a modern sheep! Considering that, even using the 'short' cubit, there would have been some 1.5 million cubic feet of space, there was definitely no overcrowding in the ark!

Of course, the ark had to be water-tight, and so Noach is commanded to seal it, on both the inside and the outside, with pitch (tar), thus ensuring its 'floatability'. Of course, it also has to withstand 40 days and 40 nights of continuous rain, together with the tossing caused by gigantic waves. Even after the rain stops, another 150 days would pass before the waters had receded. So, adequate provisions are taken aboard: "Also take from all the kinds of food that are eaten, and collect it for yourself; it is to be food for you and for them." (6:21; C.J.B.).

Finally, the ark "... came to rest on the mountains of Ararat." (8:4; C.J.B.). No single 'mountain' is named! It is a bit like saying that something happened "in the Grampian Mountains" (in Scotland!). That covers a wide area! However, when the waters appeared to be receding, Noach checked by sending out one of the ravens. It could not find anywhere to rest, so "... flew back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth." (8:7; C.J.B.). After another week, he sends out a dove - but the end result was the same. Then, later, he sent the dove out again and, this time, it returned with a freshly-plucked olive leaf, and Noach knew that the waters had dried up sufficiently to allow vegetation to grow again. He waits a further week and sends the dove out again. This time it does not return, and he realises that it is safe to leave the shelter of the ark.

Then in a scene, reminiscent of the Creation, "God said to Noach, 'Go out from the ark, you, your wife, your sons and your son’s wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing you have with you - birds, livestock and every animal that creeps on the earth - so that they can swarm on the earth, be fruitful and multiply on the earth.'" (8:15-17; C.J.B.).  "God blessed Noach and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will be upon every wild animal, every bird in the air, every creature populating the ground, and all the fish in the sea; they have been handed over to you. Every moving thing that lives will be food for you; just as I gave you green plants before, so now I give you everything - only flesh with its life, which is its blood, you are not to eat. I will certainly demand an accounting for the blood of your lives: I will demand it from every animal and from every human being. I will demand from every human being an accounting for the life of his fellow human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by a human being will his own blood be shed; for God made human beings in his image. And you people, be fruitful, multiply, swarm on the earth and multiply on it." (9:1-7; C.J.B.).

So, humans are now permitted to eat meat - but not the blood of the animal; and the death penalty, for the murder of another human being, is instituted. This passage is a reminder that, when we look at others, we must view them as having been created in the image and likeness of Almighty God. It is this that marks us out from the animal kingdom.

Okay, that's all for now. Part 3 will be published, D.V., in a couple of days' time.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Noah, and the Flood.

Okay - as stated last month, I am planning (DV) to look at one well-known passage from the Tanakh (the Hebrew/Jewish Scriptures; the 'Old Testament/Covenant') each month. Each passage will take 3-4 posts but, if enough people show an interest, I plan to follow this through for a number of months.

This month we move from the Creation record, to the Flood, and look at the Biblical character of Noah (Noach in Hebrew) - the only man in his generation who was considered, by God, to be righteous. So we read that: "In his generation, Noach was a man righteous and wholehearted; Noach walked with God." (Gen.6:9; Complete Jewish Bible).  In the Hebrew language, Noach is described as "tzadik" (righteous = right in the sight of God), and "tamim" (pure; innocent; complete, faultless). This is in complete contrast to the time in which he lived: "The earth was corrupt before God, the earth was filled with violence. God saw the earth, and, yes, it was corrupt; for all living beings had corrupted their ways on the earth." (vs.11-12, CJB). Only six chapters into the Bible, and the world is already filled with violence and corruption. Of course, this is what happens when mankind turns its back upon its Creator, and seeks to live its own way, rather than follow His way!

The result of all of this was that Almighty God vowed to destroy every living person - with the exception of righteous Noach and his family. These eight people would be miraculously saved in an "ark" - the English language word comes from the Latin 'arca', meaning a chest or box in which items were kept safe. The Hebrew word, "tebah" means simply "box" so, in spite of the fact that it's described/depicted as a boat in a lot of children's books, it was simply a large wooden box! This also answers the criticism that Noach and his sons would not have had any boat-building skills as they did not live close to water (some unwarranted assumptions in that claim, but we'll let them go!). Almost anyone can build a box! Of course the point of the ark was not that it would be seaworthy, but rather that it would preserve the lives of the people in it!

Noach may not have understood what he was doing; he may have been subjected to mockery; he may have been totally ignored. But Noach obeyed God, even although he saw no evidence of the coming deluge, and had never experienced anything like it before. Indeed, that is the reason why he is included in the the letter to Hebrew disciples of Yeshua, in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament/Covenant): "By trusting, Noach, after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting." (Heb.11:7; CJB). His absolute faith on God, that resulted in such an uncompromising obedience, was the reason that he was able to truly enter a place of total rest, when the flood eventually came. In fact, the meaning of his Hebrew name is "rest"! He was not a man who leaned on his own understanding of a situation, but one who trusted in the Word of the Lord - and was obedient to it!

Too often we try to reason everything out - the Greek influence! - and make sure that something makes sense, or agrees with our theology, before complying with Father God's commands. The Letter to the Hebrew disciples of Yeshua, again: "For the one who has entered God’s rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from His. Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest (noach - the rest of obedience); so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience." (4:10-11; CJB).

If there is just one lesson to be learned from the record of Noach, it is surely one of unquestioned obedience - regardless of the cost. May all of us who claim to follow Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus, the Messiah) be found also to be obedient - for our own good, and for the greater glory of Father God.