Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Hanukkah And Christmas Dates Coincide

Hanukkah pronounced Chanukah, means dedication and is known as the Festival of Lights. It is an eight day holiday that commemorates victory over the Seleucid king Antiochus IV who had erected a statue of the pagan god Zeus in the temple at Jerusalem he further defiled it by sacrificing pigs on the alter. When a Greek official tried to force a priest named Mattathias to make a sacrifice to the pagan god, he killed the man and the Jews rose up and fought for their liberation from the Greeks and Hellenists by joining Mattathias and his five sons known as the Maccabees. Antiochus underestimated the will and strength of his Jewish adversaries and sent a small force to put down the rebellion. When that force was annihilated, he led a more powerful army into battle only to be defeated. In 164 BC when Jerusalem was recaptured by the Maccabees and the temple was purified, it gave birth to the holiday known as Chanukah, celebrating the messianic-like victory of the Maccabee’s deliverance of Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple. It was a foreshadowing of a future event when the Messiah comes to purify and deliver his people from the oppressor forever. This year Chanukah begins on Christmas (Messiahmas) Eve! This has only happened four times in the last one hundred years. Even though we don’t know exactly when Yeshua was born, it is always joyful time to celebrate His birth, it is especially meaningful to see Chanukah celebrated at the same time of the Messiah’s nativity as we take a trip through bible history and connect the dots. The old testament (Torah) is the foundational basis for the new testament, both are two halves concerning the beginning and the end of all things. Here we will look at the old testament prophetic promises and the new testament fulfillment of those promises up through the birth of Jesus the Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). 

In a veiled comment found in the old testament (Torah) we see this reference to the coming of a Messiah immediately following the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, when the Lord spoke to the tempter. 

Messiah would be born of a woman.
OT - “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 
(Genesis 3:15)

NT -  But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4)

Messiah would come from the line of Abraham.
OT - The Lord speaking to Abraham made this promise, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” (Genesis 12:3) 

OT - “and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18)

NT - This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: (Matthew 1:1)

NT - They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. (Romans 9: 4-5)

Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac.
OT - The Messiah would come through the lineage of Isaac; But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. (Genesis 21:12)

NT - the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, (Luke 3:34)

Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob.
OT - And down through Jacob; “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth. (Numbers 24:17)

NT - Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. (Matthew 1:2)

Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.
OT - The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. (Genesis 49:10)

NT - the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, (Luke 3:33)

NT - For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (Hebrews 7:14)

Messiah would be heir to King David's throne.
OT -  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.(2 Samuel 7: 12-13)

OT - Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.(Isaiah 9:7)

NT - He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”(Luke 1:32-33)

NT -  the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3)

Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
OT - The Lord spoke through the prophet saying, “But you, O Bethlehem Eph′rather, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 
(Micah 5:2)

NT - After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

NT - So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, (Luke 2:4-6)

Messiah would be born of a virgin.
OT -  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

NT - Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el” (Matthew 1:18-23)

NT -  In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1: 26-35)

Messiah would be called Emmanuel.
OT -   Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

NT - “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23)

NT - In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′ius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

In April 2017 Easter and Passover will intersect and we will look at the connection between those two events and examine the significance of the remaining prophecies that have been fulfilled by the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua the Christ along with the promise of His victorious return as the avenging “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Ugly Two Faced People

Have you recently been engaged in a conversation when suddenly disparaging remarks have been made to your face relative your Judeo-Christian beliefs, snide and deprecating remarks made about Jesus Christ even denying the existence of God Himself? It seems like a sharp slap to the face when someone who is considered a trusted friend suddenly blurts out such despicable comments. The times of unity and civility seem to be rapidly dissipating and are being replaced by all manners of disharmony, divisiveness and strife. We see it in national, state and municipal governments all the way down to the smallest unit of government, friendships, even the family. The entertainment business is rife with anti-Christian and anti-God comments and attempts at humor, comments made during the recent US Presidential election about President Elect Trump, Vice President Pence, their religious beliefs and their families were an abomination. The very first Psalm speaks to this; Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1: 1 - 6)

Believers are admonished to shun openly wicked people and not run after them no matter how much fun they are to be with or how nice they seem to be at other times. Whether one understands it or not, they are being openly persecuted and ridiculed for their faith by those who hold a deep seated hatred for God and His Christ. Jesus said, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6: 45)

In order to understand why a supposed friend would act so badly one must understand that when a man or woman turns to God and asks Jesus to come into their life as Lord and Savior, their relationships change positionally, they no longer belong to the world, they belong to Christ. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15: 18 - 19)

Sometimes one wonders about shunning such a person, thinking that perhaps they must have some redeeming quality or something can be said to turn them around, in spite of the vile things they say continuously mocking God and rebuking believers. Often times we see seemingly good but worldly people who turn to Christ and are saved, but those who rail against God and His kingdom, have already made their bed with the devil and so “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1: 5 - 8)
This is an admonishment that God expects believers to leave such people completely and not be double minded and wishy-washy about it which only serves to encourage more evil. When one asks in faith, believing without doubt, then God will provide the necessary answers and strength to deal with the problem decisively. One cannot have one foot in the Kingdom of God and the other in the world.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 
(Mathew 5: 10 - 12)

Friday, November 11, 2016

All Authority Comes From God

America has just survived the most acrimonious national election cycle in US history, the will of the people prevailed in spite of horrendously evil commentary from media sources. It is a unique nation, founded on godly principles and the premise of "One nation under God." Throughout the last half century this nation has systematically been rent by ungodly forces, and shredded by those who have wormed their way into high places until there reached a tipping point, teetering on the edge of an abyss from which there would be no return. However Millions of citizens remained awake all night watching the election results to see if their candidate would prevail. My household interceded in prayer to God on behalf of the candidate that millions of others had also prayed for and we retired for the night at a normal hour knowing that all was in God’s hands and His will would be done.

Having done that was a throwback to the lesson learned from (Genesis 18). The Lord set out to levy His righteous judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah because it had become a cesspool of unrepentant evil doers, but Abraham interceded and begged the Lord to save those few good people living there. The Lord honored Abraham’s persistent intercession, Lot and his family were spared just as Noah and his family were spared from the flood earlier. (Genesis 7) In both instances the thoughts and actions of the general population had been given over to continual evil and the Lord’s judgment resulted in their destruction.

Likewise America has been turning away from God, Christians and Jews alike have been suffering abusive comments and actions of ungodly people, many believers have also allowed themselves to be drawn into a worldliness that is most unbecoming. All manner of perversion and licentiousness has prevailed, women murdering their unborn children in their wombs by the tens of thousands and much more perversion that just as in the days of old God has set a day for his judgment on this nation which appears to have begun on September 11, 2001 as the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers the modern day Ziggurat of Babel and the loss of three thousand lives may be the ominous foretelling of much more to come.

So then God has put it in the heart of a man to lead who will strike down the machinations of those who have served before him. This man is by no means perfect, but has in himself certain qualities to work God’s will as a direct response to the millions of intercessory prayers by this nation’s righteous which He may honor. Here then is the principle at work; “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” (2 Timothy 2: 1 - 2)

There is another spiritual event that took place according to a noted Rabbi in Israel. When President Elect Trump said that he loves Israel and he vowed to acknowledge Jerusalem as the everlasting capitol of Israel. God immediately blessed him and bestowed the mantle of this nation’s headship upon him in spite of tremendously overwhelming odds against the possibility of his election ever happening, because Israel is the apple of God’s eye and central to His plans.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” 
(Romans 13: 1)

Even as I write this, those who followed after the opposition candidate, who is the physical embodiment of lawlessness, are rampaging in the streets as would be expected of the children of perdition. Mindlessly destroying the goods and property of others insisting on mob rule over the will of the majority in this Democratic Republic but we should not be surprised, it is a sign of the times. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3: 1 - 4)

“Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, or he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” 
(Romans 13: 2 - 7)

May the people’s hearts turn to God and may He bless America once again!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Attitude Is Everything

How many times has it seemed that it would be fitting to lash out and throttle some seemingly deserving person? I admit to having those feelings at times, but the constraints of the Holy Spirit gives us strength that allows us the option to resist the temptation. Those of us who have called on the name of Jesus Christ and have invited him into our lives as Savior and Lord have also been given certain gifts, one of these gifts is a sense of discernment which comes into play as we live out the following verses and understand how to apply them in terms of the beatitudes or as I prefer to call them the [be attitudes] reflecting how we should react toward others and especially in front of unbelievers. 

(Matthew 5: 38 - 39) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

So often people assume that being a Christian means they are required to submit to being beaten, pummeled and suffer all manner of mental, verbal and physical abuse because of Christ’s admonition to ‘turn the other cheek’, this is where discernment comes in. First of all we need to consider the word evil in the context used by the Lord. Here he is addressing his apostles when he says; “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) 
We know that eleven of his twelve apostles were good men according to worldly standards and yet Jesus addressed them as, “You who are evil,” it is because although he loved them and they were righteous in their desire to know God, he had not yet suffered and died for them on the cross and they had not yet confessed him as Lord and Savior, so in God’s eyes they were evil. 

We all know and like many people who are basically good in terms of worldly standards and yet they have never named Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God loves them enough to have sacrificed His only begotten Son on the cross for them but they refuse to acknowledge Him, thus they are evil in God’s sight. Therefore if any one of these who are evil strikes you, it is the will of God and a witness of His power in your life to turn the other cheek. Keep in mind though that every man’s head comes equipped with only two cheeks and God does not intend for us to become doormats and whipping posts for abusive people.

Now there are two other types of evil which we may have to deal with, both are of a malevolent nature. The first one has to do with protecting ourselves or others from an assault by a malevolent person or persons intent on inflicting serious bodily harm or death. We are not expected by God to be victims by turning the other cheek, it is our God given right and His expectation that we will defend ourselves and others.

In the third and most malevolent instance under the worst case scenario when subjected to extreme persecution as Christians, we are to surrender our souls to God and prepare to suffer unspeakable tortures and even die in the defense of our faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ rather than deny the Lord to save ourselves. 

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 
(Matthew 16: 24 - 27)