March 2007 Updates
03.30.07 (Nisan 11, 5767) Monday evening (April 2nd) at sundown is Passover, the time when we commemorate the death of Jesus as Seh Elohim, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Passover is the basis for the Christian practice of the "Lord's Table," or the "Lord's Supper," or (in liturgical churches) "Holy Communion." Unlike these various Christian liturgies, however, Jesus used traditional Passover elements to signify His broken body (the Afikomen) and shed blood (the Cup of Redemption) to explain His sacrifice for our sin. Indeed, Jesus' title as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) is another explicit reference to His role as our great korban Pesach (Passover Lamb) before heaven. I urge you, if you are not yet familiar with how Jesus is revealed in the Passover Seder, to please take the time to learn about it now....
To help you learn more about Passover, I have been regularly updating online Passover Seder material. Today I wrote the Hallel and Nirtzah sections (and added additional audio to other steps of the Seder). It's still not too late for you to get ready to keep the feast, as Paul admonished us:
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Cor 5:7-8
Meanwhile, I will attempt to make a PDF file of the entire Passover Seder online so that you can print it for use as your own Haggadah.
I wish you and your family a time of joy and shalom for this coming Passover season! Pesach Sameach! May the LORD God of Israel bless you and help you to more fully love Him and walk in His truth. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! Amen.
03.28.07 (Nisan 9, 5767) I have been working feverishly to get the Passover Seder material online before Erev Pesach (Monday, April 2). Today I revised almost every part, including adding new sound files. I also wrote completely new material the Tzafun and Barech sections. Of particular interest to most of you will be the connection between what is commonly referred to as the Lord's Supper (or Communion) and Jesus' Passover Seder on the night He was betrayed. I hope you will find my efforts helpful in your understanding and faith in the LORD God of Israel.
IY"H I will convert all 15 steps of the Seder into a convenient PDF file that you can use to practice reading your own Haggadah, but time is short and I must find some time to sleep! The LORD is good to me, however, and I praise His glorious Name for all He has done in my life... He's the reason I labor as I do, and He supplies me strength. Please take some time looking over the Passover Seder pages in order to better appreciate the awesome sacrifice that Yeshua has given on our behalf... And please pray for this ministry... Sometimes it's a lonely work and often misunderstood by those steeped in various Church traditions. Todah chaverim...
03.27.07 (Nisan 8, 5767) Today I continued working on the online Passover Seder. I updated almost every part of it and added completely new material on the Shulchan Orech (the meal itself) and the Tzafun sections. I also included a new Hebrew blessing thanking God that Jesus is the Bread of Life.
03.26.07 (Nisan 7, 5767) I am continuing to add new material to the Passover Section, to help you prepare to read your Haggadah for your upcoming Seder. Today I added more material to the Maggid section, as well as the Rachtzah, Motzi, Maror, and Korech sections. Sadly, I do not have the time to go into these with the depth they deserve, though (IY"H) if I can find the time, I will add additional Messianic insights to each of the traditional steps of the Seder.
This coming Shabbat, which precedes Passover, is called Shabbat HaGadol ("Great Sabbath") to commemorate the time when the Exodus generation set aside the Pascal lamb for the original Passover. An additional (musaf) haftarah reading comes from Malachi 3:4-24. Note that Shabbat HaGadol is not observed on the (Biblical) date of Nisan 10, however, since Jewish tradition reserves this date for the fast of Miriam, who was said to have died on the 10th of Nisan.
This Shabbat is called gadol ("great") either because God miraculously allowed the Israelites to take lambs from among the Egyptians (despite the humiliation of their deity Amun), or because of the civil war that broke out among the Egyptians (which further enabled Israel to escape from Egypt).
During Temple times, it was customary to obtain the Korban Pesach (Passover Lamb) four days before Passover so that worshippers could make sure that their lambs had no blemishes which would preclude them from being offered as sacrifices. It was on this day that the Mashiach Yeshua triumphantly entered Jerusalem (the "house" of Israel) before the Passover. Examined for four days before His sacrifice (execution) for the sins of the world, He was found to be the true Lamb of God (seh haElohim) without spot or blemish.
Shabbat HaGadol foreshadowed the offering of the Mashiach Yeshua as Seh Elohim, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. The Haftarah for Shabbat HaGadol foretells of Yom Adonai and the return of Yeshua as Mashiach ben David.
Parashat Tzav and The Ram of Ordination
I also updated parashat Tzav and created a PDF file for you to download. Of particular interest in this Torah portion is the eil ha-milu'im (the ram of ordination) whose blood was sprinkled upon Aaron as the Kohen Gadol of the newly established mishkan (Tabernacle).
The blood of the eil ha-milu'im was put on the right ear, right thumb, and big toe of the Aaron and his sons (a clear picture of Yeshua and His sacrifice as the coming greater High Priest) and the rest of the blood was dashed upon the sides of the mizbeach. After its slaughter, Moses also took the innards of the eil hamilu'im and some unleavened bread and put them in the hands of the priests to perform tenufah (a wave offering) before burning them upon the altar (a picture of the resurrection). Finally, Moses mixed some of the blood of the eil hamilu'im and anointing oil and sprinkled it on the priest's garments to sanctify them.
As believers in Yeshua, we too have been anointed with the blood from the Ram of Ordination -- Yeshua as our Kohen Gadol of the better covenant! And we too have been anointed with the sacred shemen (oil) that symbolizes the presence and aroma of the LORD in our lives. As followers of Yeshua we are therefore truly "...a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). May the LORD be pleased to help you serve Him in the truth.
03.23.07 (Nisan 4, 5767) I wrote a new meditation (Adonai Tov ve'Salach) based on Psalm 86:5: "For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you." This meditation ties in with the Vayikra summary I provided for this coming Shabbat, and also makes for another good Passover meditation. I hope it will help you draw closer to the Lord and better appreciate His glorious provision through Jesus, our beloved Mashiach and Savior.
03.21.07 (Nisan 2, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Vayikra) and created a new PDF file for you to download. This parashah reading is especially appropriate at this time of year, since Passover is just a couple weeks away. Learn about the importance of semichah, viduy, and blood atonement to help you become spiritually prepared to "keep the feast" (1 Cor. 5:8).
Biblical New Years Day
03.20.07 (Nisan 1, 5767) HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
Today is the Biblical New Years Day, the start of the month of the Exodus from Egypt and the beginning of Jewish national history. It is also the first month used for counting the festivals (mo'edim) of the Hebrew Calendar and for reckoning the years of reign of the Kings of Israel. May the LORD God of Israel bless you and give you grace for another year of life...
Starting next week, most Orthodox Jews will begin (in earnest) the arduous process of preparing their homes for Pesach. All chametz (yeast) must go! This is also a time to begin taking extra steps to prepare for the Passover Seder (Monday, April 2nd this year).
Shalom and happy New Year to you all!
Note: The Torah portion for this week will be late, since I have been dealing with some weariness and medical issues.
03.15.07 (Adar 25, 5767) I am still adding Pesach (Passover) material for you to practice your Hebrew reading for the big night on April 2nd. Today I continued with the Maggid section, adding additional audio and the list of Eser HaMakot - the Ten Plagues.
Unfortunately, on account of my schedule and the struggle I have with chronic pain, I cannot be as thorough as I would like regarding Haggadah material. Perhaps next year in Jerusalem?
Seriously, every day I struggle with a lot of fatigue, joint and bone pain, and other symptoms. There are times I think I am literally dying, especially when I try to sleep at night. Last night was paradigmatic for me: pain, tossing, turning, and waking up feeling like I had just escaped from the torturer's rack...
There's so much that could be added to this site, and every day I look to The LORD Yeshua to guide my decisions about what to include, what not to expend energy on, and so forth. Please offer up a prayer for this ministry, chaverim... It exists for your edification, and I need real wisdom and grace from the LORD to develop it in an effective and meaningul way. Todah.
03.14.07 (Adar 24, 5767) I am still at work on the Passover pages, adding material as I find the time. Today I added additional material for the Maggid section (narrative), including the araba'ah vanim (the parable of the four sons) that is discussed at the seder table.
03.012.07 (Adar 22, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Vaiyakhel and Pekudei) and created two new PDF files for you to download.
Besides including a "double portion" of Torah, this shabbat also is called Shabbat HaChodesh (the Sabbath of the Moon), since it is in preparation of the new moon of Nisan (the first month of the Jewish year and the start of the Jewish Biblical (as opposed to Rabbinical) calendar). An additional reading (Exodus 12:1-20 ) is added as a maftir in most synagogues).
03.011.07 (Adar 21, 5767) I added audio to the Maggid section (of the Passover Seder), though I didn't actually sing the "Four Questions" (I will spare you). At any rate, my reading of the questions should be helpful to those of you who will help your child sing them for the Seder, so I hope my labor is not in vain here.
The Torah reading summary for this week will be late. I have been ill over the weekend, and yesterday I spent the entire day with Josiah ben Yisroel walking in the woods, shopping, and playing. I hope to get to it sometime by tomorrow evening.
03.09.07 (Adar 19, 5767) I am still working on the Passover pages, adding material as I find the time. Today I got started on the Maggid section (narrative) which includes the nah nishtanah (four questions) a child asks at the beginning of the Seder.
Please note that the Passover Seder section is still under construction, and I am hoping to get as much material online as I can over the next couple of weeks so that you can more comfortably read from your Haggadah.
03.09.07 (Adar 19, 5767) What is the State of Israel after the death of Christ?
It seems I am asked this question all the time. I attempt to answer it in my recent article, "Israel and the Church - What's the Relationship?" In short, God is not "finished" with national Israel, even though there's a "partial hardening" until the fulness of the Gentiles come to faith (Rom 11:25), and then "all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26). The Church is actually made a part of she'arit yisrael - the faithful remnant of Israel (Rom 11:17), and not the other way around. The Gentile church shouldn't call faithful Jews away from their heritage, but rather should seek to embrace Jewish heritage as its own, since they are made co-heirs of the covenants unconditionally given to the Jewish people (Eph 2:11-13).
So what's our response to all of this supposed to be? Should we abandon the traditional (gentilish) Church and become Jewish in our liturgy, etc? Not necessarily (though we should be careful to reject the errors of "Replacement Theology" and any liturgical elements that are at based upon it). We don't abandon the Church, but rather seek to remind her of who she really is. She's like an adopted child whose true father is a great King, though she thinks of herself as a "Cinderella" that is lowborn and unworthy. Or she's like the unnamed Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon who was passionately beloved of the (hidden) great King. Indeed, the Church is called kallat Mashiach - the Bride of Messiah - and is composed of all those from among the nations whom God has sovereignly chosen to be in a love relationship with Him.
King David was served in his elderly years by a young woman named Abishag (Avishag of 1 Kings 1:1-4, 15) who was perhaps this Shulamite woman (from the city of Shunem). Later, King Solomon's first wife was perhaps the same beautiful nurse who served his father. Similarly, the Church is precious to the LORD (typified by King Solomon), even as Abishag was indeed faithful to David and she'arit Yisrael.
Perhaps one additional note on this subject should be made. There is a distinction to be made between the secular state of Israel and she'arit yisrael, the chosen remnant (including those yet to be chosen in the future). This implies, among other things, that the secular state is not to be identified with any form of theocracy and does not itself hold any sacred status. God is sovereign over all the nations, including secular Israel, of course, but the secular state of Israel is actually a part of the acharit hayamim (end times) theater of operations. This is evidenced by many of the New World Order designs found on secular Israel's governmental buildings, most particularly the Israeli Supreme Court building:
Notice the key symbol of the all-seeing eye of providence on the roof of the building, which can possibly be traced back to Egyptian mythology and the Eye of Horus.
This is essentially the same symbol used on the Great Seal of the United States, which openly avows adherence to Novus Ordo Seclorum - a Latin phase that can be translated as "A New Order of the Ages," or even as "a New World Order."
The Messiah of evil will come and deceive many in Israel as their long-awaited Mashiach. Perhaps he will finally broker true peace in the Middle East. But he will ultimately betray the Jewish people, much like Haman did (or as the Greek Antiochus Epiphanies did), causing the Jewish people to flee for their lives.
Only after the Jewish people cry out, Baruch habah b'shem Adonai in reference to the true Messiah, Jesus, will Israel be saved during this period of Great Tribulation (Matt. 23:29; Luke 13:35). Then shall the prophecy of Zechariah be fulfilled: "I will pour out upon the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn" (Zech 12:10).
I am aware that many in the Church who are "preterists," "amillenialists," "dominionists," "theonomists," "covenant theologians," etc. will strongly disagree with the sketch of the end times I have given above, but their thinking derives from faulty assumptions, exegetical fallacies, and errors that are lead inexorably to the false doctrine of Replacement Theology.
03.07.07 (Adar 17, 5767) I am continuing to get the basic information for the Passover seder online. Today I started on the fourth step of the traditional seder, called Yachatz ("broken"). There are many allusions to the sacrificial work of Yeshua as Seh Elohim (the Lamb of God) embedded within the Passover Seder, and the mysterious afikomen is one of them.
Note that the Seder material is a work in progress, and I hope to get written and put online as time permits.
"Beware of the Concision"
03.06.07 (Adar 16, 5767) I completed the list of the 613 commandments found in the Torah. Actually, I have provided you with two lists -- one that sequentially goes through the Torah and lists the commandments from Genesis through Deuteronomy, and another that is considered (more or less) the standard version as given by Maimonides, the grand sage of the Rabbinical tradition. You can learn more by clicking the image below:
As you know, there are some people within the Messianic movement (as well as legalistic churches) who claim that followers of Jesus should become "Torah Observant." Since Jesus was a Torah-observant Jew, the argument goes, and we are called to be His followers, then we ourselves should become Torah observant, too. As well-meaning as this sounds, however, this is specious reasoning, based on a variety of exegetical errors, not the least of which is the confusion between the idea of Torah and Covenant. Nonetheless, I wonder if these legalists have ever taken the time to actually read the list of the Torah's demands -- all 613 of them? For starters, let me list just a few of them here. Each of the following is a commandment found in the Torah of Moses:
- Slavery is permissible, and fathers may sell their daughters (Ex 21:7; Lev. 25:44).
- You may not contact a woman while she is in her monthly cycle (Lev. 15:19-24).
- Homosexuals are to be put to death (Lev. 20:13)
- You must put someone to death for working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2).
- You cannot leave your homes to work on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29).
- You should keep a completely kosher diet (Lev. 11:10).
- You should not allow anyone with physical blemishes to come before the altar of the LORD (Lev. 21:16-20).
- You should never plant two types of crops in the same field (Lev. 19:19).
- You should never wear garments that have two types of fabric (e.g., no cotton/polyester blends) (Deut 22:11).
- You should publicly execute anyone who curses or blasphemes (Lev. 24:10-20).
- You must burn to death those who sleep with their in-laws (Lev. 20:14).
- You should put to death a rebellious child (Deut 21:18-22).
- You must pay for (and marry) a virgin you seduced (Exodus 22:16).
- You must destroy all places of idolatry in the Land (Deut 7:2, 12:2).
- You are commanded to burn apostate cities and kill all the inhabitants (Deut 13:15-17) the cherem - including babies and women.
- You also must kill all magicians, witches or wizards among the people (Deut 18:10)
- You must hang a blasphemer and an idolater (Deut 21:22).
- In courts of law, you may not take evidence from a woman (Deut 24:17).
- You must marry your brother's wife when your brother dies childless (Deut 25:5).
- If you take a female prisoner of war and seduce her, she will become a slave with certain rights, and if you later dislike her, you can grant her freedom, but you cannot sell her to another slave owner (Deut. 21:11-15).
Need I go on? The point here is simple: the law code given to ancient Israel was not, and was never intended to be, an unchanging set of laws that would determine someone's relationship with God. Those who want to return to the ethic of ancient Israel perhaps need to be reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 23:15, wherein He warned otherwise well-meaning people of the dangers of affecting self-righteousness, and they also might want to reread Galatians 4:21-5:1 where Paul likens those who advocate adherence to the law as slaves (i.e., children of Hagar), but those who hold to the promise of the gift of life through faith as free (i.e., children of Sarah).
The true remnant of Israel has always been composed of those whom God chose as His own, based on His sovereign purposes and love. Indeed, Yeshua gave us a BETTER WAY to come to God (Heb. 8:16, 12:24). The very word Torah means "teaching" and has always been a description of our responsibility to the LORD in light of the covenantal actions He performed on our behalf (for more information, see this article). Since God gave up His Son in order for us to be free from the penalty of sin and death, why should we seek to go back to a system based on righteous deeds that are grounded in life apart from the ultimate Tzaddik Himself? "For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them" (Gal. 3:10). If we are justified by faith, chaverim, we are also sanctified by grace...
Regarding the underlying moral intent of the Torah, we know that it is indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom 7:12). However, even if we were to limit ourselves to just the moral aspects of the Ten Commandments we will quickly realize that we need serious intervention in order to attain genuine holiness. On the day of our death, will we trust in our own adherence to the moral law as our appeal before a perfectly holy and absolutely righteous God?
Listen to how the apostle Paul, the greatest Torah sage of his day, put it:
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith (Gal. 3:21-26).
The law of the LORD is indeed perfect (Psalm 19:7), yet we are fallible and in need of salvation from the righteous judgment of an utterly holy God based on our (chronically) sinful condition.
Rule-following behavior is not the same thing as attaining the righteousness of God imputed to those who, like father Abraham, believed that God Himself could and would justify the ungodly based on their trust in Him. "For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom. 4:13).
A lot more could be said on this subject, of course, but please understand that I am passionate about the glory of God's grace as revealed in the gift of His Son for us. I am zealous to retain grace as grace, and not to sneak in extraneous conditions for our acceptance in the Beloved (Eph 1:6).
Most of us, I am afraid, don't want to be free. It's so much easier for us to regard ourselves as pleasing to God on the basis of some litany of rules that we are following. Or perhaps we are trusting in our participation in various sorts of ritual acts... But freedom? Nakedness before God? To come to Him utterly bankrupt, broken and in need, while trusting that His love covers our sinful condition by clothing us with the very righteousness of His Son? To no longer need a list of "do's-and-don'ts" or some liturgy to come before His glorious presence? To trust that you have direct access to the very Holy of Holies and can relate to God as His own beloved child? No -- it's too much for most people, and therefore the mad rush to find some sort of "catch" in the contract, some sort of loophole, some fine print that obliges us to propitiate an angry and spiteful god...
Thank the LORD God of Israel for the grace and love of His Son Jesus!
Note: I have had some technical problems on my side of the monitor, so if you see any missing graphics or sound files, PLEASE contact me and tell the page where you saw the error. Thank you....
03.05.07 (Adar 15, 5767) Now that Purim is over, it's time to think about getting ready for Passover! To that end, I am attempting to find time to update the online Passover Seder section, and today I added the third step of the traditional Seder, Karpas.
It's a very big task to get all the Hebrew and audio recorded (not to mention developing the page content) for the traditional Seder. Last year I ran out of time doing this, so please offer up a prayer to the LORD God of Israel that I can find the time and strength to complete the task this year...
03.04.07 (Adar 14, 5767) I updated the weekly Torah portion for this coming Shabbat (Ki Tisa) and created a new PDF file for you to download.
Among other things of this fascinating parashah, you can learn about Betzalel, and how this grandson of Miriam (Moses' sister) foreshadows the work of Jesus as the Builder of the Temple of the LORD.
The Thirteen Attributes of God's Mercy:
This week's parashah includes something very special: the thirty-two words (Exod. 34:6-7) that have become known in Jewish tradition as the Shelosh Esrei Middot, the Thirteen Attributes of God.
God did not reveal Himself in vain... Take a few minutes and puzzle through the thirteen attributes that He revealed on behalf of Moses' intercession for Israel (the analysis of the attributes is provided in the parashah summary):
03.02.07 (Adar 12, 5767) I am having some computer-related problems on my end, as well as some technical problems with my web hosting service, so updates to the site might be affected over the next few days..... Meanwhile, let me wish you all a very joyous Purim! Purim Sameach chaverim!
H A P P Y P U R I M ! ! !
Read the book of Esther here.
Josiah and Daddy celebrating Purim