Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh, baby! God's Amazing Pattern!

The Lord God has left His fingerprints all over creation!  Check this out.

Zola Levitt, a messianic Jew, discovered an amazing correlation between Biblical (Jewish) Holy Days and the gestation of a human baby, from conception to birth. While preparing for writing a book for new parents, Zola contacted a gynecologist for some help in understanding gestation.

During that session, the gynecologist showed him a series of pictures, pointed to the first one (an egg and a sperm) and said, “On the fourteenth day of the first month, the egg appears.”

The statement struck a chord in his Jewish mind because that was the date of Passover. He remembered the roasted egg on his family table every Passover. Now, for the first time, he knew what it meant! Not wanting to lead the gynecologist off from the subject at hand, he didn’t say anything, but continued to listen.

The gynecologist continued: “The egg must be fertilized within 24 hours, or it will pass on.” This reminded Zola of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the seed or grain that “fell into the ground and died” in order to produce a harvest, the firstfruits of which was presented to God.

Next, the gynecologist said, “Within two to six days, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the womb and begins to grow.” And, sure enough, the Jewish evangelist thought, “The Feast of Firstfruits is observed anywhere from two to six days after Passover!”

Next, he was shown a photo of an embryo showing arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, a head, eyes, etc. The caption said, “Fifty days.” The gynecologist continued, “Around the fiftieth day, the embryo takes on the form of a human being. Until then, we don’t know if we have a duck or a tadpole.” Zola thought, “That’s Pentecost!”

The next picture showed the embryo at seven months. The gynecologist said, “On the first day of the seventh month, the baby’s hearing is developed. For the first time, it can hear and distinguish sounds outside the womb.” Zola knew that was the date for the Jewish Festival of Trumpets.

The doctor continued, “On the tenth day of the seventh month, the hemoglobin of the blood changes from that of the mother, to a self-sustaining baby.” Zola thought, “That’s the Day of Atonement, when the blood was taken into the Holy of holies!”

Next, the gynecologist said, “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the lungs become fully developed. If born before then, the baby would have a hard time breathing.” And Zola thought, “That’s the festival of Tabernacles, a time of celebrating the Temple, home of the Shekinah glory or Spirit of God.” In the New Testament, the Greek term pneuma, normally translated as “breath,” is applied to the “Holy Spirit.”

Birth takes place on the tenth day of the ninth month. Eight days after birth, in Jewish families, a son is circumcised. Zola noted that the eight days of Hanukkah are celebrated right on schedule, nine months and ten days after Passover.

No human being could have understood the gestation period 3,500 years ago. The establishment of the Biblical Feast Days was given to Moses by Yaweh, Himself. Its correlation with the human gestation period is not only remarkable; it proves “Intelligent Design.” It proves the existence of an intelligence beyond this world. It clearly demonstrates that there is a Creator God that guides the affairs of man.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ahhh, summer! But Fall's coming!

Yesterday was June 21, the first day of summer.  Even though it's been cool and wet here, it's still summer, that wonderful time sandwiched between spring and fall.  The earth is alive; gardens are growing and maturing, getting ready for the final harvest. 

Remember, Yeshua fulfilled all the spring feasts with His first visitation to earth.  Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Shavuot are the precise fulfillments of His death, burial, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit, respectively.  The fall feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles are still awaiting fulfillment.  So what is going on during the "summer" between the harvests?

In Leviticus 23, where all seven feasts are outlined, check out verse 22, sandwiched between Shavuot and Trumpets.   ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.’

This seemingly out of place verse, wedged between instructions for a spring and a fall feast, is actually a directive for the "summer" between the feasts.  This "summer" has been going on for nearly 2000 years.  We gentiles are the poor and stranger who have been gleaning from the harvest of Israel. 

Look at part of the conversation between Yeshua and the Samaritan woman at the well:   'Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" It is during this time of summer, between the feasts, that fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 (and other places)  is taking place:  "Through you all nations will be blessed."

I strongly believe that we are nearing the end of the summer.  The signs are all around us.  The fact that Israel is back in her homeland, and in possession of Jerusalem, is by far the biggest, but there are others, too.  Knowledge has greatly increased (Daniel 12:4).  The earth is experiencing birth pangs as never before - massive tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.

Also, look at the numbers.  There were approximately 2000 years from creation to Abraham, 2000 years from Abraham to Yeshua, and we are wrapping up about 2000 years since His resurrection, for a total of six milleniums.  The seventh millenium, spoken of as the 1000 year reign of Messiah on earth in scripture, is the Sabbath millenium.

Watch for future posts regarding the upcoming fulfillment of the Fall Feasts.  Autumn is rapidly approaching!  Are you ready?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fiddler and Confessions

This post isn't very theological... more observational (and confessional).

This week, we went to see the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.  This is my third time seeing it live, and if you count the number of times I've seen the movie starring Topol, it probably comes closer to about thirty or forty. 

The first time I saw Fiddler live was in the late 1980s.  I met my cousin in NY for the weekend and we got same-day half price tickets. I was coming down with a fever and sore throat, so I sat suffering through the musical, wondering when it would be over and I could go to bed.  I didn't even remotely get what it was about.

Ironically, I met this same cousin in Boston for a fun weekend during that same era.  I don't remember if it was before or after the weekend in NY.  Anyway, we spent about seven hours in the Bull and Finch Pub (the bar that inspired Cheers), and I have a memory from there that I believe was a turning point in my life.  A couple had joined us at our table, and we laughed and joked with them for a long time.  To my deep shame, I told a totally racist and disgusting joke about the Jewish people.  Suddenly the couple got up and left.  I looked at my cousin in dawning horror and wondered aloud if perhaps those people were Jewish.  (I was not following the Lord during this time in my life, in case you were wondering).

I will NEVER ever forget that night.  If I could find those people today and tell them how deeply sorry I was, I would.  Who knows?  Perhaps someday one of them will stumble on this blog, read this, and know how much I regret those careless, hurtful words.

I believe God used that shameful episode in my life to begin to open my heart toward the Jewish people.  I had grown up in an area where there were no Jewish people at all... I think I met my first one at around age 21.  I knew absolutely nothing about them, even though I was raised in the Catholic church.  I vaguely remember hearing the word "Israel" in church, but didn't know much else.

Okay, back to Fiddler.  Every time I see it, my love for the Jewish people grows, and the other night was no exception.  I found myself with tears in my eyes many times throughout the play. 

A little history:  Fiddler debuted on Broadway on September 22, 1964 (a mere month after I made my own debut into the world), and set a record with a run of 3,242 performances.  The play was based on two things. The plot stems from a series of short stories written in the late 1800s by Sholem Aleichem called "Tevye the Milkman and Other Stories." The painting by Orthodox Jewish-raised Marc Chagall around 1912 called "Le Violiniste" gave the musical its title.  The Fiddler is a metaphor for survival, through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance. Chagall painted the face of his fiddler green - in the artistic world, this signifies importance.  In Orthodox Jewish culture, the village fiddler was an important figure, playing his music for all pivotal life events:  Births, weddings, funerals, and other cultural and religious celebrations.

As I study Jewish history and culture, I keep finding myself comparing what I learn to what I already know from Fiddler.  They are a people who, sadly, are used to persecution.  Tradition is extremely important to them, so much so that it causes Tevye to disown his daughter when she marries a gentile.  This still happens today.  Recently I was reading the difference in prayer styles between Jews and Christians.  While Christians tend to close our eyes and bow our heads in a more solemn way, the Jewish people tend to pray with their eyes open, talking aloud to God as if He is in the room.  "Wow!" I thought.  "Just like Tevye!"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shavuot Shalom!

The fifty days of counting the omer are done, and Shavuot has come.  What is Shavuot, and how is it fulfilled by Yeshua?

We know that Shavuot, called Pentecost in Greek, is commemorated as the birth of the church in the Christian world.  It is the day that the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit on the disciples who were waiting for the promised Helper.

The Jewish people celebrate Shavuot as a commemoration of the giving of the law on Sinai, when the commandments were written on stone tablets by the finger of God.  However, in Jeremiah 31:33, and reiterated in Hebrews 8:9, the Lord promises that the law will be written on their hearts.  From stone tablets to our hearts - this is another fulfullment of Shavuot!

Shavuot had been kept by the Jewish people for 1500 years prior to Yeshua's appearance.  It was one of the three commanded pilgrimage feasts, for which the Israelites were required to journey to Jerusalem.  (Passover, Shavuot, and Tabernacles are the three). 

It is amazing that God arranged for Jerusalem to be FULL of His chosen people while Yeshua was literally fulfilling His spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Passover.  Even so, it was missed by so many! 
Back at the time of the first Shavuot, the giving of the Torah, 3000 died following the golden calf incident.

Isn't it interesting that when Yeshua fulfilled Shavuot by sending His Holy Spirit, 3000 were saved on that day.

Shavuot was also the celebration of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.  Yeshua had risen on the feast of Firstfruits of the barley harvest.  So this is a different harvest.  The offering was to include two loaves of bread, of fine wheat flour, with leaven.  Remember that leaven represents sin.  The loaves signify that we can come as we are!  He will clean us up. 

Throughout scripture, you will see that there is a requirement of at least two witnesses in order to establish a matter.  In Matthew 18, Yeshua sent out His disciples two by two.  The two loaves are a beautiful picture of Jews and gentiles, unified together in Messiah!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shavuot's Coming!

Here comes Shavuot, or "Pentecost" in Greek.  What is it?  It is the fourth feast that is commanded in scripture.  We saw how Yeshua perfectly fulfilled Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, and we are currently in the process of "counting the omer" for 50 days until Shavuot.  Today is day 45.

This is the only feast out of the seven that is dateless.  Why is that?  We are to count 50 days from the extremely significant feast of Firstfruits - the day that Yeshua was raised from the dead.  As we are counting, it causes us to look back upon that Precious Day!  Day 5 since Firstfruits.... day 17 from Firstfruits, day 26 from Firstfruits, etc.  Firstfruits is the feast that changed the world, so it is no wonder that God would give us a special way to focus on it.

If you missed my posts on Firstfruits, go back and read them if you have time.  What the gentile church calls "Easter" is really a beautiful scriptural feast day that was foretold and commanded in the book of Leviticus, and offers a magnificent picture of the resurrected Messiah.

Note:  The Jewish people today calculate Shavuot from the day after Passover, which is why on the Jewish calendar, Shavuot begins this year on June 7.   However, Leviticus 23 tells us how to correctly calculate Shavuot:  ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: (Firstfruits) seven Sabbaths shall be completed.  Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.

I had just returned from Mexico on Yom HaAliya, which is the Ascension Day of Yeshua, and was unable to post.  But I have been pondering it.  Why did Yeshua ascend on Day 40, during the counting of the omer?  What is significant about the 10 day period between the ascension and Shavuot, which occurs on Day 50?

In scripture,  the number 40 is very significant and occurs many times.  The number can mean generation, probation; trial; discipline.  Yeshua was on "trial" or "probation," appearing during this time to over 500 people to prove His resurrection. 

After He ascended on Day 40, there was a 10-day period of waiting.  Could the 10 possibly signify the 10 commandments, the commandments that were written in stone on Sinai and commemorated annually on Shavuot since that time?  Could those 10 days be preparing the disciples to have the commandments written on their hearts?  Ten is a number of completion or divine order, as well as responsibility on earth.

And 50!  Well, 50 represents Jubilee, perfect deliverance; (7 x 7 + 1)  - continued deliverance following the perfect consummation of time.  If that isn't a picture of Shavuot, I don't know what is.  Watch for more on Shavuot this week.

By the way, thanks to for their wonderful insight on symbolic meanings of various numbers, objects, and substances.

Monday, June 6, 2011

May you be like Ruth!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

More about covenants

Last night in our Jewish roots study, we took a look at the covenants.

The world had become wicked again after the flood, and so God chose one man through whom to work his promise in the garden - the seed promise from the garden that was fulfilled in Messiah...( Galations 3:16 - Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,”who is Messiah)

Genesis 12:1-3 is an introduction to how the covenant is going to work: 

1 Now the LORD had said to Abram:
      “Get out of your country,
      From your family
      And from your father’s house,
      To a land that I will show you.
2  I will make you a great nation;
      I will bless you
      And make your name great;
      And you shall be a blessing.
 3  I will bless those who bless you,
      And I will curse him who curses you;
      And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed

First Abraham, then the nation, then the world.  The land, the seed, and the blessing.  This is all still being fulfilled, first through Abraham, then Israel, and then the whole world through Yeshua the Messiah.  This covenant is irrevocable, and was reiterated several times through Abraham's descendents.

Let's look at the last verse from above:  The words used for curse are actually two different words.   "The one who curses (qalal) you, I will curse (’arar)." The word qalal means to not esteem, to treat lightly, to despise.  The word 'arar means bind with a curse, rend powerless, hem in with obstacles.   So the idea of the verse is this:  If you fail to esteem My plan through Israel, I will bind you up with a curse.  The first scriptural evidence of anti-semitism is when Hagar despised (qalal) Sarah when Ishmael was born.
The new covenant given to the Jewish people at the Last Supper was a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31, which fortells of that new covenant.  This new covenant never got rid of the covenant of the land, the seed, and the blessing.  Those are all still intact.  You can see that this is true, since the Jewish people never disappeared throughout history (in spite of many, many attempts); and since 1948, Israel is back in her homeland!  Yeshua is the fulfillment of the seed promise, and offers a blessing (salvation) to every person in the world!