Friday, November 25, 2011

Musings on the Education of our Children

I just realized that I have harped on this before, but I think it's a message that bears repeating.  I recently attended a home education conference, and the speaker really brought these things to the forefront of my mind again.

I am very thankful to live in a country where we as parents are free to educate our children as we please.  It has not always been so.  Our home-education pioneering forefathers and foremothers of the 1970s era risked jail and even losing their children so that we could enjoy this freedom to educate our children in the way that God outlines in His scriptures.

However, it seems that many of today's home educators have lost that early vision.  All around me, I see home educators trying to re-create school at home.  Why is this?  Why do we feel like we need to adhere to some school standard issued by a godless institution?

Revelation 2 says to the church at Ephesus, I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

Of course, home education is not the context here.  But some parallels can be drawn.  The home-educating community perseveres and endures hardships, working very hard to educate our children.  But there are many of us who have lost the very hearts of those children through the striving to be more public-school-like, and to achieve the idol of high academic standards. Algebra in preschool?  Latin and Greek at age 7?  Are these things beneficial to the child, or to the parental ego?

Sadly, I have seen so many crack under the pressure to measure up to the godless educational standard, and they end up sending their kids back to public school. Then they get to deal with the hours and hours of homework, assigned by an outside authority in their child's life, including content that they may even be opposed to. Not to even mention the ungodly influences that reign in the public schools.

Seven times in God's word, He tells us, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom/knowledge. (Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 15:33, Isaiah 11:2, Isaiah 33:6).   Do you really want your child sent to a place for education, six or seven hours a day, where the source of wisdom is man, not God?

We know through scripture that the home and the family was the center of biblical Hebrew education. Deuteronomy 6 tells us, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The language in our modern vernacular says, focus on these things 24/7!  I see nothing here on math, grammar, French Literature, or any such thing.  This doesn't mean never study those subjects; that isn't my point.  My point is, what is THE most important thing?  If they learn all those other things but miss loving and serving God, it was all for nothing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A new religion??

Let me just say this: Yeshua did not come to create a new religion. Yeshua was not a Christian. Yeshua was not Catholic. Jesus was Jewish from start to finish!

Over the past weekend, we held a "Feast of Feasts" at our house. We invited the youth (and their families) over for an afternoon of learning and feasting - feasting on food and the Word.

The seven Feasts found in Leviticus 23 create a mural for us of God's entire redemptive plan. Yeshua fulfilled the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Shavuot (Pentecost) with His death, burial, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit. At His first coming, He was the Suffering Servant.

We are now in the long, hot summer between the feasts, where the Kingdom of God is offered to the whole world. Then someday, Yeshua will return and fulfill the fall feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Shavuot (Feast of Tabernacles). This He will do as a Conquering King.

Folks like to say that Pentecost was the "birth of the church," and that we are now in the "church age." I say that it is simply the next step in God's redemptive plan, which is first to the Jew an then to the Gentile. The first believers were all Jewish. Yeshua said to the woman at the well in Samaria, You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. True, most of His brethren rejected Him as Messiah. But the early believers were the remnant who were empowered to take the good news to the rest of the world. The two loaves made with leaven that are eaten at Shavuot represent Jew and Gentile coming together as one new man in God's redemptive plan.

The word ekklesia, which is translated church in so many Bible versions, is a Greek word that means assembly. It can be a political ekklesia, a social ekklesia, whatever. It had no religious connotation at all. You can actually find the word in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Tanakh, which happened 300 years before Yeshua came to earth), being applied to the Jewish assembly.

Since about the fourth century, a dangerous theology called Replacement Theology has been taught within the church. This theology says that God is done with the Jews, and that the church is the new Israel. This theology has been responsible for the deaths of millions and millions of Jews as they were shunned, pushed out, forced to convert, or killed throughout church history - labeled "Christ killers" and being accused of all sorts of ridiculous things like killing Christian children at Passover and using their blood to make matzah. How stupid is that? Matzah is made with wheat and water, nothing else.

This theology has the capability of harming Gentiles as well. I recently read an article at, written by a former Gentile Christian who could not make sense of Replacement Theology. His heart was drawn toward the Jewish people (as is mine), but because all his studying was done through the lens of Replacement Theology, he could not reconcile Christianity. He is now an orthodox Jew living in Israel and has completely rejected Yeshua as the Messiah. He and I have had a brief exchange of emails in which he clarified his Rabbinic Jewish beliefs, and with a mildly hostile attitude, I might add. His article can be found here: Sad, sad, sad!

I love the study of the Jewish roots of my faith (obviously, given the title of this blog). However, I have no fear of losing my faith in Yeshua. His amazing footprints are ALL OVER the Tanakh (old testament). Unfortunately, most of these ideas are not taught in the church, which for the most part is still entrenched in replacement theology.

Not convinced? Here is an example: does your church teach a pre-tribulational rapture of the church? This theology, made popular in the 1830s, shows a move toward a more biblical view of Israel - that God will deal with them in the end - but it still teaches that the church is entirely a separate entity from Israel. It is important to read (and understand) Ephesians 2, Romans 11, and Jeremiah 31:31. The covenants were all made with Israel, and we Gentiles were graciously allowed to be grafted into God's covenant with THEM. Scripture clearly shows the believers in Yeshua are still around in Revelation 12:17 (among other places). But that is altogether another post (or six) for another time.

I don't think the early church was entirely malicious in its formation of Replacement Theology.  After all, Israel had been completely destroyed, purged of Jewish people, and renamed Palestine (by the Roman Emperor Hadrian - who hated the Jews - and not by any Arab person).   And Israel had no homeland for centuries and centuries.  Perhaps it seemed logical to the church that they really were the new Israel.  (However, this does not excuse the historical treatment of the Jews by the church).

But now Israel is a nation again in her own homeland, a miracle, wrought by the hand of God alone!   People have been digging into the scriptures and re-examining their beliefs in this light.  Praise Adonai!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Marriage of the Lamb!

In my last post, I wrote about the similarities between a Hebrew betrothal and the covenant that was made between Yeshua and His bride, and I noted that we are in the betrothal period right now as we await the joyous arrival of our Groom.

Before I move on, there is one point that I want to add to my last post on betrothal.  In the ancient Hebrew betrothal covenant, a cup of wine was shared by the groom and the bride to seal the covenant.  Yeshua sealed this covenant with us, His bride, when He drank of the cup of wine with His disciples the night before He died, at their Passover celebration.  At the actual marriage ceremony, a second cup of wine would be shared by the Hebrew bride and groom.  Note the words of Yeshua in Matthew 26:29:  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.

We are now in a very exciting time to be alive!  We know that the sign of Israel being a nation again is the key to the return of the Messiah.  Yeshua will soon be fulfilling the Fall Feasts, just as He perfectly fulfilled the Spring Feasts with His first earthly visitation.   As the betrothed bride of the Messiah, we are now in the time of sanctification; that is, preparing ourselves to become His bride. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy day by day - getting ready for the Big Day!

A bride in ancient Israel had no idea what day or hour her bridegroom would return for her.  The groom himself didn't even know - his father would be the one to decide when all was ready for the wedding.  Sound familiar?  It should!   But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  Matthew 24:36

Jewish bridegrooms usually came for their brides late at night, near the midnight hour.  Shofars would break the silence of night.  There would be shouts in the streets, and a torch-light procession would wind its way through the town to the home of the bride.  Similarly, Yeshua will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) when He returns for His bride.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins gives us a sobering illustration in Matthew 25.  Five of the virgins were prepared and ready. The other five did not allow themselves to become sanctified and holy; therefore, they were not prepared when the bridegroom showed up. They had no oil for their lamps, meaning that they did not have the Holy Spirit, who is symbolized by oil.  Sadly, they were shut out from the Wedding of the Lamb, for He did not know them.

The Hebrew marriage ceremony would take place under a chuppah, which means room or covering.  The marriage of the Lamb is fulfilled at the Feast of Tabernacles, the feast during which people build temporary booths or shelters, symbolizing the chuppah.  Tabernacles is the autumn feast that is seven days long, just like the ancient Hebrew wedding.  Remember how Jacob had to fulfill his week with Leah before he could have Rachel in Genesis 29?

The cup of wine is shared by bride and groom to seal the marriage covenant forever.  Since ancient times, the glass would then be broken to symbolize that they would never be the same again.  The marriage feast would have been an extremely joyous occasion, just as the Feast of Tabernacles is the most joy-filled of the seven biblical feasts.  I don't think that it is coincidental that the first recorded miracle of Yeshua was at the wedding celebration at Cana - involving wine, which represents joy.

The time period that follows the wedding feast of the Lamb is found in Revelation 20 - the one thousand year reign.  I've been pondering this, and I have come to the conclusion that this represents the honeymoon period.  Why?  Look at this little tiny requirement in Deuteronomy 24:5 -  When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.  In Hebrew, one year can have the same numeric meaning as one millenium. 

There will be a brief war at the end of the millenium - of course, Yeshua wins - and then in Revelation 21, we see that the glorious New Jerusalem will come down from the heavens and be joined together with the regenerated earth.  The Bridegroom will present his bride with her new permanent home, where He will forever dwell with her in love, joy, and peace.

Look at the words of Isaiah in chapter 62, verse 5:  And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,  so shall your God rejoice over you.    

Isn't this just a fantastic picture that leaves you breathless with anticipation?

Next year during the Feast of Tabernacles, I'd love to build a chuppah in my yard and host a marriage vow renewal ceremony.  Anybody interested?   Of course, I'd settle for a trip to Jerusalem instead.

The Proverbs 31 Woman and the Bride of Messiah

If you are like me, you have perhaps read the description of the Perfect Woman in Proverbs 31 and groaned inwardly (or outwardly), saying, "I will never be able to be like her!"

Verse 10 starts out with what seems like a rhetorical question.  "A wife of noble character, who can find?"

But the second part of that verse says her worth (her value, her price) is far above rubies.

In their ancient culture, women were purchased.  A bride price was always agreed upon before a woman became someone's wife.  Our Proverbs 31 woman KNOWS that she is valuable to her husband because he had paid a high price for her. Knowing how much he values and cherishes her, she serves him joyfully and without reserve.  Her family flourishes, and her children and husband praise her and call her blessed.

As the bride of Yeshua, we too were purchased at a very high price -  the blood of the Lamb.  Proverbs 31 actually foreshadows our Christian walk!  We don't (or shouldn't) serve Jesus out of some guilty sense of obligation.  When we realize what he has done for us, we can BE that Proverbs 31 gal when we serve Him joyfully and without reserve!

There are many parallels between the ancient Hebrew marriage customs and the coming Marriage to the Lamb.  Let's look at a few.
  • The Father chooses a bride for his son.  The Father also chose us for His Son. Eph 1:4 -  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love

  • The Ketubah was and still is the marriage contract in a Hebrew wedding.  We have a ketubah today:  the New Covenant, in which the groom promises love and care for His bride - and to give Himself for her. The bride promises to pay her dowry - her financial status - that of her yielded life and to keep herself for Him.  1 Cor 6:20 - For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s

  • The bride and groom were separately immersed in a mikveh, which we know today as baptism.  Yeshua was immersed as He began His ministry, and He asks us to do the same when we receive Him.

  • The betrothal period - This is where we now are!  In scripture, it was as binding as a marriage.  The time of betrothal was a time of sanctification (being set apart and preparing for the wedding and marriage).  The groom's responsibility at this time was to prepare a place for them to live.  In Bible times, this was usually not a new home, but rooms that were added onto his father's house.  John 14:2-3 illustrates this beautifully:  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

  • Before the betrothed couple parted to prepare themselves, the groom would give the bride a gift, called the matan in Hebrew.  Its purpose was to be a reminder to his bride during their days of separation of his love for her, that he was thinking of her - and that he would return to receive her as his wife.  Interestingly, the Greek word for this gift, or pledge, is charismata.  We see the gift that is given in Ephesians 1:13-14 - In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
These are just a few things to ponder as we await the return of our Bridegroom.  Watch for another post soon on the rapidly approaching marriage!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yeshua Feeds Thousands and Thousands

Nothing is in scripture by accident.

Did you ever wonder why Yeshua fed 5000 people, and then shortly thereafter, fed the 4000?  Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the 5000.  Matthew and Mark both record the 4000.

God's numbers mean something.  Always.  I've said that my favorite number is seven - it happens so many times in scripture and it represents completeness.  But what can we learn from these giant Catering-By-Yeshua events?

The feeding of the 5000 took place near Bethsaida, to an all-Jewish crowd.  The number 5 represents God's grace and mercy, which He poured out first on the Jewish people.  The number five can also represent the Pentateuch - the first five books of scripture.  Yeshua, our Bread of Life, is transforming the Mosaic Law into something much bigger, greater, and more nourishing.  After the meal, there were twelve baskets left over.  Twelve is a very Jewish number!  Twelve tribes of Israel.  Twelve apostles. 

The Greek word used for basket here is kophinos, which was a small, personal-sized basket that was used by the Israelites.  The Jewish people observed cleanliness laws carefully, and large community baskets were out of the question.

Fast forward to the second Great Catered Event.  Yeshua had just been to Tyre and Sidon and was traveling in the Decapolis - in other words, He had a very Gentile audience.  He had just "thrown the crumbs to the dogs," so to speak, when he healed the Gentile woman's daughter who had been demon-possessed.

When He fed the 4000, He was foreshadowing the salvation of the world.  The number four represents the four corners of the earth, symbolizing all of creation.  Seven baskets:  seven represents completeness, His plan of salvation for all of mankind. 

Even the Greek word for basket is different:  spuris.  This type of basket is huge!  Picture an Indiana Jones movie -  when Indy runs from his enemies, this would be a basket he could hide in and put the cover on it. 

In the same way, the grace and mercy of the Lord will be (and is being) poured out abundantly on the entire world.

But notice the order:  First to the Jew, and then to the Gentile.

Romans 1:16 says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (or Gentile - the word helene actually means anyone "Hellenized," or a non-Jew).

God's order of things has not changed.  Pray for opportunities to be a blessing and a witness to your Jewish friends.  If you don't have any, pray for some!  Bless Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).