Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rock and Roll... Bible Style!

Okay, now that I have your attention, I'm really talking about the connection between stones and bread. (Get it?  Rock and roll?  Stones and bread?   I know; not that funny...)

I was hanging out in Deuteronomy 8 the other day, and came across this:

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth YHVH.

In context, we see that Moses was on the mountain for forty days with no bread, and at the end, he received YHVH's instructions - written on stone tablets.

Moses, a foreshadow of the Messiah, was given the Word - the Bread of Life - on stones.

Fast forward to Yeshua, spending His own forty days in the wilderness with no bread.  The accuser, who knows the scriptures probably better than anyone, challenged Yeshua to turn the mountain stones into bread.  Yeshua went right back to Deuteronomy 8 and quoted the aforementioned verse.

Several chapters later, we find Yeshua teaching His disciples how to pray.  About halfway through, He said "give us this day our daily bread."  Do you think He is talking about food?  Hmmm, just a few verses later He told His disciples not to worry about what they shall eat or drink.  It looks to me like He is talking about feasting on the daily Word!

We see another connection in the very next chapter, when Yeshua said Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Yeshua is saying that it is a good thing to desire the Bread, the One who fulfilled everything that was written on the stones of Sinai.

The purpose of the law, written on stone and given to Moses, was to reveal our sinful nature and demonstrate our need for redemption.  Yeshua, the Bread of Life, fulfilled the law, gave His life for us, and became our Chief Cornerstone in Whom we are to place our trust.

John 6 is full of references to bread.  The chapter begins with Yeshua feeding the 5000.  The next day, people showed up for another free meal, and were taught about the Everlasting Bread instead. 

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. 

This caused grumbling among some of the people.  Yeshua continued, "I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Wonderful, awesome Bread!  No need to worry about gluten or carbs.  This Bread gives life!
Have you had your Bread today?

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Fresh Look at the Third Commandment

For a long time, the term OMG has really bothered me.  People would throw His name around so casually!  Haven't they heard the third commandment?  I even wrote a blog post awhile back called "Oh, My Bob!"  (Click here if you feel like reading it).

I must confess, I have been looking at the original language of the third commandment, and have come to realize that the commandment is saying something altogether different than what I have always thought.

(If you think this releases you to run around OMG-ing, please read Ezekiel 36:23, Joel 2:26, and many other places - His name is YHVH and it is HOLY).

The text in question is Exodus 20:7:  You shall not take the name of YHVH your God in vain, for YHVH will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

First, the word translated take.  It means to lift up.  This is the origin of placing one's hand on a Bible in a courtroom and swearing an oath, in the name of God.

Now, let's look at the word translated vain.  It means falsehood; empty lies. 

Putting the two together, we see that this verse is telling us how serious YHVH is regarding the taking of an oath.  This can be confirmed many times in scripture. 

Remember the Gibeonites in Joshua chapter 9?  They dressed themselves up as if they had come from a long way, and tricked the Israelites into making a treaty with them in order to save their hides.  The Israelites made the mistake of not consulting YHVH first.  Later, when they realized that the Gibeonites lived nearby, this is what they had to say:

But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.
Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them.  Joshua 9:18-19

Even rash oaths must be honored.  Are you familiar with Jephthah's rash vow in Judges 11?  He came home from war, and enthusiastically promised YHVH that he would offer the first thing that he saw as a sacrifice.  He did not anticipate that it would be his daughter.  (Biblical scholars differ on the result of Japhtheh's vow).

In Matthew 5, Yeshua reiterated the importance of an oath, to the point of cautioning us not even to do it.  James 5 repeats this caution in verse 12.  But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

Are you with me so far?  You can search the scriptures and find much more on the importance of oaths.  The Lord God takes them very seriously.

Genesis 26:3 tells of an oath that YHVH swore to Abraham:  Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.  We can go through the book of Genesis and see this promise repeated several times.  Genesis 13:15 reveals that the promise is forever.

Hebrews 6:17 tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. 

Now that Israel is back in the land that was sworn to her by Almighty God so very long ago, there are many who would like nothing more than to see her gone, and her enemies fight tooth and nail to see that happen.   However, their fight is futile... God CANNOT lie.  His purposes WILL go forward, whether people like them or not. 

Israel has endured four major wars, countless minor wars, a media war, and a commerce war (the BDS movement, which stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions against Israel).  None of these things are working for those opposed to Israel.  Zechariah 12:3 warns us "In that day I will make Jerusalem a stumbling block for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth gather against it." 

Ouch.  I don't think it gets much clearer than that. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Creation and Millenia - A Godly Pattern

I just love how our God is a God of order!  I have been recently studying the correlation between the seven days of creation and the millennia (thousand year periods) of human history.  The Word speaks often of the number seven, which represents completeness.  In fact, seven in Hebrew is sheva, which carries the threefold meaning of seven, completeness, and a sworn oath.  (Note:  If you don't believe in a literal 7-day creation or that the earth is young, this post is probably not for you)

Day 1 – God separated light and dark
The first words of Elohim were "Let there be light."  Notice the sun and moon were not created yet; He Himself was the light!  So what was happening during the first thousand years of man's existence? Let's take a look.
Millenium 1 – 4000-3000 BC (approx.)

  • Creation and the fall of man – God’s presence was light.  Separation from Him was darkness.
  • God's first covenant with man took place in Eden – The Redeemer was promised through seed of Woman (notice: not man), and Elohim provided skins for Adam and Eve.  This was the first bloodshed, which provided covering, or atonement, for them.
  • Cain and Abel.  Abel's sacrifice (which included bloodshed) was accepted.  Cain's was not.
  • Toward the end, Noah built a boat and preached to the people (who all thought he was crazy).
  • There was a great increase of wickedness in the world.  Again, light versus darkness.

Day 2 – God separated the waters
The waters were separated; some to the earth and some to the skies.  The part in between was called the expanse, or firmament.  Its purpose was to divide.  What took place during the next millennium?

Millenium 2 – 3000-2000 BC (approx)

  • The great flood took place at the beginning of this era, involving massive amounts of water, and also the separation of wickedness and righteousness.
  • God makes the second covenant with man - the rainbow and the promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood.  The flood was the first time the earth saw rain.
  • The Tower of Babel took place - a major occurance of separation and division as Elohim scattered the people and confused their languages.
  • Abraham was born toward the end of this time period and he separated from Ur in obedience to Elohim.

Day 3 – The dry land appears, vegetation begins to grow
This day saw the birth of sustenance that would be needed to sustain life on Earth.  What was going on in our corresponding thousand-year period?

Millenium 3 – 2000-1000 BC (approx)

  • God’s plan of redemption for mankind began to take shape
  • Abraham obeyed God, even to offer his own son as sacrifice - a picture of a future sacrifice
  • God instituted the 3rd Covenant - the unconditional Abrahamic covenant – which included the Land (Israel), the Seed (Messiah), and the Blessing  (Redemption).  The promise was repeated to Isaac and to Jacob.  This is a never-ending covenant - the promise was forever.
  • The nation of Israel was forged in the fires of Egypt, while  they were in slavery.
  • Israel was delivered - on dry land - through the Red Sea.
  • Yehovah instituted the 4th covenant – the covenant made at Sinai with Moses, conditional upon obedience (Torah, Law).  The purpose of this law was to reveal sin and to highlight the need for redemption.  He also revealed His holy name (YHVH) to Moses. 
  • Israel was sustained in the desert with manna from heaven.
  • Israel entered the Promised Land.
  • Yehovah gave the 5th covenant – the permanent Davidic covenant (the promise of the Messiah coming from the line of King David, 2 Samuel 7:12-13)

Day 4 – The sun, moon, and stars appear for signs and seasons, days and years
The earth, along with its newly-formed vegetation, was given the sun so that the vegetation could bloom and grow. The earth was also prepared to sustain the life that was about to come.

Millenium 4 – 1000 BC to the birth of Messiah (approx)

  • The word for seasons is mo’ed, meaning appointed times in Hebrew.  The seven "mo'ed" (also called Feasts) were given in the Torah during the previous era, and in this millennium, they began to take form.
  • This was the age of the prophets, who confirmed the appointed times through prophecy.
  • The forthcoming new covenant to be made with Israel and Judah was announced in Jeremiah 31:31, which would eventually take the place of the Sinai covenant.
  • Israel was exiled for 70 years and then returned to the land, to prepare for the first arrival of Messiah to the earth.
  • At the end of this era, Yeshua the son of God arrived on Earth.  (born in about 4-5 BC)

Day 5 – The creatures of the ocean and the birds of the air created
It is interesting that only animals of the sea and the air were created on this day, but not the land animals yet. Is there significance to that?  (Rhetorical question - everything has meaning in scripture)

Millenium 5 –  Birth of Messiah to about 1000 AD (approx)

  • The 6th covenant - Yeshua instituted the new covenant through the shedding of His blood
  • The age of God’s spiritual kingdom on earth began
  • The Holy Spirit was sent to indwell the saints on Shavuot (Greek:  Pentecost)
  • The fish became a major symbol of Yeshua and of the early New Testament church
  • The Holy Spirit was represented by a dove
  • 'Earth to sky' is a picture of the prayers of the saints reaching the heavens.
  • The fifth article of the Tabernacle is the altar of incense, which represents the prayers of the saints ascending to the Almighty's throne (Revelation 8:3-4)

Day 6 – Creation of man and land animals
This is the day that Elohim finishes His work, perhaps saving the best for last?  Let's look at how the creation of man and animals corresponds with the sixth millennium.

Millenium 6 – 1000 AD to now (approx)

  • We have a picture of man taking dominion of the earth
  • Around 1000 AD, gunpowder was invented by the Chinese.  Hmmm, a turning point?
  • Great changes began about halfway through the sixth millennium.
  • Great advances were made in science and technology.  Think of Galileo, Copernicus, da Vinci, Newton, Edison, Bell,  Ford, Wright Bros, to name a few.
  • Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450.   Another major turning point?
  • World exploration and expansion began around the same time.
  • Electricity discovered.  Ask the CEO of Best Buy Company if this was important.
  • The Industrial Revolution ushered in the 19th century (For 5000 years, sojourners had relied on their feet and their animals for transportation)
  • The steam engine was invented in the late 1700s.
  • The 1700s also saw the rise of Humanism, the Enlightenment, and Darwinism - very man-centered.
  • Technology began growing exponentially (bicycle, car, plane - all invented within 20 years of each other)
  • The Earth has been filled – the number of people alive today make up half the people who have ever lived.
  • More people have been killed by wars and dictators in the 20th century than all previous centuries combined.
  • Exponential growth of population and technology will continue till Yeshua returns.
  • The mark of the beast (whatever it is) is represented by triple six, the number of man.
  • Today's fast-paced escalation of life can be compared to a Jewish family preparing for Shabbat.  Hurry!  So much to do to get ready!  I saw a wonderful picture of this while visiting the Jewish marketplace in Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon.  So much preparation and excitement in the air!  And speaking of the Jewish people, one of the key events in this sixth millennium was the birth of Israel in 1948.  Isaiah 66:8 says, Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.  Israel was not born out of another country, as was the case with the United States (and pretty much every other new country ever birthed).  She literally was born - reborn, actually - out of the four corners of the earth!
Day 7 – And God rested from His work - Shabbat (Sabbath)

Millenium 7 – Coming sometime soon, to last for 1000 years

  • Yeshua will return for His bride and will dwell with her on Earth.
  • Satan will be bound, and it will be a time of peace and rest.  Hallelujah!
  • The 7th covenant awaits future fulfillment - it is the covenant of peace in  Ezekiel 37: I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am Yehovah who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.  As grafted-in believers, we Gentiles get to be a part of this covenant, too.
So what happens next?  At the end of the seventh millennium of rest, there is a brief war in which satan is unbound and utterly vanquished.  Then the New Jerusalem will come down from the New Heavens and be joined with the New Earth.  Isaiah 66:17 promises, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind."  Revelation 21 completes the picture.
Bonus: My friend Jill showed me this cool correspondence within the Days of Creation:

  • Days 1 and 4 – light; sun, moon, and stars
  • Days 2 and 5 – Waters divided between earth and heaven; fish and birds
  • Days 3 and 6 – Land and vegetation; man and beast. 
  • Day 7 is holy and set apart.
In closing, I just want to say that all of this beautiful order laid out by our Creator should give great reassurance to those of us living in these last days.  We do not have to have any fear of whatever trials about to come on the Earth.  Our loving Father has a master plan, and we are privileged to be a part of it.