Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kiss the Son

As I prepare for another trip to the land of Israel, Psalm 2 keeps running through my mind.

It begins like this.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, (Messiah) saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
We surely see this being fulfilled in the world today.  One place in particular that stands out in my mind is the Dome of the Rock, which sits on or near the site of the Temple Mount, where the Temple of Yehovah once (actually, twice) stood.

Built in the early days of Islam, it is an impressive structure.  I have been right up to its tiled walls, but I was shooed away by an Arab man, because only Muslims are now allowed inside.  On close examination, one can see Arabic writing on the tiles along the top perimeter of the structure.

What most people don't know is what it says.  Does it praise Allah, the god of Islam?  No.  This is what it says:  "Jesus, son of Mary was only a messenger of Allah.  Allah has no son.  It is blasphemy to say he has taken a son."

Psalm 2 continues.  

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:

 “Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”

 “I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.

 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

Today, as you walk about the Temple Mount plaza (if you is able to get up there in the first place), one can hear the chanting refrains of the Muslim women who are paid to yell "Allahu akbar" over and over again during visiting hours.  It does not just mean allah is great.  It means allah is greater.  They are trying to proclaim that their god is greater than the One True God.  Methinks they protesteth too much.

So what are we to do about this Son, spoken of in Psalm 2?

The psalm continues.  It tells us exactly what to do:

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Without the Son, you perish.  With the Son, you are blessed.  Trust in the Son!  

Even Islam can't help but focus on the Son.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Afikomen, The Hidden Bread

This year's Passover has come and gone and is now part of history, but I still have thoughts in my head that are rattling around, and I feel like they won't be history until I put them in writing.

First of all, I love the Feasts of the Lord.  I am stating this fact for anyone who might be new to my blog.  If you've been around awhile, you know this.  The word for "feast" means appointed time.  In the scriptures, the Lord God has  made an appointment with His people.   And rightfully so, because like everything written in the scriptures, they point clearly and dramatically to the Messiah.

One of the highlights of the Passover meal (called a Seder, which means order) is the presentation, breaking, and hiding of the Afikomen (ah fee KO men). How did this traditional part of the Seder arise?  If you asked Tevye, he might say "I don't know.  But it's tradition!"

Here's the story.  The word Afikomen is Greek, and has the meaning of "He has come, or that which is yet to come."  During the Seder, Jewish people all over the world take three pieces of matzah (unleavened bread which has been striped and pierced), and place them in a three compartment linen cover called a Matzah tosh -  one piece in each section.

(I asked a Jewish person once what the three pieces stood for, and he wasn't completely sure.  He guessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.)

At one point in the Seder, the leader removes the middle piece of matzah and breaks it in half.  One of the broken pieces gets wrapped in linen and hidden.  The other piece remains hidden in the middle slot of the Matzah tosh.  After dinner, the children seek the piece hidden by the leader, and the winner returns the piece to the leader to redeem it for a prize.

The clear picture of Yeshua in the Afikomen is astounding to one who knows Him.  He is our unleavened bread - striped and pierced for us - wrapped in linen, and hidden in the ground.  (Note:  leaven in scripture represents sin.  Our Bread of Life, Yeshua, is sinless).  That which was hidden was found and redemption occurs.

This year, however, a friend who joined us for our Seder asked me why the other half remains hidden in the Matzah tosh.  I didn't have a ready answer for her.  However, the next day, as I was researching something else completely, the answer to that question fell into my lap via Google!

Yeshua is still hidden, for the most part, from the Jewish people.  Romans 11:25-27 has this astonishing message:  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved,  as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

How awesome will that day be when He reveals Himself to them and "uncovers the hidden part" of the Afikomen for them, so to speak.

If some of the Jewish people today believe that the three pieces represent Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I find it interesting that the broken piece would be representative of Isaac, who himself is a foreshadow of Yeshua when nearly sacrificed by his father Abraham.

It seems that the tradition of the Afikomen contains mysteries for both Jew and Gentile.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Crossing the Jordan and Passing the Torch

I know... it's a month later and part two of my previous post is just coming out now.  Passover is over, and the whole time I had blog post material floating around in my head!  Additionally, I just finished the book of Deuteronomy this morning and am about to start Joshua. Time to cross the Jordan for a new beginning!

So anyway, this post is a follow-up to my last post on John the Baptist.  If you missed it, you can read it here.

We are going to go back in history and look at the significance of the Jordan River, and the passing of the torch from Moses to Joshua.

Moses had led his people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the edge of the Jordan River.  Because Moses had not carefully followed the Lord's instructions in the wilderness -  striking the rock instead of speaking to it - he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.  Was God being unfair?

Of course not.  Every act of God has meaning and purpose.  God used the situation for His own illustrative purposes - for us!

Moses, just like so many other figures in the Hebrew scriptures, is a foreshadow of Messiah.  In fact, Deuteronomy 18:15 promises:  The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.

 Look at this list and see if  indeed Yeshua is a prophet like Moses:

  • Moses was the first mediator.  Yeshua was the final mediator.
  • Both were born as Hebrews
  • Both were chosen by God as leaders
  • Both were born while Israel was suffering under cruel leaders
  • Both were hidden in Egypt as babies from those who wanted to kill them
  • Both performed supernatural acts
  • Moses turned water into blood.  Yeshua turned water into wine.
  • Both communicated directly with God
  • Both instituted a new covenant between God and the people
  • Both performed miracles
  • Moses told the people about the Passover Lamb.  Yeshua became the Passover Lamb.
  • Both were hated by the ruling parties
  • Both had siblings who misunderstood them
  • Both were lawgivers, one on Mt. Sinai, one on the Mount of Beatitudes
  • Moses sent out twelve spies; Yeshua sent out twelve disciples
  • Moses chose seventy leaders; Yeshua sent out seventy disciples
  • Both had followers who strayed from their teachings
  • Both fasted 40 days and faced a spiritual crisis on a mountain
  • People picked up stones to stone each of them; and in neither case succeeded
  • Moses brought living water out of the rock; Yeshua is the Rock, our Living Water
  • Moses controlled the Red Sea; Yeshua controlled the Sea of Galilee
  • Both faces shone with glory on a mountain
  • Moses lifted the serpent up to bring healing; Yeshua was lifted up to bring healing
  • Moses was a shepherd; Yeshua is the Good Shepherd
  • Both underwent warfare with arms raised and surrounded by two people
  • Both fed thousands of people supernaturally with bread
  • Each of them were preceded by 400 years of biblical silence before starting their ministry
  • Both showed compassion to women at wells
  • Both redeemed people from slavery - Slavery in Egypt, slavery to sin
  • Both were loved and supported by women named Miriam
  • Both chose humble lives of servanthood
  • Moses offered his life after the sin of the golden calf.  Yeshua offered His life for the sin of the world.
  • Both died on a hill
  • Moses was cut off from the Promised Land, Yeshua was cut off from His father
  • Both delivered their people with mighty hands and outstretched arms
  • Both died so that there could be a new beginning for their people

Moses died and was buried on Mt. Nebo, just across the Jordan River from Jericho.  The torch was passed to Yahoshua (Joshua) son of Nun, and the people prepared to enter the Promised Land. (There are many similarities between Joshua and Yeshua as well... but we will save that for another post). 

What time of year did they cross the Jordan?  

Just before PASSOVER.  

The priests lead the way crossing the Jordan River
At the beginning of the first month of the year, Nisan, the Jordan River parted and the people of Israel walked through on dry land, led by the priests.  For a number of days, they camped just east of Jericho.  At this time, the Israelites were circumcised as they prepared for the new beginning.  Passover began on the 14th of Nissan, and the very next day - the first day of Unleavened Bread - the Israelites began to eat of the produce of the land and the manna stopped.  

It was also the day they began to march around Jericho.  On the final day of Unleavened Bread, the walls of Jericho toppled by the hand of the Lord, and Israel officially entered the Promised Land.

Crossing the Jordan was very significant.  It is a throwback to the Red Sea.  It is a foreshadow of spiritual deliverance by the Messiah.  This is why our high priest Yeshua was immersed in the Jordan before beginning His ministry.  It is the start of something new!

Peter confirms that Yeshua is the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18 when he says in Acts 3:22, For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.

Yeshua wipes away sin and gives new life to those who will trust in Him. Have you crossed the Jordan yet to meet Him?