Posts Tagged ‘ Hebrew Heritage ’

Brought out and taken in

Do you remember the old song, He brought us out to take us in….though there be giants in the land I will not be afraid, so let us go at once to our inheritance? This is what I think of when the feast of Tabernacles comes up. Tabernacles is a celebration commissioned by God so that Israel would remember their time in the wilderness.

The Children of Israel were not supposed to spend forty years in the wilderness, it was supposed to be a short trip through the wilderness to the promised land. How many times do we all do this, stop longer than we should or not heed instructions? But that is not what Tabernacles is about. Tabernacles is about God’s grace, God’s Provision and God’s nearness. Many of us start our walks as Jesus followers excited and then slow down due to distractions. God led the Hebrews the long way so they would not be tempted to turn around and go back. Why? Because the short route included a couple battles along the way, that alone is a message in itself.

The root word for wilderness and the Holy of Holies is the same word. It’s when we find ourselves in desert places that God is so close. We have misunderstood wilderness in our western culture. We look at wilderness as a bad thing, yet it was the wilderness where God spoke to Moses and let His goodness pass him. It was the wilderness where God’s presence first came to the Children of Israel, it is the wilderness where Jesus was filled with power, and it is the wilderness of life where many of us have found God and move forward.

Now grant it we should never live there but we should understand what the wilderness is, it is not a bad place but a meeting place with God for transitional time. Think about the instances mentioned, the wilderness catapulted those individuals into a completely different realm of life. Tabernacles is a celebration of God being with us.

Leviticus 23:33-44 gives us the outline of the celebration of Tabernacles and there are two things I want to look at. First, the giving aspect. Leviticus 23:37-38 NKJV “These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day – 38 besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD.”

Now before we get into the giving aspect I want to share a quote from Tiz Huch, “God is not trying to get something from us, He is trying to get something to us”. The enemy has convinced so many believers that giving is a taboo subject and that all the Church is about is money. I’m going to have a moment of blunt honesty with us, we are willing to give money for game tickets, willing to give money to eat out, watch movies, and more why aren’t we willing to give to God, the one who has given us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). We must break out of this anti-giving, anti-prosperous mindset the enemy has over much of the Church. We are blessed to be a blessing and if we only have enough for what we need we cannot be a blessing to others.

Verse thirty eight says besides Sabbaths, gifts, vows, and freewill offerings. Giving during the Feasts is what opens the windows of Heaven. Malachi three says we rob God in tithes and offerings. If we are not givers, why should we expect the blessing of God? God loves a cheerful and prompt to do giver. We sometimes hear, that’s Old Testament, tithing and giving isn’t mentioned in the New, we can just give whenever. Jesus and all the disciples were Jewish, there was no need to go over things that were already established and Malachi three and four were written to Gentiles, it is for us. Giving is what unlocks the door of blessing. These are not celebrations relegated to the Jews, they are God’s feasts and we are grafted in to the root and invited to join the celebration. Do as Malachi says, give and see that God will open the windows and rebuke the devour. And give with expectation to reap a harvest.

The second thing I want to draw our attention to is found in verse thirty nine, on the first and eighth day there shall be a sabbath rest. Hebrews four tells us that a rest remains for the children of God. It is good, it is biblical for us to have one day each week that is set aside for rest, especially with the kids of lives we live today. The rest of God, can be present everyday for those of us who will be willing to walk in that rest.

Tabernacles is a reminder every year that we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and have open and free access to a relationship with God. One last Scripture in closing, Deuteronomy 23:13-14 NKJV “and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.”

Bury your poop because God doesn’t want to step in it. Yep, that’s in the Bible. Sin is poop and God doesn’t want to see or smell it. That’s why Romans six through eight is all about how we are free from sin and how to continue to live free from it. It’s Tabernacles, check your toilets, make sure they’re flushed and spray some Febreze, God is coming to hang out.

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Atonement

To atone means to cover and every year the people of Israel collectively repented and the High Priest would go in to the Holy of Holies to atone for Israel’s sins. Then one day after hundreds of yearly sacrifices Jesus came and was the final sacrifice and we now have free and open access to God. That is the short version of the story but let’s look at the details, where love Himself is found.

Too many times as Christians we make an unnecessary division of Old and New Testament. The God of the Old is the God of the New and the law of Old was the grace of its time. When you look at the regulations in context of that time period it was God’s way of giving and showing His love. He made a distinction between His people. We read over and over God made a distinction between the Hebrews and the Egyptians during the plagues. Until the ministry of Jesus was accomplished the law represented the way of grace, when the sacrifice was completed we were able to enter fully into that grace. We must make a distinction between Galatians and Hebrews. Galatians tells us as Christians we are Blessed through Abraham and the book of Hebrews written to the Jewish people tells them it is no longer about a system of sacrifices but trusting Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice.

This brings us to what we as Christians can gain from acknowledging the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:26-32 NKJV  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

  To afflict your soul means to humble yourselves. Leading up to Atonement are the Ten Days of Awe where you seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, extend forgiveness towards other and do acts of charity. All of this prepares you for the ceremony of the Priest sending the scapegoat into the wilderness as a symbol of sin being far from God’s people.

We no longer need a scapegoat and we don’t need to sacrifice every year, Jesus is that final sacrifice. Jesus has provided us with the open access the people of Israel longed for in the Old Testament. Let us follow the words of Scripture and humble ourselves and prepare to enter Tabernacles with a pure heart and clean hands.

The last thing that is done on Atonement is you go through the Mikvah, you are baptized. Baptism is not a Christian thing, it is a Bible thing and every year on Atonement Jews enter the Mikvah to be immersed in water symbolizing newness, that the mistakes and sins of the previous year are gone and that they are offering themselves anew to God.

We can all get off track in our lives, we can miss the mark from time to time and that is why God set up His feast calendar. the Feasts are like a guardrail so to speak, to keep our relationship with God on track. So while you may not do a traditional fast or choose to be baptized, or other things associated with Yom Kippur, all of us can take time to humble ourselves before God, repent, spend time thinking on the goodness of God and renewing our dedication to God, His Word and His ways.

None of these feasts are about rules, they are about loving God and setting aside specific and special times to be with Him. This is why God classified the Sabbath as a Holy Day (holiday), so that one day each week would be specifically set aside for you and Him. To set aside the busyness of life and say God this day is for you. It refocuses us and calms us. Take advantage of the calendar God has set up, humble yourself, refocus yourself, and prepare your heart to enter in to Tabernacles, a time when His presence can be more real to us than any other.

Reflection, Repentance and Reconciliation

Between Rosh Hashanah (New Years) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) is a ten day period of time known as the Days of Awe. This is a time of introspection, repentance and reconciliation known as Teshuvah. We can repent any time we need to but the Days of Awe can still be good for believers to search our hearts and make sure our attitudes and actions are right.

In Deuteronomy 16:16 we are instructed to bring a special offering to God three times a year; at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Before Tabernacles it is customary to make sure you are walking rightly with God, part of this is making things right with those you have wronged in the previous year. As stated earlier, we can do this any time but God is specifically giving us an opportunity once a year to make sure we are right with those around us.

Matthew 5:23-24 MEV “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Scripture says god loves a joyful giver, we can’t be truly joyful if we are angry with someone. When we are right with others, we are also right with God. We are not saved by good deeds, we are saved by grace. Grace when it is truly received does lead to good deeds. We are not saved by works but blessings in both the Old and New Testaments have conditions on them.

The days of Awe are about honoring God by respecting our fellow man and making things right with people we have wronged and this is good for everyone. We’ve all probably made New Year’s resolutions in January, with the Hebrew calendar, the days of Awe is your resolutions; you right wrongs, you forgive and you do good to your fellow man. This prepares you for the day of Atonement that leads into the Feast of Tabernacles.  

Take some time during this period to search your own heart and actions; is there someone you need to forgive, someone you need to apologize to? Can you brighten someone’s day by giving them a compliment, give an offering to charity, volunteer at a community center. these are days to get our focus back. Jesus went about doing good it tells us in Acts 10:38. Use these days to be Jesus to someone and do good.

Joy: The Purpose of God’s Presence

What is the purpose of knowing God, the purpose of relationship with Jesus? in a word, Joy!

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NIV “Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival – you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Be joyful at your festival. For the LORD your God will bless you…and your joy will be complete.

Sometimes the man developed systems can suck the joy right out of serving Jesus and that’s unfortunate. E. W. Kenyon said just as Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the expositions of how to live the instruction of Genesis and Exodus, so too are Paul’s letters the explanation of how to live out Jesus teachings in the new creation.

Look at Galatians 5:22-23 NLT “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

I’ve always found it interesting that it’s called the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruits, with an s. Think about this when we walk in love, we will be joyful, we will be at peace (things won’t bother us like they used to), we will have patience, be kind and good, be faithful to our friends and our calling, reply gently and exercise self-control. Am I the only one that looks at that and says, ‘Jesus I need help’. This is the purpose behind Rosh-Hashanah, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

Rosh-Hashanah, the celebration of a new year and victory. Jesus of course is our atonement, this is a good day for self reflection, repentance, and fresh commitment (this is why the Jewish people go through the Mikvah (baptism), a symbol for new life. Tabernacles is a remembrance of dwelling in tents and entering the promised land, which is why on Rosh-Hashanah people eat an apple with honey.

Even in the midst of atonement and a time of reflection, we pass through the waters of baptism and enter into new life as we progress towards tabernacles and a celebration of harvest!

Let tabernacles be a time when the joy of your salvation is renewed. Receive fresh vision! Make a new dedication and go forward in the goodness of God!    

Jesus – Our Water & Our Light

The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths) is the last feast of the festival year and the beginning of the Jewish new year. There are three holidays associated with this feast; Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). This feast, like Passover has feasts within feasts.

Before we get into different aspects of the feast, I want to jump right to Jesus. There are two main ceremonies during Tabernacles, the water ceremony and the light ceremony. Late Autumn is typically a season of drought in Israel, so each day the priests would ceremonially pour water on the altar. People would chant Isaiah 12:3, “Then you will joyfully draw water from the well of salvation.” It was on the last and greatest day of the feast, when the largest amounts of water was flowing behind Jesus we read these words in John 6:37-38 NASB “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes on Me as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water‘”.

Remember when Jesus said to the woman at the well, if you drink of me you will never thirst again? Jesus is saying on this last day of the feast, I am the answer to the prayer you pray at this time every year. I am the water you are praying for, I am the salvation the Bible speaks of. Water is sustainment, Jesus is our sustainment. At Passover we discovered that Jesus is our sacrifice, our doorway into the presence of God. At Tabernacles He is our continual refreshing, our strength, our joy.

The second major ceremony is the light ceremony that took place in the women’s court. The story from rabbis is that the oil for the lights were of such quantity that when the lamps were lit the entire city of Jerusalem was illuminated. It is with this backdrop Jesus speaks the words of John 8:12 NASB “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In one celebration we see Jesus as our salvation, our constant refreshing and the ever giving light of the path of our life and we haven’t even gotten to the glory part of this feast yet. Every Feast points to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus which allows for the fullness of its joyous celebration.

In the coming weeks we will look into the glory side of this feast. With this feast and every feast, with every aspect of our lives, we can celebrate because Jesus is the door to our Father who only desires good for us.

Psalm 91:14-16 MSG “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation.”    

The Beginning of Pentecost

When we think of Pentecost most of us automatically think of Acts chapter two. The events in Acts two were actually not the first Pentecost, Moses going up Mount Sinai and receiving the Ten Commandments was the first Pentecost. Pentecost is actually a Greek word that means fifty, the Hebrew word for this celebration is Shavuot, meaning feast of weeks. The importance of this is noted in John 14:26 NIV “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 16:12-15 NIV “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” 

When Jesus walked on this earth He expounded the truths of the Scripture. He said in His sermon on the mount, I have not come to do away with the teaching of the Torah but show you how to live it. In the two passages above we see the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the truth of Scripture, which is why He was sent when the day of Pentecost was fully come. It is customary on the night before Shavuot to stay up all night studying the Scripture and for everyone to gather the next morning and present their firstfruit offering to the Lord. This provides a new light on exactly what was going on for the Holy Spirit to come at that time. We will get into this later in the series, today we will focus on stepping in to the season of Pentecost.

Shavuot is also known as the feast of weeks because there are seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost. The time in between was used for God to prepare them for receiving the Word. They had to go from a slave mentality to a free mentality.

Ephesians 4:23 tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Ephesians 5:26 tells us to be cleansed and renewed by the washing of water by the word. The Word of God is our path for life. In our English translations we see the word law in the Old and New Testaments; in the Hebrew it means pathway or teaching and in Greek it means legalism. When we think of the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament in general it is not ‘old’, it is still the Word of God and should be followed. Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial elements but showed us how to walk out the teaching in the Torah.

Paul said all things are permissible but not everything is profitable. God, each year gives us the appointed times of Passover, Shavuot, and Tabernacles for us to connect with Him and see the windows of heaven opened over our lives. The rabbinical teaching is that God invited several different people groups to receive His law and finally the Hebrews did.

Galatians three tells us that we are blessed with believing Abraham. Romans nine tells us that we who believe in Jesus are grafted in to a Jewish root. Pentecost for us is a two-fold celebration of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. When we begin with the giving of the Word of God we prepare ourselves to receive the full capacity of Holy Spirit to teach us the mysteries of God’s Word. Each year as we come to the different feasts it is an invitation to experience things again like when they first happened. During Pentecost we can receive a fresh joy and new insight about the Word and as Israel went from a slave mentality to a free mentality we too can come into a mindset of prosperity and see the curses of lack and debt broken off our lives.

As we continue in this series we will look at how to prepare ourselves to receive the fullness of Pentecost, including what books and chapters to read in Preparation. We will also look at how the Holy Spirit teaches us the Word of God and the power in the supernatural prayer language.

We are entering into the second of three appointed times that Scripture tells us not to come before God empty handed. Shavuot is a season to receive revelation and prosperity so ask the Lord what ministry you are to sow in to and what amount to give.

My prayer as we go through this series is that each of us will receive new revelation in the word of God and of the power of the Holy Spirit. I may do some extra posts in the coming weeks as part of this series so if you are not signed up to receive updates, get signed up so you don’t miss anything.

Part 7: Tabernacles, Sabbath & One New Man

crossdavidAs I prepared to write the post on Tabernacles I looked at the outline for this series and felt that Tabernacles, Sabbath and One New Man needed to be combined.  Tabernacles is about entering God’s glory, Sabbath is about entering God’s rest and One New Man is about the love and unity found in Jesus the Messiah.

From the beginning of this series we have talked about how understanding the roots of our faith is not about becoming Jewish but embracing the fullness of God’s Word and God’s blessing. God is God all the time but there are specific benefits given in the Word of God about participating in the appointed yearly feasts and the weekly Sabbath rest. This is not a legalistic thing, that’s why Jesus got mad at certain Pharisees, they made the teaching of God into legalism and made it a burden instead of a benefit. The entire aim of this series is about going from seeing a burden to seeing the benefits. This is why I have grouped the last three topics together. 

Tabernacles:

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NIV “Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival – you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Look at that last line again, and your joy will be complete. Our joy is complete in Jesus. John 1:14 in the Tree of Life version says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is Tabernacles, being with Jesus and experiencing the glory of God. In Exodus thirty three Moses asked to see God’s glory, the response was, I will make my goodness pass before you. The three feasts are all about the goodness of God and they culminate in tabernacles which is the head of the civil year and conclusion of the feast calendar.

God is God all the time but in certain seasons He wants to bring about certain things and that is why the feast calendar is set like it is. There is sun in March and in June but the heat in those months is vastly different here in Texas, why? Because of the season. It is the same way with God. Each feast brings us into another realm of experiencing God’s blessing.

Tabernacles, like Passover has other feasts incorporated with it. The Feast of Trumpets which is the sounding of the Shofar to awaken the people to celebration, the Days of Awe are days of seeking God and then the Day of Atonement which is when the High Priest went in to make the yearly sacrifice for sin which lead to the celebration of Tabernacles. The prior celebrations are designed to get us ready for us to go into God’s presence in a special way. We all have access to God 24/7 but how many times have we said it is hard to consistently make time for prayer and Bible reading and spending time with God, that’s why God instituted the feasts, so that we can have times each year that keep us on track and bring us to a higher place of relationship with Him as we progress in our lives and callings.

Sabbath:

The Sabbath is another time God has set aside for us to keep us on track to walk in His ways. God instituted a rest, a Sabbath, at the end of creation. On the seventh day God rested because He finished His work. Like many things God has blessed us with, overtime the meaning and purpose of the Sabbath rest was corrupted and made into a burden instead of a blessing. Many of the miracles Jesus did happened on the Sabbath, I believe, because Jesus wanted to reclaim Sabbath back to its purpose.

Jesus had confrontations with certain legalistic Pharisees about the Sabbath. One such event was recorded in Mark 2:23-28 NIV “One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” It is important to note that in order for Jesus to fulfill the law He couldn’t have broken it. Jesus offended their legalistic interpretation, not the biblical guidelines of Sabbath.

Many of us have viewed Sabbath through the burden of legalism and not the blessing of rest. One day a week (in Scripture, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) God has blessed us and has intended for us to rest and be with Him and our families. The Scripture sets out very few guidelines for Sabbath, mainly do no regular work because it is an appointed day to rest. Sabbath rest usually includes a nicer meal than the rest of the week, the blessing of the wine and bread (many use two loaves to signify blessing) and family praying over one another. As Jesus said the Sabbath is for man, not man to observe legalism that steals rest.

Look at the new covenant rest in Hebrews 4:1-16 NIV “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

One New Man

The Sabbath rest, the Feasts of the LORD, understanding Scripture through the eyes of a Jewish Jesus and Jewish apostles lets us know how to use God’s Word effectively as a sword and approach God’s throne with boldness. This is the essence of one new man. Jesus tore down the wall of separation and ever since then the enemy has been trying to build it back up. But look at these words from Amos 9:11-15 NKJV

“On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing.

13 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.”

In the tabernacle of David it was open, nothing separated Jew and Gentile and anyone could go into the holy place – that is one new man. It is at the time of this understanding that the increase of God begins to flourish! This one new man is about love and unity whether we’re talking Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant, Pentecostal or mainline. When we come into the one new man revelation and understand the roots of our faith and even when denominations see how they began and become unified and loving towards other groups, we will see the Spirit of God break forth in the earth like never before. I am ready to see those days! I am ready for the body of Christ as a whole to return to how we began, for the Catholic and Protestant Church to throw off legalisms and falsehoods that have developed over the centuries and return to the faith they once knew. I am ready to see both conservative and liberal believers come to a place of loving one another and desiring to understand one another and truly believe in our hearts neither political side has all the answers, only Jesus, only us, His disciples, and the world will only know we are disciples by loving one another and fully becoming One New Man in Messiah Jesus.

Part 6: Pentecost – The Word and Spirit

shavuotPentecost is a Greek word meaning fifty. The Pentecost Celebration is fifty days after Passover. In the Hebrew it is called Shavuot, “feast of weeks”. Each feast finds its fullness in the new covenant, that being said we cannot ignore the foundation in the original covenant. The Power of the Spirit without a foundation in the Word will lead to error. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us in all truth, and the Word is truth. Acts chapter two says when the day of Pentecost was fully come, what does that mean? For the believer it means a double celebration, the Word and the Holy Spirit.

It was fifty days after the Exodus that God called Moses up to Mount Sinai and gave him the Torah (Exodus nineteen and twenty). Deuteronomy 16:9-12 NIV “Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place He will choose as a dwelling for His name – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless, and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees”.

You’ll notice not a lot of instruction is given as to how to celebrate these feasts, I believe that is because God wanted us to enjoy these appointed times and receive them and participate in them according to the purpose of them and not have them become legalistic observances. There have been helpful books written in both the Jewish and Messianic communities to help guide our celebration, but the moment things become ritualistic or legalistic they have lost purpose and power.

Look at Psalm 91:14-16 in The Message, “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care, if you only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you long life, give you a long drink of salvation.” This is the feasts – this is God throwing parties every year! We go from faith to faith and glory to glory, this is the cycle of the feasts, to bring us higher every year and keep us cleaned up.

Pentecost has three areas of celebration; celebrating the Word, celebrating increase, and celebrating the Holy Spirit.

  1. Celebrating the Word of God

Many of our translations use the word law in place of Torah but the word in Hebrew actually means the teaching of God rather than the law of God. The word law for many as they read the Bible carries a negative connotation since the new covenant says we are not under law. Law in this sense means legalism. The teaching of God in both covenants still very much are applicable to our lives. The feast of Pentecost is a celebration of the Word. Reading Psalm 119 is great during this celebration, have a Bible study with friends, dig into the Word of God as part of your celebration. Psalm 119:10-16 in the Amplified gives a wonderful picture for this celebration. “With my whole heart have I sought You, inquiring for and of You and yearning for You; Oh, let me not wander or step aside [either in ignorance or willfully] from Your commandments. your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes. With my lips have I declared and recounted all the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to your ways [the paths of life marked out by your law (*teaching)]. I will delight myself in your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”   

There is awesome power in the Word of God. Hosea 4:6 NIV “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” I know many will say we are under grace so this doesn’t apply to us but Jesus’ grace does not do away with God’s teachings. The sermon on the mount reiterated the ten commandments on a heart level. Now grace does allow for freedom to celebrate or not to celebrate the feasts but there is blessing that comes in the celebration. Yes, you can be blessed outside of these feasts but the blessings in the celebration are clearly given in Scripture.

  1. Celebrating Increase

Deuteronomy 16:10 NIV “Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing the LORD your God has given you.”  At Passover everyone gives an equal offering but at Pentecost the offering is based on increase and when you give in a mindset of increase, you increase more and more.

Psalm 115:14 in the Amplified says, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children”. The NIV says, “may the LORD cause you to flourish”.  Provision and increase is not just a financial thing but a physical thing as well. God instructed, remember and celebrate coming out of the bondage of Egypt. Exodus 15:26 KJV “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”

In the season of Pentecost give. Give and it shall be given unto you. Receive increase, receive finances, receive healing, health and divine life. Claim increase as yours based on how you’ve sown into others and given to God.

  1. Celebrating the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:1-8; 2:1-4 KJV “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” 2:1 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

We cannot look at this even apart from the festival context they would have been participating in. The night before Pentecost had fully come the disciples would have given offerings joyfully in the temple and stayed up late into the night studying the word of God. To see the Holy Spirit’s coming purely through the lens and purpose of tongues is to miss why Jesus said the Spirit would come. John 16:12-15 KJV “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine, therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

It is interesting that in the three chapters Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit, He never mentions tongues. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe in tongues and I do pray in tongues, however, the fullness of the feast is not found in a prayer language or tongues and interpretation but the Spirit revealing the truth of the word to us and empowering us to witness. If we dismiss these two things from our understanding of Pentecost, we have truly lost its power and only have a form in the manifestation of tongues.

Pentecost for the believer is a celebration of the word and the power of the word through the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the continued celebration of the provision of healing and finances. When Scripture talks about receiving thirty, sixty and one hundred fold, I would submit that it has something to do with celebrating Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; thirty, sixty and one hundred. At Pentecost gather with some friends; give joyfully, study the Scriptures and ask for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.

Part 5: Jesus – Our Passover Lamb

passover-crossThe events leading up to and the story of Passover is found in Exodus six through thirteen and has New Testament counter parts in Luke 22, John 6, 1 Corinthians 5 and 11. In this post I am going to do my best to hit the highlights, expound on certain points and show us how Jesus is the fulfillment of Passover and the joy of celebration. I want to say at the outset, you do not have to celebrate Passover, I am not getting legalistic and I am not trying to put us back under law. We are free to celebrate or not to celebrate The Feasts of the Lord. This year will be the first year since I first learn of the Jewish roots that I will be participating in a Passover celebration and I am excited about it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; (8) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

The Passover, for the believer is a double celebration. As ones grafted in we celebrate the children of Israel being freed from bondage and also being free from the penalty, power and pollution of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus! As mentioned last week, God is God all the time but He has set up three celebrations each year for us to take part in and Passover is one of those celebrations. Passover begins the feast calendar which is in spring, the civil calendar starts at Tabernacles which is in the fall. It is interesting to note that God’s calendar begins with seasons that represent life and the Gregorian calendar begins in the deadness of winter.

Before we get into Passover, we first must recognize the man God raised up and how he set the path for freedom.  God never does anything alone, He always raises up a man or woman to partner with Him. In the case of the liberation of His children that man was Moses. Just as it will be with Jesus so it was with Moses, Jewish boys were ordered to be killed and Moses’ mom put him in a basket and Pharaoh’s daughter found Him in the river. Moses was raised Egyptian but always knew who he was. After it was found out he murdered an Egyptian he fled to the wilderness. After God set him apart he left to go face Pharaoh and God appointed his brother Aaron to speak for him. As the story progresses Pharaoh would not listen to Moses so God released a series of Plagues on the land of Egypt; water turns to blood, frogs, lice, flies, death of cattle, boils, hail and fire, locusts, darkness, and the death of the first born. It is important to note that God made a distinction between the land of Goshen where his people resided and Egypt, none of the plagues came to the land of Goshen (Exodus 8:23; 9:4, 6, 26; 11:7). The very first mention of healing in the Bible is found in Exodus 15:26 KJV “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee; which I have brought on the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”

Passover is a season of the beginning of miracles the month of Nissan and Iyar are both months where the manifestation of physical and emotional healing are very present. Passover is a time to receive and walk out freedom and receive new levels of freedom from bondage and to be healed. Scripture says that we go from faith to faith and glory to glory, the feast calendar is set up to facilitate that rise each year. There are always new levels of freedom, revelation and healing to receive each Passover and it’s not always something for us, we also receive to be able to minister to others and that’s what the feasts are about.

Each plague represented God’s authority and dominion over the Egyptian gods. Each god was a protector of something each plague from God destroyed. This shows the love God has for us and His desire to see us be free.

As we get into the Passover, we aren’t given much information in Scripture as to the order and formalities of the meal, these came around 70AD. Jesus’ Passover meal constituted the four cups, bitter herbs, matzo (unleavened bread), and haroset (a mixture of apples, nuts and honey) and the singing of Psalms 113-118 known as the Halel. If you choose to celebrate Passover be free in how you choose to celebrate it and what you incorporate, my only admonishment is that you make sure to include both the Jewish and Messianic symbolism’s as this is a double celebration.

[Exodus 12:1-28 KJV ] The Passover happens in the first month, the month of Nissan and it is observed on the tenth day. Verse seven says, “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two sides of the posts and on the upper door post of the houses where they shall eat.” Every Jewish man made the sign of the cross on his doorposts, a foreshadowing a Yeshuah, Jesus the Messiah being our final Passover lamb, it is because of Him that we celebrate the feast. Verses eight through ten speak of roasting the lamb and not leaving any till morning, this is a sign of prosperity. You boil food for leftovers, you roast to eat now and not worry about tomorrow. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew six, take no thought for tomorrow, for what you shall eat or what you shall wear. Verse thirty-three, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. Celebrating the Passover and partaking of roasted food breaks of the poverty spirit that is present in the people of God. As you eat, as you fellowship, allow the poverty mindset to be broken from you and ask God to rework your mind to a mindset of increase and provision!

The blood over the doorposts kept the children of Israel safe from losing their first born and the blood of Jesus is a seal for not only our salvation but our healing, prosperity and family life as well. Verse 24, “And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. (25) And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. (26) And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service? (27) That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. (28) And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.”

John chapter six is set at the time of one of Jesus’ three Passover celebrations (2:13; 6:4 and 11:55). Passover centers around bread, getting the leaven out is a picture of getting sin out of our lives. But in John six Jesus feeds five thousand in a green pasture, this is a picture of Jesus as shepherd, just as Moses watched over Israel, it is also during this time Jesus says He is the bread of life. Many of the key events and key teachings of Jesus’ ministry happened in line with celebrating the feasts.  There are four cups at Passover; sanctification, plagues, redemption (our communion cup), and praise. Jesus prayed in John 17, sanctify them with your truth, your Word is truth. John 1:1 and 14 KJV, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Jesus is our sanctifier, redeemer, and the object of our praise. The entire Passover meal is a celebration of our great savior Jesus Christ.

I encourage us, not in a legalistic observance but in a spirit of joy and celebration to get a Messianic Passover Haggadah, prepare a feast and invite friends and family over to celebrate Jesus our Passover lamb. As Jesus was crucified at Passover, He was resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits, which is why He is called the first born (or firstfruits) of many brethren.

There is so much rich symbolism in Passover especially with what has been added since 70AD but one of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus is found in the Afikomin. The Rabbis don’t exactly know how this tradition got started but this is it, you break a piece of Matzo and put it in a folded napkin and the leader of the meal hides it. Whoever finds it gets a prize and enjoys the last piece of Matzo as their dessert. The broken piece of Matzo symbolizes Jesus, whose body was broken for us, the napkin is the empty tomb and finding it is the resurrection. The death and resurrection of our Messiah is pictured in a wonderful celebration, so why not reclaim this feast of the Lord as our celebration of our savior?

Resources to help prepare for Passover:

The Messianic Passover Haggadah

Passover Seder Plate

*Also see the Jewish Roots section of the bookshelf

Part 4: Linked with God’s Timing

timingHave you ever been in a service and someone sitting next to you was clapping off beat? That can drive you crazy. Have you ever mixed up a date or time when you were supposed to be somewhere? Being out of timing can really mess things up at times. We’ve probably all heard the phrase, ‘God’s never early, He’s never late, He’s always right on time’. We don’t really need to worry if God is in the right time, it’s us that needs to make sure we are in His timing.

God set timing in Genesis 1:5 and 14 NKJV “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (14) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons and for days and years;””

There are two calendar systems today; the sun calendar that has a 365 day year and the moon calendar that has a 360 day year. The Bible calendar is a lunar calendar. Each new month in the Bible calendar begins at the new moon. The Feast Calendar begins in the spring with Passover and the yearly Calendar begins in the fall at Tabernacles. Each of these beginning points signal new life. Now I’m not saying we have to do away with the Gregorian calendar, just as you can operate on a fiscal calendar and a yearly calendar, we can go by the Biblical months and seasons while still living on the worlds calendar.

The purpose of this teaching and the three posts following it, is to help us become more in line with Gods time and His way of thinking. This series has never been about becoming Jewish but understanding we have been grafted in and that the root of this tree is Jewish. The Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles are not Jewish Feasts, they are the Feasts of the Lord. Purim, which will be celebrated next month, Esther says, all your generations and those aligned with you shall celebrate this feast at this time each year. As one grafted in, I am aligned with the Jewish people.

The thing we must receive is that with each new month Father is offering us an invitation to come into His plan and assignments for that month. The tribe of Issachar is the tribe that understands the times and the Torah, this was key as Israel moved forward and it is key for us today. The three feasts are part of Gods timing. Leviticus twenty-three outlines the feasts; The Sabbath, Passover and Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Feast of  Weeks (Pentecost), Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. These feasts and notice Sabbath is included all allow us access to God in a special way. This is not a legalistic thing and yes we have access to God 24/7/365 because of Yeshua, that does not change the special invitation extended three times each year to come into a special presence of God and receive from Him.

Paul told the Corinthians that because our Passover Lamb, Yeshua was sacrificed we celebrate the Feast. You do not have to celebrate, this is not a salvation issue but we get to participate in the celebration as we have been grafted in. The next four weeks we will get into these in depth and explaining the meaning and how Jesus is present in each one, this week we just want to recognize the calendar and timing of God.

Each of the twelve months of Gods calendar is associated with one of the Tribes of Israel. When I began to study this, things that went on each month began to make sense because it lined up with what God does in that month. God never changed, He never switched calendars we did. Jesus didn’t institute Christmas and Easter, Constantine did. I am not saying don’t celebrate those holidays but understand the death and resurrection of Jesus is present in Passover and Firstfruits and the birth of Jesus is symbolized in Hanukkah.

While there is blessing from God in many areas He did set up special blessings associated with the feasts.  Nehemiah 12:44 NKJV “And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes…” this is also a picture of Gods timing, we see three types of giving, there is thirty, sixty and hundred fold. To receive hundred fold return we must have all types of giving and giving is more than money, I have given books, paintings, and bought meals as firstfruits and offerings. Just as the Children of Israel were to obey in giving we need to listen closely to the voice of the Lord in how we are directed in our giving. Proverbs 3:9 tells us to honor the Lord with the firstfruits of increase, this is different from tithe and brings about a different blessing, it’s all about the timing!

We are all familiar with Malachi three, “prove me that I will not open the windows of heaven and poor out blessing”, if we want to walk in a different level of blessing we need to get in Gods timing. Hosea 4:6 says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Jesus said, you shall know the truth and that truth shall make you free. Truth does not free us, the truth we know, the truth, we understand makes us free. The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver, this series is not to bring about legalism but to expose us to the joy of walking in our roots. We are talking about Gods timing in feasts, feasts are celebrations, they are parties. God throws three major parties a year, each week He provides us with a day of rest, let’s take Him up on these wonderful invitations – when we do this, let’s watch how much deeper our relationship goes, let’s see how much our joy increases and let’s watch the blessing flow unhindered in our lives!

Part 3: Renewing the Mind

hebrew-mindRomans 12:1 NIV “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” But how do we do this? Look at verse two in the Amplified Bible; “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

In the last few weeks we have been talking about the roots of our faith and the importance of being connected to the root. Looking back at Romans eleven we remember that the root of the tree is Biblical Judaism, the natural branches are Jews who believe in Messiah and the grafted in branches are Gentiles that come to faith. We have been grafted in to a Jewish root through the Jewish Messiah, Philippians 2:5 says we have the mind of Christ, a Hebraic way of thinking and not a Greek way of thinking, this is our topic for this week. We have talked about Constantine and how he bribed the church with stopping persecution if they allowed him to make changes but look at Scripture itself, Pharaoh said just worship here, don’t leave Egypt. Pharaoh provided a stipulation that would have kept them in bondage and would have eventually taken away worship again.

During the time of Jesus the Greek and Roman way of life was beginning to heavily influence the Jewish people. Antiochus endeavored to spread Greek culture everywhere; he did this by robbing the temple, suspending Jewish worship and forbidding Jewish ceremonies. Gymnasiums were erected and many priests neglected duties to play in the games. Look at these words from A History of the Jewish People in the times of Jesus Christ by Emil Schurer:

“Antiochus directed his energies immediately to a war of extermination against the Jewish religion. Throughout the whole land the Jewish religion was to be rooted out, and worship of the Greek gods instituted. The observance of all Jewish rites, especially of the Sabbath and circumcision, was forbidden on the pain of death; the Jewish mode of worship was abolished. In all the cities of Judea sacrifices were to be offered to heathen deities. Officers were sent into all the districts, charged with the duty of seeing that the commands of the king were strictly obeyed. Wherever anyone showed reluctance, obedience was enforced with violence. Once a month a rigorous search was instituted: if a copy of the book of the law were found in the possession of anyone, or if anyone had his child circumcised he was put to death. In Jerusalem on the 15th of Chislev of the seleucid year 145, that is, in December B.C. 168, at the great altar of burnt-offering a pagan altar was built, and on 25th Chislev, for the first time, a sacrifice was offered upon it (1 Macc i. 54, 59; this is “the abomination that maketh desolate of which the book of Daniel speaks). This sacrifice according to the second book of Maccabees, was rendered to the Olympic Zeus, to whom the temple of Jerusalem has been dedicated. The Jews were also compelled to keep the Dionysiac festival, crowned with ivy, marching in procession as devotees of Bacchus”.

 Three years later at the same time we have the revolt and victory of the Maccabees which leads to the institution of the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) that Jesus celebrated in John chapter ten. The purpose of all of this was to introduce and make normal the pagan practices of the Greek and Roman culture among the Jews. Fast forward to after the time of Jesus to that of Constantine and we see how and why the Church stepped away from her roots. The aforementioned quote is hard to read but it is the truth of that time and shows us why Constantine was able to do what he did.

Let’s look again at Romans 12:2 AMP “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and new attitude,…”

2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature all together); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the new and fresh has come!” Jeremiah 31:33 tells us that the new is the Torah being written on our hearts.

In light of the history we have discussed and the Scriptures we have read we can see that from the very beginning the enemy has desired to change the understanding and mindset of the Church. Amos prophesied that the tabernacle of David would be restored in the tabernacle there is no wall separating Jew and Gentile. Jesus came and took down the middle wall of partition and for centuries the enemy has built it back up and kept it in tact.

Jesus said the first commandment is to love God and the second to love our neighbors. The only way we can fulfill these commands is to know the Word and to teach it to our children. Our minds are not renewed by reading the Bible but by doing what it says. Over time in history everything that had been laid out by God was taken out of the Church. We quit celebrating the Feasts of the Lord, we quit honoring the Sabbath, our worship has become something it never was, we have by and large lost the biblical expression of dance. As we saw historically the desire to spread Greek and Roman culture in falling in line we have lost biblical expressions and holy days.

We need to renew our minds and recover the Hebraic way of thinking, The Scriptures lay out home life in a way that is lost in the Greek mindset. In Jesus day, the religious life was centered in the home not the Synagogue. The Mezuzah adorned the entrance of every home, the first thing you saw was the Word of God on the doorposts. In Deuteronomy 6:1-9 parents were instructed to teach the Word to their children to talk about it when they woke up, went to bed and when they ate. The Greek/Roman culture under Constantine made the newly built churches the center of religious life and banned meeting in the home.

As our minds are renewed in the Word we must recover a Hebraic view of God, standing in amazement of who God is. The Greek way of thinking launched the Church into theological debate which lead to the dark ages and the creation of countless denominations. Instead of trying to comprehend God’s vastness through our mere human intellect like Greek thinking has taught us, let’s once again embrace the majesty and mystery of God. Let’s put aside old church councils that outlawed the roots of the Church and once again embrace the root that we are connected to. The Jewish people also have an amazing reverence for the Scriptures. Something that is definitely lost in the theological books of Christianity. You can have a three volume theology that totals over 1,000 pages and only have twenty pages devoted to the Bible itself. The Synagogue was a school, everyone was taught and learned the Scripture. Each year the Jews celebrate Simhat Torah (Rejoice with the Torah) in this celebration the people of the congregation take the scrolls and dance around the sanctuary with them to joyful music. At age six Jewish children start daily study of the Torah in classes and by the time of bar mitzvah, most observant Jews are expected to have the Torah memorized and have a pretty good understanding of it.

Think about how far we the Church have come away from such respect of the Bible. Let’s say that we were to teach our children in this way and by time our sons and daughters turned thirteen we expected them to have memorized the four Gospels and Acts. Let’s say at age six we started daily taking them to another few hours of school before or after school to study the Bible. This is hard to imagine isn’t it? I can tell you that after reading on what a Jewish boy must accomplish before he can be bar mitzvahed I clearly don’t have the knowledge of the Word I should and that I want to have.

It is these types of things we, the Church, have lost in separating ourselves from our roots. I encourage all of us to take The Word of God more seriously than we do. We shouldn’t be letting our pastors study the Bible for us. A love for God should also mean a love for His Word. This week let’s continue the process of receiving what is being presented in this series. Father I ask that our hearts and minds would be open to seeing and reading the Word with a Hebraic understanding, as Scripture says we are new creations, help us go from a Greek and Western world mindset to a Hebraic understanding. Help us to read the Bible through the eyes of a Jewish Jesus. I ask that as we continue to go through this series you would break off old ways of thinking and renew us to our roots in the name of our Messiah, Yeshua we pray.

In the coming weeks we will look specifically at the Hebrew months and the Feasts of the Lord and how they relate to us as believers in Jesus. These posts will go in depth on how we think in a Jewish understanding, operating on God’s calendar and walking in and receiving the blessing from celebrating the Feasts that are found in the Torah, the five books of Moses.

I hope this series is being a blessing to you and along with this I will be posting on the Hebrew months as we enter them as well as doing other posts on the different feasts as we come to them. If you have a question or comment please leave it in the comments section. If I don’t have an answer I will tell you that I don’t know and hopefully I’ll be able to point you in the right direction. As we go through this series I encourage you to do some reading and studying of your own using the recommendations on the bookshelf page and using the resources available in the links.      

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A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ by Emil Schurer, Translated by John Macpherson; First Division, Volume I. pgs. 206-208.

Part 2: Seeing the Bible as One

bibleLast week we talked about the Jewishness of the New Testament, this week we are continuing the teaching on the Bible and talking about viewing it as one complete book and not two separate teachings with two different God’s. Many Christians see the Bible as God changing between Old and New Testament; going from anger to grace, from hate to love. Malachi 3:6, Jeremiah 4:28, Hebrews 7:21, 1 Samuel 15:29 and Psalm 89:35 are just a few Scriptures that speak of how God does not change.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 CJB “But you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, recalling the people from whom you learned it; (15) and recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah. (16) All scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; (17) thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.”

 I want to highlight a few things from these verses; we must be convinced of what we have learned, we are to recall those whom we have learned from, wisdom leads to deliverance through trust in Jesus and Scripture is valuable for multiple reasons and equips us to do good.

The truth does not set us free, the truth that we know and apply sets us free. When we look at the Bible we must remember that the Old Testament says of the New Testament in Jeremiah 31:27-40 that the New Covenant is the Old written on our hearts. In our Bibles there is a since page separating Malachi from Matthew, it’s a page that says New Testament. Our perception would be better served if we tore that page out. There may have been no prophetic utterances in-between the time but God was still on the move. It was during the inter-testament period that the celebration of Hanukkah was instituted, which Jesus celebrated in John chapter ten.

Jesus came to fulfill the sacrificial law and he carried forward the teaching of the Torah in His Sermon on the Mount. It is crucial to our understanding of Scripture to see it as one book that has one teaching and not two separate systems of following God. As we go throughout the rest of this series we will see the keys and values in the feasts of the Lord, walking in the understanding and timing of the Hebrew months, the blessing of the Sabbath rest, and the importance of the One New Man.

In order to progress forward we must renew our minds concerning God’s Word and as we began to see though they eyes of a Jewish Jesus last week, this week we must understand we are talking about Biblical Judaism, not following man made ordinances, that is the very thing Jesus had against some of the leaders of His day, that they taught man made rules as the law of God.

All things written in the TANAKH (The Torah, the writings, and the prophets) was given for our understanding and instruction. four hundred and eighty four passages from the Old Testament are repeated multiple times in the New Testament, this shows us the connectedness of the Testaments.

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds and many of us as believers in Jesus need to have our minds renewed in seeing the Bible as one book and not two separate accounts of the nature of God.

As Jeremiah prophesied, let us allow God to write His Word on our hearts, let’s apply it to our lives and let it renew our minds. As Jesus taught and instructed from the Old Testament, let us receive it in our hearts and lives.

I pray that as we continue to progress through this series our hearts will be open to seeing the beauty of the roots of the faith, that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit has for us – the understanding and realization of the beauty and roots and the oneness of faith, the truth of knowing we are grafted in to the wonderful roots of Abraham.

Part 1: The Jewishness of the New Testament

jewish-jesusLast week I introduced a series on the Jewish roots of our faith, we will continue that series this week by talking about the Jewishness of the New Testament. The New Testament is founded on the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus). Jesus was not a Roman, He was a Jew, dressed like a Jew, taught and reiterated the teaching of the Torah to His followers. The only “sermon” Jesus ever gave was what we call the sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus reiterated the Ten Commandments.

To establish the Jewishness of the New Testament we must first find out the purpose of God for this new covenant. We find that purpose in Jeremiah 31:31-33 NKJV “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – (32) “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them says the Lord. (33) but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.””

Law in this passage is the Torah which means teaching. As we looked at last week, we must distinguish between the teaching of God and the law of God found in the sacrificial system. Jesus came and fulfilled the sacrificial system but taught that the teaching of God is beautiful and should be followed. We can find legalism in both Judaism and Christianity. Any form of legalism and religion out of force and not love is gross to us and gross to God. Biblical Judaism, the Judaism that Jesus taught is beautiful and is for us. It is important to note that Jesus and His disciples were all Jewish, His audience was Jewish. We don’t even see Gentiles having an active role in the Church till Acts chapter  ten. Next week will look at seeing the Bible as one but for now we will establish the Jewishness of the new covenant.

Again going back to the sermon on the Mount, Jesus took each of the Ten Commandments and made them about the heart attitude and not action alone, this is what Jeremiah was speaking of when he said the Torah would be written on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people.

The New Testament must be a Jewish book based on Jesus being a Jewish rabbi, the books being written by Jews and Luke if he was not born into Judaism was a convert. Many scholars have said that Jesus only read a Greek Bible and spoke Greek so He really didn’t embrace Judaism, this is false, whether He read a Greek translation of the Bible or not does not negate the fact He was a Jewish rabbi and taught the Torah.

It is also important to note that as we read the New Testament we remember that Jesus and the disciples never broke an instruction of the Torah. When religious leaders got mad at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath or for the disciples plucking grain, or for eating with sinners, the only thing that happened was that Jesus violated a personal interpretation not the actual Torah.

Mark 2:27-28 NKJV “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (28) Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” It is interesting to note how many miracles were done on the Sabbath, I believe this is because Jesus wanted to show how much He cares as well as draw a connection point to God’s command of rest which came from love and the healing of the body.

When new wine and old wineskins are talked about in Scripture Jesus is making Judaism not about ritual but relationship. At the time of Jesus everyone was still relying on Priests to make sacrifices, Jesus was saying there is coming a time when it will no longer be about sacrificial ritual but open relationship with God.

Look at this prophecy in Amos 9:11-12 NKJV “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which had fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up the ruins, and will rebuild it in the days of old; (12) That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the LORD who does this thing.” This is what Jesus did through the death and resurrection, He restored the tabernacle of David. In the tabernacle there was no middle wall separating Jew and Gentile. Jesus, the Jewish rabbi came to restore the unity of nations and bring back free access to God. This is why the veil in the temple was torn in half, this is why Paul said because Jesus our Passover lamb was sacrificed we celebrate the feast in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.

Paul was accused of forsaking the Torah and they both said he had not offended in one area; Acts 25:8 NKJV “while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended at anything at all.”   

No Jew forsook the Torah when they followed Messiah and Gentiles who were converted attended Synagogue and celebrated the feasts. This is not about legalism but receiving the beauty and blessing of Biblical Judaism in our lives, receiving the very things Jesus taught. For years all the early Church had was the Old Testament, it was their Bible. Even our New Testament contains 484 passages from the Old Testament cited a total of 695 times. Think of that. We wouldn’t even be able to have a New Testament without the first covenant and as Galatians says, we have been grafted in to the seed of Abraham, Romans tells us the root supports us we do not support the root.

The New Testament is thoroughly a Jewish book and next week we will look at how the Old and New Testaments are connected not separated. As we read the New testament let’s see the beauty of God’s teachings through its words. Let’s remember Jesus made it about the heart, let’s remember that is what the New Covenant is, not a doing away with the Torah, but the writing of it being placed upon our hearts and in our minds.

Introduction: Reclaiming What Was Lost & Stolen

eggThe tenth chapter of John tells us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. One of the biggest ways the enemy has done that is rebuilding the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile.  Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is the law of  commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, (16) and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Jesus did not come to start a new religion, He came to point the way back to God and create open access to Him. Jesus came to end the sacrificial system and uphold the teaching of the Torah. This is why when He gave what is known as the sermon on the Mountain He affirmed the Ten Commandments and brought it into the heart attitude, He didn’t do away with them.

Today, I am starting a series on the Jewish Roots of our faith. There is too much to get into to cover in one post, so if you have questions keep tracking with the series as we will cover different topics and go more in depth as we go on.

We know Jesus was Jewish and He came to fulfill the law but that doesn’t necessarily mean He came to do away with what we call the Old Testament. Both Old and New Testaments in the original language make distinction in teaching, law, and legalism. Our modern translations translate all three words as law. With this understanding we see as we approach Scripture Jesus came to do away with the sacrificial system, being a once and for all sacrifice. We will get more into this when we talk about Passover in a few weeks and He sent Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out the teachings of Scripture, we will get more into this when we talk about Pentecost.

What I want us to see this week is how the Church went from being one with Jewish people to being against them. Even after the Ascension of Jesus, for many years the Church stayed connected to its roots, the feasts were celebrated, even by Gentile converts, believers went from house to house and to Synagogue. In the midst of this, the early believers suffered major persecution for following the teachings Rabbi Yeshuah (Jesus).

Fast forward to A.D. 312 during the reign of Constantine. Constantine was a power hungry ruler and he could not gain control over these Jesus followers so Christian history has it that in the midst of battle Constantine saw a cross come from the sky, gave his life to Jesus and won the battle. There is a historical problem; the monument to that victory does not contain a cross. Constantine made a deal with the believers, I’ll make the persecution stop if you allow me to make some changes to the way ya’ll do things. This was the beginning of the end of the power in the Church.

The ridding of the Jewishness of the Church began with the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. If you have heard of the Nicene Creed, chances are you haven’t heard of the Council that proceeded it.  There were other Councils as well; Antioch, France, Toledo and others. These Councils outlawed celebrating the feasts of the Lord and called them Jewish feasts, instituted Easter to replace Passover and banned honoring the Sabbath. Anyone caught violating these Councils would be punished by death. Constantine kept his position as a Priest in Paganism and ruled the Church, he converted many Pagan temples to churches, thus the design of our churches today. He outlawed home meetings and changed worship style. Thus the Church early believers knew was no more. As time went on the divide got worse. When Martin Luther restore the understanding of justification by faith he also saw one new man in Romans and zealously tried converting Jews, when it did not work he became angry and filled with hate towards the Jews, and the divide between Christians and Jews continued to worsen.

There is too much history to go in depth on a single blog post, if you would like to read further I recommend Dr. Michael Browns book, Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. Paul said in Romans 11:18 that we don’t support the root, the root supports us. We have been grafted in to Israel. Galatians three tells us that those who believe are blessed with believing Abraham, Abraham the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus comes from the Tribe of Judah and is the lion of the tribe of Judah.

This series is not about legalism, Jesus was against a legalistic understanding of the teaching of Scripture. Jesus never offended one part of Torah, yet, some teachers of that day got mad at Him for healing on the Sabbath, it wasn’t a violation. As in that day, so it is in ours that people have taken the joyousness of the Torah and the Prophets and made them all legalism and have wrongly said they do not apply. Many say we are not under law but grace, this is a false understanding, we are not under legalism but Jesus carried forward the teaching of the Old Testament.

The phrases Old and New Testaments aren’t accurate, it is more accurate to say First and Renewed Covenant. Jeremiah wrote that a day was coming when the Torah would be written on the hearts, that’s what Jesus spoke of in Matthew five through seven.

As David said restore unto me the joy of salvation, that is the aim of this series; to restore the joy in reading and studying the entire bible, to understand and restore the joy of feasts and Shabbat, to understand and align with the blessing that comes in participating in God’s calendar of Firstfruits as well as laying the foundation to understand the Hebrew weapons of spiritual warfare.

In wrapping up this introduction, I bring us back to John 10:10 CJB “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.”  The lie that the enemy has presented to the Church is that Sabbath rest is a burden, celebrating feasts is legalism. Think about it, how can God throwing a party be legalistic. There is no difference in legalism of Jesus’ day and that of ours. We need to shun all forms of legalism including the lie that the Torah which means teaching of God is legalistic.

My prayer for us is that as we go through this series a joyous fire is ignited in us to return to the roots of our faith and that we see these things for how God meant them and not what the enemy has turned them into. I pray that you will have eyes to see the joy as I began to see it in 2014, I pray you don’t have the blocks I did when this was first introduced to me in 2012. I encourage you to read Romans nine through eleven to help set a foundation for where we will be going in these next weeks. You can also check out the bookshelf that has a section of material on Jewish Roots. I pray this series will be a blessing to you, cause hunger to rise in you and that you would have a desire to start your own journey in this area. If you have questions as we go along, ask in the comments, let’s learn on this journey together.    

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