In Matthew 4 we see that Yeshua leaves Nazareth and goes to live in Capernaum. Matthew in verses 14-16 connects this move to the fulfillment of another prophecy by Isaiah in 9:1-2. Matthew records it like this, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, a light has dawned for those living in the land of the shadow of death.”
Isaiah lets us know that God had formerly humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. The enemies of Israel would come through them first as they came from the north and moved southward through the country. These tribal territories were the first to see the terror, the first to experience the pain, humiliation and defeat.
However, with the coming of the Messiah they would experience a great Light and they would be honored instead of shamed. I find this interesting since Yeshua was, of course, born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judah as fitting for a Davidic King then grew up in Nazareth to be the Branch and now His ministry would be from Capernaum in Galilee to be the Light.
Yeshua cared for all Israel, from the south to the north. Every tribe and every part of the land was special to Him.
He would fulfill prophecy! He is the King, He is the Branch, He is the Light. God be Praised!
Matthew in 2:6 quotes from Micah 5:2 & 4, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah: because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”
This quote only quotes part of the verses. Here are both verses in their entirety in Micah, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; yet one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me. His origin is from antiquity, from everlasting…He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of ADONAI His God. They will live securely, for then His greatness will extend to the ends of the earth.”
This One to be born in Bethlehem, the Messiah, would be from eternity. In other words, He is God, yet the LORD is His God. Suggesting the Messiah is the Son of God, born in Bethlehem to the family of David. And this Son of David would have a Kingdom that would extend to the ends of the earth.
Even the scholars who were speaking to Herod in Matthew 2 understood that the true King of Israel would come from Bethlehem and that His Kingdom would be greater than any kingdom that the earth has seen. The Magi from the East ascribed this identity to Yeshua, who they had come very far to worship.
So, in this passage we see that the One who would shepherd the people of Israel had to be born in Bethlehem, which the census of Caesar Augustus, arranged by the LORD, made possible. Ha Shem (The Name/The LORD) had this all planned out!
Next verse 15 Matthew says, “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.” When referring to this prophecy from Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1 Matthew is connecting what happened to Israel as God’s firstborn son to the Messiah.
The Messiah was called out of Egypt not because He was redeemed, but so that He could redeem. The Lamb of God had to be called out of the world, which Egypt represents, in order to save the world. He was set apart for this purpose as Ben Yoseph.
He did not go to the mountain to receive the Law but will one day, according to Isaiah 2, teach the Law Himself from Jerusalem as the Living Word. In doing so, He will rule as King as Messiah Ben David.
Then Matthew connects the killing of the babies in Bethlehem by Herod to Jeremiah 31:15. Jeremiah is taking up a lament for the lost children of Rachel. Why Rachel when Bethlehem is the home of David who was a descendant of Leah? It is because Rachel was buried near Bethlehem after she gave birth to Benjamin.
It is as if Rachel is weeping over those young ones who suffered the pain of death at the hand of the tyrant, Herod. What I find interesting about this passage in Jeremiah is that this verse that Matthew uses here comes directly after a prophecy about God returning His people to the land of Israel and giving them great prosperity in the land. It is then followed by the prophecy of Ephraim calling out to the LORD and being restored (returning to God by obedience to Torah – Psalm 19:7). God calls Ephraim His precious son. Rachel is the mother of Ephraim.
So, we see that this passage in Jeremiah is speaking of the loss of children in Bethlehem (from Judah) in the time of Yeshua, but it is also speaking of the return of Ephraim. Again, God will reconnect Ephraim with Judah. It will be the Messiah that returns us all to the land together as one people (Jew and Gentile together as one new man), Israel. What rejoicing that will be!
Mark 12:28-34 discusses the first and second greatest commandment. Mark who is writing to a primarily Gentile audience is the only one of the Gospel writers who at the front end of His quote of the greatest commandment includes verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 in his answer. It states, “Hear/shema, O Israel, the Lord/Adonai our God/Elohenu, the Lord/Adonai is one/echad.”
This part of the greatest commandment is quoted regularly by Jews who take their faith seriously. The Gospel of Matthew which was primarily written to a Jewish audience does not include this portion. So why would Mark include it?
Mark is wanting his Gentile audience to become familiar with this piece of liturgy, which the Jews would have already been very familiar with. It was and is quoted regularly in any synagogue.
The Jews did not need to grow accustomed to hearing this spoken, but the new Gentile believers who were now attending synagogue to hear Moses and the prophets read and learn about their new faith needed to know and become comfortable with it. They needed to know that what they were hearing on a weekly basis was not of human origin but comes straight from the Scriptures.
We need to know why we do things even still today. We need to make sure that we are not doing what we do just for the sake of doing or holding to a man made tradition, but because it is part of our Faith and from Scripture.
Three basic questions we should ask are: 1) Do we do what we do because we have always done it that way or because we see it being done in the pages of Scripture? 2) If we are doing things that are not in Scripture, why are we and when and how did we start? 3) If we are not doing things in Scripture why aren’t we and when and how did we stop?
1 John 2:3-6 states, “Now we know that we have come to know Him by this–if we keep (obey) His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep (obey) His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps (obeys) His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this–whoever claims to abide in Him must walk (live) just as He walked (lived).” Yeshua, the perfect Son of God in whom the love of God was perfect, is our role model on how to live this life. He always obeyed the Father and never broke one of His Father’s commandments. He never broke the Law of the Kingdom. Therefore, He practiced the Shabbat, the Feasts (Moed), the New Moons and all the commands of His Father that applied to Him as a man of Israel. He was not a priest, farmer or women so none of those laws applied to Him.
If He is our perfect example on how to live the life of a citizen of the Kingdom then shouldn’t we live as He lived, in perfect obedience to the Father?
Mark wanted His readers to understand that their salvation/Faith is from the Jews. Even Yeshua said to the women at the well that “salvation is of the Jews”. After all, in the first century we were first known as The Way, a sect of Judaism. Mark wanted them to understand their new Faith and not reinvent it to look more like the pagan world they were familiar with. Unfortunately, much of that was done and now we find ourselves having to ask the three basic questions given above.
Most of you are probably aware that the New Covenant is not just a New Testament idea. It is actually found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 31:31-33 it says, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”(NIV)
Did you notice who it was for? The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah. So if this covenant is to be for us we have to be a part of Israel. Are we? Paul tells us we are in Ephesians 2:11-13 & 19-20, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”(NIV) The New Covenant is for us because we have been made a part of Israel by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, the covenants are also for us, all the covenants of promise.
Is not the New Covenant a covenant of promise? But what does the New Covenant do? It puts the Law on our minds and our hearts. Is it the same Law as the Law of Moses? Yes, however, it is different in this respect, it is not just on tablets of stones as it was in the days of Moses, it is put on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people.
Ezekiel gives us another glimpse of this. Ezekiel 36:26-27 states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”(NIV) It is the job of the Spirit to help us be obedient to the Law of God.
It is our faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross that allows the Holy Spirit to be given to us as a deposit guarenteeing what is to come. That is why Jesus could say that the cup of redemption at His last Passover was the New Covenant in His blood.
Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak in terms of this making Him our God and us His people. As for Ephesians we are part of Israel based on the APOSTLES and PROPHETS with CHRIST JESUS as the cornerstone of our faith. Our faith is not just a New Testament faith.
Is it any wonder that John in 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Sin is the breaking of the Law. We reject the moving of the Spirit when we disobey the very thing He wants us to obey, the Law. There is power in obedience and it leads to righteousness and holiness according to Paul in Romans chapter 6. Let us not be slaves to sin and death, but to obedience. Let us live as citizens of Israel and members of the Covenant community.
Striving to obey the God I love through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit,
There is a reason that I gave you information on the Jewish feasts because we are headed for a Jewish Feast. You see, Passover, was when our Lord died and paid the Mohar. He was offered as a guilt offering. Then we had the feast of Unleavened Bread, He is the unleavened bread and that bread was buried. It was on First Fruits that He rose from the dead. He is the first fruit. The day of Pentacost was the first official harvest on the Jewish calendar and the day of Pentacost we had the first official harvest. Next, on the Jewish calendar comes the feast of Trumpets.
Let’s look again at John 14:1-3 1 “”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”(NIV)
He’s coming back. Hallelujah! And He is not just coming back; He’s coming back with fanfare. It’s going to be a really big deal when He comes back. Let’s look at I Thessalonians 4:16-18 16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.”(NIV)
These are encouraging words. He’s coming back with a shout, the voice of the arch angel and the trumpet call of God. As you can see Paul believed He was in the last days and I don’t think there has been a generation since who hasn’t believed the same thing. It is that eager anticipation, that eagerness that aches for our husband.
That brings us to the Jewish wedding, to Nissuin which is derived from the verb nasa, and it means to carry or lift. We are going to get carried away and lifted off our feet. Nissuin can also mean elevation and connects husband and wife to God Almighty. We will be elevated as husband and wife to God. The legal ceremony has already occurred, it’s the Kiddushin. The wedding is the lifting away. All that’s left is for Him to come get His precious wife. Remember Jacob said, “Give me my wife” and when Yeshuah comes for His we’ll be gone.
I Corinthians 15:51-53 51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”(NIV)
Paul likes mystery, have you noticed that? Did you know that our husband and our oneness to Him is the greatest mystery this world has ever seen? That moment when we are lifted up off this earth, we’ll be changed. Why? We are going to see Him in all His glory. He will transform us to be like Him in an immortal body.
In Revelation 19:6-9 It says, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.””(NIV)
The word we translate bride in our translations is actually “wife” in the Greek. I think we translate it “bride” because of how we think of a wedding, it has to have a bride. The day will finally come when the wife has made herself ready and our place in heaven is prepared and the Father says to the Son, “Go get your wife”. He’ll come down with a shout at the last trumpet call of God and He is going to lift us away and we’re not only going to get a new body, we’re going to get a beautiful robe. This robe stands for the righteous acts of the saints. We must be about His work, Amen.
I keep going back to how we started and what He said at His mikvah, “We must do this to fulfill all righteousness.”(NIV) He started the pursuit first, we didn’t. He had a desire for a wife, we had no desire for a husband. This was all His idea.
Isaiah 61:8b-10 says, “In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed. 10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
I love that verse. Do you believe you will be beautiful on that day. How’s your robe coming together. You see when a Jewish man and woman would go through the Kiddushin, He would leave and go prepare a place, but guess what she set about doing? She began to make her wedding dress. She began to make her robe. How’s your robe coming together? How’s that wedding dressing looking? Are you about done? You ready for Him? Of course, He gets to put the finishing touches on it, we understand that. I want to look a passage that became very dear to me when I was leading an Esther study.
It is Psalm 45, it’s a wedding Psalm. Beginning in verse 2 it states, 2 “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever. 3 Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. 4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. 5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. 6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. 8 All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. 9 Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir. 10 Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. 11 The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. 12 The Daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, men of wealth will seek your favor. 13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. 14 In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you. 15 They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king. 16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land. 17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”(NIV)
Did you catch where we are? We are at His right hand as He is on the right hand of the Father. We are going to marry the King.
Nissuin came to be called within Jewish culture, Huppah. Huppah means to cover. It can be translated canopy, chamber, or closet. It is the bridal chamber where the marriage is consummated or made complete. You see we have the legal documents and now we are waiting for that completion when those documents are going to be made fact. Scripture says, “Our faith will be sight.” We are waiting for that completion.
In Joel 2:16 we see, “Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”(NIV) The word “chamber” here is the word Huppah.
Another example of this is found in the book of Isaiah where it says in Isaiah 4:5, “Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy.”(NIV) Where will is this? It is over all of Mount Zion, which is in Jerusalem. The center piece of Jerusalem is the Temple and the greatest place there was the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies, His chamber, is where we will come together under the Huppah of God’s Glory as husband and wife before God the Father. And because we are lifted up with Him in the Nissuin this is the Holy of Holies in Heaven the one true Tabernacle.
Nissuin is accomplished by a means of a symbolic act of intimacy that demonstrates the couples’ intention to create a new home and new life. It’s far less tangible than Kiddushin, it’s sealed not with documents, but with actions. It literally gives the Bride and the Bridegroom to each other. Nissuin consists of the Sheva Birkat or the Seven Blessings and the Yichud or time of seclusion. The major themes of the blessings are Creation, Eden, Zion, Redemption, Bridegroom, and Jerusalem. From beginning to end. We will look at these next time.
My heart is heavy lately. I watch the news and see what is going on in our world and my heart aches. It aches for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for His Name’s sake. I aches seeing how backward our world has become. It aches with the knowledge that our nation is currently on the wrong side. It aches to see Israel suffer at the threat of annihilation. As you may be able to tell by now this will be a different kind of article.
I believe God is giving us a message as to the time in which we live. We are quickly approaching Purim, the festival that commemorates the Jews defeating those who sought to annihilate them in the Persian Empire. Esther, or should I say Hadassah the Jewess, was put into the position of queen of that empire for a time such as that by God Himself. She was put into that position to protect her people from those who sought to destroy them.
As I said, we are quickly approaching Purim and God has once again given Israel a leader who wishes to protect them, Benjamin Netanyahu. He is in this position for such a time as this. Once again on the eve of Purim Persia, Iran, seeks to destroy them again. Let me say it clearly, I do not believe the timing of Netanyahu’s speech in Washington is by accident. I believe it is divinely ordained. This time our leaders are playing the part of King Xerxes and Benjamin Netanyahu is playing the part of Esther.
As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to come and speak to our leaders in Washington we need to praying and fasting with him and for him, just as the Jews in Esther’s day did for her. We also need to be praying and fasting that God would give true godly wisdom to our leader’s. Just as Esther went before Xerxes and God made him favorable toward helping her and her people so we need to be praying that the same will happen this time with the leaders of the United States.
This is a very serious crossroad, one which has huge implications. We may very assuredly seal our future if we side against Israel at this hour. Then again we may seal a blessing if we side with and stand with Israel no matter what the rest of the world may think. That is the choice we have before us, blessing or curse.
God said, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” It is my prayer that we choose blessing. This could be a moment of great victory, a victory from God, for both us and Israel, together. We need to stand with Israel or else we will fall. If we bless them, we will be blessed. If we curse them, we will be cursed.
We must wake up to the hour in which we live. This generation has a decision to make. God is watching and He is our Judge. What the rest of the world thinks is irrelevant. We do not answer to the rest of the world, we answer to the One who created this world.
Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking to Congress on March 3rd the day before Purim begins. May it be a time of rejoicing and not mourning.
U.S. Congressmen and Senators this time you are Xerxes. Please lower your scepter and speak words of life. Listen to God, He is speaking to you. Benjamin Netanyahu is Esther and he is pleading for the life of his people and the land of Israel. Do not turn a deaf ear or God’s scepter will fall in judgement. Yes, He is watching!