Who We Are To Be Part 4

Today I want to look at some passages from Isaiah and to look at some of the things God says to His people in preparing them for the last days and the great harvest.

In Isaiah 51 He begins by telling His people to listen to Him and for those who seek Him and His righteousness to look from the rock from which they were cut namely Abraham and Sarah who obeyed Torah (Genesis 26:4-5). We are to listen and hear Him, we are to shema for His Law comes out from Him and is a light to the nations.

Now that we are listening He calls His people to Awake, Awake three time in chapters 51 and 52. Awake, Awake to clothe with strength and be awake as in days of old. Awake, Awake to why the God sends His wrath on His people and that He is the only One who can comfort and place His wrath on their tormentors. Awake, Awake to clothe with strength again and put on the garments of splendor as God raises you up, you who were redeemed. He gives the place of honor.

God/Elohim wants His people to be awake in these day and how many times have we heard comments about the body of Yeshua being asleep. He does not want us to be asleep, but awake. We will have to be awake if we are to truly seek Him and spread His message of peace, good tidings, and salvation.

So let us awaken and remember where we come from, remember our fathers and those who went before us. Remember what our Father has called us to, to Himself. He wants a people who can be His ambassadors and send forth the message of His Kingdom. However, that is a job for those who are awake, not for those who are asleep.

Awake, Awake people of God and see His righteousness, justice, and salvation go forth to the nations!  Awake, Awake to see revival among His people!

But what does true revival look like? If revival begins with the people of Elohim and the job of the Holy Spirit is to transform us into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29), as well as, to help us obey the commands of God (Ezekiel 36:27) then what kind of life is He leading us, the redeemed, to live?

In 1 John 2:4-6 Scripture says, “Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not obey His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever obeys His word, in him truly the love of God is made perfect. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way that He/Yeshua walked.

So if we are to walk as Yeshua walked and the Spirit’s job is to transform us to be like Yeshua and the means by which He does that is to help us obey the commands of God, then the question still stands, what does that look like?

To most of the body of Christ/Messiah you might say that looks quite Jewish. Why? Because Yeshua was a Jew and when He returns He will be a Jew, in fact He is the King of the Jews, King of Israel! Therefore, He lived as a Jew and was obedient to the Law/Torah of God, His Father. So if we are to be like Him won’t our life look like His and won’t we do what He did? Yes!

It is interesting to note, that while to Gentile believers it may appear Jewish, to a Jew it may, at first, seem quite Gentile.  Just in accepting Yeshua/Jesus as their Savior to begin with could appear Gentile to their fellow Jews, not to mention leaving behind some or many of the Rabbinical teachings (the tradition of the elders/oral law). 

So let’s keep in mind the truth of this life is not to be more Jewish or to be more Gentile, depending on your perspective, but to be more Biblical.

As Paul said at the end of chapter 3 of Romans we do not annul the Law/Torah of God by grace, rather we uphold that same Law/Torah.  We obey the commands of Elohim/God.  We obey the Bible!

Therefore, true revival is one being redeemed by the Lamb and then living obedient to the Law/Torah of God (living as Jesus/Yeshua lived) by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8). It is about a transformed life!

Who We Are To Be Part 3

Yeshua said in John 14:6, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” We need to keep in mind that loving God has always been tied to obeying Him. This was not a new concept that Yeshua gave.

If we love the God who redeemed us. Than the natural thing to do is obey the One who redeemed us. We are saved by grace, but His grace and obedience to His commands are not opposites. Remember, we are saved unto good works. We are saved with the understanding that obedience comes next.

We have an obligation to the One we love. Our obligation is to live as He says live and to love Him the way He says to love Him. He gets to decide what that love looks like, not us.

It does not matter what is natural to us, what is convenient for us, what is traditional for us. What matters is what He says pleases Him. After all, we do want to please our Father. We do want what we do to be pleasing in His eyes.

Take a chance and try loving Him His way and see what He will do. Be a man or woman after the heart of the One you love. Love Him the way He says He wants to be loved. Don’t get tangled up in the way man says to love Him, the way we have always done it, but search the Scriptures and see what He says.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yeshua (the Living Word) is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So will His ways ever change? No! Let us love Him by His standards, not our own.

So “make the most of every opportunity”. Let’s look at that phrase and what surrounds it. It comes from Ephesians 5:16.

The word for ‘opportunity’ is ‘kairos’ in the Greek, which is the same word used for ‘moed’/feast days in the Septuagint. Let that sink in for a minute. Let’s replace ‘opportunity’ with ‘moed’/feast days in the phrase, “making the most of every moed/feast day.

These set times are opportunities for Elohim’s people to awake from our sleep to do the will of Him who called us. What is that will? If we look earlier in Ephesians 4 we see in verses 23 and 24 that Paul says, that we are “to be made new in our attitude of (our) minds and we are to put on our new selves, which is created to be like Elohim in true righteousness and holiness.” Then at the beginning of chapter 5 he tells us to be “imitators of Elohim”.

We are created in the image of God so we are to imitate Him in all holiness and righteousness by loving as Messiah loved us and became an offering and sacrifice to God (5:2). So the will of God is for us to love in true purity of heart.

We find more of this idea in Romans 13:11-14 that begins by bidding us to understand the present time in which we live because it is time for us to wake up from our slumber because our salvation is near. Then in chapter 15 verses 4-7 we find this, “For everything that was written in the past was written to instruct us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures (the Old Testament whose foundation is the Torah) we might have hope. May the Elohim who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Yeshua the Messiah, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the Elohim and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Accept one another just as Messiah accepted you, in order to bring praise to Elohim.”

So we see that Elohim’s appointed times, His moed, His feast days, are opportunities for us to love one another and come together in unity of heart and word. To have occasion to speak psalms, hymns and spiritual songs together with one heart.

We are called to love Him with all we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves (to love one another in the body).  We are to know the times in which we live and truly the times are evil so let us make the most of the opportunities Elohim gives us in His appointed times to come together and love Him and one another for our salvation, His return and Kingdom, is near.

Who We Are To Be Part 2

James says in 1:22-25, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after he looks, goes away and forgets what he looks like. However, the one who looks intently into the perfect Law/Torah that brings freedom, and continues in it, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he shall be blessed in what he does.”

We are not free from the Law/Torah, the instruction of God in how to hit the mark, we are free from sin, which is the breaking of the Law/Torah. Psalms 119:44-45 says, “That I may always keep Your Law/Torah, for ever and ever, and walk about in freedom. For I have sought Your precepts.”

Did you catch that both James and the writer of this Psalm are calling the Law/Torah freedom? Let us live in that freedom!

Most of us know Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves it is the gift of God/Elohim not of works so that no one can boast.” Then immediately following that is verse 10 that states, For we are God’s/Elohim’s handiwork/masterpiece created in Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus to do good works, which God/Elohim has prepared in advance for us to do.”

In these three verses we have the good news of both justification and sanctification. God/Elohim did not just save us by His grace through faith so that we could not boast that we did it ourselves, it was His gift to us. We did not earn it or deserve it. We did not deserve for the Son of God to die for us. We did not deserve Him taking the punishment for every single sin we have all committed, we did not deserve it in the least. Elohim’s mercy is greater than we can even imagine. He is the consuming fire and in His mercy chose to spare us.

This is our justification, our initial point of salvation. This is when God justifies us in His presence because of the work of Yeshua/Jesus. This is when He redeems us from a life of sin and death. However, is that all He has for us? Of course not!

If that was all He ever did for us it would have been sufficient/Dayenu. But He did not stop there. He tells us of the things He has prepared for us. He gives us the instructions on how to live this redeemed life in the power of His Spirit. He did not just leave us alone to figure it out by ourselves. He gave us His Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh to teach us how to follow Him. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says this, “I (YHWH) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will take away your heart of stone and put in you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit/Ruach in you and move you/cause you/teach you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Therefore, part of the job of the Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh is to help us be obedient to His ways and His laws that He prepared in advance for us to do.

We are to do the good works of the Law so that we may walk in the blessings of obedience. Just like the children of Israel was redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb and then shown how they were to live, so we are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb and then shown how to live. Yet this way we are to live, the things we are to do and obey, were prepared in advance so that we might walk in them. The Spirit/Ruach teaches us how and it is our job to listen and obey, to shema to the Word of God who told us we are to observe all things that He has taught us.

Freedom has been Proclaimed!

Vicky

Who We Are To Be

I wanted to post some articles I wrote recently for our congregation.  These articles speak to what I believe is the Heart of God, for His people to be one!

We must turn our ears toward Him and Shema. To Shema means not only to hear but to also be ready and willing to obey. To be like a child who loves for a parent or teacher to pick them for a task, ready and willing to do the will of that parent. That is how we are to be with our Heavenly Father. Before Elohim spoke to the people at Mount Sinai He told them to consecrate themselves. He wanted them set apart for His Word and His ways. He wanted to be able to meet with them. Yeshua prayed in John 17 that we would be set apart, consecrated/sanctified, as He is set set apart. Let us truly be set apart to our Father and ready and willing to Shema to His every Word.

Let us remember what sin is: the breaking of the Law according to 1 John 3:4. Let us set our minds and all our hearts on the will of God by being obedient to the Word of God. As Yeshua said in John 14, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Let us not just speak of our love, but also show our love so we will not be like those of whom God spoke when He said, “they speak of me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Let us draw near to Him with the love of obedience. After all, as James said, “faith without works is dead.”

We have all prayed for revival to come to God’s people, but what really brings revival? We desire to see a true move of God. We want to see people get saved and yet we are all aware that true revival must happen with His people first. We have heard sermons on 2 Chronicles 7:14 perhaps many times where it says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” We want the forgiveness, we want the healing of the land, we believe we are humbling ourselves and praying and seeking His face, but what about that other one – turn from their wicked ways? But if you notice the humbling, praying, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways is all one move. In other words, we can’t really do the first three without doing the fourth too. That is giving God lip service and not all of us. True revival does begin with His people. Let us seek after Him with all that we are and continue to turn from our wicked ways while humbling ourselves, praying and seeking His face!

Interestingly enough the definition for sin is to miss the mark. We don’t need someone to teach us how to miss the mark, we are already good at that, we need someone to teach us how to hit the mark. Yes, the definition for the word “sin” is an archery term meaning to miss the mark. While the definition of the root word for Torah/First Five Books of the Bible/The Books of Moses, of which Yeshua said spoke of Him, is also an archery term meaning to hit the mark. The word Torah itself means instructions. So the Torah is God’s instructions for hitting the mark, the mark of righteousness, which is the opposite of our wicked ways. In Psalms 19:7 it says, “The law (the Torah) is perfect and it revives the soul.” What revives? The law of God/the Torah for it is perfect and as Paul says in Romans 7:12 that the law/Torah is holy. Let us live by the holy and righteous ways of God, His instructions, not by our evil, wicked and lawless ways which are the ways of the evil/lawless one. As Paul also said at the very end of Romans 3, we are to uphold/establish the Law of God.

In Isaiah 32:17 it says, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace, the result of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” That is the effect and fruit of righteousness, but what is righteousness?  We find that in Psalms 119 in verse 137 it states, “Righteous are you, YHWH (LORD), and your laws are right.”  In verse 160 we see this, “All Your Words are true; all Your Righteous Laws are eternal.”  So it is the Law of God that is righteous and eternal, just as He is righteous and eternal. So it would make sense that in the first part of verse 165 of that same chapter we find this, “Great shalom/peace have they who love your Torah/Law”.

We wait for Him who is righteous and while we wait we obey His righteous decrees and in this there is peace.

We will continue these tomorrow!  Please stay with me I am leading to a very important climax!

Shalom,

Vicky

Remembering the Past

I don’t typically get personal on this site, but today I am.  God has been working in an awesome way in my life for the past 10 years and I wanted to share some of that journey with you.

Ten years ago I began asking the crazy question of why do we really get baptized.  Here I was a Baptist Pastor’s wife no less with a seminary degree of my own asking this question as if for the first time.  It seemed to be so superficial and ritualistic with not much meaning behind it.  I know what I had heard all my life, “it is the first act of obedience”.  Was that it?  Did God ask us to do it just to see if we would do it?  I could not find that in the Bible!  I knew it represented our Death, Burial, and Resurrection with Him, but was there something more?  I knew John the Baptist baptized for the remission of sin, so why did Jesus get baptized?  I had all these questions and more reeling in my head.  I wanted answers, answers I never got in four years of seminary study.  So I began to search and ask.

That led right to the mikvah, which led to the Jewish wedding, which led to the Feasts then out of no where we, this Baptist family, began to celebrate Passover in our home as a family.  That was about 2008.  That same year I led some ladies in a Jewish wedding study.  I was learning so much and I wanted to tell everyone about what God was teaching me. 

Then through the circumstances of life we moved in with my parents in 2009.  We ended staying there for three years.  In those three years we continued to practice Pesach (Passover) as a family only now my parents were doing it with us.  I am not to sure what they thought about it at first, especially my father.  Truth be told I think he was tolerating it at first, but then God was working.

When my husband took another church position again in January of 2013 at a small east Tennessee Baptist Church we had no idea what God had in store for us.  We had no idea what He was going to continue to teach us.  We started out at our new church as normal, getting to know and love the people.  I did not even think of teaching for quite a while and did so even earlier than I had planned.  I began to teach the ladies that fall using the Beth Moore study:  A Women’s Heart:  God’s dwelling place.  It is a study about the Tabernacle and was her first (we did the remake version) study she wrote.  I know she has written many more, but I continue to believe that this one is her best. 

Then the next Spring I began to teach from what God had taught me.  We studied Esther and then the Jewish Wedding.  I also began to teach a Sunday School class where we started in Genesis, now over two years later we are still only in Exodus.  We are going slowly, but we are all learning so much, at least I hope we are, I know I am. 

God just began to show my husband and I so much.  We continued to learn about the Creation account and Answers in Genesis was so helpful in that.  We both continued to have a growing love for Israel and the Jewish people.  One the first things we did for us here in east Tennessee was find a local Messianic Congregation and found a wonderful one in Shomair Israel in Knoxville.  They have become family.  

Last year we did our first Jerusalem Marketplace and we are about to do it again.  We have people not only from our church helping, but from area churches as well and even some from Shomair Israel.  We are so excited about what God has been doing in our lives and church. 

Last year we began to be convicted about the Sabbath and started having a Sabbath study in our home.  This study moved into our church a few months ago.  I have so enjoyed the journey of faith God has us on and look forward to what He will teach us next.  We have seen His hand time and time again move Mountains we know we could not move.  Our children are learning to take the whole Bible seriously and it is such a blessing to watch them learn and understand that if God has spoken on a matter than that is the end of the matter. 

God continues to connect us with more and more of the Messianic Community and the connection is real.  Our love for Israel and the Jewish people and the Church has grown tremendously.  We are seeing prophecy fulfilled before our eyes and we long to be a part of it. 

God sent me to seminary 20 years ago on John 17 and Biblical Unity of the Body.  Little did I know then that what He had in mind was the One New Man, Jew and Gentile being one in Messiah.  I used to think in terms of denominations, but not anymore.  God’s plans are so much bigger than we can imagine!  God’s plans are for the mystery to be completed and it will be in the days before the seventh angel sounds His shofar (trumpet) – Revelation 10:7.  He announced this plan to His prophets with the life of Joseph and His brothers, with Ezekiel 37 and the two sticks of Joseph and Judah and then even Paul with his discussions on the mystery in Ephesians.  What an awesome God we serve!

I hope I did not get too personal, but I felt the need to today.  I am now happy to say that we and my parents are now seeking to obey the whole word of God out of love for our God, Savior, Lord, Master, King, Father, and Bridegroom for the wonderful salvation He has provided by the blood of Yeshua.  It is an honor to serve our King!

I hope no one sees this as bragging, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  It is nice to take an assessment of one’s life from time to time and remember what God has done.  To see how far He has brought us.  I am so overwhelmed at what God has taught us and is still teaching us.  I know we have so much more to learn and I look forward to learning more with you.  Thank You God For The Things You Have Taught us!

Rejoicing in His Love,

Vicky

The New Covenant

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,

Vicky

YESHUA is GREAT

In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus says this, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(NIV)

Let’s look at this passage carefully and honestly.  First of all, Jesus makes the very blunt statement that He has not come to abolish the Law or Torah, but fulfill it.  So we ask.  If He did not come to abolish it, did He come to change it?  Again, let’s ask another question.  If He changes it is that a problem?  Most in the church would say that it is not a problem since He is the Son of God.  However, remember that in His first coming He came to be the spotless Lamb of God.  In order for Him to be spotless He would have to be sinless.

John says in I John 3 that sin if the breaking of the Law.  What Law?  The Law of God or what is commonly referred to as the Law of Moses.  Here is the problem in Deuteronomy 4 and 12 it says that one is not to add or subtract from the Law.  If one does then that person is a lawbreaker and therefore a sinner.  Here is where we have to be honest.  To add to or subtract from the Law would be to change it.  Thereby, making Jesus a sinner and not the spotless Lamb. 

When Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law, He meant all of it.  That would imply what He did in His first coming and what He will do in His second since both are referred to in the Law and since He did not accomplish it all in His first coming.  This would include the prophetic elements of the fall Festivals and even some of the last chapters of Deuteronomy among others.  Remember He only fulfilled the spring Festivals in His first coming. 

Then Jesus says that none of the Law would go away until heaven and earth disappear.  It all must be accomplished.  We know that heaven and earth are still here.  Therefore, we know that there is still part of the Law for Him to fulfill and accomplish.  He still has part of the Law to fulfill in His second coming.  Therefore, the Law, all of it, still stands because not the least stroke of the pen would be done away with until He accomplished all of it and heaven and earth are still here.  

I have a question.  Is Yeshua/Jesus the least in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Absolutely not!  Did you catch how Yeshua makes the distinction between least and great?  The one who is least is the one who sets aside even the smallest of His laws and teaches others to do the same.  So if Jesus taught others to set aside any law from God by His own definition He would be called the least in the His Father’s Kingdom.  Is that the case?  No, so how can the former of Him setting one or more aside be the case?  It can’t!

However, the one who obeys the laws of God and teaches others to do so is called great in God’s Kingdom.  We know that Yeshua obeyed His Father and was our spotless Lamb.  However, to be great in His Kingdom He would also have to teach His people to obey His Father, even the least of the laws.  He is absolutely great and the only one who has ever completely obeyed the Father and taught His people to do the same.

It is important to remember that every time Yeshua clashed with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law it was over the Tradition of the Elders that the Pharisees and teachers equated with the Law.  Jesus firmly rejected that because the Tradition was really a list a things added to and subtracted from the Law of His Father.  They found ways to not fully obey the Law or they added on boundaries around the Law.  Which the Law itself forbids.  That is why Yeshua said ones righteousness must surpass theirs’. 

It should be our heart, as it was our Saviors, to obey our Father.  Yeshua said in John 14 that if we love Him than we would keep His commands.  He also makes it clear in that chapter that He and His Father are one and if that is the case than His commands or Law is no different from His Father’s.  If it were they would not be one and Jesus would be a sinner and we would forever be lost.  We must remember that Scripture says God and Jesus are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

May it be our heart to obey every word that comes from the mouth of God out of our love for Him!

Trying to obey,

Vicky

The Testimony and the Law

In Isaiah right between chapter 7, which gives us the sign of Immanuel, and chapter 9, which tells us a child is born and a son is given, sits chapter 8.  I want to look at some things in this very interesting and prophetic chapter.  In verse 16 it states, “Bind up the testimony and seal up the law among my disciples.”(NIV)  This is a very compelling verse.  When I first saw this verse it was the word “disciple” that caught my attention.  I thought that was an odd word to use in the Old Testament so I looked it up and it appears that Isaiah and Jeremiah are the only two who use this word and Isaiah is the only one who uses it to refer to the disciples of God. I found this interesting because I think, like most of you probably, of a disciple as someone from the New Testament era.  I was not aware that it was also in the Old Testament.

If you notice Isaiah is being told to bind up something and seal up something.  He is to bind up the testimony and seal up the law.  This language reminds me a lot of when Gabriel tells Daniel to seal up the vision for the time of the end.  But he is being told to seal up the law.  We all know what that is.  It is the Books of Moses, the Torah.  But what of the testimony, what is that?

It reminded me of a verse in Revelation 12, verse 17:  “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”(NIV)  The commandments could very easily be another word for the law since Psalm 119 uses many different words to refer to the Law:  Law, Commandment, Precept, Ordinance, and even Word.  So we have the Law represented here, but is the testimony of Jesus the same testimony that Isaiah is referring to?  Let’s find out.

Let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:5 & 6.  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time.”(NIV)  Paul here is referring to Jesus as the testimony.  But can we be sure it is the testimony that Isaiah is speaking of? 

Back in Isaiah 8 let’s go back a few verses and read what is above verse 16.  Let’s start in verse 13 and go through 15, “The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.  And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.  Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”(NIV)  That sounds familiar!

Romans 9:31-33 says, “but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.  They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”  As it is written:  “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.””  Paul definitely believes the “stumbling stone” in Isaiah is referring to Jesus.

Peter also speaks of it.  In I Peter 2:4-9 he says, “as you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.  But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”  They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”(NIV)  Yes, even Peter sees Jesus as the stumbling stone.

These verse are definitely declaring Jesus to be the “testimony” that Isaiah was referring to. 

The verses in 1 Peter tie back to Isaiah 8 in another way as well.  Peter speaks of being brought to His wonderful light.  We are brought to the light of Him.  If we go back to Isaiah 8 verse 20 we read, “To the law and to the testimony!  If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”  That’s right the Law and the testimony of Jesus is what gives us light.  He is the Light!

Finally, In Revelation 22 we see Jesus-the testimony-declaring He is coming soon and in verse 14 it says, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”(KJV) 

So we have seen how Jesus, YESHUA, is the testimony of God to man and that He is linked all through Scripture to the Law, TORAH.  He is the living word, the living Torah, the living Law.  We cannot separate Him and faith in Him from the Law anymore than we can separate His humanness from His deity.  They are forever linked and meant for His disciples

Not surprising since we see in Isaiah 2:2 & 3, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.  Many peoples will come and say, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”(NIV)  That’s right, in His kingdom, Yeshua will sit on His throne in the House of God and teach the Torah.  How awesome is that!

Let us be ready!  Let us know His word and obey it!  In doing so we are declaring our love for Him.  Oh, what a love!  A love that seeks to obey every word that comes from the mouth of God.  It is never contrary to Grace to obey the One we claim to love.  Otherwise, it is words alone, it is faith alone, and as James (Jacob) the brother of our Lord said, “faith without works is dead.”  May it never be, may our obedience prove our faith day after day.

Yeshua-the testimony-and the Torah are forever linked.  Hallelujah!!

May we live each day for HIM!

Declaring His Praises,

Vicky

The Wedding Part 2

If you remember from last time we discussed the Wedding up to the Seven Blessings.  Blessings are very important in Jewish life and they are very significant in Scripture.  If stands to reason that the Wedding ceremony would include a complete number of Blessings.  The themes of the Blessings include: Creation, Eden, Zion, Redemption, Bridegroom, and Jerusalem.

They are:

The first Blessing: Blessed are you, Adonai or God, King of the Universe who created the fruit of the vine. (The fruit of the vine represents the blood of Christ, the blood of the Lamb, the blood of redemption. The redemption cup was planned before Creation.)

The second Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who created everything for Your glory. (Creation! The idea of the blood came first, then the creation.)

The third Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, shaper of humanity. (Basically we have here the creation of humanity with the first wedding because you can’t have humanity with just the man, you have to have the wife too.)

The forth Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has shaped humanity in Your image, patterned after Your image and likeness, and enabled them to perpetuate this image out of their own being. Blessed are You, Adonai, shaper of humanity. (Again we see the creation of humanity, but this time specifically spoken of in terms of being created in His image. That image is still within us today. Only it’s been twisted and marred. Therefore, we need a Kiddushin, we need sanctification, we need to be made holy and set apart because our sin has corrupted the image. You see that sanctification puts us back into the likeness of the Son, unmarres that image. Isn’t that a beautiful picture, unmarres that image, until we become more and more, with ever increasing glory, more and more like our Husband.)

The fifth Blessing: May the barren one exult and be glad as her children are joyfully gathered to her. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden Zion with her children. (This comes right out of Isaiah 54 through 56. It’s the future glory of Zion with many children. Does Zion have many children? Does Israel have many children? We a members of the nation of Israel. We are her children.  Then one day the borders of Zion will expand to cover the whole earth.)

The sixth Blessing: Grant great joy to these loving companions as You once gladdened your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden the bridegroom and the bride. (The final wedding leads to the wedding feast.  It leads to the ultimate wedding celebration.)

The seventh Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, merriment, song, dance and delight, love and harmony, peace and companionship. Adonai our God, may there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the rapturous voices of the wedded from their bridal chambers, and of young people feasting and singing. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden the bridegroom together with the bride.

The blessings begin and end with the wine. You see it is at this point in a Jewish wedding once the blessings are spoken that the wine is taken in. Remember this is the cup of the wedding, not the Kiddushin.  Remember at the Passover meal He said to His disciples that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until when? Until it finds fulfillment in His Father’s Kingdom.  The next cup is the cup of Praise. The Blessings begin and end with the wine, which represents the blood of Christ.

It says in Isaiah 62:1-5 & 11-12, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.  The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.  You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.  But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.  As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you…The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth:  Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes!  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’  They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”(NIV)

Along with the bride, the body, and the temple there is also the picture of the bride as the New Jerusalem or Zion. When you got married did you get a new name? I did. When you get married you get a new name. Now my NIV translates that word “Builder” as “sons”, “builder” comes from the text note. But it makes much more sense because the “young man” is the “builder” and the “young man” whose the “builder” is the “bridegroom” and the “young man” whose the “builder” whose the “bridegroom” is “God” the Son. You see this is Jewish poetry and they do not rhyme there poetry by sound, but with thought.  Because of that I think it is appropriate to use the word ‘builder”.   Is the redeemed of the earth not us? Jerusalem’s builder will marry her, Israel’s builder will marry her.  He will give His Son in marriage to the one He has prepared for Him, the pure spotless Bride.

Then comes the time of the Yichud, it is the time of isolation. That time when traditionally bride and bridegroom spend some time alone together for the first time as husband and wife. This is just my opinion, but I truly believe this is when the Day of Atonement begins. Because it is going to begin with us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Remember the wedding is the Feast of Trumpets. Next comes the Day of Atonement when the judgements are meeted out and I do believe it will begin with us at the Judgment Seat of Christ when all is laid bare between us, everything. And nothing ever again will divide us. We have to go to that Judgment Seat of Christ, don’t we? It must be. We must see what acts were righteous and what acts burn away. When all is laid bare, when we have that time, just us, as husband and wife. That time of consummation. Consummation means bringing to completion. We will be made complete.  We will then return with Him dressed in white linen robes.  Only righteousness is left.

Yichud is when the symbolic act of Huppah is brought to completion. We cannot side step the Judgment Seat of Christ and then, of course, there is the rest of the Day of Atonement and the rest is called Armaggeden when God judges this world, when Christ comes and judges this world. When judgment is made and judgment is passed and the books are closed, that is the Day of Atonement.  That old Jewish question of why do the wicked prosper will be answered on that day. Scripture also calls it the Day of the Lord, when all is made right. Then we get to start our Wedding Feast.

We have been to the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Day of Atonement has come, judgment has been passed and the Feast begins. The Feast of Tabernacles is the Wedding Feast. It is also known as the Feast of Ingathering, Feast of Booths, or simply The Feast. Now if you and I were asked which is the most significant feast on the Jewish calendar we who come from a Christian background would probably say the Feast of Passover. Not so. The largest feast on the Jewish calendar is the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s the final harvest. It’s their time of Thanksgiving that’s why it’s known as “The Feast”. That’s what they call it, “The Feast”.  In Deuteronomy 16:13-15 13 “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress.  Be joyful at your Feast–you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.  For seven days celebrate the Feast 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.”(NIV)

Did you catch it that the final harvest is that of the threshing floor and the winepress. That is the wedding feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, the time when our joy is made complete after the final ingathering of the threshing floor and the winepress and, of course, you know what that represents, the wine and the bread or the blood and body of Christ. We are that harvest. And at the celebration of that harvest our joy will be made complete. Now you may say to yourself, “Now Vicky, how do you know this is the final feast?” Look at Zechariah 14:16-19, “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain.  If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.”(NIV)

This is when Christ is on His thrown on this planet. It is the millennial reign of Christ. Do you get the feeling that the Feast of Tabernacles is important. Do you get the feeling that we should know a little bit about this Feast because it’s coming, right at us. We are running smack into it. Nice to know it’s coming. Yes, this is the wedding feast. This is the time when our joy will be made complete.

After the wedding feast comes the New Heaven, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem, adorned as a bride for her Husband. That’s our new home. We mentioned the intention of a husband and wife to have a new home and life together. The new Heaven and New Earth, the New Jerusalem, that is our new home. And we will dwell together with our Husband as Husband and wife with our God. He will be the Temple. God Almighty and the Lamb will be the Temple. And we will be at His right Hand (Psalm 45), His wife. He will be our God and we will be His people.

God set out to make Himself a people, but not just a people, He wanted a wife for His Son. Us in Christ, Christ in God, the covenant of peace, the covenant of oneness, the everlasting covenant. And so we shall ever be with the Lord.  There will be oneness in that garden, in that city for eternity. That oneness ended in the first garden because of sin. It will never end in the final garden. From wedding to wedding that is our story.  I don’t know of a greater story God could tell to the heart of a believer. One day we will all stand together at the right side of our Husband and we will be made one and our joy will be made complete.  We will be His people and He will be our God!

Longing for “The Feast”, Longing for our Husband,

Even So, Come Lord Jesus Come!

Vicky

The Wedding Part 1

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.

Awaiting our Bridegroom,

Vicky