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!
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!
When we accept His pursuit and His Mohar, when He places His Name on us and seals us with His Holy Spirit we then find ourselves in the waters of the Mikvah. In coming to the mikvah we are accepting His pursuit of us and telling Him that we are willing to follow, to take up our cross and follow Him daily as Luke 9 tells us to do.
Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”(NIV) For Jesus it was Him telling His Father, “I’m ready to pursue this course of marriage. I’m ready to pursue my Bride and I’m ready to pay the Mohar. I know where it goes, it goes to me paying the Mohar and I’m willing to follow”. That’s why the Father could say, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” John let’s us know that the reason the Father loves Him is because He laid down His life. He was willing to pay the Mohar.
For us though, remember, it’s all about our response to Him because we cannot come to Him unless He draws us. So everything we do is in response to Him. I Peter 3:20b-22 “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”(NIV) Our Mikvah is not about clean verses unclean, not the removal of dirt from the body. Do you remember as we accept His Mohar, remember from Hebrews 9, His Mohar redeems us and cleanses our conscience. Only with that good conscience can we respond in any way to Him.
I want to talk to you about that phrase, “pledge of a good conscience” because it is essential, it is the whole crux of the matter. The word “pledge”, if you have a different translation you might see the word “response” or “answer”. That word in the Greek literally means “question”. What question might that be? Take a wild guess. Will you marry Me? Will you marry Me? What we do is a response to His question. It is our pledge, our vow, our answer and our response. It is our “yes” to Him.
It’s important that you let your yes be yes. Numbers 30 let’s us know that vows and promises and pledges are irrevocable. They’re forever binding. So we give Him our “yes” in the waters of the Mikvah. We give it to Him out of the good conscience He has given us, the conscience that He purchased for us. Did you catch that? We give Him our “yes” through the waters of the Mikvah, that physical act, out of that good conscience that He purchased for us.
There is a second part, though, to our Mikvah. Do you know that when we come to Christ were entering a nation? We are acknowledging our rebirth into the nation of Israel by the Name of Jesus. I want to share with you what happens when anyone converts to Judaism to this day. A convert to Judaism, whether male or female, is required to immerse themselves in the mikvah waters two or three times marking their rebirth as members of the people of Israel. Isn’t that interesting? Are you aware that in very early Christian history it was very popular that when one was baptized they would be immersed three times, in the Name of the Father, in the Name of the Son, and in the Name of the Holy Spirit and some denominations still practice that? Upon doing so, they exit the waters as a Jew, a citizen of the nation.
Unfortunately, the Christian church has distanced itself from it’s heritage and roots in Judaism. Even though the Old Testament is still read and preached, the church has in a lot of ways removed itself from that same Old Testament. Yes, we are under the New Covenant, but that New Covenant writes the Old Covenant on our hearts. To say it another way, it writes the Israelite Constitution on our hearts. Therefore, we are exiting the waters of our mikvah as citizens of God’s Kingdom, members of God’s household.
This leads us to Acts 2:38-39 where Peter responds to the people on the day of Pentecost when the people ask the disciples, “What shall we do?” “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”(NIV)
In other words, go through the waters of the Mikvah, everyone of you. You see, on this particular day and in very early church history there was no separation in the accepting of the pursuit, the accepting of the Mohar, the coming of the Holy Spirit and going through the waters of the Mikvah. Today, we tend to think of those as separate steps or stages. But for them, it was all one fluid motion.
Whereas, we tend to dissect it into different pieces, making salvation more about us getting the steps right than on the work of the Messiah and God’s ability to call us and justify us through His Holy Spirit. Upon exiting the mikvah waters they had re-identified themselves with Yeshua and the New Covenant. They became true citizens of the Kingdom of God, God’s Israel, God’s Royal family (His princes and princesses) under King Yeshua, God’s Ambassadors, God’s Holy Priesthood under His High Priest Jesus Christ.
We also find in Isaiah 44:3-5 the following words: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, `I belong to the LORD’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, `The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”(NIV)
All who go through this process of Kiddushin, go through the waters of the Mikvah and receive the Holy Spirit, it’s all one fluid motion, remember that. Don’t try to divide it in your head like we often do today. It is all one fluid motion. Those who do that, who receive the Spirit, look what it says, one will say I belong to the Lord, another will call himself by the name of Jacob, still another will write on his hand ‘the Lord’s’ and will do what, will take the name Israel. Those of us who are not Jewish by birth, we have to take on that name because it is completely foreign to us. We take on the name of Israel. Therefore our Mikvah gives Jesus our pledge or our answer to His marriage proposal and confers our citizenship as part of Israel.
I know that the book of Romans can be a very deep, deep theological book, but I am going to attempt to sum it up in just a few sentences to show how it fits our theme here. First of all we are dead in our sins in need of a redeemer. We call on the name of the Lord and we are baptized, we go through the water of the Mikvah in the name of Christ and receive and live according to His Spirit, the Seal. We are brought into the nation of Israel and made God’s children and heirs of His promise. And Israel lives how? According to the Spirit by giving sacrifices acceptable to God, living sacrifices. That’s the book of Romans. If you ever wondered why that talk of Israel is right in the middle of the book, that’s why. Because when we call on the Name of Jesus and go through the waters of the Mikvah we are entering the nation. The blessed nation of Israel.
I want to make it very clear that I am in no way advocating Replacement Theology in any way, shape, or fashion. I do not believe the “church” replaces Israel and God still has some very specific promises for the land of Israel and the Jewish people. However, we are now included in those promises in the way God sees fit because we have been grafted into that nation and those Jews who place their faith in Yeshua will also be grafted back into that nation. We are all one nation. There is not one way of salvation for the Jew and one for the Gentile, but one way for all, Jesus Christ. My Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith have their part to play and I have mine as a non-Jewish believer and God decides what those will be. The “church” does not become the new Israel, but upon belief Jews enter into God’s true Israel – the Assembly of the Saints. To say the the “church” becomes the new Israel separates the Old Covenant from the New and thereby separates God’s story into two stories. God’s story is one story. It is one truth and Jesus/Yeshua is the center of all of it. You see, all of the Bride awaits the same beloved Bridegroom!
Today’s post is one of encouragement. I want to encourage each of you to reach out to a Messianic Congregation in your region. Not all of us have one close by so we have to think from a more regional perspective. You can find the one closest to you by going to the Messianic Alliance of North America at http://www.man-na.com. Go visit the congregation of your choice and ask how you can participate in their ministry.
My family and I are going to visit a Messianic Congregation in Nashville this Saturday, Kol Dodi. We plan on attending worship and then a Mikvah (baptism) service at the park. I am really looking forward to this, it will be the first time I have been to a Messianic worship and Mikvah service. Join me and my family in learning from these amazing people of God.
As I was doing some research this week on Messianic Congregations I also found congregations in Israel. I have to tell you this was very exciting for me. The first one I would like to introduce you to is Adonai Roi (The Lord is My Shepherd)/Dugit Messianic Outreach Centre found at:
I am giving you their dvd page because I would like you to watch these videos and praise God for what He is doing in the land of Israel. I have had some trouble seeing all of the top video, but the other three work fine. These videos will amaze you and you will be left with no other response, but praise. My response was, “And God smiles”. God is breaking down their wall of hostility and making them one, making them family.
Our prayers need to be with these brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. I hope you enjoy these videos and also take the time to browse the sites.
God bless you as you walk in the Light of His grace.
In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul discusses peace, but do we today really understand what this peace Paul is speaking about is. Typically when we hear the word peace we think of quietness, stillness and rest. To be sure that is part of what Paul is talking about, but there is also something much more profound in the word “peace”. It is rest that can only be found when we draw near to God. When we find our rest in Him. Even more it means oneness with each other and God. Being made whole. This idea is carried out repeatedly in this passage. Read this passage with that in mind. You might even want to substitute the word “oneness” for “peace” and see how that opens up the passage for you.
EPH 2:11 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)– 12 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This whole passage is about God making the two – those who were far and those who were near – one. One with each other, putting to death their hostility and hatred for each other by the death of Jesus on the cross. In Isaiah 57 the Lord says, “Peace, peace to those far and near.” This passage in Ephesians is stating that this has been fulfilled in Yeshua, who came to proclaim the glad tidings of oneness (peace) to those who were far and those who were near.
Let’s back up. As God’s light of grace shone on those who were aliens to His people, Israel, they were brought near to His people and to Him through the cross and blood of the Messiah. Also, those who were already “near” through the covenants and promises were brought truly near by the cross and blood of Christ. For even they, though they had been given the covenants and promises, could not come near enough to God by following the commands and regulations of Scripture – no one can. As Scripture says, “No one is righteous, not even one”(Psalm 14:3, 53:3 and Romans 3:23). Humanity, whether Jew or Gentile, is not capable of coming near, truly near, to God on his own. Sin always separates us, that is why Jesus died. Only the God-Man could live a sinless life and therefore fulfill the commands and regulations of Scripture becoming the perfect sacrifice of the New Covenant.
It is with the New Covenant, promised back in the book of Jeremiah that God says, “I will be their God and they will be my people”. He promised a heart and mind that had the law of God written on them ready and willing to follow Him. It is the blood of the Messiah that is the blood of the New Covenant – the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats could never be enough, only the blood of The Lamb of God was sufficient.
With the New Covenant Gentiles of the flesh were made citizens of Israel, citizens together with the Jews – all having faith in the Messiah. It is the Messiah that is our peace, our rest, our stillness, our oneness. I heard a really wonderful illustration of this recently. It is actually one that is in Scripture though we have lost the mental picture of it. In Israel when a wild olive shoot comes up next to a cultivated olive tree that shoot literally raps itself around the tree and after a time you can no longer distinguish the wild shoot from the original tree. That is an awesome picture to me. In this way Christ made the two, the Gentile and the Jew, one tree. Both indistinguishable from the other.
Taking this new tree (made from the two), this new man, Jesus then reconciled both to God through the cross. Again, Paul states that through the cross their hostility was put to death. The Jew and the Gentile were hostile to each other then in Paul’s day and they still are today. Yet in the cross of Christ, the Messiah, this hostility has been put to death and this is also seen today. Next week I want to highlight some of the ways God is doing this in our generation.
Paul ends by saying the through the Messiah both Jew and Gentile (now both part of the spiritual nation of Israel, God’s people) have access to the Father by the one Holy Spirit. It is the first time in this passage that Paul uses the plural pronoun “we” purposely bring the two together. This new man is being built into a holy dwelling built on the foundations of both the prophets and the apostles.
The Old Covenant points directly to the New, even prophesies it – the prophets. It was the apostles who first proclaimed its fulfillment in Christ. Therefore, together the prophets and the apostles make up the foundation of God’s household. This foundation, however, would be worthless without the chief cornerstone, Yeshua the Messiah. It is on Jesus that the whole house is joined together as one and rises as one holy temple.
The final verse (22) reads in the English as if Paul goes back to just talking about the Gentiles. However, I do not believe that is the case. Instead, the “you” is plural, meaning both the Jew and the Gentile in the household of God, the church or assembly of Israel (in this case in Ephesus). The household of God, both Jew and Gentile, are being built together into one to become the dwelling of God where He lives by His Spirit. Paul is summarizing what he had already said in detail.
We are one, both with each other and with God through the cross of Christ and by His Spirit and our hostility has been replaced by love for each other and our God.