Racism In America

Alex has stated my take on the issue of Racism in America very well.

Spiritual Minefield

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This was originally a response to a comment about racism in America, but since it got too long and plus I added a testimony, I decided to make it into a post. I care for this brother in Christ and will keep his name from being mentioned. He is a faithful believer and preaches the truth.

[My brother in Christ’s comment] “The Democrats stand for some things that I agree with, and they support some things that I have an issue with. The Republicans stand for things I agree with, and they promote some things that I have an issue with.”

All Democrats, are in support of murdering babies and for homosexuality. They pretend to care for Spanish and black people. All they want is our vote. There is zero good in a Democrat. They are godless and if they claim to believe in God, then they are deceiving themselves…

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Kefa Gets Wet and Declares His Loyalty

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s Involvement with Yeshua’s Healing of a Woman and Ya’ir’s (Jarius’s) Daughter. In this post, we learn that Kefa Gets Wet and Declares His Loyalty.

Immediately following the feeding of the five thousand, Yeshua had the talmidim get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. Night came on, and He was there alone. 24 But by this time, the boat was several miles from shore, battling a rough sea and a headwind.

Harsh storms often arise suddenly on the Sea of Galilee.

25 Around four o’clock in the morning, He came toward them, walking on the lake! 26 When the talmidim saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said and screamed with fear. 27 But at once, Yeshua spoke to them. “Courage,” He said, “it is I. Stop being afraid.”

Belief in ghosts or disembodied spirits was common on a popular level in antiquity, even though the idea of ghosts contradicted popular Jewish teachings about the resurrection from the dead. [1] It is I is the equivalent of saying I Am.

28 Then Kefa called to him, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come!” He said. So Kefa got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Yeshua. 30 But when he saw the wind, he became afraid; and as he began to sink, he yelled, “Lord! Save me!” 31 Yeshua immediately stretched out His hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “Such little trust! Why did you doubt?” 32 As they went up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 The men in the boat fell down before Him and exclaimed, “You really are God’s son!” ~ Matthew 14:22-33 (CJB)

Such little trust! Kefa has, even though a moment before he had much to get out of the boat. Faith is only present-tense; it does not build up like a bank account (see James 1:6-7). Yeshua’s rebuke restored it and Kefa walked back to the boat holding Yeshua’s hand.

Despite Kefa’s failure to follow through, by beginning to walk on water, he had done something that not even the greatest prophets of the Tanakh had done. Would you or I have faith to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm?

Walking on water might remind readers of Isra’el passing through the Red Sea or the Yarden, but this was a greater miracle. Faith to step into the water could also evoke Joshua 3:13-17.

The talimidim’s confession of Yeshua as God’s Son is not surprising. The title Son of God often serves as a messianic title in the Brit Hadashah, but here it also implies Yeshua’s deity. The talmidim likely interpreted the miracle in light of Job 9:8, which states that Adonai walked on the sea as if it were dry land. Their worship of Yeshua also confirmed their growing recognition of His divine nature.

After they had crossed the Sea of Galilee, Yeshua gave His famous discourse that He was the Bread of Life. Many of the talmidim found this saying too hard to understand or accept. We learn 66 From this time on, many of his talmidim turned back and no longer traveled around with him. 67 So Yeshua said to the Twelve, “Don’t you want to leave too?”

Yeshua succeeded in winnowing out those who were not sincere or who found too high the cost of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Literally, this sounds very cannibalistic. Many must have recalled their history when their ancestors were forced to become cannibals to survive. Fortunately, we now know that He was speaking symbolically of giving up His body and blood on the execution stake to cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

68 Shim’on Kefa answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the word of eternal life. 69 We have trusted, and we know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Yeshua answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is an adversary.” ~ John 6:66-70 (CJB)

Kefa’s confession of Yeshua as the Holy One of God anticipates later references to Yeshua being set apart for Adonai. In the Tanakh, Adonai was called “the Holy One of Israel” (Ps 71:22; Isa. 43:3; 54:5). Kefa’s confession of faith in Yeshua may be compared with Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20.

In my next post, we pick up our chronological journey of Kefa in the Gospels when he once again asks Yeshua to explain a parable.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa’s Involvement with Yeshua’s Healing of a Woman and Ya’ir’s Daughter

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants. In this post, I will turn to Kefa’s Involvement with Yeshua’s Healing of a Woman and Ya’ir’s (Jarius’s) Daughter.

Most of us a familiar with this account of Yeshua healing the woman who had had a hemorrhaging of blood for twelve years. Under Jewish law, because of that, she was considered unclean and had to live apart from her family and community. She was obviously desperate for healing after consulting with multiple physicians. Rather than quoting the entire passage, I want to focus in on Kefa’s involvement.

The woman came up behind Him and touched the tzitzit on His robe; instantly, her hemorrhaging stopped. 45 Yeshua asked, “Who touched me?” When they all denied doing it, Kefa said, “Rabbi! The crowds are hemming you in and jostling you!” 46 But Yeshua said, “Someone did touch me because I felt power go out of me.” ~ Luke 8:44-46 (CJB)

A couple of thoughts on this portion of the story:

  • Kefa was close to Yeshua when this incident occurred. He, too, was probably being pushed and shoved by the crowd as made its way towards Ya’ir’s
  • Kefa gave the response to Yeshua that I assume most of us would have also given. I can recall many times when I have been in a crowd to get into a concert or football game where I have been jostled by some unknown person. Pastor Tony Evans has this fascinating insight:

When He asked who had touched Him, Peter was astonished. Jesus was being accosted from every side. Everyone was touching him! But the Son of God knows when someone has reached out to him in faith.[1]

We pick up our account with Yeshua and the crowd continuing their journey to Ya’ir’s home to health his daughter. By now, however, they had learned that his little girl had died, and the mourners [2] were on their way. Again, rather than quoting the entire passage, I want to focus in on Kefa’s involvement.

51 When he arrived at the house, he didn’t allow anyone to go in with him except Kefa, Yochanan, Ya’akov and the child’s father and mother 52 All the people were wailing and mourning for her; but he said, “Don’t weep; she hasn’t died, she’s sleeping.” ~ Luke 8:51-52 (CJB)

The timing of this passage is still early in Yeshua’s ministry, and Kefa being called to be an emissary. Here we see the beginning of the triumvirate of Kefa, Yochanan, and Ya’akov as the leaders of the pack. We will see them later at the Mount of Transfiguration and the Mount of Olives on Yeshua’s last night before His crucifixion.

I am not going to speculate on any significance or the lack thereof in the order of the listing of their names.

In my next post, we will look at Kefa Getting Wet.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Tony Evans Bible Commentary, Advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda.

[2] At least two or three professional mourners (two flute players and a mourning woman) were required at the funeral of even the poorest person; the funeral for a member of a prominent family like this one would have many mourners. Because bodies decomposed rapidly in Palestine, mourners had to be assembled as quickly as possible, and they had gathered before word even reached Jairus that his daughter had died. ~ Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa’s Appointment As An Emissary & His Inquiring Mind

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s calling by Yeshua to follow Him. In this post, will turn to Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants.

1 Yeshua called His twelve talmidim and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to heal every kind of disease and weakness. 2 These are the names of the twelve emissaries:

First, Shim’on, called Kefa, and Andrew his brother, Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan, his brother, 3 Philip and Bar-Talmai, T’oma and Mattityahu the tax-collector, Ya’akov Bar-Halfai and Taddai, 4 Shim ‘on the Zealot, and Y’hudah from K’riot, who betrayed Him. ~ Matthew 10:1-4 (CJB) [1]

These men had been traveling with Yeshua, listening to Yeshua, and hanging out with Yeshua. They were learners. Yeshua called them talmidim (disciples) and transformed them into emissaries (“apostles” or “sent out ones.”)

An emissary was a Hebrew term that was used for business agents, although the general concept is broader than that; a “sent one” acted on the full authority of the sender to the extent that one accurately represented the sender’s mission. [2]

I find it interesting that Mattityahu (Matthew), as well as the other Gospel writer’s list Kefa, first when it was his brother Andrew who was one of Yeshua’s first talmidim. Here we see that Yeshua does have leaders among leaders. And Kefa, indeed, was a leader amongst these leaders.

Nonetheless, Kefa was the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth, often saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Maybe you enjoy talking, and your heart is as big as the world, but you have a tendency to speak and to think later. Kefa was like that.

The Lord changed Shim’on from one who was shifting and unstable into Kefa or “Rock.” Yeshua renamed Kefa because He transformed him from one who was shifting and unstable to one who would become trustworthy and reliable.

Yeshua’s selection of 12 talmidim is also reminiscent of the 12 tribes of Isra’el. Moving on in chronological order, we come to the:

Parable of the Watchful Servants

As Yeshua is speaking to His followers, he says:

35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit, 36 like people waiting for their master’s return after a wedding feast; so that when he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him without delay. 37 Happy the slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes! Yes! I tell you he will put on his work clothes, seat them at the table, and come serve them himself! 38 Whether it is late at night or early in the morning, if this is how he finds them, those slaves are happy.

39 “But notice this: no house-owner would let his house be broken into if he knew when the thief was coming. 40 You too, be ready! For the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting him.”

41 Kefa said, “Sir, are you telling this parable for our benefit only or for everyone’s?”42 The Lord replied, “Nu,[3] who is the faithful and sensible manager whose master puts him in charge of the household staff to give them their share of food at the proper time? 43 It will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes. 44 Yes, I tell you he will put him in charge of all he owns. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time coming,’ and starts bullying the men- and women-servants, and eating and drinking, getting drunk, 46, then his master will come on a day when the servant isn’t expecting him, at a time he doesn’t know in advance, his master will cut him in two and put him with the disloyal. 47 Now the servant who knew what his master wanted but didn’t prepare or act according to his will, will be whipped with many lashes; 48; however, the one who did what deserves a beating, but didn’t know, will receive few lashes. From him who has been given much, much will be demanded — from someone to whom people entrust much, they ask still more. ~ Luke 12:35-48 (CJB)

Talmidim often sought clarification from their teachers by asking questions, so Kefa’s question was not unusual. After all, inquiring minds want to know. Yeshua previously told His disciples that His parables held secrets that were only for His followers. Yeshua did not answer Kefa’s question directly. Instead, He told another story about a master and his manager. This story emphasized that the master’s servant should be watching, but this story made it clear that the servant must also be working.

The faithful servant of Yeshua is the one who is given a task, performs it, and is blessed by it. The reward that Yeshua will give to the faithful steward will be far greater than the challenges encountered in this service. Faithful believers will receive greater responsibility at His return.

In my next post, we will turn to Kefa’s involvement with the healing of a woman with a hemorrhaging of blood and Ya’ir’s (Jarius) daughter.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] See also Mark 3:16 & Luke 6:14.

[2] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

[3]Nu is a general-purpose Yiddish word meaning variously, “Well?” “So?” “Indeed!” “I challenge you,” or, “If not that, then what?”—with many possible inflections and overtones.

Shavuot (Pentecost) 2020 ~ God’s Appointed Times

We will take a break from our series on the Kefa and return to God’s Appointed Times ~ Shavuot (Pentecost). In 2020, Shavuot will be observed by Jewish Believers beginning at sundown on Thursday, May 28th. Christians will be celebrating Pentecost on Sunday, May 31st. Essentially, Jews and Christians will be celebrating on the same weekend, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Scriptural Basis

15“‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, 16until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai. 17You must bring bread from your homes for waving — two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven — as firstfruits for Adonai. 18Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for Adonai, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. 19Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Adonai, with the two lambs; these will be holy for Adonai for the cohen. 21On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.” (Vayikra [Leviticus] 23:15-21)

Basic Description

Shavu’ot was one of three festivals (Pesach/Matzah & Sukkot being the other two) appointed by Adonai where all Jewish males were to go up to Jerusalem. Shavu’ot means “weeks.” It comes exactly fifty days after Pesach. In Greek, we have come to know it as Pentecost. Pentecost means “fifty.” It was an agricultural festival to celebrate the latter fruits of the spring harvest. Recall that Yom HaBikkurim (First Fruits) immediately following Pesach celebrated the barley harvest and, as Believers, we recognize it as the resurrection of Yeshua – the first fruit from the dead. Shavu’ot celebrates the thanksgiving for the wheat harvest symbolized by the two loaves of challah.

Observance

The two loaves of challah were brought into the Temple and with great ceremony, waved in every direction before Adonai. In addition, blood sacrifices were offered to cover the sin of the people. Since sacrifices can no longer be made with the destruction of the Second Temple, the modern Jewish observance of Shavu’ot has changed. Rabbis calculated that Moshe received the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavu’ot. Hence, the rabbinic name for Shavu’ot is Zman Matan Torateynu (the Time of the Giving of the Torah).

The custom of decorating the synagogue in greenery, flowers and baskets of fruit to symbolize the harvest aspect of Shavu’ot; the practice of marking the holiday with a meal featuring dairy products in recognition of Scripture being described as the pure milk of the Word (I Peter 2:2); and the inclusion of the Megillah (scroll) of Ruth in the service are all the primary reminders of Shavu’ot’s agricultural prominence.

But Ruth’s story sounds another theme, one more relevant to the celebration of Shavu’ot by modern Jewish people and Messianic Believers. When her husband dies, Ruth – a gentile – elects to stay with Naomi, her mother-in-law, telling her“your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16) binding herself willingly to the people Isra’el. Ruth’s story is one of commitment to the Jewish people freely made and to the covenant with God that is the core of the Jewish religion and experience. Like Ruth, the gentile woman who was in the lineage of Yeshua, we have voluntarily said to our fellow Messianic Jewish believers your people will be my people, your God will be my God.

Shavu’ot celebrates the most important moment in the Mosaic covenant – the giving of the Torah to Moshe and its acceptance by Isra’el at Sinai. Shavu’ot has come to be dedicated to the idea of Torah study and Jewish education. Traditional Jews stay up all night on the first night of this festival studying the Torah. In keeping with the theme of Jewish education, Shavu’ot has traditionally been the time when many Jewish schools mark graduation.

Messianic significance abounds in this festival. From God’s perspective the time of great harvest when large numbers of Jewish believers and later Gentiles came into a personal relationship with Him was initiated at Shavu’ot immediately after Yeshua’s resurrection (Acts 2:40-43). The two leavened loaves of Shavu’ot may, therefore, symbolize Jew and Gentile presented to God and now part of His family. God set us free from slavery to sin by placing His Spirit in us to enable us to live as He intended (Romans 8:1-4). Hence God visibly placed His Ruach HaKodesh in Yeshua’s followers on that important Shavu’ot centuries ago (Acts 2:4).

The coming of the Ruach HaKodesh served as the completion of Pesach, the completion of our atonement, in the sense that through the Ruach, God gives us the power we need to overcome our tendency to do evil.

The theme of Shavu’ot can be best summed up by the word revival. Isra’el was called to praise God for the first fruits of the ground, knowing that these early fruits assured the latter harvest. This also applies to the spiritual Kingdom of God. The first fruit of believers at Shavu’ot virtually guarantees a revival in the latter-day spiritual harvest for Messiah. Now we can understand why God included Shavu’ot in the three required festivals for every Jewish male. He had gathered Jewish men from throughout the region to hear the Good News of Yeshua in their own language. They would take that message back home with them to tell their families and friends. As Pesach speaks of redemption, Shavu’ot speaks of revival. The message of Shavu’ot is one of great hope and joy. It was a message heard and accepted by 3,000 Jewish people on that special Shavu’ot (Acts 2:41). Note that 3,000 Jewish people died because of their rebellion of worshipping the Golden Calf at the giving of the Torah.

When Is the Biblical Feast of Shavuot?

Many people desire to know the actual Biblical date for Shavu’ot. It is the only feast that God did not say fell on a specific date in the Hebrew calendar. Rather He gave a formula for calculating the day. Though the traditional Jewish community will celebrate Shavu’ot according to that traditional calculation, there is a difference of opinion on the matter. In the first century the Pharisees and Sadducees differed on the date that Shavuot was to be celebrated. The question arose over which Sabbath does Firstfruits (see Vayikra 23:9-14) take place after the day after Pesach, which is generally considered a Sabbath or the regular seventh-day Sabbath, i.e. Saturday during the week of Pesach?

The Pharisees claimed the correct day was the day after the first day of Matzah, the sixteenth of Nisan. The Sadducees taught that the correct day was Sunday, the day after the weekly Sabbath. Since the writings of the Pharisees survived and developed into traditional Judaism, their opinion is accepted in modern Judaism.

But who is biblically correct? Remember, the Scriptures state, “you are to count seven full Sabbaths until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days.” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

For it to be the day after the seventh Shabbat, the initial Sabbath would have to be the weekly Sabbath. So, it would appear the Sadducees were right. Consequently, I believe that the Sadducees got this one correct. Amazingly, the year that Yeshua died, the sixteenth of Nisan fell on a Sunday, which is the day after the Sabbath for the Sadducees as well. God worked it out that neither group would have a reason not to recognize Yeshua as the Firstfruits of the Resurrection.

In my next post, we will return to our new series on Kefa.

Click here for the PDF version.

Kefa Called to Follow Yeshua

In my last post, I introduced my new series on the life and times of Kefa by examining his character and writings. In this post, we will look at his calling by Yeshua to follow Him.

This year, for my reading of Scripture, I have been using F. LaGard Smith’s “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order.” [1] I have enjoyed it so far and will be using its chronological order to focus on Kefa’s calling and life. We will be bouncing around in the Gospels back and forth for a while.

We start in the Gospel of John with the proclamation of Yeshua as the Messiah and Andrew running to tell his brother about him.

35 The next day, Yochanan (the Baptist) was again standing with two of his talmidim. 36 On seeing Yeshua walking by, he said, “Look! God’s lamb!” 37 His two talmidim heard him speaking, and they followed Yeshua. 38 Yeshua turned and saw them following Him, and He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi!” (which means “Teacher!”) “Where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where He was staying and remained with Him the rest of the day – it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who had heard Yochanan and had followed Yeshua was Andrew, the brother of Shim ‘on Kefa.

41 The first thing he did was to find his brother Shim ‘on and tell him, “We’ve found the Mashiach!” (The word means “one who has been anointed.”) 42 He took him to Yeshua. Looking at him, Yeshua said, “You are Shim ‘on Bar-Yochanan; you will be known as Kefa.” (The name means “rock.”) ~ John 1:35-42 (CJB)

Shim’ on Bar-Yochanan is Aramaic for Simon, the son of John. You will be known as Kefa, is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic Kefa, and usually given in English as Cephas. Kefa means Rock in Hebrew, “Petros” in Greek, which is usually translated as “Peter” in English.

In changing his name, we will learn it was as if Yeshua said, “Simon, you’re about as stable as the sand on the seashore. But I see your potential; I see what you will become. That is why I’m changing your name to Rock. Stick with Me, Kefa, and you will see incredible changes take place in your person.”

We pick up the story of Kefa when Yeshua begins His great Galilean Ministry.

1 One day, as Yeshua was standing on the shore of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias), with the people pressing in around Him in order to hear the word of God, 2 He noticed two boats pulled up on the beach, left there by the fishermen, who were cleaning their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Shim ‘on, and asked him to put out a little way from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Shim ‘on, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Shim’ on answered, “We’ve worked hard all night long, Rabbi, and haven’t caught a thing! But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.”

Kefa’s obedience is exemplary; a fisherman might trust a Rabbi’s teaching on religious matters but need not do so in his field of expertise, fishing. The fishermen had labored with a casting net or possibly a dragnet all at night.

6 They did this and took in so many fish that their nets began to tear. 7 So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats to the point of sinking.

Because the overhead cost of equipment was high, fishermen often worked together in cooperatives; families would sometimes work together to increase their profits. It is not unusual for Kefa and Andrew to be in business with the family of Zebedee. Men working from more than one boat could let down more massive nets than those working from only one; fish could then be emptied onto the boat, or the nets hauled ashore.

8 When he saw this, Shim ‘on Kefa fell at Yeshua’s knees and said, “Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner!” 9 For astonishment had seized him and everyone with him at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and likewise both Ya’akov and Yochanan, Shim’ on’s partners. “Don’t be frightened,” Yeshua said to Shim‘on, “from now on you will be catching men – alive!” 11 And as soon as they had beached their boats, they left everything behind and followed Him.  Luke 5:1-11 (CJB)

After this display of Yeshua’s knowledge and power, Kefa was astonished and saw him differently. He fell before Yeshua and said, Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner! Kefa knew that Yeshua was no mere miracle-working preacher.

Ya’akov and Yochanan, along with Kefa, will form Yeshua’s inner circle. Yeshua used the massive catch of fish to illustrate the kind of evangelistic impact Kefa would have catching men (see Acts 2:41; 4:4). Kefa and the other fishermen left everything and followed Yeshua.

Even if they had a bad night, fishermen made a better income than most Galileans (most of whom were peasants), so leaving their job is an act of radical commitment that they would expect to affect them economically adversely.

Following their calling, they all went to Capernaum so Yeshua could teach in the synagogue on the Sabbath. When He finished, 14 Yeshua went to Kefa’s home, and there saw Kefa’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she got up and began helping Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15 (CJB)

Based upon this passage, we learn that Kefa was married and his mother-in-law lived with them. Jewish men refrained from touching women in general to avoid any possibility of becoming unclean unless they had means by which they could ascertain their status (see Lev 15:19). But that did not stop Yeshua from touching her. His mother-in-law’s ability to get up immediately and serve a meal indicates that her healing was instant and complete.

In my next post, we will turn to Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Special Note: To keep things simple, I will be using Smith’s first cite and not referencing all the other citations, except for clarification purposes and then only in the footnotes.

Kefa (Peter) ~ the Rock

In my last post, we completed our journey through 140 posts in the series on Yesha’yahu, which we started on January 20, 2019. In this post, we will begin to examine the character and writings of Kefa (Peter).

I have been in prayer for several months of where to go next with this blog. I knew I would like to get back to the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant). You may recall that I did a character study about Eliyahu and Elisha in the last couple of years, and I wanted to do a character study on one of the Emissaries (Apostles).

Why Kefa?

Kefa has always amazed me since I first learned about him. As we will see, he is quite the character. But he influenced me to make a decision that I had been praying on for several years. If you have read my About page, you know I was raised in the Episcopal Church, and through Faith Alive and Cursillo weekends, I came into a saving knowledge of Yeshua on a whole new level. We liked our church family, our priest, and even after we moved to an adjacent city continued to attend. However, our priest was called to a church in Michigan, and we did not care for his replacement. What to do?

Well, during my first Cursillo weekend, I was assigned to sit at the “St. Peter’s” table. Well, I knew that Kefa had authored to short letters, and so during a couple of breaks, I read both. Initially, I thought 1 Kefa was practical, while 2 Kefa, not so much. I was reminded of this experience when I learned that there was a mission church in the city we lived in. Its name was St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. We gave it a try and settled in until the next move. Hunches, no, it’s a God-thing.

So, What Do We Know About Kefa?

 Image courtesy of The Ultimate Bible Character Guide. Click on image to enlarge.

Some years ago, my mother bought us a coffee-table book entitled “The Chosen Twelve Plus One.” [1] It is a beautiful book of Mr. Hollett’s depiction of the original twelve Emissaries and Sha’ul. He photographed thirteen real men who he thought depicted the character traits of the Apostles they represented. This is his Kefa.


Note: the dirty fingernails.

Macartney was a gifted writer and minister in the first half of the 20th century. I would like to share just a few initial quotes from his bio-sketch of Kefa.

“They were all human men whom Jesus called to follow Him, but Peter reveals more of himself than any of the others, and to self, he shows is so remarkably like the self that followers of Jesus today see in themselves that I venture to name Peter the most human of the Apostles.” I am guilty!

“Not only is Peter the speaker and the actor whom we know best, but when he does speak and act, he does so in a manner that is peculiarly self-revelatory … Peter is one of those whole-hearted men who do whatever they do, in good or in evil, with their whole might, leaving no slightest doubt as to the kind of person who is speaking or acting … He was a non-deliberative, warm-hearted, impulsive, quick-acting soul who was mastered by the motive of the moment, whether it was good or bad.”

With this thumbnail sketch, let’s walk through the Gospels and the Book of Acts to form our own opinion of this remarkable Saint.

My plan for this series is to follow Kefa through the Gospels and the Book of Acts to learn more about him as a person and then finish off with a verse-by-verse examination of 1 & 2 Kefa.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] “The Chosen Twelve Plus One,” illustrated by Harry Hollett with text by Clarence E. Macartney, Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon © 1980.

Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai ~ Yesha’yahu 66:15-25

In my last post, we continued to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14. In this post, we conclude our long journey through to the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai in Yesha’yahu 66:15-25.

15 For – look! – Adonai will come in fire, and His chariots will be like the whirlwind, to render His anger furiously, His rebuke with blazing fire.16 For Adonai will judge all humanity with fire and with the sword, and those slain by Adonai will be many. 17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves in order to enter the gardens, then follow the one who was already there, eating pig meat, reptiles, and mice, will all be destroyed together,” says Adonai.

Eating pig meat, reptiles and mice is another description of foreign rites, probably of Canaanite origin. There is no extrabiblical evidence illuminating this custom. [1] The wicked who receive the punishment described are those who entered illegitimate worship sites. They ate the most unclean food, defiantly rejecting Adonai’s law for Isra’el.

18 “For I [know] their deeds and their thoughts. “[The time] is coming when I will gather together all nations and languages. They will come and see my glory,

Adonai was never interested in Isra’el alone. His promise to Avraham extended to the nations (Genesis 12:3). Yesha’yahu looked forward to the day when the nations would recognize Adonai’s glory. When Yeshua returns to rule the earth, people in the farthest corners of the world will know of His salvation.

19 and I will give them a sign. I will send some of their survivors to the nations of Tarshish, Pul, Lud (these are archers), Tuval, Greece, and more distant coasts, where they have neither heard of my fame nor seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory in these nations;

The survivors, the remnant of Adonai’s people who survive the judgment, will go out to the nations to speak of Adonai’s glory. Among the representative nations named are those at great distance. Tarshish is modern-day Spain; Pul (ancient Put) is equivalent to modern Somaliland (though some think a part of Libya); and, Tuval is an area near the Black Sea. The distant coasts represent all the nations of the world. [2]

20 and they will bring all your kinsmen out of all the nations as an offering to Adonai — on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, on camels — to My holy mountain Yerushalayim,” says Adonai, “just as the people of Isra’el themselves bring their offerings in clean vessels to the house of Adonai.

Again, this describes the great gathering that will take place in the Kingdom Age, resulting in the Jews’ return to Yerushalayim.

21 I will also take cohanim and L’vi’im (Levities) from them,” says Adonai.

Yesha’yahu presented a remarkable picture of the nations producing people set apart for service to the Lord like cohanim and L’vi’im.

22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will continue in my presence,” says Adonai, “so will your descendants and your name continue. 23 “Every month on Rosh-Hodesh and every week on Shabbat, everyone living will come to worship in my presence,” says Adonai.

In this future day, no one will neglect the regular worship of the Adonai. Rosh-Hodesh (the New Moon festival) was a monthly sacred observance. What a great day it will be when the Jews join all people in converging upon Yerushalayim to worship. Sometimes I think we get a little taste of this in times of intense worship and fellowship even now.

24 “As they leave, they will look on the corpses of the people who rebelled against me. For their worm will never die, and their fire will never be quenched, but they will be abhorrent to all humanity.” ~ Yesha’yahu ~ 66:15-24 (CJB)

Sadly, while the Kingdom is celebrating, there will be incredible suffering as those who reject the King will be left to the consequences of their own will.

For those of you who have been on this journey through Yesha’yahu from the beginning, we started on January 20, 2019. This last post is the 140th post in the series. I hope and pray that you have enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed digging into the Word as proclaimed by Yesha’yahu.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the character and writings of Kefa (Peter).

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] HCSB Study Bible.

Rejoice with Yerushalayim ~ Yesha’yahu 66:7-14

In my last post, we learned about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6. In this post, we continue to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14.

7 Before going into labor, she gave birth; before her pains came, she delivered a male child.

The fate of the wicked will not spoil the rejoicing of those who enter Yeshua’s kingdom. Isra’el’s restoration in the Kingdom Age will be accomplished so quickly it will be like a woman delivering her baby before going into labor.

8 Whoever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Is a country born in one day? Is a nation brought forth all at once? For as soon as Tziyon went into labor, she brought forth her children.

Tziyon (Yerushalayim) has been described as Isra’el’s mother before. Here the return to Y’hudah after the exile is described as Tziyon giving birth painlessly to many children.

9 “Would I let the baby breakthrough and not be born?” asks Adonai. “Would I, who cause the birth, shut the womb?” asks your God.

In previous passages, God is imagined to be the husband of Tziyon. That idea might also be operative here, but He is pictured as the doctor who delivered Tziyon’s babies. Isra’el’s rebirth is inevitable because God never begins what he doesn’t finish.

10 Rejoice with Yerushalayim! Be glad with her, all you who love her! Rejoice, rejoice with her, all of you who mourned for her; 11 so that you nurse and are satisfied by her comforting breast, drinking deeply and delighting in the overflow of her glory.

Yerushalayim, the mother of the returned exiles, will not only give them birth but will nurse them and give them life.

12 For Adonai says, “I will spread shalom over her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried in her arm and cuddled in her lap.

Yerushalayim will be a place of abundant peace (like a river) and overflowing wealth (like a flood). Adonai, the mother, will care for and play with her children, the returned inhabitants of Yerushalayim.

13 Like someYerushalayim, you will be comforted.”one comforted by his mother, I will comfort you; in 

Likening Himself to a mother, Adonai says, “I’m going to bounce you upon My knee.” He identifies Himself not only as a strong Father but as a tender, nourishing Mother.

14 Your heart will rejoice at the sight; your bodies will flourish like newly sprouted grass. It will be known that the hand of Adonai is with His servants, but with His enemies, His fury. ~ Isaiah 66:7-14 (CJB)

Adonai’s people will flourish, but his enemies will receive His fury.

In my next post, we conclude our study of Yesha’yahu, learning about Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai in Yesha’yahu 66:15-25.

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The Humble and Contrite Spirit ~ Yesha’yahu 66:1-6

In my last post, we learned about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25. In this post, we learn about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6.

1 “Heaven is My throne,” says Adonai, “and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house could you build for Me? What sort of place could you devise for My rest?

One of the presumptions of the pre-exilic people of Adonai was that the Temple was the place where Adonai lived. This attitude had no justification, especially considering the speech King Solomon gave when he dedicated the Temple (1Kings 8:27). Thus, Adonai began the final prophesy in the book of Yesha’yahu by reminding His people that His presence fills heaven (My throne) and earth (My footstool).

The house spoken of here refers to the Temple. Before the Tribulation, Antichrist will work out a compromise between the Muslims and the Jews, allowing the Temple to be rebuilt on the Temple Mount. This will give him even greater power in the geopolitical, political arena.

2 Didn’t I Myself make all these things? This is how they all came to be,” says Adonai. “The kind of person on whom I look with favor is one with a poor and humble spirit, who trembles at My Word.

Adonai made everything. This means that people should honor and fear Adonai, which will result in humility, submissiveness to Adonai, and total obedience to His commands.

3 Those others might as well kill a person as an ox, as well break a dog’s neck as sacrifice a lamb, as well offer pig’s blood as offer a grain offering, as well bless an idol as burn incense. Just as these have chosen their ways and enjoy their disgusting practices,

The dog was not a sacrificial animal in Isra’el, although it was used in this manner in Hittite Anatolia. Pigs and dogs figured prominently in the rituals of the Hittites in Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age. When confronted with a ritual impurity, the Hittites often slaughtered a pig (usually by cutting it in half). Pigs and dogs were particularly prominent in worship of chthonic deities (those having to do with the netherworld. Some have suggested that the treatment of the pig in this type of ritual may have been one reason why the pig was considered unclean. [1]

Here, the Lord says, “I’m not impressed by your structures or your sacrifices. After all, you can’t offer Me anything I don’t already own. What I want is for you to humble yourselves before Me and be obedient to Me.”

4 so I will enjoy making fools of them, and bring on them the very things they fear. For when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not hear. Instead, they did what was evil in My sight and chose what did not please Me.”

Adonai would choose also; He would choose their punishment.

5 Hear the word of Adonai, you who tremble at His Word: “Your brothers, who hate you and reject you because of My name, have said: ‘Let Adonai be glorified, so we can see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame.” 6 That uproar in the city, that sound from the Temple, is the sound of Adonai repaying His foes what they deserve. ~ Isaiah 66:1-6 (CJB)

Trembling at Adonai’s Word indicates the kind of submission to Adonai that leads to obedience. The brothers (fellow Israelites) mocked the faithful by saying, let Adonai be glorified because they did not think that would happen. Adonai will see that the mockers get what they deserve.

There will come a time when the grace of Adonai will end, and those who reject Him will be confirmed in their choices. With Adonai repaying His foes what they deserve, no one will stand, no one will escape.

In my next post, we continue to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament. As I have stated in the past, there is no passage in Scripture that specifically explains why God considered pigs as unclean and therefore not to be eaten.