Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3. In this post, we Kefa and Yochanan Are Arrested.

1 Kefa and Yochanan were still speaking to the people when the cohanim, the captain in charge of the Temple police, and the Tz’dukim [1] came upon them, 2 very annoyed that they were teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and offering Yeshua as proof. 3 The Temple police arrested them, and since it was already evening, they put them in custody overnight.

No longer dealing with someone overturning tables in the Temple, the aristocracy is content to follow the law and wait till the next day to try them (night trials were illegal, and most businesses of any regular sort stopped by sundown).

4 However, many of those who heard the message trusted; the number of men alone was about five thousand.

Repeated attempts to suppress the Messianic message only caused it to spread more quickly. On Pesach morning, the Believers in Yerushalayim only numbered 120. In response to Kefa’s sermon that day, another 3,000 were added. Now, with the healing of the disabled man, Kefa’s sermon, and their arrest, the community grew to about 5,000.

5 The next day, the people’s rulers, elders, and Torah-teachers (the Sanhedrin)assembled in Yerushalayim, 6 along with ‘Anan the Cohen HaGadol, Kayafa, Yochanan, Alexander and the other men from the family of the cohen HaGadol. 7 They had the emissaries stand before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

The parties listed in verses 5-6 represent all the most influential players in the Jewish religious establishment. They made Kefa and Yochanan stand before them, two men against all the powers of Isra’el. Ironic, therefore, that they asked them by what power they had performed the miracle and preached the Gospel.

8 Then Kefa, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people!

Kefa was filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, a necessary prelude to his successful confrontation with the Jewish religious establishment. We need to get plugged into that same power source whenever we share the Gospel.

9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done for a disabled person, if you want to know how he was restored to health, 10 then let it be known to you and to all the people of Isra’el that it is in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua from Natzeret, whom you had executed on a stake as a criminal but whom God has raised from the dead, that this man stands before you perfectly healed. 11 “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. (see Psalm 118:22) 12 There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!” ~ Acts 4:1-12 (CJB)

There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved! Kefa, here addressing Jews, not Gentiles, and speaking by inspiration of the Ruach HaKodesh, asserts that Yeshua is the only person by whom we (the Jewish people, both individually and collectively) must (there is no alternative) be saved (from eternal destruction and God’s fury due us for our sins). And if there is no other salvation for Jews, who already have wonderful promises from God, how much more is there no other salvation for Gentiles (see Acts 13:47-48; Romans 1:16).

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

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[1] Tz’dukim (Sadducees) who denied resurrection from the dead.

Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Crippled Beggar ~ Part 2. In this post, we hear Kefa Preach Repentance to those who marveled at the Beggar’s Healing.

17 “Now, brothers, I know that you did not understand the significance of what you were doing; neither did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what He had announced in advance when He spoke through all the prophets, namely, that His Messiah was to die.

After blaming his fellow Jews in vv. 13-15, Kefa again calls them brothers and mitigates his words by stating: you did not understand the significance of what you were doing. In the Torah, atonement avails only for unintended sins; for sins committed presumptuously, there is no atonement. Even the cohanim and P’rushim involved in the events leading up to Yeshua’s execution may be forgiven through trusting Yeshua, and some availed themselves of the opportunity (see Acts 6:7, 15:5). Kefa softened the message by stating this is how God fulfilled what he had announced in advance. The Messiah’s death does not end all hope; on the contrary, God intended Him to die, be resurrected, and return.

19 “Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased;

Repent and turn to God means: Change your mind and turn. But to the modern reader, this suggests changing religions from Judaism to Christianity, which is not what Kefa meant. For at that time, “Christianity” as such did not exist; there was Judaism with Yeshua and Judaism without Him (the same choice, along with the possibility of rejecting both, faces Jews today).

20 so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence, and He may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua.

The phrase times of refreshing means the Messianic Age. In these times of refreshing, self-rule will be restored to Isra’el, and the Messiah appointed in advance for you; namely, Yeshua, will return. Kefa’s audience, like today’s Orthodox Jews, expected the Messiah in the future. Kefa says that the very Messiah they expect is Yeshua goes on in the following verses to explain why He does not come at once.

21 He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God said long ago when He spoke through the holy prophets.

He has to remain in heaven at the right hand of God) until the time comes for restoring everything, both social and natural (see Isaiah 11:1-12, Romans 8:18-23) when Yeshua will come on the clouds of Heaven (see Daniel 7:13-14). Yeshua said the same thing at least twice quoting Daniel (see Mt 24:30, 26:64).

22 For Moshe, himself said, ‘Adonai will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You are to listen to everything He tells you. 23 Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed.’

This same passage from Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is also cited in Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:37. The P’rushim asked Yochanan the Immerser if he was the prophet foreseen in this passage (John 1:21). The five thousand whom Yeshua fed wondered the same thing, as did some of the crowd to whom he offered living water (John 7:40). Evidently, this passage from the Torah was widely understood then as Messianic, and people were looking for its fulfillment.

You are to listen to everything He (Yeshua, the prophet like Moshe) tells you. Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed. But what if the nation as a whole fails to listen? Then this becomes the kind of Torah violation which leads to the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. The destruction of the Temple (70 CE), the expulsion from Yerushalayim (135 CE) and the centuries of exile typify the punishments suffered by the Jewish people, not for deicide and not directly for rejecting Yeshua but for violating the Torah’s injunction to listen to the prophet like Moshe, who is Yeshua. But He can still be heard. He speaks through the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah. Those who heed him become part of Isra’el’s remnant (see Romans 9-11) and are not removed from the people.

24 Indeed, all the prophets announced these days, starting with Sh’mu’el and continuing through all who followed. 25 “You are the sons of the prophets, and you are included in the covenant which God made with our fathers when He said to Avraham, ‘By your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 So it is to you first that God has sent His servant whom He has raised up so that He might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways.” Acts 3:17-26 (CJB)

You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant with… Avraham. The point is that for this very reason, it is to you first that God sent Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospel is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16). And it is with the Gospel of Yeshua that the promise of v. 25 is fulfilled, for that promise was made to Avraham and his son Yitzchak, and Yeshua is Himself the promised seed who brings the blessing. The blessing consists in turning each one of you from your evil ways.

Have you repented? Have you turned from your evil ways and put your trust in Yeshua as the Son of God? If not, the hour is drawing near when it will be too late. I believe that we are living at the beginning of the birth pangs of His soon return.

In my next post, we take a break from our series on Kefa to observe the first of the three fall feasts: Rosh Hashanah.

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Kefa Heals A Disabled Beggar ~ Part 2

In my last post, we learned about Kefa Heals A Disabled Beggar. In this post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing. We pick up the story in Acts 3:11.

11 While he clung to Kefa and Yochanan, all the people came running in astonishment toward them in Shlomo’s Colonnade. 12 Seeing this, Kefa addressed the people: “Men of Isra’el! Why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk through some power or godliness of our own?

Recognizing that the onlookers were amazed, Kefa seized the moment to testify about Yeshua HaMashiach. Signs of God’s power can point to the truth about Yeshua.

I love this comment from David Stern regarding Men of Isra’el!:

A personal reaction: the start of Kefa’s speech is so Jewish! The crowd had just witnessed an unbelievable miracle, and he asks, deadpan, “What are you all so surprised about?” [1]

13 The God of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Yeshua — the same Yeshua you handed over and disowned before Pilate, even after he had decided to release him.

The phrase the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, is not accidental in Kefa’s sermon. Its two parts are found in the first paragraph of the ‘Amidah, the central section of the Minchah prayer service, which begins: Praised be to You, Adonai our God and God of our fathers, God of Avraham. God of Yitzchak and God of Ya’akov… and which Kefa’s hearers would just then have been reciting in their minchah prayers in minyans (groups of ten men required for corporate worship) throughout the Temple grounds, much as is done today at the Western Wall.

Kefa’s point is the very God to whom they were just now praying in these words has glorified. His servant is identified in Isaiah 42-43 as God’s suffering servant, Yeshua.

14 You denied the holy and innocent one, and instead asked for the reprieve of a murderer!

Holy and innocent one applied, especially to God in Jewish literature. Because the healing did not occur during Pesach, most of Kefa’s audience are residents of Yerushalayim. Still, the corporate accusation against his audience is no stronger than denunciations of the Tanakh prophets (see Amos 2:6-3:8). Calling a revolutionary (Barabbas), a murderer starkly distinguishes the emissaries from the sort of people who had revolutionary sympathies. Gee that sounds like our calling some protesters as “peaceful” versus the “anarchists” many are. Yes, many are peaceful and have a constitutional right to do so.

15 You killed the author of life! “But God has raised him from the dead! Of this, we are witnesses.

Wow, what an indictment to the average listener in the crowd! The P’rushim would probably shrug it off, but not your average worshipper who may not have been in the crowd, yelling, Crucify Him!”

16 And it is through putting trust (faith) [2]  in his name that his name has given strength to this man whom you see and know. Yes, it is the trust that comes through Yeshua, which has given him this perfect healing in the presence of you all. ~ Acts 3:11-16 (CJB)

Kefa and Yochanan had a chance to claim credit for the miraculous healing of the disabled man but instead insisted it was trust in His name that had given strength to this man. The emissaries were merely God’s chosen instruments for conveying the miracle.

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa Preaches Repentance.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[2] The Jewish New Testament generally uses the word “trust” instead of “faith” to translate the Greek “pistis” because “trust” more clearly signifies to English-speakers the confident reliance of God that generates holy deeds, as opposed to a mere mental acknowledgment of facts and ideas. I agree.

Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 1

In my last post, we examined Kefa’s First Public Sermon. In this post, we learn the Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar. As you can see by the title, this is a multipart series covering Acts 3:1 – 4:31.

1 One afternoon at three o’clock, the hour of minchah (afternoon) prayers, as Kefa and Yochanan were going up to the Temple,2 a man disabled [1] since birth was being carried in. Every day people used to put him at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple so that he could beg from those going into the Temple court.

This is the first healing miracle in the Book of Acts. The man was disabled since birth and was daily carried to the Beautiful Gate of the Temple so he could beg for money. We learn in Acts 4:22 that the man was 40 years old. In the era before governmental aid for needy persons, it was the kindness of strangers and loved ones that kept men such as this alive.

The Beautiful Gate may have been a popular title for what later sources call the Nicanor Gate, covered with bronze, which led from the Gentile Court to the Women’s Court of the Temple. It was accessible from Shlomo’s Colonnade. According to their state of being ceremonially unclean, beggars were not permitted to go into the Temple any further but could appeal to those entering.

3 When he saw Kefa and Yochanan about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 But they stared straight at him, and Kefa said, “Look at us!” 5 The disabled man fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Kefa said, “I don’t have silver, and I don’t have gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret, walk!”

It is good for the disabled man that Kefa and Yochanan had neither silver nor gold to hand out, for what they did have to offer was of far higher value – healing power through Messiah Yeshua. Rather than a temporary fix, the man was given a permanent remedy for his physical and spiritual problems. The disabled man asked for what he wanted; he was about to receive what he needed. Do not settle for what you want from God. When God meets your needs, He may not give you what you asked for, but what He provides will always be better than what you wanted.

7 And taking hold of him by his right hand, Kefa pulled him up. Instantly his feet and ankles became strong;

After pronouncing the man’s healing, Kefa took the initiative and pulled him up; therefore, the kehilah must both speak hope into a broken life and extend practical help.

The book of Acts recounts several healing miracles (see 9:32-34,36-42). During the Hellenistic period, knowledge of science and medicine was advanced enough that the bystanders recognized without a doubt that Kefa had enacted a miracle. The mention of the strengthening of the disabled man’s feet and ankles may provide indirect support for the traditional view that the author of the Book of Acts, Luke, was a physician.

8 so that he sprang up, stood a moment, and began walking. Then he entered the Temple court with them, walking and leaping and praising God! 9 Everyone saw him walking and praising God. 10 They recognized him as the same man who had formerly sat begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and they were utterly amazed and confounded at what had happened to him. 11 While he clung to Kefa and Yochanan, all the people came running in astonishment toward them in Shlomo’s Colonnade. ~ Acts 3:1-11 (CJB)

When God does something amazing in an individual’s life, he usually has a higher purpose in mind than that individual’s benefit. He wants to do something even more amazing through that individual. The Ruach HaKodesh worked in this disabled man’s life and then worked through him so that the truth might be proclaimed to a large crowd of people (3:11-26) and the Jewish leaders (4:1-22). His transformation ultimately led to the salvation of many souls (see 4:4). All of this took place because God acted in the life of a simple beggar who responded with public praise.

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth.

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[1] The actual text says “crippled.”

Kefa’s First Public Sermon

In my last post, we examined Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah. In this post, we examine Kefa’s First Public Sermon.

Some fifty days after Pesach when Yeshua was arrested, the Believers were gathered in Yerushalayim for Shavu’ot. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. ~ Acts 2:2-4 (CJB) Now when the pilgrims heard the sound a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Acts 2:5-6 (CJB)

14 Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: “You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me! 15 “These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose – it’s only nine in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el:

17 ‘Adonai says: “In the Last Days, I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my slaves, both men and women, will I pour out from my Spirit in those days; and they will prophesy. 19 I will perform miracles in the sky above and signs on the earth below — blood, fire and thick smoke. 20 The sun will become dark and the moon blood before the great and fearful Day of Adonai comes. 21 And then, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be saved.”’ [1]

22 “Men of Isra’el! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles, and signs that God performed through Him in your presence. You yourselves know this. 23 This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed Him up on a stake and killed him! 24 “But God has raised Him up and freed Him from the suffering of death; it was impossible that death could keep its hold on Him. 25 For David says this about Him:

‘I saw Adonai always before me, for he is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26 For this reason, my heart was glad; and my tongue rejoiced; and now my body too will live on in the certain hope 27 that you will not abandon me to Sh’ol or let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will fill me with joy by your presence.” [2]

29 “Brothers, I know I can say to you frankly that the patriarch David died and was buried – his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that one of his descendants would sit on his throne, 31 he was speaking in advance about the resurrection of the Messiah, that it was he who was not abandoned in Sh’ol and whose flesh did not see decay. 32 God raised up this Yeshua! And we are all witnesses of it! 33 “Moreover, he has been exalted to the right hand of God; has received from the Father what he promised, namely, the Ruach HaKodesh; and has poured out this gift, which you are both seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into heaven. But he says,

35 ‘Adonai said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ [3]

36 Therefore, let the whole house of Isra’el know beyond doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah — this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!”  37 On hearing this, they were stung in their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” 40 He pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” 41 So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. ~ Acts 2:14-41 (CJB)

Kefa disposes of the closed-minded skeptics and scorners before addressing the open-minded but bewildered remainder. In quoting from Yo’el, he explains that the Last Days have already begun. We know that they are continuing now, and they will culminate on the Last Day, here called the great and fearful Day of Adonai.

Men of Isra’el…you killed Him! Like a knife, the accusation pierced their hearts. But the Messiah’s death was in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge. It was not an accident, not a miscalculation on the part of Yeshua and His talmidim. God knew and planned Yeshua’s death as atonement for humanity’s sins. But that provides the killers no excuse; they had free will and could have chosen to act differently. Also, Gentiles – Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers – were directly involved in killing Yeshua. Kefa does not measure the degree of their guilt because he is not speaking to them.

But God has raised Him up. It is of the essence of Messianic faith that Yeshua is alive. If He were not, we could feel sorry but could do nothing to repair the relationship between Him and us, and Kefa would not have delivered this sermon.

The patriarch David died. According to Jewish tradition, he died on Shavu’ot, as Kefa’s Shavu’ot audience was undoubtedly aware, The Tanakh says he was buried in the City of David, southeast of the present Western Wall (1 Kings 2:10).

Kefa’s central point is that all Jews, the whole house of Isra’el, should acknowledge Yeshua as Lord and Messiah because God had made Him fulfill those roles in Jewish life and human history.

Verse 41 is a mindblower to me. Most preachers are grateful when a handful accepts the invitation, and I am sure none of them used the tactics Kefa used. I know that the late Billy Graham did use the same tactics, but do not know his stats for one message. My wife and I attended two of his meetings at Anaheim Stadium and saw many come forward. But his message was much more low-keyed than Kefa’s and the response was probably only in the high hundreds.

In my next post, we will learn that Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar.

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[1] Joel 2:28-32

[2] Psalm 16:8-11

[3] Psalm 110:1

Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah

In my last post, we concluded our story of Kefa in the Gospels and the beginning of the Acts of the Emissaries of Yeshua, the Messiah. Recall from the last post that we learned that they all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers. In this post, we examine Kefa’s Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah.

15 During this period, when the group of believers numbered about 120, Kefa stood up and addressed his fellow-believers:

16 “Brothers, the Ruach HaKodesh spoke in advance through David about Y’hudah (Judas Iscariot), and these words of the Tanakh had to be fulfilled. He was guide for those who arrested Yeshua –
17 he was one of us and had been assigned a part in our work.” 18 (With the money Y’hudah received for his evil deed, he bought a field; and there he fell to his death. His body swelled up and burst open, and all his insides spilled out. 19 This became known to everyone in Yerushalayim, so they called that field Hakal-D’ma – which in their language means “Field of Blood”).
20 “Now,” said Kefa, “it is written in the book of Psalms,

‘Let his estate become desolate, let there be no one to live in it’;
‘Let someone else take his place as a supervisor.’

21 Therefore, one of the men who have been with us continuously throughout the time the Lord Yeshua traveled around among us, 22 from the time Yochanan was immersing people until the day Yeshua was taken up from us — one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” ~ Acts 1:15-22 (CJB)

The Ruach HaKodesh spoke in advance. Notice that Kefa was a student of prophecy. He said these words of the Tanakh had to be fulfilled. He was confident that prophecy would come to pass. Not only was Kefa a student of prophecy, but he believed in the divine inspiration of Scripture, saying it was the Ruach HaKodesh who spoke through David.

It is written was a typical Jewish quotation formula. Here Kefa refers to Psalm 69:25 and 109:8. Again, this is another instance that points our that Kefa knew the Tanakh.

Eyewitnesses were especially important in ancient times, as they are today, hence the need to select someone who had been with us continuously throughout the time the Lord Yeshua traveled around among us.

23 They nominated two men – Yosef Bar-Sabba, surnamed Justus, and Mattityahu. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25  to take over the work and the office of emissary that Y’hudah abandoned to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they drew lots to decide between the two, and the lot fell to Mattityahu. So, he was added to the eleven emissaries. ~ Acts 1:23-26 (CJB)

In my next post, we will examine Kefa’s First Public Sermon.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yes, I know that Luke disagrees with Matthew’s account in 27:3-5, but that is beyond the scope of this blog.

Yeshua’s Final Instructions Before His Ascension

In my last post, we concluded our story in Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~Part 4. In this post, we examine Yeshua’s Final Instructions Before His Ascension. Although Kefa is only briefly mentioned in the following passages, I thought it beneficial to our understanding of his ministry as we begin to explore the Acts of the Emissaries of Yeshua, the Messiah in my next post.

Yeshua Commissions the Emissaries

16 So the eleven talmidim went to the hill in the Galil, where Yeshua had told them to go. 17 When they saw Him, they prostrated themselves before Him; but some hesitated. 18 Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:16-20 (CJB)

God often revealed Himself on mountains, especially in the narratives about Moshe. According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, this may have been the time when Yeshua appeared to the five hundred. In verse 18, Yeshua alludes to Daniel 7:13-14. Make people from all nations into talmidim must have shocked His hearers, who thought that the Messiah was only, or at least primarily, for Jews. Today the situation is reversed, for many Believers think it wrong to evangelize Jews. But their position is inconsistent, for if they respect Yeshua, they should obey His command to make people from all nations, including the Jewish nation, into talmidimImmersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh would lead us down an extensive “rabbit trail,” so I will leave that for another day. Suffice it to say that this is the closest the Brit Hadashah comes to stating the proposition that the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One final note, making talmidim, was the sort of thing rabbis would do, but Yeshua’s followers are to make talmidim for Him, not for themselves.

Yeshua’s Parting Instructions

45 Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the Tanakh, 46 telling them, “Here is what it says: the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day; 47 and in His name repentance leading to forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to people from all nations, starting with Yerushalayim. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Now I am sending forth upon you what My Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been equipped with power from above.” ~ Luke 24:45-49 (CJB)

The Tanakh (the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms) represents the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible. Yeshua now did for the broader group of talmidim essentially what He had already done for the two on the road to Emmaus. He explained the Scriptures. What my Father promised was the Ruach HaKodesh (see Joel 3:1-5; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 16-21). The Holy Spirit gives the power necessary for being witnesses.

Yeshua Ascends to Heaven

50 He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, He said a b’rakhah over them.  blessing them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. ~ Luke 24:50 (CJB)

6 They asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el?” 7 He answered, “You don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be My witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Y’hudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth!” 9 After saying this, He was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 10 As they were staring into the sky after Him, suddenly they saw two men dressed in white standing next to them. 11 The men said, “You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (CJB)

Raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah. To this day, there is a portion of the synagogue service wherein a cohen raises his hands and pronounces over the congregation the Aaronic Benediction of Numbers 6:24-26.

Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el? Virtually all Jews expected that when the Messiah came, He would deliver Isra’el from Roman oppression and become king over the Jewish nation reunited and sovereign as it had been under Kings Saul, David, and Solomon. Yeshua’s answer to His talmidim was you don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under His own authority. From this, we learn (contrary to the teaching of Replacement Theology) that the kingdom indeed will be restored to Isra’el. The only question is when, and that still is not presently ours to know.

To be Yeshua’s witnesses in both word and deed means communicating the verbal content of the Gospel and living God’s way and not our own. This is the central task of the people of God, but it can be accomplished only with power from the Ruach HaKodesh. The talmidim are to start evangelizing where they are, in Yerushalayim, the center of the Jewish people. Then they are to move out into all Y’hudah (Judea, the Jewish countryside) and Shomron (Samaria, populated by half-Jews), and finally to go to the ends of the earth, that is, to reach Gentile peoples.

A cloud hid him…. Yeshua… will come back in just the same way, fulfills Daniel 7:13 and Yeshua’s predictions (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 21:27; Rev 1:7, 13; 14:14). In the Tanakh, a cloud often expresses God’s glory (Exodus 13:21), His Sh’khinah (“radiance,” Hebrews 1 3). The reply of the two men dressed in white, evidently angels, supports our hope (Titus 2:13) that Yeshua is coming back and at the same time implies a partial answer to the talmidim question in v. 6: Yeshua will restore self-rule to Isra’el and bring peace to the earth when He comes back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

The Emissaries Return to Yerushalayim

52 They bowed in worship to Him, then returned to Yerushalayim, overflowing with joy. 53 And they spent all their time in the Temple courts, praising God. ~ Luke 24:52-53 (CJB) 12 Then they returned the Shabbat-walk distance from the Mount of Olives to Yerushalayim. 13 After entering the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. The names of the emissaries were Kefa, Ya’akov, Yochanan, Andrew, Philip, T’oma, Bar-Talmai, Mattityahu, Ya’akov Ben-Halfai, Shim’on “the Zealot,” and Y’hudah Ben-Ya’akov. 14 These all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers.  ~ Acts 1:12-14 (CJB) 20 And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs. ~ Mark 16:20 (CJB)

As Yeshua had requested (v. 49), the talmidim returned to Yerushalayim and stayed there until the events of the day of Shavuot (Acts 2). They bowed in worship to him because they now understood who He was, the Son of God, divine and worthy of worship. They spent all their time in the Temple courts praising God. The early Believers had a living faith and a close relationship with God; being Jews, they expressed that faith by praising God at His Temple. We pick them up praising God at Acts 1:14. Note that Kefa is mentioned first in the list of the eleven.

And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs. Are you witnessing what the Lord has done for you – or are you expecting others to evangelize? Are you serving – or are you expecting others to serve you?

In my next post, we will examine Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah.

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Revelation 1:9-11

The Setting of the Revelation

The End Times

In my last post, we continued our verse-by-verse study of The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan.  In this post, we continue to unpack Chapter 1 of Revelation.

9 I, Yochanan, am a brother of yours and a fellow-sharer in the suffering, kingship and perseverance that come from being united with Yeshua. I had been exiled to the island called Patmos for having proclaimed the message of God and borne witness to Yeshua. 10 I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the Lord; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet, 11  saying, “Write down what you see on a scroll, and send it to the seven Messianic communities — Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea!” ~ Revelation 1:9-11 (CJB)

The island called Patmos was a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea, about 50 miles offshore from the city of Ephesus on the Asia Minor seacoast.  The Roman fortress on the island of Patmos housed prisoners and exiles. Patmos was in a group of islands that protected the thriving seaport of Miletus.  The Christian church was facing severe persecution. Almost all Believers were socially, politically, or economically suffering because of this empire-wide persecution, and some were even being killed for their faith. Yochanan was exiled to Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the Good News.



(Photos courtesy of Google Images)

 With respect to verse 10, there is a real difference in many English translations on the phraseology of the Greek.  Because of my intended audience, I use the Complete Jewish Bible as my translation.  Here is what Stern says about his phraseology.

I came to be, in the Spirit.  Alternative understandings:

  • Yochanan’s body remained where it was, but in his spirit, he saw visions;
  • The Ruach came over him, with the result that he saw visions; or,
  • The Ruach caused him to be physically present. Compare: Then a spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of Adonai’s house, the gate that faces eastward.” ~ Ezekiel 11:1a (CJB)“When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch saw no more of him, because he continued on his way — full of joy. But Philip showed up at Ashdod and continued proclaiming the Good News as he went through all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” ~ Acts 8:39-40 (CJB)

    “I know a man in union with the Messiah who fourteen years ago was snatched up to the third heaven; whether he was in the body or outside the body I don’t know, God knows.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:2 (CJB)

On the Day of the Lord.  If this is what Greek “en tê kuriakê êmera means, as I (Stern) believe it does, Yochanan is reporting the unique experience of having seen God’s final Judgment. I think my translation is supported by the context, since the whole book of Revelation is about the Last Judgment, which over and over in the Tanakh is called in Hebrew “yom-YHVH” (“the Day of Adonai,” “the Day of the Lord”).  On the other hand, Ignatius, who claimed to be a disciple of the emissary Yochanan, wrote letters only two decades or so after Revelation was written, in which he uses the Greek kuriakê” to mean Sunday – as does modern Greek. This only shows how quickly the Jewish roots of the New Testament were forgotten or ignored.

If it means “on the Lord’s Day,” that is, Sunday, the day on which Yeshua was resurrected – and this is the majority understanding –  then Yochanan is mentioning a relatively minor detail, the day of the week on which his visions took place.  According to the NLT Study Bible, “the Lord’s Day” was used in the Roman world to refer to celebrations in honor of Caesar, but Messianics used it to refer to their weekly worship, celebrating Yeshua’s resurrection. The earliest Believers worshiped in Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath, the last day of the week (Acts 18:4), but by the time of Revelation, they were excluded from synagogues and gathered on the day that commemorated the resurrection, the first day of the week.

Special Comparative Note on Revelation 1:10 [1]

Some Futurist commentators support Stern’s translation as implying that the Ruach carried Yochanan into the future so he could observe the actual “day of the Lord,” i.e. the Second Coming and its precipitating events at the end of the age.  The majority of expositors, including most Futurists, however take in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day to be a reference to Yochanan’s state of mind on the first day of the week.

In my next post, we continue in Chapter 1 on the verse-by-verse study of this fascinating prophesy.

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[1] Material in this chart is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

The Olivet Discourse

The End Times

In my last post, we began a new series on the End Times by reviewing the beginning of time in B’resheet.  We are on an adventure to see if we can gain some understanding of the End of this Age.  In this post, I want to re-cap what we have already learned in What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 1 – 13.

The Olivet Discourse is contained in Matthew 24 & 25.  The Olivet Discourse grew out of some questions the talmidim asked when Yeshua told them that the temple would one day be destroyed.  First, they wanted to know when.  This answer is not recorded in Matthew but is given in Luke 21:20-24.  Second, they asked about the sign of Yeshua’s return.  This is answered in Matthew 24:29-44.  In their final question, they asked about the sign of the end of the age.  Yeshua’s reply is in Matthew 24:4-8.

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times
Part ~ 1 In this post, we covered Matthew 24:1-3 wherein Yeshua foretells of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Part ~ 2 In this post, we looked at Matthew 24:3-8 wherein Yeshua warns the talmidim to Be Alert to the Signs.  Many will come proclaiming they are the Messiah and you will hear of wars and rumors of war.
Part ~ 3 Continuing in Matthew 24:9-14, Yeshua warns that the talmidim will be arrested, punished and put to death.  “But whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come” ~ Matthew 24:13-14.
Part ~ 4 In Matthew 24:15-20 we learn about the Abomination of Desolation and examined Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9.
Part ~ 5 Continuing with the Abomination of Desolation in Mathew 24:21-28, we explored the three main views regarding the Tribulation.  I will come back to this topic again in this series more in-depth then I did in the previous series.
Part ~ 6 Next, we explored the Coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:29-31.  We will be spending more time on this as well in this current series.
Part ~ 7 Matthew 24:32-35 presented the Lesson of the Fig Tree.  The blooming of the fig tree gives us a clue as to when He will return.  He won’t return until all He has said will happen comes to pass.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” ~ (v. 35).
Part ~ 8 Per Matthew 24:36-51, No One Knows the Day or Hour of His second coming.  It is the Father’s secret to be revealed when He wills.
Part ~ 9 Moving on to Mathew 25:1-13 we learned about the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids.  Yeshua continues to warn His talmidim to be alert and prepared for His return.
Part ~ 10 Matthew 25:14-23 deals with the Parable of the Talents.  In this post, we dealt with the first two servants who invested what was given to them and made a profit for their master.  It teaches us to be faithful with our own talents, time and treasures.
Part ~ 11 Continuing with the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:24-30, we see how the master dealt with the servant who just buried the master’s money and did not earn a profit.  It was in this post that I first raised the question Can Salvation Be Lost? 
Part ~ 12 Studying Mathew 25:31-36, we began to look at the metaphor of the sheep and the goats in The Final Judgment.
Part ~ 13 The Olivet Discourse and The Final Judgment concludes in Matthew 24:37-46.  We learned the differences between Sheol, Hades and Gehenna.  This is another subject I plan on reviewing again in this series.

For those who may not have read the above posts, I would highly encourage you to at least read Matthew 24 & 25 for yourself before going any further with this series.  They contain the words of our Lord that set the background for understanding the visions that were given to Yochanan as recorded in Revelation.

As we go through Revelation verse-by-verse, I will also be going back to the prophets who will confirm what Yochanan was seeing had been previously prophesied years earlier.

In my next post, I want to present the most popular views of the millennium and rapture of the saints before we start dissecting Revelation.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views.

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The Beginning and the End

The End Times

In my last post, we looked at The Mysterious Festival of Hanukkah.  Today, I am starting a new series which I have entitled The Beginning and the End.  This is a series about the End Times.  I have never been much of an eschatology buff.  Yeshua declared: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. However, when that day and hour will come, no one knows — not the angels in heaven, not the Son, just the Father. Stay alert! Be on your guard! For you do not know when the time will come” ~ Mark 13:31-33.  I knew that many people ignored this passage and tried to calculate exactly when the End would come; all failed.

Shortly after committing myself to the Lord, I read Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” and was convinced a pre-tribulation rapture of the church would occur soon.  Then going through the entire Bible, I became a mid-triber hoping the pre-tribers were correct.  I devoured Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series.  I thought it was a great fictionalization of the End Times and didn’t have too many concerns from a scriptural standpoint.  But, once again the idea of studying eschatology didn’t trip my trigger.

It now appears that God has cocked that trigger.  As I think I’ve shared before, my personal study in God’s Word this year has been through the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant), Tehillim (Psalms) and Mishlei (Proverbs) using the English Standard Version Study Bible.  In addition to the Olivet Discourse which I blogged on earlier this year, I kept running into passages in the Brit Hadashah by Sha’ul and Kefa that mention the End Times.  My Tuesday Skype group has also been studying the End Times and the Pastor at our church who leads the Senior Adult Ministry (Prime Time) has just finished a study on Revelation.  Ok, Lord, you got my attention.

Two Common and Opposite Errors When Studying the End Times [1]

Sometimes, examining the End Times degenerates into endless debates and unwarranted speculation about specific details. Other times, End Times curiosity comes to a screeching halt as people throw up their hands at what they’ve begun to feel is an impossible and fruitless enquiry.

  1. THE SLIP INTO UNWARRANTED SPECULATION ~ A slip into the rut of unwarranted speculation and guesswork results in a desire to wring more detailed data out of Scripture than Scripture clearly provides. The prophetic passages in Scripture are inflated until the rest of what Scripture has to say is marginalized, pushing Yeshua and the Besorah to the edges and corners of each page.
  1. THE SLIP INTO SHOULDER-SHRUGGING CYNICISM ~ A slip into the rut of shoulder-shrugging cynicism about the End Times results in downplaying or ignoring End Times (That describes me until recently.) A balanced understanding seems unattainable, so Messianics abandon careful study of the End Times.

These two possibilities represent two dangerous ditches in any study of the End Times.  During this series, I will do my best to build guard rails that will protect us from slipping into either of those ditches.

As we go verse-by-verse through the Revolution of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan, we will scour the rest of Scriptures to bring clarification and background information to provide the best possible understanding to what we read.  Where there is more than one viewpoint, I will present the most recognized explanations.

I want to cover the End Times from the beginning of the Tanakh to the end of the Brit Hadashah.  As I have heard it said many times, the Bible is the story of creation and redemption.  The Tanakh announces the coming of the Messiah and the Brit Hadashah assures us the Messiah has come and He will be coming back to judge us all.

In the Beginning

Let’s start in the beginning!  B’resheet 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   We have already seen that the Ruach is God.  So, He was there I the beginning.  Yochanan (John) 1:1 also indicates that Yeshua was there as well.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  [The “Word” (GK logos) is a title for Yeshua in the Brit Hadashah.]  So, we see in this very first verse of the Bible the three persons of God – Father, Son and Spirit.  B’resheet 1:2 offers additional proof that the Rauch was present at the time of creation.  “The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.” 

It is almost impossible for me to quote B’resheet 1:1 without giving a little more background information.  Some of you may have never heard this before.

In Hebrew, B’resheet 1:1 reads (Hebrew is read from right to left):

:הָאָרֶץ וְאֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם אֵת אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא בְּרֵאשִׁית

Transliterated (transcribed into English pronunciation) it reads: B’resheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.  For me, belief in the truth of this one simple, yet utterly profound statement hangs all the validity of the entire Bible and serves as the basis for a belief in creationism.  If we cannot believe this one simple truth, then nothing else is relevant.  If we cannot believe the veracity of this one simple statement, then the entire rest of the Bible is merely words with no lasting meaning.

I want to share two interesting tidbits about this verse.

  1. In Hebrew, bara (בָּרָא) means “to create.” This verb is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can “create” in the sense implied by bara. The verb expresses creation out of nothing, an idea seen clearly in passages having to do with creation on a cosmic scale.[2]  Now, we all know that all of us can also create, but we can’t create out of nothing.  We must start with some raw material.  In Hebrew, the word for that kind of creation is asa (‏עָשָׂה).[3]
  2. No English translation of the Bible attempts to translate the Hebrew word et (אֵת).  It is a preposition before the noun hashamayim which means “the heavens.”  Now, I’m certainly not a grammar scholar in any language, but this is what I find fascinating about this word in the first verse of the Bible.  The first letter in the Hebrew alphabet is alef (אֵ) and the last letter is tav (ת).  Consequently, et is a pictorial representation of the first and the last.  Where have we heard that before?  “I am the Alpha and the Omega [4], the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  (Revelation 22:13)

We read in B’resheet 3 that because of the Fall, Adonai already had a plan in place to redeem mankind.  “Adonai, God, said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and wild animals. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust as long as you live. I will put animosity between you and the woman, and between your descendant and her descendant; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel’” ~ Genesis 3:14-15.

In my next post, I want to re-cap what we learned earlier from Yeshua in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 ~ 25) so its fresh in our memories.

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[1] Material in this section was taken from Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy.

[2] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.