The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 4

Yeshua Calls His First Talmidim

The early ministry of Yeshua is reported solely by the Apostle Yochanan. His account shows the Yeshua’s teaching quickly appeals to ordinary people and results in many faithful talmidim.

35 The next day, [1] Yochanan (the Immerser) 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.”)

Mashiach …. The word means one who has been anointed. This is one of the two places in the Brit Hadashah where the Hebrew word for Messiah is transliterated into Greek as Messias (the other is at 4:25). It shows that the author wanted to reflect the Jewish or Hebraic character of the speaker’s words. [2]

42 He took him to Yeshua. Looking at him, Yeshua said, “You are Shimon Bar-Yochanan; you will be known as Kefa.” (The name means “rock.”)

43 The next day, having decided to leave for the Galil, Yeshua found Philip and said, “Follow Me!” 44 Philip was from Beit-Tzaidah, the town where Andrew and Kefa lived. 45 Philip found Natan’el and told him, “We’ve found the one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah, also the Prophets – it’s Yeshua Ben-Yosef from Natzeret!”

The one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah. See Deuteronomy 18:15–18 and Acts 3:22, which quotes this passage. Yeshua fulfills Moshe’s prophecy. Also the Prophets wrote about Yeshua.

It has always amazed me that all Yeshua had to say to Philip was Follow Me! He said the same thing to Mattityahu. In both narratives, there is no indication that Yeshua had any prior exposure to these two talmidim. According to my Logos software, thirty-nine times Follow Me is used by Yeshua in the Gospel’s.

Natan’el is not mentioned as one of the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels but is usually identified with Bartholomew (whom Yochanan never mentions by name). Natan’el means “God has given.”

46 Natan’el answered him, “Natzeret? Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see,” Philip said to him. 47 Yeshua saw Natan’el coming toward him and remarked about him, “Here’s a true son of Isra’el – nothing false in him!” 48 Natan’el said to him, “How do you know me?” Yeshua answered him, “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Natan’el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Isra’el!” 50 Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!” 51 Then He said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”  ~ ~ Yochanan 1:35-51

Yeshua Performs His First Miracle

In chapter 2, Yochanan (the Apostle) presents a series of signs or miracles designed to prove Yeshua’s identity as the Messiah and Son of God. In this first sign, Yeshua turns water into wine at a wedding in Kanah attended by His family and talmidim.

On Tuesday, there was a wedding at Kanah in the Galil; and the mother of Yeshua was there. Yeshua too was invited to the wedding, along with His talmidim. The wine ran out, and Yeshua’s mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Yeshua replied, “Mother, why should that concern me? – or you? My time hasn’t come yet.”

My time (literally, “my hour”) hasn’t come yet. Yochanan’s Gospel often has Yeshua speaking about His time (7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1), and each occasion has a reason. Here the reason is that Yeshua’s mother had been informed, even before He was born, that He was meant for greatness (Luke 1:35, 43); she had heard others prophesy about Him (Luke 2:25–38); she had observed His development (Luke 2:40, 51), although not always with understanding (Luke 2:41–50); and she had known that future generations would bless her (Luke 1:48). Yeshua’s comment is meant to aid her in the transition from seeing Him as her child to seeing Him as her Lord, to keep her from undue pride, and to indicate that He as Lord sovereignly determines when He will intervene in human affairs. He does not perform miracles on demand merely to impress His friends. [3]

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

From Miryam’s response, Do whatever he tells you, it is evident that she was neither dissatisfied nor put off by her son but received his communication in the right spirit.

Now, six stone water jars were standing there for the Jewish ceremonial washings, each with a capacity of twenty or thirty gallons. Yeshua told them, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. He said, “Now draw some out, and take it to the man in charge of the banquet,” and they took it. The man in charge tasted the water; it had now turned into wine! He did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone else serves the good wine first and the poorer wine after people have drunk freely. But you have kept the good wine until now!” 11 This, the first of Yeshua’s miraculous signs, (emphasis added) He did at Kanah in the Galil; He manifested His glory, and His talmidim came to trust in Him.

This verse states the purpose of Yeshua’s miracle: to anchor the trust of His new talmidim in the glory of God as manifested through Him.

12 Afterwards, He, His mother and brothers, and His talmidim went down to K’far-Nachum and stayed there a few days. ~ Yochanan 2:1-12

Our next post will examine Yeshua’s Driving Merchants for the Temple, and He Has an Encounter with Nicodemus.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The day after His Baptism.

[2] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] Ibid.

1 Kefa 3:17-22

Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to explore Undserved Suffering ~ Part 1 by how to witness to non-Believers in 1 Kefa 3:13-16. In this post, we conclude the topic of Undeserved Suffering ~ Part 2 in 1 Kefa 3:17-22.

17 For if God has in fact willed that you should suffer, it is better that you suffer for doing what is good than for doing what is evil. 18 For the Messiah himself died for sins, once and for all, a righteous person on behalf of non-righteous people, so that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit; 19 and in this form, he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits,

On the flesh and the Spirit in verse 18, the idea is that Yeshua was resurrected by the Spirit of God, by whom also he went (presumably after the resurrection) to proclaim triumph over the imprisoned spirits. Of the many views on this text, the three main ones are (1) that between His crucifixion and resurrection, i.e. on Saturday, Yeshua preached to the dead in Sheol (the view of many church fathers); (2) that Yeshua preached through Noach to people in Noach’s day (the view of many Reformers); (3) that before or (more likely) after his resurrection, Yeshua proclaimed triumph over the fallen angels (the view of most scholars today). [1]

Kefa compares the Believers with Noach and his family, both being righteous minorities persecuted by wicked neighbors, and both being delivered from the forces of darkness through trusting God and obeying Him.

20 to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark, in which a few people – to be specific, eight – were delivered by means of water. 21 This also prefigures what delivers us now, the water of immersion, which is not the removal of dirt from the body, but one’s pledge to keep a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. 22 He has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers subject to him. ~ 1 Kefa 3:13-22 (CJB).

Ancient Judaism sometimes used the flood as a prototype of future judgment, as in 2 Kefa 3:6–7. The emphasis on the salvation of few would encourage Believers who were a persecuted minority. God’s patience reflects Genesis 6:3 and is mentioned in connection with the final judgment in 2 Kefa 3:9.

The act of faith indicated in immersion, rather than the physical cleansing, was what was significant; immersion was an act of conversion in ancient Judaism, but Judaism insisted on the sincerity of repentance for it to be efficacious.

Authorities and powers were angelic rulers over the nations, of which Jewish texts often speak (see Eph. 1:21–23). Thus even the evil powers behind the rulers who persecuted Believers had been subdued, and the final outcome was not in question. [2]

In this fallen world, all people suffer. But it is better to suffer for doing goodif God wills itthan for doing evil. Again, Kefa reminds them (see 2:21-25) that Yeshua is their supreme example of Godly suffering. He suffered for sinsyour sins and mineto bring us to God (3:18). He visited the devil and his followers in the spiritual realm and proclaimed His victory over them (3:19). Then He was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him (3:22). And if you know Yeshua, you were raised with Him (see Eph 2:6). So your present suffering doesn’t compare to the victory you have and will have, through Yeshua.

In my next post, we will learn about Being Stewards of God’s Grace in 1 Kefa 4:1-11.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

[2] Ibid.

Eliyahu ~ Part 3

In my last post, we explored Eliyahu’s prophesy of an extended drought in Israel and his being instructed by God to hide at the Vadi K’rit near the Yarden. In this post, we learn how he helped a widow in 1 Kings 17:8-16.

The Obedience of Eliyahu and the Faith of a Goy (Gentile)

8 Then this word of Adonai came to him: 9 ‘Get up; go to Tzarfat, a village in Tzidon; and live there. I have ordered a widow there to provide for you.’ 10 So he set out and went to Tzarfat. On reaching the gate of the city, he saw a widow there gathering sticks. He called out to her, ‘Please bring a little water in a container for me to drink.’ 11 As she was going to get it, he called after her, ‘Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.’ 12 She answered, ‘As Adonai your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a pot and a little oil in the jug. Here I am, gathering a couple sticks of wood so that I can go and cook it for myself and my son. After we have eaten that, we will die.’ 13 Eliyahu said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go, and do what you said; but first, use a little of it to make me a small loaf of bread; and bring it out to me. After that, make food for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what Adonai the God of Isra’el, says: ‘The pot of meal will not get used up, nor will there fail to be oil in the jug, until the day Adonai sends rain down on the land.’ 15 She went and acted according to what Eliyahu had said; and she, he and her household had food to eat for a long time. 16 The pot of meal did not get used up, nor did there fail to be oil in the jug, in fulfillment of the word of Adonai spoken through Eliyahu.” ~ 1 Kings 17:8-16 (CJB)

After Vadi K’rit near the Yarden dried up, God told Eliyahu to leave. God’s instructions may have shocked the prophet, for the Lord commanded him to travel northeast about a hundred miles to Tzarfat, a village in Tzidon. God was sending Eliyahu into Gentile territory. Tzarfat was not too far from Izevel’s home city of Tzidon. He would be living in enemy territory!

Yeshua Himself gave a theologically proper interpretation of this passage that God sent His messenger with beneficial signs and wonders to a Goy. It’s true, I’m telling you — when Eliyahu was in Isra’el, and the sky was sealed off for three-and-a-half years, so that all the Land suffered a severe famine, there were many widows; 26 but Eliyahu was sent to none of them, only to a widow in Tzarfat in the land of Tzidon.” Luke 4:25-26 (CJB) God’s witness through signs was not given to Israelites alone.

Even more, he was instructed to live with a widow whom God had ordered to provide for him, and widows were usually among the neediest people in the land. Since Tzidon depended on Israel for much of its food supply (1 Kings 5:9; Acts 12:20), food wouldn’t be too plentiful there.

But when God sends us, we must obey and leave the rest to Him, for we don’t live on man’s explanations ~ we live on God’s promises. ~ Warren Wiersbe

Note that the widow said: as Adonai your God lives. She readily discerned that Eliyahu was a Jew, but likely she probably worshiped Ba’al. We learn in 1 Kings 18:1 that it’s probable that Eliyahu remained with her for two years, and during that time, the widow and her son inevitably turned from the worship of idols and put their faith in the true and living God.

The woman’s assets were few: a little oil in a flask, a handful of meal (barley), and a few sticks to provide fuel for a fire. But Eliyahu’s assets were significant, for God Almighty had promised to take care of him, his hostess, and her son. Eliyahu gave her God’s promise that neither the jar of grain nor the flask of oil would be used up before the end of the drought and famine. God would one day send the rain, but until then, He would continue to provide bread for them ~ and He did.

Grain and oil were two of the major exports of the city of Tzarfat. The fact that they were in short supply is an indication of how severe the drought was. They are also two of the essential commodities for survival. The contest between God and Ba’al continues as God demonstrates that He can provide for “Ba’al’s people” in “Ba’al’s territory” just as quickly as He can provide for His people and just as soon as He can withhold from whomever He chooses.

This miraculous sign illustrated that God rewards faith and obedience, even that of a Gentile.

A couple of final thoughts on this passage. How did Eliyahu know that this widow was the one to whom God had instructed to provide for him? And, how did the widow realize it was Eliyahu was the person to care for? Note that in their brief dialogue both referred to Adonai the God of Israel. He confirmed this divine appointment.

In my next post, we will continue to explore the Biblical story of Eliyahu by looking at A Miraculous Resurrection in 1 Kings 17:17-24.

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Eliyahu ~ Part 2

In my last post, I introduced a new series dealing with the ministry of Eliyahu. We explored some background information on him as well as the other two main characters in this saga: King Ach’av and Queen Izevel. In this post, we will begin to explore the actual Biblical story of Eliyahu.

God Stops the Rain

Eliyahu from Tishbe, an inhabitant of Gil‘ad, said to Ach’av, ‘As Adonai the God of Isra’el lives, before whom I stand, there will be neither rain nor dew in the years ahead unless I say so.’” ~ 1 Kings 17:1 (CJB)

How would like to be in his shoes? Here he has a word from the Creator of the Universe that he is to go to the King and proclaim that there will be a drought for the years ahead unless I say so. Living in the San Joaquin Valley of California, I can certainly relate to this story. In recent years, we have experienced devastating drought conditions.

The people depended on the seasonal rains for the success of their crops. If the Lord didn’t send the early rain in October and November and the latter rain in March and April, there would soon be a famine in the land. But the blessing of the seasonal rains depended on the people obeying the covenant of the Lord. God warned the people that their disobedience would turn the heavens into bronze and the earth into iron (D’varim 28:23-24). The land belonged to the Lord, and if the people defiled the land with their sinful idols, the Lord wouldn’t bless them.

It’s likely that Eliyahu appeared before King Ach’av in October, about the time the early rains should have begun. There had been no rain for six months, from April to October, and the prophet announced that there would be no rain for the years ahead! The people were following Ba’al, not God, and the Lord could not send the promised rain and still be faithful to His covenant. God always keeps His covenant, whether to bless the people for their obedience or to discipline them for their sins.

God had held back the rain because of the fervent prayers of Eliyahu, and He would send the rain again in response to His servant’s intercession (see James 5:17-18). For the next three years, the word of Eliyahu would control the weather in Israel! The three and a half years of drought would prepare the people for the dramatic contest on Mount Carmel between the priests of Ba’al and the prophet of the Lord. Like a faithful servant, attentive to his master’s commands, Eliyahu stood before the Lord and served him. An extended drought announced and controlled by a prophet of God, would make it clear to everybody that Ba’al the storm god was not a real god at all.

R.T. Kendall makes this interesting observation on Eliyahu:

What strikes me most about Elijah is that he was both extraordinary and ordinary. He was spectacular ~ stating boldly, for example, that it would not rain until he gave the word; and there was not a drop of rain for three and a half years. Yet James noted that Elijah was a man “just like us” because he was so very, very human (James 5:17). Elijah took himself too seriously; he felt he was the only prophet around who was worth a grain of salt and fancied he was a cut above all before him. He was very human indeed. This is what makes a study of Elijah so thrilling. If God could use a man as human as Elijah was, there is hope for all of us! [1]

Eliyahu, Get Out of Town

After delivering this message to King Ach’av, Eliyahu received the following message:

2 Then the word of Adonai came to him: 3 ‘Leave here, turn to the east, and hide in Vadi K’rit near the Yarden. 4 You are to drink from the stream, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.’5 So he went and acted according to the word of Adonai ~ he went and lived in Vadi K’rit near the Yarden. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the stream. 7 After a while the stream dried up because there was no rain in the land.” 1 Kings 17:2-7 (CJB)

After Eliyahu left the king’s presence, Izevel probably instigated her campaign to wipe out the prophets of the Lord. As the drought continued and famine hit the land, Ach’av began his search for Eliyahu, the man he thought caused all the trouble. In one sense, Eliyahu did cause the drought, but it was the sins of Ach’av and Izevel that led the nation into disobeying God’s covenant and inviting His chastening.

The Lord had a special hiding place for His servant by a brook east of the Yarden, and He also had some unusual “servants” prepared to feed him. The Lord usually leads His faithful people a step at a time as they tune their hearts to His Word. God didn’t give Eliyahu a schedule to follow. Instead, He directed His servant at each critical juncture in his journey, and Eliyahu obeyed by faith.

At the Vadi K’rit, Eliyahu had safety and sustenance. Until it dried up, the brook provided water, and each morning and evening the ravens brought him bread and meat. The raven was considered “unclean” and “detestable” on the Mosaic list of forbidden foods (Leviticus 11:13-15), yet God used these birds to help sustain the life of His servant. The ravens didn’t bring Eliyahu the carrion that they were accustomed to eating, because such food would be unclean for a dedicated Jew. The Lord provided the food, and the birds provided the transportation! Just as God dropped the manna into the camp of Israel during their wilderness journey, so He sent the necessary food to Eliyahu as he waited for the signal to relocate.

We can’t be sure how long Eliyahu was at the Vadi K’rit, but we do know it must have been pretty lonely hiding out. What would you do with that kind of solitude? Personally, I much too gregarious to tolerate much seclusion. Sure, I like my quiet times, but usually, a half-day here or there will do.

Kendall observes that:

A person who is highly gifted needs to pray more than anyone. You develop intimacy with your heavenly Father. You develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. You get to know God’s ways. You and I are required to know essentially two things: God’s Word and His ways. You know His Word by reading the Bible. You know His ways by spending time with Him. [2]

As the drought grew worse, the brook dried up, leaving the prophet without water; but he never made a move until the Word of the Lord came to tell him what to do. It has well been said that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us and care for us, and Eliyahu knew this from experience.

In my next post, we will continue to explore the Biblical story of Eliyahu by looking at how he helped a widow in 1 Kings 17:8-15.

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[1] These Are the Days of Elijah by R.T. Kendall.

[2] Ibid.

Hanukkah

The Mysterious Festival of Hanukkah [1]

Rather than re-posting my usual post on this special Jewish Holiday, I thought I would post this excellent explanation from FaithGateway.  This year, 2016, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Christmas Eve, December 24th.

hanukkah

Everyone has some awareness of the holiday called Hanukkah, because of its proximity to Christmas. You hear people say, “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah”. Many Jews even exchange gifts within their respective families, primarily with the children because of the influence of Christmas. As we all know, it is very much a Jewish celebration, but should it have any interest or significance for Christians?

The purpose and the traditions of this festival are so intriguing, that Christians should appreciate Hanukkah more than a passing acknowledgment of the season. Jewish celebrations are packed full of meaningful rituals and observances, which serve as wonderful illustrations of spiritual truths.

When the traditions point in someway to Jesus, Christians should especially take note.

Unlike the seven annual feasts or festivals of Passover to Tabernacles, Hanukkah was initiated by humans themselves, rather than God. The seven Biblical feasts in Leviticus 23 are called “the Lord’s appointed times”. Hanukkah on the other hand was created in the mind of man. This by no means should minimize the significance of the observance, because it is honoring God. After all, we celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which were all established by man as very important and meaningful holidays.

Hanukkah is a holiday that lasts eight days to remember and celebrate two important happenings in history that were really connected in one major event. The first was the victory that the Hasmonean Jews had over the Syrian Greeks in a revolt led by the Maccabean brothers in 164 B.C. The second event, which is also the primary event in the remembrance, is the eight days of the cleansing and rededication of the temple after the Gentiles had desecrated it.

The word Hanukkah actually means “dedication”.

Daniel 8:9-12, Daniel 8:23-25 and Daniel 8:11:21-35 prophesied that a leader would rise up and cause persecutions to those living in Israel. This man was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was a prefiguring of the coming Antichrist of the last days. He did many deplorable things, such as prohibiting the Jews from practicing their laws, and in addition to that, he sacrificed a pig on the altar. Antiochus even erected a statue of Zeus right outside the temple. He demanded that the Jews worship his false god. He even killed the Jews if they refused to eat pork. One can understand why he is called a despicable person in Daniel’s prophecy.

A priest by the name Mattathias with the help of his five sons started a revolt and was successful. After the victory of the Maccabean revolt, one of his sons, Judas Maccabeus, led a project to cleanse the temple and refurbish it. According to the Talmud there was a miracle that happened at the time they celebrated the cleansing. In tractate Shabbat 21b it reads,

“What is the reason of Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev commence the days of Hanukkah, which are eight on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden.  For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient for one day’s lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit the lamp therewith for eight days. The following year these days were appointed a Festival with the recital of Hallel and thanksgiving.”

From then on the Jews called this festival the Festival of Lights. To this day Jews focus on the cleansing of the temple and the lighting of the menorah. The menorah has nine candlesticks. The one in the middle that is elevated above the others is called the “shammus”, which means “servant”. On the first night the servant candle is used to light the first candle on the far right.

Before the first candle is lit, three blessings are recited:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Before each subsequent candle lighting, only the first two blessings are recited. On the second night the servant candle is used to light the first candle again and then the second one next to it. This procedure is repeated each night until all eight candles are lit.

The miracle according to tradition is interesting, but there are other elements Christians need to appreciate that are even more applicable today. The first application we should take notice is that “eight” in the Hebraic numeric system points to a “new beginning”. This is very poignant to the Christian, because it reminds us that, after we are cleansed by the blood of Christ at salvation, we have a new beginning as the temple of the Holy Spirit and a new life in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, it is fascinating that the middle elevated candle is called the “servant” that brings light to the other candles. It reminds us of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53, where the Messiah is called the Servant.

Jesus, our Messiah, is our sole source of light.

Another very interesting fact about Hanukkah is when it is observed on the calendar, which is the time of year that the nights are the longest, in other words, the darkest time of the year.  In my book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts, in the chapter about the Feast of Tabernacles, I explain in detail the evidences that Jesus was born during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and conceived in the timeframe of Hanukkah. The evidences are derived from the Gospel of Luke and the Hebraic calendar. The Feast of Tabernacles, which looks forward to the Messiah dwelling or “tabernacling” with mankind in the future Kingdom, is called the “Show of Lights”, whereas Hanukkah is called the “Festival of Lights”. When Jesus declared that He was the “Light of the World”, He had those two festivals surrounding the event of His birth as bookends.

Finally, when we see the progressive lighting of the menorah getting brighter each evening, Christians can remember that we shine more and more of Christ’s light each day as we grow and walk in His light.

[1] Original devotion by Michael Norten, author of Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts for FaithGateway and Devotional Daily.

 

The Christian Torah in A Nutshell ~ A Wrap-up

Since December 9, 2015, other than during the Jewish feasts and festivals, most of my teachings have concentrated on sitting at the feet of Yeshua and listening to Him as He taught His talmidim.  Our source document has been the Gospel of Matthew (Mattityahu).  The “Word in Life Study Bible” calls the Gospel of Matthew the Christian Torah.”

It’s time for us to move on from here and dive deeper into God’s Word.  However, since we have several new followers who haven’t been here from the beginning of this study and for those of us who may have forgotten what we learned, I want to take this opportunity to summarize where we’ve been.

Needless to say, this post will be rather lengthy given that I will be summarizing almost 80 posts.  So, here is the link to the PDF version.

I started my defining what a Biblical talmid is:

  1. One who is following the Messiah – has made Yeshua the Lord of their life. (Luke 9:3; John 8:31)
  2. One who is being changed by the Messiah – is becoming like the Messiah in attitude and action. (John 15:8; Romans 8:29, Galatians 4:19; 5:22-23; John 13:35)
  3. One who is committed to the Mission of the Messiah.  (Messiah’s mission is to save a lost world by installing a ministry of reconciliation and service to others.) (John 15:8; Matthew 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20)

Continue reading “The Christian Torah in A Nutshell ~ A Wrap-up”

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 10

In my last post, we explored the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids in Matthew 25:1-13.  I this post, we will unpack the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.  This parable explains how Yeshua’s talmidim are to stay alert (Matthew 25:13) during their wait for His return. While the previous parable about the wise and sensible bridesmaids stressed readiness, this parable focused on using the waiting time well.  Due to the length of this parable, I’ve decided to unpack it in two separate posts.

The Parable of the Talents ~ Part 1

Talents

“For it will be like a man about to leave home for awhile, who entrusted his possessions to his servants.  To one he gave five talents [equivalent to a hundred years’ wages]; to another, two talents; and to another, one talent — to each according to his ability.  Then he left.  The one who had received five talents immediately went out, invested it and earned another five.  Similarly, the one given two earned another two.  But the one given one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.  “After a long time, the master of those servants returned to settle accounts with them.  The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the other five and said, ‘Sir, you gave me five talents; here, I have made five more.’  His master said to him, ‘Excellent! You are a good and trustworthy servant. You have been faithful with a small amount, so I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and join in your master’s happiness!’  Also the one who had received two came forward and said, ‘Sir, you gave me two talents; here, I have made two more.’  His master said to him, ‘Excellent! you are a good and trustworthy servant. You have been faithful with a small amount, so I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and join in your master’s happiness!’  ~ Matthew 25:14-23

The man about to leave home for awhile was obviously wealthy enough to have servants and to have an amount of money that he wanted invested and multiplied while he was gone.  He would be gone a long time and did not want his assets to lie fallow during his absence.  The master divided the money (talents) among his servants according to their abilities.  While the English word talent has come to mean a natural ability, the Greek word talanton simply means a sum of money.  Each of three servants received different amounts of money according to his ability. The first received five talents of money, the second two talents, and the last one talent.  (As we learned in Forgiveness ~ Part 2, a talent was a lot of money, in excess of $600,000 US.)  No one received more or less than he could handle. Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 10”

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 8

In my last post, we learned about the lesson of the fig tree as a sign of Yeshua’s ultimate return to establish His millennial rule.  In this post, we are told flat out that no one knows the day or the hour of when that will occur.

No One Knows the Day or Hour

No One Knows 

“But when that day and hour will come, no one knows — not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father.  For the Son of Man’s coming will be just as it was in the days of Noach.  Back then, before the Flood, people went on eating and drinking, taking wives and becoming wives, right up till the day Noach entered the ark; and they didn’t know what was happening until the Flood came and swept them all away. It will be just like that when the Son of Man comes.  Then there will be two men in a field — one will be taken and the other left behind.  There will be two women grinding flour at the mill — one will be taken and the other left behind.  So stay alert, because you don’t know on what day your Lord will come.  But you do know this: had the owner of the house known when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore, you too must always be ready, for the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting Him.  Who is the faithful and sensible servant whose master puts him in charge of the household staff, to give them their food at the proper time?  It will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes.  Yes, I tell you that he will put him in charge of all he owns.  But if that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time’; and he starts beating up his fellow servants and spends his time eating and drinking with drunkards; then his master will come on a day the servant does not expect, at a time he doesn’t know; and he will cut him in two and put him with the hypocrites, where people will wail and grind their teeth! ~ Matthew 24:36-51

While Yeshua had given general signs to watch for regarding the coming of the end, He clearly explained to the talmidim that the exact day or hour was not known by the angels or Himself.  When Yeshua said that even He did not know the time of the end, He was affirming His limitations as a human (see Philippians 2:5-8).  Of course, God the Father knows the time, and Yeshua and the Father are one.  But when Yeshua became a man, He voluntarily gave up the unlimited use of His divine attributes.  On earth, Yeshua laid aside his divine prerogatives and submitted to the Father’s will.  Thus, only the Father knows exactly when Yeshua will return.  Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 8”

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 7

In my last post, we began to unpack Yeshua’s teaching regarding the Coming of the Son of Man. In this post, we continue to explore the signs He shared with His talmidim to identify the beginning of His millennial rule.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

fig tree

“Now let the fig tree teach you its lesson: when its branches begin to sprout and leaves appear, you know that summer is approaching.  In the same way, when you see all these things, you are to know that the time is near, right at the door.  Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before all these things happen.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” ~ Matthew 24:32-35

Again, using a parable, Yeshua answered the talmidim’ question regarding Yeshua’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:3).  The talmidim, like anyone living in Israel, knew when summer would come by observing the twigs and leaves of fig trees.  Fig trees lose their leaves in winter (while most of the other trees in Israel do not), and they bloom in late spring (many of the other plants bloom in early spring).  Yeshua chose the fig tree for this peculiarity; since its buds come late, it was a perfect example to picture the delay of the Second Coming.

The dry, brittle twigs getting tender with rising sap and the leaves coming out were certain signs that summer was near.  Inherent in this process is patient waiting.  There is no hurrying the natural cycle of the fig tree.  So all believers must patiently await the Second Coming.  In the same way that they could interpret the season by the leaves on trees, so the talmidim could know when these significant events would occur.  When they saw all these things (referring to the events described in previous verses), they would know that the destruction of Jerusalem would soon follow.

Some scholars feel that the phrase the time is near refers to the coming desecration of the Temple.  But this interpretation makes too abrupt an interjection in Yeshua’s thought.  Because Yeshua was reassuring the talmidim, it makes more sense that Yeshua was speaking of His Second Coming.  Therefore, this verse means that the second coming of Yeshua is both certain and near.  The fulfillment of Yeshua’s prophecy would assure the talmidim that the other prophecies he had given regarding the end times would also come true.

The solemn phrase yes, I tell you introduces an important truth, an assurance like an oath.  There are three views of the meaning of this verse: (1) It refers only to those alive at the time Yeshua spoke who still would be alive at the destruction of Jerusalem; (2) it refers to the end times only; (3) it refers both to the destruction of Jerusalem and the end times, the destruction of Jerusalem containing within itself the elements of the final end times.

Yeshua singled out this people (or generation) using the Greek word genea, which can refer both to those living at a given time as well as to race or lineage (therefore, he would be speaking of the Jewish race).  That makes the third view above most likely.  Yeshua used genea here to mean that the events of 24:1-28 would occur initially within the lifetime of Yeshua’s contemporaries.  Not that all the problems would stop at the end of their lifetimes, but that all these things would be under way, verifying what Yeshua had said.  Yeshua explained that many of those alive at that time would witness the destruction of Jerusalem.  In addition, the Jewish nation would be preserved and remain on earth, so Jews also would witness the end-time events (see also 16:28).

There could be no doubt in the talmidim’ minds about the certainty of these prophecies.  While heaven and earth as we know them would eventually come to an end, Yeshua’s words (including all His teachings during His time on earth) would never pass away into oblivion.  They were true and would remain for all eternity.

This chapter opened with the talmidim admiring the durability and beauty of the Temple.  But Yeshua countered with a different vision of durability:  Only His words endure; only the truth of God survives.  History is the story of change, the rise and fall of empires, the coming and going of societies, which, for a time, happened upon some happiness, then floundered upon some folly.  What survives all this change?  Not temples, not governments, and not even believing saints (who get sick and die like everyone else).  Only God’s Word endures.  On that alone we stake everything.  God’s promises endure forever, and all who belong to Yeshua share in them.  Take hope.  Yeshua alone leads through change to a bright and buoyant future, full of everything good.

In my next post, we will learn that Yeshua warns everyone that no one knows the day or hour of His return.

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What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 5

In my last post, we began to look at the issue of the Abomination of Desolation.  In this post we will conclude that topic as we continue to explore the Olivet Discourse.

The Abomination of the Desolation (cont.)

“For there will be trouble then [at the time of the abomination] worse than there has ever been from the beginning of the world until now, and there will be nothing like it again!  Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.  At that time, if someone says to you, ‘Look! Here’s the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ don’t believe him.  For there will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing great miracles — amazing things! — so as to fool even the chosen, if possible.  There! I have told you in advance!  So if people say to you, ‘Listen! He’s out in the desert!’ don’t go; or, ‘Look! He’s hidden away in a secret room!’ don’t believe it.  For when the Son of Man does come, it will be like lightning that flashes out of the east and fills the sky to the western horizon.  Wherever there’s a dead body, that’s where you find the vultures.” ~ Matthew 24:21-28 (CJB)

The prophet Daniel wrote, “When that time comes, Mikha’el, the great prince who champions your people, will stand up; and there will be a time of distress unparalleled between the time they became a nation and that moment.  At that time, your people will be delivered, everyone whose name is found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1).

Great suffering is in store for God’s people throughout the years ahead.  This way of describing the future is also used by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:7).  The time would be evil and filled with suffering.  This language may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not unusual in Scripture when describing an impending disaster.  The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that when the Romans sacked Yerushalayim and devastated Judea, one hundred thousand Jews were taken prisoner and another 1.1 million died by slaughter and starvation. Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 5”