Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 36

The Nicene Creed~ Part 22

In our last post, we continued to explore the Nicene Creed. In this post, we continue to dig into the third article of faith, keeping with the phrase with the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified in the Nicene Creed.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON

Wherever the Son’s divinity was questioned, it followed that the divinity of the Ruach was questioned. As a result of the Arian controversy, the Council of Nicaea in 325CE worked out the relationship between the Father and the Son, confessing its belief that the Son is homoousios (the same in being} with the Father. The third article of the Nicene Creed of 325CE also confessed a belief in the Ruach HaKodesh but did not expand on what that belief entailed concerning the Father and the Son. It simply said, And we believe in the Holy Spirit, followed by a condemnation of the Arians. It is also true that, while the Nicene Creed may have settled in principle the debate regarding the Son being of the same substance of the Father, it still took another fifty years before the kehillah definitively settled the issue. The relationship of the Son to the Father was being debated during this time. Still, the ancient kehillah writers and the heretics also realized that if the Ruach was in any way denigrated, this too affected the Son: as goes the Ruach, so goes the Son. The logic was inescapable. Thus, at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381CE and again at the Council of Rome in 382CE in the West, the full divinity of the Ruach too was confessed and included in the Creed formulated for the Council at Constantinople in 381CE, once the full implications of what had been decided at Nicaea had been debated.

There was no inclusion of the homoousios in its confession of the Ruach, however. Such an omission may reflect the unwillingness of the period evidenced in such writers as Athanasius. Still, Basil, who said to worshiped and glorified, was as close as they came to say that the Ruach HaKodesh was God. Gregory of Nazianzus also reflects the ambivalence prevalent among some at that time when he remarked, “To be only a little in error about the Ruach HaKodesh is to be orthodox.” Such caution of not using homoousios in its confession of the Ruach may also stem from the attempts at the time to be conciliatory to the bishops who were allies against the Arians but followed the teaching of Macedonius and were present at the Council of Constantinople. There may have also been the realization that not everyone among even the orthodox, had come around yet fully to the idea of the Ruach HaKodesh being consubstantial with the Father and the Son. But this would not remain so for long. The full divinity and consubstantiality of the Ruach with the Father and the Son was soon the consensual teaching of the entire kehillah.

HE IS WORSHIPED AND GLORIFIED

The ancient kehillah’s worship and glorification of the Ruach HaKodesh is perhaps the most precise witness to its understanding of the role of the Ruach in the divine economy before such an understanding became enunciated in the Nicene-ConstantinopolitanCreed. The worship life of the kehillah not only informed the kehillah’s theology; it also expressed that theology in a way more often caught than taught. The technical way of referring to this is lex orandi et lex credendi (the rule of prayer expresses the rule of faith). Such a rule is already evident in the commission of Yeshua to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Ruach HaKodesh. While not the only formula used in the Brit Hadashah period, this formula for baptism became the most common and then the only one used in the subsequent life of the kehillah. The benediction of Sha’ul in his second letter to the Corinthians includes the Ruach in the same breath with the Father and the Son. The enlivening and unifying role of the Ruach in the life of the early kehillah and its worship is clearly evident throughout the pages of the Brit Hadashah and the post-apostolic documents of the second century. References to the Ruach’s work and activity, especially in worship, continue in the writings leading up to the fourth century and beyond. [1]

In my next post, we continue to dig into the third article of the Nicene Creed: We Believe in The Holy Spirt.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Elowsky, J. C., & Oden, T. C. (Eds.). (2009). We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Vol. 4, pp 225-246).

Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 30

The Nicene Creed~ Part 16

In our last post, we continued to explore the Nicene Creed. In this post, we continue to dig into the third article of faith in the Nicene Creed.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

THE GIVER OF LIFE ~ In Creation

When it came time to formulate the Ruach’s role in the Trinity and its interaction with the world, the ancient Kehillah chose to emphasize the Ruach’s role as the Giver of Life. They viewed the work of the Ruach as bringing to completion the work of the Father and the Son. This is especially true when contemplating the Genesis account. On its most basic level among the ancient Messianic writers, the phrase Giver of Life evokes the Ruach’s presence with the other persons of the Trinity at creation, brooding over the waters, bringing life to them and through them, animating all living creatures with the breath of life.

Even though the Hebrew and Greek words for Ruach in Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 2:7 are different words, this did not stop the Fathers from understanding the same Ruach as the breath breathed ultimately into Adam, which brought life to him and his descendants.

Passages that connected the breath and the Ruach of God with creation, such as Genesis 1:2, as well as Psalm 33:6, figured prominently in the ancient Kehillah’s understanding of the third person of the Trinity’s involvement in creation. Other passages, such as Proverbs 8:22 and Wisdom 1:7, spoke of the Wisdom of God present at creation, which was often identified from the second century with the Ruach just as John had identified the Word (Logos) with the Son. Thus, in writers such as Irenaeus, there arose the conception of the two hands of God operative in creation: The Word and Wisdom, that is, the Son and the Ruach. This later evolved into the Son is referred to as the right hand of the Father and the Ruach as the finger of God. Either of these conceptions has as its preconception the source of creative power in the Father. The creative work originated in the Father and was exercised through the Son and perfected in Ruach. Thus, the peculiar work of the Ruach was to actuate and bring to fulfillment the creative work of Father and Son. The Ruach is the vitalizer and perfecter of the Trinity’s work in creation, and it was to Him, along with the Word, that God said, Let us make man in our image. Thus, the spiritual nature of humanity also became the unique purview of the Ruach, whose work is to bring fallen humanity back to the image that was lost. The ancient Kehillah did not confine the Ruach’s work to the original creation. The same Ruach present at creation enlivened the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision and will revitalize our dry bones at the Resurrection. The Fathers also spoke of the Ruach’s role in the Son’s conception, memorializing it in the creedal statement and was incarnate by the Ruach of the Virgin Mary. They realized that just as human and divine were joined together in the incarnation through the power of the Ruach, so the Ruach also joins the divine to created things, bringing life through them too when His presence and power is invoked in consecration and blessing as the giver of Life. [1]

In my next post, we continue to dig into the third article of the Nicene Creed: We Believe in The Holy Spirt.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Elowsky, J. C., & Oden, T. C. (Eds.). (2009). We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Vol. 4, pp. 37–38).

Y’hudah (Jude) ~ Call to Persevere and Blessing

In my last post, we explored the Judgment of False Teachers ~ Part 2. We conclude our study of Y’hudah by experiencing his Call to Persevere and His Blessing.

19 These are the people who cause divisions. They are controlled by their impulses because they don’t have the Spirit.

The people who cause divisions again refers to the false prophets and teachers who are dividing the community, seeking the values of society rather than God.

Y’hudah denounces the actions of the scoffers as devoid of God; they don’t have the Spirit. This seems to compare to the false teachers’ claims that they rely on visions, which they argued were from God (v. 8).

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in union with the Ruach HaKodesh. 21 Thus, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to give you the mercy that leads to eternal life.

Y’hudah contrasts you, dear friends, genuine Believers, with the ungodly free thinkers of vv. 4–19 and prescribes four things to do: keep the faith, pray in concert with the Ruach HaKodesh, keep yourselves immersed in God’s love, and wait for Yeshua to bless you with mercy.

22 Rebuke some who are disputing; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and to yet others, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices.

There are three kinds of people who have left the most holy faith (v. 20):

  1. Those who are disputing have closed themselves off to the truth. One can neither teach nor save them, only rebuke them, praying that God will change them.
  2. Others, who have been swept along by the free thinkers, are relatively innocent but in grave danger of falling away. Save them first by snatching them out of the fire, then ground them in the principles of truth.
  3. Yet others have fallen into sin but have not lost their basic teachability so that they may be restored. To them, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices – love the sinner, but hate the sin. Brothers, suppose someone is caught doing something wrong. You who have the Spirit should set him right, but in a spirit of humility, keeping an eye on yourselves so that you won’t be tempted too. ~ Galatians 6:1 (CJB).

Not only must we grow in a relationship with the Lord, but we must also consider our relationships with the rest of God’s family. We must have mercy on those who waver. Some Believers struggle in their faith and need compassion. Others need to be aggressively snatched from the fire, that is, redirected from behavior or relationship that will burn them. But helping the latter, be wise: hate even the garment defiled by the flesh. As sure as clothing contaminated by a leper’s skin could infect you, helping others overcome their sinful tendencies could drag you down with them. Reject the sin; help the sinner.

24 Now, to the One who can keep you from falling and set you without defect and full of joy in the presence of His Sh’khinah (glory)2to God alone, our Deliverer, through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord – be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen. ~ Jude 19-25 (CJB).

In addressing God as the One who can keep you from falling, the closing prayer follows the theme of vv. 22–23. This passage is one of the greatest of the Brit Hadashah doxologies, comparable with Romans 11:33–36, 16:25–27; Rev. 4:10–11, 5:12–13, 15:3–4.

God keeps you from being fooled by the deceptions of false teachers. He can also keep you from being tripped up so that you stand before Him without blemish and with great joy. No one is sinless. To be blameless means that whatever your failures, they are sufficiently covered. When you stand before God, based on your commitment to the truth, He is going to declare that you look exactly right.

Y’hudah closes by saying that to Yeshua belongs all glory, majesty, power, and authority. It is a reminder that God has the attributes, the position, and the legitimate right to get you through whatever challenges confront and the moral decay in the world around you. [1]

In my next post, we will begin to explore the Creeds of the Kehillah.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The Tony Evans Bible Commentary.

2 Kefa 2:12-22

False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 2

In my last post, we examined False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 1 in 2 Kefa 2:1-11. In this post, we continue to unpack Kefa’s denunciation of False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 2 in 2 Kefa 2:12-22.

Kefa compared the false teachers to Bil’am Ben-B’or (Balaam Num 22-24). Like Bil’am, these false teachers had abandoned the straight path, were consumed by greed, and would receive the wages of their unrighteousness; Bil’am’s donkey showed more moral sense than Bil’am did.

12 But these people, acting without thinking, like animals without reason, born to be captured and destroyed, insulting things about which they have no knowledge. When they are destroyed, their destruction will be total –

Kefa ridicules the false teachers’ claim of superior spiritual knowledge, stating that they are actually irrational, like animals. The false teachers prided themselves on their wisdom, but they were blind to the truth.

In verses 13-15, Kefa uses the example of Bil’am’s error to describe the character of the false teachers (see Num 22-24 and Jude 11). In using this story, he presents another guideline for identifying false teachers. As modern-day Believers, this is a lesson that we need to learn as those false teachers are still among us.

13 they will be paid back harm as wages for the harm they are doing. Their idea of pleasure is carousing in broad daylight; they are spots and defects reveling in their deceptions as they share meals with you –

Unrepentant false teachers and prophets will receive their judgment, which will be their destruction. The false teachers are shameless in the sinful deeds – they do not just enjoy sinning but the idea of doing so. They also share about their sinful actions, encouraging others to follow their ways (v. 18).

Meals with you refer to meals eaten in connection with worship service or the Lord’s Supper. These “agape meals” were meant to enrich Believers’ fellowship and strengthen their sense of union with Yeshua. But the false teachers are using the meals to lead others astray – they are exploiting the teachings of Yeshua when others are supposed to be experiencing the meaning of Yeshua’s sacrifice and growing in their faith.

14 for they have eyes always on the lookout for a woman who will commit adultery, eyes that never stop sinning, and they have a heart that has exercised itself in greed; so that they seduce unstable people. What a cursed brood!

Such false teachers are not only evil at night when their deeds can be hidden. They are evil in broad daylight as well. In the end, they will be paid back for the harm they have caused.

15 These people have left the straightway and wandered off to follow the way of Bil‘am Ben-B‘or, who loved the wages of doing harm …

The way of Bil‘am believed he could curse what God had blessed; his later teaching led the Israelites to idolatry and immorality (Num 31:16; Rev2:14). Likewise, the false teachers compromise God’s truth by immorality and likely idolatry; they will perish like Bil’am (Num 31:8).

Unlike other uses and expansions of the material Second Kefa shares Jude, the following portion of Second Kefa succinctly summarizes the stormy imagery Jude uses (2 Kefa 2:17; see Jude 12-13). Second Kefa then breaks from the material it shares with Jude to articulate warnings about the dangers of false teachers and their presence within the Messianic community.

16 but was rebuked for his sin—a dumb beast of burden spoke out with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s insanity! 17 Waterless springs they are, mists driven by a gust of wind; for them has been reserved the blackest darkness.

Like springs without water and clouds without rain, the false teachers arrive with a pretense of offering refreshment but, in reality, offer nothing to sustain spiritual growth. Thus, they are destined for the gloom of darkness, eternal hell.

18 Mouthing grandiosities of nothingness, they play on the desires of the old nature in order to seduce with debaucheries people who have just begun to escape from those whose way of life is wrong. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for a person is a slave to whatever has defeated him.

Contrary to the way of spiritual growth, false teachers use their communication abilities to arouse the fleshly desires of recent converts to the Messiah – references hers as people who have just begun to escape – and drag them back into their old lifestyles rather than forward in righteousness. The false teachers promise freedom to those who follow their counsel. But they deliver, and experience, slavery to corruption. The false teachers cast off sexual restraint in the name of freedom, but they are actually enslaved to their sin without realizing it.

20 Indeed, if they have once escaped the pollutions of the world through knowing our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah, and then have again become entangled and defeated by them, their latter condition has become worse than their former.

Yeshua has offered these people the opportunity to escape – the sin which came at the price of His own life – and they have chosen to return to sin and indulge in it, and encouraged by the false teachers to do the same.

21 It would have been better for them not to have known the Way of righteousness than, fully knowing, to turn from the holy command delivered to them.

When false teachers trick Messianics into returning to their previous, unrighteous lifestyle, they will find themselves in a worse state since they know better. The false teachers have experienced Yeshua’s work enough to understand the basic principles of humanity’s behalf. As a result, the godliness expected is in direct contrast to the false teachers’ actions (see Kefa 2:9).

22 What has happened to them accords with the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit.” Yes, “The pig washed itself, only to wallow in the mud!” ~ 2 Kefa 2:12-22 (CJB)

A dog returns to its own vomit, is a quotation of Proverbs 26:11. It emphasizes that false teachers will never change and any attempt to reform is pointless. The origins of the “pig” proverb is unknown, but it must have been popular since Kefa evokes a pearl of common wisdom. [1]

In my next post, we will begin to unpack 3 Kefa 1-13 dealing with The Day of the Lord Will Come.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Faithlife Study Bible.

Kefa Goes Fishing Again

In my last post, we learned that Kefa accompanied Yeshua, Ya’akov, and Yochanan Up to the Mount of the Transfiguration. In this post, we see that Yeshua asks Kefa to Go Fishing Again.

24 When they came to K’far-Nachum (Capernaum), the collectors of the half-shekel came to Kefa and said, “Doesn’t your rabbi pay the Temple tax?”

The Temple tax goes back to the time of the Exodus when the Israeli’s were levied the tax to pay for the upkeep of the Tabernacle and was carried over when the Temple was built.

13 Everyone subject to the census is to pay as an offering to Adonai half a shekel [one-fifth of an ounce of silver] – by the standard of the sanctuary shekel (a shekel equals twenty gerahs). 14 Everyone over twenty years of age who is subject to the census is to give this offering to Adonai –15 the rich is not to give more or the poor less than the half-shekel when giving Adonai’s offering to atone for your lives. 16 You are to take the atonement money from the people of Isra’el and use it for the service in the tent of meeting so that it will be a reminder of the people of Isra’el before Adonai to atone for your lives.” ~ Exodus 30:13-16 (CJB)

The tax was equivalent to one or two days’ wages for an average worker.

25 “Of course He does,” said Kefa. When he arrived home, Yeshua spoke first. “Shim’ on, what’s your opinion? The kings of the earth – from whom do they collect duties and taxes? From their sons or from others?”

Like a good prophet, Yeshua responds to Kefa before Kefa even brings up the matter (see 1 Sam 9:20; 1 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 5:26; 6:32).

Remember, when Kefa was on the mountain, the voice of the Father interrupted him. Here in the house, he’s interrupted by the Son.

26 “From others,” he answered. “Then,” said Yeshua, “The sons are exempt.

In tax contexts, exempt means typically “free from obligation” concerning tax. Since a royal family did not tax itself, Yeshua’s point is that the Son of God should not be taxed for the upkeep of His Father’s house.

Because Yeshua’s disciples were children of the true King, they were also exempt from the obligation to support the Temple. This had enormous implications for Jewish Believers. If Temple taxes were no longer obligatory, sacrifices and other offerings were also now optional.

27 But to avoid offending them – go to the lake, throw out a line, and take the first fish you catch. Open its mouth, and you will find a shekel. Take it and give it to them for me and for you.” ~ Matthew 17:24-27 (CJB)

Based on solidarity with the rest of the Jewish community, however, Yeshua pays the tax. If some of Matthew’s [1] Messianic readers were looking for an excuse to avoid paying the tax on their own day, this text would encourage them to pay it instead.

Through divine knowledge, Yeshua knew that a nearby fish had swallowed an amount of money that was sufficient to pay the tax. He also exercised authority over nature, ensuring that the fish would take the bait Kefa offered.

Yeshua commanded Kefa to throw out a line. Jon Courson has an interesting take on this command.

The command in itself would have been most curious because professional fishermen like Kefa didn’t use a hook and line. That was rookie equipment. It would be like Jose Canseco [2] using a batting tee. Real fishermen used nets and boats. But Kefa humbly obeyed. And I can see him walking along the shore, carrying his little pole and tackle box, as his colleagues looked at each other and whispered, “What’s he doing?”[3]

It is the only miracle using one fish. Yeshua had multiplied the fish for Kefa (see Luke 5:1-11), and He would repeat that miracle (see John 21:1ff). But in this case, He used only one fish. When we consider the complexity of this miracle, it amazes us. First, someone had to lose a coin in the water. Then, a fish had to take that coin in its mouth and retain it. That same fish then had to bite on Kefa’s hook – with an impediment in its mouth – and be caught. You cannot naturally explain all of this. It is too complicated for an accident and too impossible for human management.

In my next post, we continue our chronological journey of Kefa and learn he asks Yeshua about forgiveness.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Matthew’s account is the only one presented in the Gospels.

[2] For those who may not know, Jose was an MLB outfielder and designated hitter from 1985-2001 playing most of his career with the Oakland A’s. He admitted using performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) and wrote a tell-all book in 2005.

[3] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary New Testament.

Kefa Goes Up the Mountain

In my last post, we learned that Kefa Rebukes Yeshua. In this post, we see that Kefa accompanies Yeshua, Ya’akov, and Yochanan Up to the Mount of the Transfiguration.

The Mount of the Transfiguration

This story has always fascinated me. It is told in all three of the Synoptic Gospels. As we explore this passage, put yourself on the mountain with Yeshua, Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan. This passage includes so many allusions to God, revealing his glory to Moshe on Mount Sinai that most ancient Jewish readers would undoubtedly have caught them.

Chronologically, this occurs within a week of Kefa rebuking Yeshua. 1 Six days later, Yeshua took Kefa, Ya’akov and his brother Yochanan and led them up a high mountain privately.

The reference to six days draws a parallel between Yeshua’s Transfiguration and God’s revelation of Himself to Moshe in Exodus 24:13-18. As we learn below, other parallels include the reference to a cloud, a brilliant light, a mountain, and the separation of a small number of men from the larger group. Moshe’s face shone brilliantly after he met with God, so Yeshua’s Transfiguration serves to identify Him as the new Moshe.

Scripture records three times when Yeshua took these same three and ministered to them in very unique ways. Interestingly, each of those occasions dealt with death.

The first time we have learned that Yeshua singled out Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan, He took them into the house of a man whose daughter had died. Yeshua brought the young girl back to life, and Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan saw that He was victorious over death (see Luke 8:49-55).

The second occasion is our passage today.

The third occasion is when Yeshua takes them into the Garden of Gethsemane. As He prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done,” Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan would understand that He was submitted to death.

2 As they watched, He began to change form – His face shone like the sun, and His clothing became as white as light.

These three Jewish fishermen were given a glimpse of the glory of the coming King and His kingdom.

3 Then they looked and saw Moshe and Eliyahu speaking with Him.

Jewish people understood Scripture as denying that Eliyahu had ever died; God himself had buried Moshe. Jewish people expected the return of both Eliyahu and Moshe at the end of the age (Deut.18:15-18; Mal. 4:5). Both of them heard from God at Mount Sinai.

This scene informs us that those who experience death (Moshe) have a cognitive understanding and an ability to communicate. Together, they symbolize all those who make up God’s kingdom – those who will be raptured and not see death (like Eliyahu) and those who will die and go to be with the Lord (like Moshe). Moreover, Moshe represented the Law, and Eliyahu represented the Prophets. Together they represented the complete Tanakh. Along with the talmidim, they represent both the Tanakh and Brit Hadashah centered on Yeshua.

4 Kefa said to Yeshua, “It’s good that we’re here, Lord. I’ll put up three shelters if you want – one for You, one for Moshe, and one for Eliyahu.”

Isra’el had dwelt in shelters in the wilderness while the presence and glory of God was among them. Jews commemorated this annually by building shelters (sukkahs), so Kefa would know how to build one. But once again, Kefa has to control is impetuous behavior.

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”

The cloud of glory also overshadowed the mountain in Exodus 24:15 and the Tabernacle in 40:34.

As Jon Courson’s says, Kefa, I’m going to interrupt you once again,” said God the Father from the cloud over the mountain. “You want to build three booths, but you can’t put the Law and the Prophets on the same plane as My Son.” [1]

Listen to Him! because He is the “prophet like Moshe” (Deut. 18:15-19, Acts 3:22-23), whom you have just seen.

6 When the talmidim heard this, they were so frightened that they fell face down on the ground. 7 But Yeshua came and touched them. “Get up!” He said, “Don’t be afraid.”8 So they opened their eyes, looked up, and saw only Yeshua by Himself.

The talmidim fear and falling on their faces were characteristic of people in the Tanakh and later Jewish tradition when they experienced revelations of God. When Yeshua touched them and told them not to be afraid, the three disciples looked and saw no one but him. Why? Because Yeshua isn’t merely one among many faithful servants of God. He is superior to them all. The ministries of Moshe and Eliyahu ultimately pointed toward Yeshua. In fact, all of Scripture has Him as its focus.

9 As they came down the mountain, Yeshua ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” ~ Matthew 17:1-9 (CJB)

The Transfiguration confirmed Yeshua’s “coming in his kingdom” (Matt.16:28) to these three talmidim. Still, without the more public confirmation which followed His resurrection, the testimony would have been of little value in proving Yeshua’s identity. It would have raised more questions than it answered. Hence Yeshua advised closed mouth for the time being. Given Kefa’s personality, that must have been extremely hard to do. But wait until we get to Acts 2. For us, our job is to proclaim His resurrection and love from in the highways and byways. When is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?

In my next post, we continue our chronological journey of Kefa and learn he is asked by Yeshua to go fishing again.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary New Testament.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The New Heavens and A New Earth ~ Yesha’yahu 65:17-25

In my last post, we explored Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16. In this post, we learn about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25.

17 “For, look! I create New Heavens and a New Earth; past things will not be remembered; they will no more come to mind.

The Hebrew word translated create is bara and means to create from nothing. When we read in Genesis 1:1 that Adonai created the heavens and the earth, the term used is also bara. In other words, Adonai did not use preexisting materials to create the universe. He simply spoke the word, and it became. I must admit that when I first learned the definition of bara, I was stunned. We all know that Adonai gave us the ability to create things. But we don’t have the power to create something out of nothing. We need existing materials to create.

The use of bara here in Yesha’yahu means that Adonai is going to create something entirely new. It won’t be a matter of merely remodeling the earth and the heavens, for, in 2 Kefa, we read that this earth and heavens will be done away with entirely. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day, the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up. ~ 2 Peter 3:10 (CJB)

18 So be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for look! I am making Yerushalayim a joy, and her people a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Yerushalayim and take joy in My people. The sound of weeping will no longer be heard in it, no longer the sound of crying.

What a message of hope for the people of Yerushalayim today, where there is so much weeping and crying seemingly without a solution or an end. But in the day of the New Heaven and the New Earth, weeping and wailing will be replaced by joy and rejoicing.

20 No more will babies die in infancy; no more will an old man die short of his days – he who dies at a hundred will be thought young, and at less than a hundred thought cursed. 21 They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

The future blessing of Yerushalayim includes long life for its inhabitants. Infant mortality rates will disappear, and older people will survive even longer. If someone dies at age 100, it will be considered tragic because he was just a youth compared to others. A further blessing will come in the form of shelter and agricultural abundance.

As we have seen in earlier posts in the Book of Revelation, some believe that in the Kingdom Age, there will be health, peace, and rightness to such a degree that most people will live through the Millennium. We who are Believers won’t have physical bodies at that time. We’ll be ruling and reigning with Yeshua in the Millennial Kingdom. But we’ll have already been caught up to heaven and will have received our glorified bodies. Therefore, this doesn’t apply to us, but rather to those who come to the Lord during the Tribulation.

22 They will not build, and others live there; they will not plant, and others eat; for the days of My people will be like the days of a tree, and My chosen will themselves enjoy the use of what they make.

Jon Courson’s opines:

“In the kingdom age, the houses and vineyards people build and plant will be for their own blessing. This solves the problem of the corruption of capitalism. Communism and Socialism came to answer the corruption of capitalism—only for man to discover that they were even more corrupt systems. In the Kingdom, however, there will be a perfect blend of capitalism and communism in the best sense of the word.” [1]


23 They will not toil in vain or raise children to be destroyed, for they are the seed blessed by Adonai; and their offspring with them.

In the past, the labor of Adonai’s people had been enjoyed by others as He allowed foreign nations to take them over. Their children had been born to disaster since the enemy would either kill them or deport them. But this will change in Adonai’s New Heaven and New Earth. The blessing of work and childbearing was first troubled at the time of the fall into sin. The language of this verse suggests a reversal of these curses in Genesis 3:16-19.

24 Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

The presence of the Lord will be so real in the Kingdom Age that there will be no need for fasting, praying through, or pleading with Adonaifor before we even call, He’ll answer.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion eats straw like an ox (but the serpent – its food will be dust). They will not hurt or destroy anywhere on My holy mountain,” says Adonai. ~ Isaiah 65:17-25 (CJB)

In the Kingdom, harmony will replace ferocity, and humility will be the order of the day.

In my next post, we begin to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6.

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[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2

Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation ~ Yesha’yahu 65:1-16

In my last post, we concluded the examination of The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 64:1-12. In this post, explore Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16.

1 “I made Myself accessible to those who didn’t ask for Me; I let Myself be found by those who didn’t seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation not called by My name.

Sha’ul quotes this verse in Romans 10:20 as a reference to Gentiles. Because the Jews were not interested in Him, Adonai sovereignly reached out to those who were not seeking Him at all. Aren’t you glad He did?

2 I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who live in a way that is not good, who follow their own inclinations;

In the previous and the following verses, Adonai responded to the people’s prayer uttered by Yesha’yahu in Chapter 64. Adonai first described His total openness and accessibility to the people. Even more, He sought them out, though they should be the ones who were seeking Him. Adonai would spread out His hands in welcome to people who had passed by Him.

3 a people who provoke Me to My face all the time, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense on bricks.

Gardens in the ancient Near East were often parks of fruit and shade trees, arboretums serving as outdoor shrines or providing comfortable surroundings for sacred enclosures. Sacred trees played a significant role in the popular religion of the day. Most incense altars were made of limestone. These were standard features in the high places where illegitimate worship took place. [1]

4 They sit among the graves and spend the night in caverns; they eat pig meat, and their pots hold soup made from disgusting things.

Many individuals who practiced necromancy (contacting the spirits of the dead in the ancient Near East spent the night in the graveyards, waiting for communication from the dead. Assyrian wisdom literature calls the pig unholy, unfit for the temple, and an abomination to the gods. The attitude toward the pig in Israel is apparent here in Yesha’yahu, showing close connection to worship of the dead. It is very possible then that sacrificing a pig was synonymous with sacrificing to demons or the dead. [2] As we know from Leviticus 11:7, Adonai had declared that pigs were unclean food and were not to be eaten. Even today in Isra’el, anyone who raises pigs has to keep them on one-foot platforms, so they do not touch the land.

5 They say, ‘Keep your distance, don’t come near me, because I am holier than You.’ These are smoke in My nose, a fire that burns all day!

Ironically, these sinful people claimed to be holy, which Adonai considered extremely irritating.

6 See, it is written before Me; I will not be silent until I repay them; I will repay them to the full, 7 your own crimes and those of your ancestors together,” says Adonai. “They offered incense on the mountains and insulted Me on the hills. First, I will measure out their wages and then repay them in full.”

Adonai accused His people of reproaching Him on the mountains and hills. False worship in such places was condemned in the Tanakh (see Duet. 12:2 as an example).

I will measure out their wages and then repay them in full. Our actions are determined by our thinking. If you want to experience spiritual victory, you need to be kingdom-minded. You need to adopt Adonai’s thinking about the issues of life. As Rabbi Sha’ul writes, we must be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). By tending to the soil of our minds and sowing our thoughts with the Word of Adonai, we will make it possible to bear good fruit in what we say and in what we do.

8 Here is what Adonai says: “As when juice is found in a cluster of grapes, and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still some good in it,’ so I will do likewise for the sake of My servants, and not destroy them all.

Using the analogy of a bunch of grapes, Adonai announced that He would not destroy the good grapes out of the bunch but would use them to make new wine. The analogy presents the idea that Adonai will preserve a faithful remnant of His people after the judgment. Remember the issue of Avraham questioning the Adonai if He found 5 faithful believers in Sodom? Just as there are good grapes in bad clusters, so there are good people in a nation that wasn’t doing very well at all. Spiritually, Isra’el was rotten. But there were individuals who loved the Adonai. It was because of them that He didn’t destroy the entire cluster.

9 I will bring forth descendants from Ya’akov, heirs of My mountains from Y’hudah; My chosen ones will possess them, and My servants will live there. 10 The Sharon will be a pasture for flocks, the Akhor Valley, a place for cattle to rest, for My people who have sought Me.

Sharon was a coastal plain verging on the Judean hill country in the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. The valley was known for its beauty, desolation, and pastureland. It was about thirty-two miles in length and was, on average, eleven miles in width. The Valley of Akhor was probably located on Judah’s northern border and is identified with the modern El Buqe’ah, a small plain in the northern Judean wilderness in the vicinity of Jericho. [3] Even during judgment, though, Adonai promised to spare His righteous remnant, those who were faithful to Him amid the perverse generations.

11 “But as for you who abandon Adonai, who forget my holy mountain, who prepare a table for Gad, a god of luck, and fill bowls of mixed wine for Meni, a god of destiny – 12 I will destine you to the sword, you will all bow down to be slaughtered; because when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did what was evil from My point of view and chose what did not please Me.”

Gad (fortune) and Meni (destiny) are personified as objects of false worship. While Adonai had good things in store for the faithful remnant, those among His people who continued to worship false deities would meet a horrible end.

In the following verses, God continues the distinction between those who followed Him and were His servants and those who rejected Him. The former will enjoy life; the latter will suffer.

13 Therefore this is what Adonai Elohim says: “My servants will eat, while you go hungry; My servants will drink, while you go thirsty. My servants will rejoice, while you will be ashamed. 14 Yes, My servants will sing for joy from their hearts, but you will cry out from the pain in your heart and howl from an anguished spirit. 15 My chosen will use your name as a curse – ‘May Adonai Elohim strike you dead!’ But to His servants, He will give another name.

Those who forsook the Adonai and chased after other gods would be slain, and God’s servants would be called by another name. What would that name be? It was in Antioch that believers were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11:26). It is a name we who know Him should wear with great humility and responsibility. Adonai helps us to live up to it by behaving like Yeshua, by showing the love and grace He showed.

16 Thus someone on earth who blesses himself will bless himself by the God of truth, and someone on earth who swears an oath will swear by the God of truth; for past troubles will be forgotten, hidden from My eyes. ~ Isaiah 65:1-16 (CJB)

Regardless of the hardships, one may face in life by following the Adonai; the result is worth it: for past troubles will be forgotten, hidden from My eyes.

In my next post, we learn about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 64:1-12

In my last post, we began to learn about The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 63:1-19. In this post, we conclude the examination of The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 64:1-12. Our passage is a prayer to Adonai for deliverance.

1 We wish You would tear open heaven and come down, so the mountains would shake at Your presence! 2 It would be like fire kindling the brush, and the fire then makes the water boil. Then Your enemies would know Your name; the nations would tremble before You!

Because God’s people were either heading for or in exile when they read the book of Yesha’yahu, they cried out for Him to tear open heaven like a piece of cloth and come down to rescue them. They asked the Lord to act as He had acted before. They wanted mountains to quake at His presence (see 64:1) just as the mountains quaked when He performed His awesome works in the past (see 64:3).

This is one of the keys for God’s people even today. We need to remember how God has come through in our past circumstances so that we can have faith to call on him in our time of need.

3 When You did tremendous things that we were not expecting, we wished that You would come down so that the mountains would shake at your presence! 4 No one has ever heard, no ear perceived, no eye seen, any God but You. You work for him who waits for You.

Adonai was distinct from other gods in the ancient Near East in many ways. Most fundamentally, Adonai was transcendent, meaning that He was not subject to or locked within the material universe. This is in stark contrast to the gods of Mesopotamia, who inhabited the material world. He was an only God, unlike the gods of other nations, who shared in a multiplicity of power. The specific issue in this verse is the willingness of God to act on behalf of His faithful followers. The key here is that which motivates Adonai to action. He does not have to be bribed or coerced into action. The prophet’s request was based on God’s actions in the past.

If you’re living for your job, your bank account, your possessions, or even your family, you’ll miss out on the life God has for you both now and eternally. But if like Yesha’yahu and Sha’ul, you set your heart on heaven, you’ll have abundant life on earth thrown in! If, like Yesha’yahu, we would just say, “Lord, we are looking and waiting for that which You have in store for us in heaven,” you’ll not only end up there, but you’ll enjoy life as well.

5 You favored those who were glad to do justice, those who remembered You in Your ways. When You were angry, we kept sinning; but if we keep Your ancient ways, we will be saved. 6 All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags; we wither, all of us, like leaves, and our misdeeds blow us away like the wind. 7 No one calls on Your name or bestirs himself to take hold of You, for You have hidden Your face from us and caused our misdeeds to destroy us.

The people acknowledged the reason for God’s apparent lack of intervention to prevent His land from being destroyed: You were angry; we kept sinning. No amount of worship and prayers for deliverance will help if we continue to live by our agenda and for our own glory. Therefore, the people had to say, All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags. As the old saying goes, confession is good for the soul.

8 But now, Adonai, You are our Father; we are the clay, You are our Potter, and we are all the work of Your hands.

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) and Sha’ul would both use the analogy of clay to illustrate the sovereignty of God. God is the Master Potter. He can make us whatever He wishes. How can we trust He will do what’s best? By looking at His hands as He shapes us and at His feet as He turns the wheel; for therein we see the scars of the nails that pierced them when He died for us.

9 Do not be so very angry, Adonai! Don’t remember crime forever. Look, please, we are all Your people. 10 Your holy cities have become a desert, Tziyon a desert, Yerushalayim a ruin. 11 Our holy, beautiful house, where our ancestors used to praise You, has been burned to the ground; all we cherished has been ruined. 12 Adonai, after all this, will You still hold back? Will You still stay silent and punish us past endurance? ~ Isaiah 64:2-12 (CJB)

Yesha’yahu foresaw the time when the Babylonians would destroy the city of Yerushalayim and burn the Temple in 586 BCE. Yesha’yahu appealed to God to turn things around and restore the city and its Temple.

God’s people would indeed return to their homeland, but they would find the wall, the city, and, above all, the Temple significantly in need of repair (see the story in Ezra and Nehemiah). God would answer this prayer of His people and provide both the means and the will to rebuild that which was lost. Isn’t that always the way of our God?

In my next post, we continue to explore Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16.

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