The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 121

Yeshua Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus ~ Part 2

In our last post, we explored Yeshua’s Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus. In this post, we continue to examine His Raising of Lazarus.

Yeshua Talks to Marta

17 On arrival, Yeshua found that El’azar had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 No Beit-Anyah was about two miles from Yerushalayim, 19 and many of the Judeans had come to Marta and Miryam in order to comfort them at the loss of their brother. 20 So when Marta heard that Yeshua was coming, she went out to meet him; but Miryam continued sitting shiv’ah  [1]  in the house.

El’azar had already been in the tomb for four days and had already begun to decay (see v. 39). Yeshua raised others from the dead – Ya’ir’s daughter (Luke 8:41–42, 49–56) and the son of the widow in Na’im (Luke 7:11–17). The Tanakh reports that Elijah and Elisha had raised people from the dead (1 Kings 17:17–24, 2 Kings 4:17–37). And indeed, doctors today bring back people who have been “clinically dead” for many minutes, perhaps hours. But nowhere in biblical or secular history is there an instance of anyone medically dead for four days – to the point where there would be an odor – being physically raised from the dead.

This incident is reported in such a way that no one misses its significance: Yeshua has physically brought back to life a four-days-dead, cold, stinking corpse, and this miracle crowns Yeshua’s career before His own death and resurrection. This produced a profound reaction among the populace and authorities, as reported in the rest of this and the following chapter.

21 Marta said to Yeshua, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Yeshua said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Marta said, “I know that he will rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.25 Yeshua said to her, I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; 26 and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I AM the Resurrection and the Life. In addition to Yeshua’s absolute I AM” statements, Yochanan reports seven predicated “I AM” statements: I AM the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12, 9:5), the gate (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (here), the way and the truth and the life (14:6), and the real vine (15:1). The book of Revelation adds that Yeshua similarly spoke of Himself after the resurrection as the “A” and the “Z” (Revelation 1:8) and as the first and the last (Revelation 1:17).

27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Yeshua Talks to Miryam

28 After saying this, she went off and secretly called Miryam, her sister: “The Rabbi is here and is calling for you.” 29 When she heard this, she jumped up and went to him. 30 Yeshua had not yet come into the village but was still where Marta had met him; 31 so when the Judeans who had been with Miryam in the house comforting her saw her get up quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn there32 When Miryam came to where Yeshua was and  saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

My brother would not have died. Miryam, like Marta, is convinced that Yeshua could have saved El’azar from dying if there had been an opportunity for Him to come (compare Yochanan 11:22). They are both unaware that Yeshua intentionally waited for El’azar to die so He could perform the miracle of raising him from the dead.

33 When Yeshua saw her crying, and also the Judeans who came with her crying, he was deeply moved and also troubled. 34 He said, Where have you buried him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Yeshua cried; 36 so the Judeans there said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “He opened the blind man’s eyes. Couldn’t he have kept this one from dying?”  [2]

Although Yeshua intended to use this situation as an example to glorify God, it still disturbs Him. Yeshua feels the hurt emotions of one who has lost a friend, and He is sympathetic toward others who grieve.

I highlighted verse 35 not only because it is the shortest verse in the Bible but also because it displays His humanity.

In our next, we conclude (hopefully) our exploration of Yeshua’s Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus.

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[1]  Shiv’ah means “seven,” and the phrase, “sitting shiv’ah,” refers to the Jewish custom of sitting in mourning for seven days following the death of a deceased parent, spouse, sibling, or child.

[2]  Yochanan 11:27-37.

Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 1


As indicated in my last post, I feel led to do a brief survey on the Creeds of the Kehillah. As some of you already know, kehillah is Hebrew for “community.” I prefer that term to “church” in describing the gathering of Believers of the faith. We are not a building!

As stated in my About the Author page, my mom always took me to church as far back as I can remember. We were Episcopalians, and I developed a deep sense of respect for the church. I loved the liturgy and always asked to stay in the big people’s service rather than Sunday School. Consequently, I became very familiar with reciting the Apostles’ Creed at Morning Prayer services and the Nicene Creed at Holy Eucharist (Communion) services.

No longer attending those services and doing some “church-shopping” whenever we have moved has led me to believe that not many current Believers are even familiar with the ancient creeds. It seems that most Kelillahs are now content with posting Mission Statements or What We Believe position papers on their websites.

So, what is a creed? It has been defined as the written body of teachings of a religious group that that group generally accepts. Creeds are intentionally catholic. [1] They may bear the marks of their particularity and a specific perspective and place. However, the primary intention is to state the faith of a partisan group and the one holy catholic church.[2]

The following is a list of the ancient creeds and confessions of faith. This series will only explore the creeds because the confessions are generally tied to specific denominations.

Historic Creeds

The Apostles’ Creed

The Nicene Creed

The Symbol of Chalcedon

The Athanasian Creed

Historic Confessions and Statements of Faith

The Belgic Confession

The Heidelberg Catechism

The Canons of Dordt

In my next post, we will begin to examine the Apostles’ Creed.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Remember that lower case “catholic” means universal and not Roman.

[2] Leith, J. H. (1992). Creeds, Early Christian. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 1, p. 1204). New York: Doubleday.

Observing Purim ~ 2019


Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from destruction in the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus, or Xerxes I, as recorded in the Book of Esther. Held on the 14th and 15th days of the Jewish month of Adar, it is celebrated by feasting and merriment, almsgiving, sending food to neighbors and friends, and chanting the text of Esther. Although this is not a time appointed by God for remembrance, it is perhaps the most joyous day of the Jewish year, with masquerades, plays, and drinking of wine even in the synagogue.

In 2019, Purim is celebrated on March 21st & 22nd.


The story of Esther takes place in Sushan, an ancient royal city of the Persian Empire, approximately 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf in modern Iran. It is the traditional burial site of the prophet Daniel. The events took place in approximately 465 BCE after the Jewish people were allowed to return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity by King Cyrus.

Significance for Today

The Book of Esther is a story of teamwork that shaped a nation and a study of survival of God’s chosen people. The relationship between Esther and Mordecai vividly portrays the unity that Yeshua prayed for His disciples to experience. The success of their roles, even their very survival, depended upon their unity.

The Book of Esther reminds us that God destroys those who try to harm His people. From this, we are reminded that He is faithful to destroy HaSatan and that His sovereign purposes ultimately prevail.

The Book of Esther has been called the ‘secular’ book of the Bible. It is the only book that does not mention or even allude to God. However, His imprint is obvious throughout. Esther’s spiritual maturity is seen in her knowledge to wait for God’s timing to make her request to save her people and denounce Haman. Mordecai also demonstrates maturity in seeking God’s timing and direction for the right time to have Esther disclose her identity as a Jew.

As we have been learning as we discover the Jewish roots of our faith, having a firm foundation of the Tanakh opens the Brit Hadashah up to a deeper understanding of our faith.

Jewish Observance of Purim
  1. Listen to the Megillah: To relive the miraculous events of Purim, we are to listen to the reading of the Megillah (the Scroll of Esther) twice: once on Purim eve and again on Purim day.
  2. Give to the Needy (Matanot La’evyonim): Concern for the needy is a year-round responsibility, but on Purim, it is a special mitzvah (commandment) to remember the poor. Give charity to at least two, (but preferably more) needy individuals on the day of Purim. Giving directly to the needy best fulfills the mitzvah. If, however, you cannot find poor people, place at least several coins into a charity box. As in the other mitzvahs of Purim, even small children should fulfill this mitzvah.
  3. Send Food Portions to Friends (Mishloach Manot): On Purim, we emphasize the importance of Jewish unity and friendship by sending gifts of food to friends. Send a gift of at least two kinds of ready-to-eat foods (e.g., pastry, fruit, beverage), to at least one friend on Purim day. Men should send to men and women to women. It is preferable that the gifts are delivered via a third party. Children, in addition to sending their gifts of food to their friends, make enthusiastic messengers.
  4. Eat, Drink and be Merry: Purim should be celebrated with a special festive meal on Purim Day, at which family and friends gather together to rejoice in the Purim spirit. It is a mitzvah to drink wine or other inebriating drinks at this meal.
  5. Special Prayers (Al Hanissim, Torah reading): On Purim, we recite the Al HaNissim prayer in the evening, morning and afternoon prayers, as well as in the Grace After Meals. In the morning service, there is a special reading from the Torah Scroll in the synagogue.”And (we thank You) for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors in those days, at this time – in the days of Mordecai and Esther, in Shushan the capital, when the wicked Haman rose up against them, and sought to destroy, slaughter and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar and to take their spoil for plunder. But You, in Your abounding mercies, foiled his counsel and frustrated his intention, and caused the evil he planned to recoil on his head, and they hanged him and his sons upon the gallows.”
  6. Torah Reading of “Zachor”: On the Shabbat before Purim, a special reading is held in the synagogue of the Torah section called Zachor (“Remember” – Deuteronomy 25:17-19), in which we are enjoined to remember the deeds of (the nation of) Amalek (Haman’s ancestor) who sought to destroy the Jewish people.
  7. The Fast of Esther: To commemorate the day of prayer and fasting that the Jewish people held at Esther’s request, we fast on the day before Purim, from approximately an hour before sunrise until nightfall.
  8. The “Half Coins” (Machatzit Hashekel): It is a tradition to give three half-dollar coins to charity to commemorate the half-shekel that each Jew contributed as his share in the communal offerings in the time of the Holy Temple. This custom, usually performed in the synagogue, is done on the afternoon of the “Fast of Esther,” or before the reading of the Megillah.
  9. Purim Customs: Masquerades and Hamantashen: A time-honored Purim custom is for children to dress up and disguise themselves-an allusion to the fact that the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural garments. This is also the significance behind a traditional Purim food, the hamantash-a pastry whose filling is hidden within a three-cornered crust.
Summary of the Story

The Book of Esther tells of the deliverance of the Jewish people of Persia from destruction and of the institution of the feast of Purim as the annual commemoration of this event. Esther is an orphaned Jewish maiden raised by her older cousin Mordecai. (As an aside, there is some dispute amongst the various Bible translations as to whether Mordecai was Esther’s uncle or cousin. Irrespective, she was an orphan and Mordecai raised her as his daughter.) She is selected from among the most beautiful maidens of the Persian Empire to be the queen of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), replacing the banished Queen Vashti. Angered by Mordecai’s refusal to pay him homage, Haman, the king’s ambitious chief minister, plots to destroy Mordecai and all his people. He persuades the king to issue an edict authorizing a massacre of all the Jews in the realm on the ground that they do not keep the king’s laws. Mordecai urges Esther to persuade Ahasuerus to rescind the decree. Esther, risking execution by appearing unbidden before the king, exposes the intrigues of Haman, after that Ahasuerus orders Haman hanged and appoints Mordecai as his chief minister. The king then reverses his edict, allowing the Jews to destroy their enemies throughout the empire. On the appointed day, they carry out bloody vengeance. Finally, to celebrate their delivery, Mordecai and Queen Esther decree the annual feast of Purim.

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Eliyahu ~ Part 4

In my last post, we explored The Obedience of Eliyahu and the Faith of a Goy in 1 Kings 8-16. In this post, we learn of A Miraculous Resurrection in 1 Kings 17:17-24.

A Miraculous Resurrection

17 A while later, the son of the woman whose house it was fell ill; his illness grew increasingly serious until his breathing stopped. 18 She said to Eliyahu, ‘What do you have against me, you man of God? Did you come to me just to remind me how sinful I am by killing my son?’ 19 ‘Give me your son,’ he said to her. Taking him from her lap, he carried him into the room upstairs where he was staying and laid him on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to Adonai: ‘Adonai my God! Have you brought also this misery on the widow I’m staying with by killing her son?’ 21 He stretched himself out on the child three times and cried out to Adonai: ‘Adonai my God, please! Let this child’s soul come back into him!’ 22 Adonai heard Eliyahu’s cry, the child’s soul came back into him, and he revived. 23 Eliyahu took the child, brought him down from the upstairs room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Eliyahu said, ‘See? Your son is alive.’ 24 The woman replied to Eliyahu, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of Adonai that you speak is the truth.’” ~1 Kings 17:17-24 (CJB)

This is the first recorded instance in Scripture of the resurrection of a dead person. The evidence seems clear that the widow’s son actually died and didn’t just faint. He stopped breathing, and his soul left his body. According to James 2:26, when the soul departs, the person is dead. The great distress of both the mother and the prophet would suggest that the boy was killed, and both of them used the word “killing” concerning the event.

The mother’s response was to feel guilty because of her past sins. She believed that her son’s death was God’s way of punishing her for her misdeeds. It isn’t unusual for people to feel guilty in connection with mourning, but why would she point her finger at Eliyahu? She recognized Eliyahu as a man of God, and perhaps she thought his presence in the home would protect her and her son from trouble. Her words remind us of the question of the talmidim asked Yeshua, “Rabbi, who sinned — this man or his parents — to cause him to be born blind?” ~ John 9:2 (CJB)

Eliyahu’s response was to carry the boy to his upstairs room and to cry out to the Lord for the life of the child. He couldn’t believe that the Lord would miraculously provide food for the three of them and then allow the son to die. It just didn’t make sense.

Eliyahu didn’t stretch himself out on the boy’s dead body in hopes he could transfer his life to the boy, for he knew that only God could impart life to the dead. Indeed, his posture indicated total identification with the boy and his need, and this is an essential factor when we intercede for others. It was after Eliyahu stretched himself on the child for the third time that the Lord raised him from the dead, a reminder that our own Savior arose from the dead on the third day.

The result of this miracle was the woman’s public confession of her faith in the God of Israel. She now knew for sure that Eliyahu was a true servant of God and not just another religious teacher looking for some support. She also knew that the Word he had taught her was indeed the Word of the true and living God.

During the time he lived with the widow and her son, Eliyahu had shown them that God sustains life (the meal and oil didn’t run out) and that God imparts life (the boy was raised from the dead).

This miracle teaches us three crucial lessons:

  1. not all illness is the result of sin;
  2. God has power over sickness and death; and
  3. the purpose of the signs is to produce faith in the God’s Word.

Eliyahu hadn’t been in public ministry for a long time, yet his private ministry to the woman and her son was just as essential both to the Lord and to them. Eliyahu had proved the power of God in Ba’al’s home territory, so he was now ready to challenge and defeat Ba’al in the kingdom of Israel.

During these three years as an exile and a hunted man (18:10), Eliyahu has learned a great deal about the Lord, about himself and the needs of people. He has learned to live a day at a time, trusting God for his daily bread. For three years, people have been asking, “Where is the prophet Eliyahu?” Is he able to do anything to ease the burdens we carry because of this drought? But the Lord is more concerned about the worker than the work, and He has been preparing Eliyahu for the most significant challenge of faith in his entire ministry.

In my next post, we will continue to explore the Biblical story of Eliyahu in 1 Kings 18:1-15. In this passage, Eliyahu is ordered by God to return to Ach’av and meets up with ‘Ovadyah, who oversaw Ach’av’s palace.

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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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Request for Prayer, Personal References and Benedictions

Messianic Jews 13:18-25
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, we explored the Warnings in Messianic Jews 13:7-17. In this post, we conclude our examination of Messianic Jews by studying a Request for Prayer, Personal References and Benedictions in Messianic Jews 13:18-25.

18 Keep praying for us, for we are certain that we have a clear conscience and want to conduct ourselves properly in everything we do. 19 And all the more I beg you to do this, so that I may be restored to you that much sooner. 

20 The God of shalom brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Yeshua, by the blood of an eternal covenant. 21 May God equip you with every good thing you need to do his will; and may He do in us whatever pleases Him, through Yeshua the Messiah. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 

22 Now I urge you, brothers, to bear with my message of exhortation; for I have written you only briefly. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he comes soon enough, I will bring him with me when I come to see you. 24 Greet all your leaders and all God’s people. The people from Italy send greetings to you. 25 Grace be with you all.” ~ Hebrews 13:18-25 (CJB)

The author requests his readers to pray that he be restored to them. Imprisonment may be preventing it (verses 18-19), and he offers a benediction for them (verse 21). He fixes the direction of his brief prayer by summing up the six key points of his letter:

  1. God is a God of shalom. By reconciling sinful humanity to Himself through Yeshua, God has taken the initiative in restoring peace, integrity, and wholeness.
  2. Yeshua has been brought up from the dead. He is alive, our cohen gadol forever making intercession for us at the right hand of God.
  3. Yeshua is the great Shepherd of the sheep, both Jews, and Gentiles. This is testified to in many references in the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah.
  4. Yeshua is our Lord (1:2-4, 8-13; 3:6), who disciplines us for our benefit (12:5-10) and expects obedience (5:9).
  5. Yeshua has come to have this role in God’s administration of world history because He gave his blood to atone for the sins of humanity (1:3, 2:9-15, 9:12-10:14).
  6. Through this blood, Yeshua also inaugurated an eternal covenant, the New Covenant (7:22, 8:5-13, 10:15-18), the Brit Hadashah promised by Jeremiah 31:30-33(31-34).

Bear with my message of exhortation; for I have written you only briefly. This supports the idea that the author is summarizing a series of sermons he previously gave orally to some of the brothers.

Verses 23-24 lend weight to the theory that Sha’ul is the author of Messianic Jews; for although he spent his last days imprisoned in Italy (2 Timothy 4:6-8), by then his co-worker and brother in the Lord Timothy, who had at one time been jailed with him, had been released, so that Sha’ul could write 2 Timothy to him. On the other hand, I will bring him with me suggests that the author was not in prison when he wrote this letter but was free to move about. See my first post in this series here for my take on the authorship.

I will close with this admonition from the author of Messianic Jews:

“Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne from which God gives grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16 (CJB)

In my next post, I am going to strive to do something I have never, ever done before. My posts (and past sermons) in the past have been thematic or verse-by-verse exegises. In my next series, I’m planning on doing a character study of Elijah. Depending on how that goes, I’ll probably move on to also do a character study of his protégé, Elisha.

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Yeshua, the Son of Man ~ Part 4

Messianic Jews 2:14-18
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, we continued to learn about Yeshua, the Son of Man ~ Part 3 in Messianic Jews 2:10-13. That passage concerned Yeshua’s identity as a real man.  In this post, we continue to explore Messianic Jews 2:14-18 ~ Yeshua, the Son of Man ~ Part 4. This passage concerns Yeshua as humanities true sacrifice.

14 Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, He became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by His death He might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary) 15 and thus set free those who had been in bondage all their lives because of their fear of death. 16 Indeed, it is obvious that He does not take hold of angels to help them; on the contrary, ‘He takes hold of the seed of Avraham.’ 17 This is why He had to become like His brothers in every respect — so that He might become a merciful and faithful cohen gadol in the service of God, making a kapparah for the sins of the people. 18 For since He himself suffered death when He was put to the test, He is able to help those who are being tested now.’” ~ Hebrews 2:14-18 (CJB)

Verse 14 explicitly analyzes the Messiah’s work in taking on Himself the nature of humanity (compare Philippians 2:6-8). “For the Messiah Himself died for sins, a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that he might bring you to God” ~ 1 Kefa 3:18. By doing this He tricked the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary), as explained in Matthew 4:1-11. For Satan has the capability of causing death but has no right to inflict it on someone who resists his temptations and does not sin (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16; Matthew 4:1-11), because death is the punishment for sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12-21). Does that mean Yeshua render Satan ineffective?  Not entirely, yet. Although Satan continues to exercise power, his days are numbered, and he will ultimately be destroyed (see Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9; 20:2, 10).

As Believers, we should have no fear of death.  We should know in our knower, our ultimate destination.  Personally, I have no fear of death and admit at my age; I find myself more and more looking forward to it. However, I am concerned about the method of my demise.  Going to sleep and not waking up is my preferred method of choice.

Yeshua did not take hold of angels to help them because angels cannot die. He takes hold of not human beings generally but the seed of Avraham, because Jews, of all humanity, have in the Torah the most stringent conditions to fulfill in order not to sin and by not sinning escape death. If Yeshua could live as a Jew according to the Torah without committing any sin, so that He would not have earned the death penalty, He would deliver Jews from death and Gentiles (see Romans 11) as well.

Yeshua had to be made exactly like those to be rescued from death so that He would fully know and empathize with our experience and thereby, as our cohen gadol, be able to be entirely merciful and faithful, making a kapparah (atonement) for the sins of the people. The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:12 predicted this seven hundred years in advance and also makes the best commentary: it is precisely because he “poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” ~ Isaiah 53:12 (ESV).

The majority of the mitzvot outlined in the written Torah deal with the sacrificial system, including the cahanut (priesthood), in which all the cohanim (priests) and the cohen hagadol were members of the tribe of Levi. Thus it is astounding, indeed revolutionary, to find that Yeshua, the Son of David, from the tribe of Judah, is spoken of as our cohen gadol. Much of the rest of the letter is occupied with explaining how this can be and why it is necessary.

How has God enabled Yeshua to become humanities true sacrifice? Making a kapparah for the sins of the people in the Tanakh required the animal sacrifice to be unblemished (see Leviticus 11:3). So, then, what the writer to the Messianic Jews is saying is that through suffering Yeshua was made fully able for the task of being the pioneer of our ultimate salvation.

Why should that be?  Barclay explains it this way: [1]

  1. It was through his sufferings that he was really identified with men.
  2. Through this identity, Jesus Christ sympathizes with man.
  3. Because he sympathizes Jesus can really help. He has met our sorrows; he has faced our temptations. As a result, he knows exactly what help we need; and he can give it.

In my next post, we’ll explore Yeshua as better than Moshe as a servant in Messianic Jews 3:1-6.

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[1] Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT) by William Barclay.


Revelation 1:1-3

The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed a brief Introduction to Revelation.  In this post, we begin our verse-by-verse study of The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan.

1 This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah, so that he could show his servants what must happen very soon. He communicated it by sending his angel to his servant Yochanan, 2 who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, as much as he saw.  3 Blessed are the reader and hearers of the words of this prophecy, provided they obey the things written in it!  For the time is near!” ~ Revelation 1:1-3 (CJB).

“This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah…” It is important from the beginning to understand that the central figure of this book is Yeshua the Messiah and the central theme is His Second ComingYeshua is both the One revealed (referred to variously as Son of Man, Lion of Judah, Lamb, Word of God) and the Revealer. God transmits the unveiled truth to Yeshua, and His angel conveys it to Yochanan  for God’s servants in the churches. [1]

“… he could show his servants…” It seems obvious that this revelation is intended for the servants of God. God has never given us any portion of Scripture that was not for our edification. A “servant in Scripture pertains to the position of bondservant.  One who has been redeemed and set free, but chooses a life of obedience to the one who set him free.

”What must happen very soon.” Compare this with: “But there is a God in heaven who unlocks mysteries, and he has revealed to King N’vukhadnetzar what will happen in the acharit-hayamim [End Times]. Here are your dream and the visions you had in your head when you were in bed. 29 “Your majesty, when you were in bed, you began thinking about what would take place in the future; and he who reveals secrets has revealed to you what will happen.” ~ Daniel 2:28-29 (CJB)

To what degree the writers of the Brit Hadassah regarded the End Times as imminent is debatable. Contrast, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 [2] with 2 Kefa 3:2-10 [3]. Yet they did urge believers to stay alert, for the Messiah may return without warning, like a thief in the night (cf. Matthew 24:32-25:30, Mark 13:32-37, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

The prophecy must happen very soon because it is secured by God’s sovereign purpose and power. It will take place soon, because “the time is near.”  In the epilogue, Yochanan, unlike Daniel, is told not to seal his prophecy. “Then he [an angel] said to me [Yochanan], Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy in this book, because the time of their fulfillment is near” ~ Revelation 22:10 (CJB).  Whereas Daniel was told by his angel: “But you, Dani’el, keep these words secret, and seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there as knowledge increases.” Daniel 12:4 (CJB) Yochanan’s visions are important for his first-century readers as well as for later generations of believers.

Without doubt the early church lived in expectancy of the imminent return of the Lord; but so should every generation of believers. The Brit Hadashah expresses a tension between imminence and perspective; the time is near, yet the end is delayed.  “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.” ~ Matthew 24:42-44 (CJB)

Sterns opines that “A more strained rendering of the Greek, especially in view of verse 3 (“For the time is near”), is, “what must happen rapidly”; i.e., once the events described commence, it won’t take long for all of them to occur.”  Angels play a significant role in the book of Revelation. [4]

“Blessed are the reader and hearers of the words of this prophecy…” This is the first of a series of seven beatitudes that are found in the Book of Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14). “Blessed,” as found here, is the same word that is used in Matthew (5:3-11) in the Sermon on the Mount. The word means happy, holy, or content.

“…provided they obey the things written in it!  For the time is near!”  This first beatitude in Revelation says blessed, happy, holy, or content is the one who reads, hears and keeps the things that are written in this book. Some might use the words, “cranky” or “critical” to describe those who read through this book. However, God says if you read this book, if you listen to this book, and if you keep or guard the truth that is revealed in this book, you are following the pathway of divine blessing. Take note of the fact that Revelation is a prophetic book. It is the last prophecy given by God to man. In the book of Revelation we find a compilation of all other prophecies in the word of God. Prophecies that are not previously fulfilled are consummated in the book of Revelation. There is no more God given, written revelation to man after John wrote Revelation. [5]

This is also sound advice from Mr. Jones:

“Now concerning the interpretation of Scripture, always use the literal approach. The only exception to this rule comes when, within the passage itself, it is obvious that it should be interpreted symbolically. The Bible does use figures of speech. God gives this revelation to Yeshua, who gives it to an angel, who communicates it to John, who writes it down for Christians throughout the ages. The angel mentioned may have been an Old Testament prophet. The word angel doesn’t always refer to a spiritual being it can actually mean “messenger.” On two other occasions (Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9) the angel continues sharing with Yochanan. However, Yochanan on those occasions makes the mistake of bowing before the angel and receives a sharp rebuke in return. The angel identifies himself as being one of the brethren, and in Revelation 22:9 as being one of the prophets. There is no other account of an angel of heaven speaking of himself with such description.”

Now that we have looked at what Scripture says and looked at several commentaries for enlightenment, let’s take a few moments to look at how the Four Views of interpretation look at Revelation 1:1-3.

It should come as no surprise that the phrases “must happen very soon” and “For the time is near!” get the only attention in this passage.  As a matter of fact, we don’t get a lot of dissension until we get to Chapter 4.

Special Comparative Note on Revelation 1:1-3
Historicist Approach: Historicists see fulfillment as beginning shortly after Yochanan’s time, but extending long beyond through the entire age of the church.
Preterist Approach: The earlier date of the writing prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE is more comfortable for early-date Preterists.  Later-date Preterists apply the fulfillment to the fall of Rome centuries after Yochanan’s time.
Futurist Approach: Futurists see the terms “very soon” and “near” having some meaning other than which first comes to mind. (1) Very soon can mean shortly or quickly thus meaning there will be a rapidity of fulfillment whenever the proper time may come, but may be thousands of years later than Yochanan’s time. (2) Very soon means that the time is near may be taken literally, but that Yochanan is speaking per God’s ways as noted above in 2 Kefa 3:8.  Even an event two thousand years removed might be regarded as near from God’s perspective.
Idealist Approach: For Idealists, the time is always near, since visions transcend any particular time.

In my next post, we continue to our verse-by-verse study of this fascinating prophesy.  As we go through the letter, I’ll continue to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views of interpretation presented in Part 1 of the Glossary.

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[1] As most of my regular followers know, I abhor the word “church” in discussing the activity of the Messianic Kehilah (see my explanation for why in the Glossary).  However, I have decided to bend my thinking in this series since when we talk about the End Times we frequently use the phrase “Church Age.”  Beginning in chapter 2, we will dive into the letters to the “Seven Churches.” So, for purposes of being politically correct, I will acquiesce.

[2] 29 What I am saying, brothers, is that there is not much time left: from now on a man with a wife should live as if he had none — 30 and those who are sad should live as if they weren’t, those who are happy as if they weren’t, 31 and those who deal in worldly affairs as if not engrossed in them — because the present scheme of things in this world won’t last much longer.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (CJB)

[3] 8 Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. 10 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 3:8-10 (CJB)

[4] “Jewish New Testament Commentary” by David H. Stern

[5] The above two paragraphs appear in “A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation” by Don Jones.

The Olivet Discourse

The End Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eternal Security ~ Encore

Response to Comments

In my last post, I wrapped-up the series on Eternal Security.  As promised, I want to take a few minutes to respond to the comments made in the last several posts.

As a reminder, this series was inspired by my own quest to answer the question:  Can I Lose My Salvation? I did my best to present both sides of the coin impartially.  I spent a lot of time praying in addition to reading and researching Scripture, commentaries, study notes, dictionaries, theology books and other related material.  In my last two posts, I answered the question by stating that theologically, I am a Calvi-minian and am in no fear of losing my own salvation.  My responses are italicized.

In Eternal Security ~ Pat 21, Michael from altruistico posted:

Good morning, Donald;

Can a Christian lose salvation? First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9).

I don’t disagree!  Trust and obey, there is no other way.

So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? It’s a crucially important question. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation and to study what losing salvation would entail:(See: Can a Christian lose salvation? @

Michael, you have stated your position in your usual excellent manner.  We obviously disagree on the issue of can a Christian as you’ve described above and in your post, turn his back on His Savior and walk away.  I do believe it is possible by his own free will, but highly improbable by the working of the indwelling Ruach. 

Secondly, we must look to the question of “Is it possible for a person’s name to be erased from the Book of Life?” First, Scripture is clear that a true believer is kept secure by the power of God, sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and of all those whom the Father has given to the Son, He will lose none of them (John 6:39). The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29b). Salvation is God’s work, not ours (Titus 3:5), and it is His power that keeps us.

If the “anyone” referred to in Revelation 22:19 are not believers, who are they? In other words, who might want to either add to or take away from the words of the Bible? (See: “Is it possible for a person’s name to be erased from the Book of Life?” @ ).

Michael, I going to take a pass on this position as my next series will be a look at the End Times.  I’ll examine this issue then.

And thirdly: We must answer the question “If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?” The Bible teaches that everyone who is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit is saved forever. We receive the gift of eternal life (John 10:28), not temporary life. Someone who is born again (John 3:3) cannot be “unborn.” After being adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15), we will not be kicked out. When God starts a work, He finishes it (Philippians 1:6). So, the child of God—the believer in Jesus Christ—is eternally secure in his salvation.

However, the Bible also contains some strong warnings against apostasy. These warnings have led some to doubt the doctrine of eternal security. After all, if we cannot lose our salvation, why are we warned against falling away from the Lord? (See: “If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?” @ ).

I think I laid out my position of Apostasy clearly in Eternal Security ~ Part 4 & 5.  I stated above: I do believe it is possible by his own free will, but highly improbable by the working of the indwelling Ruach, for a believer to Apostatize.  

In Eternal Security ~ Part 23, Wally from Truth in Palmyra posted in response to a question I asked on where we disagreed:

I think it comes down to the extent of perseverance of the saints, Don. I know you lean towards even a saved believer being able to walk away from his salvation. I actually believe we might WANT to, and even intend to.  I just don’t get on board with the idea that, no matter how much we might think we want to walk away, or plan to, that God will actually let us. I honestly think in that case He revokes our will and keeps us anyway. He loves us so much that He stops us from being stupid.

I’m not convinced that He revokes our will; but, by the indwelling of the Ruach it’s not a fight that I think I could win.  It is that indwelling that I consciously rely on to keep me from doing the ultimate stupid. 

Also, in Eternal Security ~ Part 23, Patrick from Serving Grace Ministries commented:

I think you [Wally and I] are both right. It would be ludicrous to believe that the God who draws all men unto Himself would let go easily. Also, notice that Hebrews 6:5 the author (who I believe to be Paul) is dealing with the issue of maturity in the things of God… those who have advanced beyond the elementary teachings of the Gospel but have flowed in the gifts of the Spirit.

Patrick, you’ll get no argument from me, except for the authorship of the Letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews).

 And, Spaniard VIII from SPIRITUALMINEFIELD commented:

I disagree with Wally that God takes away our freewill, its unBiblical. I do agree with Wally that you cannot lose your salvation because Jesus plainly said so in John 10:28. Even though you have freewill, you will never choose to abandon Christ, its impossible. Why? Because through faith in Jesus we are born again, becoming a new man, not the same as the old one. Our soul becomes totally devoted to Jesus Christ. If we can lose our salvation, then we never had something that was eternal. Either we have it or we don’t. Thanks for the ping Son.

See my response above to Wally’s comment and the following.

Interestingly, over the last couple of days in my daily readings (both Scripture and devotionals) I have been seeing passages or comments that support the “once saved, always saved” credo of classical Calvinists. “He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before My Father and before His angels.” ~ Revelation 3:5.   I’m not there yet, but who knows what the future may hold.  Regardless, I am convinced that I am saved and won’t be left behind.

I close with the following two quotes from devotions I have read in the last two days.

“So how does a branch keep from being pruned from the vine? If God is the divine gardener and we are the branches, how do we make sure that he doesn’t target us for trimming? How can we make sure that we survive the gardener’s shears?  Stay united with me, as I will with you — for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from me” ~ John 15:4. According to Yeshua, the secret to growth is connection. The way we stay healthy is simply to stay attached. The formula for more fruit is to remain on the vine. To feed from its roots. To stay plugged into the source of all life. [1]

“As God’s child, live today with the surety, hope, and courage that come from knowing that your standing before God is secure.”  [2]

In my next post, I share about Hanukkah.

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[1] Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven ~ December 16th.

[2] New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp ~ December 15th.