Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

The 7 Feasts of Israel and Their Link to Messianic Prophecy

Hello!

I have just finished a 3-part series about the Feasts of Israel and what part they play in the Messiah’s life.  It is absolutely amazing, and something we Gentile Christians miss far too often.  I promise you, you will be amazed!  These posts were originally published on another site.  I will post all three here for ease of access.

At the time of Moses, God commanded Israel to celebrate seven feasts.  They were Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles.  Passover through Weeks were spring feasts, while Trumpets through Tabernacles were fall feasts.  The question is, if these feasts were commanded for Israel to follow, what does it matter to the Church?  There are two primary answers.  First, as people grafted into the tree of Israel, every Christian should know and understand these feasts.  Truthfully we should follow them in some way on the appropriate days as well.  I’ll get more into that later.  The second reason is that each of these feasts is intricately connected to Messianic prophecy, some fulfilled, and others yet to be.

Before we begin looking at the feasts, let’s take a brief look at the Jewish calendar.  Israel today, and always, has followed a lunar calendar.  The first day of the month is the day after the new moon, with the first sliver of the moon.  The 14th of the month is always the full moon.  Every month is always 28 days.  This was established by God at the time of the Exodus.  The Jewish day (according to God in the creation story…and the evening and the morning was the first day) begins at sundown and ends the following sundown.  So the Sabbath actually begins Friday night at sunset, and ends Saturday at sunset.  The days of the week do not have names, as we do.  Sunday is the first day of the week; Monday is the second, and so on.  Saturday is not day six.  It is simply Sabbath.  The same was originally true of the months of the year.  Names were given during the time of captivity in Babylon.

Just as we, with the solar calendar, have a leap year in which we add a day to sort of readjust the calendar for the ¼ rotation, the Jewish calendar has a leap month, so to speak.  There is a 19-year cycle in which an extra month is added to the yearly calendar in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19.  This does not have anything to do with our topic, but it is interesting.

One last thing about the Jewish calendar.  Just as we have different year markers, so do they.  By that I mean, the first of our calendar year is January 1.  A fiscal year can begin anytime a company chooses.  And for those of you, like me, who live in the education world, the new year begins in August or September.  In fact, I am known to wish my fellow teachers, and my students a happy new year on day one back to work.

Israel has a religious calendar and a civil calendar.  The religious calendar begins in the  spring.  The first day is in the month of Nissan, which comes during our time of March and into April.  The first day of the civil year is in the fall.  It is the 7th religious month, but the first civil month.  This is when they celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the new year, and when the number of the year turns over to the next.  In the month of Tishri (our September/October) this fall the Jewish year will turn over from 5776 to 5777.  Their years are calculated according to dates in the Bible from the time of creation.  So much for billions of years.  Since Jews, by in large, do not recognize the Christian calendar with BC and AD (before and after Christ), they use the terms Common or Christian Era (CE) and Before the Common Era (BCE).

With this information, let’s get started on the feasts.  The first feast is probably the most familiar for the Christian.  It is Passover.  Passover was instilled by God before Moses even led Israel out of Egypt.  The Passover was the last of the ten plagues inflicted upon Egypt for not allowing God’s people to leave.  The Israelites were commanded to select a year old male sheep, without blemish, on the 10th day of the first month (Nissan).  They were to take it into their home for four days.  On the 14th they were to sacrifice this lamb, roast it, and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

Very specific instructions were given.  It is especially important to note the lamb was to be without blemish.  They were also told not to break any bones.  The lamb was not to be moved outside of the house, and if any of the meat was not eaten, the whole thing was to be burned up.  The people were to brush blood from the lamb on the sides and top of the door frame of their house, and no one was to leave the house before morning.  That night, God went through all of Egypt and killed every firstborn male, human and beast, that was not covered by the blood.  It was the blood of the lamb that brought salvation from slavery in Egypt to the people of Israel.

Some of the keywords of this story should ring little bells in the mind of the Christian.  The lamb without blemish whose blood brought salvation, for one.  The Israelites were commanded to keep the Passover every year on the same date as a memorial to what God had done for them.  Yeshua (Jesus) was brought up observing the Passover and observed it during His adult life.  In fact, it was during the observance of the Passover that we find some striking parallels.

On the 10th day of Nissan, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Yeshua, entered into Jerusalem in preparation for the Passover.  During the Passover meal, Yeshua took the bread (unleavened bread) broke it and said, “This is my body.”  (Leaven, in the Bible, represents sin.)  Yeshua equated the unleavened (sinless) bread to himself.  Yeshua also took the cup of wine and said, “This is my blood poured out for many.”

The Passover meal (and now what we call the Last Supper) was eaten at night, on the 14th of Nissan.  That date carried over to daylight…still the 14th, still Passover.  At nine a.m., Yeshua was put on the cross.  Six hours later, at three p.m., He died…on Passover.  The lamb without blemish, whose blood brought salvation from the slavery of sin.  The unleavened/sinless bread that was pierced for our sins.  The blood on the doorpost…taken upon ourselves through communion…that delivers us from eternal, spiritual death.

The Passover Feast was a celebration of what God had done for Israel and continues to be for them.  But as with many Jewish symbols established by God, there was a shadow of something more- a prophecy that was fulfilled in Yeshua.

There are six more feasts to cover, and we will get to those in future parts of this article, so please be watching for them.

PART TWO

In the first article of this series, we learned the Jewish calendar, established by God, is a lunar calendar.  The months are 28 days long, beginning on the first sliver after the new moon, with the middle of the month always being the full moon.  Each new day begins at sundown and ends at sundown the following day.  An understanding of the Jewish calendar is important to understand how and when the 7 Feasts are held, when the Sabbath actually is, and how these times relate to events in the life and death of Messiah.

We also looked at the first of the 7 Feasts God commanded the Israelites to observe, Passover.  Passover was not only a memorial to the physical salvation God gave the Israelites when He brought them out of slavery in Egypt, but also a symbol of the spiritual salvation that was given by Yeshua (Jesus) when He died on the cross.  In fact, Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy that is the Passover Feast when He became the young male lamb without blemish that was sacrificed for our salvation.  You can read that full article here.

Today we continue with the remainder of what are known as the Spring Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Feast of Weeks or Pentecost).

The Passover always begins at sundown on the 14th of the month of Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it was.  Because it was the 14th of a lunar month, it was also on a full moon.  The year that Yeshua was crucified on Passover, the 14th happened to begin (at sundown) on a Friday.  The very next day, the 15th was the day beginning the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  That year it would have started on the Sabbath.  This was why Yeshua had to give up His spirit before sundown on Passover.  It was normal for a crucified person to take up to three days to die.  Yeshua died in six hours, so there would be time to bury His body before the Sabbath, which was also the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Unleavened bread, called Matzah, is bread made without yeast.  The Israelites in Egypt were commanded to make the dough for their exodus without yeast, because they would not have time to wait for it to rise before they fled.  They ate Matzah during the Passover meal and then carried uncooked Matzah dough with them when they left Egypt.  The bread itself is symbolic.  Leaven or yeast, in the Bible, is representative of sin.  When the bread is made, it is pierced all over, and covered with stripes, to make sure no rising takes place.  Then it is broken and eaten.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts a full seven days.  The number seven in the Bible is very significant.  It means completeness or wholeness.

As with all of the Feasts, Unleavened Bread has Messianic prophetic meaning.  Yeshua was the Passover Lamb who was crucified on Passover.  He was also the unleavened bread; the bread that was completely without sin- pierced and striped for our sins.  Isaiah 53:5 (TLV) – “But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities.  The chastisement for our shalom [peace] was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.”

This is not a presumption made by people wishing to put meaning where there is none.  Consider the words of 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (TLV): “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you—that the Lord Yeshua, on the night He was betrayed, took matzah; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you.  Do this in memory of Me.’”

Yeshua, the Lamb without blemish, sacrificed on Passover:  prophecy fulfilled.

Yeshua, the lineless unleavened bread, broken and buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread:  prophecy fulfilled.

The third Feast follows on the heels of Passover and Unleavened Bread.  In fact, it can sometimes fall in the middle of Unleavened Bread.  The Feast of First Fruits was first celebrated after the Israelites were at long last in the Promised Land and had produced a crop.  It was the celebration of the spring crops and the act of giving back to God the first fruits of what He had provided for them.  Again, Passover was the 14th of Nisan, and Unleavened Bread, the 15th, regardless of the day of the week.  The Feast of First Fruits was on the Sunday following the Sabbath that was during the time of the 7-day-long Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It is always on a Sunday.  Because Passover and Unleavened Bread were on Friday and Saturday in the year that Yeshua was crucified, it worked out perfectly that the very next day, the Sunday which would be the Feast of First Fruits, would be the third day, on which Yeshua was raised from the dead.  1 Corinthians 15:20 (TLV):  “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Feast prophecy #3:  fulfilled.

The last of the Spring Feasts is the Feast of Weeks.  It is exactly 50 days after Firstfruits.  Recall that Firstfruits is the Sunday after the Sabbath that is within Unleavened Bread.  Count from that Sabbath 7 weeks – 49 days from Sabbath to Sabbath, then add one more day to make 50.  Like the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks is always on a Sunday.  If you are good with calendars, you have perhaps already figured out that Weeks is what the Gentile church calls Pentecost (its Greek name).

All of the seven Feasts are given as commands in Leviticus 23.  Passover is mentioned, but most of its instructions were given in Exodus 12.  Leviticus records the Law as given to the people of Israel through Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.  Jewish tradition says that it took exactly 50 days for the Israelite people to travel from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, where they received God’s Law.  It was obedience to this law that determined God’s presence with the people.  In fact, in Exodus 32 we have the story of the golden calf.  Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the Law from God.  While he was there, the people gave him up for dead, gathered gold jewelry, melted it down and made a golden calf to worship.  As a result, two very significant things happened.  The first is that about 3,000 men were killed for their leadership in building the calf (of interesting note is that no one from the tribe of Levi participated, and thus they received the blessing of being the tribe of priests).  Remember that number.

The second thing was that the Spirit of God would no longer be present within the camp.  Up to this point, God dwelt in the midst of the people.  He lead them by manifesting Himself as a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.  From this point on, His angel led the people, and God only met with Moses, outside of the camp, at the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:1-3).

Now we jump back to the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost after Yeshua’s death and resurrection.  In the wilderness, at the time of the Feast of Weeks, God gave the people His Law, obedience to which determined how God dwelt with or manifested Himself with the people.  On the Feast of Weeks, after Yeshua went back to Heaven, God sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within His people, all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.  God’s presence was no longer dependent upon our obedience, but upon the belief and acceptance of the perfect obedience of Yeshua.  Because He was sinless, our acceptance of His sacrifice meant that we could never lose the presence of God within us by any doing of our own.

Note also the number I emphasized earlier:  3,000.  Three thousand men were lost in the wilderness due to their disobedience to the Law; their rejection of God as the God who saved them from bondage.  Acts 2:41 (TLV):  “So those who received his message were immersed, and that day about three thousand souls were added.”  Hundreds of years after 3,000 souls were lost, 3,000 were redeemed for their acceptance of God’s salvation from bondage, the bondage of sin.

Feast #4:  prophecy fulfilled.

PART THREE

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we studied the Jewish calendar and four of the seven feasts established by God.  The first four are the spring feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and First Fruits.  They are all more than God-ordained feasts.  They are all also Messianic prophecies, which have been fulfilled.

Today we will look at the remaining three feasts, the fall feasts:  Trumpets, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Sukkot)- all have yet to be fulfilled.

What is the significance to the long wait between the two sets of feasts?  You will recall that the spring feasts were all fulfilled through Messiah’s death, burial, resurrection and the coming of His Holy Spirit.  Each feast represented something significant about what happened in Israel’s past, but was also a prophecy that shadowed the coming of the Messiah.  They were all tied into the spring harvest, as well.

The Feast of First Fruits (on which Messiah was raised to life, and is called the First Fruits of the resurrected) is, in fact, the festival to give thanks to God for the spring harvest.  The spring harvest is the smaller harvest; its first produce is to be offered up to God as a sacrifice.  During the summer, the wheat crops are grown, and the larger crop is harvested in the fall. This is commemorated with the Feast of Trumpets.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that Messiah is the first fruits of those to be resurrected, and those who belong to Messiah are the seconds (1 Cor. 15:20-23).  Yeshua (Jesus) was raised to life on the day of the Feast of First Fruits.  The summer growing season is the time we are living in now.  The time after the spring harvest when the new seed is planted and grown for the greater harvest in the fall.  That harvest will be when Yeshua calls His church to Himself.

This opens up an interesting discussion regarding the Rapture of the Church.  Why believe that the Feast of Trumpets prophecy will be fulfilled by the Rapture?  During this feast, the shofar, or trumpets, are blown.  The trumpets were a signal to all Israelites to stop what they were doing and gather at the temple, whether the harvest was complete or not.  It was a call to gather before the presence of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52* says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery:  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar.  For the shofar [trumpet] will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17* – “For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Both of these passages tell of a trumpet blast before all believers, dead first, then living, will be called into the presence of the Lord.  Yeshua, Himself, made this promise.  Look at what He says in John 14:2-3*:  “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling-places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be.”

In these verses, Yeshua was speaking in symbolic terms that the disciples, as Jews, would understand.  It was traditional for a groom to leave His bride with her family while he went off to build a home for them.  Once that home was completed, he would return to get her.  He would literally pick her up and carry her to their new home where they would live together.

In Matthew 25, we know that Yeshua refers to Himself as the groom.  His bride is the body of believers, both Jew and Gentile, who make up the Church [This does not include the unbelieving Jew.  Jeremiah 8:20 – “Harvest is past, summer is over, yet we are not saved.”  A remnant will be saved during the Tribulation.].  Yeshua was telling his disciples that when He left, He was going to prepare the marriage home, then come back and physically lift, and carry away, His bride to live with Him.

Now saying that the Feast of Trumpets will be the Rapture leads to another discussion, because we can pinpoint a date for the Feast of Trumpets.  Just as Yeshua fulfilled each of the spring feasts on their specific, and chronological dates, we can, at the very least, suspect that He will fulfill the fall feasts in a similar manner.  The Feast of Trumpets is always on the first day of the seventh month, the month of Tishri. This would be the first sliver after the new moon in September for us. Obviously, we cannot know the year, but I want to give you something to consider when it comes to date-setting.

Yeshua said plainly that no one knows the day or the hour, not even Him or the angels, only the Father (Matthew 24:36).   He was not talking about the Rapture of the Church in this passage.  He was talking about the Tribulation and the 2nd coming.  We can know this, because if we continue reading this passage in context, and without the chapter and verse breaks that have been added in, Yeshua wraps up this segment by talking about the Great White Throne Judgement (Matthew 25:31-46).  This is HUGE!  What He was saying is that no one knows the day or hour that He will return physically to earth and set up His earthly kingdom (the Millennial, or thousand year reign written about by John in Revelations 20).  Of course, all this being said, who can know the mind of God?

Here is what we have so far.  We know for a fact, that Yeshua personally fulfilled the prophecies of the first four feasts, the spring feasts, on their respective dates and in chronological order.  We know that we are currently living in the summer growing season before the fall harvest.  If one studies the Scriptures, specifically the Old Testament, one can also see quite clearly that God is a god of patterns.  It is a much bigger lesson than I have time to go into here.  But knowing this, and knowing what we do about the spring feasts, can we not then also know with some certainty that the fall feasts will also be fulfilled at least on their respective dates and in chronological order?

This next part gets a bit dicey.  I want to wrap up this series with this article, so I am going to move on to the next fall feast, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.  This was the feast that every Israelite obeyed or was excommunicated.  It was the day when all Israel turned their hearts to God and confessed and mourned their sin.  Prophetically it will be the day when all Israel, as one, recognizes that Yeshua is their Messiah, and mourn that they rejected Him.  Zechariah 12:10* says “Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced.  They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn.”  Chapter 13 describes God’s forgiveness of the Israelites for this sin.  As Hosea forgave his wife, the harlot, God too, will forgive His wife, Israel the unfaithful, and redeem her to Himself.  This atonement will mark the ending of the Great Tribulation, and usher in Yeshua’s return to earth for His kingdom (Zechariah 14 and Revelation 20), which then also is the last feast, the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles is the feast the Israelites celebrated to honor God’s presence with them as they wandered through the wilderness and lived in sukkots (tabernacles…tents).  It is the time when Yeshua will live and reign in person on earth, His second coming.  This is also the only feast that will continue to be celebrated throughout eternity (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Every year, on that set date, all people of the earth will come to Jerusalem (the new Jerusalem) to worship in the presence of the King.

The dicey part?  We know the dates of the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Atonement is on the 10th day of the 7th month (Tishri, the same month as the Feast of Trumpets), and the Feast of Tabernacles is on the 15th day of the same month.  Yeshua said that no one knows the day or the hour, and He was referring to His second coming, which would be the Feast of Tabernacles on the 15th of Tishri.  But, we also know that feast prophecies have been fulfilled on the exact dates and in the exact order.  What a conundrum!

I have prayed and prayed about this.  I have read and studied this.  As I sit here writing what I have learned, I share with you what is on my heart.  I believe that the Day of Atonement for Israel will come, and when it comes, it will usher in the 2nd coming of Yeshua, in that order, as the feasts have been celebrated for thousands of years.  Because no one knows the day or the hour, except the Father, I believe these dates will be re-established at new times.  It is on the date of Yeshua’s 2nd coming that we will all celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for eternity.  As with anyone with the gift of prophecy, and anyone who studies God’s Word for that matter, we can all be certain to not have a complete understanding of everything.  One thing I am certain of—there are three feasts remaining to be fulfilled.  I have no doubt that they will be.  And I have no doubt that the summer growing period is nearing its end, and fall will be here soon.

The bottom line is this:  Studying end time prophecy is intended to give us hope in God’s promises, and also to drive us to our knees to seek His work in preparing our hearts for those days.  I pray these articles have done that.

*All Scripture passages were taken from the Tree of Life Version of the Bible.

If you have been blessed by these articles, please take a moment to pray and thank God.

 

The Blood of the Sacrifice and the Cup of Communion

Friday, April 22, 2016 was Passover.  Passover is always on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, the 14th day of the month of Abib.  This is according to God’s command given at the time of the exodus from Egypt.  It is still the day that it is observed today. 

Passover was the day that Jesus, Yeshua, was crucified.  In truth, if we are to remember His sacrifice on the actual anniversary of it, we should have done that just over a week ago on April 22nd. 

On the night before the Israelites left Egypt, the people were given instructions for observing the first Passover Feast.  Among other things, they were to sacrifice a lamb (or goat), a year old, and without blemish.  Each household was to do this, unless the household was too small to eat the whole lamb, then they could share with another household.  Very specific instructions were given on how to sacrifice and prepare this lamb.  Each household would sacrifice their own lamb, spread the blood on their door posts, and then cook and eat the lamb.  The blood on the door posts marked the Israelites as set apart from the Egyptians.  When the Israelites left Egypt, they numbered more than 600,000 men (plus women and children)…I wonder how many households that was?  Keep that in mind for now.

I would like to point out two things here.  One, the blood as an identifier; and two, the one-year-old lamb without blemish.  Now let’s see if there is a pattern.

Once the Israelites were safely out of danger from the Egyptians, God put the people to work building the Tabernacle (the incredible tent of meeting where God Himself would be present with the people).  It was at this time that God instituted the sacrificial system.  This was a series of animal and grain sacrifices that would cover any number of purposes.  The Burnt offering was voluntary.  It was an act of submission to God’s will.  The sacrifice was a male lamb, bull, ram, dove, or pigeon (God made allowance for those who did not have the means to offer a larger animal).  If the bull, ram, or sheep was used, it was to be without blemish.  The person offering the sacrifice laid his hand on the animal’s head, symbolizing the substitution of the animal for the person.  The priests would place the parts of the animal on the alter and burn it.  It was also the priests who would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice around the alter.

Other sacrifices were the Grain offering, the Peace offering, the Sin offering, and the Trespass offering.  Of these four, three of them offered animal sacrifice, and two of them required an animal without blemish.  The Sin offering required the priest to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary, and also wipe the blood on the horns of the alter. When a priest was installed, blood from a sacrifice was wiped on the tip of his right ear, right thumb, and big toe of his right foot.  The same was true for the person with a Leprous condition (which I understand to be any type of sore on the skin that was possibly contagious), after he had been declared clean by the priest as part of offering the Trespass offering.

The blood represented life.  Spilling the blood of a sacrifice was a substitutionary payment for the lifeblood that would have otherwise been required of each and every sinful person by a holy and righteous God.  In sacrificing the animal, without blemish, the person was transferring his own sin to the sacrifice.  At the same time, he was taking the blood of the sacrifice, the consequence of his sin, upon himself, and receiving the forgiveness through the substitution.  In other words, he made the sacrifice his own.

I will come back to this in a moment, but I want to point out something that, to me, is stunning.  It occurred to me while studying this in Leviticus what a great many lambs, goats, bulls, etc. needed to be sacrificed, on a daily basis.  Hebrews 10:11 says that every priest offered daily, and repeatedly the same sacrifices which never take away sins (the sin and the trespass offerings).  The Passover was celebrated yearly, and required an unblemished lamb or goat for each family.  At the time of the Exodus, as I stated earlier, there were hundreds of thousands of Israelites.  A wild stab in the dark would suggest that there may have been as many as 30 to 40 to maybe even 50,000 families.  That was when the nation was small.  They continued to grow.  Imagine the numbers by the time Christ walked the earth.  Now, how many animals without blemish do you suppose are the regular, run-of-the-mill occurrence?  I asked a local sheep farmer I know.  His response?  Maybe 1%.  One percent!!!  It would have been earthly impossible for the Israelites to offer up the sacrifices, as God commanded them to do, at the high numbers that were necessary, without the miraculous provision of them.  Just as God provided Yeshua, our spotless sacrificial Passover lamb for the forgiveness, once and for all, of our sins and the sins of the world, God also provided the lambs without blemish for thousands of people over hundreds of years for the forgiveness of their sins. Amazing God!!

Back to the blood of the sacrifice and the Passover.  I stated a moment ago that the person offering the sacrifice made it his own by laying his head on the animal, killing it himself, getting the animal’s blood on his own hands.  It was the consequence of his own sin.  He took that blood upon himself.  The blood of the Passover lamb, spread on the door posts, set that family aside as belonging to God.  There was great symbolism in the blood.

The night before Jesus was crucified, he had what we call the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, with His disciples.  In this meal, a cup of wine represents the blood of Jesus that was to be spilled for the forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice.  What did the disciples do with that wine, the symbolic blood?  They drank it.  They took it upon themselves, by taking into their bodies.  They made it their own.  And in so doing, they marked themselves as set aside and belonging to God.  The next time you partake in the Lord’s Supper, remember it is more than remembering what Jesus did for you at the cross.  You have accepted His sacrifice in your place, as a consequence of your sin…you have made, so gratefully, His sacrifice your own.  Your hands have been covered by His blood.  And beyond that, you have been marked as His, set aside, belonging to God Himself. 

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  (John 1:29)

Letter to the Youth of the Church

I want to address the teens and young adults of the Church with this message; for it is to you that we will pass the torch.  It is you who will need to keep the fire lit, and lead the Church in the truth of God’s Word, and in the spirit of righteousness.

In the New Testament book of Revelation (chapters 2-3), the Apostle John records a message from Yeshua (Jesus) to 7 churches that existed during that time.  These letters were both for those particular churches, but also for us today.

As with much of the prophetic words of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, there are levels to the prophecies which each need to be looked at.  Often, a message was given that was directly for the people living during a particular period of time, while at the same time a prophetic word for ages to come.  This is the case with the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation.  There were, in fact, 7 churches that each of these 7 letters were written and delivered to (the first level).  However, they are also types of churches which you can see not only throughout the history of the Church, but today in various congregations (the second level).  An individual Christian can also look at the 7 letters and find their own personal faith walk within the descriptions of the churches, and from it receive encouragement, but also correction (the third level).  The fourth prophetic level is that which describes the stages of the age of the Church, from the time Yeshua rose into Heaven after His death and resurrection until the time He will rapture the Church out of this world.  In this final level, each of the 7 churches represents, in succession, a stage of the worldwide church over the centuries.  The seventh church being the age after which will come the rapture.

The seventh church was the church of Laodicea; the church which was wealthy, and so comfortable in that wealth that they had become complacent.  Yeshua called them luke warm.  Nothing was wrong, nothing was right; it was an everything goes kind of mentality.  And it was a mentality that did not include Jesus.  They went to church, but never even mentioned His name.  That is why, in Revelation 3:20 He said to this 7th church: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him.”  Jesus was on the outside of this church.  He was knocking on the door, and waiting for any individual to hear His voice.  The church was so far gone, that as a whole, it was not going to hear Him.  He was calling, “Hello!  Can anyone hear me?  Will someone, anyone, please open the door and let me in?”

This is the church age today.  There are congregations who are hot, and on fire for God.  But more and more, there are those who are pushing Yeshua right out of the door and locking it behind Him.  There are “churches” in the United States who open their doors to anyone who wishes to come in, regardless of which “god” they worship.  It may be Buddah, Ala, or it may be no god at all.  Even athiests are welcome into these places where all are invited to come and worship whomever and however they please, and yet still be called a “church”.  We are being told that things the Bible teaches us are wrong, are in fact right and good, and whole church congregations are accepting that as truth.  People are being told that everyone is saved and will go to Heaven.  This is completely contrary to what the Bible says.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  And in John 1:12 it says: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” 

We are being told that, regardless of what religion we are, we all worship the same god. That is a lie!  The God of the Bible; the One who spoke to Abraham and Moses, and who parted the waters of the Red Sea; the God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them, has a name. His name is YAHWEH.  Exodus 3:15 in the Hollman Standard Bible says this:  God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites:  ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.  This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.'”

We are being told that Yahweh did not create the world out of nothing, but that everything that exists in just the right way to live and function happened by accident.  An explosion of gasses and matter, and boom, species upon species upon species of every kind of insect, creature, bird of the air, plants, trees, planets, stars, and humans all came into being with every minute detail of existence just falling into place and working like…a perfect creation, designed by a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator.

We are being told that homosexuality and all manner of perversity is normal and good.  Yet God…Yahweh…said in His Word that these acts are detestable.  Leviticus 18:22 – “You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.”

We are being told that Yeshua was just a good teacher, not the Son of God, and that he was not sinless.  Yet Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah in reference to the Messiah, which is Jesus, saying, “He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.”  1 Peter 2:22.

Young people, here is the point.  We live in dangerous times for the Church.  Unless we, as God’s people, study God’s Word and know what it says; unless we spend time in prayer and learn to listen to the Holy Spirit; we will be deceived and led away from Jesus…we will push Him out of the door and lock it behind Him. 

You are young.  We grown ups run the church.  Today it is our responsibility to see that the Church remains faithful to God.  Tomorrow you will be responsible.  Each day and year that goes by, the Church as a whole moves further away from the truth. As we prepare you to be leaders in the church, we will all need to take this calling seriously.  We cannot afford to poo-poo this responsibility.  Too much is at stake.  We will teach you how to read and study God’s Word, and how to pray and listen for the Spirit.  You need to actively learn.  Your adulthood seems forever away, but in just a few short years (for some of you perhaps only 2 or 3, and for others it is tomorrow), you will be adults.  More and more the reigns of the church will be handed to you, just as they were to us.  Will you be ready?

Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.

Easter, the Celebration of the Fertility Goddess

Yikes!!  My guess is, if you are like me, you opened this post in one of two ways.  Really, seriously twirked that I would have the audacity to call the celebration of the resurrection of the Messiah a pagan holiday.  Or, grieved that yet another believer appears to have gone astray and desires to take others with her.

I assure you, neither is the case.  I just wanted to get your attention:-)  Now, put that smiley face aside, though, because what I do want to talk about is serious business.

Have you ever thought about where we get the term Easter?  I’ll be honest.  I never did.  Not once.  I remember learning where the term Christmas came from, or at least what it means.  I also knew that Santa Claus was not really part of it, but that there was a lot of symbology to the artifacts of Christmas (the tree, the candy cane, etc.).  I remember in my early 20s researching the history behind Halloween and choosing to not take part in it (and then waffling, taking part, and turning back from it when my children were younger).  Somewhere in the years since those discoveries I began to ask what in the world the Easter Bunny, colored eggs and hunts all had to do with the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus).  I reasoned, or perhaps was even told, that it had something to do with new life.  It still haunted me.  That explanation was just not good enough.

A year ago, I was working my way through an amazing study of Genesis taught from the Hebrew perspective.  Talk about eye opening!  It has changed my whole view of the Bible and my role as a Gentile Christian.  That aside, I was shocked to read that the name Easter was that of the wife/queen of the evil tyrant, Nimrod.  Say what?!  She was known eventually by many names including Semiramis, Ishtar, Isis, Cyblle, and Ashteroth (read a bit of God’s judgement on Judah in Jeremiah 7:18).  Nimrod (also called Ashur) deified himself. He became known as the creator god, the god of the sun, later to be called Ba’al, Marduk, and Molech, among others.  Semiramis, his wife, was also deified, being known as the mother of heaven, the goddess of the moon and of fertility.  After Nimrod died, Semiramis bore a son whom she called Tamuz.  He was said to be the reincarnation of Nimrod, a man-god, forming the last of a very unholy trinity.  These three became the basis of all false religions, what God called Mystery Babylon (Nimrod built Bavel, the original city of Babylon where a tower was built to the sky in defiance of God, and where God confused the languages of the people – Genesis 11).

These God-less gods were responsible for false worship, temple prostitutes, child sacrifices, and all number of heinous acts.  Associated with this goddess of fertility were the rabbit, as a symbol of fertility, and the egg.  It was said that a large egg came down from the sky and rested in the water.  Easter (Semiramis) was born from that egg in the spring time.  Thus the ritual springtime celebration of the pagan goddess, Easter.

How in the world did Easter come to be the name of the holiday of our Lord?  The explanation goes way back to the 2nd century AD.  It was a time of great persecution for the Jewish people.  Jerusalem had been destroyed and Rome built another city on top of the ruins.  The city was called Alia Capitolina.  Jews were forbidden to enter, as they were said to be detestable.  Anything Jewish was also forbidden, including any Jewish celebrations or feasts.  This was a problem for the early Christian church. They had continued to celebrate the Passover, as Yeshua had done, and included the commemoration of His death as the Passover sacrificial lamb.

Here we need a little basic information.  Way back in Exodus, God had commanded the Israelite people to celebrate the Passover, followed immediately by the Feast of Matzah (Unleavened Bread) in the first month, on the 14th day.  Passover was to be on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan.  Yeshua, as the sacrificial passover lamb, was crucified on Passover…did you know that?  (A topic for another day is the fulfillment of prophecy that took place on each of the God-assigned Hebrew feasts…except one that is yet to be fulfilled.)

Yeshua was crucified on the 14th of Nisan, a particular date, not a particular day of the week.  The apostolic church (the early church under the leadership of the apostles) continued to observe Passover, on Nisan 14, regardless of what day of the week it fell on, but including the Lord’s supper as instituted by Yeshua before His death (Luke 22).  For well over a century this was the only way Yeshua’s death was commemorated.

When Rome built Alia Capitolina over the ruins of Jerusalem and forbid anything Jewish from entering, the Church, rather than continue to follow God’s command to observe Passover when it was intended, chose to move the celebration to the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox, coincidentally right around the time of the pagan fertility celebration, Easter.  After a couple hundred years, and a decision in there somewhere to celebrate the resurrection of the Messiah as well, the watered down Passover, and Easter were blended and called Easter.  Easter became the celebration of the resurrection of the risen Messiah that incorporates the pagan symbol of the fertile bunny rabbit, and the supposed mystic birth of the false queen of heaven.  Makes my stomach turn.  What satisfaction and glee Satan must feel watching Yeshua’s church celebrating Him in this way.

This brings to mind the Church in Thyatira.  The 4th of 7 churches that John wrote to in Revelations.  This was the church that allowed Jezebel in her mix.  Jezebel was a symbol for idolatry,  sexual immorality, and sacrifices to idols.  The real Jezebel of the Old Testament worshipped Ba’al and killed God’s prophets…and she was the Queen of Israel!!  The church at Thyatira had allowed Jezebel to infiltrate their midst with idolatry and sexual immorality, and Yeshua had some tough words for them.

I have said it before, and I will continue to say it, because it is the mission God has given me:  it is time for the Church to return to its Hebrew roots, to the tree we were grafted into, not the one we replaced.  This Sunday, forget about Easter.  Focus your praise and worship on what Yeshua did for you, as you do every year, but do it on Resurrection Sunday.

There is Power in the Name…YESHUA

There’s Power in the Name…YESHUA

Recently I have been reading a book by Derek Frank called “Escaping the Great Deception.”  In it Frank chronicles the intentional changing of names and words in the Bible in order to remove the Jewishness of it and make it more Gentile.  Historical documents, which I won’t go into here, show that this stemmed from the anti-semitic attitudes of the 3rd and 4th century church who blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ and believed that the church had replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people.  I encourage you to read the book, or visit the website for the accompanying documentary, “Let the Lion Roar” at www.letthelionroar.com to explore this for yourself.

After reading a particular statement in Frank’s book, I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding the name of my savior.  I have been fleshing that conviction out since then.

The point of Frank’s statement was that Jesus’ true name is not really Jesus.  The name God told Mary and Joseph to call Him was Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves.”  Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins. (CJB)

According to the glossary in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), Yeshua is usually transliterated as “Jeshua” or “Jeshuah” in the Hebrew Old Testament.  The name Jesus comes from the Greek transliteration Iesous (pronounced yee-soos), meaning God saves which is the language of the New Testament.  But, of course, that wasn’t the original language of the New Testament either.  Hebrew was.  Jesus and his disciples did not speak, or write, Greek.  Their native tongue was Hebrew.  So the Bible we have today is a translation of a translation at best.  The books of the New Testament were translated from their original Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek to English or whatever other language.  That is a topic for another day.  However, it does make the point that Jesus’ real name is not Jesus.  His real name is Yeshua.  That is the name God gave Him.  That is the name Mary and Joseph called when they went searching form Him in Jerusalem and found Him in the temple.  It is the name His disciples knew Him by.  It is the name that was on the sign above the cross He hung on, “This is YESHUA the King of the Jews” – Matthew 27:37.  Yeshua is the name the angel used when comforting Mary at the tomb:  Matthew 28:5-6 – “Don’t be afraid.  I know you are looking for Yeshua, who was executed on the stake.  He is not here, because he has been raised–just as he said!”

Look at Philippians 2:9-11:  Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow–in heaven, on earth and under the earth–and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI–to the glory of God the Father.

Other examples of the power in Yeshua’s name follow…it is a short selection from a much longer list.  (Capitalization added by me.)

Acts 4:11-12 – “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone.  There is salvation in no one else!  For there is not other NAME under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!”

John 14:13-14 – “In fact, whatever you ask for in MY NAME, I will do; so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me for something in MY NAME, I will do it.”

Acts 4:29-30 – “So now, Lord, take note of their threats; and enable your slaves to speak your message with boldness!  Stretch out your hand to heal and to do signs and miracles THROUGH THE NAME of your holy servant YESHUA!”

Mark 16:17-18 – “And these signs will accompany those who do trust:  IN MY NAME they will drive out demons, speak with new tongues, not be injured if they handle snakes or drink poison, and heal the sick by laying hands on them.”

If there is such power in the name of Yeshua, the name given to the Messiah by God Himself, what extent of that power are we denying ourselves by praying in the name of another language?  A transliteration of Yeshua I get.  We still have basically the same name, and certainly the same meaning.  But Jesus is not a transliteration.  It is a translation.  This is a big difference.  Think of the names of people of other languages whom you have met.  Maria or Juan from Central America.  My grandma’s name was Ida…German.  Is it just me, or do we seem to keep the names that are easy to pronounce, but change the ones that aren’t?  I have met people of Asian decent who change their names to something a foreign tongue can pronounce.  Yeshua is not that difficult.  Ye-shoo-a.  Not hard.

The names of mythical gods like Zues and Hermes haven’t changed.  Why Yeshua?  Goodness gracious, do we not still call Socrates Socrates and Plato Plato?  Yet Yeshua, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, we call by another name, Jesus.

“Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  There’s just something about that name.  Master.  Savior.  Jesus.  Let all heaven and earth proclaim.  Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there is something about that name.”  Except that is the wrong name!  The name of Jesus WILL pass away.  The name of Yeshua will be forever.  Revelations 1:17-18 – He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid!  I am the First and the Last, the Living One.  I was dead, but look! — I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol.”

The only reason to change the name of Yeshua is to reduce or eliminate the power in the name.  Who would benefit the most from this?  Only Satan, the great deceiver.  He has managed to deceive most of the world for nearly 2,000 years into not praying in the name of Yeshua; into not calling on the name of Yeshua for salvation, healing, casting out demons; and into not praising the name that deserves the praise – Yeshua.

There are 2 questions then.  If salvation is in the name of Yeshua, is anyone saved that has prayed in the name of Jesus?  And why does God seem to recognize prayers made in the name of Jesus?  I believe we who believe are still saved.  We called out to God.  We asked for forgiveness.  We repented.  We believe that He sent His Son to die for us and then to be raised to life again.  All the tenants are there.  And I have prayed all my life to God in Jesus’ name.  I have felt His presence in mighty ways.  I know He has acknowledged my prayers.  I feel His presence now as I write these words.  So why retrain our hearts, minds and mouths to say Yeshua then?  Because of the power in the ONE NAME that God gave under heaven.  If we have seen the power in using the translation of the name, imagine the power we will see in using THE name…YESHUA.  Let us make Satan flee in the name of YESHUA our Lord!!!!!  Amen.

It is Finished…making Jesus a Liar

John 19:30 – “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

What was finished?  Certainly Jesus’ life here on earth, His life as a man.  Was that all?  No.  It is deeper than that.  What did Jesus come to earth in human form to do? He came to be the once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world.  He came as the sacrificial lamb to replace all other lambs and sacrifices previously required by God in the Torah (the Law of Moses) that were intended to be payment for sin.  Once Jesus died on the cross, His single purpose for being here was fulfilled…it was finished.  His sacrifice was over, and there was no need for anyone to sacrifice in anyway again in order to gain salvation from their sins.  Let me say that again because it is vital to faith and salvation.  Here it is, are you ready?  Paying attention?  Look!  Understand!  This is the salvation of the LORD!

THE moment Jesus died on the cross was THE VERY MOMENT that sacrifices on our part, in an effort to cover our own sins and save ourselves by our good works (that is, after all, what sacrifices are) STOPPED.  S.  T.  O.  P.  P.  E.  D.  Stopped.  Ended.  Fine`.  Kaput.  It was finished. 

To continue to sacrifice as a penalty for sin; to pay penance, for example, is to deny the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It is to call Him a liar.  He said it was finished, but we do not trust what He said.  We do not believe Him.  If we do not believe what He said, that His death was the be-all-and-end-all of mankind’s sacrificial attempts to earn salvation, THEN WE DO NOT RECEIVE HIS SALVATION!  Because we demonstrate that we do not believe that He, Jesus, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that NO ONE comes to the Father except THROUGH Jesus.  Jesus, the conduit…as the final sacrifice…the only sacrifice that provides the way to salvation and eternity with Him in glory.  To deny the finality and exclusivity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is to deny His salvation through faith alone.

It is not just that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  That He was born of a virgin and was both fully God and fully man.  That He was completely sinless.  That He died on the cross and rose again from the dead.  We MUST accept that His sacrifice was the final payment for our debt.  To continue to pay penance, in whatever form that takes in our lives, is to say that Jesus’ death, His sacrifice, was not good enough.  For we must, obviously, make it better…complete it for Him…do what He, the Son of God, could not do…make a sacrifice of our own to finish what Jesus said was already finished. 

To not accept the sacrifice of Jesus is to mix pagan religious beliefs of ancient times with the true doctrine of Jesus Christ.  It is to say that OUR works, mixed with OUR faith, is what will truly save us.  This is NOT Biblical.  It is contrary to the absolute truth of God’s Word, which says, For it is by grace (extended from God the Father through Jesus the Son at the time of Jesus’ sacrifice, providing the only legitimate path to salvation, the only path accepted by God)…for it is by GRACE that we are save, NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.  Not one of us will get to Heaven and stand before the judgement seat and proudly proclaim how we did it our own way…and be given access to the Kingdom.  Anyone who stands before Jesus with that as their ticket will be told, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  It is faith, and faith alone that will save you.  Not a mix of faith and works.  Not a mix of faith and personal sacrifices for our sins…because in doing so, you have denied that Jesus is enough, that He paid it all.  And in the end, you have not had faith at all, for you have not fully trusted Jesus alone for your salvation…you have trusted Him only as far as your own works would take you.

Please.  Today.  I plead with you as the return of Jesus draws near, accept the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.  Repent from the sin of rejecting His plan of salvation and replacing it with your own.  Seek His forgiveness and rest in the promise that He has then saved you and you will enter into His rest.

How To Clean Coal

An illustration for you today:

I was born with a piece of coal in my hand – filthy, dirty coal.   I held on to it and carried it with me everywhere I went.  Even as a babe, it was with me in my cradle, and when in my mother’s arms.  I never let it go.  As I grew, so did the coal.  Bigger and heavier and dirtier it became.  Yet I continued to carry it with me.  Never once did I consider leaving it behind or getting rid of it in any way.  It was a part of me, in a sense.

As a young teen, I wondered once what would happen if I left it at home when I walked out the door.  Out of mere curiosity I tried it.  But when my foot stepped across the threshold of my door, I found the coal was still with me.  I shrugged and went on.

The coal seemed to grow with me.  By the time I was full grown, the coal was nearly as big as I.  It weighed me down and was becoming burdensome.  It’s filth rubbed off on everything I touched.  I thought more and more of being rid of it.  One day, feeling especially labored by its presence, I determined to leave it behind.  I recalled my attempt as a youth, so decided that I would lock the coal inside a closet in the house, and lock the house door behind me.  Alas, when I turned to leave, I discovered the coal still clung to me.  I heaved it higher on my back, and went on my way.

Years went by.  The coal stood like a bastion between myself and anyone I would have a relationship with.  I got in the way of my work, and prevented me from enjoying any part of life.  It had now grown to twice my size.  Still, I carried it.  My body could not bear the strain much longer, I knew.  The blackened dust was continually filling my lungs, leaving me coughing in fits and unable to breath.  My heart pounded in my chest from the exertion.  My muscles cramped and my joints throbbed with the pain.  Finally I drove to the edge of a cliff, the highest one I could find.  I couldn’t live like this any longer.  I had to be rid of this unbearable weight.   I turned my back to the cliff and let go of the coal.  I held my breath, straining to hear the crash as it hit the ground far below.  But it never came, and I realized with horror that the coal would not fall.  I hung my head and lumbered home, resigned to living with this burden until it would eventually over-take me, and my life would be over.

One day as I walked in the country, gasping for fresh air, back buckling under my now enormous piece of coal, I heard a voice in the distance.  “Come to me,” it said.  Something in it drew me.  I turned toward the voice and trudged on.

“Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened,” the voice said, and a single tear rolled down my face.  I fell to my knees and crawled on.

A third time, I heard the voice, “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  I collapsed at the crest of a hill, unable to move one inch more.

“Take my yolk upon you and learn from me,” the voice, who was just before me now, spoke.  But I cried, “I cannot bear anymore weight!”

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  

“Oh, to have your burden rather than mine,”  I wept, with my face on the ground.  “But how can I when I have never been able to rid myself of this foul mass?”

“I will deliver you, if you trust me.  It is my gift to you.  You need do nothing save give up your coal to me.  I will take it as my own,” the voice gently coaxed.

Sobbing now, and unable to believe someone would take my burden from me only to carry it himself, I asked, “But why?  Why would you do that?”

And he replied, “Because I love you.”

Slowly I pushed myself up to my hands and knees.  My head hung low.  I couldn’t understand this offer, but I couldn’t continue to live if I did not accept it.  I had not choice but to believe he would do as he said, and take the chance, a leap of faith greater than I knew I had strength for, I pushed the weight from my back, and it fell to the ground.  As I felt freedom for the first time in my life, I rose to my feet.  My body was completely renewed.  I stood tall, stretched my back and reached my arms to the sky.  I felt strength I had never known.  I inhaled deeply of the air free of soot, and opened my eyes.  There before me, suspended high above my filthy load hung a man, severely beaten, bruised and bloodied.  Large nails had been driven through his wrists and his feet and held him to this wooden cross.  A crown made of long, piercing thorns had been pressed onto his head.  Streams of blood flowed down his body and began to drip onto my coal which lay at his feet.  I was horrified that this was the man who had taken my burden, but I could not take it back.   In spite of the scene before me, my soul was being filled with unspeakable peace and even joy.  I knew that it must be from him.

I fell back to me knees, but this time looked up to the man on the cross and thanked him over and over.  Then I said, “You have taken my weight, and given me your peace and joy instead.  What can I do to repay you?”

The man replied, “Your debt cannot be repaid, however, do this for me.  In everything you do or say, do it in my name, Yeshua*, and give thanks to my father, who is God. Love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love the people around you like you love yourself.  If you make this the basis for how you live, you will bring honor to me.”

I bowed my head.  “I understand,” I said, “I will honor you in this way for the rest of my life.”

I looked again at the coal heaped at Yeshua’s feet.  It was covered with his blood, except for one tiny spot.  As a fresh drop of his blood fell to cover it, Yeshua said, “It is finished.”  Then he hung his head and died.  I wept.

Soon some men came to remove his body and bury it.  I followed, not wanting to be far from him, even in death.  I mourned for this man who had taken my own burden and made it is, then covered it with his blood.  I noticed that my burden had followed him into the tomb.  It was buried with him.

I prepared to remain vigilant at his tomb for days.  Waiting for what, I did not know.  I just knew that I could not leave.  But on the third morning after his death, something strange and wonderful happened.  The large stone that stood in front of the grave was rolled away, and Yeshua walked out, alive as ever!  I ran past him into the tomb.  What I expected to find, I don’t know, for Yeshua was not there.  As I turned to go back out, I realized that my blood-covered burden was gone.  Completely vanished.

I knelt at Yeshua’s feet and praised him!  He smiled and gently placed his hand on my head, and said, “No go.  Go into all the world.  Tell everyone about what I have done for you.  I will do the same for them.  And I will always be with you.”

*Yeshua is the original Hebrew name of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (CJB – Complete Jewish Bible) –  “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (CJB) – For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift.  You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.

1 Peter 2:24 (CJB) – He himself bore our sins in his body on the stake, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness by his wounds you were healed.

John 3:16 (CJB) –  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.”

Colossians 3:17 (CJB) – That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV) – Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) –  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

 

walking on the narrow path.

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