A message from the cassette tape archives
Connie and I got inspired this summer to clean out and reorganize our storage shed. Amidst boxes and dust and unused scraps of wire, pipe and lumber (saved “just in case”), we found a substantial collection of cassette tapes. Few of us still have cassette tape players anymore. As we went through the tapes one by one, we realized that we would NEVER be using them again.
Aside from the nostalgia evoked—especially looking at the collected classics of Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Billy Graham and Michael Brown—there remained, deep inside the cardboard cartons, the praise music we “grew up on.” Carefully stacked were Integrity Music tapes, Andre Crouch, Israel’s Hope, Lamb and many others that we now have downloaded to our newer electronic music devices.
While pitching a trash can full of these former treasures into the dumpster, I found myself thinking about what really lasts in life. Cassette tapes certainly have not. Other forms of music, voice and film storage continue to change with each new information technology breakthrough. Already fading are CDs and DVDs technologies that only a few years back, still felt “revolutionary.”
What else will become passé?
That which today impresses us as innovative, groundbreaking, new and exciting—will tomorrow be obsolete and worn out. This wakes me up. It compels me to adjust my world view and my decisions about acquiring more stuff. There was a play whose title I remember: “You Can’t Take it with You.” The play was a comedy, but Job’s life certainly was not. Job stated it succinctly long before Broadway. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…” (Job 1:21 NKJV).
The tragic passing, yet heroic fight for life, of our friend who grew up in Jerusalem, Esther Ridings Moore, at the tender age of 29, underscores this issue of mortality. Not incidentally, Esther made her life count. Writing and performing worship songs with Israeli teenagers, teaching and inspiring youth and adults alike, she invested her days in glorifying God and drawing people closer to Him through Yeshua. This forces me to ask a blunt question. What am I doing with my days?
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil”(Ephesians 5:15,16).
These two exhortations speak directly to the issue of life being finite. It’s almost a cliché, but nonetheless true, that I really don’t know how much time I’m being allotted for this stage of my life’s journey. I want to invest my days in that which pleases the Lord, in that which helps others know Him more deeply. I want to see eyes opened to the awesome mercy of God through Yeshua haMashiach. And I want to walk in His light, bringing hope, healing, and deliverance to those He places in my path.
No matter where you are in life or how much you’ve already accomplished in the Lord, may you be renewed to exceed every previous limitation.
Cassette tapes have become irrelevant.
But the love of God demonstrated through you, will never become irrelevant.
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, September 2018, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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What are the High Holidays?
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
September and October are months of festivities and holy days (holidays) throughout Israel.
Jerusalem is bursting at the seams with thousands of visitors and residents – repenting, worshiping, remembering, praying, feasting, singing, laughing, dancing – at all hours of the day and night.
The month of Tishrei is considered the holiest month of the Hebrew calendar and contains several significant holidays, through which I have learned much about the culture, people and even more about the God of Israel, and what these events mean to us as believers.
Literally “head of the year” – Jewish New Year, following a lunar calendar, also known as the Feast of Trumpets (see Leviticus 23:23-25). This year Rosh Hashanah is celebrated September 10-11th and symbolically is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, emphasizing man’s dependence upon God.
This holiday initiates the new year with the sounding of the shofar, trumpets or rams horns, blessings over the new year, celebrating a meal with friends and family that usually involves food with symbolic significance (apples and honey, pomegranates and crown shaped challah bread with raisins), and choosing to rest fully in the Lord’s goodness as He initiates a new season.
The 9 days following Rosh Hashanah are considered “days of awe” and are a significant time of repairing relationships, repentance before God and others, heart searching and preparation for the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur.
During this time, thousands of people crowd the Old City and special prayers of repentance are offered at the Kotel (Western Wall) throughout the night.
The Day of Atonement on on September 19th this year (see Leviticus 16 & 23:26-32). Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, a time of reflection, confession, fasting, self-denial, repentance and rest, and atonement for sins.
In fact, it is such a consecrated day that no cars are allowed on the streets and everything in the city literally shuts down for about 26 hours.
This commemorates the day when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sacrifice offerings, first for himself, then for the sins of the entire nation.
“On that day, offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins.” Leviticus 16:30
Sins were forgiven and right relationship with God and man restored.
This day bears special significance especially as we consider the message of Hebrews and Christ as our Great High Priest who offered Himself once for all time for the remission of sins.
“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.
But our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There He waits until His enemies are humbled and made a footstool under His feet. For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy…and so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
By His death, Jesus opened a new and life giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him.
For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” Hebrews 10:10-14, 19-22
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
FIRM (Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries) is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.
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New Moon of 7th Month: God remembers His covenant with Israel
(Collage by Connor Madison)
Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
The New Moon celebrations were given by YHVH to Israel to commemorate, both under the Law of Moses and also in the future Millennial Kingdom (Lev 23:24; Num 10:10; 28:11-15; Ezek 46:1-8). The New Testament tells those who are now believers in Yeshua/Jesus not to make too much of days, months, seasons, years, festivals, New Moons, Sabbaths – all of these things being shadows of things to come, but the substance is Messiah. (Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-17)
The Lord has told us that all of the Scriptures are written about Him, and we know that all of the sacrifices and holidays/appointed times are also fulfilled by Jesus in the entirety of His first coming, and in the anticipation of His coming again to fulfill all that is written in the whole of the Bible, which still waits for the Kingdom of God to come. God has given His set holy-day times to remember who He Is, what He has done, and what He will do. Even the Lord’s Supper/Communion serves those purposes. (1 Cor 11:26; Mt 26:26-29)
In Scripture, we have references indicating that the sun, the moon, and the stars symbolize the Son, Yeshua; Israel; and, born-again saints, respectively. (Gen 1:14-19; 37:9-11; Mal 4:2 Eng; 1Cor 15:40-41; Rev 12:1-2) Yeshua is the glory both of Israel — His people — and of the Church — His Body and Bride. In Him, both find their true identity and fullness. (Is 49:3; Lk 2:32; 1Cor 11:7; Col 2:6-10) The moon has no light apart from the sun/Son; the Sun is unique among the stars in God’s solar system and universe, for without it no life can exist on Earth, God’s footstool. (Is 66:1; Mt 5:35)
All things are created by God through Messiah Yeshua/Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1-3; Rom 11:36; Col 1:16), and all in Christ/Messiah find their true identity and purpose; thus, there is no Israel of God apart from Him; there is no true Church, Body of Messiah apart from Him. Even the sun and moon exist only through His creation, but in the eternal New Heavens and New Earth there will be no need for the temporal sun and moon. (Rev 21:23; 22:5) Again, these present things are but a shadow of the things to come, whose substance is Christ. The Israel of God (the Millennial Israel, I believe) and the Church of God (those in Christ, whether dead or still living) are identified through covenant with YHVH God and His Anointed Son – the Holy Spirit indwelling the born-from-Above believers: Messiah in us.
The New Moon is covered over, that is, darkened. The Scriptures are not silent about this, since God commanded Israel to celebrate every New Moon, and to blow the trumpets on that occasion! (Num 10:10) Jesus fulfills the meaning of the New Moon, and the Moon symbolizes Israel. (read this article for a fuller explanation of the concealed New Moon, which also includes content from this present teaching) From the New Moon, the moon waxes 13-14 days (increasing in revealed reflected light) until the Full Moon, and then wanes 13-14 days (decreasing in exposed reflected light) until the next New Moon.
Identifying with, and being the representative Israel (Is 49:3; Gal 4:4-5; Heb 2:14-18), the Man Yeshua came as the Son of God, stripped of His visible glory. And the Sun of Righteousness died, went down in burial (hidden in the secret, dark, lower parts of the Earth), and rose again visibly and triumphantly as the Bright and Morning Star on the third day!
As the risen Savior King and Head of the Church, believers ‘see’ Him clothed in divine light and majesty with the glory that was His before He came to His own, and to the world that He made. Israel has no glory of her own: the moon has no light but that of the sun which it reflects. YHVH called Israel to be a light to the nations, but without receiving her Source of Light, she is darkened until. . . – having an inherent hope of a restoration through the covenant promises of God to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their descendants.
Born-again Christians are a light. Yeshua has said: “You are the light of the world. . . . ” Stars are lights of their own, each with its own glory, but none outshining the glory of the Sun/Son. (1Cor 15:41;Mt 17:1-2) Israel is still hidden from man’s view, as if away from the light of the Sun/Son, whom the nation still rejects because it prefers the darkness (Gen 3:7-10; Jn 3:19-21).
During the New Moon, the illuminated side of the Moon is then pointed away from Earth, but is in full sight to God, who sees the end from the beginning! (Num 23:18-23) The Church, through her historic replacement theology presuming that God is finished with Israel, also has consequently rejected the truth from God’s side that Israel’s future is assured. (Jer 31:35-37) Israel began to be seen since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, and will be seen in her full [moon] glory when she rises up to remember the former glory that was given her by YHVH, and seeks with all her heart the true Son who has risen! (Hos 6:1-5; Rom 9:4); finally repenting, and accepting the Son of God, Yeshua, whom she pierced. (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39)
The New Moon (which, technically, is only for a brief minute, but can seem to the natural naked eye to be extended over a period of some three days) occurs when the visible side is completely covered from the light of the sun (much like a blanket over us to keep out light) by being directly between it and the Earth. It is the phase when the moon is ‘out of sight’, and the night, which the Moon rules, is less lit.
Yet, the stars are more brilliant and so many more can be seen when there is a New Moon. Symbolically, it is Israel’s phase of “being there”, but out-of-sight, and, for too many people, also out-of-mind. And, meanwhile, the born-again ‘star saints’ are given their opportunity to shine!
So God, in His infinite wisdom, gave Israel a statute to remember the New Moon. The whole world — including Gentiles, angelic and demonic spirits, and the Body of Christ — are reminded of God’s New Moon which He gave for a sign and for seasons, and for days and for years: every month (from the word, ‘moon’; in Hebrew חודש/chodesh, month), begins with the new and unseen moon that is there! It is a globally recurring heavenly sign from the Creator and Redeemer that He has thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give Israel a future and a hope. (Jer 11-14) The sun and moon are the means by which the Bible calculates days and years. They are also the means by which we determine YHWH’s signs and times of His appointed holy-days. (Ps 104:19)
The trumpets for the New Moon are for a memorial before YHVH. God is remembering His covenant and promises – for His Holy Name’s sake – with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob/Israel, and their descendants (Heb 8:7-12).
The New Moon of the seventh month (Lev 23:24) is basically a uniquely appointed New Moon prophetic wake-upBLAST! to Israel to gather together for preparing to meet her God on the Day of Atonements, either to have her sins forgiven and removed by calling on His Name on that Day (Num 10:9; Joel 2; Acts 4:8-12; Mt 23:37-39; Zech 12:8-15), or else to face His wrath like the rest of His enemies. The Judge is standing at the door!
Those who are saved will celebrate the Jubilee — truly a new beginning! — and as on all the celebratory days for His people, the trumpet is sounded. (Lev 25:8-10) The historic steps towards the reestablishment of national Israel were the New Moon trumpet of God to His own Jewish people, and to the Church and to the nations in these last days, to remember that the God of Israel keeps His covenant promises to the seed of Jacob, and that the return of the Lord is nearing. Israel’s full glory – the Full Moon – will be manifested when the Lord returns to dwell in the midst of His completely restored people as the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles (which always begins at the Full Moon of the 7th month of the redemptive calendar) – the Millennial Kingdom.
Israel is Messiah’s treasure hidden in a field (Mt 13:44), to be uncovered/revealed on the third day (Hos 6:2) at the revelation of Jesus Christ (who is Himself now hidden from the world (Jn 16:10)), when the surviving remnant of Jacob shall see Him whom they pierced, repent with great affliction of soul, and all Israel will be saved. (Zech 12:10 – 13:2; Rom 11:25-27)
Yeshua fulfills the New Moon in His death, burial (covering and removing our sins out of sight), and resurrection to life everlasting. Israel fulfills the New Moon, which symbolizes her as a continual reminder of God’s covenantal faithfulness — and of her hope in Him — that there is a day coming when her redemption will shine forth, the glory of the LORD will shine upon her, and all the nations will praise YHVH, God of Israel, and call her blessed when He cleanses her from all her sins against the Lord. (Lev 26:40-45; Ps 117) There is joy when a woman becomes aware that she is pregnant, in the darkness of the womb; there is greater joy when she has given birth, the baby having come out into the light of the world! (Jn 16:21-22; Lk 15:7,10,32) What began in secret in the dark inward parts, (even as in the womb at conception. ..Ps 139:11-15), will come to light and be seen by all in its full glory, that which was already conceived by the Holy Spirit for a new birth and the celebration of life (Is 66:5-14)!
Yeshua’s conceptionwas not ‘light’; His birth brought to light the public knowledge of the promised Messiah and Lord. Blessed is he who believes and has not seen! Even the creation began with darkness, being outside of God, who is Light! The heavens declare the glory of God! (Gen 1:2)
God is redeeming Israel today. He is again returning His attention to Jerusalem. He is calling His people to remember Him — and to remind Him of His stated purposes (Is 62:6-7) — and to rejoice in His goodness and long-suffering, which lead to repentance unto salvation. Let all who want God’s purposes to be fulfilled, who desire the peace of Jerusalem, not keep silent, but remind the Lord as workers with Him to make Jerusalem a praise in the Earth, with a highway of holiness and blessing between Egypt and Assyria, running through Israel. YHVH God will remove unrighteousness from Jacob, and all Israel will be saved. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, September 7, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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What does a loaf of braided bread have to do with an alabaster box?
Every Friday evening as Jewish families gather around their tables for their Sabbath meal, there on the table will be a loaf of beautiful braided bread. While this bread is one of the best-known traditional Jewish foods, many don’t know the history behind the name of the bread or that the challah actually comes directly from the Bible. The truth is that the name challah does not actually refer to the bread itself. The bread is a memorial of the challah. Merely a reminder each week that as we celebrate the Sabbath together and eat the challah bread, we are reminded that the Temple no longer stands and that we do not have a priesthood serving in the Temple. You see the challah was actually a portion of the priest’s grain offering that was given by the Israelites as part of their worship. After the offering was given as a portion of the offering, it was separated and placed onto the altar to be completely consumed. The priests would eat the balance of the grain offering, but the portion of the challah was given not to the priest but to G-D. Today the challah we eat is a memorial reminder of the portion that was to be given to G-D. Still today when baking our challah, a portion of the batter is pinched off and set in the oven to be consumed in memorial of this offering given to G-D. (Levitcus 2:12-16)
You may still be asking yourself “so what does challah have to do with the alabaster box?” Well, let’s look at the description in Mark 14:3-9
And while Yeshua was in Bethany at the house of Simon ha-Metzora, reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive oil of pure nard. Breaking open the jar, she poured it over His head. But some got angry and said among themselves, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? It could have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor!” And they kept scolding her. But Yeshua said, “Leave her alone. Why do you cause trouble for her? She’s done Me a mitzvah. For you always have the poor with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want; but you won’t always have Me. She did what she could—she came beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Amen, I tell you, wherever the Good News is proclaimed in all the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
First notice that the woman was willing to give all she had including the container itself, which she broke. Like the challah, a portion of the offering was to be destroyed. In the case of the grain offering, it was burnt. In the case of the alabaster box, the box was broken. The challah had oil poured upon it, and Yeshua had oil poured upon Him. Both the challah and oil from the alabaster box were given to the priest (Yeshua is our High Priest). Both offerings could be given to the poor. In respect to both offerings, there were those who complained about the priests receiving the gift. Both deal with bread challah, the braided bread eaten on Sabbath. Yeshua is the Bread of Life and L-RD of the Sabbath. Both are memorials still spoken of today over 2000 years later.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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Commentary on Parashat Nitzavim (Standing)
D’VARIM (DEUTERONOMY) 29:9–30:20
I would really encourage you to first read this week’s Scripture portion from Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20. Once again, I marvel at the depth and richness of this portion, and believe that you will greatly benefit from reading it yourself. While this portion speaks specifically to the Children of Israel, and warns of the consequences of disobedience (namely, exile from the Land), I believe it holds amazing prophetic elements for us followers, and all people today.
We all know that Israel disobeyed God and therefore was sent into exile. Yet, as we know and see today, God gathered (and continues to gather) His children back to the Land of Promise; this is one of the most profound and amazing proofs of His existence and of the truth of His Word!
With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the prophetic elements that I see in this parasha, which are important for us to understand:
- Each of us will have to stand before God.
Our reading starts with these verses:
You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, that you may enter into the covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath which the LORD your God is making with you today, in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today.
Deuteronomy 29:9–14 (10–15 in the English translations)
Note the way these verses are clear that everyone – from the leaders to the workers, from the young to old, men and women, Israel and Gentiles – will stand before the LORD in covenant. One interesting point here is that even those who were not present were also held responsible. This reminds me of Romans 14:12, where Paul writes,
So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
- Don’t take God’s grace in vain!
…for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. Moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold, which they had with them); lest there shall be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; lest there shall be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. And it shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.’ The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.
Deuteronomy 29:15 -19 (16-20 in the English translations)
The verses above mention the exodus from Egypt, which is a reminder of God’s miraculous redemption and the way He continued to protect Israel. However, He warned Israel to not grow arrogant as a result of His protection. How easy is it for us to let pride take root in our hearts, which will cause us to turn away from Him and worship idols. This is not to be taken lightly! It can cause us to be written out of the book…
The verses above also speak of a “root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood”, which reminds me of the “root of bitterness” that is referred to in Hebrews 12:14–27:
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
- True repentance and returning to God can only happen through the circumcision of the heart.
Deuteronomy 30:1–8 speaks of the fact that once we truly repent and return to God with all of our hearts, God will circumcise our hearts in order for us to love Him.
So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORDyour God has banished you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. And the LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today.
The only way to return to the Father is through a total heart commitment to His Son who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one can come to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) and He also showed us that the principle of showing love to God is by obeying His commands (John 14:15).
- The most important choice in life!
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.
From the days of old until today the most important choice one can make is between life (God’s way) or death (the “I” way), and this choice is not just a temporary one but rather an eternal one.
In closing, during the upcoming days of self reflection and decision making, I hope each of us will choose life, and as I said before, life can only come through Yeshua Himself!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.