Illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. – Deuteronomy 32:8
And God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. – Genesis 1:4
We are all created with borders. Our borders are covered with skin equipped with sensors to perceive any unwanted intruder. Beneath that skin is a complex immigration system, vetting all that would immigrate into our closed system. It is comprised of specialists in border security trained to discern if the would-be immigrant is beneficial or detrimental to our bodies. If indeed a foreign intruder with bad intentions succeeds in breaking through the guardians, troops are immediately called in to defeat the threat before damage is caused. It is called the immune system.
Our created systems are formed to produce families, and those to dwell safely in housing protecting them from the elements and unwanted intrusions. Families are formed into societies with laws for mutual protection and survival. A healthy society grows into a nation of laws ordering the boundaries of behavior, and a military force protecting its borders from unwanted intrusion detrimental to its interests and survival. Thus is the natural positive dynamic for a healthy relation between different individuals and differing nations, who may thus trade for mutual benefit and cultural exchange in safety and security.
When the immune system in a body breaks down, all are welcome in without discriminating discernment, which is the fatal disease called AIDS. It is the same for a nation when border security and immigration breaks down. Without a fixed standard of measurement all things become equal and the same – there is no right or wrong, beneficial or detrimental, good or evil- and chaos soon occurs and runs rampant, destroying both individuals and nations. Borders and boundaries and laws are a vital necessity for the benefit of both healthy individuals and nations.
In what is called the navel (tabor) of the Land of Israel is Jerusalem, and at the center of Jerusalem stood the temple of YHVH, constructed after the heavenly pattern shown to Moses. That universal pattern could be the picture of Everyman. Its structure and courts are designed with clearly defined boundaries, defining who may enter, and who may not to each area. Though the entire area is holy for all, borders are ordered for each where smaller numbers may enter for each service rendered therein, until in the Holy of Holies only the High Priest was permitted entry. At that most holy inner sanctum, where God would take up residence to communicate with humankind, is also our own most inner being, where only those few deemed most worthy of trust are allowed to enter and share intimacy. Yes, borders and boundaries and laws are a vital necessity for the benefit of both healthy individuals and nations, and Heaven itself, as our Creator is a divider, separating light from dark, holy from profane, good from evil, and time from eternity.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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Saved by the Law
I often hear people talking and saying statements such as “The Law cannot save anyone” or “No one has ever been saved by the Law.” However, these and other statements like them are incorrect and untrue. I am about to share with you an example straight out of the Bible that shows someone being saved by the Law. Not only that but the example I will use comes not from the Tanakh or Old Testament but from the New Covenant writings. I know some of you are concerned, and others have already clicked to another page or article angry at me and proclaiming I am a legalist or worse. But for those who continue reading, I think you will find not only a real blessing in this article but also hope and promise that will encourage you.
Let’s take a look at Scripture together and see what we find.
In John 8:3-5 we read:
The Torah scholars and Pharisees bring in a woman who had been caught in adultery. After putting her in the middle, 4 they say to Yeshua, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Torah, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?”
Now for the sake of this article let’s set aside all of the peripheral issues like. Where is the man? If they were able to catch them in the act, why wouldn’t the people stop them before the began sinning? Instead let us focus on the woman, the accusers and Yeshua (Jesus). There are many teachers that present these verses as proof that Yeshua was showing us that His love was more powerful than the Law. They will point at this event and say “look, Grace, is more powerful than Law.”They will say Yeshua forgave her and that His forgiveness did away with her punishment.
However, none of these statements are Biblically accurate. Rather what we find here is one example of a person being saved by the Law. Stick with me here. The woman was caught in sin. She didn’t deny her sin nor try to justify her actions. She is brought before Yeshua by Torah Scholars and Pharisees to test if Yeshua would violate the Law. But Yeshua does not. Instead, he does what we read in John 8: 6-9:
Now they were saying this to trap Him, so that they would have grounds to accuse Him.But Yeshua knelt down and started writing in the dirt with His finger. When they kept asking Him, He stood up and said, “The sinless one among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He knelt down again and continued writing on the ground. Now when they heard, they began to leave, one by one, the oldest ones first, until Yeshua was left alone with the woman in the middle.
As we read above Yeshua began to write on the ground with His finger. We don’t know what He wrote but whatever it was it causes every one of the woman’s accusers to leave. After everyone else was gone, Yeshua spoke to the woman and said the famous statement. In John 8:10-11:
Straightening up, Yeshua said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” “No one, Sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua said. “Go, and sin no more.”
Yeshua asks, “where are they? Did no one condemn you? The woman responds “No one, Sir” At this point, Yeshua says “Neither do I condemn you” “Go and sin no more.” It is from these words that preachers conclude Yeshua overturned the Law and forgave without punishment. But this is not a Biblical conclusion. Why? Because The Law itself proclaimed this woman free from the punishment of the death penalty. The Torah in Deuteronomy 17: 5-7 says:
Then you are to bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and stone that man or woman with stones to death. By the word of two or three witnesses, the one who is to die is to be put to death. No one is to be put to death by the word of one witness. The hand of the witnesses is to be first to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you are to purge the evil from your midst.
Notice that in order for someone to be put to death as punishment for a sin there had to be two or three witnesses and that those witnesses had to be the first to stone them. Once Yeshua finished writing in the dirt, there were no witnesses to condemn the woman. The only thing Yeshua could do at that point was to tell her He doesn’t condemn her and to encourage her not to sin anymore. Because He was not a witness and because even if He were there had to be a second witness present to condemn to death and to participate first in the stoning. Yeshua followed the Torah to the letter in his actions. The truth is that this woman was saved by the Law.
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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New Year’s resolutions worth making
The year 2018 according to the Gregorian calendar is almost over and the New Year is fast approaching. It’s a time when many people make what’s called “New Year’s Resolutions” meaning they want to make a big change in their lives starting on the first day of January. The idea is to make a new start in the new year. Of course, most people don’t stick to their resolutions very long, but just the same, the start of a new calendar year is a good time to try and make a positive change.
There’s two resolutions I’d like to suggest that we all make in the new calendar year, the first being to spend more time becoming familiar with the Word of God and the second to becoming more physically healthy and fit.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says; “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Every single human being walking this Earth’s surface has work to do, something God has specifically called them to do. It is by reading the Word that we become trained and equipped to do that work.
A tool I’ve discovered that helps me maintain a habit of daily Bible reading is the “One Year Bible.”
I’m so old-fashioned that I actually have a paper version of the One Year Bible that I read every day but for those who have made the leap to an all-digital lifestyle there’s the “One Year Bible” app, as well as many other options including an email with the daily reading in it and even the possibility to order an old-fashioned paper Bible if that’s what you’re into. It’s all available at this website.
Whichever option you prefer, now is a great time to take advantage of it because as the 1st day of the new calendar year approaches, it’s the perfect time to start the “One Year Bible” journey which will, as the name implies, take you through the entire Bible in a single year.
The second resolution, to “get in shape” is something that the Bible has a lot to say about, for example;
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says; “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship”
God gave me and you a body so that we would be able to do the work He has called us to do in this world, and it’s our responsibility to keep our bodies in good working order so that we can do that work in the best possible way. As a bonus, keeping ourselves healthy and fit will allow us to enjoy nearly everything about life more than we will if we don’t take care of our bodies. It will also allow us to live longer and therefore take advantages of more opportunities to serve Him, help each other and care for our own families and communities.
The best system I’ve found for taking care of my physical health and fitness is HASfit. It’s literally a “mom and pop” website run by a man named Joshua Kozak and his wife Claudia, who take users through aerobic and weight training workouts of varying lengths and intensity. It is a family-friendly, highly flexible and varied system suitable for anyone from the age of six to one hundred and six. All you need to do is watch the youtube videos and do what the Kozak’s are doing. They explain everything and take you through each step.
The link to the Hasfit website can be accessed HERE.
As Yogi Berra famously said “predictions are hard, especially about the future.”
That having been said, it’s safe to say that in 2019 and beyond, it’ll be very important for Believers to be familiar with the Scriptures and physically healthy and fit. I hope you’ll join me in resolving to make pursuing these goals a priority in the New Year.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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Living in the Holy City
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17
Not too long ago I drove somewhere with a colleague. Every time we encountered a bothersome driver along the 30-minute drive he would bless them. He would say a quick prayer over them & their family and pray that they’d arrive at their destination safely. I was inspired.
You see, Jerusalem might be the Holy City but just like in any big city around the world, traffic can be a nightmare. Their roads are simply not wide enough for the number of cars. It is a real problem & the city is working hard to solve this. Road construction is going on everywhere, which makes things worse before it gets any better.
What makes dealing with traffic in Jerusalem even more stressful are the Jerusalem drivers! Living in the Holy City does not automatically make one holy. All around the Mediterranean Sea live is lived more passionately and it influences the driving style. It is more ‘intense’. Add to that the stress of living in a country under the constant threat of terror & war and you start to get an idea of how it is to drive in the Middle East.
One of the things I love to do when driving is listening to worship music. When I am alone I love to sing along. Life is busy and having a moment to praise the Lord uninterrupted is a real blessing
So there I would be, singing along, praising the Lord, and suddenly someone would cut me off. Now I have never been one to use rude language or curse, but I would interrupt my worship to honk my horn and yell at the other driver (who could not even hear me, because they’d be in a different car). And instead of arriving at my destination with the peace in my heart that comes from praising the Lord, I’d arrive bothered & frustrated.
For a while, I would just blame the situation, if only there wasn’t traffic if only the other drivers would be calmer, if only…. But my inability to take control of the situation kept bothering me. I didn’t want to let this get to me. I wanted my commute to be a moment of spiritual refreshing. I wanted to change. And while God can change anyone and anything, even Jerusalem drivers, the only one I could change was me. I just didn’t really know how.
God answered my prayers by having my colleague show me a different way to deal with my frustration at the traffic. Instead of yelling and letting it steal my joy, I too could bless the other driver. I could interrupt my singing with a prayer. I could defuse my frustration by seeing the other driver as a person worthy of God’s love.
And while there continues to be traffic in the Holy city, my commute has become a whole lot better, because God used someone else to help change me.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, December 12, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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Messiah has come!
What joy and hope this gave to those who heard the good news/glad tidings when the angels sang, and the Israeli Jewish shepherds in the field heard the joy of the Father in Heaven over the birth of His only-begotten Son, Yeshua, the King of Israel! And what comfort and expectation it gave to those who were waiting for the long-anticipated Messiah whom God first spoke of to our first father and mother in the Garden of Eden! In the sovereign wisdom of God, this expectation and hope were not fully fulfilled at the birth of the Lord, or even during His life and death and resurrection; no, that fullness of the Law and the Prophets waits for the return of this same Yeshua/Jesus to return in great power and glory, to be Lord of every man, and to whom all must confess that He is YHVH! What a glorious day that will be, and the new song to be sung by the saints and the angels!
Israel was living in a low state at the first coming of Messiah; from God’s viewpoint, Israel and the saints are also living at a low point in world history now, as the spirit and forces of evil conspire together still against YHVH and His Anointed One — against His people Israel/ the Jewish people and against those good things which the Christian believer testifies to through the gospel to the world. Both Jesus and Israel are signs spoken against, and the cause of the rise and falling of many in Israel/in the Church/in the nations, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Heb. 4:11-13) Jesus is being relegated to at best one of the holy men in history; at worst the very devil himself. Israel is increasingly being regarded as a failed experiment or as an evil invader. It is worth noting that the third woe, mentioned in Rev. 11:14, is the coming again of Jesus to judge the opposers to Him and His Kingdom, and to reward those who have been faithful to Him, as He comes to set up His Kingdom on the throne of David, as one of the key covenantal promises made by YHVH.
Anti-semitism is openly rising; anti-Christian attacks on all that is good and right is increasing; truth is being thrown to the ground as lies and deceit become “equivalent”. Praise God for the truth of Messiah being Jesus/Yeshus, and His plan and victory will prevail! Nations will continue to slide toward “coming against Jerusalem” — even if for now some governments are demonstrating support — but believing Christians who believe what God has said through the whole of the Bible must speak up and out. If not us, who? Israel is an island surrounded by a sea of Gentile powers and empires that have always sought to take its land and destroy the people. We want as many as possible people to be saved now; and as many as do not, then that they would become sheep rather than goats when the Judge makes His separation for who is in, and who is out, of His soon-coming Kingdom. Please pray how you might become a prophetic voice in these darkening days, and not to get caught up in divisive quarrels.
Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation will have it’s celebration of the birth of Yeshua this coming Shabbat. As a congregation we will have no tree, no songs about jingle bells, nor of a white Christmas. Our desire is to honor our God and Savior in spirit and truth, and thank and praise Him for what He has done, what He is doing, what He will do, and for who He Is. Individual families may choose to follow certain traditions in their own homes. We encourage them to do so to the glory of Jesus, exalted above all other things. On Sonday, Randi and I, with some others, will again go to Bethlehem to worship and celebrate with our brothers and sisters there at a church which does not particularly like Israel. We have been doing so since 2003 during the second intifada. But we are there as faces and names to them, and they are faces and names to us: reminders that our Father has redeemed children there and here. For the sake of the testimony of who Jesus/Yeshua is we go: we must show that Jesus is our peace and reconciliation, even when times are tense and difficult. If we can not do that when things are not well, then we have no message to our people even when they are. It is the grace and mercy of God that moves us. Please pray that we would continue to have an open door to enter the ‘other side’. The Kingdom of God does recognize boundaries, and in the Spirit we can respect them, and cross over.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, December 15, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.