I’ve had the draft for this blog post sitting here for a while now, and I think I was in the middle of walking through a fresh lesson on this, and needed to come through it before writing it down.
Recently I walked through a very painful season of having to deconstruct many things I hadn’t realised I’ve been doing. I was disappointed, hurt, angry and disgruntled with God.
Anyone been there?
He had walked me down a path, which I had, in all honesty, followed him down in blind obedience. He had provided for all my needs – up until a point, and then he seemed to just disappear! Over the course of weeks that followed this ‘great disappearance’ my prayers moved from somewhat holy requests for help, to pleading, to begging, to outright tantrums.
I have realised with the beautiful gift of hindsight that not only was I having a hissy fit in front of the great almighty creator of all things, but I was also threatening him. Not in a conscious, violent way, but I definitely found myself praying things like this; “God, I don’t know what to ask or say to you, but if you don’t do XYZ, I will just have to quit”.
Looking back, it’s amusing, but it was painful. I was genuinely upset, saddened and disappointment that God hadn’t ‘kept his end of the bargain’. It was a bigger lesson for me to learn, because I don’t have a problem finding faith for big things. I was raised in a home which was fuelled by faith and we saw miracles all the time. I am used to God providing in amazing and last minute ways. So when he didn’t, I felt insulted, that I, the person who had the faith, couldn’t even push through this thing I was tough for me.
And then one day it hit me.
God doesn’t owe me anything.
He can easily provide a thousand cattle on a thousand hills, but for some reason, right now, he’s choosing not to. I don’t know why, but as God – he is allowed to be above my understanding!
Then another thing hit me.
Maybe the whole process I’ve walked through wasn’t about the thing I have been working on (although I do think God will use it), but has actually been about me coming through a process?
I arrived at a place where I was so broken and smashed by the lack of ‘results’ I was seeing from God that I eventually collapsed in a heap and said those small words that always change everything “Ok God – just take it.”
This thing was twisting me up inside. I was drowning in a sea of tears of disappointment and couldn’t understand why God would tell me to do something, provide for most of it, and then just disappear with his wallet!
“Ok God – just take it’“ – Wow. It was like I suddenly felt the weight of what I’d been carrying as it lifted! I realised this project doesn’t actually belong to me anyway. It’s his. It was his words, his songs and if he wants people to hear and read them, then he has to breathe on it. Otherwise, I’ve done my best, I’ve written it for the glory of his name, and that is enough.
My wonderful friends and family say such beautiful things to me like “I’m sure it’ll do better than you think, you wait – it’s going to be epic…etc”. To these wonderful comments I found myself saying “nothing is guaranteed. Even in that response, there is a wrong motive.
Yes. One could say in the writing of books and the recording of music, there is a hope that it’ll be heard and read. Yes.
I’m not entitled to anything.
My job is to be an obedient servant. It is not to question, demand, expect or think I, in some way deserve something because God has a deal to keep with me. He doesn’t. He’s looking for a truly surrendered life that finds joy in knowing that they are walking in the centre of his will, even when things don’t make any sense. That is clay he can work with.
The moment I start making demands, put expectations on him, or worse yet – threaten him, I have turned my mouldable clay self, rock hard. He can’t work with that.
He will do as he pleases with the work of my hands. If it remains hidden, then so be it. He has his reasons.
Ok God – just take it.
Five words that change life.
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog, October 7, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Simcha emigrated to Israel from the UK, with her husband and three children. Having studied theology and music and worship in London, and trained as a worship leader and song writer, she went on to teach music and be involved in worship teams in several congregations in the UK, and now in Israel as part of Sarah Liberman's team. Simcha is the author of the “Dare to Ask” project, comprising of the book 'Dare to Ask', and 3 CD's, Dreaming', 'Awakened' and 'Soar (To come) which each have a counterpart 30 day devotional study guide to accompany them. She is passionate about enabling people to engage with God in the way which they were made to, and is committed to multi sensory expressions. Simcha is also an artist, and paints her songs and messages to accompany the music and books. She is also the coordinator Ascend Carmel Programs.
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The Lion of Judah
PARASHAT VAYECHI (AND HE LIVED)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 47:28–50:26
In this week’s parasha, we get a clear example of why we must read the entire Word of God as a whole book, rather than as two separate parts. In Genesis 49:1, many of the English translations write, “Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what shall befall you in the days to come.” A more accurate translation would be, “Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather together and I will tell you that which will happen to you in the end of days (the last days).’”
This week I would like to share some thoughts on Genesis 49:8-12, which was Jacob’s prophecy to Judah. While this blog entry may be a little longer with many scripture references to support my thoughts, please take the time to read it to the end! I believe you’ll be blessed by the richness of the Scriptures’ meaning.
Judah, your brothers shall praise (acknowledge) you; your hand shall be on the nape of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff (law maker) from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience (Or gathering in order to obey) of the peoples. “He binds his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. Red eyes are dull from wine, and teeth white from milk.
Let’s start with verse 8:
Judah, your brothers shall praise (acknowledge) you; your hand shall be on the nape of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
This speaks of the fact that Judah will inherit the place of the older brother, and that all of the brothers will look up to him and will bow down to him. Many commentaries also speak about the fact that Judah will inherit the role of the leader of the children of Israel, which is something that happened from the time of King David. As I was reading this verse, I was thinking about Yeshua our Messiah, and the fact that one day Israel will acknowledge and recognize Him as the promised One:
And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
…that at the name of Yeshua EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Then we have verse 9:
Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
The image of Judah as a lion in verse 9 is also very important in biblical prophecy. In fact, Messiah is referred to as the “Lion of Judah” in Revelation 5:5:
…and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
There is no doubt that the next verse (verse 10) clearly speaks about the Messiah:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff (law maker) from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience (Or gathering in order to obey) of the peoples.
A day is coming when a ruler – the lawmaker and the judge from the house of David — will come, and all the people of the world will gather around Him and obey Him. The name, Shiloh, is also one of the many names of Messiah in Judaism. This verse parallels another amazing verse that speaks about a ruler that will come out of Bethlehem, who was here from the beginning and will rule over Israel:
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.
Micah 5:2 (1 in Hebrew)
The final two verses are very challenging verses to understand in Hebrew; however, I personally believe that they directly point to Yeshua as the Messiah. Let’s look at verse 11 first:
He binds his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes.
Zechariah 9:9 speaks of a King that will come to Zion- a humble King who will bring salvation and will ride on a donkey:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Clearly, Yeshua fulfilled this expectation in Matthew 21:1-5:
And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Yeshua sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’”
Furthermore, when one reads of the washing of the garments in wine and with blood of grapes, it ought to direct us to two more places that speak directly about the Messiah. Isaiah 9:1-8 (8:23 -9:7 in the Hebrew Bible) speaks directly about the Messiah and in it, verse 4 reminds me of the words from Genesis 49:11… “For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.” This verse speaks of the Messiah as one that will bring victory in the war of holiness.
Isaiah 63:1-5 also speaks of Messiah in a similar way that is echoed in our portion from Genesis 49:
Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger, and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. And I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me; and My wrath upheld Me.”
The final verse from Genesis 49 is difficult to understand, but I think we can find something relating to Messiah in it: “Red eyes are dull from wine, and teeth white from milk.” While some commentaries speak of the description of the Messiah that will have “red eyes”, I was thinking of the event that took place at the Garden of Gat Shemanim (also known in English as “Gethsemane”). The event took place after the Passover meal, where the disciples would have had 4 cups of wine as prescribed in the traditional feast. We recall that every time Yeshua returned from praying, He found them sleeping since their eyes were “heavy”. Could it be that their eyes were red and dull from drinking wine, which Jacob/Israel prophesied thousands of years before?
This entire portion of Scripture is so rich with references to Messiah! It’s a strong reminder that He is the One that the Jewish people waited for, and that He will come again, as the Scriptures foretell. I’m grateful for the Word that our gracious God has given us! Let’s be encouraged and hopeful.
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.
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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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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.