A new heart: Grace and truth in biblical counseling
Some time ago a movie came out called “What Lies Beneath”. I didn’t see the movie, but it’s a great way to introduce what happens in biblical counseling
Imagine, if you will, what it would be like if you had someone to whom you could pour out your heart. Someone who would not judge you, but whose aim was to understand you, commune with you, stand with you in solidarity. Most believers are very hard on themselves. They often project harshness on God that is a product of their own childhood. But In an atmosphere of trust, a hard truth can be spoken without damaging the soul. Biblical counseling is the art of speaking the truth in love. It is the process of change from the inside out, not just behavior modification. It is discovering that divine dance which somehow incorporates our cooperation with Divine sovereignty. The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5).
What about sin? It is only in an atmosphere of love and trust that people really take a hard look at sin in their life. That is why the 12-Step program for addiction recovery works. There is open confession, and in the face of this truthfulness the enemy loses his hold. Shame is confronted, and lifted as the believer asks for God’s forgiveness, and His strength to overcome. Other people become fellow soldiers, not judges. And there is accountability. The grace of God is manifest in an atmosphere of truth and so there is a release from habitual lawlessness
Who needs counseling? Everyone. Including the counselor. I truly believe there is a direct ratio of holy desperation to inner healing. The people coming for counseling are humble enough to reach out to another human being to help them. But beyond that they are actually calling out to God, appealing in all honesty for Him to come to their aid. The biblical counselor becomes an ambassador of hope, a companion on the journey, a trained listener that reflects the listening father.
Biblical counseling encourages hope. Evil hates hope. The enemy does not want believers to imagine a different future is possible, and that God’s intervention and promises will come to pass. But uncovering this despair and confessing it to another makes hope possible. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13).
Biblical counseling uncovers the well-worn paths of old family dynamics that are repeated again and again. Often people are blind to the patterns that are perpetuated in their current relationships, and are unaware of what’s driving them. They ask themselves, “Now, why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why did I get so upset”? Counseling brings what lies beneath to the light so that the believer can understand themselves, make new choices, and move in the direction of forgiveness towards others and themselves. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 24:6).
“Biblical counseling is a good conversation built on a biblical way of thinking” (Dr. Larry Crabb). The biblical counselor walks with the person through their suffering. This alone is healing. They are no longer alone. This suffering can be an addiction, life crisis, family relationships, an eating disorder or any distressing situation.
The counselor creates a safe place for the person to open up, take off the mask, and then the Holy Spirit is able to penetrate and heal the heart. The spiritual remedies of confession, forgiveness and reconciliation are applied throughout the process. The biblical counselor believes that the life, truth, peace and grace of God are always available to the believer no matter what the battle.
Dr. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an MS in Education and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Marital and Family Counseling. She has over 10 years clinical experience. Her work experience includes Chaplaincy in the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Research Center, Bethesda Maryland, Assessment Supervisor at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, D.C. and Employee Assistance Consultant in the Federal Government. Dr. Snyder holds dual citizenship with the United States and Israel. She became an Israeli citizen in 1983. Her vision for a Messianic Counseling Center began in the 1990’s, and is seeing fulfillment in the Anchor of Hope Counseling Center and Lay Counseling Training Program.
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What is Messianic Judaism? What it is not?
In the early eighties, when I came to faith in Yeshua, I was quickly told I was not alone. There were other Jewish people who worshiped Yeshua, while still maintaining their Jewish Identity. I thought this was crazy. I was now a “Christian”—a non-Jew, in my mind. But, then, I began to read the New Testament and saw very quickly that no one started a new religion. The disciples never, ever considered the idea that they had left Judaism. In fact, the biggest controversy in the years after this massive Yeshua movement took hold in Israel was about whether or not a Gentile could be a Yeshua-follower without first converting to Judaism.
Long story short: I joined Beth Messiah, one of the flagship Messianic congregations (at the time) in Rockville, Maryland. Soon, I was the youth leader and, then, associate rabbi.
Honored as Jews…until
Up until then, there was very little criticism of our movement. In fact, whenever I traveled to minister, I was treated with honor, like an answer to prophecy—the Jewish wing of the body of Messiah coming back to life!
But, then, the Hebrew Roots Movement and the Two House Movement came along. The first one taught, contrary to Acts 15, that all believers should keep liturgical Torah (except circumcision); and the latter claimed that the northern ten tribes of Israel were actually Christians who accepted the gospel. Suddenly, leaders who once respected me were asking me if I was one of them. Confusion arose over what Messianic Judaism was and wasn’t. Some non-Jewish believers felt excluded. We were accused (sometimes rightly) of being elitist.
Oh, how things have changed from the time when the Church forced Jews to forsake all Jewish identity, often by threat of imprisonment, beatings or even death, in order to follow the Jewish Messiah. No one wanted to be Jewish during the Inquisition, Crusades or Holocaust! Now people are paying for DNA tests in hopes of being Jewish. Yes, things have changed. But Yeshua is the Savior of all nations.
Myths about Messianic Judaism
Messianic Judaism is about getting people to stop celebrating Christmas and Easter. No! While most of us don’t celebrate these holidays (just the truth they represent), many believers have encountered those who are on a crusade to condemn anyone who celebrates them. I have seen some even suggest that people are not saved if they engage in Christmas celebrations. This is ridiculous and is something most Messianic Jews reject. Yes, we should know the history behind the holidays, but I am not on a crusade to abolish them. (see my blog series “Seven Thoughts about Christmas from a Messianic Jew”)
Messianic Judaism is about getting Christians to become Jews. No! The beauty of the Body of Messiah is that it is made up “from every nation, tribe, people and language.” (Rev. 7:9) While we do seek to live as Jews, as the “irrevocable call” of Romans 11:29 is unique to natural Israel, we believe there is tremendous value in every nation under God. Joseph’s coat of many colors symbolized that Yeshua would rule the nations (plural). If every believer identified as a Jew, there would be no value in Jewish calling. And, yet, Paul says, “there is much in every way.” (Romans 3:4)
Messianic Jews are better than other believers. No! God does not play favorites. He loves all of His creation and no one gets closer to Him based on ethnicity or racial specificity. Yes, we all have unique callings, but intimacy with Yeshua can be enjoyed by all, without restriction. I have heard stories from some believers who were treated poorly by Messianic believers—like second class citizens.
You have to understand that we are a relatively new movement (or newly resurrected movement!) and, particularly in the early years, there was a lot to figure out. Indeed, many of us suffered anti-Semitism from so-called Christians before we came to faith. So, yes, there was some distrust of the “Church.” However, the overwhelming majority of Messianic Jews today do not hold such attitudes.
What is Messianic Judaism?
When the Gospel first went forth, it went forth in Israel. Those who received the Gospel were exclusively Jews. Indeed, Yeshua told His apostles that they were to take the Good News to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). But they stayed within the confines of Israel. However, Acts 10 clearly opened the door for the Gentiles to become part of the olive tree of Romans 11 and the one new man and household of God that we see in Ephesians 2.
Somehow over time, the idea of being Jewish and believing in Yeshua became contradictory. This goes against everything we see in the book of Acts. In fact, when Paul was accused of teaching “all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs,” the apostles took action, so that “everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the Torah.” (Acts 21:21, 24)
Jewish believers in the New Testament continued to live as Jews. However, if you fast forward to 1983 when I came to Yeshua, somehow, I falsely believed that I was no longer a Jew. This is how many Jewish believers felt until they read the New Testament or met other Messianic Jews.
Over the past 200 years, more and more Jewish believers continued to live as Jews. However, the big breakthrough came in 1967. Providentially, the same year that Jerusalem was restored to the Israel, the Jesus Movement took place. A massive revival began amongst the hippies of North America. It spread to Europe and South America. These ex-hippies called themselves Jesus people and an extraordinarily high number of them were Jewish!
These Jewish believers loved Yeshua but were not comfortable in a traditional church experience. God was calling them to retain their Jewishness. God was restoring what Dr. Daniel C. Juster calls the “saved remnant of Israel.” Many Chirstians thought they were coming “under” the law and misunderstood them.
Think about it…how can “all Israel be saved” (Rom. 11:26) if every Jew left his Jewish identity when he embraced the Gospel? How can the Jewish calling of Romans 11:29 be on the Jewish believers if they left Judaism? God was emphasizing the importance of Jewish believers continuing to live as Jews and being a witness to the larger Jewish world.
Messianic Jews, when asking, “How shall we live in light of Yeshua being the Messiah,” sought to answer this, not in traditional church movements, but the book of Acts, where we find a completely Jewish expression of Yeshua-loving Jews.
The Messianic Jewish movement is a prophetic sign to both the global Church and the Jewish people. Much of the Church had embraced replacement theology, believing that God was finished with Israel forever. They ignored scores of promises that God would not reject Israel (Jer. 31:35-37, Hos. 3:4-5). How does this theology hold up in light of the prophetic fulfillments? Israel became a nation again in 1948, just as the Bible predicted! According to Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31, Jewish people would come en masse to Yeshua. And the beginning of this end-time Jewish awakening has begun all over the world.
To the Jewish people, it is a sign that Yeshua is indeed the Jewish Messiah. We remind our brethren of the dozens of prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures that speak of a Messiah, who would be born in Bethlehem, live a pure life, die as a sacrifice for sin and rise from the dead.
Revival is Needed
However, Messianic Judaism worldwide needs a touch from heaven. Many congregations look more like an Orthodox synagogue than a vibrant New Covenant expression of authority. Many are so focused on Jewish identity or teaching Jewish Roots, that they have forgotten that the first Messianic congregation was birthed in supernatural power. In Acts 2, we see the presence of God falling on Jerusalem and thousands of Jews coming to Yeshua. Sadly, many Messianic rabbis resemble the Pharisees more than the apostles.
I am not saying this to be offensive or judgmental. It is just a fact. We need a new visitation and we need the body of Messiah worldwide to stand with us in prayer. May God breathe afresh on us.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, March 31, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
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Reflections of redemption in Nisan, Part 4
We saw in Parts 2 and 3 how Yeshua fulfilled the composite picture portrayed by the Lambs of Nisan. Now we will see how the Passover lamb relates to Yeshua as Israel’s King, in a double fulfillment of Nisan traditions. But first, a look at how other kings foreshadowed the welcome He received in Jerusalem.
The Mishnah began its list of the “four new years” with Nisan 1, “the new year for kings and festivals” (Rosh Hashana 1:1). This custom, the sages taught, set Israel’s kings apart from the kings of other nations, whose reigning years were counted from the Seventh Month, or Tishrei. For God’s people, the king’s rule would always be renewed with Passover in view.
An Earth-Splitting Response
There was unusual joy at the coronation of Solomon: “And they blew the shofar and all the people proclaimed, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ And all the people went up after him, and the people were piping with pipes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth was split with their sound.” (1 Kings 1:39-40)
There was no report of the earth being “split” when David became king. So, even if we take that comment as a metaphor, the crowning of David’s son was considered more glorious than that of David. In fact, David’s own servants blessed the event by saying to him, “May your God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and his throne greater than your throne!” And David himself bowed in reverent agreement (1 Kings 1:47).
But notice that Solomon had initially been rejected as king (1 Kings 1:5-27). The reversal of that near-disaster, thanks to his father’s intervention, may have sharpened the people’s joy. Interestingly, Scripture tells of only one other outburst like this. It was a similar situation, when Jehoash, the sole survivor of David’s royal line after Athaliah’s bloody takeover, was brought out of hiding and crowned (2 Kings 11:12-13). And like Solomon’s experience, it was Jehoash’s adoptive father who restored him to the throne.
These are prophetic pictures of that greater Son of David, whom David himself called “my Lord”. (Ps.110:1) The apostles apply this prophecy repeatedly to Yeshua (Matt.22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34). As rightful King, He also waits patiently until God, His Father, subdues His enemies (Ps.2:7-9). To this we can add what Zechariah foresaw (Zech.14:3-4): When Messiah comes from heaven as YHVH and King, and His feet touch the Mount of Olives, the mountain will greet Him by splitting. Yet here again, Zechariah notes (11:13, 12:10) that His kingship is initially rejected. One of Yeshua’s parables also included this element (Luke 19:11-14).
Nevertheless, when He came to Jerusalem days before His crucifixion, the crowd temporarily acknowledged Him as Israel’s king: “A great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him” (Jn.12:12-14) in expressions of joy similar to those that greeted Solomon. They cried out: “Hosanna! [Hebrew: Hoshiya-Nah – Save us, please!] Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD – the King of Israel!”
Another gospel records them also calling: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the LORD!” (Mark 11:10) They recognized Him as David’s royal son and may have remembered Solomon’s jubilant coronation.
As it was with Solomon, and as it will be at Messiah’s return, the land around Jerusalem at this time recognized the presence of its rightful King. When some Pharisees objected to the crowd’s acclamation, Yeshua told them, “If these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 20:40) And later, when Yeshua finished giving His life for us, men were silent and the stones did react – once again “the earth was split” (Matt.27:51).
The Nisan Gospel in Psalm 118
The crowd’s “Hoshiya-Nah” salutation came from a Hallel Psalm associated with Passover and the other Feasts: “O YHVH, do save, we beseech You; O YHVH, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of YHVH; we have blessed you from the house of YHVH” (Ps.118:25-26). It uses God’s Personal Name four times, twice in a direct appeal – which is likely why the Pharisees were bothered by the crowd applying it to Yeshua. (It wasn’t that they rejected the idea of Messiah as YHVH; on the contrary, they rejected the idea that Messiah could be so completely human as Yeshua was – see Jn.7:27, 10:33.)
As we know, Yeshua prophesied that Jerusalem will not see Him again until she again greets Him in this fashion (Matt.23:39). But the passages in Psalm 118 before and after this famous salutation are also important; they describe how Jerusalem will by then understand the Good News to the Jews.
Before the “Hoshiya-Nah” (v.21-24) is this: “You [YHVH] have become my Salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become head of the corner [Heb: Rosh Pina]. This was from YHVH; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day YHVH has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Earlier in this series we saw that the Corner Stone is the “Head” of God’s “New Things” to be honored on Nisan 1. Here the Corner Stone is celebrated as the highest of Israel’s kings, whose reigns are likewise measured by Nisan 1.
Specifically, we see that this “stone” which is “from YHVH” shares the experience of Israel’s first three kings: all were chosen by God but were temporarily rejected. “The stone which the builders rejected” is repeatedly applied to Yeshua being rejected by Israel’s shepherds, in His own words and in the apostles’ teaching (Matt.21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, 1 Pet.2:4,7).
After the “Hoshiya-Nah” (v.27-28) comes this: “God [El] is YHVH, and He will give us light. Bind a festive sacrifice with cords out to the horns of the altar! You are my God and I will thank You; my God, I will lift You up”. The Hebrew of “and He will give us light” is one word, “ya’er”: the same verb as in the Aaronic blessing (Num.6:25), where it is usually translated, “May the Lord make His Face shine on you.” Together they tell of God’s Face becoming a visible Light to/for us.
It’s logical to respond to that with: “You are my God and I will thank You…” But the Light and the Thanks are strangely interrupted by a graphic call to “bind a festive sacrifice” to the altar.
Several elements add greatly to the strangeness:
(1) The word translated as “festive sacrifice” – “chag” – is used this way in only two other places (Exod.23:18, Exod.34:25), which are repeating the same command. In one verse God refers to “My chag,” and in the other it’s “chag Ha-Pesach” – the Passover lamb. What does this lamb have to do with God’s Light?
(2) The word for “cords” is “avotim”, which can also mean “thick tree branches” (Exek.19:11, 31:3, 31:14); they were used specifically for restraining prisoners (Judges 15:13, Ps.2:3). Why this word instead of the usual words for “cords” (“hevelim” or “meitarim”)?
(3) God’s sacrifices were never bound to the altar, much less stretched “out to the horns” (the four corners). The Hebrew word’s root, “assar,” is not merely to “tie” but to “hold captive.” Yet these sacrifices were already slaughtered before being laid on the altar; they didn’t need to be restrained.
(4) Last but not least, the Passover sacrifice was not placed on the altar at all. After its blood was spilled on the altar, it was taken home to be roasted and eaten.
Not surprisingly, the rabbis consider this verse especially difficult to understand.
We, however, can see here a hidden reference to the Cross becoming a sacrificial Altar. Since the word in עד קרנות המזבח can be read as either “ad” (“out to”) or “ed” (“witness”), an alternate reading might be: “Bind the Passover Offering on tree beams, a witness of the horns of the Altar.” In other words, the Tree on which Yeshua was bound as God’s Pesach Lamb would testify of the Temple altar, whose horns were anointed with the blood from the sacrifices (Lev.4). Indeed, the ends of the two crossed beams created four “horns” that were stained with the blood from His head, hands and feet.
Yeshua also hinted at this symbolism, using imagery from Psalm 118:27-28:
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” [“My God, I will lift you up.”] But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. [“Bind the Passover Offering on tree beams.”]
The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Messiah is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
So Yeshua said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you [“He will give us light.”]; walk while you have the Light…. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” (Jn.12:32-36)
The rabbinic commentary on Psalm 118 is remarkable. Rabbi Akiva said that it was a song given by the Holy Spirit for Israel to sing as they crossed the Red Sea (Nisan 7). Rabbis Yehudah Bar Simon and Shmuel Bar Rav Yitzhak (Amoraim in Israel, 290-320 AD) envisioned this song being dedicated to Messiah: “The prophets have commanded Israel that on the day of their salvation they are to sing this [Psalm] to their savior.”
The Zohar (Shemot 54a) takes that idea further: “There is a reference here [Ps.118:26] to the ‘One who is to come’. Therefore, Israel is to sing this to Him who will come. And God will once more extend His hand to save the remnant of His people. Then they who died through the serpent’s beguiling [Adam’s sin] will arise [from the dead], and they will become the advisors of the Messiah-King.”
The Charge to Receive the Lamb
Only John’s gospel pinpoints the day when Jerusalem celebrated the arrival of her King with the “Hoshiya-Nah”. It was five days before the Passover (John 12:1,12). Since the Pesach was slaughtered on the second half of Nisan 14, this day was Nisan 10 (in Jewish reckoning, partial days are counted as days).
This reminds us of God’s unexplained command that the people were to choose the Pesach lamb on Nisan 10, even though it wouldn’t be sacrificed until Nisan 14:
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household…. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight.” (Exod.12:3-6)
Among the Messianic hints in this passage is the phrase translated in the NASB, “they are each one to take a lamb for themselves.” The literal Hebrew –ויקחו להם איש שה – actually says: “and they shall take for themselves a man, a lamb.” The next command translated as, “You shall keep it until the 14th day…,” is really about the Lamb and not us: literally, “And it [or, He] will be a charge entrusted to you until the 14th day….” The rabbis teach that this command was a requirement only for that first Passover, giving it prophetic significance as a unique event. (“The deeds of the fathers are a sign for the children.” – Nachmanides)
Lastly, we see that while each household has its own lamb, all of Israel participates in killing this singular lamb entrusted to their keeping: “the whole assembly” is to slaughter “it” – or “Him” (the Hebrew pronouns are masculine-singular). Even the narrow time window on the 14th for sacrificing both Nisan lambs, the Tamid and the Pesach (between the 6th and 9th hours, confirmed in the Talmud, Pesachim 58a), was met by Yeshua. That detail is considered essential in the gospels (Matt.27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44, Jn.19:14).
The Charge to Receive the Second Circumcision
A parallel event on Nisan 10 was Israel crossing the Jordan River (Josh.4:19), which split miraculously to open the way into the Promised Land. In the following days before celebrating the first Passover in their inheritance, God commanded Joshua (5:2) to “circumcise the sons of Israel again a second time.” Why “a second time” when Scripture clearly says (v.7) that they hadn’t been circumcised even once?
This is a prophetic picture of the Second Circumcision, that of the heart. In a paradox seldom discussed, God commanded Israel to perform it on themselves (Deut.10:16) and rebuked them for failing to do so (Jer.4:4), yet He knew that He Himself would do it for them in the end (Deut.30:5). Those entering Canaan had been physically delivered from Egypt, but they needed to be delivered from “the reproach of Egypt” (Josh.5:9) before they could claim their inheritance. This was accomplished between Nisan 10 and 14.
In the same way, the Jewish people had their sins covered by physical offerings, but they needed to have their “consciences cleansed from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb.9:14) before they could “receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (v.15). The provision was made between Nisan 10 and 14. Yeshua arrived in Jerusalem to finish the Father’s plan. He opened the way for the Holy Spirit to perform this spiritual circumcision on both Jews (Rom.2:29) and Gentiles (Col.2:11), so that we might inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lowliest of Kings
We know Yeshua’s deliberate choice of a donkey and colt as His transportation into the city was to fulfill the promise made to the “daughter of Zion” in Zech.9:9: “Behold, your King will come to you, He is just and saved; lowly and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the foal of a donkey.” This conflicts with another Messianic prophecy, portraying the King coming in the clouds of heaven (Dan.7:13), leading the Talmudic sages to conclude that Messiah’s mode of arrival would depend on Israel’s worthiness to receive Him:
“R. Alexandri said: ‘R. Joshua contrasted two verses: it is written, “And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven,” while [elsewhere] it is written, [“Behold, thy king cometh unto thee…] lowly, and riding upon an ass!” — If they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass.’” (Sanhedrin 89a)
The rabbinic solution is problematic, however, for it implies the unthinkable – that one prophecy or the other will be left unfulfilled. Yeshua resolved the dilemma completely: after fulfilling the Zechariah prophecy, He promised to fulfill the Daniel prophecy when He returns (Matt.24:30).
Besides the Zechariah passage being a widely recognized Messianic sign, its imagery led to the expectation that Messiah will be simultaneously the most exalted and the most humbled of men, just as King David was “lightly esteemed” when he danced before the Ark (2 Sam.6). One rabbinic teaching site used this Scripture to suggest that Messiah Son of David is to be both the “head” and the “feet” of the people:
“This experience [David dancing before the Ark] is the hallmark of the Mashiach. Though he will be the head of the Jewish people, he will also identify completely with the people of lowest stature – the people who are like the heels of the corpus of the nation. For this reason, the Mashiach’s generation is known as the ‘heels of the Mashiach’ – ikveta demesheecha in Aramaic.” (“The Month of Nisan: Head Over Heels,” Gal Einai Institute)
Messiah did demonstrate this character at the Last Supper: “Yeshua, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,” went down on His knees to perform the chore of a lowly servant in washing His disciples’ feet. He then commanded us to do likewise: “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (Jn.13:3-15) If we follow Him in His example, we are blessed (v.17).
(to be continued…)
Hannah Weiss lives in Israel with her husband Hillel, their three children and two grandchildren. Besides writing on issues relevant for followers of Yeshua, she also works as an English writer, editor and translator for Israeli exporters and academics. Hannah is part of a small home fellowship, Restorers of Zion, which serves the Body of Messiah by focusing on neglected or dysfunctional areas of Scriptural teaching and practice.
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Pretzels for Passover
I was about 9 or 10 years old and we were visiting relatives during Passover. The grownups were sitting around in the living room speaking of grownup things so I went with my younger sister to explore the basement. There did not appear to be much there that was very interesting to children, but we had an advantage. Being smaller than adults, we could see things on a level that might otherwise be missed. And lo and behold, there under the ping-pong table were two very large tins. One contained pretzels and one contained potato chips. What a find! We popped the lids off and began merrily munching beneath the table.
However, our bliss was short-lived. My uncle came downstairs and in shock and horror proceeded to reprimand us for violating the Passover by eating leavened food. Finding such a treasure had eclipsed all our thoughts about it being Passover. Of course, the fault really wasn’t ours, he was the one with the stuff in his house during the holiday.
According to Jewish tradition, any leavened products left in the home must be sold to a non-Jew through the agency of the local synagogue. They thereby no longer technically are “in the possession” of the homeowner. Nevertheless, during that week they must be in a closed and sealed cabinet in order to prevent mishaps like what happened to my sister and me. After the holiday they are purchased back and then can be used again. I at that point, however, was not seeking to put the blame on my uncle. I was just traumatized that I had broken God’s commandment and eaten leaven on Passover.
Exodus 12:15 (NAS) says, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.“
1 Corinthians 5:7 (NAS) says, “Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed.“
There is a lovely Jewish custom that is connected to the process of cleaning and preparing the home for Passover. It is called the search for the leaven. It is something that we have done with our children for the last 40 years and still continue to do, now including our grandchildren. The items used in the search are a candle, a feather, a wooden spoon, and a white cloth or sack. While it is yet light on the day before the Passover, small pieces of bread are strategically placed around the house. After the sun has set, the lights in the house are turned out and the search begins. A different person holds each item and the one with the lighted candle leads. As each piece of leaven is spotted it is summarily swept onto the wooden spoon by the feather. It is then removed from there to the linen cloth. The process continues through all the rooms until all the pieces are found. (It’s important that the one who hid them remember all the places he put them!) A prayer is said requesting that all leaven not found be considered null and void and as the dust of the earth. The next day the leaven is burned. No more leaven is to be eaten until the holiday ends a week later. However, unleavened bread (matza) is not to be eaten until the Seder meal that evening.
The origins of this ceremony are obscure, but what is fascinating is its powerful portrayal of the message of Messiah. The burning candle is a picture of the Word of God that illuminates the darkness and reveals the sin hidden in our hearts. Throughout the Bible, leaven is used symbolically of sin. However, it is only by the Spirit of God, portrayed as a white dove upon whose holy wings our sins can be carried to the one place they can be permanently dealt with. That place is the wood upon which our Messiah Yeshua bore our sins and those of the entire world. Indeed He not only carried our sins there, He became sin for us there (2 Corinthians 5:21) that we might be set free from our bondage and become the righteousness of God in Him.
Finally, He was taken down from the tree and wrapped in white linen and buried. The leaven that was wrapped in the cloth is burned the next morning, totally eradicated, even as our sins are, but we like our Messiah are raised up to new life to celebrate the Passover in sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Over 60 years have passed since the episode with the pretzels on Passover, yet it’s something I never will forget. After those innocent days followed many more serious sins for which I deserved to be cut off from Israel and the God of Israel. But then came the mercy of God and Yeshua, our Passover lamb. He searched me out and by His sacrifice brought me to recline in freedom at His Seder table, there to share in His unleavened purity and the wine of His joy.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, April 15, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Moshe founded and lead Rosh Pina Messianic Congregation in Maryland until making aliyah with his family in the early 90's. He's been an elder at Tents of Mercy Messianic Congregation for the past 20 years.
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The Passover cup of salvation
On the night of Passover, we raise the Passover cup and lift our voices to sing the Hallel(praises). Within its ancient words a mystery of the Passover is revealed as David said,
“I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call on the Name of Adonai.” (Psalm 116:13)
Ancient Jewish exegetes noted an extra dimension within the text. The words Kos Yeshuot (כּוֹס־יְשׁוּע֥וֹת), translated “cup of salvation”, is written in plural form, literally the “cup of salvations”; the yeshuot, the salvations, of Adonai.
Some have seen in this an allusion to the four cups of the Passover, and others speak of two specific cups; one for the days of Messiah and one reserved for the salvation of Israel in the end time’s battle with Gog.1
Passover is the season of redemption, but it has come through the symbol of the cup. One writer even went so far as to say that without the cup there is no consolation.2
The cup of restoration and redemption
While we think about the four cups, and the many facets of meaning that can be found, I would call our attention to an amazing parallel between Joseph’s cup in Egypt, and the Cup of the Messiah. Both reveal guilt, and both speak of redemption (geulah). The hidden cup ultimately brought Jacob (Israel) and the seventy back to Joseph. It was a hidden cup to the brothers and was unknowingly carried in their belongings, but it was the very means of Joseph to restore his family.
The story of the cup takes place upon Judah’s return to Egypt to buy grain. This time, at the ruler of Egypt’s (Joseph’s) insistence, they brought their youngest brother, Benjamin. At that meeting a feast was prepared for Joseph and his brothers to dine. The next morning, as they gathered their belongings, Joseph’s silver cup was hidden into the grain sack of Benjamin.
“And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain money.” (Genesis 44:1-2)
With the donkeys loaded, they made their way out of town and past the city gates. Not far down the road, Joseph’s servant was sent to overtake them. The brother’s were shocked to be accused of stealing the master’s cup. No doubt they all had seen the cup, the night before, in the meal with Joseph. Joseph may have even lifted it high to begin their meal together. Judah, however, makes an audacious and strange declaration.
“Look, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.” (Genesis 44:8)
It was strange, for it was such an exaggerated punishment that it seems to have even shocked the servant of Joseph. After searching the bags the servant informed them that the missing cup had been found–in Benjamin’s grain sack!
The Passover Cup
On the night of Passover all four Gospels tell us that Yeshua identified himself with the cup of Passover. Luke tells us it is the cup after the supper saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20)
That cup is the cup of salvation lifted high for all to see. As we celebrate Passover with the Kos Yeshuot we are reminded of the cup used to reveal that “Joseph lives”, and that reveals the salvation of the Messiah, that Yeshua lives!
Like the brothers, we have symbolically carried the cup of Passover through our tradition, and the many generations, not realizing that it is the hidden message of salvation to reconcile man to Messiah and to our Father who is in Heaven.
Joseph’s cup not only revealed that he was alive, it revealed Judah’s guilt.
Judah suffered for far too long with guilt over Joseph. Some note that from a psychological perspective, Judah’s extreme declaration spoke of his desire to be punished. A punishment far greater than reasonably would have been imposed. When the cup was found however, Judah exclaimed,
“What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord’s slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found.” (Genesis 44:16)
What iniquity had been found out? Was Judah confessing to taking the cup? No, he was verbally expressing grief and guilt for betraying and selling Joseph to the Gentiles. The cup was merely the means to bring him to reconciliation.
When the brothers were brought back before Joseph and told that Benjamin would be taken as a slave, Judah implored that he himself be taken in Benjamin’s stead and that the Benjamin return home to the father with the other brothers. At that moment Joseph could not restrain himself. He had the Egyptian servants leave, and said, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” In that holy moment, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. It was holy because it was the reconciling of the tribes of Israel. The sin against Joseph was forgiven, and the true repentant heart of Judah was revealed.
Multiple cups, multiple salvations
This Passover, each guest will have before them the cup of the salvations (Kos Yeshuaot) of the Lord. I am now speaking of Messiah’s cup. Yeshua, the son of David, revealed the hidden plan of salvation when he lifted the third cup of Passover, telling us that it was the cup of the new covenant in his blood.
That cup symbolically has been held in the hands of Israel for millennia, but few understand that it is a hidden vessel revealing the redemption of Israel and the nations.
Yeshua’s death was the Passover sacrifice, and his blood the true protective covering of Atonement. As one ancient sage said, this a time of redemption (geulah) and atonement (kaparah):
“‘Fix ye, therefore, this month for Me and for you, because I will see therein the blood of the Passover and will make atonement (mekaper) for you.” (Exodus Rabbah 15: 12)
As we lift the cups of Passover and sing of the Kos Yeshuot in the Hallel, let us remember that there is a cup which not only reveals our guilt of sin, but also reveals the reconciliation and covering for our sin by the blood of the Passover lamb, Yeshua. That is the cup of salvation, the third cup of the Passover. Messiah, however, has left the final cup to the time when we can partake together in His Father’s Kingdom.
As we mentioned earlier, one ancient writer spoke of the Kos Yeshuot as being two cups of salvation. One for the days Messiah and a final cup of salvation reserved for the distresses of the end times (Genesis Rabbah 88:5).3 There is a cup of salvation for Israel both now and for whatever distresses lie ahead. Like Joseph’s cup hidden in the sack of Benjamin, its message of redemption along with the Messiah will one day be revealed.
Have a blessed Passover!
 “Bereishit Rabbah 88:5,” Sefaria, accessed April 19, 2019.
 “Otzar Midrashim,” Sefaria, accessed April 19, 2019, . “ואין תנחומין אלא בכוס…”
 “Shemot Rabbah 15:12,” Sefaria, , accessed April 19, 2019.
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