Are you a “one talent” person?
We all know the parable of the Talents from Matthew 25: 14-30. In case you don’t remember it, here it is;
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money [in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Many sermons have been preached on this passage, and many books have been written about it. If you’re looking for answers to the many questions this parable raises (especially since something is very obviously being lost in translation from Aramaic, which is the language Jesus was speaking when He originally gave this parable, into modern English) than I suggest you go get one or more of those books and do a search for the recordings of some of those sermons. I’m not going to address any of the deep theological questions here.
What I’m going to do instead is to simply urge you, dear reader, to zero in on one of the many lessons that this parable teaches us. That lesson, in crude language, is that God gave EVERYONE at least one talent that He wants and expects us to use in the service of His Kingdom. To refuse and/or fail to do so is disobedience and rebellion and as the conclusion of the parable indicates that can have very serious eternal consequences. I know I said I wasn’t going to get into theology here but I’m not sure how else that last part can be interpreted.
So I’m urging whoever might be reading this, if you’re not doing so already, sit down with your pastor or some other spiritual mentor whose judgement and discernment you trust and figure out what talent (or talents) God has given you. Once you’ve got that figured out, keep talking (and praying) about it until you’ve figured out a plan to use that talent(s) to serve the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, time is short. Persecution is increasing and the fields are CRYING OUT for workers to come bring in the harvest. If you can’t help bring in the harvest yourself, help someone who is working to bring it in. It can be as simple as faithfully attending and tithing to your local congregation and praying for your own pastor and his team. Or it can be as complicated as quitting your day job and becoming a full-time evangelist, if that’s what you feel called to do.
But whatever you do, stir up that talent (or talents) God gave you and GET MOVING!
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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The Jews rejected Jesus (True or False?)
The average reader or student might reply: True. But that would beg the question: Then who accepted Jesus? The 1st century AD events described in the New Testament gospels depict events occurring in the Jewish state of the Land of Israel. It is not “Palestine,” which appear s nowhere in the NT texts, but the angelic message to Joseph and Mary describes the land as, “The Land of Israel” (Matthew 2:20, 21).
The average reader or student would well recognize those characters of Mary and Joseph, but not their original Hebrew names Miriam and Yoseph, nor for that matter the name Yeshua. These people commonly known around the planet were Middle Eastern Jews in every respect, but by their name-changes through translation they might instead be identified as western blonde and blue-eyed folks educated at Oxford. Yeshua became Jesus, Shimon Kaifa, Shaul, and Miriam became Peter, Paul and Mary. Yohanan, Matatyahu, Yaakov became John, Mathew and James. These Jews were the disciples of Yeshua the Messiah, and the apostles who later brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. It is these Jewish people who adorn the churches around the world to this day in paintings and sculpture.
It might be argued that the gospel of John (Yohanan) seems to differentiate between “the Jews” and the followers of Jesus (Yeshua), thus creating enmity between the “Christians” and the “Jews”. But this is a false reading of the texts, as reference to the Jews in every case is to the Judean leadership in Jerusalem of Judah, not to the Jewish people as a whole. We see in John 19:38-40 where Nicodemus, a Jewish leader who is a secret disciple “for fear of the Jews,” bringing spices for the body of Yeshua “as is the burial custom of the Jews.” Also in John 10:22 we see Jesus in the temple at the “Feast of Dedication,” which in the original Hebrew is the Jewish festival of Hanukah, which means dedication. A lack of understanding these facts by the Church has led to much suffering for the Jews.
In the Book of Acts we read of myriads (tens of thousands) of Jews coming to faith in the Messiah, and many of them being of the Pharisees and the priests and scribes (Acts 21:20), including Nakdimon (Nicodemus) and Yoseph of Ramataim (Joseph of Aramathea). At Pentecost (the festival of Shavuot) we see thousands of Jews going into the mikveh pools (baptismal fonts), the ancient Jewish tradition of purification, not converting them to another religion. Later we see Shaul (Paul) and Silas entering such Gentile cities as Philippi where the locals point out that “these men are Jews” (Acts 16:20), with no mention of “Christians”. Yes, they were all Jews living as Jews, keeping the seventh day Sabbath according to the eternal covenant (Exodus 31:16), the festivals of Israel (Passover, Shavuot/Pentecost, Succot/Tabernacles, etc.), and worshipping in the synagogues and the Temple in Jerusalem. There is no mention of Christmas or Easter. As many other Jews, they gathered in homes at the end of the Sabbath at sundown, which is the beginning of the first day of the week (as days are ordered by the Genesis account, “It was evening and it was morning,” the days beginning at sundown). Unfortunately, “the first day of the week” became distorted by translation to mean Sunday, a tradition that was codified by the Catholic Church, and remains engrained in Protestant tradition to this day. Biblically, Sunday was a workday, as “six days you shall work” (Exodus 34:21).
The changing of the Jewish names goes back even to the time of Daniel the prophet, when the Babylonians destroyed the Jewish nation and took the Jews captive. The young Jewish men such as Daniel, Hananyah, Mishael, and Azaryah were changed to Balteshazzer, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, after the names of the Babylonian gods, to bring forgetfulness of their Jewish heritage, and the one God of Israel, YHVH.
Though Christmas is a joyous holiday and its tree a pretty and stimulating symbol of the birth of the Messiah, there is no evidence that December is the time of his birth. It is more likely that his birth was at the time of the biblical festival of Succot/ Tabernacles. And it is to the olive tree that the scriptures point as the root of the faith (Romans 11:16-24), and to which followers of the Messiah are to be grafted in. It is from the fruit of the olive tree that the oil is brought for the anointing, and the light for the Menorah (the candlestick in the temple). It is the Hebrew word for anointing (meshicha) that the wordmashiach (messiah) is derived, and translated to Greek as christos, from which comes Christ and Christian. Perhaps the historical time and opportunity has come for those who follow the Messiah to come forth from the Christmas tree and graft back into the olive tree, to turn from Rome and return to Jerusalem, “the city of the Great King,” where the Messiah rose, and will return.
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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Parental transfer (Part 1)
I would like to share with you what I have found to be the single most important key to psychological health and development, which leads to multiple kinds of blessings in our life. It has to do with relationships with our parents.
Relationship with our parents is mentioned in two out of the Ten Commandments. That itself is an indication of its significance. One reference is positive; one negative.
Exodus 20:5 – I am YHVH your God, a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children upon three and upon four generations to those who hate me.
Bad behavior (sin) will be transferred from a parental generation to that of the children, even until the third and fourth generation. This was not God’s intention, since the passage goes on to state that He will bless unto a thousand generations. God set up a mechanism of generational transfer in order to bless; but if it is misused, it will still have effect.
Visiting iniquity does not mean that God will punish a child for his parents’ sin. It means that the influence of destructive behavior will be carried on. A parent who is abusive, absent, or aberrant will hurt his children, who will in turn tend to hurt their children, and so on. We are morally responsible for our behavior, and our behavior affects those around us.
Reverse the Curse
We call this destructive generational influence a “curse.” However, it is possible to stop this negative transfer and restore the mechanism to its original positive purpose. Primarily there are three components to “reverse the curse”:
1. Repent: don’t continue the negative behavior. No matter what the influence around us, we can always choose to do the right thing. If your parents were violent (for example), you can choose not to be violent yourself
a. To change, one has to first identify the negative behavior and then decide not to do the same thing.
b. Sometimes the pattern is continued by doing the exact opposite. A person with violent parents can become overly passive. A woman who experienced sexual abuse, may become sexually unresponsive to her husband.
c. We decide not to continue the pattern, by not doing the same thing, and by not reacting in the opposite way. We choose to act in a healthy and ethical way in every situation, free from all past negative influence.
2. Forgive: release negative feelings toward our parents. No one had perfect parents. Some parents are much better than others, but no one is perfect. There is always something for which we need to forgive our parents.
a. God forgave us by grace through Yeshua’s atonement on the cross. We did not deserve to be forgiven. God expects us to forgive others in the same way. This forgiveness starts with our parents.
b. Forgiving parents is not easy because we are influenced by parents even in our mother’s womb; our very physical make-up is composed from the DNA of our parents. Our identity and personality are connected to theirs. We have to search deep inside to forgive them.
c. We remove all bitterness and resentment from our heart. Forgiveness is a one-way street. We forgive whether or not the other changes his behavior. This does not mean we trust them in everything, or continue to allow them to easily hurt us.
d. Trust is a two-way street and demands the participation of the other. If the person wants to build a cooperative relationship, that is preferred. However, even if not, we can remove unforgiveness in our heart towards them. In this way, we free ourselves from psychological bondage.
e. Forgiveness also means to forget. The negative event must not be “replayed” in our consciousness again and again. It may be in the memory bank of our mental computer, but it is deleted from any active appearance on the screen of our thoughts and imagination.
3. Proclamation: we also break curses by speaking positively and canceling their “legal” jurisdiction in our lives. Words have authority in the spiritual realm. We simply state, “I forgive my parents of all wrongs toward me; I break all curses and cancel any negative influence in my life, in the name of Messiah Yeshua.”
Next week, in Part 2, I will walk you through the positive second reference in the Ten Commandments concerning our relationship with our parents.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, June 26, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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Blaming G-D for our choices
The 12 spies spread a bad report about the Promised Land. We don’t need to do that as well.
Recently I was counseling a young person who was having difficulties in their life. After only a few minutes, it was clear that their problems were the result of their own choices and actions. My response to their situation was to turn to Number chapter 20:1-5 and read it with them.
1 In the first month, the entire community of Bnei-Yisrael arrived at the wilderness of Zin. The people stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 2 Now there was no water for the community, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people quarreled with Moses saying, “If only we had died when our brothers died before Adonai! 4 Now why have you brought the community of Adonai into this wilderness, for us and our livestock to die here? 5 Why have you brought us from Egypt to bring us to this evil place—a place without grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and there’s no water to drink!”
To understand this text, we first have to look at the context of what has just happened to the Children of Israel. They were redeemed from Egypt by G-D’s miraculous power through the Ten Plagues and then the Parting of the Red Sea. They have traveled to Mount Sinai and experienced the thunderous voice of G-D from the Mountain. They arrived at the border of the Promise Land and sent the 12 spies into the land which came back and reported that the Land was exactly as wonderful as G-D had promised it would be. A place of milk and honey full of grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and water to drink!”. Yet the Children of Israel because of fear and unbelief chose not to enter the land. So when we come to Numbers 2 and the people are complaining because there now in a place without grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and there’s no water to drink!”
How many of us like the Children of Israel and the young person I was speaking with have made choices that were contrary to G-D’s Word and promises and ended up in “the wilderness’ only to complain about how G-D allowed these things to come upon us?
G-D’s word is clear about His desire for us to be blessed and prosper as our souls prosper. So if you are looking around today and find yourself in a “wilderness” without the blessings of G-D, take a moment to search and see if you have rejected the “Promised Land” then repent and go back to the border and this time enter in!!
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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In your anger, do not sin
PARASHAT CHUKAT (STATUTE OF)
BAMIDBAR (NUMBERS) 19:1–22:1
I entitled last week’s blog, Guard your heart, and felt that it directly connects to our portion this week. This week, we read of a well-known story that ended in a tragic result:
Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, ‘If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! Why then have you brought the LORD’s assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? And why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.’ Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORDappeared to them; and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them.
There is no doubt that the end of this story is tragic. Because Moses and Aaron did not trust God, and did not follow His instructions, they never entered the Land of Promise. I cannot imagine how devastating that was for Moses, especially (See more about this topic Parashat Chukat (Statute of)).
It occurred to me, however, as I reread this Scripture that perhaps there was something else happening in the account. I want to offer another possible interpretation, and approach it from a somewhat different perspective. Could it be that Moses’ anger caused him to sin? Is it possible that his anger blinded his trust in God to the point of disbelief? Verses 2 and 3 tell us that due to the water shortage, “the people assembled against Moses and Aaron” and quarreled with Moses. This was not the first time it happened and I believe it is fair to suggest that Moses had a growing frustration with his people, and their wandering in the wilderness.
Can it be that the reality that Moses faced this time was too much? Could it be that he allowed anger to fill his heart, so much so that maybe he did not pay attention to God’s instructions, and that him hitting the rock was as a result of anger and rage… i.e., “I am done!” I think this is a very real possibility, even though the text does not explicitly say so.
Anger in itself is not sin. It’s what we do with our anger that can lead to sin! Do we allow our anger toward someone or a situation to overcome us, even to the point that we cannot hear God? Even to the point that we may sin against God? This is yet another reason why we must guard our hearts!
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
I encourage you to take time to pray, asking the LORD to reveal any area in your life that might be full of anger, which could open the door to sin. Anger that is not dealt with can have disastrous consequences; give your anger to God and allow Him to take care of every situation in your life!
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.