Chosen people, or myth?
Those who would make the Creation account given in Gen. 1 and 2 in the Hebrew Bible a myth open the door for those who say that it is a myth that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people: the Jews created their own God and myth to compete with, and separate from, the other gods and myths of pagan nations. (What a powerful myth!) They would be in agreement — knowingly or not — with those who claim that there is no God who intervenes in human affairs, no center of the universe or of this spherical Earth, and that there is no “specialness” of any thing, not even human beings, whom God uniquely created in His image and in His likeness. God has a plan and a purpose for His creation, and redemption to accomplish it is at the heart of it from before the beginning.
But YHVH God has chosen this planet as His focal point in the universe which He created; He has chosen a particular man — Abram/Abraham — through whom He promised with a covenant and an oath a chosen people — through His choice of Isaac and of Jacob — and an inheritance, and to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth — and towards whom all people would be held to account; He has chosen a particular land — the Land of Canaan — for that inheritance; He has chosen a particular city — Jerusalem — within this chosen Land of Israel as His city; He has chosen a particular tribe — Judah — through whom the King whom He has chosen will establish His righteous kingdom when He comes again, with His elect saints, from that city in that land over all the Earth and nations; He has chosen a particular person of that tribe — David — to whom He promised in covenant and with an oath that this King Messiah would come from him; He has appointed one mediator between Himself and humanity — Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, the unique and beloved Son of God — and one way of salvation through the forgiveness of sins in order to be justified for inheriting all of these great and precious promises, and especially eternal life together with Him: repent and believe the gospel — that Yeshua died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, all according to the Scriptures, which are Holy Spirit/God-breathed inspiration written through chosen men of His choice.
Our God is holy, and He is Sovereign. He is the God of Truth. Nor is He a liar or a deceiver, which the devil is both. All myths and false narratives will fail. This Heaven and Earth will pass away, but His word will never pass away!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, February 17, 2019 and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Drawing forth water with joy
And in that day you will say:
“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”
3 Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
4 And in that day you will say:
“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
6 Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!” (Isaiah 12:1-6 NKJV)
It is important, when reading the Word, to put what is written into context according to the time period when the events took place. Isaiah 12:1-6 was written, of course, during a time when there were no modern conveniences. Something as basic as water for washing one’s body, did not come out of a faucet. One had to take a jug, go to the well or spring, fill the jug and carry it back again. People came to the source of water with expectation and even excitement. Imagine getting all the way to the well and finding that the water was not clean or that the well was dry.
Life was different then and yet, if we take this analogy and apply it to our lives today and how we approach God, there is much to be learned. In essence, life today is easier and yet we still struggle. No matter how much we strive to satisfy our physical needs, even those which are basic for every day life, we will not be filled. We will only find true satisfaction through the spiritual side of life.
What we read within these verses refers to the Presence of God and the filling of the Holy Spirit. We need to go to the source of water with excitement (John 7:37-39), and then with joy we will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3).
The word “ge-oot” translated “excellent things” (Isaiah 12:5) can also be translated “swelling of the sea” (Psalm 89:9). When I read it this way and think of the filling of the Holy Spirit, I can go to the source with great excitement expecting sea-swelling tsunami of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Let us remember this when the trials of this life distract us, when the enemy throws everything he’s got at us in an attempt to keep us from going to the well with excitement and anticipation to draw water from our source, Yeshua.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, January 8, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Guy and his wife, Tali, founded and lead Harvest of Asher, a Messianic congregation of Jewish and Gentile believers in Akko, Israel.
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How to cope with turbulence and uncertainty, according to an Israeli soldier
“Get up! Get up now!” The soldier had become somewhat used to being woken up like this in the middle of the night, but the shock never wears off. Eli HaiTov was serving in the Search and Rescue Brigade in the Israeli Army. They needed to be trained to be ready for action at a moment’s notice, and so the “surprises” came thick and fast.
Even when it would more natural to be groggy with sleep, they would obediently jump up, put on their uniform – orange berets and black boots, along with a heavy vest of equipment – and off they would go. Most often they had no idea what would be waiting for them, or how long it would take. They plunged into the dark, into the unknown.
The Search and Rescue Brigade is a highly skilled force trained to execute special search and rescue missions, both in Israel and abroad. In order to maintain the high standards necessary, the training was tough. These are the ones that other soldiers and civilians depend on for help in an emergency.
Dealing with the unknown
One of the toughest parts of the training was deliberately throwing the soldiers into the total unknown – a complete lack of certainty. They did not know where they were going, or what they would have to do. One time they were dropped Eli and his unit off in an abandoned wasteland for three days. They learned to survive on four hours of sleep. It was important that they were fully trained and experienced to deal with situations that are very challenging for the human mind.
Uncertainty, instability, insecurity… whichever word you choose, a lack of clarity is difficult for every human being to deal with. But just as the IDF drills soldiers by plunging them into the unknown, so God trains us to walk with him, asking us to trust him without knowing the details.
God girds us with strength for battle in our minds by stretching our faith muscle. Here’s how David expressed it in Psalm 18:
God girds me with strength
and makes my way straight.
He makes my feet like those of deer
and makes me stand on my heights.
He trains my hands for battle,
so my arms can bend a bronze bow.
You gave me the shield of Your salvation.
Your right hand upholds me,
Your gentleness makes me great.
You broaden my steps beneath me,
so my ankles have not slipped.
God, like a good commander, plunges us into situations that develop our ability to cope, come what may. We might feel as if he is withholding help, information, or provision from us. But perhaps he is not taking away from us, but rather GIVING to us. He furnishes us with skill to endure as he teaches us how to walk with him. He makes our feet like those of a deer, able to stand in high places.
By taking away our safety nets and our crutches, God forces us to depend on the only reliable source of strength and help: Himself. And suddenly we find capacity beyond what we even thought was possible.
For with You I rush on a troop,
with my God I scale a wall. (v.30)
Keep your eyes on the horizon
As has become something of a tradition for an Israeli soldier, Eli went traveling after his army service. It was while he was exploring Norway’s beautiful lakes that he discovered that he gets sea-sick. He was in a boat, and in the dark he was unable to fix his eyes on any stable point. The turbulence got the better of him. As anyone who has suffered with motion sickness will know, the internal conflict your body experiences and loss of inner balance can be very unsettling. Your body doesn’t know what is going on, and nausea ensues.
The solution is to find a stable point, and keep your eyes fixed upon it. The horizon is usually the answer.
So in life, we realise sooner or later that nothing is stable. Nothing is certain. There is no secure place that we can truly rely upon other than God himself. When uncertainty and insecurity swirl around us, and unsettle our souls, fear can arise.
Insecurity is basically fear. And the opposite of fear is faith.
But the author of Hebrews confirms that the way to strengthen our faith muscle is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus is our horizon.
He is our source, and he is our destiny. We are encouraged to fix our eyes on the final outcome, just as Jesus himself did when contemplating the cross.
As true disciples, we are here to serve in God’s army – we are not civilians – and we are being trained to withstand whatever may come. We are subjects of an unshakable kingdom, and our future is 100% certain. We might protest at the rigorous regime God puts us through, but when we are made strong for him, we can serve like a well trained soldier in his elite search and rescue team.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Today Eli HaiTov works with ONE FOR ISRAEL, as a researcher and writer for our Hebrew-speaking audience. Eli loves to worship God, and you can listen to his music here.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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Letter to a thinking atheist
How, my fellow voyager through life and time, can you believe in Nothing? Nothing, by definition, does not exist. When we both look at the spectacular beauty around us, and remarkable complexity of living things, we might find the idea that everything came into being from nothing, and by mere chance alone, a bit far-fetched, wouldn’t you think? In fact, it might seem a bit more reason-able, and easier to digest, to assume that the entire universe came into being from some supreme wisdom outside the material universe. Even the great mystery and wonder of what we call consciousness would seem to reflect a greater consciousness, especially considering that consciousness, which seems to exist to some degree in all living things, is arguably not merely the sum total of brain cells functioning together.
Rather recently science has come to a conclusion based in evidence that the cosmos came into being by a great burst at its beginning, and has been expanding ever since. Previously the paradigm of ancient Greek thought- that the universe had always existed- held sway in most scientific quarters. Incidentally, hundreds of years before the Greeks came up with such a concept, the Hebrews began their book with, “In the beginning”. If indeed the universe had a beginning, then we are stuck with some difficult, and perhaps ultimate, questions, the most obvious being, What was there before the beginning, and what caused that Big Bang?
Some very keen minds have been swift to solve that problem and, to avoid the idea of a Beginner, came up with the brilliant theory of multiple universes, from which this one exploded into being. Even other thinkers propose that all came into being by a quantum warp in nothing, according to natural laws of nothing. The problem being with such solutions is, from whence or what came those universes, or those laws? By pushing the problem back and away, we cannot avoid the question, which might be: why is there something as opposed to nothing at all? But it would seem that the concept that something comes from nothing is a bit preposterous, and certainly a less than rational or satisfying answer.
But there are some, as a fine gentleman I spoke with this morning, who solve it all by saying, “Who cares?” That may be one expedient way of pushing off the question, but may yet leave the ultimate issue there only to be dealt with at a later time.
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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Hearing and obeying the voice of G-D
One of the most exciting things for me to experience is when watching what happens when people I love hear and obey the voice of G-D in their lives and see the blessing and fruit that comes from listening to His voice. There is a special feeling of fulfillment within them that is visible. The Bible tells us in John 10:27:
27 My sheep hear My voice. I know them, and they follow Me.
So as His sheep we should all learn to know His voice and how to follow Him. I say learn how to follow Him because it is possible to do what G-D says, while at the same time not be following him. I know that may seem contradictory but allow me to explain. There are times when G-D speaks to us that we have to determine when and how we are to follow. One example of this can be found in Exodus 25:1-2:
1 Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 2 “Tell Bnei-Yisrael to take up an offering for Me. From anyone whose heart compels him you are to take My offering.
In these verses we find G-D speaking to Israel and telling them to take up and offering to build the Tabernacle. His words are simple, take an offering from all who are compelled or willing to give to build the Tabernacle. As we read on we find that the Children of Israel responded so generously that in Exodus 36:6-7 we read:
6 So Moses gave an order, and they proclaimed it throughout the camp saying, “Let neither man nor woman make anything else as an offering for the Sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing more. 7 For the work material they had was sufficient for all the work, with much left over.
But in between Exodus 25 and Exodus 36 is Exodus 32, when the Children of Israel followed what G-D said but didn’t follow G-D.
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what’s become of him!” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He received them from their hand, and made a molten calf, fashioned with a chiseling tool. Then they said, “This is your god, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
Notice that when the Children of Israel didn’t hear from G-D through Moses they reverted to what they had heard previously. So they took up and offering from those with a willing heart and used it to build a Golden Calf. The similarity between the collection for the Golden Calf and the collection for the Tabernacle is clear. Both offerings were given willingly and received from the people. Both followed a pattern or example spoken by G-D to Israel. However, when Israel took up the offering to build the Tabernacle, they did what G-D said and followed Him, but when they built the Golden Calf they did what G-D had said but they did not follow Him in doing so.
The point I am trying to make is that to often believers take what G-D said out of the context of what He said and then apply it to our lives in the way we want. When we do this end up with a Golden Calf instead of a Tabernacle.
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, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".