Generational transference: We and our fathers
The righteousness and justice of God: His ways are not ours; His thoughts not ours. Repentance begins with agreeing with Him and learning from Him. The truth sets us free, and humbles us to first judge ourselves of the log in our own eyes, so that we can better help others with their specks. Glory to our Father in Heaven and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ!
Heb 7:8-10 Here men that die receive tithes; but there he receivesthem, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receives tithes, paid tithes in Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
1Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ/Messiah shall all be made alive.
Lev 4:3, 13-14 If the priest that is anointed does sin, bringing guilt upon the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto YHVH for a sin offering. . . . And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning thingswhich should not be done, and are guilty; When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation.
Lev 26:40-45 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am YHVH their God.
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am YHVH.
Ex 13:8 And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, This is donebecause of what YHVH did for me when I came out of Egypt.
Ex 34:6-7 And YHVH passed by before him, and proclaimed, YHVH, YHVH God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Dt 6:23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he swore unto our fathers.
Mt 23:29-36 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the monuments of the righteous,
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore you be witnesses against yourselves, that you are the children of them who killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers!
Serpents, brood of vipers, how can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Berechiyah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.
Mt 27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Zech 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn son.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, May 22, 2018, 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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Pentecost didn’t happen in an upper room
The Bible says, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1). Where was that one place? Tradition places the receiving of the Spirit on Pentecost in the upper room of Acts 1. The disciples met in the upper room after the ascension, but ten days elapsed between the ascension and the events described in Acts 2. The story does not indicate that they were still in that upper room in Acts 2. More likely, the believers assembled in one of the courts of the Temple.
Deuteronomy 16:16 enjoins all men of Israel to present themselves before the LORD (at the Temple) on the day of Shavuot. Since the disciples were in Jerusalem, they could not fail to go up to the Temple. The disciples met every day in the Temple where they worshipped God continuously (Luke 24:52-53). If they did so on ordinary days, how much more so would they have been in the Temple on a holy day. Even though Luke does not explicitly state that the events of Acts 2 took place in the Temple courts, the story infers that location.
The outpouring at Shavu’ot occurred at the time of morning sacrifice and prayer. According to Acts 3, Simon Peter and John kept the times of prayer in the Temple courts.
The Master instructed His disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. Men and women anticipating divine revelation would logically congregate in the house of God. Simon Peter preached to a vast multitude of Jews from all over the world. Only in the Temple courts would such a diverse throng assemble on the day of Shavuot. Three thousand people immersed themselves in response to his message. The Temple had pools to accommodate mass immersions.The Greek word oikos (οικος), which most English Bibles translate as “house” in Acts 2:2, is ambiguous and can refer to any building or structure. Rabbinic literature refers to the Temple as “The House (HaBayit, הבית).”
All this evidence points to the same conclusion: The pouring out of the Spirit reported in Acts 2 took place in the courts of the Temple in Jerusalem—not in the upper room mentioned in Acts 1.
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion an is reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.
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Parashat Bamidbar: The one thing people are willing to die for
Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
This Shabbat we read Parashat Bamidbar. The name of the weekly Torah portion is determined by the first word that appears in it, so too is the name of the five books of the Torah. The name is determined merely by the first word appearing in it, and not necessarily according to the content.
The Hebrew name, Bamidbar, means “in the desert”:
“The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai…” – Numbers 1:1 [NIV]
The English name for it is Numbers; mostly because this book is not so surprisingly full of numbers.
The Call to Bring Order Where There is No Order
This week’s parasha begins with a commandment given to Moses:
“You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army.” – Numbers 1:3 [NIV]
There is a stark contrast between being in the desert and conducting a census. There are no rules in the desert and no laws, it is absolutely limitless.
The desert dwellers did not have much property. There were storms in the desert – it is where we broke the Tablets of the Covenant. The desert is full of anarchy – a situation without order.
A census is the opposite, its purpose is to bring order, a framework, and government.
When we read the weekly Torah portion, we feel as though we are reading the report of the Statistical Bureau of the Sinai Desert, that somehow it accidentally entered the Bible.
Moreover, the order is exemplary. Each person is recorded according to their ancestral home and tribe, where they camped, and under what banner they traveled.
God’s Order Works
In another month and a half we will read Parashat Balak. It appears that the order is working, that the Israelites are organized, and it is difficult for Balaam to find a breach in the people. He cannot find a place from where to curse the people of Israel, and he must move to and fro in order to find the right spot.
From the highest of vantage points he sees order, the people of Israel dwelling in tribes, each in their own camp under their flag. What was Balaam looking for? Balaam sought a place or a way to break the unity of the people and allow for discord and division.
Finally, Balaam blessed the people of Israel with the famous blessing:
“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!” – Numbers 24:5 [NIV]
We Cannot Live on Our Own in the Desert
It’s a wonder in itself, the amount of arguments was probably few. The people must have been united in one way or another.
Some say that it was the desert that helped unite and strengthen the people.
In the desert, there are no street lights. Day is day and night is night. There is no air conditioning. There is nothing to distract us, no advertising.
Suddenly, we find that we cannot exist alone, we need each other in order to survive. We have to lend a hand to help those in need. From here grows loyalty and mutual responsibility, an ideal. It goes to show that even from the desert, a nation can grow.
Everyone is uniform, according to the commandment, either stopping to camp or rising to continue on the journey, “each of them under their standard,” (Numbers 2:2) according to the banner of the tribe.
Why is a Flag so Important?
What is a banner, and why is it so important? Each country has their own rules on how to treat a flag.
The importance of the flag as a symbol is expressed in Theodor Herzl’s words in a letter to Baron Hirsch:
“What is a flag? A pole and a piece of cloth? No, Sir! A flag is greater than this. With a flag people are led to wherever you want, even to the chosen land. For a flag, people live and die. It is the one thing people are willing to die for.”
In this context, we reach the words of David Wolfson regarding the Israeli flag:
“At the order of our leader Herzl, I came to Basel to make all the preparations for the first congress. Among the many questions that occupied me then was one… With what flag will we decorate the congress hall? What are its colors? We do not have a flag. This idea was very painful for me. We must create the flag. But what colors should we choose? And then an idea became clear in my mind: Indeed we have a flag. White and blue. The prayer shawl in which we wrap ourselves in our prayers – this prayer shawl is our symbol. We will remove the tallit from its case and unfurl it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all the nations. I then ordered a blue and white flag with a Star of David drawn on it. And so our national flag came into being.”
The Flag We Serve Under in the Congregation
A flag symbolizes a vision and our belonging, as human beings, to a common idea. Therefore, every nation has a flag, every company has a logo.
As believers, our vision is to be a lighthouse. To shine Yeshua’s light, the light of Torah, and to draws others closer to faith. According to Yeshua’s words in Matthew 5:
“You are the light of the world… In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14a,16 [NIV]
The vision of the local congregation is to build a supportive and constructive community that will enable believers to grow and strengthen together.
The call to serve the flag, the vision, is a call to join and do something for the members of the local community, to build the social and volunteering aspects of the congregation.
In Hebrew we have a phrase, “to be called to the flag.” This means to be called to contribute, to give from yourself at your own expense, for the vision, for the community, or for the country.
Even to fight for the ideal of the nation with the same flag.
The Call to War in Israel
In the IDF, when there is a call to the flag, what we call “Order 8,” the response rate is about 110%-115%. How exactly is this possible?
For regular military reserve duty, training or standard operations, there is about a 75%-80% response rate. Reserve military units make their plans according to an 80% response rate. This is the case, because people are under pressure at work, there’s a new baby, people are out of the country, and many other reasons and excuses.
However, in the case of war, like with Lebanon in 2006 or the large-scale operations like those in Gaza in 2008 and 2014, there is a higher response rate. Even when it’s dangerous, when there is a tangible risk of loss of life.
This is because we are being called upon to protect our homes and our families. These wars are not a privilege, they’re a duty. In other words, our homes are under attack, and we must protect them.
The above 100% response rate is due to people who are out of the system, older people, or people otherwise removed from the system, hear about their friends getting called up, or read it about it in the news, and they simply show up at military bases, ready to serve.
The Call to be a Flag
We too are called to the flag, we are called upon to stand behind the vision and serve it. However, we are also called to be a flag, to be a symbol of faith, a sign of what is good, right, and true.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 [NIV]
Yeshua’s commandment is very clear. That people may see us, our faith, our joy, and our deeds, and through these they will come to know God.
We are required to be kind and patient. To show love, joy, peace, and serenity. Indeed, if we do not have joy and true love in our hearts, what then do we have to offer the world?
Not everyone finds the joy and glory found in nature. There are days when it seems like the whole world around us is in a state of deep depression, stuck in a terrible evil. We have to change this perception; that is actually our mission of life.
We have a duty to project happiness, to radiate love and peace with the world and with ourselves.
The world should see that we have something to offer, that we have an undying source of joy.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” – Philippians 4:4,5 [NIV]
This video features music by Keith Green. It’s is one of the best, you can’t listen to it without being filled with joy:
As believers, we must strive to lead lives that are full of light, light that will attract others. People ought to see us and get inspired to improve their lives, their families, and to draw near to the Creator of the world.
May we have the power to grow strong together as a family and a community, and to strengthen others, in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah, May 19, 2018, and reposted with permission.
The teachings of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context. Netivyah is an Israeli non-profit organization that teaches God's Word and helps those in need.
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Alignment with Jerusalem: The 70 year shift has begun (Part 1)
During the past week of Shavuot/Pentecost, and as Israel marked her 70th anniversary, the embassies of the United States, Guatemala and Paraguay relocated to Jerusalem. These signpost events were historic. As they took place, the local spiritual atmosphere seemed to suddenly, simultaneously shift.
Israelis acknowledge that the relocation of foreign embassies is largely the work of evangelical Christians. Almost overnight, the predilection of many toward evangelicals spiked to a new high. At the same time, some Christians began to anticipate the near fulfillment of Isaiah 62:7, with Jerusalem becoming the praise — not problem — of all the earth. Other believers, sobered by Israel’s recent military confrontation with Iran, are predicting major war in the near future. Given the wide diversity of opinion among Bible believers, is it possible to interpret the watershed events of recent days from a perspective based on the Scripture as a whole?
In attempting to offer a balanced view of recent events, this article summarizes some of the many highlights I was graced to witness this week. It includes mostly observations, comments, and more subjective perceptions by the Spirit. A few key, Scriptural parameters are suggested. Part 2 of this 2-part series will focus much more on a biblical overview.
In summary, the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem appears to have facilitated a strengthening of the governance of God in this city — and likely beyond. To be sure, the American government is not the same as God’s government. However, as the most powerful nation on earth today, America’s tangible recognition of Jerusalem may herald or reflect a new alignment with God’s Kingdom in the earth realm. Such realignment might be expected to release a greater dimension of Kingdom reality among the nations, expressed in part by two embassies relocating just days later. Conflict between the Kingdom of God and kingdoms of this world may increase due to push back by God’s enemies, but in the process, a powerful wave of evangelism may be released internationally.
Witnessing a Watershed Transition in Israel’s Restoration
- To the extent the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem has facilitated a strengthening of the government of God, a significant next step in His progressive restoration of Israel has been taken. This covenant based restoration is described in Ezekiel 36:8-37:28, Isaiah 62:1-12 and many other passages of Scripture. Collectively, the prophets write of a latter days’ Jewish restoration to the Land, followed by a spiritual restoration to the Lord. At this present 70 year marker, there are reasons to believe Israel is shifting into the next phase of restoration, specifically, a return to her God. (Some of these reasons relate to the 70 years time marker and will be discussed in Part 2.)
- YHVH was sincerely honored and openly praised at the embassy relocation ceremony by Jews and Christians together. This represents a turn of events on several levels. One level relates to Israel’s unique separation of faith and state. Long ago, ultra-Orthodox political parties established that Israeli government officials may not lead public prayer in this country. Such prayer would remain the sole domain of approved rabbis. But the US Embassy is officially the United States, not Israel. Therefore, in a historic shift, PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin were able to publicly bless and pray for the people and state of Israel, from within Israel’s borders, in their capacity as governmental leaders.
- American representatives who attended the embassy relocation, including some members of President Trump’s faith advisory team, personally told me that God’s presence had palpably descended on the ceremony. All conveyed their profound sense of a prophetic transition occurring during the event.
- Some of the American representatives I talked with met privately with Mr. Netanyahu. They said the prime minister plans to make available a building in Jerusalem large enough to house several different embassies. This could quickly expedite the process of relocation for several nations.
- I attended a small reception for US Ambassador David Friedman. He is a brilliant and bold but humble Jew who reveres YHVH and needs our prayers. There has never been an American ambassador to Israel quite like him. The fact a few Messianic Jews were invited to attend a gathering of this nature was significant in itself, another sign of gradually melting resistance toward Jesus in the Land.
- I prayed with some of the intercessors from Guatemala who had accompanied President Morales, a strong evangelical, to the opening of their new embassy in Jerusalem. They shared how, through repentance and targeted prayer, God changed the heart of their country and its leadership. Through their testimony, Israeli intercessors can be encouraged that with focused prayer and fasting in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14, God will change hearts in our country and leadership, too.
- One of the Guatemalan intercessors shared an unusual insight almost identical to one that came to me in prayer last August. We both perceived that at least for a season and at least to some extent, an alternate type of United Nations would be established in Jerusalem. We both sensed this happened in connection with a last days’ spiritual harvest. At that time many nations would intentionally align with the God of Israel and His Kingdom rule. As a result, a key Scripture I have been praying for 2018 is, “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3) To be sure, the complete fulfillment of this verse awaits the Messianic Age. But it seems an aspect of the magnificent promise could materialize before that time and may be worth your prayerful consideration. (Recall that a certain, limited manifestation of Isaiah 2:3 transpired during the reign of King Solomon.)
- Unfortunately, while Jews and Christians around the world rejoiced, God’s enemies raged. Hamas celebrated the US Embassy inauguration by inciting and forcing violent riots at the Gaza border. Sadly, more than 60 Gazans were killed and at least 1,200 injured. As in the past, charges were filed against Israel in the International Criminal Court for war crimes against humanity. Local intercessors began praying for truth to be revealed concerning what had actually occurred at the border. The next day, Hamas admitted that 50 of the 62 who were killed were not peaceful civilians, but official members of their terror organization. Still, the UN Human Rights Commission is demanding a formal investigation — with its likely foregone conclusion. Bear in mind, however, that kingdom conflict is to be expected when longstanding powers and principalities are confronted. (1 John 3:8) In the battle, let us pray for and bless our enemies as Yeshua instructed. Ultimately, the enemy of our enemy is our enemy, The Enemy.
- Ramadan began yesterday and lasts until June 15. Ramadan is the month-long, annual Muslim commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran. Observed with prayer and fasting, it has been historically marked by increased violence and terror. Friends, let us likewise increase our prayer and fasting for the true peace of Jerusalem and Israel during this time. Bear in mind that Israel’s war with Iran is not over. The Islamic Republic is said to be planning a strategic, deadly retaliation for recent Israeli strikes against their military outposts in Syria.
What could be prophetically unfolding — and not unfolding?
- Matthew 25:31-46: First, God is blessing nations with a grace period to align with His Word and heart as sheep, rather than goat, nations, toward Israel. Years ago, I explained in the book Why Care about Israel? that Yeshua’s parable of sheep and goats refers fundamentally (but not exclusively) to Israel. Specifically, the parable’s context and reference to “these brothers of mine” relates to the Jewish people at the end of this age. Thankfully, more Christians are learning the proper interpretation and application of this passage — and impacting their nations.
- Ezekiel 38-39: Second, at a future date of His determination, God will inspire a coalition of nations to attack the Jewish state. He Himself leads this evil alliance to invade Israel when her people “dwell safely, all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8) At that time the country is a “land of villages without walls” whose inhabitants “dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” The stated purpose of the attack is to plunder Israel’s resources and wealth. (Ezekiel 38:11-12) (Emphases mine.)
Notice that several preconditions in the passage above do not yet appear to have been met — at least not according to a straightforward or literal interpretation. Not all of Israel dwells securely and in safety at this time. Citizens in the north and south periodically endure missile and rocket attacks. Intelligence, army and police forces must daily thwart terror in other parts of the country. Accordingly, Israel is not a “land of villages without walls.” The more than decade old security fence protecting her from Palestinian terror is called a separation wall by her enemies. Fences requiring bars and gates are still needed to shield Israeli borders and internal villages. The main reason our enemies attack us today is not to plunder our resources or wealth. They seek to attack us in order to destroy the Jewish nation due to Islamist or humanist driven hate or ideology. The current, violently ongoing hate seems different from the attack motive of Ezekiel 38:10. In that passage a more sudden, almost random thought from out of the blue inspires an unexpected invasion.
I could be mistaken, but I do not believe the apocalyptic battle of Ezekiel 38-39 is at hand. God’s enemies may try to instigate such an event prematurely. But as His people pray, His enemies’ schemes will fail. (Isaiah 8:10, Psalm 33:10-12)
I believe a great harvest of souls from Israel and the nations awaits. This gracious period of harvest could last only a few, short years — or longer. In any case, I feel we “must do the works of Him who sent [us] while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4) Thank you to all who join in the joyful work!
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, May 19, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Sandra is co-founder and director, along with her husband Kerry, of Light of Zion Ministries. Light of Zion is an Israeli Messianic Jewish, prophetic intercessory prayer ministry in Jerusalem with humanitarian outreach. Sandra is a prayer mobilizer and network leader, international speaker, prophetic liaison, professionally published author, Bible teacher, and retired attorney.
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Apostles, Alignment, and that other “A” word (Part 5 of 5)
Click here to read part 1: How apostolic alignment relates to accountability
Click here to read part 2: Accountability in the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICAL)
Click here to read part 3: The role of prophets in apostolic alignment
Click here to read part 4: Apostolic-prophetic accountability for the Lakeland alignment
Part 5: A return to New Covenant accountability
Last year, authors Brad Christerson and Richard Flory dubbed the NAR movement “Independent Network Christianity” and noted its main distinctives for Christianity Today. One that stood out was the “suspicion of any kind of accountability structures, because these limit the power of God working through individuals.”
Apostles overseeing the 2008 “Lakeland alignment” and its aftermath (see Part 4) exhibited this suspicion of accountability to the wider Body. Their accountability to peers likewise disintegrated under pressure. But the NAR movement continued to grow under their leadership. From this we might conclude that God will empower rogue leaders to build His Kingdom, because their potential for good outweighs their lack of accountability.
Accountability runs like a lifeline through the New Covenant, ranging from leaders watching over souls (Heb. 13:17) to words spoken thoughtlessly (Matt. 12:36). Those who claim to love Yeshua are accountable to keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15, 14:21, 15:10). Even the New Jerusalem will hold people accountable for their conduct (Rev. 22:15). A system that views accountability as limiting “the power of God” is one divorced from Biblical foundations. That system will inevitably start wielding power that is not from God.
If we hope to ever see true apostolic power, we must rebuild accountability on Biblical bedrock. Here are some examples, by no means a complete list.
1. Willingness to Be Tested. “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false.” (Rev. 2:2)
Those who assert that true apostles exist in the Last Days cannot dismiss the possibility of pretenders. Nor can they resent someone labeling as false those who glorify the heretical William Branham. Apostles who demand “personal tithes” or “member fees” in order to confirm apostolic gifts in others, are also rightly suspected as false (2 Cor. 11:7-13).
The idea that apostles should face scrutiny after declaring themselves is itself Scriptural. Paul didn’t mind the Corinthians testing him and his team, provided they used the right standard. “But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.” (2 Cor. 13:6)
2. Love for the Truth. “…because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:10)
Believers who accept every supernatural sign as God-given are not just being gullible. They are rejecting the truth from Yeshua’s mouth, that “false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead” (Matt. 24:24). The same goes for accepting every apostle with impressive accomplishments. Some are capable of “disguising themselves as apostles of Messiah” and “servants of righteousness,” when they are in fact serving Satan. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Loving the truth is our only insurance against Satanic deception, including the ultimate pretender, “whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.” (2 Thess. 2:9) To place something else higher than truth – loyalty to a leader, thirst for sensational experiences, self-advancement, or any other idol – is to invite the worst Divine judgment possible: “For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.” (v.11)
Interestingly, the passage that lists the five-fold ministries tells us that their purpose is to ground us in the truth: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, Messiah.” (Eph. 4:14-15)
Faithful shepherds will sacrifice every competing value to embrace the truth. And they will demand no less from everyone associated with them, especially apostles and prophets.
3. Voluntary Transparency. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (Jn. 3:20-21)
Transparency flows from love of the truth. It willingly shares all relevant facts, even those that place us at a disadvantage. Transparency also springs from a clear conscience, confident that our works are indeed “wrought in God.” Biblical apostolic alignment will be distinguished by its openness to inspection and its willingness to make full disclosures of flaws and corrections – not just to sympathetic peers but to all.
An alignment that hides people behind other people, vouching for one another using accountability processes that are likewise opaque, is a warning sign. The screening indicates “fear” of what “will be exposed.” Those who cannot voluntarily stand in the Light already have a problem.
Charles Spurgeon famously taught: “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” To this Tennessee pastor Alan Stewart added an observation that could only come from experience: “The man who lives in the light is never hidden, and [he] makes the discovery that little is ever hidden from him.” (“Secrets of Discernment”)
In other words, a side-benefit of transparency is heightened discernment. Conversely, resisting transparency will cripple discernment. If you wonder how leading apostles could lose the ability to identify blatant heresy or detect unrepented sin, look no further.
4. Hatred for Lawlessness. “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:23)
Yeshua’s context (v.21-22) teaches us that a ministry bearing the Lord’s Name, and filled with amazing works of power, can simultaneously be trampling on God’s laws. The Last Days will find “many” believers becoming lawless (Matt. 24:12), which will cause their love for Him to “grow cold.” This makes sense when we remember how Yeshua links the two: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” (Jn. 14:21)
God’s Kingdom will eventually be purged of lawless people (Matt. 13:41). Meanwhile, we are to regard them as functional unbelievers, with whom we are forbidden to partner (2 Cor. 6:14). Those who claim to love God but practice certain specific sins (1 Cor. 5:11) are not even to share our meals.
For their own safety, law-abiding apostolic teams must cut ties with anyone who has suspended, rewritten or diluted Scriptural standards through “new revelation” or clever rationalization. When we lower God’s bar of accountability to accommodate lawbreaking apostles and prophets (because we feel obligated by association or friendship, or because we view God’s requirements as too harsh), we have become lawless ourselves… and hateful to Yeshua.
5. Habitual Integrity. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matt. 5:37)
Even unbelievers who never read this verse possess the human instinct to identify integrity. Its widest definition is a state of being: solid all the way through, whole and undivided, consistently true to itself. This describes God, whose “yes” and “no” are eternally dependable.
It’s no wonder that the world despises people who proclaim God’s Name but fail to demonstrate integrity. They watch ministers changing their story to fit the audience and rightly feel insulted. They aren’t fooled by a selective admission of truth extracted under pressure, a legalistic denial through careful word choices, an evasive answer to a direct question, or a testimony riddled with contradictions. In detecting lack of integrity, unbelievers show more discernment than many saints!
Secular skepticism of a compromised ministry is not persecution for the sake of righteousness, but rather a proper rejection of false fronts in God’s household, which God Himself rejects. It’s the “judgment” that “begins with us first” (1 Pet. 4:17) before the world is to be judged.
Yet Paul wrote that such drastic discipline at God’s hands (which can include not only public disgrace, but sickness and untimely death) would not be necessary “if we judged ourselves rightly” (1 Cor. 11:31). How much better to exercise accountability among ourselves by judging lack of integrity, without waiting for negative publicity to compel us. Apostles worthy of the title will be seen leading the way.
Israeli apostle Intrater suggested an additional measure of apostolic integrity: “indigenous” credentials. He wrote that for apostles to serve Israelis with “integrity”, they must belong to Israeli and/or Jewish culture. This seems logical at first glance, but is it Scriptural to suppose that God selects apostles based on “family lineage” or “birthplace”? Paul was not “indigenous” to Corinth. And he spent three chapters (2 Cor. 10-12) debunking the recognition of apostles by self-validating earthly criteria: “You are looking at things as they are outwardly…. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” (2 Cor. 10:7-12)
6. Righteous Judgment. “Judge with righteous judgment.” (Jn. 7:24)
Our model for righteous judgment is Messiah, and He demonstrated two challenging aspects: one supernatural and one relational. Supernaturally, He looked into people and read their hidden character (Mark 10:21, Jn. 6:70). Relationally, He didn’t shield His disciples from public embarrassment when they needed correction (Mark 8:33, Luke 9:54-55).
First, the relational challenge. Judges who owe loyalty to a network cannot help but have an interest in avoiding decisions that might embarrass their colleagues. As for the accountability of one network to another, neutral affirmation is always easier than painful confrontation. If negative judgments are unavoidable, they are kept quiet to maintain (the appearance of) “unity”. But once we understand that open accountability measures produce a healthy fear of God that restrains sin (Acts 5:11, 1 Tim. 5:20), we will want to restore this element of righteous judgment.
Yeshua admonished the Pharisees to “not judge according to appearance” (Jn. 7:24), but like the Pharisees we know of no other way to judge someone’s spiritual state. Unable to detect heart motives behind actions, we can only evaluate outward behavior accumulated over time. (And Heaven help us if an immediate decision is needed!) Even our skill in judging who is born again, regarded by Paul as effortless thanks to the witness of the Spirit (Rom. 8:16), has become vulnerable to deception in our day.
Lacking the Spirit-derived wisdom to deal with a mixture of good and evil in a safe way, we are forced to the simplistic defense of judging it all evil, lest someone mistake the evil parts for good. Or, our hunger for spiritual reality prompts us to take the risk of pronouncing it all good, lest we miss God or “offend the Spirit” with our doubts. The apostolic debate is a prime example. The risen Yeshua praised those who discerned false apostolic claims (Rev. 2:2), but many prefer to either deny all such claims or affirm them all.
We don’t need to accept this sorry condition. The Lord’s people aren’t meant to be spiritually handicapped. “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die…. Remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.” (Rev. 3:2-3)
7.Discernment by the Spirit. “The things of the Spirit of God… are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
Apostles are appointed by the Holy Spirit; therefore, their validity is confirmed or denied by consulting with the Spirit. “Now we have received… the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” (1 Cor. 2:12)
The living Word (“He”, not “It”) is effective for “piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Yeshua’s judgments replaced superficial human verdicts with fully nuanced Divine truth (Matt. 23:23, Luke 18:18-22, Rev. 2-3). “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him…. He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear.” (Isa. 11:2-3)
All who are in Messiah theoretically have access to this same Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17, 2 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 2:18). But for reasons beyond the scope of this article, many saints discussing this controversy cannot hear the Spirit clearly.
We can’t even hear one another. Apostle skeptics and apostle fans trade accusations, each side so intent on discrediting the opposition that they won’t acknowledge valid criticism or inconvenient Scriptures. The Body is fractured and confused, while the apostle debate – now over 20 years old! – shows no sign of closure.
Some would argue that if this is true, an imperfect apostolic authority that operates by human criteria is better than no authority at all. Others would answer that any human authority claiming to speak for God will damage the Body more than the current free-for-all. There’s a third, more hopeful option.
Having to fall back on human wisdom for lack of Spirit-driven wisdom is a shameful defeat for the “Spirit-filled” Body. But God’s grace has provided a humanly accessible route that will restore us to that higher place… if we will faithfully follow it. It was given by the Spirit for times of spiritual deafness such as ours.
“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given.” (Luke 8:18)
8. Retraining Our Spiritual Senses. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate….” (2 Tim. 3:16)
As mentioned, the Holy Spirit in us is the ideal way to “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21). This verse is a command to sort out good from evil, and its context (v.19) involves the spiritual gifts and ministries at the core of this controversy.
However, every age includes saints who are “dull of hearing” because they have not invested in “practice [to] have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Heb. 5:11,14) God’s Plan B for the spiritually handicapped is to study the written record of Scripture, brimming with examples of what the Spirit looks like and sounds like… as opposed to counterfeits.
Because they are not merely helpful hints but God-breathed instructions, the Scriptures are so “profitable for training in righteousness” that those “not accustomed to the word of righteousness” can be healed of their deficiency.
9. Faithfulness to Scripture. “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…. The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Ps. 19:7-8)
Faithfully accepting and practicing the Biblical principles defining good and evil, true and false, spiritual and fleshly, has the effect of opening the spiritual senses. Those so trained will start seeing how these principles apply to cases not specifically mentioned in Scripture, guided by direct prompting of the Spirit within them.
Eventually they will become what the writer of Hebrews calls “mature”, able to sense good or evil directly by the Spirit before it emerges on the level that can be mentally tested. Those deeper judgments will save the Body from the deceptions that can outwit mental evaluation. Recovering this maturity will help settle the issues of apostolic authority and accountability.
On the individual level, faithfulness to the written Word is an eternal watershed decision. If we commit to walking in the Biblical instruction, we are guaranteed to acquire Spirit-filled discernment, along with God’s power and purity. If we try to ignore or rewrite the Biblical instruction, we are equally guaranteed to stifle discernment, quench the Spirit, trade the truth for a lie… and risk losing everything.
Since both reward and judgment come “to the Jew first” (Rom. 2:9-10), we of Israel can expect to feel the consequences of our choices rather quickly.
“So take care how you listen… whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 8:18)
 For more documentation on William Branham’s heresies, including his false messiah, see Part 4.
This concludes the series. The topic is inflammatory and complex, further hindered by lack of information. Those who feel personal loyalty toward individuals mentioned here, or who esteem them as teachers, are bound to feel conflicted. My goal is not to cause division, but to encourage unity around God’s command for true accountability.
That begins with me. If anyone can identify factual inaccuracies, I will welcome documented corrections. If anyone can see a place where I’ve not spoken with love, I’m prepared to learn a better way. Contact me at: hannah[at]restorersofzion.org.
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.