Give your children happy memories
I was born and grew up far away from my extended family in a time before the internet, so I had little contact with them and no heirlooms except for a handful of sayings. Among them was one my mother had heard from her aunt and which she was fond of repeating, that it is important to “give your children happy memories.”
The Bible has a lot to say about child rearing, including Ephesians 6:4, which says; “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
There’s two parts to that command, and the first one is no less important than the second. In fact, the first is a pre-requisite for the second, and therefore giving my children happy memories isn’t just a good idea I heard from my mom, it’s a Biblical command. Failing to do so is to more or less guarantee that they’ll be provoked to anger and contempt towards me and their mother. Under those conditions, when they’re old enough to start making their own decisions, the last thing they’ll do is take us seriously when we attempt to discipline and instruct them about the Lord, or pretty much anything else.
All this was on my mind a lot this last month and a half. My sister-in-law’s children (and their wider circle of friends, most of which came to Israel from the former USSR) already had it pretty good before I entered the scene, as they got tons of presents, special food and fun from celebrating Hanukkah, Western Christmas, New Year’s and Russian Orthodox Christmas around this time of year. Then their aunt married me, an American, and Thanksgiving entered the mix as well. There’s also a couple of birthdays for different family members in December and January so we kind of go from one party to another at this time of year. The rest of the year we make sure to get together at least once or twice a month for group trips to the zoo, or a ballgame, or maybe just to the mall.
In between those big family trips, I make sure to spend at least an hour a day with my sons. My older son likes to play checkers and other board games with me while my younger son just likes it when I sit on the floor next to him while he plays with his little trucks or builds stuff with his wooden blocks or magnet sets. If the weather allows I take them out to the park and we play soccer or pass around the football or whatever. Before they go to sleep, my wife and I take turns reading Bible stories to them.
The result is that these kids get LOTS of happy memories from all these things we do together as a family, and although it costs a fair amount of time and money, all the parents and grandparents agree that it’s not so much an expense as it is an investment in the long-term cohesion of our extended family. Also, these activities provide endless opportunities for teaching these kids lessons about God and the Bible from everyday encounters with ordinary circumstances, people, events and locations (and don’t think that just because we’re in Jerusalem you can’t do the same thing with your children where you live. You can and you MUST!)
I don’t know everything about children but I do know one thing, they need to feel loved and valued and they’ll usually believe anything, and follow the example of anyone, who gives them those things. If they don’t get them from their parents, they’ll reject their parents instruction and example and follow something else. Usually, that something else won’t be good for them.
May God give us all the wisdom, patience and foresight to give our children happy memories, to love them, enrich them, give them our time and attention, so that they will take their instruction from us and follow our example instead of leaving us confused and devastated in our old age, wondering what went wrong.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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New Year encouragement from this Week’s Parasha
Jewish tradition has assigned to each week of the Hebraic year a formal reading of a portion of the Torah (parasha) and other Hebrew Scriptures (haftorah). Evidence exists suggesting this practice could date back to biblical times. The relevance of the parasha to our circumstances each week is often striking.
On January 1, 2019, many will feel opportunity in the air, so to speak, to start fresh with an aspect of their lives. This sense of restart at the Gregorian New Year resonates in a promising way with this week’s parasha, Exodus 1:1-6:1.
In that passage the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob cry out and groan from their slavery in Egypt. God responds by calling Moses to deliver His people to their promised land. The humbled shepherd, however, knows he does not have the ability to perform the task. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” he asks. (Exodus 3:11)
God does not answer Moses’ question because there can be no suitable reply. Instead He tells him what the man needs to know. The next verse reads, “And God said, “I will be with you.”
Rather than bolster Moses’ self esteem, God shifts the focus off Moses and onto Himself. Israel’s redemption is not going to be about Moses or his abilities. It is going to be about God and His infinite omnipotence.
Reading between the lines, we almost hear Moses reply in verse 13, “And who exactly are you, God?”
The Creator answers, “I am who I am.” The Hebrew literally means, “I will be who I will be.” (verse 14)
In the Bible, a name defines or describes personhood. Therefore, any name other than “I will be who I will be” would limit the One who is limitless. God does not change in the essence of His character. But He is also beyond definition or restriction. In revealing His name to Moses, He is indirectly saying that He will be to Moses and the Israelites (and Pharoah) who He knows they’ll need Him to be. Similarly, He will be to you who He knows you need Him to be. No limits.
As you approach 2019 and its uncertainties, like Moses, you may feel insecure in your own abilities. Perhaps God has called you to a task you suspect—or know—that you yourself cannot achieve. Maybe He is leading you in a direction you’ve not previously gone. Or it could be that circumstances around you are changing fast and hard. (Here in Israel, major government and military shakings seem likely to occur in 2019.) If any such uncertainties apply to you, be encouraged by this week’s parasha.
Whatever God has called you to in 2019, it will not be about your abilities. It will be about His abilities, based on who He is and who He will be — the glorious, loving Creator who defies limitation. He will be who you need Him to be this coming year. And He will be with you.
God desires to glorify His Name through you in 2019. Like Moses, you need only surrender to Him. No limits!
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, December 29, 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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Captivity and freedom
This morning before awakening I had my hands stretched over my head as I slept. When I awoke and put my arms down I realized that the bracelets on my arms were entangled and I couldn’t separate my arms! So for the next five minutes I tried to set myself free. Upon releasing the bracelets I heard the L-rd say, “People wake up every day in chains, crying out for freedom. These aren’t just people in jail, but prisoners in their hearts and minds. Pray for the captives to be set free.”
Chains can be decorative like my bracelets- שַׁרְשְׁרֹת [sharsherot] – these were beautiful filigree chains used in the Temple. But I believe the chains that the L-rd was referring to were אזקים [azakim] as in Jeremiah 40:1-2. People are bound אסר [asur] in chains. Another word for chains can be נְחֹשֶׁת [nechoshet] – brass, copper, metal or more specifically chains or fetters:
- Lam 3:7 – He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy.
- Judges 16:21 – Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.
- 2 Sam 3:24 – “Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put in fetters; as one falls before the wicked, you have fallen.” And all the people wept again over him.
- Jer 6:28 – All of them are stubbornly rebellious, going about as a talebearer. They are bronze and iron; They, all of them, are corrupt.
The verse that jumped off the page for me was Jeremiah 6:27 “I have made you an assayer and a tester among My people, that you may know and assay their way.”
In this same chapter it’s written in Jeremiah 6:16-17 Thus says the L-rd, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it. And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’
So I felt the L-rd was calling His watchmen to be assayers and testers among His people.
Now of course the Parashat HaShavuah would be in tune with this word – of course! I just love how the L-rd weaves all things together so beautifully.
Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”
Then I heard the L-rd say that the Nile River was the world’s first abortion clinic.
Isaiah 27: 6 In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit.
“This is the promise I gave to Israel.”
Isaiah 27:9 Therefore through this Jacob’s iniquity will be forgiven; and this will be the full price of the pardoning of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones like pulverized chalk stones; when Asherim and incense altars will not stand.
And then He said, “And this is how they will reach the breakthrough.”
Carolyn Margolin-Hyde was raised in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue near Chicago. She graduated from University of Illinois and as an RN she practiced nursing for many years. After making Aliyah Carolyn served as worship leader at K’tsir Asher, The Harvest of Asher Congregation, in Akko, and then led worship at Kehilat Poriya, a congregation near Tiberius. She has written and recorded many worship songs in English and Hebrew and her worship CD’s include “Just Like Joseph” and “The Latter Rain”- contemporary worship CDs; “Deep Calls to Deep” – a soaking CD; and “Fine Linen” – worship with a touch of the blues.
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Where exactly would Jesus be born?
Secrets Surrounding the Birth of Messiah Part 2
Now, it is interesting that the prophecy in Micah and the words in Ruth do not merely mention Bethlehem, but Bethlehem and Ephrathah. There are several theories here:
- Ephrata was a region and Bethlehem was inside Ephrathah.
- The area that became Bethlehem was once called Ephrathah.
- Bethlehem was the region and it was the smaller Ephrathah that was located within those boundaries.
What else do we know about this area called Ephrathah? Naomi and her family were from Ephrathah. Boaz was an Ephrathite. Ruth 1:2 says: “They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem.” This does suggest that they were, at least, slightly different. Otherwise, it would have been redundant. So, it could read, they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, as opposed to different people from Bethlehem; or, conversely, that they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, as opposed to Ephrathites from somewhere else.
Let’s pretend that it is #3: that Ephrathah was inside Bethlehem and that if you were an Ephrathite, then you were also a Bethlehemite. Now, outside of Yeshua, who is the most famous Bethlehemite? David, of course. And David was from Ephrathah. Now look at this passage:
“Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah.” (1 Sam. 17:12)
Is there significance that it goes Ephrathah >> Bethlehem >> Judah? We know that Judah was much bigger than Bethlehem and Bethlehem was in Judah. Thus, can we surmise that Ephrathah was an area within Bethlehem? Maybe. Dr. John Turner agrees:
Bethlehem Ephrathah, however, is a more specific designation of that area which is near but outside the city where there would be one or more threshing floor for grain, grape press for the making of wine, and olive press for the production of oil. The Ephrath would also be in or near the grazing lands for livestock (goats, sheep, oxen, and cattle).
LESSONS FROM BETHLEHEM EPHRATHAH
The Astounding Significance of the Place Where Jesus Was Born
So, David was from Bethlehem Ephrathah and, most likely, was born there. He became king in Bethlehem, as did the Messiah, who, as the son of David, would be born there 1,000 years later. From the time of David, it has been known as the Town of David. So how can we know where that is 2,000 years later? Indeed, there is the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. But even Origen, who issued the earliest statement on the present site, was non-committal.
“In Bethlehem the cave is pointed out where He was born, and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. And the rumor is in those places, and among foreigners of the Faith, that indeed Jesus was born in this cave who is worshipped and reverenced by the Christians.”
What if Jesus was not born in the Bethlehemthat is in “Palestine” today? Did you know that Israelis are not even allowed to go there? What if He was born closer to Jerusalem – in Bethlehem Ephrathah? The area of Bethlehem was probably bigger then, than it is today. About 100 years after the resurrection of Yeshua, Bethlehem was destroyed by Emperor Hadrian. And it was destroyed and rebuilt several more times.
Tower of the Flock and Rachel’s Tomb
What if the traditional site is not where He was born? In order to know, we would need to find two things: Rachel’s tomb and Midgal Eder (Tower of the Flock) Why? Because we know the Messiah would be born inside of the Tower of the Flock, and because we know that it was close to Rachel’s tomb.
So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb. Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. (Gen. 35:19-21)
Dr. John Turner tell us that
“In Jacob’s (Israel’s) time, we learn from the account of Rachel’s death that Bethlehem Ephrathah.” (Lessons from Bethlehem Ephrathah and Migdal Eder (the Tower of the Flock) are closely associated and in the exact same vicinity.
Lesson’s from Bethlehem Ephrathah
Micah tells us not only that He would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah but also, specifically; where within the city He would breathe his first breath.
“And to you, the tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion, your former authority will return to you, the royal authority of the daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:8 VOICE)
The passage says that the one who will restore David’s kingdom (former and royal authority) will be born at Migdal Eder—that is, the Tower of the Flock.
Traditionally, Rachel’s tomb is about a kilometer north of the center of Bethlehem. If only we could find that pillar!
The Ben-Oni Blunder
An Israeli tour guide showed me something not long ago. Rachel gives birth on the way to Bethlehem and dies. With her dying breath, she named her son, Ben-Oni. Traditionally, we are taught, and you can see in your NIV footnote, that, in bitterness, she named him son of my troubleor sorrow. However, whoever came up with that was wrong. It is a mistranslation. In Hebrew, there are two letters that are near silent and, in Modern Hebrew, they sound almost identical: the aleph א and the ayin ע.
If Omi was spelled with the ayin, then, yes, it would mean trouble. But the translator did not realize that it was with aleph, and, thus, means “son of my sexual potency” (yes, that is what the dictionary says) or seed. In other words, Rachel is prophesying that the seed of God would be planted in her future cousin, Miriam. Miriam, would, in the same geographical area, give birth to the “seed of God”—the Messiah. Jacob does not recognize this and changes his name to Benjamin.
Now you may say, but the Messiah was through Leah (Judah). Well, that is why I said future cousin and not future granddaughter. As a foreshadowing of Miriam (Mary), the Lord spoke through her a prophetic utterance regarding His seed. Rachel gives birth on the very path that Joseph and Miriam would have had to pass on their way to Bethlehem and she is buried within a few hundred meters, if that, of Yeshua’s birthplace.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, December 22, 2018, 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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Is there an alternative for Israel?
Judging from the recent polls, the prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, minister of health, and minister of defense – Benjamin Netanyahu will very likely assume kingship once again.
It is speculated that Netanyahu’s Likud party is likely to horde the majority of the Knesset seats. Data varies from survey to survey, but all largely agree on 29-30 seats for Likud, while the second largest political force squeezing 13 at worst and 16 at best. We are talking about the left-centrist parties of Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, and the brand new party of Benny Gantz, Hosen LeIsrael.
Benny Gantz seems like the most promising new candidate on the political scene, but even his participation in the race is not a significant game changer. Gantz is likely to chip away at the seats of the centrist-left camp, leaving Bibi fans loyal to their leader.
The motto of the upcoming election, similar to the previous one is – “who else is there?” And it doesn’t seem to bother the majority of voters as to the fact that Netanyahu is facing possible indictment over bribery. Israelis have a saying “if it’s working, don’t touch it.” The people prefer to look the other way regarding certain issues and not rock the boat.
Putting Bibi and Benny aside, as important as they are in the upcoming race, the main character could very likely be Avichai Mandelblit the Attorney General of Israel, who still has to review the accusations and testimonies against Netanyahu and decide if he’s going to file an indictment against him. In case this happens after elections are held, it can bring about the downfall of the next government and lead to additional elections on short notice, which will cost the economy a lot and could cause more public distrust of the system.
With the government remaining unchanged, it will probably fail to provide its right-wing voters the products of promise. Settlement regulation laws will continue to fail, the conduct with the Palestinian Authority and terrorists will continue to be flimsy, and monopolies will continue to dictate the prices on everything. Things have been done, but not to the extent of promises made, nor to the expectations of voters who will once again drop the same envelopes and get same results.
Israel has a golden opportunity with the conservative American government propelling them on the international arena – such strong right-wing governments on both sides is likely to not repeat itself. The Knesset has to seize this opportunity, as it can act more freely with Donald Trump in office, receiving encouragement from the Christian Zionist movement. In a couple years the political scene in America may change, and being Israel’s strongest ally, can hinder a right-wing government on the international stage for whatever agenda it may try to push.
It comes to mind that even David, being the man after God’s heart, on his deathbed instructed the execution of his political enemies. Being the author of Psalms and many Messianic prophesies, it teaches us that power corrupts even the most virtuous of men. Netanyahu is a great leader, but his time has come to step down, maybe take the role of an advisor, but at this rate change will fail to come.
Does Israel have the prospects of positive change, or is there truly no alternative?
Arthur Schwartzman grew up in Israel. He spent four and half years in the service, operating the Iron Dome. It was during that time that he became a Believer, after reading the New Testament. He has completed a degree in Practical Engineering and in 2015, he published his first book.