God chose Abraham to know him
Gen. 18:16-19 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And YHVH said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of YHVH, to do righteousness and judgment; that YHVH may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
The Creator of the Heavens and the Earth cut (made) a covenant with Abram (Abraham) in order to preserve a holy seed, and to provide salvation to mankind, and to give an inheritance of a land and a kingdom to the children of Abraham, and of his promised son Isaac, and of his chosen grandson Jacob/Israel. We read in the New Testament that Mary, when she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit with Yeshua, understood that the promise of that covenant had to do with the Son who would be born to her, as did the priest Zecharia, the father of John the Baptizer. (Luke 1:54-55, 67-79)
Despite the knowledge of the true God in the world since the Garden of Eden, and also again from the time of the Flood, the devil and human beings turned away from the truth and made their own gods, including seeking themselves to be God. This humanism with satanic influence has not disappeared, but continues until the Antichrist claims to be as God and above every God.
YHVH God chose a man – Abram – to enter into a covenantal relationship with him in order to preserve the knowledge of the true and everlasting Sovereign God Most High, and to have a family and a people and a nation through whom the Creator would come into the world as the Redeemer and Savior from sin and death and separation from the living God of Life and of the living. YHVH will glorify His holy name in and through His chosen people Israel, and in and through the believers in Yeshua, the Body of Christ: they will be His people, and He will be their God and Father, inheriting the Kingdom of God and eternal life. Glory to God and to the Lamb upon the Throne!
It is interesting that the first thing that the LORD considers important to reveal to Abraham about what He was going to do had to do with the judgment and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. YHVH is holy and righteous, and He is the righteous Judge of all the Earth. Doing righteousness and judgment is His “way”, and is the foundation of His Throne. (Psa. 89:14; 97:2) The overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah has been given as an example to people who live against the way of holiness of God. (2 Peter 2:6-11) These are people who do not submit to the truth of the true God, and there is no fear of God in them. Abraham’s prayer of intercession before YHVH had to do with saving the righteous, and not to destroy them along with the wicked, and to preserve the city for the righteous to dwell in. YHVH knew, though, what He had come down to see, and to do.
YHVH tells His people through the Prophet Jeremiah that people who know Him have something to boast about: that they KNOW HIM! (Jer. 9:23-26) And the Apostle Paul tells us that even more significant is the fact that God KNOWS US who believe in Yeshua! (Gal. 4:9) And just as He chose Abraham out from his life of idolatry to know and to serve the living God, Paul rebukes those who have also been chosen by God to worship Him in spirit and truth who want to go back to live as we did before we knew Him, or before He knew us! (Gal. 4:8-11)
God chose Abraham, and us, to know us, that we will command our children and our grandchildren in the knowledge of Him and of His way. It is a matter of life and death! We are children of Abraham in the faith if we believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, who died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures. Abraham feared God Almighty, trusted Him, and obeyed Him with living faith and hope and love. He was willing to sacrifice Isaac (and Isaac amazingly was a willing sacrifice!), his only son [in covenant], whom he loved, in obedience to the word of YHVH, fully believing that God would raise up Isaac from the dead then and there, in order to fulfill what He had spoken and promised to Abraham through this son of promise. Because of such faith, demonstrated by such a work of faith, God blessed Abraham, his future descendants, and all the peoples of the Earth, and promised him victory over his enemies. (Gen. 22:11-19)
Do we know the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in such a way that we demonstrate that to our children and grandchildren by the manner in which we live, and speak of Him? Would we be willing to sacrifice our most beloved person (or even thing), if the Lord should command us to do so, testing our love for Him above all?
Remember that the New Covenant fulfills the promises of YHVH’s covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob/Israel, and to their descendants – both physical and spiritual. Physically applies to the whole House of Jacob/the House of Israel. Spiritually applies to all believers – both Jewish and Gentile – in Jesus Christ the Lord. The Law/Torah which came after, and which demands perfect obedience – does not annul those covenant promises based on faith in YHVH and in His Word. No one but God can perfectly keep His righteous commandments, and this Yeshua came and proved. With the New Covenant, God forgives the sinner who repents of their unbelief and self-righteousness in seeking their own salvation by their own standards and judgment. The believer is brought into the promises of blessing for those who believe in Jesus/Yeshua for who He Is, and in His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and guilt.
Jesus’ resurrection confirms the promises made to the fathers, and for the sake of this one and only righteous Man, God the Father will fulfill all of His redemptive promises in His holy way, and preserve the righteous, a land, and the Earth. (Rom. 15:7-13) (Abraham had pleaded with God to save Sodom if there were even 10 righteous people there.) Knowing God, and being known by Him, calls us to love one another, and to clearly train up our children in the knowledge of the true God. And as He shared His intentions with His friend Abraham, God has also revealed to us that the Day of YHVH will come, when He will judge those who oppose Him and Jesus/Yeshua and the Holy Spirit – one God. But as with Lot, He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations to save us from His wrath. Parents must instruct their children and grandchildren in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)
We are children of Abraham if we have the faith of Abraham. God chose us to know us, so that we will know Him, and be His children who honor our Father in Heaven and Lord Jesus Christ. Not all of us have money or property to leave our children’s children. But we can leave them something of even far more and eternal value: the knowledge of the only wise God and Savior. For those who love Him, the promised blessing is overcoming the world and death, inheriting the Kingdom of God with the Lord. Grace and peace to you in His name.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, August 17, 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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Commentary on Parashat Shoftim (Judges)
DEVARIM (DEUTERONOMY) 16:18–21:9
This week’s Scripture reading is called “Judges” because it opens with the requirements that God made for Israel to appoint Judges over them:
You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. “You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.
The judges’ role was to judge the people in righteousness, without any favors, bribes, or manipulation. The unfortunate reality is that our sinful nature (which we all have) always gets in the way, and therefore, we will never truly be able to judge fairly without prejudice. However, I do believe that this instruction is once again prophetic, which points to fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua speaks of His role as Judge, which the Father has assigned Him:
For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
Just like in the days of old, God is the one who appoints the Judges; we see that His plan culminates in the fulfillment of Yeshua as the ultimate, final Judge who will judge the world in the final age. He is the only one who can judge the world in truth and righteousness.
In the above verses from John, we also see that God appointed the Son and that He who wants to honor the Father must also honor the Son. We also see that the byproduct of hearing God’s Word is obedience, which is rooted in faith. This faith is the only way to eternal life!
The Father is the One who sent the Son. The Father is the One who gave the Son. And the Son is the One to whom we are to listen. The concept of a God-sent messenger is not a new concept but rather one that was written long ago. In fact, we see this in this week’s reading:
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”
Moses – who was the greatest man of that generation, a man who the people of Israel considered (and many still consider) to be God’s divine messenger, the greatest prophet, the king of that time, and the deliverer of the people – said that God would send someone like him and that to him we are to listen:
This Moses whom they disowned, saying, “WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?” is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’”
We see that even Moses spoke of Yeshua, who was not just a prophet, but so much more! Do you know the One that the Father sent, the righteous Judge of the world to whom each of us will need to give an account?
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.
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A message of freedom
In the book of Galatians, we read an amazing passage that carries with it a message of freedom far beyond what we can even imagine. On the surface, these verses may seem as if the writer of the text, Paul, is speaking about being set free from the Torah, or Law of Moses, in a way the reader might conclude that all of that Old Testament stuff has now been done away with. But, let’s look at the words in context. The context of the words in these verses, chapter, book, and the context brought by its connection to the Torah.
Messiah liberated us from Torah’s curse, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)— in order that through Messiah Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so we might receive the promise of the Ruach through trusting faith.
In order to understand the intentions of a Biblical text, which includes a quotation from an earlier text, as the quotation from Galatians does, we must look back to find the context of the original text that has been quoted. In this case, the writer of Galatians is quoting directly from Deuteronomy 21:22-23:
“Suppose a man is guilty of a sin with a death sentence and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree. His body is not to remain all night on the tree—instead you must certainly bury him the same day, for anyone hanged is a curse of God. You must not defile your land that Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Before we delve into the context of Deuteronomy, let’s set the stage a little by looking at a couple related verses.
In 1 Peter 2:24, we read:
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we, removed from sins, might live for righteousness. “By His wounds you were healed.”
This verse references Isaiah 53:4-5:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our pains. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, struck by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities. The chastisement for our shalom was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
There is a direct scriptural connection provided by Peter and Paul between Galatians, Deuteronomy, 1 Peter, and Isaiah. This connection helps us to interpret and understand the context and meaning intended by Paul when he says Yeshua (Jesus) was cursed for us when he was hung on the tree.
When we look at Deuteronomy 21, we see that the person who hung on the tree was cursed. But, one hung on a tree was only cursed if that person was guilty. We know that Yeshua was not guilty in any way, so we have to look further to understand. That is where Galatians, Peter, and Isaiah come into the picture. Peter tells us Yeshua hung on a tree so that our sin would be removed and we would be healed. Isaiah says He was pierced for our transgressions and chastised for our shalom and by His stripes we are healed. Notice both 1 Peter and Isaiah reference our healing. Now, look at Galatians once again where we see:
Messiah liberated us from Torah’s curse, having become a curse for us.
He did not become a curse because He was guilty. He became a curse FOR US because we were guilty. It was for our guilt, for our unrighteousness, for our healing. He liberated us not from the Torah. He liberated us from the curse we deserved and set us free from sin and this brought healing to all believers, both Jew and Gentile.
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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1 Timothy prayers for the Middle East
The situation in the Middle East is so complex that often one is not sure just exactly what to pray for. Many well-meaning believers get so caught up in one aspect of the conflict or another that they miss the overall picture. Sometimes, with misdirected zeal, we can even be found praying contrary to God’s will.
I thought it would be good therefore, in the context of interceding for events in the Middle East, to review some basic principles from 1 Timothy 2:1-5.
1. “I exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.”
The phrase “all men” has to do with the fact that God loves everyone. In the current conflict it also has ethnic implications. Most Christians end up on one side, either praying for only the Jews or only the Arabs. We must pray for God’s goodness to be extended to both peoples.
2. “For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
A matter of priority is to pray for God’s wisdom and integrity to work through the top government leaders. We need to pray for Jewish and Palestinian leaders, as well as the various cabinet members. We need to exercise supernatural faith that God’s will can be done through them.
If we pray for more wisdom and clearer thinking for government leaders, the security situation can be improved.
The government leaders have a “deaconate”-type function (Acts 6) to produce a society with peace and order. The government leaders are not going to solve the spiritual questions. That is our job. Let us not put upon them the exaggerated expectations of bringing about the messianic kingdom. That comes through prayer and evangelism. The role of political leaders is to limit violence, allow for civil rights and justice, and bring order to the government institutions.
3. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, Who desires all men to be saved.”
More important than land occupation, improved economics, or civil rights, is the issue of eternal salvation. While all the political issues of the Middle East have enormous prophetic significance, the number one priority still remains evangelism. Freedom of religious expression, therefore, is an issue that cannot be overlooked. However, even in the midst of opposition and challenging social issues the Gospel can go forth in a wonderful way.
Let us remember to keep praying and giving for advancement in indigenous evangelism and discipleship for both Israelis and Palestinians.
5. “For as there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Messiah Yeshua.”
With all the religious zeal in the Middle East, even the most dedicated follower of Yeshua can often be swept away from one simple, central factor: there is no peace without the Prince of Peace. Yeshua (Jesus) is the only answer. Well-meaning efforts are doomed to failure as long as the great majority of Israelis and Palestinians reject Him. The Biblical promises of the land, peace, prosperity etc. will only find their total fulfilment only in the Messianic kingdom when He returns.
In the meantime, as the kingdom of God grows in the Middle East, so will the outward blessings in the political and natural realms follow. The current conflicts in the Middle East are not disconnected from the historical and universal rebellion of mankind against God and His Anointed King (Psalm 2:1-7). Submission to Yeshua the Messiah is what will bring the conflicts to an end.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 15, 2018, 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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God established peace for us, for all we have done, He has already accomplished. – Isaiah 26:1
I remember reading the story of Mary and Martha as a young child. There was a day when Yeshua came with His disciples to their home in the village of Bethany. Sitting in the main room of their humble house, he was teaching all who were gathered there. As time wore on everyone sat around Yeshua’s feet, drinking in the wisdom He was sharing with them. Everyone, that is, apart from Martha.
I imagine Martha sat there for a while, listening to the beautiful life-giving things Yeshua was saying, but then with a sense of urgency she rose and departed, her mind busy with thoughts of what needed to be done. Her sister Mary, on the other hand, sat at Yeshua’s feet listening with her whole being, unmindful of the work that was going on in the other room.
Martha, you see, was quick to realize the practical reality of the situation. The Bible tells us that she was the one who had invited Yeshua into their home. Martha knew people needed food, and at some point, when Yeshua’s incredible teaching would end there would be the basic human need for sustenance. Thinking strategically ahead, Martha must have mapped out in her mind an inventory of what she had in the kitchen, and once there, she likely inspected the situation and ma a plan.
Nowadays, good home-made food requires a lot preparation; in Bible times, much more so. So, Martha, having figured out the need in advance, took action to resolve the problem ahead of its impact.
Now having spent all her energy preparing the meal, Martha comes back and takes issue with her sister’s indifference to the situation. She had expected that at some point, Mary would have noticed she was not in the room and assumed that Mary would come to the realization that Martha must be working and that she, Mary, needed to come and help. But Mary didn’t do that. After working in the kitchen, missing out on the precious time with Yeshua in order to take care of what needed to be done, Martha decides to let Mary know her apparent “ignorance” was not helpful, it was even irresponsible. In fact, she says, “it’s not fair that you Mary should get to do nothing, while I do all the work”.
At that very moment Yeshua turns around and rebukes Martha, strongly. Yeshua tells Martha that all these things she thinks are essential, are in fact not needed and that Mary chose the better part by sitting at His feet and listening to him.
Even as a child I could feel Martha’s indignation at this statement. I could imagine her cheeks going bright red with embarrassment at being “told off” by the Master, in front of everyone.
For the life of me, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with Martha’s choice. Martha saw ahead, and realizing the need she took action. Someone had to do the work! Martha made sure that what had to be done, got done and yet apparently she was incorrect. I was upset on her behalf, that she had to endure such a public reprimand for choosing to accomplish the needs of hospitality instead of sitting down.
In fact, to be perfectly honest, I spent years of my life disliking those “super spiritual” people who just passively go through life saying “God will provide”, and spending hours of their time in “Spiritualville”. Even worse, have you met the kind that never plans, nor once properly manages whatever they are doing and yet, miraculously, everything somehow falls into place for them?
They are always so happy. I want to say: “Yeah, you know why it all works out in the end? It’s because people like me see what needs to be done to save the situation, swing into gear and get it done!”.
Now if you are one of those blissful people, I apologize. But if you’re getting frustrated right now, and feeling Martha’s pain, I’m with you. It took me years to accept the reason Yeshua acted the way He did with Martha.
As Yeshua walks the earth, before His ultimate act of defeating sin and death on our behalf forever, He spends His time teaching people. He teaches them about the kingdom of God and what a true believer’s life looks like. In Matthew chapter 25, He tells them a parable about ten virgins. Note that all ten virgins are waiting for the bridegroom in the story. This parable is not about becoming a believer because the ten virgins symbolize those who do believe, or at least think they do. However, only five of these virgins will be found to be true believers and enter the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The rest will be shut out for eternity.
The five who are found faithful are those who had spent their time and resources wisely, so that they had oil (the Holy Spirit) to keep their lamps lit during the long wait for the bridegroom. Their actions were steered by true Godly wisdom, not human or worldly wisdom. It wasn’t about what they said, it was about the choices they made during the time of preparation that resulted in the favorable outcome – entering into the kingdom of heaven.
Yeshua said that Mary chose the better part. Has it occurred to you that Martha not only missed out on spending precious time listening to Yeshua’s life-giving teaching, but she also might have missed out on an awesome miracle? Yeshua had no problem multiplying food; we read of several occasions when He did just that. How incredible it would have been for Martha, if at the end of listening to Yeshua, she had brought him whatever she had on a humble tray and said “Lord this is what I have, may it be a blessing to feed Your people” and Yeshua taking the food and blessing it would have told her “Martha, now pass it out to all who are hungry”.
How Martha would have marveled, watching the food on that tray re-appear and multiply. I’m sure she would have never forgotten that moment, and would have thought about it perhaps even daily, or whenever she felt the need to worry about provision or supplies. A greater assurance of the supernatural caring power of the God she served, would have entered her life.
I’m sure the five foolish virgins thought they were doing the right thing. After all, they were waiting for the bridegroom to come. They had their lamps in hand, and initially they did have oil to keep them alight. It turns out however, that what we do while we are waiting for the Lord to return, is crucial to our eternal outcome. In this life it’s so easy to get busy, distracted, focused on ‘the doing’ of many good things, but if we do not adopt a position of spending time with the Lord above all else, receiving wisdom, revelation and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, we may be on the path to losing out on our real destiny.
I actually find it comforting to stop, sit, and listen to the Lord; to surrender everything to His rulership. All of our God-given dreams, the provision for them, the accomplishments we were made for, all these come from listening to God. You cannot compare earthly wisdom and strategy to the inspiration of Your Creator. I find security, and that His peace in me passes understanding, when my life is absolutely aligned with the will of God. I find true joy in the life of His spirit within me and in the people around me.
I want to encourage you today to take stock of your life, to make an honest assessment of how the way you spend your time reflects your priorities and make a commitment before the Lord to be like Mary. A commitment to spend time with the Lord, seeking His kingdom, whenever you have that precious opportunity and also to make time for it purposefully. If we resolutely seek to listen to the voice of the Lord, the Bible shows us that miracles will follow.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things will be added to you.”
This article originally appeared on Sarah Liberman’s blog, August 14, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Sarah Liberman is an internationally acclaimed Israeli worship leader, speaker and recording artist. Sarah has devoted her life to blessing the heart of God and making a place for others to meet with Him. Sarah travels, singing and speaking, bringing the powerful new sound of this generation of Israeli worshippers to the nations. With millions of views on YouTube, and songs sung in congregations around the world, her music brings you into the real presence of God. Her first two albums “I Am Before You” and “A Pure Heart” include well known and loved songs such as ‘Fire of Your Spirit’ and ‘Gadol Adonai’.