The children of Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin (Num. 20:1-13). They desperately needed water, so God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water. Moses, however, frustrated with the complaining of the people struck the rock, and bitter water issued forth. As a result of Moses’ disobedience, he could not lead Israel into the Promised Land. That responsibility fell to Joshua.
God rebuked Moses and Aaron for their disobedience saying, “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me, before the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore, you will not bring this assembly into the land which I gave to them” (Num. 20:12). Two things stand out in the Lord’s pronouncement: 1) He equated “believing in Him” with human obedience, and 2) God’s name is sanctified through our obedience.
We frequently speak of believing in God in a way where what we mean is believing something about God. Faith then, for us, is often merely belief about God. In the Bible, “to believe” in God requires our obedience. It’s not our belief or opinion about God, but our obedient response to His commands and directives. As James stated, “faith without works is dead” (2:17). Moses and Aaron’s disobedience meant that they did not believe in God in that moment.
Moses and Aaron’s disobedience to God’s command meant that they did not sanctify God’s name before Israel, rather, they profaned it. The verb translated in this passage as “to sanctify” literally means “to make holy.” Think about that. Our obedience has the ability to make God holy before people, and our disobedience profanes Him before the world. Perhaps the reason why the world around us does not treat God as holy is because we, His followers, do not live in submitted obedience to Him, making Him holy in the world.
If believing in God equals our obedience, our obedience, then, sanctifies God’s name within our world. Our disobedience results in His name being profaned. In the Bible, a person’s obedient actions determined their faith in God. That obedience makes God holy in the world.
What an incredible thought: the God of the universe, who is holy, relies, in part, upon our obedience to make Him holy within the world. What an awesome responsibility. Do we through our obedience show ourselves to believe in Him? Do we seek to sanctify Him, make Him holy, before our world through our daily obedience to Him?
Father, may our obedience demonstrate that we believe in You, and may Your name be sanctified in our world through our obedience to Your commands. Amen.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, February 20, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
What if it is both?
In life, we are often confronted by, questions such, as is the glass half full or half empty. We are told that the answer to the question depends on our point of view or our level of optimism. In the world of faith, a Scriptural belief of these types of questions can be even more forceful with the answer drawing lines and many times forcing those answering to choose sides. And these choices sometimes divide friends, congregations and even families.
To be sure there are certain truths that are not half full-vs-half empty type questions. Truths such as but not limited to there only being one G-D. That there is only one way to be saved. That all have sinned. That Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
But there are many things the Bible shares that can be legitimately viewed from different points and both points being accurate. For instance, the Bible says being Married is a good thing Proverbs 18:22:
22 Whoever finds a wife finds good, and receives favor from Adonai.
And it also teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:
8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them to remain as I am.
Another example is found concerning children. In Psalms 127:3-5, we read happy is the man whose quiver is full of children.
3 Behold, children are a heritage of Adonai —the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the gate.
Yet in Micah 7:6 we find:
6 For son treats father with contempt; daughter rises up against mother; daughter-in-law against mother-in-law: a man’s enemies are the people of his own house.
There are many other examples of topics where the Bible can be seen as showing that the cup can be half full or half empty. Are the above examples contradictory? Only if we are viewing them out of their context. Is finding a wife a blessing? Absolutely! Can a man also be blessed and be single? Absolutely. Are children a blessing? Absolutely! Can they also become enemies? Absolutely!
The truth is that once we go beyond the doctrinal absolutes of Scripture much of what we read depends on where we are viewing the verses from. Great divisions are caused in the Body of Messiah simply because we have been taught that the glass must be half full or half empty when the truth is many times the glass is both half full and half empty.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
PARASHAT KI TISA (WHEN YOU LIFT UP)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 30:11–34:35
This week, we read of one of the most well-known, yet tragic accounts in the history of the people of Israel. It begins with Moses on Mt. Sinai, receiving the stone tablets, which were written with God’s finger. During that time, the people grew impatient because they thought Moses was “late” in coming down from the mountain. They gathered against Aaron and told him to make them a god that would walk before them since they did not know what happened to Moses.
The people’s impatience was rooted in selfishness, which caused them to take matters in their own hands. Often times we are also impatient! We don’t want to wait upon the Lord, and take matters into our own hands. And the results are the same as those of the children of Israel i.e. we make for ourselves a different “god” that we trust in and follow.
Aaron feared the people more than he feared God. This fear caused him to surrender to the people, and therefore, he collected all the golden earrings and turned them into a molten calf. He then blasphemously declared, “This is your god, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)
The blasphemy against the one and only true God did not stop there; Aaron built an altar and said to the people that, “tomorrow will be a festival to the lord”. The next day the people rose up to offer “burnt” offerings, to bring “peace” offerings and they sat down to eat, drink and to make “merry”. Most Bible translations translate the word “לְצַחֵֽק” Letzachek as “to make merry”, but a more accurate meaning would be the sound resulting from a licentious kind of debauchery. In other words, the children of Israel were engaging in a form of lewd idol worship!
God wanted to destroy Israel and rightly so! However, we once again see that despite their human selfishness, God was moved to compassion because of His love and His faithfulness. Moses “reminded” Him of His unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).
As Moses was coming down from the mountain he met Joshua, who reported to him in verse 17 “the voice of war (battle) in the camp.” Moses’ reply has a very significant meaning in the Hebrew, which gives us the key to understanding what was truly happening in the camp. Moses responds in verse 18, “It is neither the voice of signing (response) of victory (“עֲנ֣וֹת גְּבוּרָ֔ה” anot gevura) and not the voice of singing (response) of weakness (“עֲנ֣וֹת חֲלוּשָׁ֑ה” anot chlusha), but the voice of selfishness (“אָנֹכִ֖י” anochi) that I hear.”
I find interesting that Joshua heard the sound of war and Moses heard the sound of selfishness. I believe that both are true as what was happening was one big spiritual battle, due to the blasphemy that took place in the camp of Israel. Moses’ rage and anger caused him to throw the tablets that he was holding, causing them to break. He then burned the golden calf. Moses had no tolerance for idol worship, and neither should we followers of Messiah.
As I reflect upon this story, I am reminded of the words of exhortation from 2 Peter 3:3–8:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God is never late! Don’t allow your selfishness to cause you to take matters in your own hands — which will result in sin — but rather, remember all that He has done for you! He is faithful — take hold of His promises so that you can follow Him and walk with Him today. Do not grow weary in waiting for Him!
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.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Lasting, bonded relationship of love
What is life all about? That is a question that incalculable numbers of people have asked over the course of human history. The Bible provides an answer. The meaning of life is primarily found through succeeding in establishing lasting, bonded relationships of love. That love also compels us to extend the circle of love in the Kingdom of God by serving others and introducing them to the liberation of the Gospel and discipleship so that they also might succeed in the great task of establishing bonded relationships of love. This is easier said than done, especially for people who were raised away from any context of seeing this lived out in before their eyes. However, through the power of God in Yeshua, we can all find healing and establish such relationships.
The first bonded and lasting relationship the power of the Gospel leads us into is with God, where we discover – as the Reformers taught – that the primary purpose of our lives is to love God and enjoy Him forever. This relationship is a key to learning to love and to overcome self-centeredness.
The next most important bonded relationship of love for most people, is with their spouse, with the potential for an amazing depth of joy. I am privileged to know that joy.
Then for most people, the next bonded relationship is with their children. We go through the struggles and, for the wife, the great pain of childbirth and raising young toddlers, for the joy set before us of the potential of a lasting relationship of intimacy with our children.
Those not called to marriage and family are still called to deep bonded relationships with others. We have relationships with relatives and friends. God more than makes up for the lack of marriage and children for those who are called to a single life. God also gives us a heart to love people with great differences of interest and in many different stations in life. He broadens us.
The patterns of our modern Hi-Tech culture are arranged for fleeting relationships, for shallowness and trivia. They replace real intimacy with superficial information. They encourage zero or low commitment engagements and prioritize the immediate over the important. Many books have been written on this. I want to encourage you to stand against this trend. Internet Church is not Church. Facebook may be good for minimally keeping in touch, but can never be the relational basis for our lives.
Many years ago, I asked the Lord to give me a contingent of leaders who would walk with me in covenant love (bonded relationships of love) that would last a lifetime. God fulfilled that prayer, and I think the Tikkun story is largely a ripple effect initiated by those bonded relationships. We appreciate your connection to the Tikkun story and pray that your life would increasingly be given to establishing lasting, bonded relationships of love.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 5, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Taking the bull by the horns
LOVE is a word much spoken of, but most often as a noun. Love as a noun becomes an abstraction of little use other than as a tennis ball to be bantered back and forth across a court of speculation. But love as a verb is love indeed, manifest in action on the real stage of life, not only in Heaven.
Love is real and may be felt and seen. If ‘love’ is the word spoken but is experienced as ‘loathe’, something fundamental has been lost in translation. Love is dynamic, not passive: “God so loved the world that He gave,” expressing His will on earth as in Heaven. Love is transmitted, and if the beloved does not know that he or she is loved, it is not love at all, but something less. For love to live it cannot lie inert. If love is not expressed it is a mere personal sentiment lodged alone inside one individual.
For Love to live it must find a language, and to be communicated it must learn the language of the beloved. If I were to say to one who knows only Japanese ani ohev otach (‘I love you’ in Hebrew) it will not be understood. But if I cannot soon learn Japanese, I may express my love by offering a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Love requires the investment of time and the very minimum of a cup of coffee.
Faith is not sufficient to prove love, as one may believe he is loved, but if it is not experienced, it is futile. I knew a young man who believed he was not loved and, when I told his girlfriend that he had tragically taken his own life she exclaimed, “But I loved him.” To which I informed her, “He did not know that.”
Real love when reciprocated from both sides with Heaven’s blessing forges bonds that are not fragile, but is a strong threefold cord not easily broken. If it quickly unravels like a single thread that is unable to bear any weight, it was not love, but its counterfeit. Love requited renders one naked and vulnerable to both pleasure and pain, but it weathers the storms that threaten to quell it and, forgiving, rekindles love from the coals. Love is not for the fearful but the brave, nor for snowflakes, who melt at the first unpleasant heat.
Love is not a mere ceremony of abstract symbols, but the reality to which the symbols point. Love is a voyage of adventure through rough seas and dangers as well as placid lakes and sunrises, through pleasures and pains, fully expressed and fully lived. It is taking the bull by the horns, nothing less.
‘Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and truth.’ – 1 John 3:18
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.