The Gideon phenomenon
What is the Gideon phenomenon? It is the amazing six encounters that Gideon had with God in the book of Judges in chapters 6 and 7. In this blog we are just going to look at two of the encounters that Gideon had with God that are real life lessons for us!
Our encounters with God are supposed to be these special moments when we connect with Him, and through this connection, something is transferred to us by Him. In this transfer from God, something can be learned about Him. For example we can experience His peace, His love, His power. He can give us a word which can encourage us. It can also give us a direction in our life. Encounters are being created for us all of the time, because God desires to have interaction with us. The problem is that many times we are just too busy to notice these encounters, or our hearts are too hardened to perceive the moment. Gideon’s first encounter in Judges 6:11-16 seems to be the kind of encounter which Gideon could have missed but, didn’t! Let’s look at v. 11. It says, “the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak”. God didn’t show up as a burning bush, he wasn’t floating in the sky. He came as a man sitting simply under a tree. Sometimes we expect only the fiery bush encounters instead of the everyday occurrences where God is also reaching out to us. God is always there, He is alway around us and always speaking to us.
So, the angel of the Lord appears to Gideon under the tree, as he is threshing out the wheat in a wine press. Gideon was terrified of the Midianites who would raid the Israelites and take their harvest. That’s why he is in a winepress instead of threshing in the open air. The Lord says to him in v. 12 “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior”. When Gideon heard God’s statement I don’t think that he believed God. Gideon didn’t believe that God was with him or Israel and he certainly didn’t feel like a “valiant warrior”. If God was with Israel why were the Midianites raiding Israel and taking all of their harvest? Where was God’s protection? Also, Gideon didn’t believe himself to be a valiant warrior as he threshed the wheat in a wine press instead of the open air. In this encounter, we see God expressing how He actually saw Gideon! God is not even entertaining the thoughts that Gideon had about himself. You see, Gideon was behaving like a terrified man but, that was not who he actually was. God’s view of Gideon and of us is very different than the way that we see ourselves! God knew the potential that was in Gideon and what he could do if he believed God. If we look at v. 14, “The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you”? “Your strength” didn’t mean that Gideon was powerful but, whatever strength he had it was enough because the Lord had sent him on an assignment. Gideon then goes into a “pity party” telling the Lord how his family is the least in Manasseh and he’s the youngest. But, the Lord says something really important to Gideon. He says, in v. 16 “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” All of us, just as Gideon, struggle with the confidence to believe that what God says about us is true. If we look at Exodus 3:11-12 we see Moses having almost the exact same dialogue with God! This is also our dialogue with God when He gives us an assignment and we can’t see how we can do it. Notice, that in both verses God says, “I will be with you”. When we encounter the living God that knows what our purpose is, what we have been created to accomplish, He accompanies us to fulfill the assignment that He has given us. He does not abandon us!
The next encounter we’re going to look at is in Judges 6:25-27, 30-34.
In the evening, the Lord speaks to Gideon and tells him to take his father’s two bulls and pull down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole that was beside it. He builds an altar to the Lord and sacrifices one of the bulls on top of it. Gideon takes ten men to help him do this and he does it at night. Then the men of the city wanted to kill Gideon but, his father, Joash, argued for his son. He said, “If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar.” Then on that day Gideon’s name was changed to Jerubbaal (let Baal contend against him). This is a very interesting encounter with God that Gideon had. First of all notice that Gideon along with his family and all of Israel were committing idolatry. The idolatry was everywhere. Israel was not worshipping God and they had taken up the worship of foreign gods. Gideon had grown up not knowing his God. This encounter that Gideon had with God was going to show them all that not only was He going to achieve a military victory but, He was going to bring them back to worshipping the one true God. Only God could save them not an idol. How many times do we fall into this trap? We place our idols in the place where God belongs. God had Gideon start with his own house before he could fulfill the plan that God had for him, he had to clean up his own house. Isn’t that what God does with us when we encounter Him? He shows us the idols that we have made and then we mourn how we have forgotten Him. There has to be that turning point from our idols to the living God. Even though Gideon was afraid (that’s why he tore down the Asherah and altar at night) he was still obedient to the Lord. In v. 32 we see that Joash renamed Gideon to Jerubbaal. A name is usually changed because God wants to establish a new identity through that person. Through this encounter with God, Gideon was going to have a new identity. But wait, God has more! Right after his name is changed the Midianites and Amalekites assemble to fight the Israelites. Then, in v. 34 it says, “So the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon;” This is an extremely important gift that God is giving Gideon. The word in Hebrew for “came upon” is “labash” which means to put on, wear, clothe, be clothed. God is infilling Gideon so that he can be an instrument of obedience and a vessel for God. The Lord is equipping him with exactly what he will need to perform the task that the Lord is sending him to do.
Gideon’s encounters with God gave him exactly what he needed to accomplish the will of the Father. May we encounter God each and every day so that we may be his servants to accomplish His will.
Diana Levine is the Rebbetzin of Kol Mashiach Messianic Synagogue in Melbourne, Florida. She has spoken at national conferences, regional conferences, women's retreats and bible studies. She is also the co-founder of the Daughters of Righteousness Conference.
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[Israeli Politics 101] Understanding Israel’s outpost and settlement phenomenon
In order to understand what an “outpost” is, it’s helpful to have some geographical background concerning settlement communities which are located in Judea and Samaria, more commonly known as Israel’s West Bank, as well as other disputed areas including East Jerusalem and, finally, the Golan Heights, seized from Syria as a result of the 1967 Six Day War.
These communities which were not only obtained as the spoils of war but also territories which are historically recognized as being Jewish land, are situated beyond the Green Line (Israel proper) and almost exclusively inhabited by Jewish citizens. The controversy of this area and the houses on them stems from the ongoing international dispute as to whether or not these are Palestinian territories which were illegitimately taken but which, nonetheless, have been in Israeli hands for over five decades. This is the very claim by those who refer to this as the Israeli “occupation.”
However, it’s also important to understand that a great number of these communities exist both with the full support and backing of the Israeli government which has even subsidized and developed the areas which have been deemed strategically important to Israel. For example, Gush Etzion, a cluster of Jewish settlements located just outside of Jerusalem’s southern border, is expected to grow to half a million people within the next decade and has enjoyed construction expansion with the full blessing of the Housing Ministry. There is a beautiful, modern mall, major tourist attractions such as ATV rentals, a Heritage Center, museums, first-class winery, a myriad of eateries and even French patisserie. All this development has been accomplished with the full knowledge and sanction of the Israeli government in order to make it a desirable place where Zionistic citizens will choose to live.
Then there are areas which neither have the backing and support of the Israeli government nor the planned strategy to officially claim them and develop them at this time. It is, typically, those areas which attract Zionist activists – oftentimes young people, to, overnight – in the dead of darkness – suddenly establish a structure, be it a caravan or makeshift temporary housing unit, claiming it as Israeli Jewish property which is now being claimed by them and homesteaded.
Such was the case in the hilltop area known as Amona where police recently cleared out two mobile homes which were illegally built, resulting in the injury of four citizens and 23 police officers when 300 settlers mobilized to stand their ground. Rioters hurled stones, burned tires and threw heavy iron bars at the police. In the end, tear gas had to be employed in order to disperse the activists.
In cases like this, there is often a claim that such outposts are undeniably legitimate since the land was legally purchased from the original Palestinian land owners, and here it’s important to note that any Palestinians discovered to have sold land to Jews are subject to prosecution by the Palestinian Authority for having committed a crime which can be punishable by hard labor, imprisonment or execution even though there has not been an execution since 2006.
However, even if the land was legitimately purchased, there is a required permit which must first be obtained before anyone can make claim to the land and place a housing structure on it. In addition to that important detail, perhaps, the greatest impediment to these kinds of overnight housing claims is that, in this particular area of Amona, the IDF closed off the area, turning it into a military zone – meaning that anyone who would attempt to override such authority would be deemed to openly rebel against the Israeli armed forces and the government itself which expects the military to enforce its policies concerning settlements.
Israel’s highest court ordered the demolishment of the community of Amona in 2017, claiming it had been situated on private Palestinian territory. Knowing this, those responsible for this latest outpost, yet again, petitioned the courts to allow them to remain in their mobile home, but the request was met with a 48-hour deadline to remove the outpost and evacuate the area.
For now, much to the dismay of many young Zionist activists, the Israeli government maintains a policy of not allowing any new settlements on what they consider to be privately owned Palestinian land.
Outposts are considered to be illegal and unauthorized settlements which are not sanctioned by the government unlike planned Israeli West Bank neighborhood settlements which do have the authorization and backing of the government.
It’s also interesting to note that some outposts have eventually been given legitimization by the government after they received a new designation as being an adjunct of an existing legal settlement. Such outposts often enjoy the security of Israeli troops who end up protecting those areas.
It’s, therefore, easy to understand the frustration by individuals who promote the outpost/settlement ideology, because they feel that government authorization lacks a certain consistency or protocol. They claim that when it suits the government, there will be a justification to appropriate whatever area they choose to recognize as lawful, but when it doesn’t suit the government, an order to vacate is immediately set in motion.
While this may be true, one Israeli politician made it clear that anyone who attacks Israeli security forces attacks our country. The rule of law simply has to be observed whether it’s appreciated or not.
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.
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8 Reasons why the Man in Jeremiah 33:18 can only really be one Man, Yeshua!
Jeremiah 33:18 “… nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a Man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.”
8 reasons why the Man in Jeremiah 33:18 is not really about the Aaronic priests in general, or about Zadokite priests of Aaron in particular, but is about one Man, Yeshua from Zadok’s family of Aaron; and His Eternal Blood Sacrifice!
Jeremiah 23:5-6 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Righteous Branch (Tzemach)! A King shall reign and prosper, and execute Judgment and Righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. Now this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD Our Righteousness.’
‘Tzemach’ is the Hebrew word used for Branch, and the above Scripture is about Messiah Yeshua coming from David’s family.
Jeremiah 33:14-26 ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the House of Israel and to the House of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of Righteousness. (Here ‘Tzemach’ is the Hebrew word used again for Branch.) He shall execute Judgment and Righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which He will be called in her, the LORD our Righteousness.’ “For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a Man to sit on the throne of the House of Israel. Nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a Man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice (a blood sacrifice) continually (for all days).’ ”And the Word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My Covenant with the day and My Covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My Covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. As the host of Heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’ ”Moreover the Word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, “Have you not considered what these people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the LORD has chosen, He has also cast them off’? Thus they have despised My people, as if they should no more be a nation before them. “Thus says the LORD, ‘If My Covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have Mercy on them.’ ”
(1st) This whole passage of Jeremiah 33:14-26 is primarily about the coming Messiah, referring to the two divine titles of Yeshua, as a Branch of Righteousness and the LORD our Righteousness.
(2nd) Jeremiah 33:14-17 is basically pretty much a repeat of Jeremiah 23:5, 6. It is again about the two divine titles of Yeshua, a Branch of Righteousness and the LORD our Righteousness, and specifically about Yeshua, coming from David’s family, One who Reigns as King over the House of David & House of Israel forever.
(3rd) In Jeremiah 33:18, the qualifying words related to these Aaronic priests, or to a specific Man from this family of Aaron, the One who does this Sacrifice before God, especially a Blood Sacrifice ‘for all days’, are the words ‘before Me,’ (lifanay), that whoever these Aaronic priests are, or this one Person from Aaron is, that He is also one who comes before God.
These qualifying words ‘before Me,’ tells us specifically which family of Aaron these priests (or this Man) are from. For this can only relate to one family of Aaron, the family of the sons of Zadok; the only family of Aaron which was allowed to come before God, which can be found in six different places in the book of Ezekiel, from chapters 40 to 48. Specifically these are found in Ezekiel 40:46; 42:13; 43:18, 19; 44:15, 16; 45:4; and Ezekiel 48:10, 11.
In these chapters Ezekiel 40 through 48, all the other Aaronic priest families were told by God that they could no longer come into God’s Presence in the Temple, and also that they would no longer be allowed to minister any blood sacrifices before God, but that they would now only be allowed to minister to the people.
Here are two Scriptures from Ezekiel on these sons of Zadok: Ezekiel 43:18-19 And He said to me, “Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘These are the ordinances for the altar on the day when it is made, for sacrificing burnt offerings on it, and for sprinkling blood on it. You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,’ says the Lord GOD.”
Ezekiel 44:15-16 “But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood,” says the Lord GOD. “They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge.”
(4th) We know in verse 17, the Man from David who will reign as King is Yeshua. So then the Man mentioned in verse 18, is this verse about a group of Aaronic priests coming from the one family of Zadok, about Zadokite priests in general? Or is this verse about one specific Son from Zadok, the Man (Yeshua) who is before God, (אִישׁ מִלְּפָנָי), the One who does the Sacrifice ‘for all days’ (זֶּבַח כָּל-הַיָּמִים), the Eternal Blood Sacrifice …? It is Yeshua!
(5th) Verse 24 is about the two families that God had chosen, David’s family and Aaron’s family. Chosen for what? Chosen in relation to the coming of the Messiah, & the two divine titles of Yeshua, a Branch of Righteousness, the LORD our Righteousness.
What is God saying? That these two families had been chosen for God’s Son Yeshua to come to earth through the virgin. We know from Luke 1:29-36, 5, 6, that Yeshua is from these two families, from David’s family & from high priest Zadok’s family of Aaron.
How can we be sure that this is what verse 24 actually means?
Because this passage from verse 14 to 26 is a future Messianic prophetic passage about Yeshua, about Tzemach, the Branch, and about Yeshua’s two divine titles, a Branch of Righteousness and the LORD our Righteousnes; i.e. “The days are coming …”
(6th) If we could superimpose Yeshua over these two Jeremiah 33 verses, 17 & 18, we can see that Yeshua fits these verses perfectly. If Yeshua is the Man being talked about in verse 17, then Yeshua must also be the Man of verse 18, who was prophesied to also be coming from the Zadokite high priest family. How to prove this?
Remember that angel Gabriel had told Miriam that her Son Yeshua would Reign on the throne of His father David and would Reign over the House of Israel forever. And indirectly that Yeshua would also be from the same family of Aaron (Luke 1:36, 5) as Miriam’s relative Elisheva and Zechariah, whom God said in Luke 1:6 were both righteous (what Zadok means) before God. These are the qualifying words, which show that both her relatives were from the Zadokite Aaronic priest family, which was also Yeshua’s own blood kin family from His own virgin mother Miriam.
Yeshua‘s mother is the virgin, which means that her Son Yeshua could never be an Aaronic priest, since He had no earthly father. But Yeshua is always from the two families of His virgin mother. Also He could only be from one tribe, the tribe of Miriam’s father, which is the tribe of Judah. Yeshua could never have been from the tribe of Miriam’s mother, the tribe of Levi.
(7th) Here is another major mystery that has been overlooked … In 70 A.D., at the destruction of Jerusalem’s 2nd Temple, all the Temple geneology records of the Aaronic priests were destroyed. Therefore no records exist today of who is from Zadok’s family.
Therefore only Yeshua’s Blood Sacrifice totally fits this Jeremiah 33:18 verse, and also the whole Jeremiah 33:14-26 passage. Yeshua is the Man being referred to in verse 33:18, the One who does the Eternal Blood Sacrifice “for all days!”
That means only Yeshua is the fulfillment of this whole Messianic passage, from Jeremiah 33:14 to Jeremiah 33:26.
Jeremiah 33:18 Yeshua is this Man, the Son of Man!
8th) Numbers 18:20 Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; ‘I am your portion and your inheritance’ among the children of Israel.” This also seen in Ezekiel 44:15, 28.
Even though Yeshua came to earth as both the Son of God and the Son of Man, only as the Son of Man could He provide Atonement for both the sins of mankind and for the earth, because the earth was given to man. But the earth was cursed by God.
So only a perfect Man could redeem both the sins of mankind and also the curse that God had originally spoken over the earth.
Genesis 3:17 “Cursed is the ground for your sake …”
Numbers 35:33-34 “ ‘So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.’ ”
Zechariah 3:1-9 [Tzemach: God’s Servant from Yeshoshua]
Then he showed me Joshua (Yehoshua, or Yeshua) the high priest, (אֶת-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל) standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at His right hand to oppose Him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by. Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua (Yehoshua), saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My House, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among these who stand here. ‘Hear, O Joshua (Yehoshua), the high priest, you and your companions (the other Zadokite priests) who sit before you, for they are a miracle (or a wondrous) sign. For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant, the Branch (Tzemach [אֶת-עַבְדִּי צֶמַח]). For behold, the Stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon the Stone are Seven Eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that Day’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘Everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.’” He is the Son of Man!
Normally only the Aaronic high priest was the one who made atonement for himself, the other priests and Levites, and for the people of Israel. But according to the Word of God, the Aaronic high priest could never make Atonement for the land. But this Aaronic high priest Yehoshua had just had his iniquity removed by this Messenger of God, who is also the Word of God (Yeshua).
On what basis was his iniquity removed? Only on one basis, the Lamb of God that was slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:9) And then it was announced to Yehoshua and to his companions, who also had to be of Aaronic priests from his group, probably other Zadokite priests, clearly stating on what basis his iniquity had been removed, through God’s prophesy about the coming of God’s Servant, Tzemach. And then God also prophesied about the land iniquity being removed, through God’s Servant (Righteous Servant in Isaiah 53:11), which all specifically related to Yeshua’s Blood Sacrifice!
Here, the Angel of the LORD, (Yeshua, ‘the Word’) speaks from Heaven to this Aaronic high priest named Yehoshua. That’s his name in the books of Zechariah and Haggai, but also Yeshua is his name in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
And God then announces to Yehoshua the coming of God’s Servant, the Branch, (Tzemach) the Messiah. God is prophesying that His Servant Tzemach will be coming to earth, who will also be born thru this high priest family of Yehoshua (Yeshua), from the Zadokite high priest family, (besides coming from king David!)
Deuteronomy 32:43 “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide Atonement for His land and His people.” Messiah’s Blood made atonement for the land!
The next place we see Tzemach, the Branch, is when Yeshua returns to earth; this time He will be coming as the Son of God!
Zechariah 6:11-13 [Tzemach: the Man, Heaven’s King and Priest] “Take the silver and gold, make elaborate (kings) crowns, and set them on the head of Joshua (Yehoshua) the son of Jeho-zadok, the high priest. Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying, “Behold, the Man whose name is the Branch (Tzemach)! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the Temple of the LORD! Yes, He shall build the Temple of the LORD! He shall bear the Glory, and shall sit and Rule (King) on His Throne; so He shall be a Priest on His Throne.
And the counsel of Peace shall be between them both.” ’[We also see the King Priest in Genesis 14:18-20 & Psalm 110:1,4]
Here again God prophesied to Yehoshua (Yeshua) the Aaronic high priest, whom we are now told is also a Zadokite high priest. For his father’s name is Jeho-zadok.
Here, for the second time we see God prophesying the coming of Tzemach (the Branch) to this Zadokite high priest Yehoshua. Since God prophesied this twice, it means God had established that His Son Yeshua would come to earth through this family of high priest Yehoshua, of high priest Zadok, of high priest Aaron.
Also we are told twice that Tzemach, the Branch, is the One who will build God’s Temple in Jerusalem, and bear the Glory!
This Man is Yeshua, Heaven’s King and Great High Priest, born the fulfillment of the family line of kings from king David, and also born the fulfillment of the family line of high priests from high priest Yehoshua (Yeshua) of high priest Zadok, of high priest Aaron, through His mother Miriam, who carried this ‘Seed’of Eve, of Genesis 3:15 … fulfillment of both kings and high priests.
Yeshua offered Himself as the Eternal Sacrifice of God to take away the sins of all humanity so we could be eternally sons of God with Yeshua, and our Loving Father, the Almighty God of Israel.
RIchard has served the Lord full-time from Jerusalem since 1998, having made Aliyah to Israel in 1995. He been a writer for the Lord Yeshua since 1982. All of his books, including the newest one, ‘King Priest Yeshua from the Seed of David and Aaron’, along with other writings are free to read and download from his website.
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False teachers and heresies – 2 Peter 2
2Pt 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2Pt 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with deceptive words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not.
secretly – sneaking in
pernicious – destructive, having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way
Peter warns of false teachers in the churches just as there were false prophets in Israel. Such teachers and prophets bring in ‘destructive heresies’ to divide and to destroy the unity and the faithfulness of the people and children of God from walking in the truth, and worshipping the Father in spirit and truth.
Paul writes about false teachings in the last days, including those of forbidding marriage and of eating certain meats; Yeshua tells us that false teachers will come dressed like sheep, but inside they are ravenous wolves; Paul also told the leaders in Ephesus that after he leaves, false teachers would come from within the church to make disciples for themselves; Paul also wrote that the time would come when people will listen to that they want to hear, but that we are to preach the truth of what God says. (1Tim 4:1-4, 7; Mt 7:15-16a; 2Tim 4:1-4; Acts 20:27-31)
Heresy comes from the Greek word hairesis, meaning ‘choose, factions, and division’. These false teachers ‘sneak in’ their destructive teachings, because they know they are not in accord with sound doctrine, as revealed and taught by God to the apostles and the other writers of the Scriptures.
Historically, there have been churches with their own dogmas that were not necessarily in line with what the Scriptures teach. For an example, some of the churches baptize infants. When the Anabaptists understood that the Bible teaches that believers are to be baptized, they were called heretics. (Anabaptists may have other issues, but on the baptism teaching alone, they were considered heretical.) The words—their messages—of the false teachers and prophets are destructive to one’s faith and relationship with God. “Denying the Lord” does not necessarily mean they deny that He lived or died or that He is God, but that their words and conduct are opposed to who He is. Their lives deny any close contact with Him. Of course, it it also that some simply deny the Lord completely, and speak evil of Him and of His way. These are apostates, not simply heretics.
Peter does not define heresy, but he does single out one – sexual immorality, and in particular, homosexuality. Paul condemns heresy as one of “the works of the flesh.” (Gal 5:20) It may be translated “sects” in your Bible, but Paul says that people who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God! (Gal 5:21)! We need the fear of the LORD in this very serious matter!
In the ordinary course of secular life, heresy was of little consequence; one person’s opinion or choice about most things in life is just as good as another’s. A person can be given any number of alternatives, any one of which he may be perfectly free to believe. However, in the faith of the true God, we are dealing with revelation, with God-given truth, with absolutes. When God’s truth comes to men, we either have to accept or reject it. Thus, a heretic is a man who believes what he wantsto believe instead of accepting the truth of God that he ought to believe. (taken from John W. Ritenbaugh)
Some heresies have been around for a long time, and are still taught as an acceptable understanding of the truth. There is nothing new under the sun, and the heresies of long ago are back again today. We will look at some of them. I will not give their names, because what is important are their errors, and the consequences of believing them. Not all disagreements are over heretical teaching, and not all heretical teaching means that the teacher is not a real believer. In most cases, though, the teacher and the teaching are opposed to the holy faith handed down to us by the fathers. A heretical teaching does not line up with the plain teaching of the Word of God.
–“YHVH is not the one and only true God, and God Most High.” (Is 43:10-13) Before there ever was the Bible, YHVH had revealed Himself to angels and to mankind. The Jewish people and Christian are called to be His witnesses, that there is no God but Yehovah – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament.
–“Yeshua is not the only way to the Father.” Yeshua says that no comes to the Father but through Him. (Jn 14:6) He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
–“The Bible is not the authoritative written Word of God to Israel and to the world.” This heresy allows man’s understanding and knowledge to have more authority than God Himself. It might be called philosophy; or, it might be called science. It is idolatry if it puts man’s wisdom above YHVH, God of Israel, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and all that is in them. It is another spirit, not the Spirit of Truth. God will fulfill His Word, according to His understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and power. God’s Word abides forever, and not a word of it will fall without accomplishing His purpose. (Mt 24:35) We are strictly warned: ‘do not add to or take from these words…”; “all Scripture inspired…”. (Dt 4:2;12:32; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-20; 2Tim 3:16-17) Moses did write, by the Spirit of God, that someone would come after him, to whom we must listen. This ‘someone’ is Yeshua/Jesus, the Messiah. (Dt 18:15-19; Acts 3:22-23)
–“Jesus is not both God and Man”. This is another Jesus/Yeshua than whom God witnesses to throughout the Bible. As the early church grappled with heretics of various sorts, the leaders were united on the absolute necessity of the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ. They realized that only God Himself could rescue us from our separation from Him, and that only a man could “earn back” what the first man had lost. (Jn 1:1-18; Rom 5:12-21) Thank and praise the Lord for His becoming incarnate for our sake!
–“Jesus was not fully human (did not come in human flesh).” It is to make Him a deceiver, only acting as if He ever felt any physical pain: in His crucifixion, He did not feel physical pain, because God can not feel physical pain, for God is a spirit. Jesus did not physically resurrect in the body, but only had a ‘spiritual’ resurrection. This teaching about Yeshua not coming in the flesh (real human flesh and blood) is the antichrist teaching. (1Jn 4:3) Yeshua came as not only the Son of God, but also as the Son of Man, in order to know our sufferings and redeem us, and to be a sympathetic High Priest for us. Jesus also promised His disciples that He would come again, and the angels told them that the same Jesus that they saw ascend into Heaven would come again [at the appointed time set by the Father].
–“Jesus not fully God, because He subjected Himself to God His Father, and because He was limited in space and time while in the body.” Brothers and sisters, this is the mystery of the Godhead!: “God was manifested in the flesh….” (1Tim 3:16) It is something only our amazing God can do, and has revealed to us. No created being would invent such a doctrine and expect any one to believe it.
–“God has finished with the Jews and with Israel as a nation in the promised land.” God has not rejected His covenant and promises to Israel – or, for that matter, to anyone else. To teach otherwise is to dishonor the Lord and to make His promises ‘not promises’. His Name is at stake in His keeping His covenantal promises to the seed of Jacob/Israel, and to David, and to Levi. (Rom 11; Jer 31:35-37; 33:17-26; Ezek 36:22-28) God has not cancelled, annulled, or done away with the Law and the Prophets. Yeshua confirms that every jot and tittle of them will be fulfilled. (Mt 5:17-20; Rom 15:8-13)
–“Gentile and Jewish believers must keep the “Torah” in order to live as Jesus lived, and, therefore, be righteous”, even if it is said by the false teachers on this subject not to be a salvation issue, and that we are saved by our faith in the name of the Son of God, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. They are teaching another gospel, sowing confusion and division. This is heresy, which made the Apostle Paul very upset! (Acts 15:23-29; Gal) This is not the same as someone, for the sake of the gospel, living in a manner acceptable to an ethnic population or a religious group, in order that they might be more open to listen to the gospel. But Paul was also free among any people group for that very reason, and always under the law of Messiah. He never went against God’s word and wisdom in order to appeal to sinners. “Torah-keeping” does not promote the one new man in Messiah; and the Law of Messiah by His cross is the ‘one Law’ that all believers as a new creation live under.
–“We are to have all of the blessings promised in the world to come… now.” Prosperity, health, dominion now for believers. To be sick or poor is a sin. Brothers and sisters, Yeshua told us that the poor would always be with us in this world; we are to pray for the sick; Paul had an eye problem that was not fully healed; Timothy was told by Paul to drink some wine for his stomach ailment; believers also die. How can we comfort the poor or sick if we believe that poverty and sickness is against the truth of God’s purpose now? (1Cor 4:8-13)
All of these heresies we know are taught and believed on here in Israel, and even within some of the congregations. Although teachers may be teaching truth, not all of those hearing may believe it, but prefer to believe the lie and error, even without them telling us. We must not be either naïve nor ignorant of the power of deception and of what ‘sounds good’, but isn’t. It may be that some of you hearing or reading these words of mine may think that it is I who am heretical by my positions taken on these issues. It is your honor to check the Scriptures to see if what I am teaching is of the truth or not. We must all remain correctible and teachable. The Holy Spirit is still at work to lead us into all the truth. When the Word of God convicts us of sin and wrong-doing, we can repent and confess that God is right, that His Word is truth, and thank Him for forgiving us.
We must have the word of Messiah dwelling in us richly, so that we will have the armor of God on our hearts and minds, to defeat all of the lies of the enemy, and to guard our own hearts from greed or bitterness.
We have become accustomed to being tolerant. But, from what is written in II Peter 2 and in Jude, it is clear that God is not tolerant of this kind of thing. He is long-suffering, but as Peter writes, the judgment of these false teachers, and of those who stand with them, will come, and will be swift. We are tolerant because we have lost, or we never had, a sense of the grave danger of Satan’s false teaching and lies. It leads people to their deaths! As a people, we have become dulled to the distinction between good and evil, not only in terms of right and wrong in behavior, but also in terms of theology and thought.
Peter tells us that these false teachers/prophets and false teachings do two things:
–Those who teach them, and those who agree with them are in danger of eternal loss;
–They cause themselves and many others – both believers and unbelievers – to speak evil of the way of truth. They accuse God and His Word of being wrong, and even bad, rather than right and good.
Remember: the devil is the prince of this world, and he is running around like a roaring lion seeking to devour whom he can. He will be in this role until the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ to put him away for the duration of the 1000-year rule and reign of Yeshua and of the saints, over Israel and the other nations. Therefore, this world can never be ‘better’ from God’s point of view until the Son of God returns and sits on David’s throne, the throne of Messiah’s glory. We can influence the world for good to some extent, but it is always partial and temporary. When Jesus comes to establish the Kingdom of God/Heaven on Earth, His kingdom of righteousness and peace will never pass away! Hallelu-Yah! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Prosperity without freedom is the worst kind of slavery
The Bible is a book filled with blessings, teachings, words of encouragement, and warnings. Many times a single verse can carry within it each of these categories and more. One example of such a verse is Exodus 1:7:
Yet Bnei-Yisrael were fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied and grew extremely numerous—so the land was filled with them.
At first glance, the words of this passage can be viewed as a blessing. We read these words and see that over their years in Egypt; G-D has allowed the Children of Israel to become prosperous in every way. We can also see within the text expression of encouragement as we clearly see that the Children of Israel had seen an abundant increase both financially and numerically.
Yet many people reading these words do not look beyond the outward so that they can see that these words were provided to us for teaching and as a warning. Remember what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us:
All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed.
To put this verse into context, the Children of Israel moved to Egypt to survive a famine that lasted 7 years. Yet by the time, we read about them in Exodus they had continued living in Egypt for over 200 years. In Egypt, they had grown from 70 people to millions of people. They had gone from starving in a famine to becoming wealthy. Yet in all of their outward prosperity that were living outside the Promised Land and outside the Covenant Promises of G-D. When viewed in context Exodus 1:7 reads a lot like Revelation 3:17:
For you say, ‘I am rich, I have made myself wealthy, and I need nothing.’ But you do not know that you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.
Or even Matthew 16:26:
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
You see the Children of Israel had over the years exchanged their faith in G-D and His blessings for faith in Egypt and the riches they had acquired there. They had become so assimilated into Egyptian life that they forgot that their covenant blessings and promises were connected to the land of Canaan (Israel). Life in Egypt had become comfortable they had become a large people within the boundaries of Egypt. They had become prosperous in earthly goods. Yet somehow they failed to see that even though by worldly metrics they were blessed they were not free. It wasn’t until the Egyptians reminded them who they were by physically enslaving them they didn’t realize that they have voluntarily placed themselves in bondage.
This lesson is vital especially for those of us who live in the United States and much of the Western World. The body of believers has for many years grown and prospered in the metrics the world uses to denote prosperity. However, we must be careful that we don’t trade our freedom in G-D for the riches of the world. We cannot allow ourselves to forget who we truly are and what real prosperity is.
In the book of John 8:31-40 Yeshua (Jesus) is having a conversation with some Judeans:
Then Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s children and have never been slaves to anyone! How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now the slave does not remain in the household forever; the son abides forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! I know you are Abraham’s children; yet you are trying to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I tell of what I have seen with the Father; so also you do what you heard from the Father.” “Abraham is our father,” they replied to Him. Yeshua said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill Me—a Man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. This Abraham did not do!
Notice the context of this conversation deal with two things first, freedom and second the covenant G-D made with Israel through Abraham. Yeshua tells them that they need the truth to set them free. But because of their blindness, they could not even admit that Israel had been slaves in Egypt or that at that moment they were servants of Rome. Yeshua reminds them that slavery is first spiritual and then it becomes physical. He also lets them know that just as the Children of Israel had been blind breaking the covenant G-D made with Abraham (by remaining outside of the promised land) they had become blind to their being outside of the covenant with Abraham by not accepting the freedom He was offering to them as we read Genesis 22:18 Yeshua is the seed of Abraham spoken of in this verse.
“In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed—because you obeyed My voice.”
While we may not be under Roman authority today or living in the slavery of Egypt these words still speak to us today. We cannot ever allow the successes of the world to become more important than the covenant freedom provided through the covenant G-D made with Abraham. Prosperity without freedom is the worst kind of slavery.
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.