It is written, “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat chaim]; and man became a living being [in Hebrew a living soul—Nefesh Chaya]” (Genesis 2:7). Thus, God created man in His image, male and female He created us. We are therefore complex beings comprised of a body formed by the hand of God and made from the dust of the earth, and a soul, a spirit that God breathed into us. While certain basic instincts and emotions chemically derive from our physical bodies, our God-breathed souls contain the more profound essence of who we are. For this reason, we are not like any other creature.
It should be apparent to anyone even casually reading the news that the world is becoming more divisive. Some might argue the earth has always experienced conflict, which is probably accurate, and only proves that humanity continues to go through cycles of self-destructive behavior that ultimately leads to major national and international conflicts. Are we in that same place today? A new survey from the Pew Research Center reveals the political polarization in the United States has reached a dangerous extreme.
The Apostle Paul had much to say to the gentiles about their relationship with the Jewish people, even warning them to not boast or become arrogant against them. Paul made these critical points in his message to the church at Rome, specifically Chapters nine through eleven. I have paraphrased and emphasized these below, and I believe scripture speaks plainly for itself.
Arguments between early Jewish and gentile believers often resolved around a theological disagreement over the Law of Moses. The word law is translated from the Hebrew word Torah, and literally means instruction. This instruction was intricately woven into the Mosaic Covenant, encompassing 613 positive and negative obligations (does and don’ts).
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21, NKJV). There is much to understand from these three verses. We are going to focus on the last part, where it reads, “until the times of restoration of all things…”
Yeshua’s disciples came to him one day and asked: “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Yeshua then began to tell His disciples about all the difficult things that would happen at the end of the age, especially to the nation of Israel—deception, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes and more. Then He said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8), but the end would not come immediately.
I never had any interest in ministry work, mainly because I was more interested in pursuing my own career goals as a Civil Engineer. However, the Lord had other plans for my life. If I have learned anything in my relatively short walk with the Lord, it is that His ways are not only different than ours but are most often opposite ours. It is written, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Yeshua said it like this, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38); “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
I remember the day so clearly, sitting on my living room couch and holding an Old King James Bible in my hand. I was determined to discover the truth contained within. I very much believed in the one true God of Israel. So I said to Him, “I need to know the truth.” I had no concept of the Holy Spirit speaking to me, but somehow asking God to show me His truth made sense. As I started to read the book of Matthew, there was clarity and focus to the narrative. The story came to life, and remarkably the old English language was perfectly decipherable.
“For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:24-27).
A number of years ago I was asked to prepare a teaching on the Tabernacle of Moses—the Mishkan. I had read the endless narratives in the Torah many times where each part of the Tabernacle, meticulously detailed by the Lord, commanded the Israelites to only build a copy of the heavenly image. I had visited several life-size displays, one recently in Pennsylvania, but none revealed anything of particular magnificence. Even its size looked rather underwhelming—a small tent perched in the desert surrounded by miles of barren wilderness. From a near distance the structure would have been hardly noticeable.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is considered to be the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It is a solemn day to afflict our souls, but it is also a joyful day in knowing that God will forgive our sins. It commemorates the day when God forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf.
It is impossible to understand the festivals (feasts) and high holy days of the Lord without knowing God’s Hebrew calendar and His biblical prophesies. We must also have a heart for understanding God’s Kingdom purposes for the nation of Israel, for Yeshua said, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32, NKJV).
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter [last] days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain [Kingdom] of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob [Israel]; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3, NKJV).
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25, NKJV). Yeshua affirmed this when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
The Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery marked the birth of the nation of Israel, and is considered by the Jewish people to be the single most important event in their history. The delivery itself was both miraculous and divinely orchestrated entirely at His hand. The Lord had sent Moses to Pharaoh to deliver this message; “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1, NKJV).
The Latin word “Ex Nihilo” (yesh me-ayin in Hebrew), means out of nothing, and is used to describe God’s creation of the universe and His forming of life from nothingness. Let us therefore ask this question: Can something actually be created out of nothing? Rationally, our minds would tell us no. But if we believe—by faith—that God created the universe ex nihilo, which is both irrational and seemingly impossible to comprehend, then we can also conclude that the universe cannot continue to exist apart from the One who created it.
On Friday, January 20, 2017, my son and I attended the inauguration for President Donald John Trump. Truth be told, I would have preferred to watch it from the warmth and comfort of my living room, and with our new high definition television, the details of the ceremony would have been far more visible. Still I felt there would be something magical about actually being there.
It is said by the Jewish rabbis that parents receive a glimmer of divine inspiration when they give their child a Hebrew name. We can clearly see evidence of this in scripture, “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:20-21).