“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).
I find it interesting how the church has reached a place where the mere expression ‘we are no longer under the law,’ has somehow erased God’s moral standards as a prerequisite for living a holy and sanctified Christian life. In fact I believe it has led some into apostasy due to a lack of accountability, and has begun to present the world a church that looks very much the same.
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ [Yeshua] for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen” (Romans 9:3-5).
Much has been written about the Old and the New Covenants. Clearly from scripture we find the new is a better covenant. However, does the Old Covenant still serve a purpose in the life of a Christian today? There are many arguments on both sides; some claiming the law has been completely superseded by the New Covenant—called supersessionism—while others within the Messianic Community still follow the Law of Moses, claiming the law is an eternal statute given to the Jewish people.
The year was 2002, and our family was living in Merrimack, New Hampshire. We began attending a conservative Baptist Church just down the street; a traditional New England town-hall styled building with a white steeple and bell tower. I was a new believer in Jesus, but I was confused about Christianity. Did my Jewish heritage have any relevance?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, NKJV).
Be-reisheet, in the beginning the Lord God made all things perfect. Each living organism on earth divinely planned and woven into the most remarkable fabric of creation; a living tapestry of God’s artwork. Every detail carefully and methodically executed by the wisdom of God, for a creation without wisdom would be chaos.
The story of David, an ordinary boy raised to extraordinary heights by an extraordinary God. The Son of Jesse, a simple shepherd boy chosen by God to be the King of Israel. And the only figure in the bible to be called: “A man after God’s own Heart.” In so many ways David is given to us as a type of Yeshua, a preeminence of Him to come.
In God’s infinite wisdom He has woven into the fabric of humanity a plan for the redemption of fallen man. We can see that by His divine election that He has preserved a seed that extends from Adam through Noah, Abraham and King David, ultimately bringing forth the Messiah Yeshua, the stem and the root of Jesse, and the branch and arm of God. But with Abraham, God made a covenant to create a nation that would literally become ‘one’ with Him. To understand His purpose for humanity we must look to Israel, for she is the only nation on earth to receive direct revelation of God, and the only nation to be born of His Covenant.
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt…” (Exodus 12:1, NKJV).
This chapter details the exodus from Egypt, the laws of the Passover, and the plague of the first-born. But it opens with an intriguing phrase, “in the land of Egypt.” Since we know the story is unfolding in Egypt, why is it necessary for God to reiterate an obvious fact?
“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham…” (Genesis 22:1, NKJV).
This verse provides a rather puzzling question. If God is omniscience, meaning that He is all-knowing, why does He need to test Abraham? And, if He already knows the outcome of the test with Abraham then why is the test even necessary? To discover an answer we will turn to Midrashic commentary; Genesis Rabba 55:2.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1, NKJV).
In this opening chapter in Genesis we see that God has chosen Avram (Abram), yet it gives us no indication for what motivation? Noah’s election in previous chapters is obvious for the Lord said that Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations. He had found favor in God’s eyes and was chosen to save a remnant of humanity.
The story of Chanukah takes place about two-hundred years before the birth of Christ during the time of the second temple in Jerusalem. A small group of Israelites led by a family of Aaronic priests, called the Maccabees (Hebrew meaning hammer), had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in what is called the Maccabean Revolt. This was not just a fight against a foreign occupying presence, but a spiritual battle against the Hellenization and assimilation of the Jewish people into Greek culture and idolatry.
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3, NKJV).