"The voice of one crying in the desert, 'Prepare the way of YHVH; make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim. And the esteem of YHVH shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see it. For the mouth of YHVH has spoken." Isaiah 40:3,5
With the world falling apart, it’s good to know that the U.S. is at least standing for justice and truth and fully supporting her allies in their war against terrorism.
No we’re not.
Today, news broke that the U.S. is withholding a shipment of Hellfire aerial anti-armor missiles to Israel. Apparently, the U.S. was concerned with Israel’s use of artillery in heavily populated civilian areas in Gaza.
Because it makes complete sense to criticize Israel for fighting in civilian areas rather than addressing the fact that they are there in the first place because HAMAS PUTS THEIR WEAPONS THERE!
I suppose we haven’t had full coverage of the Christians being brutally slaughtered in Iraq and Syria, or the children who have been decapitated and impaled, and the women and young girls who are being raped and taken as concubines for IS (formally ISIS/ISIL) militants because there are no Jews to blame in that situation.
It is frankly astounding to the overwhelming majority of Israelis that Israel is being blamed for and pressured to end a war it manifestly sought to avoid — against a terrorist-government sworn to its destruction that repeatedly breaches the ceasefire efforts Israel consistently accepts. That the conflict is widely misrepresented, and that hostile governments are critical, is bad enough for Israel. Far, far graver is that key allies, to one degree or another, are turning upon it.
Hamas has fired more than 3,000 rockets into Israel. It exploited periods of calm in the years since it violently seized control of Gaza to build a network of tunnels under the border into Israel through which it planned major terrorist attacks. It documentedly emplaced its war machine in the heart of Gaza’s residential neighborhoods. It seeks to lift “the siege of Gaza” so that it can build a still more potent offensive capability.
It should be blindingly obvious that Israel and Egypt do not impose the blockade as a collective punishment or caprice. There was no blockade before Hamas seized power in 2007. Israel had unilaterally left Gaza two years earlier, and hoped to be rewarded with tranquility. If Gaza was not run by a terrorist government, there would be no need for a security blockade to prevent arms smuggling.
Rather than criticizing Israel for seeking to protect its civilians from Hamas, and moving now to limit its capacity to do so, the US, UK and the rest of the international community should be emphatically backing Israel in its struggle against the cynical Hamas — for the sake, too, of the civilians of Gaza. They should be insisting that Hamas disarm. And they should be making clear that they share Israel’s and Egypt’s concern that lifting the blockade is not tenable so long as any easing of restrictions would be exploited by Hamas.
They would thus be underlining the message to Gazans that Hamas is not fighting for their freedom, as it claims, but is, through its pursuit of war against Israel, denying them their freedom.
They would also be giving Israel reason to believe that when it finds itself in crisis — in good part, it can be argued, because it undertook a territorial withdrawal widely urged by the international community — the world will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it. Right now, the sense in Israel is quite the reverse — not support, but abandonment.
From Hamas’s point of view, it must be a source of immense delight to witness the strains, and practical fallout, in the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem. It wins an election in which the US insisted it be allowed to take part, even though it has never renounced terrorism. It murders its way to control of Gaza. It diverts Gaza’s resources to turn the Strip into one great big terrorist bunker. It hits Israel, over and over and over again. It intimidates international journalists to not report on and film its attack methods. And the international community condemns Israel, the UN sets up inquiries into Israeli war crimes, and Israel’s allies limit its arms supplies.
All it needs to do, Hamas can only conclude, is keep firing at Israel’s towns and villages, forcing Israel to respond, confident that this will bring still more criticism down on Israel as well as growing restrictions on Israel’s ability to defend itself. Wow, the Hamas leaders must be thinking, the free world is just so dumb.
It is imperative that we as believers stand firm in our beliefs with our brothers and sisters in Israel…even when the rest of the world has turned their backs on her.
As I’ve followed the ongoing situation in Israel and watched as events have unfolded, I’ve noticed there are a lot of false accusations being made against Israel. In this post, I will address some of the most common accusations and hopefully shed some truth on the situation.
1. Israel is committing war crimes
First, let’s start off by defining what a war crime is. War crimes are serious violations of the laws and customs of war. Here are some examples of war crimes:
1. the murder, mistreatment, or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps
2. the murder or mistreatment of POWs/civilian internees
3. forcing protected persons to serve in the forces of a hostile power
4. killing hostages, killing or punishing spies or other persons convicted of war crimes without a fair trial
5. wantonly destroying cities, towns, villages, or any object not warranted by military necessity.
I think it’s pretty obvious that two of these examples are what the world is using as their focus in their campaign against Israel. So let’s address #1 and #5. Israel has not murdered, mistreated, or deported any civilian residents of occupied territory because Gaza is not occupied territory. Yup….I said it. Let me repeat that. Gaza is not occupied territory. Let me give you a very brief explanation as to why.
Article 6 of “The Mandate for Palestine” reads: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”
Article 6, therefore, commands the British government to encouragement “settlement” on the land of Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, which includes the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2005, in an effort to broker a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel withdrew from Gaza and the West Bank and demolished many Israeli homes and settlements in the area. By pulling out of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel ensured that Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region would establish a stronghold in these territories. So, Israel isn’t occupying Gaza or the West Bank. They have left these disputed areas and allowed the Palestinians to elect their government…Hamas.
When Operation Protective Edge began three weeks ago, the world was quick to cry out that Israel had invaded Gaza. You can’t invade a country that you already occupy. To invade means to forcibly enter a land or region so as to subjugate or occupy it. So which is it? Has Israel been occupying Gaza all these years? Or are they now invading?
Even if you dispute the non-occupied territory claim, Israel hasn’t murdered, mistreated, or deported civilian residents of Gaza.
Israel regularly sends humanitarian aid to Gaza. This aid has continued despite the attacks by Hamas in Gaza and Operation Protective Edge. In fact, as of July 20, 2014, Israel had sent 148 trucks of food and medical supplies, 250 tons of gas, and 720,000 liters of fuel into Gaza. In addition, Israel also set up a field hospital near the border with Gaza in order to treat the civilians injured in the crossfire, primarily the women and children. Two days ago, Hamas opened fire on this field hospital and severely handicapped its operations.
The Israeli Defense Forces has also gone to great lengths to ensure innocent civilian lives aren’t lost. Contrary to popular belief, they are not targeting civilians. The reason so many “civilians” have died in Gaza is because Hamas uses the civilian population as human shields.
Hamas frequently uses hospitals, schools, playgrounds, and homes as the launch sites for their rocket attacks. When the IDF warns civilians to leave the vicinity because they are about to conduct a strike against these known terrorist targets, Hamas tells their civilians not to leave but instead, coerces them to stay.
One of the avenues the IDF employs to warns the Palestinian civilians are emergency warnings on the television. In order to keep their populace ignorant of these warnings – and thereby losing their human shields – Hamas takes control of the airwaves and instead airs only propaganda against Israel.
Israel is also not maliciously destroying cities, towns, or villages. They are destroying terrorist targets. Remember, Hamas hides their rocket caches in heavily populated areas. The definition of war crime stipulates, unless warranted by military necessity. I think destroying a terrorist organization’s stockpile of weapons is pretty good justification for military necessity.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Israel should exercise restraint
Have we forgotten that Hamas is a terrorist organization??? Terrorists. As in terrorists who kill innocent people. The same kind of terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11. Or have we forgotten? Because we sure act like we have forgotten.
Why should terrorists get “fair” treatment? Israel does everything within reason, and beyond, to ensure that truly innocent lives are spared. They call on the telephone, send text messages, drop leaflets, leave voice messages, and fire warning shots before conducting a strike on a known terrorist target. No other military in the world goes to such lengths to ensure that innocent lives are spared.
And don’t think Israel has to do this either. They don’t. This is war. And Hamas doesn’t take any measures to ensure innocent Israeli lives are spared. In fact, the opposite is true! Hamas purposefully targets the populations where they have better chances of killing Israeli civilians. The charter of Hamas says, “We love death as much as the Jews love life.”
Take a minute and let that sink in. The Jews love life and do all they can to preserve and protect life. Hamas does all they can to destroy and end life. They want to cause destruction. They love chaos and confusion.
Israel wants peace. Israel loves life.
3. Israel’s response is not proportional
Why should Israel’s response be proportional? They had rockets fired at their innocent civilians by terrorists who have vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and the world wants Israel to exercise restraint? The official U.S. position has supported and defended Israel’s right to self-defense. But they have also been the loudest ones in the cry for restraint. So which is it? Can they defend themselves or do they show restraint? Are they allowed to defend themselves up to a certain point? Who gets to decide that point? I’m guessing it would be a nation whose citizens aren’t under constant rocket attack. Or isn’t being threatened by all its surrounding countries to be wiped off the map.
I hate to sound cold but, that’s war. Since the beginning of time wars have been fought. They haven’t been pretty and they haven’t been fair. Land has been won and lost. People have built up and been displaced. Rulers have been enthroned and rules have been deposed. Israel isn’t trying to land-grab – much like we just saw Russia do in the Ukraine. Israel isn’t killing her own people – like we see happening in Syria. Israel isn’t pursuing a dangerous weapon of mass destruction – like her Iranian neighbor. Israel isn’t trying to overthrow a country – as is the case with ISIS in Iraq. All Israel wants is to live. To live at peace with her neighbors.
The world is angry that more Palestinians have died than Israelis. Is one life more precious than another? Most of these civilian casualties are caused by Hamas. They kill their own people. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. One of their main tactics is to use suicide bombers to kill people. This is a people who is willing to sacrifice its own children for an ideology of hate. Their hatred for the Jews, for America, for YHVH, for truth, runs so deeply within them that they are willing to sacrifice their own children for their ideology of hate. And they will not stop. This is not a hunger that can ever be satisfied. They will not stop until someone steps up and stops them. So far, Israel is the only one who is willing to rise to the challenge. Through Israel, and her destruction of terror, the whole world will be blessed. Will we thank them or will we punish them?
4. Israel is killing innocent civilians, including women and children
Clearly Hamas thinks so little of a human life that they would willingly sacrifice their life or the life of a woman or child in order to further their jihad. The rules of engagement that we as Americans adhere to in war are different than the rules terrorists follow, and we usually pay a heavy price when we fail to realize this. Terrorists, particularly those in heavily populated areas, will frequently use women or children as human shields to protect themselves. They understand the humanitarian rules and exploit them. They know Israel will cancel an operation if civilians are seen in the area. Because of this, Hamas hides their weapons and launches their rocket attacks from places such as schools, mosques, hospitals, and homes.
To make matters more confusing, most of these civilians are not as innocent as we think. Many times these civilians are aiding the terrorists or are terrorists themselves but are dressed as civilians and living among the civilian population in order to avoid detection. Families frequently offer up their children as human sacrifices for the purpose of jihad. Dozens of the women and children killed in Gaza are killed when rockets backfire, misfire, or are fired too early.
And let’s not forget that Israel is also being attacked. They are seeing rockets fall in their sovereign land every, single day. What about Israeli children that are being harmed and dealing with the stress of rocket attacks every hour? What about the Israeli women that are injured shielding and protecting their children from rockets and debris?
Let us not forget that Israel has agreed to 2 humanitarian ceasefires only to have Hamas continue to fire rockets into Israel. Hopefully the UN, during their one-sided investigation into the Israeli “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” will remember that. But with a largely biased majority of Muslim countries and Western countries unwilling to stand up for what it right and just, its unlikely. But maybe, just maybe, they will acknowledge the truth they know to be true about Israel.
With the situation on the ground in Gaza heating up and rockets continually falling in Israel, many people around the world have become quite worried about the growing war in the Promised Land and what it means for them.
For some, they are considering cancelling their tours to the Holy Land. For others, they have resolved to never go to the Promised Land. Some still desire to go but are postponing trips for a “safer time” – what a “safer time” in Israel looks like I’m not sure but it is for this that they wait. And for others, this only strengthens their resolve that the Land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob needs her people to return to her more than ever.
The decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to cancel all flights in and out of Israel hasn’t helped this growing fear of returning to the Land. In fact, the American decision led to many European airlines halting all their air traffic to Israel as well. The Israeli Transportation Minister has urged American and European air travel to resume calling the move a “prize to terrorism.”
Since the outset of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014, over 200 Hamas militant terrorists have been killed and 30 tunnels and 63 tunnel shafts have been discovered.
However, these simple stats don’t do justice to the real impact of Operation Protective Edge. Israel is not just making Israel a safer place to live. Israel is making the entire world a safer place. By removing Hamas militants and tearing down their infrastructure, Israel is ridding the world of a deadly tumor that threatens to overtake all that is good in the world.
A literal translation of the operation’s name (Hebrew: מִבְצָע צוּק אֵיתָן, Mivtza’ Tzuk Eitan) is “Operation Steadfast Cliff” or “Firm Cliff.” More loosely translated it is, “Operation Solid Rock” or “Operation Mighty Cliff.” The IDF’s official Arabic translation reads “Operation Resolute Cliff.”
This literal translation reminds me of how YHVH’s love for us is “steadfast” and immovable; that YHVH Himself is unchanging and forever. For us as believers, it should also remind us that Yeshua is our Rock on which we stand. If we are firmly – or steadfastly – planted on the Rock, then when the storm beats down on us and tries to destroy us, we will stand firm and not be moved.
The same is true of Israel.
They are standing firm on the promises of YHVH and are establishing themselves on His “Solid Rock.” There is a storm raging in Israel right now…and it’s nothing new. For thousands of years the same storm has been brewing and will continue until Messiah Yeshua reigns from His rightful throne on the Temple Mount.
The entire world is coming against Israel right now. They accuse them of war crimes, of humanitarian violations, of being the murderers of women and children; it’s a never-ending list.
So what can we do?
I’ve read reports of the so-called “lone soldiers” who leave their comfortable lives in places like Australia, Europe, and America and volunteer to fight in the Israeli Defense Forces. They sacrifice everything to serve and defend the nation with which they feel a spiritual connection. Others are volunteering with groups and organizations to go to Israel and do what they can. They are volunteer fire-fighters, volunteer medical personnel, and even volunteer meal servers.
Others organize gatherings of support in their local communities for Israel. They raise funds to send with those who volunteer to travel to Israel. They organize the community’s support for the People of Israel.
YHVH asks each of us to play our part and our individual roles may look different. And while we all have different reactions to the situation in Israel, there are two things we have in common. First, we can’t discourage each other from the unique path and giftings YHVH has given each one of us. We should be encouraging one another in the different talents that we possess and the special training that YHVH has for each of us. Second, we can all pray.
We may not agree on how right Israel is, or how far you would go to support them, or if they are reacting too strongly, or how much you empathize with the Palestinians. But regardless of those differences, Jews and Christians alike both agree that the Land of Israel was the land promised to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are fighting for their inheritance from YHVH Himself – Maker of the Heavens and Earth.
Wouldn’t you fight for your inheritance from the Almighty too?
The Word of God is clear that we must stand with Israel. That we must stand with Him. So regardless of your feelings on the situation, YHVH is still sovereign and is clearly working in the midst of this war.
So the one thing we can all do is pray in support of Israel.
Michael Freund put it best in his appeal to Christians and Jews that they pray the Psalms as a response to the spiritual battle being waged in Israel.
“If our foes are resorting to their form of holy war, I think it’s incumbent upon us not to abandon the sacred weapons that we have in our arsenal, chief and foremost among them, the power of prayer…The international arena is comprised of actors. But what they don’t tell you is that there is also a Director.
Now each of us has the ability on a daily basis to have a direct conversation with the Director. To talk to Him about what we would like to see in the script that is world history. We dare not forego such an opportunity. We dare not ignore our ability as individuals, as communities, to have an input, to have a say, in how the future develops. No one out there should ever feel powerless about what’s going on. Because at the end of the day we each have, through the power of prayer…the ability to influence events.”
We too, like Esther and Daniel before us, can get on our faces before our God – King of the Universe – and appeal to Him. Because this isn’t a battle of flesh and blood. This is a spiritual battle and it won’t be over till there is a victor. I know Who that victor is. This is a spiritual battle with our inheritance hanging in the balance that can only be fought with surrendered hearts and bent knees.
As I’ve watched the news unfold for the past 19 days regarding the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, I’ve noticed a stark contrast between how Israelis and the rest of the world sees the value of a human life.
Clearly Hamas, who were the perpetrators of this vicious crime, think so little of a human life that they would willingly sacrifice their life or the life of a woman or child in order to further their jihad. The rules of engagement that we as Americans adhere to in war are different than the rules that terrorists follow, and we usually pay a heavy price when we fail to realize this.
Terrorists, particularly those in heavily populated areas, will frequently use women or children as human shields to protect themselves. They understand our rules and exploit them. They know our aversion for harming “innocent civilians,” including women and children. However, most of these civilians are not as innocent as we think. Many times these civilians are aiding the terrorists or are terrorists themselves but are dressed as civilians and living among the civilian population in order to avoid detection. Families frequently offer up their children as human sacrifices for the purpose of jihad.
Take, for example, the comments made by the mother of one of the suspects in the deadly kidnapping. She said that if her son committed this crime that she would be so proud of him until the day she died.
“If he did the kidnapping I’ll be proud of him. I raised my children on the knees of the (Islamic) religion, they are religious guys, honest and clean-handed, and their goal is to bring the victory of Islam.” She further went on to criticize the Palestinian Authority for helping Israel in the search for the missing boys.
“May Allah take revenge on them,” she said. “They are helping the IDF.”
Another example of sacrificing their own children are the stories of Mohammad Zoabi and Yihye Zakaria Mahameed. Both teenage boys are Arab Israelis who received death threats and harassment after posting videos in support of the kidnapped boys and the state of Israel. In the case of Zoabi, police arrested his father, grandfather and an uncle for planning to take him into the West Bank and harm him. He was subsequently taken into police custody for his safety. Similarly, Mahameed was attacked and beaten on his way to school. A collection has been set-up to raise funds to move Mahameed out of the country until the situation cools down.
Then we heard comments from Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the UN had “no confirmation that we can independently make about an abduction.”
The same UN who condemns any sort of violence against Palestinians and who vehemently fights to stop human rights violations around the world has no “confirmation” that the abduction actually took place?! This is simply another example of world powers trying to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.
No other country in the world has to defend itself against accusations of illegitimacy or illegal occupation. What other country in the world has to prove its very right for existence? Or its right to build on its own land? Or its right to defend its people? None. Israel is an island of democracy in the Middle East. Israel is the lone voice in the desert crying out for justice, peace, and righteousness that is met with suspicion, hatred, disapproval, and violence.
Then the day came where we learned the fate of the three teenagers. They had been murdered…in cold blood. They were not soldiers, as Hamas would like the world to believe. They were young men; boys just beginning their lives. They were senselessly murdered for simply being Israeli.
Details emerged that the kidnappers’ plan had gone terribly wrong when one of the boys called police and whispered “We’ve been kidnapped.” Worried and panicked that the Israeli Defense Forces would soon be searching for them, the kidnappers shot and killed the three boys in the back of the car. The fact that they were not used as leverage for the release of Palestinian prisoners only fuels the question “why?” It seems so senseless. Murder with no objective that seems to serve no purpose at all. Their lives, and even their deaths, have served a purpose though.
The lives and deaths of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha’ar, and Eyal Yifrah have united the nation of Israel unlike any other event. It has given the world a glimpse into the true heart of Israel. The people of Israel have learned to cling to each other in order to survive. They are not a nation made up of disjointed individuals but a nation of one people with one cause, one God, and one destiny. Their hearts beat as one; their voices sing and rejoice as one; their souls mourn and cry out as one. When these young boys were abducted and their murder discovered, they didn’t simply denounce their murders or feel bad that it happened. Instead, they mourned as if it were their own child, or brother or grandson or cousin or friend. They became one.
Throughout the nation of Israel, the people joined together as one in a way that people of other nations do not. They held vigils in villages. Thousands prayed daily in unison at the Western Wall for their safe return. The entire nation vowed to stop and read Psalm 121 together in order to appeal to YHVH, their Heavenly Father and Defender of Israel. No other nation on earth has demonstrated this kind of unity for its people.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu learned the bodies had been found, he released a statement that made a promise to the people of Israel.
With a heavy heart, we have found tonight three bodies, and all of the information we have indicates that these are the bodies of the abductees – Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. They were murdered in cold blood by human animals. In the name of the entire Jewish people, I want to say to the dear families – mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sisters and brothers – our hearts are bleeding. We are crying with you. We will bring the boys home to be buried in Israel. Revenge over the blood of a small child is not the devil’s work, and neither is revenge for the blood of a teenager or young man – who was on his way to meet his parents – and whom was never seen again. Hamas is responsible. Hamas will pay. May the boys’ memories be for a blessing.
Netanyahu promised the people of Israel that the death of these boys would not be for nothing. That their killers, and those who seek the lives of all of Israel, would be found and would be rightfully punished. He promised justice and to seek security for the people of Israel.
Contrast the Israeli response with the American response and you will see a stark difference. President Obama did not make a statement on the kidnapping until after the bodies of the boys were discovered. It took a mere day for Michelle Obama to release a photo of herself standing in the White House looking forlorn while holding a sign reading #bringbackourgirls when the Nigerian girls were kidnapped by terrorist organization Boko Haram several weeks ago.
But when the victims are Israeli? Crickets from the White House. And one of the boys was an American citizen! And when President Obama did release a statement, he condemned the murders…but urged restraint on the part of Israel. Urged restraint. What exactly does that mean? That Israel can be upset but not too upset? That we can mourn the death of our people but we cannot take action to keep it from happening again? That we should resign ourselves to being constant victims of terrorists simply to appease the international community? No. That is the U.S. response. That is not the Israeli response.
When we look at the track record of the Obama administration, his response is not that surprising. We have a U.S. marine jailed in Mexico…and we do nothing. The Mexicans recently violated our airspace and shot at two border patrol agents…and we do nothing. Our ambassador is killed in Beghazi by terrorists…and we do nothing. The doctor who was vital in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden sits in a Pakistani prison…and we do nothing. Syria crosses Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons…and we do nothing. Iran is building (or already has) a nuclear weapon…and we do nothing. We do nothing! We always do nothing. And we look weak for it. The terrorists know this and exploit this.
Even Great Britain and France released statements in support of Israel seeking justice. But the U.S. advice is to do nothing.
How can they do nothing when their lives are at constant risk? How can the world expect Israel to stand by and do nothing as threats from every, single Arab country and Muslim extremist group pour in daily? When rockets from the West Bank rain down from the sky regularly?
Take for instance the response from Hamas upon learning that Israel had found the bodies of the teenagers. Hamas has warned it will “open the gates of hell” if Israel sought to escalate its operation against the Islamist group in response to the murder of the three Israeli teenagers.
“If the occupiers carry out an escalation or a war, they will open the gates of hell on themselves,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
So Hamas carries out an attack against Israel and then actually threatens to “open the gates of hell” for any retaliation? And Israel is supposed to show “restraint?” The choice is life or death…and YHVH has commanded His people to live!
In light of all that has unfolded, it seems likely that Israel will continue Operation Brother’s Keeper – the name of the search and rescue mission for the boys. However, the operation will now be entirely devoted to finding and destroying known Hamas targets. These events could very well lead to a war in the region. With the situation in Egypt, Iran, Syria, and Iraq as shaky as it already is, this could put Israel – our country’s friend, political ally, and spiritual brother – in harm’s way. Any escalation could further destabilize the region.
The nation of Israel recited Psalm 121 in a unified plea to the Almighty to bring the boys back. The boys were bought back to Israel and will be buried together in the land of their fathers. But Psalm 121 also reminds us that “He who keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” YHVH will keep watch over His people. YHVH will cover them in the shadow of His wings as the rockets rain down from Gaza, and Syria, and Lebanon, and Egypt, and Iran, and any other country that has enough chutzpah to confront the Almighty God – YHVH El Elyon.
But for today, we unite together to mourn the three deaths in our family.
The story of Ruth and Boaz is a beautiful story of redemptive love and devotion. It is a story that demonstrates the redeeming power of love, devotion, and obedience. The story of Ruth is commonly read during Shavuot for several reasons. The first reason is the physical harvest that occurs in story. The “courting” of Ruth and Boaz takes places during Shavuot. The second reason is the spiritual harvest that takes place in the story. This is demonstrated when Ruth accepts and joins herself to Torah, and simultaneously the God of Israel, and becomes grafted into Israel. Through the union of Ruth and Boaz, not only did we receive Messiah Yeshua, but we can also glean much insight into the season of counting the omer and Shavuot.
A Few Things from Torah Before We Begin
Before we begin, there are a few things we need to first understand from Torah.
Laws of redemption (Lev. 25:32-55)
Laws of Shemittah and Jubilee years (Lev. 25:4, 10, 23)
Laws of family inheritance (Num. 27:8-11): if a man died without a son, the inheritance would be transferred to the daughter, and since Ruth was the widow of Machlon, she was the legal heir of the line of Elimelech. In other words, if Boaz could be persuaded to marry Ruth, then he could redeem the land and save the family from being obliterated in Israel.
Laws of yibbum or “levirate marriage” (Deut. 25:5-10): Naomi understood that Boaz was a “near kinsman” to her husband Elimelech, and therefore he was qualified to redeem her land from those who presently were leasing it. Recall that the Torah allowed for the redemption of land based on its pro rata value before the year of Jubilee. The “law of redemption” required that a next of kin had the duty to redeem (buy back) the land of their close relative if the relative was in such financial difficulty that he was forced to sell it: ‘If your brother becomes impoverished and sells some of his property, then his near redeemer shall and redeem what his brother has sold” (Lev. 25:25). Since Naomi was destitute, she needed to persuade a close relative to redeem her land for the legacy of her family’s name in Israel.
Various farming laws regarding leaving food for the poor and the stranger (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19)
God’s repeatedly stated commandment that Israel must be holy and not assimilate with surrounding cultures (Exod. 34:12; Deut. 7:1-6; 14:2, etc.). This restriction applied not only to the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 7:1; 20:17-18), but also to the descendants of Lot (i.e., Amnonites and the Moabites), since they showed enmity to Israel when they first came to the land (Deut. 23:4-6).
Indirectly, then, the story of Ruth provides a strong message to Christians: to understand the story of redemption, you must first understand the Torah and its commandments!
The Story of Ruth
The story takes place during the time when judges ruled Israel, before the monarchy was established. In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, there was a man named Elimelech who lived with his wife Naomi and his two sons Machlon and Chilyon. There came a great famine in the land and Elimelech decided to lease out his land and move his family to the land of Moab, where he died shortly thereafter. His sons each married a Moabite woman; Chilyon married Orpah and Machlon married Ruth. Soon, Elimelech’s sons died too, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth as widows.
Naomi decides to go back to the land Israel and urges her two widowed daughters-in-law to return to their fathers’ homes. Orpah returns to her people but Ruth remains devoted to Naomi. Despite Naomi’s warning that Ruth would be regarded as an outcast in Israel who would likely remain a perpetual widow, Ruth refused to be dissuaded. Once Naomi understood Ruth’s heartfelt resolve, she accepted Ruth’s decision, and the two women arrived in Bethlehem in the early spring, during the time of the barley harvest in Judah.
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” Ruth 1:16-17
Naomi sends Ruth to glean in the fields. Boaz sees Ruth while she is working and is immediately drawn to her BUT he doesn’t yet know if he has a claim to her…..that will be revealed to him later. But he does decide to keep her close to him…and good thing he does because YHVH eventually reveals to him (with a little help from Ruth and Naomi) that he is, in fact, the kinsman redeemer for Ruth!
Boaz and Ruth have a type of courtship during weeks of the barely harvest – during the counting of the omer. Boaz was a “near kinsmen” to Naomi’s late husband Elimelech (perhaps the son of Elimelech’s brother), so he had a legal claim to redeem the land. Moreover, Boaz had a legal entitlement to marry Ruth, but he needed to be persuaded to do so.
Ruth also had a legal right to ask for Boaz to perpetuate the family line in Israel by marrying her. Before Boaz could do so, however, Ruth had to express her “legal intent” by claiming him as her “near kinsman.” In preparation of this significant event, Naomi instructed Ruth to beautify herself and present herself before Boaz at the end of the harvest, when the harvesters would be joyfully celebrating God’s provision – during the holiday of Shavuot. After the feast, Ruth was told that Boaz would sleep at the threshing floor and was instructed to lay at his feet and pull his covering over her feet to symbolize her claim.
And Boaz ate and drank, and his heart was glad, and he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. And she came softly and uncovered his feet, and lay down. And it came to be at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself, and saw a woman lying at his feet! And he said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your female servant. Now you shall spread your covering over your female servant – for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “Blessed are you of YHVH, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, not to go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. All that you say I do for you, for all the people of my town know that you are a capable woman. And now, it is true that I am your redeemer. However, there is a redeemer nearer than I. Stop over tonight, and in the morning it shall be that if he does redeem you, good – let him do it. But if he is not pleased to redeem you, then I shall redeem you, as YHVH lives! Lie down until morning.” Ruth 3:7-13
Boaz then discusses the matter with the man that is the nearer kinsman redeemer in the presence of the town elders. The nearer kinsman redeemer refuses as it would jeopardize his own inheritance. And Boaz said to the elders and to all the people,
“You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Kilyon’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Na‛omi. And also, Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to raise up the name of the dead on his inheritance, so that the name of the dead should not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his place. You are witnesses today.” And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “Witnesses! YHVH make the woman who is coming to your house as Rachel and as Leah, the two who built the house of Israel. And prove your worth in Israel and proclaim the Name in Bethlehem. And let your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed which YHVH does give you from this young woman. And Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.” Ruth 4:9-13
The blessing given to Boaz suggests that God’s plan of blessing overcame the weakness and frailty of all the people involved. Isn’t it encouraging that no matter what your struggle, no matter the battle that wages all around you, God is more than able to accomplish the promises He has made?
Lessons About the Counting of the Omer and Shavuot
As you can see, there are many things that the story of Boaz and Ruth reveal to us about this season of counting the omer and Shavuot. Here are just a few:
Joining Ourselves to YHVH, Israel and Torah
It is a time to leave our old ways behind us and join ourselves wholeheartedly to the God of Israel…to YHVH. It was through Ruth’s obedience to the laws of Torah that allowed her to find life, love, and blessings beyond that of anything she could have imagined. Once Ruth vowed to join herself to YHVH, the ways of Torah, and to the people of Israel, she was able to fulfill her destiny of bringing forth the line that would bear the Savior of the world. In the same way, we too will never be able to fully walk out the calling on our lives until we join ourselves to YHVH and His ways.
Care and Provision
Once we fully and completely join ourselves to YHVH and walk in His Torah, the blessings and provisions that YHVH promised would follow can now freely flow forth. Ruth was obedient not only to Naomi and Boaz, but also to YHVH. Through her obedience and servitude, YHVH’s care and provision were afforded to her. She was obedient in her time of mourning and her time of waiting. She didn’t jump the gun and she didn’t question the instructions given to her. She was obedient and was richly blessed because of it.
Shavuot is a season of rejoicing in YHVH’s provision and guidance. Through Ruth’s story, we see that the counting of the omer is a season of waiting. Shavuot is the subsequent celebration and fulfillment of the promises we have anticipated and prepared for.
Finding Favor with Our Bridegroom
Ruth did not go after other lovers – even in her precarious situation. She had dove’s eyes for Boaz. We too need to have dove’s eyes for YHVH. We cannot go after other lovers but instead seek to please YHVH and find favor with Him alone.
Redemption Through Our True Kinsman Redeemer
When we think of redemption in the story of Ruth, we tend to focus on Ruth alone being redeemed. However, there were actually several things that were redeemed in this story. The land that belonged to Elimelech’s family – to include Ruth and Naomi – was redeemed. Naomi’s family line and lineage was redeemed – and even produced King David and Messiah Yeshua! Last, but certainly not least, both Naomi and Ruth were redeemed from a life of widowhood. They were taken from a season of death and mourning to a season of life and rejoicing! So you see, redemption of persons was not the only thing that needed to be redeemed by Boaz. Through Boaz’s willingness to be the kinsman redeemer, we see that property, family lineage, and people were all redeemed. This shows that YHVH is not only concerned with our spiritual welfare but our physical as well. In the end, everything we have is His and YHVH will not let His treasured possessions be lost forever; He will redeem what is His and restore all things.
Ultimately, the story of Ruth provides a powerful message to believers: to truly understand the story of redemption, you must first devote yourself to YHVH and His commands!
Shavuot is rapidly approaching and as we get closer to this momentous feast day, it’s important that we don’t miss all the important lessons YHVH is trying to teach us in this season. This post will be the first of 5 posts addressing Shavuot. At the bottom of this article, I will link up the other posts in the series as they are completed.
Before we can begin the topic of Shavuot, however, we need to address a very crucial question: “Who is Israel?”
You might be thinking, “Why does it matter who Israel is?”
Jeremiah 31:34-47 tells us why it is so important to understand who is Israel.
“And no longer shall they teach, each one his neighbor, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know YHVH,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares YHVH. “For I shall forgive their crookedness, and remember their sin no more. Thus said YHVH, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the laws of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, and its waves roar – YHVH of hosts is His Name: ‘If these laws vanish from before Me,” declares YHVH, “then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.” Thus said YHVH, “If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I would also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,” declares YHVH.
The reason this is the starting point is because Shavuot is the time we celebrate the giving of the Torah. There are MANY lessons and themes to glean from this harvest festival, but the main even that took place on the very first Shavuot at Mt. Sinai was the giving of the Torah to Israel.
Who is Israel?
So back to our original question. It’s very important to understand who Israel is because the Torah is for all of Israel. If you asked five different people this question, you would probably get about 7 different answers. So we won’t ask people’s opinions…we’ll just go straight to the Word of God.
Exodus 19:3-8 tells us that if we obey YHVH’s commands then we will be His treasured possession.
“And Moses went up to God and YHVH called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you are to say to the house Jacob and declare to the children of Israel: ’You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. And now, if you diligently obey My voice and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the people – for all the earth is Mine – and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and set-apart nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Israel.” And Moses came and called for the elders of the people and set before them all these words which YHVH commanded them. And all the people answered together and said, “All that YHVH has spoken we shall do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to YHVH.
We can conclude from this scripture that ALL those who obey His commands (Torah) will be His treasured possession.
Leviticus 24:22 says, “You are to have one right-ruling for the stranger and the native-born, for I am YHVH your God.”
Even Yeshua taught that the Torah/Old Testament pointed the world to Him:
“For if you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, since He wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My words?” John 5:46-47
And again in Matthew 5:13-19
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall it be seasoned? For it is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and to be trodden down by men. You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city to be hidden on a mountain. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and it shines to all those in the house. Let you light so shine before men, so that they see your good works and praise your Father who is in the heavens. Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you , till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.”
Some would say that these Laws are only for the Jews or for Israel, but we, as believers, know that we have been grafted into the House of Israel.
Romans 11:24-27 speaks of this grafting into the olive tree.
“For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not wish you to be ignorant of this secret, brother, lest you should be wise in your own estimation, that hardening in part has come over Israel, until the completeness of the gentiles has come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it has been written, “The Deliverer shall come out of Zion and He shall turn away wickedness from Jacob and this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
These verses tell us we must be grafted into the house of Israel; not replace Israel but join ourselves to them and be a part of Israel. How can we be grafted into the house and think the rules don’t apply to us?
Our attitude should instead be like that of Ruth.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you, or to go back from following after you. For wherever you go, I go; and wherever you stop over, I stop over. Your people is my people, and your Elohim is my Elohim. Where you die, I die, and there I shall be buried. YHVH do so to me, and more also – for death itself parts you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17
When we choose to follow after God with all our hearts and with all our soul and with all our strength, that means leaving our old ways behind and adopting HIS WAYS. We should never make God conform to our ways but instead, we should conform to His ways.
Ephesians 2:17-22 confirms that we are all ONE house in Messiah Yeshua.
And having come, He brought as Good News peace to you who were far off, and peace to those near. Because through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the set-apart ones and members of the household of Elohim, having been built upon the foundation of the emissaries and prophets, Yeshua Messiah Himself being chief corner-stone, in whom all the building, being joined together, grows into a set-apart Dwelling Place in YHVH, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of Elohim in the Spirit.
Who is to Obey Torah?
Most Christians say Torah is not for them but only for the Jews. In reality, the Jews are only 1 of 12 tribes that make up the whole House of Israel. They come from the tribe of Judah, but throughout the exiles and diasporas, the term “Jew” has become a catch all for anyone who once belonged to the House of Israel. So to say that Torah is only for the Jews, it still leaves out the other 11 tribes of Israel. But that’s a whole separate article.
The truth is that the Torah is for all those who come under the covering of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for all those who are grafted into the House of YHVH; all those who, like Ruth, joined herself to the House of Israel.
Why is the Torah so important? Torah tells us what sin is. Without Torah, we have no way to know what sin is, and conversely, what pleases our Father. Let me make this clear: obeying Torah is not trying to earn salvation, but rather it is the fruit and evidence of our salvation.
I have often tried to figure out what the big deal is about Torah and why people are so against obedience to it. After all, it is God’s Word and I thought we all agreed that we are to live, walk, and obey God’s Word? So what’s the problem? The only thing I have been able to come up with, is that we are taught to be wary, skeptical, suspicious, and distrustful of “Torah” because we don’t understand it. We are told that it is dangerous; that it leads to legalism, and it somehow negates the faith of our salvation. But if that’s the case, why even keep it in our Bibles? Why not just get rid of the entire “Old Testament”, start the Bible at the Book of Matthew, and just be done with it? It doesn’t apply to the majority of Christians anyway, right?
Wrong. Torah has become so unfamiliar to us that we steer clear of it altogether; it’s the fear of the unknown. But that’s the problem…it’s not supposed to be unknown. We should know the Word of God and have it hidden in our hearts. The Word of God should be so much a part of us that it becomes the very essence of who we are.
Growing up in the church, some of the very first verses I learned were,
“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 and
“I will hide Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11
Why is Torah So Important?
So why would the enemy of our salvation want to keep us as far from Torah as possible? Because Torah tells us what sin is. Without Torah, we become lawless – literally….one translation of “Torah” is “law.” If we are lawless, we cannot draw near to YHVH.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:41-43
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. Romans 6:19
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. Hebrews 1:9
I encourage you to look up these scriptures and read them for yourselves; don’t just take my word for it. And don’t just read these verses, read the other verses surrounding these ones to give you more context and understanding.
Remember, the Torah is for all those who live under the covering of YHVH, the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Torah is for all of Israel…even the wild branches that have been grafted into the natural olive tree.
Our natural inclination of the flesh is to avoid the law and do what we want. Our flesh doesn’t like being told what to do; we don’t want rules and boundaries. But what YHVH asks of us is that we submit ourselves to obedience to His Word and His desires. Just as a wife submits herself to her husband out of love and respect, so we too, as the Bride of Messiah, must also submit ourselves to our loving, faithful Bridegroom.
Exodus 19: 3-8 — IF you follow my commands THEN you shall be my treasured possession
“And Moses went up to God and YHVH called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you are to say to the house Jacob and declare to the children of Israel: 4’You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 And now, if you diligently obey My voice and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the people – for all the earth is Mine – 6 and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and set-apart nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Israel.” 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people and set before them all these words which YHVH commanded them. 8 And all the people answered together and said, “All that YHVH has spoken we shall do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to YHVH.
Matthew 5: 13-19 — came not to abolish the Law
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall it be seasoned? For it is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and to be trodden down by men. You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city to be hidden on a mountain. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand and it shines to all those in the house. Let you light so shine before men, so that they see your good works and praise your Father who is in the heavens. Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you , till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.”
– Some would say that these Laws are only for the Jews or for Israel
– but we, as believers have been grafted into the House
Who is Israel?
Romans 11:24-27 — grafted in
“For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not wish you to be ignorant of this secret, brother, lest you should be wise in your own estimation, that hardening in part has come over Israel, until the completeness of the gentiles has come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it has been written, “The Deliverer shall come out of Zion and He shall turn away wickedness from Jacob and this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
Ruth 1:16-17 —“your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God”
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you, or to go back from following after you. For wherever you go, I go; and wherever you stop over, I stop over. Your people is my people, and your Elohim is my Elohim. Where you die, I die, and there I shall be buried. יהוה do so to me, and more also – for death itself parts you and me.”
– when we choose to follow after God with all our hearts, and with all our soul and with all our strength, that means leaving our old ways behind and adopting HIS WAYS
– we should never make GOD conform to our ways but instead, we should conform to HIS
Leviticus 24:22 “you are to have one right-ruling for the stranger and the native-born, for I am YHVH your God.”
John 5:46-47 — Even Yeshua taught that the Torah/Old Testament pointed the world to Him
“For if you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, since He wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My words?”
Ephesians 2:17-22 – We are all one house in Yeshua Messiah
And having come, He brought as Good News peace to you who were far off, and peace to those near. Because through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the set-apart ones and members of the household of Elohim, having been built upon the foundation of the emissaries and prophets, יהושע Messiah Himself being chief corner-stone, in whom all the building, being joined together, grows into a set-apart Dwelling Place in יהוה, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of Elohim in the Spirit.
Jeremiah 31:34-47 Israel will never cease to be His chosen people
“And no longer shall they teach, each one his neighbour, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know יהוה,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares יהוה. “For I shall forgive their crookedness, and remember their sin no more. Thus said יהוה, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the laws of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, and its waves roar – יהוה of hosts is His Name: ‘If these laws vanish from before Me,” declares יהוה, “then the seed of Yisra’ĕl shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.” Thus said יהוה, “If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I would also cast off all the seed of Yisra’ĕl for all that they have done,” declares יהוה.
Why Does it Matter?
Who is the Torah for? Christians say not for them but only for the Jews
– The truth is that the Torah is for all those who come under the covering of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for all those who are grafted into the House of YHVH; all those who, like Ruth, joined herself to the House of Israel
Why is it important to know who Torah is for?
– Torah tells us what sin is
What is sin?
James 1:16-27 – Being doers of the Word of God, which makes us perfect and blessed
Do not go astray, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of turning. Having purposed it, He brought us forth by the Word of truth, for us to be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures. So then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of Elohim. Therefore put away all filthiness and overflow of evil, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your lives. And become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, for he looks at himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what he was like. But he that looked into the perfect Torah, that of freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer that forgets, but a doer of work, this one shall be blessed in his doing of the Torah. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is worthless. Clean and undefiled religion before the Elohim and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Luke 6:46-49 – Obedience; Building house on strong rock foundation
“But why do you call Me ‘Master, Master,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who is coming to Me, and is hearing My words and is doing them, I shall show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock. And when a flood came, the stream burst against that house, but was unable to shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But the one hearing and not doing, is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream burst, and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
Matthew 7:21-23 (13-27)
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. [the disobedient will be banned from heaven] Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
In Context: Matthew 7:13-27
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. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. [eager for your money] You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (see Gal 5:19-24) Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. [the disobedient will be banned from heaven] Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,
In Context: Mat 13:37-43
He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
1 John 3:4
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2 Thessalonians 2:7
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
We don’t want to walk in lawlessness or in darkness
1Blessed are the perfect in the way, Who walk in the Torah of יהוה!
2Blessed are those who observe His witnesses, Who seek Him with all the heart!
3Yea, they shall do no unrighteousness; They shall walk in His ways.
4You have commanded us To guard Your orders diligently.
5Oh, that my ways were established To guard Your laws!
6Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commands.
7I thank You with uprightness of heart, When I learn the right-rulings of Your righteousness.
8I guard Your laws; Oh, do not leave me entirely!
9How would a young man cleanse his path. To guard it according to Your word?
10I have sought You with all my heart; Let me not stray from Your commands!
11I have treasured up Your word in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
12Blessed are You, O יהוה! Teach me Your laws.
13With my lips I have recounted All the right-rulings of Your mouth.
14I have rejoiced in the way of Your witnesses, As over all riches.
15I meditate on Your orders, And regard Your ways.
16I delight myself in Your laws; I do not forget Your word.
17Do good to Your servant, Let me live and I guard Your word.
18Open my eyes, that I might see Wonders from Your Torah.
19I am a sojourner in the earth; Do not hide Your commands from me.
20My being is crushed with longing For Your right-rulings at all times.
21You rebuked the proud, cursed ones, Who are straying from Your commands.
22Remove from me reproach and scorn, For I have observed Your witnesses.
23Though princes sat, speaking against me, Your servant meditates on Your laws.
24Your witnesses also are my delight, My counsellors.
25My being has been clinging to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.
26I have recounted my ways and You answered me; Teach me Your laws.
27Make me understand the way of Your orders; That I might meditate on Your wonders.
28My being has wept from grief; Strengthen me according to Your word.
29Remove from me the way of falsehood, And favour me with Your Torah.
30I have chosen the way of truth; Your right-rulings I have held level.
31I have clung to Your witnesses; O יהוה, do not put me to shame!
32I run the way of Your commands, For You enlarge my heart.
33Teach me, O יהוה, the way of Your laws, And I observe it to the end.
34Make me understand, that I might observe Your Torah, And guard it with all my heart.
35Make me walk in the path of Your commands, For I have delighted in it.
36Incline my heart to Your witnesses, And not to own gain.
37Turn away my eyes from looking at falsehood, And revive me in Your way.
38Establish Your word to Your servant, Which leads to the fear of You.
39Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Your right-rulings are good.
40See, I have longed for Your orders; Revive me in Your righteousness.
41And let Your kindnesses come to me, O יהוה; Your deliverance, according to Your word,
42So that I answer my reprover, For I have trusted in Your word.
43And do not take away from my mouth The word of truth entirely, For I have waited for Your right-rulings;
44That I might guard Your Torah continually, Forever and ever;
45That I might walk in a broad place, For I have sought Your orders;
46That I might speak of Your witnesses before sovereigns, And not be ashamed;
47That I might delight myself in Your commands, Which I have loved;
48That I might lift up my hands to Your commands, Which I have loved; While I meditate on Your laws.
49Remember the word to Your servant, On which You have caused me to wait.
50This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.
51The proud have utterly scorned me, I did not turn aside from Your Torah.
52I remembered Your right-rulings of old, O יהוה, And I comfort myself.
53Rage has seized me because of the wrong Who forsake Your Torah.
54Your laws have been my songs In the place of my sojournings.
55I have remembered Your Name in the night, O יהוה, And I guard Your Torah.
56This has become mine, Because I have observed Your orders.
57You are my portion, O יהוה; I have promised to guard Your words.
58I have sought Your face with all my heart; Show me favour according to Your word.
59I have thought upon my ways, And turned my feet to Your witnesses.
60I have hurried, and did not delay To guard Your commands.
61The cords of the wrong have surrounded me, Your Torah I have not forgotten.
62At midnight I rise to give thanks to You, For Your righteous right-rulings.
63I am a companion of all who fear You, And of those guarding Your orders.
64O יהוה, Your kindness has filled the earth; Teach me Your laws.
65You have done good to Your servant, O יהוה, According to Your word.
66Teach me good sense and knowledge, For I have trusted in Your commands.
67Before I was afflicted I myself was going astray, But now I have guarded Your word.
68You are good, and do good; Teach me Your laws.
69The proud have forged a lie against me, With all my heart I observe Your orders.
70Their heart has become like fat, Without feeling; I have delighted in Your Torah.
71It was good for me that I was afflicted, That I might learn Your laws.
72The Torah of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
73Your hands have made me and formed me; Make me understand, that I might learn Your commands.
74Those who fear You see me and rejoice, For I have waited for Your Word.
75I know, O יהוה, That Your right-rulings are righteous, And in trustworthiness You have afflicted me.
76Please let Your kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant.
77Let Your compassions come to me, That I might live, For Your Torah is my delight.
78Let the proud be put to shame, For with lies they perverted me; But I study Your orders.
79Let those who fear You turn to me, And those who know Your witnesses.
80Let my heart be perfect in Your laws, So that I am not put to shame.
81For Your deliverance my being has pined away, For I have waited for Your word.
82My eyes have pined away for Your word, Saying, “When would it comfort me?”
83For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, Your laws I have not forgotten.
84How many are the days of Your servant? When do You execute right-ruling On those who persecute me?
85The proud have dug pits for me, Which is not according to Your Torah.
86All Your commands are trustworthy; They have persecuted me with lies; Help me!
87They almost made an end of me on earth, But I, I did not forsake Your orders.
88Revive me according to Your kindness, That I might guard the witness of Your mouth.
89Forever, O יהוה, Your word stands firm in the heavens.
90Your trustworthiness is to all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.
91According to Your right-rulings They have stood to this day, For all are Your servants.
92If Your Torah had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
93Let me never forget Your orders, For by them You have given me life.
94I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your orders.
95The wrong have waited for me to destroy me; I understand Your witnesses.
96I have seen an end of all perfection; Your command is exceedingly broad.
97O how I love Your Torah! It is my study all day long.
98Your commands make me wiser than my enemies; For it is ever before me.
99I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your witnesses are my study.
100I understand more than the aged, For I have observed Your orders.
101I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I might guard Your word.
102I have not turned aside from Your right-rulings, For You Yourself have taught me.
103How sweet to my taste has Your word been, More than honey to my mouth!
104From Your orders I get understanding; Therefore I have hated every false way.
105Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
106I have sworn, and I confirm, To guard Your righteous right-rulings.
107I have been afflicted very much; O יהוה, revive me according to Your word.
108Please accept the voluntary offerings Of my mouth, O יהוה, And teach me Your right-rulings.
109My life is in my hand continually, And Your Torah I have not forgotten.
110The wrong have laid a snare for me, But I have not strayed from Your orders.
111Your witnesses are my inheritance forever, For they are the joy of my heart.
112I have inclined my heart to do Your laws Forever, to the end.
113I have hated doubting thoughts, But I have loved Your Torah.
114You are my hiding place and my shield; I have waited for Your word.
115Turn away from me, you evil-doers, For I observe the commands of my Elohim!
116Support me according to Your word, That I might live; And put me not to shame Because of my expectation.
117Sustain me, that I might be saved, And always look to Your laws.
118You have made light of all those Who stray from Your laws, For falsehood is their deceit.
119You have made to cease All the wrong of the earth, like dross; Therefore I have loved Your witnesses.
120My flesh has trembled for fear of You, And I am in awe of Your right-rulings.
121I have done right-ruling and righteousness; Leave me not to my oppressors.
122Guarantee Your servant’s well-being; Let not the proud oppress me.
123My eyes have pined away for Your deliverance, And for the word of Your righteousness.
124Do with Your servant according to Your kindness, And teach me Your laws.
125I am Your servant – make me understand, That I might know Your witnesses.
126It is time for יהוה to act! For they have broken Your Torah.
127Therefore I have loved Your commands More than gold, even fine gold!
128Therefore all Your orders I count as right; I have hated every false way.
129Your witnesses are wonders; So my being observes them.
130The opening up of Your words gives light, Giving understanding to the simple.
131I have opened my mouth and panted, For I have longed for Your commands.
132Turn to me and show me favour, According to Your right-ruling, toward those who love Your Name.
133Establish my footsteps by Your word, And let no wickedness have rule over me.
134Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I might guard Your orders.
135Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your laws.
136Streams of water have run down from my eyes, Because they did not guard Your Torah.
137Righteous are You, O יהוה, And Your right-rulings are straight.
138You have commanded Your witnesses In righteousness and truth, exceedingly.
139My ardour has consumed me, For my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
140Your word is tried, exceedingly; And Your servant has loved it.
141I am small and despised; I have not forgotten Your orders.
142Your righteousness is righteousness forever, And Your Torah is truth.
143Distress and anguish have found me; Your commands are my delight.
144The righteousness of Your witnesses is forever; Make me understand, that I might live.
145I have called with all my heart; Answer me, O יהוה! I observe Your laws.
146I have called upon You; Save me, that I might guard Your witnesses.
147I rise before dawn, and cry for help; I have waited for Your word.
148My eyes have gone before the night watches, To study Your word.
149Hear my voice according to Your kindness; O יהוה, revive me according to Your right-ruling.
150Those who pursue mischief have drawn near; They have been far from Your Torah.
151You are near, O יהוה, And all Your commands are truth.
152Of old I have known Your witnesses, That You have founded them forever.
153See my affliction and deliver me, For I have not forgotten Your Torah.
154Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.
155Deliverance is far from the wrong ones, For they have not sought Your laws.
156Your compassions are many, O יהוה; Revive me according to Your right-rulings.
157My persecutors and adversaries are many; I have not turned aside from Your witnesses.
158I saw traitors and was grieved, Because they did not guard Your word.
159See how I have loved Your orders, יהוה, revive me according to Your kindness.
160The sum of Your word is truth, And all Your righteous right-rulings are forever.
161Rulers have persecuted me without a cause, But at Your word my heart stood in awe.
162I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure.
163I have hated falsehood and loathe it, Your Torah I have loved.
164I have praised You seven times a day, Because of Your righteous right-rulings.
165Great peace have those loving Your Torah, And for them there is no stumbling-block.
166יהוה, I have waited for Your deliverance, And I have done Your commands.
167My being has guarded Your witnesses, And I love them exceedingly.
168I have guarded Your orders and Your witnesses, For all my ways are before You.
169My cry comes before You, O יהוה; Make me understand according to Your word.
170Let my prayer come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.
171My lips pour forth praise, For You teach me Your laws.
172My tongue sings of Your word, For all Your commands are righteousness.
173Your hand is a help to me, For I have chosen Your orders.
174I have longed for Your deliverance, O יהוה, And Your Torah is my delight.
175My being lives, and it praises You; And Your right-rulings help me.
176I have strayed like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I have not forgotten Your commands.
It’s that time of year again! Spring is upon us and the flowers are blooming, folks are coming out of their winter hibernation, and the sun-filled days last a little longer. Everywhere you turn people are anxious with spring fever! This is also the time when people pull out the bunny decorations, dye Easter eggs, and wish each other a “Happy Easter!” But where is the connection between chocolate, bunnies, colored eggs, and the resurrection of our Messiah? I know I’m going to step on a lot of toes with what I’m about to say but I encourage you to read this to the end before you make your decision.
Have you ever wondered what bunnies and chocolate and dyed eggs have to do with the resurrection of our Messiah? Seriously, take a minute and think about the connection. < pauses to think> Come up with anything? Don’t feel too bad….neither could I.
The reason we couldn’t come up with a connection between the “symbols” of Easter and Messiah’s resurrection is because…there aren’t any. You see, while these symbols have become a staple of spring time and the modern Christian holiday of Easter, that wasn’t always the case. They were originally the images of the pagan festival of Ishtar (pronounced “easter”). Chocolate is the only exception here…hopefully there is no pagan association with chocolate!!! But other symbols such as hot cross buns, the “sunrise service”, searching for dyed eggs, and the traditional Easter ham are all associated with ancient pagan traditions.
In fact, there are numerous pagan fertility celebrations of death and resurrection with which these icons were associated. For instance, the Babylonians worshipped Tammuz and Ishtar. The Phrygians (modern day Turkey) worshipped Attis and Cybele. The Phoenicians and Greeks worshipped Adonis and Astarte. The Egyptians worshipped Osiris and Isis. The Canaanites worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth. This Canaanite system of worship eventually seeped into Israel which resulted in the splitting of the nation of Israel and the eventual diaspora/captivity of both nations. Similarly, the Anglo-Saxons worshipped Eostre or Ostara. These are just a few of the different gods and goddesses that tell the same pagan story of fertility celebrations of death and resurrection that have pervaded history…and infiltrated modern Christianity.
Let’s go through the basic story together. We’ll use the story of Tammuz and Ishtar (again, pronounced “easter”). As we go through the ancient myth, I will put emphasis on elements that we might recognize as part of our modern-day worship or that will be important later. Also, keep in mind that another name for Ishtar is Ashtarte.
The story begins with Nimrod, a man-god in ancient Babylon. Genesis 10:8-10 tells us of Nimrod, “And Kush brought forth Nimroḏ, he began to be a mighty one (i.e. “god”) on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before YHVH, therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimroḏ the mighty hunter before YHVH.’ And the beginning of his reign was Baḇel, and Ereḵ, and Akkaḏ, and Kalnĕh, in the land of Shin‛ar.”
According to legend, Nimrod married his mother Ishtar, the fertility goddess of ancient Babylon known as the “Mother of God” and the “Queen of Heaven”, whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Ishtar claimed she had been miraculously conceived and that she came to earth in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River, which came to be known as “Ishtar’s egg.”
One day, Nimrod was killed and his body was cut up and sent to various parts of his kingdom. Ishtar claimed that he had ascended to the sun and was now to be called “Baal,” the sun god. She also claimed that he would take theform of fire when used in worship. At the time of the spring equinox, Ishtar“miraculously” became pregnant by the rays of the sun (her husband, Nimrod, reincarnated) and gave birth to a son she named Tammuz.
Tammuz was eventually killed by a wild pig and Ishtar told the people that he had ascendedto his father, the sun. Ishtar also claimed that some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred in Babylonian worship. Ishtar proclaimed that a period of mourning for Tammuz must occur before the anniversary of his death. During this time of mourning, people were to refrain from eating meat, meditate on the mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, make the “T” sign of Tammuz in front of their hearts as they worshiped, and they also made sacred cakes with the “T” on top. The “T” sign of Tammuz eventually evolved into a cross-like symbol.
In order to bring Tammuz back from the dead, legend says that Ishtar (who, by the way, had married her son Tammuz by this point) descended into the underworld and had to pass through the seven gates of Hades. At each gate, Ishtar had to remove one symbol of her power, either clothes or jewelry, until she stood at the last gate completely naked. Once the Queen of Heaven humbled herself before her sister, the Queen of Hades, she is plagued over her entire body. She is then sent back through the gates of Hades, picking up her items along the way. The Queen of Hades then tells Ishtar that she has ransomed her husband-son and that Tammuz can return for 6 months out of the year to her, but that he must return to Hades for the other 6 months.
Every year, on the first Sunday (sun worship, remember?) after the first full moon of the spring equinox, a celebration was made to celebrate Tammuz’s resurrection or rebirth. At this celebration, a pig was eaten to remind them the pig had killed Tammuz. Tammuz’s death is usually commemorated at the time of his birth on December 21, the time of the winter solstice. There is a connection to Christmas here but I think our hands are full enough for right now. We will discuss this connection as the Christmas season approaches.
How Did This Happen?!
Ok…do I still have you? These pagan myths get extremely confusing and convoluted very quickly! That is why it is so important to remember that YHVH never changes and He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” I encourage you to do some research on your own about this topic. However, be aware that when dealing with ancient myths about gods and goddesses, there are usually several versions of the story where the main theme stays the same but some minor details might change.
So how did all this paganism infiltrate early Christianity? The Roman Catholic Church had a practice of incorporating pagan festivals and symbolism, replacing them with “Christian” names, and then calling them “Christian.” This was done to make Christianity more palatable and familiar to heathen worshippers, whom the Church was trying to attract.
It can now be better understood why the apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians to beware of the subtle deceit of “another Yeshua whom we have not preached.” He said,
“But I am afraid, lest, as the serpent deceived Eve by his trickery, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Messiah. For, indeed, if he who is coming proclaims another Yeshua, whom we have not proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different Good News which you have not accepted, you put up with it well enough!” — II Corinthians 11:4
So the question is now, do the pagan roots of our modern worship really matter? The answer is “YES!”
Why is This Important?
Now that we understand the pagan ritual and myth associated with Ishtar and Tammuz, let’s take a look at some scriptures where the pagan festival of Ishtar (again, pronounced “easter”) is explicitly condemned. Again, keep in mind Ashtarte/Ashtaroth is another name for Ishtar.
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of YHVH, and served Baal, and forsook YHVH Elohim of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went after other mighty ones, of the mighty ones of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them, and provoked YHVH. So they forsook YHVH and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the displeasure of YHVH burned against Israel. Therefore He gave them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them. And He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, and they were unable to stand before their enemies any longer.” – Judges 2:11-14
“The children are gathering wood, the fathers are lighting the fire, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the queen of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other mighty ones, to provoke Me…But this word I did command them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I shall be your Elohim, and you be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, so that it be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in the counsels, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.” – Jeremiah 7:18, 23-24
“And He said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each one in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘YHVH does not see us, YHVH has forsaken the land.’ And He said to me, ‘You are to see still greater abominations which they are doing.’ And He brought me to the door of the north gate of the House of YHVH, and I saw women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz. Then He said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O son of man? You are to see still greater abominations than these.’ And He brought me into the inner court of the House of YHVH. And there, at the door of the Temple of YHVH, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the Temple of YHVH and their faces toward the east, and they were bowing themselves eastward to the sun. And He said to me, ‘Have you seen, O son of man? Is it a small matter to the house of Judah to do the abominations which they have done here? For they have filled the land with violence, and turn back to provoke Me. And see, they are putting the branch to My nose. Therefore I shall indeed deal in wrath. My eye shall not pardon nor would I spare. And they shall cry in My ears with a loud voice, but I shall not hear them.’” – Ezekiel 8:12-18
Do We Need to Change Our Ways? I know that this might seem like a drastic change or that I’m suggesting to abandon the celebration of our Messiah. But please, hear the Father’s heart on this. I am certainly not suggesting that we no longer celebrate the victory of our Messiah on Calvary. I am, however, saying that it is time to repent and turn away from our wicked ways.
“and if My people, who are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I shall hear from the heavens, and forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14
Now that we know the truth, it is our responsibility to make a choice about how we will live our lives. We can no longer live unaware of the truth. For far too long we have been erroneously taught that the pagan roots don’t matter; that somehow these things YHVH calls evil have been redeemed and are a worthy offering to bring before Him. That we can go on living life and worshipping God our way. NO MORE!
The time has come to repent and draw near to YHVH! To leave our wicked ways behind us and RUN towards His glorious face! He is waiting for us with open arms, if only we would repent and humble ourselves and turn from the wicked ways of the world. Yes, it’s true that we have been lied to and deceived, but now we know the truth. Don’t let your stiff neck keep you from receiving the blessings YHVH so desperately wants to bestow upon you! Don’t miss everything He has planned for you.
“Truly, then, having overlooked these times of ignorance, Elohim now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed, having given proof of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17: 30-31
The time is now. The time has come to rise up and be the Bride of Messiah! He is looking for a spotless Bride; one who has not tarnished herself with the evil of this world. A Bride who has humbled herself and can admit she was wrong. That is the mark of a strong, warrior Bride; someone who is not so prideful that they refuse to correct their wrong and begin to walk a new path.
But we never walk alone, especially when we walk the path of YHVH. He is always with us; teaching us, correcting us, encouraging us. People may not understand your decision. But it’s not people you must stand before on Judgment Day. It is not people who will say “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” We do not seek to please man, but, rather, we seek to please our heavenly Father who has so graciously given us His instructions that we may live a life pleasing to Him.
Passover…It’s Not Just for the Jews
The story of Passover is one of repentance, restoration, and forgiveness. It begins in the book of Exodus with Moses going before Pharaoh with a message from YHVH: “Let My people go!” Pharaoh refuses and the ten plagues are sent on the land of Egypt. What most people don’t realize is that the ten plagues had several purposes. Not only did they each attack an Egyptian god, but they also served as signs to the Hebrews. Click here to read my notes on the Exodus story.
You see, for four hundred years, the Hebrews had lived in the midst of the Egyptians. They had been so steeped in the pagan traditions they didn’t even know who YHVH was! Don’t we find ourselves in a similar situation? We too have been so steeped in a pagan culture that we don’t even know who YHVH truly is. If we did, we would know that YHVH does not desire these pagan ways but, instead, desires we live our life according to His Torah. So, in order to introduce Himself to the Hebrews, He sent the plagues on the Egyptians. Let’s not push YHVH to the point of sending plagues on our “host nation” ok? Perhaps we should just humble ourselves now instead of making Him humble us.
As the Hebrews fled from Pharaoh, they didn’t have enough time to let their bread rise so they instead ate unleavened bread. When Pharaoh chased after them, YHVH parted the waters of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) and swallowed up their adversaries. You see, when we turn from our wicked ways and obey the voice of YHVH, as the children of Israel did when they covered the door to their homes with the blood of the lamb, YHVH fights for us! He hears our cry and never leaves us defenseless!
After all this takes place, the children of Israel begin their 40 years in the desert until they eventually enter the Promised Land of Israel! They are redeemed from the hand of the enemy and from the pagan ways that kept them in bondage. But the story doesn’t end there.
You see, fast forward to the time of Yeshua and you can see the Passover story of redemption, restoration, and forgiveness continuing. But it’s not really a “new” story, but rather, another layer or a continuation of the one started all those years ago in Egypt. It is here that we see the fullness of YHVH’s plan being accomplished.
Yeshua, the blameless, spotless Lamb came to earth and was our Passover sacrifice so that we could be restored to our Heavenly Father. He redeemed us from a life apart from Him and from the man-made laws that keep us in bondage. The Torah of YHVH is not man-made but God-breathed. The man-made laws are the additions and subtractions made to this perfect, life-giving Torah that can still be seen today. On one side of the aisle we see rabbis that tell us there are many more laws we must keep and obey. On the other side, we see pastors that tell us we no longer have any laws to keep. Both are wrong. Both are sin. And both keep us from understanding the simple truth of YHVH:
“See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love YHVH your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and YHVH your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess. Choose life, that you and your children may live and not die!” — Deuteronomy 30:19
Passover is not just for the Jews. It is for all the children of God who seek to live in His house and live a life that is pleasing to Him. The Jews are only 1 of 12 tribes that make up Israel. The complete 12 tribes are made up of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (the Jews), Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (Manassah & Ephraim), and Benjamin.
The Bible speaks of being “grafted in” to the House of God. Have you ever taken time to think about what that really means? It doesn’t mean that we are automatically in some spiritual House of God. It literally means we become a child of Israel. Only a son/daughter will receive the blessing of the father. Only the heir will inherit from the father…to him who has ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit is saying. If we do not consider ourselves part of Israel, we are not a legitimate child and we have no claim on an inheritance.
“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, have been grafted in among them, and came to share the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. And if you boast, remember: you do not bear the root, but the root bears you!” – Romans 11:17-18
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim, and if children, also heirs – legitimate heirs of Elohim, and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him, in order that we also be exalted together.” – Romans 8:16-17
So How Do I Keep Passover?
Each of YHVH’s feasts has a theme or a message for us. Let’s take a look at some of the themes of Passover.
During Passover, which lasts 7 days, we are not to eat of leavened bread. Leaven and leavening agents symbolize pride which puffs up (leavening is what “puffs up” bread). So for him who has ears to hear, we rid our homes of leaven for these seven days and we also take time to rid our hearts of any pride that may be hiding. Everything that is done in the physical must also be done in the spiritual. If there is no spiritual application, then it simply becomes a ritual and we know that the “Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting through even to the dividing of being and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
At our Passover Seders, we recount the miracle of the first Passover and how YHVH brought out our forefathers with a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm!” In the same way, we ask YHVH to reveal any “spiritual Egypts” in which we may still be living in bondage. Remember, Passover is a season of miracles and redemption. If there are any areas of your life that you are struggling to be free in, this is the time to petition YHVH to free you! Of course, you can be free any time but this is the special season in which He has chosen to reveal His redemption.
His redemption also came in the form of Yeshua. We celebrate and praise Him for sending Yeshua our Messiah to be the Passover lamb whose blood covers us and keeps the angel of death away from our lives. We thank YHVH for providing His lamb and praise Him for the miracles He has done in the lives of those who have gone before us and in our own lives as well.
Passover, like all the feasts of YHVH, is a time to be with family and friends. It is a time to reflect on the miracles YHVH has done and is doing in our lives. It is a time to remove pride, which so easily ensnares, from our lives and families. It is a time to do some spring cleaning in our homes and hearts. It is a time to be free from the things that keep us in bondage. We are a free people! We are not meant to live in bondage!
It is a time to celebrate and praise YHVH for His miracles that bring about our repentance, restoration, and forgiveness. It is a season of redemption!
“And when these matters begin to take place, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” – Luke 21:28
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and guard what is written in it, for the time is near.” – Revelation 1:3